3.40 – Metamorphosis

Morgana’s maidservant did not make it three steps into her mistress’s chambers before being tackled head-on by its occupant.

“Guinevere!”

She clearly hadn’t been expecting that. The girl let out a surprised gasp as the sudden impact almost made her fall over. She tried taking a step back and untangle herself, but the sorceress wrapped her arms around her, pulling Guinevere against her and holding her tight.

Morgana had never hugged her maidservant like that. Not once. It wasn’t decent. The sorceress knew that she was acting unsightly, that her reaction was incredibly unbecoming for someone of her station – but in that moment, Morgana didn’t care. The Princess let out a sob, squeezing the girl in front of her as hard as she could.
“I thought I’d never see you again! I was so worried – don’t ever run off on me like that again, you hear me?!”

The sorceress hadn’t been able to sleep at all. Morgana had been consumed with worry all night. Her thoughts had kept returning to that moment; the deep sense of dread that had unfolded in her stomach the moment that she saw something shatter in Guinevere’s eyes. The memory had been burned into her mind. And sending Lancelot after her had only helped to ease her conscience for a moment.
Morgana had always had a good intuition. And when Guinevere did not return to her all night, the Princess had started to assume the worst.

“You were worried?”
“What are you saying?!” Morgana replied, her voice drenched with concern as she pressed Guinevere against her even tighter. “Of course I was worried about you!”

The sorceress had not realised just how much she relied on having Guinevere around. Not until that night. She hadn’t understood just how much the girl meant to her. But she did now. To a painful degree. And her careless anger had almost chased her away, driving her off without giving Morgana any opportunity to correct her error. The sorceress had not felt this panicked and powerless in a very long time.

She hated it.

“I chased after you yesterday,” Morgana explained. “I tried to catch up to you, I swear I did, but those bloody guards wouldn’t let me leave the castle grounds. I had to resort to sending Lancelot after you instead-”
“That was you?” Guinevere asked, surprised. Morgana nodded in response. She finally let go of her, taking a tentative step back.

“Yes. I had to do something,” she explained. “I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t sleep all night; I kept seeing the memory of that look on your face after I yelled at you. I know how gentle you are. I thought I drove you off- I thought that you weren’t coming back.”
“I’m… sorry to worry you, milady,” the maidservant muttered. But Morgana shook her head at her, not accepting Guinevere’s words.
“I’m the one that should be apologising. Are you alright? Are you hurt at all? Lancelot said that he chased you all the way into the woods-”
“No, milady. I’m fine. Really.”

She didn’t seem to be lying. Even though Lancelot and Guinevere had been in the wilderness all night, Morgana didn’t see any signs of exhaustion on her face. The sorceress couldn’t find any visible injuries on her, either. Not a single scratch had been left on her skin. Guinevere was completely unharmed.
She really was fine.

Oh, thank the Goddess.

The sorceress slowly exhaled. Morgana could feel a weight lift from her shoulders as a great sense of relief washed over her.
“I’m sorry, Guin,” she said. “I should never have yelled at you like that. That outburst wasn’t aimed at you. Not really.”
“It wasn’t?”
“No. Watcher, of course not. I was angry about something else. It didn’t have anything to do with you. My father and Arthur got under my skin in the worst way and I ended up taking it out on you. I shouldn’t have done that. Please forgive me.”
The maidservant nodded, looking at the ground.
“I’m not mad, milady.”
“You’re not? You’re really sure?”
“Yes. I forgive you.”

Morgana let out a big, relieved sigh as a smile finally returned to her lips. She grabbed hold of Guinevere’s hands, pulling her maidservant further into the comfort of her chambers and letting the doors fall shut behind them.
“Thank you. I’m glad you’re back, Guin. Right in time, too- we have a very busy day ahead of us and I need-”

But she never got to finish her sentence. Guinevere stopped her, pulling her hands free as she interrupted Morgana mid-word.
“Milady.”

Morgana watched as strange sense of calm came over the girl in front of her. The sudden change in body language took her by surprise. She’d never seen Guinevere like that. It was completely unlike her. As Morgana raised her eyebrows, confused, her maidservant continued speaking.
“It’s true. I’m not mad… but I am resigning.”

“…What?”

At her bewildered expression, Guinevere broke eye contact, looking down at the ground.
“I’m… I’m resigning as your maidservant, milady,” she said, choosing her words very carefully. “I made that decision this morning. I’ll make sure to let Sarah know a-as well. Oh, and I’ll help with finding a replacement, of course. It’s the least I can do.”

