Actions

Work Header

What Could Have Been

Chapter Text

The morning sun washed over the ivory shaded walls. A shock overcame me, Gwen had everything laid out. The chocolate covered skinned woman was swiftly finishing up her chores. The poor girl had been tending to me since the last maid hadn't worked out. "Morning, my lady" she chimed as she curtsied. "Your clothes are hanging behind your changing screen, the wash basin is full but the water is Lukewarm and your favorite perfumed oil is on the vanity. I will be next door for Morgana's laundry. Call for me if you need anything." Her musical voice had stated. I smiled at the sweet girl "thank you Gwen" I said to her. I had put my shift on and just got my dress on when Gwen appeared to help. She had me laced up and my hair braided to hold some of my golden hair out of my face.

I had steadied myself on the way to breakfast. It wasn't easy being your father's greatest disappointment. My mother died giving birth and even though I got most of what I wanted, my foster sister was still his favorite. I let my pendragon red velvet dress flow behind me. I smiled concealing the fact I longed to be out with my father's men. The allure of fighting bandits and riding horses far away from the castle only deepened my desire. Sometimes I would wake from a daydream to find my dance instructor yelling at me for stepping on his toes or my etiquette tutor snapping at me. Occasionally Leon would sneak me out to teach me swordsmanship. After the lessons we would sneak out to the lake behind the citadel. We courted for a while but Leon ended it. He was told by his father that he was informed by a servant of the activities of which we undertook. I was upset but since my father would've been furious I stayed broken hearted in my room.

I floated into the dining hall and sat on my father's left. Silently the three of us ate breakfast. "I ask your pardon my lord but may I be excused so I may help Gauis attended to his duties today?" My father nodded. The justification that had been accepted by the king was that the queen should be able to tend to her knights of the citadel should ever be assaulted. My dress billowing as I ran through the alabaster halls. I arrived to find Gauis with his famous eyebrow raise pointed towards a dark haired gangly youth. "Apologies for being late, I had overestimated the time" I hugged out. The gangly youth stood with his mouth twisted with secrecy and surprise. Gauis bowed "apology accepted my lady. May I introduce my nephew, Merlin. He is my sister's only child and quite adept at being a baffoon." I reached out my hand and he took it to his lips "My lady" he smiled. The mischievous and oddly comforting smile spread from his lips to his blue eyes. His eyes were a dark blue like the deepest depths of the lakes in the wild. I felt the heat rise and Gauis coughed. "Merlin this is the Princess Arebella Pendragon of Camelot." I scoffed "Or informally if you wish, Arya" I commented. "Arya, I would like for you and Merlin to deliver potions. And also don't forget about the feast tonight." He stated with his wrinkled hands folded across his stomach. I curtsied. I took the basket and motioned for Merlin to follow me. As we made our way down the steps Merlin asked me "So how does the Princess become the apprentice to the court physician?" I looked at the Young man who had a semi-bemused look on his face. "My Father did not approve of the idea of my learning to fight. So instead of becoming a helpless princess, I talked my father into letting me apprentice under Gauis. It makes me feel better that I can do something for my people during time of war." I told him "Silly girl, right?" I looked at him and his grin had faded but his brow was knitted tightly with concern. "No, not a silly girl. I think it's marvelous that you want to help your people. If King Cenerd would help his people like you want to then it would be much better to live there." I noticed we had stopped in the courtyard and his hand was placed on my shoulder. We both turned red and he cleared his throat.

After our duties were done, I hurried back to my chambers. I leaned against the door, I caught myself smiling at the memory of the newest servant. Why him? I have a host of noble sons to crush on. I collected my thoughts and changed dresses. I put my silk blood red dress on. The sleeves and neckline were made of a sheer red material. Gwen put my hair up in a bun with small braids lining everywhere. She set my ruby inlaid net on top and then set my circlet to the top.

At the feast as usual I sat to my father's right and Morgana to his left. I saw Merlin filling cups and sent him a brief look of consolation. My gaze broke as I heard my father's voice boom. He went on about the ban of magic and today being the anniversary. He said something about Lady Helen. Apparently by his smile the rumor of their interest in each other was true. She started to sing. I admired her voice, I didn't have her talent but nonetheless people still said I had a beautiful voice. I slowly drifted to sleep. Startled awake, I found myself in Merlin's sinewy arms. I blushed and with his aid arose. Scanning the crowd, I noticed the look of astonishment on everyone's face. Including my father's. I noticed the lady Helen on the floor. She was no longer the beautiful maid of my memories but an old crone lying lifeless on the marbled floor. "You boy! What is your name?" My father choked out. "M-m-Merlin my lord" the scrawny boy stuttered. "You deserve some recompense for saving my daughter. And I have just the thing" he stated. I turned red and opened my mouth to protest with Merlin against the idea but it was lost on my father. "I, King Uther of Camelot, Bestow upon Merlin, the honor of attending my daughter." He bellowed to the court everyone clapped in celebration. I excused myself and parted with the feast.

Furiously, I threw my circlet across the room and took the glass of wine Merlin handed me. "Of all the things! All the things he could've done!" I shrieked. I withheld my anger further after noticing the pain on Merlin's face. "I am truly sorry Merlin. I know this isn't what you wanted. If I had my way, you would have anything but this" I commented. I sunk into my chair swirling the cup of wine. "My Lady, if I may, I don't like this arrangement either. But at least it's employment." He told me. "You may leave" I coldly told the tall gentleman. He put his hand on the door but paused as I spoke up "And Merlin" he turned his head "Do not be late." I warned him. He bowed and left. I gulped the last of the wine with one very unladylike draw and undressed. I laid down in my bed and closed my eyes.

That night I dreamt of a lake larger than the lake Leon and I shared stolen moments at. I stood in the shallows and glanced out. The island in the middle seemed surrounded by mist seemed to draw my attention. I heard a small child call out. He ran to me calling me mama. I saw Merlin smiling with a dark haired babe in his arms. I kissed Merlin and took the babe. We walked back to a small cottage. With two cows and a calf in the field. The mountains behind illuminated by the setting sun.

Chapter Text

Three months had gone by quickly. Thankfully with Merlin there, my father had begun to see some reason. He had let me join the Knights. I was thrilled to join but equally disappointed with the way the Knights coddled me. Leon was the only one to see that I could hold my own. Luckily though I got my chance to show how much my skills had improved. My father had announced a tournament was to be held in a month's time. The Knights had started taking my training more seriously. Soon I was able to best the veteran knights. Though I frequently spied Merlin laughing with Bedivere and Galahad about me knocking men on their rear ends.

The week before the tournament, my father pulled me aside to tell me that if I was competing and where to place other than champion, I was to be escorted. I quickly ran to my room. As I opened the door I scanned for any servants, which thankfully there were none. Letting loose some very interesting and unladylike expletives, I tossed a cup full of water in the fire. The logs hissed and crackled in protest. "It took me forever to start that fire!" I heard someone yell. Turning to find Merlin visibly shaken at my behavior. The heat in my face rose and I turned before he could see. "Practice more later. I have to hurry and change. The nobles will be arriving. They will be expecting the princess. Not some Amazon" I sneered. Walking behind the changing screen I took off the dusty tunic and breeches. The wash basin had been filled with piping hot water. I stood rubbing the sore muscles down. I heard the dress rusel as my attendant put it over the edge. Slipping it on and turning so Merlin could do up the laces. A thought had crossed my mind about the feast. "Merlin, I would like honesty in your answer. Do you believe that magic had been snuffed out? Or the majority of it?" I asked. The tension caused by my question became thick. "I am not some noble woman that gossips, Merlin. If there is opinion I asked for, I wish to hear it" I prodded. Turning to see the gangly youth warring within himself, I shook my head. "Never mind" I said twirling my long hair into a bun. Kneeling down, Merlin put my golden circlet on my head. "How do I look?" I asked spinning. Seeing the smile on my servants face, I returned it. "You look," he said breathlessly "Like a beautiful ray of sunshine. That somehow manages to turn into the biggest prat." I tossed a cushion at the goofy youth. Silently we left the rooms to stand on the limestone stairs.

With every noble, I grew impatient. Each noble pledging their victory to me. I wanted to yell at each of them that I was not a damsel to be saved. But I withheld my curses. After the last knight, my father turned to me and I took his hand. On the last step, I curtsied to my father. He and the Knights continued after each bow. Looking down I saw Merlin staring into the distance. "Merlin!" I shouted. He jumped at the sound of his name. "You still have armor to polish and stalls to muck" I reminded him. His beautiful blue eyes rolled at my grin. He darted off to finish his chores as I turned into the castle to go to Gauis for the evening tonics.

After the feast for the tournament, Merlin helped my drunken self to my chambers. I was giggling and trying to make him laugh. He hardly laughed or smiled. After busting through the door I tried, and failed miserably, to stand up straight and seriously. "Merlin, it is going to become my personal mission to make you smile more" I stated almost falling over. "My lady, you need to sit before you damage your pretty face" he told me as he sat me down. I started giggling uncontrollably "your ears are ridiculously large," I commented. He looked slightly offended. "But yet make you incredibly...unique," I softly croon. He turned and looked at me with laughter in his eyes. "Thank you, my lady" he said. I got up and stood only a hair's breadth from him. "Arya," I commented. He gave me a confused. "You can call my Arya, you've been in my service for a month now and it is always my lady or princess. I have a name you know. Use it" I said. My tone would have carried more weight if I didn't almost fall backwards. Merlin caught me mid stumble. I could feel his warm hand on the small of my back. With a loss for words, I just stared into his eyes. Leaning in, I closed my eyes. Instead of following the thought that crosses my mind, I set my forehead against his. "Maybe, I should go to bed" I murmured. Suddenly, my body felt weightless and opened my eyes to see I was being carried bridal style. My servant set me on the bed. Before he stood up, I kissed his cheek. Then I saw the elusive smile spread across Merlin's face. "Night, Arya" I heard him call. Happiness spread through me and I pulled the strings that dangled from my laces. The infectiousness of my happiness spread as I thought about how Merlin always left my strings this way. I drunkenly scrawled a note to myself about buying my attendant some new clothes. I let my heavy dress fall and I crawled into bed. My eyelids grew heavy.

 

Groaning, I sat up in bed to find my armor had been laid out. A plate full of toast slathered with strawberry preserves, apple slices and an omelette. The cup was filled with a strange liquid. It tasted of oranges which made me smile. I just finished with my breakfast when Merlin came in. "It is time my lady. We need to ready you for the tournament" he said with a subservient tone. I slid my tunic and breeches on. Then I stood still as Merlin latched on my armor. I could feel his nervousness as he spoke up "are you nervous?" I rolled my eyes "Of course I am you dolt. I've just had training enough to not show it." He buckled my sword on. I looked up into his face "Merlin?" I asked. His eyes darted to mine. "Can I have that answer? Do you believe there is more magic out there?" I asked as we held each other's gaze. I felt a hand run down my hair "My Lady, magic isn't something you can kill off. Everyone in their own way has magic. Some have the external ability. Others have internal and less noticeable abilities. But just like a sword, magic is only a tool. The only thing that corrupts magic is the person who uses it." I looked at my servant. His eyes looked pained as if there was some large secret he held he couldn't tell me without fear of undesired consequences. Taking his hand, I rose to the end of my toes. I planted a soft kiss on his cheek. "Come, we have a tournament to win" I command him. The walk took a while.

The other Knights laughed at me as I strode to the tent. I heard the horns blare. The line that had formed entered the ring. I saw Morgana smirking and my father with the same stoic look on his face. "Today's tournament will test each knight in each ability. The winner of the tournament will be the escort of my daughter Princess Arebella." Everyone clapped, I shifted in anticipation. "Let the tournament begin!" I heard my father cry.

The afternoon went quickly. My efforts paid off and my shield up the wall. Another shield I noticed was advancing quickly. That knight was valiant. I didn't like the way he looked at me. I could see his dark eyes follow me. Luckily Merlin was there beside me. He was next up against Sir Ewan. I watched with Merlin on the sidelines. We cheered for Ewan. There was an exuberant look on his face. I smiled and quickly turned my face when he caught me looking at him. I went back to cheering for Ewan. Just when Ewan got the advantage, the unnerving knight struck our knight with his shield. Everyone gasped. Merlin, Gauis, and I ran out and collected Ewan. In the tent, the three of us couldn't believe our eyes. There was a snake bite on his collar bone. Gauis had used honey to prevent infection and covered the wound. Making a mental note to talk with Geoffrey.

After the last fight we were excused from the tournament. Merlin and I were abuzz with conversation about what had happened with Ewan. Merlin drew me a bath and took my armor off. He left to polish the armor and for me to bathe. He came running back in as I finished slipping on a silky purple dress. "Valiant is using magic!" He stated breathlessly. "Merlin are you botched in the head? Accusing a knight of using magic here is like trying to commit suicide!" I spoke loudly. I picked up the glass of water on the table. "Please Arya, please I need you to believe me" he pleaded. "Bring me proof and a witness" I told him pointedly over my cup. He raced out of the room. I took one last draw and set my cup down. Fastening the gold clasps that held my silken sleeves that were made to be separate, I strode out. My pace blew my loose golden hair. If this was true everything needed to go right.

After Merlin's excited talk and the cure of Ewan. I called a meeting. Standing in front of a very unimpressed father, I stated my accusations. Merlin and Gauis carried in not only Ewan but the snake head and Valiant's shield. My father scoffed at the snake head and shield but became overwhelmed with surprise when Ewan verified the story. Vaillant was sentenced to burn at the stake after the tournament. Ewan was under orders to take up my place in the royal box.

The third day ended with Galahad surrendering the championship to me. I was aloud to chose whom I was to escorted by. If I wished it. Looking through the crowd my eyes locked with Merlin's. I quickly looked at my father. I announced I would go unescorted.

Back in the room I washed in the tub while Merlin sat behind the curtain I had hung so he could remain in the room. With a glass of wine swirling, I thought to myself that Merlin had been the one to reveal the magic that was used. Being raised to believe magic is evil you learn quickly to spot it. I heard the servant humming a song. "Merlin?" I called. The humming stopped "Yes, my lady?" He called back. "How did you know that Valiant was using magic?" I asked. I heard the unspoken words. The orange juice in the morning, the mysterious appearing flowers, the quality of his work. He himself had some. But he never used it to harm. Only to create. "Just a feeling, my lady" he answered. "Oh, see i thought to myself that if one were to possess magic, it would be easier to sense it" I said. Setting my glass on the small table beside the tub, I raised myself from the Lukewarm water. I wrapped myself in a towel.

I could see through the thin curtain that Merlin was furiously scrubbing and polishing my armor. I walked behind the screen and put my shift on. A dark blue dress appeared over the screen wordlessly. I lifted the heavy thing over my head. I tied the sleeves to the elbow revealing the sleeves of my shift. Holding the bodice up, I walked out to have Merlin lace up the back. After he was done, I braided two braids from my temple and secured them. I let my long hair down. Dotting on some perfume oil and applying light mascara really quickly, I turned to Merlin. "How do I look?" I spun around. "Absolutely silly" The gangly idiot told me. I threw a cushion at him. He dodge it and brought me a pair of heels. I sat down and started to put them on. I felt rough hands take over for mine. Then the same rough hands Merlin owned helped me up. We stood looking at each other with our hands by our sides entangled in each other. He held my gaze with those deep blue eyes. Our faces were almost touching when a loud crash came from the hall. Pulling away giggling, I strode to my wardrobe and pulled out a box. "Here, I think now you deserve this more" I said shoving the box impatiently into his hands. He opened the box and a look of surprise came acros his face. "I had gotten Gauis to estimate your measurements and Gwen had made you some clothes. We all agreed that you need this" I remarked. "I can't my lady. I've only done my duty." He protested as I pushed him behind the changing screen.

Morgana and Gwen snuck in. All three of us giggled in anticipation. I could practically see those giant ears turn red. He stepped out in his new breeches and tunic. The dark blue tunic was just a hair too big. But the breeches fit just right. He no longer wore his boots that fell apart and he had a real belt on. Holding up his jacket, i watched his arm slip in one and then the other. I messed his hair a little and handed him a Pendragon red silk scarf. I tied it around his neck. I noticed the smile on his face. There were whispers between Morgana and Gwen whether or not Morgans could get us together.

The whole feast was spent with Morgana teasing me. "You know it's not a bad match. Merlin is really a sweet boy" Morgana said. Gwen nodded and added in "and really considerate." Smiling I threw in my two cents "That would happen after my father had the throne pried from his cold dead hands." The three of us giggled. Eventually a few Knights invited us girls to dance. Gwen stayed on the sidelines. I noticed in one of my turns that Merlin was talking with her. With a snap of my head, my focus was on my partner. In middle of the next steps, I heard a voice. A princess like her could never be with someone like me. It sounded sad and solemn, but familiar.

The dance finally ended. A few more drinks were toasted to me. Soon, I sought my father's permission to retire. Slipping out into the hall, I briskly walked towards my chambers. "My lady," Merlin called after me. I quickly ducked behind a wall and breathed deep. The voice from earlier was Merlin. I couldn't...it was impossible. I watched as he walked by me and I quickly ran across the hall to my door. After I closed the door I locked it. That night, my hair and pillow was soaked with tears and anguish. A silent vow was taken by me and the moon. I would never let him know, I wouldn't ever happen. I felt my swollen eyelids slide shut.

Chapter Text

Waking the next morning to Gwen sneaking in, I wipe my eyes. She walked over to me and sat on my bed. With a frown on her face she moved a bit of my hair from my face. "he has been out there all night after he couldn't find you wandering the castle. The guards left him beside your door Arya. You should let him in before he gets in trouble" she spoke softly. Tears stung my eyes again and I wiped them away with my sleeves. "I heard what he said. He cares for me Gwen but I know it can't be. My father. He wouldn't allow something like that" I spoke through sniffles. Gwen sighed as she stood up "Then at least let me get you ready. The Knights need their punishment for last night. I believe Leon told me a number of them are nursing themselves from the consequences of last night." I stood up and turned around for Gwen to undo the laces. She brought over my tunic and breeches. She even put my hair into a ponytail for me. I used my eyeliner in effort to hide the redness. Quickly unlatching the door, I looked to Gwen "would you wake him soon?" She nodded. With that I disappeared from my rooms to teach the lot of very disgruntled Knights a lesson on how to recover the day after.

Three weeks passed after Valiant's execution. I managed to dodge Merlin for the most part. Gauis always have me that stupid eyebrow when I came in after training. One day I was organizing the medical books on the balcony when the old man finally got the better of me. "Arya, my girl. You cannot evade Merlin forever. He is your personal attendant. He is meant to be by your side" he mildly scolded. I huffed and put the books in my arms down on the table. "Gauis, I know what he is supposed to be and what he isn't supposed to be. But every time we are together...Strange things happen! I nearly get killed by some odd happening. And personally, I know that he has some degree of magic. I know he uses it for good--" I got the very same eyebrow I've been trying to evade all week "For goodness sakes! I have a head on my shoulders Gauis. I know the signs of magic. Don't get me wrong I-I-I absolutely love the flowers and the orange juice. But what am I to think? Not to mention my father" I retorted while making myself sit down. Tears stung at my eyes and a gentle hand came to my shoulder followed by the wise voice "Arya, maybe instead of looking at the cannot. You should try to find the can. He is human like you." I nodded in response. Drying my tears with my tunic sleeve.

The next morning I awoke to Merlin shaking me. "Arebella! Gauis needs us!" He shouted. I leaped from the bed put a red tunic on put a leather underbust corset. I pulled on my breeches and boots. While we ran I braided my impossibly long hair and tied it with a leather band. We got to Gauis and I gasped. I hid my face into Merlin's chest at the sight of the body. It was hideously pale with blue streaks where the blood veins should've been. A warm arm wrapped itself around my shoulders. "Big bad princess can't handle a dead body" Merlin whispered teasingly. "I have no idea what you are talking about" I whispered back as I pushed him off.

We spent the entire day going over the body. Merlin and I were sent to collect two more bodies. All the same shade of white. We were looking over the noblewoman on the table when Gauis asked "Merlin, since Arya has been my apprentice longer than you. What is the difference between this victim and the first?" Merlin stood there dumbfounded with a blank face "She-she's a woman?" He asked with hesitation. Gauis looked at him blankly "Sometimes I wonder if your gifts were given to the right person." Laughter burst from me "She is a noble. Different diet and lifestyle from the first victim" I chimed in. "Water!" Merlin declared loudly. "What?" Gauis asked. "Everyone in Camelot drinks the water from the well in high market" Merlin stated. Gauis hurried over to the table he kept the vials on. He handed it to me as Merlin dashed out the door. Our only stop was at the armory.

"Merlin, I swear if you don't stop running with them long arse legs I will shorten them at the knees!" I yelled to Merlin between breaths. "That's if you can catch me!" He retorted back. Instead of going to the cistern we found ourselves in a massive cavern. With a sudden gust of wind paired with flashes of gold. In midst of drawing my sword, I felt Merlin's large hand push the sword back into its scabbard.

A large dragon had landed on the rocky precipice infront of us. "Young Warlock, you have brought the young princess with you. How may I aid you?" The great dragon asked. "We have come to ask about the plague" Merlin called. The golden Dragon smiled "use the elements at hand." He flew off, watching the dragon I spoke up "Well that was bloody helpful" looking around I noticed Merlin disappeared. "Merlin!" I shouted running after my lanky servant.

After nearly dying from being attack by some big...muddy...dog...thing. A shutter rolled down my spine. Right as Gauis had the water boiling in his chemistry set, Gwen burst into the room bawling. "My father! He is sick. Gauis please save him!" She cried. I caught her and held her up from the floor. "My dear, I have nothing to cure it" Gauis told her. Gwen buried her face deeper into my tunic.

I spent the evening in Gauis's chambers soothing Gwen. I awoke to find Gauis taking my shift watching over Gwen. After stumbling into my chambers, a knock at my door happened. My father walked in "How is Gwen? Morgana is terribly worried" asked the stoic King. I looked up to my father's face to see worry spread across it. "Gwen will be fine. But her father, he is sick and will die by the afternoon" I told him. The weary King sighed "Gauis told me that he thought this was sorcery. Is he hypothesis correct?" I stood on my aching feet and kissed him on the cheek. "I am but only an apprentice papa. But neither my findings or Merlin's findings have cause to warrant a different finding" I assured him. I watched the eyes of a worn King soften at the sound of a name he hasn't heard in years. "My beautiful daughter, you look like your mother. How often I forget that you are no longer a little girl. The looks of a De Bois but the heart of a Pendragon" Uther said gazing at me. The rest of the evening was spent in conversation with my father.

Early the next morning a guard woke me up. "Damn you Merlin" I said throwing on a simple dress. Rushing into the throne room I saw Gwen kneeling on the cold stone floor. "Father! What is the cause of all this?" I asked nearly shrieking. "Her father was found at his shop perfectly healthy. There was a poultice found under his pillow. She is being tried for using magic" he stated. Furiously I stood in front of her, Morgana standing beside me "Gwen is the sweetest and kindest girl everyone meets. She works herself to the bone everyday. You know this" I argued back. "Enough!" He yelled startling everyone. Just then Merlin burst in the doors "It's me!" He yelled "I am the sorcerer!" I stood there in shock and relief. "Sire, forgive the boy. He isn't right in the head" Gauis spoke. "Gauis, I will overlook the silly interruption" My father spoke. Merlin was hauled out by Gauis who had a firm grip on a rather large ear. Gwen forced to follow. Morgana and I were left standing together in the empty hall.

Bursting to Gauis's chambers I found the nearest unimportant thing and threw it at Merlin. "Of all the stupid irresponsible things!" I screamed. "You idiotic moron! You large eared baffoon! Do you know what could have happened?!" Merlin stood there silently as I drilled my finger into his chest. Gauis silently grabbed his physician box and left. "Do you even understand the gravity of the consequences if you were to be implicated for who you are?" I quizzed. A look of confusion and questions came upon his face. "You know?" He asked quietly. I huffed in defeat. "Yes I know Merlin. How else would the flowers turn colors randomly or a juice I never had in life appear suddenly in my breakfast cup. Out of all the things I have just told you, that is the only thing you could say?" His face look relieved. He hugged me and whispered "Thank you Arya." Defeatedly I let my arms hug his waist. "You're welcome you enormous idiot" I whispered back.

Before evening fell, Merlin and I found what the ugly dog monster was called. Apparently it was an Afanc. We wound through the tunnels with the feeling of being followed. We finally came to the cistern when it attacked. I kept it bay with my sword. As the ground I had was being lost, Merlin's chanting had started. Soon the flames grew in an inferno. The Afanc screamed higher than Morgana when she was interrupted during a bath. Eventually the Afanc died. Exchanging looks between us, laughter erupted from Merlin and I.

The next morning Merlin and I walked through the trees. Gauis needed a refill on herbs. "So we have defeated the Afanc and saved Camelot again" Merlin sighed. Sliding my arm in his I smiled up at the goofy servant. "All thanks to the omnipotent Merlin" I joked. "I wouldn't know about all powerful but I supposed I could take some of the credit." We stopped at a patch of St. John's Wort, I bent down to pick it up and saw a flower pop in front of my face. Looking up I saw Merlin smiling. Taking his hand to stand up I kept my eyes locked with his. "For the most noble lady with the odd habit of not gossiping" he said tucking a flower behind my ear. We walked back absentmindedly hand in hand till within sight of Camelot. I looked to the castle flags. The golden dragon seemed to fly against a crimson background.

Chapter Text

The cave was dark and wet. The walls were wet anyway. I felt them as I walked through the lightless tunnels. Finally a small blue light appeared. My pace quickened till I stumbled on a rock. Groaning, I pushed myself off the clay mud floor. Looking up I saw a woman in a pink dress that looked tattered. She was speaking a different language, one I've never heard before. She had with a silver chalice. She finished her chanting and poured the water into the cup. As the woman turned her eyes froze on me. I felt a jolt and woke up to a low sunrise covered in sweat. Putting a robe on I went to the ramparts above the lake.

Merlin came into my chambers balancing a tray and cup. "My lady! You're dressed" he said scurrying around my room picking up the few bits of laundry. "I am perfectly capable of dressing myself now and then" I scolded him. I continued to stare out the window watching everyone scuffle around preparing for this afternoon. "We are gonna have to find you a suitable dress for Bayard's welcoming," Merlin called from the changing screen. Letting the sleeve of my dress drop down I rested my face on my fist. "Always with the dresses. Arya wear this dress Arya wear that dress. Why can't I wear my tunic and breeches for once?" I complained. Merlin startled me by softly pulling me from my window. "Because the famous Princess Arebella Pendragon is supposed to be a living angel of grace, kindness and beauty. You also don't look half bad" He reminded me. Blushing, I walked away. "Fine but this time you pick. If Morgana stick her fingers in my wardrobe I might end up married to Bayard" I commented. I brushed part of my hair out and Merlin braided it. Life had gone much better after he found out I knew about his magic.

After luncheon deliveries, Merlin had me back in my chambers. This time, he pulled my velvet red dress from the day we met. Smiling I slipped into it. I came out to see Merlin grinning from one ridiculously large ear to the next. Running my hand down his back "if you are smiling about this, wait till you see what you are wearing." I walked behind another screen and pulled out the most ridiculous servants get up. Keeping my face straight, I held up the robes. "You are an evil psychopath. That is hell bent on making me absolutely ridiculous." Hold back my laughter more I gave him the robes and put the hat on him. "You look perfect!" I told him. "I will pay you back for this I hope you know" he protested. I smiled and laughed as he reluctantly went behind the screen.

Bayard and his men arrived safely. The feast started as soon as everyone was settled. I watched Gwen giggle uncontrollably. "That hat," Morgana commented as we watched Merlin blow the feather out of his face. Finally the treaty was done and I gave him the thumbs up to take the hat off. He appeared just as Bayard was making his toast. Then I saw him disappear with a pretty girl from Bayard's company. A pang of jealousy struck me. Even though he wasn't mine, it still hurt to see him disappear. "To Uther, and to your daughter Arya." Bayard raised his glass "And to the fallen." My father added. Just as I rose the glass to my lips Merlin bursts in. "Wait! The chalice has been poisoned" I lowered it. My eyebrow shot up. "Bayard poisoned it to kill the princess." Merlin said. "I did no such thing!" Bayard protested. Everyone drew their swords and I saw Morgana pull out a steak knife. My father took my cup. "If what the boy says is a lie, you will have my apologies. You may do what you like" My Father said. My heart thumped in my chest. Not my Merlin, you cannot give my Merlin away like cattle I wanted to yell. "However if the boy dies, I want the pleasure of killing you myself" said my uniquely protective father. "Father, let me-" I tried to bargain. "No let him drink," the steeled King told me. At that moment, I didn't hear anything else. Nothing else caught my attention. I watched as my attendant downed my drink. Time slowed down. When he finally brought the chalice down, everyone sighed. Bayard put his sword away. Right as my father was going to give Merlin over. He started coughing and choking. I watched him fall. I heard a woman scream his name. Never understanding that the scream belong to me. Holding his head in my lap, I felt hot salty tears pour out. "Gauis! Gauis do something!" I yelled. Some of the Knights lifted him up as I felt Morgana hold me. I sobbed all the way to my chambers. As we walked by Uther I stopped to look him in the face and murmured "It should've been you."

After collecting myself, I opened my door to find my father standing at my door. He moved as I pushed past him. Leaving him to stand there silently. As I reached the end of the hall I heard him cry "Arebella Pendragon, he will die and with it your unnatural attachment." I stopped contemplating a response but walked quickly and wordlessly.

I pushed open the door and found Morgana holding Merlin's hand as Gwen was tending to his sweating brow. "Merlin," I breathlessly said falling beside his bed. Gauis whisked the other two out. "Merlin, I promise you that you will get better. Otherwise who am I gonna throw pillows at and have muck out the stables? Who will walk with me afternoons and steal small moments of comfort with? No one else can make me laugh and upset me as much as you do. Don't leave me, I need you. You hear me, I need you Merlin." I kissed him on the lips and stood up. "Arya, we need the Mortia flower" Gauis told me showing me where it was.

After we got done with the logistics of what needed to be done, I ran down the steps and halls. My sleeves and train snapping behind me. I quickly shut my chamber doors and dressed in my tunic and breeches. I put the bear minimum armor on and snuck through the servant hall. The stable boy had my bay mare saddled up. I rode till midday. I stopped to water the horse and give her a short rest. As I mounted back on the horse, I looked in the direction Camelot was. "Hang on Merlin" I whispered.

Late afternoon I came to the clearing Gauis had marked in the map. I tied my mare up. Looking around I saw the woman from my dream. Just as I was going to speak to her, the cockatrice launched itself at me. Fight it back I had it pinned to a boulder. It reared back to strike, so I took my chance and threw my sword. After pulling it out, I walked to the woman. "Are you alright?" I asked. She whimpered, "You are safe" I reassured her. "Who hurt you?" I asked. "My master did. Will you finally take me away?" She finally spoke. "First, I have something to do." I told her. "The Mortias flower? I'll take you there!" She said excitedly. My eyes narrowed. How did she know?

After a good while of her leading me to the flower, we arrived at the cavern holding the flower. Carefully walking towards the edge, I suddenly heard the woman chant. I quickly hopped to the lip on the other side. "Looks like we have a visitor" She stated. If I was any closer I would've have decked her. "I will leave you two alone. For it is not my hand you die by" she continued. With care, I turned to face the wall. It was rather dark without the torches. But right as I was about to give up, a blue light floated eye level. It seemed strangely familiar. It stopped right above my head. I reached for the pale yellow flower and grabbed it. Quickly stuffing it in my pouch, I started crawling. Noticing the spider I let out a curse. Great, it was no longer a fall to your death. It was a hurry you ass up or the spiders will get you. After an arduous climb, I found my mare and we headed for Camelot.

Upon my arrival, the guards had seized me. "By order of the King," the taller of the two had said. Not wanting any problems I went willing. Sitting my rather well lit cell, I watched the guards open my door. "How dare you out of all the things to do!" My father yelled. "He is a servant, Arebella. He is meant to die for you." I gulped. "Can I request one thing?" I asked. Pulling the flower out of my pouch "Give this to Gauis please?" I begged. "Silly girl with a silly obsession" he scolded crushing the flower and tossing it on the floor. I sat sobbing on the hay. Maybe I was a silly girl.

At dinner time, Gwen came in with a plate. She stepped aside as I examined the food. I placed the flower in the bread break. "This food is absolutely mortifying" I told the maid. She curtsied and walked out. Now I waited. Waited to break if I was too late. Or waited to leap for joy at the news he lived.

After my time in the cells was up, I quickly washed up. Gwen helped me put on a blue satin dress. As soon as Gwen gave me the go, I quickly walked to Gauis's rooms. I had to keep myself from running. Bursting through the doors I saw my recovering servant at the table. Feeling my heart leap for joy a second time because of that goofy grin, I walked over. "We are going to have to work on your not dying skills" I told him. His infectious grin spread wider. "I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about" he added sarcastically. I slapped the back of his head. "What all do you remember?" I asked. He shrugged "drinking the wine and then waking to Gwen crying in Gauis's arms" he commented. I smiled. Gauis set a plate of chicken in front of us. We all sat there enjoying ourselves and our dinner.

Returning to my chambers, I found a note shaped like a butterfly. It surprised me because it was from Merlin and it had been fluttering around the chambers. There was a large vase of moon lilies on my window too. They were more beautiful than I imagined. I had read about them in Gauis's books. But in real life, they were more beautiful. The note landed in my hands and unfolded itself. Inside I read:

My Dear Arya,
Even though you were just here. I've begun to miss you. Gauis's books say these glow in the moon. When you asked me what I remember from the past 48 hours, I omitted a few things. I remember you begging me to stay alive. Don't ever think I will leave you willingly. Because I need you too. I remember seeing you and trying to warn you not to follow the woman. I also remember casting the spell that gave you light to see. I couldn't bear to see you struggle in the dark. But most of all I remember you kissing me. Gods know I wanted to kiss you back. Wrap my arms around you. But I couldn't. Maybe one day I will get the chance to give you an actual kiss. But till then, I will keep the feel of your lips against mine a hidden memory. Accept a kiss from the butterfly I've transformed this letter into.

Your Faithful Servant,
Merlin

As I finished the letter, it folded itself back into a butterfly and landed on my nose. At first it tickled, but warmth grew. Then the paper butterfly landed on my favorite book. There it remained lifeless. I took my dress off and slid my nightgown over my head. Blowing out my candle I settled into my big fluffy bed. I let my thoughts drift off to a world where Merlin and I could openly court each other. Where children could rejoice at his fireworks and paper animals. Where young ladies would see exotic flowers and my people could experience the flavor of orange juice. Finally my mind yielded to sleep. As my consciousness slipped into the dark, my smile remained.

Chapter Text

The leaves were rustling in the warm summer breeze. Merlin and I had been sent out to pick herbs for Gauis. Lately Gauis has been needing a lot of herbs, or so he told us. He is the only one who knows the shallow end of Merlin and I's relationship. So naturally between the three of us, we know this is Gauis's way of giving us some alone time. I felt Merlin's hand run through my hair that had been fanned out over his lap. "Mm, please don't quit" I purred. "Come on, we have to get up. If we don't head back soon your father is gonna send a horde of men after you" he urged. Letting out a growl, I sat up. My herb basket was full of the listed materials Gauis needed. While shaking my hair free of twigs, Merlin got up. His large hand was stuck out, so I slipped my hand in it. All the callouses and roughness made me reconsider his long list of chores.

 

After a kiss to my forehead and the basket handed back to me, we set off for the massive White Castle. As Camelot came into view, a screech pierced the air. With the flurry of feathers, Merlin fell. "Watch out!" he cried as I turned drawing my sword. The creature that stood in front of me was as tall as the average man. The beak on its eagle head clicking while the talons on its forelegs dug into the dirt. I paced my sword with the tail of the beast in hopes that it would keep it distracted. "Merlin, when I tell you, run. Go get help" I ordered the gangly servant. The beast reared up to strike "Run!" I yelled at Merlin. Right as the creature came down I felt a body slam mine. The creature screeched again as more feathers floated by. "My lady, are you okay?" I heard Merlin ask. That meant someone else was with us. I grabbed the hand held out to me. "Well, a noble woman who can fight. That is a first" chimed in the dark haired man. He bowed deeply "Lancelot Du Lac, at your service." I curtsied back "Princess Arebella Pendragon of Camelot. This is my attendant Merlin." Lancelot's eye grew wide "my lady, where is your guard? Surely you should have some men?" He hurriedly inquired. I laughed "I was running an errand for the court physician. Which by the looks of it the three of us need to pay a visit to" I commented noticing the scratch on his chest.

After shaking my hair out for the umpteenth time and collecting the remainders of the herb basket. We set out for the citadel. Upon arrival, we had to put our newest companion in the middle. He looked enamoured with the on goings of the town. We took him straight to Gauis.

After examination, I was left with a small bump on my head. Merlin's back had a scratch and Lancelot's chest had been ripped into. Gauis took care of Lancelot's wounds while I tended to Merlin's. "He is certainly very handsome," Merlin made a comment. I pushed the cloth further in the wound, which made Merlin hiss. "Jealous are we? Merlin, he is nothing to me. Yes he is good looking but I'm not interested" I told the sprawling servant. He hissed again as I rinsed his wound.

Lancelot was to appear before my father. Merlin was all excited with chatter about Lancelot. "Merlin, would you help me with this?" I asked him. After he got done with the fastenings, spun around and kissed his cheek. "Shut up Merlin" I remarked to him and left him standing in the middle of my chambers.

I sat in my chair to my father's left. Morgana to his right. Lancelot was escorted in by the guards. I noticed he had in Merlin's old blue tunic. Looking around I tried to find him but couldn't. Fine, I thought, if he wanted to play this way then I will too. "Lancelot Du Lac for your bravery and courage in the rescue you have my thanks. And as a reward, you will serve as her squire. You will also serve as her bodyguard if the need should arise" he announced. Lancelot looked like he was going to faint. We all clapped knowing that was as high as he could go.

Arriving back in my chambers, Lancelot and I sat at the table. Laughing and joking, I learned of his past and his goals. "Well as far as becoming a knight. My father would never knight you himself. Unless you are a noble and just don't know" I told him of the rim of my wine cup. Just then Merlin burst in with a jug of wine, a tray of meats and fruits, and a piece of paper all balanced. Lancelot stood up and retrieved the jug of wine. I took the tray from Merlin. Sweeping up the paper, I unrolled it to reveal that Merlin had forged a family crest. "You needn't have done this Merlin. If you had been at the gathering you would've learned Lancelot is my new squier" I scolded the big eared servant. His ears turned red, which made me giggle. He sat down as I returned to my seat. "So do you normal dine with your servants?" Lancelot asked. Morgana opened the door and sat down after pulling an apple off the tray "Sometimes with her foster sister too. Oh don't worry Gwen is bringing more food too! We are going to all have lunch today" She said. Merlin rolled his eyes "I suppose that is alright, after all I have a big enough table" I told the brunette. She stuck her tongue just as Gwen came in with another tray. Watching Lancelot rush to her side, I took a bite of my apple. Morgana nodded to me. Our game had been started. It was a race to see who could claim the romance of Gwen and Lancelot first. Merlin cleared his throat startling everyone. Lunch was spent in merriment.

In the morning, the three of us went to Knight's training. The veteran Knights giggled at Lancelot. I told Lancelot to ignore it. Merlin stared at us as we practiced. When we broke for water, I made it a point to splash the young man. We continued our training till the sun was directly above us. Merlin and I took Lancelot to Gwen to get him outfitted. We left him there and told him to meet us back in Gauis's chambers.

Merlin and I finally got some alone time. I ran but Merlin was faster. He tackled me going up hill. We laid there breathless watching the birds. "You know after everything, we needed this time" Merlin said. I rolled next to his body taking his hand. "What are we gonna do?" I asked. His hand closed on mine. "Arya, he won't marry you off. If he does, i will fight with every fiber in my body. The dragon told us that together we have a future. Now it might not be simple as being peasants but it is destiny" he tried to reassure me. Running my thumb on his, I let a tear roll down my cheek. "Promise me, Merlin. Promise me no matter what, you will always fight" I spoke through my voice cracking. I felt his lips press against my hair and watched as a butterfly flew over head.

I sat with Morgana and My father in a silent dinner. Only Merlin and Lancelot flanked me. The doors flew open and a guard ran in "Sire! The beast it's back!" He yelled. I shot up and bolted out. All the Knights would be needed.

I ran outside in full armor. Lancelot and Merlin behind me. The Knights circled me and Lancelot. I looked to Merlin and nodded. The Griffin landed in front of us. I pushed out of the circle with the Knights protesting behind me. Swinging at the griffin and yelling, I managed to drive back. With a thirst forward my sword erupted into blue flames. The griffin circled with me. I swung the sword around and with the griffin's lunge, I let my sword sink into its breast. The Knights cheered as it fell over. I pulled my blood slicked sword out of the dead beast.

The next morning everyone gathered in the throne room. I stood outside the massive doors. "Merlin should have this honor" I spoke up. "He should," Lancelot agreed. Merlin back away shaking his head, "not yet. One day when Arya is queen of Camelot I will." I hung my head "Till then, I will keep your secrets to myself. It's plain to see you two love each other despite the lady being raised by Uther Pendragon." I scoffed and Merlin coughed. Lancelot smiled as the door opened and the applause escorted us in.

Chapter Text

My foster sister. Of everyone to fall ill in Camelot, it was my foster, at this point my sister. I sat on her bed beside her, holding her hand while Gauis examined her. Merlin was barely standing behind me. Gauis had woken him up to wake me up. Paired with, Gwen who stood impatiently at the end of the four poster bed, we waited. "I fear it is a cerebral hemorrhage. Arya, tell the king" he stated. With tears stinging my eyes, I opened the door gently. My father looked up hopeful, all I could do is shake my head while murmuring "Hemorrhage in her brain."

That day the entire kingdom fell silent. From the ramparts overlooking the town, the entire city was hushed with black and grey. "The people mourn for her in her time of aliment" I felt a warm hand on my back. "I can't do anything Merlin. All of the skills I've been taught, all my abilities, and still I'm reduced to waiting and watching" I told him. I spun away from him and bolted.

On my way across the courtyard, a man called out to me. He claimed to have a remedy for all ills. I scoffed and told him we had a physician already. Though I remembered his scarred face. One side he was smooth as a statue, but the other scarred by fire. I quickly walked away.

As I stood by my father's side during a council meeting, Gauis gave Morgana a very grim outlook. I heard Lancelot shift and Merlin fidget. "Father, a man in a robe was in the courtyard today. He told me he had a remedy to cure all ills" I chimed in. The entire room save for Gauis. He had an inquisitive yet furious look on his face. I knew I was going to pay for it. The leech tank was in my future.

After hours of cleaning the tank, I sunk in my bath. I was covered in bites from the leeches who didn't cooperate. Merlin was on the other side of the curtain. In the past few days he barely spoke a word. "Merlin, are you mad at me?" I asked. I heard the soft clink of chainmail as he turned the shirt for more rings. I sighed, "alright you're mad. I get it" I took my cup and drank some wine. Least I could do was give those leeches the hangover of their short life. "My lady it isn't my place to express my opinion to you. It is the duty of an attendant to keep you in order and tend to your wishes" he finally spoke in a very cold tone. I rolled my eyes and lifted myself out of the bath. Wrapping a towel around myself, I lifted the curtain. Merlin kept himself busy with the repairing of a spot. Sneaking over, I ran my hands down his chest. I leaned down to his left ear "what if my wish was to have you? To feel your lips on mine, hands on my waist and to feel your skin against mine?" A shudder ran down his spine but he still focused on his work. "I don't think that would be appropriate for the future queen to lay with a man that wasn't her husband." He whispered back. I kissed his overly large ear then his neck. He set his project down and ran his hand through my sopping wet hair. "Kiss me, great emrys. Kiss me as if this was your last chance" I begged. He shot up from his chair and grabbed me. Pushing me against a post, his mouth found mine. We drank air from each other as if we were drowning. He lifted me up as I wrapped my legs around his waist. As our passion grew, I bit his lower lip. A knock ended our heated embrace. I scurried behind the screen. Lancelot cleared his throat, "the King requests his daughter's permission at Morgana's chambers." I quickly grabbed my shift, my under bust corset and a skirt. "I'll make sure she gets there" Merlin responded. "Oh and if I were you Merlin, I would make sure the member in your drawers wasn't standing in plain sight" Lancelot added. I had to stifle my giggles.

After checking to make sure no marks were left, we made our way to Morgana's chambers. She was there with my father awake. "It's a miracle!" I cried as we walked in. I flung myself on her bed. My father left us to chatter amongst ourselves. "Arya, you looked absolutely radiant. Did you and Merlin?" She inquired. "Morgana! No we did not. I just got out of the bath is all" I told her. She gave me a look. The rest of the evening I spent chatting and dining with her.

Much to my chagrin, we were back in the throne room. The gentleman Named Edwin had gone over Gauis's works. Edwin stood in front of the court and denounced the methods Gauis had used. The very methods I was taught! I watched in objected horror as Gauis was sacked in favor of this creep! Morgana and I followed my father to his chambers. "Gauis has been nothing but loyal to you!" Morgana chastised. "Gauis has been tending to Morgana and I for years father" I argued as well. "Gauis had made a mistake in Morgana's aliment. What if he had been wrong about the next sickness that took you, Arya? What if he has been teaching you wrong all these years?" My father retorted. "No, from now on you will learn from Edwin. You and the boy both. Now you two may leave." My father ordered. I stormed out of the room, headed straight for my chambers. Seemed like Merlin was the only one who listens anymore.

Merlin woke up with the moon still high in the sky. He covered my nightgown with his jacket and we rushed to my father's side. Only upon arrival, Edwin wouldn't let anyone in. "Merlin, save my father" I asked panicked. He nodded and rushed to Edwin's laboratory. Meanwhile I paced. The time it took for the guards to change was far too long. I snuck in and found my father stiff as a bored. "Papa!" I called. "Papa, whatever he did. We are going to fix it. Then we will have that traitor's head" I told the frozen body.

Merlin and Gauis rushed in with Edwin's wooden box in hand. "Is he gone?" I hurriedly asked Merlin. He nodded and gave Gauis his undivided attention. I watched as Merlin pulled the black beetle out of my father's ear. I sighed. Gauis checked his vitals and gave me the go ahead. I stayed the rest of the night. Eventually I had fallen asleep.

The morning came and with it my father's health. I told him that the coward ran off after Gauis returned to cure him. My father's face grimaced as he noticed Merlin's coat. "He is a good servant, papa. He ran to find Gauis when we learned that you had fallen ill. He must have left his coat to keep me warm after I fell asleep. After all, we made sure you were warm." I told him. "My dear, you have a very faithful servant. Just like I have a loyal friend in Gauis." He remarked. "Papa, why don't you free Gauis? He has sacrificed so much and it would only be fair." I commented. My father nodded in agreement. "You are right, he will have his freedom and his place back at this kingdom. As an apology. One day Arebella, you will make a wonderful King" he said with a smile.

A few hours later, I sat with Morgana and my father. Beaming with pride. "Today I reinstate this man as court physician. And as an apology, I also would like to hand this scroll of proof to him. Marking him a free man of Camelot. If he will have it" my father bellowed his announcement. Morgana handed me a rag to wipe my tears away. Gauis bowed and took the scroll "my lord I accept your apology." The court erupted in applause and cheers.

Sometime after the feast I stood on the ramparts facing the lake. Noticing the significant lack of guards and paired with giving Lancelot the day off, I managed to score some alone time. Merlin walked over to me and cleared his throat. "So once again the great and powerful Merlin saved the day only to watch the credit go to someone else" I commented. "Arya, I'm sorry about being such an arse. I was hoping to get your forgiveness for that. And also apologize for being a savage." He said to me leaning back on an elbow. I punched the arm he was resting on. "Ow! What was that for?" He whined. I smiled in response "That is for being a prat" I scolded. Then I leaned over and kissed him, dress and hair blowing in the breeze. I pulled away and stared him in the eyes "that is for kissing me like a savage." He smiled as his ears turned red. "Come on then, time to see what Gauis requires now" I told him. I let my hand slip gently into his. leading him through the unguarded door and down the steps.

Chapter Text

Quietly, I moved through the forest. I'd had been tracking this doe for quiet sometime. Finally she was within my sights. As I raised my bow, the doe looked up just in time for Merlin to come bumbling through the bushes. "Did we get it?" He asked breathlessly. "No you moron! She bolted before I could fire" I hissed at him. The color drained from his face as Lancelot padded up. "Well we will have plenty of rabbit and squirrel. Something big is in the pit too" he commented.

Defeatedly, our trio wandered back. A yell startled us into running full barrel into the woods. We came across a group of bandits robbing an old man and his son. They were dressed peculiarly for travel. Lancelot and I handled the majority of the bandits. A loud crack came from the tree behind me. Out of the corner of my eye I watched a branch hit a bandit on the head. One was left and Lancelot was right beside me ready for his attack. He stared at Merlin frightened out of his mind. Scaring the already frightened bandit, I jumped forward. As he ran off I heard Merlin yell "And let that be a lesson to you!" Sliding my sword into the scabbard, I shook my head and smiled. "Thank you my lady" the old man commented. "Arebella Pendragon at your service" I said holding my hand out.

After a quick wipe down and a change from breeches and a tunic to a simple lavender gown, I arrived beside my father in the throne room. The old man and his son arrived bowing "I am Alfuric and this is my son Solomon. We were displaced from our lands in Tir Amor. We are traveling west to Carelon to meet up with family. We are deeply indebted to the princess and Her servants" he complimented. I bowed my head in thanks. All the while Solomon's eyes were fixed on me, with Merlin's dark blue eyes boring into Solomon's Soul.

Opening my door, I started to undo my braid. Merlin closed it with Lancelot standing outside. "I don't like how he was looking at you. Arya, I have a bad feeling" he said leaning against the door. I spun to face my magical lover "You worry too much. Besides you can't get protective when every guy looks. It's a waste of your talent," I told him. It had been two weeks since he last kissed me proper. With the added responsibilities my father let me take on, it's not like we had the time together. Usually by the time he caught up with me, I was passed out in my bed or in my chair. I swayed over to him and wrapped my arms around his neck "mm as your princess, I order you to kiss me." He gave me a flat look "You know it's not safe with the page boys running in and out" He scolded me. A knock let us know that the short time Lancelot gave us was up. "Make sure our guests are well taken care of" I told Merlin as he opened the door.

I was pouring over the tally of grain bags in storage when I heard another knock. "Come in," I spoke. Solomon snuck in "My lady, I noticed that you have yet to be claimed. If I may I would like to discuss going riding tomorrow" he said in a smooth velvety voice. It was quite the opposite of Merlin's. "I will talk with my father about having Lancelot chaperone. However it will have to wait till after lunch. My unit came up for patrol" I answered. He sat down and poured more wine into my glass "A lady like you shouldn't have to work like this. It's almost too unbecoming" he hissed venomously. I looked up to see him sit on the table behind me. Momentarily I looked at his sea blue eyes. Strangely the glimmered red and I found myself not in control of my body. "They will deal without me tomorrow though" I spoke unwillingly amending my statement. "Then goodnight, your highness. Rest well" he cooded with a voice that seemed honey smooth again.

