A/N Do you ever get that feeling of deja vu? Nightmare course is coming to an end (I only have my big research project to finish) so I finally have a little bit of time to work on my stories. Yay! I'm starting Memento Mori again but the first two chapters will only have minor changes. Enjoy.
An ordinary day
An ordinary day
"Merlin!" cried Arthur as the stones broke apart beneath his feet.
"Arthur!" screamed Merlin as he ran frantically toward the Prince, the bedroom floor cracking slowly beneath his feet as he ran.
"Hold the walls," commanded Arthur, "stop it falling apart."
Merlin grabbed one his bedposts and reached out to grab the wall just as the room tilted away from the castle and crashed onto the hard ground below. He stood up and saw Arthur try to gain his feet then stumble and fall as if with a broken ankle.
"I have to get you to a physician," he said, as he looped his arm around his Prince.
"Merlin?" a curious voice sounded beside him. He turned and saw Morgana standing there in her nightgown, a large black bird on her shoulder.
"Morgana? I mean, milady. Arthur's chambers fell off the castle and he hurt his ankle. I need to get him to see Gaius."
"Gaius is gone," said Morgana calmly. "He just left and he's never coming back."
"But what am I going to do with Arthur? If I don't get him to a physician he'll be permanently injured and will never be able to kill anything again."
Morgana shrugged as if it was unimportant then leaned forward conspiratorially.
"Merlin?" she whispered, "what are you doing in my dream? And... why are you naked?"
Merlin looked down and dropped Arthur in horror at realising he had not a stitch of clothing on him.
"I...I...I," he stuttered.
Morgana leaned forward closer, shook him and said, "honestly, Merlin, can't you ever wake up on time?"
Merlin woke up with a disoriented start until he realised that Gaius had him gently by the shoulders and was shaking him awake.
"Honestly, Merlin, is it so hard to expect you to wake yourself on time. You're going to be late."
"I... ugh... I," stammered Merlin.
"Indeed," agreed Gaius in exasperation, "now come on. You told Arthur you'd help him get ready for the hunt today and it's already pre-dawn. He'll want to ride out as soon as the sun comes over the horizon."
"Ergh," protested Merlin and he sank back down into his hard pillow and tried to draw the thin blanket over himself again.
"And then," continued Gaius firmly as he dragged the blanket off his charge, "then you have to help me with my rounds and then Gwen has asked for your help this afternoon. Or have you forgotten?"
Merlin's eyes drifted to the window where the promise of a warm, clear, summer's day was beginning to gleam on the horizon.
"Fine," he said resignedly and crawled out of bed, "but if I collapse from exhaustion you'll feel really bad about it."
Gaius just gave him an affection pat on his shoulder and handed him a warm roll with butter.
"Go. You can rest later this evening. I promise."
Merlin gave him a quick grin. "Thanks Gaius, but this afternoon there's that Knightly award ceremony thing and I have to tend Arthur at the feast afterwards, so..."
Gaius shook his head and gave the young man a sympathetic smile. Then he went back to his own chores as Merlin scampered off to his busy day.
Arthur paced around his chambers in the candlelight as the sun began slowly to rise outside his window. He'd finally decided to just dress himself but if that buffoon of a manservant didn't show up soon...
"Morning, Arthur," a breezy voice called as Merlin came bustling in, "I got your breakfast from the kitchens and it's all ready for you to eat on the road. Also, your horses are ready and..."
Arthur opened his mouth to remind his wayward servant that he was once again late then closed it again resignedly.
"I suppose that's something," he conceded, "we won't be too late."
"Ah, we?" Merlin queried him, "ah no, there's no 'we' today. You see, Gaius..."
"Merlin, you are my servant not Gaius'. Do you want to tell me how I am expected to go hunting without my servant? Who'll hold the horses? Who'll skin the catch? Who'll...?"
"...thrash around like a complete idiot and scare all the prey away?" finished Merlin with a grin.
"I said I needed a servant, not a competent servant," said Arthur dryly.
"Weeelll, since the last time we went hunting you told me that you would take me on another hunt when Hades became a frozen wasteland I thought that..."
"You thought? Merlin, we've talked about you thinking. It's not a good idea. Now get ready."
"But... I... already arranged for... Robert... to go in my place," added Merlin cautiously.
"Robert? Sir Leon's manservant?"
"Umm hum," confirmed Merlin.
"Umph," said Arthur, not willing to admit that the fit and well-trained Robert was probably a better companion for the hunt anyway.
