Hullo, everyone, and welcome to my first Merlin fanfiction!

As of 2/21/15, this chapter has been updated to fix typos and it has a bit of new material. I had to change some of the wording because it irked me and I think it reads much smoother now than it before.

Disclaimer: As per usual, I do not own the rights to Merlin nor am I receiving any monetary gain from this work of fiction.

Now that that's out of the way, please enjoy and let me know what you think!

Knowing Grace out!


And the Truth Shall Set You Free

by Knowing Grace

"...for now we have chosen and the tides of fate are flowing."

~The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Prologue

Ealdor

A scream pierced the night's silence.

"Push! Push, Girl!" The midwife cried. A woman lay on the bed, her youthful face haggard from her long hours of labour. She panted, feeling sweat trickle down her cheeks to mingle with her tears.

"I-I can't!" She wailed as another contraction hit, making every muscle she had tense up in agony.

"You have to! The babe is almost here, I can see the head. A few more good pushes and your child will be brought into the world!" Said the midwife, eliciting a groan from the girl. She nodded wearily, knowing that it was far too late for her to turn back now. Gathering the remainder of her strength, she waited for the next wave of pain to crest and when it did, she bore down—not caring if her shrieks awakened the whole village. "That's it! Now...again!" She strained, her upper body rising from the rush-filled mattress, and felt the child slide within her. The odd feeling was instantly followed by an intense, burning sensation that nearly took her breath away, and she half fancied that she was slowly being split in twain.

"Good! The head and shoulders are free; just give me one more push like that and it will all be over!" The older woman called, her patient barely heard her—she was now sobbing openly.

A contraction assaulted her, and taking as deep a breath as was possible, she threw the last bit of energy that she possessed into one, final effort.

Silence reigned, but only for a moment. A sharp slap administered by the midwife was succeeded by the loud cry of an infant. Soon, a squirming bundle was placed in the new mother's arms and she gave her helper a weary smile as the woman pronounced that the child was a boy. The mother ever so gently traced a finger over her son's incredibly soft cheek. His downy hair was the colour of a raven's wing, and when she touched him, his screams ceased and he opened a pair of brilliant, blue eyes. She gasped and felt her heart melt a little.

"He's perfect." She murmured, in awe of the tiny life she and her love had created.

"Aye, that he is, Girl. He's got all ten fingers and toes and a healthy set of lungs as well. He'll not be having any trouble in making himself heard, that's for certain." The midwife commented dryly as she wrapped up the afterbirth and tidied up the chamber a bit. She soon finished and bid her patient a good night as she headed back to her own home all the way on the other side of the village.

Alone at last, the young woman gazed down into the face of her child for a long moment, hardly daring to blink lest she wake, finding it all to have been a dream. But it was no dream, and the babe remained in her tender embrace.

She cooed at him, rocking his little form back and forth until his eyes fluttered closed and his rosebud mouth went slack.

"You are a gift, my son, and you have his eyes." Tears welled up in her own orbs once more, and she fought to suppress them, but she was fighting a losing battle. "You have his eyes...Merlin. My dear, precious, little Merlin." And leaning down she pressed a kiss on the babe's forehead, the first of many kisses to come.

A~*~M

Sixteen Years Later...

Camelot

I bolted upright in bed, my breath coming in tearing gasps.

Twas only a dream...nothing more, I thought to myself. Passing a trembling hand over my brow, I wiped away the sweat that clung to my skin.

"After all these years, why would she visit me now?" I whispered to the darkened room, but no answer came. With a sigh, I stood and padded barefoot across the stone floor towards the window. I threw the shutters wide and looked down upon the city far below me. There was not a light to be seen in any of the many cottages that lined the cobble-stone streets—their occupants were all sound asleep and ignorant of my distress.

A gentle breeze blew from the South, catching the banners bearing the Pendragon crest and sending them fluttering from the castle turrets. Against my will, my gaze was drawn inexorably towards the western mountains, their stoney sides glowed white in the pale light of the full moon, and I felt a yearning awaken deep within me.

In that moment, I wished to visit Ealdor more than any other place in the world. I wanted to walk up and knock on the door of her little hut and see her love for me shining in her eyes as she welcomed me home. If I closed my eyes, I could imagine that she was standing by my side. I breathed her name into the stillness of the night and then turned my thoughts to the dream.

Could there truly be a babe? I wondered, but then I shook my head. No, I would know, somehow, I would be able to feel it in my soul if I had left her with a child.

What we had had...it was not meant to be. She was a peasant; a beautiful, angelic, young woman, but a peasant nonetheless and I was a king. The tides of fate that had brought us together once upon a time, had long ago pulled us apart, and there could be no return for either of us.

With one last, mournful look out of the casement, I closed the shutters and went back to bed. When I finally drifted back off the sleep, my dreams were plagued with the image of the blue-eyed child. His name: Merlin.