Actions

Work Header

The Hummingbird's Cry

Work Text:

 

Dodo, l'enfant do,

L'enfant dormira bien vite

Dodo, l'enfant do

L'enfant dormira bientôt.

Gloris's voice rang in the hall as he sang and danced with his wife. When he turned, he could see Uther, the man he considered his best friend as well as Ygraine, the Queen of Camelot, laughing at the antics of the dancing couple.

Just as he was about to turn his wife again, the voice of the Queen joined him and together they sang almost in perfect harmony. Viviane laughed and let go of his husband to reach for Uther, who was already there and they started dancing.

Ygraine and Gloris continued to sing and together they watched their lovers dance. The alcohol and privacy giving them liberty to forget about the burdens the kingdom placed on their shoulders. Only when the sun was starting to make its reappearance did Gloris and Viviane return to their chambers and before they slept they made love to each other. Nine months later a blonde baby girl was born. They lived in happiness for a year and a half, then they made their last visit to Camelot.  

In Camelot, Uther regretfully had to send his best friend to defend their home and while Ygraine, Viviane, and Uther anxiously waited for his return, Uther made a secret deal with a sorceress.

Eighteen months later with still no Gloris, a dead wife, a one-year-old son and a three-year-old girl, Vivian and Uther found solace in each other, and they found it often. The last time they did, Gloris had returned to their arms, alive but with a useless leg that would always refuse to cooperate.

Again the time passed.

The blonde girl was sent away when she was but six years old, for her eyes already turned gold when she was afraid, and as the horse took her away, she glanced for the last time to her family: her two year old sister with black hair that she would miss dearly, her mother with kind eyes and a sad smile, and her father with his booming voice and beautiful tales, a story of her dying from sickness following her departure and later, when she was older, the bandits that had killed her parents, killed quickly by her hand only for the fact that they had spared her sister.

The black haired girl was six when she saw her family murdered, and gratefully the only thing she remembered from that day was her father singing as he danced, picking flowers for two of his girls. She had been singing with him, her voice already being praised for all the notes it could reach. ‘My little hummingbird'  her father had said before the arrow that would kill him started to fly. ‘Your voice brings me nothing but happiness and helps soothe the pain of this old man.' and Morgana Pendragon had been happy with the praise.

'Our little hummingbird'  her mother had said as she braided her daughter's hair. 'Your voice is a gift that we hope you always share.' and Morgana had made the most sincere promise a child could make to their mother: she would always share her gift.

Singing, Morgana knew, was the same as happiness, but her voice died when she saw a bandit with a face marred with scars slash her mother's throat.

Arthur was eight and spoiled rotten when a black haired girl was introduced to him. Her eyes, the color of emeralds, always seemed to be filled with tears, she didn't speak and ate only when ordered. His Father had told him that he had to become friends with the sad girl or he wouldn't start his training as a knight like Uther had promised.

The injustice of it made him meaner to the girl. He called her names hoping that her anger would bring another emotion to her eyes. Arthur didn't want to admit it, least of all to himself, but the quiet beauty of the girl scared him, but Arthur was a prince, he was going to be a knight and he did not run from what scared him, so he persisted.

He spent day after day after day in the silent company of his unknown sister. Talked until he was hoarse, tried to coax her into games until he became annoyed by her, sat by her side quietly and listened to her quiet sobs as she cried. But Morgana continued to not speak until the day Arthur got hurt.

Angry that the silent girl refused to talk, he told her that unless she did, he would climb to the top of the tree and jump. He told her that if he was hurt it would be her fault and her fault alone. His threat did not work, so it became a promise and he climbed the tallest tree in the royal garden. Her eyes filled with tears almost seemed to anger him more and Arthur climbed faster and faster. Once he was on the top, he screamed down at her.

"You have thirty seconds to talk or I will jump. THIRTY, TWENTY-NINE, TWENTY-EIGHT" and he counted down, his voice almost faltering when he reached the number ten, but he continued to count and then, like his father had taught him, he kept his promise and jumped.

Morgana screamed, and her scream was the first noise that had escaped her throat in almost a year.

The guards were on them immediately. Morgana with Arthur's head on her lap, and Arthur unconscious with blood dripping out of his head and leg.

"Help him," she said, her voice weak from misuse and startling to her ears.

Arthur would always claim that the idea was good and solid, born out of careful planing. Morgana would say it was a typical idiotic man solution to a simple problem but would secretly be glad that Arthur took such a risk for a mute girl he didn't even acknowledge he liked. And the scar that the tree branch that had been embroidered into his leg left, both agreed, resembled a fish.

