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Sir Ector's family was about as magical as cold hard steel, but his French wife, well, that was a different story. Marie was new to Camelot when the Purge started, though, and Sir Ector's castle was remote. The servants had been in the family for generations. No one said a word about how the flames reached for Lady Marie or how the fire in her grate needed no help to keep from growing cold.

The nurse did say something after little Kay was born and then learned to walk, but she said something only because his chubby hands were always pink with small burns.

"I keep him away from the fire, I do," she cried.

"Nonsense," Marie said, "no one could. You're an impatient little one, aren't you?" She picked up the pouting toddler and spun him around. Sir Ector smiled, but he worried too.

King Uther came to visit with his son when Arthur was seven. "Why are your hands burned?" Arthur demanded of the younger boy.

"See!" Kay said eagerly. A tiny golden dragon burned above his hand, the heat a bit too close.

The guards saw too and so did Uther. They saw Kay, and they saw his mother storming forward with eyes of gold.

Kay's hands weren't the only things that burned.

 

Galahad copied out the books dutifully and watched in awe as others illuminated the letters.

He dimly remembered parents, but they were gone now. His whole town was gone, destroyed in the wars.

He wanted to leave to fight evil and do great deeds, but the news travelers brought concerned him.

How could he fight evil when there was no one worth fighting for?

And there was so much good he could do right here.

 

The bounty hunters came when Beaufils was ten, he thought. It was hard to keep track. But he thought he was ten, and he knew his mother was sick and had been for a week.

"Here's a wild one," Halig said. Beaufils stared at him. He'd never seen a grown man before. He wasn't sure he liked him.

"He'll do," the other man said, grabbing his arm. "We'll say they ran away from the fires. Living out in the woods like this, maybe they even did."

Beaufils tugged uselessly in his grip. "What fires?"

Halig grinned. "The ones they burn witches on, boy."

"But I don't have magic," he protested. He recognized magic from his mother's stories. "Mama doesn't either."

Halig snorted. "Looking like you do, no one will believe that."

 

Bors took care of Ywain. That was how it was supposed to be. Bors took care of Ywain.

Until the dragon broke free.

 

Tristan's father had been important in some little kingdom once. That was before Uther had overrun it in his quest to claim the throne, of course.

Tristan thought it was just as well. He and Isolde weren't cut out for the life of the "nobility."

But it had broken his father, so he hated Uther for it all the same.

 

Gwaine didn't talk about his brothers. Not Gareth and especially not Gaheris.

To be fair, he hardly remembered Gareth. He'd been too young when Gareth had marched off to war. Too young when they all realized he was never coming back.

But Gaheris - Gaheris had been his half-brother, really, but that had never mattered to Gwaine. Gaheris had been his little brother.

Had been until - Until he'd turned thirteen and became convinced he was in love with Lynet. Until the village had been hit with a drought and became convinced Lynet was a witch. Until they went to stone her and found her and Gaheris laughing in a dry streambed.

And Gwaine was too late.

Merlin was Lynet's kind of odd. Merlin was small and scrawny and looked like Gaheris.

Gwaine didn't care how high and mighty he was supposed to be now. This time he wasn't going to be too late.