Author's Note - And here we have it, guys, the end of the line. Its been great writing this story and I hope you've all enjoyed it. I can't believe we have reached over 300 reviews and that makes me incredibly happy. What an achievement. This story would never have happened without you guys as I wouldn't have been motivated to continue.
One final thanks to everyone for reviewing the last chapter: almightyswot, bcargill9, MegElemental, GhibliGirl91, Becca1938, XxBlueSkiesxX, Isis the Sphinx, laurajslr, polissak and Basia Orci. And thanks to everyone for reviewing all the other ones!
Shall we get onto the final chapter: A lot of you could probably see this coming but ah well, I might as well have a few predictable parts to my story. I love a (reasonably) happy ending.
Ellie was working. Well, she wasn't exactly working, she was attempting to work. It didn't help that everyone around her was wrapping her in cotton wool. So far she had had Manuel talking a box of syringes off her, telling her that 'she shouldn't be carrying that', then she'd had one of the nurses querying whether she was feeling okay, suggesting that 'perhaps, she ought to sit down' and finally she'd had Dr. John Pollen himself telling her to go home. She wasn't a frickin' invalid!
She had decided to work and therefore she would work. She couldn't just come in and then not do anything on her shifts. That would mean she was getting paid for nothing and that wasn't fair. Besides, if she remained cooped up at home any longer then she would surely go mad. It wasn't good for health to stay still for such a length of time; that wasn't in her personality.
Didn't it say in all those books that it was better for her to remain active anyway?
Standing by the nurses' station, for what must have been the tenth time today, with nothing to do, Ellie sighed to herself. She watched the comings and goings around her: the orderlies wheeling a trolley towards the lift; an old lady slowly making her way to the toilet with the assistance of her Zimmer frame, behind her a worried nurse hovered; one of the young, newly qualified doctors who had recently graduated with her was checking up on a patient.
A lot had changed in the past few months; in the time since Arthur and Merlin left. For one, she'd graduated. That was always a plus. The exams had been hard but she'd managed to scrape by, despite her current predicament. She'd moved out of her student house; it was time for her to get her own place: a rented apartment not far from Alderry Hospital. Alderry Hospital was the place she had managed to get a placement. It meant she didn't have to leave all her old friends – she needed their comfort and support right now.
For the first few days after their departure, Ellie had mourned in the seclusion of her bedroom. Only venturing out in order to go to the loo. She didn't eat and she didn't talk. Everyone had been terribly worried about her. They had even phoned up Nick, who had travelled all the way from Bristol to see her. It was he, and he alone, that managed to coax her from her nest of misery into reality once more.
After all, he reminded her, she needed to go back to work. She had to support herself and her patients. She couldn't just desert her career like that.
So she had returned and everything had been going well - she buried her feelings in mountains of paperwork and worked herself to the brink of exhaustion, working nearly twenty hour shifts. It was after a particularly long shift, when she collapsed from dehydration, exhaustion and malnourishment, that she discovered something that would change her life and her outlook on it completely.
To be honest, it was a miracle that the baby wasn't harmed through all her neglect. The obstetrician had told her that if she'd continued abusing her body for any longer than she would almost certainly have lost it, or at least caused major damage. Fortunately, it seemed to be made of tough stuff. Like its father, one could say.
For Ellie wasn't in any doubt who had sired the babe growing in her womb. It was the man who had been in her life so fleetingly and yet had left a profound effect on her – just one of these being the little tot inside her. Arthur Pendragon, the man from the legend of Camelot, had got her pregnant. How ridiculous was that?
Biology suggested it wasn't. After all, it had been at exactly at the right time of her cycle for insemination – not that she'd realised that, she was terrible at keeping a record of her dates – and they hadn't used protection. They hadn't even thought about it. Well, Ellie hadn't thought about it. Arthur wouldn't have even known what a condom one was if you threw it in his face.
And he could be the only one. As Ben had so kindly pointed out, she hadn't got any in ages.
Right now, leaning on this desk, Ellie was eight months pregnant. It had been difficult to get this point. Unsurprisingly, she'd toyed with abortion. This baby could not only have a huge affect on her career but it would also always serve as a reminder of the man from the past. Could she live with that? There had been some dark days but eventually, she came to the decision that this infant was nothing short of precious and there was no way she could kill it. It was the only bit of Arthur she had left. Besides, she'd never been a massive fan of abortion.
