Chapter 1: Merlin
His home, Albion, screams out in agony, feeling the loss keener than Merlin thought possible, making him vomit up his breakfast. Just as swiftly, the ripple of anger, the Old Religion’s disapproval reaches him as he breaks into a run, smashes through atoms and molecules of mass and rewrites the very essence of time. He ignores all warnings about tipping the natural balance of things nor does he have an inkling of the scientific laws he bends to his will; all he cares about is how could he have failed in this one task.
And despite his blatant refusal to follow nature’s laws, Merlin is too late.
Arthur is dead.
Arthur, who bites into kisses, and is so sure of everything as nothing should be. Arthur, who reaches so deeply inside Merlin that even as powerful, as freakish as magic makes him feel, it cannot keep him from falling helplessly into Arthur’s embrace, a powerful force of its own that roots Merlin in this world, like he belongs here and here alone.
He knows no purpose but to serve, live for and love his King.
He refuses a reality that does not include Arthur.
So in a rage, Merlin recklessly thwarts death and knits the very fabric of fate to fit his wants. He clambers through time and space, hunting down every strand of reality, imprinting it and making certain that in every crook of space and time—in all of existence, there is nowhere that does not recognize his claim upon Arthur.
And the universe demands balance while time protests the invasion. Death schemes with the Old Religion, because they have never liked Merlin’s anomalous presence. And the gods, they watch it all and take sides, fickle as always with their sidelined status.
Too soon, they believe him done rebelling against them.
Merlin is not done though.
He delves into Arthur’s being, shamelessly purging his soul of this world’s taint and urging Lady Avalon, mother of the elements, to aid him. And she does, breathing the same immortal life she has bestowed on her sorcerer champion. Her stipulation, that all that he is, in every rebirth he leads, he must protect the Once and Future King. And Merlin, not caring that he defies divinity with his actions accepts her gift, because his life without Arthur is worthless.
His only thought is for the future he has now rewritten and to figure out how to make it his immediate reality again.
Chapter 2: Gwen
Gwen sidles up to the open door, eying Gaius nervously, “He’s coding again. Should I?”
“No, it’s not necessary.” Gaius’s tone is terse but even, because they’ve had this conversation too many times to waste emotion upon it.
“It’s the third time tonight though,” Gwen argues, feeling something’s off but not sure if it’s with her or with Merlin. “Doesn’t that bother you? That’s much more than usual.”
Gaius remains unmoved, silent, until Gwen turns at the tap on her shoulder; an orderly stands there ringing his hands.
“The new guy, miss. He’s in with the wizard.”
“Good Lord, Gwen, didn’t you train him properly!” Gaius finally looks up to wave Gwen off, but she is already running down the corridor.
The neon lights flicker on and off and the whine of the electrical current wraps around her and as always she feels transported into another dimension, as if the hospital has become the stuff of nightmares.
She knew she hadn’t trained the new guy – Will – properly on Merlin, but it’s hard to tell a fresh-faced, idealistic intern not to do anything, that you cannot save this person’s life. At least for Gwen it is. Gaius hadn’t hesitated in telling her off for trying to resuscitate Merlin in her first week. She had tried five times.
Five times she pulled the paddles out to send the electrical current through him. She hadn’t wanted to believe either. Will is going to be just as annoying as she was. He has a heart and hurts for the patients… that’s why she hired him. Still… the power outages are going to wear thin on everyone’s patience quick.
She’ll have to figure out something, give him someone else to keep him occupied while Merlin loses heartbeat after heartbeat and hopefully this spike in Merlin’s habitual dying will end soon too. He’s actually more on the coma side of the equation nowadays and Gwen is worried. Why now?
She makes it to the room, to the end of Merlin’s bed just as Will sends the highest jolt allowed to Merlin’s heart. In three, two, one… the entire hospital goes black. So much for being reliable. Gaius is going to be pissed at her evident avoidance of facing the facts.
