"We felt so differently then
So similar over the years
They way we loved, the way we experienced pain
So many memoires there's nothing left to gain from remembering
Faces and places no one else will ever know"
- Antony and The Johnsons, You Are My Sister
What the Witch Saw
She kept seeing it, over and over: faded, fragmented repetitions of that first terrifying vision that had hit her when she and Mordred had landed deep in the forests after spiriting themselves away from the battlefield, away from Merlin, Arthur and the little girl, away from Morgause's dead body. She saw the overgrown ruins of Camelot and felt hollow inside; she saw the world spinning at a dazzling speed around her and woke up with her heart racing; she saw the cave and woke up because she couldn't breathe – and time and time again she saw the blood on the blade and woke up with tears in her eyes that were part her own, part someone else's.
It hadn't been the first time Morgana had had a vision while awake, it had happened to her more and more often in the time leading up to that day, but it had never knocked her out, neither physically nor mentally, like this one had.
"What did you see?" Mordred had asked he when she came to, screaming.
"Merlin," was all she'd been able to say.
But Mordred hadn't understood. How could he?
"He'll pay, Morgana. He's a traitor and a hypocrite and he'll pay."
"Yes," she had said, unable to stop the tears that must have begun to fall from her eyes while she was lost in the vision. "Yes, he will."
Weeks, maybe months later, Mordred left her, saying that if she wouldn't help him he'd find someone who would. By then, she no longer cared.
That horrible, haunting vision seemed to have changed the very nature of her abilities. It was as if someone had pulled the cork out of a bottle. The visions came as often during the day as during the night now. Sometimes she had difficulties keeping track of what had happened, what was happening at the moment and what had yet to take place. It felt as if she was sleepwalking, waking up not just in strange places but in strange times.
During one of her lucid periods, she had undertaken her final journey into Camelot, donning the plain face of the handmaiden her sister had impersonated before her. She had done it for Gwen. Sweet little Gwen who had thrown all her loyalty to Morgana aside for the chance to marry Arthur, for the chance to wear the crown they had both always assumed would be Morgana's, when Morgana knew how she had lusted over Lancelot. Why shouldn't Morgana let her have the man she wanted?
She had known that if they both managed to escape execution she would have done them a favour rather than a disservice in the end. But that didn't matter anymore either. Either way, Gwen would have tumbled from the pedestal Arthur had put her on, and the crown would have tumbled from Gwen's sweet little head. Morgana had seen the future, and there was no Queen Guinevere in it.
Time passed in ebbs and flows for her now. Days could feel like months, years could feel like weeks. She saw them, now and then – her brother by blood and her brother by magic – riding through her part of the forest. They never noticed her, never seemed aware of her presence. She melted into the background now, the trees and the rocks and the moss. Sometimes they would pass through on their way to some diplomatic visit, dressed up, moving quickly on the highway. Other times they would creep around in the bushes on one of Arthur's silly hunting trips. That is, Arthur crept – Merlin walked. Merlin didn't hunt. She respected him for that.
Once she saw the two of them, separated from the hunting party that must have been around somewhere if Arthur's bow and arrows were anything to go by. They were laughing and smiling, and they were in each other's arms. She hid in the shadows, so close that she could listen to their soft, fond whispers, close enough to watch the peace in Merlin's blue eyes, the smile on Arthur's face – a blissful smile that conjured up memories of childhood games comically incongruous with the decidedly adult game unfolding before her. She wondered if she ought to turn her head and give them their privacy, but if they didn't know that they weren't alone then it couldn't hurt them, and she didn't feel that there was anything very improper in the way she watched them. If she had to live through all their future grieves and agonies in her dreams and her visions, surely she was entitled to witness some of their happiness as well – to be reminded of the existence of such emotions.
They lay on the forest floor, in the sunlight, while she stood in the dark. Arthur's hands were hidden under Merlin's clothes, Merlin's hands tangled in Arthur's hair.
She realised that she was smiling about the same time she realised she was crying. She felt the urge to approach them, to talk to them. She wanted to beg of them to accept her back, to let her have a place again, a place in the sunlight, and just a little bit of that happiness – but that was pointless. She wanted to tell them what she knew, to warn them, to prepare them. But that would be throwing her own burden upon people who could do no more about it than she could. The burden would not turn any lighter for her. All she would achieve would be to wipe those smiles off their faces and that peace off their minds for no reason at all. That would be cruel, and she no longer had any desire to be cruel to Merlin, and she couldn't even remember why she had ever wanted to be cruel to Arthur. Let misery strike no sooner than it must – when it did, she would be there. She had promised Arthur as much, even if he didn't remember it.
But if her torn and tattered sense of time was to be trusted, it would be a long time before she would be held to that promise. For now, she'd keep her peace. For now, she would hide in the shadows. She might be haunted by the end of the story, but the men in the glade, unaware of her presence, were still only at the beginning. There were golden days to come.
The last A/N: And now I go off to sleep. For, like, a week. And possibly cry. And then finally watch Series 5. So still no spoilers, please.