Obligatory disclaimer: I don't own Merlin.
Horoscopesarelies helped with the editing. Thank you for your patience.
A/N: This takes place during season 3, after "The crystal Cave" episode.
A Lost Connection
Morgana started to pace, huffing in mild irritation. She stopped, glanced at the door.
Still closed. She huffed again.
Her maid, Gwen, was yet to make another appearance. Shortly after rousing her mistress, the girl had disappeared with the promise to fetch the noble woman her breakfast.
Yet, a very, very long time had gone by and Morgana's belly was still empty.
Morgana glared at the door as though in doing so, her maidservant would suddenly come into sight. But no such thing occurred.
Standing on the threshold of her own chambers, Morgana weighed her options. She could continue to wait, just as she had been doing for the past hour or—
Morgana growled, or was it her stomach that produced that dreadful noise?
Frankly, she didn't know.
Conducting a search for her incompetent missing servant wasn't among her morning duties, nevertheless, the lady ventured out looking for Gwen.
The kitchens where the first place she went to. After inquiring the whereabouts of her maid, Morgana was directed towards a location she abhorred going to.
It seemed that Gwen had been last seen heading towards the physician's chambers.
It was with utter disdain that Morgana marched in there, her mind set on rebuking her maid for her unforgiving tardiness.
She didn't bother to knock as she barged inside.
Morgana spotted Gwen the moment she yanked the door open. The sudden noise alerting the woman and making her jump from where she was sitting.
"There you are." Morgana announced.
Simultaneously, Merlin murmured. "Shhh."
Everything stilled in the room when she noticed him.
Morgana stared at him, however her eyes weren't focused on Merlin himself. They were transfixed on the sleeping toddler cradled in his arms. The baby's face was buried in his neck.
It was hard not to detect the odd way with which Morgana regarded the baby and it was for that reason that Merlin held him closer to him whilst taking a step back in caution.
Last thing he wanted was to wake the sleeping infant.
What he did shook her out of her daze. She wouldn't admit it aloud but she was grateful for it.
Merlin with a child in his arms? Who would have thought?
Her gaze moved to Gwen, a smile playing on her lips to mask her surprise. "I've been back for almost a year now, yet no one bothered to inform me that you have fathered a child, Merlin, why is that?" she stepped further, inching closer and passing her maid. "Yours, I presume?" she asked, her index finger gesturing between the manservant and her maid.
She assumed that Arthur and Gwen fancied each other. Had she misread the signs? That couldn't be correct.
"Gods, no!" Gwen exclaimed, a nervous laugh passed through her lips as her eyes darted to the ground, clearly in embarrassment before she looked at her mistress. "It's not mine and-"
Whatever she was going to say, it was silenced by Merlin's comment. "You're going to rouse the baby. Be quiet." His voice was barely above a whisper.
Morgana crooked an eyebrow, half-tempted to do exactly the opposite just aggravate him. But before she could do anything, Merlin lured Gwen into his chamber leaving her alone.
She gritted her teeth. How dare they exclude her so openly?
So, the moment they emerged from the small room minus the sleeping child, Morgana said in a loud voice: "I'm still waiting for my breakfast, Gwen."
The woman's eyes widened, recalling her task. "I'm sorry, Morgana."
Apologizing wouldn't put food in her belly and standing there, looking completely regretful wouldn't help either. "Go fetch it then."
Gwen hurried out.
Merlin and Morgana were left alone.
"So," she began, her feet taking her towards his room but he rapidly stood like a barrier in her way.
"Don't." he warned, eyes hard.
Since she only got a glimpse of the baby; just the back of its head before Merlin went away to his room, Morgana wasn't able to guess the gender or the age.
She smiled, backing away. "A boy or a girl?"
His answer didn't come straight away. There was a moment of silence during which it seemed he was debating whether or not he should respond. "A boy."
"Congratulations." Morgana said darkly. It would be good to make him feel threatened. He should fear her.
Merlin didn't disappoint. His face dropped. "Thank you."
"Where's his mother? I'd like to—"
"None of your business." He hissed, eyes blazing and mouth grim.
Her anger was subsiding with each moment she spent in there. This was fun; getting on his nerve, seeing the fear in his eyes. "Why so protective?" she asked, airily.
"You're should return to your chambers, Gwen must have gotten you your breakfast by now."
"Of course." With a smirk, she whirled around. "I shall come back once more."
She left, hoping that the promise she had made was enough to keep him on edge.
A child. A family. At last, she had leverage against Merlin. Something, she could use to hold him off.
She spent the rest of her day wondering how she had never seen Merlin in the company of a woman.
Things, simply, didn't add up. Morgana could understood why Merlin had never told her about having a family of his own. But what about the rest, nobody had bothered to tell her. Had Merlin forced the others to keep it from her because neither Arthur nor Gwen had said anything. Or perhaps Arthur didn't even know, wouldn't be too hard to sneak in a baby under his oblivious nose.
As for Gwen, even after asking her about it, hadn't offered anything. In fact, once Morgana demanded a straight answer, surprisingly, Gwen had recalled that she had forgotten to retrieve one of her mistress' dresses and she had practically ran out of the room.
She still hadn't returned yet.
If that didn't stir suspicion, Morgana didn't know what did.
She needed it to find the mother's child quickly.
All the thinking had left her with a headache; that was why Morgana decided that the following day, she would find out everything there was to know.
A servant brought her dinner, and alone, she readied herself for the night.
Morgana might deal with Gwen's disappearance first, though. She couldn't tolerate such incompetence.
She didn't know what pulled her out of her heavy slumber. It was faint at the beginning, as Morgana became fully conscious, the noise had gotten louder.
It sounded as though it was coming from the outside, most likely the main square.
She curled onto her side, closed her eyes and tried to fall asleep again but she couldn't. As she focused on it, it became clear that someone, or something- was crying, piercingly.
Intrigued, Morgana climbed out of her bed. Tracing the sound, she opened one of her windows. A cold breeze assaulted her making her recoil and pull the window close. She tried to get a glimpse of what maybe causing the noise through the glass but she wasn't successful.
Trying again, she pushed open the window. Her eyes closed for a second as she adjusted to the low temperature. A shiver ran down her spine and she exhaled. Her eyes roamed over the courtyard for the source of the noise.
Morgana was in luck for she found it and she didn't know if she should laugh at the comical sight or cry at the man's stupidity.
She did neither, only stared down. Merlin, sitting on the steps of the stairs that led to the castle, his child in his arms. Of course, crying.
What the hell was he doing outside, at such late hour?
If she were to shout his name, would Merlin hear her? Unlikely, she thought, not with that baby crying directly into his ear.
She shut her window close, grabbed a furry stole, threw it over her shoulders and went for the door.
Only with her hand on the knob, did she pause, to think, to wonder why she cared. Perhaps because it was freezing outside and no matter how much she hated Merlin, who she wouldn't care less if he died of cold, she couldn't wish the same fate for the baby, even if it was his.
The mother was Morgana's way to get to the servant, not the child.
That was what she told herself, repeatedly, as she left her room, heading towards Merlin.
The man was still in the same place where she last saw him, except instead of just sitting on the stairs, he was pacing back and forth with a small gestures. He patted the baby on the back, trying to sooth him and obviously failing.
"Get him inside." She hissed, marching towards him.
Merlin jumped at her voice, surprised by her presence, the child on the other hand, started crying even louder. He was wiggling his hands and legs as if he wanted to be freed from the hold Merlin had on him.
"Morgana, what are you doing here?" he tried to tame the baby's agitation but he wasn't able to control it. "You're upsetting him." He told her, taking a step down, thinking if he put more distance between them and Morgana, the baby would calm down.
Yet, the opposite happened and Morgana was having none of his foolishness.
"Well, you're killing him." She understood the fear he might feel for his son because of her, but what he was doing, wasn't right. It certainly didn't help ease the deafening cries of the child.
Morgana moved quickly, managing to catch him by surprise and snatch the baby from between his hands. She cradled him closer, wrapping her stole around him. She didn't care about the bark Merlin released once she hurried inside, straight to the warmth the castle's walls offered.
Once in, she rubbed small circles on his back, rocking him slowly in the process. The crying began to subside but it didn't fade away entirely.
Seething, Merlin put his hands on the child's sides. "Give him to me."
She shoved him away before continuing the soothing moves. "He's calming down, Merlin."
Realizing that, Merlin frowned. "How did you—" It was clear that he was taken aback by how quick Morgana managed to settle down the restless baby. Nevertheless, he didn't budge, he stood his ground, his features hardened again; he still wanting to take the child back.
Since she couldn't deny him that, Morgana glanced down at him. His head rested on her shoulder. His cries dissolved into a mix of hiccups and sniffles. His face was still red, tears staining his cheeks.
For the first time since she had laid eyes on the toddler, Morgana took a good look at him. His puffy adorable cheeks, his eyes were so blue yet tainted red from crying. His hair, short and dark.
He had his father's eyes and the color of hair. If she were to guess, she'd say that he'd grow up to look a lot like Merlin.
As much as she hated that, she couldn't ignore that he was a beautiful baby.
Remembering Merlin's demand, Morgana tore her eyes away from the angelic face and up towards the man who was still waiting, hands in place.
