Disclaimer: "Merlin" is a series based on the varying legends of King Arthur, and is an original series belonging to BBC and all characters contained herein are under copyright to the previously named. They are used here at the author's interpretation and for entertainment purposes only. Chapter title "Mordred's Lullaby" taken from the song of the same name, as also quoted in part for this story, and is the property and creation of the musical artist Heather Dale, and is used here for entertainment purposes only and no affiliation is to be assumed.
Words From the Author: It goes without saying, but just incase, this story contains SPOILERS FOR SEASON FIVE, if you haven't seen it yet. You were warned.
My goodness I haven't written anything 'Merlin' in forever, but I do love me some Mordred/Morgana. I nearly squealed in delight to see Mordred again, and then even more so to have him reunited with his surrogate Mama. To me it was always a very mother and son relationship, and it was clear to me that they were drawn to each other even from that first moment, like they DID share blood, though Morgana was too young to actually be his mother. Yet, there was always this almost Oedipal vibe that I got from Mordred, like a little boy with his first crush, that ran in tandem with the familial way they interacted. Creepy, I know, but I love dark storytelling, and I do think that's maybe how he feels, unable to really separate those two feelings all the time, but his adoration of Morgana and her strong affection for him remained . . . until that last scene they shared in episode two of this new season.
I was shocked, to say the least, so I guess this is my attempt to get inside what was going on there, and I still think that Mordred loves Morgana, and in the end, will perhaps be turned to the so-called 'dark side' by that love. His last words to Merlin in the same episode very much made me think that he did what he thought he needed to, but still loves Morgana. Maybe purposely not killing her, even though he clearly could've. Of course it could be wishful thinking on my part, but I have to stand by my favorite relationship on this show.
In this one-shot I've used some actual scenes that occurred, but also expanded on what I think may have happened that we didn't see, and there are a few small references to two previous one-shots I wrote about Mordred and Morgana, namely where she told him not to refer to her as 'my lady'
This may not be a necessary addendum, but I've had trouble with it before, so I'll say now that Mordred doesn't think much of Guinevere (probably a trait he'd inherit by osmosis from Morgana) but as always, any characters I write have their own minds, and aren't a spokesman for my own opinions. I enjoy Guinevere greatly, especially her hardness this new season, but I imagined Mordred wouldn't like her the same as I do.
Enjoy, and remember . . . keep the magic secret
Hush child, the darkness will rise from the deep and carry you down into sleep.
Guileless son, I"ll shape your belief and you won't understand the cause of your grief,
but you'll always follow the voices beneath.
Your spirit will hate her, the flower who married my brother the traitor
and you will expose his puppeteer behavior.
Each day you grow older, each moment I'm watching my vengeance unfold.
He will die in returning the birth right he stole.
Loyalty, loyalty, loyalty, only to me.
- Heather Dale
Mordred sits back on his bed, legs crossed beneath him, the open neck of his sleeping shirt hanging loose to barely conceal the Mark of the Goddess he wears as an amulet beneath his clothes. He refuses to remove the marker of his faith, yet knows he has to keep it hidden.
A knock at the door and eerily pale blue eyes flash open from where they were pressed closed in prayer. The irritation seeps into the calm chords his voice had achieved in adolescence. He is nearing eighteen years and sounds as if he's already lived three decades, but those moments where his nerves are bothered, the churlishness of childhood remains.
"What is it?"
"Hot water, Sir Mordred." The meek voice of a serving girl passes through the thick wood, muffled, but not enough to hide the shyness inherent to the tone.
The newly appointed knight sneers, already tired of the wandering eyes of the young ladies at court. He is their new fascination, as they titter behind him and watch with admiring gazes. They are empty headed things and he's little to no use for them.
"I did not ask for water." He assumes the bark of a rebuff shall be enough to dissuade her, but the girl remains.
"Begging your pardon, sir, but it is required to bring all the knights hot water after a day in the practice yards."
Persistent urchin. "Fine, bring it in." He opens the door, watching as she drops into a curtsey, nearly spilling the two pails of hot water she has brought. Behind her stands another girl, carrying her own two pails. They look at him and he sighs. "Just set them over there by the basin." A gesture to an empty metal tub that had been in his chambers since the first day he'd been given them.
It seemed a lifetime ago. Though it has not yet even been two months.
Still they remain, gawking at where his shirt lays open to reveal the pale hardness of his chest beneath. A brief smirk tugs at the corners of his lips, aware of his appeal, but the grin falls just as quickly. "Go on, I've no need for assistance." His voice is harsh, but it won't dissuade them from giggling over him, he knows that, and is only too glad once they are out of sight.
A hand goes to the part of his shirt, fingers moving beneath to curl around his amulet. Wrapped around the top of it is a frayed green ribbon and the knight's eyes close to the memory of she who gave it to him. "Morgana." Her name is whispered not without a reverence much in kind for when he prays, and like his prayers, he dares only to speak it in solitude.
