Disclaimer: I don't own Merlin. . . however epic it may be, however gorgeous and lovely everyone may be. . . *sobs*
A/N: Hello everyone! I hope those of you who got to watch the first episode of series 3 last night enjoyed it; I absolutely loved it- great character dynamics, some actual jump-out-of-your-skin moments and of course Morgana- the lean, mean, dressed in green killing machine! This fic is linked to last night's episode, and the section in italics is the scene my fic leads on from, so clearly spoilers for this episode! Basically-what would happen if Arthur had heard the conversation that passed between Merlin and Morgana shared in her chambers? All mistakes are my own, although I hope there aren't any, of course! :P
And to anyone who's been reading my post-S2/pre-S3 fic Requiem For The Truth - I'm currently brainstorming some ideas to see where I can take it next- it's still listed as 'complete' but I may well add another chapter!
The Tale of Poison
Merlin. . . I want to speak to you. . . I know what you did. You tried to poison me.
I didn't want to. . .
It's alright Merlin, I understand. . . you were just trying to protect your friends. I would've done the same.
I was so naïve Merlin. . . I don't think I really understood what I was doing. But believe me, I have seen the evils in this world. I've seen first hand what it is that Uther fights against. . . you don't understand how much I regret everything that I have done. I just. . . hope that you can forgive me.
I am so sorry for everything you've been through. . . It's good to have you back.
Merlin could feel the tears pricking in his eyes. The same words he'd said to her when she'd returned from the druids. Happiness, relief, flooded his body. . . he couldn't quite believe this was happening; he'd poisoned her, yet she was the one asking for forgiveness. He wanted to encase his arms around her and embrace her as Arthur had done, drown in her glossy raven hair and feel her breathe, to erase the memory of holding her dying form from over a year ago that had tainted his every living moment.
They both smiled tearfully at the other, Morgana blinking a couple of times as he nodded in understanding. She needed to rest; he looked at her one final time, bowing his head and quietly leaving the room.
He froze as he left her chambers, the door swinging shut behind him, fear dropping like a stone in his stomach as the tears that had nearly spilt just a minute before threatened to break from his eyes again.
Arthur was slouched against the opposite wall, steadily lifting his eyes to meet Merlin's, the pain and confusion there made the servant unable to speak. He'd heard everything. He wanted to be sick. Oh god. . .
"I think we need to talk."
Merlin's head dropped, a faint nod, he couldn't bear to look into the prince's eyes. He felt dizzy, like he was going to faint, his body felt alien. He heard Arthur steadily starting to walk away, and he followed quietly, thoughts unable to form in his mind.
The walk back to Arthur's chambers went past in a blur, hot tears sullying his vision, his stomach rocking as if he were on a ship. He found himself standing in the middle of Arthur's room, heard the prince gently close the door behind them.
Arthur remained by the door, a few feet behind his manservant.
At the sound of his name, the raven haired boy tried to suppress his shoulders from shaking, a shuddering breath leaving his body as a salty tear escaped the corner of his eye, he wiped it away quickly as he felt his knees buckle. Seeing Morgana had brought it all flooding back and now Arthur knew, he was sure he was going to pass out. What's Uther going to do to me. . .
He could feel powerful hands on his shoulders, but he just let them push him, guide him; he felt a chair being slid beneath him, his hand covering his eyes as if to block the situation from existence.
He heard a chair scrape against the floor in front of him, Arthur seating himself opposite.
Arthur had never seen Merlin in such a state, a lump in throat appearing as Merlin's face- drained of all colour- winced as if overwrought by some physical pain, a tear trailing down his cheek.
The prince could feel the earth starting to shift beneath him, he knew whatever Merlin was going to tell him would cause an earthquake in his heart; he would get to the bottom of this.
"Merlin. . . however confused and shocked I am right now, I am not angry. I'm not going to hurt you. . ."
"The king might though." Merlin stuttered through choking breaths, clutching his hair.
"I'm not going to tell the king. You and Morgana it seems have made your peace. I only want to know what has happened."
Merlin closed his eyes, gulping a few times and trying to regain to control, squirming as he steadily opened them again, lifting his gaze to meet Arthur's own.
The prince felt his heart drop in his chest, the haunted look in Merlin's eyes making Arthur forget how to breathe, what happened Merlin?
Merlin looked away again, his finger tracing the wood on the table beside him as whispers barely fell from his lips.
"Please don't make me tell you sire."
