Reign Down On Me
Disclaimer: Merlin is not mine. This story is.
Notes: I'm going with the actor's ages, as we aren't really told how old Mordred or Merlin is – so;
Mordred – 13*
*At present however, Merlin is not-yet ten, and Mordred is almost three.
Naming Of Emrys
There was always something about the boat. It was not that it needed no paddles to go forward, or that the waters beneath were calm to the point where there was barely a ripple to disturb the surface. It was eerie quiet. Almost patient as it bobbed on the lake, enduring as it set a decent pace that did not chill them to stillness, or moved swiftly setting too much of a breeze upon reddened cheeks, and deeply satisfied, it seemed, as rough stone scratched the bottom of wooden planks. It gave a certain sense as if was almost sentient, almost alive - almost, but, not quiet.
Always after, when he thought of the Isle of the Blessed, it would be the boat that anchored him in the surety of a child that such a place was and would always be. He stumbled from the boat, unbalanced and ungainly, but it was Nimueh who stilled him with a hand upon his shoulder. It was all the reassurance he would be given, yet, somehow, it was enough.
Enough to let him trot after Nimueh, with Blaise trailing after – he understood when the stone path that started where the boat had landed itself ended within a clearing that was surrounded by ancient buildings that put him in mind of the old stories; of Roman soldiers with red cloaks, and strange Greek gods that took on the look of humans. This was something like a ceremony.
Nervous now, in a way that he was not before, he nearly trips on his own feet when they halt. He notices at once that someone must have been here before they arrived, upon the alter there is a small fire still flickering, and strange smelling smoke rises up from a metal bowl that rests above the fire. Its age is apparent, tarnished and dull, rust and flame having darkened it on the outside and within.
Nimueh starts to hum tonelessly as she picks up the bowl, he flinches, expecting her to cry out in pain – she does not. For a moment, he does not understand, the fire must have warmed the metal to make its contents burn. Rolling words wash over his hears, though he understanding them in his heart. Blaise joins her, and it strikes him then – this is a song. Nimueh keels to put the bowl on the stone path, then stands, for a moment he worries – do they expect him to know what he is to do? Is this a test? What will they do to him if he fails – take him back to his mother, or kill him?
"Kneel, breath in the smoke – then speak you true name." He understands that this is to find out his name. He has told them his name, but bites his lips closed, the feeling – the sense to this Isle of the Blessed and its clearing – that this is ritual and this is ceremony and he should not question, but obey, fills his head and stops his tongue. He feels it is wrong to embarrass them, or to be as rude as that – even if they do not believe him, or won't until he goes through this. He lets out a little sigh, too soft to seem put-upon; rather he accepts that he has to do this. He'll just say his name into the smoke and be done with it.
The stone path is oddly warm against his hands and the thin cloth that covers his knees. Bowing his head into the smoke, he inhales, feeling as if the world is a bit more focused then it was a moment ago. He hears their toneless humming, their breathing, and their hearts. Hears the wind as it sweeps over the pillars that surround the clearing, hears the lake lap at the shore and wet the dark rocks. He knows the name of these things, but the knowledge is fleeting, fleeing as he speaks his name, his own voice ringing in his mind as he says it.
"Emrys." It is a truth he will not – can not – deny, even if he didn't know it was the truth.
"Be welcome, Emrys, to the Isle of the Blessed, heartland to the Druid." Nimueh helps him to stand, taking his hands into her own – they are colder then the stone. It worries him for a moment, but there is no time to ask – to question – for he only now listens to hear the murmur of voices, some young, some old, both man and woman.
He looks around then, it seems almost a dream to realize - though he had not seen them before, and had been sure that they were alone - that he and Nimueh and Blaise are suddenly among a throng of humanity within a little clearing of ancient ruins.
There are others here, cloaked in greens and blues and browns, and vibrant colors in-between that he had only seen in nature, their voices echoing in the wind, fertile – alive; it seems that even if this is an ancient place, it is thriving.
His glee is settled by a calmness that washes over him, as each of them speaks his name in welcome – telling freely their own names in turn (each of these names comes back to him with startling ease when he thinks back, though he knows the names should have faded – they never do).
In that first visit, Emrys only lingered on the Isle of the Blessed for a handful of days, watching as other children learned their true names and was welcomed in the same way. When he leaves it (as all the children must) – Nimueh does not follow. It hardly seemed to matter, with Blaise at his side, he never felt alone or neglected.
He learned much in those handful of years, he sometimes thought to ask when he would stop learning ("If you are lucky, young Emrys, that day will never come. Not even when I am old and grey would I wish to not learn anything new at all. Not even in death, I prey.") and start teaching ("Do you grow bored of me so easily? No? Well, you will teach when it is your time, if that duty calls to you.") and while there were always answers, they were not always what he expected them to be, or wanted them to be.
Then, the day came, Nimueh called them back to the Isle of the Blessed.
It was not Nimueh that greeted them on the shores, it was a boy; he was cold and pale and shivering. He said not a word of greeting, but only stared at Emrys as if he'd been waiting all his life to set eyes upon him. Discomforted, Emrys looked to Blaise, who only touched his shoulder and silently shook his head as if in pity.
"Ah, there you are my Mordred." Nimueh appeared with her words, and the wide blue sapphire eyes fixed upon her as if she were the only clear thing in the fog of the boy's mind.
"Mother…" Mordred greeted her, his words a whispered sigh, his attention turned again to Emrys, as fixed upon him as it had been on Nimueh. Blaise he did not seem to see at all.
"What is wrong with you?" Emrys asked softly, he was uneasy under that stare, that intent focus so measured upon him, but he did not look away; that would be rude, and admittance of submission to this boy.
