Payment

Disclaimer: I do not own the television show Merlin. Any publicly recognised characters are entirely not of my creation. I do however, own this story, so hands OFF! Any story caught using the ideas in this (without my express permission) will be reported.

Summary: The day her moon blood failed to come, Hunith knew. She knew she carried Balinor's baby inside of her. And she knew her baby would be special. Her gorgeous baby boy. Her Dragonlord. Her sorcerer.

A/N: Well, I'm meant to be studying for my Japanese exam right now, but I think I've learnt all that I can for now. So, instead, I decided to write this.

This was built around the following thoughts:
1. If a life is paid for in death, a death must be paid for with life.
2. Someone paid for the deaths of the sorcerers in the Great Purge.
3. Merlin was born after the Great Purge (because Uther had already caught the Great Dragon, and killed all the Dragonlords, barring Balinor who fled. Add nine months or so for little baby Merlin to develop, and there you go).
4. Being the son of a Dragonlord, Merlin's body is more attuned to Magic than that of his friend Will, for example, even taking out his own use of Magic. (Basically, if Merlin was only a Dragonlord and not a warlock but he wanted to learn Magic, he'd learn faster than Will who is totally normal).

Then, it took on a life of its own.

Well, I hope you like it. Read. Review. Enjoy!


The day her moon blood failed to come, Hunith knew. She knew she carried Balinor's baby inside of her. And she knew her baby would be special.

He would be the last Dragonlord. The last in a long line of proud, noble warriors. He would be the first born of Magic since the Great Purge (as it was being called). He would be raised in a world where his mere existence caused threat to his life.

So she sought out the Druids, hoping that someone could help her. She knew she could never give up the baby, but she had no knowledge in how to raise a being of Magic.

The Druids welcomed her with open arms, warm smiles and a look of awe as they gazed upon her stomach, which was already swollen fat with child.

"You are blessed, dear child," One of the oldest females whispered, as Hunith sat warming herself by the fire. "You bear the payment!"

Hunith did not understand, and begged the old lady to explain. When she refused, Hunith desperately asked all the other women in the camp what they knew. They all smiled knowingly at her and sent her on to the next person.

The men were less help. They respected her, but they would not answer her questions. They merely shook their heads and walked away.

Hunith despaired, but resolved that once the baby was born, all there was to know about him would become apparent. So she listened to the lessons she was given, and learnt just how difficult her baby would be.

She loved him even more for that.

The birth was long and painful. Hunith had stayed with the Druids, as she was unsure whether the midwife in Ealdor would be able to deal with any Magical complications that could arrive. But none did. Despite its duration, the birth went smoothly.

Her little boy was born on a crisp winter's night, under a shining moon, surrounded by the entirety of the Druid camp. All the Druids, except for the midwives, had their heads lifted to the sky in prayer. Their cheers as Hunith's baby slipped into the world rang throughout the valley for hours to come.

And then there was the baby himself. He was held gently in Hunith's arms, his face nuzzling against her breast as he drank. A fine sprinkling of dark hair grew across his head, down to his ears which stuck out ever so slightly from his head.

Hunith couldn't tear her eyes away from him. Her gorgeous baby boy. Her Dragonlord. Her sorcerer.

Her Merlin.


She returned to Ealdor a few months later. Many seemed surprised to see her, fearing her dead, but most were more shocked at the sight of the small boy who was wrapped in softly woven cloth and held closely to his mother's chest. He was only a couple of months old, but had his eyes been open, the villagers would have seen them gazing around with perfect clarity, almost as if he understood what he was seeing already.

Their first night in Ealdor was the first time Hunith saw her son's Magic. He was lying in a small crib, lined with straw and the softest of cloths she could find. He wasn't sleeping, but he wasn't crying either. He hardly ever cried.

The first sign that something was different was when Hunith turned to check on him, and his eyes were not their usual electric blue. She ignored it at first, thinking it a mere trick of the fire-light. But then a thin strip of red fabric floated across the air in front of her into the waiting grasp of her baby.

Hunith turned to her little Merlin, stunned. He turned to look at her, silent as ever. But across his face was spread the widest of smiles.

She let him keep the neckerchief. She had fallen in love with his smile.


When Merlin turned five, the Druids came to see him. They arrived in the middle of the night, and snuck into the house silently. Had Hunith not been awake to tend to the dying fire, she would never have known they were there.

Merlin had been sleeping, and it was his cry of alarm that alerted her to the possible danger he was in. Hunith hurried to his side, and found the three Druids gathered around him. Merlin's eyes were wide, their golden tint betraying his use of his gift. The Druids were frozen in place, their eyes locked on Hunith's boy, mouths turned up in blissful smiles.

