Disclaimer: I don't own Merlin.
Morgana had been so wrong about him-so blind.
It was he who'd listened to her when no one else would, who'd helped her smuggle Mordred out of Camelot, who'd told her to leave for the Druids, who'd always been there. She couldn't understand his caring; after all, her own guardian didn't care for her. Merlin was just a servant boy. What reason did he have?
Obviously, he'd fallen hopelessly in love with her.
It was understandable. He was simple-minded, common, unused to nobility. He found her unreachable, beautiful beyond words. And of course he meant well, but he knew she would never even consider him when strong, princely Arthur was the apparent choice for her groom. He acted on it in the only way he found appropriate. And she had to admit it was adorable, in a way. His little crush was something of an entertainment.
But things got out of hand. Everyone save Uther knew Arthur was seeing Gwen. So it was possible. And Morgana started looking forward to Merlin's visits more and more. The crush wasn't entertaining anymore, he was. He had this quick-witted-ness about him that she found just a little charming, and he certainly was a little smarter than she gave him credit for previously. And she liked the way his eyes sparkled when he laughed.
In her darkening life, he was a tiny pinprick of light. Her dreams got worse, Camelot was in constant danger, and Uther was getting worse by the day. And as it dawned on her that she had magic, she realized that her future here was in peril.
And yet, that made her connection with Merlin stronger for reasons unknown to her. He let himself get closer once he realized her true power, and Morgana felt more relieved than she should have to know that Merlin was watching over her. Protecting her. Or so she thought.
Because as he watched her die, she knew she had been mistaken.
The hemlock coursed through her veins, burning and eating at her body. She couldn't breathe, couldn't cry for help, but his face was set. If she was to die, so be it.
What scared her the most was that she had been so foolish. A simple servant boy? Hardly. There was something more powerful brewing behind those eyes of his-the sparkle was gone. The Merlin she knew was gone. In his place was a man who didn't know her, who could sacrifice her without a second thought.
He had never loved her. She had been tricked. And this betrayal would not be forgotten. As the blackness closed in, she could feel Morgause's arms around her. With her sister was where her allegiances lay. In Camelot she had never known loyalty. She had never felt affection. She would burn this godforsaken place to the ground.
It had always been his fault.
In Ealdor, his best friend had died because Merlin forced him to fight. In the forests, his father had died because Merlin was incapable of protecting himself. And in Camelot itself, his first love had died because he was incapable of protecting her.
What if this is what happens to Arthur? To Gwen? To Gaius? To Morgana?
Would he be doomed watch the death of everyone he loved? It broke him slightly, every time he endured it. He wondered how long he could hold out-until the death that would finally take away his sanity was upon him.
To everyone he was Just Merlin. Just Merlin, polishing the prince's armor. Just Merlin, in the stocks for being late. Just Merlin, being stupid as usual. To no one was he allowed to express all that he felt, lest someone should suspect who he really was. And so Freya's death had been unsung, as well as his father's. And Merlin had pulled through.
But now he was faced with a choice. The Lady Morgana, or Camelot. Both helpless, both needing him, both more dear to him than he could ever describe. The solution, however, was clear, and the deed done. Morgana choked and spluttered in shock, clutching at her neck and collapsing to the floor. He could not take his eyes off her. Was she even a friend? She could have been his fellow sorceress-in-hiding, they could have been biding their time together until magic was allowed in Camelot once more.
No, that dream would never have been a reality. Morgana had always been scared of death, of Uther. She would have exposed him, or herself, or maybe even Gaius. He wished things could have been different; could have been safer for them all...
I'm sorry, he tried to say as Morgause materialized beside the king's ward. But nothing would fix this friendship, nothing would bring Morgana back. She may as well have been dead to him. It had always been his fault.