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Where Alphas Fear to Tread

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The air was foggy.
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, Arthur’s mind supplied giddily.
He didn’t know if everyone was silent or if his hearing had blown out.
Above them a figure flapped it’s wings, impossibly large, pure black.
The ground shook when it landed.

And there, Merlin. Standing. Dirty face. Scruffy clothes. Proud and defiant.

Merlin faced the dragon, “You came.”
“You called.”
At his feet, Mordred wasn’t moving, “Bring him to life.”
“I’m afraid that’s beyond my power.”
“Then who can?”
“I’m sorry, young warlock. He is gone for good.”
Merlin looked around. His pack didn’t look so good. Some were bleeding out on the ground. “Heal them.”
The dragon snorted, “You continue to overestimate my power. But if you act quick, they may be saved.”
Killigarah flapped his wings and began to rise off the ground.
“Wait, where are you going?”
“I’m leaving. I have been chained for over a millennia. I am free.”
“I demand you stay.”
Killigarah growled, “Little dragon lord, you haven’t mastered or understood you abilities enough to keep me here. You have no power over me. All of this, was merely a favor. And I found it quite fun although you spoiled it with that protective spell. I should warn you though, that you have cracked a rift in the world when you did that.”
“A rift?”
“You’ve brought magic back. It will begin again to weave its fingers through the web of the world. And it feels good.”
And at the end of this sentence, the dragon leaned his head back and roared. The ground and Merlin vibrated. But Merlin found he was not afraid.

▲▲▲

Consciousness came to Gwen like being ripped from a stormy ocean.
"Water." She croaked out, and the fuzzy figure next to her obliged. So she had made it. She was alive. That was good. But something told her she wasn't in a good state. Before she could bother to care about it, the darkness took her again.
The second time she woke, she noticed her lips were cracked and her mouth tasted like the seventh pit of hell.
"Good morning." Morgana looked painstakingly perfect and out of place sitting in her hospital room.
"Hello."
"How are you doing?"
"How long have I been out?"
"Five days. It was touch and go for a minute there. You lost a lot of blood."
Gwen coughed and felt a dull pain in her abdomen despite the apparent heavy doses of painkiller she was on, "I can tell. Where's Merlin?"
Morgana's face was remarkably still, "He's out."
"What's wrong? Did we make it? Is anyone..."
"Mordred is dead." Morgana said bluntly, "Arthur and Merlin are out planning his funeral now."
"Oh. Poor lad." Mordred's life had been so short. And so bitter.
"They're taking measures to hide the date and time from the news media."
"News media?"
"We're the pack that finally stopped Morgause, and we did it with a dragon. We're celebrities."
"I wondered if I was hallucinating."
"Nope. That was real."
"So do we have a dragon now?"
"No. It flew off. Nobody's seen it since."
"Huh. Who knew Merlin had it in him?"
"He is one badass Omega."
There was a beat of silence, "Who else?"
"Merlin was in a coma but is out now. Lance is going to have to have a few leg surgeries if he ever wants to walk again. Leon needed a whole lot of different surgeries and a liver transplant. Freya lost an ear. Everyone else is just broken bones, cuts, bruises."
"We made it out."
"Yep." Morgana smiled, "We did."
"Where's Elyan?"
"I sent him home. He stayed here day and night, watching over you. I don't think he could bear to lose you."
Gwen winced as she adjusted herself, "Yea well it pains me to say it, but vice versa for me."
Morgana was quiet for a second, and she wouldn't meet Gwen's eye, "There's something I need to tell you."
Gwen's heart almost leapt out of her chest, "Okay."
"I'm going back to England after Mordred's funeral."
That was not what Gwen was expecting to hear, "You're leaving us?"
"I don't have a choice."
"Everyone has a choice, Morgana, we just pretend we don't."
Morgana's voice was more level than it had any right to be, "I was always going back."
Inwardly, Gwen knew she was right. But she hadn't thought past Morgause. They both assumed they'd die in the fight. Right now, Gwen almost wish she had. Her mouth tasted metallic, "Did our night together mean nothing?"
"Honestly Gwen, it meant a lot to me. You were amazing and I really like you. You're the first person I've actually been interested in dating for over five years now. But I have a life back home. A pack. A company. I can't leave them, and I don't want to."
"Fine." Gwen spat out the words, "Fine, leave. My pack didn't even want to get involved in this shit. But here we are, fighting your battle and now that you've gotten what you need out of us, you can fuck off to your fairytale life in another country."
"It's not like that."
"Like hell it isn't. Get the fuck out of my room. I don't want you here. I don't even want to look at you."

