Author: Nyxelestia PM
X-Men AU: For many downtrodden mutants, rejected throughout a lifetime of unwelcome blood dictating their lives, Camelot Academy is not just a school - it's a home. But something dark is brewing, and Camelot is no longer as safe as it appears.Rated: Fiction M - English - Friendship/Hurt/Comfort - Arthur & Merlin - Chapters: 10 - Words: 39,264 - Reviews: 159 - Favs: 137 - Follows: 258 - Updated: 09-06-11 - Published: 02-06-11 - id: 6720495
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Beside Me: 0.1. - In Nomine Patri
A/N: So this was originally for reel_merlin waaaaaaayy back. But then I missed the deadline and shoved this onto the back burner, and I'm slowly pulling it back forward. This AU is based almost solely off of the X-Men movie trilogy - actually, all you really need to know is the central theme/conflict to figure out this story, as it's still mostly Merlin-centric.
"Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend."
- Albert Camus
Chapter 0: Prologue
Part 1: In Nomine Patri
Hunith stared down at the bundle in her arms. Her son.
She grinned down at the baby, still barely wiped clean and wrapped in a blanket, finally calm after-
No. She wasn't thinking about that.
She took a deep breath and kissed his forehead. "Welcome to the world, Merlin. Happy Birthday."
"Harry Birthday, my son," her husband's choked voice came from above her. She looked up into Balinor's eyes, puffy from crying, both in joy at the birth…and in grief and terror from what happened right after.
"You can touch him, now, it's safe-"
"You saw what happened," Balinor said, staring in grief down at his son. "He screamed in pain when I touched him, and, and-"
She grabbed his arm, his hand, and pressed two fingers to Merlin's check.
The baby giggled.
"…my son," Balinor said in amazement. "He's…we…we made him. A little boy. A little us."
Hunith grinned up at him.
The midwife finished her duties and left, and that very night, Hunith sat in her bed, Merlin in her arms, as Balinor brought food and drink and doted on her endlessly.
"Why did he scream in pain the first time?" Balinor asked, still horrified by what had happened, by his son's screaming the moment they touched, the gold-glowing eyes, and the cyclone of moving objects around them, until Balinor had put a stop to it with his own power.
"That was the first time you touched," Hunith said. "You remember what the doctors said, what Gaius said, his power would be."
Balinor nodded, looking down at Merlin. He sat properly on the bed at Hunith's bidding, and she carefully set Merlin in his father's arm. "I need to piss."
"Hunith, a baby!" Balinor said mockingly. "We'll need to watch our language, now!"
They both laughed. She stumbled and limped across the floor muttering about how the baby would inherit their filthy mouths anyway, and Balinor knew better than to offer her help at this point, no matter how much he wanted to.
Instead, he looked down at Merlin, who was looking up. Mutant or not, babies didn't see much for months, but they could see bright colors right in front of their face, and Balinor smiled down at Merlin, rubbing his nose against Merlin's, who eagerly rubbed back.
He looked around and, finding a little toy in his sight, levitated a brightly colored felt ball from the bedside drawer until it was floating by his chin, easily in Merlin's sight.
He felt the tug of another force on the ball.
"Oh, you're a powerful little one, aren't you?" Balinor murmured in awe. The baby smiled (or at least Balinor thought it was a smile), eyes flashing bizarrely gold as he wriggled excitedly in his cocoon of blankets, and Balinor couldn't resist leaning down to kiss Merlin's nose. Then his forehead. Then his cheek. Then his other cheek…
"He's going to be just as insufferable as you, isn't he?" Hunith said from the doorway, laughing, fondness in her voice. "As if a normal baby weren't a handful enough, now I have to deal with a telekinetic one!"
"I'll be there you," Balinor said. The ball fell, the baby clearly getting tired, his face already relaxing and drifting off to sleep.
A moment later, Merlin was floating in the air.
"Balinor!" Hunith cried in shock.
Balinor laughed, Merlin floating in the air, falling asleep, and into Hunith's frantic arms. "It's fine, it's fine – I have complete control."
She nodded, biting her lip. She knew that, intellectually, but it didn't stop her from worrying. Balinor, however, didn't seem to mind.
"I'm going to teach him everything," Balinor said, grinning as they settled into bed, Hunith setting Merlin in the bassinet by the bedside, but not taking her hand away from his, as she watched him sleep. "Everything I know."
