netgirl_y2k: (brandnewday)
[personal profile] netgirl_y2k
Title: The Trouble with Witches (at least the evil get to go home early on Fridays)
Fandom: Merlin
Characters: Morgana, Aithusa
Rating: PG
Word Count: 2288
Summary: In which Morgana is adopted by a baby dragon and has very mixed feelings about the whole thing.


Morgana gathered up the few possessions she meant to take with her and shoved them into a pack. Really, she should have abandoned the hovel when Merlin had discovered where it was, but as it was only Merlin it had hardly seemed to matter. Well, that was one lesson she could take from this debacle, the next time the opportunity arose to kill Merlin she'd take it, no more fucking around.

The last thing she remembered was staggering aimlessly through the forest, determined to get beyond the kingdom's borders before she passed out from the blood loss; Camelot had taken everything in her life that was worth having, it couldn't have her death too.

Then she'd woken on the forest floor, wound miraculously, magically gone.

She'd had some weird dreams while she was unconscious. She'd dreamed of a beautiful white dragon swooping down and breathing life into her dying body. A delusion, it must have been. Pretty white dragons didn't appear from nowhere to save failed witch-queens, they probably only troubled themselves for people like Arthur and Gwen. Prancing fucking unicorns would probably turn out to save Gwen, Morgana thought bitterly.

She took one last look around the hovel, she was not going to miss it. This was not a chapter in her life that she was going to remember with affection and longing. In fact, if she had more time she'd raze it to the ground, but she still didn't have access to her magic, something that she'd panic about when there was a little more distance between her and Camelot.

Morgana opened the door to leave and almost tripped over the small white dragon sitting on her doorstep with an expression best described as "last puppy of the litter."

"Shit," Morgana said.

*

For the first few days of her flight Morgana didn't give the dragon much thought, it flew ahead or behind as much as it was with her. And anyway, Morgana was mostly concerned with keeping ahead of the king's little red-cloaked pets, who she was sure were in close pursuit.

The other possibility, that her dear brother didn't consider her important enough to even hunt down and kill, was too horrible to contemplate.

*

"Bugger off," said Morgana.

The little dragon wrapped its scaly forelimbs around her knees and looked up at her adoringly.

Shaking her leg and stamping her foot in the hope of dislodging the creature had little to no effect.

*

Eventually Morgana lost her temper and threw a stick at the dragon. Well, she threw it slightly to the left of the dragon, but she was sure her intentions were clear.

The dragon stood its ground and snorted a thin stream of weedy blue fire at the stick, which dropped to the ground, a charred twig.

Morgana groped for another stick and tossed it in a high arc, and the dragon flamed it again.

Morgana's lips quirked upwards. Okay, so as entertainments went it wasn't exactly visiting unimaginable torments on the knights of Camelot, but it was better than nothing.

*

When Morgana had been eleven she'd shrieked and stamped her feet until she'd been allowed to sit in on Arthur's lessons on how to snare rabbits. She was mortified by the memory now of course, and she wasn't much more impressed by the rabbit meat she was currently trying to choke down; bloody and raw on the inside and charred black outside.

"I don't know what you're looking at," Morgana told the dragon. "There's barely enough for one here, I've got nothing to feed you."

The dragon continued to stare at her. Morgana tore off a strip of rabbit flesh and flung it into the air. The dragon leapt into the air, snapped up the morsel, and landed on its tail.

"You are a ridiculous creature," Morgana told it.

*

The next morning Morgana woke up to find several blackened and burned possibly-rabbit carcasses next to her head.

"Um, thanks," she said.

*

"Maybe no-one told you," Morgana said, "but dragons are extinct. They died out when Uther killed the dragon lords."

The little dragon snorted flame in what Morgana chose to believe was disgust.

"Yeah, my sister never had much time for dragon lords either."

*

Morgana decided that she needed a horse. She still hadn't decided where she was going, but she did know that she'd like to be going there faster. She'd had to abandon her beloved grey mare in Camelot's stables when she was making her escape.

Damn, and she'd really liked that horse too.

She sprawled messily by the roadside, and when a passing rider dismounted to check if she was alive she pressed her dagger to his belly and told him to leave his sword, his horse and his supplies and walk away.

