Merlin walked down the lone stone corridors of the castle aimlessly. He could care less if he bumped into someone or tripped over his own two feet like he was often prone to doing. A deep sigh escaped his lips and his brows furrowed even further. His head was a complete mess. His thoughts were in disarray. He had never been more confused in his entire life. He had never felt so lost, so bewildered, so alone… Tears formed in his eyes but he refused to let them show. Now was neither the time nor place for such demonstrations of vulnerability. He could cry his heart out once he was safe within the confines of his room away from merciless vultures that were just waiting to see him break.

Merlin was halfway through Gaius' chambers when it happened. A small lone tear trailed down his face and burned a path further down his throat until it disappeared under his neckerchief to do more damage to the porcelain skin that had already suffered far too much. Merlin could not believe it. He was Emrys for crying out loud! He was supposed to be King Arthur's protector! He was the strongest magician to ever walk this planet! He had the fate of Albion resting on his shoulders and his shoulders alone. No one else knew what burden he had been blessed to carry the day was born. No one understood how difficult and sometimes even unbearable it was to pretend to be someone you were not, to act as though you were a complete imbecile, a lesser being when you were more, so much more….

Apart from the pain he felt every day he was forced to lie to his friends about his true identity, there was also another problem – he had no one to turn to. Gaius was like the father he had never had but even he could do little to consol Merlin's pain when the warlock needed someone special to give him comfort, to understand him, to offer their equally burdened shoulder for Merlin to lean on, a creature of magic like the dragonlord himself. But no one in the castle was like him. Everyone were just humans who had hardly ever encountered magic, let alone been blessed with its tragic burden. Merlin knew he could always talk to Gwen but the issue itself right now was too much for the poor girl to handle. Plus, telling her about his secret would only lead to unneeded problems. And after all, the last thing the warlock would want was for Gwen to be forced to hide such a secret. It would be unfair both to her and to himself.

Merlin knew that he and Arthur had bonded over the past few weeks and they might have even become friends, but he could never even voice the word 'magic' to the prince without risking his head. That was the reason why going to Arthur for help was out of the question. Gaius was not an option either. His mother was too far away to offer any kind of comfort. Will was no longer amongst the living.

A bitter laugh resonated through the empty chambers. Merlin chuckled darkly. He could not believe that after all this time he still had no one to turn to. The only creature of magic was Kilgharrah but the dragon would never be able to fully understand. Then who? Who was a creature of magic living in the hart of Camelot? Who was blessed to carry the same burden, walk the same or at least a faintly similar path as Merlin? Who knew his pain? Who was afraid for the life? Who was forced to look behind their shoulder every time the words 'sorcerer', 'magic', 'warlock' or any of the like were mentioned? Who would fain give Merlin some of their time to just talk? No one… except…..Morgana!

Merlin's eyes widened. He shook his head as he whispered:

"No….I can't talk to her yet…" Merlin vigorously shook his head as he said more audibly this time, "No! I can't go to her and that's final!"

Yet she does what it is like to be forced to hide your true identity for fear of losing your head. But she has only just recently discovered the truth about her powers and that is enough knowledge to be burdened with. I can't make the weight on her shoulders heavier and endanger her life by telling her my secret. I can't reveal that I have magic to her. I need to find another way to deal with the predicament I'm in right now.

After much debate Merlin concluded that it would be best to just forget about everything and try to get some sleep. Perhaps the stress and tension would've abated by morning. Unfortunately, his mind refused to succumb to rest and kept Merlin awake for the better part of the night. The poor boy twisted and turned in his bed before he surrendered. He huffed as he forced his body to lie still for a few minutes as he processed his options. One of them was to just turn around and try to fall asleep, but the rational part of his brain was screaming at him that it was not a good idea so that was why the warlock fully dismissed it. Talking to someone was not right yet it sounded far too tempting. He could always patiently suffer until morning and try to talk to Gaius, though Merlin knew that that would accomplish nothing. He knew the physician would only listen to him intently, nod at the appropriate places, sympathise with him, but in the end all Merlin would receive would be a simple pat one the shoulder and/or smile and a reminder that the fate of all Albion rested on his shoulders and that if he complained more, he would certainly be late for his duties to the royal prat also known as Prince Arthur.

