HAPPY NEW YEAR
The Power of a Name
"Yes?" She replied, turning towards him, and only then did she realize her mistake. Her eyes grew in fear and then he knew...
He knew who she really was.
Her mouth was open and she tried to speak but her lips would not even form a single word.
"That's who you really are, isn't it?" He repeated the question and she averted her gaze.
"Merlin..." She could barely utter his name, the rest of the sentence was clouded by her obvious guilt.
She owed him her life for finding her on the battlefield. He had nursed her back to health, escaped the 'enemy' camp with her. He had shared feelings with her and she had left him in the dark. She considered him a friend but she never even told him her real name.
There was something warm and soft was pressed in her neck and she looked up into those blue eyes of his.
"It's alright. I would've done the same." He tried to be understanding.
She didn't know he was doing the same.
"But-" He continued "it also makes me wonder how much of what you told me was true."
"Everything." Was her immediate reply.
"You called your own father a tyrant, it kind of makes me wonder."
"Because he is a tyrant." She was firm in her believe that he was. "I'm sick of having to look at the sorcerers burning in the courtyard. They're not hurting anyone and he kills them just because they have magic."
"You support magic?" Merlin asked curiously.
"I believe it shouldn't be a death sentence. If no one can can fight him but I, then I will."
He couldn't help but be amazed at the fire inside her. On not one of his little adventures had he met anyone with such a strong and outspoken mind.
"What?" Morgana asked angrily.
"I thought some nobleman had sent you to the battlefield to scare you but you have so much fight in you. You rode into battle yourself, didn't you?"
"Yes." She confirmed his suspicions and saw his wondering smile.
She began walking again and hoped it would keep him from seeing the blush that was growing on her cheeks.
At dusk they rented a room at the inn. They would be crossing the border the next day so it made sense to get a good night's sleep.
During dinner a question popped into Merlin's head.
"Who is Gwen?" He asked.
"My maid. We're good friends."
"You miss her?"
"More than I thought." Morgana said softly.
Merlin suddenly frowned and closed his eyes. Morgana spent a moment looking at him and wondering what he was doing.
"Our room, now." He said with sudden urgency.
Morgana didn't immediately understand but moments later she heard hooves treading the ground outside and did as he told her.
"Under the bed." He said once they were inside and pulled the sheets so they would reach the floor and cover her.
Merlin looked at the mirror and tussled his hair. Someone knocked on the door and as he was opening it, a sudden force pushed him back and onto the floor.
"Where is she?!" A woman's voice spoke.
Morgana cautiously looked at her from under the bed. She was blonde, wore armour and was frowning. Behind her stood soldiers and she quickly hid behind the sheet again.
"Who?" Merlin played the fool.
"Don't test me." She warned him with narrowed eyes.
"What are you talking about?" Merlin acted angry.
The woman kneeled before him so their eyes were levelled "Where is Princess Morgana?"
"It's true then, she's missing?" Merlin asked acting as if he had passed it off as a rumour. It was working, he could see the wheels turn in his sister's calculating mind.
"If you don't give her up now, and I find her with you, I'll have you executed. Is that understood?"
"Yes." Merlin answered but that wasn't good enough.
"Yes, what?" She demanded.
"Yes, my Queen."
"Good. Farewell, brother." She spat and left the tavern with the suits of armour following her.
Merlin let out a sigh and after several moments he spoke again.
"You can come out now."
Morgana got up from under the bed and sat down on it.
"You're the Plain Prince?" She asked in disbelief.
He let his head hang a bit out of shame and didn't dare look at her. "Yes."
"Why didn't you tell her about me?" She didn't complain but it had to be asked. Why did he choose her above his sister?
"She's been looking for an excuse to kill me for ages." He smiled wryly "If I turn you in, she'll mark me a traitor and I'll sit right next to you on death row."
"But you're her brother."
"And she just threatened to kill me." He countered.
"You're blood, kin, that has to count for something."
"Not to her. She fears my father and killing me would bring him back. If he dies then nothing will stop her from killing me."
"Can't you send him a letter and tell him what's going on?"
"You think I haven't tried that? Why do you think I'm out on my own rather than staying at the castle? The moment he falls ill, I'll be put in the dungeon!"
"But surely people would notice." Morgana argued and he showed another wry smile.
"She was clever. I was young and hated public appearances and she made sure I didn't have to. It took years but people stopped recognizing me and that was what she was after."
Then his face turned dark. "I should have killed her when she declared war. It would have prevented so much misery and suffering."
"I know the feeling." Morgana could relate to some degree. She felt like she should have stopped Uther when he antagonized the Forge of Dusk.
"Hypocrite." Merlin spat.
"You said you were against the bloodshed yet earlier you admitted riding into battle." He reminded her.
Morgana stood up and shouted. "I rode into battle for the sake of my brother's life."
Merlin didn't back down and stood up as well. "And isn't he exactly like his father?!"
"He listens to me! When he is King, I can help him make the right decisions."
"You bat your pretty eyes and pout!" Merlin mocked her.
Next thing he knew, his shoulder met the wall that now supported him. The metallic taste in his mouth said enough.
Morgana was surprised by her own actions. He was key to her freedom and when mere arguing could be her demise, striking him was plain stupid.
She nervously approached him and laid a hand on his jaw and cheek. Merlin almost flinched. It had been a very long time since anyone had been gentle with him.
"Open your mouth." She offered to check on the damage.
Using her thumb she pressed on individual teeth to see if it hurt. They were fine.
"Sorry." She mumbled with her head down.
He smiled and replied "You're pouting."
She looked at him incredulously but smiled when she got the joke.
They sat down on the bed again.
"All my life people have been telling me they understand how I feel but they don't."
She was surprised he was opening up again. If anything she thought he'd become more guarded than ever.
"As a child people would tell me it's not my fault I wasn't like my sister, that I didn't have magic. They say it was normal to feel different but it's more than that. I am different."
That's what Gaius had said about her nightmares. Some people had them more often than others but with her they never ceased. She knew what it was like to be different.
"With my father abroad and my mother gone, my sister became Queen. It was like I didn't exist anymore and so I began to travel."
Morgana had only ever told her mother about her dreams and when she was gone things changed. She tried to tell both Arthur and Uther but it was like they refused to see and she felt so alone. The only person she could rely on was Gwen.
"I met wonderful people like Alice but they don't know who I really am. They see something is wrong with me and they try to relate time and again."
"You've never told anyone?" She asked.
"I've always known I had to keep it secret but I did tell someone once."
"It was so wonderful." He was smiling but tears formed in the corner of his eyes. "But it ended in nightmare and I couldn't do anything about it."
Morgana pulled him closer and let his head rest on her shoulder.
"I just feel so alone." He sobbed.
All she could and needed to do was hold him.
Next chapter they will cross the border with the aid of another familiar face and a little more backstory on Merlin's part (about the person he revealed himself to).