Title: The Curse

Authors: Cassy27
Words: 1982
Characters: Merlin, Arthur, oc
Rating: K+
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters of Merlin, sadly enough!
Spoilers: No spoilers in this post

Summary: Arthur gets cursed, but the consequences are much greater for Merlin. What happens when not even Arthur can save his servant and why do they get unexpected help from an old acquaintance?

This story takes place somewhere in season 1

AN: I don't have a beta for this story so every mistake is my own. I tried to avoid them as much as possible, but I can't promise you that there won't be spelling or grammar mistakes in it. For those that are here, I apologize!

Chapter 1

"Come on, Merlin," Arthur turned around and watched his servant nearly fall down after tripping over a branch laying loose on the floor, "are you ever capable of performing your job right?"

Merlin quickly straightened his back and grabbed the bag he was holding in his arms even tighter. He hated hunting trips.

"Sorry, Sire," he apologized.

Arthur rolled his eyes and turned around again. He was with moments still surprised to see how clumsy Merlin could be. Behind him, he heard his servant nearly fall down again.

"And could you be quiet?"Arthur nearly yelled. Merlin couldn't help but sigh with annoyance. He was as quiet as he could be, it was Arthur who made the most noise. Even his breathing was abnormally loud.

"I heard that," Arthur said, referring to the sigh.

Merlin pressed his lips together. He knew he couldn't answer anything to it. He was considered to be just the servant after all. He wanted to say something, though, oh, did he want to.

And then Arthur suddenly came to a halt, crouching down a little and pulling out his sword. He was ready to attack as well as to defend. Merlin didn't move, he didn't even dare to breath. When Arthur suddenly went on high alert like that, Merlin knew there was a proper reason for it. He wanted to ask Arthur what was happening, but he seemed to have foreseen that.

"Stay quiet, Merlin," Arthur whispered, "and stay behind me."

Merlin did as Arthur told him and he certainly didn't mind. He had no weapon to defend himself and he couldn't use his magic, not with Arthur around.

"Arthur Pendragon," a voice came softly, "I've waited a long time for you." A woman stepped into the light. Merlin took a step to the left in order to get a better look at her. She was wearing a long velvet red dress and her long brown hair lay elegant around her shoulders. The color of her eyes seemed to perfectly match that of her hair and Merlin could simply say that this woman was beautiful.

"Lady Ava," Arthur said, seeming a little shocked to see her. He straightened his back and lowered his sword. Merlin immediately felt more comfortable as Arthur didn't consider her to be a threat anymore.

"I was Lady Ava," she smiled without joy. Arthur frowned, not understanding what she meant by those words.

"Your father," she explained, "he banished me."

"What? Why?" Arthur was even more confused now, Merlin could see that by the frown that only enlarged on his face, "When did this happen?"

"Almost three years ago," Ava said before sighing deeply, "I didn't deserve it, this wasn't my fault."

Arthur didn't say anything, he still needed to let her words sink in. He remembered Lady Ava as a vital woman, someone who always smiled and who believed in the good of everyone. She came to have dinner with his father each week and even though Arthur had never been allowed to join them, he had loved the times she came by as they always talked and had fun.

But then she had indeed stopped coming all of a sudden. Arthur had asked his father about it once and after having been yelled at for longer than an hour, he had never mentioned her again and after some time had passed by, he didn't even spent a thought to her anymore.

"What happened?" he finally asked.

"Your father liked me," Ava said as she started pacing up and down. Merlin and Arthur watched her, not wanting to disturb her now that she was telling them the story.

"And I liked him," a dark smile now crossed her face, "we were even starting to love each other, but then he discovered the truth about me."

Arthur swallowed heavily. Uther had fallen in love with another woman besides his mother Igraine? Why then did he have her banished? He wasn't sure if he was ready for the truth as he knew how ruthless his father could be. What was so bad about Ava that she had to be banished?

"I possess magic ever since I was a child," she said it as if revealing yourself as a with was nothing to worry about, "my father forbid me to ever speak of it or to use it, but it always surfaced somehow, especially in times of stress. I was sick of having to hide who I truly am so I told Uther. I thought he loved me, that he would, after all those years of hate against magic, accept me."

"You're a witch," Arthur said, needing to say it out loud to make sure that he had understood her correctly. Ava smiled faintly.

"Apparently, your father did love me," she said, "he didn't have me executed, he banished me instead, a fate even worse. I had no place to go and I was forced to leave my home, my family and friends."

"I know my father can be ruthless," Arthur said. He wasn't sure how he felt against the fact that Ava was a witch, but to be forced to leave everything behind, Arthur could imagine how painful that had to be.

"I swore he would pay," her face darkened suddenly, hate taking over every emotion. Arthur raised his sword when he saw her hostile attitude. He took a step back and prepared for an attack again.

"I'm sorry for what my father did to you," he said.

