This is my first foray into fantasy fanfic writing, apart from a brief stint with the Chronicles of Narnia. I wilfully admit that I have seen all of s1 of Merlin, and only bits and pieces of s2 (though I've read episode summaries etc) so please bear with me because my knowledge of the show's canon isn't encyclopaedic. If you do notice something that is particularly wrong, please point it out. I'm not 100% happy with the direction that the show has taken (the spoilers I've read have made me cranky) particularly in regard to Morgana, but I'll let you read a more extended rant at the end of the chapter (assuming you get that far.)
I own season 1 of Merlin on DVD. Coincidentally, this doesn't give me any ties to Arthurian legend, or rights to the show. Go figure. I'm just playing with the action figures in the castle, I remember where I got them from :P
Morgana stretched out on her makeshift bed and let out a frustrated sigh. It had been nearly a year since she'd escaped Camelot with Morgause. Her time had been used to harness the magical gifts she'd been with. She'd travelled to the Isle of the Blessed and trained with the priestesses of the Old Religion. So far, her aptitude for magic had far surpassed the expectations of anybody who'd taken the time to train her.
The only thing she'd attempted, but failed to master thus far was her Sight. Try as she much as she could, she had yet to learn to control what she Saw and when she Saw it. As a result, Morgause's bracelet remained wrapped firmly around her wrist. Morgana's anger at Uther seethed. If she'd been born into a society that viewed magic as the gift that it was, her abilities would have been recognised in her childhood, and she would have been taught from a young age to control her gifts, rather existing in self taught repression.
"What am I missing?" She wondered aloud. She'd been afforded her own tent, so she took advantage of her solitude to light several candles and made them float over to her with a lazy wave of her hand. She rummaged through her belongings.
She had found it. Morgana carefully unravelled the velvet cloth on her lap to reveal a crystal. It was smaller than her palm, its edges worn smooth with handling. Magic practically radiated off it, and Morgana could almost feel the power seeping from the precious stone. A seer priestess of the Old Religion had secretly gifted it to her during her last trip to the Isle of the Blessed. The seer was ancient and wizened, but her icy blue eyes had glowed with foresight when she pushed the fabric wrapped stone into Morgana's hands; urging her to keep it a secret from her sister, and promising that the stone would be a valuable tool to protect and serve her when the time was ripe for it to reveal its abilities.
With a shaking hand, Morgana picked up the crystal. Instantly, the bracelet she wore began to weigh heavily on her wrist. She let go of the stone in shock. She picked it up again, and again, the bracelet's weight increased so dramatically that Morgana was certain she'd wear marks similar to the one's she'd earned after her time in Camelot's dungeon. She dropped the crystal into her lap. If she'd learnt one thing in the past months, it was to listen to magic's whispered promptings. Hesitantly, she unwound the fabric from around her wrist. She picked up the crystal and held it flat between her fingers.
"Show me what I've missed." Morgana whispered into the silence of the night. Nothing. Morgana nearly threw the crystal out of sheer frustration, but halted when a shadowy figure began to take form.
"It has happened then?" Alvarr asked. Morgause nodded.
"The charmed bracelet I gave my sister will block her Sight and more. Her feelings of hatred for Uther will be magnified, as will her feelings of isolation. Her attachment to us and especially to the child Mordred will be amplified to the point where her loyalty becomes ours." Morgause explained.
"So she's alone, angry, and has nobody she can trust?" Alvarr mused.
"Exactly. I've sent a note asking her to meet me tonight. It is then that she can become the vessel by which all of Camelot falls asleep, and the Knights of Idirsholas will raid the city." Morgause explained triumphantly.
"Thus killing everyone she's ever cared about. The prince is dead, the serving girl slaughtered, and Emrys destroyed along with Uther the pig." Morgana continued.
"Leaving the little darling with nowhere but us to turn." Alvarr cackled.
Morgana dropped the crystal with a dull thud. She stared at it for a few seconds before bending to pick it up and wrap it in its ruby cloth. So much had been made plain. Her growing feelings of isolation; desperate to return to Morgause and Alvarr. Upon reflection, Morgana could tell her life in Camelot's castle was not so awful as she'd believed it to be. She finally realised why her unyielding devotion to Mordred continued, despite witnessing him commit actions she could only call atrocious.
