I don't often write seasonal fics, but this year I thought, why not? Why not give some our beloved fictional characters a bit of Christmas cheer too? Let's give Merlin and Morgana a bit of festive joy, they certainly need it sometimes!
So this one shot is set sometime during series 3, there is some slight Mergana, but if you want to see them as just friends that works too. I know very little about the real celebration of winter solstice so don't expect anything to be accurate, but Merlin's never been a show for historical accuracy anyway!
I hope you enjoy it, would love to know what you think so please review! :)
And whatever you may celebrate at this time of year, I wish you peace and happiness :)
Just For Now
Winter solstice had come again to Camelot. Usually Morgana looked forward to the event. Even though the cold had descended outside and the frost clawed threateningly at the windows, there was merriment inside the castle. Songs were sung, all the fires were lit, good wishes and presents were exchanged. Even Uther was able to forget his war against magic for a day and smile. It was a celebration of the past year and hope the good things in the year to come.
But this year, Morgana felt that it was tarnished. These people who were once her friends did not deserve such merriment. Morgause pointed out how they had taken their friendship from her, made her live in fear and would betray her in the blink of an eye. Some already had.
But it wasn't just that, Morgana felt she didn't deserve to happy either. She didn't feel like she was at home any more, she didn't feel like she was surrounded by friends and family as she used to and as everyone looked forward to the new year, Morgana and Morgause could destroy all their hopes if their plans were successful.
For the first time, Morgana thought that this wasn't particularly fair, not everyone deserved to stop smiling. They would see that what she and Morgause were doing for them would be for the best, but until then they would cower before them in fear or fight back and not everyone would survive it. That had never been what she had wanted. The thought made her stop smiling too.
So Morgana decided she wanted to be alone on this winter solstice, she couldn't look at those smiling faces who would betray her but who she would also betray in return. She feigned illness just before the celebrations began and said she would have a lie down in her chamber until she felt a little better, then she would come down and enjoy the feast and listen to the songs. But really she had no intention of going.
As Morgana sat on her bed, staring at the blazing fire, she realised just how much she would miss this solstice. But it was for the best.
At that moment there was a knock on the door, making Morgana jump, but she stayed silent. Best pretend she was asleep.
However some people are harder to get rid of than others, and to her annoyance she heard her chamber door open and turned to see Merlin standing there, looking a little worried but also as suspicious of her as he had always been since she had arrived back at Camelot.
"Arthur sent me to see how you were feeling, My Lady."
Morgana tried to give him a smile, but it wavered horribly. She just couldn't pretend any more. Not tonight. "I'm fine, thank you, Merlin."
But Merlin didn't move. She scowled at him, already losing her patience.
"I don't believe you," the servant muttered.
"What does it matter if you believe me or not?" She snapped at him.
Still, Merlin didn't move. "That's no way to speak to someone on winter solstice." He pointed out.
Morgana sighed and shook her head, "I just want to be alone," she confessed, more to herself than to Merlin.
To her dismay, rather than obeying her wishes and leaving, Merlin took a further step into the room and closed the door behind him. "No one should be alone on winter solstice."
"I don't mind if I am, really you should go back to Arthur, he'll be wondering where you've gone," Morgana said, trying to sound light-hearted and give Merlin another smile, which also failed.
Merlin shrugged, "Arthur's drunk already, he won't notice that I'm gone."
"But he deserves your company more than I do," Morgana muttered, turning away from Merlin and facing the fire again.
"I don't know about that," Merlin said calmly, walking further into her chamber. "We used to be good friends, who says you don't deserve some company on winter solstice too?"
Morgana shrugged again, not sure what to say. Yes, they used to be good friends, she missed their friendship, but one day something changed completely that brought the walls of their friendship crashing down. They were smashed into dust and could never be rebuilt again. She didn't care how much pain was in his eyes as she lay there, choking on the poison, she didn't care how much pain was in his eyes now. Nothing could compete with the pain she had felt. It wasn't the burning poison that hurt her so, it was the realisation that she had been betrayed by her friend that caused the unbearable pain. Merlin had created a gaping wound in her heart and it would never heal. She didn't want to think about that on winter solstice.
