Hey y'all! :)
Yep, another Merlin fic! I haven't done a continuation of "This Is The Hunting Ground" yet because, honestly, I have no idea where to begin. I'm really not very good at sequels, but if I think of something, I'll be sure to scribble it down :D.
This one, surprisingly, isn't a Merlin & Arthur bromance (which I drastically miss writing already, so I may try and rustle up another fic soon!). After watching 3x07, I couldn't help but notice how Merlin and Morgana seem to have their own personal war waging in the background of everything else that is happening. I think this is even better by the fact that Morgana has no idea she's messing with the greatest warlock ever! Woop woop!
Anyway, pondering on that thought made me come up with this fic that actually shows their kind of merciful warfare - almost like they keep pushing each other more and more, but never enough to be fatal. After all, in 3x05, Merlin indirectly knocked Morgana down the stairs and then desperately fought to save her life. Personally, I think Merlin still deeply cares for Morgana and I'm hoping that under all her Terminator-style facade, Morgana still cares for him now.
Summary:- No matter the battles that rage around, Merlin and Morgana will always be struggling with their own personal warfare: "Do not think that this truce in our warfare will last." "I don't."
I'm a bit iffy on how it will be received simply because I'm not particularly good at writing any other characters or relationship other than Merlin & Arthur (yes, I admit without shame that I did generally focus on just those two through both series and into the third one). I also realised after re-reading this that it sounds a little be Merlin/Morgana-ish. That wasn't intended but if it's how you view it then that's okay :).
I hope you all enjoy it! :D
"Morgana, that's enough!"
The woman turned from her superior stance atop the tower, emerald eyes burning with malice at the interruption of her moment of glory. Her violet dress flitted about her, weightless as a feather whilst still enveloping her body: the epitome of all beauty. Her lips curled bitterly and she tossed the ringlets of shadowed hair back over her shoulder.
"Merlin," she replied, her voice prolonging the word, savouring it like a forbidden fruit. The cruel smirk intensified as she paced forward, studying the night air with a look of disinterest. "I should have known that you would manage to worm your way into my affairs again. Is it the pastime of a useless servant I wonder?"
Her gaze snapped back to the boy's slim frame once more and she found herself struggling to comprehend him. He was an enigma, a puzzle that continued to perplex her as the days passed and faded away. Why would a serving boy risk so much for a prince who often treated him harshly and for a King who hardly knew he existed, nor particularly cared?
The answer to the question evaded her and she ashamedly felt the irritation at not being able to solve such a riddle. And yet, Morgana found the intrigue rising now as she stared upon his resilient frame; an air of authority somehow managing to surround him. He did not look like a mere servant at this moment, stood before her in protest. His skin glowed, an ethereal moonlight forever locked beneath the surface, framed by a head of black hair; the night in contrast. Sapphire eyes, so mesmerising that Uther Pendragon's ward almost wavered in her gait, watched her silently with depths that even she could not venture into.
He was an enigma as always in an almost poetic sense: plain by day, but beautiful by night. Morgana found herself drawn in by the thought, pausing and narrowing her eyes sharply.
"Morgana," he began, a pleading expression sweeping his gentle features, "I beg of you, end this now."
The servant shook his head, taking a bold step forth. "You are killing innocent people!"
The lady scoffed, raising a hand to dismiss him. "Innocent? You call them innocent? They are loyal to Uther, the idle murderer who calls himself King. Not one soul in this kingdom could claim innocence. They have chosen a side and they will die in their ranks."
"You are talking about them as though they are soldiers."
A scream from the courtyard caused both of their eyes to swivel to the source: one pair of eyes sorrowful, the other swimming with glee. Morgana returned her stare to the serving boy first, relishing the pain in his eyes. His gaze was downcast towards her feet, his eyes seeming to flare in momentary anger before settling back into despair. The ward of Camelot had, she realised with a sense of pride, long ago discovered Merlin's weakness in his compassion. It was indeed a pleasure to be given the chance to exploit it.
