Now Merlin and Arthur riding into Camelot early in the morning after a patrol or hunt really wasn't that odd, if one was to be honest. A bit odder, though not by much, is when they had an extra companion with them. Over the years they seemed to show the best (or the worst) luck in finding lost strangers or people in need while outside the city walls. So a small, rather bedraggled boy riding in with them was cause or very little gossip. For now at least.

Merlin managed to extract himself and his brother from Arthur's company soo after dismounting, citing that he wanted to ask Gaius to look the boy over -after all, Merlin may be the man's apprentice, but he was by no means a master yet himself. Arthur seemed to share some concern for Mordred, and so didn't put up too much fuss. It was on the way to Gaius' chambers that things got a tad awkward. How did you connect with a brother you never know you had until a few months ago, one whom you thought was destined to kill your best riend, and whom was standing right next to you?

Mordred apparently had no such qualms. In fact, he seemed to take the fact of their relation and accept it with no thought at all, quickly showing a rather chatty side to himself. Sort of.

So what did happen to Lady Morgana, Merlin? Where did she go? Why did she leave? Who is Morgause? Why did she make Morgana leave?

Merlin had to be careful no tto trip, he still wasn't used to talking with his mind to another person. Still, he had promised Mordred answers. Morgause is her half sister, I think her father's daughter. Morgana met her about a year ago, and since then has become more and more hateful of Camelot and all who inhabit it. Mostly it was just Uther, but she's become colder to everyone. It came to a head when she became the vessel to power a spell Morgause cast on Camelot, putting everyone to sleep. She was going to kill Uther. I had to go to Kilgarrah to find out how to reverse it, and he said the only way was to kill Morgana.

You killed Morgana? Why, how, what- Mordred broke in, only to be cut off by his older brother.

No, I didn't kill her! Merlin snapped. I don't think I did anyways. I... poisoned her. I gave her hemlock, in her water. Morgause came in, and I bartered the knowledge of her poison for the reversal of her spell. She accepted. I still don't know if Morgana knew she was being used like that, and Morgause is probably turning her even further from Camelot and it's people.

Is that such a bad thing? Mordred asked. Merlin would have been furious and snapped at the youth for that statement if it weren't for the honest confusion in his voice. So he let him continue, simply raising an eyebrow. Camelot is the source of the Great Purge, it's where Uther rules from and rules so unjustly. Why would any magic user WANT to be on Camelot's side, when to do so means death and hatred no matter where you turn? To be revealed in Camelot is a death sentence, to be found helping through magic by an enemy of Camelot is seen as betrayal! What good is there in supporting and defending Uther's kingdom? I don't understand Em- Merlin.

Merlin sighed, stopping the two of them in one of the castle's many little-used corridors, and rubbed a hand over his face. Mordred... it isn't quite that simple. Not really. I cannot speak for others, and their reasons if they have them, but I can give you mine. I support not what Camelot is, but what it is destined to grow to be. What it will become under Arthur's reign. A just, united land, where magic is free. However, it can't come to pass when all Arthur knows of magic is that those that use it seek his father's throne, to kill his loved ones. He will be a better king, he just needs to ne shown that his father's views are not absolutely true.

Why does so much ride on him Merlin? Why would another king not be better? Why not a sorceror? Why not you? The prophecies speak of your power-

They speak of my power as a protector and adviser of the Once and Future King, Mordred,. And that king is Arthur. That is what makes him so important. I do not expect you to share my views. I do not expect you to act as I do. I do not expect you to defend Camelot. What I do wish of you however is to not go against her either. Camelot is my home, and thus it is now yours. Uther may be unjust and a tyrant, but he is still king, until such a time as he passes on. I don't believe it is long in coming. With all his enemies, even I cannot protect him, as I have done for Arthur's sake. Can you try to understand? I defend Camelot for the future, for Albion.

I don't think I do, Emr- Merlin. But I am trying to. Can you accept that?

Yes Mordred, I can, now let's get to Gaius' chambers before some maid decides that somethings amiss with the two of us standing here, staring, and not saying a word.

The young teen laughed a bit at that, and then followed his brother. He still had his doubts, as he knew Merlin also did, but he figured they would work themselves out. And Emry-MERLIN right. Arthur would be a better king. That he accepted Mordred's presence and saved his life was proof of that.

Life settled quickly, and the tweaked truth of Merlin and Mordred's relation was soon accepted. Gaius managed to find a spare cot somewhere in the castle to put in Merlin's room, which he now shared with Mordred, and things went more or less smoothly. Morgana still hadn't been found, Mordred still preferred silence and speaking with his mind, and Uther was still paranoid about magic, but that was their normal. Merlin and Mordred found that the two of them actually were quite alike and could supplement one another's knowledge. Merlin had book learning and an instinctive grasp of magic and it's workings, and Mordred had the oral traditions of the druids that he grew up memorizing.

Mordred actually took on a fair few of Merlin's duties as Gaius' apprentice primarily in the delivering of potions and remedies and the nursing of patients. Cleaning the leech tank and going out to find herbs was still left to Merlin however.

Mordred actually fit qute well in Camelot. The nobles thought him properly subservient and quiet, the maids thought him darling, why, the cook even liked him, and often went after Merlin declaring, "I may not be able to get you to eat enough for your health, but you best make sure that little brother of yours eats well enough!" Merlin actually shuddered to think of what she'd do if he didn't. The cook was scarier than Uther at times!

Gwen seemed most suspicious of Mordred, oddly enough. She was never mean or hurtful to him, or even realyl cold, but it was still there, she didn't seem to fully trust or like him. He hadn't quite managed to charm her like so many others. Merlin actually found himself asking her about it one day while running an errand for Arthur as she went about her day. Her reply was most odd.

"I don't know what it is about him. He;s a sweet boy, and I know I really would love him, but..."

"But what Gwen? Is there something wrong?"

Gwen sighed, shifting the basket of laundry on her hip. "Merlin, I know he is your brother, but I cannot help remembering, thinking... thinking that Morgana first started changing, growing cold and I think she was even scared of something by the end of it all, when she met him."

"What do you mean?" Merlin thought he understood, but wanted to make sure. Gwen did tend to babble and stumble with words when upset or nervous.

"I just mean that after Morgana met Mordred, when you brought him to her so long ago, she changed. It was slow and gradual, but by the time Morgause kidnapped her she had grown angrier, more judgmental and at times even fearful, and I can't help but to think that he may have had something to do with it. You may not like it, but that's what I think."

Merlin could only stare after her, speechless. Could Gwen be right? Could Kilgarrah? Was he a fool to try and save his brother and also save his best friend? Was there any hope at all? Merlin could just stand there, wondering if the two most important people in his life -his brothers, one by blood, one by bond- were truly doomed to die at one another's hand. Could he fight fate, and win?