Arthur had been unable to train for two months and Gaius had been equally furious as he was proud. Uther had felt guilty for about a day before he grew angry at the risk Arthur had put himself into.

While Arthur recuperated, Morgana was the one who kept him company, she slowly started talking to him and only when they were completely alone. Small words that Arthur could only interpret as orders for it was what they were. Drink, sleep, talk, smile, eat, stop, slowly, carefully.

Then one night, when the pain of a wound that had grown infected was at its worse and Arthur could do nothing but sweat and crave for a woman that had died the moment he took his first breath, Morgana sang. Her voice was far from perfect, barely able to hold a tune, singing a half-remembered lullaby that had once calmed her even after her most horrible nightmares, she sang to the golden boy that was as lonely as she was.

Uther had been outside of his son door, terrified for him, begging to the old gods that his son's pain could be soon lifted, and the voice of his secret daughter broke his heart as he remembered a night that had happened so long ago, where two people sang in perfect harmony, both of them golden-haired, both of them incredibly loved and lost to soon.

Arthur heard his sister singing and a small smile broke on his face, in his fevered haze, he saw a woman, with gold hair and love in her heart, and Arthur involuntarily called out for her. ‘Mother .'

Morgana sang louder, tears streaming out of her eyes, her heart breaking again and again, afraid that this was the end of Arthur Pendragon. But Fate still had plans for the prince and he was speared to live for years to come. After that day, where Morgana had glimpsed the vulnerability of the boy, she made another promise only a child could, she promised to always protect him. Fate made a joke out of her promise.

The time both of them spend together started to dwell as Morgana started forming a relationship with her maid. Beautiful and loyal Guinevere who was eternally patient with her mistress who still some days refused to talk. Gwen sang as she worked, humming to herself as she picked flowers, and she reminded Morgana the first and last lesson her father taught her: singing was the remedy to cure all ills of the heart.

Arthur continued to grow spoiled and mean, showing his beautiful and lonely heart less and less. Morgana grew as well, more beautiful and enchanting, kind as she was beautiful, and her voice grew with her, no longer the mute Ward of the King, but an outspoken Lady of the Court. 

When Arthur was fifteen he saw his first execution, a boy of his age had been caught practicing magic, he died in the pyre. After his father speech he ran until he was in Morgana's chambers and barged in like he used to do when he was younger. Morgana saw him and let an involuntary scream as Arthur was sick, the smell of burned flesh embroidered in his mind, his ears ringing with the screams the boy had let escape as the fire consumed him. Morgana rubbed his back as he vomited.

"Was it that horrible?" she had asked. "I thought you said you were ready."

Arthur shook his head and a sob escaped his throat, still trying to get rid of the smell.  

"I was wrong." was all he said as his body shook and shook. Morgana guided him to her bed and sang to him until he fell asleep holding her hand as if it was his anchor. When he awoke around midnight, Morgana was running her fingers through his hair, still holding his hand and for the first time, he asked to hear her sing. "Your voice is beautiful Morgana." he had said. "It helps." So Morgana sang and remembered her promise to her mother to always share her gift.

After that night, Arthur grew cold and indifferent, saying mean things to Morgana again, avoiding her when she sought him, it was years later, when a blue-eyed man came to Camelot that Morgana learned that the distance that had, in her perspective, grown out of thin air was the result of Uther orders, for it was improper for Arthur to be a friend to Morgana.

More years passed, and the friendship they once shared changed into something with sharp edges, the memories turned gray with time, then Merlin came to Camelot and for the first time in more than five years, the golden heart of the prince was brought forward, where it became almost impossible to miss. His soft interior bared so that everyone with eyes and the presence of mind to search could see: that the spoiled prince was just a cover for the lonely boy, who constantly craved for friendship and love. For the first time in more than five years, Morgana shared her gift with her brother and sang when he turned twenty-two.

Une poule blanche

Est là dans la grange.

Qui va faire un petit coco

Pour l'enfant qui va fair' dodo.