"Merlin, you are not leaving here until you've told me what passed between you and Morgana."
Merlin gave him a desperate look, his eyes begging him to reconsider, carry on their roles as they always had been, let Arthur live in the dark.
Arthur leant forward, his elbows on his knees and his hands clasped in front of him, his face invading Merlin's view, his eyes were open and calm.
Merlin released a shaky breath, running a hand through his hair, his eyelashes damp with tears.
"The day the Knights of Medir were awakened, you'll remember it was only you, I and Morgana in the entire kingdom who were not sleeping. You were so confused as to how Morgana remained awake when everyone else- including the both of us- were falling under the enchantment. I knew something wasn't right, Morgana was acting strangely, she seemed distracted . . . but I covered for her, I said that Gaius had given her a potion. . ."
Merlin paused for a second, the moment replaying in his mind like a distant dream, dancing like a broken puppet behind his eyes, he could feel the force of Arthur's gaze, silently imploring him to continue.
"Arthur. . . I don't think this is a good idea-"
"Tell me, Merlin."
He paused, barely nodded, wetting his lips slightly, "As soon as I saw Morgause, I knew that she was protecting Morgana. . ."
"Why would Morgause protect Morgana?" Arthur asked, furrowing his brow.
Merlin met his gaze slowly, his breath catching in his throat, "Because they're half sisters."
Arthur's eyes widened, his mouth slightly opened in shock, a sentence dying in his throat. He couldn't believe it. Did my father keep this from me? And from Morgana?
"No. . ."
"Yes." Merlin nodded, "Even worse, I realised that casting a spell that powerful- and maintaining it- would require a living host. . . when you left me with the king and Morgana. . . I knew I had to do something. . . it was her or Camelot. . ."
Merlin felt his voice crack, the horrendous memory he'd spent months trying to push away crushing him, that nauseating, self-loathing feeling consuming him as tears ran down his face and dropped from his chin, the look of complete fear and disgust on Morgana's face invading his vision. . . staring up at him like he was a complete stranger.
Arthur shook his head almost imperceptibly, tears burning at the back of his eyes as he watched Merlin break down; he thought he knew his manservant, but it was clear he didn't at all. He was a completely different person here than the sunny boy who polished his armour, who joked around and teased him. Merlin had been driving himself silently insane, wracked with guilt and shame for the past year, a terrible secret clawing away at his heart. He'd had to kill someone he cared about. Arthur had not been put in that situation before.
The prince cleared his throat, "Why did the knights fall?"
Merlin's eyes drifted, glassy and unreadable, "I would not tell Morgause the poison I used unless she stopped the attack. . . She threatened to kill me. . . and I told her Morgana would die with me. . ."
"She stopped the knights. And you told her the poison."
Merlin closed his eyes, nodding.
". . . You're both still alive, that's the main thing." Arthur added; the words were meant to make Merlin feel better, but they seemed to fall flat, he realised. "You did it for the good of Camelot."
The dark haired boy smiled softly at his master, his red rimmed eyes contrasting to the ethereal paleness of his skin. He stood up suddenly, the smile gone as he walked towards the window, his back turned to the prince. There was an oppressive silence, the air heavy.
"What don't I know about you Merlin?"
Merlin's laughter was on the brink between humour and tears,"They're a lot of things you don't know about me Arthur."
"That doesn't surprise me."
Merlin looked over his shoulder briefly to see a half smile on his face, a strange underlying acceptance and understanding between the two.
"One day, soon, I promise I'll tell you everything. . . now is not the time for certain truths."
Arthur nodded mutely to himself.
Merlin turned to face him fully, his crystalline eyes lighter than they had been minutes earlier, yet still tinted with a darkness that swirled like a brewing storm.
"I trust you." Arthur suddenly said; it didn't seem to fit with the flow of conversation, but at the same time, it's all that needed to be said.
"Thank you." Merlin barely whispered, in the darkness his heart picking up a little.
Arthur stood, moving towards the window and clasping his hand firmly on his manservant's shoulder for a brief moment, before walking away.
"Oh, and Merlin?"
He suddenly felt something cool and wet being shoved into his hands, a small smirk on the blonde man's face. His eyes starting to find their sparkle again.
"You need to wash my floor."
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this, I tried to slot it into the episode as best I could! I didn't want Merlin to tell Arthur of all the things Morgana had done previously, for example, as he obviously thinks she's changed for the better. :P Reviews are lovely pretty please. ;)