Voices found Morgana in the darkness and she tried to hide from them. After all, she should be well beyond voices by now and she couldn’t imagine that anyone awaiting her here would be pleasant.
People like her didn’t go to good places after death, that’s what she’d always been taught.
“What happens to the sorcerers when they die?” she’d once asked when she was small, her curiosity overriding any sense that told her she didn’t want to know. She’d seen so many die already, whether it be a swift execution by axe or burning on the pyre. Too much for a child to see, but she’d witnessed it all the same. It bothered her immensely how afraid they seemed. What if all that awaited them was more fear?
Uther’s face had grown cold and dark at her question.
“They burn eternally for their crimes.”
Morgana had been frightened at the thought of that and hadn’t asked any more.
Now she had been murdered for what she was - as the laws of Camelot said she should - and she awaited the flames herself, wondering if the voices she could hear heralded their arrival. If her skin would soon crackle and burn. And never stop.
She wanted to scream from the fear that clawed at her but her lungs seemed broken and no sound came. She wanted to run but she was a prisoner here, trapped and helpless and at the mercy of whatever was around her.
What she didn’t want was to hear the voices any more, didn’t want to know what they were saying, but they forced themselves into her mind regardless.
“Where are you going?”
That voice was uncertain, the woman it belonged to sounded uneasy and made no attempt to hide it.
“The Forest of Balnor. I need a certain flower that grows there.”
That second voice on the other hand was full of confidence and assurance, belonging to a woman who seemingly had no doubts on anything.
In an instant Morgana tried to get up, tried to find her. Morgause had used her for her spell, she remembered that much. She’d used her as a vessel to send Camelot to sleep, making Morgana a part of her treason without telling her what it fully entailed. Some, she supposed, would say that Morgana should feel betrayed by that, angry at being made a pawn in a game she hadn’t been truly ready to play. But a simple truth couldn’t be denied: she didn’t want to be alone any more, and Morgause would not harm her for what she was.
She had chosen her side.
Again, she tried to rise to find that voice, but no part of her body obeyed her commands and she could do nothing but continue to listen.
“Let me go instead,” the other woman insisted. “You can stay here with her.”
“No. I know precisely what I’m looking for and will complete the journey far quicker.
The other woman sounded crestfallen.
“Stop fretting,” Morgause replied, somewhere between a command and comfort. “I need you to remain here. I trust you. You must care for my sister whilst I’m gone.”
The voices faded, and however desperately Morgana tried to hold on to them she slipped into darkness once more. Alone again. One word remained with her though, keeping the flames at bay.
An unknown amount of time later, feeling returned to her body, a gradual growing awareness of what was around her washing over her skin. Morgana almost wished it hadn’t. Her body ached deeply, and just when she thought the discomfort had reached its peak, more seemed to pile on, leaving her feeling weary and weak even though she couldn’t yet open her eyes or make a sound to protest it.
She tried to concentrate, to force her body into obedience and anchor herself to the world beyond her closed eyes. She wanted to be out of this place but all she could manage was to gradually make out the sensations beneath her. Underneath her fingertips she recognized cool, smooth stone which undoubtedly would have made her shiver if she had the ability. As sensation crept up her hand though she found that there was more, something softer and more delicate. She couldn’t move her hand to test it but it felt almost…springy.
There was a coolness too, all over her, seeming to waft and change minutely with every passing moment.
When she eventually realised that she was naked, a sort of lethargic panic set in and to her own surprise she felt herself move a little as she tried to…escape? Cover up? She wasn’t sure but something in her mind told her that this wasn’t right and she had to do something about it.
She found herself held firm though, not by hands or manacles - she knew the restraint of both too well - but something entirely different that seemed to be wrapped about her body. Restraining her or protecting her?
Her panic rose, setting her heart pounding, before a cool hand on her cheek stilled her in an instant.
“Hush, dear one,” Morgause’s voice whispered, hard to pinpoint. It was like she was inside her very mind. “You’re with me and you’re safe. No one will harm you again.”
Morgana believed her without hesitation.
It hurt to open her eyes. Even the dim light of the room seemed like a bright burning sun. Morgana blinked and squinted, groaning lightly, her voice sounding cracked and broken as if her vocal chords had dried up.
A few commanding words were spoken in a language she didn’t understand and suddenly the light was more bearable.
