Title: A Pair Of Shadows
Pairing: Eventual Sirius/Morgana.
Setting: Post Series 4 for Merlin, G.O.F for Harry Potter. I cannot stress how AU this will be.
Summary: Resurrected and on the run, Morgana is hidden by the dragon Aithusa where no-one will find her… in a cave in the Scottish highlands 1500 years in the future. A cave already shared by another fugitive; a fugitive named Sirius Black…
Barely managing to escape from Camelot, Merlin's magic lacerating her heels as she fled, her side burned from the wounds she had sustained in trying to leave. The magical backlash from porting over such a great distance had scalded her insides, searing the backs of her eyes golden as she'd desperately pushed all her energy into simply escaping from the people who had once loved her.
With a loud crack, Morgana had dropped into the woods she had called home for months now and landed hard against the unforgiving ground. The breath squeezed from her lungs by the impact she had rolled onto her good side and tried to draw in air, but all she could manage was a wheezing gasp. Her lungs had rattled in her chest and she had known.
She would not leave the forest alive.
Forcing herself to her feet, bones aching, side on fire, eyes half blind with tears she had stumbled onwards, away from Camelot and everything it stood for.
Away from her failure and her hatred and her love.
She'd managed to stagger on for a mile before her steps finally faltered and she collapsed. Her breathing was shallow now, pulse racing beneath her moon pale skin and her heart was in her mouth and she could taste blood and knew it was the end.
On the sodden forest floor, amongst the mist and the mud she breathed her last, once and forever alone.
Not a queen. Not a witch. Not anything.
Except, suddenly she was opening her eyes and a milk white dragon, no bigger than a lapdog, was peering at her from atop a moss strewn tree stump and she was alive.
Alive and breathing freely, her magic crackling up and down her skin in reassurance, eyes bleeding gold and she could feel hysteria scrabbling at her insides as she sat up.
The mad desire to laugh and scream and cry at the same time clawed at her throat, eyes stinging with tears but before the madness took her the dragon was by her side.
A song, bright as a sunburst and melodic like a running river swept through her mind, healing and soothing as the dragon's snout pressed against her face, the dry, warm scales sliding against her skin like a cat's greeting and a voice spoke in her mind.
'My name is Aithusa. You are Morgana. We have been destined since Time's Dawn. Calm and be Still. We are One. Calm and be Still.'
The voice, young and bubbling, wrapped around Morgana's mind in a comforting embrace and then softly withdrew as the dragon settled in her lap and curled her tail around herself, smoke wisping gently from her nostrils.
Morgana drew deep breaths, tasting the mist in the air and the coldness of the forest and tried to shape her thoughts which, now soothed by Aithusa's intervention ran through her mind like quicksilver as the immediate past flashed by and she realised all that had happened.
Her quest had proved fruitless.
The people she had once loved now hated her and she had nothing and no-one except her magic and even that had failed her when faced with Arthur and Merlin and her bittersweet downfall at the hands of her brother and his servant.
She was alone and she was exhausted with trying to prove herself a better ruler than Uther and worthy of her magic. Her eyes shut at the memory of the man who had sired her and yet denied all claims of kinship. She hated him with every fibre of her being- the man had murdered his way to absolute rulership over his people and had been a tyrant over the druids and her magic wielding kind. Yet he had raised her, given her her every wish and sheltered her after the death of her parents.
Her parents. Her sister. She wondered what they would think of her now, sodden to the bone, covered in her own blood, encrusted with dirt and sunk so low, brought down by those she had once called friends, those she had once trusted and her own foolish pride.
Death had given her a bitingly realistic view of her own life and she could admit now; admit that it was her pride that had killed her. Her pride that she alone could fix Uther's mistakes and that she alone deserved the crown. The irony that her desire to help her people had led to her only serving herself was bitter on her tongue. And it was only now, now when she had nothing and no-one that she could see what a mess she had made and the bitter dream of a wasted opportunity almost destroyed her.
The dull rumble of thunder overhead shook her from her thoughts. Except it wasn't thunder, she realised, with a growing dread that sank deep inside her.
It was Arthur and the Knights of Camelot and they were coming to kill her.
A grim smile crossed her face at her approaching death and a subtle, tiny voice whispered in her head that perhaps she deserved it.
Aithusa snorted beside her and clambered off her lap.
'We must leave. Come.'
And with those words the young dragon beat her wings and flew into the air, hovering just below the tree line, blue eyes boring into Morgana's.
"But where can we go? The whole kingdom knows me, knows who I am and what I've done. Nowhere is safe." Morgana shook her head. "Far better to make a stand here, than die in a ditch somewhere like a dog."
