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Arthur knows what Morgana looks like in the center of her bed, dressed in gauze-fine nightclothes, candlelit and beautiful; he knows what she’s like with most of her edge gone so she’s almost tender as she tells him how to touch her. He trusts her, and she likes him, and they’re only human.

But—she’s gotten better since the last time they sparred together, much better, and Arthur is actually needing to work in order to keep the upper hand. It’s unnatural. Morgana moves like she’s dancing—no, she moves like flame, quick and fluid and lovely with the sword flashing bright in her hands, and Arthur realizes to his horror that he’s getting hot watching her. He strikes, not as carefully as he might have but desperate to do something instead of gawking helplessly.

Her parry is crisp and clean. Her body follows her sword in her counterattack, falcon’s-dive graceful, and Arthur is lost.

He stumbles instead of dodging, his eyes and mind on her beautiful swordwork and the in-out curve of waist to breast, and there he is brought to his knees before her, with the ground soft beneath him, defeated.

It’s the daytime Morgana who brings the tip of her sword to the hollow of his throat and grins smugly at him and says, “Do you yield?” and Arthur—Arthur doesn’t lose, Arthur doesn’t think of Morgana fully-dressed and in muddy boots and mocking him as a woman to desire—Arthur feels the cool metal of the blade as a thrill that runs down his spine and wraps around his cock.

There’s a sword still in his hands but he doesn’t have any clever plans that will get him out of this, and staring up at Morgana and the brilliant length of her sword and her triumphant expression isn’t helping. It takes him a minute to find words; his tongue seems to be stuck to the roof of his mouth, and his breeches are starting to feel uncomfortably tight. “Yes,” he says, reluctantly.

“Say it,” Morgana says. Her hands don’t shake at all on the grip; her eyes don’t waver from his face. She’s—she’s good, and thinking about it that way cools Arthur down a little, slows his heart and stills his mind. There’s nothing wrong with losing to a superior warrior—

—but it’s Morgana, his father’s ward, and he’s known her since she was a scrawny girl with huge eyes and a bitter smile, and she will never, ever let him forget this.

“I yield,” he says, and cringes inwardly at how hoarse his voice sounds.

Her smile brightens. “I told you I was better than you,” she says, and it’s spirit of wine to Arthur’s ears, fierce and dangerous and intoxicating. Her blade is still at his throat. The ground is flattening beneath his knees, sinking down as if to welcome his stay. “Even you can’t deny it now, Arthur.” She stops, and he’s not sure what she sees but something in her face changes. “Can you?”

Arthur considers the odds that she’ll relent. “No,” he says, quickly, hoping she’ll let him up. He’s fighting to keep his breathing even, to act as if this is a perfectly ordinary bout, but he doesn’t know how much longer he can.

She lowers the sword and Arthur somehow feels more exposed than he had a moment ago. She looks surprised, somehow, as if—was she expecting him to argue? Should he have argued?

“I claim my forfeit,” Morgana says, and it takes Arthur a moment to realize she’s looking considerably lower than his face. He doesn’t look down but he knows what she’s seeing: the leather of his breeches drawn smooth over his straining cock.

She’s clothed, she’s dangerous in a way he lets himself forget sometimes, and he suddenly can’t wait to hear what she’s going to request.

Her eyes are dark and hot and drowning-deep as she says, “A kiss.”

And Arthur knows—he knows—she has some sort of plan, because a kiss is no forfeit, not for something like this. So he takes her free hand and grazes her knuckles with his lips, courtly and remote.

Her hand closes hard around his and she pulls, drawing him a little distance off the ground. “Get up and do it right, Arthur,” she says, and there’s wickedness beneath the victory in her smile now, even though she drops her sword next to his.

For the first few heartbeats of the kiss she’s sweetly yielding, her mouth hot and open beneath his. Her arm winds around his neck and tugs him closer, and he feels her breasts pressing against his chest, and then she hooks her leg around his, catching herself with an arm around his back as she rocks their hips together. He staggers as heat races through him, and they both nearly fall before Morgana lowers her leg again.