"They are fighting against magic; be it with sword or without. They persecute a kind different to their own simply because they are different, standing back and watching them all perish whilst not lifting a finger to help," she cursed herself as her voice cracked slightly with emotion. "It is time that they burn, that they are the ones who are executed without fair trial."
Merlin, yet again, shook his head in an attempt to deny that the friend he had once loved was this person before him. The blanket of grief that had latched to him was rising and falling around him with each tentative step he took forward. "This is not about the people. This is just about you and Morgause plotting to take over Camelot."
The ward of Camelot remained silent, hiding her shock well at the knowledge the young boy held. Did he also know of her true heritage of the Pendragon bloodline? Or was he, as many in a time of crisis did, grasping at the mere possibilities that passed by?
"I know that you wish to kill Arthur. But by killing his people, weakening him with his grief for the loss of so many," he straightened, a grim set to his jaw, "that is the act of a coward."
Snarling, the Lady's eyes shone a furious golden and Merlin was flung backward. He winced as his back collided hard with the tower wall, hard enough to leave bruise even the deepest layers of skin. His legs buckled slightly but stubbornly he forced himself to stay upright, levelling a sinister glare at the sorceress before him. Morgana smirked at him as he hesitantly straightened, forcing the stabbing pains to the back of his mind.
His eyes flicked to the sky as a gargoyle swooped past the tower, diving down into the masses with murderous intent. A shudder swept through him as the horrifying memory claimed his mind. He remembered the selfishness of Sigan, the resurrected sorcerer who had attempted to bring down Camelot using its own statues. The man who had wanted to rule everything, who had wanted Merlin to join him so that the Prince of Camelot could kneel at his feet. How anyone could use magic so cruelly confused the young warlock, and yet it was happening all over again.
Yes, it seemed that Morgana had indeed been telling her sister many tales about her time in Camelot.
"I will stop you."
She laughed sharply, flinging her head back in a cascade of moving shadows. "I highly doubt that, Merlin. You have no weapon. And besides, your dear prince is down there, fighting futilely to defend his people. So, I doubt that Arthur will come dashing in to protect you this time."
The young boy allowed a matching smile to grow upon his lips, "Perhaps not, but you forget that your pride can blind you sometimes, Morgana, as it does all prideful people." The incident with the unicorn instantly sprang to mind, allowing a different form of pride to rise to the surface for his friend who had overcome these faults. "I believe that it will be your downfall."
"Your words hold no sway over me, Merlin. Is this a last plea to me to spare your life?"
"Morgana," he edged closer with a sigh, the grin vanishing into resentfulness. Her expression faltered as she remembered the last time that she had seen that look on the boy's face. It was the look he had bore over a year ago – the day he had poisoned her. "I'm sorry."
Unable to react, uncertain as to what he was apologising for, the Lady could only watch as the servant raised one foot steadily into the air. Her brow furrowed before a series of sharp crack sounded beneath her. Lowering her gaze, she stared in horror as the stones beneath her began to splinter, preparing to release her to a fatal fall.
Emerald eyes darted back to the slim servant, his foot hovering in the air for a few more moments. Her hand strained forward but no magic rose within to save her; the dread had already overwhelmed and consumed every fibre of her being. She felt the link beneath her skin break, the sustaining tether to the gargoyles shattering away into non-existence as Morgause's spell ceased.
Her scream tore harshly from her throat as Merlin's foot slammed down with as much force as he could muster. The ground shook, widening the splinters of stone until they finally forced the entire structure around her apart. Absently, she felt the support beneath her feet leave a heartbeat before she followed suit and dropped into the abyss.
Morgause's voice echoed in her head, screaming for her in sheer desperation. Her instinct to reply was smothered by the initial reaction of terror and, cursing her humanity, she was abandoned to suffer in silence. The ward of Camelot could not be saved – the fall was too fast and magic too slow.
