The raven colour of the rattling fire made the shadows dance on their faces.
The plain pyre was like a small beating heart in the dark, starless night, as it burned in the middle of the quiet woods. The smoke was thick but it blended into the darkness.
She screamed, screamed so hard.
But they didn't listen.
Arthur watched, watched her burning because he couldn't take his eyes off. So this is how it felt to burn a human? To watch someone suffer at your mercy.
Merlin looked away. He wouldn't turn his back, because he would never turn his back at her. Never again.
It was ironic, really.
They were burning a witch.
Arthur was very aware of what Merlin was. He knew. Merlin lingered on the line of uncertainty and confusion. Arthur knew and he had told him once, only once that if Merlin used magic ever again, in whatever situation, he would face the same destiny as the other magical people.
He had to protect Arthur, so he had no choice.
He had swallowed his pride and kept his promise.
Merlin stood quietly behind Arthur at every execution. He had sworn to Arthur that he would never let anyone else know about his magic, that it was the most darkest and the best-hidden secret in the whole kingdom.
Arthur had lost the lightness of his character. He was serious now, efficient, practical and reserved. Cold.
He was ruling Camelot with a rightful hand. After Morgana had murdered Uther and Gwen with magic and tried to kill Merlin, Arthur had decided that magic would stay banned.
Merlin had barely survived it all.
Magic was forbidden under the penalty of death. No exceptions.
Arthur had not married. He was quiet nowadays. Gwen was a forbidden subject. Arthur didn't even look at the visiting princesses.
The witch screamed. Like a banshee, lost from the light.
Merlin took rapid breaths and they turned into blue smoke. The prince, however, inhaled calmly. In and out. Steadily. Like his hatred would flow out along with the blue air.
The heat on Merlin's skin disgusted him, made him feel dizzy.
But Arthur wanted them both to smell the scent of burning skin and hair, wanted the ash cover their clothes.
Because there was no match for Arthur Pendragon's wrath as he watched Morgana Pendragon burn.
It was satisfaction. Revenge. Payback.
For Gwen. For his father. And for almost killing Merlin.
Merlin knew that if he had died, Arthur would have probably gone mad.
At least that was what the people whispered in the streets of Camelot. That was how Arthur had reacted when Morgana had slaughtered his loved ones. That was how he had acted while Merlin had fought for his life.
When it had been certain that Merlin would survive, Arthur's sanity had flowed back. But it had changed him. It had carved a hole inside the future king's soul.
Morgana screamed. Begged. Cried.
He pleaded Arthur to save her life, to forgive her. She said that they were brother and sister, so he couldn't execute her.
Arthur hadn't answered.
Morgana had tried to beg Merlin to save her. On her knees.
Merlin's heart had shattered into pieces, but he didn't bend.
So, the king and his servant watched quietly as the witch Morgana burned.
It took long.
Her screams were endless, they echoed through the empty woods and hills.
Merlin pitied her. Arthur didn't.
Because in his opinion, Arthur wasn't burning his sister. That person was long gone. He was burning a traitor, a murderer, a witch.
Small wind made her burning black hair dance in the air.
The gust of air fed the fire, and it bursted higher, rattling and letting out moans as it ate her.
Swallowed her skin, her bones.
Merlin brushed the tears away harshly. He stood behind Arthur, head hung.
After two hours of screaming, she finally stopped.
Her magic had run out, her face had burned away.
But Arthur stood there, watched - until the first ray of sunlight broke the horizon and dawn came, and all that was left was ash.
Then, he let go of his hate.
But it didn't heal his soul anymore.