Title: Green Rating: G Word count: ~500 Pairings: none Warnings: none Disclaimer: I do not own this version of Merlin, nor am I making any profit from it. Prompt: This was written for Merlinadvent 2009 Day 5, using the prompt: Food for thought
Only a short snippet today. I hope to have more time tomorrow.
Morgana picks idly at her food and Merlin watches the furrow between Gwen's brows deepen.
"What's wrong?" he asks in a low tone, bending to bring his mouth closer to her ear.
"Nothing," she says, but her brow is still wrinkled.
"You can tell me," he coaxes, and she wriggles restlessly before looking up at him. "Morgana doesn't really like the food at this time of year," she says.
It's incomprehensible to Merlin - it's just the sort of food he loves and so rich! At this time of the year in Ealdor they'd be eking out their stores, carefully examining what was put aside to see what treats could be spared for a Midwinter celebration. His mother had always put aside hazelnuts from their tree, and she'd swap with Rachael whose apricot tree produced a bounty of dried apricots each year.
Looking at Morgana's plate, though, Merlin remembers what he usually sees her eating. She likes fresh fruit and vegetables, he thinks; less meat than Arthur, and far less bread. Today there is a mutton stew, laden with root vegetables and rich gravy. Morgana pokes at it listlessly, picking out a few carrots. Her bread is untouched at her elbow.
There just aren't fresh foods at this time of year. Now that the snowstorm has covered even the hardiest of winter greens, it's all stored food until the Spring. The late apples are still good, and in the cold storage cellar they will last a while yet, but the other fruit is well past its season: there's only dried fruits in the kitchens at the moment.
Now that Gwen has mentioned it, he can see that Morgana has barely eaten more than a few mouthfuls. She's slender as a reed, and a body needs fuel to fend off the winter chill.
* * *
In the middle of the night Merlin wakes up with an idea. "Mustard," he mutters to himself, scared that he will forget before he wakes again. "Mustard, mustard."
In the morning he seeks Gwen out.
"Have you ever grown mustard and cress?" he asks her. She looks at him blankly, but as he explains she grows animated. They find a tray and beg some light muslin from Cook which was otherwise destined for puddings. Gaius has the seeds they need and a light window with a wide sill.
"It won't be very filling," Gaius warns them, but they never really thought it would be. It will be fresh and green, and if Morgana has some greens, maybe she will be able to face the heavy stews and roasts of winter with more appetite.
Gaius may laugh as they carefully water the seeds into the muslin, but they return to their duties with light steps, as eager for harvest as any farmer. A week seems too long to wait.