Disclaimer: I love Merlin, but that doesn't mean I own it. Pure fan love here.
Story: This was not the future the legends had been carved from. Far from it. And as Merlin watched the world burn, she felt nothing but apathy. For Arthur, it was all worth it. Conspiracies, lies, and half-truths are constructed in a masterful web that surprisingly Merlin and Uther are in the middle of. A girl's devotion and what a father is willing to do for his son.
Set as an AU, genderbending fic.
Spoilers: From episode S2.4 ("Lancelot and Guinevere") and mentions of future chapters.
Warnings: Semi-dark!Merlin, Cunning!Ruthless!Uther, Suspicious!Observant!Arthur, and the rest will be drawn into the chaos.
Pairings: Merlin/Arthur, Gwen/Lancelot, Morgana/?, heavily implied past-Uther/Ingraine, one-sided Gwen/Merlin, one-sided Morgana/Merlin, slight Edwin/Merlin (mostly one-sided), slight Nimueh/Merlin (mostly one-sided)...
The Day the Whole World Went Away
Chapter Nineteen: Audi Separation
The wind was gently blowing her hair everywhere. There were the smells of flowers and grass and fruits…And the stillness of the air, feeling tranquil instead of disturbing…
It was so peaceful…so calm…
She felt at peace.
And to him, she was absolutely beautiful. He didn't know where she came from, who she was, what she was…only that for some reason, God above had gifted him and sent him an angel.
She had no memory. She didn't know who she was. She only knew that she was called Merlin, and that was it.
Merlin had come to him injured, and just in the process of recovering from a bad cold. When she had a fever, he sat by her bedside and held her hand, murmuring sweet things into her ear and keeping her company as he cooled her head with a wet rag.
He'd thought he could ask Ingraine for help…but something held him back and he felt like keeping Merlin all to himself. He didn't want anyone else to know about her and he didn't want to share her with others.
Tristan didn't know why he felt this way.
And now, seeing her like this, so serene and beautiful with a content smile on her face…it took his breath away and made him want all the more to keep his secret.
Hesitantly, he walked over to her and then lay by her side, staring at her peaceful face. He felt at peace himself, and wondered if it was her doing. Was it magic? Or was there just something about her that was special?
"I like it here," she suddenly murmured, breaking into his thoughts. "Everything is in harmony. I feel the same way. Nothing is…chaotic or upsetting."
"You can stay here for as long as you like," he whispered. "I won't ever turn you out."
She turned her head towards him and gave him a curious, searching look. And then she gave him the most brightest smile he'd ever seen.
"Thank you," she murmured.
After a moment of hesitation and shyness, she bit her lower lip and moved in a haltering way towards him, tilting her head and lightly pressing her lips against his. His eyes fluttered close and he kissed her firmly.
"Merlin? Merlin, where are you?!"
But she couldn't hear that voice no matter how hard that person tried.
And tried, Arthur did. As time moved faster in the past, the time Arthur was in moved to a slow crawl. He called out to Merlin desperately, hurrying into the room and avoiding the sand as he tried to find a clue as to where she'd gone or what that stranger had done to her.
All he had was the sand left over from what spell was used on Merlin.
Unable to find anything in the room, or understand what he did have, he rushed over to Gaius' room and burst through, finally waking the old man. The physician blinked dazedly, waking up slowly.
"What in the world? What is it, Sire?"
"Merlin's been taken!"
That got Gaius up quickly and he hurriedly followed Arthur back to Merlin's room, while the young man recounted what little he'd seen happened. The mysterious magic-user worried Gaius greatly, as did this mention of some kind of 'sand.' And when he saw the sand, his eyes darkened and he frowned deeply.
"Arthur, I think those may be sands from the Sands of Time," Gaius murmured grimly. "I must collect a sample to be sure, and also to see what else could have been added. Bring me two vials from my work lab. I will collect sand from both around the bed and on it, from where you said sand had been on Merlin."
