every mother's fate to think her child is special
“Merlin!” Hunith ran over to her one-year-old, who was sitting on the ground surrounded by broken earthenware shards. “Don’t move, I don’t want you to get hurt.”
Hunith picked him up and set him down gently at a far corner. “Stay put, baby bird. I’ll clear up the mess.” The earthernware bowls had been dropped so many times without ever getting chipped, yet Merlin had somehow broken all four of them.
“Ouch!” The last shard she picked up had sliced her thumb.
“Mama? Mama oww?”
Hunith smiled at Merlin. “It's alright, Merlin. It's just a tiny cut.” She finished putting the broken shards away.
Merlin toddled toward her, determined to look for himself. His grip on her hand was warm and strong.
“Mama no ow!” Merlin told her hand sternly.
When Hunith wiped the blood off later, there was only a thin line where the cut should be.
always been a troublemaker
“You almost got it, Will!” Merlin shouted in encouragement as his friend stretched an arm to grab their stranded kite.
They were running all around the village trying to catch an errant wind. When the wind came, it had blown the kite to the worst place possible: old man Simmons’ plum tree.
Old man Simmons had always disliked Merlin—which the eight-year-old thought was unfair since Will was the one with penchant for troublemaking—and so they thought it best for Will to be the one who retrieve their kite.
“Just. A little bit. More,” Will grunted. The branch he was lying on bent alarmingly.
“Will, watch out!”
Will landed on the ground with a broken branch and their kite.
“Are you alright?!”
“Heard something snap. I might have broken m’leg.” Will’s face was pale with pain. “What do I do, Merlin? My dad will have my hide!”
“Just—just lie there for a minute. It might just be a bad sprain!”
Will looked unconvinced, but let Merlin fuss over his legs. When he stood up a few minutes later, he found he could walk with hardly any pain at all.
“See,” Merlin said, smile reassuring. “And our kite survived the fall too!”
Þu fornimest adl fram guman
Merlin knew Gaius said it was no good saving just one life, but this was Gwen's father. He could only imagine what it’d be like if it had been his mum who was sick with the plague.
So he found a healing spell from the magic book and put together a poultice. He slipped past the patrolling knights in the lower town and stood at Tom the blacksmith’s bedside.
“Þu fornimest adl fram guman.”
From outside the window, Merlin watched as the poultice released medicinal vapors and Tom lost his deathly pallor.
“Father!” An ecstatic Gwen hugged her bewildered father, now healed.
Seópan ærest wearð feasceaft funden/ Denum æfter dom/ Dreamleas gebad he gewann langsum
“Why spiders?” Merlin looked at the two skittering creatures with distaste. One or two of their legs were bent wrong.
“They're a logical starting point to practice this healing spell.”
“But spiders don’t even have bones!” Merlin protested.
Gaius raised an eyebrow. “Do you want to break your own fingers then?”
“No, of course not!”
“Here, I'll let one out—”
“It was crawling towards me!”
Gaius sighed. “I'll let the other one out. Do not squash this one.”
Merlin sat on his hands.
“Now, the spell will be more effective if you touch the injured limb—”
“Just say the incantation, Merlin!”
“Ic þe þurhhæle.”
The spider's one bent leg remained bent.
“Ic þe þurhhæle!”
The squashed spider's legs twitched.
“So. That was interesting.”
Þurhhæle/ Þurhhæle dolgbenn/ Licsar ge staðol nu / Ic þe þurhhæle þin licsare
Merlin was grateful for his magic for helping him serve and protect Arthur. He just wished it was more reliable when it comes to healing. He had learned half a dozen different healing spells from the magic book, but more often than not, he could not heal Arthur's injuries with a simple incantation. Monsters had to be slayed, magical artifacts destroyed, or sacrifices made.
Except right now, Arthur's wound was entirely non-magical and yet none of Merlin’s spells were working.
Merlin watched helplessly as the arrow wound on Arthur's back refused to close.
“Licsar ge staðol nu.”
There was nothing he could do but make Arthur comfortable as he lay dying on the ground. He washed Arthur's blood from his hand and sobbed quietly.
That was when the old seer appeared and asked why he was sad.
“It's my friend. He's dying and I can't help him.”
“Then do not waste your tears,” the stranger said, “for I can tell you that the time for him to die is not yet upon us.”
Merlin didn't know why, but he instinctively trusted the stranger.
When Taliesin's incantation mended Arthur's wound, Merlin felt like he could finally breathe again.