“For the two of us, home isn't a place. It is a person. And we are finally home.” ― Stephanie Perkins
When she had first opened her eyes, she had been greeted by white. And silence. It had been frightening.
She had closed them again, praying it were only an ugly dream. When she opened them the second time, she realized, terrified, that it was not. She scrambled her mind for memories, trying to find out how exactly she had gotten here. The freshest ones were the feeling of a sword cutting through her, the rage and despair blocking out anything else. And Merlin's face. The bile rose in her throat and she got up abruptly, causing the world around her to spin horribly. She clutched her head in her hand, willing it to stop. She didn't even know how she was aware of it, since everything was white, but it didn't make it any less true. What was happening? Was she dead?
"Good morning", said a voice behind her.
Morgana turned around fast. She needed a few seconds for everything to settle down, but when it did, she saw a girl. She seemed to be young, younger than Morgana, and she was wearing a red dress...something. She was sitting behind Morgana, with her arms resting on her crossed legs.
"Who are you?" Morgana asked, more bitterly than she had intended.
"Freya." The girl answered, her head tilting a bit to the side as she watched her curiously. "You?"
"Morgana." She replied, simply, pursing her lips.
A long time had passed since she had been just Morgana. She guessed she wasn't really a High Priestess now, and she hadn't been a Lady for a long time. She swallowed the bitterness that threatened to overcome.
Freya was still staring at her, with a look she wasn't sure she wanted to decipher.
"What?" She asked, more forcefully than she had intended.
"You're a troubled soul." replied Freya, her lips curling downward.
"I don't need your pity", she snapped and started to arrange her dress. Did people receive clothes in afterlife?
"I am not pitying you." The girl replied, hugging her knees. " I am just stating a fact. You are not the first I saw and certainly not the last. I think you deserved better."
"You tell me about it."
Freya didn't say anything afterwards.
" What is this place anyway?" Morgana asked, attempting to change the topic and willing the guilt to go away. She was grateful that Freya hadn't left yet. She didn’t want to be alone.
"The place between the mortal world and the immortal one.”
“What are we doing here?”
“We are waiting to be regenerated. We don’t know when it’s our turn. Do you want a strawberry?”
Morgana raised an eyebrow, but said nothing and took the strawberry from her hand.
It didn’t have any taste and she could barely feel it, but it was nice. It was a remain of what she knew and liked. Not that she had ever expected to eat strawberries in the afterlife. She didn’t know what she had expected, in fact. She had never thought about it. Death, sure, but not the afterlife.
“Would you like to see the other parts?”
“Other parts? There is more?”
“Of course. We could visit them later, if you’d like. Now I have to go to guide another soul who just came.” Freya said, slowly standing up. She tripped on something – or nothing – and spinned around to gain her balance. She ended up in front of Morgana. They were staring at each other. Morgana found herself unable to breathe for a few seconds. Nor take her eyes from Freya’s. Was she judging her? What did she see? She gulped and that seemed to startle both of them from the reverie.
“You can have the rest of the strawberries,” said Freya, gently taking her hand and placing them in her palm. Her hands were soft. “See you later," she whispered and began walking… somewhere.
“Freya!” she shouted, feeling the need to say something. Something that wasn’t offensive in any way.
“Yes?” the girl turned around, walking backwards.
“I…eh...Thank you.” She managed, the words sounding a bit foreign on her tongue. She ignored the tiny feeling of embarrassment rising from her guts. Freya replied with a big smile, one that made the High Priestess smile a bit in return.
“I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self respect. And it's these things I'd believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn't all she should be. I love her and it is the beginning of everything.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald
And this one here is Fred. He is the one who visits Earth most often,” Freya said, pointing at a man.
“His brother has a horn that allows the mortals to speak with the immortals. Nobody really minds it, since he kind of died by accident. And everyone loves him. He always brings sweets from the mortal world. That we can’t really eat them is just unfortunate.”
Morgana snickered. They were walking around, as Freya had promised. Morgana had no idea how much time had passed, or if time passed at all.Freya was showing her places and souls, which were both new and old. It was surprising to find out you can create places out of nothing, out of white. Suddenly, Freya stopped walking.
