3 Years Later
"And up! Just like a dragon! Swooooosh!" A barrage of giggles followed, joined by the occasional input by a deeper voice inflected with childish playfulness. Freya smiled to herself and rounded the corner quietly in the hopes that she wouldn't interrupt. She didn't, and she stood unnoticed in the doorway leading out to the covered porch where Merlin was swinging the tiny Pendragon about himself, propelling the baby around in circles and up over his head with the aid of a little magic, which the child seemed to enjoy. Freya smiled at his antics, and wondered to herself if he would play as enthusiastically with their child. She subconsciously ran a hand over her stomach, which was only just big enough yet to show her pregnancy.
"Why, I do believe you are a dragon, Raina!" Merlin exclaimed overdramatically, "Look, you're flying!" He let go of her and let his magic hold her for a few seconds before he let her fall into his waiting arms. She exploded into pleased giggles, and he smiled down at her. "With a bit of practice, you'll be flying circles around Kilgarrah himself." He bent down to kiss her face affectionately.
"Perhaps a little more than just practice, magic boy," a new voice chimed in.
"Mummy!" Raina cooed happily, reaching out. Gwen grinned as she came to take the smiley infant from Merlin's arms. "Not even two years old yet, and already learning to fly. Quite an accomplishment, I must say."
"I am a remarkable teacher," Merlin said cheekily. Gwen rolled her eyes and looked down at her daughter. "You've got a silly uncle, isn't that right, Raina? Silly Uncle Merlin?"
The uncle in question smiled at the mispronunciation. Then, he spotted his wife, and grinned even wider and spread his arms as an invitation. Freya came over and let him put his arm around her. She fiddled with Raina's small hands when the toddler saw her and began flailing for her. "He is rather silly, isn't he?" She asked the child, and looked up at Merlin. "Though I suspect that he is more dragon than any of us. I suppose it could have gone to his head." Merlin laughed and turned to her, holding her hands.
"How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine. And though I can't be entirely sure, I swear I felt your son kick me earlier."
"Really?" Merlin looked down at her stomach and put a hand over her bump, and she laughed at his eagerness.
"It's been hours since then, and I'm not even sure that's what it was. I doubt he'll do it again."
"How are you so sure it'll be a boy?" Gwen asked, bobbing Raina in her arms. Merlin turned to her with a look that said he'd gone down that road many times.
"Don't try and argue with her," he warned, "it won't work."
Freya only shrugged. "Mother's intuition, I suppose," she told Gwen.
"Do you suppose the baby even has a gender yet, when it's so early?" Gwen speculated. Merlin gave her an appreciative look.
"That's what I said, and Gaius too, but-" Freya swatted him.
"Gaius doesn't know what he's talking about. Neither do you," she said when Merlin gave her an incredulous look. She put her hands rather assertively over her stomach. "I'm the one who's been carrying him about for three months and will carry him about for six more. I've been getting to know him quite well, and I can tell you that he is most definitely a boy."
Merlin could only shrug, and Gwen smiled at them.
"Have you thought of any names yet? For the – for him?"
The parents-to-be looked at each other. "Yes," Merlin said for them, "We decided that, should it be a boy-"
"Which he will, of course."
"-should it be a boy, we'll name him Balinor, after my father. Balin for short. And if it's a girl-"
"Merlin, we've been over this, it will be a boy. I don't see why you don't-"
"If it is a girl," Merlin spoke up over his wife, "we'll name her Elanor."
"…Which of course we won't."
Merlin chose to ignore Freya's last comment. Gwen smiled.
"Lovely choices – er, choice in names." She smiled, then looked down at Raina, who had calmed down from her play and was playing with the fringe on her mother's sleeves. "What do you think, Raina? D'you think you and young Balin will get on well when he comes? You ought to be friends." She smiled and glanced up at Merlin. "Perhaps you could both play dragons with your uncle at the same time."
"Ah, but our baby will actually be a touch dragon, too," Merlin smiled proudly. "Dragonlord, at any rate."
"Oh, just what I need," Freya teased, "another madman in the house."
"What's all this about dragons?" Arthur asked, coming out onto the porch dressed in armor from training. His face was serious, but morphed completely when he saw his daughter. "Ah, I didn't realize all of my favorite people were here." He dove in to kiss his daughter's brow.
"Aw, Arthur, I'm touched that you think of me so highly," Merlin said. Arthur looked up and pretended to notice Merlin for the first time.
"Oh, you're here too? That's nice." He snuggled his baby again. He let the others laugh before he straightened up. "Really, though, I actually came to find you, I need to speak with you about something."
"What is it?" Merlin asked, his curiosity peaked by Arthur's businesslike tone.
"An idea that Leon mentioned. We were talking about magic – well, about how many sorcerers are coming to live in Camelot these days. We'd talked before about the possibility of taking a census, a kind of register for all of the magic users in Camelot, but the idea seemed a bit crude at the time… Now, with just how many magicians there are here, we thought we might need something different. And, well, I think I've come up with something."
"Yes?" Merlin looked excited.
"A guild. A guild of magic, to unite and keep track of all the magic users in Camelot."
Merlin's eyebrows went up in interest. "A guild? Like a professional guild? But aren't magicians a bit…scattered for that?"