The loud whirr of the generator kicking in soothes her nerves, and she hates herself some knowing she still gets upset after all this time. She smiles sweetly at Will, his face contorted into an expression of irritable surprise. The unerring, uninterrupted mechanical chirping breaks their silence, and Will gasps as Merlin’s heart monitor flatlines. “Shit! Should we open him up?”
“Not necessary,” and now she really does sound like Gaius. “He always comes back to us.”
“You can’t know that! And… and it’s unethical. So what if he does always come back, if you haven’t tried everything.”
Gwen interrupts, her voice gentle and patient because she knows. She knows this fear, especially in the first year of working as a doctor. She’d been mortified to lose anyone, and so much more when it happened on her second shift. “It’s okay, Will. The state has signed all the necessary legal papers so if he doesn’t wake up, it’s fine.”
“What’s wrong with him? He doesn’t look ill, and I’ve heard the rumors. Just because he’s mental doesn’t mean he should be… that they should be allowed to write him off like that.”
“He hasn’t been fully awake in four years,” Gwen explains. “There’s something obviously very wrong with his brain.”
“You can’t just donate a human being to science! He’s a living, breathing person who deserves more than that. They all do,” Will exclaims, his hand sweeping wide to encompass the entire corridor. “And I’ll never stop believing that. I won’t be desensitized by all of you.”
Will stomps off and Gwen deflates. She falls to the chair next to Merlin, gently squeezing his hand in hers. “That goes for me too, if you don’t know it already. I believe in you Merlin. You’ve got to come ‘round one of these days, yeah? We need you.”
Chapter 3: Will
Will doesn’t know if he even is part of the legend being reborn in this 21st century. There’s no mention of a plucky sidekick or a best friend in the stories he’s read about Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
What he does know is that he’ll do anything to wake Merlin up and that he believes the young wizard could do anything. He comes back from the brink of death daily and still he lives.
That’s enough for Will.
Or he thinks so until he actually tries fitting the puzzle pieces together and they don’t fit. Merlin, Mordred, Morgana, Gwen, Uther, Gwaine, and Lancelot even…
There’s never been an Arthur though.
So maybe, Merlin’s holding out for a hero and while Will might not be the fairytale stuff of regal and noble, he’s got a loyal heart and a keen habit of making sense of modern mysteries.
He’s a bit mad in the head too, but you’d have to be somewhat daft to go through all the medical training necessary to become a neurosurgeon. Or so everyone else says.
Chapter 4: Gwaine
Gwaine plays the tape three times for Will before he thinks to take notes.
Yeah. Merlin’s voice will do that to a man, especially when he’s pleading his case. His defense… well he tells it better and so Gwaine hits play for the fourth time.
“He was so young,” Will notices.
“Yeah, he was,” Gwaine says ruefully. “Uther wanted to crucify him though.”
Will shushes him before he can go on though. Merlin’s voice on the tape up to now had been low and sexy – and he was goddamned sexy Gwaine thinks – but it gets high pitched and reedy now that Gwaine’s told him Uther’s involved with the questioning.
Gwaine still remembers, even after four years, how Merlin’s face had drained of all color and he’d made a one-eighty in personality. He went from young-faced and innocent, calm and sure of what he was saying to manic and frantic and paced the examination room like a caged animal.
Will snaps. “Oy. Can you rewind this bit here? He’s fine until you mention Morgana.”
“No mate, it’s Uther who set him off.”
“Yeah, no it isn’t. Rewind the tape to here,” Will orders. He reads off his transcription and Gwaine knows exactly where to stop the tape for it.
“Here?” Gwaine asks, and blows smoke in Will’s face just to be irritable.
It’s a waste of time because Will’s internship means he’s around coma patients all the time. If ever there was a call for interminable patience, that wing requires it.
Gwaine fans the smoke away and Will makes a snarky comment about pressing charges if he dies of second hand smoke inhalation, before demanding Gwaine go back about twenty seconds more.
“Morbid. I like you,” Gwaine says and starts up the tape again.