"Fine." Morgana conceded. She had already done what she had come down there to do. Time to leave, she thought.
Morgana maneuvered her hands so she could pass the baby to Merlin. But they were both taken by surprise because before he was fully freed from Morgana, he wrapped his delicate, short fingers around a strand of her hair. Then he whimpered, it was clear that he was against the transference the adults around him were about to conduct. So, when Merlin held the baby, the latter tugged at her hair and she yelped.
"Oh!" Instinctively, she moved back. Noticing what was happening, Merlin pulled the baby away thinking he'd let go.
Boy, was he wrong. He might have small hand but the child's grip was strong.
In the end, Morgana screamed in pain and Merlin realized his mistake.
However, Morgana's yell must have been so sudden that the baby sniffed few times, his bottom lip trembled. His eyes welled with tears before he was crying again.
Now, the baby was hanging in the air, between Merlin and Morgana. Merlin's hands held him closer while his small one did the same to Morgana. Tears pouring down his face.
Merlin moved his hands, wrapped one around the child's stomach, the other one went under his backside, to lift him properly.
Morgana tried to pry his fingers away from her hair but his grip only tightened.
Morgana's heart skipped a beat.
Her head shot up, eyes widened in shock. "What?" She glanced at Merlin to verify if she did in fact hear that correctly.
He dismissed her quickly, "That's the only word he can say."
Merlin gave her the child who hastily buried his face in the crook of her neck and continued to cry. He watched her with a confused look on his face; he looked almost amazed how the child clung to her. First, she'd been able to soothe him with the simple act of holding him to her and now it seemed that he didn't want to be parted from the woman. Morgana, on the other hand, tried to appear like she'd not been affected by any of it. Like his father, the baby had managed to make her care for him. She started to calm him again while Merlin worked on freeing her hair. She was quiet, just patting his back and rocking the two of them slowly.
"Aha!" Merlin exclaimed, moments later. Just to be sure it wouldn't happen again, he made sure to wrap his hand around the baby's fingers so he wouldn't snatch another strand of her hair.
But when she was going to hand the child back to his father, the two adults realized that while Merlin had been trying on free one hand, the baby had already got a lock of Morgana's with the other one.
"Don't even think about it." Morgana warned Merlin, the spot where her hair had been yanked was still burning and she didn't need a repeat of it. "He looks tired, perhaps he'll fall asleep soon."
The warlock hesitated for a brief second before he nodded.
They stood in silence watching the baby sniff and whimper.
"What were you doing outside with him?" Morgana asked, turning her gaze towards Merlin.
He just shrugged his shoulders, "He's been crying the whole night and because of it; Gaius couldn't sleep."
"So, you thought exposing him to the coldness of the night would help?" she snickered.
He pressed his lips together, not impressed by her mockery. "I had nowhere else to go to."
"Why didn't your wife help?"
"My what?" he asked with a furrowed brow.
"Your wife, your son's mother?" She felt stupid trying to clarify her question. But when she saw the uncertain look on his face, something clicked in her mind.
"You are married, aren't you Merlin? Your son isn't a bastard, right?"
The lack of answer was in itself an answer. That was really unexpected. "What happened Merlin? Did she realize how dangerous you are? Tell me, did she know you're a killer an—"
Nicking the baby from her grasp cut her off and she squealed in surprise, jumping back. The baby's hold had relaxed due to her calming moves and it seemed that while they were talking his eyelids grew heavy and eventually he'd fallen asleep.
"You have no right to ask about her." Merlin said before he walked away from her.
His reluctance to speak about his lover or his baby's mother only served to fuel her curiosity and encourage her to get to the bottom of this whole thing.
Something was certainly shady, of that she was now sure.
The next morning, Gwen showed up on time and after achieving her morning tasks; there was a knock on the door.
Morgana was having her breakfast when that happened. Gwen answered it, her body going stiff when she saw who was on the other side. She threw a quick glance at her mistress before she disappeared behind the door. She made sure to pull it after her to block Morgana's vision.
At first, she didn't pay much attention but then she heard their whispers, and then abandoned her food and strolled over to the entrance of her chambers.
She leaned forward hoping to catch a word or two from the conversation taking place. She could hear Merlin's voice. "Please, Gwen. Arthur is going to throw me in the stocks if I don't polish his armour and I still have plenty of errands to run for Gaius."
"What about my errands, Merlin?" Gwen replied back, sounding apologetic. "I haven't done anything the day before and I don't think Morgana would understand if I disappear yet again…"
Having heard enough and identifying the subject under discussion between the two servants, Morgana drew the door open and stepped outside.
She surprised them both.
They turned to look at her, putting some distance between them and her. Morgana glanced at the two of them; face neutral. "Everything alright?" she was addressing Merlin who looked at Gwen then back at Morgana. But it was her maid who replied.
"May I be freed for the rest of the day, milady?"
Her answer was instant. "No." Even as she said that, her eyes were on Merlin.
Gwen sighed, "What if I were to finish my chores early for the day, would—"
Again, Morgana denied her. "I'm afraid I can't spare you today."
Merlin was gritting his teeth, but kept his chin up; determined not to be fazed by her.
"I should go." he said but Morgana stopped him. She turned to Gwen asking her to go inside; she had a matter to discuss with Merlin.
"I can't have you appear every now and then to pursue Gwen into taking care of your child while you do your work. She has one as well…"
He narrowed his eyes at her. "I wouldn't have sought her help if I wasn't forced…" Then he paused, the harshness of his expression dissolving into weariness. "I need Gwen to watch over…"
"That's not my problem, Merlin. It's yours. His mother should take care of him instead of you running around seeking—"
"Don't." he glared at her.
He'd warned her about mentioning the other woman but this was the only way for her to get some information.
"Don't what?" she sneered, "What did you do to her to push her away? How horrible it must have been for her to abandon her child?"
He shook his head frantically, his jaw clenched. "I didn't do anything."
"I find that hard to believe." she smirked. "Did you try to kill her too?"
He grunted, voice rising. "Nothing. I've done nothing."
She countered, her tone matching his. "Then where is she?"
"Dead." He hissed, then as though realizing what he'd said, his shoulders slumped, sorrow washed over him. "She's dead."
Color drained from her face at his reply. She stammered. "I'm sorry, Merlin."
The baby's face appeared before her eyes and her heart ached for him. She almost reached for Merlin's hand meaning to offer her support.
But the warlock didn't take her words seriously, choosing to assume that she was just feigning her sympathy.
"Don't try to fool me into thinking that actually care." He taunted, looking at her with disgust.
Morgana didn't appreciate that. "Of course, I care. I know what it is like to lose a parent, Merlin."
"So do I." he shot back. "Your pity is the last thing I want at the moment, Morgana."
His comment left her shaking with both fury and shame. She shouldn't have pressed him. She definitely didn't expect to hear what he said.
Poor child, she thought. However, looking at his broken expression another thought popped into her mind. Poor Merlin.
What she said next surprised the two of them. "I'll dismiss Gwen…" she made to turn towards her room but he didn't let her carry on with her decision.
"Like you said. It's my problem to solve."
She rolled he eyes; annoyed by his stubbornness. "I want to help you, Merlin, like you helped…" she trailed off. "…me." Morgana exhaled in shock. She didn't believe her ears.
Did she really say that?
She was supposed to be hating him. During that particular moment, she was supposed to relish his loss, revel in his sadness but to feel sorry for him? That wasn't right.
Something wasn't right. The man tried to kill her. Now, she was standing here reminding herself of the good things he'd done for her.
What was wrong with her?
"Hmm." She hummed pivoting around as if she was looking for something. Like her sanity. Because the words that were coming out of her mouth didn't make any sense to her.
Merlin must have been alarmed by the look on her face. He hesitated, "Are you alright?"
She said nothing. She stared at his worried face, exhaled deeply and ran to the privacy of her room.
She shut the door in his face and didn't allow Gwen to go help.
Morgana leaned on her elbows, head resting on her hands as she watched her maid move around the room.
The brief and tense conversation she'd had with Merlin kept playing in her mind over and over again. Her reaction was the only thing that was still puzzling her. Yet, aside from her surprise, she still couldn't push away the sadness that was tugging at her heart.
"Are you okay, Morgana?" Gwen asked with a frown.
She shook her head and sat up straight. In a weak voice she replied, "Just thinking."
About an orphaned child who reminded her how it horrible it had felt when she had first leaned about her father's death. It seemed like she was reliving the whole ordeal now. If only she could shove those thoughts away; she'd love to carry on with her day without being gloomy. Her chest was heavy with emotions that she felt like she couldn't bear.
Gwen came closer. "Are you okay, Morgana?" she asked again. "You look a bit pale."
She was about to dismiss her question but she knew that talking about it might help. "Merlin told me about—" she paused, she didn't even know the dead woman's name. "—the fate of the mother of his child and ever since I found myself incapable of steering my thoughts away from the memory of losing my mother as well as my father."
Gwen's features softened, she gave Morgana a sad look. "I know how you feel."
It made her eyes widen. Guilt washed over her, she had to look away from Gwen. It might have been Camelot's guards that had killed Gwen's father but in the end, Morgana had had a hand in it. "How long has she been dead?" The witch deflected. She needed to change the subject.
