Warning: mention of death
Word Count: 1150
Summary: She used to love dreaming...and then the dreams came true.
Author's Note: Morgana's around 5-6 here and this goes from her in Cornwall to Camelot, including the death of her father.
She used to love dreaming. When Morgana was little she treasured the night. She liked the way the blankets wrapped around her, and how her mother used to croon age old rhymes into her ear. She liked that feeling of slipping into serenity, of utter peacefulness. She used to draw back the curtains secretly at night and peer out at the stars just to feel like she was a part of the world. She would stare up at the bright specs and paint pictures and weave stories. The night made her alive.
And then her father was called to court. One little roll of paper broke Morgana’s world. Her father had his answer within moments. He would go to Camelot. He would go to his King. He would leave behind the sea washed cliffs of Cornwall. He would kiss her mother on the lips and then whisper something Morgana could only hope to hear. He would kneel in front of her – Morgana, squeeze her hands tightly, kiss her brow for just a moment too long and then he would be gone.
“Worry not my bright one, Camelot is hope.”
This is what Morgana dreams about as she sleeps: the moments before her father left. In her dreams she smiles bravely, holding back the tears that ladies of Cornwall must never shed. In the dreams she takes the hand-carved chough with wide eyes and holds her father’s gaze. In the dream her father smiles and she finds herself doing so as well.
“Be strong for your mother, she needs you.” He says and Morgana promises with a nod, one hand still clasped in his, the other around the carved bird. When she wakes she hears words on the nonexistent winds.
We both do.
Her father’s actual departure only comes in hazy snippets. She can feel his callused battle-worn hands clasped around her own tiny ones. She remembers hearing ‘duty’ but knowing that it was really ‘Duty’ without even knowing the difference between. She remembers standing on a cliff, her mother by her side as Gorlois and two of Camelot’s knights all swathed in red cloaks, rode away.
About a month after her father left, Morgana’s mother contracted a form of the sweating sickness. It came from nowhere. Physicians and herbalists could find no reason for it, only citing that perhaps it was due to the stress of Gorlois’ call to Camelot.
None of the science mattered to Morgana. Her mother was sick, and that was what was most important. She was sick and her health was not improving, the reality of being deprived of both her parents was ever present. The women that surrounded her: nursemaids, cooks and sage women whispered that the Lady of Cornwall would die of a broken heart. It was the best diagnosis Morgana had ever heard, perhaps because it was the only one that fit.
Sometimes at night Morgana held the wooden chough her father had given her tightly in her hands and dreamed about childhood before her father’s departure. She dreamed about her mother smiling, the light reaching her eyes and making everyone laugh. She dreamed of herself running in fields with grass that nearly came up to her chin, running out of them to wrap her tiny body around her mother’s and father’s legs laughing sweetly all the while.
One morning she woke motherless.
Camelot was anything but Cornwall. Instead of white waves crashing upon great cliffs and sea birds that nested between craggy rocks and wildflowers there were false smiles and thick stone walls that wind barely penetrated. At night Morgana tried to wipe away the silence of Camelot and would dream of Tintagel’s salty air.
But memories of Tintagel at night could not overpower Camelot during the day. Camelot had her father, yes, but it also had a king, a prince and the notion that Morgana had to be some sort of lady. Gorlois found her in a blacksmith shop several times in the first few weeks in Camelot. Each time she was filthy, the bottom of her dress stained with sweat and dirt, her hair wild and strewn about. The first time it happened she stood close to another girl as the blacksmith plunged a sword in to cold water sending hot steam everywhere.
"Morgana!" Her father called out.
Morgana turned, a smile spread broadly across her features.
"Father!" She answered, smile still present. "This is Gwen. Her father made your sword." She said, tugging on the arm of the girl standing next to her, still grinning. Her father paused for a moment, then smiled.
"Well isn't that something." He came over to where they were standing, kissed the top of her head and smiled gently at the other girl who stood beside her. "It's an excellent sword."
He left smiling as Morgana turned back to the forge and for a little while the two of them managed to ignore the whispers of a child too wild. He found her in blacksmiths shop four more times. Her fifth visit was her last.
"You must be a lady, Morgana. For me and for your mother."
She stood proudly, dirt smeared across her face, nodded her head and said. "Only if Gwen will be my maid."
Morgana became a lady quite easily but for a few things. Being a lady meant closing her mouth rather than opening it, and she couldn't quite do that. So instead of closing her mouth altogether a few ladies of the court and her father instead concentrated on changing the way certain words came out. In place of blunt phrases were sly metaphors that implied carefully but didn't outright say. The way in which words were phrased, it turned out, gave them a degree of power, a certain amount of control.
Not enough power to control everything though.
One morning her father went to battle. One night he didn't come back.
That was when the dreams ceased to be an escape and were instead a prison. The night before her father went to battle Morgana dreamed she was back in Cornwall. The sound of waves breaking and gulls calling out greeted her. Her father stood on one side of her and her mother on the other. She dreamed her mother stepped forward and disappeared in to the mist. She dreamed her father followed. In the dream Morgana went to step with them too but found that one step forward brought her to the edge of a cliff. One step closer to them.
Morgana woke to a morning like all others. The sun shined brightly, freshly laundered sheets blew in the wind and all the people of the court nodded, curtsied and bowed when they were supposed to.
But it wasn't a morning like all others, because when it was through not only was Morgana motherless, her father was gone too.
She used to love dreaming...until the dreams came true