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Marigolds

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Marigolds

 

 As she lay on the hard ground of the cave and looked outside to the rain hitting softly the marigolds unwanted memories jumped to her. Contrary to popular belief Morgana's childhood hadn't been exactly easy, and some things she had never really got over years later. Knowing the truth now made it easier to forgive, but brought a lot of grief for what had been done to her family because of the greediness and the hate of one man. Her life a series of never ending betrayals one after another.

First it was the betrayal of her mother. She was short of five when she left them, deep into the night without goodbye or explanation. She didn't understand and cried herself to sleep for a week straight, her father ever watchful at her side soothing her, even when his own heart was broken. Gorlois told her she had to leave and would not come back, he did not give a reason but even as a child she could feel how there was no love between her parents any more.


At first, she blamed herself, because if children are born out of love then how come her mother had left after she had arrived? It was only reasonable to assume she had left because of her.


Later she blamed her father, something she regretted deeply now, because perhaps if he had loved her more or been more affectionate she wouldn't have to leave.
And finally she blamed her mother, because she was the one, in the end, who had abandoned her, both of them. Later with the knowledge of her motives she began to forgive, but deep down she knew the hurt would always be there. Because her mother had fled to be with her first daughter, Morgause, who had been given to the high priestess as a baby to be protected. Yet how could a mother choose between her daughters? Why did she not take Morgana with her?


She guessed that her mother knew Uther would have had them followed to the end of the earth to get his daughter back. She could take no chances, so she did the safest thing. To keep one daughter safe she abandoned the other one. But how could she know Morgana would be safe, how could she have guessed she didn't inherit the magic like Morgause.

The truth is she didn't, no one could have known if she would have magic or not, but she left her at the mercy of fate anyway.

 


The second was his father, Gorlois. He had been a good man, honourable and kind. He had never wavered on his love for her, even when her hair darkened to the nights sky and her pale skin contrasted with his more tan one, when her face didn't reassemble any of her parents, as her green eyes shone like emeralds and not like the earthy tone of his father's irises. A deep sadness was nestled in his eyes sometimes when he looked at her, but he still called her his daughter and no one was suspect. But of course growing up she realized he must have known. He must have come to the conclusion of the vile act his best friend and his wife had committed behind his back, his father was not stupid, and he must have known the dates of her conception and his expedition to the north did not match up. And yet he raised her as his nonetheless, raised her to question and to challenge the powerful, he taught her compassion and strategy, he passed down his love for the arts and the knowledge that sometimes doing the right thing went against your heart. He taught her many things by the side of their lake, where marigolds grew and you could see the White Mountains guarding the valley in the distance. What happy times those were.

And yet again she was robbed of them by the same man that made her mother flee.

King Uther and Lord Gorlois had been good friends since their youth, and their friendship had undergone a myriad of tests and tribulations, mostly because their stubborn natures and their need to voice their disapproval with each other. Of course once the initial betrayal occurred their friendship was nothing more than a game of pretend. Gorlois spent less time in court and more in his own estate raising his daughter, the one he had left, and Uther spent less time waging war and more time in his castle raising his son, and without anyone's notice becoming more hateful and greedy, like the golden dragon his banner sported.

When she was ten her father was sent to war, and when she cried herself to sleep that night there was no one to soothe her. He did not wish to go, there were younger and more experienced knights out there who could do the job he said, but King Uther would have it no other way, his most trusted Lord had to be the one to go.

Morgana wondered if that is when his father knew he wouldn't come back, because he must have known somehow. His last words were not like the other times with promises of a reunion and perhaps a gift from strange lands, they were honest, full of love and with a raw edge of desperation.

“I love you Morgana, never forget, more than anything. Now you must be brave, be good and make me proud. But do not forget my lessons my child, be fierce!”
He said, before hugging her and riding his horse never to be seen again.

The news of his father's death came bearing black and red with a kind smile and ice blue eyes. I promised to take care of you if something were ever to happen to him, he said. Thus, she had to say goodbye to the Mary golds the mountains and the lake, to the mist of the morning and her friends in the village to go to Camelot, a city so entrenched in fear and pain you could almost taste it.