"Morgana…" She hesitated to answer and Morgana could only suspect that her maid's reluctance was due to a firm instruction from a certain servant not to disclose anything.
Morgana wanted to be angry at that. However, no matter how much she tried, she couldn't bring herself to feel anything besides sympathy for both the father and the son. Furthermore, Merlin had already lost someone and since she had been throwing threats his way on constant basis, Morgana reasoned that it was only safe for him to protect what was left from his family.
But then Gwen spoke again and Morgana forced herself to focus on what was being said. "I promised Merlin that I won't say anything. He didn't want to endanger you especially after what happened with Mordred. But it's not fair to keep the truth from you."
Morgana raised an eyebrow; the man tried to kill her, she doubted that he'd bother to protect her, more like protecting himself from her. "I don't understand, Gwen."
The latter's shoulders slumped as she came closer. She pulled a chair and sat on it. "Merlin isn't the child's father. He found the poor thing in the woods yesterday."
With steady steps and a warm innocent smile, Morgana approached him. The baby's arms were wrapped around her neck, his face rested peacefully on her shoulder.
Merlin was hunched over, hands and neck secured to limit his movements. His entire face and hair was covered in a mix of smashed rotten vegetables.
A ten year-old child holding a tomato in hand was about to throw it at him when a guard who'd been watching Merlin stepped forward, preventing the kid from delivering the shot.
Merlin noticed that and his gaze followed the guard. Fear washed over his expression when he saw Morgana with the baby.
He twitched his hands, foolishly assuming he'd be able to break free. It prompted a satisfied smile to tug at her lips.
It served him right. He'd made her feel guilty.
"You smell." She said, stopping next to him. The child giggled at Merlin's awkward position as well at the look the warlock was sending her.
He was fuming but thanks to the filth covering his face; Merlin looked funny. At least both Morgana and the child thought so.
Merlin wasn't pleased by it.
The child unwrapped his hands and reached one towards Merlin but Morgana stopped him before he did so. She backed away in case he tried to do it again. "Uh, don't do that, dear."
"Morgana, you will leave him alone or so help me, I—" he hissed.
She laughed, kissing the baby's temple. "Don't be like that. You'll scare him." She admonished, inhaling his scent.
"Morgana!" he growled.
Her expression sobered; she looked at the knight and gave him a curt nod. Soon, he was working on releasing Merlin and while he was doing so, Morgana leaned closer, "Gwen told me everything."
She watched his eyes widen slightly, realization registering. Once freed, Merlin stood upright; he waited until the guard was away from them to say: "You're not going to harm him?"
Though, she had no intention from the beginning in hurting the baby-even if it had been his-Morgana still shook her head. "You're the one who'd done wrong by me, Merlin. I have no interest in taking vengeance on anyone but you."
Surprisingly, he relaxed at that. "Can I have him?"
"I wasn't lying when I said that you smell, Merlin. Besides, he looks comfortable with me."
They began walking in the direction of the castle.
Merlin gave them a sideway glance noting how calm the child appeared to be with her. "I think he misses his mother."
Morgana looked down, a small smile on her lips. "He shoved his hand into my bosom when I first picked him. I think he wanted to be fed."
Her admission caught Merlin off guard, he blushed crimson. The mental image that she had painted with her words surely didn't help.
He laughed to ease his bashfulness. "Sorry he did that."
Morgana laughed with him.
Then it was as if time itself stopped.
They paused and stared at one another.
Hadn't they once been like this? Enjoying each other's company and laughing at Arthur's arrogant arse.
A giggle produced by the small bundle of joy made them pause to assess the brief peaceful moment they had just shared together.
It had been a long time since that had happened. Lately, all their conversation were filled with hate, warnings and threats. But the baby's laughter seemed to snap them out of it.
They looked away. Each one cleared their throat before they resumed their walk.
"What exactly did Gwen tell you?" he asked her, peering at the still smiling baby.
"Everything." she replied before she elaborated. "She told me that you found him yesterday while in the woods and that his mother was lying dead next to him."
Merlin considered her words and nodded his head. "I returned yesterday to the area where I found him, I thought I might find something that might lead me to his father."
Solemnly, he shook his head.
Morgana sighed, so the child had neither of his parents. "What are you going to do with him?" she could count on one hand the options Merlin had. In fact, there were only two. Either Merlin would raise him himself or find someone willing to do it.
"I have to get him out of Camelot."
That was unexpected.
"What?" Morgana asked, shocked. Merlin couldn't be considering throwing the kid away, could he? "Why?"
"He has magic."
"What the hell?" Came a voice from their left. They whirled around to discover Arthur and Uther staring at them with confused and alarmed looks respectively.
Merlin and Morgana exchanged worried glances. If Uther had heard the last part of their conversation then all hell would surely break loose.
The child squirmed in her arms.
Next, four sets of eyes were on him.
"What's going in here?"
"Uhm," Morgana looked at the baby, then at Merlin and then at Arthur. "Well…"
"It's my fault," Merlin chimed in. "Gaius is attending to his mother and he asked me to keep an eye on him but I was rather busy. Milady," the warlock gestured to Morgana. "was kind enough to offer her help."
"Exactly." she confirmed with a smile.
The child said something incoherent turning the attention back to him; Merlin hurried to remove him from Morgana's hold when Arthur made a face at him. "Let me have him."
However, the infant was stubborn, he clung to Morgana; fortunately by grasping the fabric of her dress, and said "Mama."
Both Merlin and Morgana laughed awkwardly. The confused yet surprised look which they were both regarded with put them on edge.
"That's all that he can say." Merlin rushed to clarify.
Uther eyed them; "What were you doing while you've burdened her ladyship with your work?"
"In the stocks." Merlin answered gingerly.
The king just pressed his lips into a thin line from behind him, Morgana caught Arthur rolling his eyes. They both knew what was going to happen next.
"And why is that?" Uther continued his interrogation.
Merlin hesitated, sending Arthur a look. "For not doing my errands, My Lord."
The king let out a dry 'Ah.' "How surprising!"
"Now you know how much I suffer." Arthur said.
Merlin glared, it was Morgana's turn to roll her eyes. Arthur; always so dramatic.
Uther raised an eyebrow; "Oh, yes. He is your servant."
"We should carry on." Morgana said; wanting to put an end to the conversation.
She backed away and so did Merlin.
"Wait." Uther stopped them. "Will you be joining us for dinner this evening?"
Morgana peered down at the baby. She couldn't lie to herself and say that she didn't enjoy the time she'd spent so far with him but after Merlin had told her about his desire to take the him away from the kingdom; she'd very much rather spend the rest of her day learning about his reasons than to waste her time with Uther. Still, she nodded her head, a warm smile played on her lips.
Uther whirled around and left. Arthur remained behind and once his father was out of earshot; he turned to Merlin. "You are not supposed to be here. Who released you?"
"I did." Morgana told him. "Merlin, you need to get cleaned before I leave the child in your care. Can we hurry up?"
Gaius was in there when they walked inside the room. He paused whatever he was doing and fixed his gaze on Morgana who was still holding the child in her arms.
"Morgana," he announced as the door was closed shut.
She easily noticed the quick glance the old man had sent his ward. She almost rolled her eyes at the lack of subtlety.
"You can give the child to Gaius. I'll take care of the rest." he told Morgana.
However, she shook her head, ran a hand through the infant's hair. "I'll do so once you've told me everything."
Merlin sighed and glanced at the physician. "Alright, but I need to bathe first. Can you help me, Gaius?"
The two men disappeared. Morgana wasn't a fool, she knew very well that there were matters that the two were discussing and they didn't want her to hear.
She was fine with that. She couldn't care less but Merlin better not lie to her or hide anything else.
While Merlin was having his bath, Morgana kept a watch on the child. She was tired from carrying him so she sat on Gaius' bed, positioned the baby next to her, his head resting on her side. But he turned on his stomach, lowered his legs until they reached the floor. Soon he was roaming the place. Morgana surveyed him from afar, he had a huge grin on his face and it made Morgana chuckle whenever he squealed as he ran with his little feet.
Morgana would leap every now and then when he approached Gaius' bottles and vials. The last thing she wanted was for him to drop something on himself.
They continued like that until Merlin came back. When the baby saw him walk in, he shrieked in delight and started towards him.
"Where is Gaius?" she asked when she noticed that the other man wasn't with Merlin.
His hair was damp, he smelled considerably better. "He'll be back soon." Merlin hunched over to retrieve him but the child spun around and ran the other way. The man stood up straight with a frown.
Morgana smiled, "I guess he wants to be on his feet."
Merlin nodded his head. His eyes were on her. "All right."
"Ever thought of giving him a name?"
"What?" he asked, not expecting such a question.
She shrugged her shoulders as he pulled a chair to sit on. "I've grown tired of addressing him as he or him? Didn't you think of naming him?"
"Why would I do that?"
"Because you don't know his name and there is a chance that you may never know it." she reasoned.
"Honestly—" he paused to consider. "I never did."
Morgana wasn't surprised by that, she supposed that Merlin must have had hoped he'd find the kid's father.
"Have you considered a name?" Merlin asked, leaning forwards, elbows on his knees.
