A/N: For those of you who have not read my other fic, My son, Merlin, this is related to that one. You don't have to read it to understand what's going on. Just know that Balinor is living in Camelot under the name Dracagend (dragonlord in Old English) and he's there to be with Merlin. =) If you want, you can read the first three chapters as a sort of prologue to this story. The other chapters are unrelated.
This story is set either after 2.09 or 2.10, doesn't really matter which. I did an AU of 2.09 in My son, Merlin, but in this story, the AU didn't happen; Freya's dead.
The title, which you're probably wondering about, is Irish. It'll make sense later. xD Just so you know, much of this story is taken from Irish and Scottish mythology.
Just a warning- Balinor is not going to be in the first few chapters very much, as those are sort of the introductory ones, but he will be in later chapters, I promise. =)
Pairings: Freylin, possibly some Arwen and Balinor/Hunith. Maybe Mergana.
Warnings: Again, not much Balinor in the first chapters, but lots later on. Blood and violence. There may be character death.
For all his complaining about it, Merlin really did enjoy gathering herbs for Gaius.
He loved the peace and quiet of the woods, and the time he had alone to think in the madness and chaos that was his life.
He should have known that even that haven would be taken from him. Despite all its plans for him, destiny did not seem very fond of him.
It was dusk, and he was heading back towards Camelot, through one of the most deserted areas of the forest, when he heard splashing.
That's odd, he thought. Who would be out here at this time of day?
He was tempted to find out who it was and what they were doing here, but was hesitant to do so. It was getting late, and Gaius was expecting his herbs, and Arthur his supper. Neither would be pleased if he were late.
Then his magic roiled within him so suddenly and violently that he was possessed with the urge to vomit.
This definitely needed to be investigated.
Merlin set down the basket of herbs quietly and stole towards the splashing. Contrary to Arthur's belief, he could move almost noiselessly if need be.
Soon he emerged from the trees and was standing at the bank of a large stream, and his breath caught in his throat. Directly across from him was a pale, ethereal woman dressed in a simple green dress. A large tooth hung from her mouth, a nostril was missing, and her feet were webbed.
Whatever she was, it was not human.
It was not her unusual features or her ghost-like appearance that had caused Merlin to gasp, however. It was what she was doing.
The creature was washing bloody clothes in the stream. And they were not just anyone's clothes. Merlin had spent enough time scrubbing them to know.
They were Arthur's clothes.
He stood for a moment, debating what to do. Should he call out to her, or wait for her to acknowledge him? Was she a threat?
She looked for a fleeting moment up at him then, and then went back to her washing as if he were invisible.
Her passive glance made up Merlin's mind. "Excuse me," he called politely, unconsciously stepping forward until the toes of his boots just touched the water, "would you please tell me what it is you are doing?" It never hurt to be kind, and if she was some sort of dangerous magical creature, the last thing he needed was to anger her.
"You are permitted to ask me three questions, traveller," she replied in a thin, ghostly voice. "But only if you reply to three first."
"Uh, all right," replied Merlin. "You may ask whatever you like."
She looked up at him then, pausing her washing to study his face. After a long moment of silence she said, "Why do you serve the Pendragon prince? And do not presume to lie to me. I will know."
The question took him aback. "I suppose, at first... because the king ordered me to. And... because it was my destiny." He was fairly certain that, if she already knew so much about him, she knew of his identity and magic. "But now, I do it because I believe in him, and because he is my friend."
She did not look up from her washing to ask the next question. "Would you give your life for him?"
"Immediately, and without hesitation," he replied at once. (1)
"I see," she mused. "And if he does not accept you for who you are? Would you still serve him? Die for him?"
"Of course," he whispered, and then louder, "I told him, I'm happy to be his servant until the day I die."
"Very well," she replied. "Ask me three questions, Emrys. Whatever you wish to know."
"Why are you washing Arthur's clothes?"
"It is a symbol, an omen of impending death."
Merlin nearly choked on air. "Arthur's going to die?"
"All men die, Emrys."
She looked up at him again, eyebrow raised in a way reminiscent of Gaius. "That is two questions. You only have one left. Which do you want to know the answer to?"
Merlin thought for a moment, then said, "How does it happen?"
"He will trespass on the property of the Sidhe," she said quietly, going back to her washing. "The Sidhe do not take such things lightly." She raised her head and looked him the eyes. "Watch over him, Emrys. Or your destiny will be over before it begins."
Merlin swallowed and choked out a, "Thank you."
And then he was running as fast as he could back to Camelot.
"Is this the creature you saw?"
Merlin looked down at the illustration Gaius was pointing to, squinting in the dim candlelight. "Yes! Yes, that's her."
"She is a bean nighe," said Gaius. "A very rare creature, to be sure. You are lucky to have seen one."
Merlin shook his head. He was not feeling particularly lucky at the moment. "What exactly is she?"
"They are said to be the spirits of women who died in childbirth," replied Gaius thoughtfully. "They predict death. It says here-" His voice faltered and he lowered his eyeglass. "It says their predictions always hold true."
"No!" cried Merlin, slamming his fist into the table. "He can't die. Not now. Not after all I've done!"
"Merlin, calm down," said Gaius gently, resting a hand on his ward's shoulder. "Arthur is not yet dead. You know how he dies, and you know it will be soon. This is a gift, not a curse. Who knows? Perhaps destiny has sent this to you to ensure that Arthur lives. Perhaps this will be the exception to the rule. You usually are, after all, Merlin. Study the Sidhe. Know their territory, and keep Arthur away from it. There is no reason to give into despair yet. There is still hope."
Merlin swallowed, took a deep breath, and nodded. "You're right," he said, giving his foster father a small smile. "Thank you, Gaius."
Then he turned away and bounded up the stairs, a book of magical creatures under his arm.
His conversation with the bean nighe came back to him.
"Would you give your life for him?"
"Immediately and without hesitation."
He had meant those words, every single syllable of them.
Whatever it took, whatever he had to do, he would ensure it.
Arthur was not going to die. Not while Emrys was his protector.
(1) I may have stolen this from somewhere else. If I did, all the credit goes to you. =) You know who you are.
A/N: Well, what did you think? Was it terrible? Was it amazing? Please let me know, and criticism is welcome! And I know, this was a bit short, but it was kind of an introduction.
The bean nighe is a type of banshee and a figure from Scottish mythology. You can find out more about them at en dot wikipedia dot org slash wiki slash Bean_nighe.
I also have a question for you guys... Balinor and Merlin are eventually going to go on a journey to save Arthur. I'm considering having Morgana go along. What do people think of that idea? Would it take away too much from the father/son moments? Please let me know!