She recognised one of the men, and quickly calmed Merlin down, convincing him to end the spell. He clung to her as the Druids slowly began to move again. At first, Hunith thought they would be angry at being frozen like that. However they merely smiled, their eyes still on Merlin, an identical look of awe upon each face.

"Emrys," One whispered, and they kneeled, their faces now level with the boys. When Merlin realised he was being addressed, he became less shy.

"My name is Merlin," he said. "Who are you?"

Any other time, Hunith would have scolded him for his rudeness. But she could not bring herself to do so.

"They are Druids, Merlin," She whispered to him. "They are people of Magic."

Merlin was intrigued. "People like me?"

The Druids laughed at this. Merlin pouted, feeling embarrassed that they laughed at him.

"Do not be offended, little warlock!" The oldest of the Druids said. "But there are none like you! You are Emrys. You are the payment!"

Hunith started at the proclamation. She had never forgotten the strange reactions of the Druid women to her child, although she had never found an answer. She only prayed that whatever the 'payment' was, it would not bring harm to her precious son.

"What do you mean?" Merlin asked, and once again Hunith felt a wave of love for her son wash over her. She admired his strength, although she regretted the source. He had been forced to grow up far too early. The cost of his Magic, his secret.

"Alas, Emrys, we cannot yet tell you. There are things which you must learn for yourself. But, in time, you will know all there is to know about your destiny."

Something in the man's voice startled Hunith, and she cautiously drew him closer. In the darkness, she saw them tense at her protective gesture.

"What are you here for?" She asked, almost angrily. "What do you want with my son?"

The Druids chuckled. "We want everything to do with your son. We will take him with us, train his Magic, and teach him what he needs to know to achieve his destiny. Then he will be ready to go to Camelot, and defeat Uther Pendragon!"

Camelot? But that would be a death sentence! Merlin, her Merlin, could never take on the King, destiny or no. And Hunith refused to believe that Merlin's destiny was to kill a man, no matter who he was.

"You want to take me away? But what about Mother?" Merlin's voice was laced with fear. He was too young, he was not ready to leave his mother.

The Druids were surprised. They had not expected someone of Emrys power to want to stay. One brave man moved forward and grabbed the boys shoulder, pulling him away from his mother.

Merlin let out a startled cry.

The man flew across the room and fell the ground, his head ringing.

The Druids fled.


The day Hunith found out that Will knew about Merlin was the day she realised her son had grown too big for Ealdor. His destiny, as the Druids had known, lay far beyond the reaches of the small town. She remembered what the Druids had said about sending Merlin to Camelot, and though she was loathe to follow any plans they had set for her boy, she knew that Merlin could find help in the city that he would never get at home.

Watching as her boy slept peacefully by the fire, Hunith quietly inked a letter to her old friend Gaius, who had once helped Balinor. Her heart constricted painfully at the memory of her love, but she shook it away. Her love lived on in Merlin and she knew that one day she would see the boy's father again.

With a soft sigh, Hunith folded the letter into a neat square which she tucked into the pack she had set aside for her son. Tomorrow she would send him to Camelot, and to his destiny.


Over the coming years, Hunith saw less and less of Merlin, but each time she did, she was struck by how much he was growing, both in power and in maturity. She watched from the sidelines as her son's friendship with the future king blossomed into a kinship that Hunith had not seen in all her years. The two men were aligned in their destinies, and it was rare to hear of one and not the other.

Hunith knew she would never be more proud of her son than she was on the day he rode into Ealdor beside the new king. Merlin wore clothes of a quality befitting the noblest of lords, dressed in the complete opposite of the king. Pendragon reds and fine-spun linen made him look every bit as impressive as Arthur who rode beside him. A rich golden cloak hung around his neck attached beneath a strip of worn red fabric, the only sign of Merlin's humble beginning.

The villagers looked on in awe of the man who appeared before them.

Merlin and Arthur dismounted in perfect synchronisation, and the knights that accompanied them followed shortly after. A younger man, little more than a boy, scurried out from the back of the pack.

"Announcing His Royal Highness Arthur Pendragon, High King of Camelot, Once and Future King of Albion and Lord Merlin of Ealdor, Court Advisor, Emrys of the Druids and Grand Sorcerer of Albion," He declared, causing the villagers of Ealdor to freeze in shock and Merlin to blush a deep red.

"I thought you told him to stop that!" He whispered furiously to Arthur as they walked over to Hunith. Arthur laughed in response.

"You may be a powerful warlock, Merlin, but that doesn't mean I won't take every chance to turn your overly large ears that most brilliant shade of red," The king responded not unkindly. Merlin shoved him gently.

"Prat," He scolded, before beaming up at Hunith, who they were now standing in front of. "Mother…"

Hunith flung her arms around her son, tears streaming down her face. Arthur seemed uncomfortable around the display of affection, and moved as if to leave. She let go of her son to grab his arm.

