Fic: Counting Days (Morgana/Gwen)
Warnings: Past character death (the fic is about Morgana being a ghost after all).
Summary: Written for this prompt at the Gwen/Morgana AU ficathon - [modern day ghosts] morgana's haunting the house gwen moves into. gwen's the first person who's been able to see morgana since she died. -
Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin and I make no money from this fanfiction.
Morgana was used to new people moving into her house, she supposed that was what you got for living in housing for rent- well not living exactly, it was just that the word haunting made it sound like she was the one intruding and not the other way round. Besides, aside from occasionally rearranging the odd trinket (out of boredom more than anything else) or stealing socks, she barely did any of the standard haunting stuff; all in all she was the perfect roommate- so perfect, in fact, that no-one ever knew she was even there.
The previous couple who had lived there had been less than perfect, having them in the house had been like having front row seats to permanent soap opera- it was too bad that Morgana had always hated those. They’d lived there for a couple of years but now they were having a baby they’d had to move to somewhere with a little more space. She couldn’t say she’d miss them; she wouldn’t have minded the constant fighting if they had at least had the decency to make their arguments interesting.
What she hoped for this time was someone who at least had decent taste in television- that way Morgana could watch too. It wasn’t as easy to read along with someone without them feeling the tell-tale cold chill but she missed reading enough that she’d give it a shot if whoever was moving in brought anything remotely good. Overall, Morgana would say that her demands were fairly reasonable, not that she actually had any say in the matter.
A slight creak and the jangling of keys let Morgana know that the new person or people (she wasn’t sure which) was coming in, she wandered to the stairs so she could get a good view of whoever was coming in- it was always somewhat enjoyable watching people struggle with their cases, as a ghost sometimes a little schadenfreude was the only entertainment you could get.
The new girl was certainly pretty; Morgana would have to give her that. Still, she wasn’t going to let her off the hook that easily, she was going to get the compulsory mocking that every new resident received before insulting a person who couldn’t hear what was being said got too dull- as fun as it was to get away with it, it was kind of sad that no-one could actually appreciate her wit.
The girl dragged the rest of her stuff in and closed the door behind her- looked like she was living alone (for all she knew anyways). The girl grabbed one of her bags and started pulling it up the stairs, Morgana bracing herself for the inevitable point when she would walk through her- but instead she stopped, furrowing her brow a little.
“No-one told me that the house came with a ghost,” she said, smiling.
Morgana stared at her in shock- she couldn’t fathom the idea that someone might actually be able to see her but at the same time, there didn’t seem to be any other explanation for what the girl had said.
“You can see me?” Morgana asked, after a little while.
“Indeed I can; I’m Gwen by the way,” she replied.
“You don’t seem very scared,” Morgana said, suspiciously.
“Should I be?” Gwen asked, looking a little confused. “I mean, I don’t know you well enough yet to make any judgements.”
“Most people would be afraid of a ghost.”
“A ghost is just the spirit of a dead person,” Gwen said, shrugging. “Besides, you aren’t the first ghost I’ve seen- I used to have some of my best conversations with my Grandmother’s ghost before she moved on to the afterlife.”
“I see,” Morgana said, feeling surprised at how blasé Gwen seemed to be about the whole thing.
“I think I better put this bag in my new room, it’s starting to hurt my arm.” Morgana realised that was her cue to move out the way as Gwen lumbered up the stairs.
“I would offer to help but I can’t, what with the whole being incorporeal thing,” Morgana said, shrugging innocently.
Gwen rolled her eyes. “Excuses excuses…”
“I think we should talk about the whole housemate thing,” Gwen said, absentmindedly later, when she was unpacking her clothes.
“Are there going to be rules?” Morgana had never had to abide by house rules in all her time there and starting now seemed like an unpleasant concept.
“More like guidelines- it just makes it easier to get along.” Morgana could already tell that Gwen was one of those people who made everything seem so reasonable that it was impossible not to go along with their suggestions. “For example, I would prefer if you knock first before coming into my room.”