That's why she was about to give birth to a little baby, on her own, living in a rented apartment in the middle of London, with her career just about to take off. Perfect timing.
Her belly was rather round now. Fortunately, she did not seem to be one of those women who swelled to the size of elephants with their pregnancies. Hers, although noticeable, was manageable; she could still just about bend over, if she really tried. Couldn't see her feet though.
Today was her last day before going on maternity leave. She didn't really know what she would do with herself. There was no way she could spend her time just waiting; she had to be doing something.
And that something could be what she had been doing for the last eight months; that was searching for the message that Merlin had promised he would leave her, telling her whether Arthur had survived. Every day she thought about it, every day she wondered whether her not finding it meant that Arthur had died and Merlin hadn't had the heart to leave her a message. She truly hoped that wasn't the case. Somehow, although he was so far away and unreachable that he was practically dead, she thought things would somehow be better if he wasn't actually dead. Although, she supposed, technically, as he was living a thousand or two years ago, he would be by now. Still! She wanted to know if he had survived the bullet and lived his life out how he should.
She had already visited many of the places in the Arthurian legends to see if that's where Merlin had left the message. They seemed the most likely places: Stonehenge, Tintagel, the supposed grave of King Arthur. Nothing. Zilch. It was very frustrating.
What was also frustrating was that she could never send a message to them; Arthur would never know that he had a child that lived a thousand years after him. That saddened Ellie greatly. Still, the legend would live on in the infant she was about to give birth to. She liked to entertain the thought that he or she too, would be infamous and would do great things, like their father. Surely it was in the genes? Then again, her own genes weren't all that special.
"Hey, Ellie." John had appeared from the lift, his hair was sticking up all over the place and his eyes were drooping with tiredness. She supposed it didn't help that it was one o'clock in the morning on a Saturday morning and he had been working in A&E all night. That took a lot out of you.
"John," she grinned at him. "Have you come to rescue me from my boredom and general feeling of being useless?"
"Unfortunately, not," he smiled back, dark eyes suddenly regaining a bit of sparkle, "I've come to tell you to go home. Dr. Howard informs me that she's already told you to go home several times and you won't budge."
"It's my last shift. I want to at least finish it!" Ellie exclaimed, annoyed that her colleague had seen the need to draft in her friend in order to move her.
John looked stern, his brow knotting. "Technically, you shouldn't be working at eight months anyway."
"I only have an hour left," Ellie pleaded.
"Exactly, there's no point in you staying. I'm off now, anyway, thank god. I can give you a lift home. You live on Prince Street, right?"
"Yes," the young woman sighed, caving, "I guess if you're leaving now then it would be much easier for me to catch a lift with you than getting the Underground home."
"Definitely," John's face broke into a smile, seeing he had won her over. He did worry about the poor girl sometimes. She was such a little thing and being pregnant had taken a lot out of her. In his opinion, she needed all the help she could get. "Let me grab my coat and we'll go. Meet you out the front?"
Having been dropped off outside her darkened apartments, Ellie hurried up the steps and shoved her keys in the lock, feeling the coldness of the weather on her fingers as she took off her gloves. October always brought a bite with it, signally that winter was truly setting in. Her hands were actually turning blue now, then again, she'd always had bad circulation and her pregnancy wasn't helping matters. Turning the key, the door opened and she shuffled inside, revelling in the slightly warmer hallway. It was only just warmer, cracks around the door frame and gaps in the floorboards still allowed chilly air to whistle through.
Making her way up the staircase to her apartment, which was on the third floor, Ellie cursed the fact that her block had no lift. She wouldn't have usually minded stairs but in her condition, climbing the steps was like climbing Everest. By the time she reached the top she was exhausted and ready to collapse. Finding another key on her jangling set, the one personal to her door, Ellie managed to push her way into the apartment.
It was at times like these, looking upon her dejected, miserable home, that she wished she was back in her student house – at least their her personal space had been warm and cosy. Here, everything was old and rickety: paint peeling, carpet curling up at the edges and going threadbare in some spots, a bed that had several slats missing from beneath it and a cooker that only worked if you lit it five times in a row. Then again, it was all she could afford. All she would ever be able to afford, the way things were going. With a baby to support, she would be even less well-off.
