Story 16: Not Alone

Chapter 5: You Could Not Leave

The next day seemed to crawl by. Merlin just wanted it to be nighttime so he could go visit Morgana, but it seemed as if Arthur had more chores for him to do than usual. Arthur had him running around like a chicken without a head. When the sun had finally set and Camelot had gone to sleep, Merlin snuck into Morgana's chambers. He was exhausted and sore, but he would never miss a night with Morgana, especially not this night.

Morgana looked up at him when he walked in, a look of guilt crossing her face. A feeling of dread overcame him, making his blood feel icy cold as it coursed through his veins. She had made her decision and if the look she had given him was anything to go by, he wasn't going to like the decision she was going to make.

He closed his eyes, praying he wouldn't hear the words he knew she was going to say. He hoped that something would go right for once, that something good would happen to him. Just this once, he hoped weakly. Luck was not on his side. "When Morgause leaves, I am going to go with her," Morgana whispered. She refused to look at Merlin. He was her best friend and she knew this would upset him greatly, but she needed to do it.

"Why?" Merlin asked helplessly. He didn't open his eyes, because he was afraid of what she would see. He didn't want Morgana to see the pain that would be dancing in his eyes. He didn't want her to realize that she meant the world to him, while he clearly wasn't worth anything to her. He didn't want her to go. He could feel a pain in his chest as if his heart were preparing itself to be broken.

"She's the only family I have," Morgana told him. "She understands me in a way no one else does. If I stay here, I'll always be afraid. There's nothing left for me."

Merlin felt as if he had been stabbed. Her words had hurt him more than he had thought possible. He knew she hadn't meant them that way, but to him she had practically just said that he meant nothing to her. "You would just leave your life behind?" Merlin challenged. "Arthur and Gwen? Do they mean nothing to you?" Merlin was barely aware that he was walking towards Morgana. "You would leave them?" His voice dropped to a whisper. It was fortunate he was standing so close to Morgana or she might not have heard him. "You would leave me?"

"I don't want to leave you, but I have to," Morgana said softly. She looked at Merlin guiltily. He had been the hardest part of her decision. He had risked his life every night just to help her learn magic. He had made her feel like magic wasn't something to be feared. He had helped her realize she wasn't a monster. She didn't want to leave him, but she knew she couldn't pass up this opportunity.

For the first time, someone had given her the opportunity to be herself without fear of the repercussions. Here, she was a prisoner during the day. Out there, she would be free. There was only so much Merlin could do for her. Right now, they could only meet in secret in the dark of the night. He was a great friend, and she would miss him, but she needed a family.

"I need to be with my sister. I need a family," Morgana whispered. Ever since her father had died, she hadn't felt whole. He had left her under Uther's supervision and while she had never wanted for anything, it hadn't been enough. Morgana hadn't realized exactly what she had been missing until Morgause offered it to her. For the first time, Morgana felt hope that she would understand who she was. "When I see Morgause tomorrow night, I'm going to tell her that I'm going with her." Morgana felt like she needed to say it again, more to convince herself that she was doing the right thing.

"We're your family too!" Merlin exploded. "Maybe not by blood, but we are your family. Arthur and Gwen and me! Family isn't measure by the blood you share, but by the memories you share." He was practically yelling at her, but he didn't care. He couldn't lose her.

"It's not enough!" Morgana shouted. She couldn't help the tears that fell down her cheeks. Morgana anxiously glanced at the door. She wasn't sure how anyone could have ignored the shouting coming from a room where everyone should be asleep. The answer came to her. Merlin must have used magic to give them privacy. He did that often when they were practicing magic so no one would overhear them and suspect her of using sorcery. "I have to do this Merlin, please understand." She didn't know how to make him understand the overpowering need she had to be with her sister.

"I can't understand it," he said softly. "I can't understand how you could just leave me behind!" Morgana took a step closer to him and was surprised to see that he was crying as well. He hid it better than she did, but a few traitorous tears betrayed him.

"I don't want to leave you behind. You have done more for me than anyone else here and for that I am grateful! But I need to do what is best for me! You're an amazing man Merlin. I'm sorry," Morgana whispered.

"How do you know that this is what's best for you?" Merlin challenged.

"Because she is my sister," Morgana told him.

"She's your half-sister. One that has been completely absent from your life until this point," Merlin pointed out.

"Not by choice," Morgana said sharply. "And she found me. She's here to help me!"

"So am I!" Merlin shouted. Morgana looked away from him. She couldn't bear to see how much she was hurting him. She didn't know how to make him understand. Merlin always had a family. He never understood what it was like to feel like you were missing part of yourself, missing a part that could only be filled by your family.

"What can I do to make this better?" Morgana asked him desperately. She didn't want to leave on a bad note. This may be the last time she sees Merlin and she wouldn't be able to bare it if he hated her when they left.

Merlin gently shifted her chin so she was looking at him. She hadn't realized how close they were standing. "Don't leave," he whispered. That was the last thing Morgana processed before Merlin pressed his lips to hers. Morgana froze, unable to form a single coherent thought. She wasn't thinking about Morgause. She wasn't thinking about how she was leaving. Every ounce of her being was focused on the kiss. His right hand held her left wrist and his left hand tangled in her hair. She could taste the salt from his tears mixing with hers.

She had never thought Merlin would have feelings for her, she had never felt like she was the kind of woman he deserved. That didn't stop her from dreaming. How many times had she dreamt of this moment? How many times had she wished that Merlin would look at her as if she weren't the king's ward? All of her wildest imaginings hadn't held a candle to the perfection of reality.

She melted into the kiss, allowing herself to forget for a moment that she was leaving and breaking Merlin's heart. For a moment all that mattered was how she felt about Merlin and the miracle that he felt the same for her.

As soon as it had started, it was over. Merlin took a step away from her, his face turning a brighter red than his scarf. Morgana felt the loss immediately. "You could not leave," he whispered again. Then he turned and ran from her chambers. Morgana watched him go. She wasn't in the right state of mind to follow him.