A/N: Recently I have been reading a lot of MerlinxMorgana stories lately, and I wanted to add my own to the mix!
Feedback is always welcome and appreciated!
"I still don't understand why you are so loyal to him, Merlin. He is just like his father before him—always has been, always will be." Morgana circled around Merlin as he hung from the ceiling, magical bonds making it impossible for him to escape.
He twisted his body, trying to follow her movements, "I wouldn't expect someone like you to understand, Morgana. You don't know the first thing about loyalty, friendship…honor."
They stared at each other, equally wrought with confusion and mutual distrust. Stepping forward she began to loosen the ties on his tunic, removing the bandage she had placed earlier to staunch the blood flow from his injury. He fidgeted at her touch as she pulled the bandage off quickly.
"You're wrong, Merlin," she said. A spell slipped from her lips as the magic flowed to her palm, flat against his fevered chest. "Don't think that I don't understand loyalty just because I don't have anyone left to be loyal to." She sighed in relief as the deep wound stitched itself together and his eyes closed in sleep.
Her fingers brushed the hair from his forehead, trailing across his jaw line, "I could have been loyal to you," she whispered.
Some hours later Merlin awoke in Morgana's hovel, his mind replaying the events of the past few hours. Glancing around the small space he saw Morgana asleep in the chair next to the dying fire, head leaning against her hand.
Watching her, his mind imagined an alternate reality—one where this wasn't a hovel, but a home. It was raining outside, so there would be no need to go and finish the chores. As darkness fell, and the storm grew in power, he would take her into his arms, and whisper lovely things into her ear. The thoughts would float into the air, transforming into tiny globes of light, spinning through the air and lighting up their home. She would smile up at him and pull him closer as the lights faded out…
Merlin shook his head forcefully, reminding himself that this was not a home, but a hovel. That was not his reality, this was. And he needed to get back to Camelot. Inspecting the ropes around his wrists, one tug confirmed that they were enchanted. No matter, his knowledge of magical incantations had improved since the last time Morgana had trapped him.
Emptying his mind and focusing on the task he closed his eyes and spoke the ancient words in a clear voice. The ropes fell from his wrists instantly. Ugly red gashes encircled his wrists and he cringed as he examined the wounds.
He made his way over to Morgana, and standing in front of her he held out his hand and released an immobility spell. She woke up immediately, spitting dark magic out at once. She made to get out of the chair, but Merlin's spell held her in place.
"I see Gaius has been teaching you a thing or two about incantations," she said, her eyes narrowing.
"I actually read them for myself, but thanks," he replied, moving to her bed. Picking up her comforter, he ripped thick strips off of it.
"What are you doing?" she yelled over at him, having difficulty moving her neck in the right direction.
Taking the strips of fabric he wrapped them around her wrists before taking the ropes and tying her to the chair.
His wrists poked out from his too short sleeves and she saw where her ropes had dug into him, no doubt there would be scarring.
"I'm sorry," she said softly, understanding what he was doing.
He gave one last tug before enchanting the bonds with a spell Morgana had never learned, ensuring her inability to escape. She groaned in frustration as the ropes glowed gold and pushed her down deeper into the chair.
"Me too," he said.
Merlin looked down at her, the ropes tight around her protected wrists. Her eyes were wet with tears and her mouth in a hard line, anger rippling through her body.
Grabbing a chair he sat down in front of her, taking a plate from the table beside them.
Picking up the fork he held out in front of her. She turned her face, composing herself back into the Morgana that didn't care. The Morgana that didn't love him.
"It's safe to eat, I promise," he said.
She snorted, "Like I could believe anything you say."
He flung the plate down, groaning as he put his head in his hands. Looking up he stood, grabbing her shoulders and bringing his face close to hers. Pain flashed through his eyes, "Can you not see? Can you not see that that moment has haunted me every day since you left Camelot? Can you not see how I died with you that day?"
"How I wish you had!" she shouted back vehemently.
His eyes bore into hers until the intensity was too much for either of them. Walking away he ran a hand through his hair. Morgana grinned, gaining the upper hand once more. She needed this, needed to feel stronger than him, needed to feel that she was in control.
"It would have been better if you had died. You may think you have some grand purpose in Camelot, Merlin, but let me be the first to tell you that destinies are solely in the eye of the beholder, a made up fantasy of some utopian future that will never come to pass. You will always be a servant. A mere boy whose only task is to ensure that the King's armor is properly polished." The words poured out of her in a rush of hatred. Her body strained against the enchanted ropes and her magic prickled underneath her skin, begging to be released.
