I dreamt I was wrestling a shadowy figure under the plantings in Elaine’s garden. For some reason we were trying to be very quiet, so there was a lot of tussling but no yelling. Then I got a hard kick on the calf that seemed more real than dreamlike, followed by, “Sire. Sire, wake up.”
I scrambled to climb out of the dream and find out what the hell was happening around me. When I finally got it together and managed to sit up, there was Oswald standing at the head of the bed. In one hand he had a scarf pulled like a gag between Morgan’s teeth, wrapped up with a handful of her hair behind her head. In the other he held his wicked little swordette that sparkled in the candlelight.
“You’ve got to help me so we can get you out of here, Sire. I don’t think I can hold her much longer without killing her, which I’d really hate to do. Her being so beautiful and the king’s sister and everything.”
Beautiful and naked as a jay bird is what he meant. Oswald was having a little difficulty keeping his eyes off Morgan’s totally exposed body and his mind on the task at hand. Well, I shouldn’t criticize. At least he’d done something; so far, the best I’d managed was to complete my lessons like a man.
I grasped Morgan’s ankles, remarking as I did how shapely her calves were. Morgan noted my interest and rolled her knees outward, exposing her delicate and delicious womanly parts to my distracted gaze.
I ran my nails up her legs to her inner thighs before looking up at Oswald helplessly. “I don’t think I can help. I’m enchanted.”
“Alright, your Majesty.” Oswald was speaking in his gruffest voice which, unfortunately for the image he was trying to project, was still cherubic. “Unenchant Sir Kay. I mean it!”
“Rrrr arhhr rrr,” Morgan spoke through the gag. At the same time she spread her legs wide enough to hook her ankles over the sides of the bed, managing to display a hint of pink amongst the folds and tangles. I almost reached out to touch, but some residual trace of modesty prevented me from doing so in the presence of my young squire.
“Um, she probably can’t do that unless she can talk.”
“Yes, Sire. That’s why I used this scarf in the first place. I didn’t figure I had a chance otherwise.”
He shook his sword in front of Morgan’s eyes. “If we’re going to get out of this impasse without me having to harm you, you’re going to have to give me your word not to try anything, your Majesty. So nod your head if you will give your parole.”
“Rrrr arhhr rrr.”
“I can’t understand what you’re saying, your Majesty. And I won’t be able to until I release the gag. But I can’t release the gag without your parole. So the only ways I know to move forward are for you to nod your head or for me to kill you. And since I’m just a little kid, you and I both know I’m not going to kill you. I guess we’ll just have to sit here until I grow older.”
Morgan shrugged her shoulders, winked at me, closed her legs, and nodded her head. Oswald put his sword down—trusting sort—and pulled one end of the scarf free from the tangle of cloth and hair. Morgan completed the job by reaching up and gently removing it from her mouth.
It occurred to me, though my fogged mental faculties, how completely in her mercy he had put himself. She didn’t even need to pick up the sword if she could speak her strange words. But Morgan surprised me—the first thing out of her mouth was not a spell or a curse but rather a laugh.
“So, who is this brave young man who has risked spending the rest of his days as a toad to free you from having to suffer through any more of the best sex you’ve ever had?”
“This is my squire Oswald, your Majesty.”
“Oswald, dear, shall we begin our negotiations with you handing me that robe? Or would you rather just stare?”
Oswald turned red and moved away to fetch the garment indicated, leaving Morgan completely unguarded. Well, as I said, it probably didn’t matter. Morgan spoke as she slipped the robe over her shoulders and tied it in front, at least partially ending the show.
“So, dear little man. What will you give me to free your master? Will you agree to be my page for a year and a day?”
“Hmm. Seems low. How about two years and a day? But of course, I can’t agree to that without my knight’s concurrence. And if he’s enchanted, anything he says is suspect. So I will agree to become your page for a month and a day if Sir Kay agrees after you release him.”
“But if he says no, then I’d get nothing.”
“I suppose you’re right. How about this perfect apple?” He drew the fruit from wherever he had stashed it and began to polish it on his tunic. “Perfect apples are so rare in May.”
“An apple? You have thoroughly demeaned your knight, although I’ll admit it’s a beautiful apple. How about giving me that sword instead?”
“How about if I loan you the sword for a year and a day and throw in the apple?”
