Merlin knew the only way to escape the notoriety of the wizarding world would be to escape the muggle one. This fact was only solidified in her mind when, first year at Hogwarts, she forgot her wand and muttered wingardium leviosia under her breath and the feather skipped up into the air without her wand and her deskmate dropped his wand with a clatter, staring, jaw on his chest.
She was then granted title of 'genius' and found herself propelled through the Years, learning and absorbing everything that was thrown at her until graduation where a proud Headmaster Dumbledore announced her a pride and joy in the wizarding community and, surely, she would go on to do great things for wizards everywhere.
Merlin promptly went home, packed, bid her rather ordinary parents a fond farewell with the promise to visit and disapparated to the muggle world, found herself an apartment, bumped into her neighbour Arthur, a lawyer, and made friends with the owner of a local shopowner Gaius, who kindly gave her a job.
It wasn't until almost five years later that she was made aware of Arthur's hopeless fancy on her through a clumsy statement of Gaius'. And it wasn't until a year after that that she was aware of her own burgeoning feelings for the man. Fortunately, it was only two months after that realisation that she and Arthur had their first date.
Merlin, of course, was late.
Arthur was right on time, scowling at his watch when she arrived. So she stood by the door a moment to appreciate the sight and then slid into her chair. His smile lit on her and the rest, they say, is history.
It never occurred to Merlin that she might confide in him that she was magic. And it was only after Gwaine's toys began to levitate around him at age two when Arthur thankfully wasn't watching that Merlin felt a sinking feeling low in her belly, realising the gravity of the mistake she'd made.
"Merlin!" The door banged shut, forcing Merlin to glare at the toys until they bounced on the crib mattress.
"Yes?" She replied, arriving, a bit breathless, in the front hall of their house.
"Something wrong?" Arthur frowned.
"Are you sure?" He gave her a strange look. "You seem..."
"I'm fine! I'm fine!" She grabbed his face, snogged him senseless in a minute and then flounced to the kitchen. "How was your day?"
"Uh... Fine. It was...um. Fine. How was yours?"
"Oh nothing interesting here!" She replied, her voice sounding strained, even to herself. Arthur's arms came around her waist from behind, pulling her flush with his body. Merlin let her head fall back against her husband's sturdy shoulder.
"You know if there's a problem you can tell me, right?"
"Of course," she sighed, gaze fixed out the window over the sink. "I just..."
"Come on," he murmured to her cheek. "Just tell me. We'll face it together. Like we always do."
"Oh Arthur..." Merlin sighed and pulled away, ducking out of his hold to pace the length of the kitchen. "This... Oh shit. Why didn't I ever tell you this earlier." Glancing at the horrified expression on his face, "That was the wrong thing to say."
Arthur folded his arms, brow furrowed. "I'm waiting."
"Don't be cross, this isn't... Urg..." Merlin dragged her hands over her face. "I'm magic."
"Arthur, I'm a witch."
Arthur looked like bit a lemon. "Merlin, this isn't funny. If you have something serious to say, then why don't you just say it!"
"I am! I lied to you when I told you my parents aren't around. Well. Not specifically. They aren't around, but not in the sense that you're thinking."
"Merlin." Arthur leant back against the sink, thunder brewing on his face. "This is a terrible confession."
"Shut up and just listen! This is important. It's... well, it explains a lot," she retorted stoutly. "My parents are wizards. And I am one as well. Stupidly powerful. And... and Gwaine has magic." She was whispering by the end of the sentence, but glanced at Arthur through her lashes.
"I'm sorry. I don't know if I understand this. You're upset about something, so you make up a ridiculous story to get yourself out of the line of fire? This doesn't make any sense at all."
"You're not listening, you prat." She took a deep breath. "Okay. This might seem scary, but I promise I won't hurt you. Okay?"
But Merlin had already lifted a hand and the furniture was doing a merry dance around the already cramped kitchen. When she looked back at Arthur, his eyes were as wide as they could go, jaw dropped slack and his form shock-still. "Arthur?" she said in an incredibly small voice. She hurried the furniture back to its place and stood before him, feeling very small indeed, waving a hand in front of his face.