“Knock?” Morgana was already not a fan of this idea. “Do you have any idea how much energy it takes just to touch something?”
“Right, sorry; I guess just ask then.” See- reasonable.
“Fine,” Morgana conceded. “Anything else?”
“Well, I’m guessing you won’t nick my food or use up my shampoo- so nothing from me. What about you?”
Morgana considered for a minute. “If you could leave the TV on when you’re out during the day I’d be much obliged- also, I think it would be easier for you to change the channel than me, so it’d be great if you could be on remote duty.”
“Is that all you do with your afterlife, watch television?” Gwen giggled.
“There isn’t much else I can do; I need to do something to stem the boredom.” Morgana delivered it humorously but Gwen thought she detected a hint of sadness and frustration behind those words.
“You can watch some of my DVDs if you want,” Gwen offered. “Although, I’m not sure whether we have the same tastes or not.”
“In my day, I used to still watch everything on video,” Morgana said, feeling too awkward to thank Gwen for her offer.
“When was your day, exactly?” Gwen asked.
“Gwen!” Morgana mock gasped. “Don’t you know that it’s rude to ask a lady her age? But seriously- I died in 1999- about two weeks before the millennium, which you could probably tell from this outfit.”
“How did you die?” Gwen’s serious tone cut through all Morgana’s joking.
“Guess!” Morgana said, enthusiastically.
“I don’t know,” Gwen replied, feeling that to guess wrongly would be somewhat awkward.
“If you won’t guess, then I guess you’ll just have to wonder!” Morgana retorted, smirking.
“I guess so.”
The next few days were a period of adjustment for Morgana; she found that she had to remember all those social norms that came along with actually being able to interact with someone- her Ps and Qs were more than a little rusty after over a decade of non-use. Gwen on the other hand seemed unperturbed by the turn of events, she kept saying how nice it was not to have to live alone- and she sounded like she meant it. And it wasn’t like there weren’t benefits for Morgana too. She’d forgotten how much fun just talking to someone could be. Besides, it turned out they did share the same taste in television after all.
Soon, however, they got into an easy routine- Morgana would be there to greet Gwen in the morning (it appeared that ghosts were unable to sleep), she’d also be there when she got home and they’d spend their evening together. And then when Gwen went to bed, Morgana would resume her activity of watching television- at first the fact that the noise travelled slightly was enough to keep Gwen awake but after a while it became a comforting reminder that Morgana was still there.
Gwen soon learned that Morgana was never going to follow her rules.
“What are you doing?” Morgana asked one day, coming out of no-where, bursting into the room whilst Gwen was in the middle of changing.
“Morgana!” Gwen squeaked, anxiously covering herself with her hands.
“Is that top new?” Morgana was apparently oblivious to any awkwardness inherent in the situation.
“Yeah, I went shopping yesterday- I’m trying them on again now, so if you don’t mind…”
“At least you get to go shopping- I’m permanently trapped in the nineties,” Morgana said, wistfully. “Besides, don’t be so quick to get rid of me- don’t you want my opinion on how you look?”
Blushing, Gwen lowered her arms and quickly put on the top as quickly as she could.
“Beautiful.” Morgana’s comment only served to make Gwen blush even harder.
Their first argument was after the first time Gwen had her mates over. Truth be told, Gwen had been a little anxious about inviting them over before then- she suspected there would be more than a little bit of awkwardness in inviting them over to a haunted house, especially as she would be the only one able to see Morgana. But she’d gotten sick of them asking so eventually she knew that she was just going to have to get it over with.
So over came Arthur, Lancelot and Merlin (it only struck Gwen now, how male her crowd of friends really was) to hang out, watch films, and eat all the snacks in Gwen’s cupboard. It started off okay; Morgana remained upstairs for the first hour or so of their visit- but eventually her curiosity got the better of her and she just had to venture downstairs to scope out the situation. She’d just stood there silently watching for a while but after a while she just couldn’t keep her mouth shut.
