A. N. - This chapter contains scenes from the Merlin TV Show, which do not belong to me and have been partially edited and adjusted to fit the story. It also contains sentences, particularly speech, taken directly from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which belongs to JK Rowling.
I would also like to give a huge THANK YOU to everyone who followed, favourited, and reviewed. It really kept me going. I don't have a good excuse for why it's been so long since I posted. There were a lot of things going on around Easter for me, and then I ended up scrapping everything and rewriting anyway. It will almost definitely be a while before a new chapter goes up after this. If I get anything done before the summer, I will be incredibly surprised. Please bear with me. Thanks for all the support! And the rest is below.
December 25th Morning – Gryffindor Boys' Dormitory
After Harry had put Hermione's sweets aside, there were only two presents left, and there was no doubt that the box in Gryffindor colours was from Emma.
"What did you get from Emma?" Ron asked from where he had already opened his. "I got a book on famous chess tactics and players who've used them."
"I don't know." Harry opened the box and saw a letter from Emma stuck to the lid. Inside were a few pieces of parchment.
I know that you don't have anything of your parents and that your aunt and uncle have never talked about them. My parents knew them, before they worked together. I was going to enclose pictures, but then I remembered this. I found it in a box of my mother's just over a year ago, I didn't know what it was then. It's a letter written to Lily Potter by her sister Petunia after her wedding and at the start of her pregnancy. I don't know why my family had it, but I thought that you should have it. I hope it shows you a different perspective on your aunt. I know you've always disliked her and that the feeling is mutual but know that she loved her sister even if it doesn't seem that way.
I hope you have a very Happy Christmas and you like all of your presents.
Harry frowned and wondered what the letter could possibly say. He glanced at Ron, who was flipping through his chess book eagerly, while picking at the Every Flavour Beans. He hesitated, then picked the letter up gingerly, opening it before he could change his mind.
Dearest Lily, a flowing script began.
Thank you for inviting us to your wedding. It was very thoughtful of you. I waited to send this letter until your honeymoon was over, because I thought that this wasn't something to upset you with until now. I got your letter about being pregnant, and I'm expecting too! Can you believe it?
I'm sorry I couldn't come to your wedding. I won't be coming to your baby shower either, and I probably won't ever see you again after this letter is delivered. I don't expect to hear from you after what I'm about to say. When we were younger I was jealous of your abilities. That you were a witch and that you could do magic and that I was not, and I could not. I'm not jealous anymore. You're not a freak. Or a monster. Or any of those names I called you. You're not. But I'm going to treat you like one. Vernon doesn't like your kind, and after recent events, I'm not sure I do either. I know Mum and Dad's death wasn't your fault. I do. Logically I know that, and my head doesn't blame you. But my heart does. My heart screams that it's all your fault and if you'd never gone to that damn school then they'd still be alive! The paper was ripped slightly at this point and there was a spot where it looked like the ink had run and something had been scribbled out. I know that You-Know-Who killed them. But like it or not, he killed them because of you. He didn't kill them because they were muggles. He killed them because they were your parents. I don't know when or how it will happen. I don't know what the circumstances will be, but he'll kill you too. Maybe it's futile, but as long I'm connected to you, Vernon and I are in danger. And it's not just me anymore. I have my child to think about now. I can't let our connection to you kill us. I won't. So, I'm cutting you out. You're no longer a part of this family, Lily. You are no longer invited to family gatherings, or celebrations. You're no longer welcome in my house or our parent's house. If I see you in the street or at the theatre or in the shop or by the park or anywhere else in public, I will pretend that I don't know you. That you are a perfect stranger.
I love you, Lily. You're my baby sister. But I can't watch you go to war and get yourself killed. I can't lose my baby sister to that. So, I no longer have a baby sister. I am an only child. I have no family left to lose other than my husband and my unborn child. This seems harsh, but know that my heart is breaking as much as yours. It's necessary. The word was underlined several times, as though his aunt had been trying to convince herself as much as his mother. I will not watch my sister die. I will not watch her go to her death and leave family behind. Nor will I stand by and watch a world torn into chaos. So, it no longer exists in my eyes. I'm just another of the happily oblivious, unaware of anything out of the ordinary. My family is perfectly normal, and my sister ran off with a drunkard. When you die it will be in a car accident. Nothing abnormal about that.
Please don't come near my family again.
I love you.
You are my sister no longer.
It was only after Harry had finished reading that he noticed the paper was spotted with tear stains and well-worn along the creases where it must have been folded and refolded many, many times. As though it had been read countless times. Are the tears from Mum or Aunt Petunia? He wondered. How many times did Mum read it? There was still a single piece of paper left in the box. Aside from a slight yellowing from age the page looked almost brand new. As if it had barely been touched. He picked it up and turned it over. There was barely a line on it.
Thank you. Your nephew's name is Dudley.
He idly wondered if his mother had ever contacted his aunt. Or if his being left on a doorstep was the first his aunt had heard from his mother in years.
"Hey, Harry, did you hear me? I asked what that was." Ron's voice interrupted his musing.
Harry didn't know why he did it, perhaps because the letter felt intensely private, but he tucked the pages away and hid them in his covers. "It's nothing, Ron."
Harry picked up the last parcel and felt it. It was very light. He unwrapped it.
Something fluid and silvery grey went slithering to the floor, where it lay in gleaming folds. Ron gasped.
"I've heard of those," he said in a hushed voice, abandoning the sweets he got from Hermione. "If that's what I think it is – they're really rare, and really valuable."