Morgause stepped out of the shadows around her, smiling down with a true warmth and affection that Morgana hadn’t felt from anyone in such a long time.
She was her sister and Morgana had had no true family since her father had died.
“Is that better?” the sorceress asked, kindly.
Morgana nodded, finding even that small movement an effort.
Tiredly, her gaze wandered around the room, not recognising where she was at all. The lanterns, now burning low, made it difficult for her to see. The ceiling was so high that the room disappeared into darkness and the walls were bare, brown stone. She herself was laying on what seemed to be a raised altar and she was indeed naked. Except, that was, for some kind of vine like plant that had apparently grown around her, delicate white flowers in bloom all over it.
Magic? Or had she really been here that long?
Part of her wanted to try and reach and cover herself or ask for a blanket to protect her modesty. No one but Gwen had ever seen her naked and even then it was little more than brief glimpses as she rose out of the bath and was wrapped in a cloth to dry her. Now she was laying here with almost every inch of her pale skin on display, the vines and flowers barely concealing anything, skirting right around her breasts. She should be quite ashamed.
And yet another part of her felt strangely freed by it.
Morgause’s hand rested lightly on her shoulder.
“It’s helping to heal you,” she explained, as if she could read Morgana’s thoughts. “To remove the poison from your body. A day or two and I will be able to take you to more homely accommodations.”
Without even thinking, Morgana shuddered terribly at the word ‘poison’, her breath catching as though her throat had closed once more. She’d known it, of course. Had realised it as soon as she’d felt her body seizing up and her lungs failing to heed her commands to breathe. To hear it said so definitely put it into sharp relief though gave it a finality that frightened her all over again.
“He tried to kill me,” she whispered hollowly, forcing herself to say it so that it actually seemed real.
Her friend had tried to murder her. He had sacrificed her for the sake of Uther. She shook her head in disbelief, staring into the darkness above her. He would rather have seen her dead than risk the life of a man who would never lift a finger to do anything for him. How could she have meant so little to him? He hadn’t even tried to talk to her or understand what she’d done…
Morgause crouched down, holding Morgana’s hand tenderly, stroking her hair back from her temple.
“He will pay for it,” she assured her, even though revenge was the last thing on Morgana’s mind at the moment.
In fact, her mind was reeling as too many realisations hit her at once. She’d finally taken a stand for what was right, to stop Uther’s tyranny and she’d lost everything in return. Her home, her security, everything she’d ever owned. Everyone she’d known and loved. She’d always been aware that as a ward of the King her position was precarious, that she had no real rights or place, just things that were given to her on other’s kindness because they’d cared for her father. But now she had nothing of even that left. Every security she’d once had had been stripped away in an instant.
Morgause squeezed her hand a little, apparently trying to bring her attention back to her.
“But first we must see you well,” she said.
“What happened?” Morgana asked, her voice still sounding small. Lost. “How did I get here?”
The last she’d remembered was fighting his arms. Fighting to live even though she could feel in her bones that it was hopeless. But she’d been expecting death for so long that even when it came from an unseen source the instinct to fight it had been strong.
Then there had been an explosion, the sound of running feet and…Nothing. Just darkness. And the unknown that frightened her so much.
Morgause continued to trail her fingers lightly through Morgana’s hair, her touch simple but more soothing than anything Morgana had felt in years.
“I sensed your distress,” the sorceress explained. “I came and found that boy with you. That he’d poisoned you. He would only tell me what he’d used if I called off my attack.”
“And you did?” she asked, not meaning to sound so surprised.
Morgana remembered the conversation she’d had with Morgause in the forest, how she’d told her that Uther needed to be removed for the sake of their kind. That essentially nothing would be right and none of them would be safe until he was gone. Morgana understood that too; she’d seen his cruelty firsthand many times and knew that whilst he was still alive she would be living in constant fear and isolation along with the rest of those who had magic.
With only Arthur and Merlin still standing, Morgause had had Uther at her mercy. Yet she had let him live for the chance of saving her.
Morgause smiled at down her, the normally hard expression on her face softening in an instant.
“Why do you think the knights would do you no harm? You are more important to me than killing Uther. We will get another opportunity. I only get one of you.”
“One sister?” Morgana asked hesitantly.
Morgause’s smile broadened further.
“Yes,” she said, seeming immensely pleased that Morgana knew.