“These action scenes are pretty cool,” Arthur said, before enthusiastically slurping down a mouthful of Gatorade.
“These action scenes are pretty cool,’ Morgana repeated in a silly voice, adding over the top macho hand gestures.
Gwen shot Morgana a sharp look but Morgana just looked away haughtily.
“We’re out of crisps,” Merlin said, somewhat later, more as a random statement than anything else.
“That’s because you’ve eaten them all!” Morgana said, rolling her eyes.
“That’s because you’ve eaten them all!” Arthur said, a mere fraction of a second later.
“Hey! That’s what I just said!” Morgana was insulted at the unintentional plagiarism even though she knew he couldn’t possibly have heard anything.
Gwen just sighed in a long suffering kind of way and vowed to give Morgana a stern telling off (well as stern as Gwen ever got) when the boys had cleared out.
But until then, the awkwardness continued.
“Morgana, you know, I really wish you wouldn’t make comments when my friends are over- I like these people and I want to spend time with them and it’s a little difficult when you’re giving a running commentary than only I can hear,” Gwen indeed said the next day.
Morgana crossed her arms in front of her chest, defensively. “It’s not my fault that that Arthur bloke is an idiot!”
“He takes some getting used to,” Gwen admitted, smiling a little. “But he’s my friend. Have you never considered making any ghost friends? They’d actually be able to hear you.”
“Most other ghosts are all Jacob Marley- and besides, it takes too much energy to leave the house- after a while I just get pulled back here anyway,” Morgana argued, still sounding a little sour.
“Oh,” Gwen replied, simply.
“So I guess you have the honour of being my only friend in the world…”
“What are you reading?” Morgana had forgotten to knock- again- and had instead just walked straight through the door.
Gwen jumped, she always jumped despite the fact that she should be used to it by now, it was just that ghosts didn’t tend to make any of the usual sounds that a flesh and blood human would as the entered the room- there was no creaking of the floorboards, no squeak of the door.
She sighed, knowing by now that Morgana was set enough in her ways that telling her off only wasted breath. “Wuthering heights.”
“I know the song but I never did get around to reading it before I died,” Morgana said, shrugging.
“It’s pretty good so far.” She was only about 40 pages in.
Morgana hesitated before she asked her next question. “Do you mind if I read over your shoulder?”
“Normally I’d say no but I think you need to introduce some literature into your entertainment diet.”
Morgana moved across the room and positioned herself so that she had a good view, standing so close to Gwen that, had Morgana been alive, Gwen would have been able to feel her breath on her skin. As if to compensate for this lack, she instead broke out in intense goosebumps, a strange shivery feeling passing over her skin like a sudden gust of wind. It was odd, Morgana had no physical body, but she could feel her presence so strongly that it seemed more intense somehow. She wondered whether it felt the same for Morgana, whether ghosts had senses in the same way at all. She just hoped she couldn’t hear how fast her heart was beating.
Gwen coughed awkwardly, deliberately breaking the silence that had occurred in the past few minutes. “How fast do you read; when should I turn the page?”
“Just do as you’d do normally, I’ll keep up- you won’t even know I’m here,” Morgana said, casually.
‘Some how I very much doubt that,’ Gwen thought to herself.
“You’re going to electrocute yourself if you’re not careful,” Morgana remarked. “Why don’t you just let the landlord fix it?”
“I am perfectly capable of fixing this wiring myself- I’m an electrician’s daughter!” Gwen explained, barely paying attention to Morgana’s objections.
“Then again, it might not be such a bad thing if you died,” Morgana joked, cocking her head to the side.
Gwen put the finishing touches on her repair job, abstaining from all further conversation until it was done.
Dusting herself off, she stepped back from the crevice, turning to face Morgana. “See, I managed to survive.”
“Lucky us,” Morgana said, in a tone of mock sarcasm.
