AN: Wow...that is actually all I can say. Thank you all so much for your reviews. I can't even express how thankful I am. And thank you for the favs and alerts. Really you guys totally rock!
I said this story would be a five - parter, nothing more...well I was thinking about expanding it a bit, to add more story and character interactions, what do you think?
Like I said before I love scenes were Merlin is kinda badass, so here's a little scene I really enjoyed writing.
Hope you'll enjoy the chapter, please leave a review and let me now what you think :)
Part 3: All Is Well In Camelot
Mordred stared outside the window of his small chamber in the knight's quarters. Something was in the air. Something magical.
He bit his lip and looked up to the stars. His destiny was sealed. He knew what he had to do, he knew he would succeed. It was his purpose in life to kill Arthur.
So why did he have the weird feeling that destiny wasn't reliable anymore?
Morgana's head rested on Merlin's chest. They were only covered from the old blanket Merlin brought along. He softly stroked her bare arms. He couldn't believe how everything had changed that night.
"So, it is your destiny to protect Arthur and help him to reunite Albion?" she asked.
He put a chaste kiss on her shoulder; it felt so good knowing that he could kiss her whenever he wanted now. "Yes. At least it was…who knows what destiny means now since we probably unleashed the Apocalypse." He laughed. He knew that the whole situation probably wasn't funny at all, but for once he was too happy to care.
She giggled. "Talk about pressure." She felt sorry for him. "It must have been hard for you, knowing that one mistake and all would be for nothing." It helped her a lot to know what he knew, to understand his motives and actions. She couldn't even blame him for the poisoning her anymore. She didn't know what she would have done in his shoes. He lived so long with that prophecy on his shoulders, she wished she could take some of the pressure and pain away from him.
Merlin smiled. It felt so good to talk to her about all of this. Sure he had Gaius and on occasion Kilgharrah, but he always felt that none of them ever understood what was going on inside of him. His constant fear to fail his destiny, his sacrifices and the loneliness. Morgana however, she understood. She didn't judge or tried to talk him into something, no with her he could be himself, completely without any compromises.
"Everything was always about destiny…never about choice." He said thoughtful.
She got up and leaned over him. "You're not destiny's tool, Merlin. You are so much more than that." She whispered softly.
He smiled at her. "You are my choice, Morgana." He pushed himself up and met her lips.
She smiled into the kiss. It wasn't filled with fire or uncontrollable passion like the ones before, this kiss was chaste and soft and filled with so much love.
When they pulled away, she leaned her forehead against his. "So…today, you wanted to ask your dragon friend about my nightmares…but you didn't."
He sighed. "Yeah…I don't trust Kilgharrah that much when it comes to you…"
Morgana sighed. "He really doesn't like me, hm?"
"He doesn't know you. He only sees…destiny." Would that damn word ever leave them alone? Merlin looked down, how much he wished they could stay in that cave forever, just being together, far away from all their problems, far away from the world.
"Promise me something…" Morgana said. She gently touched his cheek to focus his eyes on hers once more.
"Everything…" He breathed out, being completely lost in her beauty once more.
"Promise…that we won't let others decide for us anymore. If our destiny is already written in the stars…than let's scratch that and rewrite our own story." Her voice was so hopeful, so loving.
Merlin nodded. "I promise."
Back in Ealdor is mother always told him how special he was, that he was her magical boy, that he would change the world and would do something great one day. When he arrived in Camelot it became Gaius job to tell him that. Gaius always believed in Merlin's power. He always believed in his great destiny and that nothing could stop him from fulfilling it. Kilgharrah advised him from day one. He could come to him whenever he had a problem. He told him things about the future, things that needed to happen and things he needed to prevent. To him it was all written in stone. The druids even had their own name for him. They called him Emrys, they laid all their hope in him, read about him and told stories. To most of them he was something like a savior. Then there was Arthur. Amazing, brave and kind-hearted Arthur who had no idea about all of this. But still Arthur depended on Merlin as well, even if he had no clue on how much.
Looking at Morgana for the first time in his life he felt free. She didn't saw a magical boy, who would change the world, a fulfiller of a great destiny or a savior. She just saw a man and that was all he ever wanted to be.
He crashed his lips down on hers again. He didn't know what was going on with him, but he needed her. He needed her like oxygen, when not even more.
She quickly responded to his kiss. She could drown into him. His soul, his body, even his magic. It all reached out to her and in a way it made her feel complete. Like some piece of her had always been missing up until this moment.
He grabbed her body and flipped them around, so he was lying on the top of her again.
She giggled. "Never thought you could be that bold."
He cracked a smile. "You never believed I had magic either."
She rolled her eyes. "Shut up and kiss me, Merlin." She ordered playfully and swung her legs around his hips.
