AN: I do not own Merlin... At all... And the fact shall continue to be true throughout this entire story. And beyond. Unfortunately.

This... just popped into my head... And I'm going to say right now, I'm not sure where some of these things came from... I think my mind might have been hijacked, because when I sat down to write this was NOT what I intended to write. Not even close. I had plans to continue some of my other works. But as you can see that plan crashed and burned.

Ariel followed him invisible and silent. And annoyed. Very annoyed. Although not necessarily with the boy she was following, (Because, really at her age they were all children). No she was annoyed with the boys supposed friends.

She watched Merlin silently. He was suffering, that much was clear. It was a very silent suffering though, and part of Ariel thought that was worse. Because the poor boy felt that he had no one to turn to.

And she understood why he was so cautious. She had done careful research before coming to Camelot to find the boy. Some of the research may have been a little… illegal, and perhaps a little immoral. But she was trying to HELP the boy. She wasn't even going to make an attempt on the King's life. Which was what the majority of magic users tended to do. It seemed rather stupid to Ariel. It was only making the king more bitter.

She thought that if the boy ever did tell his King… Well, she didn't like the consequences she could see. Just watching the way the boy was treated.

They had ABANDONED him. That had frustrated her to no end. When was the last time Merlin had ever abandoned any of them. And they had left him there. If they had noted his absence they had made no effort to find the boy. And she understood their urgency to help their king. But he was supposed to be their friend. She had seen the look on the boys face during her… research. It had been… devastated. But worse. It had looked resigned, as though he wasn't even surprised. At least not completely. And that had hurt. Because this boy was a hero.

A hero to people that Merlin probably didn't realize existed. A hero for his friends who didn't know what he did for them. A hero to those people in hiding that heard whispers of his great deeds. A hero to the common servant who watched a boy give his all for a king.

And they were going to destroy him

Oh, he would continue to give them his all. But that didn't stop the fact that it would destroy him in the act. That they would destroy, were destroying him.

And it made Ariel furious.

They were all idiots.

She realized that the boy held some culpability. There might have been times when he could come clean. And there were some of the knights who would protect Merlin with their all, no matter what oaths they had taken, if they knew the truth. They tried to protect him now, rationally she knew that, but she was still so very angry with them for abandoning him.

And she wanted to do something. Wanted them to know all that she knew, all that she had gathered with her… slightly illegal and immoral research. Except… to do that would be slightly illegal and immoral. Well, more illegal and more immoral.

But she would do it anyways. The poor boy had been alone for far to long. And if things didn't go as she hoped. Well, then she would drug the boy and save him from the consequences of her actions. She was nowhere near as powerful as Merlin, or Morgana or Mordred for that matter. But the boy often forgot to take care of himself that it was far to easy to get to him than it should be. After she finished her acts of illegality and immorality she would have to make sure that got corrected. Because someone had to do something. The path they were on now was leading them to utter despair.

And she would do her best to stop it.

She watched a little longer. Planning, thinking, considering.

It helped that this little act of illegality was her specialty. As immoral as it may be. But she had her limits. No more than ten people she decided. Although she doubted she would use all ten.

Arthur. Of course. The boy was Merlin's other side of the coin. And his best friend. So yes. Arthur would definitely be there.

Gaius. Gaius already knew most of it. He was there because Ariel wanted him to be a calming force. She would be present, to a degree, but she didn't think she would actually have a calming effect, quite the opposite actually. She was going to be the one practically holding them all captive. Sort of. Alright, so she was really going to be holding them captive. Completely.

Gwaine. That boy was so very protective of Merlin. He would knock sense into Arthur if necessary (although she hoped it wouldn't be necessary), and if he wasn't capable of that she had no doubt that he would help protect Merlin. (At least she sincerely hoped so, her research led her to believe that was a highly likely outcome. Merlin was to blind and frightened to see that thought.)

Gwen. The poor girl. If Gwaine failed to calm Arthur, Ariel knew that Gwen would be capable. And she had a sensible head on her shoulders and wouldn't rush to any conclusions. She was a definite must. Plus the girl was Merlin's friend. She deserved the truth just as much as the rest of them.

Percival. He was actually in the group of knights that she felt were all a little necessary. Plus he was calm and strong. And it didn't hurt that he wanted to honor Lancelot by keeping Merlin safe.

She figured it might be best to add the other knights that were so close to Merlin. They all liked Merlin. And there were enough secrets that she didn't want anyone to feel they couldn't tell this anyone in their close circle of friends.

