Third Person's Point of View
"You're going to be alright, I'll take care of you." Morgana stroked her sister's long golden hair, smoothing it away from her face.
"Don't be silly. I'm dying." Morgause gazed up at her with a melancholy smile, her voice soft.
Morgana shook her head with conviction. "No. You're not. I won't let you."
"You don't have a choice." She squeezed her hand weakly, "We will be together again. Just remember, when I'm gone, I did what I thought was best for you."
Morgana frowned, "What are you talking about?"
She didn't answer, turning her head and relaxing back onto the bed. Morgana stood, pulling the coarse blanket up around her shoulders.
She knew Morgause was right, the damage was done. In less than a day she would be dead, and she'd be alone once again. For now she would keep her comfortable, or as comfortable as she could be in the tiny home she'd acquired. A hovel really, built into the side of a rock wall completely hidden from view. Morgause had constructed it and shown it to her a few times before, though it had been much tidier.
When she'd escaped in a whirlwind of smoke and magic from the throne room of Camelot Morgana had brought them to the only place she could think of where they'd be safe. From there she'd gotten her onto the small cot in the corner and ransacked every shelf and every cupboard searching for a way to heal her mortally wounded sister. But her efforts were fruitless, and now she was here, watching her sister slowly die.
Morgana ran her hands over her face, pushing back the tears. There would be no crying, she had done enough of that in her life.
With a sigh she tied her long black waves back with a leather string, her hands shaking. "Stop." She commanded herself, angrily grabbing her black cloak from the chair by the dim fire. She swung it around her shoulders and secured it over the red dress she still wore, lifting a small basket from the table.
With one last glance at her sister she walked from the hovel, quietly shutting the door behind her.
Arthur's first day on the throne had grown increasingly awkward and stressful as it went on, and Merlin's irritating shuffling and mumbles were just making it worse.
"Merlin." He smacked his hand on the armrest and his friend startled.
"Yes, your grace?"
"What exactly is wrong with you?"
Merlin's eyes darted about and he shrugged, wringing his wrists. "Nothing your grace."
Arthur stared him down, raising an eyebrow in disbelief.
"I'm just, worried."
"Morgana. What if she comes back?"
He looked away, drumming his fingers against the polished wood. "Why would she? There is nothing here for her any longer. Morgause is most likely dead, she has turned on everyone in Camelot, and father would have her executed should she return."
"Don't you mean you?"
"You are King Regent. Should she return, you will be responsible for her fate."
Arthur sat back, eyes glazed. He knew Merlin was right; he was the ruler of his people now, of Camelot. At least until his father was well again, if he was ever well again.
"What am I meant to do?" he murmured.
"She's, Morgana. I've known her practically my whole life, how could she do this to me? To us? I've always known she resented father for the things he's done, but he is my -" he broke off, rubbing irritably at his jaw. "Our father. How could she side against us, with Morgause?"
Merlin's mind was racing, his pulse pounding. The guilt was gnawing at his insides, tearing at his heart and screaming at him to tell Arthur the truth. That everything was his fault, that he was the only one responsible for Morgana's betrayal. He had poisoned her, he had kept his magic a secret from her, and he had allowed her to believe Morgause was the only person she had to turn to.
"Arthur I -"
"My king." The heavy wooden doors to the throne room swung open and Arthur sat up, clearing his throat.
"Sir Leon." He greeted the cloaked knight as he respectfully kneeled before him. "Rise."
"Your grace, King Uther is asking for you."
Arthur stood. "He's awake?"
"Yes your grace."
Without a word he rushed from the throne room, Merlin close at his heels. Guards were strewn about the hall, bowing at the waist to him as he passed by. His father's door was open and the glow of the torches on the wall flickered about, casting shadows.
Gaius stood at his father's side, gently feeling his forehead. Uther knocked his hand away weakly as his son entered his chambers, smiling as best he could.
"Father." He took a seat by his bed, grasping his fingers with his own. "How are you feeling?"
"Better, my son. But am I sad to say my days are numbered, and I require something of you."
"Find Morgana. Bring her to me."
Arthur leaned back in surprise; he hadn't expected such a request.
"I know what you believe of your sister, Arthur. But I am to die, and soon. All I want now is to explain things to her, to show her why I have done what I have done."
He shook his head, unsure of what exactly he was supposed to say.
"You don't owe her an explanation. She betrayed you," he started, shaking his head with uncertainty and anger. "why would you want her here again? All she has done is hurt us and our people, she has no right-"
"She is my daughter and your sister!" a bit of the old king peeked through as he struggled to sit up, his tone firm. "You will do as I say, and bring her to me."
Arthur stood and nodded curtly, "Yes father." Merlin watched on with concern as he rushed from the room, his shoulders stiff.
Uther collapsed back against his pillows, exhausted from his show of strength. Gaius returned to his side. "I don't understand," he mumbled. "Why, why must I do this to those I love?"
"It's in our nature sire. People make mistakes." Gaius soothed.
"I am king. Am I not supposed to be better than this?"
He shook his head, turning to the table where he had prepared a sleeping draught to help him rest. "You've only acted in the best interests of your children sire. You are a good father, and a good king." He helped him to swallow the contents of the clear vial, helping him to settle back into the bed.
Merlin accompanied his mentor as they walked from the king's chambers to theirs, silent. "You seem quiet." Gaius mused as he shut the door behind them, placing the empty vial into a wash basin.
"Really? I hadn't noticed." He shook his head at his young charge, sitting with a groan at the small table.
"Merlin, what is it?"
He sighed, taking a seat across from him. "The guilt Gaius, it's eating me alive. I did this! All of it, I poisoned Morgana and I made her the way she is. I'm the reason she turned against Camelot, against Arthur," he paused, rubbing his head angrily. "against me."
