TITLE: Witch
AUTHOR: Angel Starbeam
SPOILERS: Up to Season 2, but not a lot
DISCLAIMER: Merlin belongs to BBC
NOTES: The so-called witches and what Gwen had to say on the matter.

As Morgana's reputation spread, Gwen felt increasingly uncomfortable, anxious and sad.

She understood why her former lady never told her that she was magic. Despite the fact that Gwen would have kept the secret, it would have placed her in a dangerous position. That was probably the reason why she never voiced the suspicions she had in the first place.

In those last months leading to Morgana's disappearance, they were not as close as they once were. Their secrets distanced them.

Gwen never told Morgana that she was falling for Arthur, even though her lady tried to flippantly get her to talk about the mysterious male figure who took a foothold in Gwen's thoughts and heart. She wished she had trusted Morgana with her ever increasing confusion and feelings. She wished Morgana had just told her and she would not have suffered in fear and loneliness. But her lady had already decided her secrets were too dangerous to share.

Now everyone feared the witch Morgana. Did they not know of the girl who acted fierce and brave so to mask her insecurities? How she screamed in terror of dreams that she could not make sense of? How her fear and anger grew as she watched the man who was father in every way except blood, persecuted her kind and had no illusions of what he might do to her if she was discovered? How in the end, her confusion, belligerence, and having no one good to turn to, led her to ally with people who howled for blood and vengeance?

No, they knew none of these things. It was easy to assume the worst of someone when one was ignorant.

"What happens now?"

Gwen was in the bedchamber she shared with her husband. They were alone and they needed the privacy. Arthur leaned against the table for support. He looked haggard with deep shadows underneath weary eyes.

Rumors surrounded Morgana, but this was confirmed fact. Arthur had been able to let Morgana and her circle in court as allies, albeit uneasy, but now…

King Claudas had been a poisonous thorn in the Albion's, in Arthur's side, since he was crowned king. Finally, an act of war was made when Claudas captured a young nobleman of Camliard after killing his traveling party. It was then said that Morgana and her sister came to his court, stating their reason was to act as envoys on behalf of the nobleman. They never mentioned that there were close friends of theirs in the nobleman's ill-fated party.

Not a day later, Claudas turned up dead in his own throne room, burned alive with nothing around him singed. The one to survive him was his young son Claudin, found safe with the nobleman and his family in the southern region. And they had no intention of returning him to his father's corrupt court where he was in danger. So he lived in safe exile.

Justice had been served…at least in Morgana's eyes.

No one will strike against her for her deeds. Claudas was a scheming opportunist, who made everyone his enemy. Some may quietly say good riddance and thanked Morgana for sparing them from a war, but for the majority, he was still a king and she killed him in cold blood.

"I don't know if we can let her into Camelot any longer. The people will not tolerate it," Arthur sighed sadly. Then he said with honesty, "I don't know if I want her back here. I…can't trust her. I don't know her, not anymore."

It was a hard, horrible truth, but Gwen understood it. Arthur could not take it any longer.

Gwen stroked her middle, trying to receive comfort from the child within. This was their second time, a little sibling for their firstborn Amhar.

Will their children ever know Morgana? Know of her playful and cunning nature? Her quick wit and fieriness? Her warmth and how she bestowed it to a few she truly loved? Or will they have their parents to tell them of what they knew of their aunt so to combat the rumors?

Morgana endured much injustice. But she had made her own choices, hers alone.

So Gwen had to make a choice of her own.

"Arthur, you are right. We cannot let her come here anymore. But give her leniency, at least to her a chance to seek some sort of redemption. She is still your sister and my friend. We need to give her chance to come back to us."

She reached for her husband. They leaned onto each other and she let tears escape from her eyes.

Morgana was no witch. But she lost her right to be called innocent a long time ago.

And Gwen finally mourned it.

"Merlin is coming over for dinner." Gwen announced after putting down the harvest reports.

"Glad you managed that." Arthur said, "I was thinking I would have to do it by royal decree."

