"were magic naught but a pulse to your veins"
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Characters: Ensemble Cast
Summary: And some days it was worth it, the gold in his eyes, and the magic in his veins; just to give Camelot the chance to see the King in the prince he now served.
Notes: This year I am playing around with the 50 sentence challenge over at another site - which prompts one to write four stories a month based on a set of fifty prompts. The fifty prompts result in one sentence each, and then a whole story is formed from the snapshots provided in those sentences. Obviously, this challenge will slaughter grammar, and bring out the seldom seen fandom from the muse - but is a fun and curious thing that has already been incredibly interesting. If you wish to, you can track my progress in my profile.
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words.
Hunith watched with worried eyes as her son caused the candle to flicker in exceedingly complex patterns, the simple delight on his face a dread in her heart as she prayed to the gods to protect the boy whom had been cursed with an unusable gift.
"He won't last a week under Arthur's yoke," Morgana laughed aside to Gwen as the slip of a boy – Merlin – tried to keep up with the prince, prophesy a countering thing in her eyes.
"There you are, Merlin, we wondered where you were hiding," Arthur sheathed his sword as Merlin glared, giving a quick prayer for long suffering as he once again had to hide the knowledge of how he had turned the tide of the battle in the prince's favor.
She became so very good at curving into shadows with him – hiding the small flowers he left her, and stealing kisses behind columns only to break away for fear of some errant eye – for while Gwen may have won the heart of the prince, his kiss had not turned her servant's rags to something more, and for now they had to wait behind both of their masks.
The first time Kilgharrah had saw the young warlock, the strands of magic that had connected Merlin to the future king had been almost tangible; and he could once again feel the call of the wind beyond as he shaped the future for all who held magic in their hearts.
"I dreamed of Father . . . he is not coming home this time, is he?" Morgana whispered, and Vivian put a hand before her mouth, finally admitting that her daughter was not all that she appeared to be.
"You always strike harshly when you feel yourself helpless against a foe," Ygraine chided warmly, holding her husband's hand against his temper – for her rather harsh pregnancy was not her maids fault, and they did not deserve to be scolded so.
The first time Arthur was old enough to understand who burned at the witch's pyres, he was hard pressed to stand by his father's side without loosing his lunch; for no matter how many tales he had been told of magic's evil, the girl who burned was the same age as he and Morgana, and Arthur would never forget her screams.
"Like this," Uther held his hand over the blade in Morgana's hand, "indeed, if you strike this way, Arthur won't stand a chance against you - for the next few years, at least."
"Such magic is not to be played with lightly, my friend!" Nimueh exclaimed, desperate that Uther not ask her for the one thing she could not give; for while she held life and death within her, she was not unfeeling on the life she would take, for magic did not lie, no matter how much the mind may have wished to.
"I simply abhor bad manners," Arthur insisted to Merlin, glower still on his face as he watched the incessant way that the innkeeper flirted with the smiling Gwen.
The first time Arthur had been presented with the peasant's fare, he had refused to eat; the second time, he had shoveled the meal down with a forced smile; and then, the next time in Ealdomere, he offered to cook himself – a fate from which Merlin quickly stepped in and saved them all from.
"There is nothing that can take you from my heart," the King vowed, his hold on her desperate, and Morgana closed her eyes against the embrace, liar liar lair,a mad and beating thing against her lips.
It was becoming frightfully easy for Merlin to slip unnoticed around the castle, stepping between the play of lantern light and shadow for one reason or another – for by guarding one lie, these small ones in return were the easiest of tasks to accomplish.
At his father's side, Morgana was resplendent in her tourney finery, but Arthur couldn't help but let his gaze slip behind her to see Gwen standing in the sunlight, enraptured as he was by the few curls that broke free to frame her face.
"And what would you know about magic, Merlin?" Arthur asked on a laugh, covered in the troll's blood, once again never suspecting that the killing blow came from the slip of a servant at his side.
"All your years at this, and you have yet to improve the taste?" Merlin made a face when he threw the potion back, his smile only widening when Gaius whacked the back of his head with one of his books.
"You have your mother's eyes," Uther mumbled one evening when the wine casket dwindled down between them, and Arthur stilled, as if by his silence his father would say more to his hungry ears.
"My lord, how is marital bliss suiting you?" only Morgana would dare to ask the smitten king who stared lovingly at his troll bride; the rest of the table shifting uneasily in their seats at her words.
Unlike the others of his kind, Mordred's eyes burned blue, and Merlin felt the weight of the child's mind like a harkening thing – an end of the future that he was trying so hard to build.
"The spells will come more easily over time, Sister," Morgause promised in a silver voice as she placed the candle before Morgana, "Now, again."
"I am your daughter, and magic runs in my veins; and for every crime real and imagined, Uther Pendragon, I swear you will pay in blood."
The lake waters around her were warm and soothing, cradling her soul until she was called forth from the depths; the magic of the land begetting her as their own for the time when she would be able to serve once more.