“See! There,” Will exclaims. “He’s fine until you say Morgana’s outside waiting with your partner Leon.”
Gwaine shakes his head and rewinds the tape. There’s no way that’s true. It’s always Uther who set Merlin off. However, as he watches the tape now, he can see Will is right. Uther’s name makes Merlin fidget, and yes, he’s definitely not as calm as he was but he’s still composed. It is Morgana being mentioned that has him jumping out his seat.
“Shit. What’dyou think she has to do with all of this?”
Will laughs. “You really want to know?”
Gwaine doesn’t like to think about Merlin. There are cases where no explanation can be found, and where the general public arbitrarily believe evidence that really isn’t enough or convincing enough to justify their reactions. He strongly suspects that happened to Merlin in this case.
He and Leon had immediately felt protective of the young man, and they both still cannot believe how the force and Uther terrorized him the two days he spent in questioning.
Uther wanted to press charges but had no legal grounds. He was a madman when it came to Merlin and Mordred wasn’t even his child. He tried to convince Leon and Gwaine it was because Morgana had been so traumatized, but they knew there was more to the story and could never find out.
Uther had resources they had not realized until they started probing.
Not that it matters. Merlin’s lying in a bed, in Will’s hospital, four years unconscious.
Still Gwaine wants answers.
Will’s already talking and it isn’t until he repeats the word magic three or four times that Gwaine stops him even though he hasn’t really followed a word Will has said.
“Okay Doctor. Slow down and reboot your brain,” Gwaine says. “Give me the Rory version.”
“Merlin’s magic,” Will says with a shit-eating grin.
“And you call yourself a man of science,” Gwaine snorts, unpacking another cigarette to light. “You’re crazy as he is… was.”
“Didn’t you even listen to the tape?” Will asks, his grin fading some, but he’s insistent.
Gwaine rolls his eyes. “Yeah, I was there. Remember?”
“Oh, well then, so you noticed Morgana triggering Merlin’s freak out before now? Or how Uther knew about Merlin’s predication about all the children dying?”
Gwaine shakes his head, “Hold up. Where does Uther mention knowing about Merlin’s crazy confessions?”
This time Will presses the fast forward button. “Here. Listen to Uther talking to Morgana here. Right there. Did you hear it? ‘Merlin cannot know if the children will die this time’ he says to her. They should’ve backed Merlin’s story up.”
“It makes no sense. How could Mordred killing himself unleash a virus that would kill loads of children? And somehow that’s backwards, because usually if the person’s dead already, they can’t spread the sickness around, right?”
“Not in this instance,” Will interjects. He pulls out a fat file and slides it over to Gwaine. “Have a look at this.”
There are photos and documentation and medical records spanning centuries. “What the hell? These people look just like them!”
“Patient Zeros every single fucking time. You shouldn’t have discounted his rant. So maybe claiming to be some wizard called Emrys who could bend life and death to his will probably wasn’t the wisest, but he was a little frustrated. He really is Mordred’s mortal enemy though. It looks like every time Mordred’s kills himself, he sets off a virus that kills off most pale, blue-eyed, black-haired children and adolescents in a 90 mile radius. So guess which two children always die along with him?
“The thing is Merlin really does have the power over life and death for these patients. He and Morgana have the antibodies necessary to fight the infection even though for some reason their bodies only survive two days give or take after they’ve caught the virus. Every single incarnation, they both have died every time, even when science caught up enough to collect the samples needed to cure the other infected persons.”
“You’re only creating more questions, Will,” Gwaine growls as he tries to process the very real existence of eternal beings or zombies who don’t rot or humans who die and come back again and again… and “What the hell are they?”
“If I had to hazard a guess, because being the science driven man that I am, all I have are theories. My best one is that they’re the reincarnations of Merlin, Mordred and Morgana. They’re Avalon’s finest magicians, and a trifecta of hate and power no modern science can explain.”
“You’re mental. Bonkers. How am I supposed to believe this?” Gwaine pushes the file away from himself, taking a heavy drag of his cigarette. “You believe this?”