Gwen only smiled at the teasing. It was true that Merlin had been in his parlor for some time, working day in and day out. Though it was common occurrence with him, this time their friend disappeared into his work to keep his mind off something rather than on.

"I just told him that the boys were missing him." Gwen said cheerfully and remembered that Amhar needed new shoes since he outgrew his current ones and Llacheu would need new smocks.

"Anything to get him over her…"

Thoughts of shoes and smocks went out of Gwen's mind then.

"Arthur…" Gwen had a warning in her tone. Her face was a reprimanding one.

"What do you want me to say Guinevere?" Arthur said.

"Nivian is not your wife."

"No, she is Merlin's wife." Arthur shot back, "And she had manipulated him, made him miserable and then abandoned him. Gwen, she took his only child to God knows where…"

"It's not like Viviane had been left in the woods. She is with her mother."

Even though his child was relatively safe, Merlin had been a mess when Nivian left him and took Viviane with her. Gwen will not deny the anger and sadness she felt over the whole bloody thing. But it was not her place to judge. She did not know what was going on in their marriage and certainly did not know what truly was in Nivian's heart.

But for Arthur, it was different. He had never liked Nivian, only tolerated her for Merlin's sake. And since she had left Merlin, he had been angry, freely blaming her. While he had been tactful with his true feelings hidden over a well trained neutral demeanor, he was blunt over the matter in private, which did not go well with Gwen.

He was not alone in the opinion.

Nivian was never given a fair chance in Camelot. As soon as she stepped into Merlin's life, people were against her, calling her a witch and playing Merlin for a fool. She was hardly forgiven for her discreet association with Morgana.

Gwen was never friends with Nivian, but she knew what it was like to be judged without cause and to have her marriage to be meddled with, to be scrutinized. She recalled even the well-meaning acts toward her but they were unnecessary and unwanted. It was no one's business.

Nivian did love Merlin. Whatever their problems were, there was that. And she was a not a witch, she was a naiad.

"We don't know what will happen. If Nivian stays with Morgana, we help Merlin get back to his life. If she comes back and Merlin forgives her, we will respect their decisions. "

"I know it's their lives, I know I don't have a say in this..."

"Arthur, all we can do is be there for Merlin."

"I just wish we could do something more."

"We are." Gwen wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his nose. "We're getting him to eat."

"Auntie Gwen!"

It was a nice warm day with the sun shining bright and had a few clouds to keep it company, so the queen decided to go out to the gardens with the other children. While her elder son went off with friends Gwen kept Llacheu with her. As he quietly played, she heard her name in the form of a plaintive cry.

She looked to the direction of the voice and there, running toward her in a sturdy little dress and a braid flailing to any which way was her godchild.

"What is the matter love?" Gwen knelt down and reached for Viviane.

"They want me to be a witch!" Viviane's dark blue eyes threatened to burst tears. "I don't want to be a witch!"

Gwen's brow furrowed, confused at the young one's plight. She soon received explanation in the form of her elder son Amhar, hardly fazed from running after Viviane.

"We're questing and Will and Hammie want Viviane to be the witch we have to fight," the boy calmly explained.

"And they say I have to be the witch or I don't get to play!" Viviane cried.

"That's nonsense," Gwen stroked the girl's head, "Amhar, what is their reason?"

"I keep telling them that we don't need a witch but they want to see Viviane do her water tricks."

Gwen rolled her eyes. Of course, all the children in Camelot were armored by Merlin's own tricks and illusions and only want Viviane to provide similar entertainment. Will and Hammie's extortion was a little discriminating, but there was more to Viviane's distress than trying not to succumb to her peers' pressuring.

Years have passed, and people still murmur against Nivian and while no one dared to speak ill of her in front of Merlin, they were less cautious with his daughter.

At least Viviane was safe with her father. Nivian gave her up to keep her from whatever Morgana, or to be more accurate Morgause, was planning. Still, Viviane was growing up without her mother and had only Merlin's words and her own memories to go by.