“Is that how you died then? Electrocution?” Gwen guessed on whim.
Morgana smirked. “I’m afraid you’ll have to try again!”
Morgana leaned forward, with the intent to kiss her. She ended up slipping part of the way through Gwen’s head instead.
“I’m sorry; you just make me feel so alive.” Then she ran from the room leaving Gwen completely alone. She stood there for a moment, her fingers brushing her numb and tingling lip, before launching into a search for Morgana.
After an hour of searching she realised that Morgana didn’t want to be found- she consoled herself with the knowledge that nothing could actually happen to Morgana, it wasn’t like she could die twice.
It still didn’t give her much comfort.
“Gwen, is it okay if I come in?” Morgana asked, the next day- the fact that she was actually asking permission for once was more than a little alarming to Gwen.
“Yes, come in,” Gwen said, softly.
Morgana walked through the wall, slowly, hesitantly. “Hi.”
“I guess I better explain,” Morgana said. “The thing is, I never was much one for talking when I was alive- especially not with anyone I fancied. I guess I just forgot for a moment; I’ve heard that having a ghost walk through you is pretty unpleasant so…”
Gwen let a smile creep to her face. “It wasn’t all that bad; it was certainly the most unusual kiss I’ve had.”
“Oh?” Morgana sounded hopeful despite herself.
“Didn’t you say that you could touch things if you really tried?” Gwen asked. “Why don’t you just focus on making your lips solid for a little while so we can try again?”
Morgana nodded, somewhat nervously. Her brow furrowed with concentration as she attempted to do what Gwen suggested. The first few times were complete disasters, she just kept falling through Gwen’s head every single time.
“Just try again,” Gwen said, soothingly, sensing her frustration. “There’s no rush.”
After a couple of other attempts, she managed to sustain it long enough for a real kiss; she revelled in the sensation she hadn’t felt for years now- but after about a minute her powers of solidity failed and she ended up falling through Gwen’s head again causing them both to laugh.
Morgana knew she had time to master the art.
There were certain advantages and disadvantages to having a ghost for a girlfriend, Gwen realised. On the negative side she couldn’t introduce Morgana to her friends or even tell anyone that she was actually dating her- the plus side to that was that there weren’t any awkward introductions to the parents to consider either (her dad was just a little bit overprotective).
The physical side of their relationship was interesting to say the least- they’d gotten the art of ghostly kisses down by now but the other experimentations had produced mixed results so far.
Still, she the knowledge that she was coming home to Morgana was enough to put a smile on her face as she walked home from work.
One day (because the early hours of the morning still counted as the day) Gwen came home to find Morgana sitting in the corner, clutching her knees to her chest, looking thoroughly miserable- the TV. still blaring in the background despite the that Morgana clearly wasn’t watching it anymore.
“Where have you been?” she asked, coldly.
“I’m sorry; I had forgotten that we were supposed to go out after work- I would have told you,” Gwen said, instinctively reaching out to her despite the fact that they couldn’t actually touch without Morgana’s whole-hearted effort- and she definitely wasn’t going to be giving that right now.
Morgana dropped her grasp on her knees and crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Anything could have happened to you,” she said, unwilling to let it go just yet. “And I wouldn’t have known.”
“Well you’re dead and you’re alright,” Gwen replied, going for a bit of levity.
The dismayed expression Morgana’s face showed her that it had been the wrong choice. “We’d be separated…”
“I’m sorry,” Gwen said, again, apologising more for the situation they happened to find themselves in rather than for anything she had actually done. “But nothing is going to happen to me, I promise.”
“I used to think like that and look what happened to me…” She did sound a little softer though.
“I promise.” The look in Gwen’s brown eyes was just so sincere that she had to believe her.
Morgana smiled a little. “Okay.”
