CAMELOT – THE COURTYARD

"You will be careful won't you?"

Ava stared out from behind a pillar as her mother, the queen, the woman who would be her mother, walked down the stairs behind the man who would one day be Ava's father

Arthur's cape was billowing around him in the wind as he pulled on his gloves, walking purposefully down the stairs into the courtyard from the castle.

His wife was a couple of steps behind him, holding her crimson skirts up so that she did not stand on them, her small rounded belly becoming visible as the wind made her dress press around her abdomen.

Below them in the courtyard, yet also in Ava's vision, were the Knights of the Round Table.

Elyan, Mordred, Percival, Gwaine and Leon were already mounted.

Merlin stood beside his horse, stroking its face and muttering soothing words in the old tongue in its ear.

It did not much care for the wind that was picking up.

Arthur's eyes lifted to the skies and eyes the brewing storm clouds with distain.

"Arthur?"

His wife's voice, for he had not answered her question, made him stop walking on the second to bottom step and turn to look up at her, where she ceased walking three steps higher than him.

He pulled his last glove on firmly, "We will return before dark I am sure."

She sighed, "Arthur…"

"Don't ask me to stay behind," He said more firmly than he meant to, "please don't…"

She pursed her lips and looked away.

"I have to go, I am their king and their leader… and I want to make sure that you and our little one of royal blood is going to be kept safe." He cupped her cheek although she didn't look at him.

He knew she worried for him, and that that was why she couldn't meet his gaze.

His voice dropped to a low whisper, "You are both my world, you know that…"

"And what if the crystal decides it is going to claim you as a host, you are of royal blood…"

"Then I am no safer here than I am riding out to try and get it back." Arthur soothed her burst of worry with a hush.

She looked down and Arthur saw that she swallowed.

With a sigh of his own he kissed her cheek and she needed no more instruction that to take both his hands tightly in hers and press her forehead to his.

Arthur ran his thumb over her knuckles and stepped away.

She let her eyes flutter open and watch as he swung up into his saddle and turned to ride away with a loving and devoted nod to her.

She folded her hands over her belly and looked to Merlin.

Opening her mouth to speak the sorcerer cut her off.

"It is all going to be fine Gwen."

She nodded, "Thank you."

He smiled at her and raced his horse after the king and knights.

MORGANA'S HOVEL

Morgana slammed the door to her hovel.

The frame creaked behind her and her eyes snapped around at the still forest.

Setting her jaw she pulled her hood up over her head and swept through the falling mist and shadows into the deeper part of the forest, the crystal tucked, wrapped in leather, inside her palm.

THE FOREST OF ESITIA

Their long red cloaks billowed around them in the gaining wind and mist as the air became damp.

Arthur reigned his horse and they slowed to a walk to pass through the towering valley of the fallen kings.

Merlin's eyes were casting about and Arthur was staring ahead, not really seeing anything.

His mind was back in Camelot with the woman he had left his heart with.

"It will all be okay you know?" Merlin said.

Arthur straightened but said nothing.

Merlin sighed, "I know you are worried but trust me, everything…"

"Will be all okay, I know." Arthur looked down for a moment, "I know."

Merlin grinned, trying to make light of a very depressing situation, "and if it is not, then you still have me!"

"Well in the face of possibly losing my wife and child that makes me feel ten times better." Arthur muttered.

"The curse from the crystal won't touch them, my necklace is making sure of that…"

"Well if I die then I will still have lost them." Arthur muttered, "come on, we need to keep moving."

He spurred his horse forwards and galloped onwards.

Merlin narrowed his eyes.

"There really is no pleasing him sometimes."

A terrific crack of thunder shook the sky overhead and fat droplets of rain began to spit down from the heavens.