So Morgana obtained a sword, a horse, and some food that wasn't scorched rabbit. She would have been happier about it if it hadn't seemed like the dragon was sulking at her.

She wasn't sure how a creature that didn't speak and wasn't capable of human facial expressions could sulk, but it managed it all the same.

"Look," said Morgana, "no one stops to check on an unconscious woman by the roadside out of pure motives. He was probably planning to rape me if I was alive and loot my corpse if I wasn't."

"Look," said Morgana, "I could have slit his throat and taken his horse anyway." And a few months ago that's exactly what she would have done. "At least I let him live."

Finally Morgana said, "You're just a stupid flying lizard, I don't have to explain myself to you."

*

It was raining. It was raining that sort of relentless horizontal rain that made you glad you'd been taught to swim as a child. Morgana was taking shelter beneath a tree, which wasn't accomplishing anything except giving the rain something to drip off on its way down the back of her neck.

She'd tried to start a fire, but the kindling was soaked through and try as she might she couldn't get it to catch. She'd tried to start one with magic - to her unspeakable relief she could feel her magic creeping back, lurking around the edges of her mind - but it was still too soon, and after an hour of trying to force the spell and cursing her own powerlessness she'd curled up, knees drawn up to her chest and hands tucked into her armpits to try and preserve some body heat.

The little dragon took a deep breath, flamed, and the fire roared to life.

Morgana raised her head and said, "So we're friends again, are we?"

She'd meant it to sound scathing, but it came out desperately, pathetically grateful.

*

"You know, in legends the dragons were great talkers? Full of cunning and guile and a truly impressive vocabulary?"

The dragon stared wordlessly at Morgana.

"No? Nothing?"

She picked up a stick and hurled it towards the trees, and the little dragon scampered after it, wings flapping, breathing fire.

"If nothing else," said Morgana, "we need a new game."

*

The really disconcerting thing about the dragon was that sometimes it looked at her with an expression of such silent intelligence that Morgana would have sworn that it was smarter than many men, and indeed kings, that she'd known.

And it would have been one thing if a dumb animal had decided that it was going to be Morgana's friend. Animals knew sod all; dogs had always liked Arthur, and everyone liked Merlin. But that a creature of deep and unspoken intelligence had seen something in Morgana that was worth trailing around after, that was almost frightening.

At which point the little dragon tried to crawl onto her lap to go to sleep.

No. No, not frightening. Annoying, that was it.

*

"In the days of old," Morgana said, "sorcerers used to ride dragons."

The dragon flapped its wings and flutter-skipped back a pace or two, as if it thought it was in danger of Morgana actually trying it out.

*

It took a while, but Morgana realised that the dragon was guiding their course as much as Morgana herself was.

The dragon would disappear for days at a time, and at first Morgana would be glad to be rid of the irksome little pest, but then she'd start to worry - these woods weren't always safe and it was a very small dragon, it probably got picked on by the bigger magical creatures. And she'd go galloping off in the direction she'd last seen the dragon flying in.

*

"The kingdom of Nemeth?" said Morgana when she finally caught up with the dragon and saw the kingdom spread out in the valley below them.

Well, it had been at war with Camelot for generations, so that was one thing that was going for it.

*

Morgana sold the stolen horse and rented rooms in the centre of the city.

"How do you feel about pets?" she asked the landlord.

He looked her up and down and obviously decided she was the owner of a small and yippy dog. "Is he any good at ratting?" he asked.

Morgana thought about the dragon's history with rabbits. "Um, probably," she said.

*

Somewhat surprisingly the dragon adapted well to their more urban lifestyle. By night it came and went via the open window, and during the day it curled up under her bed while Morgana practiced spells over and over again. Her magic was returning to her, it was returning in frustrating, humiliatingly small increments, but it was returning.

*

"Are you here for the coronation?" she was asked.

Morgana's scathing look answered that question.

Mithian, the new queen's name was apparently. Morgana watched the crowds make their way up to the palace from her window. She felt the familiar coil of resentment that this woman had the love, loyalty and respect that had been denied Morgana, but it was just a shadow of what she'd felt in Camelot.

Good luck to Queen Mithian, Morgana supposed. Being queen wasn't all it was cracked up to be, as she'd doubtlessly soon find out.

Morgana shut the window and went back to her work.

