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The Meadow

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Morgana asks Gwen to pack them all a hearty lunch, and she asks Merlin to ready the horses, and then with the three of them smiling at Arthur from where he sits at his desk, there’s no way he’s going to say no. With Arthur onboard, it’s an easy thing to convince Uther.

She mounts her white mare and flashes a grin over her shoulder at Arthur before she takes off, galloping over the bridge. She can hear Arthur’s stallion’s hooves pounding against the ground, but she knows he won’t catch her.

Once they reach the meadow, Morgana spots a large tree casting shade and rides to it.

“You only won because you had a head start,” Arthur says as he dismounts. Morgana only smirks in reply.

“What a lovely spot, Morgana,” Uther praises as he rides up. Merlin and Gwen reach them and dismount their own horses, and Uther hands his reigns over to Merlin after he dismounts too.

“Here’s the blanket, My Lady,” Gwen says as she unties the cloth from behind her saddle. Morgana takes it with a smile. She holds it by the corners and shakes it out, and looks over at where Arthur is taking the basket of food from Merlin. He says something that makes Merlin’s mouth fall open in indignation, but then Arthur tilts his head towards Uther and Merlin promptly shuts his mouth again. Morgana laughs quietly and looks away, glad that Merlin is still around. Arthur has not talked about getting rid of him even once, even though Arthur was notorious for growing bored with servants quickly.

“Come join us, Father,” Arthur beckons as he sits down with the basket, his back against the tree trunk. Morgana rests on her knees as Uther sits down to join them.

Morgana looks up at Gwen, who is smiling about something Merlin said. They both are letting the horses drink from the stream. Morgana feels like it is wrong that they should not join them when nothing else requires doing.

So she invites them to sit.

Merlin looks up at her, confusion clear on his face. Gwen’s eyes are wide. Morgana looks over at Arthur for support, and he cocks his head, considering. He mulls it over quickly, and before Uther can say anything, he says, “Why not? The horses will be fine.”

Uther looks at Arthur with his eyebrows raised, but stays quiet. Maybe Uther would not have agreed with her, but she is glad to have Arthur on her side.

After Gwen and Merlin roll large rocks over the leather of the reins to keep the horses from wandering off, they cautiously sit at the edge of the blanket.

It’s awkward at first, but soon Arthur engages Merlin and Gwen in conversation about the town they passed through on the way to the meadow, and Uther sometimes interjects with his own musings, and Morgana sighs happily as they all eat.

Maybe this is what having a family is supposed to feel like.