Seeing is Believing
Disclaimer: Obviously I don't own Merlin or its characters. They belong to the BBC.
Despite my slow update speed, I want to assure everyone this WILL definitely be completed. This is the first part of a bigger story (in 2 or 3 parts) which has been driving me around the bend for over a year.
No slash! Very mild Arthur/Gwen. No other pairings.
This story takes place one month after 2x13 and will contain spoilers for the first 2 series. This story started prior to series 3 so will diverge from series canon from 2x13 onwards. Any inconsistencies with series 3 events were unforeseeable at the time, but badgered me no end regardless.
Btw, if characters seem a bit too quick to react at the end of this chapter, it's intentional. The reasons become apparent in chapter 2. Also it's not all OCs, the main focus is on Merlin and Arthur.
The rhythmic stamping of feet broke the stillness that was Camelot after dusk. This was a quite respectable part of the town. In the window of a small, stone-built townhouse the curtains twitched and a female face peered outside to view the small group of soldiers marching down the street towards the lower town.
"What's going on out there?" she asked her husband. The cold night air blasted through the room as he removed his boots and cloak before closing the door behind him.
"Nothing you need concern yourself about," the man replied sternly.
"This is your doing isn't it?" His wife turned to him. "Damn you Eadric! How many more?"
"As many as it takes to permanently rid this land of this sorcery that has infested it. Those who continue to practice magic have chosen their own fate; the law is known to all. "
"Is that you talking, or Uther?" She scowled.
"I am loyal to my king. Those who practice magic are evil." said Eadric matter-of-factly.
"May I remind you who you are speaking to. I know better than you the nature of magic. These people are our friends. How many more innocent lives are you going to betray to stay in the king's favour?" she yelled.
Her outburst was silenced by the large masculine hand of her spouse, as she was struck violently across the face.
"I know very well what you are. You are my wife and you will show me some respect," Eadric snarled." As for the other matter, you have always been protected. I have provided for this family, Ingrith, and I have provided for you. Do you not appreciate the comfortable life we have? Would you rather our daughter grow up in squalor?"
Ingrith didn't meet her husband's eyes. Her fingers gently stroked her reddened cheek as she gazed towards the floor. She was broken from this daze by the sound of movement coming from the next room. A small, pale hand quickly disappeared behind the door frame and there was a faint sobbing. Oh no. The mother rushed to attend her child, cursing her husband under her breath.
She was followed into her daughters bedroom. Eadric reached out gently towards her shoulder as she stood hugging her 8-year-old daughter. Ingrith was having none of it. It was always the same; He would put her down, abuse her, and then act like the caring and considerate husband as if nothing had happened. She had used to wonder if it was in fact herself who was at fault, but not any more. She span round before he could touch her and walked backwards out of the room towards the window, still clutching her child close.
The sound of feet echoed up the street as the soldiers returned. In the middle of the group a young red-haired woman was being dragged along by two burly men. She wasn't going without a fight, but no amount of kicking and screaming could free her from her captors' grasp.
The first to look outside was the small teary-eyed girl.
Ingrith turned, and then so did her stomach. She gasped at the scene she was witnessing: her younger sister under arrest and being escorted to the castle. Once there she was certain to be charged with sorcery and executed.
"NO!" She shrieked and made for the door. She didn't know what she was going to do, but she couldn't just stand and watch. Eadric had her pinned to the door before she could get it open.
"Don't you dare," he said. His voice was soft and calm, but the threat glistened on the tip of his tongue like blood on the edge of a knife.
It was wrong. All of it had been wrong. Ingrith had always known this and yet she had sat in silence as a coward, whilst Uther collected his prizes, hand-picked by the man she was supposed to love. This time he had gone too far.
What followed was the consequence of 12 years of mistreatment and cruelty. The sum total of her terror, fury and loathing in a single foul blow. She hadn't used magic in years, but the spell had left her lips before she'd had time to gather together her shattered thoughts.
"Áwete mín fyrngeflita"
Eadric was thrown upwards. He hit the ceiling hard, before gravity sent him crashing onto the table. He lay there face down, temporarily unconscious.
Ingrith slowly overcame her shock at the feat of magic she had just performed. She was desperate to rush outside to try and save her sister and yet fearful of leaving her daughter alone with this madman. Trying not to convey her feelings of fear and anger, she went to her where her daughter sat huddled fearfully in the corner and lovingly carried her outside. She looked around. Her sister was already gone, along with any chance of rescue. She couldn't get to her inside the castle. She set down her child, the most precious thing in the world, and kneeled down to face her.