*

Morgana's powers might not yet be what they once were, but everything about her, from her clothes to her hair to the way she stood screamed witch. Morgana was rather proud of that actually.

More than once she was asked if she was intending to apply for the position of Queen Mithian's court sorcerer. Morgana bristled at the suggestion. Work for a living? It was so... undignified.

But, then, was it very much less dignified than going highwayman and horse thief?

The little dragon had crawled out from under the bed and laid its muzzle on Morgana's thigh while she mulled it over. Moral support, Morgana thought, I'd forgotten what that felt like.

"There's no harm in offering, I suppose. And it would only be temporary, just until I'm back to full strength."

The dragon made approving noises, but that was probably because Morgana was scratching the scales behind its wings where it really liked it.

"And you can come up to the palace with me," said Morgana, "people are always impressed by dragons."

*

Queen Mithian was beautiful and gracious, and yet didn't remind Morgana in any way of Gwen, which was a relief.

The dragon unfurled its wings slightly, sat up on its hindquarters and looked at the queen with love in its eyes.

Faithless creature, thought Morgana, smirking behind her hand.

"Oh," said the queen, "does he have a name?"

He? Morgana had never felt inclined to figure out the dragon's sex, but she supposed he worked as well as it.

"He's called--" the dragon turned that silently knowing expression on her "--Aithusa." Morgana wasn't sure where that had come from, but she also knew without a shadow of a doubt that that was the dragon's name.

"He's just a baby, really," Morgana said, feeling oddly apologetic. Aithusa was sickeningly cute to look at, and already a master emotional manipulator, but he wasn't much good for making your enemies turn and flee in terror or razing opposing armies to the ground, at least, not unless you were embroiled in a longstanding war with the local rabbit population.

*

So Morgana and Aithusa moved into the palace at Nemeth, on a trial basis and at the queen's pleasure, of course.

The knight that the queen had dispatched to show Morgana to her new chambers talked away about her expected duties, times the queen's council met, did she happen to know much healing magic because the court had lost its physician at the same time as its sorcerer?

Morgana half listened as she examined the room. It wasn't quite as luxurious as she'd had in Camelot, but it wasn't far off. The bed looked comfortable, the fireplace warm, and the shelves lined with more magical texts than Morgana had ever seen in one place before.

The library had been left by the previous court sorcerer, the knight explained. Morgana dismissed him and promised to call on the queen this evening once she had settled in.

She ran her hand over the bookshelves and selected a volume devoted to healing spells; it had never been a form of magic that had held much interest for her before, but if she was going to be here for some time she may as well turn her hand to mastering it.

She settled down by the fire with her book.

"This is only temporary," she told Aithusa, "just until I work out how to get Camelot back."

But the words sounded hollow even to Morgana's ears, and the little dragon ignored her entirely, devoting himself to building a nest on top of the wardrobe.

Date: 2012-01-07 10:22 pm (UTC)
glinda: camelot land of dreams (camelot)
From: [personal profile] glinda
♥ ♥ ♥

I like this way of interacting with Merlin canon, in that I don't, I just read your fic and pretend its canon instead. Its much better and has more Morgana and Aithusa dragon bonding. (Court Sorceror and Physician! :D)

Date: 2012-01-08 04:56 am (UTC)
karatam: (Merlin | Morgana is a badass)
From: [personal profile] karatam
I just want to snuggle this fic

and feed it partially burned rabbit

which is a decidedly odd feeling

Date: 2012-01-08 04:43 pm (UTC)
cat_77: baby dragon! (Aithusa)
From: [personal profile] cat_77
Hee! Morgana and Aithusa = best thing ever, Y/N?

She doesn't love the dragon, of course not... OMG WHERE THE FUCK DID IT GO?

Loved this to pieces - too cute for words.

Torn between two theories on little Aithusa:
1) Slash Dragon said a white dragon is all about the future and destiny and such. If Aithusa knows the future, did s/he save Morgana so things are in place for Camlann?
2) Merlin and Morgana seem completely unable to off each other. Did Little Mister Dragonlord send baby Aithusa to go check on her, and Aithusa took that to mean save her?

Thinky thoughts. But they keep circling back to Dragon!