"You're asking me? I'm not his mother."
"And I'm not his father either. But you were the one who wondered," He said with a shrug, "So, do you have anything?"
Her gaze darted to the baby. She observed him, trying to match his face with a name. Nothing came to mind and she told Merlin so.
"Aglain." Merlin said eventually.
It took Morgana some time to recall the face attached to that name and when that happened; she looked to the ground. The dead man's face flashed before her eyes. She swallowed hard.
The man had saved her life and how had he been rewarded; by being murdered at the hands of her father.
She almost asked him about his choice, however, the child came sprinting. He crashed into her legs and laughed. Her heart swelled at the sweet sound.
Algain had seen beyond her stature. He had chosen to ignore all the wrongs her kingdom had inflected on his kind. He'd seen the good in her heart and now this child was doing the same. If he'd known what she had prepared for his mother….
So perhaps, the name fitted him after all.
"Aglain is good. It's great." She admitted as she run a hand through the hair of Aglain.
Morgana peered up at Merlin to find him with a strange look on his face. "What?"
He inhaled, "You're just good with him."
He didn't answer immediately. Although the weird look on his face lessened, it persisted. "Nothing." He finally said, dropping the whole thing.
Morgana was intrigued but she chose not to pursue him for a direct answer. For now, she had other matter to focus on. She found a name for the child now all that was left was for her to make sure that he didn't share the same fate as the man that he had just been named after.
"How certain are you that he has magic?"
"Very." he told her.
Morgana took a deep breath. Her eyes fluttered shut briefly. When she opened them, she bent down and lifted Algain to her. She put him on her lap and wrapped her arms around his stomach. He instantly began to fight for his freedom.
"Stay still, Algain." she said in a slightly stern tone. It didn't halt his movements right away but after a few attempts to break her hold coupled with a whimpered "mama." He finally declared defeat and looked at Merlin with wide sad eyes.
He wasn't affected by the pout. The two adults carried on with their conversation.
"But how can he have magic, Merlin, he's just a baby?" She mostly wondered to herself. Morgana didn't expect an answer.
Merlin went stiff, it was an odd reaction coming from him but she paid it no attention. "Gaius thinks that he is at least a year and a half old."
"So young." Morgana lamented, kissing Algain's head. "He's like Mordred." There was a pause. "Like me."
"Yes." He agreed with a nod.
Morgana understood now why he wanted to take the child away from Camelot. However, where would he take him? "What's your plan?"
That was a good plan. "You think they'd help?"
"They are a peaceful people, Morgana. I do not think they would refuse to take him in. But before I do so I need to look for his father first."
Her brow furrowed. "I thought you said that you were unable to find him."
"His mother bore the mark of the druids on her arm when I found her. I'm hoping that his father might be a druid too."
Morgana bit on her bottom lip. "So all you need to do is find the druids."
"Yes." He said with a sigh. "I was going to look for them today that was why I wanted Gwen to watch him."
If Merlin was trying to make her feel guilty about not allowing Gwen to have the day off, he was certainly succeeding. "Morgause can help. I'll ask—"
Merlin shook his head. "No. Do not get Morgause involved in this."
"Why not?" she raised her eyebrows. "She can easily locate the druids' camp."
Merlin got to his feet. "I don't need her help."
"Of course you do," she scoffed. "Clearly you've made no progress so far and I doubt you will without assistance from someone who knows her way around."
Aglain had drifted off while they were talking. "I should get him inside." Merlin suggested and Morgana scooped the baby up in her arms before Merlin got near her. "I can do it myself."
They tucked the baby in and left the warlock's room. Merlin made sure to keep the door ajar just in case Aglain woke up.
They took their previous position before they took the discussion up again.
"You are not thinking correctly, Merlin. How are going to find them?" her voice began to rise.
"I will manage."
"Will manage?" Morgana echoed with a dry laugh. "Manage? Merlin you are not thinking about what's best for him."
"I am." He bit out. "And it's not Morgause."
It became clear to her that Merlin hated her sister. Especially since that, he started to refuse her help the moment she had uttered her sister's name and trying to reason with him, Morgana knew that it would be pointless. She would not waste her breath.
"Fine." she would need to find another way to get Aglain as far as possible from Camelot. "I better leave to get ready for dinner."
She went to the door, a plan already brewing in her mind by the time she left the chambers.
Before she made her way toward the dining hall, Morgana paid Gaius a quick visit. She knew that the servant would be busy in the kitchens.
Once she did what she had come down there to do, she knew that she could finally put her plan in motion.
The king, the prince and the ward gathered around the table. Gwen and Merlin stood behind them. They were halfway through dinner, when Uther set his goblet aside, took a deep breath and called Morgana's name, catching her attention.
The Lady sipped her wine, and put the cup on the table. "Yes, My Lord."
Uther smiled sweetly at her. "I think time has come to find you a suitable husband."
All the people present in the room were taken aback. While everyone's mouth hung open from shock, Morgana merely laughed.
Her amusement didn't last. The weight and the seriousness of the words set in, and she looked around her before her eyes fell back on the king. "What?"
"You're of age, Morgana. You should have known that sooner or later; marriage would be a part of your future."
"Father…"Arthur tried to speak up but Uther shut him up with a glare.
His calm tone made Morgana queasy. "Why?"
"Why not?" Uther countered.
She avoided Merlin's gaze. She thought that he must be enjoying this.
Morgana took a deep breath. Arthur sent her a bothered look. Even if she detested him, she still appreciated his attempt. Realizing that fighting Uther would lead her nowhere, Morgana opted for another approach. "Why now?"
Uther shrugged and touched his cup without actually lifting it. "It's been always on my mind and I assume that your father—"
Now he made a grave mistake mentioning Gorlois, her irritation was quickly turning into anger. "I have been of age for years, yet you have never spoke of this before. What has changed? Why today?"
"You will not to use that tone with me. I'm your king and you'll show me respect." her guardian said firmly, he looked almost bored and that didn't help ease the anger bubbling inside her. "And concerning this matter; my decision is final. Word will be sent to other kingdoms—"
Morgana had heard enough. She shot to her feet abruptly; the chair tipped over and fell. "Have you gone mad?"
Both Arthur and Uther mimicked her action and stood upright. Each one displaying different sets of emotion; shock and rage.
"Morgana," the prince whispered, sending his father a cautious look. "Calm down."
She growled, put her palms flatly on the table and leaned on them. "How can I be calm? Are you not listening to this nonsense?"
"How dare you?" Uther hissed, backing away from the table and walking around towards Morgana.
The latter tried her best to hold his blazing gaze but with every step the king drew closer to her, she was failing. Instinctively, she swallowed hard. "How dare you?" she snapped, mustering enough courage to stand up to him. "Do you really expect me to simply agree to this absurdity?"
"You disrespect me once more, Morgana, and you shall see how mad I can be." he warned, standing in front of her. Morgana could hear Gwen take a step away from the two. She couldn't really blame her. She understood the threat and she had a plan to take care of it.
She narrowed her eyes at Uther, scoffed at Arthur, spun around, and left the room. She bluntly ignored the king's order for her to stop.
Morgana took a deep breath. The fresh air did nothing to calm her.
She used the night as a cover, like she had always did, found the correct shadowed spot and waited. Her hands were still shaking. The conversation played few times in her mind despite her best attempt to shove it away.
Stupid old man, she thought to herself. If he'd thought that she merely agree to what he had said, than he had a nasty surprise waiting for him. As if!
Both Gwen and Arthur had rushed after her. She was glad that neither of them had tried to talk her into actually doing as told. But whatever they had said, Morgana hadn't really paid much attention to it. Her mind had been racing; her blood pumping and heart had been filled with anger. She was calmer now but had she not left the castle, she might have marched to Uther's chamber and did what she been yearning to do. Kill him.
She reasoned that her sister wouldn't have agreed to that.
And now away from that forsaken place, Morgana scanned the area waiting for Morgause to appear.
Moments had gone by before her sister showed up. A tight smile and an embrace later, Morgana felt more composed than had been when she had first left her chambers. She almost told Morgause about Uther, however, she had summoned her for an entirely different reason.
And she wasted no time to bring it up.
"Merlin found a druid infant near the castle." She said. "He plans to seek the druids."
Morgause was surprised. "The servant that tried to kill you?"
Morgana almost rolled her eyes. That was the only part her sister had grasped. She reached for her hands, wrapping hers around them and gave them a light squeeze. "The child has magic."
The surprised expression dissolved into one of pure terror before fading. It happened so fast, Morgana almost wondered if she had seen correctly.
"An infant with magic?" Morgause asked, retracting her hands.
Morgana didn't miss the quiver in her sister's tone. Of that she was sure. "Unusual?"
Morgause responded with another question of her own. All traces of her shock diminished considerably, instead she looked alarmed. "How old is this child?"
"He is at least a year old."
Her sister's frown only deepened, she slowly turned around to conceal her face. "Have you seen him use magic?"
Morgana shook her head. "No, Merlin doesn't let him near me often."
Morgause hummed turning to face her. She was acting odd. "You need to have proof first. For all we know, that servant is using him to find the whereabouts of the druids."
"You think he could be lying?" That didn't sound right. Merlin had refused to allow her to include Morgause. If he had wanted to the reach the druids he wouldn't have done that.
