A work based on Episodes 12 & 13, Season Five: "The Diamond of the Day Part 1 & Part 2", and continuing on after the finale, with a different ending. A Multi-chapter work.
This work is entirely my own, based on the characters established by BBC's Merlin. I do not own any of the characters, and am not making any money from this fiction. It is created purely for my own, and others' enjoyment.
FACETS OF A DIAMOND
Epilogue – 12 yrs. later.
Two couples strolled leisurely in the sun, basking in the warmth of an early June day. A few clouds raced along high in the sky periodically obscuring the sun before moving clear again, causing shadows to rush along the ground, the grass changing from a bright warm green to a cooler shade and back again. Two boys, 11 and 10 years of age played and yelled, running around their parents as they chased the shadows along the ground, shrieking in youthful high spirits that they were out-running the sun.
"I can run faster than you!" chanted Thomas as he taunted Gaheris. Thomas took off, pushing his little limbs to the limit as he struggled to outpace the older boy. Realising that he could not win, the wily child changed tactics and dodged behind his mother Guinevere, catching hold of her skirts to balance himself as he did so. Gwen was thrown off balance by the child's antics and staggered, only narrowly avoiding a tumble when Arthur reached out his hand to steady her.
"Thomas!" Arthur reprimanded after he'd made sure that both Gwen and the young babe she balanced on her hip were unharmed.
Gwen was helping Niniane. Because the druid was expecting her fifth child in three months she found that carrying her very active 10-month daughter for long periods was beyond her just now. Besides, it gave Gwen a chance to fuss and coo over another babe; her own daughter Eileen was now five years and far beyond being carried.
Thomas stopped short and assumed a contrite expression, hands clasped behind his back and face fixed on the ground. Arthur dropped down to the child's level and looked firmly into the brown eyes which reminded him so of his wife's. "You should be more careful! What would have happened to poor Amabel if your mother had fallen? Hey? I don't think Physicians Merlin & Niniane would be very happy if their daughter was injured because of you!"
"Sorry, Father." The boy whispered.
"It's not me you should apologise to. It's Merlin & Niniane. You're a Prince, Thomas, and need to be more responsible now that you're older."
"Now, go and make your apologies properly." Arthur turned Thomas and gave him a gentle push in the direction of his two oldest friends. Sharing an amused glance with Gwen, it took all the king's effort to not break out into laughter. The lines around his eyes gave testament to the fact that laughter was a frequent occurrence in King Arthur's life, unlike that of his more stern father Uther. Like Uther, though, Arthur had aged well. They grey in his hair only added to his stature, as did the weathered face. For a man over forty, who had fought many battles and been crowned High King of all the Britons almost a decade ago, Arthur had worn well indeed.
Thomas nodded his dark head and scampered off to stand before the Physicians in their blue robes. It was rare that the magical couple both had a day off at the same time, and they were determined to enjoy this rare chance to relax together with Arthur, Gwen, and all the children. Disciplining his face into a sober mien, Merlin nodded to acknowledge Thomas, giving him leave to speak.
Unlike Arthur, Merlin had not aged at all. He still appeared to be a youth in his mid-twenties thanks to the power of Emrys which ran through his veins. Merlin often wondered if he would ever age, or if he would always look as he did now? It was too soon to tell, and something that he would, no doubt, discover in the centuries to come. "Yes, Thomas?" he spoke to Arthur's son.
"I'm…I'm sorry, Merlin Emrys, Sir. I nearly made mother drop Amabel. I'll be more careful. I promise!"
Chuckling Merlin dropped easily down to Thomas' height and smiled to see his own son Gaheris standing close by, ready to offer support if needed. "It's alright Thomas. I understand that sometimes you need to run. Just remember, though, that running should be done where there aren't so many people around who can be hurt. Imagine how you would feel if you knocked over Physician Niniane and hurt her, or her baby? You don't want her to lose the baby, do you?"
Thomas shook his head solemnly. He had witnessed his mother lose several pregnancies over the years, and knew the kind of heartbreak such an event could cause.
