The Hills Are Alive
Gwen/Morgana ; PG ; 800 words
Morgana tosses in her bed, half between sleep and waking, fretful and confused. A rush of colours runs through her mind, and a cacophony of discordant noise; chaos.
She wakes up, and her mouth is open as if to cry out, but she makes no sound. Gwen starts awake in her chair across the room - Morgana frowns, she'd told Gwen to go home - and rushes over to her.
"My lady what is wrong --" Gwen starts, then freezes, looking as startled as Morgana feels at the tuneful melody that exited her mouth, "... that apparently I must ask you in song?"
Morgana gapes. "Gwen, why are you singing, I don't believe that that's quite fitting?" She stares at Gwen in horror as the question leaves her own mouth in an ill-composed and ill-sung chorus. She's never been much of a singer, and the sound leaving her mouth is a little ragged.
Gwen swallows, and taps her throat a bit. She coughs. "Morgana," she sings, a three-note riff. She pauses, then her face contorts as she chokes out an accompanying, doubtful "Ahh, ahh, ahh?"
"Oh, I refuse to rhyme," Morgana starts indignantly, though it comes out as more of a croon. "All of the time," she finishes, and thuds her head back against the wall.
Gwen shakes her head silently and emphatically and fetches paper and ink.
What's happening?! she scribbles.
Morgana shrugs, her eyes wide.
Magic??? Gwen continued, her punctuation taking on a desperate edge.
Morgana reaches over and grabs the quill out of her hands. Don't look at me!
Gwen sighs. There are at least two audible notes in it.
They head out into the castle in silence, and Morgana can hear snatches of song everywhere - confused and frightened and frequently out-of-tune.
"It's not just us," Gwen and Morgana chorus, "everyone's making a fuss."
"Oh no," Gwen starts. "'Fraid so," Morgana answers.
"Morgana!" comes a chirpy tenor from down the corridor, followed by the already-requisite "Ahh, ahh, ahh."
Merlin and Arthur stride up to them. Arthur looks livid, while Merlin appears to be half-amused and half-nervous.
"Arthur won't speak," Merlin informs them - and bless him, he really can't hold a tune, Morgana notes - "he thinks it'll make him look weak."
"I don't, it won't," Arthur hums in a low baritone.
Through a series of complicated hand gestures, they decide to split off and go and see Uther and Gaius respectively. They pass a few servants who have got quite into the spirit of things, singing their way through the stone corridors, dancing and throwing broomsticks daintily to each other.
Merlin and Gwen head for Gaius while Arthur and Morgana tackle the king. Morgana is smirking by the time they reach the throne room, because the imagined image of Uther's face is really rather priceless. When she looks over, the still-mute Arthur has the ghost of a grin about him too.
"My Lord!" Morgana sings out, sweeping into the room with her arms wide just for a little extra fun. "It's your ward!"
"Morgana," Uther replies in a surprisingly high, gentle singing voice, but his face is thunderous as his mouth twists around the "ahh, ahh, ahh."
Arthur breaks his silence. "Father, what is going on? Why has the castle burst into song?"
Uther looks horrified at hearing Arthur succumbing to the music as well.
"Sorcery," Uther barks out (tunefully). "Soon we'll see."
"I think it's rather nice," Gwen sings, "... as a magical device."
Morgana smiles, because she knows what Gwen means. The knights are doing their drills whilst singing together in rumbling shanties. Children run through the courtyards, singing loudly and cheerfully.
"Guinevere," Morgana sings, the last syllable drawn out long, "to me you are so dear."
Gwen winces. "That's nice but for just one thing, you really cannot sing."
Morgana's all set to be affronted, but then Gwen kisses her, gentle and quiet, stopping all further protest.
It's at this point that Merlin bursts in on them. "I fixed it, I fixed it!" he shouts delightedly, waving his hands around and grinning like an idiot. His voice is his usual ridiculous voice with not a hint of melody in sight. He pauses as Morgana and Gwen stare at him. "By which I mean that I had absolutely nothing to do with the outburst of song around Camelot this morning, but luckily I was able to assist Gaius with an entirely non-magical remedy."
Morgana blinks. She has no idea what Merlin's talking about.
"Merlin," says Gwen mildly. "Could you please bugger off?"
Merlin stares at them until his eyes resemble plates. "Oh!" he says, and runs away.
Gwen lays a hand on Morgana's cheek and tilts her head back to face her.
"I'm not singing any more, you don't need to shut me up," Morgana says.
"Mmm," Gwen agrees, and kisses her again. "I'll come up with my next excuse later."
Hunith/Tom ; PG ; 1000 words ; AU ; inspired by this comment thread
Tom wakes up groggily, in the dark and in pain.
