Chapter 40: Whom to Blame
Morgan could only stare off into the distance, the faint glow of the rising sun just starting to peak out over the endless sea that surrounded Corrin's astral keep. Dawn would be breaking soon in the real world as well. Not that Morgan looked forward to the coming day. She knew it would bring only more pain.
After the attack on their camp, Lord Corrin and her father had quickly made the call to relocate to Corrin's keep. While Corrin had confirmed it would offer no refuge from further incursions of their enemy, at least there they would have a defensible position from which to face future attacks. Besides, most of their camping gear had been either ruined beyond repair or at the very least heavily damaged.
Morgan grimaced, fighting back a sob as the feelings of guilt and self-hatred she'd been suppressing that entire night began to well up within her once more. It was all her fault. If she hadn't run away, then no one would have had to come looking. They could have focused on the battle, maybe salvaged some of the situation. But now they were low on supplies, cut off from the nearest town, and only barely scraping by.
And more damning still… if she hadn't run away, Soleil wouldn't have been hurt.
As it was, Soleil even being alive right now was a miracle in of itself. Even with the timely arrival of the others along with both Sakura and Elise providing healing, by all rights Soleil should have bled out long before then. It was only what Morgan had learned was the girl's own quick thinking that had allowed her to last as long as she had, managing to use Sol at the last second to syphon the lifeforce of her foe and stave off death just long enough for the healers to alive. If she hadn't managed that, or if Elise and Sakura had been even mere seconds later…
…Soleil would certainly have died.
Even then it had been touch and go. For hours both princesses has slaved over her, casting countless healing prayers as long as their own energy remained. It was only in the early hours of the morning that word had come that her condition was finally stable. Still… there was no telling when she would regain consciousness, if at all.
Morgan glanced over her shoulder towards the treehouse that contained Corrin's quarters, the Nohrian prince having offered it up to serve as a healer's chamber while Soleil was being cared for.
Morgan would need to thank him later… if she ever worked up the courage to. She couldn't even bring herself to face anyone else right now. Especially Inigo or her daughter.
She let her gaze fall back to the water, a weary, pitiful sigh falling from her lips. Afterall, this was all her fault. Inigo probably hated her now, and Soleil would too when or if she woke up. It was as much as she deserved.
Looking up, Morgan saw two figures approach. She squinted through the darkness, taking several moments for her eyes to focus enough to see it was her parents. They stopped some distance away, just on the edge of the docks.
"Do you have time to talk?" Her father asked. While it was posed as a question, something about the way he said it told Morgan that refusing wasn't an option. No, he was telling her that were going to talk in the most polite way possible.
She said nothing, looking back to the water. Slowly she moved her hands from where they gripped the wooden planks to either side of her, folding them on her lap in silent invitation that they join her.
After everything, she no longer had the will to argue or push back. In fact a part of her hoped her parents would scold her for what she'd done.
It was as much as she deserved.
Silently her parents sat down next to her, each taking a spot on the dock's edge to either side.
"How are you feeling?" her father asked, speaking once both he and her mother were settled.
"Horrible," Morgan told him. She pulled her knees up against her chest, wrapping her arms around them.
"Once we are done speaking, we must insist you get some rest, then. While this is important and we cannot allow the matter to stand, after that your own well being must be considered as well," her mother said.
"I'm not tired…" Morgan grumbled. She hunched her shoulders, tugging her knees tighter against her chest.
Her parents nodded, but annoyingly said nothing. Tension hung thick in the air, pressing down on Morgan like a physical weight. At last she couldn't hold it any longer, speaking up herself, demanding an answer.
"Just… get to the point. Are you going to scold me now, or what? Tell me how much I screwed up?" Morgan asked. She bowed her head, covering her head with her hands as she braced for the answer.
Silence. For an unbearable eternity no response came, the seconds bleeding into what seemed like hours but couldn't have been more than a minute. It was only when she couldn't take it any longer, opening her eyes and turning to them, that her parents responded with a shake of their heads.
"No, we aren't," her father said simply.
