A/N: Sorry it's taken me so long to update! I've been busting my arse in college (5 exams last week yikes!) But all is well! Thanks so much to everyone who's reviewed so far! It took me a few hours to bring myself to type this, but it's finally here (but not without the help of a handful of Frooties and my play list!) Also, I hope everyone who's been able to see Season 2 so far has enjoyed it! Anywho, enjoy chapter 3, reviews are appreciated and come with warm gooey Merlin Muffins! :D
Oh! I also have a play list in the works for those of you who want an enhanced reading experience ;) If you're interested in it, I'll post it.
Disclaimer: I don't own the BBC's Merlin or any of it's characters.
Gwen's expression was panicked. "What's going on Merlin? Is Morgana all right?"
Merlin couldn't help but feel sorry for Gwen. She must have assumed the worst had happened. He felt terrible for scaring her that way, but he needed her cooperation. "Gwen, I really need you come with me. It's important." He reached out to grab her hand and she pulled it away from him with a threatening look.
"Merlin, you will tell me what's going on or else I won't help you." Even though Gwen was being authoritative, her eyes were betraying her. Deep down, she was truly concerned and she couldn't mask it. She straightened her spine and continued a little more rationally. "And I'd like to be decent before I go traipsing across Camelot." She blushed a little as she said this and Merlin couldn't help but direct his gaze downward to Gwen's nightclothes.
"Oh right. You should change." He rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment and waited patiently as she changed clothes. When she emerged from the house, she looked even more worried than she had before.
"You will tell me what's going on now won't you?"
They took off back towards Gaius's house and Merlin explained to her what had happened.
"Morgana had another nightmare." He watched Gwen's face fall. He knew how much she hated to see the Lady Morgana in pain.
"Is this something to do with her nightmares having an odd tendency to come true?" Gwen eyed him skeptically.
"I think so." He had to say something to her without exposing himself. He took a deep breath and hoped his lie would be enough. "Gaius seems to think that Morgana may be gifted with the sight."
"It's hard not to notice the accuracy in her dreams. I've felt so bad watching her suffer through her nightmares alone. She must be terrified." There was a very sad expression on Gwen's face now. It was one of deep regret, and Merlin knew it wasn't just for Morgana. After all, it was magic that condemned Gwen's father to death. Gwen wrung her hands a few times as if searching for words. "Maybe it's better if she not know. She won't be at risk of Uther's punishment if she doesn't know. You know she's not one to keep her head down."
"I know that Gwen. But she's in just as much danger if she's unaware. She came to Gaius tonight in hysterics. She said she saw my death. My death, Gwen."
Gwen stopped in her tracks. "Do you think it could really happen?"
"I don't know, but it's not something I want to test. That's why I need your help. No one can know about this."
She looked to the ground. "I don't know Merlin. I don't want to suffer my father's fate."
"Gwen." He put his hands on either of her shoulders and gave her a little shake. "I won't let anything happen. I promise. What happened to your father was terrible, and he was undeserving. But that's what happens when magic gets out of hand. Morgana needs help. She's alone." He pulled her into a slightly awkward hug then, and Gwen wrapped her arms around his waist.
"Thanks. You always know what to say."
He grinned then. It was the warm boyish grin that Gwen hadn't seen in a while. It was nice to have it back. "Aren't I usually the one to say that about you?"
They were quiet for a while. As they approached Gaius's door Gwen broke the silence. "Do you think it can be changed? Her dreams, I mean."
"How so?" He was playing dumb now. It was better than exposure.
"Well I remember Morgana telling me about Sophia, and then last week about the Questing Beast. Arthur is still alive and well. Her dreams haven't been completely accurate. Maybe nothing will happen that puts you in danger."
Merlin almost laughed then. If only Gwen knew the truth. Merlin had always been the one to right all of Arthur's wrongs. He had been the one to prevent Morgana's dreams from coming true. But who would save him?
"You mustn't tell anyone about this Gwen."
"Of course not Merlin. I know what Uther would do if he found out Morgana possessed some kind of magic. But what's keeping him from thinking this already? Morgana's been having nightmares for years."
"Gaius tells Uther that they're just nightmares. And he believes it. Or at least he doesn't let on that he suspects otherwise. Though I imagine that if he gets wind of Morgana's latest episode he might have his doubts."
"I promise you I will not speak a word of this to anyone."
"Thank you Gwen."
"Does Morgana understand what's happening to her?"
"I think deep down she does. But she seems scared, and Gaius isn't quite sure how to explain things."
"I think most of all she probably wants someone to relate to. I can't imagine carrying that kind of burden. It must get heavy, having a secret like that. Just being herself could have her put to death. It must be terrible."
Merlin just stared at the door handle. "Yes, I suppose it would be."
She gave a nervous laugh. She was beginning to feel uneasy. "Listen to me, I'm so glum. We should really get inside."
Deep down, Merlin wondered if Gwen knew more than she was letting on to. They opened the door and stood in the entryway, neither of them making a move to advance into the house.
"Are you just going to stand there, or are you going to make yourselves useful?"
