Title: The Next in Line
Pairing/s: None in this chapter
Character/s: (In this chapter) Morgana, Gwen
Summary: After Arthur is banished and disinherited, Morgana contemplates her future.
Warnings: None, but set in an Omegaverse series
Word Count: 1449
Prompt: 93 Stubborn
Author's Notes: Thanks to the lovely fififolle for the beta. This is the next part of 'His' and 'The Cold Light of Morning'
(I hope I've tagged/rated this correctly. It seemed silly to be putting NC-17 for PG rated chapters. Please let me know if this is wrong)
The Next in Line
Morgana sat, watching from her window as the castle residents went about their business. It had been four days since her world had been irrevocably changed. Four days since Arthur had literally vanished into thin air right there in front of her. Four days since she had been appointed as the rightful heir to Camelot's throne.
There was nothing rightful about it. Uther Pendragon, a man she tolerated at best, had seen fit to declare her his natural born daughter. Morgana could not and would not accept it. She had told him so, screamed it in his face over and over. Eventually he had lost patience and ordered her out of his sight. He was treating her like a child, ordering her to stay in her chambers until she was ready to stand at his side and accept the role he had thrust upon her. Morgana didn't care about being the heir, or about being suddenly elevated to princess. But she would never, ever accept that he was her father. He could shut her away for the rest of her life but on that she stubbornly refused to budge.
"I can't be his," she whispered, not for the first time. "I can't be."
Gwen, who had been quietly cleaning the room, was at her side in an instant. She laid her hand over Morgana's, her pretty and open face a study in concern.
"Whoever your father is," she reassured her. "You are your mother's daughter."
Morgana didn't know what she'd do without Gwen there to calm and reassure her but she wasn't entirely sure that what Gwen had just said was true. Her mother had been gentle and kind, not unlike Gwen in her way. Morgana didn't feel gentle or kind. She felt angry, and a little afraid. She knew that there was something dark and dangerous lurking within her own soul. Something that came out only in her dreams for now, giving her strange visions that she didn't understand. Often she didn't even remember what they were. She would wake up screaming at shadows and crying over something that seemed to be just on the edge of her consciousness but when she reached for it there was nothing there. Then other times she could recall all too clearly the devils and demons that she had seen sweep through Camelot's halls and corridors, and the terrible, twisted faces of those unfortunates who had got in their way. Those were the things she could remember.
And she recalled seeing Uther, always sitting there amidst it all, calm and unresponsive. In the past she had always thought it was because he was iron-willed, or cold, or both. But having recently been on the receiving end of his fury she was painfully aware that this lack of response wasn't natural, not from Uther. He reacted strongly to everything, just as she did. Her father's daughter. She shuddered at the thought, and Gwen put her arms around her and hugged her close.
Gaius had always told her they were just bad dreams, and had given her potions to help her sleep. They must have worked better than she had supposed, because with Gaius gone and no potion to calm her the dreams had become more frequent, stronger.
The previous night she had seen herself sitting on the throne of Camelot. But it was the throne of the queen or consort that she occupied, not the throne of the ruler. The king's throne was filled by a man whose face she couldn't see, and she'd had a strong feeling that she was not and never would be Camelot's ruler. That didn't matter to her as it was not a position she had ever sought. The identity of her king, though, that mattered a great deal because sometimes her dreams became reality. As if she were some kind of seer.
Uther would burn her for that if he knew, she had no doubt. If she gave in to him now, played the dutiful princess, he would be kind now, as much as he could ever be. That would be gone in an instant if he knew about the visions. He had proved that with Arthur, and she was still shocked that he had done such a thing. Uther had changed since the revelation about Merlin, hating magic even more than ever. It had, after all, taken away both his son and his wife.
Morgana had never thought she would ever miss Arthur. Of all the people in the world, he was the biggest thorn in her side. They'd grown up together, he had always felt like the annoying, entitled, spoiled younger brother that she now discovered he really was. And yet when the mood took him he could be kind, and with Merlin he had proved that he could accept magic. Admittedly it had taken the near death of his bonded mate for him to do so, but his mind would be more receptive to the idea now. She could go to him. Whatever annoying personality traits he had, he was basically honourable and brave. He would take her in and protect her once he knew the truth, especially if Uther tried to marry her off to someone she couldn't bear to be with. There had already been strong hints that he thought Agravaine was a suitable match. The thought made her skin crawl, and Arthur's warning about the man only served to fuel her resolve.
"We need to find out where Arthur has gone," she told Gwen. "Is there still no news?"
"Nothing yet. All the talk today is of some monster in the south of the kingdom. They say it has the head of a lion and the body of an eagle."
Morgana had never heard of such a thing. It sounded improbable, although there was something in the description that sounded vaguely familiar. She pushed away the thought. "It's probably just a story put about to distract people from Arthur leaving. It won't work. I'm going to follow him," Morgana vowed, trying not to notice the look of alarm that Gwen tried hard to hide. "I won't sit here and be used as a pawn in Uther's games."
Gwen bit her lip, worried. "I'll keep asking," she promised. "Someone will hear of them soon. He was the crown prince, he can't just vanish. But my lady, you shouldn't think of travelling alone."
Morgana had no intention of doing so. Leaving her only remaining friend was unthinkable. "I was hoping you might come with me," she admitted. "And didn't you tell me once that you had a brother who fights as well as any knight? Couldn't he accompany us, as protector?"
The worried look didn't fade from Gwen's face. "I haven't seen him in years... but yes, perhaps. And of course I'd never leave you."
"Dear Gwen," Morgana couldn't help the fondness slipping into her tone. "Go now. See what you can find out."
The girl hurried away, and Morgana turned back to her window. She could still see people milling around in the courtyard below them, some in a hurry, some dawdling. Ordinary people getting on with their lives. They probably all would think she was making a fuss over nothing. Surely it was a great thing, to be a princess, daughter to a king?
Gwen appeared out there a few minutes later, smiling and nodding to people. Morgana watched the easy way she moved between them all, the way that most of them seemed to be happy to stop and chat to her.
There was a man coming across the courtyard, someone Morgana had never seen before. Judging by the curious glances he was getting from a few of the castle folk he was probably a stranger to them as well. He was dark-haired and olive-skinned, and even at that distance Morgana could see how very handsome he was. He was walking towards Gwen almost as if an invisible thread was drawing him to her. Morgana watched them both moving across the courtyard. She saw the moment when the man noticed Gwen and then when she noticed him, saw the mutual interest blossom between them. And then Gwen was smiling at him, talking to him, probably trying to find out if he knew anything of Arthur from his travels. Morgana had given her the perfect excuse to make contact.
Somewhere, out in the distance, Morgana thought she could hear some creature bellowing its cry. None of it boded well.
Down in the courtyard, oblivious, Gwen and the newcomer were still smiling at each other, in no rush to move apart. Morgana felt suddenly more alone than ever.