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Chapter Twenty-Eight

All Laid Bare

I woke but only barely. I felt pain ripping through my stomach, something causing even more pain than there was before. I heard shouting, someone pressing me down on my back so hard I could barely breathe. I struggled, crying out. Someone grabbed my hand but only a second before an even greater pain tore me apart and I greeted the blackness again like an old friend.

***

The next time, I was buried in ice. At least that’s what it felt like. I wished to open my eyes and see if I was correct, but I couldn’t find the strength to do so. I shivered so violently that my teeth clacked together. Someone called out from close by and there was murmuring and cursing in familiar voices that I couldn’t put faces to just then, and a heavy weight descended over me. Someone tucked it around my body and I wasn’t so cold anymore. The close warmth lulled me back into the darkness and I didn’t protest.

***

The fire came next. No more was I glad of the warmth from before, I was burning up. I thought I had been thrown over a fire and I thrashed and cried out for someone to stop it. Pain ripped through me with every movement and only made me scream harder. And then finally, someone caught my flailing hands and pressed them to my chest, shushing me gently; a wonderfully cool hand on my brow.

            “Hush, Mordred. It will all be over soon, just rest.”

            I reached out to the voice. I couldn’t remember who it belonged to, but I knew it was safe, and I whimpered like a babe as I felt myself pulled into a strong, comforting embrace and despite the fire still burning me, I was comfortable enough to greet the darkness once again.

***

The next time I woke I was finally lucid enough to see where I was.

            I wasn’t entirely sure at first, for it was dark, and I was still not quite together, not knowing how I got where I was, or what I remembered beforehand. I remembered bad dreams and lots of pain, but not much more. Then I registered the familiar, comforting smell of herbs and once I looked around a bit more in the dim candlelight of the room. I realized I must be in Merlin’s rooms back at Camelot.

            Camelot. That thought made me sit up, or try to. I didn’t get far at all. As soon as I started the motion, pain flared across my abdomen and I fell back against the pillows gasping. I moved a shaking hand up to my belly and felt lumpy bandages through my nightshirt. Apart from that, I realized my hand itself was bandaged and clumsy. I tried to flex my wrist but a dull ache pounded there and I decided against it.

            How was I back in Camelot? I shouldn’t be there. I wasn’t wanted. Then everything came rushing back to me: Merlin meeting me in the tavern before I had been captured by Morgan and then the curse taking over my body to force me into the fight with Arthur.

            I nearly sobbed in relief. I hadn’t killed him. I had beaten Morgan’s curse just as Merlin said. My love of Arthur had outweighed my hatred of Morgan and had won in the end. I had proved her wrong and Merlin as well. I had made my own way, no matter what fate or destiny had written for me.

            And Morgan was dead.

            I felt nothing. Not for her. Not satisfaction or anger or anything else. I was just simply relieved she was gone. I was not disappointed that I had not been the one to do it either. It didn’t matter now. Nothing mattered but that I had won over her and Arthur was still alive.

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