So that added Leon and Elyan.

That was seven. She could add three more. Although she didn't really think there was anyone else that really needed to know.

She paused in thought. Or she could add Mordred and Morgana.

She thought it over carefully. Morgana would be a definite danger. And although Ariel desperately wanted to help Morgana return to her senses (which Ariel was personally beginning to believe were long dead and buried) She wouldn't risk Merlin's life any more than she already was. Morgana was a loose cannon and there would be no sure fire way to figure out how she would react to all of this information. Plus she was powerful and likely to fight her… control.

Mordred was different. She knew why Merlin didn't trust him. And she wasn't sure she wanted to let Mordred know anything more that could compromise Merlin's destiny. (She realized she cared more for Merlin than she probably should… but after her research… how could she not… the poor boy.) But Mordred's path was only a possibility. She curse the dragon. He had failed to impart to Merlin that anything seen was merely a possible avenue. And it was taking an undue toll on Merlin. She wished she could put Kilgharrah into her plan. But she was nowhere near powerful enough to let her little… manipulations encompass Kilgharrah as well. If at all. So she would leave him out of it.

But she was going to add Mordred. Her instincts screamed for her to bring Mordred in, and so she would. And if she was wrong. Well than she would try to kill him herself. It would be partially her fault anyway.

She beamed brightly. This was going to be such fun. Although… it might be a little difficult.

And she was going to have to drug Merlin anyway. Heaven knows he would try to stop her if he knew what she was going to do. He would probably stop her even if he didn't fully understand what she was going to do. Her upcoming actions weren't going to look at all innocent.

But she would make sure the drug was strong enough to keep him asleep for 24 hours. She only needed one night for her little machinations. But she would need the day to… prepare her… subjects. And she didn't want the boy to get in her way.

She was doing it for his own good after all.

She really shouldn't have enjoyed drugging Merlin as much as she had. And it had been harder than it should have been to drug him in the first place. So she couldn't blame herself if she felt a little bit of glee at being able to drug him at all.

First off he had completely skipped breakfast. Again. For at least the third day in a row. (She had been trying to drug his breakfast so she was well aware) She would have to speak to those friends of his. Not that it was there fault. But someone needed to make sure the boy ate. And slept for that matter. The drug had taken a hold far to quickly, which meant that the boy was running on energy he really didn't have. He was lucky that his Magic supplied him with energy. She was also pretty sure that Magic was helping her more than it normally did. Her spells were coming stronger and easier than normal. And she wondered if this was Magic giving her its approval. She was going to take it that way, it made her feel better about what she was going to do. It seemed… less like a betrayal of trust if Magic supported her actions.

She was a little glad to see how worried Arthur was about his manservant. He had completely collapsed due to her ingenious idea to spread the drug on his neckerchief. It wouldn't leave any obvious traces for Gaius to pick up, unless he expected something, but Gaius was all to aware of Merlin's propensity to push himself to his limits, and since the drug made it look like Merlin had merely collapsed (Not been drugged). And that his body was just taking this opportunity to recover (Which it really did need to do, she was doing the boy multiple favors).

She had taken the opportunity to mark both Arthur and Gwen. They had been so shocked when Merlin had collapsed in the middle of serving them breakfast. (She had to stifle her laughter when the eggs had ended up all over Arthur) That they hadn't noticed the subtle touch of magic on their skin. Marking them for her next stage.

She admitted that most of the marking would be rather easy. Even if someone felt it they would not know what it was. Mordred and Gaius were the ones that worried her. They were more accustomed to magic, and would be much more likely to notice as it brushed up against them to mark them. She would have to leave them until last.

She got the majority of the knights during their training. Making sure to mark them while they were distracted by their fights, also making sure that they were not in the proximity of Mordred while doing so.

He had seemed to find Merlin's collapse suspicious. He was probably aware of the affinity Magic had for Merlin and it's consequent effects on bolstering Merlin's nonexistent energy. And she thought she had felt Mordred probing at Merlin's magic to see if something was wrong. She thought he might have even tried contacting Merlin telepathically despite Merlin's frequent uneasiness with the action. But Ariel thought it was thoughtful. And was glad that someone seemed to desperately want to protect Merlin. Even if Merlin wasn't nearly as grateful.

She caught Gaius while he was making a potion. The fire Gaius was using kept the room warm, and made her subtle marking all the more unnoticeable.

