A/N: FOR FOLLOWERS WHO ARE LOOKING AT THIS AND FEELING CONFUSED! I AM RE-WRITING. I WILL BE UPLOADING A NEW CHAPTER EVERY DAY UP UNTIL I GET TO THE POINT I WAS AT BEFORE. GO BACK AND READ THE WHOLE THING AGAIN OR THIS WILL NOT MAKE SENSE. TRUST ME, IT'S A LOT BETTER NOW!
This chapter is almost entirely new content
…and is named after my favourite poem :D :D
"Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow" – T. S. Eliot
Chapter Four – The Idea and the Reality
Large clear blue eyes reflected the last golden tendrils of Lilly's magic as it dissipated into nothingness; the eyelids then closed briefly in relief as the uncomfortable sensation faded. The shutters over his sight revealed pale, almost unhealthy, smooth skin. The pupils then floated over pools of white in a journey to seek out his other companions.
Gwen and Morgana were clutching each other in a tight comforting embrace, tears running over both pale and dark skin. Arthur looked distracted, almost haunted, like a man who had seen that level of destruction many times before, some caused by his own hand. Uther appeared mainly unaffected, like Gaius, but he now regarded Lilly with more trepidation than ever.
Merlin sat down heavily, his mind teeming with images of the elves fleeing and falling…burning…screaming. Slowly the trees and huts faded away and were replaced with memories of Ealdor, his mother and Will. He imagined what it would be like if it had been his village, his whole world, erased from existence in just one evening. What would he do?
Gaius stood behind Merlin and placed a hand on his shoulder. Merlin looked up sadly at his uncle and mentor. Gaius patted him on the arm then moved over to Gwen with a sweeping of blue robes. He gently extracted her from Morgana and sat her down next to Arthur who glanced at his father nervously before wrapping and arm around her.
Merlin watched, fascinated, as a change came over Morgana. She wiped her tears away with the corner of her fur wrap and straightened her back. Her sharp green eyes turned hard and cold and her mouth set into a thin line as she glared at Uther. She took a step forwards and the tension in the room thickened as if it were tangible. Her gaze never faltered as their eyes met, they clashed like ice and fire.
"Why did you order you men to attack those people?" She demanded. "They were peaceful!"
Uther stepped forwards.
"All magic is dangerous and I will not allow it within Camelot's borders!" Uther retorted shortly. Morgana looked furious, she was still shaking from the aftermath of Lilly's memories and her fists were clenched into balls.
"So you slaughtered them." She stated coldly.
"Morgana," Uther ran a hand other his face tiredly, weary of his many arguments with his surrogate daughter. "I have to be firm with these people, they think in strange ways, it is the only message they understand."
"You didn't have to kill them! You could have warned them and told them to leave, not that they were doing any harm anyway!" Morgana shrieked. Uther's stony grey eyes regarded the outraged woman dangerously.
"It is not your place to tell me how to protect my own kingdom!" He rumbled. Morgana stood silent for a moment.
"You have no power over me here Uther Pendragon." Then she did the most un-ladylike thing Merlin had ever seen her do; she spat at Uther's feet and stalked past him.
Uther grabbed hold of her shoulders, his face crimson with rage, and shook her roughly.
"How dare you!" He shouted furiously, Morgana tried to wrench herself free but he just held her tighter.
Merlin's head snapped round as he glimpsed a wisp of gold out of the corner of his eye. Gold threads snaked off Lilly's hips as she materialised. She muttered a spell and Morgana and Uther flew apart. They hurtled through the air and hit opposite stone walls with a muffled thump and an exclamation of pain, then landed in an undignified heap.
Uther heaved himself up off the floor, grimacing and clutching his back, and opened his mouth to protest. However, when his lips moved no sound came out. He tried again, his face turning slowly redder, his fists balled. Morgana also stood up and tried to speak, but was as mute as her king.
"Sit down, don't argue and I'll remove the spell," Lilly said, her voice level and indifferent, showing none of the amusement the young men felt.
Uther and Morgana both glared at Lilly and then at each other before sitting down on the plush fur rug. Lilly released them both from the spell then walked round to the head of the circle. Whereas a moment ago she had appeared to be exuding energy, Lilly now seemed to be tired and drained.