"Eda, I need you to go," she whispered sadly.
"You have to leave. Go to Edward's house. His parents will take care of you," Ingrith said.
"You're not coming too?" Eda asked.
"Later. I want you to run there, can you do that for me?"
Eda was sacred and confused. She had begun to learn what sort of a man her father was, but she had never witnessed her mother like this before. She nodded.
Indoors, Eadric stirred. Groaning, he pulled himself up, felt his bloodied nose and walked towards the treacherous hag he'd had the nerve to call his wife, picking a knife of the table as he passed and concealing it up the sleeve of his tunic.
"Go!" shouted Ingrith and she watched, heartbroken, as Eda raced into the darkness. "Don't look back!"
Some distance away, crouched behind a large wooden barrel, Eda heard her mother yelling as her father advanced on her.
"You never cared about this family. All you cared about was your reputation and what would happen if anybody found out that the king's chief informer was married to a witch."
"Which fortunately, they never will." He sneered.
Peering round, Eda thought she saw a flash of gold in her mother's eyes before she was stabbed to death.
(20 years later)
"You say you witnessed this boy perform an act of sorcery outside your home?"
"Indeed sire." The slender, grey-haired figure with the crooked nose answered. He twitched slightly.
King Uther was sat before him at the end of the Great Hall and several of Camelot's knights stood motionless next to the wall along either side. It was midday and the sun shone down through the high windows, illuminating the room enhancing its magnificent splendour and leaving patches of light on the wooden floor where the Crowned Prince stood with his manservant. Merlin fidgeted nervously, frantically trying to remember any recent event when he might have been seen using magic. He was sure he didn't recognise the man and he'd been especially careful about casual sorcery after the unforgettable affair with the Witchfinder. Still, Uther was unwaveringly single-minded when it came to magic and there was no denying the fact that Merlin was a warlock.
"It was yesterday morning," Merlin's accuser continued. "He appeared in the street out of thin air. He pointed his finger at a cat which he had startled and it simply froze as if it were made of stone. He then recited an incantation and the animal vanished in green flames."
"What!" Shouted Merlin before he could stop himself. He received a malicious glare from the king.
"Do you deny these allegations, boy?" Uther said.
"Sire," Merlin answered hoping that remaining calm and collected might improve his chances. This whole situation was ludicrous. "I assure you I could not have possibly carried out the acts of which I am accused. I am a loyal servant of Camelot and I would never betray that trust. Furthermore, yesterday morning I accompanied Prince Arthur on a hunting trip just after dawn and didn't return until mid-afternoon." Merlin turned to Arthur, his master and his friend, waiting for him to confirm this story. He was surprised that the Prince hadn't leapt to his defence sooner; in the past he had always been totally blind to the possibility that his clumsy servant could, in fact, be a young magician. Merlin was even more surprised when Arthur just stared blankly, his face emotionless and uncaring.
"Let it be known that Camelot will not stand for sorcery and that for those who practice these evil arts and for those who consort with a sorcerer there can be only one sentence." Uther proclaimed. "It is every loyal man and woman's duty to serve this kingdom and make known those who would attempt to destroy it." The king stood and faced the informer. "Your devotion will not go unrewarded." He gestured towards Merlin, who looked even paler than usual and was glancing between Arthur and Uther anxiously. "Take him away."
The prince grabbed his servant by the arm and walked him out of the Great Hall and into the corridor.
"Come on, Arthur. You know full well none of that was true," implored Merlin. What was he going to do? It was one thing to be charged with acts of magic he was guilty of performing, but it was another thing to be falsely accused like this. Another thought struck him. What was Gaius going to say? The man was like a father to him and had been willing to sacrifice his life for Merlin's on more than one occasion. Terrified though he was at the prospect of what must lie in store, Merlin hoped the elderly physician didn't try anything foolish to protect him. Nothing about this situation was making any sense. His head was spinning. Who was this man and why was he making these claims. Did he know Merlin was a sorcerer? Merlin looked into the blank eyes of his friend; at least he had thought he was his friend. He thought he saw a flicker of something, but he wasn't sure what. He just wished Arthur would speak to him. Why on Earth would he behave like this?
"Arthur," Merlin pleaded again.
Although it's a bit of a slow start, please give this story a chance. Being a complete novice at writing, I'm less than happy with how some of my earlier chapters turned out, but I think my writing has gradually improved.