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CHAPTER FOUR: Romance
The days went by more quickly after that. Merlin and Morgana spent a great deal of time together. She would saddle her horse and ride into the forest, and he would tell Gaius that he was gathering herbs when he joined her. After her initial fear, she had progressed quickly, and pushed him beyond his own limits. She didn't know of his book, and he wanted to keep it that way. It was safer for her.
Morgana couldn't remember when she'd been this happy. Her nightmares were happening less often, but she still requested the sleeping draft, just so she would have more of a reason to see Merlin. It was he who had begun to deliver the bottles, instead of Gaius.
Sometimes he would bring her flowers that he'd picked himself from the gardens or the woods, and she would put them into a vase on her table and smile to herself whenever she looked at them. This couldn't last long, of course. They risked being caught at every turn. Slowly though, their relationship turned from being slightly romantic and steeped in magic to being slightly magical and steeped in romance. Morgana found herself wanting to see Merlin every moment of the day. She became a regular fixture on the practice field when Arthur would drill his knights.
In the evenings, he would sneak out of his room and go to hers, and they would talk for hours about their lives and practice magic quietly. Sometimes he would spend the night there, with Morgana cradled in his arms. If she woke up screaming, he would hold her tightly while she cried into his chest. She didn't understand why she loved him the way she loved him. He was new, he was beautiful, and he cared for her. Perhaps that was why. Ever since she had hit puberty the eyes of men had followed her as she walked down corridors and danced at balls, but they had never wanted to get to know her as Merlin wanted to.
She smiled as she remembered how she used to size each young lord and knight up as they did the same to her. Sometimes she would tease them, flirt with them, convince them to fall in love with her, then abandon them. It was a game she had enjoyed playing. It gave her control over them, and control was necessary in a life of court intrigue, which was what she had always seen in her future. But her views were changing. Instead she wanted a life with Merlin, a life with love. Morgana had never imagined that she could feel that way about someone, or that someone could feel that way about her. When she was younger she had thought that Arthur might, but as she matured, she realized that their relationship was one of platonic love, like siblings.
Whenever she saw Merlin, her heart seemed to swell. It was torture to keep her eyes off of him when others were around. They couldn't risk being caught. If that happened, Uther would surely kill him, or banish him and not listen to reason. So all they had were stolen hours and secret moments when nobody would catch them.
One night, as they sat in Morgana's chambers, she voiced her feelings. "I wish we could be together, Merlin. Where everyone could see us."
"I know. But it's too dangerous. And wouldn't everyone watch us, looking for missteps?"
"I'm not ashamed!" she said, standing up and walking to the window. Merlin followed her and put his arms around her, gazing down into the square.
"I didn't think you were," he soothed. "And I'm certainly not. Who would be, with such a beautiful woman?"
She smiled and leaned back against him. "I wish things were different."
Months passed. Their love grew stronger as their relationship progressed. Sometimes Morgana would round corners in the castle and find Merlin waiting for her, a little flower in his fingers. He would kiss her, wind the flower into her hair, and let her pass. Other times she would fit herself into a nook, and grab his sleeve as he walked past, pulling him tightly against her in the shadows of the castle. There was not a day that they did not have contact.
She learned of his past in Ealdor, and all he had done for Arthur. She felt that he was holding something back, but didn't push it for fear of losing him. Along with his stories, she poured her heart out to him about her past. What it had been like to lose her mother, then her father, then move all the way to Camelot. It was when he had held her for an hour while she cried at the remembered loss of her father that she had realized something. She wanted to marry Merlin. She wanted to be with him forever, raise children together.
One night she confessed this to Merlin as they lay together in her bed. She slid one hand along his bare chest, reveling in the feel of his skin. His thumb caressed her bare shoulder, eyes closed in contentment.
"Merlin, I want to marry you," she whispered into the dark.
"What?" he mumbled, shifting a little.
"I want to marry you. I want to be with you forever. I want to have children with you. I love you." Her voice grew louder.
Merlin opened his azure eyes and looked at her. "What about Uther?" he asked.