"What is it?" Harry picked up the shining, silvery cloth off the floor. It was strange to touch, like water woven into the material.
"It's an invisibility cloak," said Ron, a look of awe on his face.
Niamh could not stop staring at her present from Emma. Could she know? She shook her head. It was just a coincidence. Nevertheless, a chill ran down her spine.
"Everything ok, sweetheart?"
Niamh looked up at her mother. "Hmm? No, I'm fine." She placed the book aside and stood to fetch the next present for her mum, determined to ignore the implications.
Sebastian grinned at escrima sticks his mother had gifted him for Christmas. She always knew exactly what to get him, and considering his stay with the Catha, they could not have come at a more perfect time. He may not be as magically powerful as some, but that didn't mean he wasn't dangerous. He wondered if he could trick Alator into sparring with him. Although, considering that Alator had been the one to teach him in the first place, he was probably better off asking someone else.
Breakfast first, then he would try out his new weapons.
Draco glanced in awe at the tiny vial Emma had given him. He'd never seen any memories up close before, only what he had glimpsed in the pensieve in his father's office. And he'd never seen any that looked so old, nor ones that shone quite as brightly.
"What is that, Draco?" his father asked, as if he didn't already know exactly what they were.
"Emma sent me memories." Draco scrambled for the letter that Emma had attached.
"Here." His mother handed it to him with an amused smile. He thanked her and almost tore it in his haste to read it, the vial clutched tightly in his hand.
Hey 007 (Yes, I'm still calling you that),
I hope you have a fantastic Christmas! Lots of presents, plenty of food. And I know that right now you're frantically scanning this letter to find out why I sent you a vial of memories. Draco couldn't suppress a laugh, Emma knew him well. I assumed that you would have a pensieve, as your father is so important in the ministry and all. If you don't then I'm sorry and I have a fantastic idea of what to get you for your birthday.
I was watching these memories in the library over the summer – it's considered a rite of passage in my family – and it occurred to me recently that perhaps you would like to see them too. I don't know whose they are, only that they belong to a distant ancestor and her close friends. I don't even know any of their names, someone managed to scrub them out of the memories. But what struck me is that you watch them grow up and I don't mean by age. You see them become amazing people and I thought maybe you would like to see how people can change and how good you can be, even if you don't believe that you can shake your family's mantle or their ideals. Draco felt a shiver run down his spine. He'd never articulated those feelings. Not to anyone. So, here you go.
Merry Christmas, Draco! I hope you enjoy the story of the prat prince and the pretty lady (and the cheeky maid that was along for the ride).
P. S. – The start of it anyway. It's not the whole story, obviously. – I need something to give you next year, you dollophead!
Draco looked at the vial with new eyes.
"Father, may I borrow your pensieve, please."
Lucius looked at his son speculatively and wondered what was in the memories. "Of course. Just make sure you remove the memories afterwards. I'll look into getting you a pensieve of your own if the memories are important."
Draco smiled so widely it split his face. "Thank you, father!"
"After lunch, Draco."
Draco's smile dimmed a bit, but it didn't last long.
Morgana squealed at the sight of her present. She threw herself at her brothers.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you! It's perfect! Thank you so much!"
Arthur rubbed the back of his neck. "It's nothing, really. We just thought you'd like it is all."
Morgana threw herself at him again. He glared at his father, who simply sat in his chair and smirked at him. He threw a pillow at Mordred to wipe the smug smile of his face, but couldn't help the grin that spread across his. He would never take the easy affection of his family for granted. Not after remembering a life without it.
Despite the early hour, and the significance of the day, Aislinn was already roaming the streets of Manhattan, impatiently waiting for the warlock responsible for overseeing Old Magic in the state of New York to arrive. She only had a few more days to wrap up her visit, before she travelled to Romania, and the dragon enclosure where Charlie worked. Her mother's gift was perfect, a book on dragons and injuries common among their keepers? Definitely what she wanted for the next few months. She had no idea how her mother always knew these things, but she was used to it by now.
She checked her watch. She'd give the prat (a thrill always went through her when she used that particular insult, that had everything to do with the bedtime stories she'd always been regaled with and nothing to do with her own longing to be close enough to someone that using the word 'prat' in that tone meant friendship and closeness, and not insult) responsible for New York another hour to find her, before she turned up on his doorstep and refused to leave.
December 25th 4.30PM – Malfoy Manor
Draco couldn't believe his father was allowing this! After his mother helped him remove his father's memories from the basin and explained to him how the pensieve worked, she touched his arm gently and told him to fetch her when he was done. He nodded eagerly and emptied the vial into the bowl. When they had all gone in, he hesitated. Was he really going to do this? Then before he could change his mind, he stuck his head in the basin and was sucked into the past
Colours and shapes swirled around him until they finally coalesced into a courtyard full of people. In the centre there was a raised wooden platform, complete with chopping block, axe and a man being held by a guard. There was a well-dressed man in a crown on a balcony, addressing the people in the courtyard. When Draco looked to his left there was a young woman in trousers with a scarf-like piece of red cloth around her neck, who looked like she could be Emma's twin. Draco assumed this was the ancestor Emma had mentioned. Then the sound started.
"…pride myself as a fair and just king, but for the crime of sorcery there is but one sentence I can pass."