"What? Why?!" Morgan demanded, nearly leaping to her feet in utter disbelief. "But I deserve it! I deserve to be yelled at! It was my fault, wasn't it?"
"It was. We won't deny that," Lucina told her, putting a hand on her shoulder to keep her from rising to her feet.
"Why, then? Don't I-"
"We aren't going to scold you because it won't help anything," her father said sternly, interrupting her before she could finish her question. "Don't think we are telling you what happened is alright. Like your mother said, this was your fault. But you already know that. The guilt and self-loathing you've piled on yourself is punishment enough."
"But-" Morgan started to argue.
Her father lifted a hand, palm towards her, signaling her to wait. "Allow me to finish. Right now there is a more important question I must ask. Are you ready to stop running, Morgan? We are trying to help you get through this, but you need to let us help you."
"We need you to be open with us," her mother added, her voice gentle as she leaned closer.
"I… I don't know…" Morgan admitted, her voice barely more than a whisper. "I don't know how I feel, honest? I… I just don't know anymore."
She shook her head, trying to pull at the tangled threads of emotion all balled up inside her. "I know what I did was wrong! That if I hadn't been selfish and stupid, Soleil wouldn't be hurt. I should have just let Inigo help me, but I gave into my anger and… I was stupid, okay!"
She clutched at her head, her fingers digging into her scalp. "But… besides that I just… I just don't know. There's just so much and I can't stand it!" She turned to her father, then her mother, becoming almost frantic. "Please, tell me what I'm supposed to feel. I just don't understand, why I can't… why I can't just… why I can't let go of all this stuff in my head! Just forgive Inigo like Sakura and Hinoka told me I should! Because if I'd just done that, none of this would have happened and everything would be fine! So please, tell what I'm supposed to feel. I just don't know!"
"Only you can know that, Morgan. We can't be the ones to tell you what you feel. Certainly, we can aid you in figuring it out, but it is not for us to say," her mother told her.
"But I really don't know. I just…" Morgan found herself trembling, tears beginning to fall. "I really don't know…"
"Well, we can help you work your way through this," her father said. "Okay?"
Morgan nodded, continuing to tremble.
"So, let's start at the beginning. After Inigo left, how did you feel?" her father asked.
"Angry. Hurt. Loney," Morgan whispered. "I think… no, I was. I am certain of it."
"Then when you met him again in this world, it was mostly anger that you felt, correct?" her mother asked.
"I… yes… But..." Morgan whimpered, rocking slightly in place. "But remember what I said! The Nohr thing was me making an excuse. I was angry, of course I was, but I wanted to be angry, so I kept being angry about it because… I don't know… because it was easier."
"Easier than what?" her father asked.
"I… don't know, " Morgan whispered. "Easier than dealing with all this... " she motioned to her head. "All the stuff up here. The doubts… the guilt… stuff that hurt too bad."
For a long moment neither of her parents said anything. Then it was her father who broached the silence. "Sounds to me like your anger wasn't really the problem. Or rather, you aren't as angry as you wanted to be."
"But I'm still angry! I'm still so furious I can't stand it," Morgan said. "I… I trusted him. I… I loved him. But then h-he left me. Alone… Why? Why couldn't he have stayed in the first place? Was I not good enough? Is that it?" She shook her head fervently, almost demanding an answer and she held back a choked sob.
Silence. For a long moment neither of her parents moved. Then they glanced at each other, the same realization slowly seeming to come over them at once. Morgan could only stare, feeling a flare of anger and frustration flicker in her. She wanted to demand to know what they'd realized and she hadn't! Why she felt this way and-
A voice stopped her. Stop lying, it said. You already know.
I don't. I don't know! She tried to argue. She refused to admit it. To acknowledge what was there deep down. It was too painful.
"This isn't about Inigo, is it?" her mother asked, recognition clear in her voice as she finally broke the silence "You've known all along he would not have left without reason… he's not the one you're really angry at."
"I…" Morgan's voice cracked. The pain in her chest tightened, and like the breaking of a dam all of the feelings and emotions she'd tried to bottle up and pretend didn't exist came crashing down on her.
