[personal profile] ardensregina
Title: How Could You Run When You Know?
Fandom: Merlin
Characters/Pairings: Merlin, Morgana, or perhaps Merlin/Morgana, you decide. There might also be a tiny bit of Merlin/Arthur.
Rating: PG-13 or thereabouts
Warnings: slight gore? And heapings upon heapings of angst from start to finish.
Spoilers: There's a line of dialogue from The Beginning Of The End, but nothing more.
Word count: 936
Disclaimer: This bit of the legend is owned by Shine and the BBC, although I wouldn't do much differently if I did own it.
Summary: What if magic isn’t something you choose, she’d said to him once, what if it chooses you. And eventually, they both gave up pretending they didn’t know what the other was capable of.
Notes: So this is my first Merlin story, but God knows I've read enough of them. I must say, though, that I was surprised that my first foray into this fandom didn't turn out to be Merlin/Arthur. But this plot bunny invaded my head yesterday while I was trying to get some work done and wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it. So. It turned out darker than I originally intended it though. Many, may thanks to [livejournal.com profile] brightedelweiss for the beta and the title and lyric at the end come from the song Ohio by Crosby Stills Nash and Young so apologies to them for commandeering their song about a completely separate - and much less fictional - tragedy.

Eventually, they’d both seen just too many executions.


For months, Merlin stood and watched them die. He listened as Uther declared once again that Camelot was free of the evils of magic and that it was a better kingdom because of it. He listened as the king reminded his people that nothing on Earth was as bad as a person who wielded magic and that anyone who did so deserved to die and that the people of Camelot should rejoice in their death.

Merlin did not rejoice.

Still, for months he attended these occasions. He stood under the platform where Arthur stood next to his father, the king, arms crossed and an unreadable expression on his face. Even after getting to know the prince, becoming his almost constant companion, Merlin still couldn’t tell whether or not Arthur truly believed the things his father said or if he knew that a ruse was the only way he’d be able to get along until he ascended the throne. Merlin hoped against hope it was the later. He clung to that hope and did not let it go. It was the only thing that kept him going.

And still, Merlin attended the executions for months, thinking that if he only bared witness to these atrocities, these crimes against humanity, this genocide, that when the time came and Arthur made things right, Merlin would be forgiven by all those who wanted him to act now and stop waiting.

So he watched as the executioner lifted his blade and began to bring it back down, but he could never hold his gaze at the moment that it made contact with the neck of the latest victim. But he’d always pull himself together in time to watch the head roll on the stones and the red river begin to flow.

Then Merlin’s eyes would wander to the window where he knew she would be, looking back at him with the same mortified and terrified expression Merlin knew he also wore. They’d hold each other’s gaze for just a second before looking away and donning a neutral expression; neither could ever quite muster up joyful.


What if magic isn’t something you choose, she’d said to him once, what if it chooses you.

 And eventually, they both gave up pretending they didn’t know what the other was capable of.


At some point, they both stopped watching the executions. Instead, they met in an enclave of the castle from which they could still hear the crowd but couldn’t quite make out Uther’s words. It wasn’t something they had planned, it just kind of happened.

They never said anything, just sat side by side in silence until it was over and business as usual had resumed around them, as if a subject of Camelot had not just been killed because of how he or she had been born. Sometimes, Merlin would take Morgana’s hand in his, and sometimes it appeared to console her, just a little.

Morgana’s dreams and the fact that Merlin could perform magic without uttering a word were things that were never discussed, during the executions or any other time. They each seemed to sense that they were safer that way. They had plausible deniability. Not that it really mattered.


Merlin sometimes wondered how much Gwen knew. He could never tell if her devotion to her mistress was merely out of friendship or because she knew Morgana might need her protection. And of course, he couldn’t, would never ask.


Then, one day, Morgana broke the rules.

A young girl was to be killed that day. Her magic was strong, Merlin knew—he’d sensed it once as they passed on the busy street—but she’d only been seen by her equally as young, but apparently effectively brainwashed, neighbor, who had reported her immediately. The girl hadn’t done anything wrong.

Morgana was already in the enclave when Merlin got there. She was crying, which to Merlin was very unsettling. He strode across to her and pulled her into a warm embrace designed to comfort himself just as much as the lady. They stood there for a long time; Merlin felt Morgana’s tears seeping through the shoulder of his tunic.

“It’s not fair,” she said.

“No, it’s not,” he agreed.

“I dream about you.” If they were going to be emotional and actually speak, they might as well break that rule too.