Gwen tried not to bring her friends over too often, it seemed unfair to flaunt them, and it hadn’t gone so well when she had tried it- Morgana’s immediate dislike of Arthur had stuck firm and fast (although Gwen suspected that Morgana would have actually gotten along with him had they been able to verbally spar) and she didn’t seem to particularly like any of the others either.
But some things in life are inevitable and they’d ended up coming round again. She waited for a barrage of sarcastic comments from Morgana; instead, she had just sat there with them, laughing along with the jokes as if she were just part of the gang.
Gwen felt incredibly privileged to be the only one able to hear such a beautiful sound.
“Do we have to watch this?” Morgana whined.
“You don’t have to watch it,” Gwen answered. “But I am- it’s entirely your choice whether you want to watch it with me or not.”
Morgana huffed but didn’t move. “Fine, but you should know I hate Eastenders.”
“I know but it’s only fair that I get to choose once in a while,” Gwen said, mildly.
“Fine.” Morgana was using the tone that she only used when she knew Gwen was right about something but she didn’t want to admit that.
As usual Morgana was snarking all the way through it- mocking the weak characterisation and ridiculous plot points. Then all of a sudden she got very quiet.
One of the characters had taken a dramatic tumble down the stairs and had yet to be found by anyone. Gwen looked at Morgana and waited.
The silence stretched between them, the sounds in the room (the television, the tick of the clock etc,) seeming muffled and far away all of a sudden.
“I broke my neck falling down the stairs,” Morgana said, her voice sounding strained, not a single hint of the previous joking that had previously surrounded the subject was present. “It took ages before anyone found my body- a whole bunch of newspapers had piled up and that’s what tipped them off.”
Morgana turned to look at Gwen for a brief moment, as if to make sure she were still there, before going back to staring at a slight stain on the wall. Gwen turned the TV off.
“It was quite odd, watching them take my body away.” She laughed, mirthlessly, before continuing. “Everyone dreams of going to their own funeral but I couldn’t leave the house- so I’m not sure what it was like. So there it is: my truth about my death at last.”
She sounded so tired all of a sudden; like the energy had been drained out of her. Gwen’s normal response (if there was such a thing) would be to offer tea or hugs- but she had to rely on only the power of her words for consolation.
“I’m sorry, that must have been awful.” The words felt so petty, so small- but what else could she say? There was nothing she could do to change what had happened as much as she might like it.
“Thank you.” Morgana still sounded sad but it was a sadness that was less heavy somehow.
Morgana put her arm around Gwen and held her for as long as she could last.
Gwen half expected Morgana to be gone when she woke up in the morning- she’d thought that giving up that information had been the thing that Morgana had needed to do before she moved on. But apparently that wasn’t the case; Gwen had often thought about when this might happen and felt conflicted. She’d be happy for Morgana when she finally got to feel some sense of closure- the human spirit was not made to be bound to the earth forever- but she’d also miss her like mad. She supposed it was the same as knowing that anyone you loved could die any minute- but Morgana had the head start in that she had already done that and was just waiting around for it to be finalised.
Morgana did seem happier, she was back to joking again, but she still seemed firmly tethered to this house. Gwen guessed she was waiting for something else but she just couldn’t work out what that was.
She wasn’t sure Morgana knew either.
“I googled you,” Gwen brought up, casually.
“You kids and your internet,” Morgana said, in mock curmudgeon style. “Find anything interesting?”
Gwen paused. “I found an old local news article about you, about your death. It says that your father was devastated when he found out.”
“Was he really?” Morgana asked, sarcastically.
“He’s still alive,” Gwen added, seriously.
“Good to know!” Morgana said, even more sarcastically than before.
“I saw your father today,” Gwen said- having not told Morgana that she had even planned to track him down in the first place.
“And how did you manage that?” Morgana asked, unsure as to whether to be annoyed or merely amused.
“It wasn’t hard,” Gwen lied (thinking about the strenuous hours of internet searching and then all the work that had gone into creating a situation where she could naturally meet him). “It’s only fair that I get to meet my girlfriend’s father after all.”