Arthur nodded and left to do as he was asked, coming back quickly after with the requested vials. Gaius carefully put the sand he needed into both vials before scurrying down to his work lab, Arthur following uncertainly behind him.
"I…I shouldn't tell Father," Arthur muttered. "He loves Merlin, and her being taken with sorcery might set him off. He becomes unreasonable when it becomes involved, and Merlin being harmed by it will upset him. No, no…I have to save her myself. Do this on my own. With your help, of course, Gaius."
"Perhaps you should ask for the Lady Morgana's help," Gaius suggested, inwardly resigned to the realization he would have to perform Merlin's usual duty of reporting to Uther in this case, and informing the King about her disappearance. "She loves Merlin. She would be aggrieve at her disappearance and will wish to help. The more people, perhaps the quicker we can bring Merlin back home."
Arthur cringed, not liking the idea of having to bring in Morgana, especially in regards to his rival's feelings for his fiancée, but bringing back Merlin was more important and he'll just have to put up with her. So as Arthur went to go ask for Morgana's help, Gaius reluctantly went to Uther to inform him of the situation.
He found the King quietly looking out of his window, and when Uther turned, there was a small and sincerely happy smile on his face that Gaius had not seen for a long time. Not since Ingraine at least. However, seeing Gaius, Uther's face smoothed over (though he kept the smile to a smaller degree and still was friendly).
"You're quiet. Like earlier. It was unsettling. Anything on your mind, Uther?" Gaius decided he'd work towards telling him the news.
"Just a lot of things," Uther mused. "Mostly that I feel as if I failed Merlin. My earlier talk with her has helped, but I wish there was more I can do. I know I must try harder, talk more with her."
Gaius cringed, just like Arthur had earlier.
"Uther…Merlin has been taken."
Uther froze, staring at him as if Gaius was some mystical beast. And then Uther yelled out in anger, practically reaching him in seconds as the man strode over in fury. Gaius cringed again, almost reminded of the time Uther had started lashing out after Ingraine's death. The man's green eyes were blazing with his anger, and his body was visibly tense and almost as if to attack.
"Where. Is. She?" Uther hissed, stopping just short of Gaius and leaning in dangerously.
Gaius, in a way, had not exactly understood or known the depths of Uther's affections for Merlin. The King had always been very keen on keeping his affections to himself and had never been known to show his emotions or care freely or expressively, even for Arthur. That he do so now, for Merlin…
"WHAT HAPPENED?!" Uther roared out and Gaius slightly jumped from the sound and force of it, brought out of his musings.
But instead of cringing away or being frightened off, Gaius smiled sadly at his old friend and placed a hand on Uther's shoulder and squeezed in understanding. As both men who cared for the girl who was missing, feelings were shared and understood between them. Uther's anger drained out of him and his body slightly hunched over, the King looking exhausted and defeated, almost a visage of how he was after he'd just lost Ingraine.
Gaius' heart clenched in pain for his friend and for their missing girl. He reluctantly told Uther what had happened and what was being done now to help bring her back.
"I see. I'll come down in a second and read one of the books –"
"Sire," Gaius unwillingly cut him off. "I think it best that you do not help. Arthur and Morgana may know you care for Merlin now…but it is known how much you hate magic. To involve yourself now…"
Uther looked away from him quickly, frustrated and pained at the restraints being placed on him.
"Can you at least bring one of the books to me? I can read and still help out, and maybe find something…even if I must hide in my room," Uther muttered.
"Of course, Uther. Of course."
Useless. Uther felt useless. He felt as useless and helpless then, as he did when Merlin had been taken and ransomed not too long ago. Now, she's been taken again, not even a few days fresh from her last kidnapping.
"Again, I am unable to do anything for her. And this time, I cannot even come after her to save her," Uther's hands clenched.
"Everything will be fine, Uther. You see. Arthur will bring her back. I just need to find out what's been done to her and where she is, and Merlin will be home in no time," Gaius tried to reassure him.