“He said it himself, Gwaine. They somehow messed up the balance of life and now innocent people are being hurt. He can’t fix it if Mordred dies. I think,” here Will pauses and Gwaine nods his head impatiently.
“Go on mate. Don’t leave me hanging.”
“I think,” Will starts again, brazen now that he knows he has Gwaine’s attention, “Morgana and Merlin together have to be present to stop Mordred, because they are always there. And…,” he pauses for dramatics. “They must’ve managed it this time.”
Will pulls out papers, five sheets that look crisper than all the others. “See. No one died this time, which didn’t really help validate Merlin’s story, but then again, if any of you had bothered to look up Merlin’s medical records and Morgana’s and Mordred’s, you’d have found these informative files put together courtesy of social services. Mordred and Merlin have been wards of the state since birth and well they all three followed the pattern in every way but one. They’re all three infected this time round, but alive. Just unconscious.”
Gwaine stares at Will, confused. “Why’re you telling me all of this? I could have you committed. It’s really out there, mate.”
“I know it is, but everyone who comes into contact with Merlin seems to take it in stride. You believe me. You don’t want to believe me, but you do. It’s like he rubs off on you in such a way you’ll believe anything about him. That he really would rip open time and create new histories if it saved people’s lives.
“And well there’s one thing missing and I need you to get to him.”
“There’s no Arthur. Where’s Arthur?”
“Merlin specifically said they had to live out their lives to the end. A natural life with no interference,” Will explains slowly. “He said all of us. Stressed the all and Morgana kept nodding.”
“Look,” Will starts the video up again, and Gwaine watches himself onscreen as he walks a struggling Merlin towards a holding cell.
“He asked me to walk him by her,” Gwaine muses out loud for Will. “He said she’d know what to do. Didn’t care what happened to him after that. He just needed a few minutes with her.”
“She did,” Will points at the screen. “Right there. She holds both Merlin and Mordred’s hands while Merlin grabs Mordred’s hand to form a circle. And there, they all fall down.”
“It happens in threes,” Gwaine murmurs.
“Whatever you want to believe,” Will says, “I don’t care. Superstitions make people do crazy things, just tell me how I can get some information to Arthur Pendragon.”
“I can make sure he gets it,” Gwaine smirks. “I work for him. He’s looking for his sister. Uther told him she was dead and he’s never believed it. Apparently, he’s a bit magic himself. He dreams of her and a man named Merlin.”
“You heard me. He’s had dreams, premonitions, if you believe that sort of thing, which apparently I do nowadays, and Uther’s spent a small fortune making sure his son remains sane and certain proclivities secret.”
“Now I need you to speak English,” Will says, confused.
“Seems like these dreams involving Merlin, even at a young age, according to Uther has made his son a homosexual.”
“What is wrong with that man?” Will mutters.
“And why’s he so paranoid when it comes to Merlin?” Gwaine asks.
“Good question. Ready to find out?”
Chapter 5: Morgana
Her heart resents the stagnancy and the absence of magic so she favors ignoring now for then. She grasps the reality of this time and space in which she exists, but lying in a bed, immobile tends to lessen its importance. Morgana buries her pride and lets it burrow deep, lets it hide alongside the regrets. It’s become a growing black mass in her soul, a cloud over her vision.
Morgana fades willingly, easing in and out of time and remembering the past not because of cloying self-importance, but because it is all that remains in her control.
She decides what she sees.
Lady Avalon’s last merciful act upon Uther’s mad bastard child.
Merlin, with a flash of gold and potent natural power, annihilated her mark on Camelot, on Albion, changing and twisting history so that her guilt, miniscule in comparison to Mordred’s, wisps about the story books like a second or third thought – nothingness in the grand scheme.
And despite her loftiest ideals and quick mind, she continues to be a pawn in Mordred and Merlin’s unending chess match.
In each monotonous minute, hour, decade; she gets pulled into it. She hears their thoughts, sees their dreams and rebels. It’s a dull, senseless rebellion but it’s familiar and her own to wage.