He could not kill her, even if she had stood in the way of what he thought he'd wanted. To get close to court, to find a way to change the tide for his own kind. She'd seemed a woman turned mad by her desire to crush her half-brother and all that stood with him, and Mordred feared her actions would ruin what peace he could've achieved. Once, he'd wanted them just a dead, but as he'd grown older, he began to imagine different ways to achieve the same end. There had to be a way that didn't result in those of both sides being slaughtered, yet here he was, knighted, but not trusted like the others were.
They stared at him, not in awe like the maids, but with an unease he was familiar with. Even the druids he'd lived with for a time weren't entirely comfortable with him, and those who had not the slightest idea what he was, seemed to feel some sense that he was different.
Mordred all but dared Merlin to say something, knowing the warlock never would, for it meant that his own secret would be revealed, for surely he knew that Mordred would give as well as he got.
So his power remained a secret, hidden away under court-made mail and a red cloak, the golden dragon of House Pendragon emblazoned upon it. He dressed as one of them, but he never would be. They'd smile and make jokes, and pretend to be his brothers, but he felt their disquiet, as easily as if his 'fellow' knights had spoken of it aloud. King Arthur, even for his kindness, never did warm to Mordred as he did the others, even if he tried, and lately Mordred thought he no longer even wished to try. His queen was little better, the beautiful Guinevere passing him a courteous nod, but never more than that, sometimes whispering to her husband and Mordred imagined it was something to do with him, his eyes narrowing on the pretty little trophy Arthur had collected on his arm, that familiar feeling of disdain burning in his gut like a flaming seed.
"You will never be like them, and they will always hate you for it." Morgana had spoken in his ear that night at her fortress, the cold wind howling up the ancient stones as she offered to share her table with him.
She never looked at him with insipid awe or lingering disquiet, only with love, eyes warm upon him in a way no one had ever looked at him. There in the courtyard where she'd first spied him, as if in shock her eyes had widened, green and limitless as he could recall from his childhood. One of the mercs had tried to speak to her and she stared him down as if the man was nothing more than a buzzing fly, intent only upon Mordred. He nearly felt the child again, undone when she placed a hand to his shoulder, his name spoken as if she'd thought him a spirit returned from the beyond, joyous at his presence, and his mouth moved in a smile that had only ever been for her. He would smirk, offer a brief grin, but the smiles . . . they belonged to Morgana alone.
It was what he had imagined his mother may have been like, had she not abandoned him. Either by her own death, or on purpose, Mordred never knew. Sometimes, in the dark of the night, he wondered if his birth mother had known what he was and left him in the cold woods to die, other moments he wondered if some of the rumors had been true, that he was a Fae child, made by the old magic. All he knew was that he was a nameless boy with no parents, feared since he was old enough to understand that reaction. The druids had saved him, gave him a name, but they hadn't loved him. No one had, until her.
"I'm sorry . . . I'm so sorry." He whispered in benediction as he sank into the water, heating it with his magic until it scalded him as if in punishment for his betrayal. Her look when he'd sank the knife into her back had been punishment enough though, eyes so full of hurt. He'd never felt so wretched. How things had come to that had remained his deepest regret, and it ate away him every day he spent in Camelot, like gangrenous flesh, consuming his vitality.
"I'll have my servants bring you something to eat." She walked as regal as any noble, head high and robes and skirts trailing behind, leaving the mercs in the courtyard, mingling with her rough Saxons. They'd waited for further work and Morgana had no qualms about leaving them to find their own hearth that night. But Mordred was not allowed a refusal of her company, not that he would've complained, and so he followed, looking around him to take in the ruin she hid away inside. It was no place for her, but he had come to understand that you made do with what you had to in order to survive, and beneath these floors there were whispers that she was looking for something that would forever remove her from ruins such as these.
"I'm not hungry." He murmured, mind focused on other things.
"You can't lie to me, sweet boy, so don't try." Her smile was warm but tight, as if a snarl lay in wait behind her teeth. It was the same mouth that had widened so long ago when Alvarr had brought her to camp, little Mordred running to hug her legs. She'd been so tall then, to him nearly a giant, but not anymore. Now he kept stride.
She'd walked closer, removing the coil of his scarf to lay a palm against his cheek. "You're are still so cold. Did you do nothing to summon a fire for yourself? The wastelands are unforgiving."
"So are those mercenaries I came in with. I dared not do anything to reveal myself. I don't have the same hold over them as you do, my lady."
She tutted at the title, both of them stopped in hall. "Mordred, I know it has been some time, but don't you remember what I told you?"
"Right. Sorry . . . Morgana." He ducked his head, perturbed by the shyness that yet plagued him. He wouldn't let her think him meek anymore. He was halfway to his eighteenth year, a man grown by all accounts. Why was it she could make him feel ever so much a boy again?
"Come, I'll see if we can't find you some better robes. You don't belong in these rags." She began to walk again, pace long and sure footed. Her confidence hummed around her like a halo of orange around a fire. She was different, her fright replaced by this hardness that Mordred wasn't sure if he admired, or was bothered by. Yet still, she was so motherly that it was if nothing had changed, but he knew that it had. He wondered if he was the only one she bore any affection for, and couldn't help the swell of pride to imagine it was so.