Merlin growled as he rubbed his temples. This would not do. He could not stay in bed any longer because if he did, the warlock was certain that he would become insane. Instead Merlin settled on a temporary solution. He could wait for another hour or so until dawn came and he could go for a walk. A small smile formed on his lips. An early walk through the forest during spring time was one of his favourite pastime activities and the fact that it almost always managed to soothe his pain and make him forget about his worries and even find solutions to his problems was just a wonderful bonus. Too bad he could not do it every day because of a particular dollop head and his ridiculous needs, Gaius' requests and, of course, how could Merlin forget about the main reason for the lack of time he had for his hobbies – the fact that he constantly had to be around the princess (as Gwaine had kindly nicknamed Arthur) because it seemed that the prince had a knack for getting himself into trouble.

The sun was soon up and Merlin found himself outside of the castle. He was walking hastily wishing to go as far away from the place that was now more a cage than a home to the warlock. After a good fifteen to thirty minutes of walking Merlin was halfway through the lower town when he noticed a familiar red cloak floating not too far away from him. Merlin rubbed his eyes, afraid that he might be dreaming. The warlock could not believe it. A few hours ago he had been pondering on how difficult yet rewarding it may be to confide in Morgana his biggest secret and here she was now.

A smile spread on Merlin's face as he picked up his pace and was soon right next to Morgana. The rational part of him was telling him to turn back or at the very best just greet her, make some stupid excuse as to why he was here this early and then return to his chambers, but the other, more emotional, more human part knew that he needed this. The latter was aware of Merlin's longing for contact with a creature of magic aside from the Great Dragon and as much as it pained the warlock to confess Morgana was probably the best option he had – they had become good friends and he had made a few hints that he knew what she was going through. Plus, she had made it quite clear of her desire to be friends with Merlin. Looking at it this way, talking to her did not seem as ridiculous, illogical and improper as it had previously had.

"Good morning My Lady." Merlin greeted as he slightly bowed his head. He might've been secretly hoping for something more, but deep down Merlin knew that the difference in stature was not something they could easily ignore. Thankfully there were not many, if not any, people around at such an early hour.

"Merlin!" Morgana gasped slightly as her steps faltered. She soon managed to recover and continued her pace. She smiled as she as well greeted Merlin.

"What brings you here?" She soon asked.

Merlin opened his mouth to offer a half believable lie when he noticed something. Morgana has bags under her eyes and signs of tear stains all over her face. It seemed she had been crying quite bitterly. But what could have triggered such a reaction? Perhaps the thought of having no control over her magic? But Merlin had not felt any signs of raw magic being released so then what could be bothering her? Merlin bit his lip as he could not help but in turn question in concern:

"I do not mean to intrude, My Lady, but…. has…. Is something bothering you?"

They were out of the city and were now safely hidden from people's eyes behind the protective branches of the forest. Morgana sighed as she chuckled bitterly before allowing her mask to slightly fall, showing a part of her vulnerable side to Merlin. The latter did not know why but he felt grateful that Morgana was entrusting him with such a rare scene. Perhaps she really did trust him.

"You could say that I have been having some nightmares." Morgana whispered shakily as she forced herself to look at Merlin.

Merlin's eyes widened at the pain and fear in Morgana's weary orbs. His jaw tightened. He wished there was something he could do to help. Unfortunately, he could not come to her aid for such a problem. He had had dreams before but it was quite a rare case and they were hardly ever prophetic. With a deep sigh he asked the only question a friend would utter.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Merlin enquired.

Morgana seemed hesitant at first but soon she nodded. With a deep sigh she iterated:

"It was quite vague, but I do remember seeing quite a gruesome scene play out before my eyes prominently."

Merlin nodded, urging her to continue. He did not know the cause of his next actions, but he could not help but feel that it was right. So that was why he followed his inner voice and reached out and squeezed Morgana's shoulder reassuringly. The latter looked up at his hand, slightly startled at first, making Merlin regret having done what he had done, but soon a warm smile graced Morgana's face and she continued, this time with a slightly stronger voice:

"It was a battle. I remember seeing blood, so much blood…."

She shuddered. Merlin reached out and grabbed her hand. Morgana allowed herself to squeeze it. She then held onto it until she recovered. She then inhaled and let go of Merlin's hand.

"There were far too many casualties. A lot of citizens died. Many knights sacrificed their lives in order to protect Camelot. I-I remember that there was fire. Then there was a fearsome roar that seemed to engulf absolutely everything within its reach. It sounded so terrifying, s-so threateningly, s-so malicious!"

