Disclaimer: I do not own "Merlin". Although I do wish I owned the character of Morgana. Katie Mcgrath ROCKS!
Author's Note: This is my take on how the crypt scene in 3x02 SHOULD have gone. It has a similar result, but with a little less betrayal and a little more hope. It was sort of hard to write because I wanted to make the ending more hopeful without them being completely out of character, but I think it turned out okay. Let me know what you guys think!
The Moment of Truth
Merlin charged into the crypt, ready to do battle, and ground to a halt when he saw what the room held. In the middle of a group of graves and pillars stood Morgana in full battledress. An elaborate staff with the top carved into something resembling a tree had been planted on the ground in front of her. Morgana whirled as he came in. Her hand flew to her sword, but she froze when she saw who it was. The surprise in her eyes vanished.
"You should leave now, while you still can," she said simply.
"Morgana, please, I beg you," Merlin began. He was slightly sweaty from the battle and was gasping for air from his run to the crypt.
He was interrupted by the sound of the ground above them shaking. Both of them looked up. Merlin could feel his desperation growing as every second brought them closer to defeat. Morgana just smiled.
Merlin moved around a pillar, and Morgana turned to face him.
"Women and children are dying," Merlin pleaded. "The city will fall."
"Good," Morgana said, her face hard but triumphant.
"No," Merlin said, shaking his head in disbelief. "You don't mean that."
"I have magic, Merlin," Morgana said, her voice angry. "Uther hates me and everyone like me. Why should I feel any different about him?" There was a hint of pain in her voice now. The wounds Uther had created were deep.
"You of all people could change Uther's mind!" Merlin insisted. He was not going down without a fight. There had to be a way to reach her. "But doing this? Using magic like this will only harden his heart!"
"You don't have magic, Merlin!" Morgana scoffed, her eyes pained. "How could you hope to understand?"
"I do understand, believe me!" he said, stepping forward. He was so caught up in getting through to her that he didn't realize exactly what he had said until Morgana stepped towards him, her own face full of warning. He backed up a step, nodding his head and taking a breath. He would have to be very careful what he said, or he would end up doing exactly the opposite of what he was attempting.
"If I had your gifts, I would harness them for good," he said, trying again. "That's what magic should be for. That's why you were born with these powers."
"You don't know what it's like to be an outsider!" Morgana said, her face both angry and pained. She took a few steps towards him. "To be ashamed of how you were born, to have to hide who you are!" She stared him down, daring him to disagree.
"Do you think I deserve to be executed because of who I am?" she asked, challenging him to agree with Uther. For a moment Merlin saw the old Morgana flickering in her eyes, the Morgana who had been outraged at Uther's treatment of magic-users and had risked everything to stand up to him. She was still in there. This was it, Merlin realized. This was the moment of truth. What he said now would either cause her to come back or to be lost to him forever.
"No," he said softly, shaking his head. Morgana looked a bit surprised, but it was also obvious to him that she was listening. The mask had fallen, and suddenly he could see the girl beneath, hurt and angry and desperate to be accepted for who she was.
"It doesn't have to be like this," he said. Morgana's eyes were sad. She didn't want to do this. She didn't want all those people to die. But she didn't know what else to do.
"We can find another way," he said, silently begging her to listen.
Morgana slowly shook her head.
"There is no other way," she said.
Merlin's heart sank. He had lost. He started to turn away, to try and make a run for the staff as a last-ditch effort, but then he saw the emotion in Morgana's eyes, the desperation. All was not lost, not yet. He still had some power over her. She was still listening. If he could prove to her that there was another way, she would listen. But how?
And then he knew. There was still one thing he could try. It would be the biggest risk he had ever taken, but if it would bring Morgana back it would be worth it.
"I understand how you feel," Merlin said, holding up his hands non-threateningly and taking a step forward. Morgana narrowed her eyes to warn him that she didn't want to hear it, but he kept going. It was now or never.
"I have magic too."
Morgana stared at him, torn between shock and disbelief. In the end she settled for the latter.
"Liar." Her walls were coming back up, fast. He would have to be faster.
"I can prove it," he said quickly. He quietly spoke a few words and his eyes flashed gold. A large piece of rock on the side suddenly shifted and began to rise through the air. Morgana's eyes widened a fraction. The rock stopped at eye level, hovering, and Merlin held it there a moment before letting it fall back to the ground. Morgana was watching him carefully now, her face guarded. But he could see in her eyes that she was willing to listen to him.
"Why did you never tell me?" she asked, sounding hurt.
"I couldn't risk it," he said. Realizing how that sounded, he rushed on. "You would never have told me about yours if I hadn't been at Gaius' that night." She nodded slowly, seeming to accept it. They both knew it was true.
"I know what you're feeling," Merlin continued. "I know what it's like to have to hide it, to be afraid of what will happen if someone finds out."
"And yet you defend Uther." The venom was back in her voice.
"He is wrong," Merlin agreed quickly. "The killing has to stop. But this is not the way. This will only convince him that he's right. It will solve nothing." Morgana was listening hard, her face carefully guarded. Merlin pressed on, taking a step towards her. "Many people will die tonight, innocent people. If you let that happen, you're no better than him."
It was a risky move, and he knew it. Her eyes flashed in anger, but she didn't move away. He still had a chance.
"We have to show Uther that magic is good," Merlin continued. "That's the only way to end the bloodshed." He took another step. "We can do that together. But you have to trust me."
"You tried to poison me," she accused. The hurt in her eyes almost knocked him down.
"I didn't want to," he repeated softly, his regret showing in his own eyes. Morgana saw it, and her mask slipped a bit. "I swear, if there had been any other way..."