“You do.” It wasn’t a question. Merlin would have been very surprised to hear that she did not.

“You have to do something.”

That one took him by surprise. “I can’t.”

“Merlin, I know you’re waiting for Arthur to ascend and all of that but people are dying!”

“Don’t you think I know that?” Merlin pulled away from her in something akin to anger. “But what am I supposed to do? I have to stand by Arthur. It’s my duty, my destiny. I’m stuck.”

“Well, what are we supposed to do?”

“I don’t know.”


Years later, Arthur was king and while magic wouldn’t be quite accepted for some time to come, no more little girls were being killed because of a talent they’d been born with.

And as Merlin sat during the feast in his spot next to his king, somewhere between manservant and advisor and physician and sorcerer, and looked across the table at the Lady Morgana, resplendent in her gown, he wondered. Had it been enough just to wait?


What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground?
How could you run when you know?


(no subject)

Date: 2009-03-05 04:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raurey.livejournal.com
Oh geez, Merlin! I love him and Morgana debating whether or not to do something though. And I love the connection to the future.

Yay Merlin fic! :D

(no subject)

Date: 2009-03-05 04:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] burningqueen.livejournal.com
Yay! Thank you!

(no subject)

Date: 2009-03-05 05:07 am (UTC)
ext_3674: pete wisdom says, "Gotta love those happy endings." (Default)
From: [identity profile] iambickilometer.livejournal.com
There seems to be a recurring theme of letting things happen in Merlin. "Should I act, or should I turn a blind eye?" is often the center of conflicts in the show. And the topic of magic - the killing of magic-wielders - would not be an easy one for anyone to make a decision about, particularly not these two. I love seeing stories like this one, that explore this theme a little deeper.

And on an unrelated note, I absolutely adore the Merlin & Morgana gen you have here. (Or ship, if that's what you intended.) I love their interaction in the show, and you really captured that.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-03-05 08:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] burningqueen.livejournal.com
There seems to be a recurring theme of letting things happen in Merlin. "Should I act, or should I turn a blind eye?" is often the center of conflicts in the show.

You know, that hadn't even occurred to me, but that actually works really well here.

Huh. Maybe I should take credit for that?

I haven't decided if it's shippy or gen. I think it was meant to be ambiguous, since I wrote it and it's ambiguous to me.

thank you! :D

(no subject)

Date: 2009-03-05 07:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] iamlillykane.livejournal.com
oh, wow. this was amazing. :) dark merlin and morgana is the best bcause when it comes down to it thats what they really are.

and i loved the end. like you kind of get this sense that merlin disappointed morgana. like she expected him to do something. and that really ties in with why morgana eventually betrays camelot.

wow that was a bit ranty, wasnt it? lol.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-03-05 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] burningqueen.livejournal.com
awwww bb thanks so much. ♥

ranty comments are love.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-03-05 08:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] iamlillykane.livejournal.com

hehe. :D

(no subject)

Date: 2009-03-05 11:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] archaeologist-d.livejournal.com
Good one. I liked that Merlin and Morgana both had the same question - to wait and let those others die. Well done.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-03-05 08:50 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-03-06 02:09 am (UTC)
ext_251: (Default)
From: [identity profile] htbthomas.livejournal.com
This is completely awesome! What a horrible and poignant, yet touching way to bond. :'( ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2009-03-06 02:17 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-03-06 05:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vanishing-cake.livejournal.com
This is pretty deep. The comparison between Merlin and Morgana was poignant, and there was a tangible severity in the way you wrote about the executions.

One thing: fourth paragraph down, near the end, latter instead of later. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-17 04:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] breakharmony.livejournal.com
Wow. I have to say that I'm extremely new to Merlin (this being one of the first fics I've read in the Merlin fandom), and I really only chose to read this because of the musical inspiration, but I'm really glad I did. I enjoyed this very much. That song happens to be a favorite of mine (as an Ohioan, I think it's in the rule book somewhere) and I love how the lyrics at the end fit so perfectly with the theme of this story. They really make you think. The unspoken relationship between Merlin and Morgana is very bitter sweet, and as a reader, it is easy to feel their guilt and uncertainty. You did an excellent job with this! :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-17 02:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] burningqueen.livejournal.com
Thank you very! And welcome to the fandom! I promise you that it's not usually this grim, it's normally a fun time. :)

I wrote this awhile ago, but if I remember correctly the title/lyrics came to me while I was writing it. The song must have come on my iTunes or something. I wasn't sure whether I should include it or not, since the song is on such a serious subject, but it just fit so well that I couldn't resist.



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