SPOILERS MENTIONED IN THE AUTHOR'S NOTE: Yeah, I'm a terrible person. I've left this so long mostly because I was disappointed with the final season of Merlin – don't get me wrong, I loved the show but there was SO MUCH ELSE they could've done. One, I'm fairly positive Arthur wasn't a young king when he died (yeah, he's a myth, but roll with it) and they really didn't give a lot of background or explanation behind motivations. Season 4 was probably one that bothered me most – why would Arthur's uncle ally with Morgana? Uther was already gone, and they never said what Agravaine had against his nephew. Even in season 5, Mordred goes from trusted knight to bad guy in one episode. ONE EPISODE. JUST GRRRRR. And I really, really, REALLY wanted more than 13 minutes of Arthur knowing about Merlin. SO MANY POSSIBILITIES LEFT UNUSED.
Oh well. On with the story, right? Be prepared to suspend belief, and possibly an AU.
Morgause squashed the panic rising up like bile in the back of her throat. She would not be cowed by a waif of a boy with no training. She was a high priestess of the Old Religion – the last of her kind, and the most powerful witch in ages. She could raise the dead, tear holes between this world and the next.
Merlin was a servant - a clumsy, if not obnoxiously capable of showing up in the right places at the right times, peasant.
She stepped between her sister and the warlock, raising her hand to perform the same spell she'd used on Arthur just that afternoon. It may be pitch black, but the inferno she was about to create would illuminate more than she needed.
In the dark, the golden glow of the warlock's eyes fixed on her, and Morgause fought the urge to shiver. Though his eyes were all she could see, she felt sure he was smiling at her.
"You are a stupid one," Merlin growled in the dragon's voice. "But isn't that what they say about blondes?"
Morgause snarled, and lifted her hand to send the flames towards the boy…but instead of incinerating him where he stood, it hit an invisible wall. Obviously he was shielding himself, but Merlin hadn't uttered a word. He hadn't moved his hands, or anything else. He simply stood there, completely unaffected by the heat and the fire.
And he was smiling at her.
"That's adorable," he said, then made an 'o' with his lips, and puffed gently on the fire as if putting out a candle.
Ice impossibly spread up the flames, and racing towards Morgause's arm. Out of instinct, she flinched her hand away, and the ice sculptured flame dropped to the ground, shattering on impact.
"You may be a high priestess, but you were still taught how to use magic. I could move things with just a thought before I could crawl."
As if to demonstrate, Merlin waved his hand as if batting a fly and the chair he was previously bound to went flying towards the sisters. It smashed above their heads, raining splinters down on their heads.
"To be perfectly honest, I've spent my whole life in hiding…I'm not even sure of what I am capable." Merlin didn't even bother to move his hand this time, but the air crackled with electricity, making Morgause's hair stand on end. "But the Great Dragon respected me, the Druids refer to me in prophecy and legend, and I am the only one of my kind…so I'm going to assume I can beat you so badly your name won't even be mentioned in the retelling of Camelot."
"Sister, we need to leave," Morgana hissed in her ear, pulling on the back of her dress.
"Leave? But we were having so much fun," Merlin said. "And it's not fair to leave before the other player gets to make a move."
There was a split second warning, the barest of movement of air, and Morgause dove to the side, dragging her sister down with her as the sheer force of Merlin's will smashed the dungeon wall behind them.
The guards who'd been clamoring at the door to help their mistresses were flung backwards into the rubble and debris that exploded outwards. They lay unmoving in the wreckage.
"Hmm. Missed," Merlin said idly from the shadows. The torches from the passage beyond the now ruined door cast a flickering yellow light across his pale features. If seeing him in the dark was disturbing enough with just those glowing yellow eyes, it was worse in the torchlight. "Don't run. You'll only die tired."
Merlin apparently only cared enough to partially shield himself from the damages – something caught him across the forehead, splitting his brow and causing blood to spread across one side of his face like war paint. The blood still dripped freely from his previously impaled hand, and he was smiling like this was a game of cat and mouse…and the mice were losing terribly.
Morgause raised her head from the rubble, shaking bits of stone and wood out of her hair and eyes, ignoring the throbbing pains that were undoubtedly turning to bruises even now.
"Sister?" she said, shaking Morgana's shoulder. Morgana didn't move. A cut above her brow and a lump on the back of her head just behind her ear had her down for the fight.
Morgause felt her temper blaze and her blood begin to boil. After years of planning, countless hours spent cultivating her talents, her resources; turning Cenred and the others to her plans…she would not be beaten by a farm boy from Ealdor. She didn't care how powerful he was, she hadn't really been trying.
With a primal scream of rage, Morgause flung her hand out at the warlock, her eyes flashing gold as blast of sheer force hurdled towards Merlin.
"It doesn't matter how strong you think you are," Morgause shouted, sending another invisible blast towards the warlock, who actually put his hand up to block it this time. "Your king is dead! And you know it!"
Merlin's eyes flickered for a moment, and she saw the blue iris before the god-like gold returned.
Ah. I found a weak spot.
"You may have magic, but it couldn't save your king!" She flung another spout of fire at Merlin, who deflected it off to the side. "All that power, and you're still a failure!" She managed a lucky blow that spun Merlin to one side, forcing him to catch himself on the now destroyed bars of Arthur's cell.