“Can’t keep up?” she asks, kissing her way down his neck. He’s going to say something, but she stops to suck a kiss over the knob of his throat and whatever words he had get lost. She knows him too well, better than anyone else in the world, and if she really wanted to she could probably make him scream loud enough to be heard up in the city. “If I make you come first,” she says, and slides her hands up under his tunic, rubs circles around his nipples, “I win again.”

That’s as unthinkable, as wrong, as him losing even a practice bout against her. A true nobleman always makes sure—

Her thumbs press flat and sparks fly under his skin, across his chest and down, and his cock aches where it’s trapped by his breeches and Morgana’s smiling, already thinking she’s won. Her tunic is belted with something almost wide enough to be a corset and he doesn’t have the patience to unfasten it, and he knows her nearly as well as she knows him—knows her body as well as she knows his—so he doesn’t bother, just slides his hand across the waistband of her trousers, grazing the edge of the cloth, and grins back at her when the muscles of her stomach jump under his hand. “You were lucky,” he says, because you have to say something in times like these.

“I’m good.” She drops a hand to his cock, cups him through his breeches and rubs just enough to tease. Arthur’s hips jerk forward and she trails her fingers up along the laces. “What, no witty retort?”

He kisses her because it’s easier than talking, distracts her with the slide of his tongue against hers as he gets his hand into her trousers, stroking gently through the rough curls to slippery-smooth skin. He’s not sure about the angle at first but then she gasps and tenses, pushing closer to his fingers for a moment before she pulls away and starts unlacing his breeches. He lets her.

When she gets his cock out of his smallclothes he almost moans at how good it feels to have it free, and Morgana looks too calm, much too calm, so when she brings her hand to her mouth to wet it he catches her wrist and does it himself, licking up the flat of her hand and then sucking two of her fingers into his mouth. Her breath catches and he’d smile if he weren’t already occupied—instead he flicks his tongue over the delicate skin between her fingers, and now he does smile, watching her eyelids flicker and droop.

She rubs her other thumb over the head of his cock, using the precome welling up to make her touch glide back and forth over the head and just below, perfect, and Arthur freezes and tries to think about something else, tries not to notice what she’s doing to him. She takes her hand from his mouth and curls it, wet and tight, around his cock, and this time when he reaches into her trousers she lets him, even moves a little so her legs are wider and it’s easier, and he’d feel a lot better about his chances if he couldn’t feel pleasure building, starting to gather.

“I’m going to wi—ah—win,” Morgana gasps as he circles his fingers over her clit, and he looks at the rapid rise and fall of her breasts and the high flush in her cheeks and wants to disagree but can’t because just watching her is canceling out all the effects of the sums he’s trying to do in his head. He slides his hand down further, teasing at the edges of her entrance, and she grinds down against his palm and manages, “Because I’m better than you.”

Arthur shakes his head.

She leans forward, shuddering at what the change in position does, and her hand tightens around him, his fingers—God—she’s so wet his fingers just slide into her, tight as she is, and thinking about how she’d feel around his cock almost makes him see stars, and then she whispers hot against his ear “I’m better than you and you like it” and it rushes down his spine and forward and he comes.

When he can move again he gives her a cloth to wipe her hands on. His legs feel watery and that’s the only reason he goes to his knees again. Morgana curls her hands over his shoulders when he pulls her trousers down to mid-thigh and tightens her grip as he runs his hands up her legs, back and forth over her folds, and finally she says, “Arthur, now,” and he stops teasing, leans in and strokes her clit with his tongue, just a few lazy sweeps before she shakes all over, trembling against his mouth. He catches her hips with both hands, steadying her.

“That was enjoyable,” she says finally.

Arthur stands and picks up their swords, hands hers to her. “I’m not sparring with you again.” This was too—too much of everything, too fierce and too powerful, too raw. He wasn’t Arthur Pendragon, Prince of Camelot, out here. He’s not sure who he was. He doesn’t know why he liked it.

Morgana spins her sword in the air before sheathing it, and the sunlight off the blade is a clarion call and the beat of drums. “We’ll see.”