He promptly grabbed it and stared at her with the same sort of wonder he had when she'd said yes to marrying him. "W-wha—why! Why would keep that a secret! By God, Merlin! Why would you never... I just..." He shook his head.
"You're not... Are you... okay with this?"
"Okay? Merlin, this is bloody brilliant!"
"What else? What else can you do? Wait, then was your entire life story a lie?" Arthur dropped her hand and leaned heavily against the sink. "Do I have to get to know you all over again? Who else knows? What does this mean for Gwaine? Merlin—"
"Shh! Wait! Wait, I can explain!" Merlin laughed, giddy with relief. "Let's brew a cup and sit and I'll explain everything. Answer all your questions. One at a time. Okay?"
"Sure. Of course. Does that mean I can meet your parents?"
"Oh. Yes. Yes, I've told them about you. And they really were eager to meet you, but understood why they had to be kept secret. Although..." Merlin frowned. "I think you met them. They were that couple that kept giving us strange looks when we went out to dinner on our third date."
"Them?" Arthur frowned. "Merlin... Are wizards...I dunno. Extra weird?"
Merlin laughed. "I suppose Muggles might think so."
"Oh. It's a wizard term for non-magical people."
"Wow. This is..." Listing towards the settee, Arthur shook his head, still seeming dazed. "I never... Wow. Merlin. I'm... I'm quite impressed. I don't know you at all, do I?" He collapsed bonelessly into the cushions and kept talking while Merlin directed the kettle to the stove top, again feeling light to be using magic in the open.
"No, no. You know me, Arthur. I'm really the same person. I just... am magical."
"Wow. A witch. I mean, I never knew that sort of thing was real."
"That's the point, dear. So what do you want me to answer first?"
"Um... What else can you do?"
Arthur gaped. "Anything?"
Shrugging and finding her feet interesting, Merlin mumbled, "I guess."
"How powerful are you?"
"Did you go to school for this sort of thing?"
"Yes. There's several schools. The one I went to is called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy. You can get there via platform 9 ¾ at King's Cross."
"But there is no platform 9 ¾."
Merlin smiled, beckoning the hot water and cups over as she settled next to Arthur who shifted to face her more. "Yes there is. Muggles don't know where to find it though."
Arthur was more interested in the approaching cups. He plucked one out of the air and sipped it cautiously.
Merlin laughed again. "Arthur, you berk, it's the same tea." She was rewarded with one of Arthur's rare flushes.
"So you're powerful."
"Yes. I don't need a wand. Or incantations. And... I've never really...come across something I can't do..." she rushed out.
"So you're like...I dunno, Chrestomanci or something?"
"Or a Jedi! Shit, you're like a Jedi!" Arthur exclaimed, eyes crinkling up as his face was taken over by a grin.
"Ooh! I get that one! You made me watch those. Yes! Except I don't do mind-control stuff."
"Alright then. So I can formally meet your parents. Can we visit them? Can I go to the wizard world?"
"Yes. I have to take you, but we can. Definitely. They'll be happy to see Gwaine again."
"They've met him, but they haven't met me?"
"Arthur. You're jealous of your own son. They came once or twice while you were at work. Yes. And Gwaine has magic. He'll need to go to school."
Arthur narrowed his eyes, lips pursed.
Merlin took the opportunity to kiss them. Grinned.
"Will we need to move?"
"No. Not if you don't want to."
"Hm. I'll have to think about this. Show me something else."
Merlin tucked herself into Arthur's side and made a show of breathing smoke into the air where it twisted into a river and then wound into a phoenix, bursting into flame before raining down on the carpet to grow into flowers.
"Wow... What else?"
"Where have you always wanted to go?" Merlin twisted her face up into his.
"Where—as in a country?"
"A country. A city. Where?"
Merlin jumped up and ran to the computer, googling pictures of Dehli quickly and then jumped on Arthur's lap. "Hold on tight!" And then they were twisting through space to Dehli. It was through a series of hops and jumps around the globe that they had sex in Dehli, Jamaica, Florida, Tokyo, and some small town in Iceland all in one night. Merlin did call the babysitter from Dehli to ease her conscience.