Replacement?

“You’re leaving me?”

The girl nodded, an expression of guilt briefly flashing across her face as she looked back up at her mistress.
“Yes. I’m… sorry. I know what a-an honour it is to work at the castle. You’ve… really done a lot for me. A-and I’m grateful. I really am. But… I’ve thought about it, and… and this is what—”

But Morgana didn’t let her finish. She couldn’t. Every part of her mind was shouting out in protest, wanting to silence her, wanting to stop the conversation before Guinevere could finish what she was saying.

This wasn’t right. This wasn’t what was supposed to happen.

“This is because I snapped at you, isn’t it?” Morgana asked, her mind clasping onto the first explanation that she could think of. But Guinevere shook her head in response.
“No, milady. Not… not really.”
“Then what is it?” the sorceress asked. Her thoughts raced in all kinds of directions at once. Guinevere’s words had taken her completely by surprise; she’d never expressed unhappiness with her work before. Not once. But Morgana couldn’t be caught off-guard. She had to figure out the angle. There had to be something that she could offer Guinevere so she would stay, so Morgana could keep her.
“What are you unsatisfied with?” the Princess tried again. “Is it your wages? Do you need a raise, or more days off, or shorter hours, or-”
“No, that’s not—”

“Do you dislike how we treat you?” the sorceress pushed, not letting Guinevere get a word in edgewise. “I’ll admit that we’ve teased you a little too much at times, but you’ve never expressed unhappiness with us before- is that it? Do we need to treat you better? I’ll talk to Sarah for you if that’s it-”
“No, that’s… I don’t mind the teasing.”
“Then… then what is it?” Morgana said, slowly growing desperate. “Is it me? Did I cause this? Are you angry with me, after all? If you need another apology I’ll-”
But Guinevere shook her head again.
“No, milady. That’s not it at a-all.”
‘Then why? I don’t understand. Why won’t you stay with me?”

A thousand reasons echoed through Morgana thoughts at once, one even more implausible than the other. Morgana feverishly tried to think of ways to counter every single one them.

But the truth was nowhere near what she’d imagined. 

“Because I don’t want to.”

Morgana could tell. There were no lies in those words. They were genuine. The sorceress could feel a sharp sting of pain pierce through her chest, her thoughts finally falling silent as her mind reached the only conclusion it could.
“… do you hate me that much?”

The second those thoughts had left her lips, Guinevere took a step towards her. The girl shook her head as she placed a single hand on Morgana’s arm.
“No. Milady, that’s not it. At a-all. It’s the opposite. My choice has… almost nothing to do with you.”

“I don’t really know how to explain it,” Guinevere frowned, touching her lower lip in contemplation. “I had… I realised something last night. A-about myself.”
“What do you mean?” Morgana asked. She could see that the girl was struggling to find the right words. Guinevere had always had difficulties bringing her thoughts out into the open. But this time, the girl stubbornly continuing talking, forcing herself to speak even as she faltered in places.
“I’ve always liked… helping people. It’s why I came to the castle in the first place. To give back what I received. But… I don’t think it’s right anymore,” she continued softly. “I don’t think this is what I really want. I gave it a lot of thought, a-and… I realised that I’m not happy as a servant. Not really. I need to be… something else. I want to be something else. But… I don’t know what that is. Not… not yet.”

A small silence fell. Morgana could see that it was deliberate, and Guinevere was trying to gauge her reaction. When no reply came, the girl straightened her back, cautiously making eye contact.
“Milady… I want to be free. To find out what else I can be.”

“I just want to be free. That’s all I want. Is that so wrong, Merlin?”

Guinevere had never told Morgana her wishes out loud before. Not once. Her maidservant had always been good at anticipating Morgana’s whims, as any good servant could – but in the entirety of their time together, Guinevere had never told the sorceress what she wanted.
Not once.

And Morgana had never asked.
Why had she never thought to ask?

“I… see,” Morgana replied, glancing away as she looked at the nearest wall. “There’s… I have no way to reply to that.”

That was a lie. The sorceress knew exactly how to reply to that. She knew what the right thing to do was. But Morgana couldn’t bring herself to say the words out loud. She couldn’t bear the thought of letting go, of losing what she hadn’t even realised was that important to her until now. She didn’t want to let go. Morgana realised how much of a hypocrite that made her, immediately growing to despise herself for it.
But she couldn’t help it. For a split second, the sorceress struggled with herself.