"I don't care about him. My love for you is stronger than anything he can do to us. He will see sense, I know it."
No matter how Merlin tried to persuade her that it was a bad idea, she wouldn't listen. That was part of what had attracted him to her: her stubbornness. But now he feared that it would destroy them. Neither of their magical skills were developed enough to effectively get both of them away from Camelot, and he knew that Uther would not let his beloved ward marry a mere serving boy. Yet nothing he did dissuaded her. He thought about breaking up with her, but knew that she would never buy it, and he couldn't see her hurt. No matter how crazy she ended up being, he could never bring himself to hurt her.
A week passed as Morgana worked on her speech to Uther. She needed it to be perfect. She knew that he would be difficult to convince, but was sure of her abilities. If he loved her as much as he claimed to, he would respect her wishes.
One morning, she dressed especially nicely and sent Gwen away early before heading down to Gaius's chambers. Merlin sat at the table, a bowl of porridge in front of him.
"And then I need you to go to the market and get me some rosemary," Gaius was saying as Merlin nodded. "Oh, hello, Morgana. How may I help you?" he asked as she opened the door.
"Merlin needs to come with me," she said, fixing her eyes on the young man. "We are going to speak to the king."
"Why?" Gaius asked, but he got no response. Morgana had turned and left, Merlin right behind her, murmuring to her.
"Morgana please, think about this. Uther may not listen."
She ignored him, instead striding regally through the corridors to the council chambers. The doors stood open, and she moved through them swiftly. Uther sat alone on the large chair that functioned as a throne, looking over a set of papers. "Ah, Morgana," he greeted her. "How are you this morning?" he asked.
"I wish to speak to you, my lord. It is a matter of the utmost importance."
"Of course, my dear. What is it?" he leaned back and smiled indulgently.
"I wish to marry," Morgana said without preamble. Merlin blinked. He had expected some sort of lead in, and from where he stood behind Morgana, he could see that Uther had as well.
"You wish to marry?" Uther asked incredulously. "And who might this man be, who has captured your heart without any of us noticing? Or do you want me to find you a suitable husband?"
Morgana shook her long hair back and looked haughtily at him. "I have fallen in love. He's kind and thoughtful, and he listens to me. I need you to seriously consider him though you might be inclined to deny my request right off."
"Who is it?" Uther asked, trepidation showing in his voice.
"Merlin," Morgana said, looking over her shoulder at her lover. "I am in love with Merlin."
Uther stared at her in disbelief for a moment, then began to laugh. "Please, Morgana," he said through his chuckles. "I don't have time for these kinds of jokes, no matter how amusing you may find them."
Morgana looked angrily at him. "I am not joking, my lord. I want to marry Merlin."
Uther stopped laughing as he slowly realized that his ward was being serious. "But this boy is a servant. You are a lady. It is not proper."
"So what?" she asked. "I am in love with him, and he is a good, kind, man." Merlin stepped forward and made as though to put a hand on her shoulder.
"Do not touch her!" Uther yelled, and the servant froze. "Guards, seize him!" A pair of knights came clanking in and grabbed Merlin. One of them fit a gag into his mouth, preventing him from speaking up in his defense.
"What are you doing?" Morgana asked, shocked. "Let him go, he has done nothing wrong!"
"He has defiled the name of my house by involving himself with you. You are never to see him again," the king pronounced, turning his head.
"But why?" Morgana was fuming with anger that he would not listen to her. He claimed to love her, so why did he not want her to be with the man she loved no matter his rank. Was his pride so overwhelming that he would not even see what was right before his eyes? "Why can I not be with him?" Morgana asked furiously, glaring at Uther, who sat coolly in his throne as though nothing was going on. His face was turned away, his chin resting on his fist. "I am in love with him, and he with me. Do you not want me to be happy?"
And this is exactly where Morgana's Revenge begins. Now if you already haven't – go read it! You know... if you want to.
So that's the end of this story (super short, I know), but if you liked it, keep an eye out for whatever I happen to publish next! It might be awhile, cuz life is happening, but still. It will be out there at some point. :)
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