"I knew… I knew all along," Morgan confirmed, her words coming out between sobs. "I knew he had a reason. That's why… why…" A hiccup rose up from her throat, her voice breaking into a wailing cry, "-Why I blamed myself! I was so afraid! Afraid I'd done something to drive him away. That it was my fault he hadn't stayed!"
"Morgan…" She felt her father's hand touch her arm gently as he spoke to her softly. "It's okay, you didn't-"
"No! It's not okay!" Morgan snapped, battering his arm aside. "I couldn't admit how I felt! Not to him, or to you, or anyone! I couldn't even admit it to myself! I made myself believe I was angry at Inigo! Took every bit of it all out on him because it was easier! Easier than admit to myself the problem was me, not him!"
Morgan shook her head again as more sobs rocked her small frame, tears streaming down her face. "Gods… Severa was right. I'm such a jerk. A big stupid, selfish jerk. Inigo was right to leave! I was so horrid and treated him like garbage and…" she covered her face with her hands and continued to sob.
"I'm sorry, Morgan," her father told her. He looked to be about to reach out for her again, but he lowered his hand. "We didn't know."
"Know what?" Morgan asked, sobbing.
"That you were this afraid of being abandoned. All this time, you were afraid you wouldn't belong," Robin explained. "Gods, we should have realized when you were worried that your younger self would replace you… but it's more than that, isn't it?"
"I-" Morgan shook her head. "No, it's not! I'm fine! I've never been…" She stopped herself, realizing what she was saying. Was that true? Had… all this time, had she really been that afraid of being abandoned?
"I see now. You were not aware of it either, not truly," her mother realized. "Just like Marc, you were alone while so very young, myself dead and your father overtaken by Grima… but unlike him, you don't remember. But those experiences, they are still a part of you, even if you didn't know they were there."
Morgan said nothing. She couldn't deny the logic. But still… how had she… how had she not realized…?
"I guess all this time… I was just afraid no one would want me... That it was only a matter of time... Time until I… until I did something to make everyone leave…" she managed through the sobs, squeezing her eyes shut as more tears rolled free. "I'm sorry, I didn't… I didn't know…"
"No, it is us who should be apologizing," her mother told her, taking her hand between both of her's. "It is as your father said, we should have become aware of this long ago. I am afraid we failed in our duty as parents in this regard, believing for too long there was nothing wrong."
Morgan shook her head. "No… it's not… this isn't your fault, Mother! Or yours either, Father! And even if it was, you weren't the ones who couldn't accept it. You weren't the ones who were too selfish to accept she did anything wrong!"
"Except it wasn't your fault that Inigo left. You do know that," her father assured her.
"Yeah, but… even still! But everything after was! I acted like a huge jerk who nobody would want to be with! Ha, talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy..." She hung her head in shame.
"That, I can't exactly deny," her father admitted sadly, shaking his head.
"Gods, I am such a jerk... " Morgan agreed, rubbing her eyes. It was a fruitless effort, tears continuing to stream down her face as quickly as she could wipe them away. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. I feel so horrible! I'm just so.."
Her father reached out, rubbing her back as she cried. Her mother continued to hold her hand through it all. Several minutes passed before the tears stopped falling.
"I really screwed things up, huh?" Morgan sniffled, a bitter laugh falling from her lips. She hiccuped, trying not to resume sobbing. "I treated Inigo so horrid. Soleil too... "
"You did," her father confirmed. "But that's why you are going to do your best to make amends, aren't you?
"I think… I don't..." Morgan shook her head, trying to clear her still jumbled thoughts. "Why don't I feel any better? It's like, here I am still all messed up and don't want to admit it still."
"It's only natural. Just because you admitted to yourself how you feel, it doesn't mean those thoughts will just go away. You'll need to work through this the best you can," her mother told her.
"I guess..." Morgan trailed off.
"So, the matter at hand. Do you think you're ready to face Inigo and Soleil again? Or do you need more time?" her father asked. "No one will blame you if you do."
"No, I want to, it's just-" Morgan puffed out her cheeks, blowing out a puff of air in frustration. "I want to, but I'm just- I don't-"
She forced herself to take a deep breath, hanging her head in shame as she felt all the guilt and fear crash back down onto her.