I awoke next morning. Merlin was doing his chores when I had asked him to cover for me. He seemed hurt but somehow I couldn't convey to him I wasn't in control. That Solomon was doing this. That is when everything went black.

Fighting my way through the pitch of the spell was hard. But I managed to get back my body. That's when Solomon started with his chanting again. The pitch pulled me back. This time it was like quicksand, the harder I fought to take control, the stronger the enchantment became.

When I regained my control again, Merlin had kissed me. Not letting him get away, I returned the kiss back. "Merlin, it's Solomon. I don't know how much longer I can fight it but save me" I begged him. That is when Solomon came in "I told you to get rid of him. He is too jealous and he will never let us be together." He said. The spell pulled me back, but in my mind I kept calling to Merlin.

Finally, I let go. I floated in my mind "Great, I'm doomed. Merlin is most likely heartbroken. Gauis is thinks me rotten. My father thinks I'm a fool" I moaned. Just then a sharp pain shot through my chest. "Arya!" I heard a voice cry. "Leave me alone" I murmured. "Arya, don't give up now. You've got Gauis, Gwen, your father, Lancelot, Morgana, Leon all waiting. You still have me, Arya. You still have me!" I heard Merlin shout. A sudden shock hit me again. My eyes opened. I was in my velvet red dress, golden hair flared everywhere. Everything sopping wet. Looking to my right, I saw what would be Merlin after a dip in the tub with his clothes still on. I erupted in laughter, which caused Merlin to shoot me a dirty look. "What took you? And don't tell me, the old man was tougher than he looked" I remarked. He busted out laughing too. His fingers found mine as we lay there laughing like lunatics.

Gwen came to check on me. Gauis had ordered me to stay in bed. I had caught a chill and now I was treated like a baby. She put the tray down and sat on the bed "you know, I think in the four months since he became your attendant. Merlin has come to love you" she said. Letting a giggle slip "Gwen, I know. But there is nothing to become of it" I told her. She giggled at my scrunched up face. "Maybe. But the look on your father's face when Merlin carried you into these chambers by himself almost leads me to believe that maybe destiny can change. The way your father has been raving, Merlin might as well be knighted" she told me. I coughed choking on my water "Surely you are kidding? My father, the one who refused to let me handle a sword till I was 14?" I questioned. She nodded. A quiet knock echoed through the chamber. Gwen got up and opened the door. Merlin walked in as she exited. A smile was spread across his face. "Gauis said one day" he tutted. I rolled my eyes. He leaned in and kissed my lips. On instinct I kissed back. We pulled apart smiling. "So I have to leave you, nearly marry another man, and almost drown all to get you to kiss me?" I questioned him. "Well if you weren't such a prat" he retorted back. I pulled a red and gold pillow out from behind me and hit him with it. "Someday, I'll be a queen you know" I fussed. "And you will be beautiful royal prat queen" he joked. I hit him again with the pillow. He was gonna pay for that.

Chapter Text

The following weeks Merlin never left my side. I would always wake up to him curled around me. His hand holding mine. His light snores entangled in my hair. He would only wake when I shook him. Then he would stumble out to the kitchens to retrieve breakfast. Usually, he would hurry back all chipper and in a good mood. But today, Gwen came up with my breakfast. "Where is Merlin?" I inquired. "I don't know my lady" Gwen asked. Leon bolted in the room "Arya, your father requests your presence" he told me hurriedly. "Damn you Merlin. Have you been at the gin again?" I cursed to myself. I quickly through a pair of black breeches on with a red tunic. I wrapped my underbust on as well as strapped my sword and dagger on. I threw my long coat on as well, after braiding my hair in a braid.

My coat flapped as I ran to the throne room. Stopping in the middle of the floor I breathlessly asked "You called my lord?" The old ladies whispered. But I paid them no heed. "You and Leon will head two groups to look for a Druid boy who was spotted by a laundry maiden this morning after a tussle between a guard and his father. Leon you take the town. Arya, take the castle" my father commanded. I bowed and left. "Lancelot go grab Kay and his men. We will start in the dungeon" I commanded Lancelot. He bowed and I caught him when he came back up "Lance, I have a feeling our favorite idiot is mixed up. Same with Morgana. Meet me in Morgana's Chambers." I whispered. He nodded and bolted. I walked up the marble steps.

"I've lead Kay away. I told him orders were to check the east wing." Lancelot said sneaking through the servant's door. My eyes were fixed on the boy who laid behind Morgana's screen. "I couldn't leave him Arya. He is hurt. Besides the Druids would do the same. Even for you" Merlin said almost pleadingly. My eyes went from the boy on the cot to the servant less than a foot away. I reached over and slapped him. With a hurt look on his face, he looked back. "My chambers, now!" I yelled. As he scampered out, I looked at Lancelot "if anyone asked, I caught him with Morgana" I told him. He nodded and Morgana tried to protest.

Slamming the door, I furiously marched myself over to Merlin. He turned to me hand over his cheek from my slap. I sighed and sat him down in the chair. After I filled my basin, I brought it and a cloth over. I sat on the table and removed his large hand from his cheek. He nearly knocked me into his lap when the cold cloth touched his cheek. "Easy, love. There were guards outside. I couldn't have them on our trail" I spoke softly to the wild sorcerer who sat stunned in my chair. "You are going to help?" He whispered. I kissed his cheek "How else am I supposed to keep you out of trouble?" He reached up and pulled me into his lap. As I landed straddling my all powerful sorcerer, I planted a firm kiss on his lips. We drank each other not wanting the other to stop. He kissed down my neck causing me to tighten my grip with his name softly rolling off my lips.

He stopped and rested his head against my breasts "Arya, we can't. Not yet." He spoke quietly. I wrapped my arms around his head and kissed the top "You know sometimes I wish that we could run away. Find a random priest to marry us. Just you and I on an adventure forever. Maybe one day, settle down" I spoke softly. He laughed "I cannot see you being a bandit or a farmer's wife." Pulling his head back "Well I wouldn't be a farmer's wife. Or a bandit. I would be a sorcerer's wife. Perhaps maybe a healer or a mercenary." He kissed between my breasts "Come now, we have an adventure here" he spoke between kisses. I softly moaned. Pushing myself off of him "I have the boy attend to. You by now are rumored to be Morgana's lover" I told him. His eyes rolled "Why did you have to go with that?" I giggled "because I owe you one." With that I was out of the room.

After dinner I was in my room, readying myself for bed. The warning bells clanged to life. Morgana I gasped. I threw on my jacket and wrapped my sword around my waist.

I found her detained. "My lady" said the guards bowing. "Sister" Morgana sneered. My father walked up the street "Morgana, after everything I've done for you. Take her to the dungeons. She will be released when I say" My father glared then walked away.

Still in my night clothes and jacket, I stood in the meeting room. "She was only trying to help a boy go back to his people!" I argued. "Enough, the boy will die tomorrow morning. Morgana will remain in the dungeons as I see fit" my father argued back with his hollow voice. "What if I promise to have her apologize? Will you let her out? We both know she is stubborn and willful but if given the chance she can prove loyal" I offered. "Very well but the boy dies tomorrow morning" he said. I sighed, if I am going to play with more fire. I might as well take the burn now. Besides, Merlin is going to be furious.

Watching my foster sister in her cell was like watching a caged animal. She looked ready to snap at the next thing that came close. I nodded to the guard who let me in. "Come to gloat?" She growled. "Release her" I commanded the guards. She fell to the floor rubbing her wrists. "At least pretend to be sorry to Uther" I told her.

After some well deserved sleep, I was dressed in my comfortable blue gown. Sitting in my chair, playing with the wine in my cup. Merlin had disappeared again. All I wanted was to leave with him. He had to know he was more than a simple fling to me. Six months. In six months he had gone from someone who haunted me to someone I wanted a future with. The door flew open. "How dare you! That boy has done has done nothing to you!" Morgana shrieked like a blood crazed harpy. Handing her a cup of wine I spoke up "Morgana, shut up." Her mouth closed quickly. "I have every intention to free the boy. But you cannot claim knowledge to this plan. So as far as your needed, go to my father. Beg for his forgiveness which he will gladly give you. Let Merlin and I handle this. I will have Lancelot escort you to make sure no one else knows" I told her. She gently set her cup down "I underestimated you." I smiled "people often do. Oh and if you find the Baffoon, tell him I need him." She nodded and walked out of the room. Lancelot with her.

Merlin showed up an hour later. I was pouring over papers for the protection of the outlying villages. "You required me?" He said quietly. Looking up, I saw his face covered in tear stains with puffy eyes as their culprit. "Merlin, no need to cry. You've told me the prophecy many times. You practically lull me to sleep with it" I said in a hushed tone." That is why I've contacted a lesser known druids. The leader promised to raise mordred in their pacifist ways" I reassured him. "But what if he still kills you?" He choked out. I smiled "while my Emrys is around?" An uneasy smile came across. "Now, I need a grapple hook and a horse" I ordered.

Using a very odiferous concoction, I knocked the guards out. Rushing to the cell, I unlocked the door and ushered the boy out. We ran through the sewers. Merlin managed to get the bars free. "Come back to me, annwyl" he said kissing my hand. I smiled and kicked the horse.

We rode hard for a half hour. Finally we came across the spot where the Druid leader was to meet me. "Thank you, Princess Pendragon. We owe you a debt. Consider us allies to you and the Emrys when time comes." I bowed "Happy to be of service." I walked to the horse. Just before I stuck my foot in the stir up. Mordred ran to hug me. "Thank you, princess. Take care of Emrys" he spoke. I crouched down to his level "On my honor. He will be well taken care of little one" I told him. I ruffled his curling hair and mounted the black stallion.

A quick knock on Morgana's door let her know it was done. Upon my arrival into my room, I found Merlin sitting there. He jumped up and hugged me. "Everything is okay" he murmured. I hugged back tightly. I quickly got changed and Merlin curled up on my covers with me. He told me a story his mom told him when he was a child. It was about men who spoke to dragons. They were lords in their own right. Then one day a tyrant king called the last dragon lord to the castle. "Where he tricked the last dragon into being sealed away forever" Merlin told me. Little golden dragons danced around us sparking flames. "It is weird to hear my father called a tyrant. I spent my whole life being doted on by him. I guess I never really knew the damage he had caused" I spoke up. I felt a kiss on the top of my head as I drifted off to the dreamland of riding dragons and magical beings.

Chapter Text

"Arya, stop. You will be fine" Merlin assured me. For weeks I've been standing at the seamstress, standing perfectly still while reviewing etiquettes and procedures. "I hope so. This the first time in history a princess has been named heir to Camelot's throne" I said fidgeting with my sleeve. The seamstress had sown a beautiful white gown for me. The train had extended much further than my usual dresses. The neckline ran low near my breasts and the sleeves tight. The bottom flared out. My waist and elbows were trimmed in gold. Merlin had combed the golden waterfall until it was smooth. I saw large hands cover mine "I know you will never admit it, but it's okay to be nervous. Besides, I am proud of you. A year ago, you would have not stood at these doors waiting" Merlin told me. He knelt to the ground, "till the day you cast me aside or I die. I will be proud to serve you, Arebella Pendragon." I giggled as he kissed my hand. He quickly scampered as the trumpets sounded and the doors slowly slid open.

I walked slowly, hand on my faithful sword. My father beaming with pride and Morgana smiling wide beside him. All the Knights were smiling as well. Gwen, Gauis, and Merlin were upfront with the Knights all smiling with infectious pride. A smile grew on my face as an echo to everyone else's. At the middle of the steps I stopped. "Do you, Arebella Pendragon, solemnly swear to govern the people of this kingdom and its dominions according to the statutes, customs and laws laid down by your forebears?" My Father asked me. "I, Arebella Pendragon do solemnly swear" I echoed. "Do you swear to show mercy and exercise justice in all actions?" He asked. "I, Arebella Pendragon, do solemnly swear" I echoed once more. "And do you swear loyalty to Camelot and her people, for eternity?" He asked again. "I, Arebella Pendragon, hereby swear loyalty to Camelot, aid to her people and service to the crown." I answered. "As the oath fulfilled, witnessed by those here, and being heir apparent. I appoint thee, Crown Princess. Arise daughter of Camelot." My father said. I rose with the heir's crown on my head. Turning, I saw the pride fill the room. Gwen and Gauis clapped fervor. My eyes met Merlin's. I could've sworn there was a tear there.

As I took one step, the great pane glass window of the throne room shattered. A rider dressed in black landed his horse in the middle of the hall. In reaction, the Knights and I grabbed our swords. Out of the corner of my eye I could have sworn Morgana tried to grab a mace. I watched the knight and in corner of my eye Merlin. He had Gwen tucked behind him with Gauis. Lancelot stood at my side with a shield. The black knight threw a glove down. As I shifted, one o my newest Knights, Sir Owain, grabbed the glove. With a hollow and eerie voice echoing what seemed to be an empty helm, the knight spoke "Single combat, tomorrow at noon, to the death." With that he rode his stallion out of the hall. Everyone gathered around buzzing about the knight. I watched Morgana float to Sir Owain and touch his arm.

Sitting at the window, Merlin and I watched the unmoving knight. Something didn't seem right.

Escorting Sir Owain to the armory, I tried to talk with him. He seemed so sure of himself. Gwen's knock on the door ushered in the end of our conversation. "Lady Morgana requested I bring you this" Gwen spoke. Her voice held above a whisper. Sir Owain lead Merlin, Lancelot and I to the tournament arena.

The nobles parted ways as I entered the royal box. As custom, I curtsied for my father and sat down when he bowed his head. The fight started with the first blow belonging to the black knight. As each blow exchanged, the crowd cheered. Just as Owain was pinned from the Knights latest strike, he paused the sword through his stomach. The knight broke off and swung his large sword. He struck a mortal blow and owain dropped dead. A gasp ripped through the crowd. "Owain!" Morgana yelled. Father grabbed her. The Black knight tossed his glove to the ground again. I leapt for it but Lancelot grabbed me. Bedivere grabbed the glove. "Single combat, noon, to the death" the Black knight said coldly. "No" I said in a hushed voice.

My fury rose as the doors to the council chamber opened. I stepped forward and the doors shut behind me leaving just father and I alone. "Why did you stop me?" I asked quietly. Father's face was twisted in pain. "Why didn't you let me fight?!" I yelled. My father stood up. "We have to test the Knights in order. You've earned your keep several times" he argued back. "Then you are letting him die" I coldly condemned my father.

I sat curled up on the window sill in my room. A knock at my door made my head rise from my arms. "Arya, I will stop this" Merlin told me. Frowning I slipped off the ledge and padded my bare feet across the stone floor. Wrapping my arms around his skinny waist, I buried my face in his tunic. He held me as tears ran down my face. "Bedivere is my mentor. He taught me what the Knights stand for. Now my father has sent him to his death" I spoke between sobs. Merlin picked me up and laid me on the bed. After the tears dried on his tunic, my eyes shut.

In the morning Merlin was back, neither of us spoke. He handed me my tunic and breeches. We sat in the window after breakfast, his hand on my knee. The room stayed silent even with Gwen, Morgana and Lancelot there too. When the guards knocked, I grabbed my long leather jacket and sword. The five of us stayed in the box with my father. He ignored us now. The black knight readied himself and Bedivere copied him. The entire crowd ooh'd and hissed with each blow. I stayed back in my seat, hoping that my mentor would prevail. Finally Bedivere pinned him down but the knight stuck him through the stomach. Everyone yelled at the aftermath. But before anyone could react, I threw my glove on the dirt. "Single combat, Noon, to the death" I challenged. "Very Well" the black knight accepted.

The afternoon was spent with my father berating me. "How dare you! Of all people, my heir! My daughter!" My father yelled. I stood hand on my sword, quiet. "We will withdraw the challenge" he spoke panicked. "By the Knights code, it cannot happen" I said quietly. "You are no knight! You are the crown princess of Camelot! You are my heir and daughter!" He yelled. "I cannot and will not withdraw. Bedivere was my mentor. Owain my corporal. I will avenge my men" I told him. I turned on my heel and walked out.

With sword in hand, I practiced. Trying to keep my mind focus. Merlin busted in, again. "You stupid dollop head! You prat! Have you no idea? You are going to die if you face him!" He yelled at me. "Out, if you want a yelling match with someone, Do it with my father. Maybe then you both will able to agree on the fact in your eyes I am a delicate rose meant to be locked in the highest tower as a prize to won" I told him. He backed down "I will fight tomorrow. If I die then find a woman that can keep you out of trouble. She will have to be a good cook too" I said looking him in the eye. "No! I can't lose you" he said voice cracking. He grabbed my sword arm and pulled me in. He crushed his salted lips on mine. As if by nature I wrapped my arms around his neck. We heard a throat clear, when we pulled apart Gauis was standing there. "Best be glad I'm not the king" he chided. He gave Merlin a look and my skinny warlock ran out. "A tonic to help you sleep. Rest is important for tomorrow" he reminded me. Gratefully, I looked at the old man. Sometimes, he was more my father than my own. "Thank you" I said to him. Open the bottle and took a drink. Then it went black.

I awoke to the clanging of steel. "Merlin!" I shouted. I tried the door but it was locked. The servants door was locked too. All I could was watch as my father dueled the black knight.

The crowd roared as the king successfully defeat the creature for all know as the black knight. I stepped foot in his chambers after the battle. Gauis left when I stepped foot in. "You had the court physician drug me?" I inquired with an accusational tone. "I couldn't lose you Arya. I look at you and I see your mother. To lose both of you, would truly leave me alone" he said. "Besides if you died, who would rule my kingdom? The fat stable boy?" He joked. I shook my head "I thought you didn't want me to fight because I was a woman" I confessed. "Nonsense. Your knight training paired with your knowledge of healing from Gauis and all the interaction with the people give me pride. One day, Arya, you will be a fine queen." He told me.

A loud roar awoke me. "Merlin, what have you done?" I whispered pulling my blankets up.

Chapter Text

With blue skies and three weeks of quiet, father let me return to the duties of apprenticeship. Merlin, Gauis, Lancelot and I were in the market place looking for pots. So far, poor Merlin had been used as the mule and was weighed down with the pots. "Mother!" I heard him cry. Lancelot stood there holding the pots as I spun to watch where he was going. A middle aged woman had walked through the gates. She was beautiful in her own right, save for the bruise on her face. I jogged after the gangly wizard and stopped short of the pair as the hugged each other. "Who did this to you?" He asked. She grimaced.

Standing by father's throne, we received Merlin's mother. "Our village was attacked by a man called Kanen. He comes every harvest to collect his fee. He leaves us very little and our children are starving. Most won't make the winter" she timidly spoke. This infuriated me. Who would be so cruel to take food from a child? Father cleared his throat "Your town is in Cenred's kingdom." Hunith hung her head "We tried to appeal to him. He cares little for the outlying towns." Father shifted "I wish I could help. I would have the bandit and his men beheaded as an example." Everyone seemed to fall into solemnity at the answer. "You will help?" She asked hopefully. "I would if I was able" father answered her. "Surely we can spare 20 men?" I asked. "The amount of men isn't the problem" he quickly responded. "Is there something else?" Morgana asked. "Due to an uneasy treaty with cenred, any formal group of knights I would send would have to pass through the ridge of esstier. Cenred would see it as a declaration of war." He spoke. Merlin's mother fell to her knees "I know you are a fair and just King. Surely you lend some aid." She begged. Morgana and I stepped forward. "Unfortunately, I cannot." Father said grimly.

"Surely we can send men in disguise? Have them admit to no backing?" I pleaded when in my father's study. "You know I cannot" he resounded with firmness. "Then we are to be viewed the same as Cenred?" I inquired. Father glared "it took me nearly 15 years to work that treaty. I will not waste it." He spoke. With a huff, I left the study.

The people in the town below wandered from stall to stall. Some brought food, others wares. How many of them fed families? Watched their children go hungry? Die from sickness? Merlin stood beside me. "I am truly sorry, annwyl. If I had my way, aid would be given" I assured him. He looked at me smiling, "I know. And thank you for the chance to speak to your father." I smiled in response "Anytime." He kissed me on the cheek. Daring move for him. "I'm leaving with my mother. I'll need to look after her." He told me. "You're leaving me?" I whispered. "Arya, she needs me." He echoed. I turned and ran. Skirts of my red velvet dress billowing behind me.

I watched as Merlin and his mom rode out of the citadel. "Are you a mad woman?" Lancelot asked me. "Arguably" I retorted. "Arebella, when my father was drafted my mother fought tooth and nail. She didn't stop till the second he left." He told me. "Your point of this tale?" I asked him. "If it is meant to be then you fight for it" he reassured. "Lance, you genius!" I yelled. I kissed his cheek which caused him to look more confused. "Help me change" I ordered him.

After dark, we rode out. We rode hard for two hours. The smell of smoke held heavy. I pulled my horse to a stop, Lancelot followed suit. We dismounted and pulled our swords out. The quietly we snuck up. A fire with four bodies lying around it. When one of the bodies rose, I hid behind the closest tree. The footsteps echoed in a shuffle. My breath slowed down in anticipation. Slowly the figure made its way passed me. Gods, Merlin was half asleep. I looked at Lancelot cross the way, he smiled and nodded. I snuck up behind Merlin. "I'd ask you for money but I know you don't have any" I spoke. The lanky dolt jumped and nearly took my head with his sword. "Watch it!" I hissed. "Arya! I'm sore you caught me by surprise!" He said. We walked back to the camp. Lancelot snuggled in with Gwen. Morgana curled up near the tree trunk. Merlin was holding his mother. I stood watch for a few more hours.

I awoke to being the curled up with Morgana. We packed our things quickly and mounted the horses. We rode for another half day when we have to the ridge of esstier. We broke journey for some lunch. The ridge was quiet beautiful. We packed up and continued on our way.

Everyone was giggling and joking when we came to the town. We saw Kanen had returned to the village. Just as his axe rose, I dismounted and bolted. My sword sang as his axe came down. Lancelot and Morgana fought against the bandits. Merlin had picked up a fallen bandit's sword and began to fight. He looked like he actually had fought with steel before. The bandit who opposed him dropped his molten sword. Merlin ran him through. Morgana backed against me "Reminds you of when we would beat the guys, doesn't it?" She called. I laughed and we both sliced our opponents. Kanen had secured himself a horse. "I will kill you all!" He cried.

A young man greeted Merlin "Still up to same old eh?" Merlin hugged him "Good to see you too Will." They separated their embrace and Will spoke up "I heard you were a dress carrier for some princess." Merlin shook his head "I'm not a dress carrier." Seeing how the other young man looked offended I called "Merlin, you and Lance gather the villagers." The young man gave him that look. "Yes, my lady." Merlin responded.

"I know of kanen's kind. They will be back and in force" I spoke. "Am I the only one wondering who she is?" Spoke a semi familiar voice. "Forgive me, I am Princess Arebella of Camelot. Who might you be?" I inquired mockingly. "I would be Prince William of Ealdor." The young man from earlier teased. "Hush, she came at my request" Hunith scolded the youth. "She's only made things worse for us. He will be back with more men than ever. For our heads while he is at it," he protested. His attempts seemed unsuccessful. "She has already saved a life" she retorted to him. "It's all good. After all I've had men think they know better than me my whole life. Pray tell Prince William, what is your solution to this problem?" I mocked him again. His eyes rolled "We are only but a few." I nodded " is that the only answer?" I dug deeper. "We could also give him the harvest like always" he added desperately. The entire village shook their heads against his idea. "The.n what? Give him women? Slaves? Where will it stop? He already starves the people and won't stop till you stand up and do something." I rallied. "We can manage" he countered. "On what?" A woman argued. Everyone nodded then. "Even if we do stand up, you will get all the glory. Especially cause your a woman. You wouldn't care about the lives of our village. Being a woman warrior." Will argued. Hunith stepped forward "well I for one would rather being resigned to a death on a battlefield than starving to death in the cold." The whole village rallied behind Hunith and I.

Gwen and Lancelot gathered weapons as Morgana and I talked to Matthew. We agreed upon tactics and such. Those who were able to fight were told to train. A few women would take the children into the forest while the fighting is done. We all agreed the morning was the start to the training. We broke as Merlin came stomping out of what I would assume was Will's house. He looked furious. Hunith laid a hand on my shoulder and shook her head. She was right, he needed some time and space.

Night had fallen on the village. Everyone slept in hunith's hut. Lancelot and Gwen curled up together. Morgana was asleep by the fire. Hunith in her own bed. Merlin and I were cuddled up beside the wood. "What was the matter earlier?" I asked him. "Will was being impossible and trying to convince me you had ulterior motives planned." He spoke. I giggled "like what making sure you shrunk your enormous ears?" He smiled at the joke "he doesn't believe you know I have magic. He thinks you are going to eventually turn me in and have me burned." I sighed "Annwyl, you know I wouldn't do that. Well maybe if you clearly attempted anything on my life, but I hope you wouldn't." I reassured him. He whispered "dracorn" and a little dragon appeared over the candle. It flapped it's wings and flew in circles. "Sleep, it's going to be a long and arduous day." He told me. "You get the candle?" I asked. We fell asleep wrapped in each other knowing that for the first time ever. When everyone awoke, no one would tell father.

Swords clashing and sticks clanked after breakfast. Gwen was working the wheel and bench for the weapons and armor while Morgana was bow training. Lancelot led the drills. Merlin had elected to help his mother today gathering berries and stuff for the children. Hunith waved and I returned. A part of me wished I could talk more with her. Circling the training group again, I saw Matthew was having the hardest time. So with quick thinking I invented a job for him. "Matthew, I need you to be our border patrol. If you see any of kanen's men, ride back as hard as the horse will allow" I told the man. He nodded and mounted a horse.

Evening fell and all of us that came from Camelot gathered at hunith's table. "Even with the women, there isn't enough in strength to defend the village" I mentioned. Everyone nodded. "So we have to pull everyone in for a meeting to decide a tactic. It will have to give the advantage. They will have horses. So we need to limit their mobility. A trap would work best. Seal off any exit. The less the horses can move the better." I suggested. They agreed and went to round up the people for a meeting. I caught Merlin before he could leave. "Merlin, if there is anything you can do to give us an advantage, it would be a great help." I asked him. He nodded and left.

In the center of town a fire was built. We all sat around it. "We could build a wall" one man suggest. "The other end could be sealed off with fire" another suggested. "Both excellent ideas. I will need volunteers to help with gate tonight." I asked. More than enough voiced they were willing. "Gwen and I will man the fire on the other end" Morgana volunteered. "Good, we need groups to stack up between houses" I said. The people divided themselves up. Will got up and left. He was the one who wouldn't believe we could do this. The shadows danced a crossed worried faces The need felt for some strengthening. "Come tomorrow, we will face odds much larger than expected. But you know this place with intimate knowledge. They do not. These are your homes, your lives, you are defending. They will come to cut you down. Some may perish in the battle, others will live. But do not fret over what may come, rejoice in the fact that your homes will stand and your children will no longer starve. The crops you grow will be on your table. Look to the people who stand beside you. Take comfort and strength from your fellow villagers. You will drive Kanen back. You will reclaim your village" I spoke. The people cheered as I looked at my friends. The pride in their faces shone through weariness and dirt that stained their faces.

We worked through the night. The gate was built and the oil poured. Everything was ready. Standing on a clearing just outside of the village, I watched as the sun rose from the sleepless night. Merlin appeared behind me. "Everyone is ready." He told me. "Matthew hasn't returned yet, Kanen is sure to come." I spoke. Little did i know how right I was.

A high whiny let us know that a horse was approaching. In its back lay a lifeless rider. My gut had told me that it was Matthew. Reading the note that was secured to his back, I knew the bandit lord was not too far behind. "Get everyone ready" I ordered. Merlin and Lancelot nodded.

The young women that elected to lead took those who couldn't fight to the woods. Babies were crying and the elders shuffling at snail's pace. I begun to pace, Merlin watching. "They will make it Arya" he tried to reassure me. It wasn't till the group had disappeared into the trees that I stopped. All the able bodied fighters lined themselves against the houses.

We heard the thunder of hooves and the Shrill cry of the horses. As the last rider came over the gate, the men hoisted. Morgana seemed to be taking a while. Merlin bolted, "Merlin wait!" I whispered. Waiting I watched him light the oil with his magic. The horses screamed with fright. We charged forward. Swinging my sword I sliced through three men. Parrying, I turned to see several villagers pulling men off horses. Three more men charged and I sliced through them. Suddenly the wind spun around me and lifted a large group of kanen's men. Will stood by Merlin as the winds died down. Smiling at him, I lowered my sword. Merlin waved in response. "PENDRAGON WOMAN!" Kanen yelled. He barreled towards me axe raised. With enough time, I grabbed a pitchfork. Giving it one good soild throw, it sank itself into Kanen. Merlin ran over to me, grabbing my face and kissing me hard. I heard whoops and hollers from around us. "Look out!" I heard will yell. He leaped in time to catch a bolt in the heart. "Will!" Merlin yelled. "Gwen Morgana Lance get over here!" I called. We all picked up the young man and carried him to his house.

Merlin cleared the table and we set him down. Merlin started to summon his magic when will stopped him. "No, it's my turn for an adventure" he told Merlin. Merlin sniffled and will looked at me "Take care of our boy. I'm happy our wizard landed a princess" he choked out. The light faded from his eyes.

The men built a pyre. Merlin and Lancelot placed Will's body on the wood. Merlin lit the pyre. My hand slipped into his. We stood in silence watching the flames.

Back in Camelot, Merlin and I spent our time in silence. Slowly he came back to me. Late one afternoon, I sat out on the ramparts looking out over the lake. Merlin appeared beside me. "When I take the throne, we will make a memorial for him," I offered. Merlin smiled "he would of fought that. But in the end, he would admit to liking it" he responded. We watched the sun go down, hands laid across each other.

Chapter Text

A crack was heard on the branches beneath our feet. Quietly I moved listening. "Merlin, flush it out. Be careful though it might be dangerous." He rolled his eyes and took off. Flanking to the right, I carefully followed the gangly youth.

By the time I had seen it I had accidentally loosed a bolt. Running up to Merlin I was excited. "Merlin, I believe that was the best kill to date!" I told him. I looked down at the dead unicorn. Merlin's eyes red and filled with tears. "What have you done?" He whispered.

Merlin carried the pillow holding the horn sorrowfully. The council was in session. I bowed to father and Merlin bent his head. "My lord, I bring you a unicorn's horn" I announced. Father's head snapped around quickly and a smile spread across his face. "Excellent find! This is a magnificent trophy that will decorate the halls of the citadel. Look at this Gauis!" He bellowed. The old man look grieved "it is magnificent my lord." Father noticed Gauis's face. "What is wrong my old friend?" He inquired. "Well there is a rumor that bad luck will befall the one who slays a unicorn." Gauis warned. "They are just rumors" father attempted to reassure the old physician. "I am happy you are pleased" i called to my father.

"Bron threw a shoe. Make sure the blacksmith tends to that and my saddle-" I looked from my boots to find Merlin hazing through my window. "My saddle is polished. Merlin what is wrong?" I asked him. The big eared servant turned to me. "I don't think you should have shot it" he told me. "Merlin, I thought it a stag. It was a simple mistake" I tried to reassured him. He turned from me and grabbed my armor. "It was doing no harm" he scolded. "Would you have rather me ride it in and keep it locked away?" I asked. He smiled a bit "Hm, Queen Arebella Pendragon fighting astride a unicorn. Somehow befits you" he giggled. Lightly punching his arm, we laughed together. Sitting down to put my riding boots on, I noticed something didn't feel right. I dumped my boot "Merlin, what's that?" I asked. He shrugged "rat droppings I guess." Taking a moment to gather myself I spoke up "Find it. Get rid of it." I told him. A knock on the door stopped me from putting my good boots on. Lancelot walked in "My lady your father requests your presence." I huffed and walked out.

Father was standing out in the field of dead crops. "Every crop is dead. Reports said this spans the Entire kingdom" he spoke. "Can't be I just rode through here yesterday on patrol and everything was fine." I told him. He stood and looked down at me. "The farmers cannot explain this" he retorted. "Is it some kind of blight?" I asked. "It might be, I've asked gauis to find an answer" he told me.

Standing by the royal stores, I listened to the chatter of hungry people and the rhythmic clink of chain mail. The babies were crying and many children telling their parents they were starving. This couldn't be from killing the unicorn could it? My father walked up "the livestock are dying or eaten. All the edible plants are gone as well" I told him. I opened the Chute to the grain hopper. Little more than a barrel full came out. "Is this we all have left?" He asked. "Unfortunately. The daily rations keep shrinking. There has been some looting in low town." I reported. "Then a curfew at dark is to be enforced" father spoke. I bowed "As you command." He turned away to the castle.

Merlin busted in. "The water turned to sand" he said breathlessly. We ran to the lower town to find his bucket at the well full of sand. "Go get my father!" I ordered one of the guards. He took off jogging "Merlin," I whispered to him "what have I done annwyl?" He shook his head. "Have you tried anything?" I asked. "Nothing successful." He answered.

Galahad had me on patrols at night. I saw a figure run across the courtyard. "Go through there" I ordered the men. I rushed after the shadow figure to find Merlin. "What are you doing dolt?" I asked. "Trying to find the rat?" He answers quickly. I rolled my eyes," get back to gauis, otherwise my father will have your head." I scolded. Just the the edge of white robes disappeared through the dungeon door. "Nevermind that. Follow me" I told the confused servant.

We chased robes down through the dungeon. Not thinking I signaled to Merlin. The dumb look on his face told me he didn't know what that meant. "Go that way," I whispered. I ran to left while he ran to the right. After a few minutes, we met again. "Didn't you see him?" I asked. He shook his head. "He got passed you. How could he get passed you are you blind?" I scolded him. "Are you looking for me?" An old voice said. We looked up to the staircase. There stood an old man with white robes and a staff of the Druids. "I am anhora, keeper of the unicorns." He said proudly. "There is a curfew in Camelot. What is your purpose?" I asked him. He looked shrewdly at me "To deliver a message." I knitted my brow "who is this message for? Surely I could pass it on?" With a very pointed look he answered "for you princess. With the death of the unicorn felled by your arrow, you have cursed your kingdom. To remedy your wrong. You will be tested." He spoke. Before I could move he was gone.

The hole in my boot was huge. "Merlin the rat ate my boot!" I yelled. "He must be hungry too" he retorted. I tossed a pillow at him. He dodged. "What I thought it was funny." He commented. "Mend my boot and capture the rat" I ordered. "Have you put any thought behind what anhora said?" He asked. "I have and I know that he is right" I responded. He leaned down to me and I stood on my toes. Our lips met quickly and I was off to training.

Merlin was leaned up against a pillar in the grain store. With each lip smack, I grew more agitated. I knew he and the others were hungry. I was too. I picked up a broom a smacked him with it. "What? I'm thirsty" he cried. "Don't remind me," I growled. He settled back down. "Merlin," I hissed. He sat up and we ran to the grain stores. Inside, i told him to go round the right side. As I carefully stepped around the otherwise, I saw a red haired man. "Put the grain down or I will give my sword the taste of blood" I told the man. He stood up and faced me. "My father has given orders to execute looters. What is your reason for this action?" I asked the scared man. "Pl-pl-please don't, my lady. My children are starving. They cry because of the hunger pains" he begged. "Most children are" I said coldly. I couldn't let myself break. "I know I shouldn't steal. But I cannot beard their cried any longer." He said. "What is your name sir?" I asked him. "Evan my lady" he said with a bow. "Well Evan, do you think your children would be better off if their father were beheaded?" I asked. He shook his head. "Well then, don't let the guards. Catch you" I told him. He nodded vigorously and ran for the door. "Oh and Evan? Make sure you make the most of this. It's the last we will have for sometime" I added tossing him the bag of grain. "Thank you every some much my lady. This will bring its own reward" he said.

The morning I drank the water Merlin gave me. The thirst in my throat would not be quenched. "I never thought that water could taste so good" Merlin said between glasses. "I agree" I added pouring myself another glass.

The square filled more with people. Morgana swished up. "Who are they?" She asked. "People from the outlying villages they have come in search of food" I told her. She looked on with pain echoed on her face. "They have came for something we cannot give" I confessed. "this isn't your fault you know" she tried to comfort. "But it won't last" I retaliated. Leaving Morgana, I walked by Gwen who was carrying a basket. I momentarily stopped to see them handing out bread pieces to the elderly and children.

Merlin scooped a heaping pile of stew into my bowl. "I'm not hungry" I told him. "Arya, you have to eat" he scolded me like I was five. "I really am responsible for all of this, aren't I?" I asked him. He looked at me grimly. "Tomorrow morning we will go to the forest to find anhora." I said Merlin nodded. With my soon I began to eat. The meat was slightly odd. "What did you put in this?" I asked Merlin. "Ahh, pork" he quickly answered. "This isn't pork. This is rat isn't it?" I asked him. The smile faded from his face. I rose and took him to my chair. Sitting him down and I sitting on his lap. "I was being rude to my lover. I didn't share this delicious meal with him. Here" I said scooping a spoonful of meat on the spoon. I fed him a bite of it and watched him gag a small bit. "It's actually really good" he said. "Good there is more!" I sung. A knock on the door made me jump out of Merlin's warm lap. "Enter!" I called. Morgana stuck her head in. "I hate to ask but do you have anything to eat?" She asked. I handed the pot of stew to her and she swept out the door. Merlin and I couldn't contain our laughter anymore. With a sudden urge, he came up to me and kissed me. Deeply this time. He pulled back "you are so beautiful when you laugh." I kissed him back.

The morning came and Merlin got me bathed and dressed in my armor. We rode to where we had encountered the unicorn. Dismounting, we began our search for Anhora. "What are we looking for?" Merlin asked. "Any signs of a person walking through here" I called him. Just then Anhora walked through the bushes. "Merlin" I cried. I ran after the keeper. In my pursuit, I came across Evan. "You? You're a thief?" I exclaimed. He shrugged "I thought that was apparent." I started to walk away "Fortunately for you I have other things to do" I told him. "You were so gullible. You fell for my story" he taunted. I took a deep breath "what kind of a man tells a lie to save his own skin?" I asked back. "You let thieves steal grain while your people starve. No wonder they can't trust their princess." He taunted more. "You aren't the voice of my people" I retaliated. "See your father, he would have manned up. Would have seen me to the block" he said with a venomous tone. "That is no way to speak to a lady let alone a princess. If you don't quell your tongue I will have to show you manners" I threatened. He grinned. "He is ashamed of having a daughter. He would rather a son. One who isn't weak and easily fooled" he tested. "Pick up your sword" I commanded. Swing the sword at him he blocked. "He fears for his kingdom. Leaving it on the hands of a daughter who has accrued a servant as a lover" he hissed. My blade slid down his with sparks flying. As soon as my blade was free, I pushed it through him. "No one speaks of my servant like that" I hissed in his ear. He disappeared. I turned to see anhora standing there "what do you want?" I asked. My blood was coursing through me, begging for another fight. "This was a test to see what was in your heart" he spoke. "And?" I inquired. "Why did you kill this man?" He answered my question with his. "He insulted me, my father and my servant" I answered straight. "You have proven that you will take the life over another for the sole purpose of retaining your honor. For that, Camelot will pay dearly" he told me. I threw my sword in the ground. Merlin came tumbling out the woods "Arya!" He yelled. Sheathing my sword, i headed back the direction he came from.

The grain stores had rotted. Just like my luck.

That afternoon I sat at my council seat. My thoughts were set on how I failed my people. The doors opened and father walked in. "We are dispersing what little we have left. There isn't enough for the people to continue to live" I reported. "Then stop," he said firmly and coldly. "They will starve!" I yelled. I wasn't in the mood to deal with my people starving while I ate. "We must put the army first" he retaliated to my tone. "We cannot let the people's stomachs go empty" I protested. "We must defend the kingdom no matter the cost" he argued back. "There is no kingdom without the people" I protested once more. My argument had finally won, just not with the answer I had hoped. "What would you have me do?" He questioned me. "I'd call for aid from one of the neighboring kingdoms" I stated. "And look weak? No that would mean an immediate attack from our enemies" he told me. "Besides, we have the pride of a kingdom to think of" he added. "Pride I cannot think of my pride when children starve and their parents have to watch them slowly die!" I yelled again. "You will stop handing out food, am I clear?" He ordered. "Do it yourself" I said coldly.

Standing over the ramparts that looked the citadel square. People, young and old continued to line up. Begging for food. Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath. "Arya," Merlin called. "My people starve, but some they still hold hope that this will end. They are in for a shock" I answered. His black brows knitted together "what do you mean?" He asked. "My father ordered the food to stop. The people will either die or leave. I've failed them Merlin. I am in no shape to be this queen you spoke of" I confessed. "You didn't know" he tried to reassure me. "Either way, this is my fault" I spoke gloomy.

That night Merlin had came in. "Anhora is giving you another chance. He said to go to the Labyrinth of Gedref" he told me. I sat there in my shift on the window sill with a dumb look on my face. "How?" I asked him. He smiled "oh never mind you dolt. For once you are the hero the kingdom needed without muddling in things too terribly" I answered to his smirk. I swung my legs around and pulled him in for a kiss. Our mouths met hot and ready. His hands wrapped in my golden waterfall of hair. I wrapped mine around his neck playing with his raven hair. I felt a hand run down my back and I trapped his waist with my legs. His mouth became more desperate with each second. He picked me up and carried me to the bed. "Arya, you need sleep" he said breathlessly. I groaned. "Fine" I said pouting. I flipped one side of the covers over and he covered me up. I fell asleep in his arms.

The morning found me dressed in my armor. I was adjusting the cinch on my saddle when Merlin came up. "Before you can ask, my answer is still no" I said. I could tell his mouth was open. "But what if you die? I won't be able to save you" he tried to reason. "Merlin, we both know that is too big of a price for magic and you're a shite physician." I told him. He huffed in objection, "what about if there was a magical foe?" He asked. "Merlin I will be fine. Just stay here this time annwyl. With a prayer, I'll be back safe" I told him. I mounted on my horse and gave him a kiss.

About half a day out, I came to the labyrinth. Dismounting Bron, I pulled my sword off the saddle. I made my way through the winding maze. Running through the stone and ivy arch, I saw Merlin sitting at a small stone table. "You dolt. I told you to stay home." I told the dark haired servant. Merlin gave me a pleading look. Anhora stood beside him. "Let him go. I'll take your test" I said. "I am afraid not. He is part of your test. And if you refuse to take the test, Camelot will fall." The white robe man said. "Fine" I said with attitude. "There are two goblets. One contains a deadly poison that will kill within seconds. They other a harmless liquid. All the liquid from both cups must be drunk. But only by a solitary person." Anhora explained. "That ridiculous. What does this prove?" I asked. "It will prove whatever you want it to prove. But only if you pass it." The old man scolded. "Alright, let's think about this. What if drink from my cup first?" Merlin stated. "If it's poison then you will die" I replied flatly. "The yours will be poison and you'll die" Merlin said with small amount of horror. "Well we have find out which cup has the poison. Then I'll drink it" I told him. It was perfectly reasonable to me. Merlin's face told me he thought otherwise. "No, I'll drink it. You're a princess, i'm just a servant" he said. "You are not just a servant and you know that" I told him. "Then how about we pour all the liquid in one cup. Then I'll drink it and the people have their princess" he exclaimed. "Well look at you," I remarked "finally using some of your brain that was given to you." He smiled in response. "What is that?" That I squinted and pointed to nothing. Merlin spun around searching for the very object that wasn't there. It two giant gulps but by the time I was done, Merlin had spun around. He yelled something out. My eyelids fluttered and closed.

A few hours after my eyes closed, I awoke to find Merlin sitting behind me on his horse leading mine. I groaned and he smiled. "Shut up you dolt" I remarked. He laughed. When the castle came into view. I mounted Bron and we rode into Camelot. The villagers were dancing with platters of food held high above their heads. Their shirts were drenched from the jugs of water. My father awaited us in the square and he pulled me off my horse. The kingdom was whole again. As father and the court walked inside, I turned. Merlin stood there, goofy grin wider than usual.

After the council meeting, I had Merlin draw me a bath. He had taken my armor off. Then got me out of the chainmail. Lancelot and Gwen stood in the room. Before he left I pulled Lancelot aside "Make sure no one gets in here. I have something in mind that no one should know about." He nodded. Back inside, I ran my hands up Merlin's tunic while he was tending to my bath. It came easily off. "Arya, we can't" he tried to protest. "Lancelot will hold off who ever tries to get in long enough" I told him. "Arya, your honor needs to stay intact" he tried to argue. "Just get in the damn tub." I ordered him. I took my pants off and my underthings as well. Wrapping my hair in a bun and sticking it with a hair stick, I gathered my towel. I walked across my chambers and dropped the towel. Sliding in the tub with Merlin, I sighed. I sat across from him smiling. "See you dolt" I giggled. He splashed me. I returned the favor. After we scrubbed down and washed my hair of all the dirt and grim. We sat there cuddling. The moment the water cooler slightly, Merlin would warm it up. His chest bore small amounts of hair and was slightly wider than I thought. He would make the steam change into different shapes. When he made a dragon, I spoke up "do you think there are any water dragons?" He shrugged. "I don't know Kilgharrah is the last of his kind" he answered entwining his fingers with mine.

After our bath, we rode out again. My green cloak surrounded me as I rode Bron. Lancelot rode behind Merlin and I. As soon as we reached the glade where I killed the unicorn, we stopped. Merlin helped me dismount. My emerald velvet dress that match my cloak swept leaves aside. Pulling the hood down to reveal the golden circlet. Merlin made a small a granite case. I pulled the horn from my saddle and brought it to the coffin. Wrapping it back in the bright red silk cloth, I laid it down. Merlin sealed the coffin. "Your life should've never ended. I truly am sorry." Merlin tapped me. I turned to see a unicorn come to us. Reaching out, my hand met it's nose. The soft white nuzzle felt softer than the velvet I wore. My hand ran towards the mane. Merlin giggled "he likes you." I smiled and I felt hands around my waist. Suddenly I sat astride the unicorn. Merlin and Lance were smiling. I hugged the unicorn's neck and it slowly moved forward. Walking around the grove, I laughed. I heard Merlin shout "long live Queen Arebella!"

Chapter Text

Merlin and I rode our horses through the woods. My green velvet cape billowing from the race. I pulled back on Bron and Merlin jetted his mare in front of me. Weaving with each other we kept going. Past the lake Merlin pulled me out of. We came across a great granite castle.

We got down and walked in. Mother Nature had reclaimed it. Ivy grew around the bricks. The roof had fallen in. Walking into the main hall, I saw the tattered banners flutter. The crest on it was a bird of prey holding a golden crown. The hall itself was big enough to fit kilgharrah ten fold. "The castle of the dragon lords" I heard Merlin say. At the end of the hall was an ivory throne. While the rest of the castle crumbled around it, it stayed bare and smooth. I walked up to it and sat down. The throne didn't feel right because it wasn't mine. "Merlin!" I called. He ran up and I sat him down. He looked goofy but like he belong. "All hail the last dragon lord. All hail Merlin!" I joked and bowed. He mockingly waved. He shot up and grabbed me. "But what is a dragon lord without his queen?" He said. He kneeled and kissed my hand. I drew my sword from my golden belt the separated the red skirts from the red bodice. "Lord Merlin, I dub thee sir Merlin." I announced. He laughed and stood up to kiss me. "Come on we have to head back your father is going to kill me if you aren't back for your patrols" he said between my kisses. The attempt to silence him failed. "Annwyl, be quiet. I want just a few moments with you uninterrupted with no watch" I scolded. He laughed "Come on Arya." He took my hand in his and led me to my horse.

That evening my patrol passed by Tom's forge. We surrounded the forge when we noticed that it was still lit. Tom was talking with someone. At my signal we all burst in. Tom instantly swore he was innocent. The sorcerer escaped.

I knocked on father's door. "Enter" he called. Stepping in with my long leather coat trailing me, I bowed. "Tauren escaped however my men are still searching for him. Tom the blacksmith was arrested as an accomplice." I reported to father. The salt and peppered King was sitting in his chair by the fireplace. With a swirl of his wine, he answered me "Then he will be sentenced to death. Tauren must be caught at all costs, am I understood?" I bowed in answer. Morgana stormed in while in her nightgown. "You! Of all the despicable acts! My maids father is being tried for treason and hanged!" She shrieked. "Yes he is being tried for treason. Now stop yelling or you will wake the dead" father told her. I walked out knowing full well that this argument was worth less effort than what was being put in.

My room was empty when I got to it. It was late. Undressing myself, I thought about the events that had transpired. My hopes that Tom wasn't involved had been dashed. Slipping my silk nightgown on quieted my mind. For the first time in years, my braid wasn't done by magic. As I lay on my massive bed, I couldn't help but notice the emptiness that lay beside me instead of the man who had stole my heart from day one. With uneasiness, I fell asleep.

In the morning, a familiar voice lulled me awake. Those dark blue eyes I had grown to accustomed to stared into mine. Pulling his face down to mine, I planted a kiss on him. "What have you been at?" I asked. Merlin vomited out new information information. I sat up "So you're saying that Tom didn't know that he was involved in an experiment with magic?" I asked. Merlin nodded "he even said that he tried to refuse the gold too." I shook my head to clear it. "My father will never see that all he sees are enemies. I can never publicly free him or pardon him. But I can give him comfort knowing that I believe he is innocent. And give him a promise. Merlin, you are free for the remainder of the day after you complete your list. But please, come back before dinner" I told him. He nodded. I finished my breakfast and Merlin put me in my purple dress. He disappeared and I took the opportunity to leave.

Finding myself at the dungeons, I stopped by tom's cell. The blacksmith sat on the dungeon floor. The guards opened the door and I stepped inside. "Leave us" I ordered. After the guard's footsteps echoed far enough down the hall, I spoke. "Tom, Merlin told me everything. I hope you know, that if I were in any position, I would've let you go" I told him. He jumped up and hugged me "I know my lady, and I would do everything in my power to make sure you had the sorcerer in the cells" he reassured. "I can give you my word, Gwen will retain all your property" I told him. He nodded "yes thank you. She considers you one of her good friends." I smiled "I must go. Any more of this and my father will have everyone's head.” I hugged the blacksmith and walked out.

At the corners to go back up, I took a right. When the darkness closed in, I grabbed a torch. Winding through the tunnels till I came to a massive cavern. Standing on the ledge, I felt a gust of wind. “Ahh, Princess” the great dragon called out. “To what do I owe the honor?” He asked landing. “This enemy Tauren. Why does he seek to kill my father?” I asked. “He has committed wrongs. Terrible amount of wrongs. I cannot give you that answer” the dragon said. “How do I right the wrong?” I asked. He chuckled “this wrong you cannot right. However, the wrong in its whole, you can right with the aid of your lover.” With that he leaped from the ground and soared into the cavern ceiling. “Still maddeningly unhelpful,” I murmured.

Standing at my window, I watched the executioner and two of Galahad’s men walk a line of men. “They are going to be executed?” Merlin asked from behind. I nodded to answer his question. “Why?” He asked. “Because my father believes that magic is evil and anyone who comes into contact cannot be trusted” I said coldly. He wrapped his arms around me “you know magic isn't evil.” My hand rubbed his arm and spoke “I know that. But my father doesn't . He never will” I told him.