Merlin stood and gave both boys a gentle push; "Off you go now. You too Gaheris." The two boys scampered away again, albeit at a slightly more subdued pace. Merlin turned towards his second son Launce, as the toddler lost his balance on the uneven grass and needed rescuing. He scooped the child into his arms and swung him up across his shoulders, delighting in the three-year-old's laughter as he did so. This was Launce's favourite spot; higher than anybody else, he revelled in the view he had and kicked his little legs against his father's chest. "Hey! Steady!" Merlin reprimanded, dodging the flying feet.
Niniane waddled up to her mate and latched an arm around his waist, using him for support. "You are so good with them, Merlin." She commented. "It's a pity that there won't be any more after this one," and she ran her hand thoughtfully over her distended abdomen.
"No, Niniane. We've been over this already. Five is enough! Even though I'm not aging, you certainly are, and each one has been harder on you."
Sighing, the druid nodded in agreement. As much as she loved children and had enjoyed every one of her pregnancies, she could not deny that at forty years her body was feeling the strain of this latest unplanned babe more than ever before.
Her brown hair had lightened somewhat as the grey had crept in. Instead of wearing it loose as she had when younger, it was now usually bound at the nape of her neck in a loose knot. Her face was lined, but filled with the love and kindness that a life with her beloved warlock and his children had brought her. Even though she was actually a year or two older than Merlin, he had been, on rare occasion, mistaken for her son so great was the disparity in their apparent ages.
"Yes, I know my love. It just makes me sad. I wanted to give you so many children that you would never be alone. I want to be able to imagine you surrounded by them; by grand-children, great-grandchildren, and so on, down through the ages…"
Merlin stopped and turned towards his love, and folded her into his arms. "Ah, Niane. You have given me so much that I can hardly believe it. Now go and retrieve Amabel from Gwen. She's getting fractious and is probably ready for another feed."
Niniane nodded and moved slowly towards her Queen and best friend. "She's hungry, I think," she greeted the dark woman.
Guinevere nodded and surrendered the child to her mother before heading towards a nearby seat under a tree where Niane could sit and nurse. Eight-year-old Wynifreed and five-year-old Eileen followed quietly to sit and observe, fascinated as always by a suckling babe no matter how often they witnessed this everyday miracle.
Gwen drew her daughter Eileen onto her knee and held her close, talking to the two girls as she always did; "You see, a mother always makes just enough milk for her baby and no more. One day, when you have children of your own, you will feed them just like Niane is doing now."
Niniane smiled in contentment as Amabel's feeding reduced the ache in her breasts, and took the chance to rest while she could. Carrying one babe and feeding another was incredibly taxing, and she found she tired easily.
She let her mind wander as she studied Gwen's face. Although only in her late fourth decade, Gwen appeared to have aged more than any of them. The almost two years before she was able to successfully carry a babe to term after losing her first child had weighed heavily on her. In contrast, Niniane felt almost guilty at the ease with which she herself produced children, her first being conceived that first time with Merlin after the Dochraid's defeat.
Gwen's face was marked with the grief of much loss and worry. The Queen was content, now though, having given Arthur their two children. The worry-lines on her face were also due to her constant life of watching her husband ride into battle while she herself needed to stay behind and govern Camelot. The last few years of peace had gone somewhat towards reducing the lines, but she would always carry reminders of her past time both on her face and in the grey of her hair.
Settling Amabel more comfortably, balancing the babe on her distended belly, Niniane looked up to see where the men had got to and smiled to see Merlin & Arthur, followed by the two boys heading towards the nearest horse dealer. The tournament was not only a time for men to show their skill in fighting and jousting, but also an opportunity for breeders to compare lines, exchange stock, and sell their trained battle-horses. Merlin juggled the toddler he had balanced on his shoulders into a more comfortable position, the gold flare of his eyes betraying his using a touch of magic to steady him.
Arthur had promised Thomas that today they would begin looking for a proper horse for him today. This meant that Gaheris would most likely inherit the pony he'd ridden up until now. Though he was the younger, Thomas was taller and more stocky than his playmate, displaying his father's sturdy build even as Gaheris had inherited Merlin's leaner figure. Neither man had placed undue expectations on their sons, but they had each so far run true to form; Thomas displaying the natural aptitude of an athlete or warrior, while Gaheris leaned more towards magic and healing.