"I'm blessed by the Goddess, as you are – will you be my friend Emrys?" Mordred asked with a smile that made his sapphire eyes shine; as if he already knew the answer.
"Yes." Emrys says, acknowledging the swirling power around them, he can do little else. It is only when he speaks that he realizes Mordred has not said a word aloud, all of his words had been whispered within his mind. It's a private communication, that way of speaking, and Emrys flushes, looking aside.
Nimueh ruffles Mordred's black hair, a small smile playing on her lips.
"I have been waiting so long for you." Mordred takes his hand, the weight of words in Emrys head are warm and comfortable. Mordred is very young, Emrys realizes with that little hand curled protectively about his finger – Emrys is a child not yet ten, and Mordred doesn't talk aloud at all because he can't – he shouldn't even be able to toddle about on his own, let alone talk.
"Blaise is it any wonder such eerie children are thought cursed outside the mists of the Isle of the Blessed?" Nimueh speaks, something in her eyes and voice reflect sympathy for the pair of them, pity at the hardships they will inevitably face. Emrys can feel those, in the distant future, sometimes, at the fringes of his dreams.
Mordred's little hand clenches around his fingertips, possessive. "I will not let them hurt you, my Emrys, do not fear what we can not yet see."
Emyrs nods in agreement, and at his acceptance of Mordred's words, Mordred smiles softly for him.
"It is time you knew why this place is called the Isle of the Blessed." Nimueh runs her hand through Mordred's hair, soothingly, for Mordred stirs uneasily and glances up at her.
"In the Old Religion of the Old World, the Isle of the Blessed referred to a place where heroes and other favored went when they passed on. This is what they beyond the mists tell their children and whisper to themselves of what became of us. You know differently, though you are children yourselves. The Isle of the Blessed is like a doorway between Avalon, the land of eternal youth, and Albion, which is for the mortals. We are children blessed to be able to travel between both worlds, like our Isle of the Blessed. Today, you meet the Sidhe of Avalon." Nimueh eyes are fixed beyond them, to the mists that obscure the land beyond the lake.
Emrys shivers, for there is something out there – moving – and then there is not. It is too still.
"Well spoken, sister mine." Emrys spins about, for the fair voice came from behind him; already Nimueh and Blaise have caught sight of her, bowing their heads in respect. A smile plays at Nimueh's lips.
"Sophia, blessed is our meeting, my son Mordred – and the boy Emrys." Nimueh says, Sophia already kneels beside the boys; Mordred takes a step away from her, a warning in his eyes as he looks to Emrys. Sophia looks nothing like Nimueh or Mordred, she is fair with yellow hair, but the blue eyes with dancing gold flames are the same as theirs – the same as Emrys.
"How strange, this boy has no mortal father." Sophia's knuckles faintly bush Emrys cheek, and they are cold. He looks aside from her, feeling shame, and notices the Sidhe staff that lies on the ground beside her – she has not let it go.
"It is my way back to Tír-Mòr, little one, perhaps one day we will go there together." Sophia muses aloud, but Emrys closes his eyes and his heart seems to open to wander-lust, for all that he has been all over Albion with Blaise, there is the promise for more then he can imagine in Sophia's words. When he opens his eyes, she favors him with a smile, it's bright and shining, like the sun.
"He will go no where with you alone." Mordred hisses wordlessly at her, an echo of it rippling through Emrys mind, his lips curling up in a snarl.
"Oh little shadow, how great your fall will be, to his greatest sorrow, Emrys. He will kill you when he strikes upon the one who holds half your soul." Sophia's eyes were narrowed upon Mordred, who flinched from her as if struck.
"No, I would never! You lie! Do not listen, Emrys…? Please, believe me…I would not do such a thing!" Tears blurred Mordred's eyes, as he looked up upon Emrys, pleadingly.
"Do you promise?" Emrys asks, though he had heard the echo of prophesy in Sophia's words as well as Mordred.
"Yes, yes! I swear it upon my name, my blessings of power! You are my friend! You mean everything to me!" Morderd would say anything, Emrys realized with a sharp pain in his heart, so long as he would not turn away from the smaller boy. Emrys knelt and hugged him, so that he faced Sophia as he did it.
He did not know his eyes flared gold.
"Leave." He said, and Sophia bowed her head with a smile.
"As you will, Ambrosius…" She fades in golden light and Nimueh breaths in a deep beside him, as if startled.
"You did well, Emrys – very well, to defend my son." She shakes her head, and Emrys can see her shivering. He doesn't know what he's done, but he does know that Nimueh had dared not interfere. They, the Sidhe, who call Avalon their Tír-Mòr, were a powerful people, and greater then Nimueh, priestess of the Old Religion of the Druid.
"Why did she call me Ambrosius…?" Emrys asks his pale blue eyes unflinching.
"It is your name, in their tongue. It means immortal, or divine." Emrys closes his eyes and breaths as Mordred holds fast to him, an anchor in the storm. It is imposable not to notice, having come face to face with Sophia that all of them have the same eerie blue eyes – but their hair is dark, as if the Sidhe looked into a dark mirror before coming upon the Isle of the Blessed.
He wonders why that is, and if everyone in the Old Religion can claim blood tie to the Sidhe. Emrys opens his eyes, and looks into the mist, and hears Sophia's words again ringing in his mind where they can never be lost.
"…this boy has no mortal father…"
Who is his father?
Only his mother, Hunith, would know.
Notes: We know that Cerdan is the father of Mordred, but we never learned who his mother was – so I'm saying Nimueh.
Tír-Mòr means mainland, great/large country in Irish, it suits as something the Sidhe would call Avalon, as they use it in Merlin.
Please be aware that I'm writing this while my only working knowledge of Merlin is the first season, and the Arthurian myths.