One of the knights stiffened, as if worried at the audacity of a commoner. Merlin sent a piercing gaze in his direction, and the knight found himself without a sword. Hunith ignored the silent battle.

"My Lord," She said, bowing to Arthur as she released his arm. "I would like to thank you for all you have done for my Merlin. I can never repay you for the kindness you have shown him."

The king seemed surprised and shared a quick look with Merlin, before he gently placed his hands on Hunith's shoulders. He locked his eyes with hers, and then drew her into a soft embrace.

"Hunith, you owe me nothing. If anything, I owe you and your family insurmountable payment," He said, and sincerity rung true in every word. "I put your son through hell for many years, and I kept him from you. I cannot think of what I have done to deserve anything from you. Anything you want, it is yours."

"You're coming back to Camelot with us, Mother," Merlin stated. "You shall have your own quarters in the castle and you would never have to work again if you didn't want too."

There were whispers amongst the villages at this. They all remembered Merlin from his childhood, and none of them could have ever imagined him amounting to someone who had what seemed to be equal respect as the king. To be equal with the king… it was beyond them to see how the scrawny boy who had cause nothing but trouble in his childhood could reach such status. Nor could they believe that the boy was some sort of sorcerer, let alone one strong enough to take up the position as Court Sorcerer in Camelot.

"Why?" Hunith asked, stunned. She was not use to receiving anything in her life.

"I told you, Hunith, I will do whatever I can to give you the payment you deserve!" Arthur refused to back down.

"Merlin is all the payment I could ever ask for…" Hunith began, but trailed off as the men stiffened.

"How did you know about that?" Merlin asked stunned. Hunith blinked, confused. Arthur reached out and grabbed Merlin's arm in warning. The warlock apologised,

"Hunith, I think we should take this somewhere more private. There are some things you need to know," The king said. Hunith nodded, and opened the door to her house, gesturing them in. Arthur signalled to his knights to take up position around the house. The knights trusted their king's safety in Merlin's hands.


"When King Uther – "

"– my father – "

"– declared war on Magic, he began killing hundreds of sorcerers. Thus began the Great Purge. The Old Religion, almost a life of its own, is governed by laws unlike those which govern mortal beings. Magic relies on balance; the balance of power, of life and of death. For every life given, one must be taken away, and the same in reverse. Uther Pendragon threw out this balance."

"He was blinded by the grief he held over my mother's death. No amount of reasoning could make him realise that his hatred was misguided. I only wish that I could have convinced him before he died that Magic can be used for good. We have all seen that now."

"Anyway, the balance was shifted. But the laws of Magic said that all the Magic possessed by those who died had to go somewhere. It could not be destroyed. Yet there was no one person who could hold that Magic without it damaging them."

"The Magic could have been spread between thousands of people, but that would only cause those thousands to be put at risk. The Old Religion needed a single host who could protect the Magic and lead the land back from the darkness. In the Druid prophecies, the holder of this Magic is known as Emrys."

"So the Old Religion waited. It needed someone who would be born suited to Magic. Someone with Magic written into every fibre of their being. Sorcerers were being killed in more kingdoms than just Camelot, as more of Uther's allies joined his campaign against Magic. Then the impossible happened. A Dragonlord fell in love, and his love created a child. The one the Old Religion was waiting for arrived."

"You would know what happened next better than any of us, Hunith. The Druids found that you were pregnant with Merlin, their Emrys. They wanted to raise him as a weapon against Camelot and my father, use his Magic against those who allowed him to be gifted with it in the first place."

"But you taught me not to be swayed by power, Mother. You showed me love, with built my world. Gaius once told me that Magic corrupts people but I had sworn by that stage that I would never do anything to make you disappointed in me, as I knew using Magic for evil would. Your love showed me that there is good in everyone, and we must be true to that goodness."

"You restored the balance, by keeping Merlin grounded. Even on his darkest days, I have seen him come back to himself at the mere mention of his mother. My father had cast a shadow of evil and hatred upon the land, but Merlin balanced that out. His life was the payment for all those that Uther killed. His kindness and love to balance the darkness in my father's heart. The dawn to welcome a new age."


The Great Purge brought about the deaths of hundreds of Sorcerers. But for every death, there must be a birth. The balance must be maintained. And so, the world was given Merlin.

Payment for the sins of Uther Pendragon.


A/N:

Yeah, so I thought I'd just whack a summary on the end there to make sure you got the idea of the story.

I hope you like it. I worked really hard on this, once I had the inspiration, so please, review. I've heard that Merlin readers review more than most other fandoms, I'd hate to prove that wrong!

Ari.