There was no way she could, or should, stay here. She stood up. The candles flickered around her, and she flopped back onto her bed. The exhaustion seeping into her bones was not unfamiliar. Every time she accomplished some new magic; particularly magic of great scale; as this had been, her body fell to fatigue. With a wave of her hand, the candles were extinguished and Morgana slipped between her well-worn sheets. She rubbed her surprisingly comfortable bare wrist. After all, it would do no good to go charging from the camp in the middle of the night, Morgana reasoned sleepily before closing her eyes and falling into a deep sleep.
"…Two sides of the same coin…"
"…If I can't use magic, I haven't got anything…"
"…Nobody can choose their destiny Merlin…"
…The rumble of fire…
…Magical chanting and blue eyes glowing gold with magic…
"…You must kill the witch to break the enchantment."
"But she's my friend…"
…Lightening flashing across the Isle of the Blessed…
"You think I would join forces with such a selfish and cruel magic?..."
…A dragon forced into submission by the impassioned speech of a Dragonlord in servant's clothing…
"…I have long suspected Morgana to be a seer… we cannot tell her, for her own safety…"
…A priestess of the Old Religion destroyed by lightening…
…Merlin's face, dripping with tears as he held the ward of the king's body as he convinced himself he acted for the greater good…
"…When Arthur is king, magic can return to the land…"
Morgana awoke with a gasp. Her Dreams were back in full force. She shivered, and shook her head as if to dislodge some of what she'd Seen. She grabbed parchment and scrawled down what she Saw, stowing her notes away with her crystal. She caught sight of her bracelet. She couldn't think.
Morgana poked her head out of her tent. The first lights of dawn were on her face. Perfect. She gathered her things and with a simple incantation, began to move silently across the encampment.
Essential to any camp location is its proximity to water. Purely by happy accident, clean water had been found for drinking in conjunction to a naturally occurring hot spring. It was there that Morgana was headed. A hot bath was one of the creature comforts Morgana missed most about Camelot, so she decided to go to the spring to bathe and to think.
Upon removing her soiled clothes, Morgana allowed the warm water to soothe her tensed muscles, and she began to sift through the images dancing through her mind. She instinctively knew that her Dreams contained images of what had already come to pass; and she trusted her magic enough to believe that her gifts were showing her what she'd been blind to, wilfully or otherwise.
She sank beneath the water. One thing she was certain of; she was not the only one gifted with magic in Camelot. All the poor excuses, the failure to comment on anything supernatural. It all fell into place. Merlin had magic. She cursed herself for being so blind.
She looked on what she'd seen as his betrayal with kinder eyes. He may have compromised their friendship with hemlock, but Merlin's actions were in response to far greater evils: her own treachery. The compromising of all the people she claimed to love most. She broke through the water's surface and the bitter truth hit her as harshly as the dawn air, and it chilled her just as quickly.
She had escaped her gilded cage, heedless of those she'd once held dearest, and landed herself in a trap of an entirely different sort.
From the few glimpses her subconscious mind afforded her, Merlin was the most powerful sorcerer she'd ever beheld, and that was without the luxury of the ancient training she'd been privileged to receive. Merlin had seen all the horrors of Uther's persecution, and still remained hopeful that tomorrow could be better.
Morgana hesitantly unwrapped the crystal again. She was determined that it would not leave her person while so many wolves in sheep's clothing surrounded her. The second her hand touched the surprisingly warm stone, a vision danced before her eyes.
Morgana rose from the water. Her decision had been made.
As Uther dictated, the search for the Lady Morgana continued. Merlin could not help but wonder at its futility. He was well aware of Morgana Le Fay's allegiance, and he knew that she would make herself impossible to find. That was why he was so bitter about being forced to search Camelot's countryside in the frigid rain.
"Merlin!" Arthur's voice was frantic. Merlin picked up his pace and navigated his way through the sodden landscape carefully.
"Merlin, we've found her." Arthur gasped. He held an unconscious and pallid Morgana in his arms, her fair skin littered with violet marks. Merlin forced his features into a grin.
"Fantastic! I'll get the horses then." He found himself saying.