“Another soul has come.” She explained, looking quite sadly at Morgana.
“I have to go. Unless you’d like to come with me…?”
Morgana shrugged. There wasn’t too much she could do yet and she didn’t feel comfortable enough to make new friends. She quite liked Freya’s presence.
The girl grinned and began to lead the way. After a bit, they found themselves in front of a man laying down, with his eyes closed, just like Morgana had been. He opened his eyes and set them on her. He didn't breathe. He was just staring at her. After a while, he spoke.
“You. You killed me.”
That was unexpected. Morgana raised one eyebrow. She had done no such thing. Not to him, anyway. She had come here before him so it was impos-
“YOU HAVE TAKEN EVERYTHING FROM ME”, he shouted, suddenly getting up. The white around them turned to pink. Freya was next to him in an instant, with her arms around his shoulders while shushing him.
“It’s alright, darling,” she whispered. “You’re just troubled, I understand.”
Morgana was surprised. She didn’t know how treating him like a child could calm him down.
But apparently it did. The pink became white again. Morgana tried not to feel jealous in any way. Freya was the spirit guide. Or whatever she was. Of course she’d tend others, too. The white became a pale shade of yellow and Freya tried not to smile.
“I will come back, I promise.” She told Morgana. “I will go walk with him for a while, to make sure he’s alright.”
Morgana nodded. Of course. She didn’t need to be told that, but she appreciated it anyway.
She started to walk around, to maybe meet other people.
As her eyes settled on one person, she took back her words. She wanted to meet other people except one.
She didn't have any intention of talking to Arthur. At all. Freya and she had seen him before. The girl had tried to tell her who he was, before she read from the girl's face that Morgana already knew. Things between them weren’t exactly good.
She had tried not to think about him as long as she had had the spirit guide near her. She didn’t want to be seen consumed by anger and bitterness. But now she was alone. And there he was, not in front of her, but in her way.He was on his knees, in front of a man, and from what Morgana could see, he was apologizing.
It suited him well. Bastard.
Suddenly, the white around them got a deep shade of red, blood-like.
Morgana wasn't sure why everything was changing colours. But experience - and instinct - told her that it was about feelings; perhaps feelings changed the colour. It was pretty revealing, showing everybody what you were feeling. Interesting, she thought.
The man seemed to be prepared to fight Arthur. Morgana didn’t care. She might as well join him. Arthur deserved no mercy.
Just as she thought that, Freya appeared in front of him, with her arms spread in defense towards the blond and with determination written clear on her face. Morgana's eyes widened and her eyebrows furrowed.
“What are you doing, you foolish girl?” the man shouted at her, giving voice to her thoughts. “Don’t you know who he is? Don’t you know how man crimes he has commited? And you’re seriously defending him?”
“I know,” Freya replied.
“Believe me, when I say, I do. He is my murderer.”
That seemed to silence people around them. The situation was confusing, at best. Why was Freya defending him, then?
“I have forgiven him, because everyone deserves to be forgiven. Everyone deserves a second chance. I am not innocent. None of us is.” She was standing up in defiance. You could have looked at Freya and seen only an innocent, sweet girl, unable and unwilling of hurting anyone. But right in that moment, she looked like a queen. More than Morgana had ever been. More than anyone had ever been.
“This is a second chance for redemption,” Freya whispered. “It’s a long way until reincarnation. We might as well offer it.”
Morgana turned on her heels. She understood Freya’s point – as much as she wished she didn’t – but she wasn’t ready to face and forgive Arthur yet.
“You don't love someone because they're perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they're not.” ― Jodi Picoult
“Let’s go to the river!”
“Is there a river?”
Apparently, there was.
Morgana didn’t want to go swimming. But it was nice watching Freya, who seemed so much happier around water. She was dancing and laughing with other spirits which were mostly children. Morgana was sitting on the small pitch grass, enjoying what could have passed for a summer day.
“Hello, Morgana.” She sat up straight. That was Lancelot's voice. She pursed her lips but didn’t answer. She had nothing to say. Their last encounter hadn’t been the nicest.
