clare_dragonfly: woman with green feathery wings, text: stories last longer: but only by becoming only stories (Writing: stories last longer)
[personal profile] clare_dragonfly
Title: Fatherhood
World: The Ursulan Cycle
Word count: 1,227 (total: 2,357)
Rating: PG
Notes: To [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith's commission for more Ursulan stories. I love Morgan so much, I just keep writing about him. (Which is weird, because normally I prefer to write about female characters!)


Morgan wanted to carry the baby home in his own arms, but his mother insisted that the wet-nurse take her, even though she would be walking and they were riding and the road was all mud from storms. That should, perhaps, have been his first sign. But he was so focused on little Morwenna, her tiny pink toes, her silky dark hair, that he couldn’t think of anything else.

He rode beside her all the way home, making the wet-nurse walk by his stirrup. “Isn’t she sweet? Look at her, sleeping so peacefully. Is she the sweetest baby you’ve ever met, Eleanor?”

The wet-nurse shook her head, smiling. “I wouldn’t know, master. I’m my mother’s youngest and I never had a baby of my own. But she does seem awfully sweet. What does her name mean?”

Morgan frowned. “I’m not sure. But it’s lovely, isn’t it? Mother, what does Morwenna mean?”

“It means waves on the sea,” said his mother. She was riding just ahead of him, and he noticed that she kept stealing glances at the baby, too. She didn’t want to keep away from her any more than he did. “Perhaps that’s why she’s so peaceful. It’s related to your name, Morgan.”

Morgan nodded. He knew his name meant he came from the sea. His mother had never explained to him why she’d called him that, but it still seemed like a sweet name.

He wondered what the name Ursula meant. He wondered if he would ever see her again. She’d seemed familiar even before they were made May Queen and May King. Maybe that meant they were destined to be together.

He looked at the baby again, and his heart melted.



When they arrived home, he began to rub down the horses, but then he heard Morwenna start to cry and he ran to her. He took her from the wet-nurse’s arms, rocked her back and forth, sang an old song that he remembered his mother singing to him when he was young. But she kept crying. He frowned.

“She’s likely hungry again,” said Eleanor in her soft voice. She reached her hands out toward him, keeping a respectful distance. “May I?”

“Oh… yes.” He handed the baby back to her and watched as she opened her dress and gave the baby to suck. She calmed down right away, and he felt hurt, even though he knew that was silly. Morwenna didn’t know the difference yet—she was too young to know who was her father and who was (or wasn’t) her mother, just where the food came from.

“Morgan, you haven’t finished with the poor horses,” called his mother, and he hurried to obey.



His mother had a way of vanishing and reappearing where she wasn’t wanted—or, even if she was wanted, where she certainly wasn’t expected. He’d seen it before and he didn’t like it very much. And now he saw how it frightened the wet-nurse, and sometimes, the baby.

Two weeks into Eleanor’s stay with them, Morgause appeared by her bed without having first walked through the doorway, startling the nurse into yelping and the baby, though she had just been fed, into wails. Morgan had been in the next room, but he hurried in just in time to see his mother viciously scolding Eleanor for asking questions beyond her place. She whirled around, her face still set in lines of anger, when his footsteps sounded on the floor, but immediately calmed herself on seeing his worried face.

She turned and took the baby out of the nurse’s arms. “Soothe her a while,” she told him. “She’s your daughter.”

“She is,” he whispered, and took her to the other end of the house, where she could not hear her grandmother screaming at her nurse. She calmed a bit in his arms, and he was pleased. “I’ll never frighten you like that,” he promised, rocking her back and forth. She was so small and perfectly formed. It was incredible to think that those tiny fists would one day be the size of his own, that her mouth might grow big enough to bite an apple. He would have to pay close attention to her as she grew up.



It was hardly more than a week after that incident that his mother took Morwenna from his arms and put her back in the lap of the wet-nurse. “I’ve let you spend some time with her, Morgan, but I’ve grown tired of you neglecting everything else. You’ve your chores to do, and you’re neglecting your studies.”

He stared sadly at the baby, wanting only to watch her all his days. “Mother, she won’t be a baby forever.”

“And you won’t be thirteen years old forever,” retorted his mother. “Nor will I be so hale and hearty as I am now, to do your chores when you forget. But the horses need tending, and I haven’t had a chance to look for eggs yet. Go on, boy. And clean this fireplace when you return.”

“I could—“ began Eleanor.

“Your job is to feed this baby and you’ll very well stick to it,” snapped Morgause. “No questions.”

Eleanor shrank into herself, and the baby stirred, but didn’t cry. Morgause turned her flashing eyes to Morgan.

He sighed, stood up from his seat by the fire, and walked slowly out of the room. He knew there was no arguing with his mother. As he stepped outside he glanced back and saw, in the shadows created by the smoky fireplace, his mother reach out and take his daughter away from her nurse.



“Uh-pa,” said Morwenna.

Morgan smiled at her, delighted. “That’s right, Morwenna! I’m your papa. Can you say granny?” He turned her to face Morgause.

“Nee,” said Morwenna.

Morgause scowled briefly at him, then turned it into a brilliant smile for Morwenna. “I don’t like to be anyone’s granny.”

“Don’t be silly,” said Morgan, now bouncing the baby on his knee. “I know you always wanted a grandchild. Why do you think I was so eager to take her when Ursula came to me?”

His mother shook her head. “You’re right. I’m so glad you did take her—I don’t know what our lives would be without her. But I don’t like being a granny. It makes me sound old.”

“You’ll never sound old,” he teased her. “Or look old. Isn’t that right, Eleanor?”

“Oh, yes,” said the wet-nurse to the corner, happy to agree with whatever he said.

He turned his gaze back to Morwenna. How had she gotten so big? Looking at her sweet pink face could never be unpleasant, but it was strange how he hadn’t noticed her growing until she could make almost-intelligible sounds with her tiny pearl teeth. He must have been too busy with his studies, learning from his mother about all the herbs of the forest, to see her changing. It made him feel sad. Next time he would have to ask his mother if they could bring her along. She’d be walking soon.

He ruffled her hair. “Look at how thick and long your hair is getting, Morwenna. Soon we’ll have to plait it to keep it out of your face.”

She gurgled and smacked her pudgy little palms together as though she were applauding, making them all laugh.


Did you enjoy this story? You can read more stories in this world or see all my fiction posted at Dreamwidth!

You can also sponsor the rest of this story for $10. Partial sponsorship welcome, and Dreamwidth points happily accepted in lieu of cash! Sorry but the option for PayPal donations seems to have disappeared--I found the place to create buttons two days ago and now it's gone. If you'd like to donate via PayPal and don't have my PayPal address, please PM me and I will give it to you. So sorry about that--I'm looking into other ways to accept payment.

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August 2018

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