If she must reside in hell, she will make it one of her own choosing.
Her forgiveness if given will not come at Merlin’s bequest on Arthur’s behalf or by force of Mordred’s curse either.
Morgana relives her wrongdoing rebirth after rebirth and its lasting effects upon the entire universe because she wants to be more than just an ugly revenge plot left to rot in mythology books.
Also, she needs – demands – her reparation be made on her terms. It’s all she has left to give.
Chapter 6: Arthur
He stands in the shadows. His profile barely discernible in the dark even though moonlight filters through Arthur’s blinds. The white of the moon, bioluminescent, highlights his black curls. A hospital gown too short and much too baggy hangs off the sharp angles of the man; his elbows, knuckles, cheekbones and collarbone in shaded relief against his stark paleness.
Merlin’s here and Arthur cannot breathe.
His dreams have never been so lucid.
When Merlin turns to face him, he looks just as luscious as he does in every other dream Arthur has had about the man. Except for the clothes. He’s never appeared in modern clothing Arthur realizes as he stares. The hospital gown and bandages, now that Arthur’s really giving him the complete once over, are not flattering and he wants them gone.
It’s his dream afterall.
“A hospital gown, really Merlin? And I thought the neckerchiefs were so medieval, but that get up,” Arthur snorts. “It’s easily the least attractive thing you’ve ever worn. Couldn’t they even find one in your size?”
Merlin’s eyes grow larger than the moon backlighting them, his knees wobbling uselessly and he grabs at the window frame for support. “You can see me?”
“I always can, now can’t I?” Arthur says, giving an assertive nod of his head at Merlin’s surprise before pulling off his shirt. He tosses it in the closet and strips down to his underpants, laughing when Merlin’s eyes go even wider.
“Come here,” Arthur commands, enjoying how Merlin obeys him immediately.
Merlin’s steps are tentative and hesitant though and he stops at the bed where Arthur sprawls lazily, his bended arms propping his head up. “I don’t know if this is a dream or not or who’s controlling it… You recognize me? How? I mean, obviously, it’s not from those photos over there.”
“Huh?” And suddenly Arthur’s not so sure he’s in a dream. He sits up quickly and tugs Merlin’s hand into his, holding it tight when Merlin tries tugging it away. “You’re real?”
Arthur goes slack with disbelief. He’s not sure what to do and stares up at Merlin who has freed himself from Arthur and scrambled back to his original place by the window.
“Can I touch you again?” He asks, thinking of checking Merlin’s pulse as if he hasn’t felt the rabbiting-fast beat of Merlin’s heart in his dreams before.
“No. Don’t. Please, stay over there.”
“Why?” Arthur’s reeling and he’d like some more physical proof that this Merlin’s not a figment of his imagination. He’s still iffy and madness runs in the family.
Also, it wouldn’t be the first time his psyche has fucked him over. His father has spent a lot of money on therapy for him to deal with his “issue”.
“If Mord—,” Merlin chokes on the name. “He doesn’t have magic anymore just… I’ve pissed off a lot of entities to have you here. It probably isn’t safe.
Oh god, is it really you?” Merlin asks pitifully, while he slides down the wall, his arms wrapping tight around his knees. He peers sadly up at Arthur. “I,” he tries. “I. You. I’ve looked for you so many lifetimes and never. How? Why now?” He’s still choking on his words and obviously struggling with disbelief too.
“It’s me, but I rather think the more appropriate question is how the hell are you in my flat? And what’re you doing here?”
“Still a bloody arrogant prat,” Merlin manages normally, like it’s habitual to call Arthur names and it is, just Arthur cannot understand how that’s possible when that’s something Merlin has only done in his dreams.
“For Christ’s sake, Merlin, how are you real?”
Now Merlin looks confused, “I’m not real?” He tilts his head inquisitively, his eyes wet. “You recognized me,” he says plaintively.