This was her end…
A brief touch stroked along the skin of her wrist but she dismissed it instantly. It was merely false hope for a dying soul. However, the touch instantly returned; a sudden corporeal being that tightened painfully around her flesh, locking her in place. Her entire body jerked and she gasped in surprise as her descent was halted. Wide eyes sunk to the courtyard below and she remained paralysed for a moment, tears welling to break the dams of her numerous defences.
The grip on her wrist remained a constant, preventing her fall and she flicked her head back to meet the stare of her rescuer. She was unsure as to whether it was surprise or relief she felt upon seeing Merlin's pale visage hovering above her at the edge of the precipice – the latter, she knew, was cause for unease.
Her voice caught on what she was going to say, but she allowed the steely expression to return to her now ashen complexion. Her fingers remained curled in on themselves, refusing to reach and grip the sleeve of the servant's jacket in a sign of union. Enemies did not consort and yet, if that were so, why was he extending an olive branch in the form of a rescue?
"Morgana," he spoke, keeping his voice level even as his body strained from obvious exertion. His left arm was shaped at an impossible angle by his side, trembling like a leaf in a harsh winter wind as it fought valiantly to support them. "I can pull you up part of the way, but I can't do the rest alone."
Merlin's heart raced furiously as he held the sorceress' enraged stare with a beseeching one of his own. He had almost been too late in his actions, understanding full well the risk he had taken in bringing an end to the attack. Just as his foot had smashed down upon the stone, he had felt Morgause's spell shatter, snapping the link that had used Morgana as a catalyst. The flow of magic had urged him forward as time slowed, his bright golden eyes following each individual rock that had splintered and started to plummet.
He had lunged forth with sheer desperation, akin only to times when his true friends had been endangered. As the Lady fell, Merlin had seen the true face of fear reflected on Morgana's face and it had given him hope. Since her return, Morgana had been heartless, occasionally even utterly emotionless, but to see the picture of honest terror painted upon her expression eased him.
It proved that she was still human.
Cries of alarm broke out from the courtyard below as eyes lifted to the sight of the Lady of Camelot hanging precariously from the tower. How, Merlin internally thought, Morgana could hear such concern being voiced from the people for her safety and not care for theirs in return was a complete mystery.
The pair of irate eyes blinked up at him, her whole body slack in what could possibly be her last act of defiance. The violet dress swarmed around her, deep locks casting beautiful midnight waves in the night air as she stared up at him.
Merlin found himself wondering if this was what it looked like to see an angel fall into damnation. He only wished that he could claim that this fallen angel was not already damned, but her fall had long since passed.
"Let me go, Merlin," she spat, lips curling with revolt at her situation. "That's what you want, isn't it? If I die, your precious prince will no longer be threatened."
Despite himself, the servant let out a weak laugh, head shaking tiredly. Sapphire orbs connected with emerald as she studied him, an almost innocent confusion pervading her. "If only. Arthur can't go anywhere without almost being killed by some creature or another, clot-pole that he is."
Merlin hissed as a slice of pain erupted from his back, the cruel bruise that was bound to form from Morgana's attack already coming to fruition. Any amusement he had felt disappeared instantly as he realised his limits were rapidly being reached. "Morgana, please, I swear to you, I will not let go of you."
"And I should believe you?" scoffed the ward of Camelot. Her stomach lurched as her body began swaying, caught in the shrilly whistling wind as it passed by. "Only moments ago you were going to leave me to die and now you want to save me? Do you really think I'm that stupid, Merlin?"
"Yes!" Morgana's eyebrows darted upward in surprise. "If I wanted you dead, why would I have caught you? Just…" he broke off, squeezing his eyes together as another wave of agony swept through him from his spine. "The spell was broken as soon as you began to fall. The attack is over."
Her mouth gaped uselessly at his knowledge, but she was unable to deny the truth of his words. Had he, therefore, never intended to kill her, only to cause a shock within her that would be powerful enough to break the spell?