"I'm just… It's… I'm scared…" she whispered. "What if they don't forgive me? …What if I don't deserve forgiveness?"
She tried to turn away, only for comforting arms to wrap around her. She gasped in surprise, but didn't fight it as her mother pulled her into a loving embrace. "They will. Because both Inigo and Soleil love you very much," her mother assured her, speaking softly. "I cannot promise they won't be angry. Nor can I promise that it will be easy. But… I am certain they will forgive you given the time."
Morgan returned her mother's embrace, hugging her tightly as she again began to cry. She didn't deserve this. She didn't deserve to still be loved after how she'd acted.
She didn't deserve to still have a place to belong.
Morgan felt another set of arms wrap around her as her father joined in on the embrace. "That's not the attitude I'd expect from you, Morgan. Where's the upbeat and positive Morgan we know?" he asked her.
"I…" Morgan sniffled, blinking back tears. Sensing the moment was over, both her parents released her from their embrace, allowing her to straighten herself. Morgan whipped her face on her sleeve. "I… yeah… you're right. I can't just give up now, can I? I need to make things right… if I didn't I be just proving all my doubts right."
With a heave she leapt to her feet, staggering a few steps as she caught her balance. "I need to talk to Inigo right away. I can't let him wait… I need to ..." Morgan took a step, swayed, then nearly toppled to one side. Her parents were there in an instant, her father catching her in his arms before she could hit the ground.
"I think that will have to wait until after you've gotten some rest," he noted, helping her back to her feet.
"No, I can't. I need to-" Morgan tried to push away, only to nearly collapse again. Like an avalanche exhaustion crashed over her. She hadn't realized before how tired she felt. Both mentally and physically.
"After what you just went through, it's no surprise," her mother said. "Come on, let's get you back to your tent."
"But-" Morgan protested weakly as her mother stooped down, draping one of Morgan's arms over her shoulder while her father took the other, the two of them supporting her weight as they made for the tents.
"I'd imagine Inigo is resting now too anyways, or soon will be," her mother told her. "It would be for the best to wait, I think. Perhaps Soleil may even be awake by then."
"Are you sure? … She was hurt really bad…" Morgan mumbled, feeling her eyelids droop.
"I doubt she'd allow even those injuries to keep her down for long. She gets that from her mother."
Morgan found herself smiling at her mother's words. The thought of Soleil as her daughter suddenly didn't seem that terrifying or alien as it had before. Maybe she was right. Maybe Soleil was really her kid… Heh, that was still a bit weird to think about…
Morgan closed her eyes, a smile on her lips. She didn't remember anything after that point, drifting off before she made it back to her tent.
For the first time in a long while, she felt truly hopeful. Like there was finally a light at the end of the tunnel.
. . . . .
It was late afternoon when Morgan awoke. She blinked against the sunlight streaming in through the crack of her tent, the angle of the setting sun casting the ray onto her face. She yawned, stretching and rubbing her eyes before looking around. She spotted her coat folded next to her.
It took a moment to recall where she was and what had happened. That's right, she'd been talking to Mother and Father. Early in the morning after Soleil had been hurt. She remembered the promise she made to herself: how she'd resolved to speak to Inigo and seek his forgiveness as soon as she was able.
Pushing off her covers, Morgan rolled out of the cot. She reached for her coat, picking it up.
She winced, seeing the damage to it for the first time. The back of it was heavily burnt and scorched, from where the enemy spellcaster's attack at struck her. At its center, the coat had been completed charred through, flaking away in places to reveal holes behind.
She'd need to get a new one made, or at least this one repaired using magic. Still, she didn't have time for this right now.
Digging through her other things, it took a few moments to find what she sought. From the bottom of a small chest, she pulled out her old coat, complete with all the small stains and patchwork repairs it had accumulated from wearing it everywhere for days on end.
Slipping it over her shoulders, she stood, grabbing her boot as she made for the flap of the tent. She hopped along on one foot, tugging on a boot, then switched to the other for the second.