"Yes, Milady." He laughed. For one night the world was perfect.
Arthur was up very early. He quickly kissed Gwen, who was still asleep on the forehead and got dressed.
He looked at himself in the mirror. See Merlin, I can dress myself. He thought and again he realized how much he missed fighting with him.
He smiled. That was the reason why this 'mission' was a great idea.
Arthur walked to the knight's quarters and knocked at Mordred's door.
The young boy opened it, surprised to see the king himself in front of the door. "Sire, what can I do for you?"
Arthur grinned and patted the boy's shoulder. "I was thinking about your idea and came to the conclusion you were right…we head out to Ealdor in an hour. Go get Gwaine and meet me in the court yard. We're getting Merlin back."
Mordred couldn't believe that Arthur really listened to him. Foolish man.
He was still convinced that Merlin had lied, the way he acted was just too suspicious. Now everything was perfect. His plan was set in motion. If Arthur would catch Merlin in a lie, he would never trust him again.
Ealdor was a peaceful place. The people lived a simple, but mostly happy life.
The sun was shining, people were up early, starting their work on the fields. Hunith was hanging out her laundry and smiled. It seemed like a beautiful day.
"The king is coming, the kings is coming!" Robert, the ten year old neighbor's son shouted and ran excited through the village.
Hunith looked up. She wondered what king would bother to come to Ealdor. The only man she knew who was kind enough to care for the small people was none other than the king of Camelot. "Can it be?" she said to herself, a sudden rush of happiness ran through her body. If Arthur would be there, than Merlin would be with him.
She dropped her laundry and ran forward to look for the visitors. She hadn't seen her boy for at least three years and even when she had seen him the last time, it was only for a couple of hours.
Arthur rode into the village, looking like the king she always knew the boy could be. He was followed by two young men, one with dark hair, a beard and a mischievous grin on his lips. The other one was boy, probably not much older than sixteen, with black curls and pale skin. But there was no Merlin.
"My lord!" Hunith exclaimed.
Arthur smiled and jumped from his horse. "Hunith!" he seemed genuinely happy to see her and hugged her immediately.
"My lord, you really don't have to –"
"I told you to call me Arthur, years ago." He cut her off and smiled. He briefly glanced at his man and silently ordered them to get from their horses. "Meet two of my bravest knights, Sir Gwaine and Sir Mordred."
Hunith smiled friendly. "It is my pleasure."
Gwaine's grin grew wider. He heard a lot about that woman from Merlin, so he already liked her.
Hunith had always been curious to meet Gwaine, Merlin spoke very fondly of him in his letters. About Mordred however, she never heard a word.
"It is good to see you happy and well Hunith." Arthur said, "So Merlin actually did a good job in nursing you. I was worried, I mean he learned a lot, but he is no Gaius."
Hunith raised an eyebrow. There had to be some kind of misunderstanding. "Excuse my…I mean Arthur. But what are you talking about?"
Now it was Arthur's turn to be confused. "I'm talking about your illness. Merlin left for Ealdor a month ago to help you. I'm here to see how you're doing and to…well get Merlin back."
Hunith didn't understand what was going on. Was Merlin planning on visiting her and lying to Arthur so he would allow it? And if that was the case, where was he?
"Arthur….I'm not sick…I…I have no idea where Merlin is, I thought he was with you in Camelot!" she started to panic. A part of her feared her son would be in more trouble now, but she had to tell Arthur, he needed to find him.
Arthur stared at her in a shock for a moment. "He is not…has not been…but…why would he lie? He never lied to me before…"
Mordred smirked. His plan was working.
"Relax Princess, I'm sure there's a logical explanation for all of this." Gwaine tried to reason. He was surprised too, but then it was Merlin, he has always been some kind of a walking mystery. He was sure if Merlin lied to Arthur, than he had a good reason for it.
Arthur clenched his fists. "I can't believe he lied…" He looked at Gwaine and Mordred. "We have to find him and then I will get some answers." He hissed with a mixture of anger and disappointment.
Morgana sat up and tried to calm her breath. She looked at Merlin who was asleep next to her. That can't be, can it?
She hadn't had a vision in years, not since Morgause gave her her bracelet. So why did it happen now? How could it happen now? The only explanation she had was that her magic somehow got too strong for the bracelet to tame it, but that was impossible, right?
She looked at her wrist. Last night…our magic became one…maybe that made it stronger… She shook her head. There was no time to think about it now, she had to tell Merlin about what she saw or he would get into some serious trouble.
"Merlin, Merlin wake up!" She started to shake him. "Come on Merlin, this is important!"
He growled. "Don't tell me you wanna go for another round…" he mumbled.
Morgana blushed. "No…I mean not now…" her face was turning into the color of a tomato, "I had a vision!"