“Don’t worry, I didn’t come to shout at you, or anything. It’s quite some time since you used my body for charming Gwen to be away from Arthur. No hard feelings.”
For somebody with no hard feelings, he went in quite some description there.
“I don’t care what you’re feeling,” She replied simply, not bothering to look at him.
“I don’t doubt that,” Lancelot replied, sitting on the grass, next to her. “Everything is good, though. I’ve stayed some time with Freya. She helped me forgive the people from my life who have wronged me. She is quite a fantastic girl.” Morgana gulped. She knew.
“ What do you want, Lancelot?” He raised an eyebrow, “Just relaxing, as you seem to do. Why do you think I want something from you?”
She didn’t answer.
Freya got out of the water, wet and smiling. “Lancelot! Long time no see! I notice you already met Morgana.”
“We already knew each other,” Lancelot replied, smiling pleasantly. As usual, the charming. Morgana huffed. Lancelot looked at her. Morgana stared straight at the children who were playing. She didn’t want anyone to read her.
“It was nice to meet you again, Freya. I’ll leave you both to your fun,” She heard Lancelot say.
“Are you sure?” the other girl asked.
“Sure. Thank you for the greeting, Freya,” When she was sure that Lancelot couldn’t hear them, Freya sat next to Morgana, closer than the knight had.
“What was that?”
“Morgana, you know what I mean.”
Morgana fidgeted with her dress, unsure whether or not she should answer, “It’s just that…I used his body for a ritual. I wanted Gwen to cheat on Arthur with him so that I…could take the throne. Arthur would have been weak without her,” She gulped. She didn’t know how she was now more aware of the horrible things that she had done back then, than when she had been alive. Maybe because now, she had no purpose, she was just waiting. Which was not exactly a purpose.
Freya took her hands in hers. She was already beginning to dry. She squeezed them a bit, forcing Morgana to raise her head and face her. Freya smiled.
“You have done some terrible things. Some mistakes. At least you are aware of them, and that’s a wonderful thing, Morgana. Everyone deserves redemption. You included.”
For the second time, despite having no body, Freya left Morgana breathless. Morgana’s smile was small, but it was there nonetheless. It was a rare thing in itself.
“Okay.” They sat there in silence for quite some time, until another soul called for Freya.
“If you can make a woman laugh, you can make her do anything.” ― Marilyn Monroe
Freya was upset.
Morgana could feel it long before the girl came in front of her. The blue that surrounded her was a pretty big indicator as well.
“What happened?” Morgana asked, trying to feign disinterest and failing.
“Somebody I know attempted suicide.” Freya replied, sitting next to her. Her frown was quite evident on her face; Morgana wanted to kill that person for making the girl sad; but she had the impression Freya wouldn’t appreciate that at all.
Everyone was already dead. You couldn’t die once more, could you?
“Somebody from the mortal world.” Freya explained. “From time to time, you can look into the mortal world, to see what your dear ones are doing. I’ve gotten only one person to look after and he…he attempted suicide.”
Morgana took Freya’s hand in hers, attempting for some sort of comfort.
“Who is he?”
“I don’t think you know him…wait, you know Arthur. And Arthur knows him. So you may do as well.”
If Morgana would have had blood, she would have said that it completely drained from her face.
“It’s Merlin.” Freya said. “You know him?”
“He killed me.” Came the cold reply.
Morgana let go of her hand. Freya looked at her with sad eyes.
“ I am sorry he did that.” She whispered. She was quiet for a bit, before she went on. “I think…he has done a lot of mistakes. He has been lonely for a very long time. A lot of people told him that he is the savior, the one. I've heart them. And they... they left him alone to discover how and what to do. It’s hard to do the right thing when you have forgotten which one that is and there is nobody to remind you.”
Morgana huffed. “I don’t care about him.” She said, trying to ignore the puppy sad face Freya was pulling. It wasn’t fair at all. “And how lonely can he be there anyway? He’s got Gwen and Gaius and…whatever there may be.” She said, waving her hand around.
“They’re dead….long ago. A secol ago in mortal times, if I am not wrong. Time passes differently here and there. I am not even sure how it works.” Morgana’s eyes widened and she gulped. A secol?!
