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Nothing Without You

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Preface : Sealed Magic

Mordred had once said that Arthur was nothing without Emrys, and Emrys was nothing without magic. And for a time, he was right. Though they had succeeded in the death of the King, they did not succeed in destroying the hopes of the people. No matter the terrible life Mordred put them through, the people of Camelot still held onto the hope that one day their King would return and reclaim his place on the throne. It was proving to be a false hope, as more and more people gave into the darkness cast over their kingdom. Though the Knights of the Round Table held steady in their battle. Ever faithful in their King.
On the day of the great battle Mordred and Morgana cast a spell over the Kingdom just as Arthur was mortally wounded. The spell, one born of dark magic, trapped Camelot in a bubble of suspended time. Never aging, never truly dying, simply living each year moment by moment. Praying for salvation. The fact that they dared to play in magic they could not even begin to fully understand still shook Merlin to his core. Having to live darkened lifetimes without the other half of his being. For now, all Merlin could do is wait. Wait as the days turned into months, months turned into years, and years turned into centuries, for the return of the King.

The spell that had been cast sealed his magic, and sealed everyone forever in the Camelot of Mordred’s choosing. So while the world grew old around them, they were forever locked in a bubble of time, in the time of magic and knights, of true good and complete evil. Without Arthur and Merlin together, the dark warlock ruled supreme, damning the people of Camelot to servitude until the day that Arthur returned. If Arthur ever returned.

All they could do now is wait…..

 

Chapter One : A New World

“Merlin, you do not know if this spell will actually work. You have no magic.” Elyan kept his voice low despite knowing that they couldn’t be heard. He and the other Knights all gathered around their magic-less Warlock; all kept at bay by a wall of fire.

 

“It is the only chance we have left!” Voice shaking with the force of his words Merlin stared at them all over the flame. “Arthur has not been born into our life cycle. There has not been sight of him since the spell was cast, and he was wounded! Obviously he has to be outside the barrier. Arthur was supposed to come back to us when Camelot was in need, Camelot has been in need for nearly a thousand years. For all we know our idiot King has forgotten us, or needs us.” Holding a tattered scroll in his shaking hand the warlock shook his head, trying to focus on the task at hand. As the flames drew closer to his body his hand lifted as if to command the elements. With Arthur’s crown rested on his head, ancient words tumbled from his mouth, holding the world at his command. Drawing his hand in he sliced his palm with a dagger in an attempt to add blood magic to the spell.
“Merlin, you have to stop this. You are going to get yourself killed then what will we do?” Gwaine attempted to step forward but was quickly yanked back by Percy as the fire licked at his skin. Sharing a look the two knew that their time to act was drawing close.

“This spell will either kill me or take me to Arthur. Let us hope for Arthur. Heed my words, my magic will return once Arthur and I are united, it has to. Then I will bring him back to us all. What I need from you is to stay low and gather support. I have to tell him he has lost his Queen and his Kingdom, I do not want to tell him he has lost the hope of his people.” Looking over at all of them the warlock gave a kind smile before turning his attention to the scroll. Spells did not need a screaming voice to work, but a strong whispered voice that spoke with purpose. As the last words of the spell left him, the scroll fell into the fire, causing it to turn blue as blood and magic mingled.
Words echoing through the night fire began to lick along the brunettes skin, consuming his entire being before the fire suddenly vanished with Merlin inside. The spell was one designed to bring the caster to the object or person of their desire. One could only hope that Merlin desired Arthur most.

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What many did not know, is that magic coursed through the inner coils of the earth. It heard all, saw much, and never gave exactly what you were asking for. Instead, magic gave those who were worthy exactly what they needed even if they themselves did not realize it. Which all should have been relatively easy for Merlin to remember, given the fact that he was Emrys. Or if he had even spared a second to think about the fact that Mordred’s hatred had not only managed to twist magic around him, but it had allowed the younger warlock mastery over the High Priestess herself.

“Ugk.” The pitiful noise that left him was something he could only hope was in his head and not said aloud, for it was an embarrassing noise. Stretching out his tired limbs, as if to reassure himself that he had them all, Merlin went still upon feeling the soft surface beneath him. It had been quite some time since he and the knights had even had cots to sleep on, so where exactly was he?

“Up and at ‘em, lazy daisy!”

