Disclaimer: I don't own any of the original legend or any of the BBC characters. This is for enjoyment not profit.
What Was Lost
'Merlin? Where are we?'
Inwardly, Merlin groaned. It was the question he had been dreading but he knew Arthur would've asked it sooner or later. Night was falling and the two friends were no closer to reaching their destination; wherever that was. Merlin had ridden a few metres in front of Arthur to keep a look out for something – anything – that would show them the right way. Merlin glanced over his shoulder at Arthur, who was looking tense.
'You don't know, do you, Merlin?' Arthur's tone held a hint of amusement but there was no smile tugging at his lips. Merlin remembered the days when Arthur would gloat to him in situations like this, when he'd mock him and chortle, so puffed up with his own importance. Oddly, the title of King had only made him less sure of himself than before; something which Merlin was sometimes saddened at and other times thankful.
'I'm sure we'll find our way soon enough. They're always moving. If we don't find them, they'll probably find us sooner or later.' Merlin tried to reassure his friend who seemed more and more on edge with each passing minute. With a sigh, Arthur caught up with Merlin and they rode side by side, scanning the darkening wood for any sign of life. Merlin didn't like Arthur in this mood. He was used to him being demanding and lively not sullen. He had been temperamental since his coronation last month but his sullen mood had kicked in yesterday morning. Merlin reached into his mind and found the memory of yesterday morning and the desperate look on Arthur's face...
Merlin didn't appreciate being woken at the crack of dawn. Someone was banging on the door to his room and they showed no sign of stopping. Ever since he had been granted new chambers after Arthur's coronation, Gaius had taken to waking him up exceptionally early as though in 'celebration' for Merlin's new status as Chief Advisor to the newly crowned King Arthur. Despite the early time, Merlin grinned as he pulled himself out of bed. Chief Advisor! It did sound good.
Only it wasn't Gaius. When Merlin wrenched open the door, he was met with the sight of Arthur, leaning heavily against the door frame.
'Arthur? What...?' Merlin didn't finish. Arthur pushed past him into the room and threw himself into the chair by the open window. The sun was only just rising, casting a bright hue across the sky. Merlin studied Arthur as he slumped in the chair. He looked dreadful. His face was pale, his was hair wild, there was stubble across his jaw and his clothes were crumpled. Merlin questioned if Arthur had been to bed at all. Arthur rubbed his face with both hands and sighed. There was pause. Merlin watched Arthur who was determinedly staring at the floor. After a moment, Arthur finally met his gaze.
'I need to see her, Merlin. I need to sort things out. The way she left...' There was another pause. 'Not just between us, between our people.'
And so, Arthur tried to convince himself that this was purely about business; business between Camelot and the country's once-foes. Merlin didn't mention her. Arthur never said her name and so Merlin felt he should follow suit. Merlin still remembered the last time he saw her. She had been so bitter, so full of anger at Uther. She and Uther had argued before the entire court and when Arthur had tried to cool things down, she had pushed him aside. Merlin knew it had been partly Arthur's fault. For the last year and a half she was at Camelot, Arthur had sulked because she no longer came to him when she needed anything. She no longer paid him as much attention as she used to for she was busy with other things. Arthur hadn't known what those things were. He hadn't known that she had been busy aiding the 'enemy' side, that she had been helping them in their desire for Uther's demise and his coronation as King. And so Arthur had been slowly turned his attention to Gwen to spite her and now there was an expectation in the court that Arthur would announce his marriage to Gwen...just as Uther had expected him to announce his marriage to her two years ago. It felt like so long ago.
There was a rustle and Merlin was pulled back to the present. Arthur had pulled his horse to a halt and he squinted through the trees.
'I can't see anything.' He whispered. 'Can you feel any magic? You know, detect it or something?' That had been something else, telling Arthur about his 'talent'. He wasn't sure how he would have reacted but almost an hour of silence hadn't been it. Nevertheless, Arthur had recovered from the shock and here they were.
Merlin shook his head. 'Nothing.'
Arthur sighed. 'Very well. I suppose we'll have to stop tonight and set up camp. I need to find them soon – '
There was a shout and for both Merlin and Arthur, the world faded to black.