"Why not?" Morgause replied with a shrug. "He and Arthur might be using the child to get to them. The druids have left Camelot after what happened two years ago. Perhaps, it is their plan to seek them and finish what they had failed to do back then."
Morgana could laugh at what her sister was saying. Arthur's involvement was unlikely. But what was more amusing was the theory that they were after the druids. Yes, Merlin had tried to poison her with the sole purpose of killing her but she knew why he had done so. To think that he might wish to harm the peaceful people; it was impossible.
However, she was certain that her sister wouldn't listen to any objection if she weren't provided with proof.
So she would give it to her. "I'll try to find out if he's honest," she told her. "If he is?"
"Then we have to get the child to his people as soon as possible."
The two sisters continued to discuss their plan, agreeing to meet once again the day after. Then, they departed.
As she made her way back, Morgana regretted not telling her sister about Uther. If she were to be honest; her problem was far more important than Aglain's.
When she drew closer to her chambers, it became clear that her quarters wasn't empty. If the crying sounds coming from it were any indication; Morgana was sure that Merlin plus the boy were in there.
She took a deep breath before walking inside. She had two problems to take care of; the sooner she solved one of them the better.
Morgana found Merlin standing by her window, rocking the baby. Aglain's face was as red as a tomato. Snot trickled from his nose; his cheeks were covered in tears and sweat.
She put her hands on her hips and he turned to face her. He had a defeated expression on his face.
Morgana titled her head, smiling weakly at him. He looked like he'd been like this for a while. After taking off her cape, she hurried to take the baby from him. Aglain was quick to cling to her.
"Where have you been?" he asked her, lowering himself to a chair.
Morgana had no intention of being honest with him. "I needed a bit of fresh air."
Merlin offered her a tight smile. "Congratulations?"
She rolled her eyes, "I'll most likely kill my future husband before he actually becomes my husband."
"Wouldn't doubt you for a second." he snorted.
Aglain continued to cry fiercely. No matter what Morgana did, humming, cooing or rocking; it didn't help. Merlin offered take over for. Still, few hours later, nothing had changed. With the crying persisting, Morgana was going crazy.
"What do you want?" she snapped. Aglain only screamed louder and suddenly, the flames of all of kindles inside rose dangerously higher. She glimpsed down to catch the golden shade the kid's eyes had taken. From her left, she heard Merlin get to his feet. But one spell from her and the chamber was shrouded in darkness.
"Morgana!" Merlin hissed, obviously not happy with her outburst. There weren't any clouds that night. The faint light filtering through was enough for them to see one another, even if it wasn't that clear.
"I'm sorry," she said, mostly to the baby than Merlin. "So sorry, Aglain…I didn't mean to scare you." she whispered, cradling him closer to her. He cried in the crook of her neck and she pressed soft kisses into his hair. Merlin relaxed, his shoulders losing the tension.
He rested his palm flatly on Aglain's back. He watched her with the same odd look he'd sent her the day before when she had managed to easily calm the baby.
It made her feel uncomfortable. Something that she wasn't used to when it came to Merlin. "What?" she mouthed.
He only continued to stare at them.
Moments passed, the crying finally was gone. Merlin and Morgana were left sitting in darkness and silence. Algain was barely awake. His eyelids were heavy. The magic outburst he's released must have taken its toll on him. His eyes were half open, he looked like he was fighting the urge to fall asleep.
Morgana kept her hand motions light. She backed away until she was near her bed. Slowly, she sat down on its edge, shifted a couple of times until her back was against the headboard.
Merlin looked at her, "May I?" he pointed to her bed.
Wordlessly, she nodded her head.
The bed dipped as he sat on it. Morgana tore her gaze from the baby towards him.
"If he hasn't seen me with Aglain, Uther wouldn't have suggested marriage for me." She told him in a whisper, her tone light yet accusing. After all, she didn't want to risk alarming the kid again.
"Can't say that he's to blame." he said in a serious voice.
A crease appeared on her brow. "What do you mean?"
He half-shrugged, "You're good with him. So good, he thinks you are his mother." Merlin added.
"But I'm not."
Merlin bit on his bottom lip. "You're the only one he said 'mama' to."
Her frown deepened, she was confused by the weird things Merlin was telling her. "I thought you said that it was the only word he could say."
"It is." he confirmed.
"Then how did you know that he only said it to me?"
Morgana peered down to find that Aglain had fallen asleep. Gently, she laid him down on her mattress.
She was going to cover him but Merlin stopped her.
"I should probably return before Gaius realises I haven't come back yet." He was deflecting and she wasn't about to let him leave.
"Explain first." she said. Morgana had Aglain as leverage. Since he wouldn't leave without him then she reasoned that Merlin had no choice but to stay.
And stay he did.
"So," she urged him to speak.
Merlin cleared his throat, he gestured for her to finish tucking Aglain.
Once that was done, they walked out of her chambers, deciding to have the rest of the conversation outside.
Morgana crossed her arms over her chest, titled her head and gave Merlin a curt nod, prompting him to speak.
"I'm sorry about Uther. I've never meant for him to propose such an idea." He was sincere, she could tell from the gentle look in his eyes.
Still, if her and her sister's plot went as planned, then she wouldn't have to worry about being forced into an arranged marriage. Therefore, for now, Morgana would focus on other pressing matters like Merlin and his vague comments.
"Merlin, just explain."
He sighed, backed away and leaned his against her chambers' wall. "Did you feel like there is a bond between you and Aglain?"
"A bond?" Morgana uncrossed her arms, intrigued by his question.
There were only two people that Morgana had felt like there was a bond with them; the first being Mordred and the second was her sister.
"No," she replied with a shake of her head. "Why do you ask?"
"Because…" he paused, not finishing his thought. He pushed himself off the wall, ran a hand though his hair.
"Because I felt one with him. Ever since I've found him, I couldn't wash this feeling away. It's…"
"Overwhelming." she supplied, easily. She still remembered when she had first seen Mordred. The desire to protect him had been instant despite its unclear roots. She wondered if that was how Merlin was feeling.
"Yes." Merlin breathed out.
There was small pause that he broke with an abrupt chuckle. "So do you have any ideas why I have this bond with him?"
"You don't know why?" Morgana asked.
"I wouldn't have asked you if I did." Merlin replied cheekily. A tight smile played on his lips.
Morgana blinked and tried to see it from his perspective. "You assumed that because Aglain was like me, I would have felt the same thing you're currently feeling."
"Very much so." he murmured.
Morgana hummed, "Perhaps that would have been true, if you were like us. Alas you are not." She paused, an absurd thought popped into her head. "Or are you?"
He went stiff. "That wasn't what I meant."
Merlin was hiding something. She could feel it in her bones. His reluctance coupled with his odd behaviour, things didn't quite add up. First, he had assumed that because she and Aglain shared the gift of magic that a bond should have been established between them, yet just now, he had refuted her when she had simply rephrased him. "You're contradicting yourself."
"No, I am not. You misunderstood me…"
She cut him off, "Are you sure?"
"Of course, I am."
"So just to be clear," Morgana eyed him, it was ridiculous, the thought of Merlin having magic. Not just ridiculous, it was impossible. "You don't have magic?"
There was no hesitation, no quivering in his tone as he replied; "No, I don't."
She believed him. But that didn't mean that there was something that he wasn't telling. "All right." she nodded, sighing. "When are you going to seek out the druids?"
Now that she had her proof that Aglain had magic, she knew she had to act before Merlin put his plan into action.
"I've changed my mind. Aglain will stay with me."
Morgana was taken aback. "You're going to raise him?"
When he nodded, she laughed.
"Have you lost…" she trailed off and gritted her teeth. He couldn't be serious, could he? "This is Camelot, Merlin, what do you think they would do to him if Aglain's magic manifested publically."
His lips parted but Morgana said first, "Don't you dare say that you'll manage." She warned, glaring daggers at him.
Despite her threat, Merlin said. "I will."
She was at a loss for words. He looked determined, serious about his decision. He was a fool if he thought that he could do that. "I cannot allow you to do that."
"You can't stop me. I've made up my mind."
"We have already established that you are not his father, Merlin…."
"Nor are you his mother." Merlin reminded her with a low tone.
Humourlessly, Morgana laughed. Yes, Merlin had just told her that he thought he shared a bond with the child, but for him to go as far as raising him was insane. If he went through with it, Aglain would not be the only one in danger; Merlin's life would be at jeopardy too and she couldn't for the life of her imagine that the man who had tried to kill was capable of such sacrifice.
She shouldn't even refer to it as one. Not when it came to Merlin.
She should remind him that he didn't know anything about magic. How could he hope to do Aglain justice?
But before Morgana could articulate her thoughts, she saw a shadow move in the corner of her eye. It was coming down the corridor behind Merlin. Morgana looked over his shoulder and noticed that the figure was rapidly approaching them.
Sighing, her gaze darted back to Merlin, "Let's get inside; someone is heading towards us."
Merlin frowned and turned around.
Morgana reached for her doorknob. "It's probably a—" she trailed off, the figure completely emerging from the shadows.
Her eyes lit up in recognition before they widened in horror. Her hand stopped mid-air. In fact, her entire body went completely stiff. Next to her, she heard Merlin gasp.