The next day had Arthur planning for some time off and the next week they were visiting Merlin's parents who exclaimed and fussed joyfully of him and Gwaine. Squished into a tiny bed, Arthur confessed that Merlin's mum was exactly what he pictured and he was more than a little intimidated by her father and he hoped that he woke with balls in the morning. Merlin laughed and told him that she had a spell to regrow them. And then shushed him while laughing as he was quietly horrified with the idea.
By the time they left, Arthur was thoroughly infatuated with Merlin's mum and vice-versa for her mum. Merlin lavished extra attention on Gwaine instead who giggled when her father stood over him with his wand and made herds of horses run around the cradle.
"Back to work it is, Hunith. It was lovely to actually meet you," Arthur almost gushed.
"Oh here, dear, take another chocolate frog!" Hunith kissed Arthur's cheek and then eyed Merlin as if to say you-should-have-brought-this-one-round-much-sooner.
Merlin sighed and shifted Gwaine to the other hip. "Arthur, take my hand. We have to go. You have work in the morning."
"Bye. It was lovely to meet you both. I look forward to seeing you again soon. Don't hesitate to visit!"
"Arthur!" Merlin smiled to her parents and grabbed Arthur's hand with her free one and they were suddenly back at home.
Arthur set down his knapsack and took Gwaine from Merlin and they easily settled back into ordinary life. Except now Merlin did the chores by magic and had a lot more time for reading and watching the telly. And a more interesting sex life.
Which resulted in Gwen a year later.
"Our children will hate us for naming them 'Gwaine' and 'Gwen,'" Arthur said, almost preening and he cooed into Gwen's face.
Merlin smiled and tucked Gwaine into sleep, whispering charms around his bed before doing the same for Gwen. Arthur smiled at her and then bent his head for a kiss. "Shall we—"
"Merlin! Merlin, darling!"
"Da?" Merlin hurried from the nursery, down the stairs. "Da, what's wrong?"
"Merlin, we need—"
"Da, sit! You look terrible! What's worng?"
"Merlin, we need to go. We need you!"
"Arthur—we need Merlin's help—the dragons...I'm—"
"Shit! Is Mum okay?"Merlin darted forward, half-holding her father up.
"Your mother's fine. Merlin, we need you. We need your help! Please!"
"Okay! I'll come! I—Arthur!"
"Go! Let me—" Arthur grabbed her wrist, panic filling his throat. "Please let me come with?"
"Arthur, please—Gwen. Gwaine. You need to take care of them!"
"No. I'm coming with. Call Dahlia or whoever."
Merlin's blues lit up with worry and indecision, but Arthur nodded at Balinor over Merlin's head and grabbed the man's shoulder, pulling Merlin close. And then they were gone. Arthur pulled out his mobile to call the sitter while Merlin rushed around her former home and spat spells. "What went wrong?"
"One of the dragon breeders..." her father said almost sheepishly. "He had a mishap with one of the workers. The dragons got out. They're... They're everywhere. The Ministry says to stay in your homes. But the Shervers..." Her father paled. "Their house is gone. I can only hope they apparated out..."
Face gone white with fury, or fear, or something that Arthur hadn't seen before, Merlin stalked to the front door, eyes flashing gold as she paused. "I want you all to stay put. Do you hear me? The house is safe. I promise. But I want you all to stay here," she said in a low voice that he again, had not heard before. "It's safe here, and I don't want to be worrying aobut you."
"Just stay here, Arthur. I'll be fine."
And he believed her. "Merlin," he tried again as she opened the door. "I love you."
Her fierce expression softened as she turned. "Oh, Arthur. I'll be fine, you great prat. Don't worry." Then she was out the door. The three of them rushed to the window and watched as the wind immediately caught in her unruly dark locks while she strode through the long grass like a heroic figure from films or something. Arthur's breath caught. She'd never looked more beautiful.
Until the dragon swooped down and Arthur felt his heart stop. Hunith's hand was suddenly clenched tightly in his, Balinor's wand in his vision on the other side of him. "She'll—" He cleared his throat and tried again. "She'll be alright?"
"I've never seen her up against something she couldn't face..." Hunith muttered, eyes glued on her daughter.