Except Mordred was starting to get suspicious. Her markings had no obvious effect, but they did have a tendency to make the target more tired than was normal. Although they wouldn't go to sleep until she let them. Which was highly convenient. Unfortunately Mordred's worry over Merlin's sudden collapse seemed to highlight the sudden exhaustion the others were feeling. It was unfortunate that he was spending so much time with the group, it was making it more noticeable.

She sensed that Mordred was keeping his magic close to the surface. And Ariel was delighted by the fact, even if it made her job harder. In Merlin's absence Mordred seemed to take the protection of the others very seriously. And she felt that it wasn't entirely because he liked these people. There was a part of Mordred that was afraid of what Merlin would do to him if Mordred allowed them to come to harm while he was unable to protect them. (Which was understandable, although Merlin would also be to blame) But a bigger part that wanted Merlin's approval. A part that felt guilty from not protecting Merlin from whatever was causing his unconsciousness. That part that saw Merlin as an older brother. A cherished older brother.

She would have to make sure Merlin realized this. But that would wait until later.

One plot at a time.

She frowned. It would be easier if she could get them all to one place. But she still needed to mark Mordred, and she also didn't want to arouse suspicion from any of the other castle residents.

One problem at a time. And then a plan of simple brilliance hit her.

She almost felt guilty for invading Arthur's mind to call for a meeting of the Knight's of the Round Table (She did count her blessings that very few people were capable of magic like that, not even Morgana. But it was her special talent). But not as much as she should. That was nothing compared to what she had done during her research. And what she was about to do. She had to go back into his mind to have Arthur call Mordred too. The boy wasn't a round table night yet.

In the end it was all too easy to mark Mordred. The boy was so tense from the feeling of unease that had been growing on him all day, that when she caused the fire to jump two feet. (To be fair they all jumped but Mordred jumped far higher than the others) And he was far to distracted with controlling his magic that he didn't notice the touch of magic that didn't belong to him. She was delighted, this was such fun! She decided not to dwell on the thought she was enjoying these manipulations far too much.

She frowned when she realized that Gaius wasn't there. She had thought she had made it clear in Arthur's mind that Gaius was to be there. She had even manipulated his mind so he thought the meeting had to do with Merlin (although he really had no idea how true that was.)

She was appeased when Gaius hurried in. A thin frown marring his face. She was even further appeased when both Gwaine and Arthur immediately asked after Merlin. She did feel guilty for the worried looks on their faces when they realized he had still not woken up. She ignored them as they chattered with one another. It was important to get this right. If she did it wrong she could end up destroying their minds. She was fairly certain that Merlin would murder her if she did that.

He might murder her anyways. She grinned cheerfully at that and had to stop herself from whistling aloud. Oh dear her mind was becoming morbid in her old age.

She noticed that Mordred was starting to feel the magic swirling closer to her. She hurried a little more, still staying careful with her magic. She knew that Mordred wouldn't draw attention to her, at least not in an overt way.

She felt his own magic starting to reach toward her. And she did her best to divert it. His face didn't change expressions as he continued his conversation with Elyan, but Ariel felt the magic increase in power as it reached toward her again. She diverted the tendrils once more. She was so close. She would not let this end before it had even started.

She used some spare magic to knock both Mordred's and Arthur's chairs backwards and she watched as Mordred's tendrils retreated and moved to Arthur, as though checking him for injury. She noted when Mordred's magic found her mark on Arthur. She was glad that he was being careful. To afraid to rip the mark off Arthur lest that had dire circumstances. Which really was intelligent, Mordred didn't know what the mark meant. Didn't realize what it did and that he himself had a mark.

But it was too late now. Her spell was finished.

She moved until she was on the other side of the room from the fire before she flared the fire again. Watching as they all jumped a bit again.

And as they jumped she allowed her invisibility to fall away. Letting them see her before she let one short phrase pass her lips. Vea ala gifte.

She giggled as they all slumped into unconsciousness.

She was having far too much fun.

She really hoped Merlin didn't kill her once this was all over.

AN: I'll admit... I'm sorta enjoying myself... And I hope it's ok. Because... That would make me happy if it was considered ok.

I was told today. "If you're going to try and test gravity, don't test it near a cliff." These seemed to be rather sound advice... So I thought I would pass it on. Don't test gravity near a cliff... it can be a long fall. (Because last I checked it was still working.)