Chapter 22: Set In Stone
The battle behind them, Arthur and Myra felt as if life could go back to normal. But first, as a result of the great battle scars they received, their bedchambers would be the only place they would be seeing for a few more days.
As he had done when they were unconscious, Merlin visited his pupils' individual chambers, each time telling them how proud he was of what they had accomplished in the face of tremendous peril. He repeated how he had never seen such amounts of courage and perseverance from any other individuals, marveling at how they had put their minds to the task at hand and not hesitating to do what they had to do.
As Arthur and Myra recovered from what Merlin called their crowning achievement in their schooling, the days changed with them. The snow was all finally gone, and flowers were budding through in the landscapes. Birds were spreading their songs in the morning light, and the two friends took pleasure in hearing such beautiful music. In fact, every morning, Myra was waking up extra early just to watch the sunrise from her window, which had a view over the hill where she and Arthur had first sled during the winter.
Back before all this happened, she thought. Myra smiled, thinking of all that had occurred since New Year's Day, sometimes even wondering where she would be if she hadn't thought to leave home that fateful night. Tabitha wouldn't be sleeping in an actual warm home, Myra wouldn't have known she was a princess, and neither of the siblings would have found more of their family, which had become even more wonderful with the additions of Arthur, Merlin, and Archimedes.
Finally, when March gave way to April, normalcy had returned in its entirety to the castle. Arthur and Myra were free to roam around the castle whenever they wished, lessons were again in full swing, and the gashes left from battle had healed, save for some scars they would keep to proudly remember that night. Merlin even kindly asked Myra if she would like to continue her magical education, and she gratefully accepted.
Since the battle, Myra had never been happier practicing her magic again. Now whenever she learned a new spell, she would laugh with joy the time that she got it right. And on occasion, when afternoon break came, and Myra was still brimming with energy, Arthur would immediately retrieve the sword, and the two of them would practice magic together combining their abilities. Since that began, Arthur's face would break out in a smile more often, and it warmed the hearts of everyone in the castle when their king had a genuine smile upon his face.
As if that wasn't enough, when Myra made the request, Arthur allowed for Amos to officially come and live in the castle with his children. Myra was more than happy to have him with them, but Merlin, on the other hand, wasn't so sure.
Although he didn't make it his business to use magic to peek into others' minds, Merlin decided that doing so to Amos might prove if he was someone safe to have around the castle's inhabitants, especially Arthur. And when Merlin did, he got surprising results.
"Myra," he said to her just after lessons ended one day, "do you remember what you said to me about your father threatening you and Tabitha with an axe?"
Such a memory made Myra freeze over in brief horror, but she nodded as she so quickly pictured the event.
"I checked up on him, you could say," Merlin continued, "and he has no memory at all of the incident, or anything else that happened just after Morgan vanished from your lives."
"How can that…?" Myra began to ask the question, but she quickly put the pieces together herself. "Morgan did it, didn't she? She must've put a spell on him so that he would kill me before I ever learned I was a witch."
"Your guess is as good as mine, child," Merlin said, "but I'd say that comes about as close as we'll ever be to the answer. The man can't even remember what illness killed Morgan, but he does remember the night you were conceived. Selective memory from the spell, I believe."
Myra nodded in understanding. It was good enough for her that her real father was back, and they could live happily together again like in her childhood. With her true father back in the picture, what more could happen that would make life any better than it was now?
Well, some things could take away from it.
Sometimes, Myra found herself reliving the horrifying vision of Arthur in his coffin on Avalon in her dreams. She would wake up in a cold sweat, her bed sheets tousled so much that her legs were complexly tangled in the jumble. And even when she took deep breaths, she still saw the moonlight in the window shining like the sun onto a mirage-like Arthur, dead amongst the flowers and mourners. There were times when Myra woke up from the nightmare and would be a needle-width away from running to Arthur's chamber, telling him the vision, and being done with it. She was always able to regain some control over her thoughts, but the lingering horror she always felt stuck with her though the night. Only when morning came and she could dive into lessons did she lose memory of her nightmare.
