Excerpt from Camelot Shall Fall Chapter 2
“I had forgotten that our daughters were of an age.” she said smiling.
“How many years has it been?”Uther laughed nervously.
“A long time,” she smiled. “It must’ve been before..”
“Anne..” Uther finished with a sigh remembering his dead wife. He remembered her soft, lily white skin and golden curls falling into her forget-me-not blue eyes.
Uther, Igraine, and Anne grew up together up between Englonde and Cornwall. Both girls were wards of his father, Votegern in his home. Igraine was the orphan of a widowed Cornish Lady and kept as a bargaining tool much to his and Anne’s chagrin whereas Anne was the princess of the Bretons, and Uther’s betrothed. The three of them had always been up to some trouble, much to his father’s horror.
Anne died on the birthing bed four years ago, leaving him Anna, the spitting image of her mother. He remembered it all so vividly. The nurses brought out his beautiful baby girl and Uther fawned over the small pink child with her mother’s wide blue eyes already fringed with long golden lashes. He couldn’t wait to join Anne and place their child in her arms. He ignored the nurses and midwives telling him to keep out of the room, but regardless of their orders he happily barged into the queen’s chamber with a wide smile on his face.
He found Anne, his wife and best friend, laying in her canopied bed, her sweat drenched gold locks spread across the pillows, her white skin was clamy, her breasts heaved with every laboured breath and blood stained the skirts of her white nightgown. The midwives with trembling hands held her life inside her, whispering grim outcomes Uther refused to hear.
Despite the midwives best efforts, Uther could no longer deny that Anne was dying. He walked to the bed and sat beside his wife who could barely manage to wheeze “Ta…Take care of..of her…”
Uther nodded with tears springing from his eyes, despite all restraints. He placed their daughter in her arms and held Anne, kissing her brow. He didn’t know how long he held his wife, but when the sun was peaking through the window with the cruel pink light of dawn, Queen Anne was cold. Uther has gathered his composure and summoned Father O’Brien.
The next day he held Anne’s funeral feeling nothing but cold as they lowered her into the earth. Her handmaidens all wailed as if the were banshees in their anguish. But her child just sat nestled in a nurse’s arms, completely unmoved that they were burying the woman who had died to give her life.
Igraine had come to the funeral too. He thought breifly of how bitter it was that she had come to celebrate the birth of Anne’s baby, and have her own child days after. The two were looking forward to the experience, but instead Igraine stood at Anne’s grave somberly, her hands curled over her swollen abdomen, perhaps in fear that she might meet the same fate. She asked to see him after the funeral, but in his pain, Uther refused her.
Igraine left that night, depsite the fact she was due to give birth any day. Uther remained shut in his chamber for days not willing to see a soul. He would not see his daughter, or even name her. It was her fault Anne had died, and was happy enough to let her nurses call her “the princess”. It wasn’t until the court physician told him that he would lose his daughter too that he made an effort to see her.
He sat all night beside the child’s cradle and saw her flesh slowly turning blue. Uther prayed to his God, to the other gods, to anyone that could save his child. Father O’Brien was summoned once again. He prayed for the child, and he blessed her, but nothing happened. A druid was summoned to heal her, and he offered herbal tincture, spells and a chain of daisies to ward off any fairy enchantment making her ill. Still nothing would help. Uther was making ready to say goodbye to his child as well on the third day of her ailment when a man clad in a mantle of green with a long black beard trailing down his front. He held an oakleaf adorned staff and promised a cure.
The hooded man placed a silver charm composed of intracate spirals and weaving knotwork around her neck and whispered words as he moved a hand over her repeatedly. There was a faint green glow emitting from the amulet and the blue in his daughter’s skin receded, turning into a healthy pink. When it was obvious the man’s work was done, he simply left without a single word, or recieving thanks.
Uther felt tears once again spring to his eyes and scooped the tiny princess into his arms. “My Anne, my sweet, sweet Anne!” he cried happily. He went to call her by that name again, and he stopped.
“No, your name is Anna.”
Uther had not spoken to Igraine since the funeral, she did not know about Anna’s close encounter with death, the man in the green mantle or how very sorry he was about that night. The miracle of Anna’s recovery and the years have stitched the wounds left by Anne’s death, and he just wanted his childhood friend back. No, Uther thought, he wanted more than that.