Outside, Merlin's hand came up and the dragon's fire swept over her harmlessly. In her other hand a broom appeared, and she was up in the air in a blink. Arthur lost sight, heard roars and bolted out the front door, crouching behind a bush, and craning his head upwards. Merlin had her hands held out and there were other people on brooms zooming around the sky between the dragons, fire and flashes of light zapping between the dragons and other wizards. "Shit..." he breathed, the clammor behind him indicating Merlin's parents had joined him.
"Merciful heavens..." Balinor breathed. Hunith's hand tightened on Arthur's shoulder.
"She'll be alright. She'll be alright," came the rough words in his ear. Arthur could only nod, eyes capture by Merlin's swooping form. Her hands flew out and a dragon froze, plummeting to the ground, stopping right above the ground. The smaller dragons flocked around her suddenly, falling into some sort of formation as a strange roaring sensation filled his ears. Everything slowed, the wizards being pushed to the side, the dragons pushed to the other side. The strange roaring filled the air again and Merlin was in the middle of it. The dragons seemed to cease their frenetic movements and the wizards shook their head, Merlin's voice filling the air. She gesticulated wildly in the very way that meant she was quite upset. If he squinted, he could see Merlin's shoulders hunch and the wizards all began to sink to the ground.
Merlin stayed aloft and seemed to be speaking to the dragons, waving her hands around some more. Then they too landed.
Arthur waited with baited breath as Merlin swooped down finally, the dragons amassed on one side of the hill and the wizards nervously milling on the other. "Merlin!" He ran out to her and grabbed her wrists. "You're alright?"
"I'm fine. I'm fine, I promise."
"What...! What was that! What just happened! What's with the dragons—dragons! I didn't even know dragons existed! Merlin!"
"Arthur! Calm down." Merlin gave him a soft kiss and then pulled back as wizards began running up to the house. "It's fine. The dragons were angry that they were being kept hostage when there was something going on in the dragon community—I'm still not quite sure what that's about—I think a momentous birth or something? But anyway, they needed to see what was going on, some kind of attendence ceremony, and the wizarding community was getting in their way. So I told them to calm down and that I would let them see their new birth. As long as they promised not to cause any more destruction to the peo—"
Merlin blinked and smiled brilliantly. "It's all okay! Everything's all okay! It'll all be alright!"
"Since when can you talk to dragons?" Balinor asked, rushing up to wrap his arms around them both.
"Er...since just now. Apparently," she said sheepishly. "They were very insistant about their...ceremony..."
"Miss Ambrose! Just what exactly happened here!" a sharp-looking woman demanded as she hurried towards them.
"Professor! Erm... It's Merlin Pendragon now, actually..." Merlin broke away from her family and approached the woman who was almost exactly Arthur's image of a witch—pointy hat and robes included.
"Oh! Well, congratulations are in order then."
"Thank you. This..." Merlin stretched a hand behind her, flailing it a bit, "is my husband, Arthur."
"Mr. Pendragon. A good name indeed. I am Professor Mcgonagall, an instructor at Hogwarts. I assume—"
"Merlin's told me of it, yes." Arthur stretched out a hand.
The woman looked at it a moment and then understanding dawned in her eyes as she took his grasp a bit awkwardly and shook it. "A pleasure to meet you. Miss—Merlin was our top student. We are very proud of her."
"Well, you'll have at least one Pendragon at Hogwarts," Arthur said.
"Ooh! Excellent. That pleases me greatly. Now, if you will explain, Merlin, what exactly it is that is going on, and how, again, you seem to be in the middle of it."
Merlin laughed and explained the tale again, how the dragons wanted to celebrate a special birth of one of their own and then they, and this part was a bit fuzzier, might return to their captivity—it was much easier than hunting for food on their own. The strange professor agreed to the terms and before long everyone was on their way home for tea, the great hoard of dragons still camped out on the hill by the Ambrose's house.
"So... why are they still here?" Arthur asked, peering out the drapes. Merlin shrugged, once again directing a teapot to the stove and settling the cups on the table in front of her parents. They seemed a little out of sorts. "Are...they okay?"
Glancing at her parents, Merlin again shrugged. "I think it's the dragon thing."