Being so close in age, the two boys had formed a strong friendship. All of Camelot was accustomed to seeing the pair together, getting into some sort of mischief or other. Lately, as Launce had begun to venture further away from his parents, the toddler was also included in the older boys' antics at times. Gaheris and Thomas would often exploit Launce's gullibility by getting him to beg sweets from various stall-holders on their behalf. Their reasoning was that nobody could possible refuse the smiling cherubic child anything. Little did they know that Merlin asked tally from the tradesmen, and would covertly pay for what the children thought they'd gained for free.
Towards afternoon after an appropriate horse had been chosen for Thomas, and promises made that Gaheris would indeed have 'Blacky' as his own mount now that Thomas no longer needed him, the two families returned to their place in the stands.
High King Arthur felt no need to continue performing in the Tournaments, content that his past exploits on numerous battle-fields had proved his skills more thoroughly than any competition ever could. Rather, the tournaments now served as a way for all the petty kings, lords and land-owners to come together in fellowship and fun in order to reinforce those bonds which had been forged, by necessity, more than a decade ago.
The unrest had begun about a year after Morgana & Mordred's defeat: A power-vacuum had erupted after the demise of the Fisher King. It seemed that the Perilous Lands, once removed from the government of her King and the Curse attendant on him, had reverted once more to the lush, green and prosperous lands they had been in times past. Not un-naturally, the surrounding lords and land-owners had each eye off the prize and begun to plot how to take the rich countryside for their own. There had arisen such a squabble and fight, disrupting the peace of the land so much that Arthur had once more feared for Camelot's safety.
In desperation, he had gone to his neighbours and proposed an alliance in order to bring peace to the contested lands. Queen Annis, who had become a stalwart supporter of Arthur Pendragon pledged her troops immediately, as had King Rodor despite Arthur's previous refusal to marry his daughter Mithian.(1)(2) Being elected Commander of this massive force, King Arthur had set off on his mission to bring peace to the disputed Perilous Lands.
Merlin, of course, had been a major part of the mission, using Aithusa to spy out the land and communicate rapidly between the disparate companies of the massive army. The White Dragon had also been an asset in co-ordinating the Army's attack, and conveying troops quickly to where they were most needed. The mere sight of a Dragon under the control of an opposing force was enough to unsettle the disputing men, and after a brief but very hard fight peace was established.
Maintaining that peace had been another matter altogether, however, and had taken all of the diplomatic skills Arthur had painstakingly developed over the preceding years. Merlin had come into his own in this situation, acting as advisor and sounding-board, using his magic only as a last resort, and for protection or healing rather than attack. He was determined that this New Era would establish Sorcery as a benevolent art, rather than one used to overpower and destroy as it had been in the past.
Such had been the success of Magic and Sword united in one purpose that the lesser kings and war-lords had voted to elect Arthur High King over them all of Albion, in the hope that one unified government would spare the land such disputes and savagery in the future.
So it was, that within the space of four years not only was Magic brought back to the land, but Albion herself was established, with Arthur as King over all. Thus all the prophecies Kilgarrah had ever made to one small, frightened skinny warlock were brought into being. Albion, with Camelot at her centre, had lived in peace and prosperity for the past eight years, with many more similar years anticipated by all.
Cheering and clapping erupted around the two High King Arthur and Physician Merlin Emrys as they sat watching the battling men and horses below. Catching Merlin's eye, Arthur smiled and began to reminisce once more about times past, valorous deeds, and brave knights.
The loss of Lancelot, Elyan and Gwaine had left a gaping hole in their company which could never be truly filled. The two new Knight Captains Sir Bedwyr and Sir Cei had performed well, but nothing could make up for the close bonds formed within the Inner Circle in those early years of Arthur's reign, first as Regent and then as King. Merlin had honoured both Lancelot and Gwaine, the two knights whom he'd felt closest to by naming his children after them; Gaheris for Gwaine, (combined with his beloved mentor Gaius) and Launce for Lancelot.
