I Am Morgan le Fay

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Authors: Nancy Springer
over his shoulder, but still he did not speak.
    â€œWhat is wrong?” I asked him.
    â€œNothing.”
    Ongwynn let off plaiting my hair and turned to peer at him. He set the last square of peat in place, stood, straightened his shoulders and spoke to her.
    â€œIf all is well here,” he said quietly, as if speaking of a bucket to be mended or a hare to be skinned, “I’ll be leaving.”
    The words went through me like a spear. I leapt to my feet. “Thomas, no!” I cried before I realized it was not my place to speak.
    Morgause spoke out of turn also. “Leaving? But Thomas, what for?”
    He kept his eyes on Ongwynn’s face, and to this day I am not sure whether he was speaking to her or to us. “It is not fitting that I should remain here.”
    And already in my heart of hearts I knew well enough what he meant. I had not yet experienced the monthly courses of a woman, and my breasts were just beginning to bud, but I felt the ache in me and I hoped he felt it too. I knew.
    â€œNo,” I bleated like a child. “Thomas, no, stay, you must stay here with us!”
    â€œHush, Morgan.” Lumbering to her feet, Nurse laid her palm upon my dewy, half-plaited head. “Thomas is right.” To him she said, “Where will you go?”
    He shrugged, and gave no other answer.
    â€œHave you no home?”
    He shook his head. “Like the youngest son of the poor nobleman in the old tale,” he said, trying to joke, “I must venture forth to seek my fate.”
    â€œFortune,” Ongwynn corrected him, and leaving my hair half-dried and half-dressed as it was, she set about packing him a bag of provisions as if the word fate meant nothing to her. But it froze me into such a misery of fear for him that I could barely move, for I remembered: The midwife who had birthed Thomas, who might have been such a wise woman as Ongwynn herself, had said he was fated to die ... I could not bear to think in battle, to remember the blind head on a pike like a scarecrow over death’s ghastly garden, so I went numb. I sat on the hearth, hugging myself and watching the others as if watching reflections in water, hearing them as if they were very far away, without much comprehension.
    â€œGive me no more than I can carry,” Thomas was telling Ongwynn. “I’ll leave Annie with you.”
    He was giving away his most precious companion. He saw death before him. I knew it. And—what could I do? Could I change his fate with the milpreve? To heal Ongwynn, I had somewhat promised to submit to my fate; was Thomas’s fate part of mine? I did not know, I did not understand enough, I was not strong enough; I could do nothing. I could not move even to cry.
    â€œThomas, no,” Morgause protested. “You don’t have to leave Annie, you need her! How will you—”
    â€œI’ll walk.”
    â€œBut—”
    â€œI’m not trying to be noble,” he said with a hint of exasperation. “I’ve outgrown her, that’s all.”
    â€œBut you’ll miss her!”
    I wished she had not said that. It made him wince.
    I do not remember whether he replied, or how. Time became a sharp stone that skipped, rippling the watery images before my eyes. Thomas was saying his good-byes. Ongwynn reached up—Thomas was that tall now—and took his head in both her hands, blessing him.
    â€œProtector, thank you for everything,” he told her.
    â€œYou will meet with dangers,” she said as levelly as if speaking of the weather.
    â€œI know. I will be wary.” He turned and hugged Morgause, then walked over to where I was sitting and—
    I don’t know what I was expecting or hoping for. A kiss? A pledge, a token?
    He reached down and tugged one of my braids as if I were a child.
    My chill misery heated in a flash. Fit to breathe fire, I leaped to my feet, yelling at him, “Stop it! Let me alone! Go on, get

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