Draco looked on in horror as the man nodded and the man on the platform was forced to his knees. As the axe was raised Draco realised that this man was going to die and hastily looked away before the axe could fall. He noticed that nearly everyone else in the courtyard did the same, with the exception of the young woman next to him, who at a second glance he realised was actually still a teenager, certainly not much older than a seventh year, if that. He refused to turn around, he didn't think he could bear to see the dead man and when the man on the balcony began talking again he reluctantly listened, wondering who he was and why he would do such a thing.
"When I came to this land, this kingdom was mired in chaos, but with the people's help, magic was driven from the realm." With every word he listened to Draco felt more dismayed and apprehensive about the memories to come. "So, I declare a festival to celebrate twenty years since the Great Dragon was captured and Camelot freed from the evil of sorcery. Let the celebrations begin."
Draco felt like he was going to be sick but before his stomach could decide to reject everything he had eaten, he heard a dreadful keening sound. A large area was formed around an old woman, whose expression spoke of terrible grief.
"There is only one evil in this land, and it is not magic! It is you! With your hatred and your ignorance! You killed my son! But I promise you, before these celebrations are over, you will share my tears. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a son for a son." The more she spoke the angrier and more vengeful she seemed and the more venomous her words became. For the first time Draco could understand why people had hated the Dark Lord as much as they had feared him, and why the Death Eaters were so despised. If this was how their enemies were treated for nothing more than being born differently, why wouldn't they hate the people responsible for ostracising them? Why wouldn't they fight back?
The man on the balcony, who Draco had realised was a king at some point during his callous speech, looked worried for a brief second before pointing at the woman. "Seize her!" he commanded.
She gripped the pendant that hung for a neck and muttered hoarse words that Draco couldn't understand. She disappeared into a miniature tornado and it was only then that Draco realised that this was a time of Old Magic. The kind that was forbidden to all but druids, as it was too dangerous and powerful, too untamed, for any normal witch or wizard. He shivered as he felt the power of the spell wash over him, even in a memory.
A movement in a window caught his eye and he was just in time to see a beautiful, but sorrowful woman shutting the window.
He noticed Emma's ancestor moving away and hurried to follow, but before he could move more than a few steps, the courtyard dissolved into smoke as quickly as it had appeared, and he was whisked into the next memory.
Draco looked around and wondered whose memory it was and who he was meant to be looking at; he didn't see Emma's ancestor anywhere. He assumed it was the beautiful woman staring out the window as she was the only person he could see. With a jolt he realised that she was the woman from the window he'd seen earlier and when he looked closer he saw that she bore a startling resemblance to Morgana Pendragon, the Slytherin Head Girl. He was so shocked that when the King spoke he jumped backwards into the wall and almost passed through it.
"-." Draco frowned when he realised that although he could hear the King talking, he could not understand what was being said.
"Yes?" When the woman spoke he sighed in relief, thankful that he could understand her words.
"What is it? Why are you not joining us at the feast?" Draco was confused. How could he understand what the man was saying now, but not earlier?
The conversation continued and he hastily paid attention. "I just don't think chopping someone's head off is a cause for celebration. That poor mother." Draco liked this woman already. She was only the third person he had heard speak, and he didn't even know her name. Her name! Emma's letter had mentioned that the names in the memories had been removed. The reason he hadn't understood the King was because the only thing he had said was her name! He snapped back to attention quickly as the King spoke.
"It was simple justice for what he'd done."
"To whom? He practiced some magic, he didn't hurt anyone." Draco nodded in agreement, even though he was invisible to the two nobles. He decided to refer to the Pendragon look-a-like as the Lady in his head, in order to avoid confusion.
"You were not around twenty years ago, you have no idea what it was like."
"How long are you going to keep punishing people for what happened then?"
"Until they realise there is no room for magic in my kingdom!" It was at this point that Draco fully understood what he was seeing. This was just like what the Death Eaters and the Dark Lord had done, but in reverse. Instead of hunting and pursuing those without who they felt didn't deserve magic and those who had little to no relation to it, it was the people with magic and those related to them. He felt sick. "You will be with me when I greet Lady Helen." The King turned to leave.
"I told you! I want no part in these celebra-!" The Lady didn't even get to finish her sentence before the King was turning around and interrupting her with a raised voice.
"I am your guardian!" Interesting. Apparently the two were not related. Draco was surprised, given the similarities between the two, although he supposed that Weasley wasn't too similar to the twin nightmares in the third year, who the other Slytherins told horror stories about, and Crabbe and Goyle did share quite a few traits. The King's speech continued. "I expect you to do as I ask. If you show me no respect at least respect our finest singer." He turned and walked away, his cloak billowing behind him. He hadn't gotten very far when the Lady called after him.
"You know, the more brutal you are, the more enemies you will create!" Draco managed to see that the King didn't stop before the scene dissolved and he was whisked away.
"That's going to get annoying!" Draco muttered as another scene formed around him. He was in a castle courtyard or something, and the sun was high in the sky. He looked around. There was an older blonde boy, in his late teens, maybe about twenty, standing near a group of older men who Draco realised had to be knights. There was a boy dressed in shabbier clothes nearby. The way he stood reminded Draco of the house elves and he was shocked when he realised that the boy must be a servant. The blonde boy's body language seemed aggressive and reminded Draco of the way his father stood around blood-traitors and mudbl- muggleborns. He caught sight of the Emma look-a-like crossing underneath the archway, still dressed in the same clothes as before, or maybe dressed in the same ones again. Draco was rapidly realising that she probably wasn't very well off. He hoped that she wasn't like Emma in attitude, because if she was then Draco was sure that she was going to get into trouble. Or cause some. Or both. Especially when the sound started and the first thing he heard was the blonde boy saying:
"A bit like you, then?" His tone was insulting, and Draco cringed.
