Greetings. I apologize for the late update, for I have been busy with my other fics. Had to watch S1 of Merlin to cultivate my fascination with this serial once more. Enjoy!

Regards,

Karldin.

CHAPTER 12

Morgana walked purposefully down the corridor towards Merlin's rooms. A smile lit up her lovely face as she thought of the way she had managed to master the life creation spell Merlin had taught was deep magic, and she was extremely impressed with Merlin's ancient understandings , as much as she was impressed with Elaine's. She considered herself Merlin's student not Elaine's, for she had always gone to Merlin for help.

She smiled even more as she thought of the close relationship the three had developed. Merlin loved Elaine, but Morgana felt her own relationship with Merlin was special. They had always shared a bond that made them two sides of the same coin. She loved Merlin and she would never love any other had been six months since they had settled in the Fisher King's castle and began to heal themselves. Merlin especially was calmer, and flew into his rages less frequently. He seemed to be able to remain in the same room with Morgana, now. That had elated the witch more than when she had discovered that Morgause was her sister.

Unable to contain her joy, she slightly ran up the steps and pushed her way into Merlin's room."Merlin, I did it! Only two tries and I created the flower. You told me it would take-" she trailed off as she observed the heartrending sight in front of 's muscled and built back would have normally caused her to blush deeply, and stare. But now, it caused her mind to shut down.

Robes of black and gold suddenly covered Merlin's back, the sorcerer fully dressed as he faced Morgana. The sorceress' eyes were clouded with self-loathing and she was breathing heavily, hand upon her heart."Merlin…"she whispered. Merlin slowly walked up to her, and stroked her cheek softly. The magic shifted as Merlin looked into Morgana's soul, and gasped slightly as he felt the sheer hatred the sorceress felt for herself. It was as if she were damned.

"Show me the spell, Morgana." He commanded her. Morgana did not react, except to hold out her hand. A rose appeared out of thin air, and Merlin knew that her magic was true. She had indeed mastered what would take many magicians years in a matter of weeks.

He observed her closely and swept her with his eyes again, and widened them in alarm. Her guilt was escalating so much that she was suffocating."Morgana, calm down. It was not your fault…" said Merlin in a low voice. But Morgana was not responding."Morgana, please come back. I told you I forgive you…"

"But never trust…" whispered Morgana sadly. "Never love. I know of no way I can make you love me in this life, Merlin. Will you ever love me?"Merlin did not betray the extreme conflict he was feeling within. Old feelings for Morgana he had thought extinguished had come back raring after six months of teaching beauty, her charm…most of all her old kindness, fierceness and compassion were all returning, bringing back the girl who had held his heart back then.

It made him afraid that she still held that part of his heart. He still saw her as heart-stoppingly beautiful, her magic's nature made her even more so."Will you show me?" whispered Morgana, coming closer to Merlin who did not move an inch."Please show me, Merlin. I have forgotten my sins too easily in these months. Show me…"she pleaded, the beginnings of tears in her gave her a long glance and took off his robe, leaving him in his trousers only. Morgana walked forward as if in a trance, and laid a hand on Merlin's chest which was scarred by a whip lashing.

My fault.

The thought reverberated in both their heads, carrying the eternal regret of Morgana. She slowly brought her hands to his toned abdomen, feeling the scars of his torture there. She was afraid to see his back once more…but she had she stroked Merlin's cheek, causing him to close his eyes. She walked behind Merlin and laid his eyes on his disfigured back properly, and gasped with tears running down her face continuously.

Scars of numerous beatings, a hundred lashings and most of all the branding that disfigured his handsome figure. The accursed word had embedded itself deep into his skin, scarring terribly.

Traitor.

She should have the word across her back, not him. He was the light, and she was darkness.It should be me, It is my fault…. That brand should be across my back. I am the….

Merlin turned and saw the expression on Morgana's tearful face. He sampled her beautiful magic and saw she was preparing to destroy herself. Cold fear shot through 's grief filled and suicidal green eyes stared into Merlin's affectionate golden eyes. Her voice sounded in his mind, frantic and urgent. Above all, horrified.

I hurt him so much. I hurt him so much…Those s-scars and that branding…My fault. I loved him even back then…

Morgana covered her face with her hands, unable to face Merlin. An idea flashed in her head causing vicious joy to run through her. Perhaps it would be enough for Merlin to…Merlin saw the self-directed malice of her Magic, but was too late to stop her."Seo Inwitrun!" whispered a very scared Morgana. And promptly began to scream at the top of her . It was horrible to Merlin. Despite knowing that she had been in Morgause's thrall during the invasion, he had hated her. But now that was all gone in a jiffy.

