And here it is- the final chapter. I've still got work to do, but I needed a break so I managed to get this done. Once again, thank you so much for all of the fantastic support I've received throughout my writing this (71 reviews at this point in time). It makes me sad that it's all coming to an end. Still, plenty of ideas are swirling round in my head, including a possible future sequel to 'Nightmares', so keep an eye out. And please don't forget to tell me what you think of this Chapter too :)
Disclaimer: I don't own Merlin
Gaius was sitting at the table in his chambers, pooling over a large tome on anatomy, when there came an urgent knock on the door. Rushing over to open it, he was promptly met by the sight of a rather worried-looking Arthur, with an unconscious Merlin propped up awkwardly in his arms.
"Whatever happened this time?"
As he explained, Arthur dragged Merlin back to the bed he had lain in the day before. "We were just heading through the castle so that I could check on the movement of the guards when he started to complain that his headache was returning. Another few steps, and he was flat on his face. Luckily, we were relatively close, so I thought it would be best if I just brought him here." Striding back to the other side of the room, so that the physician was between the two, he spoke again, a slight hint of annoyance on his face. "I thought he was going to have the day off."
"I did try sire, but you know what Merlin can be like." Arthur just nodded. Yes, he knew. All too well.
Walking over to the bed, Gaius held a hand to his ward's brow.
"Well, his fever is not as great as it was yesterday. A good sign." He turned away from the raven-haired young man and back towards the Prince. "If he has a couple of days off, and actually rests this time, he should be just fine."
"Good. I'll just leave him to you then- I've got…to…" Gaius noticed that the Prince's eyes were suddenly focused sharply on a point just behind his left shoulder. "What. On. Earth?"
Turning around, the problem was immediately evident. A piece of parchment which had been lain on the table had floated up into the air, accompanied by a quill- which then ever so slowly started to write. He glanced in shock at his apparently sleeping ward (whose fingers were twitching awkwardly), before spinning round to face Arthur. How would he ever be able to explain this? It was so obviously magical.
The Prince's expression was thunderous.
"What is going on here?" He demanded. "Are you doing this?"
Gaius quickly shook his head. "Of course not sire!"
"Then is it Merlin?"
"It can't be." Could it? After all, he had used magic because of a fever before- when he had been poisoned.
"Then what other explanation is there? There is no-one else in the room!"
Gaius stumbled over his next words.
"I really couldn't say sire- I am as surprised as you." The scratching of the quill behind him came to a halt. As he turned, the quill lay itself back on the table, the parchment rolling itself up before flying over to hang in front of the old Physician. Snatching it out of the air, he hurriedly unrolled it. His eyebrows shot up at what had been written. Scrawled across the page in large, sprawling letters, was just one word.
He was so focused on the parchment that he didn't notice as the young Prince of Camelot strode casually across the room and seated himself on the bed, next to a now obviously awake and sitting-up Merlin.
"Well," came Arthur's voice, "do you have an explanation?" He turned towards the source of the voice, still focused on the item in his hand.
"I'm afraid I don't sire." He looked up. And was greeted by the sight of two of the largest grins he had seen in many years.
Arthur spoke again, and this time Gaius could hear the barely-restrained laughter. "Are you sure?"
He shifted his eyes between the two of them. "Wait a…did you just…Arthur, do you…?" Surely not.
This time neither of the boys could hold back their laughter.
"Yes Gaius, I know." Gaius just stood there in shock.
Merlin was practically in hysterics at this point. "You should have seen your face!"
"But how…?" At this, Arthur managed to contain most of his laughter. He stood up, leaving Merlin still whooping on the bed.
"You know how I told you that Merlin knocked me over while he was asleep?"
"Yes sire." Gaius was beginning to get annoyed now. Had he just been the butt of a joke? "Was this incorrect?"
"Oh no. It's just that the manner in which he hit me was rather…how to put it?…unconventional…" The penny dropped.
"So you found out about Merlin's magic." It wasn't really a question.
"And the two of you decided to play a trick on me?"
It was Merlin's turn to answer (having how subsided into just giggling). "Yes."
"You found this amusing?" The smiles were back in full force.
"I see." The old man paused. Maybe he would have a bit of fun in return. He may be able to laugh about it late, but it had in his reaction been a rather harsh prank. He quickly made up a drink for the two young men. Changing his tone into a more jocular one, he handed them the cups. "Would you like me to tell you something Merlin? Arthur?" Merlin's laughter stopped. He knew that tone. And it wasn't good.
"No. I'm fine."
"Oh really? Because I'm fine with not telling you. Although you really should know."
Both of them were nervous now. Looking at each other, they hurried to change the way the conversation was going. By taking a sip of drink.
The old man just laughed as they immediately spat it out, their faces twisted in disgust. "I told you you would want to know."
Ten minutes later found the three of them sitting around the table, Arthur having just relayed his theory behind the nightmares plaguing his manservant (and also apologising for their earlier misdemeanour). Merlin, his head resting on the table, turned to Gaius questioningly. He really didn't have the strength anymore to stay upright for so long.
"Do you have any ideas?"
Gaius shook his head. Trust Merlin to have made such a powerful and vindictive enemy. It really was just like him. "I'm afraid not. There are any number of spells of course, but unless we know which one was used we cannot break it." He frowned, remembering something. "Merlin?"
"Have you been playing around with flowers lately? Using them in some sort of magic?"
