Title: The Last Time

Summary: As Morgana is dying, Merlin holds her in his arms, just one last time. Set in 5x13. AU

The pain is almost unnoticeable as her knees buckle beneath her, and Merlin's arms wrap around her small frame. Funny, she always thought he was small. But here and now, as he lowers her to the ground and she begins to feel the life leave her body, he feels like a giant around her.

He kneels, pulling her body across his lap and holding her head to his chest. He says nothing, does nothing, except stare at her as tears well up in his eyes and flow down his pale cheeks. It's almost confusing.

"Why are you crying?" she manages through gritted teeth. Her bones begin to feel like jelly and her strength begins to leave her. "Isn't this what you wanted?"

Merlin shakes his head profusely and tucks a stray strand of her hair behind her ear. Arthur has passed out again, but Merlin can't leave Morgana's side. Not now. "I wanted to save you… I wanted to help you. To find another way, but you wouldn't let me."

"And I never will… I will always truly believe that I tried to do what was right." Tears of her own begin to form in her eyes.

His face contorts into a pained expression. "I'm sorry." He whispers softly.

She inhales sharply, "For what? Lying to me? Or for stabbing me? I can't tell which one you're apologizing for." She says bitterly.

Merlin shakes his head. "For not trying harder."

She's able to glare through her tears. "It wouldn't have changed anything."

"Why couldn't you just let me help you find another way?"

Morgana stares at him. "After you poisoned me?"

He deserves that and worse. He hugs her to his chest. "I didn't want to."

She wants to fight him. She wants to push him away and hit him and tell him that she hates him... but she can't. He had always been so good to her in the beginning. So fearless and full of life. So caring and compassionate. Even now, as his enemy is dying, he chooses to hold her in his arms instead of just let her die alone. So she presses her face closer to his chest, listening to the quick thuds of his heartbeat.

Her tears fall down her cheeks when Merlin takes one of her hands in his.

"I can still save you." Merlin whispers. "You and Arthur."

She knows what he means to do. He could take her and Arthur to Avalon. The waters would heal them both… but she knows she won't make it. And from the looks of it, Arthur won't make it either. She wishes things could've been different. She wonders what it would've been like if she had never met Morgause. Would she still have gone down the same path? Maybe… Maybe not. As she stares up at Merlin's tearful face, she wonders what it would've been like if he had not abandoned and lied to her. She shakes her head and for the first time in a very long time, she smiles. A genuine smile instead of her usual smirks and deceiving grins. She grips his hand in hers as she says, "It's too late, Merlin."

"No." Merlin shakes his head again, refusing to accept that. "No, it's not… You can both make it. You could be a high priestess of Camelot. We can all be friends again."

Morgana's lungs begin to seize, her breath coming in shallow puffs as the pain begins to set in again. She can feel her life force shutting down, and everything is suddenly so cold. She frowns at the man above her as he continues to cry, his tears falling from his chin and onto her chest. She finds that she wants to wipe them away, but she doesn't have the strength to move. "We both know I'll never make it, Merlin." she says softly. "If you leave me here and hurry, you might be able to save Arthur… but not me." she's suddenly so very sad. "Never me." because it's true. Merlin will always choose Arthur over her. Its his destiny as Emrys. The future of Albion.

"No." Merlin shakes his head as he raises her hand and presses it to his cheek. "I'm not leaving you again... And I never wanted to betray you, Morgana. I should've just tried harder, but—,"

"It's in the past." Morgana cuts in. She knows she doesn't have much time. There is very little life left inside her. And she knows that she doesn't want to spend her very last moment, hearing about the past. "Instead of dwelling in what already happened, why don't you tell me of what could've been if I'd stayed with you, Arthur, and Gwen?"

A sad look crosses Merlin's face, realizing why she's asking him to tell her what could've been. She's leaving sooner than he thought. He nods and sniffles as he stares into her dimming green eyes. "We would've been friends still…" he trails off and smiles a little as he imagines a life where none of this happened. "We would go on trips together, out into the country... and I would complain about Arthur's hunting trips. Sometimes, we go out into the meadows and have lunch while we watch the clouds change shapes. You and Gwen would talk about how Arthur is gaining weight, and how clumsy I am." he jokes, drawing a tiny smile from Morgana.

She could almost see it. The wild flowers growing in the meadows, the smell of pine and roses, the feel of the soft grass beneath her fingertips, the sight of the three people who had always meant the world to her. Who still mean as much to her.

"And further down the road," Merlin continues softly, "Arthur and Gwen would have little olive-skinned blonde babies." he smiles at the thought.

"And us?" Morgana asks hoarsely. Her breath is severely shallow. "What would we be?"

Merlin smiles, his heart feeling like it might explode. Here she is, laying in his arms, looking at him the way she once did before all of this went to hell. He realizes that he had always had a special place in his heart for her. She had always had a chance at redemption with him. Even now. He leans his head down, pressing his forehead against hers. Her skin is cold and her breathing is labored. He doesn't have enough time. He whispers ever so softly into her skin. "You would've been a great sorceress. One that people respected and loved. And I would've been there to help you whenever you needed it. We could help so many people with our magic, and we would be a force to be reckoned with…" he trails off, his tears running down his cheeks again, and a tiny sob of despair leaves his lips. He wishes to all that is alive that things could've been different.

"Go on." Morgana whispers faintly.

He smiles through the pain. "I would've spent everyday by your side, serving you, and being your friend. Loving you more than I did before... before everything fell apart."

Her breath hitches in her throat, but she's not sure if it's from Merlin's words, or the fact that she's dying. "You- You loved me?"

Merlin nods slowly and pulls away a little too look into her eyes. "I still do."

She shakes her head, wanting to be mad at him, but not having the energy to feel even that. "Why didn't you ever tell me before?"

He shrugs, "Would it have changed anything?"

She doesn't answer for a long moment, only staring up at him. For a moment, Merlin thinks she has gone over to the other side. But then she answers in the tiniest voice. "It would've made me realize that I wasn't alone."

"Morgana, you were never alone."

"I know that now." she whispers sadly. So much regrets fills her as she feels the last of her life flow slowly out of her. Tears well in her eyes again as she grips Merlin's hand in hers. "Say it— one last time." she begs.

Merlin cries as he leans down and presses his lips against hers, conveying all his feelings into her skin as his tears fall and blend with hers. "I love you, Morgana." he whispers.

The tiniest of smiles crosses over Morgana's face. She feels a freedom she had never experienced in her life as she looks one last time at the man above her. "Merlin." is all she manages to say before her final breath leaves her body.

A sorrow he didn't know was possible, fills his heart as he stares into her lifeless eyes. With a sob, he says for the last time, "Goodbye, Morgana."

A/N: This is probably the saddest thing I've ever written. Not sure I'm very happy with it since it's so sad. I wish something like this had actually happened in the Merlin series. Morgana deserved a better death scene than that effortless one on the show. But unfortunately, the directors had other things in mind. And they suck for that. Anyway, what are your thoughts on this? Good? Bad? Horrible? Let me know!