Eyes springing open as bright sunlight filtered into the room Merlin stared up at the blond who had all but sang his old morning mantra to him. “Aa-Arthur?” The warlock croaked, his trembling hand lifting to push through his dark curls. When he came in contact with clean, dry, hair his brow drew together in worry. “Arthur, what is going on?”

“What’s going on? Merlin. Are you serious? We have brunch plans with your mom and Will!” All beaming smiles and soft gazes Arthur made his way over to the bed where Merlin had been asleep. “Are you feeling alright you dolt? I told you not to stay up so late working.” Reaching out a frown touched his features when the other shrank back from his touch. “Love, are you really alright? You’re starting to worry me.” Laying a hand on his forehead to check for a fever Arthur’s thumb stroked gently over the other’s sharp cheekbone.

“I can call them both and cancel if you don’t feel well. Last thing we need is you getting a cold like last time.” When Arthur reached over to the nightstand beside his head for a thin black box Merlin began to realize he was in a cold state of panic.

“I have no idea what you are saying to me.” The warlock admitted softly, his voice laced with traces of panic. “Where am I?” Casting a look around he had to assume he was in a bedroom, yet nothing was the same as he remembered the King’s chambers being. Unlike the bedroom he had known for so long at his King’s side, this was vastly different. Gone was the heavy wood pieces and large canopy bed. Instead they were in a sleek looking room, with a simple yet soft bed, and minimalistic touches.

“Alright, now you are really starting to worry me. Merlin, you’re in our bed, in our flat, in London.” Hoping to prompt the other into his right mind Arthur placed both hands against the other’s pale cheeks, blue clashing against blue as he searched his gaze. “Do I need to call a doctor for you?”

“What are you talking about? Arthur… Is it really you?” Trembling under his touch Merlin desperately tried to look past his own confusion to see the man before him. The spell had worked, this was Arthur, alive and real and … staring at him with absolute confusion. Yet that realization did nothing to stop the tears that started to gather in his thick lashes. Surging forward he wrapped his arms around Arthur’s neck, trembling in the man’s hold as he cried into his shoulder. “Oh Arthur! You idiot! I’ve waited so long to see you again.”

“Merlin, love…” Sighing softly the blond wrapped his arms around the lanky man in his arms, cradling him close as the other cried. “Did you have that nightmare again? I told you, it’s all just a dream. I never died, you’re fine.” Stroking back his dark hair Arthur cradled the man against him, pressing a tender kiss to his head.

“What? No!” Pulling back sharply his cheeks were flushed with much more than tears as he scrambled to get out of the bed. “Arthur, you died. Camelot has been in turmoil for nearly a thousand years. And I had to use a spell to find you. I don’t even know where we are!” Stomping his bare foot on the carpeted ground Merlin couldn’t help but allow his gaze to finally drift around him. “The spell was supposed to take me to where you were the most. How long have I been here?”

“Merlin… Listen… That is all just… a fantasy. Camelot isn’t real. This is London, you and I have been friends since we met in primary school. Remember? You used to come to all of my footie games even though you didn’t know what any of it meant?” Arthur prompted, his hands held out as if he were talking to a startled animal.

“Footie? What in the name of the gods are you talking about?” The warlock demanded, his brow drawn together, which only made Arthur sigh.

“You really are hopeless, aren’t you? Merlin, we went to school together. We’ve been living together since we moved to London… Dating since well… It seems like forever but it’s been official for nearly two years. Did you take your medicine last night before we went to bed?” Reaching out to touch his arm Arthur had to rear back when Merlin slapped at him.

“Stop it! I don’t know what London is! Or what… any of you said is!” Ducking past the other Merlin ran, panic raw in his chest. This is what the Knights had attempted to warn him of. With the fact that his magic had been bound for so long it could have done anything when mixing blood magic and bound magic. Barring himself in the nearest room he found Merlin let out a gasp upon seeing what appeared to be a washroom.

Much like the bedchamber he had been in before everything was sleek, clean lines and warm colors. It didn’t make sense as to how this could be in their world. But… he wasn’t home in Camelot. And Arthur still knew him? Was this some sort of trick?

Moving to look at himself in the mirror Merlin frowned at the reflection that was his yet… not. It wasn’t himself at all. This was not the man with too shaggy hair that was held with a leather band and a sword on his hip. This was someone… young once again. His ears appeared to be pierced, with thin black hoops in them, and his hair was soft and lush. Something it hadn’t been in quite some time.