In the silence Merlin went to sit beside Morgana on the bed. She gave him a dark glare but didn't command him to leave. All of a sudden she wasn't so desperate to be alone.
"Do you remember the last winter solstice you were here?" He asked quietly.
"Not much of it," Morgana admitted. She had missed the one last year because she had been with Morgause and there had been little time for celebration, so her last one felt like such a long time ago. There had been a lot of wine that day, which had quickly disappeared. But she remembered the laughter and the warmth she felt inside when she had felt truly happy and surrounded by true friends. All worries had been banished from the world for that one day.
"You made me dance with you."
Morgana stared at Merlin, horrified, "I did not!" She snapped.
But now he said those words, she did remember. She had been feeling very giggly and energetic, the music was lifting her onto her feet and she wanted to dance. Merlin had been standing in the corner of the room that whole night and had hardly moved. So she went over to him and asked him for a dance. He turned her down, but she had somehow managed to persuade him to take her hands and dance around the room with her. She remembered more laughter then, and Merlin's bright eyes filled with joy. She realised how troubled his eyes always looked, especially around her, but that night all his worries had been banished too.
"You do remember," Merlin gave a small smile, but Morgana tried to avoid his eye.
"I had too much wine, I would have danced with anyone."
"But you danced with me."
More silence. Morgana stared at the ground. It had been a long time since she had thought of that night. She had more things to think about since then. She and Morgause had been working hard to bring vengeance on all those who had hurt her and her kind, and that included Uther and Merlin. She had pushed the memory of them dancing together to the back of her mind. It was too painful to remember. But in the weeks after that winter solstice she had dreamt of when they danced together and whenever she had felt sad and lonely she thought of that night and smiled.
Again it was Merlin who broke the silence. "I miss our friendship," he admitted.
"Well, I can't do anything about that," Morgana snapped. The memories of happiness were doused in the darkness of one that felt much more real and painful.
Merlin sighed, "I'll never forgive myself for what I did to you."
Morgana had not been expecting that. She looked at him, but Merlin was staring at the floor. He suddenly seemed so much older than he had been when he had poisoned her. Perhaps Morgause was wrong, perhaps he really did regret what he had done.
But it was too late for anything to change, the damage had been done.
"I'm sorry I didn't buy you a present for winter solstice," Merlin mumbled. Morgana shrugged, she hadn't been expecting one from the man who had tried to kill her. She had received more clothes and jewellery that day as gifts, and she had smiled graciously and thanked everyone, but such material things felt pointless now.
"But I can still give you a gift." Merlin said.
Morgana gave him a suspicious glance. The last time this man had given her something she thought it had been as innocent as water, but it turned out to be poison. She didn't know if she would ever trust him again with the smallest thing, no matter how terrible he might feel about trying to kill her.
But at the same time...it was winter solstice, a time of merriment and forgiveness. She remembered the days where she would have trusted Merlin with her life. She would like those days to return, and perhaps today, they could.
"What is it?" She asked.
Merlin held out his hand to her, "I want to show you something."
For a moment Morgana hesitated, but then she took his hand. Merlin gave another smile and before Morgana could do anything she found herself being hauled onto her feet and almost pulled out the room.
"Where are we going?" She demanded as Merlin hurried down the corridor, his hand still entwined in hers. She wondered if this had all been a trick from Arthur to drag her to the feast, but she quickly realised they were heading away from the Great Hall.
"You'll see," was all Merlin said.
They reached the end of the corridor, the faded voices of laughter and singing could be heard in the distance, and started climbing up one of the stone spiral staircases, which felt horribly cold and dark compared to Morgana's chamber. The feeling of the icy stone beneath her fingers made her shiver and wonder if she had made the right decision. But she still held onto Merlin's hand and kept climbing. She didn't know whether to be worried or excited as he didn't slow down for a moment. She realised how warm his hand was in hers.
Still the witch and the warlock climbed the stairs. Morgana couldn't work out where Merlin was taking her and she was running out of breath. Soon they would reach the very top of the castle and there would be nowhere else to go. She kept on glancing corridors they passed, so welcoming, warm and bright compared to the freezing staircase, but Merlin didn't hesitate. Not until they reached the very top of the stairs, when there was nothing ahead but a wooden door that looked like it hadn't been opened in centuries. Morgana had never been up here before.
