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initiation | demolition | reconstruction | confrontation | absolution





THE DEMOLISHED MAN
(A Merlin [livejournal.com profile] apocabigbang fic)

PROLOGUE : Initiation
(Morgana)


Morgana twists in her bed, back arching as the vision tears through her. She’s used to the raging night terrors telling tales of futures not yet past, to monsters tearing Arthur in two, to scattered images of Gwen’s tears and Camelot in ruins. But it’s not the screams that wake her tonight.

It’s the silence. The vast fields of black that smother all sound, all sight, all life. It swallows her screams, her person and the whole of Camelot; maybe the whole of the world.

When she wakes up it’s a full twenty minutes before she can talk, before she's aware of Gwen’s arms wrapped around her shoulders, before she can hear the whispered platitudes. “It’s going to be all right. It’s just a dream. I’m here.”

The stars outside her window are unusually bright tonight.

***


“Don’t worry, Morgana,” Gaius says, just like he always says. “It’s just a dream. A nightmare. I’ll prepare a stronger sleeping draught.”

She wonders sometimes what this potion would do to her if she continued taking it. She’d stopped months ago when Gwen had tried and failed to rouse her three consecutive mornings. If the draughts have been increasing in intensity since then, it is entirely possible that the small collection she has hidden under her floorboards is enough to kill a man.

And still Gaius prescribes them stronger.

“I don’t want it,” she says for the thousandth time. “It doesn’t work. I have no use for it.”

“Morgana.”

“Aren’t you going to ask me about my dreams? You always see fit to prescribe me your potions, but you never ask about my dreams.”

“They’re only nightmares, Morgana.”

Not for the first time, she hates him. Hates that he can stand there and lie to her face and hates even more that he’s been doing the same for years. Times like this, she can barely stand the sight of him.

The door opens and Merlin strides in. Gaius glances toward him and back to Morgana like he’s uncomfortable with this secret he’s keeping, but Morgana is not so stupid as to think her dreams are actually a secret. She’s been waking the castle with her screams for far too long for them to remain hidden. Which means Gaius must realize that there is something besides nightmares at work, some secret worth guarding. Gwen knows she suspects her nightmares to be premonitions, as does Gauis. Morgana cannot think of a soul more worthy of guarding this secret than Merlin, but still she cannot tell him directly. “Would you like to know what I dreamt about, Gaius?” she asks the physician, her eyes trained on Merlin. “Nothing. I dreamt there was never-ending nothing. No people. No Camelot. Nothing.”

Merlin freezes, rooted to the spot as what little colour in his cheeks seeps out. “No Camelot,” he whispers like it’s the worst thing in the world. Morgana can’t help but think the statement short sighted. She would gladly see Camelot burn if it meant the fate could be avoided for the rest of creation. He recovers after a moment but there’s something knowing in his eyes when he says, “Nothing like that will ever happen, Morgana. I won’t let it.”

That does more to calm her mind than any of Gaius’s potions.

She quashes the little voice in her head that wants to draw connections leading from dreams, to magic, to darkness to Merlin.

***


Camelot is under attacked. It seems like Camelot is always under attack these days.

But it’s different this time. Even before the battle, she can feel it. It’s the precursor to madness, to emptiness. Magical foes seem to pour out of every crevice and each friend slain rises up again to join the enemy. It’s so bad that no one notices when Morgana takes up a sword herself and joins the fray.

She’s not close enough to the heart of the fight that she can effect the outcome, but she watches as the inevitable pieces start to slot themselves together. Arthur is about to be overrun and Merlin is pushing his way toward him a pale twisted hand lands on his back. Arthur falls. Merlin scream.

The whole of Camelot can hear Merlin’s scream. It’s deafening, raw, and undeniably powerful. He screams so loud, the castle shakes, the air resounds with his voice and the enemy is blasted into oblivion.

Morgana, who is watching Merlin rather than the aftermath sees him shatter. One minute he’s there and the next he’s splintering into a thousand pieces scattered through the corpse-filled streets of Camelot, the scream still resounding through the air.

It takes Morgana a minute to really hear him, to decipher the sheer amount of pain, anger and magic in his tone to get to the words. It’s not a spell Merlin screams to win the battle: it’s a name.

Arthur!

***


The clean-up is terrible, worse than the battle itself. The corpses sit, festering, on the streets as the surviving families search tirelessly for the faces of their own. Arthur is confined to bed rest but after only a day he drags himself to his feet to join the search parties.

Uther blames the attacks on sorcery. He is convinced that the one who started this and the one who ended it are the same but Morgana knows him to be wrong. Merlin’s secret brings with it a devastating clarity. The invisible hand that steers Camelot and Arthur is not an enemy but a friend. Uther would have him hanged if he knew.

But Merlin is nowhere to be found. Morgana half suspects that he tore himself to pieces to save them, that he sacrificed himself so that Camelot and Arthur could live on. It’s a death befitting of a knight, worthy of legend, but it will fade to nothing because she is the only one that knows it. On the odd chance that Merlin still lives, she cannot, will not, betray his secret.

The string of sleepless nights stretches out of necessity. Every capable man, woman, and child is put to work rebuilding regardless of station. Despite the circumstances, it is the most invigorating time of her life. When she finally finds it in her to sleep, she dozes off immediately, comforted by the fact that Merlin has heeded her vision and halted the crushing emptiness that awaited the future of her dreams

But the dream returns; vast expanses of nothing choking the life from her.

There’s no air.

“Morgana! Morgana!” Gwen shouts. “Breathe, Morgana! I need you to breathe.”

She chokes on air too thick for her starved lungs. It’s a little bit like trying to drown someone who’s just been dying of thirst. Her breathing normalizes after a moment and even as Gwen hugs her tight, she thinks of Merlin screaming as he shatters, taking an army of dead with him; thinks of Arthur still searching frantically for the corpse of his manservant; thinks of Gaius handing her a still stronger potion, promising her the dreams will stop soon.

She looks up over Gwen’s shoulder, out the window where the full moon bathes Camelot in its eerie, yellow glow, but there’s something wrong with the picture. It takes her a moment to figure it out. “Gwen,” she asks shakily. “What happened to the stars?”

Gwen draws back, confusion written across her brow. “Milady?”

“The stars, Gwen,” Morgana says. “It’s a cloudless night. I can see the moon with perfect clarity, but where are the stars?”

“Are you sure you’re feeling quite well? These past few days have been a terrible stress on all of us.”

“This has nothing to do with stress. It is simply a matter of fact. I know the moon is not alone in the night sky. What happened to the stars?”

Gwen fixes her with a stare that is both serious and pitying. “Milady, there are no stars. It’s only ever been the moon.

(Part One: Demolition)

(no subject)

15/4/11 14:52 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mihnn.livejournal.com
I love the way you've portrayed Morgana here. You've really got a way with words, your descriptions are lovely.

(no subject)

18/4/11 20:18 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Oh, Morgana's my favorite by a mile. Glad she's working for you.

(no subject)

17/4/11 17:39 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] dragongirl-g.livejournal.com
This is so intriguing and I ADORE what you've done with Morgana's character here - you've made her intelligent, observant, and secretive just like in S3, but still loyal to Merlin and Arthur. On to the next part...

(no subject)

18/4/11 20:19 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I kind of feel like s3 assassinated Morgana, but I'm happy she's working for you here.

(no subject)

24/4/11 23:05 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] davincis-girl.livejournal.com
I absolutely love this opening. Jumping to the next part.