'I did not save you, only for you to be killed by the King and his followers. There is a place I know of where you will be free from those who persecute you. Where they can never follow you. Come.'
Morgana hesitated and Aithusa circled her anxiously, even as the shouts of the knights drew nearer, the braying of their mounts ringing through the forest as they charged over the brow of the hill.
'Morgana. Trust me.'
Their armour glinted like the flash of lightening before rain.
'We must go. Now!'
Bare feet pounding through the dirt, she brushed past branches, heels striking the ground as she fled through the forest, Aithusa's wings beating high above her as she wove her way through the undergrowth.
Brambles snagged at her skirts, her soles bled as she scrambled over rocks, her lungs burned in her chest, her calves ached with running and yet still they climbed through the forest to the place Aithusa promised would lead to safety.
The knights were less than fifty paces behind her now and gaining. She could feel Merlin's eyes burning into the back of her head, heard the warning shouts, heard her name called by Arthur-
Magic blasted the tree to her left and the trunk exploded in a ball of splinters. Shards sprayed out around her in a deadly shower and even as she brought up her hands to protect her face a thick sliver of wood, the length of her forearm, embedded itself into her left shoulder.
Gritting her teeth to stop herself screaming out she ran on, even as her shoulder throbbed and blood ran down her side in thick, sticky rivulets.
There was no time to stop.
Another tree exploded to her right but this time it missed her, even as Aithusa wheeled overhead and snarled at the knights behind her.
Ahead, the mouth of a cave loomed wide, it's gaping maw shadowy and forbidding but Morgana didn't stop, plunging into the blackness behind Aithusa.
Inside Morgana was blind in the stifling darkness and only by the light of Aithusa's scales and the dragon's sudden bursts of flame, no bigger than candle flare could she see where she was running. Aithusa weaved them through the tunnel network, even as Morgana heard the knights dismount and enter the caves behind her.
She could feel the blood pound in her ears as the tramp of boots grew louder and louder behind her.
Still Aithusa flew on, and each cave they came to grew smaller and smaller until finally she turned left…and met a dead end.
"Aithusa?" And Morgana hated herself for the tremor of panic that wove through her voice.
Aithusa landed and pushed her snout into Morgana's hand in reassurance before turning her tiny white head towards the cave wall.
The dragon breathed out, slowly, her breath shimmering against the bare rock and Morgana frowned as the cave wall began to ripple as though a great stone had been thrown into a pond. The ripples spread outwards, circling wider and wider until they were as big as a person and the rock began to fade and behind it stretching onwards was a great black tunnel with the faintest glimmer of light at its end.
Morgana edged forward and put her hand through the place where moments ago the cave wall had been. Her fingers slipped through into cold, inky blackness.
There was a sudden terrible crash behind her as the knights rounded the corner, Merlin and Arthur in the lead and Aithusa was screaming in her head.
Morgana flung herself into the tunnel, Aithusa behind her. Merlin and Arthur were gaining, they were almost upon them-
As the cave rippled once more, the last thing she saw was the green of Merlin's eyes, the flash of Arthur's sword.
Then the cave wall sealed up between them and she saw them no more.
Blinking in the piercing darkness, Morgana conjured a small sphere of golden light in her right hand, and stared around her at the oppressive grey walls of the tunnel they had found themselves in.
"Where are we?"
Morgana stumbled and sat down on a rock, mind furiously tumbling over itself. "How is that possible?"
Aithusa sat on her haunches and if it were possible for dragons to do so, smirked, baring all of her teeth. 'I am DragonKind.'
Morgana passed a hand over her face and took a deep breath. "That explains precisely nothing."
Aithusa wrapped her tail around herself and snorted a smoke ring. 'I am DragonKind,' she repeated smugly.
"Fine," said Morgana tiredly, leaning her head back against the cave wall, and cradling her injured arm in her lap. "How far exactly into the future are we? A few months… a year?"
'Fifteen hundred years approximately,' Aithusa replied, scenting the air. 'And we are in Scotland.'
Stunned into silence, Morgana simply stared at the dragon as the facts of the situation began to sink in. "Fifteen hundred years? Then everyone… everyone I've ever known-"
'Will be dead. Yes,' replied Aithusa plainly. 'And their children and their grandchildren and their children's children. I promised I would bring you somewhere they could not persecute you.'
They were all dead. The thought sunk low into her heart and though that had been her goal for so long now, she found the truth gave her no pleasure at all. Instead, she simply felt lost.
"Fifteen hundred years." Morgana swallowed the lump that had risen unbidden to her throat. "Then I'm completely alone."
'You have me,' replied Aithusa sharply and Morgana rushed to pacify her new friend.