The knights laughed, and Draco groaned aloud. If Emma's behaviour was genetic then her ancestor was about to do something stupid and get herself in trouble.
"I'll put the target on the other end, shall I, Sir?"
The blonde boy nodded, and as the servant picked up the board he turned to the knights and said, "This'll teach him." His words were met with various agreements and noises of approval.
The blonde boy took a dagger out of his belt and threw it at the target the servant was carrying. Draco couldn't help his gasp. Was the boy mad? That was dangerous!
The servant turned around and looked down at the target, seeing the dagger stuck in the centre. "Hey! Hang on!"
The blonde boy looked indignant. "Don't stop!"
Draco chanced a look at Emma's ancestor. She did not look happy.
The servant stepped backwards apprehensively. "Here?"
"I told you to keep moving!" The blonde boy threw another dagger and the servant barely got the target up in time for the blade to hit it.
"Come on! Run!" The blonde boy was almost laughing now.
The servant began to move, and the boy threw another knife. "Do you want some moving target practice?" He asked his knights.
The blonde boy threw two more daggers whilst Emma's ancestor looked like she was going to do something she knew she would regret. The servant boy dropped the target and it rolled towards Emma's ancestor, finally coming to a stop at her feet. She put her foot on it just as the servant went to pick it up. He looked up at her.
Emma's ancestor had a placating smile on her face as she looked at the blonde boy. "Hey, come on, that's enough."
The blonde boy looked gobsmacked. "What?"
Emma's ancestor met his gaze. "You've had your fun, my friend." Draco recognised the look on her face. In the past three months he'd seen it often enough. It meant she was being calm but that she wasn't going to budge.
The blonde boy sauntered over with a self-assured look on his face. "Do I know you?" he asked condescendingly.
"Erm, I'm -." Emma's ancestor held out her hand for him to shake. He ignored it.
"So, I don't know you."
Emma's ancestor dropped her hand. "No." She shook her head.
"And yet you called me 'friend'." He spoke as though speaking to someone particularly slow or dim-witted.
Emma's ancestor smiled tightly and kept her voice light. "That was my mistake." Draco could just tell that that wasn't the end of it.
"Yes, I think so." The blonde looked smug and clearly thought that the conversation was over. Draco winced at what he knew was coming.
"Yeah." Her tone was matter-of-fact, and she shrugged. "I'd never have a friend who could be such an ass." She turned to walk away.
The blonde boy scoffed, and his next words stopped her in her tracks. "Or I one who could be so stupid." He stepped towards her. Her back was still turned. "Tell me, -, do you know how to walk on your knees?"
Her face froze, and Draco could read the anger in her posture. Even he knew that that wasn't something you should ever say to a woman unless you wanted to end up a smudge on the carpet. She turned to face the blonde boy and didn't back down, even as he crowded into her personal space.
"No." Her voice was firm but there was a hint of fury beneath the even tone.
The blonde boy leaned in to Emma's ancestor. "Would you like me to help you?"
Emma's ancestor managed to look both incredibly insulted and spitting mad without changing her expression and she squared her shoulders. "I wouldn't if I were you." There was a threat in her tone and Draco knew without a doubt that she could wield Old Magic.
The blonde boy barked out a laugh.
"Now you're a dead man." Draco muttered and made a note to himself to never, ever do anything as foolish as laugh about insulting a woman like that. Especially not if the woman in question was related to Emma. He mentally wrote an obituary for the foolish blonde.
The blonde boy's tone was mocking when he spoke, like he couldn't believe that she was speaking to him like that. "Why? What are you going to do to me?"
Emma's ancestor scoffed. "You have no idea."
Draco belatedly realised that magic was illegal in this place, wherever it was, and she likely couldn't use it without signing her own death warrant.
"Be my guest." The blonde stepped back and opened his arms, practically inviting her to take a swing at him. "Come on! Come on!" He goaded.
Emma's ancestor looked around at everyone watching and then looked back at the boy as he deliberately placed a mocking tone in his voice and leaned towards her, arms still spread.
Draco could see the moment she lost her temper as she made a fist and swung directly at his face. He made a face as the blonde caught her arm and twisted it behind her back in a way that had to be painful. She hissed and stamped on his foot, hard, causing him to grunt in surprise and shift his weight before forcing her arm higher.
There was a loud collective "Ooooh" from the surrounding people, most noticeably the knights.
"I'll have you thrown in jail for that." The blonde grimaced as Emma's ancestor struggled to get out of his hold.
She twisted her neck, so she could face him. "What, who do you think you are? The King?" Her voice was full of disbelief and anger.
The blonde shook his head. "No." He leaned his head in closer. "I'm his son, -."
Emma's ancestor froze in surprise and the blonde boy, the Prince, took advantage of the fact and took out her knees, forcing her to the ground. The scene dissolved as he called for the guards and Draco idly wondered whether the prince even knew that the person he had just had arrested was a woman.
When the scene solidified, Draco was confused at the wooden contraption that Emma's ancestor was in, but when he saw how she was being pelted with rotten fruit and vegetables he realised that this was her punishment for attacking the Prince. She had a slight grin on her face but cringed away from the projectiles. An old man walked passed, laughing slightly.
"Thanks!" Emma's ancestor called in his direction, before ducking her head down to avoid a tomato. Draco surmised it was probably a mentor or guardian of some sort. Or at the very least someone she knew.