Groaning, she wandered into the kitchen (that doubled as a sitting room, dining room and study all at once) before putting the kettle on. She needed a cup of tea and a shower and then she would go to bed. Hopefully, she wouldn't wake up until ten and then she would decide what to do with herself.
The phone rang loudly, Ellie moaned in her sleep and, thinking it was her alarm, reached out to whack the sleep button. She misjudged it, however, and ended up smacking the edge of her hand on the hard edge of the clock. It hurt like hell. She yelped in pain and withdrew, clutching her bruised hand to her chest. "Fuck," she swore, softly.
And yet that incessant noise was still going.
Cursing, she dragged herself from her bed, quite an effort now, and winced as she landed on tender ankles. Slowly, she padded over her bare floorboards, avoiding the nails that stuck up from the wood at odd angles, and yanked the phone from its cradle.
"Hello?" she grunted.
"Hi, Ellie, it's Nick. I was phoning to see how you were. Are you okay?" He sounded concerned.
"What the hell time is it?" Ellie spoke, incoherently but her friend understood the gist.
"Its twelve o'clock. Lunchtime." The way he said the last word, Ellie could tell he was smiling down the phone. "I hope you're eating lunch today and not just skipping it. You need to keep your strength up for the baby."
"Geez," she moaned, "Give me a chance. I only just woke up." She couldn't believe she'd slept so late. Obviously she'd needed it though.
"Ah," he chuckled, "That's why you're so grizzly."
"I'd forgotten how snappy you were in the mornings!"
"Time for a revisit then. What do you want? I'm a pregnant, hormonal woman who has had a very long night and didn't really want to be woken up right now."
"Well, I know that you have maternity leave now, thank god, I wasn't sure how longer you would stay working, it's not good for you, anyway, I wondered whether you wanted to come down and visit us? Pippa's show is doing really well, you may have seen it on television and she wants to share her happiness with you."
"No need to sound too enthused."
"Nick, my life is pretty dire at the moment; I'm not sure whether I'll cope with Pippa being ecstatically happy…."
"I know, Ellie, and that's why I want you to come, so we can look after you and cheer you up. I don't like the thought of you all on your own, giving birth to this baby and living in that crummy apartment of yours. Why won't you let me buy you a better place?"
"Because you can't really afford it, not on your wages, and it wouldn't seem right."
"Well, just come and stay with us, just for the last month and once the baby is a couple of months old then you can go back. If you want, that is."
"Nick, you don't seriously want a screaming baby ruining what sleep you might get what with your hectic shifts."
Nick sighed. "Ellie, I'm a paediatrician. Little kids are my speciality. I'd love to help. Come on, you know you want to."
There was silence at the other end of the phone. He waited, wondering whether she was about to hang up on him. Then…
"All right. How am I meant to get to you?"
"Er….well," Nick sounded sheepish, "I've already sent a car up to fetch you. It should be arriving in about half an hour."
"You planned this?! You dirty, filthy schemer!" Ellie cried but, honestly, she didn't sound that annoyed.
"Sorry. See you soon. Okay?"
As it happened, Ellie did actually enjoy her friend's company, it was a relief to have someone happy and optimistic about life. Pippa went on about ratings and awards and advertising and the young pregnant woman was content to listen. It kept her mind off other things. Staying in the Collingridge's pretty plush pad was nice too, compared to her draughty hovel. Nick, bless him, had given up his bed and was sleeping on the sofa (not that it wasn't a damn comfortable sofa). Ellie was living in luxury now. She was glad she came, she had to admit.
They both looked after her; really well, making sure she had three meals a day and was entertained. The young girl wasn't sure how many times she'd read the Harry Potter books by now or the Jane Austen novels. Although Nick was out a lot, with his job, he still found time to take her out on jaunts around the city, shopping for the baby or herself. Not that she could fit in anything she usually could. It was horrible seeing herself in shop mirrors, she looked like a monster.
Pippa had supplied her with the entire series of Arthur on DVD which she had pilfered from the director even though it wasn't actually out yet. The series had only just finished airing. It was a kind thought but watching the programme just brought back bad memories and watching the bad acting of the TV 'Arthur' upset her. He would never compare to the real thing.