"I see you're awake."
Morgan stopped, turning to find her parents seated around on a bench nearby. "How long was I asleep? Is it the same day, or…"
"Just a day. Maybe ten or eleven hours at most," her father told her.
I was out for that long? Morgan wondered. She must have been even more tired than she'd thought.
"Are you going to speak to Inigo now?" her mother asked.
"Yeah." Morgan nodded.. "I need to do this. I need to set things right." She flashed them both a nervous smile, then turned away. "Well, wish me luck..."
Morgan began making her way over to the treehouse, reaching it only after a minute or so. The keep really wasn't that big. Stepping onto the staircase that wrapped around the trunk, she began to ascend quickly, not wanting to give herself too much time to think about all this and have second thoughts.
She made it about halfway before she failed in that goal.
Can I do this? I… I can...no I… What if he doesn't forgive me? What if he hates me now? What if… Morgan began to slow, it taking more and more willpower just to keep putting foot in front of the other as the swarm of fearful thoughts continued to bombard her with greater intensity.
Then she stopped dead in her tracks, slapping herself across the face. "No! Stop- Being- Stupid!" Morgan gave herself a few more smacks for good measure. "Now, stop thinking about it and go!"
Redoubling her pace, Morgan practically scrambled up the remaining steps. Without waiting long enough to even gather her courage, she threw open the door and burst into the room, the door slamming against the wall behind with a loud thud.
"Wha- Morgan? What are you-" Inigo gasped, blinking in surprise as he turned towards her. He was seated in a chair next to the bed where Soleil was resting, his hands gripping the single hand Soleil had outside of her covers.
Morgan froze, wincing at the thud of the door. She saw Soleil's brow furrow for a minute then relax, her otherwise peaceful sleeping expression still tinged with pain.
Okay, that was really stupid. Stop, slow down, don't raise your voice, Morgan scolded herself, resisting the urge to throw in one final slap on top of it. Why did you do that anyways?! What were you thinking! Soleil is trying to rest and she-
Not now, shut up brain! She retorted quickly.
Morgan took a step forward, approaching Inigo slowly. For a moment he just stared at her, his expression uncertain. Then his eyes narrowed and he looked away. He sighed, the sound almost bitter. "What do you want, Morgan? What did I do wrong this time?"
"I…" Morgan stopped, not daring to come closer. Is that really what he thought of her? That she was here to blame him for this?
Ha…. I really was a bitch, huh? I really was this horrid… for him to think that. She gripped her chest, feeling as though an icy dagger had been plunged into her heart. She was horrible. Simply horrible.
"I… How is she?" Morgan managed as last, swallowing the lump in her throat.
"She…" Inigo glanced at her from the corner of his eye, then looked away. "She'll live at least. May even make a full recovery, if we're lucky. Still… no telling how soon she'll wake up."
"Oh…" That was all Morgan could say. 'Oh'.
Yeah, real lame and underwhelming response there. Good job there.
"I…" Morgan dropped to her knees, a temor running through her. "Do you hate me?"
"Hate you?" Inigo asked. He looked up, his expression surprised. "I… Why?"
"Why? Why?! Because I deserve it!" Morgan, her voice nearly rising to a shout before she stopped herself. "I've treated you so badly, and… I got Soleil hurt, and it's all my-"
"I'm sorry," Inigo interrupted.
Morgan looked up, her mouth falling open at those words. "What?" she whispered.
"I'm sorry," Inigo repeated. "For what I said before, about how it was unfair for you not to forgive me when I forgave you for what you did in your world. It was cruel of me and… it was a very low blow. I'm sorry. I didn't really mean it…"
"What? No, this isn't…" Morgan stammered. "You don't understand! I'm the idiot. A stupid, dumb, idiot! I just don't- I can't-" She scrambled upright clutching at her scalp and she tried to breath.. "I can't. I can't forgive you. Because this isn't even your fault!"
"Huh, I don't…" Inigo said, confusion playing across his face. He opened his mouth as if to say more, but instead it just hung there agape, as if he didn't have the faintest idea how to respond.