As they rode through Camelot's countryside, Merlin chanced a glance at Morgana. Her betrayal stung anew. He could only surmise her return to Camelot, and Merlin knew he would have to double his efforts to protect Arthur, without letting Arthur know he was being protected.
Arthur reined his horse to a stop as they entered the castle gates. Arthur dismounted his horse, and when Merlin did the same, the still unconscious Morgana was dumped in his arms.
"Get her to Gaius. I'll alert my father." Arthur ordered him. Merlin nodded mutely. He ignored the open stares he received, and was thoughtless to the mud he was dripping over the castle's polished floors. He knew he had to speak to Gaius. He pushed the door open with his back.
"We found her." Merlin announced. He used magic to clear a space on one of the benches to place Morgana on.
"Whether this is a blessing or a curse for Camelot, I cannot say." Merlin whispered to Gaius urgently.
"Merlin, build the fire." Gaius ordered, before beginning to examine his patient. The door swung open to reveal the king, closely flanked by his son and Gwen.
"How is she?" He demanded.
"It appears she's suffering exhaustion. Who knows how long she was on the run from her captors. I'll need more time to assess her. Her pulse is strong, and she suffers no fever, so it may well be a bump on the head." Gaius said. At Gaius's direction, Merlin pressed a cloth doused with lavender oil on Morgana's head. She let out a weak groan.
"Am I safe?" She mumbled. She slowly opened her eyes. No sooner had she taken in her surroundings, she found herself in a fierce embrace. She felt tears wet her neck.
"Yes child, you're safe. Arthur and Merlin found you, and you've been brought back to Camelot, where you belong." Uther told her, his voice thick with emotion. Morgana let herself sag into his embrace. Uther was a flawed man, there was no doubt, but she would allow him to love her in the small way that he could. She caught Arthur's eye over the king's shoulder.
"Thank you." She mouthed to him. She saw the way that Merlin stood away from the reunion, under the guise of warming himself by the fire. She suppressed a sigh. He clearly still believed her to be aligned with Morgause. She reached out and touched his mind with her own.
"There is much left unspoken, Emrys." Her mind whispered to his.
"There is nothing to be said." Merlin's response was harsh, and in his anger, he transferred some of his own suffering, angst and rage to her. To Morgana's relief, the ever-practical Gwen stepped up to the plate.
"My Lord, I feel it would be unwise to allow the Lady Morgana to stay in wet clothing any longer." Gwen suggested.
"The Lady needs to warm up, eat a hot meal and rest. I'll prepare a poultice for her wounds and a sleeping draught." Gaius proposed.
"Of course." Uther replied. He helped Morgana stand, and she was taken to her chambers (which had remained untouched, by order of the King) with an escort of her lady in waiting, her adopted brother and the King.
"Gaius, she awoke when touched by another magical being. I'm telling you, this isn't right. Why would they let her go?" Merlin demanded. Gaius sat down and sighed.
"They would never let her go. The reality is this; either she has seen the error of her ways and escaped, but more likely still, there is a spy in the heart of Camelot." Gaius said wisely.
"She will have grown in skill over her months away. She may have even surpassed me." Merlin observed.
"I doubt that, Dragonlord. But she will be more powerful than she was, so tread carefully." Gaius warned.
I know this is quite short, but I'm just testing the waters with this fic and seeing what the response is like, so please let me know!
On the character of Morgana: I suspected from the moment the show started that she'd probably go evil from a comment Katie made about Morgana's character arc. However, I don't feel like we've seen Morgana make any decisions about her allegiances. I feel like she's basically been played by Morgause and co, and I'm disappointed that according to spoilers, she's going to be full time bad guy in s3, purely because we've never seen her CHOOSE to act against Camelot. She's really only acted to usurp Uther, not all her friends. I feel like Morgana is such a feisty, ball breaking character (which is so fun to see and explore), and after the writers and Katie created her, they haven't really had a direction for the character (honestly, her sitting around in pretty dresses and crying about her dreams makes me want to choke on my own vomit), and they've turned her evil purely because they need to do something with her. I don't have a problem with her turning evil per say, but I just think the writers have poorly handled it.
Reviews are love kids.