She smiled down at their baby. "I'm sure you'll have him making a nuisance of himself in no time."
The next few weeks were the best weeks of their lives.
Neither of them really had any family left, but neighbors and friends came from all over to see the new baby.
For the most part, they didn't tell anyone about the incident at Merlin's birth, or even that he was a mutant. While they knew for certain about him, they wanted to wait until it was safe.
Unfortunately, the anti-mutant movements were gaining ground. Even now among friends and neighbors, there were some who watched Balinor apprehensively, having fallen victim to anti-mutant propaganda.
To avoid this, they stayed close to themselves for those first few weeks.
But they enjoyed themselves nonetheless. She wandered around the town with Merlin in her arms, grinning in delight and pride as everyone cooed over the baby – her baby! Merlin was a happy and cheerful little baby, always greeting everyone with a big baby smile, and he wasn't fussy, either. And his telekinesis, rarely, if ever, made a show. When it did, it sometimes cased distrust and fear, but other times, awe, that a baby could be manifesting powers at such a young age.
They rarely, if ever, actually let go of Merlin, Hunith keeping him close all day, and Balinor by night after returning from work.
It was when he was holding the sleeping baby that he would share the troubling news.
"The research at Pendragon Industries is start to shift towards anti-mutant," he said, cradling Merlin's head with his hand, stroking the baby's hair.
He, himself, was trembling.
Hunith stood behind him, looking down at Merlin as she rubbed Balinor's shoulders, before kissing the top of his head. "One day, Pendragon's rage will subside and people will remember all the good things mutants have done and things will return to normal. It'll be fine, you'll see."
It wasn't fine.
They were walking home from the park when it happened.
There was a mutant across the street throwing fireballs at several men in Dark Knights shirts, who were apparently throwing rocks at the mutant.
"I know him," Balinor said, suddenly, of the mutant. "Drake Kilgarragh!"
Before their eyes, the fight escalated. People ran screaming from the street, and Balinor turned to Hunith and said, "Run!"
"Run!" he shouted again, before turning towards the fight.
He telekinetically shoved back the men taunting the mutant, before containing the fireballs of the mutant, himself.
Hunith backed away, carefully but quickly, pressing Merlin's face into her neck as she watched the fight in horror.
When the mutant shot up twenty feet into the air and slammed against a wall and the men were thrown back, she turned and ran.
It was on the news, that night, that a conflict between anti-mutant Dark Knights started teasing a mutant, who responded by trying to severely injure them. It didn't manage to, due to another mutant's interference ending the conflict before it became serious.
She and Balinor watched in horror as his face appeared on screen.
A week later, they came.
Hunith and Balinor were in the front garden, where Balinor was finishing up watering the plants by floating the water over instead of using the hose.
A dark car, several men and women getting out, wearing the signature shirts, black with a white knight's armor and a medieval-style banner proclaiming "Dark Knights" on top, with a "Fighting for Humanity" banner on the bottom.
Feared by mutants everywhere.
"Go inside, and stay there – write down the number plate, take a picture of them, record with the new video camera," Balinor said lowly. "We can charge them for harassment later."
Sadly, harassment was nothing new, and neither was their plan of action to deal with this.
She ran inside and did so as the group slowly approached. Her hands were shaking as she grabbed the camera, making her glad for the CCTV on the street, no matter how old they were and generally unmonitored, still recording it all.
She was snapping and snapping pictures, before setting it to the video setting – and this camera was supposed to be for Merlin, damnit, to record him growing up, not, not-
Then watched in horror as one of them threw something through the window.
She screamed and barely ducked as the window shattered just above her. It was a bottle of some kind, and when it shattered on the floor, flames erupted in the kitchen.
"HEY!" Balinor shouted, as she filled the dinner bowls with water to try and put it out, desperately, and oh, god, Merlin, he was upstairs, fire, Merlin, this- "Stay away from my family!"
There were more sounds of shattering glass, and she looked up, coughing as smoke already started to fill her lungs, to see more flames across the hallway and living room.
"It ain't your family we're interested in," a girl said. "It's you, the man that hurt my brothers, last week."
"They shouldn't have been hurting that poor man-"
"He isn't a man," another boy shouted. "He's a mutant."
There was more shouting which she didn't hear, too focused on putting out the fires. She heard neighbors screaming, and within a few minutes, she looked up to see several of them with buckets of water in her home, and she asked one of them, "Please, my son, he's upstairs!" and ran outside.