That caught Merlin's attention. He sat up, raising an eyebrow. "A vision? I thought you don't have visions anymore…"
"I don't know how or why it happened, it just did." Her voice was shaking. The fact that Merlin, all powerful Emrys, had no clue what was going on didn't really help her either.
"What did you see?" Merlin asked, fearing for the worst.
Morgana bit her lip. "I saw Arthur…he was in Ealdor, looking for you. When he noticed you weren't there he….seemed so sad and angry…" she knew that Arthur cherished his friends and family above everything else and yet he was betrayed over and over again. If he would catch Merlin in a lie, he would never trust him again. She blamed herself for that. After all she was one of the people who hurt Arthur deeply, even if Uther's crimes weren't even his fault. She could see that now.
Merlin was actually really calm about the situation. "Was Arthur alone?" he asked.
Morgana shook her head. "No. He had Gwaine with him and…" Her face turned dark, "And Mordred." Saying his name was like opening the stab wound all over again. She loved that boy, trusted him and yet he betrayed her like she meant nothing to him.
Merlin laughed bitterly. He suspected something like this. There was no way Arthur wouldn't even think about looking for him on his own. He trusted Merlin, so someone needed to get him to Ealdor.
"You are not surprise." Morgana said.
"He is setting me up." Merlin jumped on his feet and grabbed his clothes. "That little bugger."
Morgana flinched. It was the first time she heard Merlin cursing someone. "But he helped you, why would he set you up? How could he even now you're not home?"
Merlin told her mostly everything about their shared destiny, but he left out the Mordred part for no special reason. For once he simply forgot about it. He was preoccupied with other things.
"Mordred is the one supposed to kill Arthur." He said, his voice dark.
Morgana gasped. "Mordred? But that doesn't make any sense! Why would he join Arthur? Why would he become a knight, unless…" She paused for a moment. "Unless his plan involves him getting close to Arthur." After all that was what she ordered Agravaine to do as well.
Merlin sat down again. "You two were supposed to be allies." He carefully studied her face, he knew he shouldn't have forgotten over such an important detail.
Morgana reached for her dress. "Well, that's not going to happen."
He knew she would never turn her back on him now, not after everything that happened, however her not joining Mordred meant another part of destiny would be changed. He couldn't get the dragon's words out of his mind. There would be consequences.
"I don't know what gave me away, but Mordred must've suspected that I'm not heading for Ealdor." He rammed his fist into the ground. "Damn! What should we do now? If Arthur finds out about us…possibly about my magic like this he'll have my head on a stick…and Mordred probably gets a medal for discovering the traitor…" He ran his hand through his hair.
Morgana hated to see him distressed like that. Last night had been so perfect and she hoped they could be together a little longer, but obviously their punishment was already starting.
"Merlin…" she grabbed his hands. "The timing in my visions is always vague…but maybe you have a few hours…if you manage to head Arthur off…"
He shook his head. "No…no….I can't leave you, not now!" He knew she was only being reasonable and that that day would eventually come, but he just couldn't let go.
Morgana gently touched his cheek. "I know…I know Merlin….but if Arthur loses his trust in you now…what good can the future hold? Your place is in Camelot at his side, no matter how much we change destiny, we can't change that."
He sighed. Of course she was right. "But what about you? You can't stay here all alone."
"I'll have Aithusa." She said with a sad smile. She could hardly bear the thought of saying goodbye to him soon.
Merlin crossed his arms. Then he had an idea. He looked through his bag and found a piece of paper and a pen, thankfully Gaius always packed more stuff than he usually needed.
"What are you doing?" Morgana asked confused.
"I'm writing a letter to my mother, just explaining that she can trust you and that you and Aithusa need help…." He looked up. "You're going to Ealdor."
They rode in silence side by side. Arthur was lost in his thoughts. Everything has been peaceful and quiet in Camelot for a while now, but there were still things that worried him.
Morgana was still out there somewhere, probably planning her revenge. He still couldn't believe what happened to her. Sometimes he missed the girl he once knew and loved.
Then there was Guinevere who worried him. She wasn't feeling well for a while now, but she still refused to see Gaius about it. Sometimes she was just as stubborn as he was.
Missing Merlin of course didn't help the situation either. He never noticed how used he was to having him around all day. He knew a king shouldn't depend on a servant like that, but it was alright for a man to depend on his best friend.
"You're awfully quiet, Princess." Gwaine suddenly said.
Arthur sighed, aside from Merlin Gwaine was the only one allowed to tease him. "Just thinking."
Gwaine chuckled. "Never something good, right? When you use your brain."
Arthur rolled his eyes. "Really? You too, Gwaine?"
"Someone has to remind you until we're having Merlin back." He smiled.
Mordred just watched the two men, the two friends acting around each other. Once upon a time he wished for a friend like that as well.