▲▲▲

Mordred's funeral was a quiet affair. He didn't have any family, and he's switched schools when Morgause got him. There was a scattering of teachers, a few friends. But mostly there was Arthur and his pack. Pale, drawn faces and some of them still looked half dead, slouching in a wheelchair and leaning on crutches. Bandages and bruises littered their bodies.
It was raining, Arthur realized faintly. Somewhere in he back of his head he remembered a quote that during funerals, the rain only fell on the blessed.
He wished he believed everything happened for a reason. Instead of random, awful events occurring with no one but an uncaring and apathetic universe watching on.

▲▲▲

A lot of things happened in random succession after that. It was odd how time kept moving in a horizontal fashion. Something momentous had happened, and there was time, rudely continuing to push forward. He still had to go to work. He still had to pay bills and buy groceries. Arthur wanted to put his hands over his ears and stop it all. It didn't seem fair how everyone was moving on, turning the page and and remarking that casualties happen and they were lucky to be alive at all. The only one who Arthur truly felt might understand is Merlin, but after the funeral they hadn't talked, and Arthur was beginning to understand they may never talk again.
Morgana left.
Bought a plane ticket back to England and went back to her old life of running their father's company and her pack. He overheard Gwen and her arguing about it. He wanted to argue with Gwen as well, that Morgana couldn't just participate in this event that shaped their life, and then leave. She was one of them now. But he just didn't have it in him.
The 4:00am car ride was silent. Arthur didn't even want to complain about how Morgana never could pick a flight during a normal hour. Gwen was driving with them. She was still heavily injured, and he'd had to help her into the car. But she'd been determined to come and he wasn't going to stop her. She wouldn't even talk to Morgana during the car ride, preferring to sit in frigid silence. He wondered about them.

Arthur broke the silence, "When can I give your pack back?" He wanted done of this whole business. Wanted it to be over and done with so he could feel some sort of normal return to his life.
There was no response, "Gwen?"
"Trying to get rid of us? Don't want to pay our medical bills?" Came the bitter responce.
"I will still cover your medical bills."
"You can't just go into our lives, ruin them, and then abandon us."
"I'm not abandoning you guys. This was the deal. I'm just abiding by it."
Gwen sighed, "I don't know how much more upheaval we can take at the moment. And I'm going to have to heal before we separate. I'll talk to them about it."
Arthur felt a sharp flare of anger that they wouldn't just leave. They didn't want to be a part of his pack, why couldn't they just cut ties and be on their way?
Morgana chimed in, "You could just stay in Arthur's pack."
"Eat shit and die." Morgana and Arthur exchanged glances and the rest of the car ride was silent.

Arthur grabbed Morgana's bags and handed them to her, "Have a safe trip."
"Oh Arthur." She hugged him, "You don't need me. Never think you do."
"But it would be nice to have you around."
"I know. And if I could stay longer I would. But I have a life and I can't put it on hold forever. You're a wonderful Alpha. I've seen you lead and you're fantastic."
"Not as good as you."
"No one's as good as me."
She turned and glanced at Gwen, searching for any sign of warmth or understanding. But she continued to sit silently in the car, unmoving and uncaring.
"I'll visit soon." She said, and Arthur watched her walk off.

And then Gwen limped out of the car. She crutched toward his sister, "Morgana wait."
Morgana turned around and Arthur had to avert his eyes as they performed a kiss that would make the devil blush.
"Text me okay?"
"Of course."
"Have a safe flight."
Gwen began to painfully limp back and Arthur helped her get into the car. The second he began to pull away, Gwen started crying.
He was alarmed, "Um... are you okay?"
Gwen sobbed.
He awkwardly patted her back, "Hey. Hey, it's going to be okay."
"It's not going to be okay."
"I know."
After a few minutes she quieted.
He handed her a pack of tissues and she took them shakily, "I'm sorry, I never do this."
"Hey. You're fine. It's a difficult time."
"It's just so much is happening, and I'm on these fucking pills and I can't walk and I'm behind at work."
"I feel you."
"And I can't believe Morgana left."
"Yea. She's the worst."
"No," Gwen sobbed, "She's not."
"I know. I wish she'd stay with us too."
They sat in silence for a few seconds.
Arthur picked at his cuticles, "I can't go anywhere without someone taking a picture of me and I'm paranoid all the time."
"I'm sorry."
"Me too.
Gwen gave a broken laugh, "Fuck, I need a therapist."
Arthur gave a wane smile, "Me too."
"I think we're all going to need therapy."
"I'll look someone up. Someone discreet."
He stopped at a drive through for coffee and breakfast, "Once we get some food and caffeine, life will get easier."
Gwen gave a bitter laugh and he corrected himself, "Life will not get easier but we will be better equipped to take it on."