The ground above them shook again, and they both looked up. When their eyes met again, Merlin could see the uncertainty in Morgana's eyes. She needed to make her decision, but she was beginning to waver.
"Please, Morgana," Merlin said. "Don't let those people die."
He knew she was thinking of the druids, particularly Mordred. They didn't deserve to die. Neither did the people fighting above them.
"We can do this," Merlin said, taking the final step. He was now directly in front of Morgana. "If we work together, we can show Uther how wrong he is. We can help all the magic-users. But the fighting has to stop. Please. Trust me."
Morgana hesitated. She glanced over her shoulder at the staff and then back at Merlin, weighing the options. Morgause or Merlin. Quick and easy or long and hard. Merlin held his breath, waiting for her decision. Uther's life, and that of many others, hung in the balance.
Morgana drew her sword.
Merlin felt his heart sink as she pointed the weapon at him. Morgana kept her eyes trained on him as she backed up towards the staff so as to better defend it.
"Morgana..." Merlin's voice pleaded with her to change her mind, to come back. Morgana shook her head and backed all the way to the staff, still watching him. She stopped in front of it, her eyes hard.
"Uther must die," she said, her voice hard as stone.
"But that doesn't mean they have to," Merlin said, his eyes pleading. "We can find another way." He took a half step forward, but Morgana's hands tightened around her sword and he stopped. "Please, Morgana. You don't want their blood on your hands." Morgana shook her head.
"It's the only way," she said, determined.
"You don't know that," Merlin said. He took a step towards her, but stopped again when Morgana's face hardened further. "Those are innocent people up there, people who have never done you any harm!"
"They support Uther!"
"Not all of them!" Merlin was getting desperate now. "The druids didn't deserve to die. Neither do they!"
"But they did die, didn't they?" Morgana shot back.
"Mordred wouldn't want this," he said, trying to change tactics.
"Mordred would accept that this is the only way!"
"I know you," Merlin said, stepping forward again. "You're not cold like Morgause."
"You have no idea what I am!" Morgana spat. Why did she look so hurt?
"I know you're not a cold-blooded killer! The Morgana I know would never let those people die."
"I'm not that person anymore," Morgana said. Had Merlin imagined it, or had her sword wavered for an instant?
"Are you sure?" he asked. Morgana said nothing, but Merlin could see her hesitation.
"What Uther does is wrong," he said, pressing on. "His mistakes cost your father his life. Guen's too." He took another step forward. "But how many fathers will you kill tonight?"
"That's different," Morgana said. But her eyes said otherwise.
"Is it?" Merlin said. "Uther is killing innocent people to get rid of magic. How is this any different?"
"We're fighting to save lives!"
"And that's exactly what Uther thinks he's doing!"
"And letting those people die is right?"
"There is no other way!"
"You sound like Uther!" Merlin was pushing too hard, and he knew it. But he was going to have to push just a bit farther.
"I'm not like him!" Morgana yelled.
"Then prove it!" Merlin shouted.
Morgana gave an angry cry-
-and turned and smashed the sword into the staff.
Merlin felt the magic shatter as the two pieces of the staff crashed to the floor. The crypt shook, and he nearly lost his footing. And then it was over. The spell was broken. Camelot had a chance once more. Merlin struggled to catch his breath as relief washed over him.
Morgana stood with her back to him, breathing hard, her eyes on the broken staff. She had acted instinctively, and her mind was only just now beginning to realize the consequences. She had betrayed Morgause. All of their careful planning had been for naught. She had betrayed everything they believed in. Morgause was all she had left. What if she refused to have anything to do with her because of what she had done?
Merlin slowly walked over to her. He stopped beside her, waiting for a reaction. She gave him none, her eyes staying on the staff. A million emotions were warring on her face.
"Thank-you," Merlin said finally.
"I didn't do it for you," Morgana said harshly.
Morgana looked up, and Merlin saw the pain and anger in her eyes. He hadn't changed her attitude towards Uther. She still hated the king with a burning passion. But she was tired of innocents dying, and for that she had ended the spell.
Her mind finally seemed to wrap itself around what she had done, and suddenly she looked so confused and lost, so like the old Morgana who had been frightened of her powers, that Merlin couldn't help himself. He reached out and hugged her. Morgana stood very still.
"You're not alone," Merlin said. "Remember that."
Very slowly Morgana reached up and awkwardly returned his embrace. For one blessed moment they were no longer enemies. They were just friends who had quarreled and were trying to make it up to each other.
And then Morgana pulled away and suddenly the moment was gone. She took a deep breath, refusing to meet his eyes. Merlin knew what she was thinking. It had been a moment of weakness, and as soon as they left the crypt they would have to be enemies once more.
"You should find Arthur," she said finally, her voice cold once more. She stepped past Merlin without meeting his eyes and headed out of the crypt.
"Morgana?" Merlin called. She turned. "I really am sorry."
She stood there a moment, just watching him. And then she gave a small nod. He was not yet forgiven for the poisoning, and maybe he never would be. But that didn't mean he couldn't stop trying.
Morgana turned and headed back towards the surface. Merlin watched her go. He was going to have to watch his step. Revealing his magic might have saved innocent lives, but it had also given Morgana a powerful bargaining chip against him. The battle wasn't over. The darkness inside Morgana was strong. She would continue to fight for magic, and if he knew her she would continue to make attempts on Uther's life. He was still going to have to fight her every step of the way. The crypt had changed nothing. But it had shown Merlin one thing. The old Morgana was still in there somewhere. What was more, he could still reach her. And as long as he could do that, maybe there was still some hope of saving her.
What do you think? Please review and let me know! :)