Although Myra had come to love her magic again, she and Arthur still liked to take walks out in the spring air, sometimes going out just to play in the landscapes and roll through the grass until they were in need of a soapy bath. And by mid-April, they didn't even need their cloaks anymore, which made it easier for them to run around in the fresh, warm air. During those times, they shared many good times, thousands of laughs- just the kind of times they both longed to have since they could remember.
But it was times like this that reminded Myra it was just a matter of time before she lost what was most important to her.
Sooner than expected, spring bloomed into summer, and by that time, every child in the castle had grown up just a bit. Arthur and Myra were both thirteen years old, and little Tabitha had spurted a few inches, becoming too large for a crib. And after a fun excursion through the castle, Arthur and Myra had located a room not too far from their own chambers where Tabitha could sleep in her own bed and finally have room for all her new playthings. Neither Myra nor Amos could be more proud of her, and for the first time since his welcome to the castle, Amos genuinely smiled and then laughed from the bottom of his heart.
Since summer began, Merlin had recognized his pupils' needs to enjoy the weather and what was left of their young years, so he decided to let Arthur and Myra take every Saturday and Sunday off entirely. On those days, they would practice magic some more, unwind in the library with some fiction, or even go back outside to play as a trio with Tabitha.
By this time, Myra was starting to recognize what toll her nightmarish vision would have on her if she didn't let it free in the slightest. So, she finally made up her mind. Before autumn came around, she promised herself that she would tell Arthur of her vision and allow the commencement of preparations for such an event to take place. She wasn't sure of what the final outcome would be, but she was about ready to rid herself of the tensions it built inside her.
On one day, near the end of July, Arthur and Myra were lucky enough to be outside just when the summer sun was setting over the hills. The sky was perfectly clear, with only a few wispy clouds lingering overhead, with the sounds of cicadas and the twinkling of fireflies sweetly accompanying the beautiful spectacle. Myra paused in her gleeful laughter just long enough to sit down on the hill- the hill where the sledding and other such wonderful memories had taken place. She sighed softly in watching the large golden light sinking below the green trees and hills. Arthur sat down next to her, sweeping his blonde bangs from his face when a cool evening breeze started up.
"I just don't believe it," Myra said, grinning at the sun. "It's gorgeous out there."
"Yes," Arthur agreed. "I really don't think I've known a summer as fun as this has been."
"It really makes having a best friend even more worthwhile," Myra added.
Arthur nodded, a smile starting to form on his face.
It's now or never, Myra told herself. I have to tell him about the vision.
But, unexpectedly, Myra was caught off guard by Arthur's expression. He had that smile that told her he was wholeheartedly happy, and that all would always be right with the world. And with his gaze following the sun and his bangs blowing back from his face, he looked the true picture of a great king and yet a jovial young boy. Myra couldn't quite believe it, but it didn't feel at all right to break an expression that heart-warming from his face.
Myra sighed, and finally pushed her hair behind her ears to begin. "Say, Arthur?"
"Say, you…you remember how I really, really wanted to become your guardian?"
"Well, how would you like it if we became each other's guardians? You know, fighting to protect each other like we did when Morgan came back for the last time?"
Arthur's gaze flicked back and forth between Myra's hopeful expression and the setting sun, and finally he gave a little sigh. "Well, that's something I'd have to think about."
Myra smiled, and then laughed.
"Why shouldn't we?" Arthur answered, grinning widely again. "I couldn't have done anything without your help, Myra. I think it'd be a great idea if you're there all the time to help me."
"Do you think that…even if you go to war with another great evil villain, and you're standing just inches from death…you'll still let me in to save you?"
"Just like if it's happening to you? Yes."
Myra laughed again, gently swinging her arm around Arthur's shoulders to hug him, all the while suppressing the urge to peck him on the cheek; Arthur soon wrapped his own arm around her too. "Merlin said that the future isn't set in stone, but it can still be changed. I think you'll make one of the most marvelous kings the world will ever know. And I'll be right there, through thick and thin, no matter what will happen."
"To the very end?" Arthur added.
"That's right," Myra said, as the sun finally dipped below the rolling hills. "To the very end."