They both jumped at the sound of Gaius's voice. They stood around the table, heads bent low. It was comical, for they truly looked like thieves plotting their next pillage. Gaius dictated to them.
"Gwen, you will go with Merlin to the castle and fetch Morgana a change of clothes. Merlin, you will tend to Arthur as usual." Merlin's face fell and Gaius smiled. "Leave the rest to me."
Just then Morgana emerged from Merlin's room. She walked slowly, a grim expression on her face. She looked sickly, tired, and worst of all frightened. Her hands and feet had been cleaned up, but she still wore the tattered dress she had arrived in. She didn't speak, but instead stood in front of Gwen looking like she was going to cry. Gwen wrapped her arms around her immediately and pulled her into a tight hug, but it didn't quell the uneasiness she felt when she first entered the house.
"I'm so sorry milady," she whispered, "I promise we're going to help you. It will be all right in the end." Morgana inhaled deeply as she pulled away and nodded her head weakly. Gwen gave a small smile and brushed hair from Morgana's face. "We need you back to your old self. Who else is going to tell Uther how to run the kingdom?" Morgana gave a small laugh and a sad smile.
Gaius cleared his throat before interrupting them. "I will go speak with Uther when you return with Morgana's clothes. If he doesn't heed my warning and happens to come storming in here, please look ill Morgana. We need to make this believable if we are to have any success." He looked at Gwen and Merlin, who were still standing wordlessly in front of him. "Well, there are things to be done, off with the both of you!" They left before he could say anything else. Once they were out of earshot Morgana spoke.
"Why are you doing this for me?"
"What do you mean?" Gaius did his best to look confused.
"I mean, why are you treating me this way? Anyone else would say that these are just dreams. Uther would probably deem me insane and have me taken away. Do you believe my dreams actually have merit?"
He hadn't wanted to answer this question yet, but Morgana's never wavering tenacity had made that impossible. "I believe so. Morgana, I have been tending to you too long to not have noticed the eerie resemblance you dreams bare to real life. I believe there is magic in you."
"Magic." She had said it aloud for only the second time. The first came after Merlin had helped her to get the Druid boy, Mordred out of Camelot. It was the first time that Morgana had realized there was something more to her nightmares and it had scared her. She didn't want to say it aloud for fear of execution. She had been witness to too many deaths because of Uther's ignorance to magic. She did not want to be next.
"The proper term would be seer. I believe you possess the power to see the future Morgana, and I'm sure you wouldn't fight me on that assumption."
Gaius took both of her bandaged hands in his own and gave them a gentle squeeze. "Morgana, we will figure this out. We're going to help you."
"But what can they do for me Gaius? I'm only putting them in danger. I should never have come here."
"Nonsense! Morgana, you underestimate Gwen and Merlin. Gwen is a strong young woman who would do anything to ensure your safety and happiness, she is quite capable to taking care of herself. And Merlin, he can do a lot more for you than you think. Give him a chance and he just might surprise you."
"But it was his death that I saw."
"Then why not give him a chance to prevent it? You have to accept help sometimes Morgana, you can't always wear a suit of armor." With that Gaius turned his back to her. "You should really be resting."
"Yes. I know." She turned and headed back towards Merlin's room. "Gaius?"
"Yes?" He turned back to face her. The expression on her face knocked all of the air from his lungs. It was as if he was peering into the future himself. He had never seen another human being look so frightening. It was as if Morgana's eyes that scared him. She looked so incredibly hopeless.
"I hope that it isn't too late."
She turned then, and closed the door behind her.
* * *
They were walking at a brisk pace, Gwen almost running to keep up with Merlin's long strides. "Merlin, what exactly was Morgana's dream about?"
"She said we were running through the woods. I don't know why, and she seemed to not know either. All she said was that we were running from something. And then she fell and I stopped to help her." He stopped walking to look at Gwen. "The bandages you saw on her palms are from her dream. She insists she didn't fall when she was running to Gaius's."
A look of terror crossed Gwen's face. "I wasn't aware that her dreams could affect her physically." That thought scared her.
"Neither was Gaius. According to him it's really odd. And worrisome."
"How did she say that you died?"
"An arrow to the heart. She said I was trying to save her. When she fell I went back to help her."
"That's quite heroic," she mused as the entrance to the castle came into view. She knew it was inappropriate to say, but couldn't help thinking that the situation needed to be lightened. Merlin gave her a smirk.
"I still don't understand. I mean, if this is really to happen, if I am really to die, what does it all mean? What's going to happen? Where? When?" The perplexities he felt were displayed all over his face.
"The two of you are very similar. I never put it together before, but I see it now."
He tried to keep a relaxed expression even though his insides were jittery. "What do you mean?"
"Oh." She chuckled. "I just meant that you're both so cryptic sometimes. Her dreams are always confusing. Kind of like you." Her face reddened. "Well, I- um, I just meant that sometimes I don't understand you. And you always run off with no explanation."
"No I don't." It was out of his mouth before he could consider saying it. Oh great Merlin, how much more of a fool can you be, he thought as he looked at Gwen's raised eyebrows.
"It's ok, you know. I've gotten used to it. I just meant that sometimes you seem a little cryptic yourself. Nothing wrong with that. Everyone has their secrets Merlin."