"Just, listen!" Morgan said. Beads of sweat began to form on her face, her chest heaving as she hyperventilated. "I… all this time…I felt like it was my fault! Okay?! I thought I had to have done something and that's why you left. That you just… didn't want me anymore..." She shook her head, tears pooling in her eyes.
"What? No, I'd never…" Inigo trailed off, stunned. "...that's what this has been about… you really thought… I'm sorry, Morgan… I'm so sorry…"
"Stop. Stop right there! Stop apologizing!" Morgan demanded. "That's not the point. The point is I couldn't admit how I felt! Not even to myself. So I blamed you instead. Treated you horribly… and Soleil too… and I'm sorry… I'm so, so, so very, very sorry." Morgan began to sob, streaks of silver tracing their way down her cheek. "But it was all a lie I told myself. I never hated you. I never hated Soleil. I… I was upset you were with Nohr, that… was true. But I forgive you for that, because I understand now… I think I've known that for awhile..."
Morgan covered her face, her shoulders shuddering as she sobbed. "I understand if you hate me… I really do… Just, please… I want you to know that I don't hate you. I… I love you, even if you don't lov-"
Hands suddenly seized her wrists, firm but yet gentle as they pulled them down from her face. Inigo was standing before her, smiling gently. Before she could finish, suddenly his lips pressed against her own in a short, passionate kiss. He did not linger on the kiss, keeping it brief as if afraid of overstaying his welcome. Through it all, Morgan could only gasp, stunned by this gesture.
"I…" Her mouth worked wordlessly, her face burning red. "I… I don't understand…" she whispered.
Inigo merely smiled, gently pulling her forward. He hugged her, leading her back over to his chair. He sat down at the edge, giving her space to perch herself on the other edge as well.
"I… I can't believe you really thought I'd hate you, Morgan. I… I love you. I did before, and I still do," he assured her.
Morgan blinking, the tears streaming even more freely from her. She hugged him back, even as she began to tremble.
She didn't understand. Why did he still love her? She was so horrible. Yet…
He'd forgiven her. He still loved her.
"I really am stupid… I was a big dumb meany and you still… you still…" she sniffled, breaking into wailing sobs as she threw her arms around him, crying into his chest. She didn't deserve this. She didn't deserve to still be loved.
"Morgan, please don't cry. Shhhh, it's all right, I…" Inigo laughed nervously, putting his hands on her shoulders. "I'm just happy you've forgiven me after everything. Now, come on. Smile."
"What? How can I smile? I… you're the one who's supposed to forgive me! I've been stupid. And a jerk! A big stupid jerk and-" Morgan shook her head fervently. Fresh tears streamed down her face, staining her shirt. "You aren't supposed to forgive me! I don't deserve to be forgiven!"
"That's not true, Morgan. Look at you, your face is soaked now. Hold still a minute…"
"You aren't listening! I- Huh? Ah!" Morgan nearly leapt back in surprise when without warning Inigo licked her. "What was that for! Why did you- What?" Morgan exclaimed, shoving herself back and frantically wiping her face with her hands.
"Ha, looks like my brilliant plan was a success! See, you'd even stopped crying," Inigo proclaimed, grinning proudly to himself. "You're not the only cunning one here, you know. I figured if I did something particularly unexpected you'd be too surprised to keep crying."
"But you freaking licked me!" Morgan spluttered, continuing to wipe at her face. "Ew, now I have philanderer saliva all over me! Why you stupid big dumb jerk!" Morgan launched herself at Inigo, knocking them both out of his chair and onto the floor with a loud crash. Within a moment she had him pinned, her arm hooked around his head.
"Owww, ow ow ow! Give! I give! Ease up on the headlock!" Inigo exclaimed.
"Apologize!" Morgan demanded.
"I thought you said you were supposed to be the one who needed to be forgiven?" Inigo asked.
"Yeah, then you licked me, which was gross!" Morgan said, finding herself laughing.
"I'm sorry I tried to make you smile. Which worked by the way," Inigo said, the afterthought earning him an even tighter headlock.
"So are you two going to kiss already, or what?"