It was him. Yet not him at the same time. The same face, but the dim lighting served only to harden his expression. But it was definitely him even though, he looked bigger, older.
But the man that was advancing towards them was, without question, Merlin.
"It's you." She whispered to the shocked servant and her simple utterance made him snap.
Suddenly she was whisked inside her chambers. The door was slammed shut.
Merlin pressed his back to it. He was disturbingly pale, out of breath and trembling.
"What's going on?" Morgana asked him, feeling like her heart was about to burst out of her chest.
"I don't know!" he cried out.
Aglain fussed from where he slept and Morgana rushed to him. As gently and as steadily as she could, she lifted him up to her chest. "Merlin, that man looks like you."
"But he is not me. I'm me." he started to look around him frantically.
"What are you searching for?"
"A key." He yelled.
A second late the door exploded and Merlin was sent flying. His body landed across the room with a loud thud. Morgana didn't have the time to worry about him as the man stepped into her room, looking angry.
"Hand me the child." he barked in that low tone. It made shivers run down her spine.
Morgana hugged the child closer, and stepped backward with a type of fear she had never experienced before. A fear that made her lose the use of her voice. She just shook her head.
Morgana was nowhere near the entrance and since the man had just used magic to barge inside; she knew that she couldn't escape him.
A roar sounded and she watched with horror as the servant jumped to his feet and launched himself at the other man. Their bodies collided and dropped to the ground.
"Morgana, run!" Merlin yelled at her and she wasted no time in doing so.
Unfortunately, she wasn't able to make it to the door as she felt something press against her back.
It didn't take her long to figure out it was a dagger.
"Don't hurt her." she heard Merlin plead.
Morgana looked over her shoulder, to see Merlin eyeing them with dread. The other man's eyes were coloured with a golden shade of yellow.
"If she gives the child willingly, no harm will befall her." he told Merlin.
Morgana swallowed hard, she took a step forward, breaking the contact with the knife. Then she slowly turned around to face them both.
She caught a glimpse of the knife hanging in the air not two feet away from her, now it was pointing directly toward her chest; what made her more anxious was the fact that Aglain was sleeping against her chest.
She averted her gaze towards Merlin; the side of his face was drenched in blood. Then she looked at the attacker. His eyes were hard and intimidating.
She didn't know what to do. The man looked determined on hurting her and she didn't know if she could risk the child's life. So she nodded, kneeled down and laid the sleeping infant on the ground. "Step away from him."
"Who are you?" she asked, doing as instructed.
"I'm Emrys." he replied. "His father."
Merlin had finally gotten to his feet; it got her attention for the briefest of seconds before she refocused on the other man.
"Why should I believe you?" Morgana asked, she was aware that Merlin was inching towards her before he repositioned himself between her and the dragger. That took Morgana completely by surprise. She looked at him and shook her head; she didn't know what his plan was.
"Morgana, go." Merlin mouthed but she was too shocked to move her limbs. Here Merlin was again, doing something as dangerous as risking his life for her. Facing off against someone with magic! She couldn't understand that, couldn't fathom the reason that would make him put his life on the line for her.
When she failed to make a move, Merlin grabbed her by the shoulders, "Morgana, you have to ru—" he didn't finish as his lips parted widely, releasing a soundless scream before he collided into her. Since, they were standing close, when he collapsed, he took her down with him. His body fell on top of hers.
The air was knocked out of her lungs. Merlin whined and Morgana tried to take his weight off her. That's when she noticed the sticky liquid that was trickling down Merlin's back.
With pure terror, Morgana concluded that the dagger that was meant for her, was now buried in Merlin's back.
Footsteps drew near her and she craned her neck and watched as the baby was lifted from the ground. Then, father and son were both gone.
Her question was left unanswered and she was left to worry about Merlin and Aglain.
"What the hell was Merlin doing in your chambers, Morgana?" Arthur hissed, but she was so focused on the sight of Gaius examining Merlin's wound that she chose to bluntly ignore the question.
The prince didn't appreciate that, so he grabbed her by the arm and pulled her toward Merlin's room.
Morgana released a cry of surprise at that.
The door was shut close and before she tried to free her arm, Arthur let go of her. "What was he doing, Morgana?"
She rubbed the place where he had held her. It hurt. "He's the court's physician's apprentice, I asked Gaius for a remedy to help me sleep. Merlin was there to deliver."
He sneered, "Don't lie to me, Morgana."
"I'm not." She ceased to rub her arm and she looked down to the stained hem. There was blood on other part of her dress. Even her hands were covered with blood. Merlin's blood.
Morgana felt the bile rise. She looked away.
Arthur slammed his fist into the door, she jerked. "Damn it, Morgana. This is serious. How do you think father would react if he were to learn that a servant was in your chamber in the middle of the night without a reason?"
Morgana pressed her lips together. She couldn't believe that Arthur would ignore that Merlin had been stabbed and focus on something as trivial as his presence in her quarters.
"Don't tell him then." She told him, irritated.
"Someone else will."
"You're the prince," she reminded him, "I'm sure that if you order…."
"Morgana!" he exclaimed, advancing on her.
She'd had enough. "Arthur!" she matched his tone, and held her head high. "That knife was meant for me. If it weren't for Merlin, I would have been the one on that bed, not him. So, instead of wasting your time asking questions, you should be searching for the man who did that."
"That's beside the point,"
"Then what is the point, Arthur? Enlighten me!" she shouted.
He huffed, "Merlin was in your chambers mere hours after my father suggested marriage to you. Do you think I don't know why?"
Her irritation dissolved into confusion. She was taken aback by his statement.
Arthur couldn't possibly be implying what she thought he was implying, could he? "What are you insinuating?" she asked with a frown.
"All right," Arthur breathed out a laugh. It sounded forced. In fact it was forced, Morgana concluded after he continued to speak. "Merlin might be an idiot and I'm starting to think that you might be one too but I'm not, Morgana."
She didn't know if he was being vague on purpose, but nothing of what he was saying made sense to her. Furthermore, she didn't like being called idiot.
"Just say what's on your mind." Morgana told him.
"A year ago, Merlin's affections towards you had been made known to me but I have never thought that you'd reciprocate. I asked him back then to cease with his foolishness and now I'm going to tell you the same—"
The matter was far too serious for her to laugh. She really wanted to. "There is nothing between Merlin and I." she said, emphasizing the world 'nothing'.
"I told you; do not lie to me," His voice rose again. "I've seen the looks you share and I've seen you talk in whisper. Do you really want to tell me that there in absolutely nothing?"
"Yes." She yelled.
But from the sceptical look Arthur was giving her, she knew that she had just failed to convince him. What could she possibly say to redeem that? She couldn't exactly tell him that those looks were them glaring at each other with a hatred that was so deep inside that it left no place for seeds of love to grew into their hearts or that the whispers were nothing but mere threats. Since she couldn't say that, she only sighed.
"You will end it."
"There is nothing to end." She still said.
Arthur clenched his jaw before he spoke. "That knife would be the least of your worries because if Father got wind of your relation, Merlin would lose his head."
Her eyes fluttered close, the weight of his words settling in.
For the first time since coming back, Morgana truly didn't want Merlin to die. Not after what he'd done for her tonight.
She could make all these allegation go away if she'd tell Arthur about Aglain but then he'd know that they had lied to him earlier. So, she kept her mouth close on the matter.
Morgana breathed out a sigh and nodded. "All right. What are you going to Uther?"
Arthur swung the door open, "I'll tell him that Merlin saw an intruder heading towards your chambers and followed him. It'll be like you said; Merlin save your life."
"He did." Morgana insisted.
Arthur inhaled deeply, a hint of smile on his lips. "Then you should return the favour, Morgana."
Morgana didn't leave the Merlin's room. As she listened to Arthur inquire about the servant's health, she collapsed heavily on Merlin's bed.
She both surprised and confused as to how their conversation had led her to practically confirm that she and Merlin shared something.
Morgana buried her face in her hands and growled. She should have pressed harder, told him that she bore not affection towa—
She paused in her line of thinking. The word affection made something inside of her snap and recall in which context Arthur had used the word for.
'A year ago, Merlin's affections towards you had been made known to me.'
Her head shut up in the direction of the entrance. Even though, from where she hat, she couldn't get a glimpse of Merlin, she tried to imagine him lying out there on his belly with his back covered wrapped in bandages.
A lump formed in her throat and she couldn't swallow it.
It wasn't right. It couldn't be. Morgana tried to refute the idea because there was no way that Merlin fancied her.
It was simply impossible.
Morgana refused to settle for her imagination, she needed to see Merlin. Perhaps, seeing him would render the thought incorrect.
She leaned on the frame and looked at his unconscious form.
Just like she had pictured him, on his stomach, but Gaius was still attending to him while he replied to Arthur's questions.
She was vaguely aware of the look Arthur sent her way, and she barely heard him ask if she'd be leaving soon. She might have nodded her head but she didn't speak. She couldn't.
How could she when all that was going through her mind was finding a proof that Arthur was mistaken.
But how could he? It was unlikely that Merlin would lie and Arthur had sounded so sure of what he'd said.