After several more projectiles, the children and teenagers who had been throwing the food picked up the basket and ran off, clearly looking for more things to throw. A beautiful, dark young woman in a red cloak walked up to the stocks, where Emma's ancestor was spitting, clearly trying to get the taste of rotten vegetable out of her mouth.
After a moment, she noticed she had company and looked up.
"I'm -, but most people call me -. I'm the Lady -'s maid." The young woman – maid, Draco mentally corrected – introduced herself with a smile, whilst Emma's ancestor tried to subtly shake her head and rid herself of the clinging pieces of fruit.
"Right." Emma's ancestor gave a smile that was slightly more of a grimace, "I'm -." She awkwardly moved her hand in the pretty maid's direction for her to shake. "Although, most people just call me Idiot." Emma's ancestor's tone of voice was very matter of fact, although Draco could detect a hint of humour underneath.
The maid immediately denied this, "No! No, no. I saw what you did. It was so brave!"
"It was stupid." Emma's ancestor shook her head.
"Well, I'm glad you walked away." The maid admitted, "You weren't going to beat him." She said with a small laugh.
Emma's ancestor looked at her. "Oh, wh- I can beat him."
The maid gave her a sceptical glance. "You think?" she tilted her head. "Because you don't look like one of those big, muscle-y kind of fellows." She trailed off as Emma's ancestor gave her a look. "I mean of course you don't-"
There was a moment when the pretty maid realised that she'd put her foot in her mouth and she immediately rushed to reassure the girl in the stocks. "No! No, I'm sure you're stronger than you look!"
Emma's ancestor just eyed her in slight disbelief and let her continue digging herself into a hole.
"It's just, erm…" She looked slightly lost for a second before continuing on as matter-of-factly as she could "-'s one of these real rough, tough, save the world kind of men, and…well…"
"What?" Emma's ancestor sounded a little uneasy about what might come next.
The maid hesitated before simply ploughing on, "You don't look like that." Emma's ancestor made a show of looking down at herself then back up at the maid before raising her eyebrows. "I mean you're a girl. Not that I'm saying girls can't fight, because the Lady - has definitely held her own with the men, but you really don't look all that tough and, well I mean – -'s been a knight for as long as I can remember and…" she gave up and trailed off. Emma's ancestor made a show of looking around and motioned for her to come closer.
"I'm in disguise." She informed the maid slightly loftily.
The maid looked slightly confused before a laugh burst out of her, causing Emma's ancestor to smile at the infectious sound. It took a moment before the maid had herself under control, but she gathered her composure in order to continue the conversation. "Well, it's great you stood up to him."
"What? You think so?" Emma's ancestor interrupted her in disbelief.
"-'s a bully, and everyone thought you were a real hero."
Emma's ancestor smiled slowly, as though no one had ever given her a compliment like that before. "Oh, yeah?" she asked quietly.
"Mm-hmm" the maid made an affirmative noise and nodded.
The smile on Emma's ancestor's face grew wider, until she noticed the children laughing and coming back with more rotten fruit. "Oh, excuse me, -." Her voice rose in pitch slightly, Draco couldn't tell if it was from alarm or amusement. "My, uh, fans are waiting."
The maid started to back away as they came closer, then hurried away as Emma's ancestor waved farewell and the children got within range. The first tomato hit the wooden contraption as the scene dissolved into smoke.
Draco had to blink as the scene changed and he was suddenly surrounded by people. On and on the memories went.
He saw Emma's ancestor fighting the blonde boy, using magic and almost winning before being knocked to the ground.
He saw the old man reassure her that she wasn't a monster, and she should never think of herself like that (magic doesn't make a monster. But the Dark Lord… was it magic's fault?).
He saw her save the blonde boy's life – the prince's life – and be rewarded by being made a servant (how was that a reward? That was no reward, that was a punishment).
He watched them grow closer, and froze in fear when Emma's ancestor drank poison meant for the prince. He watched the prince beg his father to let him find the plant and cheered when he ignored his father and went anyway (he didn't think about how his father would act in the same way the King did. He didn't think about the fact that he would disobey his father for those reasons too).
Emma's ancestor met a man who saved her and wanted nothing more than to be a knight but couldn't (he was far better than the other morons who had laughed and followed the prince's lead for no reason other than that he was a prince – why couldn't he? Because of how he was born?! That was so unfair! He was better than the rest! Skill had to play some part. It had to).
And so, it continued.
He discovered that the Lady that looked so much like Pendragon was a seer (they weren't supposed to actually exist! They were myths. Anyone claiming to be real seers were liars and fakes. How could she see the future so accurately?) and watched as Emma's ancestor narrowly prevented the dream that was a vision from coming true (how could he have seen the Lady's dreams? Could you even have memories of such things?).
He watched as a boy, only a few years older than himself ran and hid in fear, terrified for his life (how could he cope with that. How could anyone?) and how Emma's ancestor and the Lady and her maid hid him, despite the danger to themselves. He didn't breathe until the boy had escaped and realised that no one should ever live like that. No matter what (is this what his father had done? How he had made muggleborns feel (not mudbloods, after seeing these memories and the terror surrounding them, he could never use that word again without remembering this. Never)? He felt sick. How could anyone do this? How could his father make someone feel like this).
