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What Is Said and What Is Done

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Dread and sorrow suffuses the scene, palpable as aether. Urgency, taunt as a bow string, the arrow pulled back and ready to be loosed. And yet, there is an eerie quietude to what she sees. Floating peacefully below the surface of the lake, Arthur's angelic face, his golden hair flared about him in a halo, faces those eternal depths as untroubled as a stone. Above him, waiting for his soul to leave his body, with a calm patience that boarders both indifference and determination, another golden-mained figure stands, the devil to his angel, pretty devil though she be. She means his death without malice, like a scullery maid wringing a chickens neck. She holds his life so cheap.

“Arthur!” Morgana gasps, like a quiet scream, as much of pain as fear. There is a dreadful sense of weight, of that which is already lost. A desperate clinging to what remains. As if he were truly in mortal danger, dependent on her forbidden knowledge to save him.

But she knows nothing, Morgana reminds herself. She has seen nothing. Nothing real. She is a foolish girl, jumping at shadows cast by the light of her own morbid imagination. She is no seer. No Oracle of Delphi, not even Caesar's wife, gifted by the gods with one solitary, useless warning.

Her dream is only that. It is nothing at all. At most it is the product of a troubled soul, her unuttered grief at Arthur's eventual, inevitable, and lately much-talked-of marriage, making itself felt while sleep leaves her defenseless against it. She ought not make a fool of herself by broadcasting it throughout the household.

Morgana holds this precious truth close to her heart as she struggles to walk and not run to Gaius's chambers. He must have something to relieve her of this affliction. Something stronger than the same old sleeping droughts she's been taking for ages.

She is able to cling to this assurance; up until the moment she rounds a corner in a corridor of her own castle, her own home, and sees her nightmare made flesh. The devil herself set loose upon the Earth. And apparently being installed—with the help of Merlin, who can't seem to get the hang of not being Arthur's servant—in the room right next to Arthur's.

The room that was hers, for so many years. Until it wasn't. For reasons Arthur must well remember!

Merlin confirms it, even gives the fiend a name, “Sophia.” For one heated moment, a canker of jealous spite blooms in Morgana's mind and she longs to see Arthur dead at Sopia's hand. It seems only right that “Wisdom” as this she-beast is called should put a swift end to Arthur's callous heedlessness of lessons learned at so dear a cost. Dear to her, if not to him.

The moment passes swiftly. It leaves Morgana chilled and shaking. Almost as frightened of herself as of Sophia. This is what a witch would feel in her stead, she supposes, assuming they are as evil and selfish as Uther claims. And is not jealousy described as a monster, with eyes as green as her own?

Predictably, Gaius does his best to reassure her, as he always does, that her dreams, though unnerving, are not unnatural. He prescribes a stronger sleeping drought. Morgana accepts it gratefully, but with the guilty knowledge that it may suppress her nightmares, but not the truth behind them.

For truth it certainly is. In her heart of hearts, Morgana is sure of that now. She is denied even the slender comfort of believing that Gaius truly supposes otherwise when he gives her his firm if not frank parting admonition, “Don't bother Uther about this. No need to worry him.”

Uther Pendragon is not a man to be worried by idle fancies. His perpetual vigilance is not directed against girlish nonsense. But he is forever on guard for the appearance; within his household or without, of his legion of dreaded enemies. Druids. Witches. Sorcerers. And Seers.