Walking Among the Living
Summary: When Morgana died, she hated Merlin and Arthur so much she decided to stick around as a specter and haunt them for the rest of their days.
Warnings: major character death (although, she's already dead before the story even starts so I don't know if it really counts as character death)
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters here-in. The idea for this story comes off a picture prompt at Camelot Canvasses over on lj, Challenge Pic #2.
In the beginning, she had hated him. He had been the reason for her death after all. If it hadn't been for him, she would still be around, still be alive. She might even be queen of Camelot by now. And she meant actually queen, not that ridiculous facsimile she had been before.
When she had first died, she had raged about the injustice of it all. Why did HE get to live while she was cast aside into death? It didn't make any sense. He was just a servant boy, she was a powerful priestess of the Old Religion. He should have had no power against her, and yet, he had killed her. It was disconcerting.
In those first moments of death, she had made a rash decision. At the time, she hadn't regretted it. Her hatred, rage, and disgust could have filled oceans. But now, she wasn't as sure that she had made the right decision as she had been then. Death had a way of soothing one's pains, taking away one's hatred, and teaching one patience. Endless patience.
When she had died, she had been presented with an option, as a priestess of the Old Religion, to live on as a specter. Faced with the unknown of death or the ability to haunt and torture her brother and his servant, she chose to stay on without a moment's hesitation.
She had been so angry. After the initial transference from living person to dead specter, she had followed the pair around wherever they went for years. She had dogged their footsteps, tripped them up where she could and felt immense satisfaction in doing so. Or rather, she would feel the satisfaction until whatever hardship she had produced was laughed away or shrugged off.
She had spoiled their supplies while they were far from home. They had joked about eating rats. She had led raiders right to them. They had dispatched them easily and then her brother had taunted his servant about hiding whenever there was danger. Copies of speeches the king was supposed to give would suddenly vanish into thin air. Arthur would wing it with Merlin, standing just out of sight, whispering suggestions to him and it would be better than the speech that had been written out. They would go hunting. She would scare off the game for leagues around. Arthur would merely roll his eyes and jokingly accuse Merlin of being so loud he scared everything in the forest.
For years, she had just thought she simply wasn't trying hard enough. She had tried with more and more outlandish plans to upset them, but to no true avail. She occasionally saw the lines of annoyance begin to form, but it would never be the blow-up she had been looking for. She was sure that if she could only affect the rest of the kingdom, they would care, but that large of a scale was no longer in her control. She could merely manipulate what happened to those two, no one else. And all the while, she had tried vehemently to ignore the work they were doing along the way.
She didn't want to know about the pains they were taking to unite Albion. She didn't want to acknowledge that her brother had not put a single good sorcerer to death in his entire reign to date. She did not want to face the fact that the people were living in peace and Camelot had been making overtures to the druids. She tried as hard as she could to turn a blind eye.
But when one is the presence of another for so long, one begins to know that ins and outs the person even if they do not wish it to be so. She could tell herself that Merlin was evil for what he had done to her, that he was a traitor to the magical people until she was blue in the face. But that did not hold weight in the face of him pleading for the rights of magic-users in front of the unbending council. It could not stand firm in the face of his sitting in meetings with the druid elders. It seemed flimsy even to her when she listened to him patiently try to explain magic to her brother in the privacy of his chambers.
And she could swear that Arthur was just as bad as Uther for the rest of her not-existence, but that made less sense to her the more times she saw him back up Merlin's quest to return magic to the land. It was hard to say that when he congratulated a little girl on how she had accidentally used her magic to save her family from starvation. It was almost impossible to believe that when he stood between his own guards and a known sorcerer telling all that HE was the king and that if there was any arresting to be done HE would be the one doing it. And then turning around and declaring there was no need for an arrest to the shocked council.
And so it was, day by day, hour by hour, they wore down her defenses. They tore through her hate. They forced her to remember why she had loved them in the first place. And those oceans of rage she had dwelt in for so long dried up, leaving nothing but her.
But she did not stay empty. She could not stay empty. The hate may have left, the rage may have died away, but she was still bound to them. She was still forced to follow them every step of their way. Slowly, without her even realizing it, that empty abyss, the barren oceans, began to fill back up. Only this time, they did not fill with rage and hate, rather they filled with love and contentment.
Now when she looked upon them, it was with an easy smile. When she interfered in their lives, it was to nudge something along for them to make their path easier rather than harder as she had before. When they would joke with each other, she would smile and laugh instead of scoffing.
She had come back as a specter intent on bringing them harm and annoyance and frustration for the rest of their lifetimes. But instead of destroying them, they ended up saving her. She was more at peace now than she had been in her entire life while she had been living. She had thought herself incapable of salvation, but she had been proven wrong.
Thinking back over her journey in death from where she had been to where she was today, she had to admit that she had made the right choice all those years ago in deciding to be a specter, even if it had been for the wrong reasons. And as she watched Merlin watching Arthur practicing with his sword out in a clearing in the middle of the woods because the High King of all of Albion just couldn't practice in peace anywhere else, a soft smile settled on her face. She could stand to live like this, for the next few decades at least. Easy.
So, um, sorry about killing Morgana. I blame the picture. (Merlin is sprawled out on a fallen tree limb, leaning against a tree trunk with a small, content smile on his face. Morgana is standing partially behind the tree Merlin is leaning against, looking in the same direction as he is with the same smile on her face.) The Merlin and Morgana there are obviously not from first season and I can't think of any reason why they would be so content near each other in current circumstances. In any event, I hope I didn't creep anyone out too badly. (It's also a tiny bit from the Arthurian legends where Morgana (Morgan le Fey) was against Arthur and Merlin and constantly trying to kill both of them but in the end, she was one of the attendants on the boat that bore Arthur to Avalon. How you get from pure hatred to loving care… )
I'd love to hear what you think.