The old man stood quickly and walked into Merlin's room. He was back soon, a small box clasped in his hands. He laid it on the table in front of his ward. The boy just looked confused.
"Just open it." He did, his expression turning to one of shock as he saw the now brightly glowing flower inside it. "I found this under your mattress while you were away. I just assumed you were up to one of your tricks, so I hid it there so that the light wouldn't escape."
Arthur looked between the two of them. "So this is the cause of the enchantment?" Gaius nodded gravely. "Then surely all we have to do it destroy it."
"It's not that simple sire. For a spell such as this, it is possible that even if we destroyed the flower the spell would not break."
"You're saying that we can't do anything? That Merlin's just going to be stuck like this?"
Gaius shook his head. "No sire, I simply meant that it may not be possible to break the spell using just physical means alone. We may need to use magic to counteract the spell, and for that we will need to research." Merlin groaned. In the end, it still came down to pouring through dusty old books. "Now don't be like that Merlin," Gaius scolded, "at least now we know what we're looking for."
Hours later, Arthur snapped his head up from the book he was reading.
"Gaius! Here!" The old man quickly joined him, looking over his shoulder at the illustration of a flower shown there. It was exactly the same as the one in the box- the description even explaining how the strength of the glow depicted the power the spell wielded.
"That's it!" He frowned. With what little magic he had, at the level the spell was now there was no way he could break such an enchantment. If only he'd realised before! The Physician quickly shook this from his mind- it was too late to consider that now. "I was right- this will need power and concentration to break. I'll go fetch Merlin." The young warlock had been asleep in his room for the past two hours, aided by another sleeping draught. Although they had still heard quite a few anguished mutterings in that time. "He should be just rested enough that his mind will not be clouded with exhaustion." He walked over to his ward's room.
A few minutes later he was back, followed by a loudly-yawning Merlin.
"Gaius said you had…" Another yawn. "Sorry…had found the counter-spell?"
"Yes. Here." Arthur slid the book over the table. "Do you think you can do it?" Merlin shot him a reproving look.
"Who do you think I am?" He paused, smiling briefly. "I've always wanted to say that."
Arthur sighed, rolling his eyes. No matter what happened, Merlin was still that same old bumbling fool of a servant he had always been. "Just get on with it."
Merlin nodded and, turning toward the flower, he raised his hand before speaking the spell.
"Bléd ic i áswindee ond ácolitus ic i ádeorce, líesing sé galdorléoð dréfing swefnae." Nothing. He tried again. "Bléd ic i áswindee ond ácolitus ic i ádeorce, líesing sé galdorléoð dréfing swefnae." Still nothing. Not even a flicker. Arthur looked at him, concern evident in his expression.
"Can't you do it?"
Gaius put a hand on the Prince's shoulder. "Just give him time sire. It is a difficult spell to undo when left this long, and he is not in the best of conditions."
There was silence in the room for a few minutes as the young warlock closed his eyes and took several deep, steadying breaths. Neither onlooker dared to interrupt. When he opened them again, they were a brilliant shade of gold. Merlin spoke with authority, the power in his voice causing Arthur to shiver slightly.
"Bléd ic i áswindee ond ácolitus ic i ádeorce, líesing sé galdorléoð dréfing swefnae!"
The flower flashed brighter momentarily, then the glow suddenly disappeared. The spell broken, the flower promptly withered. Arthur hurried to pick it up and hold it over a lit candle, the three watching in victorious silence as the source of the enchantment turned to ash before their eyes.
A few days later saw Merlin bursting happily into Arthur's room, setting down the Prince's breakfast, and quickly drawing the curtains. He had slept for almost two days straight, and was eager to be get up and about once again.
"Up you get lazybones!" He cheerfully exclaimed, before dodging the pillow which came flying in his direction.
"Ah, Merlin. You're back. All better I trust?"
"Good. Then you can wash my clothes, mend my shirt, sharpen my sword, polish ,my armour and see to my horse. We're riding out again tomorrow to continue the search, and I want everything in top condition."
Merlin grimaced. "Can't you cut me a bit of slack? It is my first day back on the job after all."
"Exactly. And thanks to your absence, the chores have been piling up." He swung out of bed and walked over to the table. "Now get to it." Merlin sighed. It looked like things were back to normal for now. As Arthur went to eat the large portion of cheese on his plate, the young servant in the room let his eyes change colour just briefly, the plate sliding over to the other side of the table. He put on an innocent expression as Arthur turned to stare at him.
Well, things were almost back to normal.
And that's it I'm afraid *sobs*. I hope you think it ended well (and that the prank wasn't too mean of them). I had to use a translator a word at a time for the spell, so it may not be completely correct, but it basically says "Flower fade and light dim, release the spell disturbing dreams".
Before I go, I want to thank all of you who have reviewed, especially those who have been there supporting me pretty much from the start- just a few of you are Therandomonestaringatyou, ruby890, Katherine Moonhawk, JBQ and Lor4eto. I apologize to those not mentioned- it doesn't mean you're any less loved. And, of course, I have to thank my housemate, who is responsible for introducing me to the site- peskychesk, hurry up and get started on your first fanfic already!
And so, for now at least, I bid you farewell. It's been an amazing honour (and I seriously mean that) to write for such a brilliant audience.
Edit: There is now a Sequel, entitled 'Reality'