As she continued to stare absent-mindedly at Merlin, she recalled everything that he'd done for her and she tried to weight if his actions counted as ones of love.
You don't poison your love interest. Morgana thought, but then again, he hadn't looked like he had wanted to do it. He'd cried, held her in his arms until she had been completely consumed by unconsciousness.
She felt sick for trying to beautify what he'd done to her. He'd lied to her, tried to kill her. These were not the actions of someone in love.
Yet, had he not kept her secret? He'd been practically harbouring a sorceress and he'd told no one. Still, that didn't mean that he loved her, a true friend would have done the same. But coming to think of it, would a true friend go the length of finding the whereabouts of the Druids so she could understand herself more? And would a friend risk their lives just to seek her out and to warn her of the danger approaching her?
Unlikely, she thought.
Her head began to ache. Morgana pushed herself of the door frame. Her legs began to shake and she returned to the bed before they gave in.
She clutched the sheets as she remembered his apology when she had first returned to Camelot. How sincere and apologetic he had been? And of course, she couldn't forget about what had happened earlier that night.
Only someone with deep love resident in their heart would dare to put themselves before a knife, would, without hesitation, risk their lives.
And yet, Merlin had done that. To her.
Morgana covered her mouth with her hand to conceal her gasp.
How could she not see it before? How could be so blind to have missed the obvious signs?
She closed her eyes, feeling the tears will up in them.
Goodness, Morgana couldn't breathe. It was so much to handle, so much to absorb. And in the midst of all that, not once had she stopped to ask herself why she cared?
Why should she pay the slightest of interest to Merlin and the heartbreak he must have been feeling because all of the things she'd been doing?
She didn't know how to proceed after such knowledge. But perhaps, she should wait.
Yes, she thought to herself. That was exactly what she needed to do. She should wait and once Merlin was strong enough to talk then she'd get an answer.
If she was lucky enough, he might deny everything.
As her heart continued to throb loudly inside her chest, Morgana refused to admit how badly she wanted to be unlucky.
Her eyes fluttered open as a soft noise reached her. Morgana frowned at the unfamiliar surroundings. Soon, she realized that she had fallen asleep in Merlin's bed. She sat up straight.
The door was slightly ajar. Gaius might be responsible for that. She wondered why he didn't wake her.
Once again, she heard noises coming from the other side of the door, she instantly recognized Merlin's voice.
She stood up.
Her heart raced as she thought that she was about to verify her theory; that Merlin fancied her.
She grabbed the doorknob and was about to pull the door open when she got a glimpse of what was happening outside.
There were not one but two Merlins.
They were sitting opposite of each other.
Morgana hid quickly but she stayed close to the small space between the door and the frame. She pressed her ear against the wooden entrance.
Their voices were loud enough for her to hear and the thought that they might not be aware of her presence hit her.
She swallowed and focused on what was being said.
"How could you expect me to believe you?" Morgana knew that the man speaking was the same man that risked her life for her. He was the Merlin.
"I understand how —" the other one began to talk but Merlin cut him off, standing up.
"You're telling me that the child I found in the woods two days ago, is my son."
Morgana's eyes widened. That was impossible.
"No," the other Merlin said. "He will be your son. That will be after few years."
"Then explain how he got here?" Merlin asked.
"He was kidnapped. They knew that there wasn't a place where we couldn't find him, so he was brought here, through time to be hidden." The man replied.
"Who did it?"
Merlin frowned, "The druids? Why would they want that?"
The other one sighed. "Because they considered his birth a mistake that they needed to be rectified."
"His birth? How is that?"
"We changed our destiny; his mother and I. The druids deemed our union as a betrayal to it and they tried to fix that."
"Your destiny," Merlin murmured, "How exactly did you change it?"
The man shook his head, "I fear I cannot tell you that."
Damn it, Morgana thought. She couldn't settle for half-truths. So far, she learned that Merlin was in fact the other Merlin. But she couldn't help but wonder if was lying.
For heaven's sake, that man tried to kill her not to mention he planted a knife in Merlin's back which was his own back.
It didn't make any sense to her and she couldn't understand how Merlin could possibly believe him.
If only she had heard the beginning of their conversation.
Merlin spoke again and she refocused her attention. "Really?" he snorted. "You want me to believe that druids- the most peaceful people in this land- decided to sway from their nature and go after a child because he was born, even if you are me, you really think that withholding the truth would—"
"I don't want you to change it." He said seriously.
"Why would I do that?"
"Because," the older Merlin began to say, "…if you knew about the future, you'd want to change it."
There was a small pause.
"Is it bad?" Merlin inquired with a frown.
The man sitting opposite of him, shook his head. A hint of a smile played on his lips. From where she was looking, it seemed to Morgana like he was recalling a memory . "Not to me."
"But…" Merlin prompted, lifting his eyebrows.
"It may not be to you. After all, the prophecy never came true."
This intrigued her immensely. She inched closer and held her breath waiting for an answer that didn't come.
The older man just laughed. He shook his head a couple of times. "Not everything is about Arthur and there are other prophecies that you need to learn about."
Merlin scoffed, he stood up. "More important than Arthur?"
The servant looked at the older version of himself, he gave him a strange look before he pursed his lips together. "Can't you tell me anything about what awaits me?"
"In few years, you'll know." He answered and stood up too. "I must leave. Can you—"
"Oh! Right," Merlin exclaimed, his gaze shifted toward his room and Morgana swiftly jumped away. "I'll get the book of potions, but you have to promise me I'll get it back."
"Don't worry. You'll have it back once I'm finish with it."
Merlin looked back. "You're still not going to tell me why you need it?" he got a crooked smile and a "I'm afraid not." as an answer.
Merlin huffed and started in the direction of his chambers. Morgana scrambled to her feet and frantically searched around her for a corner to hide.
She found none. So she stood still as Merlin pushed his door open and walked inside.
Since there was no light in the room, he didn't notice her instantly. He went to his bed, got down to his knees and pulled something from under it. Only when he got up did he see her. After it, he went motionless.
The instant their eyes met, a sense of pure anger washed over her, making her clench her jaw and narrow her eyes.
She shouldn't try to hide, she should be demanding for an explanation as to why he possessed a book for potions and why didn't seem alarmed that his future version had magic.
"Morgana…" he began but paused, as though remembering that they had company.
"You lied to me," She hissed, nostrils flaring. "You—"
Merlin quickly jumped her way. He pushed her backward until her back hit the wall of his room and then he covered her mouth with the palm of his hand to silence both her outburst of anger and the yelp of surprise at what he'd done.
"Quiet." He whispered into her ear. "He'll hear you. Alright?"
He then stepped away and slowly took his hand away from mouth. Morgana nodded her head but continued to stare angrily at him.
Merlin gave her a pointed look before he left her and walked outside. Morgana zoned out after that.
Her mind went blank as the weight of the truth finally registered. Merlin really had magic.
Her legs were trembling so much that Morgana feared that they might give in. So, she collapsed on his bed, her eyes never wavered away from the as she waited for him to return.
And when he did, he walked inside heavily. Merlin was dragging his legs as though he was dreading facing her.
Morgana blinked her eyes and fixed them on his face. "You lied to me." She said slowly. It wasn't a question nor an accusation that she wanted him to refute. It was just a statement that she needed to say out loud. Because saying it would make it real. Saying would mean accepting and up until he came inside, she was still struggling with the concept. "And you have magic." She stood up. She didn't trust her legs fully yet. Still, she needed to be in front of him to see how he managed to lie to her face numerous time without her knowing it.
Merlin stayed quiet, lips apart and eyes avoiding hers. "I did and I do." He confirmed both declarations with ease that forced her to slap him.
Her skin sting but she maintained a straight face, her features hardened. "Why?"
His eyes fluttered shut for the briefest of seconds before he titled his head in her direction.
"Why?" she asked again, advancing and stopping their faces only inches apart.
"Morgana…" he said her name with a whimper.
"Why?" Morgana insisted, "Is it because you don't trust me?"
"No," he denied instantly and she slapped him again.
"Don't lie." She warned.
"I'm not," he told her, touching his bruised cheek.
Her gaze fleetingly followed his motion. She didn't feel sorry for doing it. In fact, she just hopped that she'd do it again.
Merlin swallowed thickly before he spoke. "It's hard to explain."
"Try," she told him sternly.
Merlin stepped back from her and shook his head. "Not now."
Morgana laughed humourlessly, "Not now?" she echoed, diminishing the space between them with a step forward, yet Merlin took one back. "When then, Merlin?"
"I need to follow him. I need to know what he's hiding."
She didn't a clarification as to who 'him' was. Morgana crossed her arms over her chest. If she were to put her anger aside, she might agree with him or even believe that he was right in wanting to do that. But she was angry and she wasn't about to let him walk away without getting the answers she wanted. "Do it later but now—"
He didn't allow her to finish as he threw his arms in the air. His eyes hardened, "I'm wasting time, Morgana, and I cannot have that. Delaying this conversation won't change what happened. So, let me explain everything when I get back."
As if she'd let him out of her sight.
"I'm coming with you."
Their walk so far had been quiet. However, Morgana's thoughts, on the other hand, were not. They were deafening and she wanted them to go silent because they were conjuring a headache.
