mharific: Woman in medieval dress, holding a dove (arthurian - guinevere)
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Title: But That Was In Another Country
Author: Mhari
Fandom: Arthurian, sort of
Pairing: Mordred/Guenever
Rating: R for language and sexual situations
Words: 1463
Disclaimer: These particular versions of these characters are the brainchildren of [ profile] rainbowjehan, and are used with permission.
Summary: Mordred takes Guenever out on a date, or at least that's what he meant to do.
Notes/Warnings: As promised, fanfic of Soujin's Catechism, a lovely modern-day Arthurian story which you should read unless you're really and truly allergic to WsIP.

When Guenever opens the door of the apartment, he hears the alarm bells going off in the back of his head. She's dressed for what, he supposes, is technically a date; but the dress is too old for her, or else too young. It's deep red, V-necked, form-fitting; the color washes her out. She looks like a little girl playing dress-up, down to the hopeful expression.

"You look great," Mordred says, because he has to. "All set?"

He takes her out to dinner, the nicest he can reasonably afford. They talk a little about work, and he tells her about Gaheris and Gareth and the latest news from Gawain and Ragnelle. Then he sits there gritting his teeth while she catalogues the virtues of G.I. Lance, and hands her a tissue when she seems to need one, and swallows curses until the check comes.

Then they go back, and she asks him into the apartment, and as much as he wants to get home and make sure Clar hasn't burned the house down, he says okay.

"If you need to get back--"

"No, it's okay." This evening is Guenever's, he tells himself; his crazy siblings can deal with each other for a few hours. It won't kill them. Probably it won't even kill him.

It's just so pathetic -- this little wisp of a woman. The Guenever he remembers was full of life, red-gold and glowing, confident in her beauty and her rank and her husband's steadfast love. When she laughed it was like deep music, a peal like a church bell, not the nervous tinkle he occasionally gets out of Roxy. It was possible to desire her.

Fuck it, he thinks, we're none of us much improved, and he takes the drink she hands him and sits on her ugly flowered sofa, and they talk awhile. Books they've read, movies. Pretty boys in beards and waif-thin girls in blue body paint -- Guenever does laugh over that, a little too much; she's not handling the alcohol well.

"Cute guy though," she says.

"Oh, hell yeah."

She peeks up at him. "You gay?"

"Only on weekends," he says, and she giggles again, and buries her face against his shoulder.

"Sorry. I, oh. Sorry."

He ruffles her pallid hair. "It's okay. Not like I'm insulted."

"I just, you know."

"It's fine."

She's quiet for a minute or two. He leans back against the sofa cushions, shuts his eyes. Probably he shouldn't have had the drink; he still has to drive home. It doesn't seem to matter much just now.

Roxy says, stumbling a little, "I'm sorry about erry-- erry-- Crap. Earlier. I know you don't like to hear about him."

Never as dumb as she looked, no.

"Hey, it's okay."

"No, I'm sorry. I shouldn't--"

"It's okay. It's your life, you're allowed to talk about it."

He wants off the subject. But Roxy puts her arms around him, and he can hear the tears starting in her voice. "You're so nice."

Christ. "No, Gareth is nice. I do devilishly charming."

"You really are, and I always do this--"

"Hey." He manages to set the glass down without spilling icemelt on either of them, gets an arm around her shaking shoulders and holds. "It's okay. What I'm here for."

She sniffles a few times, and quiets, leaning against him. He thinks of Guenever, Guenever the Queen in deepest crimson that made her hair blaze like yellow gold; Guenever white as frost, turning her back to him, holding herself as if she would break. Lady, he said, and went to her and laid a hand gently, gently on her shoulder (be kind to her, Arthur had said. Be kind to her).

He was only half surprised when she fell into his arms.

Guenever in his cold bed, pressed against him, clinging as though she were drowning. Guenever's mouth, her hands, her white throat, her warm thighs. Like a fevered dream; this couldn't be happening to him -- but then none of it could, and that dream was kinder than the rest.

Then he's aware that he isn't dreaming. She's half in his lap, kissing him, her faded hair brushing his face. His hands slip on the slick synthetic fabric of her dress, and he pulls her closer, fumbling with the zipper in back, breathing the scent of sweat and Scotch and bargain-basement perfume. Still half in the past and thinking, the hell with it. Whatever she wants--

He touches skin. Hears Guenever whimper.

Be kind to her.