Uther didn't feel very reassured. In fact, he felt hopeless and angry with himself.
"You said that the sands might be of the Sands of Time?" Uther asked dully.
"Yes. It could very well be that she is again in the future, or the past this time. I need to study the sands, and they may give me a clue –"
But what Gaius had said had clicked with Uther and he was rushing away from his startled physician and heading towards his wardrobe, grabbing the small chest hidden inside, where he'd kept all of Ingraine's letters and special things. There, he rummaged through it and grabbed a specific letter.
"Dear Ingraine, I dearly hope you are in fine health and are probably frolicking around like fey youths with Uther in Camelot. I am happy to reassure you I am not 'rotting away' like a bag of old bones in our family's summer home. In fact, I am in heaven, dear sister. I am in heaven and living with an angel…With love, Tristan…" Uther murmured, reading the preserved words of Ingraine's older brother.
Gaius stared at him.
"Could it be? Is Merlin in the past…with Tristan…?" Uther likewise stared at the letter.
"Tristan was…He was…very fond of this mysterious girl he'd fervently talked about in those days," Gaius felt unsteady. "He became so very lost when she mysteriously disappeared. No one other than him had ever talked to or seen her. It had torn him apart and he'd never really recovered from it…and partly the reason why he'd so easily and freely blamed you for Ingraine's death and come after you."
Uther looked sharply at him. "Did he wanted to die?"
Gaius sighed. "Only he knows. And as we know, he is dead. For real this time," they briefly recalled his wraith.
"Will you tell me what you can for the situation? Merlin…Merlin is usually the one who tells me everything…" Uther trailed off into a whisper.
"I will," Gaius promised. "I will return shortly with a book for you to search through, while the rest of us will be grouped into my chambers, researching there."
"Very well. I will wait here," Uther muttered resentfully.
The other man left and Uther glared out into the night.
"And yet again, I sit here and do nothing, playing stupid King," Uther mulishly kicked at the wall halfheartedly, seating himself at the windowsill after.
He could almost picture Merlin smirking and rolling her eyes at him.
"Don't sulk, Uther. You're acting like a child," he could even hear her saying.
A bittersweet smile crossed his lips.
When he was later left with a magic book, he had paused and stared at it, hands holding it gently.
It was Merlin's personal magic book.
"This belongs to Merlin. It is her personal book that I'd given her when she'd come to Camelot, and that she has been using to teach herself some spells she cannot already do on her own," Gaius tentatively handed it over to the King.
But Uther only grabbed it tenderly, staring at it as if it were Merlin herself.
"I will take care of it."
It was better left to him anyways, he thought. Arthur did not know Merlin was magic and Morgana was untrained and needed her teacher to supervise her over the use of such a powerful book. At least Uther knew…
It was a small but somewhat meaningful consolation to him being unable to go with the others and actively search for a solution or for Merlin.
He heard beautiful humming. He recognized her soft, sweet voice and he followed it all the way to his room, where he saw her in her usual spot –her favorite seat on his large balcony.
Merlin had one of her own in her rooms, but she seemed fond and attached to his. He would never begrudge her it.
"Merlin, it is lunch time. Would you like to eat here or in the dining room?" he asked her affectionately.
"Tristan…can you hear him?" Merlin murmured. "His voice is soft and I cannot hear a single word he utters…but it is painful and sad."
Tristan frowned, not wanting her to be sorrowed and also unable to keep away his jealousy of this unknown man. He went over to her and embraced her from behind, bending a little to plant a tender kiss upon her brow. She leaned back and took hold of one of his hands, holding it as she tilted her head back and closed her eyes, wherein he kissed her softly in response.
"I cannot hear him," she murmured.
He hated this unknown man.
"Then do not listen," he whispered.
'It will be less painful…for the both of us,' he thought only, closing his eyes as well.
"Lunch, you said. Come," she stood up and threaded her arm around his, leading the way to the kitchens.
She shuddered inwardly and wished the voice would go away.
