Disclaimer: I don't own 'Supernatural' or 'Merlin'; they belong to their respective creators, and I'm just borrowing them for this story
Feedback: Always a pleasure
The Cup of Life
"OK, so that's the spell negated, right?" Dean asked, looking anxiously at Castiel as they gathered in the temporary quarters that Arthur had provided for them during their stay in Camelot, the Winchesters' patrol concluded without any significant discoveries. "As in, there's not going to be anything else attacking Camelot because of that… thing you told us about?"
"Threats will come to Camelot due to its nature and status, but the immediate danger created by the spell Morgana cast has been negated, yes," Castiel confirmed.
"Great," Sam said, smiling in relief. "So, since nobody's in danger right now, all we have to do is get Merlin to come with us-"
"We cannot," Castiel said.
"I'm sorry, what?" Dean said, looking pointedly at Castiel. "I've been dragged through more than a thousand years of history to a place that doesn't even have indoor plumbing yet because you said we needed to get this guy-"
"I mean that it is impossible for me to take Merlin into the future," Castiel said, looking apologetically at the Winchesters. "I assumed that transportation would be possible, but I underestimated Merlin's power."
"What, are you saying his magic's too heavy for you or something?" Dean asked, looking at the angel in confusion.
"It would be more accurate to say that he is too… grounded for me to take him anywhere else," Castiel explained. "I can transport Merlin to other locations in this time so long as I time it properly, but I cannot take him into the future; his power is such a part of his role in this world that the world around us is constantly making an effort to keep Merlin active and contained in this time period."
"So… he's like Omega?" Sam asked uncertainly.
"Omega?" Dean repeated, looking at Sam in confusion. "What kind of demon's that?"
"He was a villain in Doctor Who," Sam said.
"Wait- Doctor Who?" Dean repeated, looking at his brother in shock. "That British thing about the guy in the massive box?"
"Look, a guy I knew at school was keen on the classic series, so I checked it out, and… well, for its time, some of that stuff wasn't that bad…" Sam said, shrugging awkwardly before he looked back at Castiel. "Anyway, Omega was this guy who'd basically used his will to shape another dimension that he'd become trapped in around him, but the catch was that he couldn't leave it because the world would collapse if he gave up control; is it something like that?"
"Save for the fact that Merlin did not create this world, your analogy is essentially correct," Castiel said, nodding at Sam. "Merlin's departure would create a hole in the magic of this time that it would not be able to recover from; no matter how promptly I returned him to this time, his complete absence would have a significantly negative effect on the rest of the world."
"So, in other words, we're still where we were on the whole 'destroying the Grail' thing, because the only guy who can do it can't leave the house to do it," Dean said, rolling his eyes. "Well, that's just great…"
"Maybe not…" Sam said, nodding thoughtfully for a moment before he looked at Castiel. "This ritual you were going to have Merlin perform… would it completely destroy the cup, or are there some parts of it that he could do here so that we can do the rest later?"
"Why do you ask?" Castiel asked, looking inquiringly at Sam.
"Well… I get that we can't take Merlin into the future, and we've pretty much established that changing history is difficult at best- particularly since we don't know what the Cup will do between now and our time-, but… is there anything that would stop him starting the ritual here so that we can finish it back home?" Sam asked.
"Yeah, somehow, I don't think magic's just going to hang around some cup for a thousand years-" Dean began.
"It will," Castiel said, smiling slightly at Sam's suggestion.
"It will?" Dean repeated, looking at the angel in shock.
"You are forgetting that we are dealing with Merlin and the Cup of Life," Castiel said, looking at the eldest Winchester with a smile. "What is impossible to most is merely difficult for him, and there is his connection to the Cup to take into account. Sam is correct; since taking Merlin to the future is impractical, we must find the Cup of Life here and have Merlin begin the spell of destruction in this time."
"You mean… that'd work?" Sam said, looking at Castiel in surprise. "But-?"
"So long as Merlin has started the ritual in our presence, we can finish it whenever we wish," Castiel explained, reaching into his robe and pulling out a pair of angelic blades. "We must get Kilgharrah to treat these with his flame before we depart, but once that is done we can conclude our business in the present easily enough."
"Just the wave of demons between us and the Cup to get past, eh?" Dean said, smiling in understanding at his friend. "Tough, but nothing we can't handle."
"So… what now?" Sam asked. "I get that we have a plan, but we still have to find the Cup in this time…"
His voice trailed off for a moment as he looked over at Castiel. "But you know where it is here, don't you?"
"I do," Castiel confirmed. "It presently remains in the possession of Morgana le Fay and her sister Morgause."