Merlin and Morgana stood in front of their hideout, none of them looked happy. Aithusa was sitting a few steps away from them, instinctively giving them some space.
"You sure your mother won't mind hiding a criminal?" Morgana half-joked. She was still surprised about Merlin's idea to go to Ealdor. On the other hand, she always liked Hunith and admired her strength and kindness, maybe staying with her would be better than being alone.
"If I trust you, I'm sure she will trust you." Merlin smiled encouraging. But his smiled dropped immediately. Even the thought of not spending every day with her hurt. It felt like he was about to say goodbye to a part of himself and that feeling was the worst he'd ever felt.
"We can do this." Morgana said and tried to sound positive. "We will see each other again and Arthur will accept magic…and…" tears started to run down her cheeks. "Mordred…Mordred won't stand a chance…." She started to sob uncontrollably. "When all of this is over…we'll be….we…."
Merlin wrapped his arms around her and pressed her against his body. "Shh. It's okay, okay…" Nothing was okay, but what was he supposed to say? He cupped her face with his hands and pressed a chaste, yet desperate kiss on her lips. "We'll find a way to be together…I promise." He grabbed the blue scarf around his neck and unfolded it. "I wish I could give you more." He whispered and gently laid the scarf around her shoulders.
Morgana grabbed it tightly and fought her tears once more. "You have to go."
He kissed her again. "Go." She whispered.
"I'll see you soon." He hoped he would. He walked up to Aithusa and gently patted her head. "Keep her safe." He said and the dragon bowed her head.
Merlin looked at Morgana for a last time, she forced a quick, but sad smile, before he disappeared between the trees.
"Did you hear that?" Gwaine whispered.
Mordred shook his head. He didn't hear anything nor could he feel a presence. He hoped they wouldn't get attacked by bandits. Sure, he was a solid fighter, but he didn't want to risk using magic by accident. He wondered how Merlin managed it to fool Arthur for so many years.
A sudden louder noise caught all of their attention.
"Again…" Gwaine whispered.
Arthur grabbed Excalibur and jumped down from his horse. He exchanged a quick look with Gwaine, who was ready to attack if necessary. Mordred seemed a bit uneasy.
"Whoever you are, show yourself!" Arthur ordered.
"Maybe it was just an animal." Mordred suggested.
Arthur shook his head. "I just had a feeling –" Someone stepped out of the thicket. Arthur quickly turned around, wielding his sword.
"Whoa, are you insane, you stupid prat!" Merlin just avoided the sword. "That could have been a poor old lady or a child or a bunny or –" He couldn't say anything more, Arthur dropped Excalibur and hugged him.
Merlin smiled and hugged him back. They didn't show their affection very often, but with just Gwaine and Mordred around, Arthur thought it would be fine.
"Merlin! You idiot, why are you creeping around the woods?" Arthur smiled, punching him lightly on the shoulder.
"I could ask you the same, you clotpole." Merlin was out of breath, since he left Morgana he just ran, he needed to get on the way that lead to Ealdor and hope for the best. To his luck, he wasn't too late.
"Well, we were heading to Ealdor." Arthur said.
Of course Merlin already knew that, but still he needed to play along. "Is that so? Why would you do that?" He had to admit, he missed teasing Arthur.
Arthur scratched his cheek. "You know Merlin…I needed to check if you're really helping your mother and not just using her as an excuse for a vacation and….Gwaine really missed you." He added quickly.
Merlin glanced at Gwaine who just chuckled and pointed at Arthur. "Really? Gwaine missed me?"
Arthur nodded a bit too eagerly. "Of course he did, Merlin. You are after all his best friend. He was really bored without you."
"Thank you Gwaine, I missed you too." Merlin said, trying to suppress his laughter. He didn't realize until now how much he missed Arthur. Still his heart was heavy. He just left Morgana and he could barley breathe without her. He just hoped she would be fine in Ealdor.
"Come on Merlin, since you're here, let's get you home!" Arthur said cheerful and got back on his horse.
Gwaine reached his hand out. "Need a ride, mate?"
"Thanks." Merlin said. His eyes however lay on Mordred. The boy seemed uneasy, his expression said more than a thousand words ever could. He was angry, angry that his plan failed.
"Good to see you, Mordred." Merlin said with a friendly smile. He couldn't help but enjoy his success.
Mordred smiled back. "Nice to have you back." He didn't know how Merlin did it, how he could know that they were coming, but he was going to find it out. He was absolutely sure that Merlin was no seer, but him just popping up like that couldn't be a coincidence, right?
"So, tell me about your mother." Arthur said as they rode finally back home.
Morgana was actually nervous seeing Hunith again. She knew what Agravaine did in Ealdor and she was more than sorry. Too many innocent peopled suffered because of her hunger for power and vengeance.