Merlin cracked open an eye and found that it was barely any lighter when he opened his eyes than when they were closed.
Next to him, Arthur was also stirring. And muttering.
'Where on earth are we? This is all your fault, Merlin.' Despite being held responsible, Merlin couldn't help but smiling. The old Arthur had made a reappearance. Merlin stood a little shakily and gazed around him. They were alone in a small, dark room. The room was completely unfurnished except for a bookcase in the corner. Opposite where they had been unconscious on the floor, there was a door.
'What are we waiting for? There's a door. Let's go.' Arthur had also pulled himself to his feet and he began to stagger toward the door. Merlin, however, found he couldn't move. He felt odd vibrations in the air and it made the hairs on his arms stand on end.
'It feels like a trap. Don't open it, Arthur.'
Arthur halted, his hand in the door handle ready to twist it. 'Well, we'll never know if we don't try, will we?'
But it wasn't a trap. Arthur opened the door to find that there was a party in progress. He and Merlin gazed as they moved through people who were dancing and drinking in the semi-darkness. Now in a much bigger room, Merlin could see that the walls were made out of dark stone and thankfully, in this room, they were lined with torches creating a mystical, alluring atmosphere. No one seemed to notice them.
'What are they celebrating?' Arthur asked Merlin, who was gazing in awe at the place. Before he could stumble out an answer, a voice drifted from another corner of the room.
'You, Arthur. We are celebrating you.'
Both Merlin and Arthur turned, feeling as though they were in slow motion. She emerged from another room through a rich oak door. She stood there and everyone else fell silent, watching the encounter between Arthur, Merlin and her.
'Morgana.' Arthur breathed, his eyes wide.
She looked remarkable; her long, dark hair was pulled up in a loose, elegant bun, her eyes were dark and shining and her dress...her dress! In Merlin's mind, it barely was one. It was all black with an extremely tight-fitting bodice and thin straps. It billowed out from her waist...and then stopped abruptly at her knees. The fronts of her legs were uncovered while the dress continued on behind her, brushing the smooth floor. A pair of boots hugged her legs but, like her dress, they concealed little. Huge pieces had been cut out, leaving her legs partially bare. Her skin looked smooth and even paler than before. Arthur went to speak again but it seemed he had lost the ability. Morgana looked to her people, all cluttered behind Arthur and Merlin.
'My friends!' she called. Power seemed to suit her. 'We have a gracious guest. And one not so gracious guest accompanies him.' The druids muttered between themselves and Merlin felt a hand push the back of his head, forcing him to kneel before Morgana. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Arthur had been forced to do the same. There was the sound of rustling of chainmail and Arthur's sword was removed from its place by his side. Despite his powers, Merlin was feeling a little open and defenceless. The man pulling away with Arthur's sword, Merlin recognised. Morgana had helped him escape last year. Alvarr. Merlin frowned to himself, not pleased with this turn of events.
Morgana took a step forward and gazed down at Merlin and Arthur, both avoiding her gaze. She sighed. 'The only question remains is which is gracious and which is not?' She studied them again before reaching forward, placing two fingers under Arthur's chin and nudging him to stand. He did, but still didn't look at her directly. Next to Merlin, Alvarr shifted as though he was ready to pounce; ready to kill to protect his lady should it be required. Morgana was still gazing at Arthur.
'Arthur Pendragon.' She smiled and her druids surrounding her muttered amongst themselves again. She paused before declaring, 'He is gracious is he not?' The druids all sounded their agreement. For the first time, Morgana looked to Alvarr. 'Take him to the study. Prepare some bread and wine. They have had a long journey.' Alvarr nodded, took Arthur's arm and led him through the door Morgana had just entered through. All eyes in the room focussed on Merlin. He shifted, uncomfortable.
'The not so gracious,' She sighed again. 'Stand.' Merlin did as he was told, feeling as though he was in enough trouble as it was. Once again, Morgana turned to her people. 'This is Emrys.' Low hisses came from the druids and Merlin had never felt more contempt directed at him in his life.