"Know when you're beaten, Merlin," Morgause spat, raising her arms for another blow.
Merlin snarled, and with force she wouldn't have believed possible if she didn't witness it herself, flung her back against the wall, pinning her there like a trapped insect.
"Wise words from a silly little girl," Merlin snapped, slicing his hand through the air as if to cut it like a knife. There was a thundering crash, and the chamber was suddenly illuminated with the gray light of falling night. The wind howled through the dungeon where Merlin just swiped the roof off as easily as a cat batted a fly, and thunder rolled over head.
"Do you know what happened to the last high priestess who dared to try and take Camelot? Who thought she could defeat me?" Merlin snarled. "I warned you about how Nimueh died. Do you know what happens to a sorceress when they're struck by lightning?"
Morgause tried to pry herself loose from where she was pinned against the wall. Her face turned red from exertion, and her eyes bulged as Merlin's invisible grip tightened around her neck. Electricity filled the room, the hair on her arms standing on end, energizing the whole room in what felt like tangible anticipation of what he was about to do.
"Allow me to demonstrate."
Merlin and Morgause both turned at the sound of the voice, just as lightning split the air and hurtled towards Morgause…only to miss her and shoot harmlessly off towards the destroyed doorway.
Merlin hit the ground, unprepared for someone to physically attack him without magic, his head bouncing against the stone and sending stars across his vision.
Blue eyes met his, and Merlin couldn't help the smile, albeit bloodied and broken, that spread across his face. "Arthur?"
"Merlin, snap out of it! She's not worth it!" Arthur demanded, not releasing the hold he had on Merlin's shoulders.
Arthur would never admit this, but he was rather happy to be ignored the battle taking place in the confined area of the dungeon. With all of their attention focused on each other, they didn't notice when one of Morgause's deflected blows smashed aside a section of the bars to his cell.
At first, he wasn't sure what he should do, or if there was even anything for him to do – he already knew anything he was capable of was no match against magic, and Merlin seemed to be holding his own. Or rather, he seemed to be winning…in spectacular fashion. But as soon as he heard Merlin mention Nimueh, he flashed back to the interrogation when Merlin said he'd killed Nimueh with a bolt of lightning called down from the sky. He may have done it before, but Arthur was not about to let his gentle hearted servant kill to defend him, especially when Merlin believed him dead thanks to whatever sorcery Morgana used on him.
He tackled Merlin without considering he was probably just as likely to get killed as Morgause if Merlin attacked her with a bolt of lightning. He winced when he felt Merlin's head collide with the stone floor, bouncing bonelessly and causing his eyes to flicker.
When he opened them again, Merlin's own blue eyes looked back at him, and Arthur was relieved to not see a fleck of gold in them. But his pupils were blown wide and unevenly, and Arthur had seen enough and suffered enough head wounds to know that he'd probably just given his friend a concussion along with whatever spell or potion Morgause and Morgana used on him earlier. Oops.
"Arthur?" Merlin repeated, this time slurring the name drunkenly. "I'm sorry I couldn't save you. Wait for me and we'll both go home together."
Oh no…Arthur thought. Merlin still thought he was dead.
"Merlin, it's just a trick," he said. "It's just a magic trick! I'm fine! I'm safe! Don't do anything you're going to regret because of me."
Merlin scoffed breathlessly, raising his hand to ineffectually push at Arthur. "Who would regret squashing a spider?"
Arthur caught his friend's mangled hand, gently pulling it off his torn tunic. "You would." Merlin's gaze rolled back to his, and Arthur smiled. "You're an idiot if you think I would let you do this for me."
"Arthur?" Merlin repeated, and this time Merlin's hand came up to Arthur's face. Long, pale and bloodied fingers skimmed across his face, lightly touching everything as if to assure himself that the Arthur before him was real and alive.
"Yes, Merlin. I'm fine," Arthur assured.
Merlin's eyebrow quirked. "You don't look fine. You look terrible."
Arthur rolled his eyes. "Thank you. I'm sure I look better than you."
Merlin shook his head, rolling to one side to try and gain his feet. "Then I must be dying."
"Not yet, you aren't."
Morgause, freed from the invisible chains Merlin bound her to wall, stood only a few feet from them. Her dress was torn, and her face was bloodied and bruised as her blonde hair flew wildly about her face, loosed from its immaculate braids. She looked as mad on the outside as she was on the inside for once.
"This is more poetic, is it not?" Morgause hissed through bloodied teeth and split lips. "The golden prince and his pet warlock killed side by side. Brothers in arms and brothers in death." She raised her arm to deliver their killing blow, and Arthur refused to flinch, or look away from the sorceress.
Which is how Morgause didn't see Merlin call the fallen sword of one of the guards to Arthur's hand until the blade was already imbedded in her side. Her mouth formed a small 'o' of surprise as she stumbled in her attack.
"How's that for poetry, you bitch," Arthur snarled, shoving her backwards and releasing the hilt. She fell in the dust and rubble and didn't move again.
It's not as long as I like, but I'm not very good at writing fight scenes. Especially since I think Merlin is powerful to just bitch slap Morgana or Morgause out of existence with barely a thought. Anyway, let me know what you think. I'm not sure how long I should make this, or if the next chapter and possibly and epilogue will be it. I like reading long fics, but I am apparently terrible at writing them.