She couldn’t bear to say yes.
But she couldn’t say no.

After all…
It was all she wanted, too.

“I… accept,” Morgana eventually mumbled. The girl in front of her immediately perked up.
“Really?”
“…yes. I… accept your resignation, Guinevere.”

“Thank you,” Guinevere replied, bowing her head in response. “I know this is… very selfish of me.”
The girl looked down at the ground. For a moment, she seemed to be struggling with herself. Then that moment passed, and Guinevere began to talk for a second time.
“I actually have… one more selfish request,” she admitted. “If… if that’s a-all right.”
“What is it?”
“During the Yule celebrations, you, um… you said something to me,” Guinevere explained, her eyes trained firmly on the wooden floor. “Something that was rather inappropriate a-at the time. I don’t know if you… remember. But, well… it meant a lot. To me. The request I have is… If I leave here, I won’t be able to call you my lady anymore. But… if it’s not too much to ask…”

“I’d still like to call you my friend.”

…Oh.

Morgana stepped forward, leaning in and taking Guinevere by surprise as she placed a kiss on the girls cheek. In a soft voice, she whispered:
“Of course you can. I’m honoured to call you my friend.”
“Really?”
“Really.”

The sorceress took a step back, straightening her posture as she brought her hands together. When Morgana spoke, her speech had changed to a formal tone.
“Guinevere Farris. I formally accept your resignation. Thank you for everything you have done for us. I release you from my service.”

“Go be free.”

Guinevere’s smile widened, a sense of relief visibly washing over her at Morgana’s answer. She gave her former mistress a single, hopeful nod.
“I will. Thank you, milady.”

“Call me Morgana,” the sorceress replied. “You’ve earned that right. Oh, and don’t worry about finding a replacement,” she added, her own smile slowly morphing into her tell-tale smirk.
“Oh. A-are you sure?”
“Yes. Sarah alone will do just fine.”

“But you can be the one to tell her that.”

As Guinevere left Morgana’s bedchambers, the sorceress couldn’t help but glance back at her from over her shoulder, her eyes fixated on the girl’s back.

She’d let go.

Part of her… was not all right with that. Despite herself, as she gazed at Guinevere’s back, Morgana found herself wishing that the girl would change her mind. That she would turn around, walk back in and say that she’d made a mistake. That she would take back her words.  

But she didn’t.

Guinevere did not look back.

If only I could do the same.

But she couldn’t. Morgana was still torn. And now, because of that, she wasn’t even able to leave the castle.

Morgana had never felt more trapped. It was almost as if, the harder she tried, the more her gilded cage ended up closing in around her. Part of her, a part that she was desperately trying to deny, even felt jealous of her former maidservant. Guinevere had broken free. Just like that. She hadn’t even looked back. If only Morgana could switch places with her. If only she could walk away without consequence, like Guinevere had just—

Wait…

“I want to be free. To find out what else I can be.”

Of course.

Morgana could feel her heartbeat pick up, a wave of adrenaline rushing through her as her mind finally realised. All this time, the answer had been within her grasp. Why hadn’t she thought of it earlier? Morgana wasn’t trapped at all. She wasn’t even cornered; she’d just forgotten how many tools she had at her disposal. How many tools she really had, if she truly set her mind to it.

She could be whoever she wanted to be.

After all… masks were her specialty, were they not?

With swift, determined footsteps, Guinevere made her way up the wooden stairs. She knew where she was going, unwilling to hesitate. The old version of her would never have gotten this far. She wouldn’t have dared. The old Guinevere would not have attempted one loaded conversation with someone she cared for, let alone two of them on the same day.

But she wasn’t the old Guinevere. Not anymore. She had left that person behind, charred and discarded back in that woodland clearing. She’d taken a step towards someone new. Someone free. It was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Guinevere felt light, almost weightless, like a massive burden had been lifted from her shoulders.

Facing Morgana had been comparable to taking a step off a tall, steep cliffside. She’d never confronted someone she cared about before. Not like that. And against her better judgment, part of her had expected the Princess to tear her to pieces for even asking. For even thinking of being selfish.

But that hadn’t happened. Morgana had accepted. She’d set her free. And instead of plummeting down from that cliff and getting dragged into the depths, Guinevere found herself weightless. Floating.

Lancelot was right. She didn’t have to do any of it.
She could be whatever she wanted to be.