Later, devouring the meat from the bone as Morgana watched knowingly, he studied her under his lashes, grown long and thick as her own. She nearly could have been his birth mother, their look was so eerily in kind. The eyes were different colors, but possessed that same inner light. He grinned to himself as he noticed they even had the same cheekbones, hair falling just as black as a raven's wing across high brows. Even their smirk was the same, curling in the corner, cat-like and brief.
She was still the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen, as if the Goddess had chosen every feature by hand to create the perfect blend. That face watched him intently and he fidgeted in the hard wood of the seat, caught out by his staring. He dropped his face to his empty plate.
"I feared you were dead." She waited for a response, but he'd nothing to say, and she continued. "It's dangerous for us with magic." Her words had a certain boredom behind them, as if Morgana had said them often enough that their truth was like a dull blade.
"It's not been easy." His reply was just as tired, and he offered a small smile, almost hoping they could talk of something else, anything else, but Morgana's eyes were as consumed by her intent as ever he'd seen them. For her, there was nothing else. Mordred sighed into his words, a resignation of the truth he'd come to understand for his own, growing into adulthood beneath the heavy arm of the many who despised those of old blood, the hurt of betrayal by those he had falsely believed could be trusted, making his words weighted as memory tinged them.
Morgana sat back in her chair, a sharp dagger in her hand slicing at an apple as if she might have easily thought it the throat of one of her many enemies. She smiled broadly, an impressed kind of pride for Mordred. "You see a lot."
"I've learned to." His voice a near whisper of the depression for the world, that had become his constant companion. "I've had to."
She seemed so assured, battering down his melancholy with a fierce determination, lips pulling upward in her imagined glee. Things would change, she said, when Arthur and his kind were cleansed from the earth. Her confidence had seemed to infect Mordred as he leaned back, until those words, and he swallowed, all at once more nervous than he could admit.
He'd told her how they lost Arthur, and she'd not taken it well, those beautiful eyes darkening into pools of abject hatred, a malice twisted by madness. "I want to watch as the crows feast on his eyes!" Mordred tried to calm her, but nothing would and it was then he began to think she could not help him.
Soon after, when Arthur infiltrated the fortress, Mordred's mind was even more set. As she'd struck down her own brother, Mordred watched while the young king tried to reason with her. She crowed about her power, and he countered that all she did with it was hate. Her eyes gleamed with the truth of that hatred, bearing down on him.
Mordred understood, understood that malice and also understood he had to try to stop it, had to find a better way than that. A blade against her back, pressed and she had fallen, eyes looking up at him as he watched her until they closed.
Closed lids came open, and he spied himself in the mirror across the room, the dark fringe above his brow doing little to conceal the guilt in his eyes. He thought it'd be different, that he could convince Arthur to change his mind, and still it remained as it always was. Even Emrys, who professed to believe in Arthur, had not dared to reveal his own abilities.
Was he wrong? Was Morgana more righteous than she had been mad? Would she hate him now, as everyone else? Arthur seemed as if he could be reasoned with, but why then, could his mind not be moved towards leniency and understanding?
Again her words came at him. "You will never be like them, and they will always hate you for it."
Her voice followed him as he went to bed, heart as heavy as the sleep that weighed his head down, falling into the pillow and closing his eyes, the lids etched with the haunted memory of the betrayed hurt on her face.
"Mordred . . ." She whispered, questioning how he could've done that. He pressed his eyes ever tighter, hands clapping over his ears to drown her out.
"I'm sorry." He began to weep into the pillow, his tears locked away for so long, but now they fell. "Please . . . please believe me . . ."
"You betrayed me for these pretenders, these murderers and cowards. They are sheep, and you slaughtered me instead. How could you?" Her voice accused in phantom anger and sorrow. "I thought you cared for me as I cared for you, you were the only one I had left, and you left me to die."
"No!" He roared his denial, sitting upright in bed, eyes raw and stinging from his sorrow. The room was dark and quiet, a thin sliver of moon coming through the slit in the curtains to fall on the bath water he'd left behind. In the morning the maids would come and empty it, and another day of fruitless effort would await Mordred.
She couldn't be dead, he hadn't mortally wounded her, he'd only meant to stop Morgana, but that was little comfort to him now.
He sank further under the blankets, afraid to close his eyes and see her accusing face again, and yet yearning for it at the same time. Mordred missed her, missed the way she smiled, the way she would touch his face, the way she thought of him as her equal, her kin. She was the closest thing he'd ever had to a mother, and who could deny him that, who could say otherwise? No else in Camelot treated him the same, he doubted any ever would.
So he closed his eyes, listening to her accusations in his mind. Every day they held more weight, every day he imagined what Morgana would look like in the queen's throne instead of that serving girl the king had the foolishness to wed. Every day where they didn't listen, he felt her malice twisting up his own mind.
"They'll listen, I promise you. I'll make them." He made the oath to the phantom of Morgana that visited him nearly every night now.
"And if they don't?" Her voice nearly seemed real then, for the coil of challenge that issued forth, in the recesses of Mordred's mind, like a lullaby of madness instead of comfort, and yet strangely it had become nearly as soothing.
He smiled against the pillow, the same smile that was only hers. "Then I'll kill them, I'll kill them all . . . and I'll do it for you, Mother."