Arthur blushes from the tips of his toes to the roots of his hair. He’s mostly undressed too and he knows, he sees it in the cheeky grin lighting up Merlin’s face, that Merlin can see the full bloom of pink just as avidly as he feels it.
“Oh.” Merlin speaks slow, as if he’s having the epiphany while the words form and take voice, “How did you recognize me, because yeah, you haven’t looked through Gwaine’s reports yet, have you?”
“What’re you talking about?” Arthur evades, effectively too.
“Those,” Merlin points to Arthur’s desk and Arthur sees that Merlin’s made a mess of his desk with papers that were clearly meant for him.
“You opened my correspondence?” He hops from the bed, outraged.
“Maybe,” Merlin hedges, not quite lying but definitely avoiding taking any sort of responsibility for the haphazard papers and photos now cluttering Arthur’s desk.
“The envelope’s addressed to me Merlin,” Arthur says, shaking the proof in Merlin’s direction and giving him a pointed glare.
Merlin shrugs. “That’s Gwaine’s messy scrawl. I know it intimately.”
And Arthur wants to snap, “How and how intimate?” but he doesn’t. Instead he asks, “Who?”
“Gwaine, the officer who brought Mordred and I in for questioning. He and his partner, Leon, tried their best. Mordred’s an evil bastard even at six though.
“Those reports are confidential and aren’t for public consumption. How come you have them?”
“I have no idea, since someone opened them before I could read them,” Arthur replies irritably.
“I had no idea they kept so many records on us. There are decades of information on me, Mordred and Morgana in there.”
“Morgana?” Arthur asks, startled, quickly flipping through the papers until he finds a photo of his half sister. The sister he had been told was dead.
“Morgana,” he breathes out in awe and plops into his chair, letting it roll some before planting his feet firmly on the ground. Apparently tonight’s a night of surprises in every aspect of his life.
“You didn’t know. Huh?” Merlin looks up more questioningly and asks firmly, “Arthur, how did you know who I was?”
Arthur lets his head loll against the chair back before swiveling it around to look directly at Merlin. “Dreams. You’ve been visiting me in my dreams,” Arthur answers with an embarrassed smile and adds, “All my life actually.”
“Oh god, they didn’t turn pervy until you were older, I hope. My list of sins is long enough!” Merlin groans.
“They were only dreams, Merlin. What do you care?” Arthur smarts from what he assumes is Merlin’s chastisement. He’s sat through too many lectures from Uther that that’s all he can hear. He misses the adoration and affection and the utter bemusement Merlin finds in the situation.
So he’s surprised when bare legs bracket him to the chair even though his hands instinctually hold Merlin’s thighs steady as he straddles Arthur’s lap. It’s a familiar position, a favorite of theirs, if his dreams are to be believed.
Long slender fingers cradle his jaw and Merlin soothingly rubs circles at the base, right under his earlobes. Arthur wants to melt and does loosen up some. He smiles up at Merlin. “What’re you doing?”
Merlin doesn’t speak though. His hands wonderingly stroke down and around Arthur’s jaw and he brushes them against Arthur’s eyes, then his lips. He digs his nails in lightly at Arthur’s nape, sending one hand gliding into Arthur’s hair; the other firmly angles Arthur’s head up. He beams down at Arthur. “Hello.”
Arthur smirks when he cinches his arms tight around Merlin’s waist and leans in, hearing Merlin’s tiny intake of breath. The air between them static suddenly, and Arthur’s licking his lips in anticipation, overwhelmed by how close they are and how so still.
Finally, Merlin moves, slow but steadily forward. His hands, both of them fist in Arthur’s hair, and Merlin balances himself against Arthur this way so he can steal away Arthur’s breath with the hot press of his lips.
The warmth of Merlin, his entire body flush against Arthur and his wet lips soft and searching crashes Arthur’s senses. He’s hazy, light-headed and shivering. He loses himself in how tangible it feels. He can pull and does pull Merlin closer and pushes for more, letting their bodies find a rhythm.