“Where am I?” He whispered to himself as he reached out to touch the mirror. It was only then that he realized something important was missing. “The crown. Where is his crown? And his ring!” Slamming a hand on the glass he turned suddenly, only to find Arthur standing there with a thin golden key in hand and an odd bottle in the other.

“Merlin… You are starting to worry me. You need to take your medicine. Will you?” Arthur asked softly as he approached the other.

“Medicine? What do you mean?” Turning to face his king Merlin felt his head tilt, and that drew his attention to his ears. “What are these?”

“Your earrings? You got them when we were… Sixteen? It was when I got my first tattoo. Remember? We got in so much trouble. My mother was livid. Your mother refused to let you remove them, said people had to live with their mistakes.” With a teasing grin he filled up a cup by the sink with water, setting it down before pouring two pills into his palm. “These will help you Merls. Sometimes your dreams get mixed with reality. And these help.”

“But Arthur, Camelot is my reality.” The warlock insisted, only to be met with a silent plea for the medicine to be taken. “Alright Arthur. Alright. But will you listen to me after? And answer all of my questions?”

“Anything you want.” Arthur promised, heaving a sigh of relief when the brunet took the pills. “I rescheduled to dinner with your family. Your mom said that was fine, she wanted to make Will take her shopping anyway.”

Staring up at the other for a long moment Merlin felt the ancient hurt move through him, but said nothing to the fact that they were dead. It was not something he wanted to argue with the man about. Nodding carefully he allowed Arthur to take his hand, leading him into what appeared to be a sitting room. “We seem to be up high. Is this simply one room in your castle?”

“Ah, no darling. This is our flat. Remember? We moved here a little over a year ago. The second bedroom got turned into my office and your art studio?” Sitting Merlin down on a plush leather sofa he forced a cup of tea into his hands. “Drink some tea.”

Taking the cup from his hands rather dumbly the warlock’s fingers curled around the delicate material curiously. It was odd that Arthur would hand him something so delicate for what appeared to be every day use. Yet seeing the odd painting along the cup his brow furrowed. Nothing about this made sense. “I was wearing a crown when I came here. What happened to that?” He found himself asking first, his gaze moving over the blond.

“Merlin, I know we like to have fun in bed, but you weren’t wearing a crown.” Arthur attempted to tease, though he couldn’t help but notice that the hand he set on Merlin’s knee made the man uncomfortable. So carefully, he removed his hand and clasped them together. “Let’s try this then. Merlin, love, when you were younger you had an accident that affects your memory. If you take your medicine it helps, but nothing will really heal this. You and I have had this talk several hundred times in our life together.”

“I do? We have? Why would you stick around then?”

“Because I love you, you idiot.” Snorting at the audacity his love had Arthur held out his hand, palm up, simply waiting.

Staring at the hand for a long moment Merlin made the decision to take it. After all, he had come here on a mission. The spell was designed to take him to the place where Arthur spent most of his time. Which meant that this could easily be Arthur’s home, and he could easily have taken the place of whoever it was that was actually in Arthur’s life. His magic was bound to be a bit unpredictable, and if he had any hope of getting out of this, he needed to play along.

“I love you too you know.” Even as he said it, he could feel the heat spreading across his cheeks, a clear indication of a blush. It was the first time he had ever admitted it aloud.

“I know. Which is why we are going to get through this together. Now, would you want to watch the video we made forever ago to help you when you have a bad episode?” Arthur asked, giving his hand a squeeze before finally bending down to drop a kiss to it.

“A video?” Head tilting as the word stumbled over his tongue Merlin followed Arthur’s insistent tugging and moved to sit at his side. “Alright, show me.”

Pulling his phone out of his pocket Arthur didn’t miss the odd way his love stared at him as he unlocked the screen and searched through his archive to find the video. It had been Merlin’s idea, an odd hope to help him remember certain things. They had taken it after Merlin’s last bad episode right when they moved into the flat they had now.

Something had been off with his lover then, at first they had both thought it was nerves. But then… the night terrors started. Full force night terrors that found Merlin waking up in other rooms, drenched in sweat as if he had run a marathon. It took some sessions with a doctor, but they had managed to find the right balance of medications and memory exercises to stabilize Merlin’s mind. He could only hope the video worked after so long. Especially given how bad of an episode Merlin seemed to be having.

“This is marvelous.” Merlin murmured, only to be shushed by Arthur as he turned the phone at an angle to better show him the video.