Date: 2012-01-11 03:17 pm (UTC)
kathkin: (Morgana)
From: [personal profile] kathkin
:D This is lovely! Morgana!centric fic has been a big ball of angst lately, I've missed reading stuff like this. It's adorable and I love Aithusa (though my headcanon is that she is a girl) and Mithian! :D I love Mithian!

...Okay that wasn't very coherent but I loved this fic. <3

Date: 2012-01-11 05:47 pm (UTC)
kathkin: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kathkin
I know some people who said they'd have been squicked by the implications had she been a girl, but personally I don't think the writers put that much thought into it. And having her be a girl would have saved the episode from being a total sausage part.

I like the angst too! I just miss the days when Gwen/Morgana = fluff and girls giving each other flowers rather than massive angst and betrayal. xD I love your headcanon!

Date: 2012-01-11 10:51 pm (UTC)
kathkin: (Gwen 2)
From: [personal profile] kathkin
And, also, the implications of Aithusa being a girl don't creep me out any more than how much everything on Merlin defaults to male does.

Yeahhh the overwhelming impression I got from the way it playe dout is that Aithusa = a boy because male = default.

Date: 2012-02-09 03:58 am (UTC)
jelazakazone: sketched dragon with scales breathing fire (drawn dragon)
From: [personal profile] jelazakazone
OMG. Yes to this. I was convinced that Aithusa was female and people had to tell me how wrong I was. *facepalm* They are imaginary talking dragons; who cares if they are 1K years apart.

Date: 2012-02-09 10:09 am (UTC)
kathkin: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kathkin
I think it's the pseudo-incest vibe that bothers people more than the age gap... doesn't bother me, though. :P

Date: 2012-02-09 01:55 pm (UTC)
jelazakazone: black squid on a variegated red background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jelazakazone
LOL. Wait. People really think the dragons are related? There is no evidence of that. I thought it was the age difference that bothered people.

Date: 2012-02-09 06:15 pm (UTC)
kathkin: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kathkin
I think the implication was that Kilgharrah would be a parental figure to Aithusa and that kind of guardian/childre relationship squicks some people even if there's no blood relationship.

Date: 2012-02-09 06:18 pm (UTC)
jelazakazone: black squid on a variegated red background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jelazakazone
*see previous comment about imaginary dragons* LOL. Yeah. I think some people take certain things about the show too seriously. When I find myself doing that I quote Katie, "There's a talking dragon in the show":D

Date: 2012-02-10 01:24 pm (UTC)
kathkin: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kathkin
Eh, 'squick' is not a rational reaction, so it's not really a matter of taking things seriously.

Date: 2012-02-10 01:41 pm (UTC)
jelazakazone: black squid on a variegated red background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jelazakazone
Ha! *point to you* Yes, well taken:)

Date: 2012-01-16 12:17 am (UTC)
yue_ix: Chibi of Merlin with tentacle arms (Holiday cheers Nimueh)
From: [personal profile] yue_ix
Hearts in my eyes. I love your fics. They always make me so much happier about canon and daily life in general. I adore your Morgana, and Aithusa is just adorable while staying fairly mysterious! I love how Morgana ends up playing stick with Aithusa, and then at Mithian's court.

(I've read the other comments before leaving this one, and in my head canon, Aithusa is non-binary or female, because of many reasons.)

Thank you very much for writing this piece of love!

Date: 2012-02-09 04:00 am (UTC)
jelazakazone: black squid on a variegated red background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jelazakazone
I know I'm going to get the username wrong, but I listened to quintessy's podfic of this the other day and loved it. I LOVE this Morgana. It actually inspired me to write Morgana fic and now I'm thinking about more Morgana fic. It's the first time I've given any thought to her at all. ♥ This fic was lovely. Strong woman who doesn't need a man and it has a dragon. Perfection:)

Date: 2012-02-09 06:12 pm (UTC)
jelazakazone: black squid on a variegated red background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jelazakazone
:) Well, I'm glad I've made you happy. As long as you don't read my fic, we can all pretend that it will make you happy too:)

Date: 2012-03-22 06:00 pm (UTC)
sophinisba: Morgana smiling from ep 2.03 (morgana happy by gwy)
From: [personal profile] sophinisba
I JUST LISTENED TO QUINTENTTSY'S PODFIC OF THIS AND IT WAS AWESOME. YOU ARE AWESOME ALSO.

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