Or, at least… she could try.

But before that, Guinevere had to change one more thing. She had to break one more barrier. The young redhead had decided saved this conversation for last, worried that she wouldn’t have the strength for it. Anxious that she would lose her resolve partway through.

Guinevere wasn’t anxious anymore.
She could be whoever she wanted to be.

With a swift hand motion, Guinevere gave a series of knocks on the door. It didn’t take long for an answer to ring out from the other side.
“Come in.”

She did. Guinevere pushed open the doors, revealing the inside of Arthur’s bedchambers. She had never actually been in there before. As the girl took a quick moment to take everything in, she could see Arthur turning around to face her, an expression of mild annoyance on his face.
“Reginald, if this is about your letter of complaint, I told you I would—”

“…Guinevere?”

He clearly hadn’t expected her. She knew why; when they agreed to get to know each other, the two of them had agreed that Guinevere shouldn’t go anywhere near his chambers. It was too conspicuous. There was no easier way for the entire castle to get the wrong idea.
Guinevere found that she didn’t really care for that anymore, either.

“This is… unexpected!” Arthur said, completely caught off-guard. Guinevere could hear the confusion and delight in his words, both trying to get the upper hand of his mood.
“Why did you take the front- didn’t we agree that you wouldn’t- not that I mind, of course not! But I thought we were trying not to draw attention, and – wait, aren’t you on duty today?”
Guinevere shook her head in response.
“No… no, I’m free.”
“Really? You don’t have anything planned?”
She shook her head again, noticing Arthur getting visibly excited at her answer.

“I see!” he said, his smile widening instantly. “In that case, we could go- er, I mean, would you like to accompany me on a horse ride later? We’ll need to meet up in the woods to keep prying eyes away, and I’ll have to take care of some errands first, but after that, we could arrange-”

But the girl cut him off, feeling the same calm determination well up as when she’d talked with Morgana.
“No.”

“…no?”
“No. Not today.”
Arthur blinked. The Crown Prince cocked his head, a frown slowly spreading across his brow as he looked down on her in confusion.
“…Guinevere?”

She broke eye contact with him in response, taking a deep breath. It was fine. She could do this. Guinevere looked down at the ground, neatly folding her hands in front of her as she gave Arthur a tiny smile.

Be whoever you want to be.

“We… need to talk.”

9 thoughts on “3.40 – Metamorphosis

  1. I’m so proud of Guinevere! But I’m a little worried for Morgana. I hope Lancelot doesn’t end up trying to rescue her as well…

    I selfishly want the Arthur-Guinevere ship to sink to the bottom of the ocean, and I hope she cuts it off with him, but he’s cute and I think she still likes him (which is her choice), so if they don’t split or if it’s only temporary, I won’t mind. They have some potential. Arthur still has a lot to learn and a lot of growing up to do (as does everyone else), but I have confidence that he’ll get better, especially since this new/reborn Guinevere is freer and more willing to stand up for herself.

    The shots of Uther make me uneasy… He’s rarely up to anything good, but maybe he’s turning a new leaf too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Would he try to rescue her? Would she want to be rescued? She seems pretty confident about the plan she’s concocted…

      Haha, you have been the most vocal about wanting Guinthur to die spectacularly. The ball is in Guinevere’s court for a change; who knows what’s going to happen? You’re right; Arthur still has a lot of growing to do, as does the rest of the teen cast. They’re all trying their hardest, in one way or another. They all have one more trait to earn as they reach adulthood, too 😁

      In a way, that might be more of a new leaf than you think…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think Lancelot would try to rescue Morgana if he thought she needed rescuing because he really seems to have a hero-complex. I’m not sure he would consider whether she wanted to be rescued or not… but hopefully I’m wrong and hopefully he would consider her wishes and not just rush in. But the fact that you sometimes roll die (which could put Lancelot in mortal danger?!!) really scares me. I don’t want him to play hero and die. I want his advice to Guinevere to come true for him.

        Do their traits play into their behavior? I’ve never thought about their traits before. Now I’m curious if any of them (including Uther) has the “evil” trait. Hmm… No need to confirm, but my guess is no except maybe Richard/people around him (and Guinevere’s father is evil too but I don’t imagine him having that trait).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I do roll dice! Usually at least once every chapter, sometimes more if I’m not sure how to proceed. Most of the time it’s for inconsequential things but every once in a while, it’s something huge. This time, it was the outcome of Morgana and Guinevere’s “I’m quitting”-conversation. Last time it was Lancelot’s resolve (and someone else’s actions).