“Why aren’t they here then? I’ve never seen them. How that he didn’t die?”
“They died somewhere else. Here come people who have died close to the lake. Camelot’s castle is too far.” Freya explained, looking at her dress and starting to play with it. “As for Merlin, he is…immortal. He can’t die. He must wait for Arthur to get reincarnated. But he must be so desperate and lonely, to try to kill himself. I believe it’s punishment enough for his mistakes.”
It probably was. She knew what it was like to live without your loved ones. She wouldn’t have wanted somebody else to live it. Especially not eternally. “And Arthur is so upset.” Freya went on. “Nothing I said could make him feel better. He won’t show it, as none of you Pendragons will ever do, but I know it’s true.”
Morgana smiled bitterly and slightly amusedly. She didn’t ask how she knew they were related. Chances were that Arthur had told her about it.
“What about Fred’s brother’s horn?” Morgana asked, if only to make Freya less upset.
“The brother is long gone. Fred also moved places, so that he could be with him.”
“You can do that?”
“Yeah, I suppose.” The girl shrugged. “But not many people do that. Sometimes we reincarnate before we meet the ones we love in this place.”
“Well, maybe he has grandgrandchildren who could use it. We could at least try.”
"All right." Freya smiled and stood up. She gave her hand to Morgana and she didn’t let go, not even when Morgana was standing next to her. “Ready, close your eyes! I’ll try to bring us there.”
Morgana closed her eyes. She felt a small pull, but otherwise nothing. She opened one eye, then the other, slowly.
The Other Place wasn’t much different than the place Morgana and Freya usually walked around.
“Alright, now we need to go around a bit until we find them.” She said, letting go of her hand and starting to walk. Morgana’s hand was itching but she ignored the feeling and followed Freya. They had walked for a while when she heard her name called. She turned around confused.]
Running towards her was a woman not much older than she was, in a rich dress. She was tear-eyed and Morgana searched her memory for anything that could remind her who the person was.
The woman hugged her suddenly, really tight. “I am sorry Morgana. I am so sorry. You deserved better.” She was…
Morgana gulped and answered the hug. She had only seen her in pictures when she had been young. She hoped she would be forgiven for forgetting her.
“Child dear, what have they done to you?” The daughter decided not to reply. She simply smiled. If it was a bit forced, neither of them commented on it. Morgana could sense Freya trying to disappear as silently as possible; probably not to disturb them.
“Mother, this is Freya.” She said, moving so that the woman could see her better.
“She is…my friend.” She didn’t know exactly what they were, but her mother didn’t need to know that. She saw her looking over Freya’s clothes and appearance, as if judging and Morgana was hit by a desire to protect the other girl. So what if she wasn’t, she hadn’t been a noblewoman? She was better than many people Morgana had met. She unconsciously gripped her mother’s hand harder than she had intended, but woke her up out of the reverie.
“Oh, yes, sorry. I was spacing out. You just reminded me of somebody.” Her mother said, then smiled a big smile, which was so similar to Morgana’s that the daughter stopped breathing for a while. “Nice to meet you, Freya. You can call me Vivienne.”
Freya smiled as well and bowed a little in respect. “The pleasure is mine, Vivienne.”
“Mother…” Morgana started, suddenly remembering why they were there.
“ Our place is not exactly here. We have come to look for somebody.” Her mother seemed sad, but she nodded in understanding.
“Of course, my dear. Who are you looking for?”
“Is here any Fred? With a brother, perhaps.”
Vivienne thought for a while, taking her chin in her hand, but eventually her face lighted up in recognition. “Oh, yes, how didn’t I think of them sooner? You’re probably referring to Fred and George.” Freya nodded. Morgana smiled.
“Would you be kind enough to point us to their place?”
The walk was pleasant enough. Vivienne wanted to know everything about her daughter’s life, of course, and Morgana didn’t want to say everything. She couldn’t remember everything, anyway. The years were beginning to blend in each other. She didn’t care about them enough to remember. On her part, Morgana was asking her questions about her life; She had always wanted to know more about her mother, but few people had granted her the wish.