That night as I lay there thinking about what the dragon said, the warning bells sounded. I kept up and put my coat on. Following my father who had stepped into the council chambers, I shut the door. “I want him dead!” The King yelled. “Father what about the trial?” I asked. He snapped around “he has proven he was guilty. He no longer has a right to a trial. Kill him” he said cruelly. The guards ran out but I remained there. “One day, cruelty will catch up to you” I said and rushed from the room. The only time I stopped was when I reached Gwen's house.

Bringing Gwen to Merlin was painful. My father had the body being wheeled out like trash. She collapsed on her father's body. Wiping away the tears of sadness and mourning, i reached to her and pulled my still clinging friend from her dead father. Gwen set the pace. Her footsteps were unsure and her breath ragged. Morgana found us and helped our slow trio moved to the dirge of sobs.

After a tall cup of a sleeping potion from gaius and a nap. Gwen was lucid enough. “Gwen, before your father died, I swore to him that the house and forge would go to you. When you feel ready, it's there for you” I told her squatting before the broken woman. She nodded her head. We left her alone with Lancelot. He curled up behind her as she drifted off again. I closed the door making sure my coat didn't catch. Using the small wash basin, I wiped off the remaining tears of Gwen. “Will you be that bad when your father passed?” Merlin asked appearing at the table making me jump. “We really have to get you a new hobby” I told the servant “as for my father, I don't know. Sometimes, he seems so doting and caring other times, he's so distant.” Merlin remained motionless. I sat with him. Taking his hands in mine, I traced the minutely small lines. Just then the door burst open and I let go. “My lady! The King has put Lady Morgana in the dungeons!” The guard told me. Rolling my eyes, Merlin and I got up.

After an argument with my irate father, I made my way to the dungeons. Finding a feral Morgana skittering to the wall, I unlocked the door. “Come to gloat?” She asked. I ignored her question and unlocked the cuffs. After the last one fell, I spoke “I had you released. On the condition that you stay around me. Which means, you will learn all the dirt on me. But it will also mean that I can keep an eye on you.” She nodded and we left. “Thank you by the way” Morgana added.

Morgana had taken some time to talk with Gwen. She apologized to my father. Next thing I knew she had scheduled a visit to her father's grave. “Merlin!” I yelled walking through the halls. He came sliding out of the armory. I grabbed his arm and we walked to the nearest empty place. “Arya, what are you doing?” I heard Merlin hiss. I found a small room with no windows and the door the only exited. Shoving him inside, I closed the door behind me. “What do you think you're doing? Everyone will be looking for us” he hissed standing close. “Merlin shut up. I need you to follow Morgana. Something isn't sitting right” I told him quietly. “I drug you in here to tell you because it's solitary and I don't want anyone knowing. My eyes met his. Even in the semi-dark, his eyes were captivating. My hand seemed to will itself to touch his face. “As you wish, my lady” he said. He opened the door and walked out leaving me standing there.

A few days later, I watched Father and Morgana ride out. Merlin shortly rode out after them with his sidhe staff in hand.

Merlin came riding into the stables on his mare. Thankfully Tyr was gone and the master of horses was out to his country home. Merlin slid down from his mare and kissed me hard. We smiled as we walked to the stairs. And awaited my father.

Chapter Text

“Spear,” I whispered. Merlin dropped the spear on my foot. “Honestly Merlin, have you any normal talents?” I asked. “Well I am naturally more considerate and exceptional at story telling” he teased. It picked up the spear. A growl emitted from the bushes. We walked forward and a beast with the head of a snake jumped at us. We all retreated. Looking around I knew immediately realized that someone was missing. “Where is Kay?” I asked. A blood curling scream was heard.

We told my father and gaius of this. Gaius warned me not to face it again. However the king gave me orders I couldn't ignore. While we were gearing up, Morgana bolted out of the castle. “Don't go!” She yelled. “Morgana what in the world?” I asked her. She was hysterical “you'll die Arya” she told me. Her gaze turned to Merlin. “I promise she will come back my lady” he tried to tell her. Lance picked her up as she was screaming. When he returned, we mounted. With Merlin and Lancelot riding behind me, we set off to face the questing beast.

We tracked it through the forest. When the horses became restless we left them behind. We entered the lair of the beast. Hissing and growling came from all around us. As the beast flanked us, I pushed Merlin out of the way. Feeling the sharp burning pain in my chest, I dropped to the ground. Everything went back. Save for Merlin yelling.

I thought I had awakened. Seeing the woman on the table, I became puzzled. We had no women with us. Save for one me. Then I realized that the woman was me. Never guessed how golden my hair was or how much my tunic and breeches looked good on me. My thoughts turned to Merlin. Fearing that he had passed. When I heard gaius calling, it clicked. I was seeing everything he was. His feelings were mine. At that point all he felt was pain. The pain of feeling helpless not being able to save the love of his life.

My father busted in. “Where is the princess? Where is my daughter?” He asked full of panic. Merlin willed my need to yell out down. My father saw my body and the color of his face drained. “Gaius, do something!” He yelled as he stood beside me stroking my hair. “I am trying sire. Merlin said she was bitten by the questing beast” Gaius told him. The red hot pang of guilt and intense sadness rose through Merlin. Tears stung our eyes. “I will beat her to her chambers” My father said lifting my lifeless body off the table. Merlin followed him. In the courtyard we watched my father collapse in agony coddling my body. His tears fell into my hair. Lancelot, Leon and four knights lifted me from his arms. please comfort my father for a moment annwyl. As Merlin walked forward and put a hand on my father's shoulder, Gwen and Morgana ran out. Morgana held my father as Gwen and Merlin stood as silent sentries.

Merlin went to Kilgharrah. “How do I save her?” He asked through hot tears. The dragon bowed his head. “I am sorry for you pain un bach. She proved she was more than her father at that age. But to save her, you must go to the old religion. What has cursed her, can cure her” he told Merlin. “But how?” Merlin asked. “You must find one on the isle of the blessed” the dragon answered. “Thank you, so much” Merlin said excitedly.

He rushed up to my chambers. Morgana was tending to me. “May I have sometime alone with her?” He asked Morgana. She nodded and left the room. “Arya,” he breathed “I know I can't save you just with my magic. But I have a way to save you.” I felt his warm hand on mine. “Someday you will make a wonderful queen. You will be fair and just. That crown will sit proudly on top of your beautiful hair. Whoever wins your hand, will be a lucky man. You’ll have strong sons and fair daughters” he said. I felt my stomach drop in my own body. Merlin don't I tried to plead. “Just know, I will always be proud of you” he said. He squeezed my hand and leaned forward to whisper “I love you Arebella Pendragon. I will always love you.” He kissed me as they warmed me up. He laid his forehead on mine. After a few seconds he walked out the door. My father was sitting there. He jumped when Merlin walked out “How is she? I know you and her were gaius’s apprentices” he questioned Merlin. “No change sire” he answered. My father broke as he took in those words. “Find her a cure. You've saved her so many times before. I've seen the way you look at her. That's why you save her. You are in love with her” My father said. “There can never be anything to come of it though my lord. It's not like she returns it either. To her I'm no more than a servant” Merlin told my father. “But still you save her and stay undyingly loyal to her. If you had been born noble, I'm sure she would have considered you” my father said with tiredness. “We are all born to our destinies. All are born where they are meant” The scrawny young man said. “At first, I thought you some mental affliction. But now, I see some wisdom earned from mistakes. Find the cure, save my daughter. I will find you a reward” my father told him. “The only reward I want is to serve the princess Arebella” Merlin reminded him. Merlin walked away from my father leaving him outside my door.

Merlin busted into gaius's chambers. “Ah! Merlin there you are I need you to take this to Arya so she will pass with ease” Gaius's told him. “You are going to half to do that by yourself. I've found a way to cure her and I'm taking it Gaius” Merlin told the physician. Gaius gave him the pointed look everyone knows. “Merlin, what are you going to do?” Gaius inquired. “I am going to the isle of the blessed. I am going to save her!” Merlin shouted. “Merlin, they are going to ask a price” Gaius said calmly. “I know and if anyone is to going to die it is going to be me. I can't let her die” Merlin spoke “I can't let her die.” With a wipe of his sleeve he walked out the door before Gaius could argue further.

My father met him at the stables. Tyr had Bron ready. Merlin mounted my stallion. He looked up to my chambers and saw Morgana and Gwen watching. My father spoke up “Save my daughter.” Taking the reins into his large hands, “I will” he told my father. With a swift kick Merlin rode around the group of mourners, down the alabaster path, across the sea of black and towards the mountains.

He came to a boat docked at a very well kept docked. He dismounted Bron and walked down the hill. Once he sat in it he noticed there was no paddle. He used his magic to propel him to a broken fortress.

Once on the island, he looked to the courtyard. He walked towards the large basin. The lady I had met in the caves stepped out of a doorway and onto the stairs. “Hello?” Merlin called to her. “Hello” she said sweetly. “You can't be who the dragon meant” he said. A puzzled look spread on her face “and why not?” She asked. “You tried to kill Arya and I” he retorted. “That was before I knew exactly who you were” she said. “Then have you learned why I am here?” He asked her. “I do” she answered. “Will you?” He asked again. “You remember the price of such a feat?” She asked in return. “I offer my life in place of Arya Pendragon’s life. Cause to me and thousands of others, she is worth more than I could ever be” he said. Merlin you dolt don't do it! How would I make it without you? I screamed with all my might. “Remember what is done cannot be undone” she said. She handed Merlin the cup. With a raise of her arms and a incantation, it rained. “I hope this pleases you” she spoke ominously.

Once he was across the lake, Merlin mounted back on Bron. “Bron, I have the cure to save your mistress. Carry us swiftly home” he whispered to the horse. With that the stallion bolted. Merlin's hopes higher than ever.

As soon as Bron got the stables, Merlin slid off. He ran through the halls to My chambers. Gaius stood attending me. “Here” Merlin said pushing the container in the old physicians hands. Feeling the cold water cross my lips, my view from Merlin's eyes faded. I felt my chest rise slowly. “A cure?” I heard my father ask. “Yes your sire, we just have to wait” Gaius said. “I watch over her till she wakes” Merlin said. My father nodded. I heard them walk out the door. “Arya” Merlin called. My eyes fluttered open to his ethereal face. “Merlin” I breathed. I leaned up and kissed him. He held the back of my head as he deepened the kiss. We laughed quietly not letting our faces part. “I thought you were gone for good. But I felt you with me.” He whispered. I shook my head “I could never leave you” I told him. I gave him another hard kiss. “I've got to inform the guards you're awake” he said. I laid back down and sighed.

My father busted in the doors smiling and Gaius wasn't far behind with a grin on his face. Morgana and Gwen came by after a while.

That night while I was drinking some tea Gaius gave me, Lancelot busted in. “My lady, the lady hunith has come to Camelot severely ill” he uttered breathlessly. Time seem to slow down and Lancelot led me through the halls. My nightgown gave us away as we wound our way up the stairs. The sight of Merlin's mother lying there made my stomachs drop. Seemed in slow motion Gaius and tended to her. We cleaned her and put honey on the wounds. Merlin was holding her head soothing her with red eyes.

Merlin was pacing. I had sat with his mother while he was gone. Gwen was tending to her now as we both. He was pondering over what the dragon said. Gaius was out. “Merlin, if you truly want to save your mother do it in the morning. No good can come of it in the dark” I told him. “Your right. Come let's get you to bed” he ushered. We walked the winding and twisting halls. We remained silent. I opened my door to and walked in. He came in and I turned quickly and kissed him. Giving in he kissed back. We walked back into the bed. He laid me down and kissed me even harder as if I was his water in a desert. He pinned my right hand above my head as we kept kissing. I moaned as he kissed my neck and the bare spots on my collar bones. He rolled off me and kissed my forehead. “Night, my princess” he whispered. I drifted off to sleep.

When I woke up in the morning, I found myself alone. I put on my simple lavender dress and made my way to Gaius's chambers. Morgana was there “Merlin left those for you” she said sitting with hunith who had a bowl of broth. In front of them, I saw moon lilies towering above eggs and strawberries. A glass of orange juice stood beside it. I ate my food with Morgana smiling at me. “My boy has taken to you, my lady” Hunith said. “And I with him. His oddity becomes him” I said between bites of egg. “I overheard one of the guards saying if Merlin had been born a lord, Uther would have given him permission to ask for your hand” Morgana spoke up. Hunith and I giggled. But hers seemed more like it withheld a secret that wasn't hers to share.

The day was spent with Morgana and I tending to Hunith. A few hours after lunch time, magically her sore begun to heal. Hunith and I gave each other knowing smiled while Morgana remained puzzled. Lancelot came in from his day with Gwen. “The guards have spotted Merlin and Gaius” He said. “Lance we have to get you to stay closer. You can't keep being my messenger” I told him. All four of us met Gwen on the steps and waited. It seemed lined forever but when the pair rode in, we welcomed them. Everyone smiling and happy. I looked at Merlin smiling. Looking up at the door, my father stood tall with pride. As Gaius walked up to him, he grabbed the old man and they hugged.

Chapter Text

Lancelot, Gwen, Morgana, Merlin and I were out in the clearing enjoying our picnic. Laughter and chatter in the air. Our group was safe for everyone to be themselves. Gwen leaned on Lancelot and I on Merlin. “What about when Arya got the better of Galahad? I swore that old man would never stop whining” Lancelot said. I threw a heap at him. Merlin leaned down to kiss me and everyone acted disgusted. “Well, while we are spreading the love. I have a question I would like to ask” Lancelot commented. He got up on one knee. He looked at the sitting. Gwen. “Dear guinevere, it's been almost two years since we met and I had asked for your hand before your father died. He consented and gave me your mother's ring. So would you do me and it the honor of accepting my proposal?” He asked. Morgana and I giggled to each other. With tears in her eyes, she nodded her head. We all clapped and cheered as they kissed. Morgana spoke first “ I will let you have my old white dress. I need new ones anyways.” Gwen was dumbfounded “no that's okay really please.” I looked at Morgana. “I believe there is a priest in the chapel we could convince to marry you guys” I teased. “I could do the flowers and steal some food from the kitchens” Merlin piped in. Gwen and Lancelot were red. “Why not?” Lancelot decided. “What?!” Gwen exclaimed. “Why not? We can do it tonight. I'll have Gaius and Merlin stand for me. You can have Morgana and Arya. It's perfect.” He spoke. We laughed as Gwen turned red even more.

That evening Gwen and Lancelot stood at the altar in the little chapel in lowtown. They said their vows and soon we were in a tavern with the entirety of the occupants drinking. They had turned it into a impromptu celebration. We all drank. Morgana was the second attraction to the party. The music had us dancing and laughing. One of the men there was watching me. He came over to me “My name is Brian” he said. “Arya,” I yelled over the music. “So what brings her highness here?” He asked loudly. “My friend got married. That's her and her new husband there” I yelled back. “Wait tom’s daughter is your friend?” He yelled back. I nodded quickly. “Can we go somewhere quiet?” He asked barely audible. I took a drink of my mead and bobbed my head to the beat.

Next thing I knew was I was in the back alley with his mouth on my collar bone. I pushed him off and punched him. “I could have you for that” I told him. He got up and went to swing at me again when he fell over fast asleep. “Merlin!” I yelled. He stepped out of the shadows “You're welcome Arya” he said. “I didn't need your help” I scolded. “Arya, you're drunk” he said. “I maybe drunk Merlin. But I certainly can handle myself. I don't need you to protect me. That is lancelot’s job” I said. “And a fine job he has done. You almost died Arya. In my arms. Forgive me if I worry” he commented. “Well you don't need to worry. You're just a servant remember? Your job is to take care of your chores” I told him. “Arya, you don't mean that” he said to me confused. “You forget that the only reason my father spoke to like that is because I was dying. To him your just dirt on the floor. Maybe I should give you the day off from working under me. Just so you remember I'm not yours” I spat. He stood there shocked. One tear rolled down his face. “If that's how you feel then I will take tomorrow off your highness” he said. I stumbled away. I got to my chambers and threw my left sleeve from my purple dress across the room. My right sleeve shortly followed. Pulling the ties from my dress, I stumbled to bed naked. “Stupid Merlin. I don't belong to him” I murmured.

The next morning a serving girl awoke me. My breakfast was ready and my tunic, corset and breeches laid out. I went through the entire morning without seeing Merlin anywhere. I wanted to apologize to him. After knight's training, I ran partially armored and both swords still belted on. I opened gaius's door and the old man was standing there. “Ah Arya? May I ask what you need?” He inquired. “Has Merlin been here?” I asked him. “He is in his room, he asked not to be disturbed. Should I tell him you were here?” Gaius asked. I shook my head “No” I told him. Closing the door I walked to the armory and took my armor off. Undoing my belt and putting my sword up, tears stung my eyes. Everything had come back to me from last night. There were so many ways I could have handled it better than the way I did. Merlin was just doing what he always did.

I took the afternoon off telling my father I didn't feel well. I was in my white gown that was made as the twin to Morgana’s sitting on the sill of my big window. Morgana had come to see how I was. She had a plate of food brought up but only she touched it. She left after a while. Night time fell while I still sat my window sill staring out.

My door opened and shut itself quietly. “My lady, I heard you had came to Gaius's chambers looking for me” a voice spoke. I looked up with my red and swollen eyes to see Merlin standing there. I wanted to run up to him, say I was sorry. Beg forgiveness but the look on his face and from what I remember from last night led me to believe I deserved none. He came and sat on the sill with me. He never looked at me. “Merlin, at first today, I wanted to apologize for my actions with the other man. But I remembered everything. Now, I just want you to know I am really sorry. The things that were said were cruel and harsh” I spoke breaking the silence. He nodded “but they had truth. You can never be mine. I've been overstepping boundaries since we met. Not just personal but societally as well. I know you didn't ask for it, but I do forgive you” he said above a whisper. “I don't deserve that Merlin I don't” I tried to reason with him. He finally looked at me and smiled broken-heartedly. “Don't cry my lady, someone will take you for bride someday. Then you can have all the obedient servants you want” he said. I used my sleeve to wipe my nose “but you'll stay right? To work?” I asked. He nodded and I hugged him. He lightly hugged back.

In the following weeks, everything was quiet. I attended council meetings and spent time with Morgana. Merlin was still beside me, we just didn't talk unless it was him reminding me of my duties. He still looked grim at my plate full of food as he took it down stairs. Dinner time was spent rolling food around my plate. Father noticed but didn't dare utter a word.

One morning after I got back from knights training, I found my father in my chambers. “Arya” he said as I took my armor off. “We need to talk. Whatever happened at your friends’ wedding needs to be put behind you. Camelot needs you as my heir” he said. I looked at the aging King and smiled a sad smile. “Don't worry papa, I'll be fine. Just give it sometime” I told him. He kissed my golden locks and walked away.

Six months had gone by after Merlin and I had our spat that ended our relationship. One of the guards had found a tunnel under the castle. It lead to a tomb. So my father order the tomb dug up. Gwen and Lancelot were now happy. We put Lancelot as the head of the guard. Merlin still followed me around. Our hands still brushed every once in awhile filling us with hope. Every once in awhile my dreams were not my own and I found myself watching a scene of me dressed in my pendragon red dress heavy with child. Or mad and throwing a pillow. I'd awake in the middle of the night to tears and I'd roll over. No matter how hard it was, Merlin and I were done.

Or so I thought.

Morning had found me up and dressed. My non Merlin breakfast was done and I was organizing reports for the council when I bumped into Merlin stand at my door. “Merlin, I am sorry. I didn't mean it.” I said. Trying to move around him was impossible. Finally after a few tries and the flitter of my sheer golden sleeves, I walked back to the table and slammed the leather books down. He closed the door. His eyes storming like he was possessed. “Merlin what in heaven's name are you doing?” I asked. In two swift movements he strode across the room and grabbed my face. He kissed me hard knocking me back into table. After the initial surprise, I kissed back. He pulled me up and pushed my skirts back. Moans escaped as he kissed my collar bones and slid his fingers in the wet slit. “We will just tell the council you were feeling ill” he whispered in my ear. Shivers ran down my spine. “Not here” I told him taking his hand we headed towards the servants hall. “No Arya, hang on” Merlin called quietly. He made a person and grabbed me. “Hang on” he said.

 

With a swirl of smoke we were at our little pond. I brushed my silk gold dress straight. Merlin looked at me. He kissed me again but this time not as rough. He kissed down my neck and across my bare collar bones. He slowly laid us over against the cool ground. Pulling the fastening undone while kissing me he slid my dress off my shoulders. Once he got the dress from around my breasts, his mouth cover them. Moaning and buck my body against his, he started pushing back. I took my dress off and he slid his tunic off. I kissed his chest and ran my nails down his back in pleasures moans as he pushed the rock hard member against me. I squiggled out from underneath him and slipped into the pool. The water was warm. I stood under the waterfall and rejoiced in the feeling. I felt big hands on me drag me to one of the ends. Merlin sat on the underwater ledge “Arya, I'm tired of waiting. I want you. I want you back” he said. I kissed him to keep him quiet. Taking my legs I straddled him feeling the rock hard length. “Then have me” I breathed. I sank on him. It was painful at first. We breathlessly smiled at each other. We started rocking in time with each other. With his cook and mouth he drove me mad. Pleasure washed over me again and again. Finally when it became too much for him, he pulled me off. We sat on the ledge giggling.

After a while, I had to speak up. “What happened to me saving myself for a husband?” I asked pouring water down his chest. He smiled, “I don't think anyone else would be able to handle you. On the other hand I wasn't planning on my lapse of morals. All I wanted you to know is I still love you” Merlin said. I splashed him “that was for thinking I'm unmanageable,” I kissed him “That is for still loving me” I told him. “However not much can still come of it” I said to him. “Still not ready?” He asked. “Merlin I love you but I think at the moment we had should stay a secret for now. Trust, I would love to be like we were. But my father has just started to see me recover. He thinks I was upset about Lancelot marrying Gwen. So if all the sudden we went back to where we, he noticed” I told him. He started to get up but I sat on his lap “but that doesn't mean I don't want this. I love you Emrys. I just gave you my maidenhead. And I still want you to come to me at night to fall asleep with” I told him. He pulled me in for another kiss and we made love again.

The rest of the week my mind went back to the pond. Everything seemed okay but not its best. Even my sleep wasn't the best. With one final clank I sat up and got myself out of bed. “Fetch Merlin please” I ordered the guards.

Chapter Text

“Merlin!” I called. The gangly young man popped out from behind the door finally. “Yes my lady?” He asked. I sat up hold the covers over my breasts “Are you hard of hearing?” I asked him. He closed the door and put a fake thinking face on “No and I'm sure there is someone that would say the same” he said sarcastically and proudly. “Go and tell them to keep it down” I ordered half asleep. “But they work around the clock under your father's order” he commented. As I sat up I threw a pillow at him he dodged “then tell them you're under my orders and the princess is threatening to cut your head off” I told him.

“Since this is a grand tomb, I want this guarded at all times” Father ordered. “Idiot” he said as a plate rolled from Merlin's direction. Giving Merlin a glare, I spoke to father “yes sire.” Father turned and Merlin started eyeing me. I had my leather corset on a pair of brown skin tight breeches, my bright white tunic and my long leather coat, nothing unusual. “Who do I have to thank for all this wonderful treasure? Brutus?” Father inquired. Merlin's gaze darted to the jewel in the tomb. “It's unknown, sure but I will look into with geoffrey” gaius spoke. Father stepped over a dead body “what about this one?” He asked pointedly. “Triggered a trap site” Gaius commented. “It was laid out to deter anyone looking to rob the grave” I added. “With all this gold, I can see why. The guard duty is your responsibility” Father ordered. I bow “Yes father” I said. Father and Gaius left with the guards. Merlin caught my attention for a moment. Both of us hesitated to say something. Breaking the silence, I walked out.

That night I was reviewing reports and Merlin was mending one of my tunics. “We are hunting tomorrow” I spoke to him. His eyes rolled “it's boar hunting we will be doing” I commented. He set the tunic down on the table “that's all you can say? Not Merlin I hope you have fun killing or how are you? How's the weather?” He asked annoyed. I set my papers down and leaned forward towards him. “Spit it out Merlin. What do you want me to say? I miss you? I am still madly in love with you? Because I could go on. But since we don't have a warning system, I'd much rather not be found with you and watch my father burn or behead you.” I hissed to him. He looked down. “My father will not understand if he finds out. He firmly believes that nobles so should marry nobles. So if he even suspects that this is mutual and has gone as far as it has, your going to be tried just as quick as if he learned you were a sorcerer” I added. He nodded. I rose and opened the door “I am going to bed. If anyone asks to see me, I am indisposed” I ordered. The guards nodded. Closing the door I walked behind the screen and loosened the fastenings of my dress. My nightgown was laid over the screen.

Walking out from behind the screen; I was caught in the arms of my scrawny servant. He picked me up and carried me to my bed. Laying me down, he planted a kiss on me. I pulled him on top of me. He let out a moan. “Shh or we will definitely be caught” I whispered. Rolling him off me, I straddled him. He sat up and kissed me while he was taking off my gown. Flinging the gown and his tunic aside we let our passions consume us. With each wave and muffled moan the lights near the bed grew and dimmed.

In the morning, I awoke to find Merlin dressed and preparing the hunting gear. I moaned as I stretched out like a cat waking up. “Did you leave last night?” I asked him. “No I made sure that no one would bother you though” he spoke quietly. I dressed in my black breeches and rust red tunic. We headed out to the courtyard.

“Merlin!” I yelled at him after falling off the horse. He rushed over and helped me up “I don't understand, I did that girth up myself” he murmured. “Maybe that's the in lying problem?” I suggested. He gave me a pointed look. Suddenly a very gaunt and frail looking man scurried over, “let me correct the girth” he said not looking at me. My brow shot up “thank you” I told him as he fixed it. “Here my lady, let me brush you off. It's an honor to serve you” he said. “An honor” I echoed. Watching Merlin's face, the gold in his eyes started replacing the blue as his rage and jealousy grew . The man was careful not to touch my breasts. “What's your name?” I asked the gaunt man. “Cedric, my lady. I've come to Camelot looking for work” he answered. “Well we are looking for a beater, come along” I said. He nodded and I mounted bron. I heard Merlin speak and and soft oof from Cedric.

We were stalking a boat when it turned on me. A spear flew past my head and stuck the beast. “Who threw that?” I asked full well knowing Merlin had. Cedric coughed in answer and with Merlin's secret not mine to give out I took it. “You threw it? You saved me” I said. “Oh it was nothing” he said. “Nonsense, you deserve a reward” I said in a royal tone. Merlin was getting agitated I could see it. “Well, I would like to tend to the lady if she doesn't mind” he said. “Done!” I blurted out. Merlin’s ears could've been the deepest shade of green if they turned anything but red.

After we got back I made use of Cedric and walked to my room. Merlin jogged behind me, “you know for someone so small you certainly move quick” he called breathlessly. I smiled while hanging my head. I turned while I was still walking through the hall “of course, I have to keep up with you” I yelled and took of running. We got to my rooms and I was first in the door. He got in the room and closed it while grabbing me. He planted a hot frenzied kiss on my lips and I kissed back. After a minute I pulled away “you know I hired him to give you help around here” I said between kisses. “Really?” He said with sarcasm “and here I thought it was to make me jealous of you.” I grinned “now I need a bath and my emerald dress so I can properly show off that pig” I said. He filled the bathtub quickly with piping hot water and pulled the curtain closed.

I was enjoying the hot bath and a glass of wine when Cedric came in. I could see his hesitation about the situation through the curtain. “Cedric, it's fine like this. I have had a bodyguard and Merlin in the room and they cannot see me but I could see them. Merlin be a doll put the dress up. Cedric, would you tell the men to bring the beast of a pig up?” I ordered. Both men bowed. Cedric left the room and Merlin hung the dress on the screen. “Anything else my lady?” He asked formally. For a moment I forgot the day and I could see the nervousness from the first day still in him. “No Merlin that'll be all” I said. Right as his hands touched the doorknob I spoke again “thank you.” He opened the door and walked out.

We presented the hog and a few does to my father. He was pleased with the hall and the addition to my personal attendants. The cook however was upset by the fact that she had a boatload to cook for tonight's dinner.

After dinner, I retired to my chambers. The usual group sat at my table. Cedric was vacant of his duties but I considered it a blessing. Morgana and Merlin sat on one side and Gwen and Lancelot on the other. We had a bit to drink and laughed. Finally Morgana retired to her chambers and Lancelot to the guard house for change of shift. Merlin stood in front of the screen as I changed to my night gown. He smiled as I walked around the screen with my golden hair loose. “Still in your bed clothes, you somehow look ravishing” he commented. I gave him the look gaius would give me. He grabbed my waist “anything else, my lady?” He kissed my neck asking. Laying my head sideways I let the electricity crackle throughout my nerves. “Mm well there is one thing but if we were caught, we'd be in a world of hurt” I said. He kissed one last time and then kissed my lips. “Of course, annwyl” he said. He walked to the door “Arya,” he said. I held my breath at the sound of my name “I'll have breakfast in the morning” he said. My heart plunged and my breath released as he closed the door.

In the Morning, I was awoken by Cedric. “My lady I have your clothes out, breakfast brought up all of your armor polished, sword sharpened” he said. “Thank you” I said caught off guard. I got dressed and took a bite of the breakfast “this is good” I complimented; but not as good as Merlin's. Merlin opened the door. He looked upset at Cedric's breakfast. But I got up and got the strawberries and orange juice from his tray. “Thank you” I mouthed. Which gave him a smirk. Taking a sip of the Orange juice i asked Cedric “what else is there to be done?” His brows knit in thought and he finally spoke “I did forget to muck out your horses my lady.” I gave Merlin the look and he sighed.

Later, as I went to get ready for patrol I noticed the entire stock was missing. “Madam?” A guard asked. Merlin shot up “Madam?” And he cleared his throat. “Merlin! Have you some issue with eyesight?” I asked. He stared at me puzzled not knowing manure was all over his face “eyesight? No eyesight is fine” he remarked. “Funny then there must be some affliction cause my horses are gone!” I yelled. Merlin backed up and looked around. “I will find them my lady” he said with a bow. Watching him scramble Cedric cleared his throat “my lady, maybe he needs a day off?” I shook my head in disappointment “maybe” I answered.

That afternoon, I was at my desk when Merlin came in. “No Cedric?” He asked. I shook my head. “Arya,” he started. I put my quill down. “Merlin, I'd like for you to take the rest of the day off” I told him. He nodded to confirm. “I am well aware of your other duties that lie outside of attending to me and I would like to see you get some rest. If I have any needs that would require your specific talents, I will call for you” I told him. I watched as he silently walked over and took my hand. His eyes drew me to stand and with a blink we were at our pool. He leaned down to kiss me. I returned his affection and we wrapped our arms around each other. When we parted, we were back in my chambers. He whispered in my ear “I await your word.” He strode across the room and out the door. Looking down in my hand I saw a moon flower. I smiled and sat down.

Later that evening I went to bed with Cedric attending me. I fell asleep with dreams of living at the mountain cottage with Merlin again. Our sons were older and carried so much of their father in them.

I awoke in the morning and went to the tomb. I found it wide open. Merlin and gaius arrived not long after. I kicked a rock across the room. On my way out with my sword hanging from my breeches belt, I looked at a guard “sound the warning bell.” He nodded and ran off.

I made my way to the council chambers to tell my father that the search was underway. He was angry and pushed me to double the search. I bowed and doubled the search in lowtown.

That afternoon I was reading patrol reports when Merlin busted in. “Cedric is an evil sorcerer” he panted. “Merlin really I'm a big girl, I can see an evil sorcerer when he is in front of me” I told him. “You don't understand that big blue jewel that was in the middle of the coffin wasn't a jewel it was his soul” he tried to reason with me. With my head shaking, “Merlin, there is no need to be jealous” I told him. He stood eyes storming “I am not jealous!” He yelled. I blinked and called out “Cedric, please escort Merlin to the dungeon where he can spend some time remembering his place.” Cedric bowed “yes my lady” and took Merlin's arm. He tried to pull away but Cedric had a tight grip. I watched and took a deep sobbing breath.

That night after dinner, I came back to my chambers. Cedric was there and had laid out my white dress, my golden circlet and a pair of my finest shoes. “Cedric? Why are these here?” I called. He came forward but in a robe collared in feathers. “My lady needs to dress the part of a damsel” he said poisonously. I hesitated and he magically silenced my voice. He then dressed me. “Now, to see if we can bring Camelot down” he whispered as he put a piece of cloth around my mouth. I let a small tear slide. Merlin, I am sorry. I need you Camelot needs you

I watched as Sigan destroyed my people. He was keeping me in tow with his magic. Every knight was knocked out. Father came out. I tried to yell through my gag for him to leave but Sigan froze me. The Knights drug him back to the citadel. The crazed sorcerer laughed “See now how the kingdom crumbles?” He remarked. “I shall build a new one and with it marry the queen to be” he said. He kissed me and my skin crawled. Suddenly he turned. Merlin stood across the courtyard. I bolted to Merlin but tripped when Sigan cast a spell. Merlin cast a spell but it was batted aside “who would've thought, the princesses aid was a sorcerer. Powerful too” Sigan taunted. I had worked my way to Merlin. He untied me and stood up, “You won't hurt her.” Sigan chuckled “and you'll be the one to protect her?” Merlin squared up as I searched for a sword. Annwyl a sword isn't any good I heard him say in my head. “I will stop you,” Merlin called. Sigan stepped forward again “She has done nothing for you. Nothing deservedly qualifying for your loyalty. She treats you as an expendable toy.” Merlin deflated some and called out “No she has done plenty to earn my loyalty.” The evil smile spread. “She left you without hesitation” Sigan spoke. A smile spread “but she always comes back.” I smiled as a response. “All of this work, just for others to take the credit. With so much power to add” Sigan started twisting his words with his poisonous magic. I watched as Merlin deflated more. “All that power and the most beautiful princess of all. You and I could rule this land. You could have your princess and half of all the kingdoms in the land. No one would ever take credit and your princess could never leave you” Sigan’s words slithered to Merlin. Merlin's legs began to buckle. I stood up and caught him. “Merlin,” I whispered into his big ear “Annwyl, don't give in. Not now. You are so much stronger then him. I am sorry for how I've acted. But know that I haven't stopped loving you. I will always love you Emrys.” He looked at me and smiled finally “Never will I join you. I may not receive the credit or have the ability to marry the princess but I do have my ability to protect her till the day I die” he told the evil sorcerer. Sigan let out an inhuman roar. “Fool! Then I will take your power for mine” he yelled in many voices. Then a black cloud of smoke rose from cedric’s body and forced itself into Merlin's body. “No!” I yelled as he fell back.

Catching him I laid his head in my lap. “Merlin,” I whispered “Come back.” His eyes opened but instead of the dark lake blue they were black. Tears pours from my eyes as I watched him gasp. The black seemed to fade from his eyes as the stone in his hand started to glow. Smiling at each other we kissed. “Merlin! Arya!” We heard Gaius call. With his arm wrapped around my neck, we made our way towards the voice.

The next morning, I strode into gaius’s chambers. Merlin was there eating at the table. I smiled and “of all the incompetent people, I managed to find you.” Merlin's head jerked up and a goofy smile spread across his face. “Well you know you could always fire me and get a new one” he retorted. I sat down by him and stole his roll “I wouldn't be able to put run half my men then” I batted back his rebuttal. we both laughed. The smell of lobelia filled the air as we joked.

Chapter Text

A quick glint of armor blinded the rest of us not practicing. A loud crunch from the lances let everyone know that another person had scored. Merlin hissed in response to the hit. “Why is that called fun again?” He asked me. Lancelot was taking a moment's break from going over security for the tournament. “Because you actually get to hit someone with a giant stick in front of lots of people. If you win, you get a lot of gold” he stated taking a bite out of his Apple. “Merlin, would you fetch me a lance?” I asked him. Merlin's eyes rolled as he trudged away. Finishing putting my right bracer on, I mounted Bron. The skinny servant appeared out of nowhere causing me to fight my urge to hit him. “Seriously have to work on that” I told the big eared git. He smiled his goofy grin. Leon lined up his end and I raised my Lance in salute. He returned the gesture. In a blink we were barreling down the arena. The sun hit Leon's shield and blinded me. For a moment I had to pull up. Expecting a hit, my surprise turned to anger when nothing happened. I slowed Bron’s rumbling run down to a slow trot. I leaped off the horse and dropped my helmet. Leon slid off his and pulled his off. “Why? Why did you pull up?” I shrieked. “Cause I didn't want to hurt you my lady” Leon remarked defensively. “Hurt me?” I asked stunned. “You are Camelot’s daughter my lady. No one wants to see you hurt” Leon said tenderly. I looked at everyone fidgeting. Merlin sat calmly sharpening my sword. I huffed “so all I get is special treatment because I'm your princess?” I asked. Every knight shuffled slightly. “From now on, no special treatment. I've proven I'm one of you” I ordered. Not waiting for the response, I turned and walked away.

The sun came through my windows as I sat in my chair and swirled my cup of water. “How is it I cannot gain an ounce of respect?” I asked Merlin out loud. He shrugged “They may be taking it easy Arya but all the opposition you've faced so far hasn't” he remarked. I set my cup down “What about my men?” I questioned again. He sighed and spoke “Arya, you've faced ever increasing odds and have managed not to die.” I watched as he polished my bracer. “You know sometimes I wish i had met all of you under a different circumstance” I told him. He looked at me “For instance, no one really treats you special. I envy that” I spoke again. His ears turned red as he began polishing again “it's not that simple Arya.” A smile spread across my face. “Maybe, it is” I said as Merlin's face turned to pure unadulterated horror.

That afternoon Morgana and I stood in front of father in the throne room. “My lord, the princess and I are taking a trip to see my dowry is in order. It's high time that I serve the kingdom in my highest capacity and find myself a suitable husband” Morgana announced. “Now? Of all the times. You’ll miss the tournament, both of you” Father spoke. “The tournament has made me realize this and I wish to show my foster sister where I came from” Morgana added. “Very well” Father waved us off.

An hour later Morgana, Gwen, Merlin and I set off for gloris’s lands. No more than a few hours walk, we stopped. I changed behind a tree into Gwen's dress she had brought. Stepping out I braided my hair and put it in a milk maid’s hair style. “How do I look?” I asked my three companions. The pink dress was a bit tight in the breasts but it fit great. “Even in plain clothing you can't pass for a villager” Morgana teased. With that Merlin put my cloak on and pulled the hood up, “you look like the prettiest village girl I've seen” he whispered quietly.

Arriving in Camelot as a peasant was different from arriving as royalty. Everyone tried harder to sell their wares and no one moved out of the way. We eventually made it to Lancelot and Gwen’s house. Lancelot opened the door. “My lady” he said with a small bow. “Are you sure that it's okay we use your house?” I asked him. He nodded in response. “Thank you then” I added. Merlin headed out the back for a moment and came back with food.

After we ate food Lancelot left for the guards barracks. He stayed there when Gwen and him had a fight. Which left Merlin and I alone. He cleared his throat and I spoke up “how about that knight?” I asked. We both jumped at the knock on the door. Merlin let in a farmer. He was slight of build which worked for me. Dark hair mopped his head and there was a hint of hope in his ice blue eyes. He scurried inside when Merlin moved. Giving him a look over, I commented to Merlin “he will do.”

After a wash down and armor fitting, William the farmer became Sir William. “Now, to act like a knight” I commented. “Pretend you're really arrogant. Knights believe themselves so much better than everyone else, even their peers” Merlin said. William giggled at his words while I shot him a dark look. “It's not arrogance, you're noble. Knights are the epitome of honor and nobility” I remarked. William in a jest strutted around the house like a chicken. Both of us giggled at the sight. “It's hopeless. Isn't it?” I whispered to Merlin. He nodded.

After our fun filled afternoon, night time fell. Merlin cleaned up the house surprisingly quick without magic. I watched him somewhat gracefully dance around the house. It was odd that the one person who could trip over his own feet could suddenly become the epitome of grace. Taking one last drink I rinse out my cup. “Well, it's an early start. Night Merlin” I said. He smiled as I walked to the bed. The laces on my dress I had borrowed were difficult to untie. As soon as I got halfway I felt large warm hands undo the rest for me. “You are hopeless” I heard Merlin whisper. “Am not” i said getting into bed. I fell asleep with Merlin humming a song that I didn't know.

In the morning Merlin led me to the tent. I had on my breeches and tunic. We had bound my chest to fit the armor that matched sir William. “Just remember believe in yourself and everyone will believe too” I told the gentleman. He nodded and walked out of the tent. “We are gonna need all the belief we can get” I murmured to Merlin. He nodded. We watch father make his speech. William’s horse wasn't staying still. I sighed in response. My hand slipped into Merlin's as the horse moved more.

The speech was over and Sir William was up first. The helmet was handed to me. I put it on and mounted the white stallion. Before I knew it we were barreling down the arena and had unhorsed our first opponent. With my Lance raised I saluted everyone. As the afternoon went on so did my spirits. Everyone cheered for Sir William.

At the end of the day, William took his credit. “This won't matter when I reveal who I am” I told Merlin. “You really do miss the attention don't you?” He asked sarcastic. I smiled at him. “Come on, I'm starving” I told him. Merlin trotted along with me.

Merlin got our dinner plates cleaned up. When he sat back down he giggled. “What?” I asked annoyed. “All the women in Camelot seem to be very smitten with Sir William and all the men seem to be jealous of his skill” he commented. Giving him a dirty look he laughed again. “So many young noble women will have their hearts broken when they find out sir William is actually princess Arya” he heated. Dipping my fingers in the water, I made a quick flicking motion splashing him with water. “I feel the need for a bath” I said in the royal tone that aggravated Merlin. He glared at me “most peasants don't own tubs” he remarked darkly. “Then at least a bowl would do” I used the same tone. He grumbled in protest “I'll walk all the way down to the well and manage to find a bowl.” The last of his protest was lost as he walked out the door.

While waiting for Merlin to return, all I could think about was the day I could reveal myself. What a spectacle that would be. All the glory would be earned by merit alone. Most likely cause an uproar because of me supposedly being with Morgana but none the less; glory by merit.

After a rub down with the water, I felt much more relaxed. Merlin's brows were knit tightly as he mended the armor. Each time something didn't go the way he wanted, he would just force it to do that. “Is something the matter?” I asked him. “No” he answered curtly. “Merlin” I said in a scolding tone. He threw the armor down “you know what's wrong? Between you, Gaius and my destiny I'm being pulled in all different directions. It's always Merlin do this Merlin do that. All the while I have to be careful of who watching because if anyone besides you found out that I had magic I'd be in the stocks. God forbid if you even help any because one minute I'm an equal and possibly better at you for a split second but the next second I'm back to Merlin the door mat. You have said over and over that you don't care about titles and glory but that seems to be driving you. It's aggravating and I can't imagine what skills you would have that would save you if you were a common villager. I mean you can't keep a house clean to save a life, you can't sew, you don't cook. It'd be a miracle if you survived a day on your own that didn't involve some sort of danger and person serving you dinner” he confessed. I leaned against the beam by the table “anything else?” I commented. He stood up and looked me in the eyes “Aside from the fact that every time I'm around you I want to make the world safer and keep you locked up in an ivory tower where no harm can come to you while spending every waking moment holding you and kissing you? Yes indeed, there is. You snore, loudly” he added. I could see the weight come off of his shoulders. Resting my hand on his shoulder, I sighed. “I truly am sorry that you feel this way. My intentions were to never put you in this position” I told him.

That night he slept on the bed and I slept on the ground. For a while my mind was racing. Have I really been that obnoxious? Eventually my mind numbed and I fell asleep.

 

Morning found us back in the tent. Each foe was unhorsed. “Sir Allinor has advanced” Merlin said curtly. I nodded in response. I tightened my bracers as I listened to the last joust before mine. The crowd roared as the last Lance shattered with a sound like lighting. William walked into the tent and handed me the helmet. Walking out, I put on the helmet. Just before I opened the tent, Merlin spoke, “good luck my lady.” My heart tugged. I wanted to turn around and hold him. But instead, I walked out.

Each foe went down with ease. Everyone except Merlin cheered me on. There was a look of dissatisfaction on his face. After the day ended we went back to the house. Merlin had a chicken set out and was beginning to season it. Walking over and standing quietly I watched. “Teach me how to cook Merlin” I asked him. He jumped at the sound of my voice. “Okay, um let's start with the potatoes” he said. He handed me two potatoes. “Now go over to the bowl for water and bath them like you would wash your hands” he directed. I scrubbed all the dirt from the potatoes. “Now go put them on the stone in front of the fireplace” he said almost like an order. He poked them a couple times. Soon he let me help with the chicken. When it was on the spit he showed me how to slowly turn it. It took a while but soon it was cooked just right.

We sat down and ate the dinner we cooked. After the last bite of chicken, Merlin giggled. “What?” I asked turning red. “Maybe there is hope for you. The potatoes were still a little hard but you didn't burn anything. I'm thoroughly impressed” he commented. I felt my face heat up even more. He laughed harder. Standing up, I took the plates to the sink and washed them. Merlin's brow raised in curiosity. I walked over to the bowl that he kept for me to wash my hands and face in. After my tiny bath, I went and laid down on my bed on the floor. Large warm arms picked me up. I snuggled against his chest.

He laid me down and quickly wasted no time planting a kiss on me. My hands wandered to hair. The intensity grew between us. He slid my tunic off and I his. The binds on my chest came off and soon it was his heartbeat against mine in perfect rhythm. His hot mouth slid it's way down my neck and onto my right breast. There he teased and nipped for a moment before moving to the other one. We slid our breeches off and I felt his length slide into me. With each stroke, we became more entangled with each other. “Merlin” I moaned. The wave of pleasure overcame me and I let out a sound of utter pleasure. Merlin hissed as my nails dug deep in his back and created ruts of torn flesh. Another wave overcame me and more flesh was torn. As my next moment of pleasure bursted, Merlin finally let go. Tenderly he kissed me and laid beside me. Not saying a word we cuddle up in the bed and drifted to sleep.

When the sun rose, I was awoken by his arm slipping from under my head. “Arya, time to get up” he whispered kissing my neck. I groaned in protest. “Today is the day, annwyl” he soft chided. Groggily I got out of bed and searched till I found a tunic and my breeches. After putting on my wraps, breeches, and what I thought was my tunic, I did my hair up to fit under the helmet. Merlin smiled from the bed “I don't think you should wear that” he commented. I looked down to see the all familiar blue tunic I had given him as a gift. I turned red and found my white tunic.

We left the house soon after breakfast. William was nervous. I couldn't blame him, it was the final day. After the start to the tournament, William managed to escape to the tent. I put my helmet on and walked out. Merlin helped me onto the white stallion and gave me a concerned look. With a kick, the horse bolted down the arena. Keeping my gaze locked with the other knight, we struck each other. A sharp pain in my shoulder let me know something was wrong. Merlin caught the stud and he pulled me off the horse. He ushered me into the tent. “Arya, you're hurt” he managed to eek out. “Do what you need to get me out there” I asked him. He was trying to find a piece of cloth when I saw his face light up. He took his scarf off and placed it on my shoulder. It was his worn out red one he had one the first day we met. The thought made me smile.

Back on the horse, I prepared to make another pass. I kicked the stud and he took off. The other knight bolted as well. As we got close, I noticed the girth came undone. Striking him square and unhorsing him gave us the victory. Getting back to the tent was difficult but Merlin had kept everyone at bay. As Gaius came in, Merlin had just finished his healing spell. “The man that was jousting against you was an assassin who had been planning to kill you to incite a war” Gaius informed me. I nodded in agreement and the old man left the tent. “You could have died” Merlin scolded. “Then who would help you cook dinner?” I teased.

That afternoon, Morgana and I arrived at Camelot. Father greeted us in the throne room. Just as I walked out Merlin passed me. I pulled him aside into a hidden cove. “Merlin, last night” I begun. He put a finger over my mouth “I know but it won't keep me from feeling this way” he said. We walked out of the cove and went our separate ways. A smile was hidden on my face as I remembered the previous three days. As I looked up at the rooftops, I saw a merlin land on the pendragon flag.

Chapter Text

The full moon shine bright through my window. Spinning my knife, I remembered all of what happened between Merlin and I. Flashes of his face came back. Somehow they were always either twisted with pain or showed elation. The fire crackled in the background as if to remind me that I was still present in this reality.

With a knock on my door, a guard informed me I was needed in Morgana’s chambers. With a quick change into my breeches and tunic, I was off. Arriving I found Gaius tending to Morgana and Merlin cleaning up the remains of her window. To those who knew, this was a work of magic. Which meant, my foster sister was a witch. I spoke not a word to anyone of my suspicions. Father walked in with an upset face. He scanned the room. “What happened?” He demanded. “The candle fell on my curtain and then the window blew out” Morgana said in shock. Father looked at Gwen with suspicion. “It's true, sire. The candle relit itself and caught the curtains. Then the window blew out” she confirmed. “Are you sure you blew this candle?” He interrogated the maid. I spoke up “if she said it was out then it was out. Besides there was a horrible storm that day.” He huffed. “What is the explanation that I am missing?” I asked. “Someone started it” Father hissed as he stormed out of the room.

Following father, I noticed he murmured to himself. “How did they get past the guards?” He asked. “They didn't” I answered promptly. “Then it was magic” he accused “Have everyone under suspicion arrested.” I bowed my head “we will have them all within the fortnight.” My father got close “Morgana was attacked, we do not have a fortnight” he threatened. I bowed again.

The palace guards got every person in the placed. My men and I worked on Middletown and had worked through to lowtown. Seemed like more than half the people in Camelot were being watched for something. Every protest was painful to listen to.

That afternoon we finished with lowtown. Father had begun interrogation with the first batch. I managed to listen in on the second. Poor women and men were drilled mercilessly. It unnerved me and I walked out. The chamber filled with those who my father believed innocent murmured as I walked straight out.

Morgana came to my chambers. We were alone due to Merlin being absent. “Arya, you would believe me if I said I thought I had magic right?” She asked not touching her food I had someone bring up. “Morgana, I will be honest. If I knew for sure you posses magic, I wouldn't say a word. But I can't give a for certain answer” I confessed. “At least someone here believes the possibility of it. I'm just scared. Uther is just so ruthless” she spoke with a tear rolling down her face. I walked over to her and wiped her tears. “Morgana, whatever the outcome, I'll never tell anyone. Ever. I swear on the pendragon name that not a soul will hear of this” I told her. She nodded and hugged me. “You've always been a good friend and sister to me” she said. After our talk she finally touched some of her chicken.

After checking in with Lancelot about the guards, I walked up the main stairs. Merlin quickly his something behind his back. “Merlin, what's that?” I asked. “Hm, oh nothing” he said unfocused. “Uh huh, show me it's nothing” I told him he stuck his arms out and spun around. Seeing that it was actually nothing was a small disappointment. “Do you need anything done my lady?” He asked. “The usual chores is all” I told him. “They will be done” he said with a bow. He scurried towards Morgana's room. why would he be going there?

The next morning a vase was shattered in Morgana's room. That's when I learned Merlin had brought Morgana flowers. he was just being a good friend most likely I told myself. He was busy with tasks from Gaius these past few days.