Blood began to stain the back of her pristine white gown, spreading rapidly. The entire back of her dress which was pure white now turned red with appeared before her urgently, taking her into his arms. He knew more healing magic than Elaine, courtesy of Sigan.

Morgana, what have you done to yourself? asked Merlin sadly, projecting his thoughts to Morgana.

She had stopped her screaming, and was convulsing weakly in Merlin's arms. The blood had dried off and he could smell burning flesh on Morgana's back.She wouldn't have…he thought with absolute mortification. He rushed to his bed and laid her down on it, her back facing glance of his golden eyes, and her dress unfastened itself revealing…Her horribly disfigured back.

Her bared back he had seen when she had mistaken him for Gwen had been beautiful. Pale and flawless, Morgana's beauty had given him heated dreams of love for a long time. He had revered her now…she had disfigured herself to atone for her 'crimes' against him.

Merlin, I created this spell myself. You will not be able to heal it till I allow you. We both have the same marks now…

Merlin gasped as he saw her scarred back bearing a brand of its own.

It said EVIL.

He carefully placed his hand on her fully bared back and stroked it, muttering spells of healing all the time. His hand glowed, but it was to no avail."I told you, Merlin…I will need to allow you." She said weakly, her face still facing downwards."Then allow me!" snarled Merlin as he laid his hand on her lower back, pumping magic furiously."On one condition…You will allow me to heal your back. Or we will remain with our scars together. We will be the same either way" she said in a faint voice.

Merlin considered her for a long moment and sighed."I cannot see you scarred, even after everything that has happened to me. So.." energized her with another spell and lifted her to her feet. She was now only in her 's heart beat faster as he saw Morgana in this intimate state of undress. She was a princess, a priestess, someone who he had worshipped as beauty for a long time from afar.

Now she stood before him in nothing but a chemise separating her skin from his. Morgana slowly walked to Merlin and hugged him, laying her hands on his encircled her in his embrace, and marvelled at the way she fit. They were one and the same. And yet so laid his hands once more on her soft and pale back, causing her to gasp. She stared at him with eyes filled with arousal and pain.

Beautiful, He said. Morgana smiled a radiant smile and he smiled back as well. They both accepted healing.

Merlin's torture scars disappeared under Morgana's caressing hand, and Merlin did the same to Morgana. They could not stop caressing each other even after the wound on them were healed.

I love you, Merlin Emrys, came Morgana's voice in Merlin's head. A part of him could not believe it was Morgana who was hugging him in her chemise, telling him she loved him.

Merlin found that the feelings of malice towards Morgana were lessening considerably. He felt lighter, like he was about to let go of some great weight that was dragging him down. He had never thought his life would be this chaotic. He had hated Morgana for all she had done to him, yet when the real Morgana began to return his feelings for her had bloomed like magic.

I love you too, Morgana aelfen.

Morgana's face transformed into one of radiant joy, as did Merlin's. They could feel the bitterness between them receding, the last poison of their pasts fading away like a bad was as if all the misery they had caused each other happened to get them to this point. Morgana and Merlin's lips met for a deep kiss as they reaffirmed their love for each other. Merlin could feel her flawless and perfect body snug against his, and his magic could feel the blessings of the old religion as they separated, looking at each other with the love they had shared clandestinely. It was out in the open at last.

Whispers of prophecy sounded in their heads as magic itself began to rejoice in their sacred union.

She is the darkness to your light, the hatred to your love…He is your destiny and he is your doom…Who is the light and who is the darkness? Dark cannot exist without light, and the absence of light is darkness. Light and dark, love and hatred….

With a wave of Merlin's hand, they were dressed again neatly in their previous clothes. Morgana looked happier than ever before as something she thought was beyond her reach forever was given to her. Do you truly love me, Merlin? She asked him, the intimate form of speech coming to her naturally.

The old religion help me, I do. I hated you more than anything these months but after the episode with Morgause, I see you cannot be blamed.

I have always loved you, Morgana. Even from the day when I first laid eyes on you, standing behind that window. Trust will come eventually, but you have my love. As does Elaine. I love you both more than words can say…

Morgana nodded tremulously, melting into his embrace. They stayed that way for a long time, drinking in their mutual magics and just feeling the love they held for each was beautiful. But Morgana felt the change in destiny as Merlin laid his chin upon her head, his arms bringing them both closer than ever before.

They were meant to be together. Together in mind, magic and body.