"Fine. I suppose I won't throw you in the stocks... yet... well, don't just stand there," he added impatiently, "grab my gear and let's get me loaded up. I have things to kill and not nearly enough time. And don't forget to go to my fitting with Gwen this afternoon. You should know my size by now. And make sure you dress in your official robes for the ceremony this afternoon."
"Yes, Arthur," sighed Merlin in resignation.
Morgana woke slowly to the industrious bustling sounds of Gwen in her chamber. It was just past dawn and she could hear the melodic sound of bird calls and Arthur yelling at Merlin from the courtyard.
She smiled to herself at the familiar sound and then laughed softly at the memory of the crazy dream she'd had.
"Are you awake, My Lady?" asked Gwen in a kind voice.
"Yes, Gwen," she replied, "just enjoying a little lie in. I had a... very strange dream last night."
"Oh no," said Gwen sympathetically, "nightmares again?"
"Far from it. In fact, it was quite amusing. You see...," Morgana suddenly remembered that this dream involved a very naked servant and stopped short, "Ah, you see... oh, it was too weird to explain. It made perfect sense while I was asleep though."
"Well, you lie in," suggested Gwen, "you don't have to do anything until the reception this afternoon with the King."
"Oh yes, awarding our brave Knights for being fantastic killers. I know I can't wait," Morgana noted dryly.
"My Lady," chided Gwen, a bit shocked, "Prince Arthur and Sir Leon are receiving those awards."
"Your point being?" asked Morgana ironically. And then she rolled over into bed and pondered Arthur's bedchamber breaking up and falling off the castle. Strange dream. And Merlin, naked... strange dream. It was almost as though it was his nightmare and she'd just wandered into it.
Gwen walked back to her little house greeting friends and acquaintances every few steps. It was a beautiful day and the denizens of Camelot were thronging the streets on the way to the local produce market or off to enjoy the wilderness outside of the city's gates.
A young man named Derek, who she'd recently come to suspect admired her, came up and gave her a small bouquet of wildflowers. She smiled and accepted them gratefully, even though she had little affection for the boy. He was sweet, she supposed, but kind of wiry with bird-like eyes and a chicken neck.
It was all she could do not to laugh openly as she remembered Merlin once calling him 'fowl boy' as much for his rather potent body odour as his resemblance to poultry.
"Merlin, that's cruel," she'd chided him but had laughed nonetheless. She smiled at the memory now even as she felt a small twinge of shame at being so cruel to the boy who had just picked her flowers.
She walked into her home and sat down at her table and began to sew. She had only a few hours now before Merlin came by to help her with her fittings and she needed both Arthur's and Sir Kay's suit of clothes to be far more advanced by then. She began humming as she settled down into a rhythm and barely noticed the passage of time until Merlin began banging on her front door.
"Gwen! I'm here. Gwen, are you there?"
"Merlin, please, have some patience," she scolded him but she couldn't stop an amused smile.
"Here, I brought you some lunch," he said and he handed her some meat, cheese and bread as he came through the door. "I'm late and I thought that..."
"Late?" she seized on this admission and then looked out the door and saw the sun was well past its height, "oh Merlin, it must be at least three hours past midday. How did I miss the afternoon bell? The ceremony is at five."
She looked around at the two sets of clothing and pursed her lips in thought.
"Arthur's first, he'll be the angriest, and then I'll need your help with Sir Kay's. He doesn't need his till the morrow and Arthur needs his for tonight. Now, height first then proportions then..."
Morgana adjusted the emerald green dress and looked with approval at her reflection in the mirror.
"You look lovely, My Lady," said the maid that attended her, "but don't you think that, on this occasion, you should wear something a little less..."
"Revealing?" asked Morgana archly as she surveyed her bare shoulders and the slight curve of breast rising above the bodice. "No. If I have to sit through a ghastly ceremony to celebrate how many unarmed so-called 'sorcerers' our Knights have slaughtered recently then I will at least have some..." she smoothed the clinging satin down around her hips and smirked at her reflection, "fun."
Then she looked at the door and scowled.
"I'm sure the Prince will be here shortly," the maid tried to comfort her.
"Maybe he will but I won't be waiting. If he's not willing to show up on time to escort me I'll simply go by myself."
She left the room, striding confidently down the halls and into the Great Hall where the Kings, the Knights and courtiers were gathered for the ceremony. Nearly a dozen male jaws dropped at her entrance and she smiled inwardly, while pointedly ignoring all of them, as she entered the room.
She looked for Gwen who was supposed to come straight to the Hall after her afternoon of sewing but she wasn't there. Arthur was also missing and... yes... his gangly little servant wasn't anywhere to be seen either.
