10.0 Regina

by Matt P.



“Well, you definitely can rock a theme.” Antigone said as Morgan Winters stepped in from the outside, removing her coat and leaving her fuzzy boots in a pile by the door. She was wearing a pair of light blue sweatpants and a white zip-up hoodie sweatshirt with the words ‘KU Medical’ on it. “Very winter.”

“It gets better.” Morgan offered in response with a wry smile. She unzipped the hoodie to reveal a tank-top that matched both her sweatpants and her toenail polish, and was similarly emblazoned with the school on it. “Tania and I used to rack our brains and go back and forth on whether or not color preferences were dictated by our belonging to a certain court or whether we were socialized to them, but we never came to a conclusion.”

“Did you really go to KU?” Siobhan asked curiously. Walter’s children were still on the couch, splayed out variously, and they watched Morgan as she padded over to join Walter on the loveseat where he sat while waiting.

“Do you want a drink?” Walter asked solicitously as she sat down. Morgan gave him a smile but shook her head.

“Maybe after.” She answered him first, before she grinned to Siobhan. “Are you questioning my Jayhawk credentials?” She asked with a raised eyebrow, before she shook her head and laughed a bit. “Yes, I went to KU Medical. And to another medical school, and a couple of nursing programs. When I was young I even attended Cambridge while pretending to be a man.” She offered with a wiggle of her eyebrows.

“With which to scandalize a Pope?” Walter asked curiously.

“Spooked. I spooked a Pope, not scandalized.” Morgan corrected as she leaned back in the couch to get more comfortable. But she also clearly looked like she was enjoying the banter mostly as a way to keep from discussing the weighty issues. Her words had a weight to them that they could feel, like she was trying to anchor the conversation down.

Walter let it linger for a moment, until the room was silent with the feeling of expectations and words unsaid. Finally he shattered the silence. “So…Tennyson. You’re not as estranged from your…world as maybe Tania wanted us to believe?” He met her eyes and he knew she saw the out that she was being given—to put the blame on her more prickly sister. But she shook her head.

“It’s not just her. We do not trade in truths much. We trade in half-truths. Easier to store, broken up like that.” The laugh that she gave this time was a little less mirthful, a little more tinged with a long practiced chill of withdrawal. “It’s safer, and it lends itself to politics and manipulation. We don’t lie—the stories got that true, but we shave the truth so fine if you were to hold it next to a lie you’d be hard pressed to see a difference.”

She kicked her legs again for a moment, an act so thoroughly human that Walter had to shake himself to focus as she continued speaking. “We know Tennyson rather well. He’s our brother.” She said this with dancing threads of both sorrow and fondness in her voice. “One of them, at least. Oberon’s by-blows, as we were called, were not Zeus-ian but they were not rare. Titania, his wife and Queen of the Summer Court, tolerated it; and she was not shy about it either. I think Mab, the Queen of the Winter and Titania’s sister, thought it was beneath him, but she was pricklier.” She gave a wry grin there, as if laughing at something inside, before she shook her head. “Tennyson is…a good man, but he has a very iron-bound sense of duty. We all do, it just…manifested differently. He swore as a Knight to serve ‘Foremost his liege and Faerie’. He put all the chains of duty on the first, and we always put it on the second.”

That took a long heartbeat for the room to digest, and it was Siobhan that worked through it first. “You’re a knight?” She asked with a delighted little laugh. “That’s so badass, I want to be a Faerie knight!”

Morgan smiled fondly at Siobhan, but also sadly. “It is a burden, Siobhan, and not one that is ever taken up lightly. Any Faerie that can summon a blade seemingly out of nothing has been sworn as a knight to a high noble of the courts and been taught the knack.”

“So when you saw Tennyson, you knew that it was Oberon.” Walter asked. “It wasn’t the tactics that confirmed it, it was your what…half-brother, who must be loyally serving spooky old dad?”

Morgan nodded. “Notice what I said was that the tactics sounded like him, not that it confirmed it. And I did say after that we had suspected it.” Walter nodded, but didn’t look terribly happy. “It’s a subtle difference, but it is meaningful. We did suspect him—Tennyson confirmed it, and the tactics do fit.”

“So why is your father trying to draw you out by killing people pretty horribly? And attacking us?” Antigone asked, sharing a look with Siobhan that made it clear she wasn’t comfortable with that part of her new town. Or maybe just disbelief in fathers attacking their daughters for any reason.

Morgan laughed and again it was a creature mixed of sorrow and joy, mingled light and darkness in the sound. “Well that would probably be because we threw him out on his ass and banished him from ever returning to Faerie, because he was a megalomaniac.” She smirked a little bit at the stunned expression on everyone’s faces. With a sigh she gestured with one hand, rolling it as if to prompt something else to come. “Go ahead and ask.”

“Who are you? Really, without any slicing of the truth Morgan…who are you?” Walter asked seriously, looking in to her eyes.

“I am Morgan Winters.” She answerd honestly. “And I have been for some years. I was born to a different name, and I have been known to mortal men and women by different names. But I am also Mab, Lady of the Frost, Queen of Air and Darkness and all the Winter Court.”