Merlin stood there, watching Gwen leaving the dark cell with her father, a happy smile on the boy's face. Satisfied that everything had worked out for the best, he moved to follow the small, but joyful family and is called back by Morgana.
"Merlin? I wanted you to know that your secret's safe with me."
"My secret?" he asks, nerves spiking at the thought of his magic being discovered.
"Come now, don't pretend. I know what you did."
"You do?". His blood runs cold, fearful of being thrown into the pyre built for Gwen earlier in the day.
"I saw it with my own eyes."
"You did?" he manages to stammer out, as his mind frantically searches for a way out, a reasonable explanation that didn't mean magic.
"I understand why you don't want anyone to know."
"Well, obviously...". He tries to not think about the gruesome sight of Tom Collins' beheading only a few weeks before.
"But I won't tell anyone." Merlin sighs in relief, seeing the honest smile on the beautiful woman's face. "You don't mind if I talk to you about it?"
"What? No! Of course not! It's quite a relief, actually. I've spent my entire life trying to hide it from everyone." Merlin starts to babble out, happy to finally talk to another person about the greatest secret of his life. Morgana cuts him off with a shake of her head.
"Your entire life?" she asks, her eyebrows coming together in confusion.
"Yes, I didn't study magic; I was born with it.". As soon as he finished speaking, he knew that he'd made a mistake. At the word 'magic', Morgana had taken a step back and brought a hand up to her mouth, shock evident on her face and a glimmer of fear in her eyes.
"Magic?" she all-but whispered, warily.
"Oh no, no, no, no..." was all he could say, the magnitude of his mistake hitting him like a bolting horse. Merlin turns away, running a hand through his hand, unable to bear the sight of Morgana's fear. Fear of him.
"You have magic?" Morgana asks, still whispering. Seeing the obvious terror Merlin is feeling, Morgana's fear starts to dissipate. Sensing that, even in his current state, Merlin is unlikely to harm her, she steps forward and places a hand on his shoulder.
With a glance at the door, to check that no-one was watching, Morgana leans in and whispers into Merlin's ear.
"Get Gaius to send you to deliver my sleeping draught tonight. We will talk more in the privacy of my chambers." With that, Morgana pulls back and walks towards the dank cell's door. Stopping in the doorway, with one hand on the door's frame, she looks over her shoulder at the young sorcerer and says "Your secret is safe with me.".
Morgana sweeps out of the door, her mind thinking of her dreams and the long-dismissed theory that it was magic, a theory dismissed out of fear of what would happen to her if it were true. Merlin stands there, in the straw, thinking about how his whole world had just been tipped on its side in the span of a single conversation, and trying to figure out if he could trust the beautiful King's Ward.