And she had to live under the uncaring prediction of whether she will turn out like her legendary father or infamous mother.

Gwen whipped out a handkerchief, "Now, now, dry those tears."

Viviane dutifully took the square clothe and rubbed her eyes dry and then honked her nose empty.

"Thank you," she handed it back, now subdued by her hysterics.

Gwen stuffed the damp handkerchief into her sleeve and stood up. She then handed Llacheu to her lady in waiting, Addie.

"Come along."

With both Viviane sticking close to her side like a cub with its mother bear and Amhar marching like a knight going into battle, Gwen walked over to the rose bushes where the other children were starting their quest.

There was Will, the gardener's son, Hammie, the seamstress' grandson, Nattie, Addie's own girl and Ophelia, Lady Francis' girl, there for the sole purpose to learn how to be nice to other children. The girls were picking at grass and flowers and the boys were pretending to fight to the death, all waiting to go on their grand quest.

"Children," Gwen called.

"Amhar, why did you go tell on us?" Hammie whined.

"You made Viviane cry." Amhar narrowed his eyes.

"We will have no fighting," Gwen intervened; "Now I have been told you are all going on a quest."

"They have to rescue us," Ophelia straightened up. "I'm the princess."

"And I get to be her lady in waiting. I know how to do it too," Nattie said proudly. "Vivi, don't be a wet blanket. Just be the witch."

"Yeah, you'll get to perform magic on Hammie," promised Will.

Viviane set her head high and said in a clear voice, "I can't."

A chorus of griping and why not followed, silenced by Gwen's stern gaze.

"Why can't you?" Gwen asked Viviane.

"Daddy said so."

Gwen further prompted. "What did your father said?"

"I can't do magic unless he's there too. He told me magic can't be played with."

"But he does it all time." Hammie countered.

"Merlin knows what he is doing. Viviane is still learning." Gwen enlightened, "Isn't that right Viviane?"

Viviane firmly nodded.

"What's the point of being magic if you can't do it?" Ophelia questioned.

"You have to know what you're doing," Viviane replied. "Daddy says it's important to be careful with magic, and that you are responsible in how you use it."

Gwen could feel herself swell in pride, smiling at Viviane's stand to uphold her father's teachings.

"You can't be the witch if you can't do magic." Will said. The others were slowly catching on that there would be no witch in their quest.

"Then she'll be something else." Gwen said.

"Like what?"

"She can be the queen!" Amhar suggested.

"What can a queen do?"

"A lot," Gwen said.

Inspiration struck Viviane, and she jumped up and down with it, "I know how to fight and I'm very crossed that my daughter was kidnapped!"

"By who?"

Viviane pointed to Hammie, "Hammie, you're the evil tyrant!"

"But I want to be a knight!" Hammie whined, and then asked, "What's a tyrant?"

"A king who does whatever he wants." Amhar replied.

Hammie perked up, "Really? "

He turned to Ophelia and Nattie, who were both rightly nervous.

"I'm gonna make you eat worms!"

As the girls screamed their protests, Gwen had the feeling that she would have to bring Addie and Llacheu over to the rosebushes so to stop Hammie to make good on his threat.

"Come along children."

One would think that children would be easy to please. Yet, when solving one problem with them, another one crops up.

Gwen had grown used to playing hostess at the banquets. Some had been agreeable while others have been less so. But she found this one especially enjoyable for one large reason.

This banquet was in celebration of Viviane's wedding.

She spotted Viviane dancing with her new husband Sir Lanval, both having eyes and smiles for only each other. Gwen laughed softly as Viviane altered the courtly dance to another quite one that was rather different and Lanval patiently followed her steps.

Gwen's eyes roved over to the pillars where Llacheu stood, beside him and talking animatedly was his recently betrothed, Lady Argante. Then she saw how Duran, their youngest son, bumped into Lanval and stepped on his partner's foot. The four stopped and apologized amid their laughter.

Gwen then stopped watching all the antics and the private conversations and noticed a lone figure sitting quietly at one of tables. This was the Lady Morfydd of Rheged, wife of her third born son Gwydre.

