The next morning found Arthur up and dressed early, without Merlin’s ‘help’. He had sent word that Merlin was to help Gaius with the morning rounds, and then report to Arthur when he was finished. Merlin’s history showed that he had appalling timing of saying precisely the wrong thing at the wrong time, so it was best to keep him safely out of the way.
Timing was key for Arthur’s plan; he had to approach his father when he was in a good mood, which meant before the council meeting, but still alone, which meant after breakfast with Morgana. Luckily, he was well versed in the art of distracting and annoying his…sister (it was getting easier to think, even if he still couldn’t put it to words out loud quite yet), so he had no doubt that getting Morgana out of the room would not be a problem.
Uther and Morgana were already seated when he entered. They greeted him politely as they helped themselves to the generous array of platters. Uther had decreed that breakfast was just to be the three of them; not even servants were allowed to linger. Arthur supposed that it was his father’s way of attempting to spend time with his children, even as they grew farther and farther apart each day.
Morgana was being somewhat more stubborn than usual that morning; usually Arthur could get her to flounce out of the room in a huff with a couple of well placed barbs. Luckily, Uther himself, unknowing, provided a solution.
“Alright! Enough you two; one would think you are either siblings in truth, or an old married couple, the way you bicker on so.” He scolded, which earned him equal glares of disgust from his progeny. “Arthur, Morgana, I am ordering you two out of the castle for the day. Go on a picnic, go for a swim in the lake, I do not care; just make sure you get the fidgets out of your system and can return and behave like the young adults and heirs of Camelot that you are.”
Arthur bit his tongue, hard; he couldn’t’t have planned for a better segue way than that! He nodded stiffly at Morgana. “I’ll meet you at the stables in ten minutes?”
She narrowed her eyes, wondering what his game was, but agreed. “I’ll have Gwen pack a basket while I change into riding clothes.”
“If you see Merlin, tell him to saddle the horses, would you? Make sure he brings out Zephyr for you; I noticed Star was favoring that left rear hock again, and I want Bram to check it out before she goes out again.”
She inclined her head in agreement and in a brief bow to the king before exiting. King and prince watched her go.
“Father, I’m worried about Morgana.”
Uther frowned at him, already distracted by the notes for the upcoming council meeting. “What are you talking about?”
“Well, what is to be her place here in Camelot?” Arthur pressed. “She is your ward, to be sure, and adopted family, but she has no true status or power except by your clemency. She is not a princess, so there is no hope of securing an alliance through marriage, and while she can read and write exceptionally well, she has no real skills to become the castle chatelaine. What is to be her place when you are gone?”