She did not forget. She smiled and heard the King explain how the reinforcements had not reached her father in time, how tragic his death was. Yet all the horses were on the stables and there was no sight of a group of injured knights or a group of armed riders till the Kings new military campaign.

Meeting Morgause had cleared many things, but being aware of her parentage had explained even more. The truth is she never saw any group of knights or men injured or coming back because there were none. Uther had sent his friend to die, because with him dead there would be no one between him and his bastard daughter.

That's what Camelot's banner stood for, blood and gold. Uther had killed all the dragons and in the process became one himself.


The third was Uther himself, his biological father, the one that initiated this circle of pain and hurt. His transgressions against her were many, and remembering some made her blood boil, not exactly according to her melancholic mood.

Some things had to be acknowledged though, because as cruel as Uther was there was no one better at crafting a spiderweb than himself. A trap so fine and beautiful you didn't notice you were in his jaws until it was too late. King Uther always got what he wanted one way or another, and there was no force short of the triple goddess able to stop him.

Her spiderweb was more akin to a birdcage, comfortable and warm enough not to complain her wings were clipped. She grew up in court surrounded by Lords and Ladies, trained swordwielding with the prince and had a few sewing lessons with the daughters of other important people. Yet she was never one to have friends, she wasn't allowed to go unsupervised into the town as she was used to back home, she wasn't allowed with the boys Arthur played with in the courtyard, and she wasn't allowed letters to the girls she had a brief contact with. Her days were filled with tutors of science and literature, sometimes Arthur would join but while she listened with intensity and concentration he would look out of the window or move his leg in an obvious show of restlessness. After the lessons Arthur would be allowed out to race through the forest or ride his horse into the wilderness, yet she had to remain, have lessons in etiquette, fashion and everything that made a lady exactly that. Years dragged on like April, rainy and windy just before spring arrives.

She grew up, beauty and intelligence hand in hand, they whispered, a delight to be around and converse with, they said, converse with whom she wondered. Loneliness was her only steady companion.

Growing up the ward of the king wasn't as everyone thought either, because as she matured something developed within her, and so the dreams began. Prophecies, violent visions and monsters plagued her nights. Gaius did his best but his potions and concoctions didn't always work, and stopped making any effect after some time. Even as Gwen came into her service, Arthur became a bit more bearable to talk to and new additions were made to the household that made her loneliness wane, horrors still plagued her nights and filled her with dread. She endured, because she was brave.


Still, Uther's web wound tighter as well, it was understood by everyone that the Lady Morgana was out of bounds for everyone, neither Lord nor knight were allowed to look at her with something other than respect much less be alone with her. It was clear to her King Uther didn't plan on marrying her off for land or for power like he had tried doing with Arthur, neither would he let her fall in love and marry because of that. What his design for her future was she didn't know, but she hoped against all odds he would not keep her chained down to him forever, comfortable and powerless to watch him commit atrocity after atrocity. Escaping his claws looked more hopeless day after day. She would never see her lands again, not the mountains and not the lake.

If her present was April her future was October, rainy and too close to winter for her comfort. There was no other option but to go to Morgause for help, no one else aside from her was standing up against the tyranny of Uther Pendragon, there was no other choice.

The last one was Merlin, a friend who knew her secret, a friend who she thought would be by her side, would understand why it needed to be done. He had seen the executions, he had watched as his uncle was tortured because of a fleeting suspicion, he had seen Gwenivere's pain as her father was killed for having contact with a sorcerer, he had stood by as Uther massacred the peaceful druids because of a perceived attack. When does the pain end? How could she stay still and allow evil to continue? How did his conscience not weight with the deaths about to come for defending such an evil man? Why did he poison her to bargain with a witch?

And then Morgause rescued from her life like a blessing, she healed her, taught her and told her the truth. Finally, after years of impotence she was given a choice. It is then that Morgana decided, she had been brave, and she had been good for too long, now it was time to be fierce. It was time to do the right thing even if her heart ached and bled all over the floor. It was time to betray her friends, to kill the tyrant that was her real father and her brother to get the crown.


It was time for reckoning.
It was time to make things right.

At the end of the day she was her father's daughter, even if she didn't know exactly who's.