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Nimueh smiled, shaking her head at the compliment and waiting patiently as Gai's gaze drifted fondly to her son. She felt a warm glow of pride. All she had ever wanted for her children were people who looked at them like that.
"Come along to my rooms whenever you like," she said encouragingly, "you can meet the children and find out how it all runs. You might be the one to carry it on one day. I'd love to show you." Arthur appeared at his mother's shoulder and handed Gaiane a glass of ice water.
"What are we talking about?" he asked, taking a sip of wine and making room for Mordred. The younger man edged into the gap behind Gaiane and rested a gentle hand on her arm. She seemed a bit happier.
"The orphanage," Nimueh replied brightly, "Gaiane's going to come and visit me." Mordred looked between them with the warmest of smiles. They were such similar people; simple and soft.
"I knew you two would hit it off," he said, indulging in a sip of red wine.
"You like children, Gaiane?" Arthur asked, throwing his brother an amused look. Mordred narrowed his eyes at him, managing a blush.
"Leave them alone, Arthur!" Nimueh reprimanded her eldest, hitting his chest with the flat of her hand, "don't tease." The king chuckled and took another sip of wine.

Tutting, Nimueh took Gaiane's hand again.
"I would love to make you some gowns," she said, encouraging her to turn, "you have the loveliest figure. I used to be as slim as you, believe it or not!"
"Of course we believe it, Mother," Mordred reassured her, "don't we, Arthur?"
"She was always beautiful," the king agreed. Nimueh hit them both playfully again.
"I said don't tease!"
"Who was teasing?"

The door behind them opened with an audible click. Tristan sauntered in, running his fingers through his hair. He made a beeline for the drinks cabinet and reached for the whisky decanter. Arthur coughed meaningfully, fixing his son with a hard look. The prince grinned back and switched to the watered wine. When he had his glass he approached the group by the fireside.
"Hello," the prince said to Gaiane with a two fingers salute, "Tristan, it's nice to meet you." He threw a look in his uncle's direction, "at LAST." The prince leaned forwards and added in a stage whisper.
"How on earth did he" he tipped his head in Dred's direction, "manage to end up with someone so pretty?"


Mordred
the darkness will rise from the deep


photo by jannis at flickr.com







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