He watches as a man that doesn't die terrorises the people he's come to know through memories and a woman, who looks so much like Niamh that it hurts, spit poison at the king that hates magic so much he tries to end it (doesn't he know that to end magic is to end life? How can a woman with Niamh's face do such things – even to an enemy? Was she the one that poisoned Emma's ancestor? Can I blame her for her actions? Would I do the same?). He sees the woman speak of friendship betrayed and wonders if she's not right after all (why must so many suffer for the sake of vengeance? But if it happened to Mother or Emma or Niamh he knew he would do the same. He would do it for Longbottom too. Maybe even for Granger. If someone killed them as a result of his actions, he would blame them for his failing too).
"Haven't you tired of revenge?" (Yes, he has! Please make it stop! Everyone is hurting not just you! Why won't the two of them stop this?)
"No, you're wrong. If I had foreseen her death, and the terrible retribution you would seek, … I would never have granted your wish." (all this death for one mistake? It won't change it! Why? No don't say that! Don't wish the Prince away!)
"I have watched so many people I love die at your hands, -. Now it is your turn." (He wouldn't do such things! He wouldn't! But if it were mother or the girls? If they died for nothing more than being magic? He would do it. He would)
He feels sick again, knowing that he could follow the logic of them both. Could understand their actions and would do the same. (He knows that so many of the people he knows would do the same too. For retribution and to make their death mean something. He would. They would.)
He sees Emma's ancestor make a sword that can kill the dead for the prince alone and sees everything go horribly wrong (and the fury of the dragon terrifies him) and sees her throw the sword away, where it can't be found.
He watches as the Lady follows the same steps as he knows the King once did (he wonders if perhaps they're not related after all) and watches as she plots to kill the King for the love of her friend, and the painful choice that Emma's ancestor must make. He sees them both realise (almost too late. Not quite, but almost) that they can't let him die. They can't cause his death. It won't make anything better. Won't change anything really (The maid was right. She was so right and how can she forgive the King for what he's done. Draco knows he could not).
He sees the prince almost die and sees Emma's ancestor try to trade her life for his.
(he knows it's going to go wrong somehow, the second he sees the woman who wears the face of his friend standing by the altar. He doesn't know how. But he knows it will)
He sees how it doesn't work out and cries for Emma's ancestor and then sees her try to change things. They fight.
(he can't help the tears that run down his face as he sees two women who look just like his friends hiss at each other and try to kill each other as their hate echoes off the stones. He can't stop the sobs that wrack him as they look at each other with such loathing. He can't help seeing his friends in them and can't stop desperately hoping that this will never happen to the two girls who have already become so important to him (more important than he ever could have dreamed before). He is eleven, but he already knows that if this ever becomes real, he will make sure he is dead before he lets his friends hurt each other the way these two women do now (are they women? Emma's ancestor cannot be much more than five years older than him, and for the women who looks like Niamh to have been friends with the King she must be far older than the young woman she appears as (changeling a voice in the back of his head whispers. He ignores it)). They will not hurt each other in this way as long as he is alive, he will make sure of it)
He thinks Emma's ancestor is dead for a moment, but she is not. And then the woman who looks like Niamh is gone.
(there is a high-pitched shriek (it wasn't her), there is a scorch mark where she was, why didn't she scream?)
The battle is over, Emma's ancestor has won, but he can't get the taste of bile out of his mouth as he empties his stomach and retches once there's nothing left.
(he doesn't know if it's the way she died or the fact that she looked like Niamh, but he knows he'll never forget any of this and that he'll never be able to hear praise for the Dark Lord and his methods again without knowing exactly what it sounds like when someone is obliterated using magic (he knew that memories didn't contain smells, which meant that the smell of burnt flesh was in his imagination, but he didn't think he'd ever be able to eat grilled meat again)
He vowed to himself that if the Dar-You-Kno-Voldemort, Emma said Voldemort, if He ever came back, he would fight on whichever side was against Him, and alongside Emma and Niamh (she wouldn't follow Him, she was a half-blood and had loved her father) and Longbottom and Granger and even alongside Potter, anything to make sure he was stopped.
He wondered, somewhat cynically, in the back of his mind, if Emma had given this to him as a gift to make him see what she meant, or if she had simply left the last memory in by accident. He decided he didn't ever want to know, and that it didn't matter in the end. Because he had seen it. He couldn't unsee it. And he couldn't forget it.
And suddenly the memories are over, the first one playing again, so Draco wipes his face and withdraws from the memories.
He lands, gasping on the rug next to the pensieve. He collects the memories, every single one, and makes sure there's not even a drop left. He stuffs them into his robes and checks the mirror to make sure he doesn't look too dishevelled. His eyes are a little red, but that could be from brightness. He quickly smooths his hair back to how it was before and calls for one of the house elves. Mipsy, his mother's house elf, is the one who appears.
"What is Master Draco seeking from Mipsy?" Her voice is squeaky and respectful, but has the same edge to it as his mother's does when he's done something wrong.
"Where is Mother? She wanted me to fetch her when I was done with the memories."
"Miss Narcissa is being in the casual drawing room, Master Draco. You is being finished with your gift already? You is only being in here for an hour."
Draco frowned, he felt like it had taken hours to view those memories, surely it had to have been longer than an hour.
"Mipsy is going now. Mipsy is having chores to do." There was a loud CrAcK as she disapparated and Draco shook himself, before placing a mask on his face and heading down to see his mother (he had never thought he would be using the training on public personas his father had insisted on to hide from his parents). Hopefully she wouldn't pry too deeply.