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“Do you think he survived it?” Carefully helping the ancient man hobble along the burnt path Gwaine winced when his hair was tugged as Gaius slipped. Righting the elder he handed the man the large walking stick he had been carrying for him.

“If anyone would survive such an idiotic thing, it would be Merlin. Did any of the spell survive?” When the knight shook his head Gaius let out an annoyed grunt, before he began picking over the ritual site. Times had grown desperate in Camelot after nearly one thousand years of being trapped in an endless loop. Neither dying nor living. Simply existing. Feeling the pain of it all, yet missing all of the joy. But for Merlin to pull such a dangerous stunt… He would strangle the boy if he somehow made it back. “Do you remember what he said? Anything?”

“We do not know how he managed it, but he created a circle of fire that we could not jump over. Not even Percival could see him over the flames. We were shouting at him, begging him not to do this. I know he cut his palm.” Pulling the wrapped dagger from his belt Gwaine carefully unwrapped it, showing Gaius the item that had aided Merlin in his spell. “And he wore the crown of the King upon his head.”

“Did he have the ring as well?”

“No, Guinevere still holds it. He had the crown, Arthur’s dagger and an old scroll. He told us that the spell was meant to take him to wherever Arthur was. Or kill him trying. And he told us that once they united it would unlock his magic.” When Gaius trembled from standing too long Gwaine reached out to support him. “I should get you back.”

“At this point Gwaine, we can only pray that Merlin returns to us. He is the most powerful warlock known to man, yet with the binding spell that none of us have been able to break… It could surely mean that his magic is fully tied to serving Arthur. Which is why the spell worked.” Voice wavering the elder trembled, allowing the younger man to support his weight.

“Well, that means Mordred knew a bit more than we ever gave him credit for. Now, let’s get out of the open before we are caught.” With gentle prodding the knight led their old healer away from the chaos that was Merlin’s spell, the burnt earth crunching under their boots as they worked their way back towards camp.

All they could do now was hope for the best and attempt to keep from getting captured.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two: 42,000,000 Results

Given how… well… Merlin had reacted to the video diary, Arthur had completely canceled plans with his mother and Will. Which he was honestly thankful for. He wasn’t sure if he could handle meeting people who were meant to be his family yet they so obviously weren’t. They had ordered in, something that fascinated the warlock, and shared a rather odd dinner together. Arthur treated him as if absolutely nothing was different, which threw him for a loop. What was the mental illness of the man he had taken the place of that Arthur thought this was normal?

Laying flat on his back in their shared bed he stared up at the ceiling, his hands clasped on his stomach as he listened to the soft snores of the man beside him. It had been so easy for Arthur to drift off, lying comfortably on his side with his fingers barely brushing against Merlin’s pillow. It seemed to make him so happy to have that small connection, which only served to further Merlin’s confusion.

Careful of every movement the warlock found himself slipping from the bed, his bare feet padding gently on the cold tile floor as he slipped from the bedroom, careful not to wake Arthur in the process. As quiet as a mouse he tiptoed towards the room that held the king’s office, slipping inside and turning on the lights. Thankfully as his mind seemed to calm from the panic he seemed to recall more and more about this modern world. Which in and of itself was concerning. He knew he was not a man of this time, was it possible his magic was at play? Giving him the memories from the life of the man he had replaced?

Shaking his head to clear the thoughts Merlin made his way to the desk, ready to research everything he could about the life he had here with Arthur, and what became of Camelot in this reality. He needed to know what it was possible for Arthur to have knowledge of, that way he could get them back to where they belonged.

Sitting down upon the odd leather chair Merlin decided he would not take the time to marvel at such a simple invention. Really. If wheels on chairs had been around when he was servant to the king he could only imagine how easy cleaning around the throne would have been. Carefully opening the thin object before him he felt his nose wrinkle in distaste. Some of this modern world was truly a wonder. Plumbing for one. Obviously invented by someone who had to clean out the wrong chamber pot. And while he didn’t enjoy the telly, he did enjoy the mobile Arthur said was his. So much knowledge on one small screen.

Which is what had brought him to the laptop. Arthur had told him that most of his work happened in this room, a businessman which seemed like a vague way of saying his friend did nothing still. Though he wisely kept that opinion to himself.

Squinting against the bright light the screen cast over his face Merlin began poking at the keys, his gaze narrowed on the laptop. Pulling up the internet like Arthur had showed him he began with simple searches.