Morgana continued. 'Merlin. Friend; confidant; warlock; betrayer. Emrys.' Merlin felt his face burn and more hisses and jeers came from the crowd, this time louder and more violent. 'Nevertheless,' Morgana said, immediately silencing the crowd of druids with that one word. 'Emrys is welcome to stay.' Finally, Merlin met her gaze, surprised, and saw that her eyes were shining. She was enjoying this. 'Emrys can stay because he is here with his master. His master is to be looked after therefore so is Emrys.' She spoke louder, her voice carrying across the crowd. 'You all know the truth about Emrys. He poisoned me. It is almost unforgivable.' The crowd, once again, nodded and murmured in agreement. 'However, he killed Morgause!' The crowd gave a loud cheer and Merlin heard whistles. 'He rid this place of her. For that, we can be grateful and we can accept him as gracious.'
Merlin felt Morgana take his arm and pull him toward the same door Arthur and Alvarr had disappeared through. The crowd parted for them, many bowing to Morgana and raising their drinks in celebration. Merlin had no idea what just happened. They were happy that he had killed Morgause? The oak door closed behind him and Morgana and she continued on leading down a stone corridor until they finally came to the study. The door had been magically sealed and with a quick wave of her hand, Morgana opened it and led Merlin inside.
Arthur was pacing back and fore in front of a large fireplace. He stopped immediately when he saw Merlin and Morgana enter and seemed to let out a sigh of relief.
'Sit, Arthur, Merlin.' She gestured to two chairs around a small wood table. Almost noiselessly, Morgana wandered over to a grand chair a small distance from the table. Once the three of them were settled, Morgana asked,
'What is it you want from me, Arthur?' Merlin noticed that her tone had returned to the one he remembered rather than the one he had just experienced in front of the druids.
Arthur said nothing for a moment. 'I want to sort things out. Not just between us but between our people.'
When she did not answer, Arthur simply said, 'I am king now.'
She chuckled. 'Oh, I know that Arthur. Why do you think we are celebrating? We are celebrating the end of Uther Pendragon and the end of Morgause.'
Merlin couldn't resist. 'Why did the druids want Morgause gone?'
For a moment, Merlin thought that Morgana was going to refuse to answer him but it seemed that she was merely considering her answer. 'She became too...greedy. She took too much and expected too much from her people. She wanted them to all help her end Uther's reign. Many of them desired it, but lacked the courage or willpower to do anything about it. She could not accept that they were not all as passionate as she was.' A pained look crossed Morgana's face. 'She tortured those who refused to help her.'
Arthur stood. 'Morgana,' he began. 'I want to...apologise.'
Morgana looked incredulous. 'You want to apologise? You? Arthur?'
Arthur smiled. 'Alright! Don't make this any harder than it is. I'm...sorry. I'm sorry I wasn't there to help you. I'm sorry I didn't understand or take the time to.'
Morgana's face lit up and Merlin saw the old Morgana. His friend Morgana. Suddenly, her smile faded a little. 'You are to announce your marriage soon, are you not?'
Arthur's face fell too. 'Yes. I am.' There was a moment of silence where Arthur seemed to be building up courage. Finally he spoke the words he wanted to. 'But if you come back – '
'No, Arthur.' She smiled sadly, stood up from her seat and cupped his face in her hand. 'That cannot happen and you know it. It is too late, Arthur.'
Merlin suddenly felt as though he should look away and hastily turned to look into the fire. He heard a chuckle and Morgana's voice.
'I think we are embarrassing Merlin!' There was another chuckle. Arthur. Merlin hadn't heard him laugh in weeks. When Merlin turned back around, they had separated and Morgana was back in her seat and Arthur was just sitting back in his own seat, a mixture of relief and sorrow on his face. There was a knock of the door. Morgana straightened.
The door creaked open and a man entered, already grinning. 'No need to use your royal voice on me, Morgana. I thought we were past that now.'
Morgana beamed at him and he kissed her hand, looking as equally as joyous. 'Leogaire, meet King Arthur Pendragon and his Chief Advisor Merlin. They are here on business. Arthur, Merlin, this is Leogaire. He was a...friend of Morgause's; a friend who has become my friend.'
He didn't look overly clean, there was some dirt on his boots and his breeches and his face held a trace of stubble but he was very handsome, ruggedly so. There was a distinct air of confidence about him. Leogaire laughed at Morgana's words and Arthur's shoulders slumped a little. Leogaire spoke; 'Yes, Morgause didn't like that, did she? She didn't like how well we got along. That was one of your first big arguments with Morgause, wasn't it?'