Gwen's friend Merlin is hovering over him, looking anxious.
Tom frowns. "What --?"
Merlin shakes his head. "Don't make a sound," he hisses. "I'm getting you out."
Tom starts to protest this, because look how well that turned out last time, but then he hears the sound of guards overhead.
"Come with me," says Merlin, and Tom figures he's out of options.
He gets up, wincing as he feels bruises and scars in a dozen places, and Merlin starts heading down a dark passage. Tom follows.
They make it all the way out of the castle under cover of darkness - Merlin seems to have a knack about him, a way of making guards look the other way.
"Will you be all right from here?" Merlin asks as he leads a horse from the stables.
Tom nods. "I'll find my way. Merlin, tell Gwen I'll come back for her, I will see her again. Tell her I'm sorry, but --"
"An absent father is better than a dead one," says Merlin with a small smile. "I know. Listen, go to Ealdor, it's two days' ride from here, due east. My mother's there, Hunith. She can help you."
"I don't know how to thank you," says Tom.
"Be safe. I'll send Gwen to you as soon as I can."
Tom nods tightly and rides off into the night.
The road is long and lonely. Tom hasn't travelled like this since he and Maria were first setting out from the village they grew up in, looking for somewhere bigger, somewhere to raise a family. He misses her so much tonight, and he can't bear to think of Gwen all alone. But he knows the Lady Morgana is a gracious employer, and Merlin seems like a good boy. They'll look after his little girl.
He dresses his wounds and tries to ignore his gnawing hunger. He sleeps under the stars and dreams of Maria, her bright smile and clever hands, so like Gwen.
"Hunith! Hunith, there's a man to see you!"
Hunith frowns and puts down her washing, stepping outside the front door.
Young Sarah is waving excitedly at her, racing ahead of a man dismounting from his horse. The man looks up to meet Hunith's eye, his expression relieved, then he sags against the horse, eyes falling shut.
Hunith rushes over to him, gesturing to Sarah to help her bring him inside.
Tom comes to in a warm bed. He starts upright, confused, but his pounding head makes him think better of that and he sinks back down again.
"Oh good, you're awake," says a woman, looking up from the table.
"You must be Hunith," Tom says slowly.
She nods. "My son sent you, didn't he. Here, drink this." She hands him a mug of water, and Tom drinks it greedily. "Now, tell me what happened."
Three days later, Gwen arrives. She finds her father outside in the garden and flings himself on him, peppering him with questions. Hunith watches them both through the window, smiling at the way Tom's whole body comes alive.
Gwen comes inside a little while later, almost tearful with gratitude.
"Gwen," Hunith says, laughing and halting the girl's stammered thanks, "it's all right. It gives me a chance to repay you for saving our village. Your father's a good soul and an honest worker, and we can always use those."
"We've never lived apart before," Gwen says quietly. "It's going to be so strange without him."
Hunith smiles and pulls Gwen for a hug. "You can come and see him any time you like. Any friend of my son's is always welcome here."
Gwen's smile is radiant as she steps back. "You're brilliant," she says, looking very young. Hunith's heart aches a little, but she smiles back.
Hunith's glad to see how quickly Tom settles into the village, and how quickly everyone takes him into their hearts. He sets up a small smithy on the edge of town, mostly out of bits of scrap metal, and trains up a couple of the youngsters to help him out. Before long half of Ealdor own some of his wares. Then word starts to spread that there's a blacksmith in the middle of nowhere who can shoe a horse, and trade begins to drift Ealdor's way; not too much, because these men and women are skilled farmers with no desire to change, but more than they ever could have dreamt of under the threat of roaming bands.
Tom's a local hero, and when Hunith kisses him under a harvest moon it's all that anyone talks about for a week. She doesn't care at all, something warm and good blooming inside her.
Gwen and Merlin come to visit in the winter. It doesn't take them long to figure it out, and when they do Gwen claps her hands together in delighted surprise while Merlin looks bewildered but pleased. Tom takes Hunith's hand, suggests that the two of them are like brother and sister now, and laughs and laughs at their shared expressions of horror.
There's a knock on the door a few hours later, and Hunith stares openly at Prince Arthur, she's so surprised to see him and Morgana.
"I --" Arthur starts, looking uncomfortable. "I understand that I may not be welcome here, but if I come in any capacity at all, it is as Merlin and Guinevere's friend."
Morgana glances at Arthur then back at Hunith, uncertain. Hunith shakes her head and gathers up these last two motherless children, embracing them the way she hopes their mothers did, once.
"Come in," she says with a smile, already imagining the surprise that awaits the others inside, "supper's almost ready."