"You will never be more to him than you are right now. Arthur will never see you for the powerful warlock that you are—and if he did he would most certainly have you executed. Albion will never accept magic. And you will never succeed." She breathed heavily, gauging his reaction. She could see his hands shaking, the anger in his body. She had hit a nerve.
His hands clenched and unclenched quickly, the magic suddenly spurting out. The bonds unwound from her hands and she was thrown forward. At the last moment he turned, catching her, hands painfully tight on her arms.
His eyes shimmered from the magic and his eyebrows were furrowed in fury.
"No." he stated, "Magic will be accepted. Arthur will be the greatest king Camelot has ever seen," The vindication with which he spoke was impressive…inspiring even.
His hands tensed around her arms, "And I will succeed."
Morgana pushed herself closer to him, undeniably attracted to this strong Merlin. Her eyes were dark as she looked up to him, "Never." She whispered harshly.
Reaching up she kissed him hard on the mouth. Magic exploded inside of them. Ricocheted from the walls and the floor, singing through the air as it whirled around them.
He didn't resist though…couldn't resist. He had missed her too much. He squeezed her tighter, pushing their bodies forward. She broke free from his grasp only to grab his head, locking his face to hers. Their lips moved in unison, repeating the motions they both knew by heart.
For an infinite moment, time stopped for them. There was no war, no Camelot, no social standing between them—they simply were. And for that moment, it was enough.
Morgana pulled away, leaning her forehead against his. "It could always be like this, Merlin. You and me, together."
Merlin pushed them forward one last step until Morgana's legs stumbled against rough wood.
Merlin closed his eyes, breathing deeply. Opening his eyes he looked down at her sadly, "You and I both know we can't."
His hands moved to her shoulders where he gently pushed her down, into the chair he had imprisoned her in earlier. He called on his magic to wind the ropes around her hands and ankles in the unbreakable spell once more.
"I'm sorry it has to be like this, Morgana." He said quietly, picking up a vial on the table beside them.
She averted her eyes, embarrassed that she had been distracted by her…affections for him. That secret part of her refused to admit that the true source of her anger was not in her failure to kill him, or to escape from him, but in the fact that he didn't seem to return the feelings she had so hoped he would.
"Agravaine will be here soon." She said shortly.
"I know." He uncorked the vial and brought it over to her, "Drink."
He lifted the sleeping drought to her lips, fingers gentle at the back of her neck as he tipped it up. She never broke eye contact as she swallowed the last of the drought. Firelight danced across their faces as the sound of horses' hooves came closer. Glancing toward the window, Merlin stood to leave.
Morgana's speech slurred, "Wait…" her eyelids drooped as the drought began to take its hold.
Merlin looked back, hesitant to leave her.
"Why…why did you not…kill me? You know that I will…never…stop." Her head rolled back as she fought to stay awake.
The sounds outside faded as Merlin took large strides back to her side. Taking her face in his hands to steady her, he looked her straight in the eye, blue merging with green. Her thoughts jumbled and her breath shortened, side effects of his close presence rather than the sleeping drought.
His voice was low and husky as her spoke, "As I am loyal to Arthur, my lady, I will always be loyal to you." His eyes darted to her lips, unsure. Agravaine's approaching men spurred his confidence though and he leaned in, kissing her sweetly. He tasted and smelled of home, she would decide later.
"I will always be loyal to us." He breathed. He kissed her one last time before removing his hands, fingertips lingering for as long as this last moment would allow.
Her vision blurred as he walked away, slipping out the back door. Her mind struggled to stay awake, desperate to keep any memory of him that she could.
Agravaine burst through the door, just as the back one slid shut.
"My lady!" he exclaimed, rushing to her side.
Morgana could still feel the imprint of Merlin's fingers on her face, his lips against hers. Drunken eyes lolled at Agravaine as he yelled at his men to find the vial that she had been given.
She smiled as sleep mercifully took her over. She knew that she would wake up soon enough.
Tomorrow, the terrifyingly powerful Morgana would return.
Tomorrow, she could begin her revenge on the people she once called family again.
Tomorrow, Morgana would send Agravaine back to Camelot to kill both Arthur and Merlin.
Tonight though, she would dream of him.