        Their traits absolutely play into their behaviour. At childhood they had three, and as teenagers they have four. They have four flaws too, and most of those are direct consequences of their traits (Arthur is honest but idealistic, Morgana is bold but reckless, Guinevere is selfless but self-sacrificing, etc). The evil trait does not exist in my story, as it’s a little too black-and-white for my tastes.

        If you’re curious, Uther Pendragon has the following traits and flaws:
        Traits: Confident, Wilful, Prideful, Ambitious, Driven
        Flaws: Overbearing, Stubborn, Arrogant, Hot-headed, Fixated

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Interesting and good to know. 🙂 When you mentioned traits, I thought of the Sims 4 standard “traits”, which I was surprised to hear played a role. Now I see that it’s not just the Sims 4 traits available in CAS. Uther has traits that I would expect. Regardless, I like the relationship you established between traits and flaws. It’s thoughtful.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s great to see how clarified Guinevere has become. It was unpredictable in the previous gloomy chapters.
    I’m glad Morgana overcame her selfish urge to hold on to her ❤
    It seems that Morgana is ready to take some important steps for herself.
    Now I’m excited about how the conversation with Arthur is going to be. Fingers crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you put it pretty succinctly in a previous comment of yours. I don’t remember what you said exactly, but sometimes you need to go through the darkness to reach the light on the other side, and cause real change. It can even inspire change in others, or, in Morgana’s case, a new angle that she hadn’t thought of before.
      Fingers crossed indeed! We’ll find out pretty soon, though maybe not as soon as you think.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ohhh my, Morgana, is that a balled fist? Or is that Gwen being slightly nervous admitting to her resignation? That ‘you’re leaving me’ almost sounds slightly (unintentionally) self-centred, but Gwen is gonna have to do what’s best for her for once in her life. I’m wondering if deep down Morgana is a bit angered about this. Not necessarily in a bitter way, but…hard to explain on my part. ‘This wasn’t supposed to happen’ Morgana, this isn’t a chess game this time, and people that love Gwen will have to let her go and do her own thing. I think with someone like Gwen, that’s how you would show her how much you care about her.

    It will be hard to let her go, but maybe necessary. She’s gone and taken it personally, and I think it’s not with cruel intention but more just growing up royalty maybe, used to having a servant. So it’s kind of a subconscious ‘what would I do without you?’ but I’m glad Gwen is doing what she wants.

    Ooooof, struck a nerve there. Something a sorceress can relate to, wanting to be free to be who she truly is. Well this scene ended on a more positive note than I’d expected. I think Morgana and others learned how to deal with such things when Morgana ran away. LMAO I was going to say, Sarah won’t like knowing she’ll have to do the work of two. Sarah will miss her a lot ;-;
    It’s a cage within a cage within a cage within a cage…with Morgana, and perhaps with womanhood in general. You escape one cage, still plenty you have to break out of after. Ohh balls is that Uther going after Gwen? Also, yeah, how much it hurt Morgana that Gwen says she wants to go…It’ll likely hurt Arthur twice as much.

    Mind you, if that’s the case and she wants to sort of cut Arthur out, it makes me wonder if she’s gone from one end of the spectrum to the other, like to go off on your own way and without anyone you know…is it too much possibly? Still, what’s to expect after a life of servitude? I don’t know if what I said makes any sense (as usual).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is indeed a balled fist. Morgana has very few people that she truly relies on and despite not knowing about her secret, Guinevere is one of them. It’s easy to see resignation as rejection, especially when it comes from someone you expect to be around always, and maybe even feel entitled to. The die roll only passed by 1 point and I interpreted it as: if Guinevere hadn’t mentioned wanting to be free, then this conversation (and their relationship from here on out) would have taken a very, very different turn.

      Ha, Sarah will be juuuuuuuust fine with having to do everything, surely 😆🙈

      I’ve said this over chat too but if you’re used to always doing everything for everyone without ever thinking of yourself, and you don’t know how to balance your own behaviour, then it’s easy to tilt from one extreme to the other. People really are free in life to try whatever they want and become whoever they want to be. But every action they take has consequences, and you’ll never be free of those, no matter who you’re trying to become. We’ll see what kind of decisions the future brings, and what kind of consequences end up snowballing out of them.

      Liked by 1 person

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