clare_dragonfly: A woman's legs, knees together, text: Do you think I meant country matters? (Shakespeare: country matters)
[personal profile] clare_dragonfly
Title: Held in the Palm
World: Ursulan
Word count: 813
Rating: PG-13 for implied sex and nastiness
Prompt: [community profile] rainbowfic Sulphur 1, snake; [community profile] stayintheroom, "Your ends don't even justify your ends."; [community profile] dailyprompt, things that are painful to remember
Notes: This story follows one I have written but not posted, in which Morwenna has taken over Camelot while Ursula is away fighting the saxons and seduced Gwynn. At the end of that story, Ursula and the knights return; Ursula and Morwenna are both pregnant. This begins a few months later.


"Don't do this, Morwenna," Gwynn hissed, grabbing her arm. She snatched her arm away from him, almost overbalancing, gravid with their child.

"Why shouldn't I?" she growled back. "And how dare you try to stop me."

"I dare because I am the only one who can, and you and I both know it." Gwynn held her gaze, and she held his, not backing away or turning away.

"She deserves it." Morwenna's voice was low, keeping her words from listening ears. "I have never been anything to her."

"How can you expect to be? Why should you even care? You've rejected your father's love and accepted none but your grandmother's."

"Perhaps because I lacked a mother!"

"Do you want her to be a mother to you?" Gwynn gentled his voice and laid a hand carefully on her shoulder. "Is jealousy your motive? I can tell you that it won't work."

"How should you know?"

"I think I might know her a little better than you do." Asperity he hadn't intended touched his voice. He dropped his hand and looked away.

Morwenna whirled, turning away from him, but she still did not walk away. He was getting through to her.

When she spoke, her voice was thick with tears. "Everything. It's all hers. And if you get your way it will never be mine."

"Morwenna." He stepped around her. "What can you expect? She didn't know who she was when you were born, and by the time she did--"

"She'd forgotten me." Morwenna was staring at the ground, but her tears had not yet fallen.

Gwynn did not know the whole story. By the time he'd come to court, his family favored beyond all expectations by the need for a royal consort, Ursula had been queen for years, Morwenna little more than a child. He knew from Ursula that when Morwenna was born, Ursula had given her to her father out of her desire to be a knight. He knew from Morgan Tud that he had brought his daughter to court as soon as he learned that her mother was the new queen.

And he knew what few others knew: the fact that Morwenna was, indeed, Ursula's child. The others knew her as her niece, the daughter of her half brother, the court physician Morgan Tud.

If the truth were known, it would destroy Ursula's reign, and thus the nation. But perhaps Ursula's reign was going to be destroyed anyway.

Gwynn took a deep breath. He was the only one who might be able to stop this, or at least pause it for a while. Morwenna was the only one who could truly end it. Or, perhaps, Ursula herself.

"Yes," he said, and Morwenna lifted her head, startled. "She did forget you. But is that reason enough to punish her, and the whole country, this way? Haven't you punished her enough?" He rested his hand on her cheek, tender, caring.

A tear trickled down her face as she stared back at him. She thrust her fist toward him. "Take it, then."

He put his hand under her fist and she opened it to let a tiny glass bottle fall into his palm. He moved his other hand from her cheek to lift the bottle--it looked absurdly delicate in his thick, rough fingers--into the dusty light from the wind hole. Cloudy liquid swirled inside. "What is it?" he asked, revolted.

"The venom of a certain local snake, mixed with the juice from crushing lily flowers."

He felt sick to his stomach. "Are you sure this would only have killed the child and not her?"

Morwenna tossed her fiery head, once more the controlled, depthless queen of his bed. "Of course. If I wished to kill her, I would have done it long ago. Do you think I do not know my poisons?"

Her father would also know this poison, he thought, but he said nothing. There was no need now. He closed his fist, hiding the tiny bottle within it until he could dispose of it safely.

"Is there anything you want of me, Morwenna?"

She scowled at him. "Only for you to cease meddling in my affairs."

"She is my wife," he reminded her. "They are my affairs as well."

Her scowl turned to a smirk, her eyes burning embers in her white face. "And perhaps her affairs indeed. You have not said that it is your child."

He turned away in shame. He could not say that and be certain. He had been afraid to speak to Ursula about it, afraid of her answer and of the questions she would have in return.

Morwenna's swollen belly pressed against his back, her fierce, muscular arms coming tight around his chest. "This one is yours," she whispered. "I swear it."

He nodded, feeling the cool of the poison glass in his palm. "I know."

Thanks for reading this story! If you enjoyed it, visit my main page for all stories I've posted at Dreamwidth, or the tag for this world for more stories with this setting or characters. You can also pledge at my Patreon for exclusive patron-only stories and prompt posts.

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August 2018

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