There's blood between us, love, my love,
There's father's blood, there's brother's blood;
And blood's a bar I cannot pass:
- 'The Convent Threshold' by Christina Rossetti
Morgan closed her eyes in a vain attempt to ignore her surroundings of carnage and glazed eyes that glared accusingly at her.
"You did this." They seemed to say in their mutilated bloody glory. "You caused this." There were so many. So many dead over what was little more than a petty squabble between siblings. So many lives so effortlessly wasted. So many who would never return to their families, to their wives, to their children. The crown no longer seemed as glittering and beautiful as before, now just a dull circlet splattered with dried blood, resting on the ground beside the lifeless body of its owner.
Even with her eyes closed, Morgan could not escape. A thick cloying, sickeningly sweet smell permeated the air and filled her nostrils with every breath she took. A wave of nausea passed through her swiftly and she struggled to overcome it, she had vomited once already when she had stumbled across the battlefield and almost tripped over a decapitated corpse.
Her eyes flashed open, the beginning of the sunrise reflected in her irises. The red sun barely peaking over the horizon. She wandered among the corpses, averting her eyes where possible and sat on a rock that she encountered near the edge of the battlefield where the bodies were scarce and the blood did not stain the grass as bright a crimson.
It was so quiet. Mere hours ago the area had been alive with sounds: crashes of sword against sword, screams of agony as spears passed through armour into the vulnerable flesh beneath, battle cries and groans of the dying. Now there was nothing. Not even a bird call or the rustling of the wind. All Morgan could hear was the beat of her own heart where so many others had ceased. She wiped her hands on her dress, trying to remove the blood she had acquired in her frantic search for survivors. Once turning over a man she though was still breathing only to see his life expire as a result of the long ropes of intestine that spilled out of a gaping maw in his abdomen. The blood would not come off, it had dried on her and it would take more than a few rubs to wash the scarlet stains off her hands. She tried anyway, to no success.
Morgan heard a movement to her right and a man sat beside her, laying his sword on the ground at their feet. His hands were stained too but he wiped it off from his hands onto his clothes, leaving only small traces behind.
"Who won?" she asked hollowly, not particularly caring about the answer.
"I thought there were a few of Mordred's men left." Merlin glanced down at his sword. The blood on it was fresh, that and his accompanying silence was answer enough. "What about Arthur? Mordred?"
"Arthur took a fatal blow, but I managed to get him to Avalon in time." He paused and looked directly at her "Mordred is dead." She sighed ruefully, feeling strangely numb at the news.
"I've never thought anyone could be truly evil." Morgan said after a moment of silence. "But there was always something… wrong about him. Even when he was a baby." She folded her hands into her lap and gazed intently at her fingertips. "Will- will Arthur survive?"
"If anything can save him, it's Avalon. But I don't think he wants to be saved." His tone was resigned.
"It does not seem fair. For all his faults, Arthur was a good King. Part of the reason I gave up my own quest for the crown and Mordred became obsessed with it. There's something very sad about Arthur's true downfall not being the result of a hard thought battle but actually caused by his whore wife, who even now gets to ride off into the sunset with her traitor lover."
"Guinevere and Lancelot will not escape this unpunished. None of us survivors will." Morgan felt her curiosity piqued by this cryptic comment.
"What do you mean?" She asked.
"They will be happy for a few months." He stated, matter of fact without any emotion. "But then Lancelot will struggle to find work and will become paranoid that Guinevere will do the same to him as she has to her two previous husbands. In this state he will have an affair himself with, ironically, a married woman. He will eventually be killed by her irate husband. As for Guinevere, she will spend the rest of her days as a maid to a noble woman and in doing so will be reminded every day of what she gave up with Arthur." Morgan was struck speechless, eventually she recovered her composure.
"How do you know all this?" He sighed and did not answer for a while.
"It is part of my own punishment." He said finally, "To see destinies and glimpses of the future."
"Couldn't you have prevented this then?"
"No I could not. This event was fated to happen." Merlin replied remorsefully, "Nothing I could have done would have changed the outcome. You and Arthur would always have fought, Mordred would always have been born, Guinevere would always leave Arthur. Fate, like destiny, is stubborn and always gets her way."
"So what happens now?"
"We endure." Merlin stood, not bothering to pick up his sword as he had no intention of bringing it with him where he would now go, Morgan remained seated. "We move on."
"I- I don't think I can." Morgan blinked back the tears, refusing to show weakness to the man she so respected and admired, she hated how her voice shook with every word. "I've caused too much suffering, too much death. All of this-" she gestured "is my fault. This is something I cannot get past." One traitorous tear escaped and she brushed it away angrily, a little of the blood on her hand wiped off from the contact with the liquid. Merlin's eyes softened.
"Then let me help you." She stared at the outstretched hand in front of her. "You don't have to be alone forever, Morgan." He was normally so guarded, so careful not to give anything away, but now he spoke with such sincerity that it could not be mistaken for anything else. Morgan held his gaze as she took his hand. She gripped it tightly and vowed silently not to let go. He smiled then, an expression she had not seen on him for so long and she could not help but smile back.
Together, they walked hand in hand though the blinding light of the morning's sun towards their new beginning.
AN: Right so that was that, it's supposed to be set after the Battle of Camlann, I've taken quite a few liberties with the characters. So I'm sorry if Merlin and Morgan are out of character but I'm trying to show it quite a while down the line when Morgan maybe realises that the crown isn't worth it but Mordred picks up the obsession. Feel free to point out any spelling mistakes I might have missed or questions you might have. I hope it's not too melodramatic.
The general writing of this is inspired by my AS level English Lit texts which are: Birdsong, Rime of the Ancient Mariner mainly and also the Christina Rossetti quotation at the top.