The dragonlord's tongue was ancient upon his lips as the great beast shuddered, no choice but to answer the call as he bent his massive head down to Merlin, the entire curve of his body a bow even as his limbs shook in fury.
Arthur's hair was silver, and his body weathered, but his eyes were still that of a boy; and still immortally young, Morgana placed a kiss upon her king's brow as the blade set deep; the circle between them finally complete.
"You'll get used to it quicker than you think," Arthur promised warmly as Guinevere fussed over the band of gold upon her brow, looking every inch a Queen, even if she herself felt ill suited to the title.
"Since when have you been the one to follow every letter of your father's orders?" Morgana smirked and tossed the sword to Arthur, delighting in the determination that finally lit the prince's gaze.
She never let herself find out if Uther's love for her was stronger than his hatred of magic - for she could not bear to hear his ringing voice pronounce her doom; to have his eyes burn with the smoke of her sentence, and so instead she struck first, and oh, but how incredibly broken he was before her now.
Somewhere along the way, her friend had gone, leaving something shadowed and sinister in her place; and with a heavy heart, Gwen pressed her hand against Morgana's one last time as she slept, saying goodbye in the only way she knew how.
"The witch must burn," Kilgharrah insisted, ancient voice terrible with promise, and Merlin took a step back as one more impossible decision was placed before him – for Morgana was not yet the evil she was prophesied to be, and Merlin could not take her life so coldly.
"Of course we must built another fleet of rooms!" Arthur insisted in mock outrage, tracing a finger against his wife's swollen stomach as he painted grand visions of the future, "My daughter deserves nothing but the best - mark my words, Gwen."
Morgana pressed a white hand against her forehead, sick with feeling as the last of her dreams bled gold from her eyes – dreams of Camelot burning, and a crown of thorns against her brow; Uther broken and Arthur mourning, and she the Queen of a city of dead men . . .
"You do not falter, do you, sister?" Morgause's voice was a sweet purr, the feeling in her eyes pronounced as a promise, and at it Morgana raised her head high, anchoring herself on the surety she saw there.
Sometimes Arthur couldn't help but think that the only pure thing magic had to offer was Merlin – for every witch and sorcerer they faced always seemed to have black intentions, and a part of Arthur would always be his father's son.
"Now Merlin; the mace or glaive for today?" Arthur rubbed his hands together in devilish glee, and Merlin suddenly had a very bad feeling that had nothing to do with his gift's direction.
As magic had taken Ygraine from him, so would he take his all from magic; and maybe then, when the deaths were tallied and his kingdom was cleansed, Uther could wash away the guilt that still stained his soul.
"Oh no no no, you will bloody well wake up now, Arthur Pendragon – because Gwen is not here at the moment, and I am not helping you out of any spell that involves true love's kiss."
"Of course, because only the smallest, thorniest, hardest to reach plant in Camelot and all of Albion is the one needed to break the ridiculousspell that the idiot was unable to weave properly."
As fond as he was of destiny twining he and Arthur together in an unending pattern, Merlin really did wish that just once Arthur would see that he was more than the bumbling idiot who followed him into battle each and every time.
A step behind, as always, Nimueh shadowed Uther and his Queen, content in her place as magic's aide to the King, spokesperson of the Land; and yet, she still let her eyes follow Ygraine, unable to stop herself from wanting more.
"Merlin?" Arthur questioned hesitantly, his eyes wounded as the flare of magic around them settled down, nothing left but the telltale gold in his eyes as his secret was finally given.
"Maybe that is just the King and Queen that Camelot needs," Merlin said, his eyes shadowed gold, and Gwen felt herself shiver at the weight of promise in his voice.
"Well, Father, at least I am not trying to wed a troll," Arthur couldn't help but add in a remembered moment of childish pique, ignoring Gwen's pointed elbowing at his side, and her glare of you-are-not-helping.
"Actually," Merlin chirped brightly to Gaius while the warning bells hollered around them, "it was an enchanted forest – the trees were sleeping spirits, and they did not take kindly to Arthur hacking at them – which, if he remembers correctly, I did warn him about."
The first time Morgana had tried to kill him, she had not been able to follow through; and while Uther held her, she finally admitted that he was home to her, a circle complete – no matter how much she would fight it in the years to come.
"So help me, Merlin, but if you are serious about keeping that ridiculous hat, then I will not be held responsible for my actions."
From the battlements, Arthur looked down to see Lancelot walking through the gates with Gwen at his side; and while he reminded himself that theirs was an old attachment, first loves and all that, something dark settled inside of him – something that was kept at bay only by the trust that he held stronger than his fear.
"Well, whatever the idiotic plan is, you can count on my steel," Gwaine vowed with a lopsided grin, and Arthur rolled his eyes even as he clapped the other man on the back.
From the side of the clearing, Merlin braced himself as Arthur pressed his hand to the neck of the Great Dragon; but he could feel as Kilgharrah pressed into the prince's touch, and around them, the Land started to heal.
"Long live the King," Merlin repeated with the rest of the gathered court, pride along side the gold in his eyes as the crown was finally set on Arthur's brow.