Both Morgan and Inigo froze in place, caught off guard by the voice. Morgan even released Inigo from the headlock, so complete was her surprise. In unison, both turned towards the bed.
"Though if you're going to go any further than that, mind taking it somewhere else? I'm in a lot of pain right now, and I really don't want to have to watch my parents going at it right about now. Or ever, really. Yeah, let's go with ever." Soleil chuckled, a grimace tugging at the edges of the smile she wore with every little shift or movement she made. She tried to roll over, to face them both without having to crain her head, only to wince and clutch at her side. "Owwwww. Okay, bad idea. Everything is still pain. Ow, ow, ow..."
"Soleil!" Morgan and Inigo exclaimed in unison. Morgan scrambled off of Inigo, rushing over to her daughter's bedside, Inigo not far behind
"You're awake," Inigo asked. "I was so worried, that you'd-"
"Die? Yeah, I'm honestly a bit surprised I'm still alive right now. Guess… ow… I'm even more awesome than I thought," Soleil admitted, grinning through another painful wince. "But don't worry, I'm fine now. See, alive and every- Woah! Ow! Mother!" Soleil gasped as Morgan threw herself forward, hugging the girl with all her might.
"I'm so, so, so, so, so, so sorry, Soleil! This is my fault you got hurt and I can't tell you how sorry I am. Sorry for being a bad mother. Sorry for not forgiving your father. Sorry for this being my fault," she told her, speaking at a rapid pace as all of her pent up guilt and regret spilling from her.
"Ow, ow, ow, ow… please let go, Mother. I'm- ow… happy that you- Ow! But really, It… ow… really hurts…" Soleil gasped, gritting her teeth as she tried to grin despite her protests.
At once, Morgan let her go, apologizing under her breath. She settled for taking the girl's hand, squeezing it. A tingle of warmth seemed to spread up Morgan's arm, an odd feeling tugging at her chest.
I never really realized… her smile… it looks like mine, Morgan thought to herself, shaking her head as tears formed in her eyes. For the first time, seeing her up close… it somehow felt right. Perhaps she was really comprehending it for the first time. That Soleil was truly her daughter.
"Don't cry, Mother. This is great, isn't it! You and father aren't fighting anymore, and it's everything I wanted, you know?" Soleil said, taking her other hand and placing it over top of Morgan's. "Ha, if I'd known it would have turned out like this, I'd have gotten stabbed way sooner. Ooooh, speaking of which… I wonder if I'll have a sweet scar!"
Without warning Soleil yanked both her hands free, pulling down her covers. For an instant both Morgan and Inigo could only stare dumbfoundedly as Soleil began to remove her tunic with one hand, and reach for her bandages with the other, attempting to undo the bindings.
"No!" Morgan and Inigo shouted in unison, rushing to restrain her before she could get any further in her attempts to see if she did indeed have a 'sweet scar'.
"Oh come on, I just wanted to- Ow! -look," Soleil protested, Inigo dragging her arm away from his side while Morgan yanked her tunic back down.
"You can check when you're healed up," Inigo told her sternly, loosening his grip somewhat as she stopped struggling,
"Ugh, fine!" Soleil slumped back with an annoyed breath from puffed cheeks. Morgan laughed, recognizing it as a very her gesture. "I should have checked while you two thought I was asleep," she grumbled.
"Wait… while you… how long were you awake?!" Inigo exclaimed, looking just as bewildered as Morgan felt at this revelation.
"A few minutes before I spoke up. I heard pretty much your whole talk," Soleil said, smirking. "Which, by the way mother, you really are bad at this whole romance stuff, huh? Well, not as bad as Father of course… gods know where I interhited my mad ladykiller skills from, come to think of it." She laughed, then winced. "Ouch… still hurts to laugh. Owwwww."
Morgan felt her face turn dark red, matching Inigo's mortified inflection. Okay, that was a new one. Being told by her own daughter that she wasn't good at relationships. "Well… I… shut up!"
Smooth one, Morgan. Master tactician indeed.
Shut up, brain! No one asked you!, she retorted.
"Can… we not bring this up right now?" Inigo asked.