“That sounds fair. But a queen doesn’t have a lot of use for a sword, and if I hang it on the wall, it will be a constant reminder of the knight and his clever squire who got away. Suppose you give me the apple to tide me over while you go roust the cook and have him make breakfast? I don’t recall dining last night, and the sight of that apple has set my juices to flowing. Although I fear Cook’s efforts will be nowhere as delicious as what Kay prepared yesterday. Mushrooms and cheese and wild onions folded inside of perfectly fluffy eggs. Your knight is a very talented man in so many ways.”
Oswald blushed again, but that didn’t slow him down. “A generous offer, your majesty. I accept.” He gently placed the apple in her outstretched hand, brought his heels together, and took one step backward before turning and dashing from the room.
“My goodness, where is he going is such a hurry?”
“He’s perpetually practicing in case he needs to deliver a message when there are Saxon’s around.”
“What a delight. Squires are so dull these days, with nothing on their minds but becoming knights.” She took a dainty bite from the apple. “Mmm. As excellent as promised. I don’t suppose you’d consider gifting him to me? You’d earn my eternal gratitude. Could be worth a lot.”
“I would love to have your eternal gratitude, your Majesty. But unfortunately, I can’t just give my squire away as if he were an apple.”
She spoke five guttural words slowly and distinctly, and I could feel some of my own will flooding back into my muddled brain. “There. I’ve broken the enchantment. I suppose I would have done so later today anyway. Or tomorrow at the latest. So it’s not as if I’ve been charmed into giving away a lifetime of ecstasy in exchange for breakfast.”
I kissed her before getting up—one thing Morgan had emphasized throughout my training was good bedroom manners, and kissing was one of the requirements—and started rummaging for some clothes.
Morgan pouted as I began to dress. “You know, you don’t have to run off just because you can. I dread the thought of going back to Galahaut. Poor man. Despite trying his hardest, his best efforts are so . . . how shall I put it? Dull and unimaginative, in bed and out.” Now that you’re acting on your volition, how about one last bout for the road? We have time before Oswald gets back with breakfast, if we don’t linger too deliberately.”
“I am honored by the offer, M’lady. And I confess to be oh so tempted.” I wasn’t really. The reality of my infidelity toward Elaine, no matter how involuntary on my part, had come flooding back along with my will. But most men would have been tempted, so lying with a straight face was no challenge. “But I have this burning problem that I feel driven to do something about.”
“Ah, yes. My sister Elaine. I suppose it really was frightful manners to borrow my sister’s man, particularly if I had to use magic to do so. Do you want me to confess all to her and throw myself on her mercy?”
“I’d prefer to handle it myself, your Majesty.”
Oswald returned not long after I’d finished dressing. Morgan turned her attention to him and the two of them bantered with relative ease as she ate her breakfast. The boy showed new talents every day. Not only had he come up with a way to rescue me all on his own, but now he was engaging the queen in conversation without any apparent discomfort. Even considering the time he’d spent under the thumb of The Queen with a capital T, it was a most impressive display. As remarkable as the rescue, in its own way. I felt a little guilty that I’d given Oswald no more thought during the preceding days than I’d given Elaine. But I suppose one isn’t really responsible for how he acts under the influence of powerful magic. And as the effects faded, I realized just how totally under Morgan’s thrall I’d been.
The sun had begun to light the sky by the time we’d finished eating.
“Oswald, dear. Would you take our tray back to the kitchen and give Sir Knight and me a few moments alone?”
“Of course, your Majesty.” During the last hour, Morgan had gone from untrustworthy antagonist to honorable royalty. At least Oswald was wise enough not to try running while carrying the dishes.
I was the first to speak. “So, what’s to keep me from spilling the beans to Arthur about your little scheme?”
Morgan toyed with a lock of hair. “Oh, I don’t know. Honor? A sense of justice and fair play? Because it would be all too much like kissing and telling? I’m sure you’ll come up with whatever reason works best for you.”
I knew she was right. I had no intention of sharing Morgan’s secret with the king. Truthfully, I was more than a little ashamed of how he’d treated his own sister. He was certainly capable of irrational and hurtful actions, but on the whole, the good far outweighed the bad. So what he’d done to her didn’t really make sense; I certainly couldn’t justify it from what I knew.
“Know that you’re welcome to return any time you feel like it. I might not even enchant you next time.” She pursed her lips. “Or I might. Who knows how I’ll feel then?”
“At least I’ll have Oswald around to bail me out in case I get in over my head.”
Morgan chuckled at that.
Then we kissed. It was one of those warm, open kisses between two people who have no secrets left. No secrets in bed, at least.