"Tell me now, Dochraid. What should be our next course of action? My sisters are with Emrys, and I am the sole high priestess left. I have not the power to defeat them all. I need to know how to defeat Emrys and get back my sisters", pleaded looked at her and silently scoffed. She had sought the Dochraid of the old religion for counsel. Mordred felt in the old crone a darkness that seemed inherent to her very being. The same darkness he had felt in the dark tower.

The Dochraid turned to Morgause slowly, her sightless eyes seeing things no one else could perceive. "The tides of fate are changing, high priestess. The once and future king has allied himself against magic, and darkness is looming. Emrys will come out of hiding again, and I see him being healed both in mind and body by your sisters. He will only grow in strength and if it is your wish to overcome him…"

"It is."

Mordred shook his head. Morgause did not understand. Merlin was not someone who could be defeated by a single person. But Morgause had become blind to sense, wanting her sisters back. The Dochraid chuckled softly.

"Then you cannot defeat him in a duel of magic. No one can. If you wish to oppose him, it should be by numbers. Get the kingdoms under your thumb and stay safe under their protection. Use the skills of manipulation and darkness to control the situation in the kingdoms. You must disappear to do this…for if Emrys suspects you, you will die. Use the shadows, high priestess."

Mordred looked at Morgause who was nodding slowly. "Don't do this, Morgause. If you just leave Emrys alone, he will heal Albion. Don't oppose him. Haven't you done enough?" "He took away both my sisters. Especially Morgana…" she muttered angrily. "Whom you enslaved with the tower. You killed his Mentor and caused the death of his mother, and still he respects the old religion enough to have spared you. I suggest you do the same", Mordred told her firmly.

But the obstinate look on her face told him that she would continue even unto destruction. Mordred sighed. He held Morgana as close as a beloved older sister. She, the de facto Princess of Camelot, had shown him kindness and love when anyone in Camelot would have turned him away. So he could hardly kill her. Emrys always did the right thing, not the good thing. So he had lost what hatred he had held for the man.

But he had been told that his destiny lay with Arthur, not Emrys. So to Arthur he would go, and become his faithful knight. They were all pieces in the flow of the old Religion. Some important, some not. But they were all pieces nevertheless. They all had their own roles to play in the balance of the world, including him. He only wondered what would become of them in the future.

The Sarrum of Amata held out his hand to Uther Pendragon, greeting him as one would greet an old friend. Arthur watched glumly as his father began to speak with the cruel ruler of Amata. Everything was in shambles. His friend Merlin was gone for months now, as was his errant sister. There was no whisper of activity of Magic in Camelot. The Sarrum's alliance had obviously driven them into even more anonymity. Such was the fear the Sarrum had inspired.

"Greetings, Prince Arthur. I hear that your half-sister Morgana is still not found. Magic, hmm? It is a plague on the nations. A plague indeed…Uther, we must begin our punitive strikes immediately. The druid camps are identified and Bayard and Lot have agreed to our proposal. We are free to hunt druids in his lands, the message came through yesterday. What do you say?"

Uther's face lit up with a malicious smile.

"Yes, we shall. Magic will be destroyed, one way or another-"

"Father, please reconsider. The magicians will not keep quiet if you initiate another purge! This time they will come at the kingdoms in all their might if you do this! Father, please-"

"Quiet, Arthur! You are my son, and you will stand by my decisions. You swore, do you remember? You swore to obey me in front of the court of Camelot. Do you forget your oaths so easily?" snarled Uther in a rage.

Arthur grimaced as the Sarrum watched the exchange amusedly along with his advisors. His father had taken to dressing him down publicly these days, trying to hammer into him his responsibility. Uther was trying to pass to him his legacy of magical persecution.

"Sarrum, enough of these bleak matters. You have agreed to let us stay in your city for a considerable length of time, and we should celebrate such things. Would you agree to a little public demonstration? My knights versus your…"

Arthur snorted as his father struggled for a word. Not even Uther acknowledged Sarrum's cut throats as Knights. He closely observed Sarrum's guards.

They were dressed in light leather armor, and carried curved long swords, looking very athletic and extremely tense. Arthur had no doubt that they would respond with swift and deadly attacks if their ruler were even slightly threatened. It was said that Sarrum himself had trained the best of them, and that they were supreme in the arts of freestyle sword combat.

"…soldiers. Do you agree?"

"As long as Arthur Pendragon fights my top lieutenant. I want to know how well my training does against the foremost warrior in the nations…", said Sarrum with anticipation. "He will agree, won't you Arthur?"

Arthur nodded tightly. "Of course I will, Father." He had no choice. In fact this was a good opportunity for him; he could at least test himself against these thugs. And use Excalibur in battle after many months. Merlin had entrusted to him that golden sword, telling him that it would be safe away from the hands of evil.