Morgana was silent and thoughtful a moment, taking in the weight of that. It changed everything, that much she could appreciate. Since her father’s death when she was just ten, she’d been alone. Not physically maybe - no, she was always surrounded by people - but the sense that she had no one had settled heavily on her, a horrible weight for a child to bear. It’d made her hard and sarcastic. Untouchable except in rare moments. And now she had a sister. She wasn’t even truly sure how to act in light of that. Of late, she’d withdrawn herself further and further from everything and everyone, feeling that was the only way to ensure her safety and now this woman had given up all that she had worked for in order to save her. She didn’t care that Morgana had magic or consider her a monster. She would love her just as she was.
It was both wonderful and overwhelming.
“I don’t understand,” she admitted, starting with her most basic thoughts. How could she have a sister and not know about it?
“I was taken from Camelot when I was mere hours old and given to the Priestesses of the Old Religion,” Morgause explained gently. “I was raised in their temples to be High Priestess of our people.”
“But you were born before the Great Purge…” Morgana reasoned with a frown.
“There was a prophecy. That I would bring the House of Pendragon to its knees.”
Morgana’s expression grew a little darker and she realised why Morgause had been lost to her.
“And Uther is not beyond killing innocent children.”
“Indeed,” Morgause said, standing again. “But now I have my sister, and nothing will stand between us and Uther. Not again.”
“I’m not sure how much help I can be to you,” Morgana said hesitantly, not even considering for a moment where her allegiances should lie. Uther had grabbed her by the throat and had her chained for merely arguing with him, she couldn’t imagine that his reaction would be any kinder if he found out about her magic. She would never be safe whilst he was alive, she’d known that for a long time. But she’d never been in the position nor had the courage to do anything about it until now. Though compared to Morgause who was powerful and strong, Morgana was little more than a novice. She didn’t even have her place in Camelot anymore. What could she do?
Morgause’s smile was every bit that of a High Priestess.
“You have great power in you, my sister, I can feel it. You require training but you will become a remarkable sorceress in time, that I promise you.”
Morgana felt a sudden surge inside her, a certainty she hadn’t felt in a while. It was strength instead of helplessness, and she welcomed it openly.
“Now,” Morgause continued, looking pleased, “you must get more rest.”
She glanced to her left and the door in the far wall opened, a slender, blonde haired girl coming in.
Morgana instantly became all too aware of her nakedness once more, clearly uncomfortable.
“Lilly is a trusted servant,” Morgause soothed. “She’s been helping me care for you. I have things I must attend to but I shall return soon. There’s a guard outside the door. You’re quite safe here, my sister.”
She pressed a kiss to Morgana’s forehead before leaving in a rustle of silk.
Morgana closed her eyes, wanting to rest. Not really wanting to acknowledge the stranger in the room. She was with her sister now, all would be well.
That simple word gave her more security than she’d felt since her father had died. A feeling she’d forgotten and was determined to revel in.
She was home. Camelot and it’s cold corridors didn’t matter anymore.
“They’re here for our protection,” Morgause explained as they walked through the castle corridors, clearly noting the wary looks that Morgana gave the armed men who stood on duty. “Do you remember what I told you? The Blood Guard have protected the High Priestesses for hundreds of years. Their loyalty is unquestionable.”
Still Morgana didn’t feel entirely comfortable in their presence, particularly now that she was capable of getting out of her bed and actually walking around the castle, meaning that she saw them a lot more. Her paranoia was high and had a firm grip on her. A supposed friend had turned on her, what was there to prevent a stranger from doing the same?
As far as her mind was concerned, all people should be regarded with suspicion now unless they unequivocally proved otherwise. It was the only safe way.
With her exception of her sister, of course, who she didn’t doubt for a moment. In fact, the only time she could truly relax was in Morgause’s company. Even kind, patient Lily was occasionally a victim of her suspicious mind. After all, what better way to kill her than to have someone gain her trust and poison her again?
She wished her mind didn’t think like that. Such distrust was a wearing way to live.
At least her new home was beginning to feel more secure, and she’d stopped tensing anxiously at every sound of horses hooves, had stopped expecting them to be knights arriving to drag her back to Camelot for trial and execution. She was safe here.