That afternoon Leon and I returned to my chambers. We were going through the list trying to find a way to weed out the innocent. Merlin cleaned my armor as we discussed the list. When Leon left I noticed Merlin had scooted closer to the list. “I thought you polished my armor yesterday?” I asked. For a moment the rustle of my pendragon red dress was the only sound. “I was cleaning the stables” he announced. “Really cause I heard that you were somewhere else” I dug. “Nope cleaning the stables he answered. “So then I wouldn't have to ask about the flowers that you brought Morgana?” I asked again. With a small clank Merlin dropped the armor. “Do you really think that Arya?” He returned the questioning tone. I swallowed the lump in my throat. “All I did was bring a friend flowers to cheer her up after a fire. Now is there anything else you would like to insinuate?” He asked. He stormed out of the door. Looking into the armor, I saw my face red with shame.

I went to Morgana's chambers. She and I sat in silence. “He really was being a friend,” he spoke up. I huffed in repose. “You know maybe if you loved him like you said you'd find a way to make him a noble so you could just marry him and get it over with” she spoke. “And what if I did? Father would probably marry you to him and I still couldn't have him” I spat out. “Well for all that's worth, I think you are jealous that he gave me flowers instead of you” she teased. My eyes rolled. “I have to go father is reviewing suspects” I told her.

That evening I spent following Merlin. He went to a lot of women's houses. But as he enters Morgana's chambers I couldn't bear to watch. So I fled back to my rooms. I moved my armor to the cupboard and noticed his handkerchief that still held a large amount of my blood. Tears stung my eyes. Because I hadn't done what I should've, I felt like I was losing him. The tears started rolling down my face as I walked to my bed. With a collapse onto the plush mattress, I let go. I cried till I was drained and slipped into a dreamless sleep.

The warning bells woke me from my slumber. “My lady, the king requires you” one of the guards said. I slipped on my usual gear for dealing with these issues. I left my hair to hang. Walking out I wiped back the second set of tears.

After a scolding from my father and searching the castle, I reported back. “No sign of Morgana inside the castle grounds” I reported to him. “Then search every where else” my father commanded. Gaius walked up “you sent me sure?” He said. “Yes what time did you bring Morgana her potion?” Father asked Gaius. “Well, I…” He started. “Merlin brought her it according to the guards” I spoke up. Gaius’s eyebrow shot up. “So then she was safe” father spoke.

I had begun investigating the reports from the dungeon guards that spoke of magic. In my gut I knew who it was. I investigated the grate that we had used for mordred’s escape. Father approached. “Judging by the scorch marks someone…” I began to report. “Used magic to kidnap her” he interjected “where does the trail lead?” I took a moment “the Forest of Esstier” I spoke. “Do whatever you need to. Bring her back” father ordered. I bowed.

Before I set out, I went to Lancelot. He was busy talking with his second in commands when he spotted me. “Ah my lady, what can I help you with?” He asked. “Lance, I need you to come with me. Alone. We are going to get Morgana and Merlin” I ordered. He bowed “yes my lady.” Within minutes we were off. Just Lancelot and I.

We followed the trail till we came to a campfire. There we paused. “Arya, may I asked why you didn't organize a search party?” He asked. “Because I know Morgana and Merlin both have magic. Also, I don't want to attack the Druids. They have long been a peaceful people and it would be a crime to wipe out the few people I know could help the two people I care about most.” I answered like a confession. He nodded. We set off towards the camp.

The Druids hid in fear when we arrived. Most looked like they were awaiting death. Their leader stepped forward “Princess Arebella, to what do we owe this honor?” He asked. I dismounted Bron and knelt in front of the leader “I ask for private word with you” I told him. Morgana appeared “Arya!” She shouted as she embraced me. Mordred smiled Hello Arya he spoke in my mind. “Hello Mordred” I called back. “Merlin!” I yelled. The gangly youth came almost face first of the trees. “A word with everyone here I trust” I said.

We were at a well away from the camp. Algaine spoke first “what is the matter young queen?” With Morgana’s, Lancelot’s, Merlin and mordred's eyes on me I spoke up “My father has ordered all those who are connected to magic be put to death. He also gave me the power to bring Morgana back by any means. Seeing as how you can help two of my friends with their talents, I figured charging in with swords raised was the last thing needed.” Morgana stood up “I can't come back these are my people” she argued. “I understand Morgana. I'm not asking you to betray them, in asking you save them. Save the people of Camelot” I told her. She seemed to back down. “What does this bode for my village?” Aglaine asked. “If my father were to find your exact location out, it would mean slaughter of a village of innocents. That I cannot stand for” I told him. Algaine nodded. Merlin stood up “then we must leave. I'm sure Morgana can keep in contact with you” he told Algaine.

The Druids headed deeper into the forest while we mounted up on the horses. Mordred hugged Morgana and I in a farewell. “Remember goodbyes are only temporary” I told the little Druid. “I know, my lady. We will meet again” he reassured me. Morgana rode behind Lancelot. Merlin behind I. The guards called in celebration as we returned.

Father ran down the steps as he pulled Morgana down from Lancelot’s horse. They hugged as the rest of us dismounted.

That evening, I ate dinner alone. The fire in the hearth cracked to keep this silence from becoming overwhelming. Merlin snuck in. “Arya, if you need…” He started. “Merlin, I am not your wife. So I am sorry that I grew jealous. If you feel the need, you may pursue others. It will not affect anything between us as employer and employee” I told him with a limp rising. “I understand. But no one else is gonna hold up against you” he responded. He walked out of the rooms. Wiping away the tear that I didn't deserve, I finished my dinner. Suddenly a butterfly made of a blue smoke flew around me and became a small dragon. I smiled a bit and took a drink of water and prepared for bed. As I laid down, the dragon perched itself on my pillow. It snuggled up with me as we fell asleep.

Chapter Text

A nip in the air during mornings training had put me in a nostalgic mood for the day. I could tell that winter wasn't far behind. Which meant Yule was right around the corner.

The following weeks were spent walking the halls of the castle wrapped in furs. My winter dresses and clothes had been pulled out. Morgana spent the season in green to counter my red. But father remained in his black clothes. Preparations were underway for the arrival of King Lac and his so Prince Erik.

No matter where I went, Merlin was dutifully behind me. Occasionally I would spy him on a day he had off outside with the servants children throwing snowballs and making men of snow. I would occasionally see a man of snow wink as if he knew I watched from the shadows.

After one particular match, he laid on the ground after all the children were called down to the kitchens. I walked out to him. "My lady, if you needed me, all you had to do was bellow like a bull and I'd come running" he remarked. I picked up a small bit of snow in my own hand and sprinkled it onto his face "I was enjoying watching some children laughing at your expense. Beside, you looked happier than you have been in a while" I shot back. His goofy grin widened.

At the dinner table, Morgana and my father talked of the upcoming Yule celebrations. "Arya, are you listening?" Morgana called. "I apologize, my mind was elsewhere. Thinking of the outer villages" I responded. "Your father is holding a masquerade in honor of both us and our guests" she gushed. My eyebrow shot up as a response. "Yes and hopefully one of you will find a husband in the prince" father spoke up. I nodded and morgana smiled.

After dinner I stood in the middle of the hidden courtyard with my grey wolf fur robe becoming covered in snow. My thoughts had wandered to the thought of having someone other than my faithful Merlin hold me. I leaned my head back to let the snowflakes cool my tears away.

With a swish of my cloak I walked through the halls decorated in Yule trimmings. Quietly I opened my door and slipped into my rooms. As soon as the door clicked I heard a throat clear. Merlin stood by the fire "how was your snow filled thoughts my lady?" He asked smiling sweetly. Taking off my cloak, I sighed "the usual, depressing." He hung my claim up. I walked up and rand my cold hands under his shirt. He shuddered in response. I wrapped my arms around the skinny servant. "Father is throwing a masked ball. He wants with Morgana or I to marry the prince" I told him. I felt a deep breath and he turned. He leaned down to kiss me "Arya, no matter what, I will always love you and we will find a way to overcome this. Even if it means we are meant to be friends" he told me and planted another kiss on me. This time I didn't let him stop.

His hands ran over my hips as I rode the waves of pleasure that overcame me. His hands found mine and with that connection, we found ourselves in bliss. We climaxed together as the fire in the hearth intensified. I rolled off and curled up to him. His heart beating was beating as fast as mine. We drifted off to sleep.

The morning found me awakening to Merlin busying himself with preparation for the arrival of the guest King and his son. The silence was deafening as I dressed in my blood red velvet dress. I put my shoes on and he laid the circlet on my head. As he wrapped me in my fur cloak, I saw his smile become broken. Standing on my toes, I gave him one last passionate kiss. We strode out with last night still fresh in our minds.

Morgana stood to the right of father. She was clad in her silk green dress and grey fur cloak. Father stood as tall as a mountain. King Lac and his son rode in on their steeds. The king leapt from his horse to greet my father. The man was impressive. He himself stood as tall and wide as some of the oaks from the Forest. His blonde hair was highlighted with grey and wisdom was etched into his face. His grey eyes seemed to know more then he would ever speak. Erik seemed like his father in stance. But the youth on his face seemed to contrast the wisdom in his father's. His eyes were the same grey but seemed more oblivious. His hair, however seemed a deep chestnut. Morgana seemed quite taken with him. But she missed the silent and overbearing war that I was the prize for.

"King Lac and Prince Erik, we welcome you to Camelot. I do hope nothing is wrong with Queen Elaine" my father spoke over the war. "She is with my youngest sons, they regrettably have not the patience for the journey" the blonde King chuckled. "May I introduce my Ward the lady Morgana of Cornwall" Father spoke and waved her forward. She floated forward and curtsied to the King. The war was broken for a moment as the prince looked to Morgana. "It is my pleasure," the prince commented as he kissed her hand. She retreated to her spot. Father waved me forward as he announced me "And this is the Crown Princess Arebella Pendragon of Camelot, lieutenant captain of the Knights of Camelot." I curtsied as well. The prince bowed as Merlin's stormy gaze intensified. "It is a rare honor to meet a woman who can rise through the ranks of a man'd world so quickly" the prince playfully teased. "It is not without its difficulties, my lord" I answered back. "No need I believe in rank you are higher than me, my lady" he said with another bow.

We retreated to the castle. As we entered the dining room, the prince took my cloak before Merlin had a chance to set foot in the door. The prince then hurriedly took Morgana's cloak. We all sat down and the drinks began to fill. Merlin went to pour me some wine when I put my hand over my cup. He nodded in acknowledgment and brought me some hot tea. My father's brow raised.

All through dinner, everyone was merry. Merlin kept a close eye and if I needed anything he would deliver it almost instantly. "The boy seems almost too attentive to your daughter's needs pendragon" King Lac commented. "As well as he should, sire. He is my attendant and arrived so after saving my life. He had been firm in his duties, save for a few faults but I will be sad to see him go when I marry" I spoke. The King nodded in response "Hopefully that will be soon" he added. "Yes my lord" I respectfully answered. Erik had busied himself regaling tales to Morgana.

After the dessert course, father cleared his throat. "King Lac, we are holding a masked ball in honor of Yule and your coming. Please enjoy yourself" he announced. The King laughed heartily "very good pendragon." We all arose and I made my way silently back to my chambers. Merlin only a few steps behind me.

I lay in my bath with a cup of wine swirling. The thin curtain drawn between Merlin and I. I smiled "Merlin you remember when you first came? How skittish you were?" I asked. "I do my lady, and you were a quiet girl who was stuck in the confines of the castle" he echoed. "My haven't times changed" I solemnly said. There was a knock at the door. "Is the princess able to take visitors?" I heard a familiar deep voice ask. "No my lord, she is currently bathing" Merlin said with caution. "Curious that you remain in the room while she bathes. Does Uther know?" The King asked. "Yes my lord, he was the one who suggested the bathing barrier" he answered. I quickly leapt out of the bath tub and dressed. "Merlin would you take the bath water and empty it?" I asked him. The warlock's eyes glowed a faint gold as he pulled the tub out to the hall. I ushered the King in "What honor do I have for the visit, sire?" I asked. "I wanted to make sure my son was getting an unspoiled woman. There are rumors you and that boy run an affair under your farther' nose" the King spoke. "I assure you sire, servants have a wild imagination" I laughed. Suddenly the King pinned me to a post this his body "you will do well to remember that not everyone lets a woman run wild in their kingdom girl. Now, to see if you are unspoiled" he hissed as he lifted my skirts. I felt his large rough hands prod around and a smile spread on his face. "Turns out the were rumors after all. You will make a fine bride for my son. Finer then the lady Morgana" he whispered. My body shuttered. He let my wrists and skirts fall. He strode out as I rubbed my wrist. I was in shock, this family was a family rumored in honor. My father spoke of their loyalty and nobility.

Merlin returned from his duties and grew angry when he saw me sitting on bed rubbing my still red and raw wrists. "What happened?" He asked kneeling in front of me. I just shook my head. "Arya, tell me please. Who did this?" He asked as he turned my wrists to be visible. "How did you do that?" I murmured. "Do what?" He asked me. "How did you give back what you took?" I asked him. "It's just a bit of healing. Arya who?" He asked. "The King. King Lac. He said he needed to see if I was unspoiled for his son" I sobbed. Merlin grabbed me and leaned me against him "shh my love. Everything will be okay. I will never let him hurt you again" he told me as I sobbed. I heard footsteps and Merlin speak "fetch Gwen, she needs her." Then I heard the heavy footsteps run away.

An hour and several dry sobs later, I fell asleep with Gwen holding me. Lancelot stood watch with Merlin as he had men guarding the outside. Gaius had treated my wrists and assured me I would be fine before I fell asleep.

The morning started with breakfast alone. Merlin tenderly dressed me. His hands barely touched me. Gwen did my makeup to were I didn't have dark circles accompanying puffy eyes. I spent the day at the seamstress. The gown was a simple plain gold one. Morgana's was a pale silver.

That evening Gwen had us girls dressed and ready for the masked ball. The prince was outside my chambers waiting for us. He was dressed in black and white with a black mask. He smiled as he took both our arms.

The ball was magnificent. The music was lively and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. My father was at his throne watching the dancers carefully. I scanned the workers for Merlin but found no sign. I fussed with my gloves. The prince gave me a wink as he strode off with Morgana. I stood by Lancelot who seemed to be watching Gwen. "Have you seen Merlin?" I asked. He shook his head. A masked knight took me out to dance. After about the fourth knight from my battalion had danced with me, I noticed a tall dark haired figure slide into the fray. He was clad in a blue silk tunic with silver embroidery of a hawk on it. His hands were gloved in silver. His mask was a dark blue once again done in silver trimming and his jacket was a matching dark blue. My eyes fixed on his familiar stormy blue eyes.

He made his way through the crowd and stopped in front of me. He bowed wordlessly. I curtsied to Merlin who took my hand. The music started and I found myself effortlessly moving with him in a waltz. We spun with the crowd as we kept ourselves close and gazes locked. After the song ended I saw Gwen wave. In that moment I smiled. "Merlin," I breathed. Looking around I saw Morgana talking with the prince. yes it is me. But don't tell anyone. Gwen and Lancelot know already Gwen made this all for me. For tonight, we can be equals. Till the ball ends. he placed a hair back into place tonight is no titles and nothing between us. I promised you i'd keep you safe. Tonight it's my turn to ward off danger and keep the king's eyes from you he spoke in my mind. He kissed my hand and smiled.

He grabbed us drinks and we sat for a while giggling at the ball. I grabbed his hand and lead him to the gardens. There we danced closer than etiquette aloud. I rested my crowned head against his chest and listened to that heart I held so familiar. He lifted my chin and gently kissed my lips. With a quick flash of gold and murmur, the roses bloomed in the winter cold. I smiled and he smiled back. He picked me one and I kept it close.

As we came back inside, Prince Erik found us. "Princess if I may?" He took my hand. We spun around once and he asked "Who is that? Your father seems grave at the house sigil on his jacket and my father seems furious" he asked. "I don't know but he is certainly a romantic. He is probably a lord from the outlying regions. No harm could come his flirtations" I reassured the prince. He smiled "nothing to worry about indeed. Your Ward sister seems quite taken with me however out of duty, I find myself inclined to turn my intentions to you" he whispered as he grasped my waist tighter in. "It would only be out of duty" I grimaced out. He smiled as we noticed our fathers' worried looks fade away. "Then it is decided. Before our visit ends, an announcement should be made of our engagement. After all you will come to love me with time" he hissed in my ear. Arya, find a reason to leave. Come back to safety. Merlin called. My heart dropped. I wanted to crawl from the prince's arms to Merlin's. "Out of duty" I told the prince. After the song, I excused myself. I walked to the door and ran to the forgotten courtyard. I took off my mask and tossed it. Out of duty I was going to pretend the husband I accepted was the man I loved with all my heart. I collapsed in the snow with my gown circling me. I let my tears flow. I would spend the rest of my life with the son of the man who laid hands on me. After my tears were done, I drifted off into a cold sleep. Hoping I would die and all of this would be gone.

The snow was being brushed off me. "Arya" I heard A familiar voice call. I felt a jacket that smelled like herbs and earth slide over me. Warm arms picked me up and I slid back into my cold sleep. Next time I felt my eyes open I saw a hazy face of Gaius tending to me. "She is burning up, Merlin get me more water to cool her" Gaius asked. I felt the cold cloth on my forehead and screamed mentally. "Gaius stop, it hurts her" Merlin told him. My eyes closed again.

My eyes opened to see the prince standing beside me "Don't worry my lady, you be fine. I'll make sure you are taken care of properly" he said under a hush. I coughed and slid back into my sleep.

Light crept through my window. I awoke to finding Gwen hanging a white wedding gown on my screen. Everything still seemed blurry. "Gwen?" I asked. She smiled and spoke "Finally, a bride should never be late for her wedding day" she spoke. "My wedding day?" I asked confused. "Yes come on silly he's waiting for you!" She urged.

After hurriedly getting dressed in my gown. We raced out the door. We slowed down at the doors of the throne room. Trumpets played as the opened the massive doors. The light blinded me as Father took my arm. Everyone bowed and curtsied as we walked down the aisle. Geoffrey stood waiting with a young man clad in white. His hair was dark as midnight. He turned around and I instantly knew it was Merlin. Geoffrey started with the handfasting ritual. Merlin stood their smiling his goofy smile. However I noticed a growing shadow behind him. The shadow took on Merlin's face as well. "Merlin, watch out!" I yelled but right as the smile faded a blade protruded from his chest. The dark Merlin smiled and hissed "You will never win." I fell to Merlin and held his lifeless body. With blood covering me I looked to see everyone including my father dead. At the foot of the stairs was Dark merlin and Morgana. They were laughing maniacally in response to everyone's death. I felt pressure and pain on my arms as they laughed more.

I jolted awake to find Lancelot and Merlin holding my arms and Gaius was letting some of my blood out. Prince Erik stood in horror. Lancelot was white and Merlin looked as if he had been crying. Feeling weak I looked at everyone except for Gaius. "I need everyone but Gaius to leave" I croaked. Merlin, Lancelot and Prince Erik left. "Gaius?" I whispered. "You have been asleep for a week my lady. You had a fever nightmare and started calling for Merlin. Then you started violently jerking" he told me. "It was a dream that turned into a nightmare. I was marrying Merlin and all the sudden a dark hooded Merlin killed him. That Merlin and Morgana killed everyone." I told him. He sighed "it was nothing but a nightmare my lady. I had to tell your father the King and the prince you called out for Merlin because he has been your servant for a long while. But don't worry my lady your secret is safe with me" the old man assured me. I took the sleeping draft for one nights good rest.

The morning came and with it the announcement of Erik and I's engagement. The Kings were assembling everyone in the throne room. I was in my rooms still. Merlin had me dressed in my red velvet dress. “Merlin you know I don't want this,” I spoke to him. He nodded “but we knew this was gonna happen.” My heart dropped. “I don't want to go. I don't want to lose you forever. Everything you have done will go to waste. You won't be there to protect me anymore and there won't be anymore knight training or adventures” I said hushed running my hand down his chest. He smiled “Arya, all you have to do is same my name and I'll be there. Even on pain of death.”

 

A knock on the door let me know that Erik was ready. He stood dressed in his kingdoms colors with his circlet on his head. He held his hand out and I took it. But my mind was on Merlin all the while. When we got to the throne room the massive wooden doors I saw a million times, opened again. At the end of the aisle stood our fathers. Both smiling. We slowly walked down the aisle. I noticed however all my friends looked upset. Merlin was noticeably absent. We got halfway up the steps and stopped. “King Uther, Father. The Princess Arebella wish to announce that we consent to being betrothed. For the sake of both kingdoms” Prince Erik spoke. “Very well, I believe this will benefit both kingdoms” Father spoke. My stomach began to turn. We turned and the court applauded. Even Gaius and Lancelot. Gwen was noticeably absent too. After we walked down the aisle again with Erik pinning my arm to his side. I shot a glance at Gaius who seemed to understand. Merlin wherever you are, I'm so sorry. I love you and please save me.

That evening Gwen attended me. “Gwen, I don't like this. Should be Morgana up there she was infatuated with him. Maybe, I should have Gaius make me a potion that will only make me seem dead” I spoke. She grimaced and spoke “My lady, sometimes what we want and what duty asks of us are two different things. I'm sure Merlin would love to sneak you out and leave but think of your father. He wouldn't stop looking for you and if he found you with Merlin he would have Merlin killed instantly.” My face fell from wishing to instant acknowledgment of defeat. “Still, it would be a grand tale to tell future generations” she managed to blurt out. My smile only returned a small bit.

The next few days were spent in solitude in my hidden courtyard while everyone was planning my wedding for me. “Merlin, why have you abandoned me? We were supposed to be a team. Turn this kingdom into the greatest kingdom. Instead you run away from me when I need you the most” I yelled. The light snow settled on the black fur of my cloak. My long braid in the back moved only slightly in the wind. “Merlin, I love you” I whispered. With a quick breeze, I suddenly felt warmth on my lips. I wrapped my arms around his neck and rested my head on his chin. “Please don't leave me” I asked the warlock. “I won't and I haven't. I was waiting for this” he told me. He kissed me again.

When our bodies spilt, we were at a lake with the mountains in the background. Snow was to our knees. The lake frozen over. “Arya, this is where we will always be. Do you remember this lake?” He asked. I looked around more and spoke up “This is the lake that you saved me from drowning in.” He nodded. “I knew then I loved you but never understood how much I loved you. Even now it grows, here I always come back to when I need to think. And somehow my thoughts always lead back to you” he spoke. “Here I thought you were always at the tavern” I joked. He pulled me in and without any movement we were back at the hidden courtyard. “Arya, I have faith you will do right. Just remember duty isn't doing what your father thinks is right. It's what you feel is right” he said. With that he walked away.

I bursted into the council chambers. My robe and dress still crusted with snow and ice. Father, King Lac and Prince Erik were standing by the table. “My lords, I have to retract my agreement of engagement. On the grounds that King Lac had mishandled my honor and I do not believe the lands of Camelot would be governed well by someone who lets his father inspect his women for virtue” I spoke up. My father's jaw dropped. King Lac straightened up. “What proof do you have?” The blonde bellowed. I flipped my sleeves back and showed the yellow bruises on my wrists. “You find that they are identical to King Lac’s grip pattern” Gaius spoke stopping beside me “I have treated the princess her whole life and knows she would not lie about such things.” Gwen and Merlin arrived and stood beside me “we maybe servants but we both attended to the princess who was hysterical after a visit from the King” Gwen spoke. “Who which took it upon himself to visit the princess during her bath. She trusting the King sent me away to tend to the bath water” Merlin spoke. “This is all fine but you have no physical proof beyond the woman's wrists which the bruises could come from any number of things” the King argued back. Lancelot in his Captain’s Armor arrived “My King, these are my men's reports of the night. I had Kellan and Gregory outside the princess’ chambers that night. They will be more than happy to give statements supporting the princess’ claims” he spoke handing the scrolls to my father. With a bow he returned to Gaius’s right. Father read the reports and examined my wrists. “I hereby retract Camelot's acceptance of Builth’s offer of marriage. On grounds of mistreatment of Camelot's princess” Father announced. “You can't be serious Uther! You will let your daughter whore with a servant but refuse one of your oldest allies marriage?” The King yelled. Prince Erik still stared at his father in shock. King Lac lunged as he pulled his sword. His swing was blocked by Morgana. She stood tall in her cream dress with a sword pointed at the King’s throat. “I believe King Uther Pendragon made a decree based off findings. As for my ward-sister whoring about, she has more respect in one hair then your entire body” she told the King. Lac sent a look to Father. “You and your servants with be out of Camelot and at the border by night's end” father ordered. Morgana let the King fall. He scurried away. Prince Erik followed.

In the snowy evening, I stood on the battlements overlooking the city. Father rested against the battlements as well. “Arya, why didn't you come to me earlier?” He asked. “Because, I was putting duty first. But then some little bird reminded me that duty isn't always what the nobles want. It's what feels right to everyone else.” I spoke. “We still need to find you a husband. However I'm sure the eastern states are out of the question now” father spoke. “Don't worry papa, I will find one and the kingdom will be safe” I said kissing him on the cheek. I began to walk away and father's voice stopped me. “Thank you Arya, for showing me that some rumors are false and the some rumors are true” he spoke. I bowed in response.

I opened my chamber doors to find everyone who spoke up and defended me against King Lac in my rooms. They all smiled. Gwen and Lancelot got up wordlessly and left. Morgana next with Gaius bringing up the rear. Merlin stood in front of the fire. Cloak still attached I ran to him and kissed him hard. “Croeso i gartref fy nghariad” he spoke. I smiled as he held me close to hear that heartbeat that seemed only to increase in speed when I listened. “I love you, emrys” I said. “I love you too Arya” he echoed.

Chapter Text

With the last snows melted and the sun returning, Morgana begun to get restless. She had begged Father relentlessly to let her go to her father's grave. He eventually gave in.

Merlin and I stood in the courtyard with Lancelot. Waiting for Morgana and Gwen to come out. The guards brought the horses around just as Morgana and Gwen entered the courtyard. Lance helped his wife on her mare that Morgana had gifted her. She leaned down and kiss him gently. My mind instantly flashed to the possibility of me kissing Merlin. “I hope your trip is fruitful ward-sister” I wished to Morgana. She smiled at me and then waved at Merlin.

Lance, Merlin, and I watched as they rode out. “I hope they are kept safe” Lance spoke. I grabbed his hand and squeezed “they will be fine” I told him. He smiled back at me and kissed my head, “I hope so my lady” he added.

Sitting on my window sill I drifted off into thought. They returned to Yule and the happenings of that calamity. The memories of the night I spent with Merlin came flooding back. Each kiss returned to my lips. The feeling of his large hands on my hips.

Merlin walked in balancing dinner on a tray. My eyebrow shot up “Another skill? I thought your skills included appearing outta, causing me grief and causing trouble” I teased. “Then I continue to puzzle you my lady,” he joked back. He looked behind his back then conjured a rose the same shade as the rose he gave me at Yule. I smile as I smelled it and set the rose down to drink some wine. “Thank you Merlin” I told him.

The morning came and I violently awoke to Merlin barging in the door. “Morgana hadn't returned and Lancelot has been missing since lunch” he blurted out. I jumped out of bed and pulled on my breeches and tunic. I pulled on my chainmail and then my corset. I did my boots and Merlin magicked my hair into a sleek ponytail. I grabbed my sword and belted it on. Merlin handed me my long leather jacket and we were out the hall and headed to the council chamber.

 

Father sat in his chair gripping the arms tightly. “You must find her, dispatch everyone possible” he spoke. I bowed and headed for the stables. Merlin jogged to keep up.

We saddled the horses and left. We had stopped after a few hours riding to check our position. “Wait there has been a struggle” one of the Knights pointed out. Like a hound on the trail of a boar, I took off. When we reached the road, bodies laid scattered like leaves after a wind. The heat in blood rose and fear quickened it. “Search for the lady Morgana!” I commanded.

With the clamor of men searching dead bodies, I myself began to search. I gasped when I found sir Robert laying face down. Fear grasped me more. Merlin arrived behind me and I felt the comfort of his presence calm me. Just then a crash in the bushes alerted us. I made for my sword as Morgana came out of the bushes. She wore nothing save for her slip. “Morgana, thank god you're alive! Father will be relieved” I cried. All the men crowded as we hugged. “Arya, they have Gwen” she told me. Hugging her again I whispered in her ear “Lancelot left at dinner time to find you guys. After we get you back, we will go get them.” She nodded in response and I gave her my coat. “Thank you, Arya” she said quietly. I smiled and mounted Bron. The men put Morgana on the horse with me and we rode back.

Morgana in her crimson gown barreled into father's arms. “You're safe” he said embracing her. She pulled away and looked at father pleadingly. “They still have Gwen” she spoke. Father's face seemed that of indifference to what she had just uttered. “There are reports that Hengist has crossed borders” I reported to father. The color faded from his face “Hengist?” He question. “You have to send someone. We have to rescue her” Morgana said with a tremor in her voice. “If he is holding her it would take more than one person. It'd take a whole battalion Morgana” he told her. “But she sacrificed her life for me! I can't just leave her there!” She yelled. “I'm sorry Morgana it cannot be done” father said. She pulled away from him in disgust. “It can you just don't believe it was worth it!” She yelled at him. “It will not be done” father said calmly. Morgana looked to me “would you leave her, Arya?” She asked me. “I agree with father, it cannot be done” I told her steeling myself for her wrath. But I still planned on going to get Gwen and Lancelot. “How can you live with yourselves?!” She yelled again as she stormed out the chamber.

Merlin tossed me another tunic as I stuffed it into my pack. The door flew open as Morgana followed in a fury. “How dare you! You leave one of your closest friends and her husband in the care of barbarians. All because you wish to impress your father. I thought you better than him” she ridiculed me as I danced around her gathering supplies for our journey. “Morgana” I told her. She opened her mouth Merlin stepped forward “Arya and I are going to get Gwen and Lancelot. So if you would give us some credit for not letting Uther know” he scolded. He took a breath and bowed “my lady”.

We rode out the gates knowing that Morgana was watching and waiting. Dark fell while we were riding. Merlin was falling asleep on his mare. I reached into my bag and got a rope. I cut it in halves and tied one around Merlin's waist and the other to his mare. I smiled as I looked back to his sleeping face. He really could look handsome when he wanted to. I would never tell him that, it would probably go to the warlock's head.

We stopped for a bit and i took Merlin down from the saddle. The idiot’s limp body didn't help. I put him against a tree and collect firewood to make a fire. With the fire crackling in the background, I ate some ham and bread. Merlin woke up rubbing his eyes. “Why am I leaning on a tree?” He asked. I handed him the water skin. He took a draw and licked his lips. “We better get going” I told him putting out the fire. We mounted back up and started off again in comfortable silence. “Seriously, why was I against a tree? I thought I was on a horse” he asked. I smiled and laughed. “What?” He asked aggravated.

Shortly after sunrise we came to tunnels. I took a deep breath. “Wildeoren” I spoke. “What's a wildeoren?” Merlin asked quizzically. “It's a giant hairless rat” I told him “that's completely blind.” I got off Bron and walked to a bush. The stench of the berries was horrid but it would work. “Why are you looking at that?” Merlin asked hesitantly. I smeared berries down my face and neck. With the next handful, I smashed them in Merlin's face. He sputtered in disgusted. “I am not kissing you after this” he stated. “Don't be a baby” I scolded him “besides wildeoren hunt by smell. These are to mask our smell.” Merlin let me finish smearing him. “Great giant bloodthirsty baby rats and we are running into them” he said sarcastically as we walked into the caves.

We carefully stepped on the cave floors with Merlin gently lighting the way with his magic. With a gust of wind, Merlin jumped back and landed on my foot. I grimaced to keep myself silent. “I stepped on something” Merlin squeaked. “It was my foot you dolt” i hissed quietly. Something moved and we hid behind a rock. A Wildeoren peered over the ridge sniffing. Merlin's hands shot up to cover his mouth. After a few minutes it left and we crawled over the rock and quietly continued on their way.

Outside of the cave, a small stream babbled. Merlin and I washed ourselves off. “Why are you going after Gwen and Lancelot?” Merlin asked. “Because they are my friends. My only friends” I told him rinsing some of the berries out of my hair. “Only friends? You wouldn't do the same for me?” He asked. “Merlin” I sighed. “Seriously you drag me into so many dangerous situations and I'm not considered your friend?” He asked with his angry growing. The sky grew dark. “Merlin…” I spoke softly. “All the time it's you going out to danger and having me save you. It's like you don't care at all. Even after I saved you during Yule. I watched you as your fever got worse, dying. I watched as that dollop head prince try and comfort you. All the while hoping that you would come back to me. You were almost frozen to death that night. And all the while I had to curb my feelings for you. One wrong move and we'd be discovered” he vented. “Merlin!” I yelled. He stopped talking and the sky seemed like it was to burst with anger. “Merlin, I am sorry that I worry you and have put you in the position. But you are much more than a friend. I would give anything to keep you happy and to be able to hold your hand on the market but father and the other nobles would never understand” I confessed. “I would lay the world at your feet and slay any wrong that came to you, annwylt. But you know you'll never need me for that because you are Emrys. Everyone who knows that name already falls to your feet” I continued. He sighed and kissed my forehead. He gagged as I giggled. “That's just bloody awful tasting” he said between spitting.

We crouched in the bushes surveying the castle. “The walls” I said pointedly. “No we are not climbing them” Merlin objected. “What else do you suggest? Knocking on the front door?” I asked. I tried to look as dopey as possible “Excuse me sir? Could you possibly turn over our friends? You seem to have them and we like them back.” I joked. Merlin scowled at me. “I do not look like that” he protested. “Some days you do” I told him and set off. I heard a huff and footsteps following me.

Half up the wall, I heard Merlin whine “this is harder than it looks.” I laughed. “What your lanky limbs aren't coming in handy?” I teased. “You are showing off” he remarked as I skittered up the wall. We reached the other side as two guards came across our path. I pushed Merlin out of our hiding spot. He glared at me and glared at him back. “Oi, you! What are you doing?” The guards called to Merlin. He took a breath as he spoke “I was on my way to a friends house and got lost.” The guards looked at each other in disbelief. I snuck around behind them while they lectured Merlin on being out past curfew. “You should really be more concerned with my friend” Merlin said pointing behind them. They turned just in time for me to knock them unconscious. Merlin looked at me with a smug look. “Don't you say a thing” I told him.

After we gathered and put on the armor, we headed out. We followed the cheering and clamor to find a giant room with a cage in the middle. The men stood around it cheering while several wildeoren stalked their prey. “Arya,” Merlin gasped. Looking in the cage I saw Lancelot and Gwen bound together in the center. Quickly moving, I ascended the outside of the cage and landed a blow on one of wildeoren. I tossed a sword to Lancelot and we defended ourselves from the wildeoren. “Just the two?” Lancelot teased. “Figured between you me and Gwen we equaled at least 20 men” I teased back. “What about Merlin?” He asked as he swiped at one of the beasts. “He can at least count for one woman” I joked swiping at another. We both laughed. Lancelot pushed Gwen into the tunnels. “Merlin!” I yelled. The chandelier came down and the Warlock sprinted to the cave entrance. He was followed by a very portly Hengist. I nodded at him and he magically cut the rope trapping Hengist inside. “Let's go!” I yelled bolting into the tunnels that had filled with screams.

After an hour outside the tunnels we made camp. Gwen and Lancelot sat together holding hands closely. I looked away to Merlin who sent me the same wishful look. “Thank you two,” Gwen spoke “it was a risk coming.” I smiled at the chocolate maid “Morgana wouldn't have let me live it down and I couldn't tell Merlin no.” Merlin scoffed in objection as Gwen turned to him. “As for you, your secret is safe with both my husband and I. Both secrets” She said. Merlin shrugged his shoulders “what secrets?” Lancelot smiled in response and Gwen's face echoed that teasing smile. “Well we both knew for a while you two are in love with each other. But don't worry we won't tell and Merlin” she spoke. Merlin sat straight up. “There was no way for that gate to come down unless someone cut it. Seeing as how not one of us was near the gate, it had to be magic” Gwen stated. “You won't tell Uther will you?” He asked with a tremor in his voice. She shook her head. Merlin let out a sigh of relief. We all went about teasing each other till we fell asleep.

Merlin sat behind me on Bron and Lancelot took his mare. Gwen rode in his lap like a lady of noble birth. We joked as we rode closer to Camelot. After a few hours, the great alabaster citadel rose on the skyline. “We are home” I spoke.

Walking into Morgana’s chambers, I watched my ward-sister hold her breath. Gwen walked in and curtsied. Morgana rushed over to her hugging her and beginning to sob. She let Gwen go and hugged me. “Thank you Arya” she whispered. I hugged her back and returned the whisper “you're welcome Morgana.” I walked out the room and into the hall. My footsteps echoed from my boots. I hadn't changed out of my chainmail and breeches yet. My thoughts wandered to little children laughing as the ran through the halls.

The bath was filled with hot water and my warlock that evening. I took a draw of wine and snuggled with him more. He played with my hair in his free hand. “Can't we stay like this forever?” I asked in a hushed voice. “I would like to but we can't. Not till you become queen my lady” he responded. I looked at his fingers carefully studying each crack and crevice. “Remind me to give you a day off” I spoke. “Who would watch over you?” He retorted. “I would do perfectly well for a day” I spoke up with a slight offense. I splashed him in the face and he splashed back. We curled up more as he made bubbles that took the form of animals chase each other.

Chapter Text

Spring was in full tilt. The women had flowers and ribbons in their hair. Many dressed in bright blues and greens. Gwen was dressed in bright pink and glowing. Morgana and I sat and ate breakfast while we watched her. “I've figured it out,” Morgana said “Lancelot gave you flowers.” Gwen shook her head. I took a sip “well with my limited physician training, my guess is that you are with child” I spoke. She turned red. Morgana and I rose and hugged her. “Congrats, Gwen. I hope you and Lance are very happy” Morgana told her. “Oh we are and we are over the moon. Though I'm not very far along” she told us. The three of us giggled.

With my white satin dress sleeves hanging around me and my hair braided to the side, I watched as Merlin and Gaius collected pots. They bowed when the saw me standing “My lady” Gaius said. I smiled “Let this young woman do an old favor and help you” I told him holding out my arm. He took it and we slowly walked around the booths. “I can't imagine why this is important. We do this every Thursday at the same time” Merlin moaned. Gaius’s brow shot up and I giggled. “Don't encourage him Arya. He waited to long to eat his porridge and got grumpy when he found it was cold” Gaius teaser. Merlin’s mouth made the same motion as when they are caught. I laughed more heartily and Merlin's face resigned in defeat. Taking Gaius's arm again I looked back and instead of his fishy gaping, the same goofy smile spread across his face. A part of me wanted to reach out and kiss him. But not in public.

After the last stall, Merlin started ahead further headed when he was grabbed by a strange looking man. We begun to walk faster and Gaius grabbed what was in Merlin's hand “any business with the king is to be done the proper…” He spoke trailing off. “Gaius?” I asked the old man whose face seemed riddled with a puzzling look. “Where did you get this?” He asked the strange looking man. “It is mine,” A beautiful woman about my father's age spoke revealing herself. “My Lady” Gaius gasped as he bowed. Merlin's face seem to echo Gaius's face for a few minutes ago. Gaius cleared his throat and Merlin bowed as well. “Come quickly, I believe father is just finishing up breakfast” I spoke. The woman gave me a quizzical look “I am sorry I don't remember you but I have not been to Camelot in a while.” She asked so politely. Gaius spoke up “this is her royal Highness Crown Princess Arebella Pendragon.” the lady curtsied “The daughter of Uther Pendragon and Ygraine DeBois. It is an honor.” I curtsied back “come father is finishing breakfast” I ushered her.

In the council chambers, my father sat. Morgana and stood behind him on either side. Catrina and her funny looking man servant Jonas came in and they bowed and curtsied. Father all but jumped out of his chair. “Catrina is it really you?” He asked the older women. “It is my lord” she responded. “Last we heard there were reports that the house of Tregor fell” father stated. “That of that is true my lord. And worse. My father is gone with the house I'm afraid” she spoke to him. Something seemed as if they were old friends. “If it was not for my faithful servant Jonas, I would not have made it” she said breathlessly. She began to fall and my father caught her. The way they looked at each other, must have been the way my parents looked at each other. A pang of jealousy sprung up. “Forgive me, these past few days have been hard on me” she said apologetically. “It's alright, is there anything we can do for you?” He asked standing her up straight. “A bed would be the greatest help” she answered with grace. “Consider yourselves our most honored guest” he said smiling. She curtsied “thank you my lord.” They left with the court in a hushed murmur. I made my way to the front of my father and curtsied. He waved me off.

I caught up with Merlin and Gaius. “Merlin, would you bring the Lady Catrina to the guest rooms please” I asked him. He gave a short bow and scurried off. I took Gaius's arm and spoke “Gaius I don't think what we are seeing is right.” Gaius sighed “what do you mean Arya?” He asked me. “I just think there might be more to the lady then she lets on” I replied. “I believe so too, but come I would like to give you some lessons on potion making” the old man spoke patting me on the arm.

Gaius had me brewing a headache tonic. “Now remember precision is key. With all potions and tonics, if they are not just right they will become the exact opposite” he coached. Merlin busted in as I finished. “Ah Merlin would you like to help Arya? She just made her first potion” Gaius spoke. “What type?” He asked. “A headache tonic” I told him. “But I don't have a headache” he spoke. Reaching behind his head, I slapped him. “Ow” he said rubbing the back of head. I handed him the tonic with a raised brow. He drank it. “How did the lady Catrina settle in?” I asked. He put the bottle down and gave me a surprised look. “Wow this is surprisingly good and it works well too” he spoke. “Merlin the lady catrina” I chided him. “She settled in well” he spoke and suddenly passed out. Gaius rushed over. He started chuckling after he made sure he was alright. “You made a headache tonic so strong it put him to sleep” he spoke. I turned red in the face “maybe I should have you make your foster-sister's tonics” he joked. Handing me a bottle “to lord pembroke.” I opened the door and took a moment to look at the sleeping Merlin. His face was riddled with peace. I closed the door and headed to the noble wing.

That evening we were at dinner with the Lady Catrina. Merlin had woke up from my tonic and had a gash that Gaius made me tend to. “Merlin, how did you get that gash?” Morgana asked him. He was going to answer but I spoke up “I fear that was my doing. I was taking lessons with Gaius and he had me brewing a headache tonic. Poor Merlin got my first one and it was strong enough to give him a nap on the floor.” Morgana laughed. Father and Catrina smiled. “I think your father is generous letting you take lessons with Gaius” she spoke over her wine. “I also train with the Knights every other day as well” I spoke. Catrina looked surprised “My you seem like a very busy person. Being a physician’s apprentice and a knights squire” she spoke. Father cleared his throat “she isn't a Knights squire, Catrina. She is the lieutenant captain of the guard.” The lady's face grew in surprise. “Champion of three tournaments as well” added Morgana. “Well if I didn't know any better I would have thought that maybe your father had given his son an odd name. Not only are you an accomplished sportswoman but apparently a very good physician and a celestial beauty” she spoke. “Thank you my lady” I spoke up. I noticed that my father and Catrina had a look. “Father, may I be excused?” I asked he waved and Morgana rose and left with me. We walked the door and busted out giggling.

That night Merlin and I sat in Gauis's chambers. The old man was busy brewing a potion and Merlin busy reading his magic book. I stuck to my anatomy book and watched from over top Merlin delve into the book. His brow would knit tightly when he came across something difficult to comprehend. I rolled my eyes and went back to reading. Using my right foot I slid it up his leg and back down the otherside. He stopped for a moment and went back to reading. “Merlin, take this to Lady Catrina please” Gaius asked. “But why me?” He protested. “Because I took the last one” I told him over my book. He sighed and stood up taking the bottle. “What is it?” He asked the old man. Gaius looked at him plainly “She will know”. Merlin remained unconvinced but left anyways. I went back to my book smiling.

Merlin returned less than 20 minutes later. He slammed the bottle down and startled Gaius and I. “She didn't ask for it. She didn't need or want it” Merlin spoke loudly. Gaius had a puzzled look on his face. “Interesting” he spoke. “What?” He snapped. Merlin was getting tired. “The lady Catrina had an incurable disease that afflicted her joints” Gaius spoke. “Well she is getting about just as well as the three of us” he remarked. I looked over my book to him. You could see he was developing dark rings on his eyes. “So I noticed” Gaius answered quickly. “So what about the medicine?you were testing her?” Merlin asked the aging physician. “Yes” Gaius spoke. “What did you find out?” Merlin asked confused. “That Arya’s suspicions are correct. We might not be in the company of the lady Catrina at all” Gaius said forebodingly.

Merlin escorted me to my chambers. Inside I hugged him. He hugged back. “Arya, it's bed time and with guests it's not a good idea for you and I to be that way” he spoke. “I know but still thank you for being Merlin and the only man to be enchanted by Catrina” I said letting go. He smiled as I disappeared behind the screen. I changed to my nightgown and crawled into bed. Merlin tucked me in and opened the door. “Night my lady” he said with a bow. Shortly after I fell asleep with my hand on the blue butterfly.

Morning came and Father was setting off with Catrina. I watched with Morgana from the hall window as they rode off. “I don't know about her Morgana, something is off” I told my ward sister. Laying a hand on my shoulder, she spoke softly “It'll be fine Arya. She makes Uther happy.” I still remained unconvinced.”I am going to Gaius's” I told her. “It's not because Merlin is there is it? Why don't you admit it that you are in love?” She teased. I stopped in the stone archway before the stairs and looked at my ward sister. “Because if there ever was a future between us, it's unlikely. Princesses don't marry servants” I told her. I continued down the stairs.

On the way to Gaius's I literally ran into Merlin. Who already was working. He had a basket of my dirty clothes in his arms. His big hand reached down and picked me up. “My Lady. I am sorry to have been in your way” he said. “Thanks. But no need to lay it on thick” I told him. He handed me a flower out of the basket. A ivory daisy. I looked at him and couldn't look away “thank you” I said. He bowed again. I stood there in the courtyard twirling the flower, smiling like a fool. It had been almost a moon since we rescued Gwen and Lance. Since I saw that passion rise in his eyes. The basic want for me. My burgundy skirts blew in the gentle breeze.

I sat on the balcony in Gaius's chambers. I was hidden from the sight of Gaius. Who gave me a stern lecture when I arrived. Merlin bust through the door. “Jonas has a tail!” He yelled. I bolted up and leaned in to listen. “A tail?” Gaius asked disbelieving. “Yes a bloody tail!” Merlin said frustrated. “This isn't good Merlin you have to keep an eye on her” Gaius said. Merlin left to tend to his other chores.

After lunch Merlin and I went to the stables. I was brushing Bron out while Merlin cleaned his stall. My father and Catrina rode in. They were giggling like fools in love. My eyes rolled. “It's good for him to have her” Merlin told me. “Not when I have a sinking feeling about this” I murmured.

That evening after I dined with Morgana in her room. I readied for bed. After some thought I fell asleep quickly. I was dreaming of Merlin and I walking through a field. Our dark haired children running through them giggle and playing tag. I awoke to get a glass of water. Only i found Merlin staring out the window. “Merlin?” I called. On the ground outside on the ground was a shattered mirror. I felt my heartbreaking in my chest again. “Here I thought maybe you were the only man she didn't hold sway over. Apparently I was wrong and foolish to believe that I was only woman you needed” I spoke. He went to touch me and I swatted his hand away “No, go back to Gaius's chambers” I said shortly. With almost no sound he slipped away. I sighed and let a tear slide down my face.

I sat in the light of my fire drinking wine. Merlin was the last man I wanted to lose. But now he was after Catrina as well I've lost the men that mattered most. Gwen arrived in the wee hours of the morning. She sat with me and didn't say a word. Not even when Merlin came in did she say a word. Morgana came in when the light was stronger and changed out with Gwen. She laid a hand on top of mine. I stared at it wondering how sincere this was. After my thoughts went blank, I stared at the fire and let my mind numb out.

Gaius came in after dinner time and examined me. Merlin stood by the table tending to his duties. Every fiber of me wanted to stand up and scream at him. My mind was telling me to show much he hurt me. But my body wouldn't let me. “She is catatonic at the moment. No telling when we will see her return” I heard Gaius tell Merlin. The door opened and shut. Merlin came and squatted down in front of me. I felt a large tear roll down my cheek. “Arya, my love. I know you are most likely heartbroken and angry with me. I understand what it looked like but I swear to you as Emrys that I was doing as Gaius said. I am trying to help find out who the lady Catrina really is. My heart belongs to you and only you Arebella Pendragon. It always will” he told me holding my hand. I looked down at the warm hand and stared. He rose and kissed my forehead. His hand started to slip. Quickly I squeezed and let go.

The next morning Gaius and Gwen by. Gaius noticed a slight improvement. “Merlin is trying to find a way to make this better Arya. He loves you and wants you back” Gwen spoke. “Why?” I asked her. She looked shocked. “Because he isn't whole without you Arya. He looks almost as empty as you are in this stated. If you could give him any sign, give him one” she begged me. “Jewelry box” I said to her. She got up brought the box over, I lifted the lid and pulled out my mother's wedding ring. I held it out to her. She took it nodding. I heard her scuffle off.

Soon I felt the need to walk. Gwen dressed me and gathered Morgana for a walk. We walked around the castle with Morgana. When we came to the courtyard, we met my father. “Uther,” Morgana said. He nodded in acknowledgement “How is she this morning?” He asked almost disgustedly. “She has said only a two words but she is walking. We cannot get her to eat or drink. Perhaps if you were to visit or even let her know that all of your attention hasn't been given to the lady Catrina” Morgana said. Thunder started and rain fell. My hand slipped from Morgana’s arm as she bickered with my father. I walked to the center and stood in the rain. “Emrys” I whispered to the rain welcoming each drop.

Morgana brought me inside hurriedly. “Arya, are crazy?” She asked. I stared at her blankly. Was she really the only one other then Gwen who cared? She had a guard carry me to my chambers. There a bath was warmed for me. Morgana and Gwen dressed me in my night clothes. Gaius came in and made sure I had no fever. He left a bottle. Morgana had me drink it and everything went black.

I awoke in the morning. I felt a little better but still hurting. I was quickly dressed and rushed to the Council chamber. Father enters with Catrina on his arm. He spoke of marriage and droned on and on. My gaze was fixed on Merlin. He started to whisper and my eyes flickered to Catrina who looked like she was in great discomfort. Her face seemed to twist and bubble as she seemed to go blank in her expression. Mentally I rooted for Merli. If anyone could make her go back to her true self, it would be him. But when father finished, I could see it was not enough.

As I looked over my dried daisy, I wondered if father would let me slip away after he had children with Catrina. Then I could marry Merlin and leave to the mountain. No one would find us. The door opened and shut. I looked up to see Merlin up standing at the door. I stood up as well and started to form a word when he rushed over and kissed me hard. He pulled back before it registered. “Emrys” I whispered and he kissed me again. This time I grabbed him and held him as I returned the kiss. His arms wrapped around my waist. I nuzzled into his shoulder and let out my tears. “Shh” he hushed me. “I am sorry Merlin. So so sorry. I should've let you explain. Just lately everyone has been busy with something to do with Catrina and I've felt all alone. Then I found you looking at her through a mirror and there was nothing but pain” I blubbered to him. He smiled “it will be fine Arya. Besides Catrina is a real life troll” he told me. I stopped and thought. “But aren't trolls ugly and all fangy?” I asked. He laughed “she is using magic.” I sighed. “I have to stop her or you won't have a kingdom” he said hurriedly. “Merlin, merlin don't. Because then my father can take me out of succession and we can leave. He will preoccupied with her that we can leave and we won't have to hide anymore” I told him quietly. He shushed me “Arya you can't leave. You are too important to your people. Besides your father would look for you endlessly.” He said quietly. He was right. “Look you need to make it to the wedding tomorrow and pretend to go with it. I'll turn her at the right moment and then your father will see she is a troll” he confessed. “But what if doesn't work?” I asked him. “It has to” he assured me. I smiled as he snuck out the door.