Pippa had never been told about Merlin and Arthur's background, Nick and Ellie didn't see the point. She would forever remain in the dark; naïve. However, she did know that it was Arthur that was the father of Ellie's unborn child. She just assumed he'd run off. Ellie didn't like that assumption but it was best to go with it, for appearance's sake.
That's why the actress was at a loss every time she came back to find her best friend in floods of tears. She tended to put it down to erratic hormones.
The baby came early. It wasn't expected for another twenty days but, on the 11th October 2009, a child, sired by the great King Arthur of Camelot himself, was born into the world.
Fortunately, everything had happened very quickly, Ellie's water had broken and within four hours of that, the infant was out, pink and screaming like a piglet. The pain of labour had been immense but as soon as she saw her baby, the young woman forgot about all that, she just stared at the little angel which was blanketed and placed in her arms.
A little boy.
She called him Arthur.
Usually, she frowned upon children being named after their parents. It annoyed her immensely to hear of Bobby Juniors and Charles the thirds. However, this somehow just seemed fitting. This was in honour of his father.
From the moment she set eyes on him, she loved him with all her heart. He was hers, her little piece of Prince Arthur.
Blue eyes, the colour of the sea, blond hair, as fluffy as a chick's down, Arthur was his father's son. He had the face of a cherub, round and soft, with a dazzling smile which he used to charm the old ladies who cooed to him in the street. Somehow, he was already handsome and he hadn't even reached the stage where he could walk.
Today, they were visiting the Wheatfield Manor in the countryside. Ellie wanted to introduce baby Arthur to those who were technically related to him in some, roundabout way. There was another reason she wanted to go, though, and that was because she'd been struck with an idea. It was so simple that she was astonished that she hadn't thought of it before; somehow she had just overlooked it. Now though, she felt sure where she would find Merlin's message.
And that would be in the library.
Upon arriving at the stately home, Ellie desperately wanted to hurry right up to the room but she was restrained by manners and courtesy. First she must present Arthur to Geoffrey and Jemima. They seemed quite taken with him, squeezing his podgy hands and playing with his dinky little toes. Deciding that her child would be quite content in being left with the elderly couple, she excused herself in order to visit the loo. Her course, however, took her to the library.
With her heart in her mouth, she rushed to the lady and began to ascend. What she wouldn't give for Merlin to be here with his magic. Once she had reached the top, she found Merlin's spell book and a selection of other volumes that looked promising – ancient and similarly leather-bound. Carefully, she carried them down to the floor and dropped down beside them. Her pulse quickened with excitement. This could be it.
Gently, she pushed open the first few pages of the spell book. So far, nothing.
Gradually, she scanned more and more pages, looking for the answer. She was getting frustrated, tears welling in her eyes, there was no message. Merlin had lied. Well, he had failed her, anyway. She looked through all the books and there wasn't one single damn clue. Her tears spilt over and trickled down her cheeks. This had been her last hope. The last link that she had with Arthur and Merlin.
In anger, she threw the old book, not caring about its age or fragility. With a loud thwack, it hit a bookcase and hundreds of pages fluttered out, floating to the ground like leaves caught in a whirlpool of wind. That's when she saw the edge of the paper, sticking out from the spine of the book, curled in a tiny, tight scroll. Ellie stared for a moment, wondering whether she was hallucinating.
No, it was truly there. Was this the message?
She leapt forward and snatched the paper up, pulling the last bit from inside the binding. Slowly, with trembling fingers, she unrolled it and read:
I hope this reaches you. It's probably a long shot but I promised that I would send a message to you and so I've tried my best. This spell book was my best bet; I knew you'd seen it so I hoped you would realise.
Anyway, I will say what I'm sure you want to hear and that is that Arthur is alive. Well, I suppose he isn't alive in your time – long dead – but you understand my statement. I managed to heal him using my magic. Though, perhaps, you shouldn't tell him that. Not that you could…
I'm not sure whether you want to hear this, whether it will bring you misery or respite, but Arthur has pined for you. He wouldn't admit that you were troubling him but I knew. He doesn't give me enough credit for my intuitiveness. Forever underestimated. Maybe that will change in time. We shall see.
Enough of my rambling. I just hope that you are well - and the baby. In case you are wondering how I know, let's call it a warlock's sense. I sort of knew as soon as it had happened, I wouldn't be able to explain how I knew but I did. However, I also knew that it would be a mistake to tell either of you. A pregnancy would definitely make things even harder than they already were. I have told Arthur, in case you're wondering, he will tell you more in his own letter; I'm sure. I won't intrude on his feelings when I'm sure he will express them much better than I.