And while two months had passed in that place, only two days had passed since Merlin's disappearance in her own time. They searched frantically through the books, coming up with nothing, while Uther sat restlessly in his room, trying to come up with something to do and patiently and meticulously going through Merlin's magic book all the while. He'd been in the middle of a paragraph when he'd heard footsteps outside his rooms. He quickly shut the book and rapidly tossed it under the table he'd been reading it at, using his foot to further hide it underneath.
He wondered if this was what Merlin had to do frequently and if she did it the exact same way. He felt a pang in his chest at the thought, and missed her even just a little bit more.
"Uther?" he heard Morgana call out and he gave her permission to enter.
Merlin used to just stroll in after knocking…
He shook his head and tried not to think about the missing girl, offering a tired smile to Morgana.
"Morgana," he greeted. "What can I do for you?"
"I wanted to check up on you," she frowned at him, slightly in worry. "I've heard you've been holed up in here with barely a word."
His smile strained a bit. He wished he could say that he knew Merlin was gone and he missed her more than she ever could, but he kept silent instead.
"I haven't been feeling well," which wasn't untrue, considering how he felt with Merlin not there. "I've just been resting and hoping to regain my strength."
"I see," Morgana's frown remained. "I hope you rest well and get better quickly."
"Thank you, Morgana. Truly," Uther's smile became a little bit more sincerer and Morgana returned it lightly.
"Uther…" she hesitated. "Have you thought more on my request?"
Inwardly, Uther balked. Her request on becoming engaged to Merlin…he'd almost forgotten in the light of things. And now their nice, small little talk that had been going well was going to end up badly, as usual between them.
"I have," he started. "Morgana…I do not think it is a good idea."
Morgana recoiled from him as if struck.
"But…but why?! I thought you liked Merlin. You know he would take care of me and be kind to me! Is it because of his status?"
Uther took a deep breath. "I do like Merlin. I know Merlin would take the greatest care of you and make you a happy and belated wife. This has nothing to do with status. Morgana, Merlin is a woman."
Morgana stared at him, shocked and confused. That immediately turned to fury.
"Don't lie to me, Uther! How dare you make something like that up, just to keep him away from me?! Just because you refuse to allow us to be together, just because you can't accept it or approve of us –it does not mean you can lie like that!" she ended shrilly.
She ran from him before he could make his case and he sighed in aggravation, massaging his head. Denial had not exactly been one of the reactions he'd thought of…
He wished Merlin was there. She always made him feel better and always stood by him. He missed her counsel and her banter. He missed her.
Feeling utterly depressed, Uther reached down and retrieved the book, wasting no time in going back to his careful reading. His head started nodding off sometime later, his eyes getting heavier as he felt more tired as time wore on and he felt closer to embracing sleep.
"You like peaches, don't you?"
She laughed lightly. "How does that come about?"
"Milady, I dare say you smell of them all the time. It's…sweet…intoxicating…" his voice grew to a whisper.
A red blush grew on her face and she smiled shyly at him.
"Your past. It is your past," he spoke firmly, and almost a tinge desperately. "It should stay there. You are coming to have a different life. Stay here with me. I can make you happy."
She stared at him, eyes wide in astonishment.
"I promise to be by your side for eternity, no matter what may come. I would sit at your feet, waiting on you. I would care for you and give you all you need. You will always have a home here, all the clothes, jewelry, and fine things you could want. Everything you ask, I would deliver. Simply say yes and I would make you a queen in my home, in my land."
She was made speechless, unable to properly come up with a proper response to his impassioned declaration and his hopeful, longing gaze.
"M-maybe," she answered softly.
And he would take that answer, knowing it was good enough for then.
He leaned in and kissed her lips with all the gentleness of a lover and smiled wistfully at her.
"Can I keep you secret? Will you be mine in this castle, and keep you all to myself just for a little longer?"
To this she simply smiled and kissed him back, giving a slight nod.
Uther jolted awake, the last vestiges of his dream fading away as he gained further awareness. His jaw clenched and knew his earlier assumption was right.