"Hehe… fine, I won't prod too hard," Soleil agreed, grinning from ear to ear. "Now, about that scar…" she said, again reaching for her bandages.
"No!" Again the two of them were forced to restrain Soleil.
"Soleil, for the love of any god who is still listening, please stop doing that," Inigo scolded. Releasing Soleil only after she had once again relented, Inigo dragged a hand over his face and let out an exasperated sigh. "You know, now that we're speaking again," he said, glancing to Morgan, "Can I just say how much I wish our daughter hadn't inherited that flippant attitude of yours?"
"But iIt's my most endearing trait!" Morgan countered incredulously, only to freeze and blink in surprise as she realized Soleil had said the exact same thing in perfect unison. Then she grinned, motioning to their daughter. "See, Inigo! It's our most adorable and awesomest trait!
"I…" Inigo glanced between both of them hesitantly. Then his shoulders slumped, and he sighed. "I'm not getting out of this one, am I?"
"Nope!" the two girls grinned back in unison.
You know, I could get used to this, Morgan thought to herself. It's nice to have a daughter as cool as you are. Even cooler, maybe. Nah, how about almost as cool. She grinned, matching the brightness of the one her daughter wore.
Yeah, that seems about right. Perfect.
. . . . .
"We… we probably shouldn't go in, right?"
"R-right. This is a very crucial hour, dear Ophelia. To enter within this sanctimonious time would corrupt and taint the purity of their moment."
Marc nodded in agreement with Owain's statement, as the trio began to slowly back away, leaving the family alone. Though their plan was over before it even began, it did not appear that anyone was particularly upset about it. Marc certainly felt relieved, the grin on his face remained strong at seeing his sister finally seem a bit motherly.
"All that work for nothing…" Ophelia finally sighed. "Operation 'Luminous Star' was a failure…"
Could it even be considered a failure? Marc wondered. I mean, we didn't even get a chance to do anything to even fail at it.
"I even procured the pound of rose petals we needed." Ophelia said, holding up the two bulging sacks she'd been carrying around. "Not to mention setting up that glass coffin. You know, the one we'd lay Soleil in like a princess who can only be awoken by her parents kissing in the spectral moonlight over her."
"Wait, what?!" Marc demanded, nearly screaming in surprise. "You were… how? What?"
"Shhhhh," Owain hissed, holding a finger up to his lips. "It was all really simple. We would take Soleil from her bed while she slept-"
"I never agreed to kidnapping my niece! I thought we were just going to set up a romantic scene for the two of them!" Marc said incredulously.
"Wait, I thought we told you. After Soleil got hurt we realized this would be even more spectacular. Just think, the two of them standing in a meadow bathed in a ray of moonlight… crimson petals swirling around them in a gentle breeze… a lovely maiden before them, their precious daughter who only by the kiss of two reunited lovers can awaken," Ophelia rambled.
"I…" Marc dragged his hands over his face. "You can't kidnap people. I know it's a moot point now, but…"
"Come on, it's not that big of a-" Owain started to say.
"I'll tell Severa," Marc said flatley.
Both Owain and Ophelia froze in place, looks of complete abject terror playing across their faces.
"Yeah, thought so." Marc sighed wearily.
Marc? Note to self. Stop agreeing to plans without finding out what they are first.
Author's Note: So we finally reach the end of the Morgan x Inigo subplot. Well, more or less. Hopefully this sheds some light on Morgan's actions up to this point, as this explanation was what I was building towards/hinting at for some time now.
As another fun note, did anyone catch what scene from Awakening I took inspiration for in a bit of this chapter? I felt it was appropriate considering who was involved.
Next, onto guest reviews.
Guest - Yeah, Morgan definitely messed up last chapter. At least Inigo and Soleil forgave her pretty quick, not to mention she took responsibility for what she did.
Dracofighter - Glad I managed to pile on the feels last chapter, and hopefully I managed to get even more here,
I guess that's all I have for now. As always, please let me know what you guys thought about this one. I love hearing your guys' feedback! Until the next one, take care everyone and have a wonderful day!