"I hope that, at least for some of you, my story has horrified you. These attacks have happened many times and on many peoples, not just my own. This will be my first lesson. It is dark now and we are all weary. I will send some food to you in several hours. Sleep on my words…and do not fight." She vanished again within a spiral of golden wind.
Merlin was now sat next to Morgana in the ring, trying to ignore the concerned looks she kept giving him. All he could think about was the terrible slaughter that Uther had mercilessly ordered. This was a king that Merlin had protected - he had even been called a loyal servant to the crown. He felt like a traitor to his own kind. How many more attacks had there been like this while he had been Arthur's servant. Had he simply not noticed? This caused him another, even more awful, thought. Had Arthur ever been involved in these attacks?
Merlin felt sickened. A feeling akin to dread roiled in his stomach. It made him want to run and scream and fight just to escape from it. His hands curled into fists and he suddenly couldn't think, couldn't breathe the sensation was so intense. His jaw clenched and he shakily dropped his face into his palms.
Merlin jumped and raised his head as he felt a warm pressure on his arm. Morgana had her hand still reaching out towards him, her eyes wide in shock at his startled reaction. Merlin met her gaze and silently implored her to understand. The depth in his normally carefree eyes latched onto her soul and she could almost feel herself drowning in their black pupils.
"It's alright, I don't want to know; we all have secrets." She whispered with the despair of her own secret dripping from her lips. Merlin lowered his eyes to the floor and Morgana tentatively touched his shoulder again. This time he leaned in to her comfort.
True to her word, Lilly had sent a simple but filling meal of bread and stew for them a few hours after she had left. Uther had, of course, turned his nose up at it and was now sitting by the fire on a self-enforced hunger strike. Arthur, surprisingly, had made no comment and was now eagerly eating the stew. Although it was unlike Arthur the resist food, Merlin surmised.
Merlin watched Arthur as he ate, barely touching his own food and when he had finished took Arthur's bowl back to where it had first materialised. It disappeared.
"Merlin, what the hell is wrong with you?" Arthur's voice broke through his reverie. "All you have done all evening is mope about and be a good servant!"
Arthur leaned in closer, "I need you to get your strength up, I'm going to try to climb out of the window and find a way to escape."
That got Merlin's attention. His head shoot up and he stared at Arthur incredulously.
"You're what? Are you mad?"
Arthur shook his head.
"How do we know that the kingdom is not being attacked whilst the elf keeps us here? I will not sit and do nothing while she toys with us!" Arthur's voice rose, he hushed himself quickly.
"Why are you not discussing this with the king?" Merlin hissed back. Arthur inclined his head slightly.
"While we are here my father cannot think rationally, we must do this on our own to prevent him from doing something irrational."
"We?" Merlin's voice rose higher. "What makes you think that I want to be involved in this? Lilly is in control of everything in this room; I doubt you will find a way out"
"I just want to try the window!" Arthur argued back.
"Well go and try the window, go on, don't let me stop you!" Merlin could feel an irrational anger aimed at the Pendragons working its way to the surface. He was losing control. His nerves, the slaughter he had just witnessed and the constant reminder that he was in the service of the 'enemy' was becoming too much. He suddenly felt too weakened to move. He could feel Arthur's eyes staring.
"I'm sorry sire, I will help you," He conceded eventually. A voice within his mind spat insults and taunts of betrayal but he was so tired. Tired of hiding, tired of not knowing his own loyalties, tired of saving Arthur, tired of being Emrys.
"I will rest now, at your leave sire," Merlin said softly, bowing and ignoring Arthur's stunned expression.
The night was silent. Sleeping bodies lay sporadically around the fire, covered in any cloth they could find. Even the storm had stilled. Merlin lay on his side, staring at the fire. It was peaceful. He could stay here, he decided, in the quiet and the warmth. In this room, with no one else awake he could think clearly. He knew that the anticipation was slowly killing him, the constant threat of being discovered, and he felt disgusted at his cowardice.
But now he could think.
He knew that Arthur would never find a way out unless Lilly let them leave, that much was obvious. He would humour Arthur for now but his main concern was the way Lilly was hanging his secret over his head. She's dangerous.
A/N Thanks for reading! Please review.