"Do you?" That was another statement he hadn't thought out. He gave himself a good mental kick as he felt his ears growing warm.
"Well-uh, we better get on with things then," Gwen said as they entered the castle. She laughed nervously as they went their separate ways.
The castle was fairly dark save for the flicker of candles casting ominous shadows about the walls. There was little movement. Merlin knew the kitchens were busy preparing breakfast, but no one was roaming the halls yet. He made his way towards Arthur's quarters to resume his duties as manservant. When he entered the room he was surprised to see Arthur already awake and dressed.
"Merlin." Arthur was finishing up the laces on his shirt. "Are my eyes deceiving me?"
"What do you mean sire?"
"Are you not only here on time, but actually here early this morning?"
"Um, yes sire?"
Arthur looked at him incredulously. "What have you done with Merlin, my slob of a manservant who is always late?"
Merlin couldn't help but smile. "I suppose I'm turning over a new leaf."
Arthur scoffed and moved to put his boots on. "Really Merlin, what are you doing here this early?"
Oh no Merlin! Think, come up with something good. He wracked his brain for anything that would work. Suddenly, something good came to mind. "I thought you might want to go on a hunt this morning. The deer should be moving, there is a heavy fog, and the weather is fairly cool."
Arthur considered this for a moment. "That actually sounds like a good idea Merlin. Have you hit your head?"
"Not that I am aware of sire."
"Well, did you finish what I asked you to do yesterday?"
Merlin very nearly bashed his head against the wall. I knew there was something I forgot! "No sire, I can't say that I did."
"Well then you will stay behind and finish what you started. And get my clothes washed as well. Oh, and prepare my horse."
Arthur sighed and walked over to Merlin. "Is it really that much to ask? I mean, what else is it that you do all day? Really Merlin, you needn't be so lazy." Merlin couldn't help but resent Arthur for saying that. After all, Merlin only spent every waking moment of his spare time saving Arthur's skin. Arthur gave Merlin a whack on the back of the head in a somewhat rather affectionate manner before putting his other boot on. "Just do what I've asked of you."
"That's all. You can go. See to it that I have at least three other men accompanying me on this trip, and provisions that are sufficient for it."
Merlin nodded and gave an awkward bow before exiting the room. He couldn't help but laugh as he headed towards the stables. That task had been easy enough. And Arthur thought Merlin was the idiot.
Gwen however, was having a more difficult time.
She had been stopped twice already, once by Millicent, a kitchen maid, and once by Laurel, a new maid who had been given most of the grunt work. She was stuck stitching clothes until the early hours of the morning, when her fingers were red and stiff. Both women had been wondering where she had been. Gwen usually found her way to the kitchen at a fairly early hour and ate with the rest of the maids. She had to brush Millicent off by saying that the Lady Morgana had asked her to do something important for her. When she tried to pry Gwen kept walking. She stood in the empty corridor looking rather confused about what had just happened. Laurel however, was not one to give up.
"I heard Millicent ask you about where you've been."
"So she did."
"I know you're lying. I can see it in your eyes. You've got something going on Gwen! Why are you keeping it from us?"
"I don't know what you're getting at."
"It's about a man isn't it? Oh, do tell me you've found someone!" She gasped suddenly. "It's Arthur's manservant isn't it? What's his name? Morton?"
"Merlin. And well-" She leaned is so that they were in whisper range. "Can you keep a secret?"
"Oh of course!" Gwen knew this was a lie. Laurel was the biggest gossip there was. It would be perfect. No one would even think twice to wonder why Gwen was preoccupied.
"It is Merlin. But you mustn't tell anyone."
"Never, my lips are tightly sealed! I will not tell a soul!"
"Thank you Laurel." She smiled warmly. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to tend to Lady Morgana."
"Sure you do." Gwen could hear Laurel's giggling drift all the way down the corridor as she headed towards Morgana's chambers.
Getting the dress was easy enough. She pulled a beautiful green dress from Morgana's wardrobe and eyed it longingly. Sure, she enjoyed being Morgana's maid, but she had always wondered what it would be like to have the finer things in life. It was a pity she would never know. She let the soft fabric slip between her fingers with such elegance that it made her smile. She might not ever get to have beautiful things, but it didn't mean she shouldn't be happy for Morgana. She deserved to be happy more than anyone else Gwen knew. She folded the dress over her arm and exited the castle, thankful that the guards never paid her any mind. For once, Gwen was thankful to go unnoticed.
She hurried back to Gaius's, unsure of what awaited her. She would never openly admit it, but magic scared her. In fact, it terrified her. What made matters worse, was that there was a knot growing in the pit of her stomach. It was one tangled with morals and laws. She knew this was wrong, but she cared far too much for Morgana to watch her deteriorate. Even so, Gwen couldn't help but be afraid, not only of the magic, but of Morgana as well.
A/N: Hope you all enjoyed it. This chapter is actually around 6,000 words, but seeing as that's waaaay too long, I've cut it in half. Chapter 4 should be up in a few days, a week at most. And look! No cliff hanger! Do you like that or not? As always, thanks so much for reading, and please review!