December 26th 1.09AM – Summer Lake Farm
Merlin ran her hand down Speedy's nose again when he huffed in her face and nudged her. "Don't be such a brat." She scolded him. It was more than a few degrees below freezing, and around the edges of the farm, snow fell. She was leaning against the fence in the paddock, where Speedy and a few others had been turned out for the night. Most of them were sleeping. Speedy was the only one who wasn't.
There was a slight noise. Merlin knew she probably would have missed it if Speedy hadn't startled away from her. She stood up at straight and looked around. "Who's there?"
"Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice, Happy whatever in the land you want to call it." A figure emerged from the shadows in the corner of the field. They were angular, with a sharp face and a fierce voice. Their visage was enough to terrify even the most hardened of serial killers into becoming good people.
Merlin let out a small sigh of relief.
"Solstice was four days ago, Highness. I think you mean Merry Christmas and not Happy Solstice." She made her way over to where they were standing at sat at the picnic bench that lived there year-round. Speedy made a noise of discontent, before turning around and trotting to where the others were sleeping. She couldn't blame him. Few animals liked the fae.
The afore-mentioned fae watched her approach in silence. "No. I mean both. And also, the other one. With the log fire and the mistletoe."
"Yes. That one." The figure addressed as 'Highness' leant back against the tree they were under with a satisfied smirk.
"No one's celebrated Yule in centuries, Highness!"
"Are you calling me old?"
"Older than I am, at any rate. What are you doing here? Shouldn't you still be in the thrall of solstice celebrations and preparing for the New Year?"
"But why would I do that when I can spend time with a gorgeous lass like you instead?"
"I have no interest in becoming your newest plaything, Highness." Merlin said tiredly. "What do you want?"
"I can't stop by to say 'hello' to an old friend?" The question was meant to be rhetorical, but the figure knew it would not be taken as such.
"No, not when it's you, not when that friend is me, not in the depths of winter and definitely not in the middle of the night! Not when the last time we spoke was almost twenty years ago."
The 'Highness' grimaced. "I owe you an apology for how that ended. I was out of line and should not have spoken of your losses so flippantly."
"Apology accepted. We are too old to hold grudges." Merlin leant back against the bench and waited.
"Is that it?"
Merlin raised an eyebrow and shot the still standing figure a look. Gloriana sighed and folded himself – he was male today, he'd decided – into a sitting position next to the gangly warlock, whilst somehow having limbs that bent far too often and in implausible directions.
"Did you know that two of your new friends are fae-blessed?" he asked her.
"I'm sorry, what?" Fae-blessed were notoriously rare – or supposed to be – they were descendants of families who had either intermarried or interbred with the fae. When she'd first heard of them there had only been twenty or so families in existence, that had been nearly 900 years ago and at least twelve of those families had died out since then.
This time it was Gloriana's to send her a look.
"Who?" Merlin asked, instead of saying anything else.
"Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. The Potter boy belongs to the Seelie Court, and Queen Mab, but your pal Draco is one of mine."
Merlin paled slightly at the news. The fae were extremely possessive of the fae-blessed, Gloriana and the Unseelie Court that s/he ruled especially so.
"Can I ask…" she trailed off.
"The Evans family have ancestors in the Seelie Court. It's where those green eyes come from. They aren't found anywhere outside the Seelie-kind. The Black family are actually descended from me personally." Gloriana winced "Most of them are slightly insane unfortunately, although Draco, and the generation above him, provide hope for the line."
Merlin sent him a look. "Bellatrix Black provides hope for sanity?"
Gloriana immediately backpedalled. "Of course not! She's one of the worst of the lot, although she does have quite a lot of power. I was speaking of her two sisters – both whip smart and ruthless when it comes to family, willing to do what they have to and sticking with their husbands and children, no matter what. The two brothers – Sirius and Regulus – them too. Sirius, who is willing to die for those he doesn't even know, and Regulus, who will sacrifice himself with a smile if it means his enemy will die."
"You are very fond of your family."
"I'm proud of them. Those five anyway. I have high hopes for Draco's future." He smiled at her hopefully.
"Nice try, Highness. Any details I know are being kept to myself." She returned the smile. "It was wonderful to see you again, I know we meet the rest of the Ancients once every century or so, but you are my favourite."
"That is a sentiment I return, dear one. You are the only person I can remember who can mediate between myself and Mab, without alienating one or both of us."
"I spent nearly 50 years serving in the Court of King Arthur. I did learn some tact." Not that she used it very often, outside of mediating between two fae queens who were older than humanity.
"I know." They sat in silence for a while, before Gloriana heard something audible only to him. "I should really be going now, my Lady, I have left my Court alone in their revelries long enough."
Both of them stood and embraced. Merlin ignored the chill that surrounded her friend and waited until he drew back to release him.
"I will see you soon, my Lady, within the next several years at least." Gloriana swept into a graceful curtsey, with skirts made of snow that rippled in the sudden cool breeze from the lake, his crown condensing into existence over his brow.
"Until the next time, Highness." Merlin smiled.
The air started to get colder but moments before the Queen disappeared, Merlin processed what he said.
"Wait a minute, what do you mean Regulus 'will sacrifice'? Shouldn't it be 'would sacrifice'? He's dead, isn't he? Queen Gloriana? Highness?"
But he was gone and all that remained was the afterimage of his crown and a piece of snow in the shape of his smirk, that drifted slowly to the ground.
Caleb walked into the kitchen, shaking off the previous nights hangover, and set the kettle to boil. A soft sound from the corner bench made him whip around and throw the nearest object at the source.