"Exactly," Arthur said, getting excited about his idea, "That's just it – this would unite them together in a new community. Not really like other guilds – it'd be across professions and classes, and have different spheres to account for all the different roles magicians play in Camelot."
Merlin was caught up in the idea. He crossed his arms and watched Arthur interestedly. "Go on."
Arthur nodded and motioned for him to walk with him. "Well, I was actually thinking that we might divide it up into different groups. I was hoping you'd head up a defensive corps of the guild."
"Yes. You'd have to help me think up a proper name, but I was thinking, if we have so many magicians, some of them might want to try their hand at training to fight with magic. I think I've found the perfect place, an old underground barrack under the south turrets…" their voices faded as they walked slowly down the long porch, and their wives watched them go.
"How long you bet until they start arguing?" Gwen whispered to Freya.
"Hmm," Freya squinted and pursed her lips. She surveyed her husband's face, and that of the king. "Five minutes, max."
"What do you think, Raina?" Gwen asked, and the baby gurgled something in a nonsensical language. Gwen smiled as though she understood. "Years from now, perhaps someone will take those two seriously enough to believe that they were the ones who brought Albion together." She looked over at Freya. "We know better."
And, as if on cue, voices rose from across the porch, and the two women watched as the most powerful sorcerer of all time and the most respected king of Camelot's history bickered at each other like overgrown schoolboys.
"Oh," Freya said pleasantly, "a bit ahead of schedule, then. At any rate, they figure out everything better when they're arguing, although I don't think they know that." Ignoring the pair when Merlin shocked Arthur with conjured electricity and when Arthur retaliated by smacking Merlin upside the head, the two women settled down on a bench with Raina in between them, and began discussing their own thoughts on this new proposed magic guild.
Raina was actually the one who saw him first. "Agdon!" She shouted, pointing out across the castle yard from her mother's lap. "Agdon, agdon, agdon!" She pointed and clapped, and Gwen turned.
"What?" She shaded her eyes against the sun. Freya did the same, and gasped.
"Aithusa!" She turned. "Merlin, Aithusa is here!"
Freezing in the middle of a sally with his hand in the air to form a spell, Merlin turned. "What?" He and Arthur stopped what they were doing and went back over to the ladies as though they'd never been bickering. By the time they'd reached the bench where Freya and Gwen were sitting, Aithusa was perched just off the porch.
"Agdon!" Raina squealed again.
"That's dragon, dear," Gwen corrected.
"Father!" Aithusa called, breathless as he landed, "Father, exciting news,"
"Aithusa, what are you doing here?" Merlin was happy to see his reptilian ward, but confused. "I thought you'd flown out to the-"
"Eastern mountains again, yes," the dragon breathed, "I did. And I've come back with news."
Merlin's face cleared. "What kind of news?" He asked, hoping against hope. Arthur, Gwen and Freya watched attentively. Aithusa swallowed and responded.
"Well, they're not much, and they- they'll take a bloody long time to track, but they're there for all to see, not older than a few years, and after all the searching," the dragon blabbered, still panting for breath.
"Aithusa," Merlin said carefully, "what did you find?"
"Dragons," he blurted out. "Dragon nests, anyway. They're not new – rather old, but no more than five years old. Not older than the Purge. And if we could track them, if we could find them, then, then…"
Merlin was in a daze. "There are more dragons out there."
"Yes," Aithusa was beaming a reptilian grin. "we are not the last of our kind, father."
"Not the last…" Merlin's eyes were faroff, then he burst into a huge smile and spun around. "Not the last! Did you hear that? Dragons!" He looked down at Raina, then to his wife. "Dragons, Freya! Real dragons!" He hugged her and kissed her and then turned back to Aithusa. "Oh, this is… This is… You're not the last ones!" He grinned. "Oh, this is wonderful." Merlin turned around, hands to his head, mind awhirl.
"I know, father! Kilgarrah and I are truly not the last of our kind." Aithusa laughed with him, and glanced at Freya, then looked to Merlin, then back at Freya. He lowered his voice to a normal volume. "And neither are you."
Merlin turned and smiled at his wife. He hugged her to him tight, and turned back to Aithusa. They began chattering away again, and eventually Arthur pitched in with a question, and then Gwen joined the conversation. Aithusa glanced at Freya once or twice kindly, but she remained silent as she watched them all talk excitedly about the possibility of there being other dragons out there. Freya wrapped her hands around her belly, which she knew would be growing quickly in the days to come. Here she was, carrying the not last dragonlord, listening to the not last dragon planning with her family to find those of their kin who had been missing for decades. It was all daunting, and yet, despite herself, she had to smile stupidly.
She could feel a new age dawning, a different time and a different place than the one that she and her friends knew when they had met, different than anything any of them had ever seen. It would be an age of newfound camaraderie and unity in their new land of Albion. It would be a time of discovery, of magic, and of dragons. And it would be a world they passed on to their children, she was sure.
Freya gasped and looked down at her stomach when she suddenly felt what she was sure was a kick. She rubbed the spot where her baby had hit and leaned back with a small grin.
It would appear as though this next adventure had already begun.
Stand, Speak, Listen, Learn
Tired of living under his father's shadow, when Balin Emrys finds a chance to prove his worth outside of Merlin's legacy, he jumps at it without a second thought. But when he lands in over his head and gets caught up with opposition he can't hope to face, he finds himself on his own to determine not only his own fate, but the fate of the same world he was trying to escape.