Merlin was in the past, and with Tristan de Bois. His late brother-in-law. Ingraine's brother.
He closed his eyes and put the palms of his hands on his head, squeezing and wishing everything would just go away. She looked so restful and at peace…and he felt like he was depriving her happiness once again, just like he had when he'd brought her back from the future. And a part of him still felt guilty and wishing to repent for Tristan's equal loss of Ingraine and his death, maybe let him have Merlin…at least for a little while, as Tristan seemed to have done in the past if he remembered the letters correctly.
After all, he was quite sure he would probably be part of how Merlin was taken from Tristan in the end, and not just through Arthur.
It was strange how he'd dreamed of her and the past. He was pretty sure he had no magic in him and no seer ability, likened to Morgana. Merlin would know, or would know how to figure it out. Sometimes he felt like he took her for granted. She did so much for him, Arthur, and Camelot…and now that she was gone, they were floundering and unable to figure out what to do or how to fix things.
Uther could not go to the dragon. He knew that it would not help him a second time, as the first time had already been once enough. Gaius was too used to avoiding it to remember, and even if Uther were to remind him, there was no guarantee it would help him, especially if the dragon were to find out Uther had pushed Gaius into asking.
They were probably very well on their own.
Arthur sat on his bench, waiting for Morgana to return from her visit with Uther (why was it taking so long?) and worried about his father as well. Gaius was focused intensely at his table, doing something with the sands as Arthur sat miserably, book opened in front of him.
"Merlin," he muttered dazedly.
He drew a worried glance from Gaius, but he was too out of it.
"Can't you hear me? I miss you."
She blinked, hearing the voice again. What was he saying?
"I want you back."
She bit her lip, feeling tears prick her eyes.
"I love you," Arthur croaked.
She hurriedly wiped away her tears and though she tried not to, she listened.
"Come back home."
She lightly hit her head, wishing away the voice. Wiping her tears one more time, she made up her mind to close it to the voice and push it away. She laid her head on Tristan's chest, feeling it rise and lower with each breath. It comforted her.
"Come back to me."
Merlin closed her eyes and reached out, wrapping her arm around Tristan and reaching for his hand, holding it tight.
Arthur buried his face in his hands and cried, with Gaius looking sadly at him from across the room.
Started 9/4/12 – Completed 9/6/12
A/n: I…have nothing to say XD Except these chapters are really nicely paralleled with "The Day the Whole World Slept" and I'm pretty happy about that. So…enjoy and review!
To ShadowWolfGang8: I never log off XD It just makes it easier on me. Pretty much Merlin and Uther is my favorite thing right (and weirdly enough, everyone else seems to like their relationship too –and here I thought everyone but me hated Uther). I think I'm really doing this father/daughter stuff a lot now, to set up for when Balinor comes in and for when Morgana is revealed to actually be Uther's daughter. Eek…As for Morgana, secret for now? Hahaha. She has been having dreams of Merlin as Queen, she just doesn't get them because Merlin is male to her. And dhh…:P that person…Thanks for the offer! –Eri
To emmahere: Yes, thank you! I'm really excited to do something original, especially since it's working alongside the parallel sequel. I really like focusing on the characters and how they feel. And yeah, I like making Uther irritate Gaius and have made it headcanon XD I should just do a serious of Uther's notes for fun on a drawing or something.
To CM: Glad you love it! Especially since it a fem!Merlin and it's uncanon all over the face, and you said it's not really your thing. Thanks for trying it out and liking it so much! I like writing Uther and just making him human and exploring him, because every time I read a fic he's a complete asshole and one-dimensional that I wonder if anyone actually bothers going into his head and actually trying to write him. And the three of them are just altogether really fun, especially writing Uther and Merlin and Arthur/Merlin scenes.
To darkflare54: Yes! I have not disappeared off the face of the planet, though it looked that way. And I've been updating a lot more frequently now, I'm happy to say.