Title: As If You Have A Choice
Summary: Light up, light up, as if you have a choice, even if you cannot hear my voice, I'll be right beside you, dear; Run, Snow Patrol
Pairing(s): Merlin/Morgana, slight Arthur/Gwen
A/N: This is set three months after the end of series two; the events of The Fires Of Idirsholas and The Last Dragonlord have all happened. If people like it, I'll try to update fairly regularly :)
Morgana leaned against the cold stone wall behind her as she gazed out across the deserted fields surrounding Morgause's castle. To the west of it, a solitary raven rose into the air above the dense forestry where Morgause had once taken her to identify various magical plants. To the east, the distant lake glittered in the weak evening sunlight. She knew that beyond that lake was the path back to Camelot and at that thought, her lip curled. She knew now that her earlier life as the king's ward had been a lie; she was not meant for pretty dresses and jewels, nor for a life allied with the Pendragons. Morgause had taught her well; she knew now how to control her dreams, aided by the bracelet Morgause had given her. She knew how to close her mind to the visions she didn't want and to open it to ones she did. Morgause had said she was a natural at it, and Morgana had filled with pride. Morgause had just begun to teach her how to extend a magical aura which would draw people to her. They would be enchanted by her without quite knowing why. Morgana liked the idea of that. She liked the idea of a lot of the things that Morgause said, actually. Morgause spoke of the days when magic was allowed, when Uther hadn't been so hell-bent on draining magic of the land, and Morgana had listened, captivated. Then Morgause told her about the future. 'You are a being of the future, Morgana,' she had said. 'One day, you will be the most powerful sorceress in Albion. We're all waiting for that day, every magic-user. We're all waiting for you.' It was nice, Morgana reflected, to be important for once. Back in Camelot, it had been about Arthur, about the Pendragons, and she was an outsider, never quite belonging. But here with Morgause, she was valued. She made a difference.
She turned; Morgause was standing at the top of the steps, looking questioningly at her. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," she responded, standing. "I was just thinking."
"I thought we could continue our lesson," Morgause said, glancing out across the fields to the lake in the distance. "If you get a good enough grasp of this, then we can move on to something else."
"No, Morgana. This is bigger than a spell. Shall we see if you are ready?"
"Ready for - ?"
"You will know, in time." Morgause smiled and went back down the steps. Overcome with curiosity - it was the first time Morgause had denied her any knowledge - Morgana followed.
Later that evening, Morgana asked Morgause what she had been talking about earlier. Morgause didn't speak for a while, finishing her meal. They were sitting on the steps of the ruined castle, making the most of the mild weather. Then she wiped her lips and looked at Morgana.
"Three months ago," she began, "I took you from Camelot, from the lonely life you would have been forced to live there. You know why I did this?" Morgana nodded. "You had been isolated. You were unhappy. And then that… servant dared to poison you. I could not leave you there, not with treatment like that. So I took you from the Pendragon's and their tainting influence. Are you happy here with me, Morgana?"
Morgana looked confused. "You know I am, Morgause."
Morgause leaned forward and took Morgana's hands in her own. "Then I must ask a favour of you, sister. Since you have been here, it has become apparent that you have a natural flair for magic. Once I had taught you the basics of controlling it, you grasped everything I put to you. It seems to me that you are ready for bigger things."
"Morgause - "
"Shh, shh. What I ask of you is this: return to Camelot. Return to them as their beloved ward, kidnapped by a vile sorceress for revenge against Uther."
"Morgause, I can't!"
"Because - " Morgana struggled to find words. "Because I was unhappy there. And I like it here. I don't want to leave."
"Morgana, you must," said Morgause gently. "In Camelot, you can provide me with the information we need to overthrow Uther. You will be invaluable to us, Morgana! And you are the only one who can do it. You are trusted there by the fool of a king, by his son. We would owe you everything."
"But…" Morgana was wavering, torn between her unhappiness at the thought of returning to Camelot and her desire to help Morgause.
"You once told me that you were prepared to help me bring about Uther's downfall," said Morgause quietly. "I ask you now; do you stand by your promise?"
Morgana was silent for a moment. Then she drew in a deep breath, lifted her shoulders, and looked Morgause in the eye. "I do."
To be continued?