"Yes. I'm sorry, of course I have you. And I am grateful for what you've done. It's all, just, a bit of a shock," she said softly, though the words were becoming more and more difficult to say past the tightening in her throat, the threat of tears behind her eyes.
She blinked them away furiously. She was Morgana Pendragon and she did not cry.
As if sensing her distress Aithusa curled up on top of her cold, dirty feet and sent her thoughts of comfort, even as Morgana grew more and more aware of how tired, and cold and hungry she was.
The pain in her arm had become a dull throb, though the wound had stopped bleeding now, and her congealed blood lay sticky and cold against her skin and her clothes. Every part of her was encrusted with dirt and her hair was matted and greasy. Her nails had torn whilst scrabbling against the cave walls; her feet were cut and battered, dark shadows bruised the delicate skin beneath her eyes and her lips were chapped and sore.
She was a mess, in a strange land in a foreign time. Only Aithusa anchored her to reality and even that link was tenuous at best. She leaned her head back against the cave wall and shivered, knowing that on the other side her enemies, friends, family had once been.
"They can't come through then?"
Aithusa shook her head tiredly as she dozed at Morgana's feet, warm puffs of air gently rising in the dank empty cave. 'No. And we cannot go back. This is our home now. What's done is done.'
Trying to organise her thoughts into some kind of coherent plan, Morgana knew they could not stop here long, not without proper shelter or in her own case, medical attention.
"We need to find food," she said, "and I need to tend to my arm and then, then I will think. I will plan."
Aithusa snorted at her feet. 'We will plan. You are not alone anymore, Morgana.' The dragon rested her head back on her front claws. 'We can do nothing now, 'tis the dark of night here and it will be futile to hunt blindly. Wait until the dawn and till then try and rest.'
Grudgingly, Morgana acknowledged the wisdom in Aithusa's words. Snuffing the ball of light out in her hand with a few whispered words, she settled herself as best as she could against the cold hard rock and with her free hand reached down to stroke Aithusa's scales, feeling a rush of affection for the creature curled at her feet.
Sleep was an impossible dream; instead she closed her eyes and attempted to find some peace, if nothing else.
She must have been dozing, for the next thing she knew a dull thump roused her from her fitful meditations, as though something very heavy and very large had landed outside the cave entrance.
Fear crawled up her spine as Aithusa tensed at her feet. The irrational idea that it was Merlin, Arthur and the Knights of Camelot about to burst into her hiding cave circled her thoughts even as she dismissed them as ridiculous. Even so, she reached for the jewelled dagger belted at her waist, the last present she had ever received from Arthur, and clutched it as tightly as she dared in her left hand, feeling her wounded shoulder protest but knowing she had little choice.
She spread the fingers of her right hand out like falling stars and called her magic to her, prepared to defend herself the instant it was needed. Aithusa's hackles raised and her wings spread out, claws scraping against the stone floor.
Outside the cave entrance, Morgana heard a man speak, his voice rough like silk over gravel.
"Dumbledore said this was the spot. We should be well hidden here and near enough Harry to keep an eye on him."
The cry of a loud bird pierced the air and Morgana stood, pressing herself against the back of the cave wall, feeling the sharp stone dig into her back.
"Quiet, Buckbeak, or you'll wake the whole of Hogsmeade," the man hissed.
The creature let out a small squawk, though whether of apology or indignation, Morgana could not tell. But she didn't have long to wonder for the man was speaking once more and his words made the blood race in her veins.
"Let's go and look at our new home for the next ten months then. Lumos."
A bright white light suddenly blossomed from the end of a stick held in his hand, and by its light she could make out the lean, tall figure of a man wearing a long coat, grey robes and thick leather boots. Something big moved behind him, bigger than anything in Camelot's stables; a creature with fierce yellow eyes, a cruel beak, the body of a horse and…wings?
She gasped and the man swung his light in her direction. The beams fell first on Morgana and then the dragon at her feet.
"Bellatrix?" His eyes widened in surprise and then something ugly flashed across the man's face like lightening. "Stupefy!"
She didn't know what that word meant but she recognised magic when it was aimed at her. Shielding both Aithusa and herself instinctively, the spell cracked against the golden bubble of armour she'd formed around them. The bubble shuddered under the force of the weight of magic and Morgana knew there was deep emotion behind those words, knew whoever this Bellatrix was that she'd been mistaken for, this man hated her…
Aithusa launched herself at the man. Raking her claws across his face, a burst of fire erupted from the dragon and he cried out in pain and alarm as the stench of burnt flesh and hair hung in the air.
And suddenly it was as though Aithusa were flying through mud, her movements sluggish and unwieldy as she struggled to attack again.
