Nimueh, Nimueh, so very changed and yet not changed at all. She looked as if she hadn't aged a day. Magic, it can deceive all who look upon it.
Uther slumped back into his chair and swallowed the last slop from his goblet. There was no point in calling the guards, she was long gone.
It seemed like a lifetime ago, when he'd called on Nimueh for her favours; asking her for an heir while still warming her sheets. Was that his great mistake, had Ygraine died for his hubris? He remembered Nimueh's misgivings, and his own insistence; the feel of her smooth arms under his hands, and the fall of her dark hair around them as he kissed her doubts away. He was her King, she was his Sorcerer; their destinies were intertwined.
But then came the guilt and the burning shame, as he heard the screams of Ygraine’s death throes, and he couldn’t erase the accusation in Tristans’s dying eyes, no matter how much mead he drank.
Had it been a mistake? Should he have let Gaius ease his anger and stay his hand? It was too late to be thinking of such things now, of course. He had already added the look on Nimueh’s face to his list of regrets, as he accused her of betrayal; the horror and then the blank acceptance.
It had been his first true mistake; he should have killed her there and then. They were always too alike, he and she; that is how he knew she would never forgive him, anymore than he could forgive her… for not stopping him.
He knew Gaius never truly understood how he'd loved them both, different but equal. How Ygraine had embodied everything he wasn't, all that grace and mercy, and the understanding of a person’s heart. Arthur reminded him of her, on his better days. But just as Ygraine showed him what he lacked, Nimueh revealed to him everything that he was; power and determination, a belief in one’s self and one’s destiny.
But now Ygraine had long crumbled into dirt, and Nimueh looked at him with hate in her eyes. His heart broken, twice over. How had it come to this?
But there was no going back. He had made his path and scourged his past behind him; all for a son that he loved more dearly than life itself.
And maybe that was his answer.
"Arthur," he said, under his breath. "He must never know."
And her voice echoed back, achingly familiar, and bereft of warmth. “But he will, Uther, for better or for worse, he shall know the truth of it.”