Merlin's eyes glowed as she halted the spoon in mid-air. "A spoon, Caleb? Really? What good would that be against an intruder? Especially one capable of slipping past the impressively extensive wards you have."
Caleb's breath slowed as he registered the lack of threat. "What are you doing? You scared me out of my skin. I nearly had a heart attack!"
Merlin looked down at the pile of blankets she was snuggled in, the mostly empty mug on the table next to her, and the hot water bottle by her feet. "I should think that's obvious."
"Let me rephrase that." Caleb made his coffee automatically, going through the motions. "Why are you snuggled in the corner of my kitchen at six in the morning the day after Christmas?"
"Why are you even up?"
Caleb sent her a flat look. "There are nearly thirty horses on the farm, nine cows, three dogs, a herd of cats that keeps multiplying somehow, over a dozen chickens, and at least twenty rabbits that seem to think they live here. What do you think I'm doing up?"
She smiled at him. "Give me five minutes to get dressed and I'll give you a hand."
He glared at her for managing to be so awake – he knew she had to have gone to bed after him, this was unjust dammit – and just drank his coffee without a word.
Just over thirty minutes later, the two of them had managed to provide food for all of the animals in their various forms and were stabling the horses that had spent the night outside.
"You didn't answer my question, you know." Speed, Billie and Ceffyl were the only ones left in the paddock.
"I'd much rather talk about the fact that you have a horse named Horse." Merlin clipped her lead rope to Ceffyl's halter. "If you get Billie rather than Speedy, he'll just follow us in."
Caleb grumbled under his breath about his horse liking her better than him, and that his name was Speed (from Speedster Superhero, which a really stupid name, he had no idea why the original owners had called him that) and not Speedy, before responding slightly louder to her earlier comment. "I didn't name her Horse. I named her Cardamom. My niece named her Horse and she stopped responding to anything else. And don't think I don't know you're avoiding the question."
He waited while she shut the paddock gate.
"I couldn't sleep." She admitted after turning back around.
"Why not?" Goddess, it's like trying to pry secrets out of a corpse.
"The Mirror of Erised."
"I'm sorry, please repeat that. I just heard the words: Mirror of Erised."
"That's what I said." Emr- Merl- Emma, pointedly focused on shutting the door to Ceffyl's stall as the impatient filly tried to stick her head over it immediately.
"Ok. And why are you dwelling on the Mirror?" There were seven such mirrors, older than the druids themselves, created by the Sidhe as a punishment disguised as a blessing. People rarely even thought about them yet alone spoke their names aloud.
She finally stopped fiddling with the door and scratched under Ceffyl's forelock before moving over to where Speed was impatiently waiting for her to give him attention. He didn't even have to go near the end stalls to know that Summer and Rocky were kicking their doors in a demand for her attention.
"It's in the school. I felt it's power there. I think the headmaster is going to use it as some kind of trap or obstacle to stop people from getting the philosopher's stone. I tried scrying what would happen, but my vision's blocked. I'm not sure if it's because I'm too involved in the events to come or because the Mirror itself is blocking me from seeing. It could be either. It could be both."
Caleb thought about this whilst putting Billie in her stall and shutting the door. At some point, when he was distracted, she had mounted Speed and started fiddling with his mane and scratching his withers.
"Get off the horse. Please."
She looked down sheepishly and dismounted.
"Did you look in the Mirror?" Caleb wondered when he had become the pseudo-parent figure to the ancient immortal who ruled his people. Probably around the time 'Uncle Caleb' popped into existence. I should have said no, dammit!
"Were you tempted?"
"I already know what I'd see." She didn't elaborate. He didn't ask.
"So, if- "
Caleb paused, unsure what she meant. "Harry did what? And do you mean Harry Potter?"
"Yeah. He found the Mirror. I'm fairly certain he spent a while looking into it too. But I'm not sure."
Caleb pinched his nose and sighed as she shut the door to Speedy's stall, and moved over to rub Summer's nose. "Does he know what it is? People waste away in front of that thing."
She shrugged. Why are you shrugging? You're not a teenager, you're over a thousand years old, dammit!
"Okay, look," Caleb made an effort to make his voice sound calm. "Why don't you spend a bit of quality time with these three, groom them, take them out, whatever. Then you can come and look at the applicants for next year and help me narrow down the list." Hopefully that will help.
Merlin couldn't help but smile, she hadn't known until he'd said it, how much she needed to unwind.
"You're right. Thanks Caleb, I'll do that."
"Alright. Great." He started to leave before turning around, "Don't you dare pamper them too much, they'll start acting all bratty and entitled." He resolutely ignored the fact that the ever-multiplying cats had their own area in the barn and that every one of the three dogs regularly slept on his bed. It was completely different.
Approximately the same time - Avalon
"The Desire Mirror has been found. What should we do?"
"Nothing. If they do not learn from mistakes past, it is not our problem."
"And if they tamper with it?"
"As long as the charm remains intact it will be fine."
"So, we are in agreement?"
"AYE!" There was a chorus of agreement.
Freya frowned. The Sidhe Elders cared nothing for the chaos their mirrors could sow in the world. The Desire Mirror was far from the most dangerous of the seven, but it could still cause a lot of pain and damage if one was unprepared. She would send a message to warn Merlin, in the unlikely event that she didn't already know. She'd contact Arthur and Morgana anonymously too. They would share with the other Round Table members, and you could never be too prepared.
No spells in this chapter. Lots of new questions though.