When they had reached the place where the twins were, Morgana noticed that they were two redheads. One of them was younger, younger than Morgana, and the other one was old, over 60. Morgana felt strange to be confronted with such a thing. How you couldn't choose when to die and how to die. She imagined the older twin would have wanted to be with his brother.
They were helpful though. It turned out that they had done this thing for years that they have learned how to trick the portal between the mortal and immortal world.
“We can talk to our Johnnie.” George said. “Your Merlin will be talking with whom you need to talk in no time.”
As Freya hugged her in happiness, laughing and saying ‘Thank you!’, Morgana knew she had done the right thing. She ignored the weird looks her mother was sending to her and her friend. Instead she focused on the warm feeling – when she had been alive, she had despaired she would never feel it again. As it looks, she was wrong.
“What is that?”
“ What does it look like?” Morgana asked, holding the dress better. It had taken her hours to imagine this exact dress. She really hoped that the other girl would like it.
“A dress. Why are you giving me a dress?”
“Because I am tired of other women looking at you as if you are a lesser just because you’re not dressed better. “ she explained.
When she noticed the smile playing on Freya’s lips, she huffed. “Alright, I can make it go if you don’t like it.”
“No, no, I love it! I just…never expected this. And it reminds me of my last moments before I died.”
Freya fidgeted a bit before she answered in a dull voice.
“Merlin. He saved me. When I was a child, a witch cursed me. I would transform into a beast sometimes. And kill people. I had no control over that. People would treat me badly and I had to run away from them. No place was truly safe for me. A man caught me one day and brought me to Camelot, to be sentenced. Merlin found me and got me out of there. He hid me for a while. He gave me food and he took care of me. He showed me magic. In the night I died, he gave me a purple dress. He…gave me love. In the end, Arthur found me and had to kill me, as I transformed. I died, but I died loved.” She ended up, with a dreamy face, clutching the dress she was wearing.
Morgana felt strange, as if she was stabbed once more. She tried to smile but she doubted she managed to make it natural. The only question that was on her mind was…what had she done not to deserve to be loved like this? Or feel safe? What had she done wrong? Before she had stopped caring about the ones without magic.
Suddenly, Freya was very close to her, breathing in her space.
“Can I try the dress?”
Morgana found herself unable to answer. She just let the dress go. Freya looked in her eyes for a few more seconds, before she turned around to change the dress she was wearing with the new one. Realising that she was staring at her, Morgana closed her eyes. She started to count her breaths to make the time pass quicker.
“I am almost done. Just…” She opened her eyes. Freya was having trouble with the corset.
Morgana suppressed a grin and moved forward to help her. It was weird that she still remembered how to work with such dresses. After a few minutes, everything was settled.
“Done.” She said, stepping aside so Freya could turn around.
“Thank you.” The girl replied, with a big smile.
“How do I look?”
Gorgeous. “You look very pretty.” Suddenly, Freya’s hands were clasping Morgana’s. Her eyes were focused on her, trying to make Morgana look at her. Neither of them spoke for a few seconds. Then Freya leant forward and whispered:
“If Merlin didn’t love you as he should have, he was more of a fool than I would have thought, and it was his fault, not yours.”
Morgana couldn’t find any words to reply to that. She was beginning to shake.
“Can I hug you?” asked Freya.
Neither of them said anything as the witch trembled in the arms of the druid girl, not crying, but close to it. Feeling safe. She had forgotten what it’s like to feel safe.
“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” ― Maya Angelou
“I like you.”
Morgana startled. She looked at Freya.
“What?” Freya was beginning to fade. So was Morgana.
“What’s going on?”
“We’re regenerating.” replied Freya. “Both of us, it seems.”
Freya came closer. “I thought we’d have more time. Or that I’d have more time to figure out everything. But we’re regenerating and I don’t. And the only thing I’ve figured out was that I really like you.”
“But… I am…” Morgana started. “I have done so many horrible things.”
“You made them thinking that you had no choice. It doesn’t really make me like you less, so you know.” Freya was smiling.
Morgana kissed her.
“ I hope I will meet you this time.”
“We will.” Freya replied with another kiss.
The universe must do the right thing at least once.