The nightmares had begun when she was four and disappeared when she was five, they began anew when she was six and this time they didn't disappear, and as years were added to her age, the nightmares grew as well, more horrible, more detailed and more truthful. Sophia came and tried to murder Arthur, then it was the Questing Beast, and it only served to fill more of her dreams with nightmares: Uther unable to carry his dying son, his grief palpable, the people lighting their precious candles as they waited for their golden prince to die. But Morgana couldn't bear to leave him alone in his rooms. So she stayed with him and sang like she never had before, because almost a month before, a drunk Arthur had confided in her that her singing was one of his favorite things in the world and he would do anything, fight anything, so he could continue to hear her sing, and Morgana hoped (desperately) that his wish was enough, strong enough, for him to fight even Death.

So Morgana sang, and sang, and sang, her voice hoarse, her body shaking with the effort, not daring to stop, not even to eat, and Arthur opened his eyes and smiled and slept some more, but it was enough and Morgana finally was able to stop. For three days, she was unable to talk, her throat hurting as if it was bleeding, but Arthur was alive, and she had kept her promise.  

A year later, a woman with golden hair and dressed in chainmail came to the court, something so terribly familiar in her eyes, that brought back memories of a good man and a great woman that had died before their time. She was beautiful, powerful and cared for Morgana, curing her of her nightmares, her name, she said, was Morgause and she was almost successful on her plan to kill Uther Pendragon. Almost.

In that year, Morgana discovered that her dreams were of the future, that her life was in danger every time she slept, she trusted that Gaius and Merlin cared for her as much as she cared for them and was wrong. She drew into herself and only sang when she was afraid. Growing bitter that her brother didn't realize her suffering. Bitter that the man she had come to consider her second father would have her killed without a second thought, but never bitter enough. Not until the hemlock robbed her of breath. And the worse part was that she would have taken it willingly, if only she had known.

Arthur searched relentlessly for Morgana on the year that followed, praying to any god willing to hear him so that she would return, he grew careless with his words and drew into himself becoming the spoiled prince once again. He didn't sleep, didn't rest, and there was nothing that could calm him when fear gripped his heart and refused to let go until he couldn't breath, for the only thing that had ever been able to do so, was the old lullaby Morgana used to sing. Distant and cold Arthur searched, unaware that his manservant also grew cold and pale with guilt.

It took Morgana a month to recover her strength and nine for her to control her magic, one so that she and Morgause could establish their plan, and one to make the return trip to what once was her home. ‘Rescued' by her brother, she pretended and lied, but couldn't pretend when she saw her old blue-eyed friend or when she saw sweet loyal Gwen, who unknowingly was stealing what was rightfully hers: the throne of Camelot. It was destined to be hers as Morgause had told her, for only a child of Uther could return magic to Albion and her brother was not good enough to be that child. So they waited and planned and created everything they needed so that Morgana could take her throne and the only difference Arthur noticed in her behavior, was that Morgana didn't sing anymore.

Dodo, l'enfant do,

L'enfant dormira bien vite

Dodo, l'enfant do

L'enfant dormira bientôt.

As the inmortal army marched into the citadel, as Uther was captured and made to kneel before his throne, Arthur hid with Merlin afraid and angry in equal measure. They witnessed as Morgana proclaimed herself the Queen of Camelot. A sharp pain in his heart was the only thing that stopped Arthur from crying out. A wave of denial clouding his head. Not Morgana, the girl who shared her food with the poor. Not Morgana, the girl who turned her head at every execution. Not Morgana, the girl who loved a maid as her friend. Not Morgana, who had provided the only comfort Arthur knew when he was alone and afraid. Not Morgana. Not his sister .

Arthur didn't know how they managed to leave the citadel and he never cared enough to find out, but as they left Arthur could swear he heard his sister sing once more. He later would learn that it was the last time she ever did. 

Morgana Pendragon, Queen of Camelot, High Priestess of the Old Religion, stood in her old room and cried with the crown still on her head. She didn't care to know if the tears were of joy or of sadness, the only thing she was certain of was that the way Uther had looked at her as she took her crown hurt in a way she hadn't expected. So she did what she always did when she was hurt, she sang an old lullaby with half-remembered words that had always managed to calm her. Painfully aware of only two things: She had broken the only promise she had ever made to her brother and Arthur would never forgive her.

So she cried and sang in what could only be described as grief, for the mute girl and the golden boy that had once been and would never be again.

Then there was a knock on the door, so she drew into herself, making one last promise that she would keep until a dragon-forged sword plunged into her stomach: she would never sing again, for her gift had long ago been given, to the lonely prince that sometimes still cried out for his mother.

Tout le monde est sage

Dans le voisinage

Il est l'heure d'aller dormir

Le sommeil va bientôt venir.