The castle was surprisingly warm and homely, lacking the elegant refinement of her former home, but making up for it with its natural charm. There was so much life here, plants and animals had half taken it over in places, making it feel like the living forest had moved in. And why not? As far as she could see, only her sister and Lily actually lived here, even the guard had their quarters outside the main keep. This was a place of nature and peace.
Morgause said it had been taken from a noble family during the Great Purge, good people who had refused to surrender those of magic under their care. In the end, they all had been dragged to the executioner’s block, but the castle had had the final say. Enchanted, it would no longer allow those who bore ill will to the people of magic to enter it, their skin burning and blackening if they tried to cross the threshold. Morgause seemed to like the irony of that considering how many of magic had died on the pyre.
But, she explained quite clearly, it meant that Morgana was entirely safe. No one who meant her harm would be permitted to enter.
Still Morgana found it difficult to eat or drink anything that anyone handed to her, wary of what it might contain. Morgause was patient, saying her caution was understandable, but Morgana simply felt dismayed by it. By how weak she’d become. She couldn’t even sleep on her own most of the time, plagued by normal but still terrifying nightmares and spending many night’s curled up in her sister’s bed. Either hiding in her embrace or at very least touching her hand. Convincing herself that she was there and so it was safe.
She woke up screaming too many times, clawing at her throat, convinced that she couldn’t breathe. Morgause would just speak to her calmly, holding and rocking her, making her breathe with her until she settled again.
All would be well, she insisted. The boy would pay.
Morgana still found it hard to think about what he’d done. That he’d truly set out to kill her. That he’d professed to be her friend but then hadn’t even tried to talk to her. No, he’d just gone straight for the poison bottle. Tricking her into drinking and then holding her as she’d nearly died in terror.
In the end, he’d valued Uther’s life above hers.
And, she quickly came to realise, why should anyone in Camelot feel any different? They didn’t care what Uther had done, simply that he was their King. Their loyalty was blind and absolute.
And entirely misplaced.
She’d once believed that there were good people in Camelot, people worth fighting for, but was that really the case when no one stood up for the many wrongs committed? Anyone who did was branded traitor and killed. Was anything there worth saving at all?
But then again she’d seen goodness from some too. Arthur… Gwen…
“Morgana?” Morgause asked, a frown of concern at seeing the thoughtful expression on her sister’s face once more.
“The Blood Guard protect you,” Morgana acknowledged quickly, showing that she’d been listening.
“Protect us,” Morgause corrected. “You are home now. With your people. Where you belong and are needed.”
Morgana was unconvinced.
“I’m hiding here,” she said bitterly.
Morgause stopped, stepping in front of her gracefully, bringing her hand up to cradle Morgana’s cheek.
“You think you are nothing to us? To me?”
“I think I’m your sister and you love me.”
She’d never been more certain of anything even though she hadn’t known Morgause long. She felt their connection deep inside like it was an integral part of her, growing stronger every day.
“Very much so,” Morgause agreed with a smile that seemed genuinely touched. “But you are more than that, Morgana. Your insight is a powerful and wonderful gift which you will learn to control over time. Your magic is stronger than you realise. Sorceresses are trained from childhood to find and use their gifts. It will take you time but you will come to have control of the power you possess. And you will be magnificent.”
She seemed so assured that Morgana started to believe it.
Morgause linked her arm through hers sister’s and they carried on walking.
“I need to leave for a few days,” she announced after a moment of silence.
Morgana wasn’t ashamed to admit that her blood ran cold at the thought.
“We are powerful but few,” said Morgause, as much the leader as she’d ever sounded. “We need strong allies.”
“Cenred. His Kingdom is vast, his army large and he bears Camelot and its king no love at all.”
“He’s also a brute and extremely cautious,” Morgana said in distaste, knowing the man by reputation. He’d never yet invaded Camelot, knowing it would be a fool’s errand to try to take the well protected citadel, but he happily sent his men in to plunder the border villages, escaping back to their home before any aid could arrive. “What can we offer him?”
Morgause smiled a little. Predatory.
“Oh he is quite enamoured of me and will do whatever I ask with the right persuasion.”
Morgana was too disturbed by the notion to ask what persuasion that might be.
“The Blood Guard will keep you safe,” Morgause continued, as if sensing her sister’s apprehension. “And Lily will attend to you.”
“Should I not come with you?”
A worry for her sister or fear of not having her calming presence around?
