Firstly, I owe the inspiration for this story to several other writers—RomaFelton and Davelle, both of who have stories with similar "Merlin/Morgana sexual battle of wills". I was also inspired by jaqktd's "An Unexpected Job" (a great story).

However, I started this story because I can't quite make sense of S3's angry eye-sex. Mind you, I think that Merlin and Morgana have had chemistry from the start. (Even their first scenes together are a bit naughty). Several people have suggested that when the writers first cast Katie and Colin they didn't realize how electric their scenes would become. I'm inclined to believe that theory as most of S3 and S4 have shown crackling tension between them, and not exclusively hatred and anger. Like many of you, I REALLY want Merlin and Morgana to be together, not merely foils for each other in the show. Here's to hoping.

This story takes place shortly after S3's "Tears of Uther Pendragon II"

Chapter 1

"You owe me, serving boy," Morgana whispered across the short space, her voice dripping with a sickly sweet sentiment that set his teeth on edge.

He didn't particularly like this alcove. The past two times that Morgana had pulled him in here it hadn't gone well. One would think in a castle this large that she would be able to find a better place to threaten him. Apparently not.

"Owe you for what?" he said, wrenching his arm from her grasp. He resisted the urge to rub the spot where her fingers had curled around his wrist. She was strong for such a delicate woman, he'd have to remember that for next time.

She smiled although it didn't quite reach her eyes. "Why for keeping your little secret. As much as I'd love to see you headless, I have other plans for you," she whispered.

He didn't like her train of thought. Aside from her total destruction of Camelot, the thing he feared the most was Arthur and Uther finding out about the poison. He tried to make himself seem unfraid as he spat back, "I thought we were even on that score. I keep your little rebellion a secret and you keep my heroic attempt to save Camelot under wraps."

He thought he saw a flash of pain in her jade eyes, but she covered it up so quickly he wasn't sure. He could barely read her emotions nowawayds. He'd thought her forgiveness so genuine in her bedchamber. The honesty, the sweet voice that he'd missed so much…it had seemed so real, like the answer to every prayer he'd muttered since her disappearance.

But it had all been a lie. He couldn't trust anything about her now.

She smirked and said, "Heroic attempt to save Camelot? Is that what they call poisoning and cold blooded murder nowadays? As if anyone besides your precious Gaius would believe the King's ward capable of such acts. Even Arthur might question what's muddled your mind if you dare breathe such slanderous accusations."

He didn't have an answer for that. It was true. Arthur, Uther, everyone was just so bloody happy to have Morgana back at Camelot that they were blind to her little smirks and cunning looks, blind to what she'd done and what she was capable of doing.

She seemed to sense his reticence and said, "But don't worry, I'm more than happy to keep your little secret. For a price." Her red lips quirked at the threat.

His brow furrowed as he said bluntly, "What do you want, Morgana?"

"Well, where would the fun be in telling you that?" she said innocently, her eyebrow arching. .

"What do you want, Morgana? It must be something big if you're willing to keep me alive," he said defiantly.

"True. My sister thinks you're too clever. She doesn't like the look of you… 'there's something secretive and shifty about that boy.' But I know you better and I know there's nothing you can do to harm me. Not anymore," she finished proudly as if she'd just solved some elusive puzzle.

If only you knew, Morgana. If only you knew how powerful I really am, I'd be the one blackmailing you. But of course she couldn't know, wouldn't know the true extent of his powers. That was a secret, one he wouldn't dare spill to Morgana for the sake of his wounded pride.

"Besides," she continued, "I think playing with you is better than killing you, wouldn't you say?"

He gritted his teeth and bit down a hot retort. He repeated for the third time, "What do you want, Morgana?"

Waving her hand dismissively, she said, "I'll explain it all later. This castle is full of eyes and this alcove isn't particularly secluded. Come to my room tonight. Midnight. Don't be late," she said with a smirk and then she was brushing past him, her silken gown sliding against his roughhewn clothes, the difference in their stations blatantly obvious. He didn't know if he had ever hated her more.

She had everything. Luxurious gowns, sparkling jewels, sumptuous living quarters, beauty, brains, the ear of a King-and she wanted to destroy it all on some quest to right wrongs for "her people". Her people indeed; she couldn't even recognize one of her people who stood right in front of her.

She didn't even look around as she strode down the hallway like a queen, her hips swinging in a provocative dance that would make any man's eyes linger. She was confident in her ability to manipulate him, confident that she would make him dance to her tune, just like everyone else in Camelot. Every false smile in the courtyard, every tinkle of laughter in the Great Hall, every flirtatious glance she sent one of the knights; it was all a lie.

And it wasn't enough that she had everyone fooled. Now she was bullying servants in alcoves, preying on their dirty secrets. Magic didn't corrupt; it was power that corrupted, pure and simple.

He turned his eyes away and didn't watch her go.


What say you? I don't know if it's the lack of angsty drama at this point in my "A Thin Line" or what, but I wanted to bring back some of the cat and mouse game from S3 (with a naughty twist). This story will definitely go up in rating as I'm Duchess Emma.

And yes, I'll get back to finishing "A Thin Line" (puts nose to the grindstone)