The rest of the day Morgana and Gwen spent with me. We talked together and laughed. Everyone seemed elated that I was normal again. Gwen and Lancelot knew exactly and would smile at each other. Morgana still thought it was My father. By the time night fell Merlin didn't return. I wondered where he was.

Morning arose and I was dressing in my pendragon red dress. Morgana wore her gold one and her and Gwen helped with my hair. My golden circlet was set upon my head. When we got to the throne room doors, father was standing by them. I curtsied to him. “I see you have recovered” he said. I turned to the door and held my head high. “Thanks to Gaius and his wonderful skills” I spoke highly. The doors opened and father and I walked in. I noticed that Merlin was absent from the room Catrina walked through the open doors. Needless to say she wasn't not bad looking but the fact that she was a troll diminished her beauty. As soon as she stepped to the last step Geoffery started talking. He confirmed the want of marriage. The whole time the ceremony was taking place, I waited for Merlin. “I now pronounce you man and wife” Geoffery spoke. Merlin rushed in covered in sweat. Father and Catrina broke from their kiss and she grimaced at the sight of Merlin.

Several days passed and Father let me go riding. I took no one with me save Merlin. We rode until the castle was small. We reached our lake shortly thereafter. We went for swim and took turns splashing each other. Merlin stopped and noticed a figure on the shore watching. “Arya, dive” Merlin whispered. When I came back up, the figure was gone. Merlin looked solemn. “What's wrong?” I asked. “Jonas” he said. We swam back to shore and Merlin magicked us dry. We rode back in silence.

Arriving in the courtyard a guard took the reins of Bron and Merlin was yanked from his horse. Guards escorted me to the Council Chamber were Father and Catrina sat. The guards closed the door behind me and father stood up. “What have you done with Merlin?” I asked. He glared at me “That servant is under arrest for two charges. The first charge is for the theft of the Seal of Tregor. The second is for laying a hand on the princess of Camelot” he spoke. “I assure you Fa--” o began. “You will assure me of nothing!” He yelled “He has stolen two things. He will be executed at dawn tomorrow.” I stood tall with rage. “Where is the proof he stole this and furthermore, a witness that puts him and I doing inappropriate things?” I asked. My father put the seal on the table wrapped in the blue silk tunic I had order for him. Jonas walked in shortly after. I couldn't let them seem how defeated I was. “Was it the princess who you saw with the accused in the lake?” My father asked Jonas. All the while Catrina was smirking. “It was, sire” the ugly thing answered. “You will be stripped of your rank as lieutenant captain with the knights and forbidden to be in the presence of an unmarried man alone. Upon the first offer of marriage, you will accept and marry the following morning. You will no longer be the rightful heir to my kingdom for this shame” Father ordered. “Yes father” I said with a curtsy. The guards led me out and straight to my rooms. After they locked the doors, I changed into the peasant dress I kept from when I posed as Sir William. With my dark claim wrapped around me, slipped out the hidden servants door with the key I held onto after they were taken from me.

I arrived at the cell of they kept Merlin in. He had a bruise on his cheek. “Merlin” I whispered. He rushed to the bars and held my hands. “Arya” he whispered back. I got the key and unlocked his gate. He kissed me “what are you doing?” He asked. “I'm rescuing you and running away from this with you to save your life” I said hushed. His brow knit in concern “We can't leave, we need to stop this” he whispered back. “You will die if you stay. Jonas spoke of us, father is out for your head. For both me and the seal” I hissed. He took my hand and closed the gate. He locked it just in case. We ran to a secluded area that put us inches away from one another. “If we run, there will never be a chance for you to rule and to get me clear” he hissed in return. “Father has stripped me of that right already” I told him flatly. He stood frozen and cold. “No” he whispered. “Yes and he means to marry me off to the first person who asks. So if we don't run, I will never see you again and I cannot be without you” I told his storming blue eyes. “I have a plan Arya, go back to your rooms. Meet me under the castle in an hour” he whispered checking for guards. “If you aren't there Merlin, I will find you and we can leave Camelot then” I told him. He ushered me to the stairs. “Arya,” he said “I love you.” I smiled and kissed him “I love you too” I spoke. Running up the stairs and through the servant halls, I made it to my room. I heard the key turn in my door. I rushed to my bed and hopped in. I closed my eyes and pretended to me asleep. Someone sat on my bed. They cleared their throat. “Arya, I hope you realize this is what is best. He will have to be burned. He's got you enchanted and only way for it to be broken is for him to die. I know that's the only way you would ever do something like that with him” my father spoke. I wiped my tears off my face and he continued “you can be mad but when you have your own children you will understand.” With that he got up and left. The key turned in its lock. Sitting in the moonlight, I managed to tell myself that my children will never have this stipulated law. I left and wandered to the underside of the castle.

Merlin was just a minute behind me when I arrived. He showed me the potion Gaius made. “What is it made of?” I asked. “You don't want to know” he said. He replaced it and got out of the room in time for Jonas to awaken. We scuttled back to Gaius’s chambers. Just as we got inside the door the warning bells rang. “Merlin they will find you” I said. “No they won't” Gaius said. Merlin smiled. He kissed me and I left. I snuck back into my rooms and laid down.

That night I had a dream of a great battle and I was facing a tall person. They turned and it was Merlin. He was dressed in all black. He used his magic against me. I screamed “Merlin, no!” I sat up in my bed drenched. A knock at the door echoed in my chambers. “My Lady? Everything alright?” The guard asked. “Yes thank you” I called out.

The morning was spent my father reading off a law enacting a new tax and Making Catrina the rightful heir to the throne. I hung my head. I looked up to the hidden balcony and saw very faintly Merlin's outline. I returned to my chambers to wait the afternoon out till the crowning of Catrina. Morgana sat with me wordless. We prepared in silence. Morgana and I arrived both in our white gowns and watched as Catrina arrive in her extravagant gown. She smirked and looked triumphant. She stood below my father and recited the exact words of the exact oath I took. He put the crown I wore on her head and declared her the rightful heir. Right as she stood up her enchantment started wearing off. She bolted not soon after. Father and I took off after her. She was stopped at the door trying to open them. Her hand had return to its original form. She started returning entirely to her form as Morgana and I held each other from fright. “She is a troll!” I yelled. Morgana nodded, “one more word and I will put you on the pyre” father scolded me. Morgana hurried me away. Merlin shadowing behind me.

I spent the next day with Morgana in Gaius's chambers pouring over books. He came back in. “He will see no sense!” Gaius huffed as he entered. Merlin sat on the stairs “what else can we do?” He asked Gaius. He nodded to the pendragon shield on the wall. Merlin sped out quickly to see the dragon.

A few hours after he left, Merlin came through the door. “Your father has to cry tears of true remorse” he said hastily. “You know Uther cares not for nothing but his new wife” Morgana spoke up. “He still loves Arya to the bone though. He couldn't kill her off even though Jonas told him of us” Merlin said absent mindedly. Morgana's smile grew “I knew it!” She said. I smiled sheepishly. Gaius got to work making the potion and antidotes. Soon after he was done. He gave Morgana and Merlin each separate antidotes. “Remember 30 minutes or we lose Arya” Gaius reminded them. I took the potion and everything went black.

Everything was blurry but I heard a commotion. I grabbed my sword and as I swung, the blade became blue fire. I sliced through Jonas’s neck and then stuck the troll. She fell over with death fresh on her face. As soon as she hit the ground she let a very pungent bowel movement loose. Father hugged me. “My dear daughter. I am ever so sorry that I said and did those things” he spoke holding me. “It's okay papa. Everything is okay” I said holding the apologetic King.

The next morning after Ceremonies and pardons were given. I stood watching the city, once again as crown princess. “You know, keeping up with you pendragons is hard work” Merlin spoke. I laughed “but somehow the great Emrys still does.” He leaned against the ramparts. My father appeared. He walked up to us “I would like to personally apologize to you two again. You guys have proven yourselves worthy of being on this side of the war against magic” he spoke. “As always,” I said with a bow. “Oh and Merlin, I'd tread carefully around my daughter if you insist on dating other women” Father told him. As Father walked away, Merlin and I laughed. I looked up to see a Merlin flying in the sky. “What's that?” Merlin asked as he looked up. “I don't know but it has to be a good sign” I told him. The Merlin's call echoed around the castle.

Chapter Text

Less than a fortnight had passed since the incident with troll. Father was still on edge about magic. His edge didn't help when a young women came to him and told him of a cloud of smoke that transformed into a horse. Gaius, Lancelot, Gwen and I knew immediately that it had something to do with Merlin it always did. “Perhaps, it was a trick of the light?” I asked. She shook her head “No your highness” she spoke. I sighed. Father waved her off and the guardsmen took her away. I walked to the steps and curtsied low enough that the hem of my lavender sleeves touch the stones. “My lord I will search out the person responsible and bring them to justice” I swore to him. “No we have more efficient means. Send for the witch hunter” father ordered. A man scrambled out of the room quicker than my heart jumped. “Is this necessary my lord?” Gaius stepped forward asking. “Of course it is Gaius” father spoke sitting down.

I singled out Merlin and pulled him aside. Hidden in an enclave out of sight I slapped him on the side of the head. “Are you mad?” I hissed at him. His face wore the pain from my blow. “No I thought no one was looking” he spoke quietly. The clank of armor alerted us to guards. Merlin pulled me in farther to hide me. After the sounds of chainmail and armor had faded, he moved. “Never think! It gets you into trouble” I scolded. He kissed me and I pushed him off. “You are really going for a death sentence aren't you?” I remarked in a low volume. “You told me not to think” he retorted. My eyes rolled in my head and I walked away.

Gwen quickly prepared me after lunch. Her belly had swollen slightly. “What are you expecting?” I asked her. She continued to brush my hair as she spoke “I hope for a son. Lancelot just wants it to be healthy.” I smiled and turned putting my hand on her belly “You better be a girl. You can come to auntie Arya and I will teach you how to beat all the boys at swordsmanship” I spoke to it. She giggled and the door popped open. Merlin's face poked through the door “Arya, your father would like for you to come to the main steps.” I leaned down to Gwen's stomach and whispered again “Do not let the goon with the ears fool you. He is a dangerous oaf that with squish you at any chance.” Gwen scoffed. I stood up and Merlin put my Circlet on my head. Looking my mirror, I stood straight. I wore my periwinkle long sleeve dress. The collar was a bit higher than usual and my hair was in a braided bun. Merlin and I ran out the door.

The witch hunter drove his wagon into the square. He gracefully fell from his perch on the driver’s bench. He latched arms with Father. He drew a deep breath and looked my father “The smell grows strong” he spoke to him. “Yes Aredian, that's why we've summoned you” father returned his comment. The man's ice blue eyes singled me out. “Who is this fair creature? If my eyes fool me, I could have sworn you brought back your bride” Aredian spoke. His rough hand held my chin while he examined my face. “That is my daughter. Crown Princess Arebella Pendragon” Father spoke watching the witch hunter’s hand pick mine up and kiss it. “I assure you my lady the pleasure is entirely mine” he spoke softly. I held back a disgusted shutter and smiled. “Now down to business Uther. We have a sorcerer to catch” he spoke turning to father again.

Gaius, Merlin and I were walking down the nobles wing delivering potions when Aredian found us. “Gaius” he spoke. “Aredian” Gaius echoed in tone. “Court Physician I heard” the witch hunter spoke “Always had a thirst for knowledge.” Gaius stared blankly and corrected him “Scientific knowledge.” The Witch hunter eyed Gaius like elusive prey. “May I introduce my apprentice--” Gaius began. “Princess, it is interesting your father let you start so many,” he spoke “hobbies.” The feeling of tension doubled as the hunter's gaze passed to Merlin. “I fear my stubbornness is all my father's doing. He caved into letting me apprentice under Gaius after I badgered him. As for the Knights, it was once again a battle that I won” I spoke up. Aredian still held gaze with Merlin. “This is my assistant and nephew, Merlin” Gaius spoke breaking the silent battle between opponents. “Charmed” Aredian spoke. As quietly as he came, the hunter left. We continued on down the hall. “That was-” I begun. “I don't like him” Merlin spoke.

An hour after we completed our tasks, Merlin was summoned to the witch hunter’s chambers. I waited with Morgana in her chambers. She sat with Gwen as I paced. “He will be alright, Arya. Merlin is more than capable of taking care of himself” Morgana tried to comfort me. “I am going to retire to my chambers” I said. As I was leaving Morgana’s chambers, Leon caught up with me. “Arya, wait” he called. I slowed down. “Where is Merlin?” He asked. “With the witch hunter” I told him. “Arya, I'm sure he will be fine” he said softly stopping me. I looked into his sky blue eyes. “Arya, I'm worried about you. You have been through a lot since Merlin's coming here” he spoke. “What would you like me to say? He makes the day interesting?” I sarcastically commented. “I am just worried. You have become like a little sister to me” he said. “I will be fine Leon” I spoke to him. I turned and walked quickly through the marble halls to my oak doors.

The sun had set long before Merlin had came to see me. I was sitting in my bed when he snuck in. He sat on the other end of my bed and stared at the fire. “How was it?” I asked. He crossed his thumbs “he is very imposing. Be careful Arya” he spoke. “Merlin, he couldn't break me like he could a peasant girl” I reassured him. He stared at his hands “I wish you were. Then I could keep you safe. Promise me if he is as good as they say, promise me you will stay safe and be a good ruler” he spoke still staring at his hands. I crawled over my large bed and pulled his face to mine. “Merlin, nothing is going to happen to you. I may be a normal person, but I am a princess and I will do everything in my power to save you” I swore to him. I rested my forehead against his and he sighed. “It's bed time for you” he told me. My eyes rolled in response and he gave me the famous Gaius brow. “I will go quietly if you give me a kiss” I tried to bargain. He kissed me on the forehead. “Now go to sleep Arya. No one likes a cranky prat” he told me. I reached for a pillow and tried to hit him with it. He dodged and smiled. I fell asleep after he left.

Merlin was tied to a pillar in the square. “Merlin, I hereby sentence you to death. You will be burnt at the stake” my father called. I was held back as the guards lit the pyre. “Noo, Merlin!” I screamed. He screamed as the flames licked him. “Merlin!” I broke an arm free from the guard and reached for him. “Arya!” He cried back. The guards overpowered me as Merlin continued to burn. I watched in horror as the flames got higher. I felt sobs rack my body. Tears stung at my face as I watched his lifeless body char. The flames culled as my tears ran out. As soon as I could I ran over and cut his body down. His face was scarred with melted flesh and his dark blue eyes glazed over. I clutched his body as the ash smeared my red velvet gown. “He had magic. He was evil to the core and wished for nothing more than the destruction of our kingdom” father spoke. I sobbed more with invisible tears streaming down my face. “You were wrong about him. You burnt him out of spite. You burnt the man I loved because you cannot find anymore friends. I hope you are happy” I spat at him. Merlin's voice spoke “Arya wake up.” I looked up and there was Merlin again. “But you can't be there I watched you burn” I spoke. “It was just a nightmare, but you need to wake” he spoke. I slipped my hand in that large warm hand. I was jerked awake by Merlin. He was sitting on my bed holding me. I sobbed hard “I watched you burn” I told him. He stroked my hair hushing me. “Shh, I'm still here. No one is gonna burn me” he told me. He pulled me away and I nodded. “Come on, your father wants you in the throne room” he said. After dressing me in a pale blue dress with the sleeves attached by a clasp on my bicep. We ran with my sleeves and skirts snapping behind us.

Aredian stood in middle of the throne room with three women about my age. “Go ahead, tell them” he spoke. She took a ragged breath in “I saw faces in the well when I was retrieving water” she shuttered. I saw Merlin whisper to Gaius. Aredian walked to the next girl. “What did you see?” He asked the girl who flinched when he touched her. “I-I-I saw a gobbling dances on the hot coals of my fire, sire. He cackled when I told him to get out” she spoke quietly. He skulked to the third woman. “The smoke was the start” he announced. “What did you see my dear?” He asked the shivering woman. “I saw the sorcerer. As plain as anyone in this room. He opened his mouth and giant creatures crawled from his mouth” she recounted. “What kind of creatures my dear?” He asked her. She took a deep breath “toads.” He spun around to look at all the court in theatrics. “The sorcerer mocks all of you. He goes unchallenged by those who wish for magic to be exterminated” he spoke. My eyes flickered back to Merlin. Unfortunately the hunter caught it. “Have you found him?” Father asked. “Using every tool at my disposal, I have a suspect” Aredian stated. My father rose out of his chair and asked “who?” Aredian turned to Merlin and spoke “the boy: Merlin.” I stood up from my chair “that is ridiculous! He may have some social problems but many people can attest that he would be the last person” I challenged. “My findings point me where ever the tools of magic point” the hunter claimed “a search through his chambers while render us the evidence”. My father waved to Merlin “Have you any objections?” Merlin stepped forward. “I have none my lord. My uncle can testify that my belongings are very few” he told my father.

After taking Merlin to the dungeons, we came to Gaius’s chambers. All the men pulled books out and tipped over bottles. “This is my life's work. Take care!” Gaius shouted. “Search everywhere!” Aredian called. The guards continued to dig. “Turn the stool! Search behind the tapestry!” The hunter egged on. Leon grabbed a jar and broke it. “Here!” He called. “See master physician, you have been harboring a sorcerer along!” The hunter cried. As the red haired middle aged man walked out, Gaius called “Aredian!” The hunter paused and turned slowly. “That bracelet is mine” he spoke. He looked at me and quickly handed me a noted unnoticed. Everyone left. Leon strode up and stopped. “I am sorry Arya” he said with a bow. “Release Merlin” I commanded. After Leon walked out of the chambers, I looked around and saw books I had read strewn about. Potions broke everywhere and herbs crusting the spills. I looked in my hand where I held the note.

My dearest Arya,
It has been a pleasure teaching you and being Merlin's mentor. Please keep him from harm. He needs it and you if he is to become the destined warlock that is prophecied. All of my works, I leave to you and him. I hope they serve you well.

Gaius

Merlin walked in and saw the mess. I let a tear run down my face. “I couldn't stop him” I whispered. Merlin walked over and hugged me “I know. But we still have to try.” He kissed the top of my head and held me as cried for the second time that day.

After I helped Merlin straighten the papers and mess up the best I could, I went to my chambers and prepared for supper. Merlin did not follow me. Nor did I expect him to. When I arrived to the table, Aredian stood up. I sat down and he returned to his meal. “Gaius has always served me well. Many of times he has brought me and Arya back from the brink of death” Father spoke. “Perhaps with the magic he still had” the hunter said between bites. “Gaius has no magic” I spoke. The hunter laughed “my lady, you do not know your master well then. He was one of the best sorcerers in all Camelot” he spoke. “At one time, yes he was. I had hope he turned his back on his old ways” father spoke before he drank his wine. “There is only one way to make sure” Aredian spoke. “Excuse me” I said getting up from the table.

I spent the rest of the night curled up on my bed. “They are going to torture him” I told Merlin. He was busy mending a hem on my dress. “I know” he said. Furiously I got up and hit him on the shoulder. “You are letting your kin go to the grave?” I asked him accusingly. “No Arya, I'm not” he said. He sighed and stuck his finger in his mouth. “Come on” he said. We snuck out of my chambers.

At the bottom of the stairs we saw Aredian. Merlin hid me behind him. The guards that followed carried Gaius. We finished scurrying to the dragon’s cave. The great dragon landed “What is the matter?” He asked. Looking at the both of us. “The witch hunter has Gaius” I told the dragon. “I see” he murmured. “It's my fault. I should've said it was me” Merlin called. “Then you are far stupider than laying with her” The dragon spat. “What do we do?” I asked. “This is not a matter I can help with, young pendragon” he spoke before flying off. “Bloody unhelpful lizard” I muttered. Merlin ushered me out and back to my rooms.

The morning came and Gwen to comfort. She had told us the witch hunter had now started questioning Morgana. Merlin and I traded each other looks. Morgana came in after a bit. We all have her a hug. She looked shaken. We spent a few more hours in silence.

That afternoon we all gathered in the council chambers. Gaius was thrown on his knees. “Confess!” The hunter commanded. “I am the sorcerer, sire. I am responsible for the smoke and the toads. I am responsible for the goblin and the faces!” Gaius cried in agony. The hunter wore a smug look. “I trusted you,” my father spat “I hereby sentence you to death!” Morgana shot me a look of utter loss. I sent her one back. “Tomorrow at dawn! He will burn!” The hunter called.

After the gathering, I ran off to my clearing. I knelt down to on the dirt. I let my tears go. I heard soft footsteps. “If you weren't so heartbroken my lady I would have thought you an angel” I heard the hunter speak. “If I was not so heartbroken, I would have never thought highly of my mentor” I spat. “Tell me what you know of Merlin” the hunter coaxed “I know you two are close.” I stared as he circled. “No more than good friends. What you are implying is improper and punishable by death or exile. And I so happened to have found a half decent servant” I hissed. He closed the space between us and leaned into my ear. “Be careful of how you speak. You reek of magic. Your very scent has been corrupted by its power which means that you have bedded a sorcerer. I would tread lightly while I am here or Camelot will find itself without an heir” he spoke. “You threaten and presume much. I am more than capable of defending myself against the likes of you. And as for bedding a sorcerer, you speak a lie. I am still intact and ready to give my maidenhead to my husband” I told him. He backed down and smiled. “I will discover the truth about your Ward-sister and servant. You may fall with them, if I so desire” he said leaving.

The morning after Gaius was presumed guilty, I was called upon to help with the execution. As Gaius got down from the cart, Gwen broke through the crowd. “Arya, Gaius is innocent” she yelled. “I know but I have to go through with this” I called back. “Merlin has proof!” She called. “My father has passed sentence” I called back. “Do something!” She yelled. I gave her a look to back down. “Arebella pendragon, you owe this to me. To Gaius. You are the crown princess and the future queen. This is your chance to do something you feel is right” she scolded. “Stop!” I yelled. My father shot me a dark look. “There is new evidence!” I said. The crowd hushed.

Inside the throne room, Merlin stood with the three women from the beginning of the investigation. “Sire,these witnesses all saw hallucinations induced by belladonna eye drops” Merlin spoke. “And these drops were bought from this man?” Father asked pointing to an apothecary. The three women nodded. “Where did you get them?” He asked the man. “The Witch hunter gave them to me to sell to three women” the apothecary confessed. “Did he tell you why?” Father questioned. The apothecary shook his head. “This is nonsense” the balding hunter spoke. He grew more and more desperate in his demeanor. “Search his chambers” I commanded.

We arrived in his chambers and began the search. “The cupboard” I called. Lancelot opened it, unleashing a storm of amulets and behind it rows of belladonna drops. Father's face grew more twisted as time went on. “No those were put there by Merlin!” The hunter cried. He started coughing and doubled over. When he stood up, a giant toad was in his hands. He dropped it as he coughed again and another toad kept from his mouth. Morgana jumped in fright. The hunter grabbed her in desperation and I drew my sword. “I wouldn't if I were you” he said with a dagger to Morgana's throat. She smiled as he dropped a red hot dagger and backed up. He back right over a trunk and fell out a window. Below was his lifeless body.

That afternoon Gaius was freed and was organizing what Merlin and I cleaned up. Merlin and I busied ourselves with organizing papers. Father walked in and saw Gaius standing there. “I wanted to say I am sorry and if anything was broken I will gladly have it replaced” my father said softly. “Thank you my lord. That is generous of you” Gaius spoke folding his hands in front of him. “I am also greatly sorry for any suffering you endured at aredian’s hand” my father quickly spoke. He examined mine and Merlin's handy work at cleaning. “It was under your orders my lord” Gaius retorted. My father's face contorted with guilt. “I was deceived” father tried to reason. “You have been deceiving yourself from day one Uther. Now it is to re point where you no longer see friendship in people who offer it to you” Gaius spoke openly. My father huffed and walked out.

Gaius went to purchase some herbs for a replacement, leaving Merlin and I alone. He sat across from me at the table. “Promise me, no more magic unless you need it in dire situations” I spoke. “I promise” he spoke looking at me. He took my hand in his as we read through a few books. I occasionally looked at him and saw nothing but wisdom in his face. I smiled knowing that everything okay.

Dinner was served in Gaius's chambers. I had someone bring it to his chambers as a gift to the aging physician. “Don't think ye toad was a tad, too much?” Gaius asked. “No, I don't actually” Merlin said grinning. We all chuckled.

Chapter Text

Three new recruits passed the knighting exam. “Arise Sir Vidor of Camelot. Arise Sir Caradoc of Camelot” Father spoke knighting each one. As they rose, a commotion in the hall cause everyone with a sword in the hall to draw. A knight walked in sheathing their sword. They tossed a glove down on the floor and I picked it up. “If I faced you tomorrow, may I see your face?” I asked the knight. As the helmet came off, the crowd gasped. A woman stood in front of me. “I am Morgause, your highness” the woman spoke.

Gefforey flipped through his books on knightly code. “Nowhere does it say a woman cannot issue a challenge” the old bookworm stated. “There must be a way to stop this” father huffed in frustration. “It is a perfectly valid challenge besides the princess is a knight is she not?” The old man said. “It seems there is nothing we can do” I spoke up. “I will not let you face her!” Father yelled as he pounded his fist on the table. “Why not? Cause she is a woman? Or is it because she looks so much like me?” I asked him. He glared at me as I walked out.

As I prepared myself mentally to face this strange woman, Merlin snuck in. “Arya, did you find out anything?” He asked. “Only that in 300 years, there is no law about a woman becoming a knight or issuing a challenge” I answered. He hesitated in saying something. “Well spit it out” I told him. “I worried you've never faced another woman in combat. Possibly that you may end up doing something you may regret” he said. “You think I'm going to regret going into battle against another woman?” I asked him with my brow raised. “No no not that. I just have a bad feeling about this” he spoke moving a piece of hair out of my face. “I am not some helpless female” I said brushing his hand away. He frowned at my lack of want for affection. “Bring her a message would you? Tell her, if she backs down, I will personally see her back across the border” I asked of him. He looked at me with sadness. He left the room.

Morning came and Merlin preparing me for the duel. “She declined so this is in no way your fault if something happens Arya” he reassured me. I nodded and walked onto the field. “This is by the Knight’s code. It is to the death” Father spoke. Morgause and I faced each other. “I offer you this last chance” I told her. She donned her helmet and I followed suit. We both raised our swords. Each swing was parried by the other. I caught her on the right arm and allowed her the sword. She swung and I parried once more. We both caught the other by the throat. She chuckled “we can call this a draw if you agree to one term” She spoke. “What is your terms?” I asked her. “Come to me in three days time. I pick the challenge upon your arrival”she offered. “Agreed” I spoke. We both lowered our swords.

Later that night, I sat at my desk looking through papers. “You did well. You managed a tie” Merlin spoke. “A tie is not a win” I told him. “At least you didn't die” he said. I looked at him blankly. “I'll just be quiet” he spoke. After a few minutes, he spoke up “You held her off.” And I glared at him. “I'll shut up” he said going back to the chainmail.

Morning came and with it, Morgause’s leave. “You are good at swordsmanship” I complimented. “As are you. He is a handsome man” she said running her hand on Bron’s neck. “Thank you” I asked her. She mounted her horse. “You carry the same honor as your mother. She would be proud” she told me. “You knew my mother?” I asked her. Her face wore that look of confusion. “I did. She was a good woman” she said she kicked her horse and rode off. “Wait” I called after her.

“You did what?!” Father claimed. “I gave her my word I word I would meet her in three days time” I spoke bluntly. “You will do no such thing” he commanded. “She said she knew my mother” I told him. Father froze. “I forbid you from leaving. You will remain in your chambers till further notice” he commanded again. The heat rose in my face “I am not some child anymore for you to command about!” I yelled. “Guards!” He called. I was escorted to my chambers.

The door opened and Merlin walked in. “What are the guards doing here?” He asked. “Why do you think?” I sneered. “Morgause” he said rocking back and forth “Well I don't disagree. She could very well kill you.” I sent him a glare from where I was sitting on my window sill. “I take it you still want to go?” He asked. “When haven't I kept my word?” I asked him. “Alright” he said grimly. “We are gonna need supplies and a way out of here” I spoke. Merlin smiled big.

That evening he returned with supplies grinning like a buffoon. “Merlin, I know I tell you to eat more but there is no possible way you put that much weight on in that short amount of time” I commented. He lifted his shirt to reveal a rope wrapped around his waist. My eye rolled and “where are gonna tie that?” I asked him. “I'll hold it” he spoke as he opened one of the windows. He began to feed the rope out the window. I walked over dressed in my chainmail and breeches. I took the backpack and began my descent. Looking down, I realized that the rope was too short. “Let it down some” I called. “I can't” he echoed back. “Don't-” I said right as the rope let go. My head landed in a pile of dung. I groaned and took a minute to catch my breath. Merlin came out the doors while I was breathing. “You clotpole” I told him. He smiled and magicked the dung out of my hair. We made our way to the stables. I grabbed Bron and Merlin his mare. We set out into the night.

It was midnight when we came to a fork in the road. “Great now which way?” Merlin asked. “This way” I pointed. I tried to kick Bron forward to the left but Bron decided it was to the right. “I thought you said it was that way?” Merlin called out. “It is the stupid horse. He is more stubborn than you!” I yelled. Merlin said something but I didn't hear.

Midday arrived. Merlin sat upon his mare riding almost side by side with me. “What if she challenges you to something you don't want to do?” He asked. I looked at the skinny sorcerer. His eyes were ringed with shadows and brow drawn up in worry. “It's called a challenge for a reason” I told him. “But what if it is something horrible?” He asked me looking at me. I looked away “I gave my word” I told him. I felt his gaze hold to my face. “Would you do anything she asked you?” He asked me again. “Yes” I answered “now be quiet we are in Odin’s land.” He quieted down for a bit. A man launched himself at me and pulled me from the horse. I stuck a dagger in his throat. Others had engaged Merlin. He recanted a spell and they fell. The last one charged me and I sliced him open with a sword. We looked at the dead bodies. We smiled at each other. “Why go through this?” He asked again. I sheathed my sword onto Bron's saddle. “She said she knew my mother” I confessed.

A few hours later, we made camp. Merlin handed me a bowl of soup. I took a bite. “What was your mother like?” He asked. “I don't know, I was only just born when she passed. From the paintings I've found hidden away she was the most beautiful person I had ever seen” I spoke. “I am sorry” Merlin comforted me “Your father never spoke of her?” I shook my head “never to me” I told him as I scooped another bite. “The same with my father. Though I have a vague memory” he said. “I would love to even have a vague memory of my mother” I confessed. “Is that why you are hell bent on finding Morgause?” He asked. “Yes” I spoke. I handed him the bowl back. “I need sleep” I told him. I grabbed my blanket from my pack and curled up under it. The fire crackled its lullaby as I fell asleep.

Mid morning found us at a lake. Bron paused momentarily. “Great a dead end!” Merlin commented with distress. Bron started forward into the lake. “Bron stop. No Bron. Merlin!” I yelled. “Looks like it's time to get wet” he called laughing. “Really?” I called back with the most sarcasm I could muster. Merlin nudged his Mare forward as well.

The horses took us through a waterfall and on the other side was an abandoned fortress. I stared at it as Merlin came through the waterfall soaked. “Of course this doesn't scream sorceress at all” I spoke. Merlin shook his hair out. I put my hands up to guard myself. “Easy” I said. He smiled and Bron started forward.

We stopped in the middle of a courtyard. I dismounted and examined the block and axe. Footsteps alerted me a presence. I spun around to find Morgause in a deep red velvet dress. “You came” she spoke gleefully. “I gave you my word” I told her. She smiled and walked down the stairs “what is to be my challenge?” I asked her. She waved her hand to the block. “Place you head there” she spoke. I knelt down and moved my braid. “Arya! No!” Merlin called. “Stay out of this!” I hissed at him. I closed my eyes and awaited the axe to fall. Instead I heard a thump. I opened my eyes and Morgause's hand was held out. “You have proven yourself as a woman of honor. You may have one wish” she spoke. “Tell me of my mother” I demanded. “Speak to her yourself” she told me.

With a flash of her cauldron, I covered my eyes. “Arya” a strange but familiar voice called. “Mother?” I asked. Removing my arm I saw what I initially was my double. She smiled at me. “My daughter look at how you have grown. So beautiful” she spoke. A tear slid down my face. She hugged me and I back. “You were only minutes old last time I held you. Now you bear the great beauty of the DeBois” she spoke to me. “I am so sorry, mother” I told her. “For what my daughter?” She asked. “It was me who took your life” I confessed. She frowned “no your father should carry the guilt.” I grew puzzled and asked “her what do you mean?” She grew sad. She laid a hand on my face “Nothing, all that matters is that you lived. You lived to be beautiful and beloved” she spoke smiling to me and Merlin. “No please mother. Don't leave me unknowing” I begged her with tears in my eyes. She frowned and wiped my tears away. The comfort of her hand made more tears roll down my face. “Your father was so desperate for an heir, a son. He went against my wishes and used magic. As in all magic, Balance is required. To create life, a life must be given. As your young companion knows” she spoke softly. I looked to Merlin “is it true?” I whispered. He nodded his head. “So father sacrificed you to get a son?” I asked my mother. She looked grave “But instead, he got a daughter,” she spoke “knowing now how beautiful and brave you have become, I would sacrifice myself a thousand times over to bring you to this world.” I wiped my tears with my tunic sleeve. When I looked to my mother, she was gone. “No!” I cried. Falling to my knees, I cried out “Mother, come back.” Morgause stepped forward “I'm sorry, once the gate closes it is closed for good” she spoke. I watched not where she went but only heard footsteps leave. “Arya” Merlin spoke in hushed voice. He carried me to the horses.

The ride home was quiet. But I made it quick. When we reached the courtyard, I hopped down and drew my sword. Merlin stepped in front of me “Arya, don't do this” he said trying to reason. I pushed him aside and quickly made my way to the council room. I stopped at one end of the table. “Arya, you are home” father spoke with a smile on his face. “I know” I growled. Leon left my father and I. “You killed her” I accused him. “What are you talking about?” He asked me. “You so desired an heir that you used magic to produce a son. But instead you got a disappointing daughter and lost the love of your life” I spat. “Morgause told you didn't she?” He questioned. “You killed her! All in selfish want. Then because you didn't want to accept that she was gone, you killed those with magic off!” I accused him more. “These are Morgause's words” father tried to reason. “You hunter her and everyone like her mercilessly” I continued. “Enough I am your king and father! You will show some respect!” My father yelled. I threw a glove down. He looked at the glove then me. “You foolish girl. I will not fight you” he said. “Defend yourself” I ordered him. “I will not fight my own daughter” he repeated. “Then I will not hesitate to strike” I warned. He glared at me “you are my daughter, you will not strike an unarmed man” he spoke. “I no longer think of myself as your daughter” I said. I swung my sword and father glanced. I swung again and father blocked. We took turns parrying each blow and striking out. Father's strength began to fail as mine grew. I flung his sword aside as was ready to strike. “Arya!” Merlin yelled “don't do this!” My blade stayed where it was. “Why not? He killed my mother. He used magic and didn't get what he wanted so now he kills those with it” I spoke to him. “Arya, you lost your mother. Don't kill your father. You will hate yourself forever if you do” Merlin said quietly. “Listen to him Arya” father spoke. I shook him again. “You killed her. You used magic and now you kill those who are innocent in using it. How do you live with yourself Uther Pendragon?” I said pushing him harder to the chair. “Arya, put the sword down” Merlin spoke again. I lowered my sword. “Morgause wanted this. She made an illusion taking your mother's form on. She wants the kingdom torn apart” Merlin said from close behind me. My sword dropped with an echo ringing through the castle. I fell to my knees and Merlin's hand holding my head inches away from the table. My father fell from his chair and pulled me into his arms. “I am so sorry papa” I said between sobs. He held me close and rocked me. “It's okay” father said.

Later that night I sat on the sill of my windows and looked out. Merlin sat at the table mending armor. “How could you disown one of your own?” I asked him resting my head on my knees. I watched as he quickly weaved the rings in and out. “She isn't any of my kind. She is the type that has magic and would see your family upon the pyre” he stated. “Merlin” I called to him getting down. He looked up at me. “Thank you” I told him “thank you for stopping me from killing my father. Though I suspect he still might have a hand in the end result.” I crawled into my bed and listened to clank of the armor as I drifted to sleep.

Chapter Text

The night was filled with the smell of rain. Each drop made a small tink on the roof. My Dark Chestnut Stallion stood half asleep in the aisle of the barn. I was humming a song that a nursemaid would sing to me when I was little. Out of the corner of my eye I saw someone peeking around a corner of a stairwell. I looked to see Merlin quickly walk across the courtyard. I shrugged it off. “He is gonna be tired from the gin tomorrow” I told Bron who nickered. I rubbed his nose and put him back in stall. I walked into the citadel and up the stairs to the left. On my way back to my chambers, a couple of flashes happened. I watched and they were no more. “Huh” I spoke out loud.

I undressed from my wet clothes and slipped into a warm bath. The warm water felt good against the coolness of the rain. After a soak I got up and dressed in my night clothes. Drying my hair, I stopped by the window to notice Merlin coming back. “That was a quick trip” I spoke. His jacket was gone. I felt my brow knit in curiosity. I went back to drying my hair. I laid down and slowly drifted off to the sound of the fire crackling.

Morning came and I was changing into my breeches and tunic for knight training. “Merlin” I said. “Hm?” He responded. I picked up the stale bread and apple and showed it to him. “Oh it's a new diet regimen. All the ladies of the court have been doing it. I'm surprised you aren't” he said absentmindedly. I threw the apple at him and bit on the non stale area of the bread. “Go do your chores. I want you back by lunch time” I spoke before taking another bite.

At knight practice, I was pair with Leon for the first time in a while. “No Merlin today?” Vidor teased me while we walked to the practice field. “No he's been acting odd. Last night he went out late and then came in without his jacket. This morning he gave me half rotten food” I said. I lined up with Leon and he swung first. “Maybe he is sick from going to the tavern while it was raining. Where he forgot his jacket” Leon said. He swung again and I parried. “Then he would be pale accompanied by fever sneezing and possible coughing” I countered. I swung at him and he blocked “Hate to say it but he might have found a normal girl” he said. I slid my blade down his and dodged his next swing. I swung left and while Leon was busy I swiped his feet out from under him. “Okay I am sorry” Leon apologized with my sword to his chest. I offered my hand to him and he grabbed it. “It's a potential. If he did he has my freedom to marry her” I spoke. Vidor, Leon and Sir Luke all booed. “You could at least fight for him” another knight teased. “It wouldn't be much of a fight” Eldric stated “Our little warrior princess would rip her heart out and eat it there and then”. I threw a cup of water at him “I'm a knight not a barbarian” I scolded. Leon laughed and put his arm around me “I don't think there could possibly be a woman out there that is more beautiful than our lieutenant” he teased.

After knight training, I returned to my chambers to bathe. Merlin was once again in his own world. I put one foot in the tub and promptly burnt it. “you bloody dolt” I yelled. Merlin jumped. “I am sorry my lady, I'll get some cold water” he said as I spun and grabbed the pitcher beside me. I threw the cold water in his face. “Are you awake now? Attentive?” I asked in an angry tone. He blinked wiping the water from his face. “Yes ma’am” he growled.

That afternoon I sat with father in the council chambers reading through reports. Halig came in with his fat belly bouncing. “Ahh Halig, come with a new gift?” Father asked the fat man. “Yes sire. A Druid girl. But she escaped with some help and is loose in Camelot” he answered. “Don't worry my daughter and her knights will help you” father spoke. Halig slopped his lips together “thank you sire. Madam, I advise you and your men this girl is dangerous. The Druids turned her out because she is cursed.” Gaius stood in the doorway “that goes against their law. I dread to think what the curse is.” The fat man spoke again “I believe you can start in low town. I saw escape with help” he slopped out. It took everything I had not to slice him open. “We will begin our search this evening” I told him. I bowed and as I walked out Gaius caught me “Merlin” he whispered. My guy dropped. “Leave him to me.”

I began to eat my dinner when Merlin tried to slide my knife off the table. I caught it before it the floor. “Merlin I have no idea what you are getting at but if you have something you would like, all you need is ask” I spoke sticking the knife in the table. He got nervous and started fidgeting. I got up and handed him some gold. “Go to the tavern and get yourself some food and drink” I told him. He ran out. While I slipped out behind him. He went to the tavern and came out with some food. On his way to the tunnels he ran into Halig. “The Druid girl” the fat one demanded. “I don't know what your on about!” Merlin yelled. The fat man kept badgering. I walked around the corner. “Merlin! I take it you were on your way home?” I spoke. Halig went from confident to nervous. “Yes my lady” Merlin said quietly. “He knows where my Druid girl went” Halig tried to accuse. “Merlin?” I said laughing “Merlin here still gets on a horse backwards.” Merlin glared at me. Halig huffed and waddled away. “I get on a horse backwards?” He asked. “Go do your picnic” i told him. He ran into the tunnels and I followed. I stopped two stalls down from his. “Sorry I took so long, I was caught up. What's wrong?” He asked someone. “Nothing” a woman's voice answered. Leon’s voice echoed “maybe he found a normal girl.” “You are upset” Merlin told her. My heart hit the floor and I felt sick. “No I'm not” she said. I stood frozen. I really did lose Merlin. I wanted to run over there and slice her till she was chopped up. But my body and mind weren't working. “Did you think I wasn't coming back?” He asked her. “I scare most people away” she said. “I'm not most people” Merlin said with a pause. I quietly left while they conversed. After I left the tunnels, I headed straight for my chambers. My heart slowly broke again. After I closed my door, I sat down at the bottom and let loose. After several minutes, I got up and stumbled to the bed. I was so exhausted from crying that I passed out.

Morning came. “Arya” Merlin called. I woke up and saw him. I pulled his hand off me. He looked puzzled at my actions. “What's wrong?” He asked. I got up and felt the heat and pain rise again. “You know damn well” I growled at him. “Arya, I don't understand” he told me. “You've been stealing food, absentminded, and lax in your chores. I followed you. I heard your conversation with her” I stood glaring at him with tears threatening to spill out my eyes. “Arya, stop it's not what you think” he hushed. “Then what in bloody hell is it?” I asked. “Yes it's the Druid girl but she is kin. I don't like her like that. She is more like a little sister” he tried to explain. “I want you out of my sight. And you will stay that way till otherwise ordered or I will have her turned to Halig” I told him. He bowed and walked out. I bathed myself in cold water and changed clothes. I redid my braid and walked out to the council chamber. A guard fetched me to go to my father.

“What manner of beast could this be?” Father asked as he looked at the victim. “No idea, but the wounds make it a considerable size” Gaius stated. “Have your men found anything?” Father asked me. “Nothing but human tracks leading away from the body” I told him. “Magic,” father hissed “Arya see if you can find anything in Gaius's book about this.” I bowed as father walked away. I gave gaius that look. His brow shot up in answer.

I watched that evening as Merlin headed out to his Druid girl. The door slipped in and a land was laid on my shoulder. Leon smiled softly “you know, I thought I was only joking when I teased you about this” he said gently. I smiled and wiped away a tear with my purple dress sleeve. “I know you were joking but it's happening. And he is happy. That is all I can ask for” I spoke to him. He hugged me and let go. Gwen came by and Leon passed me off to her. Gwen laid me on my big fluffy bed and stroked my hair. “Merlin has found someone else” I heard Leon say. “I don't think it's quite that simple, would you fetch me my husband?” She asked Leon. I heard footsteps and a door closed. A gentle hand kept combing through my hair. Gwen smelled of lavender. A knock at the door alerted Gwen. “Come in” she spoke. “How is she?” I heard Lancelot ask. “She is in sorts. She thinks Merlin's intentions have turned to another” Gwen spoke softly. “I will see what I can do you stay with her” he said. As she hummed I feel asleep.

When I woke, Gwen had a new dress set out and some food waiting. I dressed in white gown and ate a little of the bread and cheese. Gwen came in and got my laundry. “Is Lance real going to talk with Merlin?” I asked her. She smiled “yes he is. He is going to get the story straight. We are worried about the both of you” she kissed my forehead and strode out humming again. I took a bite off my apple and sat on the window sill. I watched as people went about their day. Merlin shuffled across the courtyard.

Feeling slightly better, I went for a walk. All the nobles of the land seemed to be in Camelot to out. Everywhere I went there were curtsies and bows. I smiled at each. I was on my way to the stables when I came across Merlin briskly walking. He carried a dress over his arms. “This isn't what it looks like” he said hurriedly. My eyebrow shot up. “Merlin there are two reasons a man would have a dress in hand. First being he has a hobby that he wishes not to disclose for fear of judgement and dissatisfaction of his peers. Second reason could be he is presenting the dress to the woman that matters the most at the present course. If it is the first, keep out of my clothes. If the second is true, I'm sure she will lovely in it” I spoke. His mouth closed. “However I'm sure Morgana would not appreciate the theft of her dress” I reminded him. I curtsied and continued down the hall. I turned “oh Merlin, just in case you come across my father I will be out on a ride” I told him. He nodded.

Morgana, Sir Vidor, Leon and Sir Geraint joined me for a ride. We rode across fields and when we came by Lake Avalon, I stopped. “Vidor and Geraint, continue with lady Morgana” I ordered. The three of them kicked their horses and rode off. Leon sat on his horse as I stared off into the lake. I dismounted and waded into the shallows. My skirts floating around me. “Arya, do you think that is a good idea?” Leon asked. “I'll be fine. Besides the water isn't cold” I called back. I closed my eyes and listened. The wind caused the leaves to giggle and the waves to gently hum. The earth seemed alive as birds joined in to the tune. After a while, I opened my eyes and returned to my saddle.

Leon and I rode through the gates to find my father and Gaius once again looking at a dead bodies. “What happened?” I asked. Father stood up and looked me over. “Goodness Arya, did the horse throw you?” He asked. “No I needed to think and went into a lake” I answered. “The beast struck again” Gaius said folding his hands in front of him. I looked around and gasped “More footprints.” An elderly gentleman spoke up “I heard a commotion outside, I looked to see a big black cat with wings as dark as midnight.” He looked a little shaken. “Thank you good sir” I told him. I gave him the extra blanket out of my saddle pack. “Thank you my lady. You are very generous” he said to me smiling. “I knew this was no ordinary creature. You know of anything Gaius?” My father asked the old physician. “I will have a report by the end of the day” Gaius assured him.

Night fell while Gaius and I poured over books. “Ah! I've got it!” Gaius called. I hurried down the stairs and looked at the book. “A Bastet?” I asked with my brow knitted in confusion. “A Bastet is a person cursed to kill forevermore after a grievous offense to a person. They inhabit the twilight realm” Gaius told me. “The girl that Halig brought” I spoke. Gaius’s brow shot up. “Halig said she was dangerous. This must be the reason why. She must have done something and was cursed. Gaius these attacks didn't start till she had her freedom back” I said hurriedly. Merlin walked in a moment after. Gaius stepped in front of Merlin. “Merlin, where is the girl?” He asked him. “You haven't told him” Merlin snapped at me. “No I haven't, I figured you wanted time with your precious murderess before she was brought back to her cage” I sneered back. With that I slammed the book closed and walked out of the room.

The warning bells rung robustly as people fled for their houses. I was buckling my bracers as Leon came in. “Arya, you are to stay here” he ordered. “But you need me” I tried to argue. “No, I fear this might be even too much for you” he spoke. I unbuckled my bracer and threw it across the armory. I ran out of the armory with just my sword.

I ran into Merlin in the courtyard. His eyes were filled with tears. “Merlin, where did she go?” I asked him. He looked at me with anger “why so you can try and kill her too?” Anger rose in me. “No you sod. I'm going to help you two leave” I yelled at him. He looked confused. “Look, I know you love her and she is a damn lucky woman to have you. She can give you what you want. A home, children, peace, love and more importantly she isn't the daughter of Uther Pendragon” I told him. He grabbed me and pulled me behind a pillar. He planted a hot desperate kiss on me. “Arya, I love you. I want you. She is kin to me. And I don't care if you are Uther’s daughter. I love you for you” he said “Now I have no idea who told you I wanted her but they are wrong. So very very wrong.” I felt tears roll down my eyes. “You promise?” I asked him. He nodded and took my hand “come on. We have to save Freya.” We ran down to the tunnels.

We got there and Freya was curled up hurt. I took my Knights cape off and put it around her. “Who is this?” Freya asked. Merlin stroked her hair “This is Arya. Remember I told you about her?” He said to her. Her eyes got wide “You are more beautiful then Merlin ever spoke of” she said with a shaking voice. “Shh, you need your strength” I told her. I lifted the cape to see her wound. “How did you become a Bastet?” I asked her. “A man attacked me and I killed him. His mother wouldn't believe me so she cursed me. You must think me a monster” she hissed when I touched the wound. “We all have demons” i told her. “We are gonna get you better” Merlin spoke. “No Merlin” she spoke.

We stood on the banks of Lake Avalon. “Thank you both” Freya told us. Merlin had carried her through the night. “I cleaned the wound the best I could but Leon is heavy handed when he strikes. I hope you don't hate him. He was just doing his job” I told her. “No, he has my thanks. I will be free from this curse. Anytime either of you are in need. I will returned the kindness you both have shown me” she said. With that her eyes closed and her chest stopped. Merlin clutched her tighter and let some tears fall. “Let's give her a good funeral” I spoke. He nodded.

On another piece of shoreline, I found an old row boat. I pulled it back over to where Merlin stood. We layered it with branches and leaves. He walked over and picked up her lifeless body. We waded into the water pushing the boat out into the lake. “Wæcce on sæbát bælfýr mæst” Merlin whispered. His eyes glowed gold as the boat started to catch fire. I lightly gripped his hand. “Goodbye, Freya. I'm sure if I had not been jealous and came to meet you earlier, we would have been great friends. May you find peace with those you hold dear” I spoke to the boat. We stood in the lake till the boat burned completely.

We returned on foot to the castle through the tunnels we left. We went straight to Gaius's chambers. When we walked in, Merlin went to his room. “The girl?” Gaius asked me. “Leon struck her a mortal blow. She passed and we gave her a proper burial. Merlin treated her as a little sister so he will be taking it hard. He can have the rest of the day. He will need it” I told the old physician. He sighed and turned to hobble to his work.

I stood on the ramparts overlooking the lake behind the castle. Lancelot appeared beside me. “No need to talk with Merlin?” He asked. “No, besides he is asleep. He was trying to take care of the girl because they felt kinship” I told him. He laughed and shook his head. I smiled “What? you and Gwen decided to play parents” I scoffed. “That we may have” he teased. I turned around and leaned against the stone wall. Merlin stood just outside the door. Lancelot cleared his throat and walked through the door. Merlin took Lancelot’s place. “Thank you, for what you did for Freya” he said softly. I kissed his right temple and smiled. “Anytime” I reassured him. The only sound for the moment was the lapping of waves against the stone.