"Aithusa, you should stay here in the woods. It is safer, my love." She said softly. The dragon purred. Morgana got very good in understanding her different sounds over the last couple of years. "Thank you for understanding." She had really no idea how to keep the dragon a secret, but maybe Merlin's mother had an idea. If she hears you out.
Morgana doubted that one letter from Merlin could actually convince his mother that she was somehow reformed, she did too many cruel things to deserve her trust, but she really wished for it.
"You can do it, Morgana." She took a deep breath, cloaked her face with Merlin's scarf and walked into the village. The scarf smells like him. She already missed him. She couldn't believe how deep under her skin that man has gotten.
The villagers looked curiously at her, but no one asked a question. That is good, they don't suspect anything.
She still remembered Merlin's house after all this years. The way it looked like, how it felt like sleeping there, together with Gwen, fighting with Arthur for what's right, being a good person.
Hunith was outside her little home, hanging out her laundry. Just like she did in my vision. Morgana looked around. But no Arthur, so Merlin met him before. She felt relieved. Her visions were never very precise, but this time they actually had some luck.
"Hunith?" She said insecure.
The woman looked up. "Can I help you?" she asked confused.
Morgana took another deep breath. "It's me, Morgana." She whispered.
Hunith's eyes widened. "The Lady Morgana?" she almost screamed.
"Psst….please can we talk inside?" Morgana was terrified what would happen if the villagers discovered her. Sure, she was in Essentir, not Camelot, but there was still a chance they would hand her over to Arthur without asking any questions.
Hunith watched the young woman carefully. Especially the scarf she wore caught her attention. Is that Merlin's scarf?
"Fine. Let's talk inside." She was curious enough to hear her out, besides if she wanted to hurt her, she could just do it.
Morgana followed Hunith inside.
"What do you want from me, Lady Morgana?" Hunith asked in a strict voice.
Morgana put the scarf aside. "It is just Morgana…" she said feebly. She was no 'Lady' anymore, she gave that life up a long time ago. "I have a letter for you…from Merlin."
Hunith's eyes widened. "So this is his scarf? What have you done to my son? I know what crimes you committed Morgana! I saw what your men did!" she hissed angrily, but not afraid.
Morgana felt like crying again, she knew she deserved hate and mistrust, but that didn't mean it hurt any less. "Please….just read." She handed her the letter.
Hunith stared at it. "I will read it, but I swear if you hurt my son or enchanted him, I will help bring you down."
Morgana just nodded.
Hunith unfolded the letter that was definitely Merlin's handwriting. There was no way magic could fake that right?
She read in silence. Morgana wondered what Merlin exactly decided to tell his mother, he wouldn't say anything about their whirlwind romance, right?
When Hunith finished the letter she said down. "Apparently my son thinks, that you have changed and that you deserve a second chance, however he doesn't explain why." She watched every move Morgana made. "He writes that he saved your life and that you talked a lot and you see some mistakes. He wants me to let you stay here and keep an eye on you."
Morgana's hand were sweaty. She bit her lower lip. She couldn't read Hunith's expression, couldn't guess what the woman would do.
Hunith stood up again and looked deep into Morgana's eyes. "Tell me child, have you manipulated him into writing these words or are they true?"
"I would never manipulate him. It is true, every word." Her voice was shaking.
Hunith nodded. "Your eyes don't look like they would tell lies. I don't trust you Morgana, but if my boy believes in your redemption, I will help him."
Morgana smiled happily. "Thank you, Hunith. Thank you so much."
"I do it for Merlin." Her voice was still hard, but not as indifferent as before. She just wondered what had gotten into Merlin. He always sees just the good in people.
"I understand." Morgana was just happy she had a place to stay for a while, until Merlin would find another way.
"I will deal with the village, I'll convince them to let you stay. But you will have to help me with my work." Hunith wasn't sure what to tell her people, but they were in general very gullible and nice, maybe they would accept Morgana.
Morgana wasn't used to working on fields or in the house, but she would do anything to repay Merlin's mother for her kindness. "I'll do anything."
"So, explain to me, why does Merlin ask me to watch out for two girls?" She raised an eyebrow.
Gaius watched Merlin eating his favorite soup. He couldn't believe his boy was finally back home. With all the kindness of his heart Arthur decided to give Merlin free for the night and let him and Gaius celebrate their reunion.
So they chatted and laughed, but Gaius couldn't help but feel that something was wrong with Merlin.
"Is there something you're not telling me, boy?" He asked concerned. According to Merlin Hunith was fine again, so that couldn't be it. He still hoped the strange feeling he had was wrong and Merlin didn't get himself into trouble.