Merlin’s mouth falls open and he breathes needy as they move together. Their bodies canting faster together, hard and desperate, and Merlin’s babbling deliriously while Arthur licks his lips, licks them open and dives in for a taste, a real true love sort of lingering kiss that slows them down, makes their movements fluid but knitted and intensely erotic.
They kiss the breath out of each other.
And when Merlin pulls away to try and speak, Arthur groans and won’t let him. He follows Merlin’s red plush lips and nips gently at them and then harder because the throaty whine Merlin makes sends heat radiating through both their chests.
They keep kissing and entwining their bodies until oxygen becomes necessary and they thrust a little too hard, sending the chair careening with them in it. Only then, does Arthur take in huge deep breaths through his nose, pants as if in heat and doesn’t care what he must look like, because Merlin looks dazed and worn out, but still utterly breathtaking.
And Merlin feels too weightless to be real.
“Merlin… .” Arthur can see him disappearing.
Merlin dissipates into the air and Arthur knows this night has been impossibly unreal, that he shouldn’t be shocked or scared over more improbable phenomenon, but he is and he holds on as if his arms surrounding Merlin can keep the impossible from happening.
“Memories,” Merlin says softly, as he fades back into the nothingness of shadows. “They’re memories, Arthur. Not dreams.”
Chapter 7: Leon
Leon is certain he is somewhere. Merlin doesn’t usually leave Arthur’s side. He cannot see the wizard anywhere though.
However, when Gwaine falls from Morgana’s sword, Leon sees red. A slow trickle hardly noticeable and yet the wound is fatal. He watches Gwaine’s eyes cloud over and screams at the heavens to send deliverance soon.
He is Arthur’s last defensive strike. It is he and his king standing alone against the only woman Leon has had the sick misfortune to love.
Her beauty does not wan even amidst the battlefield. Many of the soldiers die just in coming abreast of her. She mocks their pitifully stupid brains. He cannot blame her because he would do the same in light of such weak-hearted folly.
She is the finest warrior, besides Arthur, to come out of Camelot.
They are their father’s children afterall.
And as Morgana’s sword clashes with his own, Leon despairs at how often Uther missed the mark with them, left Arthur and Morgana to sort their own pain, terrors and sorrows.
Uther is to blame; his twisted pride and witchhunt has led to brother and sister waging war against one another and Leon might be the only one truly willing to admit it. For now, it’s become personal in a way where only the living remember the living and the fallen are forgiven for all past mistakes.
It is madness all around.
Because Arthur’s love for Morgana is so evident even now as he moves to take Leon’s place and faces Morgana grimly. His face full of such forlorn sadness as he blocks strike after strike Morgana delivers. Her footing is less hurried but unsteady. She yields to him in a respectful manner. No one else today has received such consideration from her.
Leon stands aside and prays whomever keeps Merlin from his King that he defeats them soon. Arthur will not last long. His heart gave up this fight long ago.
Merlin alone can stand willfully strong against Morgana and Mordred.
Today though is not Arthur’s day to triumph. Leon catches him as the dagger slips under his breastplate, between crook of his arm and into the chest deep. Mordred’s grin maniacal even as time freezes around them.
Leon feels the shift in the ground and Avalon and he hears the roar of Merlin – Emrys – but he cannot help but look his fill of Morgana. Her blood stained clothes, and blood-drained face and the mortification there when she sees Arthur’s crumpled body.
She realizes her folly too late.
Leon can see her regret, already a chasm building between her and Mordred, her eyes stricken in her struggle to break Merlin’s spell on them. And he hurts for her, because she shouldn’t be remembered this way.
They shouldn’t be remembered this way. Arthur and Morgana. Their lives, their destinies never should have been written in such misery.
They are better than this. They deserve better than this.
Chapter 8: Mordred
He runs as soon as the enchantment engulfs the very essence of nature, tapping into the earth for release.
The witch Morgana cannot. She isn’t strong enough and her grief over Arthur anchors her to the battlefied.
No such ties that bind hinder Mordred.