“Camelot… about 42,000,000 results? And yet he doesn’t know?” Realizing how loud his voice sounded within the quiet of the office Merlin hunched forward a bit, beginning his long search through the history of what had happened to Camelot.

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It was some hours later that the warlock went storming back into the bedroom he apparently shared with Arthur Pendragon, his mood sour. After extensive research on Camelot, King Arthur, Albion, anything that he knew to be true, Merlin had discovered it all to be a myth in this land. The spell Mordred had cast completely removed them from the growing and changing world. There were people who believed, but most did not. One of the “did nots” being Arthur himself.

After such a disappointing discovery Merlin decided he would research himself and Arthur. And oh did he find information on them. Splashed all over the pages of this new world. The gay son of politician Uther Pendragon was mentioned quite a bit in his search. Which only made his heart ache. Had Arthur really gone through all of that to be with Merlin Ambrosius? Whoever that was. He’d never held a surname, his family was too lowly for it.

Yet the thing he found more than anything, was that Arthur loved the man he was meant to be. Loved the man he thought Merlin was. Which made it all the more tempting to enjoy the time he had. To make the confessions he had never been able to make during their time together.

When the door banged up Arthur shot up in bed, his blond hair sticking up in tufts around his sleepy face, giving him the softest of halos. “Merlin?” Squinting at his love his gaze then turned to the clock and he groaned, dropping back down into their mass of pillows. “It is 4:30, in the morning! What the hell are you doing?”

“Wake up you clotpole. Get up.” Grabbing the pillow that was meant to be his yet lovingly held Arthur’s drool he smacked the blond with it. When he received no response he smacked him again, only to let out a, manly, yelp as he was suddenly grabbed. Dropping onto his back on the bed he stared up at Arthur with large eyes, his nose wrinkled in concentration.

“It’s been quite some time since you’ve called me that imaginary word.” The blond mocked, his voice gruff with what was left of his sleep. With Merlin trapped beneath him he seemed to sprawl like a large cat, his head dipping down to rest against the warlock’s shoulder.

“You have no idea Arthur. Hey… Lift your head. I have questions.” It took some poking and prodding, but eventually the former King lifted his head, grunting as he did.

“What Merlin? What? We should be sleeping. I thought we answered all of your questions?” Groaning pitifully in the way a child might when forced to do something they didn’t want Arthur wrapped his arms fully around the slim brunet beneath him.

“I have questions.” Came the simple answer which held a meaning that was not so simple really. It was enough to get Arthur to lift his head and peer down at him with all the tired irritation he could muster.

“I will answer exactly three before I lay on top of you and go back to sleep. So make them count you dollophead.”

“Stop stealing my words.” The response came weakly, a tremor running through him that made Arthur think he was cold. So as those strong arms secured themselves more tightly around them Merlin contemplated his three questions. “Three really isn’t a good number you know-”

“Merlin.” The blond pleaded, his voice thick with the want to impress upon his love how tired he was.

“Fine! Fine. First, do you believe that Camelot could have been real?” Arthur snorted against his neck, but it wasn’t an immediate no, so he held out hope.

“I suppose I do. My name is passed down generation to generation after all. Said to be his. But I haven’t really thought about it since we were boys and I heard your name. Don’t you remember our ridiculous games?” Arthur’s fingers trailed their way down Merlin’s right arm, the easiest place he could reach from his position atop the other.

Staring at the other for a long moment Merlin smiled, a memory that wasn’t his sparking in his mind. “I do Arthur. You made me play the damsel because you didn’t believe magic could be real. Said I was more useful as the princess you needed to rescue. My mum made a dress for me.” Which, while something he would have done, was definitely not something he had done. And that thought pained him. Just what would he be taking away from Arthur by bringing him to Camelot?

“And you learned all of those dumb magic tricks to make me believe. You still have a magic box in the closet.” Snorting softly his nose drifted over Merlin’s cheek before he propped his cheek up on his closed fist, resting his full weight on his arm so he didn’t crush the other. “To sum up my answer, I believe it could have been. Just like unicorns or mermaids.”

“Both of which are real.” Merlin insisted, wiggling slightly as he adjusted himself so there was a bit more space. Arthur was used to the touchy feeling portion of their relationship, but the man he had known was barely comfortable with hugging his wife. So this… this was definitely new.

“Next question, can we go to the museum that is said to hold things of Arthurian descent?” As far as he could figure, that was where the crown had gone. Which meant he had to get his hands on it in order to do anything really.