Merlin was leading the way with her few feet behind him.
He'd told her that he had casted a spell on the book before giving it to the other man. She didn't know how he knew that he was taking the correct way but she kept her mouth shut and didn't ask him.
Her gaze flickered between the back of his head and the trail they had been following ever since they had left the castle.
It was dark but there was only few hours left until the sun came up and they both knew that they needed to find Merlin before that happened.
The last thing they wanted was for Arthur to not find them in the castle if he ever came looking for them.
It wouldn't take long before the prince assumed that they might have run away together. It wasn't something that they both fancied.
"Merlin," She called out his name, suddenly.
Merlin stopped and turned away, pointing the torch her way. "Morgana, if you're going to ask me about why I kept my magic from you; I told you I will tell you later."
"It's not about that." Morgana said, quickening her pace to catch up with him. "What makes you think that the other you would change his mind about telling you about the future?"
"He won't but someone else might?" he told her confidently.
She crooked an eyebrow, "And why is that?"
Merlin switched the torch from one hand to the other, gave her a sideway glance before looking ahead again. "Because he came alone which means that he left Aglain in the care of someone."
"The wife?" Morgana assumed.
Merlin nodded, "Yes. If he came back to save his son, she must did too."
Morgana gnawed on her bottom lip before she spoke. "She may conceal the truth from you like her husband has done."
"I can convince her otherwise."
"Like you convinced her to marry you despite the destiny part?" she couldn't help throwing that his way.
Merlin looked her way. "We don't know how bad it is?"
"Well it couldn't be good if it led the druids to steal their child." She pointed out, easily.
She heard Merlin sigh from beside her and she glanced at him. He started to say something but he paused. "Shhh."
"What?" she asked and she followed his gaze only to notice a camp fire ahead of them. "We found them."
"Took you long enough." That came from neither of them.
They both looked to their left toward the sound, only to find a woman who looked a lot like Morgana standing ahead. She looked amused with a smirk on her face.
Morgana's jaw fell. Instinctively, she stepped back. "My god!"
The other one just chuckled and turned around and started in the direction of the fire. She took a couple of steps before she realized that the two left behind weren't following.
"Have you come here to merely stare at me with open mouths?" she asked, hands on her hips.
Morgana turned to Merlin, his face held a shocked expression but he must have sensed that she was looking at him for he craned his neck her way.
They trailed after her with heavy steps. Morgana glimpsed at Merlin a couple of times. His expression had become unreadable. His tense posture on the other hand gave him away.
She wondered if he was connecting the dots like she was doing. She wondered if he feared the truth that awaited them at the end of the path like she was now because, she knew that she couldn't take it. She wouldn't be able to fully accept the thought that had hit her the moment her eyes landed on the other woman.
Morgana could assume that that woman wasn't her but somehow, she felt and without a shred of doubt that she was looking at herself. An older version like the one of Merlin that she had seen few hours back.
"I told you he'd follow, however I didn't think she'd do too." The woman announced, cheekily, earning the attention of the man sitting on the ground.
She heard Merlin the one by her side gasp and she realized that he had finally caught up with what was happening.
The two stood next to each other watching the other two with fast beating hearts.
The older man rolled his eyes with an irritated huff, Morgana noticed that Aglain was laying asleep in his lap. "What are you doing here?" he asked them.
"No," Morgana exclaimed with a shook of her head.
"Yes," The older Morgana said sweetly, crouching down to sit by the fire.
Morgana still insisted, she felt like she'd been drenched with cold water. "No, this cannot be true."
"You can deny it all you want, it will not change anything." The older man said.
She looked at Merlin for support but he was still stunned.
Morgana decided to take matters to her own hands. She advanced on her counterpart. "How could you do this? He tried to kill you."
"And it will not be the last time…"
That response took her breath away. "What?"
What she was hearing this correctly?
"Morgana." The older Merlin said sternly and the two women carrying that name looked at him. He saw that and he sighed. "I was addressing her." He pointed toward the woman sitting by his side. "My Morgana."
Morgana clenched her hands into fists. "Your—" she trailed off, she was angry, furious but she was directing her anger towards to wrong person. "I am not his." She snapped at her older self. "I will never be your wife." The last part was send to the Merlin who was standing speechless.
Fortunately, her outburst finally lured him out of his dazed state. He took one step and said only one word. "Why?"
"Come sit and will tell you everything you wish to learn." The man on the ground softly said, gesturing to the unfilled space around the fire.
Merlin slowly did so but it took Morgana few moments before she followed Merlin's actions. She made sure to keep enough distance between her and Merlin. "Alright. Tell us."
"First of all," the other Merlin began to say, "We are not married…"
"Yes," the other woman carried on with his thought. "We like to live in sin."
Before Morgana could react to that, Merlin reached out and placed his hand on top of hers. "Don't antagonize us. Just tell us."
Morgana retracted her hand from under his. Her gaze darted toward the woman sitting before her.
"What is it that you want to know?" The woman asked.
"Why are you together?" Merlin posed his question before Morgana did the same.
The woman shrugged her shoulders, leaned over to grab a water skin. "Because we love each other." She took the top off of the skin and sipped from it.
"How does it happen?" Merlin inquired again.
"It will take years for it to be. At some point you'll get tired of trying to kill each other and you'll realise that instead of fighting to achieve your destiny, you can make your own. It's as simple as that. What we have is worth the wasted years." She replied.
Morgana couldn't accept what was being said, she needed to interfere. "You think that what you have is more important than your rightful claim? That he is worthy of you after everything that he'd done to you. He lied about his magic and he tried to kill you."
"Morgana," the older Merlin called out his name. "I will not explain why I withhold my possession of magic from you, it is his job to do that," the man pointed his finger to the younger version of himself. "But let me tell you this; I have never been happier than I am right now with her."
He sounded sincere and Morgana couldn't help but glance at Merlin. She found him looking at her in a way that made her hands shake. The bombshell that Arthur had dumped on her earlier that night, the one about Merlin fancying her jumped to her mind and she swallowed and looked away.
"You keep mentioning a destiny, what is it?" Morgana asked.
Further truths had been revealed and with each new one that she learned, Morgana grew more and more determined stop her future from happening.
She now knew that she had managed to take the throne of Camelot only to be taken from her because of Merlin, not only that but she learned that Merlin would be the reason that all her attempts to take it back would fail. She knew about her destiny and about her doom and she knew that Arthur disproved of her relation with Merlin and that the king of Camelot would band them from the kingdom. Yet despite everything, she and her lover would do their best to keep the king and his land safe.
Morgana cast the goblet she'd been holding aside and stood up abruptly.
"Where are you going?" Merlin jumped to his feet, too.
"Back to Camelot where I will do everything to not share their future."
"Morgana," Merlin's face fell, "don't be…"
"No," she hissed, "I don't care if you agree with me or not but…"
He cut her off, "I think you're right. I don't want their future."
A wave of relief washed over her and with a smirk she looked at the two people sitting on the ground, expecting to see an alarmed expression on their faces, but all she saw was disappointment. "We cannot allow you to do that." The other man warned, he handed the sleeping infant to his mother and stood up.
"There is nothing that you can do to stop us unless you plan on killing us." Morgana pointed out.
"We can't kill you," the older Morgana said, "But we can make you forget."
The next thing, Morgana felt herself being swallowed by a whole of darkness.
She didn't forget and neither did Merlin.
Morgana had woken up to find herself in her chambers. After a quick trip to Gaius' chambers, Merlin had told her that like her; he didn't remember how he'd gotten back to Camelot but he still remembered everything that had been said in the woods.
A silent agreement was born after that.
They would prevent the future from happening at all costs. The first step towards that was to avoid each other.
It worked but only for few weeks. With each passing one her frustration grew, her curiosity intensified to the point where could no longer bare it.
Because she couldn't fathom the idea of her loving him, giving herself to him. She couldn't fully grasp the thought of them as lovers; that a bond that would be created between them that wouldn't be only physical but because a child would be born out of it. Their child. And Morgana, despite her calculation, knew that a family outweighed the throne.
She was saddened by the conclusion that she had come too. Because by the time she had a vision about Gwen becoming the queen of Camelot, she knew without a doubt that her future was heading towards the path that she disliked.
Perhaps it was curiosity or perhaps it was anger that drove her toward Merlin's chambers. She didn't care that she was about to break their agreement. She didn't go there to hear his delayed explanation as to why he'd lied about having magic.
No, she'd gone there because she needed to know what was so special about Merlin that would have her threw what was rightfully hers away.
So instead of doing as Morgause had told her, Morgana barge inside his room, silently demanding a taste, a sample of what awaited her.
She wiped away the alarmed look off of his face when she crashed her mouth with his. There was nothing tender about them kissing and there was nothing gentle with the way they ripped each other's cloths off of their bodies.
So perhaps it was pure, unidentified lust that drove them to step over the boundary of a servant and a lady of the court.
The truth was, neither of them knew why it had happened. Whether it was lust, curiosity or even hate that pushed them over the edge to do what they had vowed not to do; whatever it was, it did only one think and it wasn't annulling the future they feared. On the contrary, it did exactly the opposite, they both realised, when two months after laying together; they learned that Morgana was carrying Merlin's child.
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