Merlin didn't look up. He tried to avoid as much eye-contact as he could. He may could fool the world, but Gaius possessed the uncanny ability to see right through him. "Everything's fine. I'm just tired."
"Where was your scarf again?" Gaius asked. It felt unfamiliar seeing him without it.
"Must have forgotten it." He answered quickly. His thoughts drifted to Morgana, he hoped his mother accepted her and that she was well. He missed her so much, that whenever he closed his eyes, he could only see her face. The beautiful green eyes, the perfect smile, the pale skin. His body yearned for her touch, his soul for her company and his magic for the thrilling feeling he had when it was combined.
"Merlin?" Gaius couldn't read the distant look in his eyes, it was a look he had never seen on him before.
"Yes?" He knew he needed to focus on different things, it was just incredibly hard.
"You should go to bed." Gaius suggested, hoping Merlin would open up to him eventually.
Merlin smiled. "Yeah…I just…I just have to do something first." He stood up and left their chambers.
Arthur looked outside his window. It was a beautiful night. Gwen was already asleep, but he wasn't tired yet. It had been an eventful day. He finally had Merlin back.
His eyes wandered over the court yard. He spotted Mordred who just made his way back to the knight's chambers. The boy was really becoming a good knight. He learned very fast, was smart and reliable, he didn't regret knighting him.
He wanted to turn around, when suddenly a bizarre scene happened in front of his eyes.
Mordred let himself talk into going to the tavern from Gwaine today and didn't enjoy it a bit. Drinking, smoking and being loud wasn't just something he liked to do.
But against all his beliefs, he didn't mind the other knights much. Gwaine was a good man and Percival noble and quiet, he started to like them, which he really shouldn't. He should hate them and everything they stood for.
It was already late when he made his way back to the knight's chambers, leaving a very drunk Gwaine in Percival's care.
"Nice try today." He immediately turned around.
Merlin stood behind him, leaning against a wall, his arms crossed. "You must be really angry that it didn't work out."
Mordred's whole body tensed. How could Merlin know he tried to set him up? Of course he suspected him of something, but he couldn't know that, no one knew.
"What are you doing here, Merlin? It's late and you had an exhausting journey." He smiled friendly, trying to play it down.
Merlin smirked. Mordred shuddered. There was something different about him, something more confident. He always saw Merlin as a gentle, clumsy and kind of fragile guy, but now he seemed strong and filled with self-confidence and once more he was left wondering what happened to him during his month away.
"Let's just stop pretending for a second." Merlin said. He loosened his arms and walked a few steps towards Mordred. "I know what you're planning to do and you tried to get rid of me."
Mordred clenched his fists and gulped. Then he looked up, his face stony. "Where have you been Merlin? If you want to stop pretending, than how about the truth?"
Merlin chuckled. He couldn't explain his sudden ego boost, but knowing he had Morgana counting on him, he suddenly felt like he could take everyone. He wasn't afraid of Mordred anymore. "I was busy. Changing destiny." He replied sharply.
"You cannot change destiny, Merlin." Mordred sounded amused, he didn't believe him. But deep down, there was this feeling of uncertainty. "I know your destiny, Emrys. I know it as you know mine. It is set in stone. We are all just figures in a game of chess and in the end, I'm the one saying 'checkmate'."
"If you say so, Mordred." Merlin walked past him, but stopped briefly. He lay his hand on Mordred's shoulder and smiled friendly. "Just let me get this straight, if you even lay a finger on Arthur, you will wish you'd never sat a foot back into Camelot." He looked like the Merlin Mordred always remembered, a man he didn't fear no matter what people told him, but there was something in his eyes, something dark that actually gave him an uneasy feeling. "We both know, that your little magic tricks can't compare to what I am capable of." Merlin hissed and left Mordred stunned behind.
"Are you threatening me, Emrys?" Mordred shouted in his thoughts.
Merlin turned around once more. "Consider it more as some friendly advice."
Arthur watched the two men talk, obviously he couldn't understand a word. Normally he wouldn't even question Merlin and Mordred chatting about whatsoever, but something seemed wrong about the picture.
As far as he could tell, Merlin smiled like he normally did, but the way he suddenly appeared out of the shadows didn't seem like Merlin at all.
And Mordred seemed extremely tense and uncomfortable.
Was there something going on he didn't know? He almost laughed at himself. Of course there wasn't. This was Merlin, why should he have some kind of quarrel with a knight? Especially when that knight was the little boy they once saved.
Hunith followed Morgana out of the village into the forest. She wasn't sure if she made the right decision. For all she knew Morgana was an insane sorcerers and could try to murder her any second. But then there was Merlin's letter and something in Morgana's eyes that made her think the woman meant no harm.
"Hunith…." Morgana said calmly as she stopped walking. "Please don't be scared, she is very young and means no harm."