"Uther suffering isn't good enough for me," Ava said, "him seeing his son suffering is the perfect punishment though." The next few words she spoke were of the ancient language. She raised her hand and Arthur felt his entire body go numb. His mind became clouded as if a fog surrounded each thought. He suddenly couldn't think straight and he didn't even know anymore what exactly was happening.

His sword fell to the ground as did he. He was staring up at the sky while he felt how he drifted of into a sleep, at least, that was how it felt to him.

Merlin reacted quickly now. He ran forward to Ava and with the speed of him running, he knocked her on the floor. It had been the first thing that came to his mind to do. She stopped the enchantment and rolled over to her side so that she could stand up again. Merlin did the same and after quickly taking a glimpse at Arthur, he decided it was safe enough for him to use magic as well now.

Ava was faster though and she spoke another four words before starting to laugh then.

"You're too late," she said, "he is cursed now."

"What did you do?" Merlin felt fear as well as anger boil up in his chest. He hadn't understood the words she had spoken and so he couldn't know what the curse held. He tried to remember the words though as he knew that it could be useful for later.

"He will suffer, that is all you need to know." Ava turned around and ran away. Merlin followed her, but the forest was too dense and soon Merlin knew he had to turn back and see how Arthur was doing.

Arriving back again, Arthur lay still on the floor, his eyes closed. Merlin ran towards him and kneeled down.

"Arthur?" he asked, not knowing what else to do. Arthur's eyes fluttered open and a frown immediately filled his face.

"What happened? Why am I laying on the ground?" Arthur tried to push himself up, but apparently he was still feeling a little weak.

"Don't you remember Ava?" Merlin asked, giving Arthur some space now.

Arthur's eyes widened as he suddenly remembered it all.

"What did she do to me?" he stretched out his hand for Merlin to take it and give him a hand to stand up.

"She cursed you," Merlin told him, not knowing how well he would take that news. He took Arthur's hand and suddenly felt an excruciating pain fill his chest. He grabbed for his heart as he fell down, a cry escaping his lips.

Arthur immediately turned to high alert again, forgetting all the confusion that was still going on in his mind. He jumped up and kneeled down besides Merlin who was trying to catch his breath again. Pain still filled his face and Arthur had no idea what to do or what was happening. Why was Merlin suddenly in this much pain? Was Ava still around?

"Merlin!" Arthur nearly yelled. Merlin held his breath as he was still trying to forget about the pain. Slowly it was fading away and after a few moments, he felt strong enough to sit up. He still had his one hand on his chest, feeling how he was breathing shallowly, but at least the pain wasn't excruciating anymore.

"I thought you said it was me Ava cursed," Arthur said, not understanding why it was Merlin then who was experiencing all the pain.

"She did, she cursed you," Merlin said, his voice nothing more than a whisper. He would give anything right now for a bed and some rest.

"We have to get back," Arthur said, standing up again. It was he who now outstretched a hand to help Merlin get up, but as Merlin lifted his hand, horror filled him. The skin of his hand palm had a black color as if he was horribly burned there.

"What is that?" Arthur asked, shocked as well.

Merlin swallowed heavily. He knew what had caused this, he just wasn't sure what it meant. "You touched me there," Merlin said, still looking at the black skin of his hand, "when I tried to pull you up on your feet, you took my hand right there."

"I did that to you?" Arthur couldn't believe it. "And what about the pain in your chest?"

"I don't know," Merlin needed to get this sorted out, he needed an answer to so many questions. Why was his skin black on the exact spot that Arthur had touched? He could also not understand why it was his chest, his heart that hurt an not his hand while it seemed to be burned.

"This is the curse, isn't it," Arthur said. Merlin didn't know if he saw fear or anger in the Prince's face.

"It has to be," Merlin agreed, "but I don't understand. Ava wanted you to suffer so why curse you in a way that when you touch someone, that person suffers?"

"Because this means that I can't touch anyone without hurting them," Arthur grabbed his sword which lay on the ground still.

"It has to be more than that," Merlin didn't know why he believed this, but he knew that the pain he had felt in his chest, the pain he was still feeling only less extreme now, that that couldn't possible mean anything good.

"Gaius needs to check you out," Arthur said. For a moment he wanted to help Merlin up again, but he soon retracted his hand. "And I shouldn't be touching people for as long as I am cursed," he added, more to himself than to Merlin.

"Yeah," Merlin once more agreed. Another reason why he needed to get to Gaius as soon as possible was that he needed to find out what the curse meant exactly because Merlin could feel something was happening inside him and he knew that Arthur had to get rid of this curse sooner rather than later.

AN: I know, what was I thinking...writing another Merlin story while I am still in the middle of another one, but this idea just didn't leave me alone so I started writing and here is the first chapter! I hope it is liked and I will try to update as soon as possible.

In the mean time, let me know what you think about the beginning of this story... =)