The silence between them was thick as Arthur seemed to think over the request. Merlin knew how that thought process likely went. Once the blond had said something about not wanting to feed into his fantasies, but he also didn’t want to deny Merlin a direct request. “If we go you have got to take your medicine Merlin. I don’t want you getting lost in a fantasy when we have something real here.”

“Fair enough.” Came the huffed response before Arthur could attempt to soothe the stink of the words with a kiss. “Final question… Arthur… Is this real… The love?” Because from all that he could figure, all that he could find, his magic had allowed him to seamlessly slot himself into the life of the man Arthur had loved. He wasn’t Merlin, yet held his name. Wasn’t Merlin, yet had Merlin’s mother and best friend, both of which had died before the curse and were reborn outside of it all. Wasn’t Merlin, yet had Arthur’s heart.

“Hey, none of that. I know we aren’t exactly the most… traditional couple, but you know I love you. Don’t you? Merlin, I’ve been in love with you nearly my whole life. Granted, I didn’t realize it until we were sixteen and you had that odd growth spurt and were really just all angles. But it was the summer you got your blasted tongue pierced and I was lost on you even more.” Even as he spoke Arthur’s cheeks grew red, his whole face heating, which caused him to duck down and hide against Merlin’s lean body.

Which Merlin was grateful for, honestly he was. He wasn’t sure how he would be able to handle it if Arthur saw the tears in his eyes. Taking a deep breath his arms wrapped around Arthur protectively, his fingers instantly going to the man’s golden hair. “Stop telling me such sweet things. Let’s go to sleep.”

“Good. You exhaust me.” Grumbling as he tended to do Arthur dropped his weight onto Merlin without second thought, curling possessively around the brunet with a leg tossed over his hips. And selfishly, Merlin allowed himself to enjoy it.

He might not have it forever, but for now, it was beginning to feel like all that mattered.

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“What do you mean he got through the barrier?” Panic clear in her tone the hooded woman bristled under the onslaught of new information.

“Merlin used blood magic and artifacts of Arthur’s, like the crown. According to the knights he is no longer here, vanished in fire. The hope is that he actually made it through and his spell worked.” Wrapped in a thick cloak against the chill of the night the former queen of Camelot shifted on the log she sat on, the fire doing little to warm her at this point. The chill her companion brought with her adding to her fright. “He… He could have gotten through… Right?”

“It is entirely possible. He is Emrys. But Mordred’s spell that bound his powers would have twisted his intentions behind it. Combined with his blood, it is entirely possible he is in a lot of danger.” Reaching out a pale hand she grabbed at Gwen, pulling the woman closer to her. “But if anyone can handle it, it is Merlin.” Hoping the firmness of her tone settled her companion a bit she kept an arm around her trembling form. “How are the others?”

“Oh Morgana, Gaius grows so weary. He is so old now. At this point we all are. But, this spell is truly hell.” Leaning into her side brown eyes searched the night around them, constantly on guard for anyone that might have followed either of them.

For nearly 800 years they had been meeting in secret, sharing hidden moments, fighting, trying to save their people from the destruction that hatred had brought them. By no means did any of that excuse what Morgana had done, but Gwen had come to learn that blame did nothing but hurt them all. As time went on, Morgana struggled, wanting to right the wrongs she had brought upon them all. As Gaius had told her once, time healed all wounds. Her calloused heart had softened and bled, showing her all that she had destroyed by following the path she had.

Yet in bringing Mordred down the path of hatred and hurt with her, she had lost him. She had lost the bright man she had once called her kin. The spell had taken what was left of his humanity, leaving nothing but a shell of him behind. It was watching him lose the last shred of who he had been that had brought her back. Like the final light going out in a pitch black room Mordred had lost his humanity.

“If he is in trouble, then we have to help him. Is there a way for someone else to get through?” Sitting tall now Gwen forced herself to push her own panic aside. It would do Merlin no good, and no matter what, she was the queen of Camelot. She would never stop fighting to get her home back.

“If someone goes through the barrier Mordred will know. It is why the patrols have picked up. He felt the shift in the magic. Which reminds me.” Reaching into her cloak Morgana pulled out a map, passing it to the other with a soft sigh. “These are the new routes. It should help all of you stay safe.” When Gwen didn’t reach for it automatically she grabbed her hand and wrapped her fingers around the scroll. “You have to take it Gwen.”