“You need to rest, dear one,” Morgause soothed. “You’re still recovering. The journey is long and I wish to travel quickly. Stay here and be safe.”
The short days of winter seemed to continue on and on, snows and ice winds battering the lands. Morgause would leave for days at a time, liaising with allies, collecting supplies and secretly meeting those of magic. Morgana was surprised how much she did herself, having always imagined that the High Priestesses of old were like queens, delegating what they wanted done to others. Morgause, it seemed, trusted no one.
Except Morgana, that much was becoming obvious. She would sit with Morgana in the evenings, telling tales of her upbringing or about the people still out there. Their people and the injustices they suffered at Camelot’s hands. And though the tales sometimes sounded too horrible to be true, Morgana believed every word of it. She’d seen too much suffering first hand.
On the best evenings, Morgause would teach Morgana magic. Nothing important or difficult. Children’s spells really: making leaves dance in the air or a candle burn blue instead of yellow. Morgana didn’t know if she should be slightly embarrassed that such simple things made her feel so wonderful inside, the sense of power bringing her a peace that she’d lost. Giving her a sense of belonging.
It felt beautiful and not monstrous like she’d always been taught.
Learning from Morgause was the first time she’d never feared her magic. The first time in many years she hadn’t been disgusted with what she was.
Morgause would smile at her in delight, proud of her small progress in a way that didn’t feel at all patronising despite her own far superior abilities. Morgana found herself working as much for those smiles as for the satisfaction of the magic. No one had ever looked at her like that before. They’d smiled at her in affection, had complimented her beauty and sometimes even her spirit when they weren’t complaining about her fierce opinions. But no one, to her knowledge, had ever been proud of her. But when she got the most basic spell right, Morgause would beam at her and kiss her cheek tenderly. Lily too would look at her like she was something wondrous.
The other girl was more than a mere servant, Morgana came to realise. Morgause had great faith in her and treated her with kindness and respect. She was small and slender, a delicate looking thing but entirely fierce of spirit. On the night’s when Morgause was absent, she would sit with Morgana, would make sure she ate and help her to bed. Morgana wanted to be strong but her body was still recovering, feeling heavy and exhausted by evening. Sometimes she would get cross with herself, insisting that no help was required, but Lily would stand for no nonsense, telling her that it was far easier for both of them if Morgana just accepted the help rather than falling on her face and leaving Lilly to clean up the resulting mess.
Morgana liked her for that.
“How long have you been here?” she asked one evening as the girl was brushing her hair for her.
Morgana hadn’t asked her to do it nor had she expected it. She was no longer Lady Morgana of Camelot after all. But she was weary and even that small action had been an effort. Lily had offered without words, taking the brush from her and softly batting Morgana’s hands away.
“Since I was twelve,” Lily answered without hesitation. She was always honest, never hiding any part of who she was. Morgana found that refreshing too.
“Did your family send you here?” she asked cautiously. She knew some servants were brought, purchased and set to work where they were commanded. They were paid for their work, of course, slavery being outlawed, but their freedoms were few.
She didn’t like to think that her sister would do such a thing. Nor did she, to her own surprise really, like to think of Lily in such a situation.
“Not exactly. My mother and father were practitioners of the Old Religion. Nothing like your ability, of course. Didn’t stop King Uther from having them sentenced to death though.”
Morgana chilled, realising that she’d probably had to endure watching their execution.
“They heard that the soldiers were coming and so they had my grandmother sneak me out,” Lily continued, more matter of fact than Morgana could have managed. “There wasn’t time for them to escape too.”
“I’m…” Morgana began again before realising how pointless and hollow apologies sounded. “And your grandmother brought you here?”
“No. To the village nearby. When she became sick a couple of years later, she came to the High Priestess for help. My grandmother was worried about what would happen to me if she died.” Lily looked sad for a moment. “She was beyond help but the High Priestess took me into her household. I’ve been here ever since.”
“And you’re happy here?”
Lily smiled at her in the reflection of the mirror.
“Very much so, my lady.”
“I’ve told you before, you don’t have to call me that.”
“You’re the sister of the High Priestess,” Lily said simply, tying Morgana’s hair into a braid. “And you will be a great sorceress in your own right. You deserve respect.”
“I can barely master children’s tricks.”
Lily immediately shook her head.
