Morgana watched from her window as prince and servant clattered into the courtyard. Stable hands came quickly to lead the horses away as the two men strode side by side in the dusk of the sunset towards the castle steps.
How could two men be so different in personality and physicality, yet still be as similar as silver and gold? She wondered.
So many contrasts: prince and peasant, blonde and dark, slim and broad (shouldered)…had it not been for that fateful attack on Arthur and Merlin’s impulsive bravery, it was doubtful that their paths would ever have crossed.
And yet…as she watched, Merlin stopped dead, frantically shaking his head at whatever the prince was saying. Morgana knew that Arthur was rolling his eyes as he turned back, even though she couldn’t actually see it from her window.
They conversed animatedly, Arthur clearly saying ‘Go’ and Merlin just as vehemently saying ‘No’. A consensus was eventually reached though, and they resumed their trek, disappearing into the castle depths.
Morgana sighed and turned away from the window, absently fiddling with her bracelet as she paced. It was strange—she was so used to indulging in quick naps throughout the day to ward off the nightmares at night, that the energy from two nights worth of rest only made her more restless.
She wished that she had gone riding with the others, for all Uther had wanted was to lecture about how she was growing up into a beautiful young lady who had certain duties and obligations to king and Camelot. She assumed this particular lecture was in response to Morgause’s visit and the residue of the witch finder’s betrayal. Uther always hauled her in to berate for some imagined slight and to reconfirm her loyalties after an encounter with some form of magic or sorcery. Although, for some reason he had been just as furious when he had learned that Arthur had left on an overnight hunting trip. Surely the paranoia of his obsession with magic had begun to take over his everyday life, if he was worried about the best warrior in the kingdom going out on his own for a routine excursion.
A soft knock at the door interrupted her musings.
“Who is it?” She called, clutching her dressing gown closed at the throat. She had sent Gwen home early, not wanting company in her pensive mood.
Morgana’s brows shot up, and she strode to the door, opening it just enough to allow him to slip in.
“Gaius asked me to bring you your sleeping draft,” he explained while holding out the bottle, although his eyes kept flickering irresistibly towards her wrist. He could feel the subtle magic emanating from it, and his own magic thrummed under his skin in response.
“Oh! Tell Gaius he needn’t have worried; I’ve slept better these past two nights than I ever did,” she responded carelessly, once again twisting and turning the silver band on her wrist. “I only wish that I could thank Morgause for her gift.”
“Gift?” he repeated.
“She gave me her mother’s healing bracelet. Said it would help me sleep, which it did.” Morgana cocked her head, those green eyes assessing him closely. “I feel as if I know Morgause from somewhere. Has Gaius mentioned anything about her?”
“No. I’m sorry, my lady.” Merlin shook his head, both in response to her question and to clear it from the increasing urge to tear the bracelet from her wrist and bury it far, far away. “However, I do know that he would love to examine your bracelet, to try to figure out how it works and possibly replicate the effects for the future, in the event that you lose it, or…” He trailed off.
Morgana’s fingers tightened protectively about her wrist.
“Just during the day, while you are awake.” He coaxed gently, hesitating slightly before adding, “there is the possibility that she may have used a magic spell or charm to block your dreams. I’m not saying that all magic users are automatically dangerous or to be feared or hated, but you just met this woman, my lady. And you are the king’s ward. There are a lot of people who would use you to get to Uther, and I don’t want to see you hurt.”
She had frozen, poised for fight or flight, when the dreaded word magic had come out of his mouth. He took a step towards her, long fingers curling about her own to loosen her grip.
“You asked me, once before,” he murmured. “If I thought you had magic.” Looking up, he met her gaze squarely, dark sapphire colliding with emerald green. “I know you have magic. You are a Seer, Morgana, and your powers are strong. By blocking your powers away, they will only build up, and the next time you take the bracelet off they will come crashing down, like an avalanche.”
She drew in a sharp breath, suddenly aware of how close they were standing, of the intimacy of the moment. They were nearly of a similar height; she could lean up with very little effort, and touch her mouth to his…
“Let me help you. My best friend was a sorcerer; in Cenred’s kingdom, magic wasn’t outlawed as it is here. If Gaius can’t dissect the spells, then…I might know someone who would be able to.” The half-truth slipped easily from his lips. He knew he was walking a fine line, especially with Arthur’s explicit instructions not to go near the subject of magic with Morgana, but he couldn’t help it.
From day one, she had intrigued him, enthralled him, even before he had been aware of her gift. Perhaps it was like with Arthur; the magic thrumming through her veins like a siren call to the warlock.
It took a moment for the words to sink in; when they did, the implications of what he had just done hit her like a blow to the heart.
Not only had he acknowledged and confirmed her deepest fear and desire, he had also just admitted to the third most powerful person in Camelot that he had consorted with sorcerers in the past and was still doing so in the present, right under Uther’s nose.
She exhaled slowly, looking down at his hand on hers. More contrasts, she mused abstractly; his hand with those long, elegant fingers looked somehow still very masculine and large against her own pale slim hand.
“Very well.” She whispered, finally yielding.
He withdrew his hand and backed off, and she mourned the loss of warmth his touch had provided.
“I will let Gaius know, and will come by tomorrow morning—“
“No.” Steeling herself, she turned her wrist over to fumble with the clasp, cursing her sudden clumsiness.
“Here,” he said gently, and she could only watch as he deftly undid the clasp, only to frown darkly at the two tiny punctures revealed underneath. “What happened?”
“The bracelet—there must have been a sharp edge from the clasp. It’s nothing,” she insisted, but let him smooth his thumb over the dried flecks of blood, not noticing that the miniscule holes disappeared, or that his eyes flared gold briefly.
“Perhaps,” Merlin muttered under his breath. “Thank you, my lady. I do not wish for you to needlessly suffer because of my impatience. One more night will not hurt. I will retrieve the bracelet upon the morrow, and return it by nightfall.”
Morgana nodded, using the formality of her title to re-establish the distance between them, physically, emotionally. “Until the morrow, then. Good night, Merlin.”
“Good night, my lady.”