"Merlin," Arthur said so seriously that she met his eyes. "That was amazing. You walked out that door—no fear. You looked incredible. If I had an entire army behind me, I wouldn't have wanted to mess with you." She flushed brightly, ducking her head beneath her unruly waves. Arthur cupped her shoulders and pulled her close. "You were brilliant."
"Arthur... My parents are right. Here," she hissed, the flush extending down her chest.
"Merlin. You just ordered around about fifty winged, fire-breathing creatures from myth. Your parents don't really bother me at this point."
She laughed quietly and they both jumped when a stray teacup fell to the floor and shattered. "Whoops!"
Laughing fully, Arthur shook his head. "Ordering dragons, and you still manage to drop a cup... So typical..."
Sticking her tonuge out at him, she turned her attention to the cup and the pieces skittered back together and skipped up to the table where it was promptly filled with tea. "Well, one can't have everything, can one... We should—aah!"
"Merlin? Merlin, something wrong?" Arthur grabbed her as she fell, her parents rising in his peripheral.
"Oh. Oh..." Her gaze was far away. "They're talking to me!"
"Who—Merlin, who is?"
"Oh, the dragons..." she said dreamily. "They want me to come with them. For the ceremony." She straightened slowly, moving towards the door.
"Merlin," Arthur called. "Merlin wait! Wait! You can't just... You can't just go! Hunith! Balinor! Some help!"
Merlin stopped at the door, blinked and then gave him a real smile. "It's fine. You can come too. It's a celebration."
"This... might be a bit much for me, Merlin... I just found out that dragons existed and—"
"Come. It'll be fine. They like you. You're already a dragon." And then Merlin grabbed his hand, smiled, and they twisted through space to somewhere that was incredibly dark until Merlin generated light and sent it up to cast down illumination on them.
Arthur felt very small as he stared around at the cavern. While he was looking around, Merlin had somehow wandered off and left him standing on damp chilled rock surrounded by dragons. All different kinds, by the looks of it. He jumped as he felt one land on his shoulder, and somewhere in the dimness of the giant cave he heard Merlin's laughter. "Erm. Hello." The tiny dragon snuffed in his ear and he felt foolish for speaking to a mythical creature.
This was maybe the moment where Arthur felt like life was never going to be the same. There was a dragon on his shoulder, he was surrounded by them, they weren't eating him, and his wife was somewhere in the cave, laughing. With a dragon. About dragon jokes? The whole of it settled in and he sort of floated through whatever ceremony the dragons were apparently hosting, aided by some magical bits that Merlin pulled off. She grabbed his hand a good amount of time later and they were back in Merlin's parents' house. And Arthur still had a dragon on his shoulder. Time blurred again and they were home. Merlin paid the sitter and then tutted over him before pushing him into the bed and distracting him with some very excellent love-making.
Which had Arthur very distracted. Until there was a chirping noise that wouldn't go away. Arthur flung the covers back and looked around for his mobile, finally noticing the sodding dragon, sitting on his dresser. "Mer-lin!"
Leaning back on his hips, Merlin sat, attempted to drag fingers through her hair (which only ended up in them getting terribly stuck), and then erupting in laughter that made them both gasp at the sensation when she noticed the dragon as well. "Oh dear... She quite likes you. She's a bit jealous. Sorry, luv. He's mine though!"
Arthur gaped. "Merlin. We are not having a dragon as a pet. This is not happening! The children!"
"Oh they're very protective creatures. Better than a dog!" Merlin winced. "I know, I'm sorry. It's terms he could understand. Of course you're better than a dog. You've ten times the brain capacity of one."
Arthur flopped back on the bed, smacking a hand over his eyes. "This is ridiculous. How did my life turn into this?"
"If you're not okay with it..."
"No, no. Merlin, it's fine." He pulled her down for a kiss that drew on until he pushed her back slightly. "I love you. And this is fine. It's just...not what I imagined. And I'm not unhappy with it. I'm glad you've told it all to me, that I got to meet your parents, and our children, and everything. It's—and you have to admit I'm right, by my standards—that this life is utterly absurd."
The worried expression fled and she giggled. "Well yes. I suppose you're right... But it is okay, isn't it?"
Arthur smiled and rolled his hips up to savour the expression on her face. "With you? It's more than alright."