Gaius frowned and reached across the table, touching his hand gently. "Merlin, Morgana was on a path of darkness from the moment she was born. I could sense it in her. Uther's hatred for magic only helped to strengthen it; there was nothing you could have done."
"I don't believe that." He objected, pulling away. "If I had shown her my magic, it wouldn't have been so easy for her to choose Morgause."
"You could not risk exposing yourself! What if she had gone to Uther?"
"She despised what he was doing to the people with magic, to the druids; she never would have betrayed me. I should have had more faith in her as she did me. I could have saved her." Gaius was somber as Merlin closed his eyes, leaning his head into his hands.
"Guilt can be powerful Merlin. It can break us, and if you think there is something you can do to make your peace with it than I advise you to."
"What are you talking about?"
"When Morgana is brought back-"
"And you believe she will be?" Gaius shrugged, smiling softly.
"I have much faith in our King regent; he has never failed before."
Merlin sighed, "I know."
"If you think it would ease your mind, perhaps you should see if there is anything redeemable in Morgana. I myself have doubts, but you seem determined and I'm afraid if I don't say anything to help you along you'll do it on your own in a much more destructive way."
He laughed, rolling his eyes. "When have I ever disobeyed?"
Gaius raised a thick eyebrow and stood from his chair, making his way to his cot.
"Whatever you decide, I will stand by you. Now get some rest."
Morgana's cloak caught in a thorn bush and she huffed, tugging at the thick material. The basket in her hands had grown heavy with the flowers and foods she'd collected and she set it down beside her. Her hovel was only a few paces away and she was eager to get back to her sister, to be there for her in her last hours. She hadn't intended on being out as long as she was, and it had grown dark.
Having successfully pulled her cloak from the thorns she noted with a sigh that she'd have to repair the tear in the hem at some point, and continued on into the hovel. The door pushed in silently and she set the basket on the table. Her eyes glowed dimly as she set the candles to light, moving towards her sister's side.
Morgause's breaths were shallow, her forehead crinkled with pain as she let out a low whimper.
"Sister." Morgana whispered. She lifted a cloth from the bucket by the bed, wringing it out before touching it to her cheeks in an effort to cool her blazing skin. Her eyes flickered and opened, her dark brown gaze catching onto her.
She shook her head, touching a finger to her lips. "Don't speak; I see how it pains you so."
Morgause lifted a hand, weakly pushing her away. "I must." Morgana nodded and continued to dab the cloth to her flesh, listening closely.
"When I was a little girl, our mother told me of you." She recoiled in surprise, she had never known much of her mother, and had truly never had the urge to. "She said, when you were born, you howled like a wild dog, and she knew you would be trouble."
Morgause laughed a little, though it quickly turned to a wet cough. Tears stung at the back of her eyes and Morgana smiled, stroking her cheek.
"When Ygraine died, Uther went into a mad rage of grief and anguish. He killed everything in sight, and he knew mother had magic. She fled with me, to the Isle of the Blessed. Gaius helped us there. We had no choice but to leave you behind. I was only three, and you were one."
She shook her head, "I don't understand."
"She watched sometimes, in the reflection of the water. She'd conjure your images, and see how you fared. It pained her so that she couldn't be with you, though she planned to reunite with you again. But when father died, she did as well. The pain in her heart was too much, and she succumbed to it. She told me her tryst with Uther had meant nothing, that she had been lonely. And I will never be gladder for it, because it means I have you beside me."
Morgana nodded, finally succumbing to her emotions as her tears spilled down her cheeks.
"I love you sister, I'm sorry I am not strong enough to save you."
"We all die someday. Today is my day, to go on to Avalon. Where I shall greet our mother and father, and live on until I am to see you again." She gave a genuine smile. "Please don't be angry with me. I thought I was doing what was best."
She frowned, confused yet again. "You said that before. What is it you're not telling me?"
"I don't want you to spend our last moments together hating me. You'll know everything soon enough." She closed her eyes, drifting off into an uneasy sleep, leaving her with more questions than ever before.
Morgana stood and wiped at her eyes, placing the cloth back into the bucket. As she tidied up and uncoiled the leather string from her hair – using it instead to bunch together wild flowers she'd collected – she thought on her words. Why could she have possibly done that would be so horrible it would cause her to spoil the dwindling time they had left.
Shaking her head she lifted a heavy pot onto the dying fire, poking at it until it stirred and revived. She poured water from a bucket into it, adding in the vegetables she'd stolen and allowing it to sit until it bubbled and boiled into a thick broth. Satisfied she moved the pot away and poured herself a small bowl, sipping from it delicately. Her lifestyle had raised her with refined manners, and she was no more used to using her hands than she was to cleaning a home, but in only a few days of her self-adhered banishing she'd found herself doing both.
Arthur came to the forefront of her mind suddenly, and she remembered when he'd turned his nose up at the meal Merlin's mother had offered them. She almost laughed at the thought of him trying to take care of himself as she was, but in a wave of anger she was confronted with the image of him standing by as Uther gripped her throat.
Morgana shook her head and found with dismay that she'd dropped her bowl, and the broth had spilled out across the stone floor. Huffing she stooped down to clean her mess, when she heard Morgause inhale sharply.
Stumbling over to her bedside, the broth forgotten, she grasped her hands.
"It's time." She whispered raggedly.
"No." Morgana cried, "I thought I was ready, but I'm not. I can't lose you; you're all that I have."
"No. You are never alone. Know that. I will be with you..."
Her sister's chest heaved once, and her eyes closed, her body still.
"No." she whimpered, her forehead resting against hers. "Don't leave me."
You are never alone
Suddenly it was as if a light had gone out, and everything was dark.
"I hope you can forgive me."
"She won't remember any of this."
"Mandrake root can be cruel."
"You are never alone."