Morgana abruptly came to a halt as he eyes started moving frantically as though she were searching for something. Merlin became worried once more and quickly acted before thinking. He wrapped his arm loosely around her before whispering:

"Then what happened?"

"I-I….I don't remember. After hearing that roar I woke up with a scream and….." Morgana explained as she held onto Merlin as though her life depended on it.

"And?" Merlin prompted.

"I can't." Morgana whispered as she shook her head.

Merlin frowned at her answer and slightly withdrew from her. His hands were now loosely hanging around his sides as he questioned:

"Why can't you?"

Morgana's eyes became slightly tearful as she turned away from Merlin and answered barely audibly:

"Because you will hate me."

"Now what gave you that idea?" Merlin asked. He then chanced his luck as he brought his hand up and brushed a few of Morgana's bangs away from her face. He then added, " Nothing you do can make me hate you Morgana."

Morgana's eyes widened slightly. She slowly turned her head around and looked directly into Melrin's eyes as she asked:

"Even if what I did involves the thing everyone here is afraid of?"

Merlin was taken aback at the coldness and intensity in her eyes. It seemed foreign and alien as though it did not belong there. In truth, it did not. It should not be there. Such a gaze had not right to even chance its luck and try to crawl onto Morgana's beautiful innocent face.

"Even if it means that you have used magic, Morgana, I can never hate you for something like that."

Morgana was startled. Her gaze betrayed her inner turmoil for a second but soon the cold mask returned. With a defiant gaze she walked slightly away from Merlin as she asked suspiciously:

"How do you know I can't control it?"

Merlin mentally cursed himself when Morgana narrowed her eyes. He could not believe he had slipped. He closed his eyes. There was no turning back now. But no…. he could not tell her now. She did not trust him fully… yet. But was this right? Should they be doing this? Should they be talking so familiarly with each other? They had bonded. They had become friends. They trusted each other but to what level did their belief in one another's sincerity go? Could they risk their fragile friendship and delve deeper into unknown and dark waters? Was it even worth it? One look in Morgana's eyes gave Merlin the answer he needed.

"It was just an assumption, a lucky guess you could say."

"Oh really? And how come you hit the bull's eye? For all you know I could've been secretly practicing magic all this time. Why do you trust me and not question the verity of my words?" Morgana questioned.

Merlin was left deadpanned. He could not reveal everything yet he could not back down now. He had come so far. All Morgana needed in order to trust him fully was a little push. One Merlin was willing to give.

"I know more about certain things that people give me credit for." Merlin vaguely explained.

"By certain things you mean magic and by certain people you mean Arthur I presume." Morgana replied with slight humor in her voice by the end of it.

Merlin was astonished at her good-natured response. He allowed himself a small snort as an answer. He then nodded and smiled. The latter disappeared when Morgana said:

"If you're done with your evasive replies, Merlin, I think I should get going."

"Wait. Aren't you curious as to why I know so much about magic?" Merlin asked. He mentally berated himself for speaking so freely and openly. He also ignored the pang of guilt and shame when Morgana flinched at the word 'magic'. Merlin could not believe she was still this scared. Perhaps she truly had lost control after waking up from her nightmare.

"I broke a vase…again." Morgana said, confusing Merlin slightly. The latter's eyebrows scrunched up slightly, but soon he managed to recover from his bewilderment. He understood what Morgana had meant.

"I have no wish to pry into your secrets, Merlin. If you wanted to tell me, you would've done so by now. Perhaps you do not trust me, but I gather that is not the issue. I am grateful for what you have done for me this far. I also want to thank you for what you did today. Not everyone would've been so patient with my outburst." Morgana explained as she smiled warmly at Merlin. She then extended her hand, meaning for Merlin to shake it, but fortunately the boy had misunderstood and instead had carefully taken it into his own and had kissed the tips of her fingers. Morgana blushed slightly at the contact and her eyes widened, but she soon managed to recover. Merlin had, fortunately, not noticed anything and Morgana was highly grateful for it. The two soon separated. Morgana went back to the castle and Merlin continued his walk, having made sure that she returned to the gates of the city unharmed first, of course.

The next day:

To find out what happened please read the second chapter.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot.

A/N: Reviews? Favourites? Follows?