You shall find his letter, not in this library, but under the willow tree which we hid under, it's been there all these years. He has buried it, along with a gift for you and the baby.
It was an honour to meet you, Ellie, and give my regards to Nick and Pippa.
Ellie stared at the letter in her hands, her eyes wide with shock. He had known. That was unbelievable. And he didn't say a word. She didn't know whether to angry or thankful. Merlin was correct; it would have made things near impossible. Things were better this way. And if Arthur knew then she need not worry about that.
With the promise of another letter, this time from Arthur, Ellie couldn't help but leap to her feet and hurry from the room. She immediately saddled a horse and, with baby Arthur strapped to her chest in a sling, she set out for the willow tree, excitement and anticipation coursing through her veins. Geoffrey and Jemima were a bit bewildered by her actions but they posed few questions.
She soon arrived at the willow tree. Ducking beneath the umbrella of leaves brought back memories, mostly bad, but she quashed those. She needed to focus on the letter. Thank goodness she'd remembered to bring a spade.
After a lengthy time digging in several random spaces beneath the tree, Ellie was sweating profusely, perspiration dripping down her nose and off the tip to drop in the churned up soil below. Despite the chilly weather, she was boiling hot, red in the face with her arms aching. Where on earth was this letter…
The metal edge of her spade made contact with something hard and her heart leapt with excitement. Digging furiously, she revealed the wooden lid of a chest. On it was emblazoned a coat of arms – a golden, fire breathing dragon. She was in no doubt who it could belong to.
With a lot of effort, she hauled the heavy crate from the hole and placed it with a hefty thud on the earth. Arthur, who had been laying on a blanket a metre away, gurgled in surprise. His little legs kicked into the air in annoyance because he could not see what was going on and had no means of moving himself.
"Its all right, Arthur, Mummy's just found what she was looking for. We should be hearing from your daddy in a moment."
Fortunately, the prince had had the foresight not to lock the chest as Ellie would have been stuck without a key, so she could just click it open. Tentatively, she pushed up the lid. Inside, it was piled high with gold coins and diamond encrusted trinkets. The young woman gasped in astonishment. When he had said a gift….she had never expected this! She would be set for life. Then again, she supposed that was the point.
A scroll, tied with a red ribbon, rested on top of the treasure. Ellie grabbed it and unravelled it. She physically needed to know what Arthur had said.
I am terrible at writing letters. I'm sure that Merlin, my practically illiterate manservant, has managed to express his thoughts better than I can on paper.
I am not really certain what to say. Is there anything I could say to make this situation better? I don't really think so. I doubt either of us would have expected to develop feelings for each other let alone have a baby. I hope he or she is well. I would have loved to meet them. I'm sure you will bring them up well and they will be a child to be proud of, however distant. It kills me that I can't be there to support you both.
Merlin has probably told you that I have recovered from my wounds. I think I have you to thank for that and your technologies. I barely have any scarring. I hope that you know that I wouldn't have left without saying goodbye, if I had had the choice. As it was, I guess what happened was the only option.
Here come the feelings. How do I make you understand how I feel? Well, I feel like a piece of my heart is missing with you not here. I know that I will have to marry, apparently a handmaiden according the Merlin – I don't know where he gets these ideas from – but I will never forget you. And I hope you will not forget me either.
That was terrible, I know, but it was the best I could do. I love you more than anything and would do anything to protect you and our child, if only you were not so far away.
Live your life in happiness.
Ellie nodded to herself, salty tears dribbling down her cheeks and onto the paper. She reached over and gathered her son to her breast, cuddling him tightly. They would be all right. She knew they would.
And there we have it. Sorry there was no Merlin and Arthur. I thought they were nicely rounded off last chapter.
Hope you realised the significance of Little Arthur's birthday (and didn't hate me too much for calling him Arthur). 11th October is not only today but also Bradley James' birthday. Thought I'd pop that in there. Not that he is Bradley.
Look out for my future fics. I will try and post them ASAP.
Love you guys! xxx See ya soon!!!!!!!!!!
P.S. Btw, can you review this last chapter too? It would make me soooo happy! Tell me what you thought of the whole thing. x