Chapter Text

The day was sunny and the servants bustling. I stole an apple from the pigs tray. Merlin had me in my Pendragon red velvet skirt and my hair hanging with my circlet upon my head. I saw Lord Pelgris looking over the lists. “Where is my father?” I asked the white haired noble. “He is on the ramparts watching the Kings come in” Pelgris called. I ran down the halls till I came to the stairway for the ramparts. I found my father staring at each King. “No need for such a solemn look” I teased. He looked up at me and smiled slightly. “All the Kings from neighboring countries are here for the first time. It's imperative we sign this treaty” he spoke. “Then it is of great importance you smile” I teased again. Taking a deep bite out of the small Apple. My father smiled bigger and laughed to himself. “Come Arya, time to greet the Kings” he said ushering me with him.

As Father and I walked down the stairs, the Kings dismounted. “Finally, we were starting to wonder if we welcome” King Olaf spoke. He and Father embraced. “You are always welcome to Camelot” Father told the king. The man stood as tall as a mountain and just as wide. He turned as a young man of a slightly slimmer build dismounted his White stallion. “May introduce, my son Lord Vitus” he spoke. Father smiled and I curtsied. My father shook his hand “It is good to see you again” Father complimented.

I led the young man into the room. “These will be your chambers for your stay” I told him. He wandered the chamber checking for dust and cobwebs. “This will do” he scoffed. Merlin arrived and bowed slightly “This is my personal servant Merlin. He will serve you well and is one of the best in Camelot” I introduced. “Then there is no hope for Camelot” the prince scowled. I curtsied and Merlin bowed.

Outside the end of the hall Merlin and I found ourselves giggling. “Have fun and no magic” I teased and reminded him. “I can't help it if he sprouts donkey ears and a tail” he said trying not to giggle. I smiled and began to walk away. I felt Merlin's hand catch mine. He placed a moonlilly in my hand and walked back to the rooms. Watching him, I smelled the flower and smiled. On my way to my chambers, My father crossed my path. “What's that?” He asked. “It's a moonlilly, I had Merlin pick it last night. I enjoy them and my last one died” I told him. He eyed it suspiciously but left me standing in the hall.

Gwen got me dressed in a white gown. It was light and had sorts of gold embroidery. She braided my hair and rolled it into a bun. She set the gold net on my hair causing it to look as if my hair had been fixed with pearls. Morgana came in the room with the dresses twin. “Come” she said holding out her hand. We walked into the feast and sat on either side of Father. The jester had begun his show. He juggled and swallowed swords. He stunned everyone in the hall with fire. Then blew butterflies in the air for Morgana and I. Everyone including I was impressed. Merlin watched how close he got. Knowing that he had magic and was blantly using in father's face was putting those of us who knew on edge. The rest of the evening went smoothly after the jester.

The next morning a pregnant Gwen came into the room. “Morning my lady, if you needed me you should have sent someone” she said. I was in a lack of control of myself and my body spun around. “A lovely morning it is!” I spoke with a grin on my face. She smiled back at me. I couldn't stop myself I was giddier than a child. “What is the cause for such a good mood?” She asked me. Without a beat, my uncontrolled self smiled and spoke “to day, I will make my proclamation of love.” I literally felt myself dying inside of me I was so enraged and embarrassed. “I thought you guys were planning on not saying anything?” She asked me as I spun around. “Why would I hide it?” I asked her. I shrunk in farther, this was not going to end well. The enchantment had me acting on the will of another who wished to see me with Vitus. “What do you think your father would do?” Gwen asked with concern. “Who cares!” I had proclaimed. Oh dear lord, the real me spoke. “Well it's certainly a good start” she shrugged. “I need you to do something. What do men usually like as gifts?” I asked her. “Umm, food” she recalled. “Ah! Then take him something sweet from the kitchen” I asked her. “Add a note, something endearing” I added strolling out the room.

During the peace talks I found myself daydreaming of Vitus and I. Anytime that happened I would mentally slap the Arya this enchantment created. Gwen stole in and I excused myself. “Well?” I asked her. “It's waiting for his return” she assured me. I sighed “Gwen you are a lifesaver. I really owe you one” I told her with a smile. I saw Vitus and Merlin walking down the hall. I felt a half smile form on my face. I tried to call out from my mind to Merlin but he didn't look up. “Look at him. He is perfect” I spoke softly. Gwen looked astonished. “My lady, be careful of who hears that” she scolded. “I would shout it to the kingdom if I could” I spoke. “Some people might object. Like your father, he wouldn't agree with you marrying a servant..” She spoke. I gasped “Gwen, do not say such things about Lord Vitus. He is of royal blood and a future king” I scolded her. I walked away humming. I watched her run after Merlin and talk to him.

In the kitchen, I got a chicken platter. I grabbed a rose in the gardens and made my way to Vitus’s chambers. Inside I was ready to run the dolt who did this through. I knocked. “Who is it?” I heard a deep voice call. My heart raced as the enchantment increased in power. “It is destiny. Destiny and Chicken!” I called. Vitus opened the door and stared down at me with his grey eyes steeled in anger. “Go away” he said. He tried to close the door. “What have I done to offend you my love?” I asked him. Once again the real me was beating my head against the wall. “Your love?! Surely madam you are mistaken” he cried out in anger. “Why not? It would please our fathers” I spoke to him. He glared at me more with a look that withered. “My father would never approve of you. He would be offended that a woman chose to pursue me instead of waiting for my advance” he growled. He closed the door in my face. Gwen arrived “I believe that your attempt has failed” she spoke. I knocked again and Vitus bellowed “go away! And take that infernal chicken with you!” My shoulders slumped physically but really I was dancing on the inside. I passed the tray to Gwen.

A few hours of sulking passed by. The real me was trying to find a way around the enchantment. Gwen came in and sat on the bed. “Go ahead, I'm a fool” I told her. “Not a fool. Just enchanted. But we will find a way to fix this I promise” she told me. I scoffed.

I attended dinner silently across from Father and Morgana. They spoke of their hopes and dreams. Meanwhile I sulked more at the thought of being enchanted. After dinner I went to my chambers and laid down to sleep. I could've sworn in my dreams a branch snagged my hair.

The morning came and I went to the stalls to care for Bron. Merlin came by on his way to muck the stalls. “My lady,” he said with a bow. “Morning Merlin” I spoke softly. “What's the matter?” He asked. “I've been a fool in hopes that I could woo my love” I told him gloomily. He smiled “I'm sure it's not all bad. After all, there is still interest where hope can be found” he spoke. I looked into his eyes. It seemed like I never noticed them before. There seemed to be a hidden war behind the endless blue. I kissed his cheek and finally my real self seemed to make contact. “Thank you Merlin” I spoke before I made my way out of the stables.

The final talks of peace were drawing to a close. I sat at my father's right. I watched the jester come in and whisper something to a servant. They in turn ran to Olaf. “HE WHAT?” He bellowed. We ran to my chambers. “Search the room!” Olaf cried. “What are we searching for my lord?” I asked the red face King. “We are searching for my son!” He yelled. “What is he talking about?” I asked Merlin and Gwen who stood in front of my wardrobe. “He wasn't even properly dressed” the jester spoke. “If I have cause dishonor to you and your house, then please provide me with proof and I will gladly to accept the punishment” I spoke to the enraged King. “Sires, he cannot be found in these rooms” a guard told him. He grabbed the jester and shook him. “You dim wit. You have made a fool out of me” he said tossing the jester aside. “Forgive me princess” the King said with a bow. “All is forgiven” I told him. They left and the room went quiet. “Gwen? Merlin?” I called when I didn't see either of the servants.

When I opened the door to my chambers after the talks finished. I found a note handwritten lying on my floor. “I cannot bear this any longer. Tonight at sunset” I read. Once again I fought without victory. I watched as my hands took me up a wall to Lord Vitus's chambers. There I watched as he awakened. I stroked his face lovingly, though the real me wanted to puke. “My love” Vitus spoke when he awakened. “Yes it is me” I answered. He sat up and pulled me into a kiss. The retching passion increased as we continued the kiss. The door opened and olaf’s booming voice called out “I knew it!” We split to see all the Kings upset but Alined. “Father!” Vitus called. “Arya!” My father yelled. Olaf's glove was thrown at the foot of the bed. “You once stated if you offended my honor, you would accept the consequences” he spoke. I picked up the glove.

Morning came and Father was pacing heavily in my chambers. “Olaf will not back down. How could you do this you foolish girl?” He asked. Mentally I was screaming that it wasn't me doing it but it did no good. “I thought the match would please you” I said to him. “This may very well bring war!” Father yelled. He turned to Gwen “what's wrong with her?” He asked. “Lord Vitus, sire” she spoke quickly. He threw up his hands in defeat and left the room.

On my way to the tournament fields, I came across Merlin. He bowed to me and I stopped. “No well wishing?” I asked him. He bowed again and left without a word.

The crowd sat in unease while after spoke. “The tournament is to pay recompense to the aggrieved. This tournament will suffice and be cast in three rounds. The Quarterstaff, the Mace, and the sword. It will only end when one party is dead” he spoke. The bell rang and the fight began. I will myself to match Olaf blow for blow. But when my enchanted self saw Vitus, I stopped. I cursed myself and felt pain in my side. The first bell rang at the conclusion.

In my tent, Gaius inspected my side. “My lady, you have a broken rib” he told me. “Not to worry, I am invincible with my lord watching. Love conquers all” I spoke as I rose. I grabbed the mace at the gate and faced Olaf again. This time I dodged each blow save for one against my shield. It knocked me off balance and once again my side was in pain. The second conclusion bell rang and I hobbled to the tent. There was no one in it. I washed my hands and face for a cool down. Merlin lifted the flap and walked in. “Do I get a good luck wish?” I asked him. “No, Arya. I haven't” he choked out. “Well look who is being rude” I said. He walked up and grabbed my hair as he planted the deepest kiss he could muster on me. Suddenly I felt release and I wrapped my arms around him. I hissed in pain. “What is it?” He asked. “I think I'm up to broken ribs” I told him. He bent down and begun to heal me with magic. “You know you're in a fight to the death with Olaf over his son right?” He asked me looking at me pleadingly. “I know, this whole time I've been trying to fight my way back to tell you I was enchanted” I spoke to him. I kissed him one last time. “Fight and live for me” he asked. I nodded. Gwen and Gaius stood at the gate. Gwen held my sword out. “Gwen, promise me if this were to end horribly, you will take care of Merlin” I asked her. She nodded smiling.

Olaf stood with his sword in hand. The man was a mountain and I began to wonder how I managed to survive. He swung first and I dodged. I took a swing and he blocked with ease. Our exchanges lasted us till the sun was almost at its peak. Olaf swung and I dodged again. With him being off balance, I stuck for the final time sending him on his back. I readied myself for a killing blow and dropped my sword. I held my hand out to the king and he took it. “This is no way to achieve peace!” I yelled. I looked to Gaius, Gwen and Merlin. Merlin's smile put one on my face.

That night Gaius let me set up a dinner for Merlin and I in his chambers. Merlin came in and saw the dinner. “What's this for?” He asked. “I wanted to apologize for any hurt I have caused you these past few days. It has been unintentionally done” I reassured him. He smiled and kissed my forehead. “I forgive you. For everything” he whispered. I smiled and kissed him deeply. The fires around the chambers began to burn a bit brighter. We giggled. “Maybe we shouldn't burn Gaius's chambers down” I whispered. He nodded and hugged me “that would be a good idea.”

After each King bid us farewell, I curtsied. Vitus walked out with another servant herding him. King Olaf followed out. He turned to my father. “Your daughter will one day make a fine queen” he complemented. “I hope she will” my father echoed the faith in Olaf's voice. “She must get it from her mother” Olaf joked. Both Kings chuckled. “I hope this incident doesn't keep us from peace” Father said with a questioning tone. “I believe that this incident will pass in time. But, I believe that the peace is earned thanks to your daughter” King Olaf spoke. Chains rattling alerted us to King Alined. “What's the matter?” Father called teasingly. “One could only assume that you didn't want peace” I teased as well. “Of course I want peace! I love it!” He called riding away. Father smiled at me. “Well Arya, You brought the nations to peace” he praised me. “Only after almost destroying it” I reminded him. He smiled and we walked into the castle. “Oh and next time you try to purse any nobleman. Tell me” he reminded me. I curtsied and walked away smiling.

Chapter Text

For this first time in a month, Merlin and I had sometime time alone. We spent our time at our lake. He sat on the banks as I stood in the water. I stood in the shallows and watched the waters come and go. I looked out at the horizon, where a great White Castle stood. Suddenly a golden light flashed and fires raced across the lake. Seven black knights astride seven black stallions led the hot tongues across the water. I turned and waded as fast as the water let me. But as I came to the shore. I saw Merlin lying dead. “Merlin come on, wake up” I urged him but he wouldn't revive. As the horseman rode past and the flames overtook me. I let out a scream.

The sun was just peaking over the mountains when Merlin found me on the ramparts. His dark raven hair was a mess from his night long nap. He wore the blue tunic I commissioned for him and his brown breeches. He walked to me and took me in his arms. “Another nightmare?” He asked as he kissed the top of my head. I pulled my shawl tighter as I spoke “I dreamt we were at lake Avalon. You sat on the shore while I waded out in the shallows. In the distance was a great White Castle. A golden light flashed and suddenly the castle was in ruin. There were black riders escorting the flame that consumed everything but the water.” He held me closer. “It'll be alright” he reassured me. We stood quietly as the sun rose.

Later that morning everyone was summoned to the council chamber. Father sat in his chair while I sat in the chair to his right and Morgana to his left. Lately, my ward sister had taken to evading Father and keeping me at arm's length. A poorly shepherd came into the chamber resting on his crook. “Speak” father commanded. “I am a simple herder from the north. But three days back, we were camped under the walls of Idirsholas” the shepherd began. “It's not a place I would have made camp” father commented. I shot him a dirty look “Please continue” I asked the shepherd. “While we stayed in the camp. I noticed the fires in the citadel were lit” he spoke with confidence. “Did you see anything else?” Gaius stepped forward asking. “No” the shepherd answered shaking his head. “Did you venture inside?” Father asked. “No sire, no one has gone in the castle for 300 years. Everyone is aware of what is beyond that threshold” the shepherd spat. “Take this man and give him food and a bed” Father commanded the guards. Lancelot led the old man out and told “my wife is one of the finest cooks in Camelot. You can stay with us.” Father looked at me “ride out and investigate this claim” he ordered. I curtsied and left the chambers to return to mine.

When I was changed and Merlin had our supplies ready, we rode out with guard. On the trail Merlin started to get jumpy. “Starting to believe in bedtime stories?” I asked him. His mare was prancing beside Bron. “I'm just hoping that is all they are” he said watching the woods.

As night fell we made camp. Lancelot kept the men busy enough. Merlin made a fire. We all ate in silence watching the woods. Lancelot brought enough men to keep watch while I slept. I used my pack as a pillow and covered with my Knights cape. Merlin sat by me and kept watch.

The morning found us on the road and we shortly came to the abandoned fortress shortly after. “What's that noise?” Merlin asked me as we pulled our horses to a stop. “It's your knees trembling” I teased. He grimaced. “Come on” I urged him.

Inside we lit torches and searched the castle. Merlin, Lancelot and I came across a great room with a great stone fire pit. I checked the ashes. The very bottom of the coals were warm at best. “Could have been travelers” I spoke up. “Or not” Merlin spoke. There heading for us was two of the black riders from my dreams. Merlin headed off first with Lancelot right behind him. I parried a strike and stabbed one in the stomach. He didn't fall but my sword was ripped out of my hands. Just then the ceiling started to collapse and I was pulled out of the room. We ran as the castle fell apart. I was put on Bron and the two boys were in their saddles as we sped off.

We stopped after a good hard ride. I noticed Merlin's arm had a cut. We dismounted the horses for a rest. Taking the bottom of my tunic out and ripped it off. “What are you doing?” Merlin asked. “Hold still you big baby” I told him. I got the small jar of honey and my waterskin out. I washed the wound and put the bandage on his arm. “Your tunic” Merlin tried to protest. “Merlin, I am a princess. A new tunic is nothing” I scolded. “Did any of my men make it out?” Lancelot asked. “I didn't see any” Merlin told him. “We need to get to Camelot” I told the guys. We mounted the horses again and set off for Camelot.

We came into an empty city. The people lay in the streets. As we came to the main square of the citadel, we saw more bodies lying around. We dismounted and I checked a body. “Sleeping” I called. “Gwen” Lancelot gasped. He rushed inside with Merlin and I in tow. Inside the castle, everyone was fast asleep. We searched every accessible chamber for Gwen and my father. We stopped by Gaius’s chambers to find him fast asleep as well. “Merlin wake him up” I ordered. He nodded in response. Lancelot and I ran to the royal chambers.

We ran past Morgana’s chamber. “Arya!” Lancelot called. We jogged into the room to find a pregnant Gwen sound asleep. A curtain moved and slowly drew the sword I found. I pulled the curtain away to hear a familiar banshee scream. “Morgana, hey it's me. It's me” I told her. “I didn't know it was you” she spoke trembling. “What happened?” I asked her. She looked at me frightened out of her wits “Everyone was complaining of not feeling well” she spoke shaking. “What happened after?” I urged. “Everyone was falling asleep. Everywhere” she said trembling more. “Did someone come?” I asked her. She shook her head. “Then why were you hiding?” I questioned again. “I didn't know who you were” she spoke. “It's okay, where is my father?” I asked her. “I don't know that either” she hesitated. Merlin came jogging in. “How did it go?” I asked him. “No luck” he said shaking his head. Merlin and Morgana hung back as we searched rooms. “Found him!” I called.

My father was slumped over his table fast asleep. “He will be fine” Merlin assured me. “Lancelot, Morgana stay here and protect him. Merlin and I are gonna look for more in lowtown” I told them. Merlin and I jogged through the halls and down to the battlements. We watched as eight riders came through the gate. “I thought there were only seven Knights of Medhir?” Merlin asked. “There are” I told him eyeing the riders. “The who is the eighth?” He asked as we watched as we dismounted. “My father” I gasped and ran as fast I could.

Back in the chambers the four of us lifted my father up. As we walked through the halls, my father begun to snore. Merlin giggled “he snores just like you” he whispered. I shot him a dirty look. We got him to a room and put my father down. “He needs a bed” I spoke up. “Why? He already asleep. It's not like he is going to know the difference” Merlin said sarcastically. “Merlin!” I hissed. “I'll get him a pillow” he retorted. “He is the king” I scolded. “Two pillows” he amended. As I stood up, my balance wavered. Merlin grabbed my waist “are you okay?” He asked. I nodded “i think it's the sickness” I told him. I looked at Lancelot and Morgana. Lancelot was starting to wear thin. Morgana looked fine. I had a feeling that she had something to do with this. “We have to keep my father hidden” I spoke. “Dress him as a servant” Merlin suggested. “Good idea” Lancelot said. “Merlin go get clothes” I ordered.

He returned some time later with a bottle, a water skin and some clothes. “Dragon” Merlin mouthed. We hurried to dress my father. We heard footsteps and I peered out the door. Morgause was leading the riders down the hall. I slowly drew my sword but a large warm hand stopped me. He shook his head and we watched Morgause and the Knights pass by. “Come one let's get him somewhere safe” I told the others. We carried my father down a few flight of stairs and through the halls. We came to the smaller council chamber. “Help me!” Lancelot called. Merlin helped him bar the door. “We can't stay here” Lancelot reminded me. “No we could never hold out” I said. “What of the cart?” Merlin asked. “You are a genius” I told him. “Lancelot and I will get the cart. Merlin you help Morgana get my father ready” I ordered. Merlin and Lancelot lifted the bar on the door. Merlin kissed me “come back to me” he told me. “Always” I whispered. Lancelot and I bolted out and swung driving back the Knights. “Arya, go” Lancelot called. I charged forward knocking a knight off balance. “I told you go” Lancelot said swinging. “I'm your princess and you aren't my captain” I told him. I blocked a Knight's sword. Morgause came by and blew the door open. “Lance!” I cried. We fought our way back to the door and held them. The Knights suddenly dropped on the floor. Lancelot and I ran into the chamber to find Morgause holding an unconscious Morgana. Father had awakened and Merlin stood there. A sudden whirlwind began and ended just as quickly. “Morgana!” I called after the tornado.

Two weeks passed. No training or time in Gaius's chambers had passed. I got down off of Bron who was worn out. “He is in Morgana's chambers” Merlin told me. I walked up the stairs and made my way to the room. I saw my father standing at her mirror. A forlorn look was cast upon his face. “Did you find her?” He asked. “No” I answered. “Morgause will pay” he growled. I turned to leave when he spoke again “Arya, thank you” he spoke. I stood sideways in the door holding my gloves “there's no need. I lost my ward sister” I spoke. “No, I lost her. It is my burden to bear” he said looking at me. I walked away to the armory.

I took my armor off as Merlin walked in. “We will find her” he said. “Not unless she wants to be found. She has magic like you” I told him. “I know” he responded. “She told you after the fire too?” I asked. He nodded. “Then why did you not help her after she came back from the Druids?” I accused him. “She is to be your undoing if she is allowed to know how deep her powers are” he said with a fire in his eyes “She will kill you. Now can you understand why I didn't help? It was keep neutral with a friend on magic or watch the love of my life die.” I turned away and took off my chainmail. I felt hands pull it off for me. Kisses started down my neck as warm arms wrapped around my waist. “I'm sorry” Merlin whispered with a hot breath in my ear that made me shiver. More hot kisses for their way on the other side of my neck. I moaned in pleasure. A cough was let out and we pulled apart to see Lancelot standing there. “It's time” he said. All three of us rushed down to their house.

When night fell, Gwen had given birth to a healthy and beautiful baby boy. His skin was lighter than his mother's. His little head was covered in dark curls. I held him and bounced him back and forth while Gwen slept and Lancelot watched over her. He yawned and cooed softly. “He is beautiful Lance” I told him. “Do you have a name?” I asked him. “Gwen was thinking Morgan” he answered. “Morgan Du Lac” I said. “It fits him” I cooed to the baby “Auntie Arya will spoil you rotten.” I looked at Merlin. He was smiling and watching me with the baby. “She will make a fine mother” Lancelot said to Merlin. “I have no doubt. You would think Morgan was her son by the way she acts” Merlin teased back. I smiled and continued humming a song.

Later that night I was in bed reading a book when everything shook. I looked out my window to see a flash of golden light and flames that licked the sky. “Merlin” I gasped.

Chapter Text

People were running in fear. Children were crying and screaming. No matter how hard we knights fought, it wasn't enough. “On me! Let this be the night we all make it through!” I called to the men. Merlin stood by me “Arya, I am so sorry” he told me. “Merlin you did not know that he would seek vengeance” I tried to comfort him. The great golden dragon turned straight for us. “Flame your arrows” I called to the men who were lined along the ramparts. Each man dipped his crossbow bolt into the fire. As the dragon grew closer, I urged the men to hold. “Fire!” I commanded as the dragon was nearly on top of us. A volley of flaming arrows bounced right off the golden scales. We all hid behind the stone as the dragon cast flames our way. Merlin's hand tightened on mine.

We started to evacuate the people left in high town. As we ran into the square, I saw Gwen without Morgan. She had grabbed the wheel for the well and began to turn it. “Gwen?” I called she stopped and looked at me. The dragon started for the square. “Guinevere, get down!” I yelled. I ran to her and turned her from the dragon. But one of his claws had caught me on my right arm. I rolled over to see Merlin cast a spell to send a spear to the dragon. “Do not think that your magic can cause me harm!” The dragon roared. I laid my head back down and rested for a moment.

In a makeshift room, Merlin tended to me. “Why are you fighting?” He asked. “Because my people need me. Besides I don't think you could fare any better” I teased him. He grimaced. “Merlin I will be fine” I tried to assure him. I took his hand and touched my face with it. He kissed my brow. “I worry for your safety, Arya. A dragon isn't a boar or deer. He fights back” he told me. I kissed him on the lips. “Merlin, I know. I also know he is acting because of my father's deception” I told him. He put the rag down in the bowl and carried them away. Gaius was smiling and I knew why.

In the morning sun I stood with my armor on in front of father and the council. “49 men, 27 women are dead. 18 women and children are still missing” I reported. Father's head hung low. “Any knowledge on how the thing escaped?” He asked. I shook my head “no father” I answered. My father turned to Gaius and asked him “how do we get rid of this?” Gaius stood there with his arms folded and a grave look. “We need a dragon lord” Gaius told him. My father's face grew grave as well “that isn't a solution” he told Gaius with hostility. “What if it was? I have heard rumors” Gaius spoke still. “Go on” father urged. “His name is Balinor. He was last seen in enged, sire” Gaius continued. “If he is still alive, let's find him” I spoke up. “Our tenuous treaty has broken. Cenerd will kill you on sight if he finds you” father argued. “I will not get caught. I will take Merlin with me. Two people will not be spotted as quick as a full patrol. It'll be quicker too” I told him. “I said no” Father commanded. “Then we are condemning the people to death. I for one will not let that happen. So I will go with your blessing or without” I said. I walked by Merlin and spoke to him in a low voice “get the horses ready.” He bowed to me and father.

Gaius came into my chambers while Merlin and I prepared. I looked to the old man “So what exactly can these dragon lords do?” I asked him. He stared at me and Merlin. “They have the ability to tame dragons. Your father deemed it too close to magic and had all but one slaughtered. The man you are looking for is Balinor. I smuggled him out of Camelot while Uther was distracted” Gaius spoke. Merlin continued packing. I walked to Gaius who stood by my table. “My old mentor, there is something else you aren't telling me” I said noticing he held something back. “Balinor is Merlin's father. But Uther must not know. He will have Merlin's head” he told me. I saw Merlin stopped packing at the other end. “Why did you or my mother not tell me sooner?” He asked Gaius. “I wanted to. But your mother feared if another were to find out you would not be in this world much longer” he told Merlin. “I had a right to know!” He yelled. I walked over and laid a hand on his back. I could feel his body heat raise and the fire grow as he let his anger go. “Gaius maybe you had better leave” I told my old mentor. Gaius bowed and left. With a click of the door latch Merlin spun around. “Why did no one tell me?” He asked me. “Because sometimes people find that it is too painful. Father is still the same way about my mother” I told him. I smiled and he ran a hand down my face. “Come we have a dragon lord to fetch” I told Merlin. I grabbed my gear and Merlin's hand. We walked out the door straight to the stables.

After Bron and Merlin's mare were readied, we climbed into the saddles. Gaius came to Merlin. They had a short conversation. My arm started to hurt. I put pressure on it and moved it. “Something wrong?” Merlin asked me. “No. I'm fine” I assured him. We kicked our horses and rode out over the drawbridge.

We paused in early afternoon. The hill overlooked a small village. “One more step and we are into cenred’s kingdom” I told Merlin. I looked at him. His face was partially contorted in attempted to shield out the sun. “Arya, let me do the talking. Here women are still property” He told me. I nodded in response. We rode down to the village with moderate pace.

We opened the door to the tavern. All the patrons went silent. I smiled and Merlin spoke up “greetings”. A rather large man stuck a knife into a table. The barmaid sat us down at a table in the furthest corner tucked away. The barkeep brought us two tankards of mead. “We are looking for Balinor. We are willing to pay fair for information” Merlin told him. The barkeep leaned in “Never heard of him” she sneered and took the money for the drinks.

Later that night we went to the room. There was only one. But that was because we were traveling as husband and wife. Merlin lay on the other side of the bed. “What's wrong?” I asked him. “Nothing” he replied quickly. “Merlin…” I scolded. “I just am concerned about my father” he said. I curled up against him. I ran my hand up his tunic and gently scratched his back. He quietly groaned. He rolled on top of me and his kissed me hard. The heat grew between us as the single candle flickered with our passion. His tunic came off. Same with mine and my bindings. He sucked in each nipple causing me to moan. I slid his breeches down to reveal a hard and stiff member. He kissed me more and took mine off. I felt a familiar length push in and the same momentary sting. He slid out and back into me for a bit while I locked in my legs and ran my hands down his back. He surrendered to me and let me ride him. As the pressure build I found myself able to contain my pleasure. I let out a loud moan as I felt my body come into euphoria. After a few more episodes, Merlin climaxed. He spilled his seed over my stomach. He rolled off and kissed me again. I smiled as he magicked the sticky goo off my body. We curled up in bliss and faded into sleep.

In the middle of the night I woke to find someone reaching for my bag. I grabbed him and threw him over the bed. “What's wrong?” Merlin asked. I held a dagger told the man's throat. “Do you know the punishment for stealing?” I asked. The man stared at my bare breasts for a moment and looked back up “no please ma’am. My children” he begged. “Tell me where to find Balinor and you may yet live to see them in the morn” I told him. “You must travel through the Forest of Merendra to the foot of Feorre Mountain. There you will find the cave where Balinor dwells. But he may not help you, he doesn't take care for strangers” he told me. I released him and took the knife from his neck. I pulled a small bag of coins out and threw it at him. He scurried out.

Bron walked behind me. Each step I took I felt the earth waver. “Arya” I heard Merlin call. “I'll be fine” I told him. “No you won't let me see” he said. He moved the shirt over. I hissed when he fussed with it. There was a snap and he drug me behind a tree. The warmth welcomed me as I slipped into a deep sleep.

When I awoke, I was in a cave. I sat up and tested my dizziness. It seemed solid enough so I stood up. A moment of weak knees and I was off. I came to the mouth “Merlin what did you do?” I asked him. He sat there and watch Balinor. The man stood hands folded in front of him. His hair was dark like Merlin's. His demeanor seemed more noble than his sons as well. But instead of Merlin's blue eyes, his father's were brown. “He isn't going to help” Merlin spoke. “Let me try” I said. I walked down to the middle aged man “good morning, you must be Balinor?” I asked. He turned to me “I am. You are the Pendragon princess” he said looking at me. “My people need your help. I need your help. We have no chance. I understand my father wronged you in someway. But I ask on the behalf of my people” I asked him. “Go wait by Merlin. I will answer you then” he told me. I walked back to the ledge where Merlin waited. “Well?” He asked. “He will change his mind” I assured the skinny warlock. Balinor walked up the stones to us. He looked at me and sighed “farewell then.” We stood looking like fools with our mouths open. “That's you answer? You'd doom innocent people to death?” I accused him. “You should accuse Uther of such things” he retorted. Merlin shot up and stood even with the man. “She has. She has accused him and seen his betrayal first hand. She even saved me from death under accusations of seducing her with magic. Arya isn't at all like her father. She would much rather try the people who commit crimes based on their reasons than the way they were born” he berated. The man stood quiet and spoke up “my answer is still no.” I had enough and walked away. I heard Merlin speak to him “Gaius spoke of the nobility of the dragon lords. How very wrong he was.” Balinor “Gaius is a good man.” Merlin was silent for a moment “I was hoping you'd be like him.” The silence was prevalent between. “Merlin!” I called. He scampered up the stones and we left.

We stopped to make camp that evening. “Merlin” I spoke up. “What?” He asked. “I understand the disappointment of finding out your father isn't what you hoped. But I am sure you and I can get through to the dragon” I told him. “His name is Killgarrah” Merlin said. “A forboding name” I commented. A branch snapped and I drew my sword. Merlin grabbed his and we headed away from camp. All around the branches and twigs snapped. We were on edge when Merlin saw Balinor. “I figured you'd need help. This is dangerous land” he spoke. I sheathed my sword and smiled. “You've changed your mind?” I asked. “I realized that maybe some good can still come from Camelot” he assured me.

We all sat around the campfire eating. “This is good Merlin” I complimented. He smiled in response to me. When we finished, we all sat around. Balinor sat carving something out of wood. “I see that Merlin is very found of you my lady” he commented. Merlin smiled wider with me “I couldn't ask for a better servant and friend. We've been through alot in these few years. But somehow we have came out fine. Mostly due to Merlin's gifts” I responded “but I would like believe that he got it from his father. However I am sure most of it comes from his mother back in Ealdor.” Balinor stared at Merlin. “Ealdor you say?” He spoke quizzically. “Yes my mother hunith raised me there” he spoke. “Good she had married then. At least she is happy” Balinor commented again. “Don't be mistaken, sir dragon lord. She isn't married. Merlin grew up without a father” I urged. Balinor’s eyes grew wide. “He is your son” I spoke one last time. “I've never known a son” he said embracing Merlin. “Not I a father” the warlock told his father. Smiling I left to get firewood and give them sometime. I returned and they were talking of returning to Ealdor. “My son is a servant to uther’s daughter” he commented. “Pretty goofy one too. But he has lasted longer than most ladies ever would” I told him. He chuckled and Merlin cause a fire dragon to fly. “Tell me does Uther know of Merlin's talents?” He asked me. “No, and I will take it to my grave. It's incredibly hard to find a servant that doesn't run away when I'm in a temper” I joked. Merlin gazed at me as a player with the dragon. “It seems there is more between you two than you let on” he spoke up. “It cannot be though” Merlin spoke. The dragon floated to him and circled him trying to cheer him up. Balinor just smiled.

The morning came and the three of us packed the horses. Bandits came over the ridge before we could mount the horses. “Merlin time to work” I said. He smiled in response. I blocked and ran through the first one. Merlin tossed the sword to his father and we fought back the tide. A bandit charged Merlin from behind and I sent a dagger flying into his chest . The bandit dropped and Merlin spun around. The both of us started laughing like goons. “Come on” I told him. I mounted Bron first the Merlin behind me. His father on Merlin's mare.

We rode into a half burnt Camelot. In the square Lancelot met us. “Is this him?” He asked me. I nodded “how's everything?” I asked in return. “We are almost to ruin” he reported. I nodded “Come, we are expected” I said when Balinor dismounted. We came to the war room. Father sat in his chair. The room hushed. “Father, we have found the dragon lord” I announced. Father stood up “bring him in!” He ordered. Balinor walked in and stared at the king. “You are going to help?” My father asked. “Yes” Balinor said curtly. “After the dragon is sent away. You may have anything you want” Uther told him. “Then my two requests, are a pardon. No more hunting me down. And I would like the castle of my forefathers back” he asked of the King. “Both shall be done. Upon the completion of the task” Father told him. “We leave immediately” I told father. He waved us off. Back into the square, we gather more horses that Tyr had gotten us. We rode to the field just outside the township. The dragon landed and began to growl. Balinor spoke a strange language. Kilgharrah bowed to him. “Please do not kill me. Do not cause the death of the dragons” he begged Balinor. “Then you are to stop these attacks” he commanded the great golden dragon. “Kilgharrah, I believe you have met my son and the princess” Balinor said noticing the dragon staring at us. “I have. The young warlock and the princess are to bring about the golden age of Camelot. To which all magical beings will be welcomed” the dragon said. “If you attack their kingdom again. I will have you put to death” Balinor reminded him. The dragon bowed. With a leap and flash of gold the dragon flew off. “Now for the reward” I told Balinor.

After the ceremony if pardon and Lording. We set off for Ealdor. We got there in two days. When we rode in, Hunith was tending to her garden. She smiled at the sight of Merlin and I. When we stopped the horses and dismounted, she hugged her son. Then she hugged me. “I heard a dragon attacked Camelot. I was scared that you guys had passed on” she said to the both of us. “No mother. “You know fate wouldn't let that happen” Merlin assured her. The third horse behind us whinnied. Hunith looked up to the now lordly clad Balinor. “All these years” she said. He smiled and dismounted. They took a minute to have a muted conversation. Their lips met in a kiss. They smiled at each other and embraced. I looked at Merlin's goofy grin. “I guess this now makes you the son of a lord” I told him. “Hmm, I guess so” he responded.

After our visit and the impromptu wedding ceremony for Merlin's parents, we returned to Camelot. I read of the papers that read of good reports repairing the city. Merlin came in carrying a tray. I smiled and went back to my papers. “What?” Merlin asked. “Why don't you tell my father about your parents? After all if he calls on your father he is gonna find out. Besides you could be knighted or even marry me” I teased chewing on the end of my quill. He shrugged “I figured we have a few more adventures as we are.” I smiled bigger. “Anything else?” He asked. “Yes, for you to admit your father is Lord Balinor” I told him. Merlin grimaced in thought. “No not gonna happen” he said bluntly. I pulled him and kissed him. “Then that will satisfy me” I told him. A Merlin sat perched on my open window. It watched me and Merlin for a moment and flew off. I smiled and watched as Merlin walked out.

Chapter Text

The sun was bright overhead. Merlin and I were swimming the our lake. I had convinced father that we were going hunting and only brought Gwen, Lancelot and Morgan with. They stayed at the camp. Merlin splashed me and we giggled. I felt long arms grab me and we went under. He gave me one long kiss under water. I let my breath put in a bubble and swam to the surface. We swam back to shore and he dried my hair for me. 6 months had passed since Kilgharrah had left us in peace. Merlin laced my corset up while I held my hair out of the way. “It's been six months. Your mother is now Lady Dracon. You could at least claim he is your step father and become a lord” I urged him. Merlin kissed my neck and whispered “Then what?” I shivered. “Then I could become your wife. You could become my king. We could bridge the gap of this pointless war” I told him. He sighed. He led me back to camp. There we were still safe amongst our friends.

Morgan grunted for me and reached. I picked the child up and played with him. Lancelot had formally declared me the child’s godmother. Gwen seemed fine with it and so anytime I could I get my hands on Morgan. His little head was covered with longer dark curls. His little smile showed two little teeth. He brought me happiness. “I suppose Arya has tried to talk you into taking up being your father's heir?” Lancelot teased. “I just don't think it's a good idea” Merlin retorted. “Why's that because Uther will make good on his word and have you knighted?” Gwen teased. I laughed and returned to playing with Morgan while everyone continued to tease Merlin.

The morning rose and we headed to Dracorn castle. The castle was still worn down. But it was being rebuilt stone by stone. The massive White Castle that Merlin and I had been the castle of his grandfather and other forefathers from ages before. Balinor and Hunith met us at the gate. They hugged their son. Gwen slid down with Morgan bound to her chest. The great dragon landed and bowed his head. “I thought he was dead” Gwen spoke to me. “No just banished by Lord Dracorn” I smiled and curtsied back. “I did not expect to find the once and future queen here” kilgharrah said. “Well you know, families can't always be torn apart”I teased back. I watched the dragon grin. “My lady” Hunith curtsied to me. I hugged the newly made Lady of the castle. “None of that, nothing has changed between us. I am still Arya” I told her. Merlin and his father smiled. “My lord, if I may ask for your aid in the matter of state” I asked him. His brow shot up when I spoke. “And what is that?” He skeptically asked. “Well my companions and I have been trying to convince your son that he should take up his rightful title. After, he is next in line for your title. However he is intent on arguing against it” I teased. “I believe the princess to be right about you young warlock” the dragon added. “That's not fair. You have a dragon on your side!” Merlin protested. “It is your destiny to be joined and bring about the golden age of Albion” the dragon reminded. Hunith laughed heartily and Morgan had escaped his mother. He began to toddle precariously towards the dragon. “Morgan!” Gwen cried. I swooped him up and held him up to the dragon's wings. “Do not worry, young mother. He is in no danger” the dragon assured him. Together Morgan and I felt the scales and the membranes of kilgharrah body. I looked to see Merlin smiling at me.

Later that night after everyone had gone to sleep. I made my way to the throne room. The walls stood mostly built. But at the end stood a familiar white chair. The moonlight lit it up as if the stone itself were glowing. I walked around and felt the smoothness. I lingered at sight of such natural magic. I heard a throat clear. Merlin stood there. I smiled and backed away. He made his way up. “Shouldn't have stopped on my account” he said with a smile on echo of mine. “It somehow suits you” I teased. “What good can come out of me becoming a lord if this would be my castle?” He asked. I looked at him and my smile got bigger. I walked over to him and played with the strings on his shirt. “Perhaps then you could marry or find a bit of happiness out of the sight of my father” I teased quietly. He lifted my chin and kissed me softly. I raised onto my toes and kissed him back. “Maybe a certain princess?” He asked. “Maybe” I spoke. We were inches apart and ready to surrender to each other when another throat cleared. “Hope I wasn't interrupting anything important” Balinor asked. Merlin backed away and I turned red. “No father” he spoke. Merlin left after the glare his father gave him. “The heart is such a strange thing” Balinor spoke looking at me. “It can make serving boys fall in love with Princesses” I told him. “If he were to take up the title of heir, do you think your father would let his daughter marry a lord’s son?” Balinor asked. My brow raised “is that a question of fate or a statement of what's known?” I questioned back. “Don't count on your father giving permission to have you marry him regardless of station” he warned.

The next few days we spent laughing and enjoying ourselves. Even though Balinor gave me his warning, they still aloud Merlin and I to be ourselves. “My son has grown very found of you since Ealdor, Lady Arya” Hunith remarked. We stood in the courtyard watching Merlin and Balinor practice the skills of a dragon lord. “There is times I wonder why” I confessed to her “how much we have been though. The times he's laid his life down for mine. Gods know he has had the plenty of chances to leave.” She sighed and took my hands in her “Merlin is a sweet boy. He has the best heart I have ever known. The girls in the village always thought he was too tender but never shied away from taking a flower” she spoke fondly. “I've never seen him so taken with another though” she commented. I smiled and watched a Blue and Red dragon fly around the courtyard chasing each other.

Upon our return we started search parties again. Each place we looked for Morgana we could never find her. Even with Merlin's magic. She seemed gone from the earth. We returned from the latest search near our eastern border. Father stood in the square. I pulled Bron to a stop and slid down. “Did you find her?” Father asked. I shook my head and he walked away. Merlin put a large hand on my shoulder and guided me away.

Merlin had drawn me a hot bath. The soak did little good. Merlin sat working on the chainmail. His eyes seemed focused and tense. A soft clink would bring me out of my daze for a moment. Only this time I stayed out. “Merlin?” I called softly. “Yes, my lady?” He called back in echo. “Why does it seem like I'm letting my father down more? Do you think if it was I in Morgana’s place he would put this much effort into the search?” I asked solemnly. He took a second and put down my shirt. “I believe he would be looking harder. Everyone would” he answered. I let a tear slip, his answer didn't seem to help at all. “Everything okay Arya?” He asked me. “I'm fine” I answered him. I felt someone sit me up and start washing my back. “Here” Merlin told me. He held out a glass of orange juice. I smiled slightly. “Arya, you haven't failed anyone. Morgana will return of her own accord” he assured me. I took another long draw of the orange juice and put it down. “I am ready for bed” I told my lanky servant. He picked me up bridal style and laid me in my bed. He combed my hair for me while humming. I fell asleep feeling a bit better.

Morning came around and I was dressing for training. Merlin solemn watched me as he picked the dishes up. “Arya” he started. I laid a glove finger over his mouth. “It's fine Merlin” I said and kissed him softly. The hall was empty on my way to training.

Leon had me paired with some pompous noble third son. I put him on his rear quickly. I stopped and saw Merlin joking with Lancelot. I smiled at the sight. Leon walked up to me and smiled as well. “You are completely hopeless you know that right?” He asked me. “What are you talking about?” I retorted. “Well for starters, you're in love with a servant. Not just any servant, but your own personal attendant. Secondly, it's Merlin. The single most goofiest character you could find” he teased. “What would you rather me fall back in love with you?” I teased back. He smiled in response. “I've got my eyes on you” he joked as he went to pick the third son off his groaning arse.

The Knights barreled after an invisible enemy while their thunder surrounded Bron and I. The group stopped short upon the sight of Camelot's fallen soldiers. I slipped from the saddle and walked forward. “Send a rider to collect our dead. There is no need for them to lay out” I ordered. A page hopped on his horse and bolted back to the castle. Merlin stood beside me as we grimaced at the bloody sight of the men lying there.

 

The page arrived with a cart and we began loading the bodies. Each man seemed heavier than fate and smelled horribly of death and sweat. A group of knights escorted the cart back. Leon headed the group. “Merlin, Take care of the princess” he told him. With a nod from the dark haired servant, Leon rode off.

We continued down the road a ways continuing the patrol for Morgana. “Ow” I heard Merlin complain. “What's wrong? Babies bottom hurt?” I teased him. “Well unlike your fat royal bottom, mine is nothing but bone” Merlin retorted. The men stifled their laughs at Merlin's remark. “You know my armor is getting pretty stiff and I think I can smell the stables from here” I told him. I heard the Knights giggle again. “Besides you are getting pretty brave with your remarks aren't you, wimp?” I asked him. “I'd much rather be a wimp then a dollophead” Merlin tossed the teasing tone back. “What in the world is a dollophead?” I asked. “An idomatic word” Merlin teased me again. “Careful Merlin that's a big word” I tossed the teasing back at him “besides what is a dollophead?” He smiled “in two words?” He asked me. I gave him the look that let him know I was impatient. “Princess Arya” he answered with a grin. The Knights couldn't hold back anymore.

We came across the encampment for the soldiers that we sent back to Camelot for a burial. The knight I put on his arse got off his horse and walked to the fire. Before he could bend down to look at the ashes, a crossbow bolt sunk deep into his back. “On me!” I shouted. The Knights formed a ring with me. Merlin at my side with a sword gingerly in his hands. Bandits rolled over the hill and into us like a small wave. The first Bandit had sank into my sword easily while I dodged the next attack. Pulling my sword out, I parried the sword from the same bandit. After slicing his back, I looked to see Merlin falling enemies with his magic and the sword nowhere to be found. After the bandits thinned out and retreated, I noticed Merlin's foot sticking out from behind a tree. “Merlin! This isn't the time to hide!” I called. He crawled out mumbling under his breath. I heard a snap behind me and swung my sword. It stopped gently against the young woman's neck. I was in shock when I recognized it was Morgana. “Sister!” I cried and dropped my sword. We hugged. Everyone cheered. “Merlin! Fetch my cape!” I ordered. He came running with it and I wrapped it around the barely clothed Morgana. “Come, you need a hot meal, warm bath and some rest” I told her. We mounted up and she wrapped her arms behind me. She kept quiet the ride back to Camelot.

On our way in, a cheer rang through the city for my ward sister who was fast asleep behind me. I woke her up when we came to the courtyard. “Morgana come let's get you to your rooms” I ushered her. “Thank you, sister” she spoke. We walked to her rooms where Gwen was brushing off her bed. Morgan was bouncing on the other end causing his mother grief. “Gwen,” I cleared my throat. She looked up and I smiled. Morgan climbed down from the big bed and ran for me. “Auntie Arwa!” He cried. “Little bird” I swooped down to pick him. “Who's dat auntie?” He asked. I moved aside and let Morgana in. Gwen bolted to her friend. Both crying as they hugged each other. “Auntie, who hug momma?” He asked. “That little bird is your Aunt Morgana” I told him. “Auntie Mowgana?” He asked. I shook my head to answer him. “Who's this?” Morgana asked. Gwen took Morgan from me so I could go change and bathe.

Merlin had drawn me a hot bath. I quickly washed the dirt off my body. He had my new cream color dress laid out. I slipped it on and quickly walked out with the sheer sleeves fluttering.

I met gaius out in the hall. “Is she well?” I asked him. “She is well enough for you. She has been asking about you” Gaius told me. I opened the wooden door and she was laid in bed. Her dark hair still damp like mine just framing a much paler face. She smiled and it lit up the room. “Sister” she said with glee. I rushed and hugged her again. “Oh, Morgana” I sobbed hugging her. She wiped my tears with her thumb. “We were worried you were dead. My father had us almost crossing borders” I told her. She smiled “I believe we did several times. I heard talks of ransom but no one ever actually wrote the letter. They had me locked with a few other people but they all were sold. They kept me in another cell. I was scared that I would go mad if you didn't find me soon. Then they moved me when a patrol came by” Morgana told me. “Well, they can't hurt you. You are safe here. If you need me, all you have to do is call. Besides I'm sure that Morgan will love you” I told her. She gave me a hug and I stood up to leave. I bumped into Merlin and gave him a shy smile before walking out.

Later after I spent sometime in the library, I returned to my chambers. Merlin was smiling again. “What has you so giddy?” I asked as I walked over to my desk and laid the book I brought back down. “I've just finished my chores, Morgana is back, and the sun is shining” he said while his smile grew. I felt a familiar pang in my heart. Lately he rarely smiled like that with me. He looked at me and the smile disappeared. “What's wrong?” He asked. “Nothing” I answered quickly. “Okay well I just washed the floors so I hope you don't need to change” he told me. “If I do, you can't stop me” I scolded him. “You don't know how hard it is to scrub floors do you?” He asked offended. “I do too” I chided. I picked up the bucket and rag. I dipped the rag and wiped his face then dropped the rag back in. He grimaced. I slammed the bucket in his chest and left.

With another book in hand I sat outside near the Forrest and read. The book was an old collection of fairytales. The one I was on was the tale of a frog who stayed with a princess and asked her every night for a kiss. I smiled and giggle at the irony that I had my own frog. Only difference was he didn't transform from a frog to a prince. He transformed from a servant to the first son of a lord. He still preferred his servant station here in Camelot over the title that belongs to him. A clank of swords let me know that the Knights were on their second round. I got up and walked the halls of the castle.

Clutching the book to my chest, I let the train sweep the floor behind me. “Arya” I heard my father say. I looked up to see him standing in front of me. “I never got the chance to thank you for returning Morgana. Camelot feels complete with both of you around” he said. “Your welcome father” I bowed to him. His cape fluttered as he walked away.

At dinner we laughed and told stories. Merlin watched with a smile on his face. He refilled Father's cup and Morgana’s. I put my hand over mine. I had been drinking too much anyways. “So I heard rumors while I was held captive that a dragon attacked Camelot?” Morgana asked. “Well, he did attack and Arya was stubborn enough to go find the last dragon lord. She had managed to convince him to save Camelot and all her people. How she managed that is beyond my capacity of understanding. But thanks to Arya Camelot remains whole, her people safe and You have returned” father spoke. “Come now father. I merely have done what any king or Queen should do for their kingdom” I spoke with modesty. “To Arya! Without her Camelot would be naught!” Morgana toasted. Father raised his glass and they sipped.

After dinner I bathed. The big tub was brought up because I wished to soak. Merlin was filling it as I was undressing. I wrapped my hands around his skinny waist. “Merlin, I'm sorry about earlier. I was acting foolishly” I apologized. He turned and wrapped his arms around me and kissed my head. “It's fine Arya. We both know you're a dollophead” he commented. I pushed him in the tub and he drug me in. Both of us still clothed I peeled his tunic off and kissed him. He removed my robe and tossed it aside. My hair floated around me covering my breasts. His water logged breeches and boots came off. With the water warming around us, we made love.

The morning came and the sun got in my eyes. I sat up to see Merlin laying there asleep. His features were so delicate yet so strong. He looked otherworldly when he was asleep. His dark hair a mess on top of his head. I smiled and laid down in his chest. His arm found its way around my waist. I noticed that our clothes were dry. Gwen snuck in through the side down. She closed the door gently. “Arya, your father is looking for you. He is coming this way. He wants you to plan a feast for Morgana” she whispered. “Thank you Gwen. Why are you here?” I whispered back. “Lancelot said one of the men made a remark about Merlin not coming out of your chambers last night. He silenced them and then Morgana told me of your father's intentions. I don't want to see you and Merlin hurt. Hurry” she whispered. She shuffled out the door and I shook Merlin. “Annwyl, my father is in his way. You need to get up” I told him. He yawned. “What's up?” I put my chemise on. “My father is on his way up” I told him.