Even after the memory of the time he'd briefly spent as Lucifer's Vessel, Sam couldn't stop his eyes from widening in shock at that news.
They were going to have to directly confront one of the most feared witches of all time (He wasn't sure if Morgause was meant to be a separate person from Morgana or just another name for her, but Morgana was a definite danger signal)?
OK, given how bad their luck was sometimes, they should be grateful that their time in Camelot had gone so comparatively smoothly, and it wasn't like they hadn't faced bigger problems than a couple of witches, but the reputations that the witches in question had/would have in the future wasn't exactly something to be sneezed at.
"So," Sam said, looking thoughtfully between his brother and their angelic ally, "how are we going to do this?"
"Carefully," Castiel said. "I will require some time to determine the location of the Cup and the witches at this time, considering their power and the lengths that they will have gone to in order to conceal themselves. I will inform you when I have isolated their location and we can proceed from there."
"In other words, just hang around for the next week or so?" Dean asked.
"It is unlikely to be more than a couple of days; they are not anticipating a need to ward for my presence," Castiel replied.
"Well, that's something," Dean reflected, glancing over at Sam with a sigh. "I don't know about you, but right now I'd trade the whole 'staying in a palace' thing for a decent toilet."
"Let's… just not think about that, OK?" Sam asked, even as the wince at the memory of the smell in the public privy they'd had to use came back to him.
Quite frankly, he wasn't sure if he hated the privy or the bucket more; the privy stank, but the bucket was just humiliating even without the issue that he had to just throw everything out of the window afterwards…
After a couple of days without activity had gone by, marking the longest period without any monsters appearing in the city, the Winchesters and Castiel had gone to Arthur to reveal the 'truth' about the attacks. Claiming that they had guessed- after questioning Merlin and Gaius about the last confrontation with Morgana and Morgause- that a spell cast by Morgana was the cause of the escalation of magical creatures attacking Camelot, the Winchesters had told Arthur that Castiel had managed to find an old counter-charm that negated the spell that had attracted the monsters to Camelot; Arthur might be naturally uncertain about the use of magic, but when the Winchesters had assured him that it was essentially 'anti-magic' rather than any kind of actual magic, he had accepted their methods and left the issue alone.
With Arthur assured that the Winchesters had only remained silent about the sigil until they had been certain that the sigil had done its job, the Winchesters and Castiel had soon found themselves guests of honour at a banquet thrown to celebrate the end of the supernatural attacks. Dean was slightly disappointed at the lack of pie, while Sam had restricted himself primarily to the vegetables that were on offer, but there had been more than sufficient food for them both to enjoy what was available; Castiel had even been convinced to have a few bites himself, although he had been able to avoid receiving too much food by claiming that he was fasting as part of a tradition for the rules of his order (Dean had to give Cas credit; the guy was actually getting better at the lying thing).
"Been an experience, hasn't it?" a voice said, Dean glancing over and unable to stop himself grinning as he realised that Gawain was the knight who'd just addressed him.
"Yeah… that's certainly one way to look at it," he said, smiling at the other man; he wouldn't call himself a 'fanboy'- despite Sam's occasional teasing comment about him watching Dr Sexy since that mess with Loki/Gabriel in TV land-, but it was still kind of cool to be talking with Sir Gawain. "I mean, I've heard some of the stories, but… I mean, actually being here…"
"Trust me, you're seeing it at its best," Gawain said, grinning back at him. "I came here when Uther was in charge about a year ago, and he exiled me on pain of death just because I spoke up against a couple of knights who turned out to be fakes."
"Ouch," Dean said, looking sympathetically at Gawain. "Harsh ruler, huh?"
"Technically, he still is; he's just… well, he needed some time to recover after everything that happened lately, so Arthur's been doing most of it at the moment," Gawain said, looking briefly downcast at the statement for reasons Dean wasn't going to over-analyse before he shrugged and turned back to Dean with a slight smile. "Anyway, even if Uther's flawed, Arthur's all right; we are talking about the king who knighted a bunch of peasants based on their worth rather than their family, after all."
"Like you and Elyan?" Dean asked, looking curiously at Gawain, recalling what Sam had told him about what he'd learned from Elyan.
"And Lancelot and Percival," Gawain said, his manner suggesting there was something else to that statement even if he wasn't going to say more. "Lancelot came here a couple of years ago trying to fake his way into becoming a knight- I heard Merlin helped him draw up some sham family history so he could take part in a tournament-, but he was banished after Uther found out he'd lied to get into this tournament; he only came back now because Merlin sent a message for help after Morgana's attack on Camelot, and Percival came along with him after one of Morgana's allies destroyed his village."