Hunith didn't understand what Morgana was talking about, when suddenly a giant, white beast appeared behind her. "Oh my God….a….a…." she stuttered, unable to move.
The dragon looked curiously at the woman. She lowered her head and started to smell at her.
"Don't be scared, Hunith. This is Aithusa…she is one of the last two dragons of Albion." She gently touched Aithusa's back.
Hunith breathed fast. There was a dragon in front of her. A real, living dragon and obviously her son knew about it.
Aithusa made a birdlike sound and licked Hunith's cheek.
"Iiieeekkk…." Hunith shrieked, causing Aithusa to eye her more curiously.
Morgana giggled. "Be careful, Aithusa." She grabbed Hunith's hand. "You can touch her, she won't bite. She probably gets Merlin's scant from you."
Hunith carefully touched Aithusa. Her skin or dander was surprisingly soft and warm. She was fascinated, she had never seen a creature like that before. She remembered tales Balinor once told her about dragons and their beauty, but actually seeing one was breathtaking.
"Merlin want us to hide her here?" Hunith asked after a while.
Morgana nodded. "She was hurt badly…tortured. She still cannot speak. She needs to be around people she can trust." She smiled lovingly at Aithusa. "She is my best friend, she was there when no one else was and Merlin…it is his duty as a dragonlord to make sure she will survive."
Hunith clenched her teeth together. Merlin briefly told her about what happened to Balinor in one of his letters, but they never really discussed the matter. She knew that he was the next dragonlord in line, but actually hearing it and seeing the dragon was entirely different. It made it more real.
She knew Merlin had a great destiny to fulfill and that he was bound to Arthur with life, but he never gave her any details. She figured he just feared for her safety (and maybe sanity) if she knew.
"Well…" she tried to collect herself. "She is not that easy to hide…but there is this old hatch not far from here, bandits used it to hide their weapons before Cendred had them all slaughtered a few years ago…she can sleep in there. We can bring her food, if she needs it and you can visit her."
Morgana's smile grew wider. "That sounds perfect. Thank you so much."
Hunith looked at the sky. She couldn't believe what Merlin had gotten her into.
Merlin's first day back at work started relatively boring and free of any special events. Arthur was being his usual charming self, Gwen the voice of reason and Gaius needed his assistance. He didn't see Mordred all morning and he couldn't interpret if that meant something good or bad.
In the early afternoon, Arthur ordered him to clean the stables. Normally Merlin would argue, would tell him he wasn't a stable boy, but today he was happy about it. In the stables he could actually have one moment to himself, one moment to think clearly and to miss her.
He missed everything about her and he wondered if love would always be that hard.
"Thinking about someone special?" Merlin quickly turned around and saw Gwen standing behind him. He blushed. "Of course not."
She giggled. "I was just kidding, Merlin."
He nodded and turned his attention back to his work. "I knew that…" He murmured.
"It is really good you're back home, Arthur missed you very much." Gwen spoke kindly. Her being Queen didn't change her relationship with Merlin. Of course her position was now higher than his, but to her he was still a friend, not a servant. She would never treat him that way.
Merlin smiled briefly at her. He felt incredibly guilty. Arthur missed him. Arthur wanted him back. And what did he do? He lied to him and fell in love with his worst enemy, what a good friend he was.
"You okay, Merlin?" Gwen asked, suddenly looking directly at him. He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't even notice her moving closer.
"Sure, I'm always fine." He knew she wouldn't buy that answer and that she would continue digging until he opened up to her. Normally he would be happy talking to someone, but this situation was so different he couldn't talk to her. Hell, he couldn't even talk to Gaius. "What are you doing here, Gwen?" He quickly changed the topic.
"I just needed some air…"Taking a closer look he noticed she didn't look well. Arthur mentioned something about Gwen possibly being sick when they rode home yesterday.
"Maybe you should see Gaius." He suggested. He couldn't stand seeing Gwen feeling bad.
"I don't need…" she blinked. "I'm fine…" she really didn't look fine at all.
"Gwen?" Merlin grabbed her arm. "Gwen what it is?" He asked in a sudden rush of panic.
"I…I just…I'm a bit…lightheaded…I…" she started to lose consciousness. Merlin tried to keep her away, talked to her but she was too far gone to listen. He just caught her before she could hit the ground.
"Help me! The Queen needs help!" He shouted and lifted her up. He needed to take her to Gaius. Maybe destiny already planned its revenge on him, by using Gwen as a tool.
Morgana was cleaning Hunith's house. She had not much experience in cleaning, she had always maids and servants to do that for her, even after she went with Morgause. But she didn't mind the work, she actually enjoyed it. It gave her the feeling to do something good.
Hunith watched her carefully. She still wore Merlin's scarf around her shoulders and she couldn't understand why.
