Author's Notes: I ship Merlin/Arthur and Gwen/Morgana. I have absolutely no idea where this came from. But, I'm sort of in a Morgana phase.
This was written while listening to Farewell by Apocalyptica, you've been warned.
Later, after the battles have been fought and the blood spilled, when they sit on opposite sides of a boat with Arthur's body in between them, Merlin will look at Morgana.
She will still be beautiful, for her beauty is of a kind that never leaves completely even with age, but her dress will be torn and bloodstained, hair loose and straggly around her shoulders.
Merlin will have hundreds of thoughts whirling around his head, questions like Why? and Why did you walk away the second time? and half formed sentences like I'm so sorry, Morgana, I and This wasn't supposed to happen, I swear. I was. We were...
Merlin will open his mouth, about to say something, anything, but Morgana will look up then, her eyes weary and resigned, and the words will get stuck in his throat. Morgana's eyes will hold no trace of madness, insanity. They will hold feelings, thoughts, and Merlin will bow his head in shame. For what can he say to absolve the guilt of his long ago betrayal? What can he say to the woman who turned against everything she'd ever known, partly because of something he had done? I'm sorry I ruined you, he will want to say. I'm sorry we've all become what we have.
I wish I could take it back, he will think.
But, for now, he only sobs as he tips the poison into the bottle, tries desperately to keep his love and desperation of his face as he holds the bottle out, and cannot watch as she sips it.
Then, when she returns, when she appears to have no memory of his betrayal, he will rejoice.
Until she poisons him, paralyses him and makes him watch as she kills Uther, sets fire to parts of the castle, but leaves Arthur alone. (Later, Merlin will think that all the sorcerers over the years seemed to understand that it was his destiny to be the reason for Arthur's death).
Morgana makes him watch her walk away, blue dress blowing triumphantly in the wind as Camelot burns. She turns, just once, and looks at him, tied on a tree before his home, and she does not say anything, just lets him watch. She has never looked more beautiful, triumph and spite gleaming from her eyes, soot on her cheekbones, and bloody sword clenched in her right hand, and Merlin knows this is not the last time he will see her thus.
She raises the sword in a triumphant salute, then turns and continues her walk into the forest.
Later, Merlin will sit in a boat with a woman who was not driven by madness, but by betrayal. Later, Merlin will sit in a boat with the woman he still loves and the corpse of their destiny between them. He'll watch her disembark when they reach Albion, and will catch her wrist, turning her to face him.
"Next time." he promises, and leaves the rest unspoken.