"Interesting bunch," Dean said with a smile. "I get why Lancelot did that, though; in our line of work, Sam and I… well, we sometimes end up having to deal with a situation where we have to pretend to be something we're not if we're going to get anywhere."
"Only way to find the monsters, huh?" Gawain said.
"We're generally honest, but it's sometimes easier if people don't know who you are," Dean said, smiling back at the knight before he looked at the group sitting around the table. "Besides, every so often, we find ourselves in a position where we actually get some recognition for what we do; doesn't happen often, but moments like this make it all worthwhile."
Looking over at where Sam was talking with Lancelot about something, and Castiel was having a surprising discussion with Gaius- he wondered how much the old guy was getting Cas to share about his life upstairs-, Dean smiled at the new evidence of his last statement; he might find the stench of the place unpleasant, but all in all Camelot had definitely given them one of the nice greetings they'd ever had for doing their job…
"A toast!" Elyan said, raising his goblet as the food began to run low at last, looking over to the Winchesters and Castiel. "To our friends, Dean and Samuel de Chester and Castiel, for their aid in hunting down the monsters that have haunted our kingdom!"
"Agreed," Arthur said, raising his own goblet as he smiled over at the Winchesters and the angel. "Your assistance has been most appreciated in these last few days. Are you sure that I cannot tempt you to remain?"
"Uh… it's appreciated, but we really can't," Dean said, looking awkwardly at Arthur (He had to stop himself from even thinking about making a joke of the matter; he might be American, but just because they'd moved over there to get away from kings didn't mean they shouldn't respect them). "We're wanderers by nature, and there are so many others out there who need our help; we just… we wouldn't feel right, staying in one place…"
"I respect your decision, even if I regret it," Arthur said, standing up from his chair and walking around to stand in the middle of the dining tables, looking solemnly at the Winchesters. "However, before you depart, there is something I can give you."
With that statement, he drew his sword, and looked solemnly at the two men. "Stand before me, and kneel."
Exchanging a sudden glance of understanding, Sam and Dean got up and walked around the table to join Arthur in the middle, lowering themselves to their knees and bowing their heads as Arthur walked up to them, placing his sword on Dean's right shoulder before moving it to his left.
"Arise, Sir Dean, Knight of Camelot," Arthur said, standing back to allow Dean to get to his feet before moving on to repeat his previous actions on Sam's shoulders. "Arise, Sir Samuel, Knight of Camelot."
As he removed the sword from Sam's shoulders, Arthur stepped back, allowing Sam and Dean to get to their feet once again, the brothers trying to resist the urge to look at each other with broad grins.
"Th… thank you," Sam said, looking back at Arthur with an uncertain smile out of a lack of anything else he could say. "We're… it's an honour."
"The honour is ours, to have known and fought alongside you," Arthur said, nodding at the two men. "Your time in Camelot has been brief, but you have done us all a great service with your aid in this situation, and you have proven yourselves to be skilled warriors; we would be most honoured if you should pass this way again."
"And we would be honoured to fight alongside you all if we should come through Camelot again in the future," Dean said, his usual disregard for authority forgotten as he bowed at Arthur as he spoke. "Thank you, sire."
Even if they were almost certainly never going to come back here, the fact that he and Dean had just been knighted by King Arthur…
'Wow' was an understatement; after the crap they'd gone through as hunters when dealing with authority figures at times, it was nice to receive this kind of validation of their efforts, even if it wouldn't 'count' back home.
"Before we depart tomorrow morning, sire, may I ask one last request?" Castiel said, looking over at Arthur from his seat.
"Yes, of course," Arthur said, looking curiously back at the angel.
"As we depart, there are certain herbs I would like to collect to prepare future potions; as you can appreciate, my role as our healer requires that I maintain fresh supplies," Castiel said, the angel surprisingly casual as he spoke despite his usual issues with lying. "I have been informed that your manservant assists the court physician in collecting ingredients; would it be possible for him to accompany us to a location where we can collect what I need before we depart from your kingdom?"
"Well… if Merlin has no objections, I see no reason why this should not be possible," Arthur said, looking over at Merlin.
"I would be happy to assist Castiel, sire," Merlin said, nodding at the other man.
"Good," Arthur said, nodding at Merlin before looking back at the Winchesters. "Very well, then; Merlin will accompany you when you depart tomorrow, but for the night, you will remain our honoured guests, and can be assured that you will always find friends here when you return."
As they turned their attention back to the feast before them, Dean glanced over at Merlin with a slight smile, wondering what his dad would make of this particular turn of events.
They'd spent so much time hunting witches in the future, and now here he was, about to face the most dangerous witch of all in the company of the greatest wizard to ever live…
Damn, he was working with Merlin; what wasn't cool about that scenario?