“Your powers are wonderful, my lady,” she said, looking genuinely surprised that Morgana didn’t see it. “I wish I had half of your ability.”
“Can you do any magic?” Morgana asked, wondering since the girl’s parents had obviously had the capability. Also wanting to change the subject, feeling a little embarrassed by praise she didn’t feel she deserved.
“I have a few skills,” Lily said dismissively. “Mostly in poultices. Nothing like what you can do.”
“You’re too kind,” Morgana said, almost scolding.
Lily bent down and pressed a quick, almost shy kiss to her cheek.
Morgause’s absences became easier to bear as time went on. Not that Morgana ever looked forward to them, but she at least felt more at ease without her sister’s presence. More able to cope without her. Lily helped greatly, proving to be caring, kind and intuitive.
It had taken a while, but Morgana never woke up screaming anymore either, not like she had after her nightmares back in Camelot. It was a start, but her fears were not completely diminished though. Sometimes she would still awake in a cold sweat clutching at her throat, trying to claw away the invisible hands that stopped her breathing.
The first time Lily entered her chambers after one of those nightmares, Morgana had commanded her to get out, her mind whirling with dark thoughts. If she couldn’t trust a supposed friend, how could she ever trust this stranger?
The next time Lily just knocked lightly at the door, telling Morgana that she would be just outside if she needed her.
Morgana could never figure out how she knew that she’d woken.
Months after her arrival, with her sister absent and she having endured her fourth night in a row of terrible nightmares, Morgana actually shuffled out of bed. She was so exhausted, so miserable, just needing to sleep but afraid to close her eyes.
She almost burst into tears when she opened her door and saw Lily sitting patiently on the chair outside.
The young woman smiled kindly.
“Come, my lady,” she said standing and offering her arm for support. “Let’s get you back to bed.”
She stayed in Morgana’s room all night, curled into the chair.
The next night, Morgana offered her a place in her bed. There was no reason for Lily to miss out on sleep because of her. This time when she awoke, Morgana found soothing arms around her in an instant. She drifted back to sleep in them without protest.
It was nice to be so cared for. To not feel alone.
More sleep meant that her strength returned to her again, and Morgana found herself suddenly keen to explore her surroundings. The castle was safe and homely yet she hadn’t stepped outside in months. It was time for that to change.
The guardsman on duty simply nodded when Morgana told him she was going outside. He had no issue with her wandering a little as long as she didn’t travel beyond the edge of the surrounding woodland. The magic that protected the castle stopped there.
She wasn’t sure if he was trying to protect her or protect himself from her sister’s anger should anything happen to her. She still wondered how much everyone here truly accepted her.
Morgana assured him that she had no intention of wandering and besides she was taking Lily with her.
For the first time in a long while she actually laughed that afternoon, walking barefoot through streams on the extensive grounds, feet getting filthy in the long grass. It was wonderful and freeing, and Lily was delightful. The girl was sunny and caring company, apparently enjoying herself too and just wanting to see Morgana happy. And she blushed adorably when she encouraged Morgana to use her magic frivolously, making fallen petals dance.
Everything felt right that afternoon.
Later, laying exhaustedly in the bath, the younger woman whispered to her how wonderful she was. Morgana just smiled, eyes closed in her relaxation, used to the compliments by now even if she didn’t believe them still.
“Maybe one day I’ll be even half the sorceress my sister is and then I’ll be worth half that praise.”
“You are magnificent,” Lily assured her, her voice no nonsense as if she wouldn’t take any argument about that.
Morgana’s smile only faltered when Lily’s hands, that had been so sweetly massaging her shoulders slid further down under the waterline.
She said nothing though, assuming she was imagining things, until the other woman’s thumbs brushed at the curve of her breasts. Then she opened her eyes, her gaze full of uncertainty.
“What are you…?”
Lily looked mildly troubled. Abashed almost.
“Do you not want me to? I know I’m really only a servant but…”
It took Morgana a long moment to think about the answer to that.
“No, it’s not that…”
“Has no one ever touched you in this manner before?”
The question was blunt and forthright. Just the way Lily always asked them. Morgana gave her a dry smile.
“I was the ward of a King who would kill people for looking at me incorrectly. No man would dare.”
“What about a woman?”
The fact that Morgana hesitated gave away a lot.
“My maid and I were close once,” she confessed. “Mostly when I’d had a little too much wine during a feast.”
