22 September 2010 @ 04:48 pm
Ficlet: rattle these gilded cage bars  
Title: rattle these gilded cage bars
Fandom: Merlin
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: Fairly general; S1 & S2 at most.
Summary: A secret is just as difficult to keep when it is shared.
Notes: I fail at making Morgana fully evil, but this is already AU-ish anyway, so. Filled for this prompt at the Doomed Ships Meme: "Merlin/Morgana, There’s a sound in my mind, it’s pulling me down the drain / So I’m gathering all of my forces of sense to stay sane / But I’m not in charge here, I’ve already crossed that line / I’m a victim to this anarchistic heart of mine."

When Morgana dreams, she never truly sleeps.

At first the images seep slow and dull, filling the crevices of her mind and settling muddy, sticky as tar. They pool together, formless, meaningless. She mentions them to no one, never tries to hold onto them once she wakes and they slide beyond the periphery of her thoughts. Over time, she forgets.

Then comes the night when she sits up in bed sweaty, gasping, the visions carved too-bright and razor-sharp.

She drinks less wine at dinner, stops reading before bed. Pretends not to be just as tired in the morning as she was the evening before, and clings to Gwen whenever she wakes up in the dark with shaking limbs and flashes of horrors to come still choking her mind.

The word for it brings only condemnation, so she locks it away.


With no compass or bearings, she cannot navigate the storm that floods her subconscious and sets her adrift. All she possesses -- all she becomes -- is sight.

She prays for blindness.


Merlin learns the truth. And it should be a blessing, the fact that someone has shouldered part of the burden, but the reality is that she still owns the entirety of the blame. When he comes to her in Gwen's place one night, she makes no move to reach for comfort she won't find.

I won't last. Knees pulled to her chest, she speaks and hears the words crack like broken bones. I'm so tired, Merlin. I'm an abomination, and I won't last.

No, he says suddenly, urgently. His hand finds hers in the dark, twines their fingers together. She holds fast and matches his grip, squeezes once.

The rough pad of his thumb strokes across the wet streaks cooling salty on her hot cheeks. He pauses as though he's considering something before he turns his head, speaks low; flame blooms small but bright from the candle on her bedside table. Her mouth falls open as she stares wide-eyed, heart drumming, straining against the breath caught in her chest.

You are no abomination.

Lifting a hand to frame his face, she maps his features as though relearning them with her fingertips.


We could build the world anew. The two of us. The thought comes out in a rush, thick with longing and hope and promise. Leaning closer, she locks his gaze with hers and refuses to let go.

The world is a very large place, he says, wide grin anything but serious.

I know. She tucks her face into the crook between his neck and shoulder. But we could.


It should be enough, Merlin reminds her. Camelot. The distant promise of a better ruler and enlightened times. It should bolster her patience, lift her spirits, soothe her hurt.

Days pass, and she grows stronger, power humming under her skin like it could replace the blood in her veins. She learns to direct it, harness it to her will. There's a thought that prickles at the back of her mind, impulse percolating bitter as they live crushed under the king's flawed dogma; she can scarcely move without feeling the invisible borders of it, built tall and dug deep. If only she could find some way to run her hands along it, find purchase on a weak point to bring the entire damned thing down. They would be free. The desire roots in her soul, brilliant and maddening in her suffocation. She could be free.

He tries so hard to placate her with rational thought, listing the reasons why justice isn't for them to take into their own hands, why the knowledge alone should be enough, voice catching on the last syllable. Even Uther, he insists, has a stock of it reserved specifically for her.

She scoffs. If fear always conquers reason, it can certainly rip away love.


Dawn -- or dusk, she cannot tell -- with a smoke-strangled sky. The land below her raised hand smolders as far as the eye can see, the embers Pendragon red.


Her good intentions sour when an outbreak of illness stretches through the outskirts of Camelot and she cannot resist offering aid more efficient and effective than the midwives' herbal poultices and remedies.

A child dies by royal decree for Morgana's magic, and the king attributes her rage to softness of heart.

Only Merlin knows that the purpose of winding his arms around her is purely to restrain.


I know how this will end, she spits.

He flinches at her tone. You don't know for sure. Arthur --

Have you forgotten how much longer I've known him than you have? Arthur is his father's son.

He loves and respects Uther, yes, but --

Her hand on his forearm clenches until the knuckles go white. He is his father's son.


In the bluish-grey light cast as evening smears into morning, she slips out of the castle with a bag and some provisions. He's waiting for her in the stables when she unlatches the door.

You'll be hunted to the ends of the earth.

I know.
She lifts her chin. But not for the reasons you think.

Uther would never give up on his ward, Morgana
, he says, shaking his head.

Before she leaves, she cradles a palm to his jaw and presses her dry lips to his like an apology, feeling their combined energy spark briefly where their skin meets. They don't say goodbye. Hands tight on the reins, she bears down hard on the road and doesn't look back to see Merlin's face or the black smoke curling thick from the tower housing the king's chambers.

Instead, she steers in one direction: forward.
Current Mood: stressed
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[identity profile] zombie_boogie.livejournal.com on September 23rd, 2010 05:28 am (UTC)


No seriously. This is wonderful. I've been flailing all over the damn place over these two (my shippy heart has been re-ignited over the past few weeks). I wish this was on the show, because frankly Evil!Morgana is a bit too much and your Morally Grey!Morgana is far more satisfactory and more in line with what I've wanted to see from the show. I could quote entire passages saying "this is awesome" but basically your language is so beautiful and evocative. Smoke-strangled sky! Days pass, and she grows stronger, power humming under her skin like it could replace the blood in her veins! Gorgeous prose. If you ever feel the need to treat me to something, more of this please.
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[identity profile] archaeologist-d.livejournal.com on September 23rd, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, that was great. I thought you captured Morgana's rage and black/white viewpoint very well.
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[identity profile] classic-mold137.livejournal.com on September 23rd, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
Can't formulate any thoughts besides "I love you" right now. Seriously, this was wonderful.
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slightlytookish: Merlin: Merlin & Morgana - Hallway[personal profile] slightlytookish on September 24th, 2010 12:00 am (UTC)
This is so beautiful! I adore that final line ♥
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[identity profile] eucatastrophe.livejournal.com on September 24th, 2010 07:39 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this! fantastic writing <3
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[identity profile] kepp0xy.livejournal.com on September 29th, 2010 01:05 am (UTC)
Nnnngh. Your prose is just so stunning and I literally am just sitting here baaasking. I would honestly, literally, be quoting the entire thing were I to try and pick out specific bits. Gorgeous.

The story itself is ... this aching balance of sweet and heart wrenching. These two ... always had a really interesting potential, and I think you highlighted it here. I really liked your scenes of Merlin trying to convince Morgana, and her stalwart denial to any of his reasoning. Urgh. THEY ARE SO TRAGIC.

Really excellent work, you. Moar? ♥_♥
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[identity profile] nelisce.livejournal.com on October 3rd, 2010 08:13 am (UTC)
I really loved this! Merlin/Morgana are such a fascinating pairing. ♥
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