"My Lady," Sir Gawain greeted her and she smiled back at him archly, "may I procure you a glass of wine?"
She simply nodded her assent and watched him stride off. Once his back was turned she smiled. Maybe this little event wasn't going to be as awful as she'd imagined.
Honestly, thought Arthur, as he crawled naked through the brushes toward the camp where the bandits that had stolen all his goods were sitting around celebrating their success, why do these things always seem to happen to me?
Discover a magical threat to the Kingdom and then get attacked by bandits? What were the odds? Well, he was getting his things back if he had to kill every last... he saw one of the bandits snigger as he threw the Prince's rainments on the fire and watched them burn.
"Oh, you have got to be kidding me," said Arthur. He looked at Robert crawling along behind him; his peasant rags slightly torn and muddy but still intact.
Robert saw his expression, looked confused for a moment, and then managed an expression of resigned acceptance.
"Oh fine," he muttered and began stripping off, "but next time Merlin asks me for a favour..."
"You'll say yes," ordered Arthur.
"You're closer to my size."
"Right," declared Gwen as she tied off the last tiny stitch in the leg. Arthur's new clothes were already completed and ready for their owner but he was late back from his hunt, which had given her time to finish off Sir Kay's robes as well.
"So, what do you want me to do?" asked Merlin, confused as to why he was still there.
"Try them on for me," Gwen said, "you're Sir Kay's size."
"Oh," said Merlin and he looked around the tiny room. "Um..."
"I won't look," Gwen reassured him with an amused look.
Merlin waited until her back was turned and then quickly tore off his clothes and put on the new suit of clothes.
"Um, ok," said Merlin nervously, "I mean, you can turn back around."
Gwen swung back around, still amused at Merlin's modesty.
"Wow," she said with a slightly stunned look on her face, "Merlin... wow. I mean... blue and black really suit you. You look... really good. I mean, not that you don't normally look good... because of course, you do... look good... I mean... not... not that I've looked... or anything... of course not... I haven't looked... what I mean is..."
"Gwen, it's alright," Merlin stopped her with a grin, "they're beautiful clothes, that's all. You've done a wonderful job. I'm sure Kay will be very impressed."
"Thank you, Merlin," she said grateful for the compliment. "Now, I have no idea where our errant prince is but..."
"You will get out of my way! Don't you recognise your Prince!"
Merlin and Gwen ran to the door and looked out into the street where Arthur, in dirty servant's dress, and a very embarrassed Robert with only a blanket wrapped around him were striding down the street flanked by guards who appeared to be trying to stop them.
Merlin and Gwen met them in the street and Arthur simply glared at his servant.
"We need to see my father immediately."
"But the ceremony," protested Merlin, "your clothes..."
"Unimportant. Camelot is in grave danger and I have to warn everyone."
Merlin and Gwen led the way to the castle, with Merlin explaining to guards along the path that the poorly-dressed man behind him really was their Prince until they finally reached the Great Hall. They burst into the room to find Uther placing a gold sash around Sir Leon in recognition of his achievements.
"Arthur," he said curiously as his son stepped through the doors. He moved away from the throne and walked up to stop in front of Merlin. Morgana, curious, joined him, barely registering that Merlin was for some reason dressed as a noble.
"What is the meaning of this?" demanded Uther. "Why have you come before the Court...," he gestured to Arthur's muddy rags, "dressed liked that."
"Father, I was attacked by bandits while out hunting, which delayed me from returning. I need to warn everyone. I have discovered that..."
Merlin looked past Uther and noticed a strange bright blue light had appeared in the corner and the beam was expanding out into the room.
"Ah... Arthur," he said. The King and the Prince ignored him. Morgana followed his gaze.
"Arthur!" Merlin insisted.
"What? Merlin, what? I am your Prince. When will you learn not to interr... Gods, what is that?"
The light began to sweep the Great Hall moving back and forward in a zigzagging motion as though in a search pattern to ensure it found everyone.
It passed through Merlin and he stopped for a minute and looked around the Hall, noticing the looks of confusion on everyone's faces that no doubt mirrored his own.
He looked down at his fine and no doubt expensive blue and black suit of clothing and then out to the room of strangers.
"I don't know who any of you are," he said, looking in terror at the unfamiliar faces staring back at him. There was a roughly-dressed and very dirty blonde man beside him and a well-dressed older man in front of him.
"I... I don't know who I am," he admitted.
The dirty man, obviously a servant of some kind, looked at him in shock.
"I don't know who I am either."