What happened between Morgana and her son? Why was he suddenly trusting her again?
She sighed and stepped outside. The sun was shining on her face, she closed her eyes for a moment. She missed Merlin. She understood he couldn't visit her very often or write much, but not seeing him for three years was hard to bear. After all he was all the family she had left.
Hunith always knew Merlin was special and when he told her it was his destiny to be at Arthur's side she respected that and encouraged him to follow his path. She never asked questions, knowing that she probably didn't want to know the answers. But now, with Morgana back into the picture and Merlin obviously keeping her a secret from Arthur, she would give a lot for some clear answers.
Arthur was walking up and down, his hands were shaking. He stood outside of Gaius chambers, Merlin next to him.
"I knew she was sick…I told her she should see Gaius, she wouldn't listen to me!" Arthur was completely beside himself. He couldn't lose Gwen, he just couldn't. "If something happens to her, I'm not sure I can survive." He said and sat down next to Merlin.
"I'm sure she'll be fine." Merlin said, offering him a sympathetic smile. But truth to be told, Merlin wasn't so sure. Under different circumstances he would have guessed that Gwen might caught a flu or a harmless virus, but since Gwen has always been a part of their destiny, he feared that she would be the first to pay for his ignorance.
He knew that what he and Morgana did would be punished sooner or later, but he never meant for Gwen or Arthur to get hurt, even if that was probably wishful thinking.
"Do you think she has been enchanted?" Arthur asked.
Merlin tried to resist his urge to roll his eyes. He knew Arthur was more tolerant to magic already, but questions like these always reminded him of Uther. "Yes, enchanted with the flu." He joked. He needed cheer him up a bit.
But Arthur didn't feel like smiling, so they sat just there in silence.
After what felt like an eternity to both of them, Gaius opened the door. "Sire, she wants to see you." He just said and gave Merlin a small smile.
Gwen was lying on Gaius bad, she was exhausted and looked pale. Arthur rushed to her side, the door closed behind him. Gaius and Merlin wanted to give them some privacy.
He sat down at her bedside. "Hey." He whispered softly.
She smiled. "Hey."
He kissed her forehead. "You scared me today, Guinevere." His voice sounded broken.
"I'm so sorry, I should have listened to you…" she apologized.
"Don't be sorry it is not your fault." He didn't blame her. When it came to stubbornness, they were one and the same. "Gaius won't tell me what's wrong…" He searched for her eyes, searched for an answer. He was prepared for the worst, but his surprise she didn't look sad or scared at all.
She gently touched his cheek, her eyes were wet, but it didn't look like sad tears. "Arthur, something wonderful is happening…" she paused for a moment, he looked more confused than ever. She was scared at first, but Gaius encouraged her to tell him right away. "I'm with a child." He barley whispered.
Arthur's eyes widened. He was processing her words, but he believed he understood the wrong thing. "Excuse me…what?"
She sat up and leaned her forehead against his. "I'm pregnant, love."
He started at her, his heart was pounding in his chest. Pregnant. Child. Father.
"We're having a baby…" he whispered in astonishment.
Gwen laughed and nodded. "Yes…yes we are."
Arthur pulled her into his arms. "A baby…" he whispered. He knew people expected an heir for the throne, he and Guinevere were married for three years now, but actually hearing the news sounded more like a dream. He thought they would have children one day, but he never believed that day would come so early. Was he ready? Were they ready? So many questions, so many things were going on inside his head.
"You are happy, right?" Guinevere asked.
He hesitated for a moment, still in some kind of a shock, but then he smiled. "I am…I am happy and I love you so much." He kissed her passionately and when they pulled away, he carefully places his hand on her stomach. A baby.
Merlin and Gaius sat outside, the sun was already setting. As quietly the day has started, the outcome was something differently.
"I can't believe it…Gwen is pregnant." Merlin was genuinely happy for his friends. They deserved it, even if the thought of Arthur being a parent was slightly scary.
Gaius smiled proudly. He knew Arthur for all his life, was there when the boy was born and now, now he would be there when his child would be born. "It is always a little miracle, the creation of life."
"Gwen and Arthur will be good parents and Camelot finally has an heir to the throne." Gaius continued and stood slowly up.
Merlin suddenly stopped short. He was so surprised and happy that he didn't realized something was incredibly wrong.
"I'll make us some dinner Merlin, I was thinking about something bigger today, it's a time for celebration." He patted his back.
Merlin just stared straightforward. In all the visions he had seen, all the people he spoke to and all the lore that told about his and Arthur's destiny, there was never the mentioning of a child. If Mordred would kill Arthur it would lead to Camelot's downfall, which could only mean that there was no heir to rebuild it once again.
"Oh no…" Merlin whispered. Destiny really had changed drastically and he had no idea what it meant.