“Doing all of this will not bring him back. You know that right?” It was a question she voiced often, never quite sure if her friend was truly back or if this was some sort of ruse. More than anything though, she wanted to believe. “No matter how thankful I am for it, I worry that it will get you killed. And then where will I be? Three loves lost.”

“Oh Gwen, it will take more than the likes of man to kill me.” Placing a soft kiss to her forehead Morgana rose, her form once again hidden by the cloak. “I will research whether or not it is possible to send someone after Merlin. I’ll send you a message for our next meeting. Stay safe my friend.”

“I can only hope you do the same. Thank you my Lady.” Clutching the map as if it were her greatest treasure Guinevere did not move until the fire was extinguished in a gust of wind and Morgana was long gone. If Merlin really had gone to the other side of the barrier, it meant change was ahead of them. Either he came back to save them, or they were doomed to fall under Mordred’s thumb. A resistance could only resist for so long when you lived forever.

 

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“Fiend! Villain!” Brandishing a spatula as he stood barefoot in the kitchen Merlin came down suddenly and smacked Arthur in the back of the hand. Watching as the blond yanked his hand back he was still able to come away with a piece of bacon, his grin bright with devious intent. “Keep your hands to yourself Arthur Pendragon!”

“That isn’t something you tell me often.” Wrapping his arms around the other Arthur refused to give up his stolen prize, but still held onto Merlin. Pressing soft kisses along his jaw he laughed when Merlin mockingly pushed at him, forcing them apart with a quick wave of his spatula.

It had been a week, a week of getting to live here in this modern world with the man who had easily been the love of his life. Truly, it had been the greatest gift his magic could bestow upon him. And while these stolen moments were all a part of the grand plan to get Arthur to trust him enough to follow him to Camelot… He was enjoying having this.

“I cannot imagine why.” Dry in tone Merlin stared at Arthur for a long moment before he was suddenly scooped up into his arms and danced around the kitchen. “Arthur! Arthur the food is burning!” Laughing wildly his arms came around the other and the warlock indulged himself in a kiss. It was a blessing from the gods to see Arthur this happy.

It wasn’t until Arthur got a kiss and a hand through his hair that he finally put Merlin down to go check on their food. It was with great maneuvering and skill that he was able to save some of their food, though a pancake was burnt and the bacon was extra crispy. “Are you going to work in your office today?” He asked as he plated their food.

“Nah, Sundays are normally our days together. Want to see if we can spend time with some of the family?” Dropping down to sit at their island Arthur couldn’t help but smile as he watched Merlin putter about their kitchen. He had been afraid after the bad episode that they would have another stint in the hospital, but the medicine had brought Merlin back. Just as the doctor had promised.

“Ah… I don’t really think so. No offense to everyone else, of course, I am not sure if I can really… people. Does that make sense?” Nose scrunching in that way he had when deep in thought Merlin shifted his weight before making his way around to sit beside Arthur at the island. Plates out before them he leaned into the arm that curled around him. “I like being here with you.”

“Well, I like being here with you. But your mother will start to think I’ve abducted you.” Rubbing a hand up and down his side Arthur tried not to think about the worried phone calls he had received from Hunith. “Where is your mobile by the by?”

“Oh um… It’s somewhere here in the flat. Honestly I haven’t thought to look for it much.” Shaking his head Merlin leaned into the king’s side, indulging himself in a kiss to the cheek. The thought of seeing his mother, of having to live a life outside of the little cocoon of pretend he had built around himself, was a frightening one. Merlin had been doing everything he could to avoid it, even as he researched it. The world was so big now, people had spread everywhere. Logically he knew that they were not all Arthur’s to protect, though it certainly felt that way.

When your destiny was to return when Albion’s need was greatest he couldn’t help but wonder what constituted the “greatest”. Was it the suffering of his people back in Camelot? Or was it the war that seemed to break out world wide now?

It was a sharp tug to his ear that pulled Merlin from his thoughts, causing him to yelp and shove Arthur. Which of course led to wild laughter and threats before the blond began chasing him around the flat. Over furniture, through the living room and towards the grand balcony which gave him his small taste of the outside world.

No matter how selfish, Merlin found he wanted to stay in his bubble just a little longer. Wanted to ignore the 42,000,000 reasons why they should return home. Wanted, more than anything, to bathe in this feeling of happiness before it was no longer his.