Summary: The first step is admitting you have a problem.
Fandom: Merlin BBC
Spoilers and/or Warnings: none
Notes: Thanks to glass_icarus for the beta.
Title, Author and URL of original story: Hormones, Alcohol and Other Non-Magical Complications, by netgirl_y2k.
When the first cracks of dawn appeared through the window Gwen shifted, resigned to stiff muscles and a sleepless night. Morgana seemed to finally be resting comfortably, her face relaxed where she had been crying out half the night, full of fear. Gwen unfolded herself from the chair where she had kept her night's vigil, checked that Morgana had enough water if she should awake before Gwen returned, and went out into Camelot.
She stopped by her cottage to change and wash her face, but her mind was still with Morgana. The dreams had been particularly bad, and she wished there was something substantial she could do to make things better. She could pick some fresh flowers, at least; the ones that were currently in Morgana's chambers were growing limp.
Having gathered a posy of purple buds, she went back up to the castle and bumped into Merlin along the way. He looked somewhat pre-occupied, and took Gwen by the arm and dragged her into an alcove.
"I think I'm in love with Arthur," he said.
"Uh," said Gwen. She wasn't sure what the correct response was here - congratulations? Condolences?
"It's awful," Merlin continued, but he seemed to be glowing around the edges a bit, so Gwen wasn't sure how seriously to take that.
"Anyway, so you've been in love with Morgana for ages now, and I thought you might have some advice."
Gwen raised an eyebrow. "But I'm not in love with Morgana."
He looked at her with great sympathy, and she didn't like it at all. "Then who are those flowers for?"
The flowers! She'd almost forgotten, and she'd better get them in water soon. She hurried away, ignoring Merlin's nonsense. She had more important things to do.
"Are those flowers for me?" Morgana asked, sitting up in bed.
Gwen nodded happily, finding a fresh vase for them.
"Mmm," Morgana said luxuriously. "I think I finally got some real sleep, that was wonderful."
She stretched her arms up above her head and slowly got out of bed. Gwen watched as Morgana moved through the room, adjusting her hair as her nightdress fell out of its creases into soft lines over her hips.
"Gwen?" Gwen started. Morgana looked at her, puzzled. "Are you all right?"
"I --" Gwen hastily put the vase she'd been holding for the last minute or so down on the table. Her breath was a little short, her heartbeat a little quick, and she had to shake her head to stop herself staring at Morgana in dawning realisation.
She realised one other thing: she was going to have to kill Merlin.
When she found Merlin, he was staring dreamily into mid-air and twirling a quill in one hand. Gwen had a horrible feeling he might be attempting to compose a poem.
"I'm in love with Morgana," she said in despair.
"I know," Merlin said slowly.
"I didn't know!" She sighed and sat herself down next to Merlin, resting her chin in her hands. "I was happier when I didn't know."
Merlin smiled and nudged her shoulder companionably. "You and me both."
"This is a disaster," said Gwen. "What are we going to do?"
"Well," said Merlin, "I suspect that the first step is admitting that you have a problem."
"Right. Right, yes, okay. Acceptance is good." Gwen nodded to herself, then frowned. "All right, and now what do we do?"
"I was going to give this poem to Arthur when it's finished, what do you think?"
Gwen read about how Arthur's shoulders were like noble boulders, and didn't have the heart to say a word.
Gwen probably ought to have removed herself from the source of the problem, but that wasn't exactly an option when her problem was her employment. Suddenly, she could barely stammer out a sentence in front of Morgana, the only person she could normally count on not to make her feel embarrassed.
"We need to appeal to some higher power, I think," Merlin said thoughtfully after Gwen expressed -- well, wailed -- this to him.
"What, 'oh heavens, please prevent us from flinging ourselves upon our employers'?" Gwen asked sceptically. "I don't think that's going to do us any good."
Merlin muttered something about having tried every other power he knew, and Gwen patted his arm. The poor boy was getting delusional, and in her own desperation she couldn't blame him.
"I think we'll just have to help each other," she said. "That's got to count for something, hasn't it?"
"Maybe we should swap -- you can take Arthur, you'd be much better than I am anyway. And I could help Morgana with … whatever it is that you two do. Dresses and things."
"Oh, Merlin," Gwen said, trying not to laugh. "I don't think your sense of fashion would go down very well with her."
"Oh no, I didn't mean -- I didn't mean you don't have a sense of fashion! Your styles are just very different, that's all."
Then they got a summons; Prince Arthur and the Lady Morgana were being drunk and disorderly upstairs, and could they please be escorted away somewhere to be debauched in private?
Merlin's eyes lit up. Gwen tried very hard not to follow suit.
"Merlin!" Arthur cried delightedly when they arrived at the hall. He reached over and pawed at Merlin's chest a bit. Gwen supposed it was intended to be a manly thump, but mostly it just looked like Arthur was feeling his manservant up in front of everybody, which was sort of embarrassing. Merlin yelped a bit.
Morgana then proceeded to sway onto Gwen's shoulder. "Oh dear," said Gwen. "We should get you to bed."
"I like the sound of that," Morgana murmured huskily in her ear. Gwen squeaked.
"Right, er, well." She exchanged a panicked glance with Merlin and set about attempting to get Morgana back to her chambers without incident.
Morgana giggled all the way up the stairs, and she smelt really good, and every time they passed a secluded corner Gwen had to work very hard not to push Morgana against a wall and lick her throat.
"This is my punishment for sins in a past life," she said miserably as they got inside Morgana's room.
"What was that, dear?" Morgana asked.
"Nothing," said Gwen, and Morgana giggled again and stroked her hair.
"Okay, that was bad. That was definitely bad."
Gwen was hiding in a cellar. She'd been sent to wash Morgana's clothes and had ended up down here, absent-mindedly hugging one of Morgana's dresses. She realised what she was doing and hastily stopped.
"I know!" Merlin said indignantly. "He passed out on me, it was my perfect moment!"
"Merlin!" Gwen snapped. "That is not the plan. We are meant to be overcoming our unfortunate circumstances, not succumbing to them."
"You can't hide down here forever," Merlin said reasonably.
"I can try," she muttered.
"Gwen!" Morgana called from somewhere. "I need you!"
"Right, good luck with that," said Merlin.
"Don't do anything I wouldn't," Gwen hissed as she went to go see what Morgana wanted.
"Now, Gwen," Morgana said as Gwen entered the room. "We need to talk. I feel you've been avoiding me recently, and if there's anything I can do . . . ?"
"No! No, no, everything's fine."
"I really mean it," said Morgana, getting up from her seat and walking over to Gwen. She held her hand and leaned in very close to show just how sincere she was. "Anything at all." She kissed Gwen right on the mouth.
It took Gwen approximately half a second of telling herself that no, she absolutely mustn't, before she was kissing Morgana back.
She really wasn't going to have a leg to stand on next time she told Merlin off for taking far too long putting on Arthur's armour before a tournament.
"You know," Gwen murmured later, running her hands over Morgana's bare arms, "I really meant to work out my past mistakes and find a new way to approach my life so as not to fall into the same trap of --" She broke off, suddenly embarrassed.
"Of what?" Morgana asked, teasing.
"Of, well, looking." Looking in ways that definitely went beyond the realm of attentive servant, to be precise. It had all been very awkward.
"Ah, but I don't want you to stop," Morgana said, and kissed her.
"Well," Gwen decided. "I suppose that makes it all right, then."