The half bird, half horse creature suddenly lunged, beak snapping. Immediately, bright scarlet beads of blood welled along Aithusa's right wing. The dragon hissed and wheeled away out of danger but still oh so slowly and the creature was coming back again and it was going to crush Aithusa in half with it's powerful beak-
"No!" Morgana cried out, and reacting to her distress magic burst from her hands in a wave of golden light.
The man's eyes met hers for a moment and grey burnt into green.
And then the light swept over him and his eyes rolled back into his head as he dropped to the ground. Behind him the winged beast fell too.
Shock paralysed her for a moment. What had her magic done? And then suddenly she found herself moving over to the bodies on the floor and dropping to her knees. With her good hand she reached out and placed trembling fingers against the man's throat, finding his pulse beating strongly against her fingers.
She let herself relax, if only for a moment. "They're sleeping," she murmured, more to herself than to anyone else, but Aithusa, who had been tending to her wounded wing, nodded sharply.
'Indeed. 'Twas a powerful sleeping spell that you cast. They'll sleep for hours, if not days.'
"I didn't want to hurt them," she found herself explaining. "I didn't want my new start to be marked with bloodshed." She looked down at her own body where the thick jagged splinter was still embedded in her left shoulder, her clothes and skin covered in her own blood. "I've had my fill." She stood back up and regarded her friend with critical eyes. "How badly are you hurt?"
'Tis only a scratch and will heal on its own.'
"Can you still fly?"
Aithusa nodded. 'Well enough.'
"Then we should go, before our visitors wake."
'Very well.' Aithusa shook herself, stretched her wings and flapped them gently; testing her weight before with one strong downward thrust she was up in the air and heading towards the cave entrance, back to her normal speed.
Morgana took a deep breath and gathered herself together, preparing herself for the new world the young dragon had brought her to. Fifteen hundred years! She swallowed down the nausea that thought caused and cradled her injured arm to her body.
Fifteen hundred years in the future and the first person she had met had attacked her. She felt her mouth crook in wry amusement, because if she didn't laugh she was going to cry.
The first person she had met… she found herself gazing down at the man who lay unconscious at her feet and staring at him, drinking in all of the little details, taking note of his gently curling dark shoulder length hair, the strong cheekbones -now marked by Aithusa's claws- and his crooked nose- bent from being broken long ago, she guessed. A goatee framed a strong mouth and a proud chin, and the way he had held himself- if he had been born in her time she was sure he would have been one of Arthur's more roguish knights- unhesitating, reckless…but the thought of her brother was painful and she pushed away the memory, drawing herself back to the present and the man sleeping on the floor before her.
His shirt had fallen open and from her vantage point she could just see the beginnings of strange black markings that curled and crossed his chest. She had seen tattoos before- the druids she had met all bore them- but they were blue and purely for ceremonial purposes. These were dark and etched permanently into his skin. With his clear use of magic and his markings she wondered if he were part of some druid community that had survived this far into the future. A community where they used sticks to channel their magic and travelled with creatures she had never seen before.
Could there be others like him?
He had mentioned names to the creature beside him, she recalled. What had he said? One had begun with H, a Henry perhaps? And the other had sounded like fumbling or stumbling, but she shook her head as the names slipped from her memory. Besides, if they were this man's friends, she had little chance of meeting them on friendly terms. Perhaps they would even mistake her for this other woman, this Bellatrix, that the man had thought she was- a woman he clearly hated enough to strike down with magic. True, it was dark and she was covered in filth and he had seemed anxious and hunted…she took a breath and restrained her speculation. There was only one way of finding out and that was to find other people and see if they reacted to her as he had. She would be prepared this time and as her arm throbbed painfully against her chest she was reminded that she had little choice but to find help.
She would have to take her chances.
Her eyes fell back to the man, noting abstractedly his slim, wiry frame, narrow hips and what she guessed was a recently tanned complexion. He had been somewhere far, far away from this place Aithusa called Scotland, where the air was frigid and her breath ghosted round her face.
The name tasted strange on her tongue and for a moment she had a pang of homesickness so strong it robbed her of her breath. But then her shoulder ached again and Merlin's eyes flashed before her eyes and the moment was gone.
Aithusa's voice shook her from her thoughts. 'Come, Morgana, we must go from this place. Leave him now.'
She turned to watch the dragon wheel in the sky, a sparkling white dot in the still dark night and felt her resolve harden, her will to endure flare brightly and her magic curl and settle warmly around her body.
She was Morgana Pendragon. She would survive.
She always survived.
She took one last look at the man asleep at her feet and then walked out into the twilight of her new world.
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