Title: A Life Unwanted
Characters: Morgana, Uther, Gwen
Summary: Pre-series. Sometimes, what you're given is not what you want.
Word Count: 796
Prompt: #122, yearning
She hadn’t wanted to leave, but she had no choice even though some aunt she rarely saw laid claim to her. Who could deny the king, after all? He’d made the announcement before the guests started departing, stating unequivocally the child of his greatest friend deserved only the best.
Morgana would be adopted into the Pendragon household, whether she liked it or not. From this point on, her family would be Uther’s, her home his. She would even take his name, a declaration he made sound like it was some sort of grand honor.
Perhaps it was. For someone who hadn’t already known her father. For someone who didn’t yearn every passing moment to turn back the hands of time and somehow prevent her parents’ deaths.
Sometimes, she wished she had magic so she could do just that. She never uttered those wishes out loud, though. Uther’s stance on its practice was all too clear.
So she tried to fit in. She bickered with Arthur who really was the most annoying boy ever, she sat still for all the fittings and lessons Uther believed she’d missed and were somehow necessary to being a part of the royal household, she stopped gazing longingly out the window when she saw the knights training though that did nothing to stop her desire to pick up a sword again like her real father had taught her.
Everyone was convinced.
Everyone but Morgana.
She was fourteen when she was forced to attend some noble’s party with Uther. The first son desired to be a knight, a mop-headed young man who needed a few more muscles to properly fill out his chain mail, but Morgana ducked out of meeting Leon when Arthur began babbling on about some imaginary battle. She found herself in the armory and promptly got lost in reminiscing, caressing weapon after weapon as she remembered Gorlois’s lessons.
She nearly dropped a particularly beautiful sword when the door swung open. In its frame stood a dark-skinned girl close to her own age, her wild hair barely tamed by the clip that held it back.
The girl immediately dropped into a curtsey. “Pardon, my lady. I didn’t know anyone was in here.”
“I’m not. Or at least, I’m not supposed to be.” She ventured a step closer. “Please don’t tell the king.”
Her confused gaze tilted back up to Morgana. “Of course not. But…are you all right?”
Morgana sighed. “Yes. Just…” She looked down at the sword she still held, tracing the design along its hilt. “It’s nothing,” she finished.
“Perhaps you should let me put that away for you. The king wouldn’t be pleased if you got hurt.”
“I know how to handle a sword.” But the girl was right there in front of her, holding out her hand expectantly. If she didn’t want to create a scene, it was better to allow her to do her job and be off before Uther noticed she was gone.
Her brows lifted in surprise when the servant took it from her with a lithe grace, sheathing it with little effort. “Do you work in the armory?” That would be the first interesting thing in this journey, a girl doing the work normally relegated to boys.
She shook her head. “My father’s a blacksmith. I work in the kitchens.”
“That seems a waste. Do you enjoy it?”
The girl avoided her eyes. “Not particularly.”
“What’s your name?”
“Guinevere, my lady.” She glanced at the door. “They’re about to sit down for their meal. Shouldn’t you be joining them?”
Morgana was eager to ask more questions, like why a servant who worked in the kitchens was in the armory right before a big meal, but Guinevere had a point. She couldn’t hide her absence once everyone was seated. She left the girl behind and slipped into her place at the table just as Uther came over to sit as well.
“I hope you’re having fun,” he commented.
“I am.” It wasn’t quite a lie, not now anyway. “My lord, I wonder if I might make a request.”
“There’s a kitchen girl who’s been most kind to me since we arrived, and I’d like to reward her. I wondered if I could have her as my maidservant when we left.”
Her faith in Uther’s inability to turn down most of her requests proved valid. He smiled and nodded. “I’m sure that could be arranged.” He patted her hand. “You’ve a kind heart, Morgana. So much like your mother.”
She fought not to yank her hand back. Uther had it wrong. She was her father’s daughter, and with someone like Guinevere at her side to confide in, perhaps she might finally be able to move beyond yearning for a life she could never have again.