Disclaimer: I own neither Merlin or its characters. BBC and Shine do.
A/N: I'm not sure where this came from, but it's quickly written (at least by my standards). Let me know what you think. Please don't favorite without reviewing.
He pulls away from her, stumbles backward, lips bruised from her kiss.
Spinning around in confusion, Merlin closes his eyes and runs his fingers through his unkempt hair. She puts such thoughts in his head, makes him see a future that doesn't – that can't – exist. He can feel her behind him, waiting with insufferable patience, and it nearly unravels him how she can be so collected about it all while the kingdom is in the midst of a war.
The night air is humming, the forest alive with promise. All he wants to do is let her kiss him like tomorrow will never come.
But it will. The sun will rise, and day will break, and he will be serving Arthur, and she will be with Morgause, and nothing will have changed.
Nothing will ever change.
"Morgana," he chokes out, turning around again to face her, "This can't work. We don't work."
"Why not?" she queries gently, her ruby lips taunting him.
He gestures hopelessly between them. "Because you and I, we belong on different sides. We are on different sides, and we can't change that."
"Why is everything one or the other with you? Sometimes there are more than two sides to a problem." She looks at him intently, embers dancing in her eyes, and adds, "To a person."
He scoffs. Does she think he doesn't know? He's the only one who sees Arthur for his true worth, for the king he will become.
"I don't need your censure, Morgana," he frowns.
"You need to hear it from someone," she insists.
"Just because I don't hold the same opinions as you doesn't mean I'm wrong."
She lifts a questioning eyebrow. "Then why do you act like I am?"
Shaking his head dismissively, he argues, "You don't understand."
He can see her anger flare up as she advances toward him.
"You know what I don't understand, Merlin?" she asks, fury in her voice. "I don't understand why you let everyone tell you what your destiny is. That is no one's choice but your own, and yet you ask for help and advice from Gaius, Arthur, Uther, even that ridiculous dragon. But the truth is, Merlin, they all have their own agendas. They're all trying to make your decisions for you."
"Isn't that exactly what you're trying to do?"
"I'm trying to open your eyes! The world is not black and white. There are shades that you seem unable to grasp because you have allowed them to poison your mind."
Hands on his hips, he stares at her, takes in the flushed cheeks and the furrowed brow. She is everything infuriating and challenging and beautiful. She doesn't belong in a world like this – one that refuses to see the loveliness inside, that has beaten her down so far that she no longer believes in her own goodness.
He himself sometimes feels as if he's in a losing battle with his own destiny, and it's got a sword to his throat. It's enough to make him want to give up and run away, but then he sees Arthur, or Gwen, and he can't deny the future they could create, can't deny his purpose in this life.
He licks his lips. "Against you, you mean?"
Shaking her head, Morgana turns and strolls in a circle around a nearby tree. She drags her hand along the rough bark, and his breath catches in his throat as the moonlight hits her emerald eyes.
"I know what they say about me," she says quietly. "That I'm evil, simply because I practice magic, because I don't agree with them."
Merlin takes a hasty step forward.
That's exactly what they say about her. They call her 'evil,' 'wicked,' 'corrupt.' He endures entire days in which they slander her, and by the time he settles in to sleep he can barely hold his tongue.
He holds it now.
Because he's not sure what to say, how to say what he really feels. She has a peculiar way of making him speechless.
Morgana stops walking to scrutinize him, her gaze piercing his. "That's what they say. But what do you say about me?"
Sometimes, when he finds the courage, usually so elusive, he says:
She is wonderful.
She is brave.
She is gorgeous.
She is fascinating.
But never does he gather quite enough courage to speak what is truly in his heart:
She is mine.
He has hesitated too long, but he finally says unevenly, "I say that you are Morgana."
Her lips curve into an enchanting smile. Edging closer to him, she runs a finger down his chest and murmurs, "And you are Merlin."
"So where does that leave us? How can we make this last?" he asks, his heart racing.
She's so close to him now that he can barely breathe. The sweet perfume from her hair is the only thing he can smell, the only thing keeping him from losing his breath altogether.
Thunder rumbles in the distance, keeping time with the stirring ache inside his chest. He wants her like the night sky wants the stars in order to shine at its fullest, needs her like the trees need water and sunshine and their anchoring roots.
Utterly bewitched, he dips his head toward her shoulder.
Morgana chuckles lightly, the delightful sound carrying in the nighttime breeze. "Why must you always insist on knowing your place in the universe?"
He lifts his head, tilts it in a silent inquiry. "Because it matters."
"No," she claims with a slight shake of her head. "What matters is not how long we live, but merely the fact that we live."
She fixes a resolute gaze upon him, and he hears her gentle voice in his mind.
Not how long we love, but that we choose to love at all.
He has fallen into a pattern, he sees. He falls too quickly, loves too hard. It's a pattern which inevitably leads to pain, because Maria had been a childhood fancy, and Freya had been a sweetness born out of a shared, dismal situation, and Morgana . . .
Well, Morgana doesn't view the world as he does. When he wants forever, she is content with fleeting. He envies her nonchalance, the way she can toss away the concerns of others in favor of attaining her own goals.
As if she no longer has any concept of time.
"And you love me?" he queries, his voice cracking fretfully.
He blushes; she nods solemnly.
Merlin frowns. "For how long?"
He already knows that he doesn't care. Evermore or a day, he'll love her until the end of time.
Morgana, threading her fingers into his hair, murmurs, "There is no question of how long. My love for you is, and always will be, no matter if you or I fall, or cease to exist."
She leans forward and brushes tender kisses over his parched lips. He's like a man dying of thirst and she's the last drop of water on earth.
"Whether I love you for tonight," she assures him, her breath tickling his ear and sending a tingle up his spine, "or for a million nights, we shall make each other whole."
Gently sliding a hand to her cheek, he brings his lips to hers, lets his tongue tumble over hers, lets her touch fill the cavern inside his heart.
His forehead against hers, he sighs.
"Then I come to you a broken man, searching for completion."
She is his breath of immortality, the one who will give him new life when his is spent, the one who will bring him back from the edge when he has gone too far.
She will be called many things in this lifetime and in lifetimes to come – sorceress, seer, villainess, betrayer, le Fay . . .
But to him, she will always be Morgana.