Gwydre had always been reckless, and in the last few years after Amhar's death, defiant. But Gwen had to admit, she was shocked when he returned home with the girl, claiming they were to be married.

And that she was expecting.

Gwen had to sit down after hearing that, then a moment later thought about a freed apartment in the east wing. It had an extra room that could be used as a nursery. Arthur was more vocal on his feelings about their son's actions.

Nonetheless, they married in a private ceremony, settled in and prepared for their impending parenthood.

Morfydd had no company, which was not unusual, so Gwen walked over there.

"May I sit here?" Gwen asked, her hands lightly held the chair back.

The young woman smiled and nodded her head, so Gwen promptly sat down.

Morfydd was an enigmatic beauty. She had Morgana's face, but unlike the contrast Morgana had, Morfydd was blended with ivory skin and white blonde hair and stormy gray eyes. She lacked her mother's strong front. Instead of being a raging fire, Morfydd could be likened to a fire hearth, calm, steady, warm and good. But she was enough like Morgana to receive the people's unwarranted suspicions.

She also had Gwen's sympathies. Gwen was never really sure of her reasons in wanting to help the girl. Was it general principle? Was it because she is Gwydre's wife and mother of her first grandchild? Or because Morfydd was her last link to Morgana?

The silence between them was contented. Morfydd then looked over to the dancing, where Viviane had resume the one Gwen was unfamiliar with.

"Do you know that dance?" Gwen asked, still curious.

"I believe it is inspired by the Druid dance to celebrate the union of two people." Morfydd replied.

"Are you enjoying yourself?" Gwen questioned.

"Yes I am, a little tired, but nothing to worry about."

"I'm guessing you managed to get Gwydre to realize that."

"Actually, His Highness was kind enough to occupy him," Morfydd nodded over to where Arthur and Gwydre were discussing something. It seemed to be a pleasant discussion, free from elements that lead to quarreling. That was becoming common and Gwen hoped it last.

"This will be the first time for both of you, so he wants to make sure you are doing fine," Gwen advised, remembering Arthur when she was first expecting, "But it is annoying. Just let him know before you have the urge to wring his neck."

"I'll be sure," Morfydd said, laughing.

Gwen saw a little bit of Morgana in that laugh, from a long time ago when she was putting flowers in a vase and her lady was combing her hair.

"How are you, really?" Gwen asked.

Morfydd bit her lip, thoughtful, "A bit excited actually. And anxious. I know what is to come but it is not real to me, not yet."

"It's hard to imagine what's going on inside right now."

"It's like I'm waiting to meet them."

"Them?" Gwen asked, confused.

"Oh," Morfydd realized what she said, "We didn't mention. We're having twins."

"Twins?" Gwen's eyebrows raised and her heart swelled a little.

"Yes, it seems to run in my family," Morfydd referred to her own twin sister, "But these will be boys. Gwydre and I have been going over names."

Morfydd had once explained her magic and her abilities as a seer, saying that she sees options more or less. Sense when magic had been done, soothe minds and finds things lost. She had been upfront of her magic, as well as her loyalties. Morfydd was no longer welcome in her own household, had not even spoken to her mother or sister since leaving them. According to Gwydre, the only family willing to help was a reluctant half-brother who was relieved when he showed up to ask for her hand.

"Will my grandsons be future students of Merlin?" Gwen playfully inquired.

"I'm not sure yet," Morfydd shook her head, "Perhaps when they are older."

"I won't be surprise though."

"I am not that strong in magic, my abilities are more supportive, not forcible," The young woman said, her eyes lowered.

Gwen saw what had made Morfydd so shy-Two noblewomen then passed them. Their expressions were that of fear and distrust. Though Morfydd had been truthful in all matters, and there was mutually cut-off from her blood, she was guilty by being Morgana's daughter.

"It is nothing to worry about," Morfydd reassured Gwen. "I am use to this. After all, the witch was never really a good person in stories."

"I never believed in fairy tales. And you are no witch."