Outside, the men and women were attacking her husband, and he was pushing them back with his powers while trying not to hurt them.
"Get away from him!" she shouted, grabbing the garden shovel and beating at one that was clinging to Balinor's back. "Get away from my husband!"
The man turned, twisted the shovel out of her hands, and before she could move, swung at her head.
"HUNITH!" she heard Balinor shout, and she was on the ground, her vision blackening, but not disappearing. She had to help Balinor. That was all she could think about, but she couldn't get up, couldn't make her muscles move or make her bones listen to her.
And she watched as the half dozen people attacking all flew back and away, out of her vision. She knew when they landed when she heard the sickening thuds.
"Hunith, Hunith, Hunith…" Balinor was muttering as he lifted her gently from the ground, this time with his arms. She heard her son's wailing and the neighbor's gasps, and her head rolled and she saw the neighbors staring at her husband in horror.
"Hunith? Stay with me, someone's already called an ambulance, see, hear? The sirens…"
Hunith nodded, pushing herself up slowly as she slowly regained control of her limbs, looking around. There were gouges in the ground, a few unconscious forms around the yard. Her house was smoking, and she could see people working at the flames inside, while her elderly neighbor, a woman still wearing a nightcap and gown, was holding Merlin and staring at Hunith and Balinor in shock and despair.
She turned around, in time to see one of the girls from earlier approaching – with a gun.
"Balinor!" she screamed, eyes widened in horror.
He turned around to face what she feared.
The girl raised the gun, and Balinor twisted to shield Hunith.
"Fucking mutant," the girl spat. "Not even human."
And Balinor jumped to push her away from Hunith.
With a loud BANG, it was the last thing in his life he ever did.
The trial was quick. With the video from the cameras on the street and from Hunith's with Balinor's thinking, the evidence was hard to dispute.
Balinor had killed three of the attackers. Two of the remaining three were sentenced to various years in prison for assault and property damage and a few other crimes which all amounted to destroying their life, and the girl was sentenced several years more for killing Balinor.
And yet, it was still a close thing.
Too many people thought highly the Dark Knights. They thought the knights were attacking 'just a mutant', that they were fully in their right to 'avenge their brethren'.
Too many people.
Even some people on her street, who previously never cared that Balinor was a mutant, now avoided her charred and scarred home and looked at her with distrust and fear and in some cases disgust.
And looked at Merlin with dangerous suspicion. Her baby.
When someone said the trial shouldn't even be viable, because mutants weren't humans, that murder only counted if it was humans-
She looked down at Merlin and cried.
She sold the estate for what little she could to developers, moved into her grandmother's cottage in a little rural village, Ealdor, after hiding her tracks so no one could find her again. No one. She had to protect them, protect Merlin, and right now, that meant hiding.
In Ealdor, no one knew who she was. No one knew of her history, or Merlin's. She was just a lonely widow, who went through something traumatic, though they knew better than to ask, and she was welcomed with warm, open arms.
Merlin was cooed over by the old ladies of the village, while the men would chuckle and promise to teach him football and flirting and other important skills that would've fallen to his father to teach, and within days, she found her neighbor had a son around Merlin's age named Will, a single father who also lost someone.
They never felt attracted, but they came together all the time to let their babies play while they talked idly, about anything and nothing.
It was a peaceful life. Balinor would have loved it.
She never told anyone about Balinor.
Not even Merlin.
She had screamed, nearly, when she saw Merlin, as a young child, levitating various garden tools before Will.
She talked to Will sternly, and had another talk with his father, who smiled benignly as she downplayed her son's true power. "It's okay, Hunith. I know how dangerous mutants are. But I know Merlin, and he didn't harm Will, they were playing-"
And somehow, the words weren't all that reassuring.
Neither was the apprehension in his eyes as he looked at Merlin before taking Will home.
"Why are you so scared?" Merlin asked, his childish face, barely shed of its baby fat, scrunching up in confusion. "Will thought it was cool. Why can't I show people?" And dear god, he was going to go to school soon.
Hunith cried again, and told him about his father. What a brave and wonderful man he was, and how he was killed for it.
Merlin never showed another person his powers again.
Hunith could only breathe a sigh of relief that her son was safe.
A/N: Remember, comments are love! :)