Morgana suppressed a smile. 'Yes, it was.'
'Ah, well.' He draped an arm around Morgana's shoulders. 'Firm 'friends' ever since, eh?'
The door creaked open again but only Merlin seemed to notice; Arthur was watching Morgana and Leogaire who were discussing something animatedly. Alvarr had just entered with a tray of wine and bread. He placed it on the table before Arthur and Merlin. The noise seemed to pull Morgana's attention from Leogaire.
'Alvarr!' she exclaimed. 'Ah, yes. Thank you. Arthur, Merlin. You may eat as much as you wish. Alvarr, would you find rooms for them both for tonight?'
Alvarr, however, hadn't moved. Merlin could see that his body had gone very ridged and he was glaring at Leogaire. Leogaire merely looked back at him, a mildly amused and smug expression on his face.
'What did he get back?' Alvarr asked Morgana, who was now watching the encounter warily.
'Not two hours ago. I heard Morgana had some visitors, just popped in to see if she needed a hand. You know, seen as it's my job as Close Advisor.'
Alvarr spoke slowly and quietly as though trying to convince himself that he was calm. 'That was meant to be my job and you know it.'
'And what did you do to deserve it?' Morgana intervened, an eyebrow raised. 'You manipulated me into giving you what you wanted. I aided you when you needed it most and you betrayed me.' Merlin shifted in his seat, uncomfortable with the mention of betrayal. He had never told Arthur about what he had done to Morgana and he never planned on doing so.
Alvarr bowed his head. 'I know, my lady. I apologise. You have been very kind, my lady.'
'Then what is the problem? You position as Chief of the Guards does not suit you?' Morgana's regal tone was back.
'It does, my lady, thank you. But I had hoped that I could perhaps be promoted to Close Advisor – '
'She already has a Close Advisor.' Leogaire intervened.
'Too close.' Alvarr shot back.
'Alvarr! It is not your business.' She met his desperate gaze. 'You are relived of your duties tonight. Go and see your wife. I'm sure she'll be very grateful for some of the attentions you insist on lavishing upon me. '
Alvarr winced, as though he could think of nothing worse but he nodded, bowed and, with one final glare at Leogaire, he was gone. Everyone in the room seemed to let out a sigh of relief.
'His jealousy will cause problems here.' Leogaire murmured. 'You need to curb his ways, Morgana.'
'I will. Your parading about doesn't help though.'
Leogaire chuckled. 'Sometimes I just can't resist. He's just so easy to annoy.'
Morgana turned her back to him and focussed on Merlin and Arthur. 'I will have rooms prepared for you. I will send you back into the forest at this hour. It is too dangerous. Stay here for the night and then as early as you wish in the morning.'
Both Arthur and Merlin stood, both filled with bread and wine. Merlin allowed himself to be led out by one of the druids who were waiting outside the door but Arthur held back.
'Morgana, when – '
'Go, Arthur. I will not see you in the morning.' She paused, looking down at her elegant, pale hands. 'In fact, I will not see you for some time.'
Arthur opened his mouth to protest but Morgana cut across him once again. 'Go, Arthur. Rest, return to Camelot, marry Gwen and be happy. There shall be peace between our people for years yet. Now is not the time of war. We will see each other again but you must be patient.' She smiled and stroked the side of his face once more. 'I know patience is not one of your best qualities...but try, Arthur. For me.'
He smiled and then, to everyone's surprise, he bowed. 'Yes, my lady.'
Dawn had only just broken and the birds were just waking. Merlin and Arthur rode side by side in silence. Merlin had never felt so rested and he had never seen a forest look as peaceful as this one did. Sunlight broke through the thick foliage and Merlin turned to Arthur, expecting to see the same peaceful, rejuvenated look on his face as there was on his own. Instead, he was met by a pensive expression.
'What are you thinking about, Arthur?' he asked, softly.
They rode on for a minute more in silence before Arthur answered. 'What was lost, Merlin. And what is yet to come.'
So that's it! Tell me what you think :)
It's very Morgana-centric but hey! I think she's great!