It’s a calm night in the kingdom of Camelot, a nice change from the chaos the castle has been endearing as of late. The cold air prickles Gwen’s face as she walks out onto the dark balcony. She pauses for a moment, glancing around at the shadowed architecture until her eyes land on a familiar silhouette.
Earlier in the evening a guard was sent to Gwen’s quarters informing her that Queen Morgana requests her presence, if she feels so inclined. That last part wasn’t said out loud, but Gwen knows Morgana. Morgana has never forced her to do anything against her will. Even all those years as her handmaid Morgana always made sure Gwen was treated with the respect she deserved. Any condescending remarks or looks of disdain sent Gwen’s way were always met with snippy retorts or cold glares from the raven-haired beauty. It’s shocking to Gwen that even now, as a so-called ruthless leader, Morgana still honors this unspoken rule.
Gwen clutches her fur cloak closer to her shivering body and braces forward until she’s next to Morgana, shoulder to shoulder. She takes a quick glance at the newly titled Queen, then she looks up at the star-trickled sky.
“You called for me, my- Morgana?” Gwen corrects herself. Morgana has been insisting that Gwen call her by her actual name rather than “my lady” and any other term that would refer to Gwen as a handmaid. But if she isn’t her handmaid anymore, what is she to Morgana now?
She doesn’t answer right away. Gwen takes another glance at Morgana, trying to figure out what the girl could possibly want from her. Morgana stares straight ahead over the kingdom, her kingdom, seemingly deep in thought.
“Nights like this often remind me of my first few nights here in Camelot. Sleepless nights” Morgana says. “I suppose I always did have a hard time adjusting to this place, and these people.”
Gwen says nothing. She isn’t sure how to respond. This is the most Morgana has said to her since her takeover of the castle days ago.
“Do you remember your first time here?” Morgana asks, still staring straight ahead.
“Not as clearly.” Gwen admits, “I was born and raised here. Camelot has always been home to me.”
“I meant your first time here at the castle, with me.” Morgana clarifies. She turns her head fully towards her, waiting for a response. Gwen shifts nervously.
“Yes, I remember quite a lot. You were immediately kind to me since the first day I became your handmaid.”
It’s true. Morgana always insisted that Gwen walk beside her rather than behind like most maids do. She always made sure that Gwen was seated right by her side during formal banquets, too. Much to Uther’s outrage.
“..I remember your sleepless nights, as well.” Gwen adds hesitatingly. ”As far as I can remember you always had trouble sleeping.”
“You always kept me company on those nights.” Morgana adds. A small wistful smile appears on her tired face.
For the second time this night Gwen is at a loss for words. She’s conflicted. There’s a part of her that wants to despise Morgana for the cruelty she has been displaying to some of the people of Camelot, people they’ve both known their whole lives. Then there’s that other part of her that sympathizes with Morgana, that part that still feels the deep connection to the broken girl. Morgana’s transition from the King’s ward to spiteful queen happened right before Gwen’s eyes, it’s hard for her to comprehend it.
“I wish..” Gwen’s mouth clamps shut. Her eyes widen as she realizes she spoke out loud.
“What? What is it?” Morgana urges, her dark green eyes boring deeply into Gwen. “Tell me, please.”
“..I wish we could go back to the way everything was before the fighting started.” Gwen says carefully. “I wish Uther would have been more understanding with magic instead of being brash and irrational. I wish we could go back to those nights when it was just us and all we had to worry about was your lack of sleep. Everything is so.. different now..” You’re different, Gwen doesn’t say aloud.
Morgana’s face is blank as she looks at Gwen. She turns her head away and looks straight ahead at nothing in particular. Gwen suddenly feels uneasy.
“It doesn’t have to be different.” Morgana says quietly. “We can still be us, Gwen.”
“How? How can you possibly think everything can go back to the way it was? Most of our friends are being kept in the dungeons, Morgana. This is utter chaos.”
“Do you think I take pleasure in any of this?” Morgana laughs bitterly. “I didn’t wake up one morning and suddenly decide to cause anarchy within the castle. This is my birthright. Camelot is mine, Gwen. It’s mine. Uther tried his best to deny me my right as an heir solely because of his poor choices. I’ve always been nothing but a mistake in his eyes. And I will not let him or anyone else take this away from me.”
Uther’s lie about the paternity of Morgana really struck a deep wound in the girl. She already felt resentful of Uther before finding out he was her real father, but now? Gwen has a feeling Morgana won’t come back from this.
“Gwen, you understand why I have to do this, don’t you?” Morgana turns to Gwen with tears streaming down her pale face. “I need you to understand me on this, Gwen. Please.” Morgana desperately reaches out and grabs Gwen’s hand.
Although Gwen doesn’t agree with the choices being made, it hurts her to see Morgana in such a state. Gwen so badly doesn’t want any part of this corrupt reign, but the hurt she sees in those green eyes has her heart aching. Gwen has always been the only person to truly understand who Morgana is as a person, which is the reason why she has a big fear of losing Gwen as a companion. Especially at a dire time like this. Morgana squeezes her hand, getting her attention back.
“I need you on my side, Gwen. I need you with me on this.” She begs, “I can’t do this alone, without you.”
And it’s that very reason Gwen finds herself saying;
“I’m here, Morgana. I’m with you.”
“You truly mean it?” Morgana asks, eyes tearing up again.
“Of course I do.” Gwen replies more firmly this time. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Morgana let’s out a choked sigh and squeezes Gwen’s hand once more. Gwen pulls Morgana into her and wraps her arms around the girl, as if trying to shield her from all of the hurts and pains of this cruel world. Gwen may not agree with the choices Morgana has been making, but she does understand where she’s coming from. It’s enough for the moment. Because while nothing will ever be the same within the kingdom, maybe everything between them can be as it once was.