Title: Left Behind
Summary: You cannot break promises you never make. What really happened between Arthur and Morgana on the journey back to Camelot. Set Season 2x03.
"Morgana! Wait for me!"
The little girl turns her head to watch the ten year old boy scrambling up the hill behind her, his cheeks flushed, his sword still locked in one hand.
She stares down impassively at him. "Why?"
"Because I want to play too."
She sits down on the wet grass and begins to pull it up from the roots. Waiting for him. "Why do you want to play with me Arthur?"
"Because your games are always fun." He plops down beside her and watches her shred the grass, the green shoots pulled up bluntly and torn beneath her fingertips.
"What if I said I was going to pick flowers and make daisy chains?"
Arthur rolls his eyes as if that is the most stupid idea in the world. "You hate flowers. You say that's being a girl." He lies down onto the grass, the rainwater soaking into his tunic. "Come on, where are you really going?"
"I know the druids didn't kidnap you, Morgana."
She is too stunned to make a reply. Instead her fingers tighten around the pommel of the saddle and she is glad she doesn't have to look at him. She doesn't know what expression she'd see burning in his eyes.
"I won't say anything to Father," Arthur adds when she doesn't speak. "Not that he'd believe me anyway, or even contemplate thinking that his ward would run away," and the last words are spat out. She can feel the muscles in his arms tense around her as his grip on the reigns tightens.
"My God, Morgana," and these days all he seems to be doing is mentioning her name and the Lord's in one blasphemous breath, as if she has become his idol. These days she has no idea who he prays to. If he even prays anymore.
"You ran away. How could you?" His breath is harsh and hot against her neck and goose bumps are rising along her arms. "You never run from anything. I'd come to rely on you for that quality, that you'd always be there no matter how difficult things got."
His voice is tight and angry, and the words sting because they are true.
"I'm sorry," she murmurs and regrets it the moment she does.
"Yes, everyone's sorry," he says and she wonders when he became this bitter. "Everyone's always apologising and nobody means it anymore. You wouldn't have come back if you hadn't been forced to."
She shifts in the saddle then, twisting awkwardly so she can see him. Despite the ache in her back and the throb of her leg she has to look him in the eye, has to make him know that she means this.
"I am sorry, Arthur."
His eyes narrow scornfully. "For what?"
"For leaving you behind."
His eyes scan her face for a moment before suddenly he is gripping her almost painfully and pressing his mouth over hers as if to try and taste the truth on her lips. His kisses are hungry and desperate and she realises when she told Merlin she felt alone, she hadn't been the only one who had felt isolated in Camelot. Somewhere along the lines she and Arthur have drifted apart and she hadn't even realised it. His hands tangle in her hair and she realises under the princely prattishness here is a deeply insecure boy, masquerading as a man.
"Don't leave me again," he breathes into her dark locks. "Promise me."
She responds to him the only way she can, returning his kisses with equal fervour, clinging to his clothes, her hands sliding under his shirt and across the flat, muscled planes of his chest. She is grateful the guards have gone ahead of them to prepare for their arrival, otherwise she would be disgracing herself right about now. Arthur breaks away from her long enough to slide off the horse and in turn help her off, his hands locking under her arms so that she slides down against him.
He takes her hard and fast on the forest floor, a primal urge to mark each other as their own before rules and propriety and consequences can arise to stop them. She whispers I love you in his ear as he bites her shoulder and shudders around her. She shatters underneath him amongst the leaves and the earth, her fingers digging grooves into the ground as her eyes flash gold and she is grateful Arthur's face is buried in her neck, because he could never miss the magic glimmering in her gaze as the tree above her buds, blossoms, spreads its leaves and withers in seconds.
There is a comfortable silence as dead leaves rain down around them.
Eventually they have to move; if they stay too long the guards will return looking for them.
They help each other to dress, brushing down the dirt from their clothes. She buckles his sword around his waist and Arthur cups her face wordlessly for a moment as though memorising her features, as if he too can feel the undercurrent of time passing them by, of missed opportunities, of forces building around them, conspiring against them. She smoothes his hair tenderly, like a child.
She feels the urge to say something important, something neither of them will forget.
Arthur sighs. "Come, we must return."
The moment passes.
The ride back to Camelot is all too short, their fingers interlaced, the comfort of Arthur's chest against her back. But as they enter the castle keep and Uther greets them, his face pulled into an infrequent smile, her fingers reluctantly slip from his and a nameless stable hand helps her down from the horse.
The bells are ringing out in celebration and as she is embraced by Uther she stares up at the walls of Camelot, the tall imposing structure of the castle, the stones that will keep her safe and protected and isolated from the world she belongs to. Camelot is a gilded prison and she has to break free or go mad.
Arthur is watching her as he stands on the steps next to Gwen and Merlin, but she can't meet his eyes.
Don't leave me again.
And he forgets she didn't promise.
He lies down onto the grass, the rainwater soaking into his tunic. "Come on, where are you really going?"
"To find the druids."
He bolts back up again. "But...they use magic and Father says they're dangerous and evil and they kill lots of people."
Morgana folds her arms crossly. "Father says this and Father says that. When are you going to start thinking for yourself?"
"I don't always do what Father tells me to." Arthur shoves her shoulder roughly.
"Then comes and find the druids with me. Or stay here like a girl." She raises an eyebrow and stands up, brushing grass off her dress.
Arthur brandishes his sword and stands up too, facing her squarely though he is a good inch shorter than her. He juts his chin out. "I'm coming with you. Someone has to protect you."
She eyes the wooden toy and a smile crosses her face fleetingly. "Come on then."
Unconsciously he takes the hand she holds out for him.
They go into the woods together.
Please Read and Review!
All reviews graciously and gratefully received.