Father had the kitchen bring up breakfast. Over which we discussed plans for the feast. Merlin went about his chores quietly as I watched him. He smiled when he caught me and I quickly glanced back to my father. “We should serve lamb” father spoke. “No, Morgana wouldn't like it” I spoke up. He smiled “Quite right” he said to me.

 

The feast had started. Father sat as usual in his black doublet and Morgana wore he shimmery white dress. I sat with my crown on my golden hair that Merlin had set. I wore a golden collar with a lighter pendragon red silk dress. It was still the same bells sleeves as my velvet one. Save for the skirt was slimmer. I sat with my cup in hand watching the Knights laughed amongst each other. Merlin sat with Gaius. He wore the red shirt that was made out of the leftover materials from my dress. Father stood shakily “This night has been more of a distant memory than reality. It has been too long that I have seen my subjects smile and rejoice. It also has been too long since I've felt this way” he spoke. “Like what drunk?” I joked. I took a sip of my drink. “No” he shook his head “it's been awhile since I have felt this happy. To see the smile of both my daughter and my ward, makes this world more tolerable. For truly the heavens have aligned at the return of the Lady Morgana” he toasted. “To Lady Morgana” the court echoed. The small band played and a few Knights escorted their partners to dance. I watched them and smiled when I saw Merlin. “I need some air” commented. Leon approached the table “Arya, may I?” He asked. Morgana's eyebrow shot up. “Of course, Sir Leon” I said. I walked around the table and joined hands with him. We danced to the song and after it finished I looked for my father. He hadn't returned yet. “Excuse me,” I told Leon. “What is it?” He asked. “My father hasn't returned” I told him. Lancelot tapped my shoulder with an urgent look on his face. “Follow me, my lady” he said. Merlin and Leon flanked me.

Father laid against the well muttering and covered in a cold sweat. “Merlin, help” I ordered as I tried to lift him up. We draped an arm over each shoulder. “Leon, get Gaius” I ordered the curly haired Knight. He nodded and bolted back to the feast. Lancelot and his men escorted us back to his chambers. I laid him on the bed. Gaius gave him a potion and I pulled his boots off as Morgana took his shirt off. “Will he be okay?” Morgana asked the old physician. “He will be fine with some sleep” Gaius spoke. I held his hand as his chest rose and fell.

Gaius awoke me. “My lady, you should go to bed” he chided. “What's wrong with him Gaius?” I asked. “He seemed to have a mental breakdown, my lady” he told me. “From stress or something else?” I asked. Gaius’s brow rose. “Oh come now, it's not impossible Gaius” I spoke. “For now the king was ill” he suggest. I nodded “For the best.”

Morning found us a recovered King and in the council Chambers. “Reports read that Cenred has hired mercenaries. They are streaming into his kingdom” I tried father. “Do we know why?” He asked me. “Rumors are saying that he is amassing an army to take over Camelot. I will be sending scouts out for a patrol” I began. I noticed as Father stared off over my shoulder. My face contorted in confusion “father?” I asked. I looked to where he was staring and there was nothing. “Leave” he spoke. My face contorted more. “Father are you…” I begun. “I said leave! Get out and do not bother me!” I my father yelled. I looked to Merlin who had a horrified look on his face. Leon and Lancelot drug my father out who was threatening the invisible person.

I busted into Gaius's Chambers. “What in the world?” I asked. “Purge victims. Your suspicions are correct. However how remains” The old man commented. The warning bells sounded before anymore was said. A guard busted in “my lady, your need on the wall” he huffed. Merlin, Gaius and I hurried out the room.

We arrived to see a man barely breathing. “Get him to my room. I tend to him after the king” Gaius spoke. We returned to the tower. “How?” I looked at the old man. “Stabbed to death. With this” he spoke as he revealed a ornate dagger. I took it and felt a small hum. Merlin glanced at me. “It bears the sigil of the blood guard” Gaius spoke. I put the knife down “The blood guard? Are they assassins?” I asked him. He shook his head “Guards for the high priestess” he commented. “Clearly they weren't wiped out like previously thought” I said staring at the knife “is it possible we could have a traitor in Camelot?” I asked. Gaius sighed and covered the knife “of course my lady.” I nodded, “inform me when he wakes. I must tend to me father” I told Gaius. My boots echoed from the steps down the hall. I tried to hold me head high.

I sat watching my father's chest rise and fall. I began thinking, what would my father do? I mulled over what he has done in the past. I left to think more. I found Merlin on the stairs. I caught the potion that flew out of his hand. “Thank you” he said. I smiled and nodded. Before he left his hand brushed mine. My smile grew a bit bigger as I walked away.

I stood looking out my window. My thoughts had drifted from my father to the memories I had of The forbidden activities between Merlin and I. A knock brought me too. “Enter” I called. Leon, Lancelot and Lord Ashmore stood. I knew what the were here for. “My lady, if your lord father does not get better soon you will need to step up to become Queen regent. Camelot needs a strong healthy leader. Your father…” Lord Ashmore commented. “My Father has had a toll taken on him yes but it has only been a few days. If you respect his authority as your king you will not mention that again” I interrupted the old man. He huffed and walked away. Leon hurried after the old man to try and apologize. Lancelot remained. “My lady, if I may. The people believe in you. They wouldn't hesitate to follow you anywhere. They understand your father is not dead but their king cannot rule in this state. That's why you need to step up” he spoke softly as if he was approaching a hurt animal. “Thank you Lancelot. You may go” I ushered him. I wouldn't think of my father in a vulnerable state. He is Uther Pendragon, the man who conquered and ruled with an iron fist.

I was reviewing reports and Gaius came in. “The guard is dead. Someone poisoned him, my lady,” the old man said bowing “And the court has asked me to convince you about the role of regent.” I set my paper down “I will not take it. Not while my father lives.” I spoke curtly. Gaius spoke up again “what should we tell the palace courtiers?” I raised my brow “Nothing” I answered. “My lady you need to step up. If the worst should happen, we will need you to be Queen” he urged. “Gaius, I am well aware however my father still breathes therefore I still follow his directions” I said stoutly. He nodded.

Night had fallen and I hadn't seen Merlin since the hallway. I was starting to worry. Gwen cleared her throat “My Lady, it's time for bed.” I crawled in and yawned. “If you see Merlin send him in please?” I asked Gwen. She smiled and said “of course.” I listened to the soft padding if her feet retreating and the door closing. My eyes closed and soon I drifted. I saw Merlin lying on a cave floor. Kilgharrah was watching him. He shivered and shook. I watched the dragon put his nose in the cave and warm Merlin up. Still the young man shivered but not as savagely as before.

Morning found me without Merlin again. I pulled the tunic of his that had been left once. I washed my face and tended to my needs for the morning. I slipped on the black trousers and latched my under bust. I found myself at my father's side soon. He hadn't changed in a week's time. Morgana came in. “He needs to get better” I spoke to her. Her soft hand laid on my shoulder. “I know” she spoke. I snuggled a bit. “I'm glad you're here though” I told her. “Go do what's needed. I'll watch him” she told me. I nodded and rose from my chair. I walked down the halls solemnly. My father hasn't improved and the man I was in love with had disappeared. Today wasn't my day.

A junior knight had ran up to me while I was out for a walk. “My lady, Cenerd is almost here” he told me. I was startled my willed myself to remain calm. “Get the men ready. Make sure Leon knows to assemble the knights and Lancelot all the guards. We will need everyone” I ordered. I ran into the castle and through the halls with my sword clanging. I ran up the steps to Gaius. I bursted through his door. “Prepare a hospital. Cenerd is nearly here” I huffed. I ran back out and to the council room. “How many?” I asked. “They out number us 2-1” he reported. “We need to emphasize the lower town, wall into high town and the citadel. I want every baked bodied man available” I spoke. Some of the Knights ran off. “Bring all the people you can to the citadel. The people are our first and only priority” I commanded and a few more departed. “Gaius needs help setting up a hospital” I said. A few nobles and guards nodded. We adjourned and I headed to armory. I put my armor on and then headed to the ramparts. I saw a large black force barely lining the horizon. Lancelot and Leon joined me. “Think we will make it?” Leon asked. “As long as we fight, we will have a chance” I responded.

Night fell and I made sure all the people inside had what they needed. I stepped out to the top of the stairs. Gaius came out with me. “Still no Merlin?” I asked him. He shook his old head “not a word. This is very unlike him I assure you” he added. I looked at him “Send word to Lord Dracorn. Maybe he knows where his son is. Also tell him we are to be enthralled in battle, so send his response in two days” I told Gaius. “Yes my lady” he said with a bow. “Merlin, damn you” I said under my breath as I scanned the horizon that was now polka dotted with fires.

Later that night, a lone figure had caught my attention. I followed the figure quietly making sure if it was one of Cenerd’s spies, he wouldn't know till the blade had run him through. The figure stumbled over some pots. It was Merlin. “Good god” I told him. He smiled breathlessly and kissed me. “Arya, I missed you so” he spoke softly. I glared at me “you dolt. What did you do?” I hissed. “Nothing, I found out that Morgana is the traitor though” he spoke. I gave him a puzzled look. “You remember Morgause?” He asked me. “Merlin what does Morgause have to do with Morgana?” I asked him. “Morgause knows that Morgana is her sister. She trained her in magic and won her allegiance. Morgana is planning to bring the citadel down” he whispered. “How?” I asked him. “No idea” he answered. “You dollophead, you better figure out how before you tell me this. How am I supposed to prevent something if I don't know what it is in supposed to be preventing? Besides I have 20,000 people outside these city walls and one very angry dragon lord. Your father knows you disappeared on me Merlin” I told him. His brows knit. “Oh come on” I said pulling him with. We hurried back to the castle and I laid in my bed. I was going to try and sleep before we were attacked.

For two days, we saw the troops advance. Gaius had stole Merlin to check on my father. Though no mention would be made of Morgana to anyone because there wasn't proof, I did wonder. She did seem different. She seemed like she was acting. I shook it off. “It's time,” Leon said clapping a hand on my shoulder. I walked down the stairs with Leon and Lancelot flanking.

I stood on the Barricades looking at the 10,000 men watching me. “Today an enemy approaches Camelot's walls. Today we will defend her to the last man. For nothing can fell our glorious kingdom, except for the breaking of the brotherhood that supports her walls. But this will not be the day our brotherhood dissolves nor our walls fall. For the love of Camelot!” I rallied the men. “For Camelot!” They cried out. The sheer power of that cry gave me goosebumps. Cenerd's men were at the gate. Their catapults launched with burning boulders which met the walls with the force of a rock in a stream. “For Camelot!” I cried again. The arrows launched in the night sky. “Shields!” I called. Everyone fell behind their shields as the arrows rained. We held the shields up with the next volley. I uncovered from my shield and saw a ram come through the barricade. “Steady!” I yelled. Men began pouring through the gate and crashed into our men like a tree falling. We pushed them back against their ram. But their second evading force came. One man came to me swinging. I blocked his blow and traded with him. Right as I ran him through the stomach, I felt the faint trail of another man's sword. I turned to see Merlin standing there. His eyes glowing gold that melted away while his hand went down. I nodded and sliced the next man. I felt a familiar warm hand press against my back. I looked to see Merlin and after the next opponent feel I noticed a familiar gray head. “Father!” I yelled. I cut my way to him and protected his back “you know Gaius is going to have you back” I scolded. “Yes but I couldn't let Camelot fall. A king needs to be with his men” My father told me. “We have to fall back” Merlin called. “Fall back!” I called. The men withdrew to high town. “Take your father back Arya!” Merlin called. I nodded and pushed my father to the citadel. “We need you here father” I told the old King. He nodded and I rejoined the men in high town.

The men from the citadel came to reinforce us. I looked to see that the current men were tired. Many lay dead across the courtyard. Many Cenerd's but the rest were ours. Merlin came trotting up “Morgana is gone” he told me. We ran to the crypts where a secret entrance was. On our way down we encountered skeletons. I noticed the sword in Merlin's hand killed the skeletons. “Merlin take point” I told him. He killed each one while we made the last stairwell.

Morgana stood in the center of the crypt. “Merlin stay here” I whispered. He nodded. I stepped out into the light of the staff. “Morgana, this is enough!” I told her. She smiled evilly. “Is it? You're wrong. Uther chained me. He acted like I was the enemy and he was right. I have magic Arya!” She shouted. “I know Morgana. And My father was wrong for that. But he still loves you as a daughter” I told her. “No not if he finds out. So I will show him what it means to be feared” she said. She struck my sword and I held against her. She chuckled and withdrew. We set a duel. Her attacking and me parrying. I finally got the advantage and ran for the staff. Suddenly, everything went black.

I woke up to Merlin asleep at my side in the bed. I smiled and went to sit up. My head screamed. I let out a groan which woke up Merlin. “Arya!” He cried and hugged me. “Merlin, ow” I spoke as he pinned me against the headboard of the wall. I felt his warm lips against mine. I smiled as he pulled away “I missed you too” I commented. “I hoped you weren't dead. The staff is destroyed. We won. Not that Morgana is happy. But she managed to convince your fault she turned the tide at the battle. He is making an official announcement at noon” he said. Gaius came in and smile “I'm glad you're alright. How's your head and ribs?” He asked. “Screaming” I groaned. Gaius rest the wrapping for my ribs and gave me something for my head.

We stood in the hall. My white velvet dress dropped down the stairs and my crown sat on my head. Merlin left my hair loose and brushed. “Today's victory was hard fought. My daughter ensured it. But the one who truly turn the tide of battle, who save Camelot and her men, I am truly proud of. It was the Lady Morgana!” He spoke. She strode out in her white silk dress. She smiled as everyone cheered.

As the feast in celebration of Camelot raged on, I stood on the balcony. Merlin cleared his throat which cause me to jump. “Jesus Merlin. We really have to work on that” I told him. “Well thanks you to, we will have plenty of time” he spoke “And hopefully, that time will include you as the Good Once and Future Queen all of Albion deserves.” I chuckled “I'm not that woman. I'll never be.” He smiled and I heard a throat clear. It was Lancelot. “The kings on his way up” he said. I smiled and pushed myself away from Merlin. My father appear “Everything okay?” He asked. “Yes, just needed some air” I told him. He eyed Merlin suspiciously. “Come along. You deserve some spotlight too” he said offering his arm. I walked away with my father but I looked one last time and saw Merlin standing there smiling.

Chapter Text

Three weeks had past since the battle for Camelot. The council meeting this morning had droned on about damages and raising a small tax to pay for the damage and repairs. Father seemed like he was a in a good mood though. My sleeves on my golden silk dress fell over the arms of my chair. I stared at the skirt tuning out the old men bickering like dogs over a bone. “We will continue talks tomorrow morning” Father spoke, snapping me out of my daydream mode. Father sat in his chair still after even but the guards left. “What is it?” I asked standing near him. He looked up and saw a small smile creepy to his face. “While I was in my state, I saw your mother when we first married. She looked just like you” he spoke softly “she would be proud of you.” I smiled and walked over to kissed his head. I left for the library to get my newest anatomy book.

In the library, I was searching for the book that Gaius had assigned me when I saw Merlin walk out. He had the Beastiary of Phylum of Cambria. I remember that Gaius had asked for it because a noble made a claim a giant rat had invaded. I shrugged it off.

A little while later, after I got done reading behind the armor suit of King Alleson, I came to my room. I opened the door to see Merlin rummaging under my bed. I walked up behind him. He crawled out and stood up almost sheet white. “Merlin, what in god’s name are you doing?” I asked holding my book tight against my chest and my eyebrow raised. “Spring cleaning?” He said in a tone that echoed with a question. “I am at a disincline to believe you merely because it is neither spring nor is this room clean” I spoke with a scolding tone. He smiled weakly “I've only just started though. Soon you'd be able to use the floors as a mirror. Not that you need one you look absolutely stunning” he stammered. There was a noise somewhere behind him. “What did you do now?” I asked him. He shook his head and retorted quickly “Nothing”. I set my book down forcefully “Merlin…”I spoke with irritation on my face. “Okay I accidentally let loose something” he confessed. I walked over and kissed him on the cheek. “Let's fix this” I spoke. I walked out with Merlin in my heels.

We were on our way to Gaius’s when we came to Morgana’s chamber. The thing was tossing jewelry out of Morgana's jewelry box. “No, nope, not quite” the creature murmured. He pulled out the bracelet Morgana wore at bedtime. “No!” Merlin hissed as he lunged for the creature. The thing jumped out the window. We started cleaning the jewelry up when Gwen cleared her throat. “Do I want to know?” She asked. “No” I told her. She shook her head as we darted out the room. I looked out the window as we walked away. I noticed the Sun’s position. “Merlin, I've got to go have lunch with my father. You talk to Gaius. We will meet in my chambers this afternoon” I told him. He nodded and gave me a kiss. I stood for a moment dazed at the brazen act and then ran to the council chambers.

I arrived to find a very unhappy King. He was wearing a hat. Which was unusual for him. “Father” I said with a curtesy. He looked at me. He looked steaming mad. “What wrong?” I asked. He pulled the hat off to reveal a head that was as smooth as a baby's bottom. “This! Someone has enchanted me to lose my hair!” He yelled. I stifled back my snickers. “I think it looks very distinguished, sire” I told him. He threw the hat at me and yelled “Get Gaius now!” I curtsied again and left to go get Gaius.

I stood at the small wooden door and knocked. I walked in when Gaius called. “What's the matter child?” The old man asked looking over his glasses and Merlin looking equally puzzled. “My father has asked me to fetch you for an urgent matter” I told him. “Well let's go” the old man urged.

We reached the door and I stopped them. “If you value your heads, do not laugh” I warned them. We opened the doors. “Father, Gaius is here” I announced. He stepped behind the screen and I heard Merlin choke. I stepped on his foot.

Outside the chamber we gathered around. “This was the work of the goblin. I have no doubt of this. We must work swiftly to catch it before he does anymore damage” Gaius said hushed. “Goblin?” I said staring at Merlin. He was in a fit of giggles. “What do we need?” I asked. “Gold. Lots of gold” Gaius spoke.

We were in Gaius's chambers. We set up the chest and hid. A little ball of golden light floated in. With a small pop, the creature became it's larger form. Merlin jumped out of his hiding spot and caught it with a blanket. A bright golden floated away. “Did you see where it went?” Merlin asked Gaius and I. I shook my head. “Fool! You let it get away. Both of you go find it!” Gaius shouted. Merlin and I walked out and closed the door. “That isn't like Gaius to yell at us” Merlin huffed. “Maybe he just is getting tired of you screwing things up” I remarked.

We walked back into Gaius's chambers. We noticed a few pots on the floor. “What happened?” I asked the old man. “It was the goblin Merlin let escape! That foolish boy! Now he has to clean it up!” He yelled. “Need I remind you that you are raising your voice to the Crown Princess of Camelot about her servant” I scolded. “Fine. I'm going to the tavern.” He said walking to the door. “You never go to the tavern” Merlin spoke confused. “Then I guess I will see what I've been missing” the old man said walking out the door.

After we cleaned up the pots and Merlin mended them, he left to get dinner. We where chewing over the boar when Merlin spoke up, “where could that goblin have gone?” I swallowed my food “perhaps he went to the vaults?” I asked him. “No, because it wasn't till we lost the goblin that Gaius was acting likes this” he countered. I took a small sip of wine. “I think you reading too far into this Merlin” I told him. We finished our meal off and I rose. “I have to get up early tomorrow” I told Merlin. He nodded. I smiled and walked over to him. I gave him a kiss on the cheek and went to my chambers.

At dawn, I dressed in my breeches and corset. I put soft padded shoes on and put my blue cape on and lifted the hood. Shortly after I sat outside the physician’ chambers. Merlin and Gaius had an exchange and Merlin stomped off to the kitchens. Morgana walked in for a time and when they were done going through their row. She walked out with a potion bottle. I thought I saw something about fagulation on the bottle. Gaius came out and I followed silently.

I waited outside a commoner’s house while Gaius made a ridiculous spectacle of treating the husband. He left and hour later. I followed him to Morgana's chamber and he offered her the same bottle as Morgana and the commoner. He then walked to my father's chambers. Gaius was slapping my father's still bald head. “Are you sure this is necessary?” My father asked. Gaius spoke “why of course site do you not want this to work? Because stimulating the scalp helps grow back the hair.” I heard my father sigh “get on with it.” The slaps continued for a few more minutes.

I was in the library looking for anything on goblins. Merlin had left to check in Gaius. I searched up and down. I found a piece of information and took off for Gaius's chambers. I stopped at the door. “If you kill Gaius then I will kill you!” Merlin yelled. I held my breath. Lancelot came up to me with a report and whispered “Your father wants these reports.” I nodded and we left.

“Unfortunately the vandal keeps eluding us. But we will find him. I assure you father” I spoke. Someone let loose a fart. Then an echo. “Double the guard and effort. I want this person found” my father ordered. Another fart was released and he grew red. “Council is dismissed!” Father yelled. Everyone left the room. I went to my chambers to read more about goblins. Leon walked into my chambers and handed me a scrolls.

By order of His Majesty King Uther,
This proclamation is to order the arrest of
Merlin
For the assault on his majesty's physician

My heart dropped. The goblin has Merlin. “My lady, I can do it” Leon offered. “No, I need to do this” I told him. He and the other knight followed me. We walked to the physician's chambers. There Merlin was filling a bucket of warm water. “Arrest him” I spoke fighting tears. “Arya?” He asked as Leon and the Other knight carried him off. “Arya!” He yelled.

Merlin was kneeling infront of my father and I stood behind my father. It took everything I had to keep my tears back. Merlin's silk blue shirt was rumpled at the shoulder from being forced down. “Is it true you are responsible for all this?” Father asked. “No, sire” Merlin croaked. “Gaius!” Father called for the physician. “This was found in your chambers” Gaius said producing Merlin's magic book. I bit my lip to keep back my tears that were now stinging my face. “He's lying! That isn't Gaius!” Merlin yelled causing whispers. “What are you talking about?” Morgana called. “Gaius has been possessed by a goblin” Merlin tried to reason. I tried to tell him in my mind not to fight it but it wasn't working. Gaius turned to my father “you see the boy is trying to displace blame” he accused. “You want me to believe my most loyal servant and friend is posses?” My father hissed. “Where is your proof?” Morgana asked. “No” Merlin said withdrawing. “We m afraid that magic has corrupted him beyond hope sire. I apologize that I have been harboring a sorcerer all this time” Gaius said with a bow. “You are forgiven Gaius. But you boy, you are sentenced to death. You will be burned at the stake at dawn tomorrow” Father spoke. I turned my head to wipe the tears from my eyes and slipped out of sight. I went to my chambers where Gwen held me. “It's out Merlin, he will find a way” she consoled me. I lifted my head and nodded. “Change me Gwen. I want my red velvet” I told her. She nodded and I was dressed. She braided my hair and fastened it. She put my gold circlet one. I was out the door and down the hallway.

I came to the jail. “My lady, the king said no visitors” the guard in front of me told me. “This young man was my servant. I want to know if he has any lasts words or requests that I may be able to carry out” I told him. “As you wish” the guard said with a bow. Merlin sat in the corner on the straw. “Leave us” I order the guard. As soon as the guard left, Merlin and I embraced each other. “Merlin, I'm so sorry” I spoke to him. He stroked my hair “shhh, it'll be fine Arya” he soothed me. I let the tears flow “I could've said something…” I spoke through sobs. He kissed me and wiped my tears away. “I'll be fine Arya. Just if I don't manage to make it, don't let our fathers war” he told me. I nodded and heard foot steps. “The next guard is dense. I'm sure he wouldn't notice if he misplaced his keys” I told him. He nodded “go” he whispered. I stepped out of the cage and into the hall. He smiled at me and I smiled half heartedly back.

I paced by the fire till I heard warning bells. I sighed with relief. Merlin was safe. For now. “My lady, the king wishes you to meet him” a guard said through my door. With the sweep of my long night coat, I went to meet with my father.

“How could this happen?” My father spoke furiously. “No doubt incompetence” I spoke. Father nodded. “Gaius?” He asked. “Punish the person who let him go” Gaius encouraged. “I will search the town” I told father and he nodded.

Morning came and the one place I knew Merlin would be at this time was were I was headed. I knocked on the door of Gwen's house. She opened the door and jumped. “It's okay Gwen she knows” I heard Merlin tell her. I came inside and too my cloak off. I immediately pulled the lanky servant into my arms. “I'm glad you're safe Merlin” I whispered. “They can't get rid of me that easy” he whispered back. I smiled and let him go. “What about the goblin?” I asked Merlin. “We need a way to get rid of him” Merlin spoke to Gwen and I. “How?” Gwen asked with concern. “No idea” Merlin said. “Well in the meantime stay out of sight. I have to get back to the castle. Father will be furious if I spend all day out and not give him a report about my hunt for you” I spoke to Merlin. He nodded. I grabbed my blue cloak and began to put it on when Merlin took over the task. After he tied the strings and put my hood up, he kissed my forehead and held me. “Stay safe Arya, The goblin will be out and no one is safe from his magic or cunning. If for any reason you need me, speak out” he told me. I stared at his face. I spent a few seconds memorizing every detail as if he was leaving for war. The sculpting of his cheekbones, the blueness of his eyes. The lines in his mouth. I soaked in the warmth of his hand and the tickle that lingered on my forehead. “I love you, Merlin. Keep safe yourself. Surely we don't need your father waging war on Camelot” I told him. With that I stepped out and made my way to the castle.

After my report had been given and I retired to my chambers a knock had come to my door. Gaius had walked in. “Everything alright my lady?” He asked. “Yes, and I want to thank you for exposing Merlin. I had my suspicions but never could quite put my finger on what made him so odd and lazy” I said pouring the old man a glass. “My loyalty is first to your father and Camelot” he said taking the glass of wine. “It must've been hard to turn your nephew in. But I must thank you for getting rid of him. He was lazy and rude and most of all incompetent” I spoke testing him. “That he was. My lady should have never had to deal with someone that was so inept” he agreed. This wasn't Gaius at all. I hadn't believed fully that Merlin could be right. But I did notice Gaius was fond of the wine and cup. “I assure you when we find him, he will hang” I commented. “I look forward to it” he spoke. I stood up and grabbed my sword. “You are not the real Gaius. My Master loves his Nephew and would never see him hang. No matter the offense” I said holding the sword straight. “And no royal would be so quick to defend a servant,” Gaius spoke. “Merlin will defeat you” I warned. I blacked out after a crash.

I awoke and tried to call out to the guards but instead I heard a bray. I lifted myself up and looked into my mirror to see I had donkey ears. I sighed and a small honk came out. Gwen walked in as I saw a tail and she covered her mouth. I sighed with my soft bray and she busted out laughing. “Gaius?” She asked after she was done. I nodded and she smiled. I tried to glare but she only laughed more. “I'll fetch Merlin” She told me. I panicked.

At dark, I heard Merlin and Gwen shuffle through the door. I had my cloak on to try and hide my ears and tail. Merlin smiled and walked over. He tried to pull my hood down and I held it fast. “Arya, I can't fix it if you don't let me” he spoke. I tried to plead with my eyes but he kissed my forehead and pulled my hood down. He spoke the ancient language of magic and I felt the ears fade and the tail shrink. “There you should be better” he told me. I opened my mouth and brayed again. He giggled “okay maybe I missed something but we have to get to Gaius” he said. I rolled my eyes and huffed. He kissed me and we gathered around my table. A knock came and Merlin dove behind the wall hanging. Gwen opened the door and Leon walked in. “I was just checking on you, my lady. Are you feeling well?” He asked. Gwen spoke up “Unfortunately, The lady Arya has lost her voice. Gaius has already seen her and said her voice should be back tomorrow” I nodded. Leon walked up and kissed my hair. “Rest well Arya. Regain your voice so tomorrow we can continue finding Merlin” he said. I smiled weakly and he strode out with his red cape billowing. Merlin was almost out behind him, but Gwen closed the door. “Merlin, now is not the time for that” she reminded him. He glared at the door and returned to the table. “Gaius’s book had stated that goblins will leave the hosts body if the vessel damaged” he said keeping close to me. “So we need to kill him?” Gwen asked for me. “Only temporarily” Merlin corrected. I sighed and grabbed a small parchment piece and wrote So how do we do that? I mean Gaius has more than a dozen potions and antidotes. How do we know which is the right one? Merlin read the note “we will need some gold and I know which one to use but we will have to keep the antidote close by. The box is in Gaius's chambers, so we don't need to round up that. Arya and I will handle the poison and Gwen keep the antidote safe” Merlin told us. I nodded with Gwen and threw the paper in the fire.

Merlin and I quickly spread the poisoned the gold in chest. Gwen hid in Merlin's room. Merlin and I hid behind a bookcase. My head was pressed against his chest and I could here his heart pounding. Gaius came in and put a gold piece in the chest. Merlin's heart began to thump harder. Gaius picked up one of the gold pieces and Merlin slipped out from between me and the book case. As soon as Gaius's tongue left coin he realized that it was poisoned. “That is disgusting” Gaius remarked. Merlin held the box firmly. Gaius's eye widen as he recognized Merlin. “You poisoned me!” Gaius spoke loudly. “Leave while you can” Merlin encouraged. The goblin came out as the golden light. He flew around and landed. “Now!” Merlin yelled. Gwen came out and tripped. I rushed out and grabbed the bottle. The goblin was his full size infront of me. His nasty little grin spread and he shrunk back to the ball. He whizzed straight to Merlin. I screamed a real scream as he entered Merlin's mouth. My heart sank and Gwen woke up to the scene. Merlin spit the goblin in the box. “Gaius” he said and I sprung up to Gaius. I emptied the bottle into his mouth and closed it. I waited what seemed like forever. “Come on you old goat” Merlin whispered. Almost instantly Gaius answers back “who you calling an old goat?” We all smiled. I leaned into Merlin smiling. “We did it” I assured him. He smiled back and kissed me where Leon had kissed me.

The afternoon after the capture of the goblin, we convened in the council chamber. I was in a gold satin dress with my hair braided and the gold crown of my position sat upon my head and Morgana in her green dress. Father sat straight with a head full of hair. Gaius walked in and bowed. “Sire, I apologize for the ongoing a of the past few days. My nephew is not responsible and has no magic of any kind. Please accept my apology and release him. It was he who saved me from the possession of the goblin” Gaius pleaded still low in his bow. “Rise,” Father ordered “Is there any that back up this claim?” I rose from my seat and stood by the physician. Gwen stood with me too. “We do, father. We both aided in the uncovering and exorcism of the goblin. As the employer of the Young man Merlin, I can answer honestly that he has no magic of any kind in him and is at worst a very mediocre servant” I spoke. Gwen nodded in confirmation. “Merlin step forward” Father ordered and Merlin came from the crowd and stood by the three of us. “I hereby pardon you of the crime of magic. You may return to attending my daughter” father spoke. Gaius stood up. “As for Gaius, you will put the box in a place where none will find it to ensure that what had happened will not happen again” he ordered a second time. Gaius bowed and picked up the box.

I was training with the Knights. I heard Leon land the new knight in his arse. Everyone laughed and suddenly Leon brayed. Everyone fell silently and I glared at Merlin who seemed to have the disapproval of Gaius. I sighed and picked Leon up and he cleared his throat.

Chapter Text

The accompaniment of a Merlin soared over us on our hunting trip. On Merlin's mare sat three rabbits and four pheasants. I had a doe flung over my mare. We crested a hill and I pulled the mare to a stop. “You know what I've heard is good for a soul after a hard day's hunt?” I ask Merlin. “I'm not going to like this idea am I?” He rebutted. “A nice cold tankard of Mead” I told him. “Nope, not going to like it” he said as we rode down.

We came to the tavern and hitched the horses. We walked into the tavern and sat down. “Two tankards of mead please” I ordered from the barmaid. “Well ain't you the handsome fella?” She spoke. I sat for a moment and responded “Thank you but usually people can discern me from a man--” she rose a finger and spoke “Not you, you're a wee lass. I was meaning this fella here escortin’ ya.” Merlin had a grin from ear to ear. As soon as she got behind the bar again, a pudgy man entered with a kick to the door. He walked to the bar “Evening Mary, business looks fair” he told the barmaid. We have had better” he spoke to him curtly. He put his hand on the counter as she polished a tankard. “Then you mind giving us our fair share” the fat man growled. She tossed him the pieces I just gave her. “And the rest?” He demanded. “Ain't got none” the woman said. The Fat balding man pulled her over the counter a put a dagger in her chest. Without hesitation, I threw the man into a shelf not far away. “You will pay missy” he growled to me. “I'd like to see you try” Merlin taunted. My eyes rolled as more men came in. “Had to say something, didn't you?” I asked the skinny servant. A rather good looking young man stood up and took a drink off his tankard. “Looks like you are in need of some assistance my fair maiden” he smiled crookedly. “If I were you, I'd leave while I had the chance” I told him. He looked back at me with a mischievous grin “you are probably right” he said. He took a long draw of his mead and handed it to the large man. Then he proceeded to punch him.

The entire tavern erupted into a brawl. Several men tried punching me and I dodged. I caught a glimpse of Merlin. He had just kicked a man. Another one grabbed me from behind and I managed to use his weight against him and throw him on a table. I noticed women throwing pitchers. I watched as gwaine smashed a pitcher against a man's head. The brawled continued and the large man came up to me. We worked each other till exhaustion. I finally tripped him over a fallen stool. I faced the crowd in victory when gwaine jumped and tackled the man again. Gwaine rolled off with blood starting to streak the floor. “Merlin!” I shouted. We bound his leg up. “Take this man outside and put him in the stocks” I told the men who fought with us.

Merlin and I mounted the horses. Gwaine was laid over my lap. “If this man bother you again, send word to Camelot and soldiers will arrive within the day” I spoke. Mary stood up “how can you make such a promise?” She asked. “I'm the king’s daughter, Princess Arebella” I told her. Her face was painted with exuberance.

We arrived at the castle and Merlin took gwaine off my lap. I dismounted and led the way to the tower. Gaius was brewing a potion when we came in. I ran to take care of the door to Merlin's chambers. The old man followed us in. “We need fresh water, bandages, a needle, and silk thread” Gaius told Merlin. “Don't forget honey” I reminded Merlin. “He will make it?” I asked Gaius. “Yes my dear. Provided he is strong” Gaius remarked. “That he is. If he asks for anything, he is to be given it” I told him. Gaius nodded as Merlin came into the room.

After I had a bath, I started organizing my armor for the melee. As lieutenant of the Knights and heir to the throne, I was expected to fight. Merlin came in with my food. “You're not going to do that, are you?” He said. I smiled, “I am and I know if for any reason I have my faithful servant to protect me” I said. I kissed him and he smiled as I pulled away. “How would you have survived without me?” He asked. I shrugged “how's Gwaine?” I asked. “He's mending. You want to come help me?” Merlin asked. “I will only to keep Gaius at bay” I retorted. We walked out.

I had the bandage off of Gwaine’s leg tending to it. I had a cloth over my simple grey woolen skirt. I usually wore this and my red tunic when I helped Gaius. The washing maids fussed when I wore anything silken if I was mending a wound due to the blood. Gwaine groaned and rolled his head in my direction. He smiled at me when he saw me tending his leg. “I couldn't have possibly lived. Not with this sight to welcome me” he complimented. “I think you may have hit your head too” I tutted. “The only pounding right now is my heart” he smiled. Merlin came in with a tray of food. “Feeling better?” He asked Gwaine. “Well, as good as can be expected” the gypsy looking man joked. “Well, it's good to know that you are healing nicely. specially since you saved Arya” Merlin spoke. Gwaine tossed a confused look. “You saved the Princess Arebella of Camelot” he told him. I tossed a warning look at him to let him know not to point me out. “Princess?” He asked with a raised brow. “Yes, she is pleased you're doing well. The king wants to reward you” Merlin said eagerly. “No I have felt with a few kings and nobles. I've had enough” Gwaine protested. “Then why did you help?” Merlin asked. “Well chances looked slim to none and with a pretty lady in the mix, I couldn't let you lose” he said folding his arms behind his head. I stood up and grabbed the bowl of water. “I will be back to see his progress” I told Merlin.

The sun shone into my room as I dressed in my breeches. Merlin looked out the window. “Who's that?” He asked. I joined him at the window. “Sir Dairen. He and a few others are in the melee” I told him. “Still don't understand the point of knights running around beating each other senseless” Merlin remarked. “It's a game of honor and courage Merlin” I scolded. He scoffed “It is the same thing we are talking about, right?” I shook my head. He walked out the door. “Merlin?” I called and his head poked back in. “My armor needs to be cleaned and polished by noon” I chided. He bowed his head and I took a drink of water.

After some training, I changed into another simple gown. Gwen and I were going into low town together. She needed to get the laundry from her house and I needed to restock Gaius’s herbs. We were giggling over Morgan’s latest exploits when Gwaine ran up beside us. “I believe this belongs to you” He said to me. “It isn't my color” I argued. He smiled at me. “Well let's give a quick look” he said tucking the flower behind my ear. His grin widened. Gwen giggled. “Ah two beautiful ladies” he spoke. “I believe my husband would agree with you on one” Gwen spoke. Gwaine stifled a giggle. “This one doesn't have a husband. I started to walk and he jumped in front of me. “I am Gwaine” he told me. “I know, Merlin told me” I spoke. He smiled “good man, what is your name?” He asked. I kept walking with Gwen. He skipped to my side “You look like a princess” he sang. Gwen giggled. “I bet you with Merlin as your brother and you looking like a princess it's a pretty name. Maybe it's Maggie or Mary. Princess Mary” he said as we stopped. The people in the streets where murmuring. “People are staring. Stop” I urged him. “Not till you tell me your name” he pressed. “My name is Arya. She is my friend Gwen” I told him. He shook Gwen's hand and held mine out to shake his but he kissed mine. “Now why would Merlin's sister carry that?” He asked as I held the basket of herbs. “Because I'm not his sister” I told him trying to walk away.

Lancelot and Morgan came around the corner. He waved and Morgan came running “Auntie Arya!” He cried. I hugged the boy. Lancelot kissed his wife and hugged me. “How's the preparations for the melee going my lady?” He asked. Gwaine's face grew pale. “They are good. Most of the Knights have arrived. Merlin is protesting as always. But he always does when he has more duties” I told him. Gwaine's face grew paler. Lancelot took no notice and continued “Well it's not right for a princess to participate.” I shook my head. “She is lieutenant of the Knights though darling. Besides I'm sure Merlin has tried to reason with her” Gwen spoke up for me. “Wait you're the princess Arebella?” Gwaine said finally. I smiled and handed his flower back “Some days it's unfortunate. But I can say you gave it your best” I said. “The Merlin is your?” He asked. “Servant. He can be awful about it but I wouldn't have it any other way. Now I need to get these back to gaius and get ready to receive more Knights” I spoke to him. I walked away and saw Merlin standing in the crowd by the gate.

Merlin was tracing his hand down my back as we lay by our pond. “Sir Oswald hasn't arrived yet. So there might be one less person to put on your list of people to strangle” I teased. His eyes rolled and he groaned. “Why must you do this to me?” He asked me. I smiled and sat up shaking my hair out and wiping off my skirt. “Well not to encourage your jealousy any but Gwaine did try. Though I think after Lancelot opened his mouth it stopped his pursuit” I told him. His eyes rolled and we stood up to start the short journey to the palace.

Leon, Merlin and I were out in the courtyard discussing plans when Sir Oswald and a new knight came riding in. Sir Oswald dismounted his stallion and shook hands with Leon. “I'm betting this is your new wife?” Sir Oswald teased Leon. “No you remember The princess of Camelot. She is my new lieutenant of the Knights and is assisting me with the Melee plans” Leon spoke. I held my hand out to shake it but he kissed it. “Such a fair lady shouldn't belong in the Melee” sir Oswald complimented. “I assure you good sir, I am more than capable of holding my own” I countered him. The knight’s smile made me uneasy. “May I introduce Sir Ethan?” He spoke quickly. Leon shook the blonde knight’s hand and he bowed to me. With a breath, I spoke “This here is my servant, Merlin. He isn't afraid of hard work. Please do not be scared to call upon him for anything you might need during your stay here” I told the Knights. They bowed and I walked away. Merlin wasn't going to be happy.

I spent my night reading a book about a princess who was saved from a dragon by what she thought was a gracious prince. Later she found out that the prince was not as he seemed and she was taken back by the same dragon. I was at the end of the book that the princess had figured out that she truly loved the dragon who had been cursed by an evil witch. They had broken the spell and now we're in the process of getting married. I looked out the window to see Merlin bringing in Gwaine. I sighed and put my book down. Pulling the blankets back, I got into my bed. But it seemed larger and colder than usual. Gathering my butterfly pillow I curled up and fell asleep.

In the morning Gwen dressed me in my periwinkle silk dress. I was going through the reports for the morning before I went before the council. I came across a peculiar piece of parchment. It was a bill from the local tavern. I was astounded. The door suddenly opened and Merlin came in walking carefully with my breakfast tray. “So how's your head this morn?” I questioned him. “My head?” He looked confused as he echoed my question. “Feeling ill or musical?” I questioned again. He had the realization of what I was talking about on his face. “Fourteen quarts of mead, three flagons of wine and five quarts of cider” I read off. His face turned red. “I can explain” he quickly answered. I sat down on my vanity stool “I do hope you can.” He set the tray down. “It was Gwaine, my lady” he spoke “he didn't have any money to pay for the tavern.” My eyebrow shot up and I got up. I stood face to face with him. Well more of I looked up at him. He was half a head taller than me. “So you volunteered me for the bill?” I scolded. “Neither of us could pay” he tried to argue back. I stared into his eyes and spoke lowly “one condition” I told him.

I looked in on Gwaine and Merlin. They were steadily brushing boots. “She may look like a goddess, but she is a devil” Gwaine complained. “You know if you told her that your father was a knight, she wouldn't have made you do this” Merlin stated. “Maybe, why are you doing this? You just have to tell her you're a lord's son. Then she'd really take it easy on you” Gwaine questioned. “I chose not to take the title” Merlin parried. “Maybe you should. Then you could get better treatment for servants” Gwaine tried to counter. “No one here is treated unfairly. Some of us chose to serve” Merlin countered. “Well I wouldn't try to argue that you're in the best position. How long have you two loved each other?” Gwaine questioned Merlin. “For a while. If I were to take up title of heir I wouldn't be here next to her. She is a light to a lot of people in this kingdom. One day Arya will make a great queen” Merlin spoke. My heart started beating harder. Merlin looked up and spotted me. I smiled in response and quickly left.

That morning, I had gone into training for the Melee. Sir Oswald stepped up and cleared his throat. “My lady, if I may” he asked. I nodded to the knight. We raised our swords in preparation for the spar. Sir Oswald tried to strike first. I blocked and swung from the opposite side. I swung for his left which he clumsily blocked. Oswald swung again. Each time we swung the other countered. Soon it became a show of sparks and the song of metal biting into metal. I finally managed to catch him off guard and pin him to the fence. “Do you yield?” I asked him. He nodded. Everyone watching cheered. Merlin had passed me a ladle of water while smiling.

A knock had woken me up that night. “My lady you are needed in the council chambers” the guard spoke. I hopped up and threw my fur lined long coat on.

I arrived to see Merlin standing in the front row of the crowd. I walked up to my chair and sat down. The guards brought in Gwaine. They tossed a sword down and Sir Oswald walked in flanked by sir Ethan. “What is the meaning of this?” My father demanded. “Sire, this man attacked me” Sir Oswald accused. “I was only defending Merlin from this man’s grievances” Gwaine tried to argue. “Silence!” Father cried out. “We attempted to talk this man down but he seemed possessed” Oswald spoke. “Liar!” Gwaine yelled trying to stand up but the guards pushed him down. “Another outburst accusing this knight and I will show no leniency” My father bellowed. “Then show me none, because this man is no knight. He has not shown an ounce of nobility” Gwaine spoke. “And what, pray tell, is your definition of nobility?” My father challenged. Gwaine lifted his head as he spoke “Nobility is defined by your actions, not your words. There are few in this room that have shown to be truly noble.” I felt a small bit of pride welling up. “He insults me again!” Oswald yelled. “Enough,” Father spoke in his hollowed out voice “you have violated the Knights code. And because of that, you will be sentenced to death.” I stood up and walked to Gwaine’s side. “Father, please let's take a moment. Sir Oswald is a dear friend to Camelot but Gwaine aided me once and for that I intend to repay. So due to our guests having a dispute, let us resolve this in a more civil manner” I urged. My father nodded and spoke up “You are hereby banished from Camelot.” Gwaine stiffened and the bowed down.

Watched Gwaine walk away. It was the best thing I could do to repay him. I laid in bed and closed my eyes. In the morning, I had to prove myself capable of being a leader to a group of men yet again.

Morning came around. I was watching the people gather from my chambers. Merlin was wordlessly prepping the last few details. Father walked in with a sword in hand. “This was the blade I used to win my first melee” he said unwrapping the sword. I smiled and hugged him. “May this blade bring you victory in another first for Camelot” he told me. “I will be honored father” I told him holding the blade. Merlin and I began to leave when he hugged me. He lifted my chin and gave me a kiss. “For Camelot?” He asked. I shook my head and spoke “for us.” He smiled and we walked out.

We were in the tents when Merlin spoke up again. “You know when something isn't a really good idea?” He asked me. “Usually followed by me ignoring it” I teased. “This is one of them” he cautioned. “Merlin, blades are dulled. I will be fine” I soothed him. He handed me the sword. “Be careful, the people will need their queen” he told me. I kissed him on the cheek and left to mount the horse.

In the ring, all of us knights sat upon our horses and faced the king. Father stood at the front of the stage. He gave a signal and we barreled towards each other. One Of the Knights was injured to my right. The battle continued to rage. Another knight began to charge me when his girth gave out. He fell to the ground. I was pulled off my horse and dodge the sword. After pushing the knight off me. I managed to dodge another horse with its girth giving out. The second knight joined the first. I kept both in my sights. I felt a bump and knew that I had an ally. We managed to keep the attackers at bay. As my ally disarmed his opponent, I fell back. The second attacker fell to the ground dead. My ally blocked the aggressors stab and stabbed him. I got up and faced my temporary ally. “They will expect us to fight to the death” I told him. The knight nodded in response. I took off my helmet. “You fought bravely. The field is yours” I told him. When he lifted his visor, I smiled in disbelief. “Should've known” I teased him “No one fights like Gwaine.” He turned to the royal box. “Guards!” Father called.

“He is to leave before the sun sets. I will not rescind my judgement” Father told me. I lifted my golden silk skirts in a curtesy. The doors opened to Merlin and Gwaine waiting. The doors closed and I walked to them. “My father is going to overlook the fact you came back” I spoke. Both men smiled. “However, he will not rescind his judgement” I informed them. “But just go tell him who you are” Merlin protested. “Merlin, I couldn't serve a man like uther. However, I would serve under this beauty” he said kneeling to me. “Perhaps one day, but for now, you have to leave by sunset. It will bring Camelot great joy” I told him.

Merlin and I waited for Gwaine to see him off. Gwaine gave me a kiss on the cheek and patted Merlin on the shoulder. “It's a great thing the love of a princess. Perhaps, the day I admit to my lineage, you will too Merlin” he teased. I saw Merlin get possessive when Gwaine kissed my hand again. He walked off and stopped to talk with Gwen and Morgan. “If he ever tries anything,” Merlin started. “Merlin, he knows when he is beaten. Besides, shut up” I told him as we walked back in.

Chapter Text

Hey guys! Sorry this isn't a chapter update. But I have an idea. Since you guys are awesome enough to give me 1100 views, I'd like to see what you guys think Arya would look like! Keep in mind she does have blonde hair and blue eyes like Bradley James but I still want to see what you guys could come up with! Once you guys are done, please inbox me your picture or a link to the picture. I look forward to seeing your guys views. And don't worry if you aren't the best at drawing or whatever you choose. I'll still enjoy it! Keep your eye out for the next chapter.

Chapter Text

We had taken off running. The bandits were right behind us. We ducked behind some boulders. “I should never listen to you” Merlin scolded. “Why? It'd be a lot less fun if you didn't” I teased back. I peered over the rocks. Merlin looked up at me “We lose them?” He asked. “Yeah” I told him breathlessly. We walked out and caught our breath. “You sure?” He asked. “Yeah, why is it you never trust me?” I rebutted. The bandits started down the hill we just came from. We took off again “this is why!” Merlin yelled. We turned right and kept going. “Where are we going?” He asked me. “Trust me!” I yelled back to him. “Keep saying it and I won't” he told me.

I ran between two giant stone statues and Merlin had stopped. “Arya!” He called. I stopped “Merlin lets go!” I tried to encourage him. He wouldn't move so I pulled him along. We walked down stone steps. “What is this place?” Merlin asked me. “Valley of the fallen kings” I answered. “Is this place cursed?” He asked me. I stopped for a moment and smiled. “Not unless you're superstitious” I teased him. I looked the bumbling fool. Two years he'd been in my service. We had been lovers for the most part. My smile spread as I watched him twist around looking up. One of the bandits had snuck in and had his crossbow aimed at Merlin. I pull him down and the arrow hits my shoulder. “What was that?” I asked him. He looks back and his face drains. “An arrow” he replied. I smirked “thank goodness, I thought it was something worse” I joked. I knew this was gonna put me down but we were in the valley of the kings and one of us was Emrys.

We found a cove and relaxed. I slowly slipped into darkness. It wasn't a death darkness just a taking a knee type. I slept for a while. When I woke I found Merlin at a campfire. He was quiet and catatonic. I picked up a bag and hit him with it. “Hey, let's go” I told him.

We walked through the wheat field outside of Camelot. “If I was hit with an arrow, why does it feel like I was just hit with a rock?” I asked Merlin. He was looking down peeling at a stalk of wheat. “Another wizard helped me. My magic was useless” he told me. I sighed “is this what you're on about?” He looked at me. “No, while you were sleeping he took me to the crystal cave. Where I had a vision about Morgana and your father. It was all very confusing” he told me. I grabbed his hand “Everything will be okay” I reassured him. He smiled gently and moved one of the strands from my face.

We reported when we got back home. After telling my father what had happened, I sat in my tub. I was alone in my chambers because Merlin was still fraught over his vision. I sighed and got out my tub. I wrapped my towel around my body and got another cup of wine. If he knew what I saw constantly, he'd be ringing his hands like a rag. I fell asleep. My dreams showed a smiling Morgana over a dagger, a fire and Father admitting something. I sat up in a cold sweat in the dark. The fire had died down. But the darkness seemed to swirl around me. I laid back down and touched the butterfly. I fell asleep with my glowing blue butterfly standing guard.

In the morning, I finished getting dressed. I wore my red tunic and breeches. Slipping on my long coat, I heard the door open. “You're up” Merlin said. “Yes and by the look of it, you didn't get much sleep” I told him. He glanced down. “I was too worried about what I saw” he told me. I kissed his forehead, “it will be alright Merlin. I promise. Nothing to worry about” I told him. He weakly smiled. I dropped his hand and picked up a strawberry. I washed it down with my orange juice. I smiled and winked at him. “Where are you going?” He asked me as I shut the door. I opened it and grinned at him “Birthday shopping.” I closed the door and whistled while I hopped down the hall.