Pausing for a moment, the two friends turned to watch the next bout. Performing now was a new young Knight named Galahad. He'd presented himself to Camelot six months before and asked to join the Company. After undergoing the usual rigorous tests and exercises he'd been welcomed wholeheartedly. Today would be the first time he formally competed against the other Knights, and they were eager to see how he handled himself. Sir Percival and Sir Leon were down on the floor of the Arena, making sure that all was run fairly, and rallying and supporting the younger competitors.
Neither Arthur nor Merlin should have worried about Galahad: the young man dispatched his adversaries in fine style, proving himself the equal of even Arthur in his younger day. The men returned to continue their previous discussion; along with his impressive skills as a warrior and Knight Galahad had brought with him to Camelot a riddle. The riddle of the Holy Grail. The young man was eager to seek out the much vaunted artefact and Arthur was half inclined to let him. The purported abilities of the object sent a cold shiver down Merlin's spine, however, and he was busy advising Arthur to let the relic lie undisturbed lest evil be raised if it ever was unearthed.
After the last battle of the day, the Warlock Merlin Emrys took centre stage in the Arena much to his disgust. He understood politically why it was needed that he make a public show, but he hated it just the same.
Standing in his blue Physician's Robes, he stood proudly, all eyes fixed upon him: the legendary and powerful Warlock. Throwing his head back towards the sky, he raised both arms and roared out the familiar syllables as he'd so often done in the past: "O drakon, e mala soi ftengometh tesd'hup anankes."
Merlin smiled secretly to himself: Aithusa's appearance today would be more than Arthur had bargained for. Just after peace had finally been established in Albion the White Dragon had taken leave of her Dragonlord and embarked on a quest which took her right around the world. She'd decided that she needed to find a mate for herself if the Noble Dragons were not to die out in Albion. She'd eventually returned, three years later on, with a male in tow. She'd found an existing colony of dragons far to the south, in an Asian land. In this place it was the men who had long hair, which was braided into a plait down their back, and the women who toiled in the water-logged fields tilling a strange white grain known as 'rice' which was their staple food.
The dragons in this land were far different than those who'd once lived in Albion. Their bodies were far longer, almost serpentine in shape, rising in a 'hump' between the front and rear sets of legs with the wings smaller and set at the peak of the hump. Their scales came in bright colours of red, green, and blue, and their magic was far weaker than her own, and they had a longer more mobile tail. Head horns gave way to a type of mane with tendrils flowing from the upper jaw, appearing to enhance the size of the long and broad head. But, however different these beasts may be, they were still dragons.
Aithusa had become a part of the wild colony and gotten to know these new dragons. When her quest was made known to them one of the males agreed to come and view this 'Albion', and see whether he could imagine settling there. He was somewhat set apart from his clan due to his dull colouring which was predominantly a grey-white with black markings, and hoped to find a place where his unusual colour would be an advantage instead of a failing. Even though Chao-Bai-Lung (3) had the smaller wings of his breed this did not inhibit his speed at all as the pair journeyed north towards their home. His flight was a sinuous weaving motion, almost swimming along, his wings used for loft rather than power.
Several minutes after Merlin's call, the crowd was treated to the sight of wide white wings as Aithusa circled the arena and came in to a neat landing beside her Lord. She settled amidst a flurry of dust before raising her head and releasing a bellow into the air. At her signal, Chao-Bai-Lung made his appearance, calling his musical bugle as he approached following his mate. To the crowd's delight, there followed three smaller dragons, a cross in shape between their sire and dam, longer and more sinuous than Aithusa's breed, but more stocky and stronger than the Asian breed. It seemed that Kilgarrah's dream of continuing the Dragon race would come to fruition.
Settling into bed that evening, Merlin reviewed the last decade of his life. It had begun with trouble and toil, but ended in peace which he was anxious to preserve.
Rumours had begun to circulate lately that there were visitors surveying the Camlann battle-field on which Arthur had been mortally wounded just over 12 years ago. Reports varied between the visitor being young or old, but all stated that the visitor was a male druid with dark hair. Granted, there were probably many hundreds of male druids with dark hair interested in a Battle-field which had witnessed the magnitude of magic-use that Camlann had, but Merlin was concerned that Mordred had returned from exile in the South-lands. Allowing his mind to dwell on this fact, he decided to make a visit to the Crystal Cave in the near future in order to scry in the place of Magic's birth and see what the crystals would tell him.
