He found Gwen first. She went by Gwendolyn instead of Guinevere now, but that was simply a sign of the changing times. She had the same beautiful dark curls and the same cunning quick wit, and she was still so much more than he could ever believe.
His first (one thousandth) impression was less than stellar to be certain. She looked him up and down with an appraising eye and promptly announced that she did not have time for self-important hipsters when there were things to do. Maybe it was the skinny jeans and the scarf. Maybe it was the oversized headphones he had taken to wearing to block out the world around him. It didn’t listen to him so he saw no need to do the same.
He held the door open for her anyway, followed her through the library anyway, and helped her reach a heavy tome she needed anyway. It was then she finally huffed a less than patient breath and asked, “Who are you anyway?”
Her eyes grew wide and he could see a thousand years of memories flood her mind when he replied, “Merlin.”
He then offered to get her into the locked down historical texts area for her research while she smacked him on the arm and asked why he hadn’t led with that in the first place.
They were near inseparable after that, the Uni student trying to make a better life for herself and her family and the man who was everywhere and nowhere at once and always seemed to have precisely what was needed at precisely the right time. There were too many centuries forging that bond for it to break from pesky things like having only just met in this lifetime. Only one friend questioned it, but they both now knew who she was in a past life anyway, and let her flounce on her way to self-destruction.
Morgana appeared next. As in practically apparated behind him at the pub one night. She was how she was in the beginning, with only the slightest shadows of who she was forced to become around the edges. She ignored the men throwing themselves at her and demanded, “Were you even going to look for me?”
“Figured we’d always find each other,” he shrugged. He let the slightest bit of magic come forward and saw the answering gold swirl in her eyes. “The question is, what side are you on this time?”
“I’d say keep me away from idiots who don’t know when to share a secret to save a life, but I’ve already found you, so I suppose we’re stuck working together,” she replied. There was the slightest hint of a smile on her painted lips though, and he knew it was worth giving her a chance.
They both knew where they were coming from this time, and they both knew they each deserved a chance. There were no secrets to germinate the seeds of betrayal this time, only a need to do what their hearts told them to do. This time, those two hearts even spoke the same language.
The woman currently known as Morgan followed him to the woman currently and formerly known as Gwen, and it took all of about a minute and a half for the walls to come down and for them to hold each other in their arms. Their first past had started well and ended terribly, but there were so many other pasts in between that spoke of the truth of who they were and there simply was no ignoring that. People were drawn to each other for a reason. To be drawn together throughout lifetimes was a reason far more than something as piddly as fate.
He had found Gwen more than once before, and the same was true of Morgana. The problem was finding Arthur. To date, it simply had not happened. But the world was in crisis and there were simply so many signs that he had to actively fight to push his hope down, not wanting it to be quashed yet again.
Morgana quickly tired of what she called his moping and what Gwen called looking for ghosts. She handed him one of the ridiculously complex coffee drinks they had both grown to love and then flicked him on the nose. “Did you ever stop to think that you’re a wizard and can do a spell to find him?”
He frowned at her and stole a spoonful of her whipped cream in spite. “Of course I have. Just nothing has worked so far,” he said. He did not pout. Immortal wizards did not pout.
“Did you ever stop to think that you’re both wizards and can combine your powers to do a spell to find him?” Gwen asked as she sipped her far more tame tea.
They both looked at her askance, then looked back at each other. Books and scrolls and even a few tablets came out that night, and were scoured through over the course of the next several weeks. Gwen kept them supplied with caffeine and they kept her supplied with thanks. Eventually, they found something that just might work. At the very least, it would tell them if Arthur existed in this timeline at all, which was a starting point if nothing else.
They waited the appointed time and crushed the appointed herbs and prepared the appointed oils. The modern era made it so much more difficult to just light a bonfire and be done with it, so they resorted to finding a camping site on an appropriate ley line and hoping for the best. Even powerful magicians had to stay within the law, no matter how corrupt that law had become, lest they be waylaid by things like tickets and fines.
Everything was in place to perform the spell, the moon lit high above them and Gwen stationed in a tiny caravan with blankets and hot chocolate since the night had become quite brisk. Merlin felt the magics of old call to him and could tell the same was true of Morgana. She held a match in her hand and asked, “Are you ready for this?”
He made a face and lit the logs comprised of the seven sacred woods with will alone. “Oddly, yes, I find that I am prepared,” he replied.
She tossed the match at him and called him a wanker before she held her hands out to him to begin.
The touch of skin, the feel of the power coursing through them both though not a single word had been incanted yet, was a heady feeling to say the least. Magic had all but disappeared from the land and he had felt it slowly dribble out of existence for decades if not centuries, so to feel such a force again, after so long, was a sensation he feared he would crave. It was also a sensation he hoped to repeat should everything go right and they were to start the New Age of mankind.
He opened his mouth to speak, to say the sacred words the way they had spent so long memorising, and was promptly interrupted with, “What are you making? It smells divine.”
He whirled around at the voice, felt the connection strain but not break, and was promptly torn between the urge to smack and the urge to gather into his arms the figure at the edge of the clearing. There was no mistaking who he was; there were no lifetimes in between his past and his present. The armour looked as right as it looked out of place and the crown he held in his hand shown as bright as the magic in Morgana eyes.
“You utter dollophead,” he laughed. He’d say his face was wet from the rain, but there was not a drop in the sky despite the thunder and lightning that rolled above them.
There were hugs, there were hands, there were words both profane and promising. The world around them may have been falling to chaos, but they had instantly obtained the stability that they needed to begin to create the order so horribly needed. A word, and Arthur had clothing that did not belong in some historical reenactment camp. Another, and there was enough food and drink to celebrate in style.
On the ride back to the city Morgana twirled the heavy crown on light fingertips, shoulder to shoulder with the sibling she was once willing to fight to the death to just to have the right to do what she did now. Gwen drove and Arthur avidly looked out the windows at the world that passed by. More than once, there was a glimpse of a face far too familiar not to be a friend. More than once, there was a glimpse of an enemy they knew would need to be put down yet again.
Tomorrow, they would begin their quest to save the world. Tonight, however, was theirs and theirs alone.