And dancing with the devil, it’s a daring sport Mordred’s done before – and lost before.
He ignores those memories while clinging to the last remnants of his magic to cast the spell. Emrys will not follow him down this path, the dark arts and gods equally disgust him.
Where Mordred goes willingly now; no sentient being chooses.
Desperation. Fate. The nauseous feeling of losing a winning battle drives his actions.
Because the battle should have been his. Is his. Was his.
Mordred greets Death like an old friend, like he’s not tricked Mordred out of lives and loves and the perfect storm in the past.
He smiles and Mordred sees his demise, the crushing blow is coming too soon and quickly he argues his case. He demands, by rights of the Old Religion, to represent balance.
His life, his rebirth, his future… he offers to be Emrys’s reckoning.
The frail human life Emrys coddles does not deserve such honor and how fair is it to the rest of the immortal that now not only does Emrys walk among the eternal fair but so does the Once and Future King.
He pleads even as he’s struck down on every magical front.
Again Mordred has underestimated Emrys and how far-reaching his power is because it finds him even here and twines around him, contorts his body, crushing him from the inside out. As he convulses, death laughs, loud and raucous.
The offer comes just before he breathes his last breath.
Time will fade Merlin’s mark on the universe.
Arthur cannot possibly love Merlin like his wizard loves him.
And Morgana, the fickle witch will never have the gall to stand against him.
Mordred believes them to be weak and so he takes the curse Death offers him, shapes it, gives it life and flings it out towards Emrys golden magical touch, still… even now restructuring the threads of time and Mordred insinuates himself into it.
Death grants him a few more moments and hides Mordred enough to let him finish weaving the curse directly into Emrys’s enchantment and then he claims Mordred with especial relish.
Mordred does not care. He is not like any one else.
His heart can endure the decades, centuries, thousands of years.
With hate like this, he will survive.
Chapter 9: Gaius
Lancelot had seen the entire pseudo attempted murder that Mordred and Uther had tried hanging on Merlin. He came straight away to Gaius and Gwen to ask what they knew before heading to the police department to make a statement, calling before he left, polite and gentlemanly and in hopes of seeing Merlin treated better.
The car hit him right in front of the hospital. He hadn’t been off the phone fifteen minutes with the police department.
So much for doing the right thing, and even in this incarnation, Lancelot was a saint.
Gaius cannot remember what it’s like to have ideals.
He’s been friends with Uther too long and has too many memories from another life where his actions accounted for more and he did so little to protect the helpless.
He will spend this entire lifetime making it up to Merlin any way he can.
He owes so much to Gwen and Morgana too.
He knows the curse is weakening and feeds Uther lies to keep him away. Uther has thwarted Morgana’s attempts in every lifetime, having her committed until the curse unleashes and she dies. He’s sick and depraved and Gaius wonders how he ever stomached Uther before.
How can the man claim to love his children and actively seek their destruction is beyond him.
Uther has to have been the one to have Lancelot killed.
Gaius feels certain because Lancelot never made it to the police as witness for Merlin and Uther’s the only one who could’ve managed such vile actions, on such quick notice.
At least Uther isn’t seen as magical interference. He hasn’t a magical bone in his body, and the gods must grant Lancelot a life lived fully and a death, while not fair, was in the scheme of an unforgiving world, naturally occurring.
Lancelot did get to kiss Gwen goodbye and a chance to leave lasting final words.
He’d told her to live. Live your life Gwen.
And Gaius watches her and makes sure she does, but all her friends, her true friends, can’t talk back and more often she’s beside Merlin or Morgana spilling her heart to them.
Thing is, Gaius does this too.
He sits by Merlin, speculating out loud and begs Merlin to give him the key to breaking the curse that binds the three of them. He assures them, Merlin and Morgana, that none of the children’s deaths are their fault. He reminds them of how they hated practicing through the decades where Mordred annihilated entire villages of children, and how they always tried their best to stop him.
He can carry this burden for them, because this time’s different.
Their friends will protect them.