Many times over the past years Merlin had made a visit to the Cave. It had almost become a place of retreat for him; a place to sit and find himself, to reconnect with Magic, to delve deeper into the Power of Emrys, and to explore who he was. In these times he'd been able to become more comfortable with himself, and more skilled in the aspects of magic he had problems with such as scrying, and looking to the future. He'd also been able to develop more subtle control over the awesome forces he now wielded. He was, at this moment in time, more Emrys that he had ever been.
It was in the moments of communion in the Cave over the years that Merlin had begun to make contact with Morgana once more. Bored and bitter in her ethereal existence, she would visit first just to have some conversation, and interact with a living being. Between the time she spent with Merlin and the interactions with the Vilia sent by the Lady of the Lake, Morgana had mellowed and matured. Her hatred of Arthur and all those in Camelot had begun to be replaced with a grudging respect. The fact that Magic had been brought back into the land, and was now freely practised for the good of all citizens, as well as the fact that Merlin had an iron hold over the development of Magic's ethos across Albion showed Morgana that, after all, they had not been her enemy, even though she had been theirs.
The once-Princess had even brought herself to commune regularly with Freya, the Lady of the Lake. That unique person had helped Morgana come to understand how her hatred had led her to commit great crimes against her family. Now that the hate was mellowing she could see herself allying with them. Currently she was studying whether, at the time of their death, she could transport people's spirits across the dark divide between this world and the next. She and Freya hoped that taking them to Avalon as their lives ceased would thus preserve them, allowing them to return later to the world in case they should be needed.
Turning onto his other hip Merlin snuggled down into his familiar position, spooned into Niniane's back. Not a day passed that he didn't give thanks that he had met this precious lady, and made her his mate. She was a perfect foil for him, a sturdy practical grounding force whom he knew he couldn't do without. Thinking about the future, and the time when he would out-live her brought a deep aching pain to his chest. His only hope was the fact that he would be surrounded by the children she had given him; his progeny. They would marry and have children of their own, so that hopefully he would be able to maintain contact with his descendants through the ages. He could then have the pleasure of guiding them into adulthood, watching over them, and rejoicing in their accomplishments as the magical blood of Emrys spread throughout this and other lands.
Thankfully none of his children had been born with their magic already active, as he had. They seemed to be following the more normal development, when magic beginning to appear at the same time as sexual maturity. This meant that hopefully the teens would have a better chance of controlling their gifts. It seemed that there would be only one Emrys, which Merlin found a bittersweet fact.
Emrys was currently beginning to drift into sleep after a rewarding day spent in the sun with family and friends. He did not know how much longer this Golden age of Prosperity Camelot would enjoy, but he would do his best to see that it continued for as long as possible, and he would enjoy each precious minute for as long as it did.
Merlin, the Diamond in the rough, the Diamond of the Day was discovering and displaying more and more of the facets that made up his complex personality. Each skill, understanding, or achievement resulted in another polished facet shining through the simple-looking, awkward, young-seeming man.
What the future would bring in general, Merlin had no idea. But he was content to wait for it to reveal itself. Now that Albion was established and flourishing there would, surely, be a few more challenges for him to face in the future.
(1) Season Five, Episode One 'Arthur's Bane Part One'
(2) Season Four, Episode Eleven 'The Hunter's Heart'
(3) Means 'Surpassing White Dragon'
Merlin & Arthur's children; ages, sex and name meanings.
11yrs – Boy. Merlin & Niniane. Gaheris (combination of Gaius & Gwaine's names)
10yrs – boy. Arthur & Gwen. Thomas (After Gwen's father)
8yrs – girl. Merlin & Niniane. Wynifreed (means peace & joy)
5yrs – girl. Arthur & Gwen Eileen (after Ygraine, Arthur's mother)
3yrs – boy. Merlin & Niniane. Launce (after Lancelot)
10 months – girl. Merlin & Niniane. Amabel (means lovable)