At the shop, I found a few pieces. I bought a brilliant silver bracelet, an ornate dagger and a beautiful belt for the dagger. I walked through town. All the kids were out playing and a couple of them almost knocked me over. I smiled as they apologized. I waved at the baker. Today was going to be a good day. Nothing ever went wrong on Morgana’s birthday.

I was in my room getting ready. I wore my pink chiffon dress. It has sort fluttering sleeves and a draped back. I smiled as I braided my hair and set my circlet on the top of my head. I waked into the feast hall and bowed to Father and Morgana. Merlin was even smiling. We watched as Morgana opened each present. She came to mine. “Happy birthday, sister” I told her. She smiled as she opened the box. She put the bracelet and belt on. But as soon as she saw the dagger, her eyes lit up. I looked to Merlin whose eyes drained. “Thank you” Morgana told me. I smiled back.

After the feast, Merlin came to my chambers. I was brushing out my hair whe. He barged in. “What did you start?” He asked me with a growl. “I started nothing” I defended myself. “You gave Morgana the dagger from the visions” Merlin told me. “How was I know which dagger not to buy her? And since when do I need to confer with my servant and what present is the best?” I questioned him. “Since that dagger is going to end the life of your father” Merlin told me. “Nonsense, you are mistaken. She has saved his life” I told him. He huffed and walked off. I disrobed and went to bed. A part of me wanted to believe. It really did.

A call in the middle of the night awoke me. I was to go to Gaius's Chambers. I ran to his chambers. She lay in her bed with Merlin holding a rag on her head. I felt grief and anger flood me. “Arya!” Gaius called. I ran up to her. “Water and fresh bandages. We will need yarrow” he told Gwen and Merlin. I tried to fight back tears as held the rag. “Dianthus?” Merlin asked. “Yes and a mixture of pulmonaria as well” Gaius told him. Merlin froze. “Oh for heaven's sake” I told him. I pushed him out of the way and made the mixture myself. I spread the mixture on her wound after Gwen came back with the water. I sewed up her wound and dressed it with a bit of honey. When I finished, the sun started to peek. Merlin had disappeared. Leon took Morgana to her chambers. I changed into my tunic and wool skirt. The laundress was going to kill me about my sleeves. I put on an apron and rolled up my sleeves.

I sat down beside her. I ran a rag down her head keeping the wound clean and making sure she didn't run a fever. Father came and sat beside me. We both wordlessly watched her chest rise and fall.

After a few hours, I began to dress myself in armor. Merlin came in silently and helped. “Sword belt” I croaked out. He ran to fetch it and I felt anger rise up again. “What in bloody hell is it doing over there?” I fussed. Merlin kept quiet as I fidgeted trying to untangle it. Merlin reached his hand out “let me” he said quietly. I looked at him and glared. “Why? You're probably the reason she is like this. You couldn't leave well enough alone. Now Morgana is dying” I seethed. He untangled the belt. “It's either you or her. She either has to kill you or she has to be killed. If you knew about the full prophecy, you'd understand” he retorted. The thunder boomed. “The prophecy, to hell with it. She is like a sister to me Merlin. She was the one who brought me out to learn how to fight. She taught me to be who I am. She helped convince my father to let me go apprentice under Gaius” I told. He put the belt on and wrapped his arms around me. “I am sorry” he told me. After a few moments, he released me. I walked out.

In the heavy rain, I released all my frustration out on a dummy. A year looking for her. A lifetime of being sisters. All lead to this. She was dying and there was nothing I could do to save her. Of all my knowledge, nothing. I paused and looked to the corridor window to see Merlin and father watching me. I sheathed my sword forcefully and went to the stables.

Gwen and I sat by the dying alabaster beauty. While I was the golden beauty, she was the contrast. I thought back to when we were kids and the trouble she talked me into. I smiled as a tear rolled down my face. I kissed her forehead and whispered “sleep well, sister.” I got up and went to my chambers.

In the morning, the bells had sounded in joy. Gwen brought me to Morgana. Father held her with a smile on his face. I ran to the bed hugged them. “This is a miracle” father spoke. I wiped my eyes and Morgana's. “I never thought in a million years we lose you sister” I told her. She smiled “Never.” The three of us quietly celebrated.

I found Merlin watching the Knights. I sat beside him on the bridge. “Thank you” I told him. He smiled in response but said nothing. I heard one of the Knights whistle. I chuckled and another one yelled “Kiss her!” Merlin chuckled at the encouragement. “If that gangly bastard doesn't kiss her then I will” another one pipped up. “You better not. She might eat your heart raw for touching her” another one teased. “I'm sure Merlin would do something. He might over oil your sword or wax your saddle to the point you couldn't stay on” a third teased. “I wouldn't eat their heart” I told Merlin. “Who knows you might. You are quite the warrior queen” he teased me. “Oh please! It's not like you would over oil the sword” I teased back. I saw a mud ball come flying and I dodged the splatter. It had hit Merlin in the face. “That wasn't nice!” I called down. Leon grinned and called up “Well if you two would go get a room, we wouldn't have to harass you!” I smiled and winked at Merlin. “Whoever threw that better hope I don't find out. I haven't ate a man's heart in a while!” I joked. All the Knights quickly went back to their tasks. “Thank you, again” I told the goofy sorcerer.

At night time, I stayed outside the doors of Morgana's chambers. She came out and walked to the stained glass. I watched as a hooded figure came up to her and hugged her. “Are you alright sister? I waited for you the other night but you didn't come” the hooded figure said. I recognized the voice, Morgause. “Oh sister, I have something to tell you” Morgana said with an evil smirk. “What could it be?” The blonde said. “While I was indisposed, I heard Uther talking to Gaius. Apparently, I'm the King's daughter” she told her. It felt like a relief to hear what I've suspected. Morgana had lived with us this long. The kinship ran deeper than I thought. I silently left them to plot.

I went straight to Gauis and Merlin. I opened the door and put my velvet grey hood down. I closed the door quietly. When I turned around Gaius and Merlin were staring. “I know” I told them. “Know what?” Gaius asked. “I know Morgana is my half sister” I confessed. “My dear you must be confused. Especially with all that's went on” Gaius tried to soothe me. I kept myself near the door. “No I know it to be true” I argued. “Arya, you know how the servants gossip” he tried to reason. I opened the door and walked out.

After I went back to my chambers and took my cloak off, Merlin entered. “Gaius was wrong to try and convince you otherwise” he spoke. “Somehow I've always known” I confessed to him looking into the fire. I turned to him staring at me. “I also know that she isn't the same as before. The Morgana before this was never vindictive and sadistic. She has changed. Merlin, short of what you just did, you need to thwart her. I believe you now that I have seen it. She is going to overthrow father” I told him. He nodded. The bells rang out in alarm.

We came across a boy no more than 12. He was paler than my silk dress. I watched as Merlin's eye grew wide. His eyes were clouded over and mouth still gaping. Blood dripped down his hands. “Raise the drawbridge and seal the castle” I ordered. Merlin’s eyes grew wide with disbelief. “Merlin?” Gaius asked. I looked up as Merlin shook his head. “I've stopped nothing” He whispered. We looked at each other as a drop of blood hit the castle stone.

Merlin and I stood in front of my chambers doors. The guards were otherwise preoccupied. “Merlin, you must stop her” I told him. He nodded. “Don't kill her though. Just stop her and remind her that we are here” I told him.

Not five minutes later there was a fire. My men rushed to put it out. I looked at Morgana down the hall. She smirked evilly. I knew she knew of the dirty pendragon secret. I knew she never again would side with us. I walked away with my coat billowing. She followed me hurriedly. I watched as she closed the door. “May I remind you that you are merely a guest to the pendragon family, sister” I hissed at her. “And the pendragon Dynasty is tainted. Our father was unfaithful. You lay with a servant. I am the only one worth the throne” she said curtly. I took her by the front of her dress “You will burn if you touch my loved ones. I promise you. Then you will truly find out what betrayal feels like” I warned her she smiled and walked away.

Merlin stood in front of me. “We will have to watch ourselves Merlin. Morgana knows. We can't trust her. From here on out, we can't have stolen kisses or time alone. Anything that she can use we have to keep from doing” I told him. He nodded “I know.” He smiled weakly. I closed the distance with a small disturbance to my night jacket. I kissed him and smiled back. “The last one, keep it safe” I whispered. His forehead rested on mine. “Always” he whispered back.

Chapter Text

I took an apple from a tray and walked down the hall. My coat billowing behind me and my sword tapping my thigh. I hummed a tune and bit into it. The door opened into the throne room. Flowers were being hung up under the giant stain glass hall. The servants waved at me. Merlin walked up to me and bowed “My lady Arya, it's time to put your dress on” he told me. My eyes rolled. “Your father wants you in a dress Arya” he scolded. “Just don't put me in a stuffy one” I protested.

I stood with father in the throne room. Merlin had put me in my Pendragon red dress. “Today's going to be exciting” Father spoke with a smile. “Indeed, Lord Godwyn’s arrive is always an exciting time” I spoke. “And Prince Edin” father added. I nodded and confirmed his addition. “I hear he's a handsome fellow” Father spoke nervously. I tried to withhold my confusion. “Really?” I asked him. “Yes, handsome, charming, witty and very strategic” father half chuckled. My eyebrow shot up as I looked at him. “Strategic?” I inquired. “Yes, I've always thought so. Or rather we have. Lord Godwyn and I. He finds you strategic. Not the prince” he stuttered out. “Father, just spit it out” I said impatiently. “Lord Godwyn and I have been talking about a marriage between You and Prince Edin for a while” he spoke. My mouth gaped as I looked at him. “Lord Godwyn!” Father called. I closed my mouth and shook my head. My eyes joined with Merlin's and I quickly glanced away. I looked down at a young, disheveled young man. His hair was untamed and tunic untucked. He would be handsome if he was better at dressing. I chuckled, remembering the incident with victor. This was going to be a long week.

In the hall, Gwen, Merlin and I stopped. “Make sure everything is in order” I told Gwen. She bowed and saw the air between Merlin and I. “I'll take my leave” she murmured. “Arya,” Merlin started. “Merlin, I can't explain my father's actions. He thinks this best” I told him. “I know” he told me “we will just see how it goes then.” I kissed him on the cheek. He grabbed my hand as I pulled away. Things would've been different if he would admit to my father about his father, I thought to myself as I walked away. My hand still warm from his.

After an afternoon of excitement and a cold atmosphere at dinner, I was thankfully back in my room. Merlin was picking up the rest of what was on my floor. “I don't know about him Merlin. He's just so…” I trailed off. “Different?” Merlin commented. I smiled and replied “Not just different in manners, but his father as well. He has none of lord Godwyn in him at all.” Merlin nodded in response. “Maybe he takes after his mother?” He asked. “I never knew lady Godwyn. She died in childbirth” I told him. “Well there is a start. Maybe you could find more in common” he retorted. “Like what?” I asked him tucking my knees under my chin. I watched him work. His face was so set on hiding the truth. His eyes intensely focus. “Like rudely staring for starters” Merlin remarked. I scoffed. “Not listening” he said, picking up another thing. “And lastly a good sense of humor” he said. I stared at him as he made his way to the door. I threw a pillow and he dodged. Father glared at me “Arya, a word” he said. His eyes turned to Merlin “alone” he growled. He sat down on my bed. “I've come to talk to you about Edin. I know that it is a delicate situation that must be handled with tact” he began. “Father please there is no delicacy in this matter. Neither Edin or I love each other” I protested. “This is a matter of state. This won't only be for the family, but the people of Camelot” he scolded. “But,” I tried to protest. “Enough” he spoke. He walked out.

I sat in my bed with the moon still high in the sky. I thought about the pond and how much I loved Merlin. It hurt to think about not having him around. I gazed at the Merlin's nest that sat on my window. I smiled through my tears as I saw the bird sleeping. We knew this day was going to come. I fell asleep with my hand covering the butterfly that had magicked into my pillow.

In the morning, Gwen dressed me in my Green riding dress. Tyr had Bron and the extra grey ready for a ride. I mounted Bron as Prince Edin walked out the door. He immediately claimed onto the grey and took off. “Catch me if you can” the prince teased. I kicked Bron and I was off. We rode over the road and jumping logs. “Slow down!” I cried. “It's more fun this way!” The Prince called back with a smile. He suddenly veered off. I kept to the creek bed and stopped Bron.

 

I dismounted and Bron trotted to the stream. I gently smiled to myself when Prince edin appeared he hopped off his horse and smiled. “That was exhilarating, was it not?” He asked. “Yes it was. Though I generally don't run the horses like that” I told him. Bron walked up and pushed me with his nose. Bron knew this wasn't what I wanted. Edin smiled at me. “Normally no one can beat me. But in this case, I found a beauty second only to you” he said. He bowed and steadied himself as he gave me a pink rose. I smiled uneasily and thanked him. Merlin came trotting up on his dark bay mare. I smiled a bit easier. “Ah, Merlin! What took you so long?” I asked him as we met each other. “You were riding so fast I figured you wanted some time together” he said with the last two words whispering. I glared at him and he chuckled. “Don't ever leave me alone again” I growled. We set up and had a picnic. Merlin and Edin had been telling each other jokes. I was eating my apple when I heard a bray. I nearly jumped out of my skin.

Our ride back was littered with more rasping brays of laughter and Merlin telling jokes. I tried my hardest to ignore them. I would occasionally catch a glance from Merlin and smile shyly. We arrived at the palace and dismounted. “Well thank you for the lovely time” Edin told me. I smiled as gracefully as possible. “Don't mention it” I told him. I suddenly felt a very awkward and grateful hug. I saw Edin’s head in my boobs. He let go and bowed again. “See you at the feast?” He asked. “I suppose so?” I said with uncertainty. I watched as Edin walked away. He tripped and turned to smile at me. He got back up and walked up the stairs. I felt dread and pity wash over me every step away he took. “Oh dear” Merlin quietly huffed out. “For once Merlin, I am wholeheartedly in agreement” I echoed.

I sat on the windowsill of the stain glass behind the griffin. I watched as the torches flickered in the distance. I heard heavy footsteps of the guards tromp by. I sighed and brought my white silk sleeve up on my lap. I heard a throat clear. Startled I saw Gaius standing there in his physician robes. “My lady, is there a problem?” He asked. “I don't want to go to this feast Gaius. I don't want any of this” I told him. “Well, sometimes we do things because we need to. Other times because we have to. This time maybe be something you have to do” Gaius counseled. I sighed and went to the feast.

I curtsied and Father waved to dismiss me to my seat. I sat down and watched Merlin laugh with the Knights. I wished I could join them. I smiled and turned to Edin. He was in middle of eating very his good in a very sloppy manner. I watched Edin's nurse get close to Gaius. I giggled and spent the rest of the evening feeling a mix of emotions.

That night, I watched the stars twinkle in the sky. Tomorrow was the day, I'm sure of it. The day Edin would propose. I sighed and laid my head on the window. Rain started to hit the window. Jumping up I grabbed my long coat and ran outside.

With the saddle in Bron, I quickly mounted the stallion. Rain was pelting me as I pushed Bron further. Bron stopped at a familiar cover. I looked to see the pool that glowed. It was the spot that Merlin and I came to when we wanted time. I sat on the Boulder that was by the pound. “Arya?” I heard a voice call. I jumped to see Merlin standing there. He was in his tunic and breeches. I ran to him. He wrapped his arms around me. His arms were so warm against the cold that the rain had soaked me with. “I can't Merlin. I just can't. I love you and only you” I told him. He hushed me as my tears broke “I know, I love you too. If you truly can't marry Edin, then don't. You know what Camelot's future looks like” he reassured me. I began to shiver and he warmed me. We enjoyed the last embrace we could in our pond.

Morning came quickly and quietly. Gwen put me in my red velvet dress and braided my hair. I bent down so she could put my circlet on. The halls seemed to glow with the morning sun as I walked to the throne room. The doors opened up to reveal father and Lord Godwyn standing at the end of the steps and Prince Edin a few steps lower. I made my way to my spot. Edin cleared his throat and began “Princess Arebella, we are standing here in this hall as a symbol of duty and leadership for our people. As such with each kingdom in mind, I would ask something of you.” I watched as he kneeled before me. My heart sank further knowing this was wrong. Edin's face also betrayed him. He wanted this no more than I. “Would you do me the honor of being my wife?” He asked. Looking to father, I took a deep breath. “For the sake of the kingdoms” I answered. An applause erupted as we turned. I watched Merlin walk away.

Father spent that evening talking as Morgana observed my off behavior. I merelya nodded when father asked me about the wedding. The whole evening was spent like this.

When dinner ended, I made my way to my chambers. I had started on another book when Lancelot came in. “What's wrong?” He asked. “Nothing,” I said curtly. “That's a load of horse shit, Arya” he cursed. “Lance, not all of us can marry for love. It's my duty as princess to marry for the good of the kingdom” I told him. “In all the time I've known you, you haven't ever laid down and been walked over. Never. You have fought off a griffin, risked your life for everyone, even defended Camelot from a dragon till you found lord balinor. Now you are playing the pretty princess. Why?” He asked. “Because this is my way of saving Merlin!” I yelled finally breaking “, Morgana is not all she seems. She is after tearing this kingdom apart. She knows about Merlin and I, and she would use that to break me to get herself on the throne. She would have him removed from the picture and break me so she could have the crown herself.” I was in tears. They were hot and painful. Lancelot held me “Shh, it'll be okay. As for Morgana, I knew something was because of my men. But now it's confirmed. It'll break Gwen but at least you'll have people who will back you in case Morgana tries anything.” He made sure I went to bed.

Morning came. The maids had dressed me in the white wedding gown. Lance stood in the back. A young girl pinned a white veil on the top of my head. They put my circlet on top of it. Father came in and smiled. “You look like your mother on our wedding day” he remarked. He in his black garb and red cloak led me out. Trumpets called as we approached the door. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. The doors opened and we stepped through. I opened my eyes to see A very much changed man. His hair was slicked back. Doublet with his family's crest embroidered on it. I was full of panic but I saw a rather disheveled Gaius looking at me.

At the top of the steps, my hand was given to Edin. He smiled a very forced smile. “We have gathered today to witness the joining of these two people. Edin, is it your wish to become one with this woman?” Geoffrey asked. Edin nodded and spoke “it is.” Geoffrey turned to me “Arebella, is it your wish to be one with this man?” He asked me. I took a deep breath and steadied myself. “It is” I managed. “Are there any here who say nay?” The old man paused. “Then, we are gathered here to celebrate the rites” he began. “Wait” I called. Geoffrey stopped talking with his face in astonishment. “What is it?” He asked. “This is something I should've have said a while ago. This will be from my heart, for anything else would be deceiving. Edin, you are good man, certainly a handsome groom. But I can't” I spoke. “You don't love me?” He said. I shook my head. He smiled “it's okay, my feelings are not far off. You will make a wonderful Queen, Princess. Do not worry about my hatred. I understand and will not betray Camelot” he spoke. I smiled.

The circlet came off as I entered my rooms. “How dare you!” My father bellowed. He was red in the face. “This was to secure you and your kingdom!” He yelled again. “This is for my kingdom” I spoke calmly. “You are not ready for the crown” he huffed out. “Then, take pride father, knowing when I become queen, I will be better off” I warned him. He left with a trail of red. Merlin snuck around. I smiled. “I believe you have a part in this” I inquired. “This one was entirely you” he chuckled. “So is that why I almost married a man that was two different people?” I teased. Merlin leaned down and planted a gentle kiss. “So what did you forsake your betrothed for?” He asked. “Well, he is still only a lord's son. But her was not nearly as handsome as another lord's son I know” I picked. “I wonder who that could be” Merlin hummed with an air of false curiosity. I smiled at him as we held each other close. Shrouded the curtain of my room.

Chapter Text

A white gown was glided over my head. It's equally white robe set on my shoulders. The familiar warmth that had aided me many times and more recently in rescuing my newest member of my friends, Elyan, lay for a brief moment before fanning out my golden waterfall.

 

Carefully with my bare feet, I silently crept into the throne room. The heavy wooden doors groaned shut. Leaving me alone. In the middle, I knelt humbly and began to focus. My sight had extended through the kingdom and out beyond our neighboring lands. Finally, my soul rested on a tower of which was surrounded by sand. In the highest tower was my prize, the golden trident.

 

When my soul and body unite again, I feel the gloved hand of my father rest. “Where is it you must go?” He asked solemnly. Lowering my hands, I let the words come out “To the land of the fisher King. I must retrieve his trident.” Father's hand left me. “You understand that this quest is to completed unaided to prove you are worthy” he cautioned.

 

The lines of my paper seems to be unending. There was a forest and a bridge to cross. Then the expansive beige sea where there is no water. A loud hiccup resonated through my chambers. Quickly, I tossed a glance to my magical lover. “Sorry, gaius warned me” he chuckled. I tossed him a dark glare. “It can't be helped” he commented. “I need to focus” I warned. Another hiccup came out a split second after his nod. A huff of frustration forced its way out. “Merlin, I am preparing to go on a journey to bring about the future of Camelot” I scolded.

 

Merlin strolled over and leaned down over me. “Why are all those maps different?” He asked. Resisting the urge to elbow him, I answered shortly “Because hardly anyone has been there.” His hand tightened on mine, “couldn't you have done something a little less nerve racking?” He inquired protectively. “Of course, Merlin. Because running around doing chores for the people in lowtown is exactly what my father would love to hear. How about while we are at it we tell him that it's your idea?” I vented spinning around in his arms. “Arya, I worry because they don't call it the perilous lands for nothing. A large part of me wants to come with” he confessed putting his forehead on mine. “You can't. You know that” I told him. He sighed as a confirmation he knew. He leaned forward and planted a breathtaking kiss on my lips.

 

With preparations concluded, I slung on my jacket. Merlin stepped in front of me and handed me a beautiful moonstone necklace. “It was my mother's. She gave it to me after our last visit to give to you. I put an enchantment on it; for if you find yourself in great enough need. Just call for me and I'll be there” he told me tying the cord together. Stretching out on my tippy toes, I planted a greedy kiss. I heard Lance clear his throat. “Bydd i yn dychwelyd,” I told Merlin.

 

Mounting bron, I looked to the sea of faces. “Arya, my dear sister. Take this as a good luck charm” Morgana’s voice startled me. She held up a cuff of silver and Amber. Merlin's gaze bored into it. “Thank you Morgana” I told the young woman. Lightly kicking the stud, we flew through the gate and town.

 

With a long day's ride behind me, I lay by my small fire. Gently touching the necklace, I admired it. Slowly while holding it, I drifted off. What seemed quickly after though, I seemed to wake to a pair of bandits. “Look at her, she fetch a pretty price” one spoke. I grabbed my sword quickly and swung for his feet, cutting one foot off. As he lay moaning, I sunk a sword into his chest. With labored movement, I managed to block his attack. “Aw, only in guy and you're huffing sweetheart. Let daddy help you” the ugly man teased. I pushed him off and ran my sword through his heart. My strength did seemed sapped.

 

Half the day, found me at a bridge. A short man waddled out from the shadows. “Who wishes to cross my bridge?” He shouts. “A knight on a quest to find the fisher King” I replied. I could see him grinning. “Ah you must be courage. Have to say, they were wrong about you” he laughed. “Last I heard, I was princess Arebella of Camelot” I spoke puzzled. The little man waddled forward more. “My name is Grettir. It is a pleasure to see those who dare challenge fate. I do have some advice to deliver. In order to finish, you will need two more things; Strength and Magic” he warned. “Magic is forbidden in Camelot” I retorted. His eyebrow shot up. “If so, then why is magic has become courage’s lover?” He spoke as he began to cackle. Shrugging my shoulders, I started across. The dwarf stopped, “Be Careful of your wrist adornments. Somethings are never as they seem” he mocked and disappeared. “Dwarves” I murmured continuing on.

 

The brush of the forest was thick. It was impossible to tell the time or direction. But soon green grass turns to sand. My feet were growing heavy and the sun hot. The inside of my mouth was like parchment. However my hand still snaked to the necklace. It gave me hope and restored me a little. Suddenly the ground gave way and I found myself in a mud pit. Staying as still as I can I tried to find a rope or root. Quickly I found one. Using my remaining strength, I pulled myself out. Rubbing the stone on my neck brought back some more energy. Pushing myself up, I continue on.

 

Screeching hurried my weaken footsteps. The stairs didn't seem to end. I had found the tower and unfortunately, some wyverns. I positioned myself to where I could fend them off. Running through the door that was in my right, i made a makeshift barricade. Stumbling, I fell on flour sacks. Faintly, I heard the voice of a dragonlord. “Merlin” I whispered.

 

Suddenly, as if a curse had been removed, I woke. “Merlin” I sighed. “Arya” he breathed. Just then a third wyvern walked through the door with a guttural and terrible screech. Gwaine smiled “there is more.” My mouth fell open “Please tell me no one else came.” Merlin nodded. “It was supposed to be alone you know” I scowled at him. “Then by all means, become wyvern food. Otherwise, Gwaine and I are here to help” he teased.

 

We began looking for the throne room. Checking arches and doors. “I found it!” Merlin yelled. He stepped forward and suddenly a door began to descend. Gwaine pushed Merlin inside. The storm slid close quickly. “Merlin!” I screamed. Frantically I began searching for a lever. Pulling out a brick, I tossed a glance to Gwaine. “Ladies first?” He said in a joking manner. “Scaredy cat” I teased sticking my tongue out. Reaching my hand in I began to feel around but nothing was there. Same for each loose brick we pulled out and searched.

 

Stone began to slide up and I quickly rolled. “Merlin,” I whispered running n to his side. “He was alive solely for me” he spoke quietly. I bent down and picked up his trident. “Then, let's remember him” I encouraged.

 

As we came across a field of wheat, I stopped my horse. “Well my friends, this is as far as I go” Gwaine remarked. Bron shifted to the side. “I apologize Gwaine. I can't overturn my father's ruling” I spoke earnestly. Gwaine smiled across Merlin and spoke “It's okay, someday Camelot will have a queen that she deserves.” With that Gwaine turned his horse. “Where you headed?” Merlin quickly inquired. Gwaine smiled at us “South is good as ever.” Turning Bron, I leaned over. “Stay safe and no more tavern bills” I teased. With that the bay mare galloped off and we headed to Camelot.

 

“Man did you see-” Merlin started. I glared at him, growling at him “not another word if you value your freedom.” He laughed in confirmation why I was so grumpy. We continued forward through the streets.

 

Inside the castle walls, we dismounted. Merlin left me to go to Gaius about his prize. However, I was needed immediately in the council chamber. The large doors groaned open and my father stood smiling. “You have returned! And with a fine prize,” he commended “you have done well and are indeed a worthy heir.” I smiled shyly and vowed. Everyone clapped in recognition.

 

Merlin and I sat next to each other as Gaius studied the vial of water. Merlin's grip on my hand was tight. “This is from the lake of Avalon?” Gaius questioned. “That's what the fisher King said” Merlin told him, reassuring him of what he said. Gaius's face lit up in surprise. “Whatever this means, we shouldn't take it lightly. Now it it late and Arya must be tired” Gaius counseled.

 

The tall gangly man walked me to my chambers. I quickly unlaced my corset and took my boots off. By then Merlin had drawn a bath and was on the other side of the screen. “Merlin?” I called. I received nothing but a snore. Out of curiosity, I began to relax and started making bubbles in my tub. Magic had began to take root in me and I began to train myself. So starting to shape bath bubbles was one. Each of them floated up and over. Focusing with all my might, I managed to make one into a Merlin bird.

 

I prepared myself for bed after my bath. I kissed the top of Merlin's head and laid down. Tracing the butterfly on my pillow case, I fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Hey guys sorry about the hiatus. Life happened. Hopefully by the end of the week I'll have something else. As always let me know! Happy new year!
___________________________

The new year rang in remarkably quiet. I had gone to Gaius about my powers. That surprised him. We agree to keep this from Merlin. He was preoccupied with other things. I found an old healing spell book in Gaius’s things and he agreed to loan it to me. So for the few weeks that had passed, I practiced my talents.

The Knights kept me busy with training. Leaving me very little time to help Gaius. One evening after supper, i returned to my quarters. The spellbook sat on the table with a distraught Merlin in front of it. Wordlessly, I poured myself a glass of wine. Silence reverberated in the room.”Do you know how dangerous this is?” Merlin quietly inquired. I sipped my wine gently. “Regime ending obviously,” I curtly answered. Merlin's hand slammed on the table. “This isn't a joke, Arabella! You are the heir to the throne. If anyone and I mean anyone found out, this could turn ugly” he roared. I swirled my cup thoughtfully while watching his chest labor. “That has been considered” I commented. He pushed off the table brushing his already messy hair. “Merlin, if anyone knows how precarious this situation is, it would be me. After all, first Morgana. Now me. Father would be ashamed to find out both his daughters are magically inclined” I told him. He looked at me sternly. “Who else?” he interrogated. “Gaius” I curtly answered. He deflated in relief. “At least it's not Morgana, yet," Merlin remarked. “Yet. Now if you'll excuse yourself, is like to relax,” I commanded. With a glare, the gangly youth exited my chambers.

The next morning I had time to go help Gaius. For most of the time spent in the physician’s office, it was quiet. It wasn't until I finished the last arthritis remedy that Gaius spoke. “Merlin told me what happened last night," the old man remarked. I swirled the concoction around and set it down. “Yes. Seems like if he had his way, I would have no powers. However, the potions wouldn't be half as effective,” I commented. Looking over, I caught an eyebrow raise. “what am I supposed to do Gaius? I know he is Emrys and all but this is Camelot. It's my kingdom though. If he wishes to be my king, all he has to do is step forward as Lord Balinor’s son,” I vented while sitting on the table. Gaius momentarily put down his work concerning monkshood. “My dear Arya, maybe it is because he is Emrys that he feels responsible for you and Morgana. He feels that he let your sister down. So he is taking extra caution with the next user he came across. Which happens to be the crown princess of Camelot and his lover,” Gaius imparted. I huffed and stood from my perch. “If you see the bumbling idiot, tell him he has the day off,” I asked of Gaius leaving him with his experiments.

Born carried me to the valley of the kings. Ominously the flags waved. A sudden rustling from behind me. Coattails fairing, I pulled my sword. A young man about my height held up his hands. A head full of curls gave the youth away. “Arya!” Mordred yelled. I sheathed my sword and hugged the boy. “It’s been too long,” I told him. We sat on a log and I smiled. “where do I begin?” I smiled.

We spent the afternoon talking. I told him of my engagements. He told me of his one and only love. We talked of Merlin. “So Emrys knows you have powers?” he asked chewing on a piece of apple I conjured up. “Yeah, he doesn't seem too thrilled,” I confessed. Mordred chewed for a few seconds. “Maybe he doesn't want to lose his queen. After all, you and he are tightly wound by fate,” Mordred suggested. I sighed and took a bite. “Maybe,” I whispered.

After our talk, I rode born to the field that overlooked Camelot. The golden wheat waved back and forth in the wind. Singing softly the melody of the afternoon. My thoughts turned inward. All this time, Merlin had been there for me. It wasn't right that I had kept this from him. Bron shook his mane. “You are right boy. I should apologize. What do you think I should do?” I quizzed the horse. The horse pawed at the ground. I giggled. “right again,” I told him rubbing his neck.

Camelot seemed busier than usual. When I came to a stop in the courtyard, a guard came forward. “My lady, the king wishes to see you,” he warned. I swung down from Bron. As quickly as I could, I made my way to father’s chambers. The door closed behind me. Gaius stood above my father. Merlin behind the bed with his head hanging. “What happened?” I asked. Gaius grimaced. “I'm afraid he had a heart attack. I've tried everything,” he consoled. Tears stung my eyes. “Arya,” I heard father rasp. I rushed to his side “Father?” I quietly asked. “You’re so beautiful. Like your mother. Keep her alive for me,” he begged. “I won't have to. You'll be here with me. I promise.” I comforted him through my tears.

Waxed dripped down the pale candle into the brass candle base. Dust floated lazily in the air as I searched through Gaius’s old healing books. Stars flickered in rhythm with the old physician’s snores. A very tired and disheveled Merlin rubbed his eyes. The stool creaked as he shifted. “Arya, I don't know if there is anything we can do,” he spoke. I looked up at him and sighed. “Go to bed,” I shooed. Merlin rose and stumbled to his room. That's when I found the spell to help.

Stand over my father, I sprinkled the appropriate poultice. “As the wind breathes life, I ask for aid,” I chanted. I felt a sense of warmth flood my veins. A soft glow spread over my father. His chest suddenly rose easier and his breath came quicker. With a smile of triumph, I gathered the ingredients and left the chambers. Back in mine, I undressed. Not bothering with a nightgown, I laid on my large down bed. Soon the fatigue overtook me.

Morning broke. Bright sunlight flooded my room. The smell of lilacs filled my room. “Breakfast,” a familiar voice called. I sat up, covering myself. Mysteriously, my usual glass of orange juice had appeared. I chugged it down. More filled the cup from a jug. In the middle of drinking my second cup, a throat cleared. “Arya, what you did was extremely perilous,” Merlin scolded. I finished the gulp. “Even more so, because you are still unskilled. However, I am proud,” he commented. My brow shot up. “that spell was extremely powerful” he praised. “Thank you,” I smiled.

I threw my arms around him. “I’m sorry that I hid this from you. You are Emrys. How could I ever live up to that?" I whispered. He snaked his arms around me. “You already do. You have overcome prejudice by joining the Knights. You've proven to be the true heir and only woman in hundreds of years to ascend the throne. You have also become the once and future Queen. Who will unite all of Albion. Not even Emrys could live up to that,” he encouraged as he stood up pulling me with. His sapphire eyes captivated me. “Aye,” was my only reply. As a pair of merlins flew by, I stood on my tippy toes and planted a gentle but passionate kiss.

Chapter Text

The airy lights glowed around the warm spring pond. Comforting waters enveloped me as I leaned back on the natural ledge, allowing me to relax. Peace unfurled inside me for the first time in years. With an exhale, a faint flickering light gently filled the pool.

Natural instinct took over and I cupped my hands. Hope began to flood through me as the glowing liquid trickled between my fingers. “Still an odd thought. You and magic,” cooed a deep and familiar voice. Jerking slightly spilling the rest of the liquid from my hands; I looked up to see Merlin standing on the opposite bank.

Leaning forward, I let a huff out. “What have I told you about teleporting?” I scolded. The long, knotted hands folded over one another as he smirked. “Well I couldn't find you on the grounds. So I put an inquiry with Gaius. He told me that you came here to relax,” Merlin confessed.

Steam rose from the pond as I stood up. “What does my father need?” I questioned as I dressed. “Uther has reports that require you and gaius as advisers,” he informed me. Shrugging on my long leather coat, I motioned to Merlin to follow. We mounted Bron and rode back to the castle.

Father sat at the head of the council table. We reviewed the reports of mysterious recoveries of terminally ill citizens. “Do you think Gaius could be wrong?” Father asked me. In response, I shook my head. Father’s face paled a bit. I placed my hand on his left shoulder. “It I do not know, Gaius will have an answer,” I reassured.

The heavy doors groaned as Lancelot’s men struggled to push them. Gaius and Merlin entered. “Gaius, strange reports have been coming in of miraculous healings. I fear magic maybe used,” father conceded to us. Gaius seems to deflate and Merlin shifted. “What gives you this concern, sire?” Gaius inquired. Father looked up from the shuffled papers. “A boy was thrown from a horse. A man mauled by a boar. Both of these cases were at death’s door. Both recovered to full health,” father stated sourly.

Gaius straightened at the offensive tone. “I will gladly travel to examine them,” the aging physician offered. Father raised his hand to silence him. “No need. The inn keeper has resumed his duties,” Father told Gaius very curtly. Shock flooded Gaius’s face. “Can't be. The princess and I both agreed his condition was critical,” Gaius countered.

“Then take Arya with you and reconfirm your findings. If need be, she can make arrests. Provided there are signs of sorcery,” Father commanded. Merlin, Gaius, and I bowed. With a quick pace, we exited the hall.

The three of us hurried down the hall. “This is hypocritical. He turns to magic to save his family. Which both of his daughters are magic users,” Merlin hissed in a low tone. “Shh, you and Gaius are the only two with that knowledge,” I hushed him.

Gaius stopped in front of us. “Uther is still king. We must abide his laws. To keep both of you safe,” Gaius gently reminded us “,I suggest arguing that point elsewhere. Meet me at the inn two hours from now.” Merlin smiled devilishly as I rolled my eyes. “Let's go,” I told him as I pulled him down the hall.

Amongst the ruins of my mother's favorite rose gardens, a ball of water hovered over the collapsing fountain. “Good. Keep your focus,” Merlin encouraged me. The effort was taxing me a great deal.

Suddenly the warmth of a large hand enveloped mine, causing a lapse in concentration. The shield size ball broke, replenishing the fountain. “Should have kept your focus,” Merlin whispered into my ear sternly. A shiver of excitement ran down my spine. “Focusing would be easier if a certain dollophead me wasn't trying to seduce me” I argued.

Warm kisses began to trail up my neck synchronized with light touches. “How's he doing?” Merlin teased. A purr escaped my throat in response. My hand reached back and found a handful of coarse hair. Quiet moans between kisses were evicted from merlin’s throat. Impatiently, he spun me around and hastily pressed his lips into mine.

Grabbing another handful of hair, I pulled his head back. Teasingly I placed feather light kisses on his neck. Each one causing a groan of pleasure to thrum through his body. “This is fun but we need to go,” I remarked. A growl escaped from Merlin. “I've yet to change,” I reminded him.

Merlin hung my brown wool skirt, red tunic, and leather under bust over the side of the screen. I quickly put on the clothes and had Merlin tighten the corset. His assault of kisses began again as he pushed aside my hair. My breath hitched.

A loud knock interrupted his attempt. “Enter,” I called as soon as I was in plain view. Lancelot opened the door. “Gaius is waiting my lady,” he smiled. “You have the worst gift,” Merlin teased while leaning on the screen. “Let's go grumpy,” I teasingly called.

The inn glimmered in what limited light was available. “Welcome,” greet the inn keep. Gaius looked impressed. “Morning, I stopped by to check up on you Princess Arya is here to provide a second opinion for the king” Gaius spoke reassuringly to Evoric.

I looked to the rafters and saw an old style healing totem. “Feeling much improved,” Evoric curtly answers noticing my discovery. “Good, don't you think my Lady?” Gaius called. My attention turned to the keeper. “Remarkable,” I commented breathlessly, “who, may I ask, should we give thanks to?” The keep smiled, “Gaius, of course, my lady.” A smile spread between us. “Officially, yes. Gaius will get the credit. But I would like to personally thank this person for saving one of my subjects,” the words came out sweetly.

The inn keeper set the tankard down. “Please ma’am, my wife found a wandering healer. A woman healer. She gave my wife a cure,” he confessed all at once. “May I see what's left?” Gaius asked Evoric. His wife disappeared then returned with a bottle. Gaius took it in his hands and inspected it. “Are we in trouble?” Evoric haltingly questioned. “No, Gaius out did himself,” I spoke with a smile on my face.

“What was the concoction?” Father inquired. My hands folded themselves gently. Gaius answered “Hogwart and Fenugreek.” Father stared at Gaius with a puzzled look. “Excuse me?” He questioned again. Stepping forward, I answered “An herbal compound. There are five principles to the physician’s art. Gaius has mastered it and has passed to me. The compound utilizes these very well.” Father sat back in his chair while laying papers down. “Are you both in agreement that there was no sorcery involved?” He questioned a third time. “Yes sure,” Gaius answered as I nodded.

Everyone filed out of the hall. Merlin stopped us. “There was magic, wasn't there?” He pushed. “No Merlin,” Gaius pushed back his forceful answer. “But, the totem and enchantment,” Merlin tried to pressure the issue again. “There was nothing,” Gaius firmly ended the conversation. I watched the old man todder off as I put a hand on merlin’s arm. “ Go to the Kitchens, get something for dinner for you and I. I'll tend to Gaius,” I stated. Merlin stormed off with his jaw clenched.

Gently, I closed the door to the chambers. “Merlin is just worried. He is supposed to be the protector of our world,” I spoke to Gaius. He continued to wordlessly chew his ham slice. “Who is she?” I asked while grabbing a piece of bread and sitting down. “An old friend that shouldn't have come back,” he answered between bites. Taking his hand, I pleaded “Be Careful, I cannot afford to lose a beloved master.” Gaius smiled at me and chuckled. “Arya, my dear. You are no longer my pupil. You are an equal. With your knowledge and powers, you could very easily surpass this person and myself. It has been a great pleasure teaching you,” he commented. Smiling back, I rose from my seat. As I reached for the door, I paused. “Then, as a peer. Don't get yourself into something that you cannot get out of,” I warned him.

Merlin paced in front of the table as I entered. “Well?” He pressed. I sat down in my chair and filled my plate. “An old friend forbidden from returning,” I answered. He quit and sat opposite of me, filling his plate. “So, we are going to do what?” He inquired. Pulling off a piece of meat from my chicken, I looked at him. “First, we eat. Then we will watch him tonight to ensure he is safe. Only watch,” I ordered him. Merlin tore at his toll. “What about earlier?” He smirked our. I pointed my knife at him and engulfed the blade in fire. “Gaius first,” I scolded.

Pressed against one another, Merlin and I watched as Gaius crossed the courtyard. We slipped through the gate after him following him through the muddy streets of low town. Making a mental note to have the workers put more hay down, we closed in on a small hut. We watched as Gaius entered with an elderly red haired woman. They hugged tightly. “Awe,” I sighed. They both disappeared into the hut. “Come on you sap,” Merlin teased.

We lay on my big feather bed. Merlin intertwined with me physically. “Merlin?” I whispered. “Yes?” He whispered back. “I love you,” I told him quietly. I felt our magic entangle. Red and Blue melting together. He rolled on top of me and stared into my eyes. “I love you too. What do you want?” He asked jokingly. “Leave this behind us. Let us marry,” I suggested with desperation. He shook his head and rolled off. I rolled onto his shoulder. “It could be secret. No one would know save for you and I. We could use the vows from the old ways,” I hurriedly added. A kiss planted itself on my forehead. “Arya, I am not but a commoner, nothing to offer” he reasoned. Or at least tried. “This wouldn't be a state wedding. I could send word to Alvor. He could marry us like peasants. I can borrow a dress from Gwen and you can wear your best tunic,” I pleaded again. He sighed. “No druids, No Gwen. Just kilgharrah. It will be safer and kept secret longer,” he caved. I kissed his cheek. “Lets go,” he urged.

Wind shears from the gold dragon whipped my hair violently. He landed and took a deep breath. “This, young ones. Will be problematic,” he gently murmured. I stepped for a bit, “ When is it unproblematic?” He joked. The dragon smiled. “Take each other's hands,” he began. “Do you Emrys and Arabella Pendragon, swear to uphold each other and bind in union?” He asked. “Yes,” Merlin and I answered. “Then let what binds all things in life, bind you in love. From the day forward, you are one. Let no force undo do what has been done,” Kilgharrah commanded. Merlin dipped down and kissed me. As we pulled apart, both of us smiled breathlessly.

The dawn light glistened off my custom made armor. Merlin and I quietly walked to the stable. Bron was saddled and waiting. We made our way to the jousting arena. I lined up my strike and kicked the horse. We charged towards my new husband, who seemed to be hesitant. As bron brought me to the ring, the lance sheathed smoothly in. Dismounting, I quickly tossed him a sword and drew mine. “Well?” I questioned him. He grinned thinly in conformation. As much as he wasn’t suited to wield a sword, he did let off enough stem to vent.

The first solid clang echoes through the grounds. With a quick parry, he pulled him in close. “What’s the matter?” I asked him. His face was easy to read. “Gaius got short with me before I left this morning,” he indulged me. I knew if he hadn’t it would’ve been a longer fight. With a spin and block, I put myself in a position to continue the conversation. “And what was he short about?” I asked yet again. Swinging low for his legs, he hopped off easily hopped over. Slowly rising, I smiled breathlessly. “Alice, she was Gaius’s fiancé. He made her leave Camelot after your father declared war on magic” he spoke reading for the next strike. In a blink of an eye, I had to bend backwards. “You would make me leave too if I wasn’t Camelot’s princess” I reasoned. In my last swing, all my effort was used. Merlin perfectly deflected it.

Putting my sword on the rack I grinned at him. “You are getting much better. You maybe able to beat the best swordswoman yet,” I joked. He smiled yet again. “I never could surpass my wife and queen” he said quietly. I giggled a the statement. “Well, I’ve have patrol” I commented. He bowed his head and walked away. Leon leaned against me. “He’s come a long time way,” he commented. Dropping my shoulder, I looked at the curly hair knight with a unenthusiastic face.

Merlin brought me the big tub. Dinner was Venison and mashed potatoes washed down with wine. Somehow strawberries made their way to the dinner table too. “My lady, I’ll be in my chambers with my uncle tonight” he announced. Grimly, I nodded in recognition.

After eating, I undid my corset and undressed. Slowly sliding into the steaming water, I began to relax. Scrubbing off the dirt and salty sweat. Quickly concentrating, I cleared the water. Pouring a glass of wine I sat back and further enjoyed my quiet time.

It wasn’t till the next afternoon I saw my husband. He came in carrying linens. I watched him go about his chores. After a while of watching him clean, I swung my legs off the left arm of my chair. The book in my lap hit the floor alarming the warlock. “What now?” I inquired. His face was white. “A manticore” he whispered. With quiet quick strides I hugged him from behind. “What’s the plan?” I asked him. “I have to tell Gaius. He needs to know. Even if he won’t listen” Merlin whispered again holding my hands. I squeezed tighter then let go to grab the book I had dropped. With one last look, I left to go to my hiding spot. Nothing good will come out of my husband and his uncle arguing.

The morning after found Merlin and I training yet again. Only this time, the men watched. The knights laughed at Merlin’s feeble defense and lacking swings. After putting him in the dirt and the boys dispersing, I sat down with him. “Where is your head Merlin? Usually you give me a decent fight,” I remarked. He gave me a small smile. Leon and one of the newest recruits laughed over at the water barrel. “Gaius didn’t believe me” Merlin confessed to me. I wrapped my hands around my knees and rested my cheek on them. “People aren’t always going to believe what you say about those whom they love. Examples include, you being a bumbling idiot. My father being cruel. Morgana trying to urspe the throne. However, with time they may come accept it” I counseled. He laughed, “I am not a bumbling idiot.” I laughed as well. “Keep telling yourself that. One day you maybe it’ll be true,” I said as we got up.

The fire in Father’s room crackled as we sipped was one. Father chuckled. Breaking our momentary silence. “You give me a lot of trouble, Arya” he commented. “How’s that?” I asked him. A sparkle in my father’s eye clued me in. “First you were born a girl after we promised a boy. Very strong willed girl at that. Then as you got older, you always teased the boys,” he spoke. I shifted and bantered “Someone had to. The boys were mischievous.” Father smiled and continued, “Let’s not forget the affinity for swordplay. So many of your tudors complained. Then as a young lady, you became the court physician’s assistant. Then came the knighthood. Every suitor has been scared away. Now sitting before me is The Crown Princess Arabella Pendragon, Commandeered of Camelot’s knights, Journeyman Physician. I am proud of you. Your mother would be proud.” The years started to show through his smiling face.

With a last sip of wine, I stood up and curtsied. “It’s time I retired father. The rowdy boys need to be beat with sticks early tomorrow” I announced. Father grabbed his tonic and something inside me turned cold as he set it down. With every second seeming to last an eternity, I rush to his limp body. An unrecognizable scream sounded off somewhere. Alerting the guards to what had happened.

Gaius and Merlin appeared from nowhere at day break. I was still in my gold velvet dinner dress when they walked in. Old worn hands embraced me and bright blue ocean eyes consoled me. “Seal off the kings chambers and all exits,” Merlin commanded. The guards scurried off. My eyes stung as I looked my husband. “Why?” I choked out. With Gaius and Lancelot being the only two people in the room awake, Merlin grabbed me and held tight. Father sat up inhaling quickly. His eyes turned black. “Gaius, tell me that is poison and you can fix it,” I begged. “I can’t say for certain, your highness” Gaius spoke. “It has to be!” I unknowingly yelled while Merlin held me back. I slipped out of his grasper and put the cold cloth on his forehead. Only one person was with Gaius. “Alice,” I hissed quietly.

Shrugging my long leather jacket on, I walked with one purposed. Lancelot and his guards flanking me. This woman cost me my father. He might not be the best person but he is still my responsibility. As we arrived at the door, I signaled to open the door. We burst into the room. “You are under arrest for high treason. Take her,” I commanded. As Alice and the guards left, Gaius hobbled in. “What have you done?” He asked. “Arresting the person who has put my father into limbo,” I sourly spoke. “Get out,” he hissed. I spun and marched out.

The old woman sat in front of me in her cell. “Do you admit to using magic?” He seethed. The old woman hung her head, “yes.” I shifted. “Do you admit to poisoning the king?” I interrogated. Her head shot up, “Yes but it made me!” I slammed my fist on the iron bars, rattling them. “The manticore,” she squeaked out before starting to choke. I walked away.

Stoically, I watched the citizens go about the day. “My lady?” A familiar musical chime called. “Enter,” I answered. Gwen looked me over. My tunic was a mess. My hair was coming out of its braid. “Come, let’s get you a bath,” she cooed.

“Take him to the dungeons till sunrise. We will burn this creature then?” Father ordered. “No! Please, let him go! He’s innocent!” I tried to beg the gray haired king. I turned and ran to Merlin. Leon caught me and held me back. “Silence. Tomorrow he burns. Then you’ll be free of this enchantment, afterwards we will find you a suitor to marry” the king hissed. Leon’s grasp slacked and I wiggles free. My hands caught Merlin’s face. “I love you,” I whispered. My husband fought against Lancelot and three of his men in response. I watched as he was drug away. Defeatedly, I collapsed. Everyone filed out quietly with Morgana as the last person. “Long live the Queen,” she venomously cooed as a cool blade slithered quickly into my stomach.

Water splashed as I gasped from shock. Slowly rising out of the copper, I caressed the spot where I felt the blade stab. No blood, no wound. “Just a dream,” I reassured myself. Long arms pulled me out of the tub and held me to a familiar chest. “Not a dream, just a vision. One that may not hold much merit,” Merlin smiled. Setting me down on the floor behind the screen, he handed me my pendragon velvet dress. “Come now, he’s up,” I heard from the other side.

“Thank you Gaius. For the antidote” father regally spoke. “A full recovery is to be expect my lord,” Gaius remind him. “What of the woman?” Father inquired. With a very low curtsy , I remarked “awaiting your judgement.” Father shifted on his bed. “No need, death” He condemned. With a final curtsy, I left the room.

 

Sunlight flowed unabashed through the small windows. The old man waddled through the door, only stopping when he saw me sitting in the chair by his fire. He lowered his basket to the table. With a quick and deliberate pace, I stride over to him. Setting a letter and key down by his basket, I looked at him squarely. “It seems to be almost too much pain when faced with the possibility of losing one’s spouse. I would appreciate it if the Lady Hunith received this letter” I spoke almost snobbishly. I felt eyes follow the trail of red velvet out the door.

Bells ring in the evening as I settled my belt on my hips. Hopefully she’ll be almost there o the dragons keep. “My lady, your father requires you,” a crimson faced messenger heaved. “He certainly does,” I smiled. Putting my silver ring in my shirt and sheathing my sword, I walked out my chambers.