"I found this a few months ago, I think you'll like it. No one knows it's here, everyone's forgotten about it. I'm the only one who knows about it, and now you." Merlin's eyes were full of excitement and he was grinning a childish grin Morgana had not seen on his face for a very long time.
Again, Morgana hesitated. She didn't know what could be behind that door. It could be a trap, another attempt on her life. She prepared herself to use magic if necessary. She wouldn't let this servant destroy her. But there was something in his eyes that made her trust him, so she didn't try to run.
Silently, Merlin pushed open the door. A freezing cold wind whipped up Morgana's hair and bit her face, making her gasp. Merlin glanced behind at her, still smiling. It told her that for once everything was going to be all right, and for some reason she believed them.
Merlin lead Morgana out the ancient wooden door, and she found herself standing on a tiny balcony, overlooking Camelot. She couldn't help but gasp again, but not at the cold which snapped at her fingertips and nibbled her nose.
The view was superb. Morgana was amazed that anyone could forget about this place. She wondered how she had not noticed the tiny balcony before. They must be right at the top of the castle and it gave them a perfect view of the whole of Camelot. The hundreds of little houses sat crouched together beneath a black sky way below them, but because it was winter solstice the whole Kingdom twinkled with lights. Everyone was lighting fires and candles, to keep out the cold and to celebrate another year beginning. They trailed like brightly coloured snakes, shimmering beneath them and spreading out to the horizon. Morgana couldn't help but smile.
Directly beneath them she could hear the laughter of the guards, not even they would let their freezing night shift ruin their happiness on winter solstice. She knew this view would be brilliant in the summer with the rolling green hills and everyone out in the market. But there was something about seeing it on the night of winter solstice that made it all the more special. Morgana could almost feel the happiness in the air that seeped out of the hundreds of tiny houses, and if she listened closely she was sure she could hear groups of people singing together out in the streets.
It was just beginning to snow as Morgana looked round at Merlin, not realising she was grinning and that their hands were still entwined.
"I knew you'd like it," Merlin admitted. He was giving her the kind, caring smile he used to give her before everything had gone wrong.
"It's beautiful," she said as she watched the snow drift down from the sky over the houses.
"It shows you that whenever you might think this place is nothing but darkness, there is still some beauty in it," Merlin added.
Morgana nodded, but said nothing. Those words had brought back a reality that for a moment had been lost. Because Merlin saw this little balcony as a sign that Camelot was still a great place to be even when something terrible happened, while for Morgana it showed her that the beauty of the Kingdom did not deserve to be tarnished by a tyrannical King and the sooner that he disappeared, the better.
And that would remain the difference between the servant and the ward forever. He would wait patiently for peace, while she would gain it through war. You could not have both.
But Morgana tried to put that to the back of her mind and focus on the view. Her and Morgause's plans for the King and his Kingdom could wait until tomorrow. After all, it was winter solstice.
"Why haven't you told anyone else about this place?" Morgana wondered out loud.
Beside her, Merlin shrugged, "I suppose I was waiting to show it to someone special."
Someone special. Morgana never realised Merlin saw her as someone special, someone important. She looked down and saw that they were still holding hands, but she didn't break away.
Just for now, the differences between them could be forgotten and there could be nothing else apart from Morgana standing with Merlin, looking out at the view as the snow fluttered down from the sky. Just for now, the plans for the future and the secrets they kept could be pushed as they stood on the little balcony overlooking the whole of Camelot.
For the past year there had been a growing gap between the two of them that was developing into a canyon, but just for now, they could close it.
Morgana knew that when the cold got to them and they would be forced to go back inside, their hands would break apart and they would return to their own selves and their own sides. They would pretend they had forgotten about the words they had spoken to each other on this night, what the view looked like and how their hands felt when they were entwined together. But Morgana knew that neither of them would never forget this winter solstice and just for now, she could allow herself to pretend they never had to leave this balcony.
She could feel Merlin watching her and looked into his bright blue eyes. She noticed how the snow was settling onto his hair and even his eyelashes, and that he was still smiling. "Happy winter solstice, Morgana."
Morgana smiled back and squeezed his hand. "Happy winter solstice, Merlin."
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it, again would love to know what you think so reviews are much appreciated :)