Without saying another word, Lily leaned over and kissed her softly.
Morgana didn’t exactly push her away but her mind was too full of questions to truly respond. Lily’s lips were full and soft and the feel of them left a warmth inside Morgana that she hadn’t felt in a long time. But it was in her nature to doubt now.
She looked at Lily with a frown when she pulled away.
“Why are you doing this?” she eventually asked.
Lily didn’t seem to take offence at that at all. In fact, she just smiled as if she was amused.
“Because the High Priestess told me to look after you in whatever way I saw fit.”
“So you kiss me because you think you’ve been told to,” Morgana concluded, instantly troubled by that notion.
Lily’s smile didn’t falter, her hand on Morgana’s cheek.
“I kiss you because you’re beautiful and magnificent and I consider it an honour.” She leaned down again, her lips once more brushing softly over Morgana’s before she pulled back a little to whisper. “I kiss you because you’ve had too much pain in your life and you deserve pleasure.”
She kissed her again deeper this time before her lips moved up to Morgana’s ear, teasing and encouraging.
“Close your eyes,” she whispered. “Relax and enjoy. And if you want me to stop, just open them again. I simply want you to be happy.”
And how could she not be as Lily’s gentle hands skirted lightly over her body in a slow massage? She wanted to open her eyes, to watch what she was doing, but there was a nice freedom in just feeling. Part of her tried to reason that this was madness, that it made no sense and shouldn’t be happening. But mostly she just went with feeling above sense. And this felt good. Especially as Lily’s hands brushed against the curve of her breast again, Morgana bitting her lip a little, suppressing the sound that tried to escape. She was sure it wasn’t meant to feel this good. That she shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy such a thing so much.
Her nipples peaked as Lily’s fingers caressed them, warm pleasure travelling to her core. It made her need to say something, embarrassed almost by the silence.
“Won’t you get in trouble? With my sister, I mean.”
Lily kissed her neck, hands still stroking over her breasts for a moment longer before she began to move, shuffling softly around the side of the bath. Her caresses continued, sliding down to Morgana's.
“There is no element of class among the priestesses,” she explained, apparently presuming that Morgana was worried about the consequences of allowing a servant to seduce her. “Some are powerful, some are not so. But there’s no shame in that. It’s just the way of the world and we all have our place. We all rely on each other. If it’s my place it to make you happy, then I am more than content with that. And as a sorceress, you may take any lover you see fit as long as they don’t harm our kind.”
Morgana was immediately concerned about what Lily expected of her. ‘Lover’ seemed permanent somehow, and she was having great difficulty thinking beyond this moment. Particularly when Lily’s hand slid between her legs. Instinct made Morgana part them, her body clearly wanting this, and she felt Lily smile against her lips as her fingers began to explore her intimately. There was nothing but pleasure, growing and warm, a slickness that she was only vaguely familiar with building along with it, making the movements of those fingers feel even more divine. The water made it better somehow, less exposed. More secret. And to her surprise, didn't wash the wetness between her legs away. Magic in those oils Lily poured into her bath, she wondered?
The pleasure built and built and when it suddenly peaked Morgana was caught by surprise, gasping loudly, body shaking as she was filled with beautiful warmth.
“My sweet goddess,” Lily whispered adoringly, hand still between Morgana’s legs as she kissed her slowly.
The next morning, Morgana was confused and unsettled, wondering what the expectations were now. Wondering what her sister might think. But Lily did nothing differently, simply smiled in her normal friendly way, bringing Morgana her breakfast.
She pressed an affectionate kiss to her cheek but said nothing more.
Morgana was glad. She adored the girl but…she was confused by her feelings for her. It didn’t feel like love, more like the enjoyment of having someone. Of being close.
If Morgause did realise anything when she returned, she didn’t mention it, only saying how much healthier Morgana was looking by the day.
Good night’s sleep aided that, either curled up at her sister’s side, or with Lily,. Sometimes with the girl’s wonderful exploring hands, sometimes just resting in comfort.
She taught Morgana to touch her at the lady's insistence, showed her what was pleasurable and what she liked. And when Lily came undone beneath her touches, crying out her name and gripping at the bedsheets, for the first time in her life Morgana truly felt powerful.
PROLOGUE | PART ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE | PART FOUR | PART FIVE | PART SIX | PART SEVEN