A sword wielded by a good man working under the hand of evil, is a sword used for evil. For that is what you have become, father. In your madness, you have crossed the line into evil. The Sarrum should never have allied himself with Camelot.

Arthur sighed at these thoughts. For good or for ill, he was bound to his father by powerful oaths. Uther Pendragon was going to plunge the land into war once more, and he would have to mitigate what damages he could. He could at least help Merlin this way. Magic could definitely use a sympathetic royal in the noble house of Camelot.

I will go speak to Gwen. She always manages to banish all my melancholy thoughts….

So thinking, the Prince of Camelot got up and trudged towards the servant's quarters. Gwen was the last one remaining of his original group of friends. Morgana and Merlin were gone, he knew not where.

I only hope the four of us can have again what we enjoyed back then.

Merlin stood in the clearing in front of the Fisher King's castle and observed the desolation in front of it. It was as if the entire land were plunged into an eternal sunset, giving it a sense of metaphorical twilight. Elaine and Morgana flanked him on his right and left sides, looking at the land as well.

"Morgana is now strong enough, Elaine. She still has much to learn, but her ability has increased considerably. How is she with the arts of manipulating the elements?"

"She is strong, Merlin. She could-"

"I can speak for myself, Elaine." Interrupted Morgana with some asperity. She faced Merlin anxiously. "I can control fire very well, though wind and water are a little tougher. The earth is easy, as you expected. I am of the blood of a high priestess, and we are all intimately connected to the earth."

Merlin stood silent, the beautiful sisters watching him quietly. His golden eyes glowed even brighter as he said, "With creation magics, you are good. Your elements are strong, as are your other fundamental magics. You do have a talent for Life and Death…" he mused. Morgana lit up at this. Nothing made her happier than using her own magic in new and powerful ways. Oh gods, the feeling…

"But that will come later. You have been learning complex magics at a prodigious rate, Morgana. But I will not allow you to walk the kingdoms again till I am satisfied you can fully defend yourself. I cannot lose you after all we have gone through…"

"You won't lose me, Merlin. You know I can defend myself if the need arises. You know it" , insisted Morgana.

Merlin glanced at Elaine, who had been observing the exchange silently. She nodded and stepped back several paces, leaving the ground around Morgana and Merlin clear. Merlin too disappeared, only to appear several paces behind his original position. Morgana just observed quizzically.

Merlin drew himself up to his full height, and looked at Morgana.

"We will have a duel of magic. Subdue me, and I will allow you to accompany me. Do not hesitate, for if you do, I will not allow you to accompany me. Throw every spell you know at me, Morgana. I need to be sure of your safety" he said in a hard voice.

Morgana looked absolutely torn. "I…I can't! I can't attack you, Merlin. I just can't, not after today morning!" Elaine looked at them interestedly. What happened today morning? She observed her sister and Merlin closely, looking for something amiss.

Merlin seemed to harden himself. "You will have to prove your strength if you wish to come with us."

Morgana looked very conflicted, but her face changed expressions very fast as she came to a rapid decision. Her eyes glowed gold as she raised her hands:

"Forbearne!"

A huge serpent of fire rose from her hands, and roared towards Merlin. Merlin now had a small smile on his face. He had not duelled anyone who could really give him a true fight. Not until now. He observed the fire serpent as it plunged at him, noting the beautiful detail of its structure. This was the difference, he mused. Morgana's magic was different, very different. It was subtle and otherworldly, allowing her to do amazing things. It was a reflection of her mind, he thought as he raised his hand.

The fire serpent just dissipated into embers floating in the air, as Morgana looked on in surprise. Elaine was not surprised, though. She knew Merlin had been practicing much of Sigan's knowledge.

"Is that the best that you can do?" questioned Merlin sardonically. Morgana's expression tightened as she began a veritable storm of spells. Merlin readied himself, his magic pervading his surroundings like an aura of power. The ground withered as a blazing tower of white hot fire exploded where Merlin stood, causing Elaine to frown in concern. The ground where they stood was made into glass, testifying to the heat of the fire. The tower of fire disintegrated into hundreds of smaller fires, which took on the form of swords. Merlin smiled as he wrested control of Morgana's fire from her.

The swords of fire flashed towards Morgana who called up earth to defend herself. Huge walls of earth rose from the ground, absorbing the deadly weapons easily. Merlin's eyes glowed, and Morgana's earth wall was blown into pieces. The pieces then rose high into the air, joining each other symmetrically as they began to form a shape. Morgana watched with awe as Merlin began to form something from the shards of her shattered earth wall.

