Title: Bearing Fruit
Genre: Romance, Humor
Rating: M for language and intimacy
Summary: After the incident at the Isle of the Blessed, Merlin decides to take matters of life and death into his own hands with consequences he probably should have seen coming.
Disclaimer: I do not own "Merlin." Please don't hurt me.
Spoilers/Warnings: Follows episode 13 of season 1. There is only one "warning," but I don't want to spoil the (obvious) plot device. I can assure readers that there is no violence, non-con, or character death. Also, I don't know if this is a warning, but I do want to add that I'm no historian (nor botanist) and I haven't seen every episode of the program. I hope there's nothing so blatantly illogical that it causes heads to explode. And if so, then we'll just call this an AU, haha… Sorry.
Reviews/critiques will make me sing and dance for you.
The night that the raw power he had wielded from the sky transformed Nimueh from a formidable priestess into nothing more than negatively charged ions and the smell of burning ozone, Merlin lie in bed, thinking.
Arthur was alive. His mother was alive. Gaius was alive. Nimueh was dead.
And yet, the calculations that had been made to produce this (seemingly) ideal situation appeared to be in error. It was as if there were variables not accounted for, variables that would alter the whole nature of the equation. Would that not, in effect, make the outcome null and void, a logical fallacy that would soon come back to haunt them all?
If the balance had been restored to the universe, Merlin could not feel it. If anything, he felt like some deep, inexplicable force had been disturbed and the chain reaction that had been set in motion would be unknowable until it was too late.
As he had already witnessed, the trading of a life for a life did not create the most stable environment for achieving equilibrium.
With all the dangers (magical or otherwise) that this life seemed to bring to him and the ones he cared about, it didn't make sense not to have a back up plan that didn't involve "X must live!… And now Y is dead. Oh, I see what you did there."
Merlin turns to his side on the small bed, squeezing his eyes shut tighter and gripping his pillow at images assault his mind's eyes with aching clarity: Arthur motionless on the medicine table. His mother prostrate on the floor disfigured by hundreds of pustules. Gaius as gray as the stone he was sprawled against.
Things never would have had to reach that point if the spells from the book had cured Arthur in the beginning.
That was the other thing that disturbed him. Why hadn't they worked?
True, the Questing Beast was supposed to serve some kind of "special death," but Merlin suspected the spells would not have worked for any magic-related demise.
And if treating human lives like they were playing cards wasn't the way to go, Merlin had only one choice.
He had to find a way to restore life without destroying another.
It would seem impossible if not for the fact that Merlin had seen many impossible things, had been responsible for quite a few of them himself.
Besides, if the laws of nature really were strict and unyielding and did not allow for the manipulation of its biological principles, then how could something such as magic (or Merlin himself) exist?
And that is how Merlin finds himself deep in forests many hours from Camelot, staring distastefully at the pitiful carcass of a robin at the base of a wide oak.
He had been able to start his journey pretty early that morning since there were several willing volunteers to care for Arthur while he was being (against his will) confined to limited activity.
Merlin had taken the (useless) spell book and a few provisions, and rode out into the green with only his bared magic to lead the way.
When he had come to an area where the air whispered passages from ancient tomes in hushed voices and the ground shimmered with visible particles of energy, he tied his horse off and went in just a little deeper.
With his mind set on re-animating dead tissue, Merlin had first looked upon the fallen animal with excitement. The bird had not been yet scavenged nor had opportunistic microbes visibly begun the process of decomposition.
Perfect, Merlin thinks, grimacing. A fresh death.
Despite the perfection of this "lucky" find, Merlin digs a tiny grave and buries the robin.
He reasons with himself that with this experiment being in its fledgling stage and the limitless horrors that could result from it actually working being pretty likely, he had better start even smaller.
Besides, unleashing the unholy living dead upon the earth would definitely not win him any favors with the magic-fearing lot.
Merlin has not really fleshed out exactly what he is looking for until he sees a large patch of lilies growing strong and bright despite the lack of direct sunlight.
He finds one on the edge of the flowerbed, slightly apart from the others, and knows this is where he must start.
He raises his boot slowly, giving the unsuspecting flower a remorseful frown and silently apologizing, when he remembers-
It should be a magic-induced death. Like the others.
Somehow, using his magic makes this "murder" even more personal. He thrusts his hand towards it, fingers splayed, and looks away as the damning words leave his lips.
When he turns back, the sight of the charred remains of something once beautiful makes him almost want to give up this unpleasant venture and go back to trading souls.
Merlin goes down carefully to his knees in front of the dead plant and sets the spell book beside him. The ground is soft and slightly damp and he sinks into it. This close to the blooms, he can smell their light sweetness, an unfortunate contrast to the burnt remains of his sacrifice.
Without expecting success, he conjures the spells he used when Arthur was first bitten by the Questing Beast.
He is not surprised when the plant remains dark and crispy.
Merlin closes the book and pushes up his sleeves.
Without conscious thought, his eyes fall shut and both hands stretch out toward the dead thing.
A familiar warmth builds in his core as his magic churns over and within itself to surge instinctive and unchecked, merging without resistance into the external world. If there is a verbal articulation of his magic, it is represented simply by life, birth, creation.
Merlin doesn't know if he intones any spells aloud or if the fusing of his magic with the Earth's elements is visible over the flower, but he can feel something change. The world shifts and something is different.
Merlin loses his concentration and his power contains itself again.
A deep breath and he opens his eyes.
This time he is surprised when the plant remains dark and crispy.
But, he is even more surprised to see the new plant now growing beside it.
The wind is no longer speaking and the magic dusting on the ground seems to have edged away from him so that he and this affront to nature are alone in a bare circle. Even the other lilies seem to lean away.
It is a wonder he hadn't noticed it first because it is nothing like the other plants and stands out like the obvious aberration that it is.
There is one very verdantly green, twisted sprout thrusting up from the ground upon which a swollen fruit hangs heavily.
It's shaped like an apple, but spotted like a strawberry. When Merlin cups it in his palm, it feels as if he is holding solid gold.
Unsure what he should be doing (or thinking or feeling) in this situation, Merlin plucks the fruit from the stalk and digs his thumb into its fleshy side.
Its insides are pulpy like a cherry.
Merlin turns the fruit over and over in his hands, caressing its shiny, cool surface. He is fascinated by… his creation.
His creation. Life from… his hands.
He brings the fruit under his nose to get closer to its ripe smell and he doesn't realize he's grinning like a fool until he feels the soft skin yield against his teeth.
Probably shouldn't eat-
The taste blooms over his tongue. It's honeyed nectar with a nutty musk.
Okay. At least don't finish-
He licks the last of the purplish juices from his fingers, the fruit already settling full and warm in his stomach.
Nothing happens that day. Or the next. Or for fourteen days. But then-
(Thank you for reading! Please continue to part 2...)