It's hard to think past the pounding of his own pulse, the heat of her body. How long since he's had this? Too long, too long playing responsible older brother to a handful of fucking lunatics-- and oh, God, Guenever--

She has her fingers in his hair, the way she always did, urgent, sensuous. He tugs her dress down, kisses the rising curve of her small breasts.

--Guenever too is his responsibility. Guenever is in his charge. Somewhere in the dark haze of his memory, everything blurring together, he promised Arthur-- Shit, he thinks, one small cold clear thought. Oh, shit, even as she arches against him and his mind blanks out again in pleasure.

"God, Mike."

Not Guenever. Not anymore. Not for uncounted years. The cold goes through him like a thread of ice, splitting him into two again: Mordred, blind with old desire, and Mike, who ought to know better. He raises his hands to hold her off, trying to make his voice work. "Look-- Roxy--"

"God, please. Please just--" She sinks against him, soft and warm and needing, and he stifles a groan.

"No. Listen. Listen to me. Okay?" With an effort he gets an arm between them, pushes her back. "Listen. We tried this once, remember? It didn't work then, and it won't work now."

"Don't say that."

"I'm saying it. Jesus-- don't-- don't do that--" Her hands in his hair again, driving him closer to the brink than the touch of her naked skin. "Don't. I'm serious."



"It's not the same!" Her eyes tear up again. "Everything was just wrong before. It wasn't you or me or--"

"Yeah. It was."


There's a whining note in her voice, something petty and pathetic. It makes it easier to push her gently away. "Yeah. Lancelot cut you loose and Arthur left you behind, and you latched onto me because I was there and I was supposed to look after you."

"It wasn't like that."

"Then what the hell was it like?"

Her face crumples. She looks down, her hair falling forward like a colorless veil. Dammit, he thinks, why do I always wind up the bad guy?

"It's not a good idea," he says finally.

Roxy sniffs, wipes her eyes with one hand, leaving a smear of mascara. Her other hand is still knotted in his shirt. "I just," she says, and sniffs again. "I'm so lonely."

"I know."

"You don't know," bitterly. "How would you know?"

That was Guenever, he thinks. No one else had ever loved as she loved. No one had ever had a harder choice to make. Of course not. Damn the woman. He takes a firm grip on her shoulders, before his hands can move anywhere else, and keeps his voice mild as he can. "Okay, fine, maybe not. I'm doing the best I can, Roxy. I'm here whenever you need me, but not for that. Not as a substitute--" for that self-centered son of a bitch? "--and not to fix your life for you. Okay?"

"Dammit." But it's mostly a whimper. Her shoulders shake under his hands.

"Dammit is good. Fuck you would also work, although problematic in this situation. You could try Get out of my apartment, you asshole."

He startles a giggle out of her. "Oh, Mike."

"Seriously. Go ahead, give it a shot."


"Why not? I am being kind of an asshole, here."

"I can't." She laughs again, half embarrassed.

He recognizes the truth in that. Guenever could have; Guenever could and did cut him down to size, when she wanted to, and never let him protest. But Guenever is gone, dead. There's only Roxy, small and pale and lost, with too many memories in her head and an empty place in her heart, and Roxy doesn't know how to be brave, or cruel.

Mordred brings her tissues and a glass of water, looking away while she straightens her clothes. He smooths her faded hair, fine and wispy as a child's. Then he kisses her cheek and goes downstairs to the car.

But all the way home his mind is hazy, picturing her again: Guenever in deepest red, her fair skin flushed under his mouth, and her hands, desperate, demanding, buried in his hair.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-08-11 03:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ahhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

Oh, God, Roxy--that is exactly Roxy, the way she fails so much at life, and she's lonely, she is, and she's hoping for her faerie-tale, her Cinderella movie, and it doesn't work like that. And poor Mike, two people, trying to hold onto two people who are himself and it's so hard.

I love how he flips between calling her Roxy and Guenever, almost unconsciously, in the course of the story That's so right, it's very subtle and shows the switch, and--

Just oh. So, so wonderful. You really are the most amazing writer.

♥ thank you.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-08-11 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-06 04:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
OK, so I downloaded it and then forgot... That's my normal behaviour... Anyway, I have now read it and am fascinated. I can't say I like WIPs unless they're just tantalising drabbles, but please please keep me informed so that I can read the final work! And your characters are great - no idea if they conform to the canon but they conform to the Arthurian universe you've created; lovely to see them in modern dress!


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