With a great rush, the rubble floating high in the air coalesced to form a huge spherical rock. Merlin's eyes glowed an even brighter gold, and the rock burst into fire. It looked like a comet, high up in the air. He doesn't mean to bring that down on me, does he? Thought Morgana with trepidation. Indeed he did. The burning rock descended toward her from the skies, causing her to gasp. It would strike her in a couple seconds. Her eyes glowing bright gold, she raised her hands towards the falling rock, shouting out the incantation for the Shield of the Triple Goddess.

The flaming rock suddenly seemed to stop mid-air, and exploded into burning pieces that fell to the ground harmlessly. Merlin looked at Morgana, impressed with her progress. She did seem somewhat tired, but had defended herself excellently. It seemed she was ready. He walked slowly to Morgana, who stared at him anxiously. Elaine walked towards them as well, wearing a happy expression upon her face. "She is ready, Merlin. She threw of that falling rock quite excellently, and I think she can defend herself well. What do you say?"

Merlin nodded his head, causing Morgana to smile in joy.

"We are ready. Elaine, you go to Lot's Kingdom and search among the druids there. Morgana will go search Mercia and Camelot. I will take Amata and the Essetir. Keep in correspondence with the spell I taught you. We will meet every month in this place" he said.

"Do we have to split up?" asked Morgana sadly. It had been the happiest time of her life, learning magic from Merlin and Elaine. Now that she had found a kindred soul and love in Merlin, she was loath to leave him.

"I am afraid so, Morgana" Merlin said with regret. Elaine laid a hand upon his shoulder, trying to comfort him. "We will leave at first light tomorrow morning. I will call Kilgharrah though, before we set off. He will have useful news of the Kingdoms for us, and we need all the news you can get. You remember the spell to uncover the whisper of the second names?"

Morgana and Elaine nodded. The spell Merlin had taught them was a plea to the old religion to show the true nature of a person's magic. It would whisper in their minds the other name of a powerful sorcerer within a certain area.

It was time for them to start rebuilding the Old Religion to what it should be.

…..

"You must be wary, young warlock. The dark has suffered a terrible blow when Morgana was wrested from its clutches. Her power is denied to it forever, and it looks for a way to fill the void she has left. Morgause moves, and she moves in the shade. The fluxes of the future do not bode well these next months, Merlin. I am sure young Morgana feels the same?" asked Kilgharrah. Merlin wondered at the dragon's politeness to the one it had previously christened 'witch' and delivered several death threats.

Morgana nodded, also maintaining a veneer of politeness towards the Great Dragon. "All I can see is a period of great unrest approaching the land. Wars, slaughter, suffering...Camelot is at the heart of it. My rule of the city is only the beginning of the terror it will experience..."

Elaine nodded at this, as did Merlin. Unfortunately this made perfect sense. Uther and Sarrum ruling together could turn heaven into hell in a jiffy.

"So, I assume you are leaving to the main lands?" enquired Kilgharrah. Merlin nodded: "I will fulfil my destiny in my own way, Kilgharrah. My days submitting to Arthur are over. My power was not given to me to remain unused, it was given me to forge Albion into paradise. And that is what I will do!"

Kilgharrah inclined his head. "And I wish you luck, Dragonlord. I have a gift to give you, Morgana." Morgana stared at the Dragon curiously.

"You are not yet as adept at magic as Merlin or Elaine, this I can feel. Make yourself an amulet, would you?" asked the Dragon. Merlin stepped in before she could react, and conjured a beautiful amulet of emerald. An emerald exactly the shade of Morgana's eyes.

"Well done, Merlin. Now fasten it on Morgana. I will cast upon it a powerful spell known to dragonkind. Bear it well."

Morgana could only stare at the beautiful Amulet Merlin had created, the emerald was of a simple teardrop shape. Merlin stepped behind her, and brushed her silky mane of hair away to expose her smooth neck. She shivered, she could not get enough of Merlin touching her. It was as if their two magics met, flowing together as if they were one.

Merlin's eyes glowed gold, and the chains of the amulet became one around Morgana's neck. Morgana closed her eyes and breathed faster as Merlin reached around her taking hold of the beautiful emerald and placed the amulet snugly between her breasts, brushing them gently.

"You are so lovely, Morgana." Morgana smiled in satisfaction and joy, enjoying Merlin's words to her. The flower of their love had bloomed late, but it had bloomed strong nevertheless. Fire washed around them as Kilgharrah breathed his spell on the Amulet, causing its emerald to glow between Morgana's breasts. Merlin too raised his hand, as did Elaine as they poured their combined magics into what would protect Morgana.