He won, she thought in a stunned sense of acceptance. A strange feeling of awe encompassed her that this serving boy, this inconsequential boy, could thwart both her and Morgause to save all of Camelot. He stopped me. Who is he that he can so easily defeat those with magic...?
"Please, let me save you."
Cerulean spheres gazed deeply within her and she felt her cold expression waning, peeling away the mask she had long since fashioned herself to wear. Steadily, her long fingers unfurled, coiling themselves neatly around the sleeve of Merlin's jacket.
With surprising strength that betrayed his slim figure, Merlin dragged her smoothly from her undesired place in the sky. Grunting, she swung out with swift agility, grasping onto the ledge of the precipice and aiding Merlin in his struggles. With one last combined effort, Morgana was wrenched over the ledge to land painfully atop the servant with a surprised yelp.
They both froze with identically shocked expressions, their noses almost touching from their aligned positions. Their arms remained linked together by tightly locked fingers across their torsos; a physical form of the brief bond of unity they had once shared.
Attempting to regain a morsel of her composure, Morgana swallowed. Her vice-like hold on the servant's arm began to lessen but she had yet to remove it completely. The familiar smirk found its way onto her face once more, shielding her from the puzzled emotions that still threatened to consume her, "Do not think that this truce in our warfare will last."
Steadily, the ethereal creature smiled beneath her, eyes twinkling with both sorrow and tolerance. As one, they pulled apart, breaking the bond between them instantly. Morgana rose nimbly to her feet, stepping away from the servant with the regal poise she forced herself to hold each day. Seconds later, Merlin scrambled to his feet, storing away the pure elegance he had beheld moments ago beneath layers of clumsiness and cheerful smiles.
"Perhaps next time you foolishly try to stop me," began the Lady Morgana with a harsh gleam to her eyes, "it will be my chance to decide whether you live or die."
"I believe that you already did, my Lady," the servant replied humbly, holding up his arm graciously to allow her to exit the site of their battle first. His back still smarted slightly from the furious force of the sorceress' attack and he knew that he would suffer for days to come, but, in truth, she could have made it so much worse.
"Of course," the ward of Uther Pendragon floated gracefully forth, dress billowing behind her. She paused, stopping beside Merlin and levelling him with a sincere stare. "Perhaps next time, one of us will make the right decision."
Bowing his head in respect, Merlin watched from the corner of his eye as Morgana strode past him, vanishing from sight without another word. He straightened slowly, pivoting on one foot and studying the overhanging precipice of his own making. He knew that he and Morgana would always be having battles of wills and, ultimately, they would be armed with the same weapons in their constant personal warfare: magic versus magic and, as it would appear, mercy versus mercy.
It was with a heavy heart that the young warlock realised he would never be able to openly decide to kill Morgana. She threatened his destiny, his friends' lives and his own, but still, his mind lingered on the friend that she once was. He knew that had she perished this day, life for him would have been much simpler. Morgana was right in claiming that the threat on Arthur's life would be less with her death, but Merlin still could not find it within himself to strike the final blow.
He sighed deeply, knowing that one day either the warlock or the sorceress would cast down the other and stand victorious. And, he also understood, that should it be an open choice between her and Arthur, Morgana would be dead in an instant. Until she increased her daring to present him with such an ultimatum, her life would be spared.
But, as for if he would make the right decision next time…
Merlin's lips curled lightly, the pale face shining strikingly in the tender moonlight: a mystical being of the night-time. He turned on one foot, strolling through the open tower door and making his way to the hospital to offer his help. Speaking to the empty hallway, he wondered if the Lady already knew what he was about to say.
"I already did, my Lady."
I seem to have an obsession with people hanging off the edge of cliffs or towers... oh dear :P.
I know at the end Merlin kinda turns subservient, but that's 'cause they're both falling back into the roles that they have to play in everyday life.
So what did you think? Were the characters accurate? Please review and let me know what you think!
Hugs, Ami-Rose x x x x x ;)