“And?” Morgana asked, expectantly.
“He seems stern, certainly, but I think he has a soft side.”
Morgana snorted. “Your problem is that you think everyone is nice deep down.”
“He has a picture of you in his wallet.” That promptly shut Morgana up.
After a few moments Morgana recovered enough to talk back. “Yeah well, he probably just forgot to take it out.”
“I doubt it,” Gwen replied, seriously.
Morgana shrugged. “Whatever- let’s just watch TV, okay? I still haven’t finished all of Buffy and I want to know what happens in the end.”
Gwen knew that was her cue to stop going on about it. “Okay but I’m not sure how you’re going to feel about Season 6.”
Gwen had tried to broach the subject several more times but to no avail.
“I don’t need to hear about him; we didn’t even get on whilst I was alive and he’s certainly no use to me now,” had been Morgana’s final words on the subject.
Gwen wondered whether she had been completely barking up the wrong tree when she had tried to get in contact with him- but something told her that she was close to something, she just wasn’t sure what.
“You spend a lot of time with her, that’s all I’m saying,” Morgana said, shrugging in a manner she hoped was nonchalant.
“Mithian is just a friend,” Gwen protested, not for the first time. “She’s actually more interested in Arthur than anyone else.”
Morgana wasn’t sure how it would even be possible that someone would prefer Arthur to Gwen but that wasn’t the issue at hand. Choking back tears that wouldn’t even really exist in the first place, she continued with her point. “All I’m saying is that if you were going to see someone else, it would be okay, I’d understand. I know the whole house situation would be awkward at first but we’d make it work out.”
“Is this your roundabout way of dumping me? Because I’d rather you just tell me outright,” Gwen said, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
“No…it’s just I know that we’ll never be a normal couple…and someday I know that’s not going to be good enough- I don’t want you to be held back because of me.”
“Morgana, you’re enough for me, you are more than enough for me,” Gwen protested, tears forming in her eyes. “I love you. Can’t you see that?”
Morgana looked right into her eyes, not wavering at all. “I know and it’s because I love you that I want you to be happy.”
“But I am,” Gwen replied.
Morgana leaned in to kiss her, their lips meeting more furiously than they ever had before, getting lost in the warmth of her touch, forgetting to concentrate, forgetting everything but her. The entire universe seemed to shrink; it was smaller than this house, smaller than this room even, it was only big enough for the two of them and that was glorious.
After what seemed like a lifetime they reluctantly pulled away.
“You’re glowing,” Gwen said, her tone a mix of bewilderment and wonder.
“I’m happy.” Morgana smiled.
“But you’re literally glowing.” Gwen didn’t want to smile, she didn’t want to do anything for fear of what was going to happen next.
Morgana looked down at her hand and back up at Gwen. “I think I’m dying.” She was getting choked up again, her eyes widening with panic as she started to float upwards off the ground.
“Morgana!” Gwen said, stretching out her hand in a futile effort to delay what was happening by grabbing Morgana.
“Well, this is just typical- let me go just when I felt alright about staying,” Morgana grumbled, seeming somewhat calmer.
“I don’t want to lose you,” Gwen sobbed.
“I know but it’s time,” Morgana replied. “But it’s not the last time we’ll see each other; I promise that next time it’ll be different, we’ll have more time.”
“Until next time then,” Gwen said, trying to smile through the tears.
“Thank you,” said Morgana.
And then she was gone.
Author notes: I don’t actually know anything about Eastenders; I just picked a Soap Opera at random, so I have no idea what it’s like or whether they’ve ever done any storyline like that. The title of the fic comes from a lyric in the song ‘House’ by Amanda Mair, a song I think goes quite well with this fic. I’m not really sure how I feel about this fic now that I’ve completed it; I had some problems characterising Morgana in this, but I hope that quintenttsy liked it. Please leave a comment telling me what you think of it; all feedback is appreciated.