Oh, geez, guys. This story is gonna need some serious editing after it's finished.
Disclaimer: I don't own Merlin.
Made for Immortality
"Merlin," the man said, exasperated, "we're going hunting today, remember? No need for paperwork or other business. Today is a day of relaxation, not work." He said the word with such contempt Merlin had to smile.
"Well, someone has to run things around here, since you obviously aren't the one for it," he said jokingly, getting up from his scroll littered desk. "Sire."
"Oh, ha ha," the older man said, slinging an arm around Merlin's shoulders. "The horses are already ready, not to mention Cornelius is still waiting for us."
Merlin smirked. "You know he hates hunting just as much as I do," he said, beginning to tidy up the room. They stood in the highest tower, a location Merlin had picked himself simply for the spanning view of the city below. It may have been a rickety building in its last stages of construction, but his magic managed to keep it upright until it was .
The man pouted, looking reminiscent of an overgrown toddler. Merlin laughed. "I never said I wasn't going," he pointed out, much to the delight of the man before him.
"You mean it?"
"Of course," Merlin said patiently, replacing a book to its spot on a dusty shelf. "Me, refuse a king of Camelot? Never..."
Merlin's eyes opened. Fully expecting to see the man still standing in front of him, poised to smack him round the head for his mockery, he couldn't help but be disappointed and a little confused at the sight that greeted him in its place. Blinking blearily, his blue eyes focused on the plastered ceiling of his room in Camelot's court physician's quarters. He wondered distantly what had happened, and where exactly the man had gone. They had only just been speaking, him cleaning and the other pleading, and now he was back here. Where was here, again?
He laid there for another moment or so, doing nothing other than blinking and staring at the ceiling. Memories came crashing back, but they hardly surprised him. He felt as though he had had them all his life, and couldn't help but wonder if he had. Had they ever really been gone?
It took another minute, but Merlin eventually forced himself to sit up. The mattress creaked beneath his weight as he leaned against the wall behind him.
However impossible it seemed, Merlin hadn't been in possession of those memories just a day ago. It wasn't a lot, but it felt undeniably familiar, like it was a part of him that had just been returned instead of a vague and incomplete memory. The suffocating feeling that had settled in his chest lightened. Taking in a long, deep breath, Merlin reveled in the feeling.
Looking out the window, he jumped. The sun was already high in the sky, and Arthur was sure to be wondering where his manservant had gotten to. Or perhaps he wasn't. Angry, more like, Merlin thought, rolling his eyes. Pushing back the blanket, Merlin took a moment to brush a hand through his greased hair (to which he grimaced and wiped his hand on his pant leg) before shoving his door open. Gaius paused in his sweeping to aim a raised brow at his ward; shaking his head wearily, he returning to his work.
Swiping a stale slice of bread, Merlin stumbled to the stairs. In his efforts to make the journey to the kitchens as short as possible, he tried to eat as fast as he could while jogging up staircases and through halls. This, of course, resulted in him choking on said food in the middle of a (thankfully empty) hallway. Just thinking about it made him blush.
After an argument with the cook and a few scary slips of Arthur's breakfast and morning laundry, Merlin finally managed to make it to the king's chambers. He stood now in front of the double doors to the prat's quarters, knocking. "Come in!" was the distant answer.
Shouldering the doors open, Merlin set down the tray and clothing filled basket, only to find one of those two chores taken care of.
"You," Arthur said, "are late." He sat at the table beside the bed (already made, Merlin noticed), Guinevere shuffling around the room dusting the furniture. A platter of half-eaten food was set in front of him.
"Well, by the looks of it," Merlin said, "I'm not needed here. Well, I'm off!" He reached for the door, but was stopped by Arthur's reply.
"Don't be silly, Merlin," the king smiled. "Tyr has told me the horses are missing you terribly."
He scowled. "Prat."
"Now, is that any way to speak to your king?" Arthur said, his tone joking.
Merlin sighed, resigned. "I'll make you pay for this, I swear it."
Arthur's brow raised. "Will you, now?"
Hand on the doorknob, Merlin replied dramatically, "I swear on my life and all things good that you will pay for this."
Rolling his eyes, Arthur waved him goodbye. "Have fun," he said, turning to the scroll rolled out on the table.
"Oh, I will. I will be having the absolute time of my life, sire!"
Mucking out stables had to be the job Merlin despised most. In all of the castle there were plenty of despicable tasks, each one assigned to a certain servant every single day, and he had done them all. Having said that, Merlin could still conclude that mucking out a filthy stable of horse shit was the worst job there was.
Dirt and other things he really didn't wish to linger upon had been smeared all across his clothing and skin; not even his face had been spared, much to Merlin's displeasure.
Tyr, the young stable hand, had come in earlier and asked if he had needed help. Merlin had politely declined. Now that he was in the position of shoveling day old excrement in a fly infested, horse-filled stable, he really regretted it. As in really regretted it.
A horse snorted and nudged the warlocks shoulder. He growled under his breath and gently shoved it back.
After working for almost an hour, Merlin was already halfway done. Wiping the sweat from his forehead with no regard to the filth, he leaned against the doorframe and sighed.
"Having fun, Merlin?" said an amused voice from behind. Startled, Merlin jerked forward, his heartbeat escalating. Turning quick, he saw none other than Lord Macedonius Vane.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, a little angry. "Don't you think people will think it a bit odd that a lord of your stature is speaking to a mere servant?" His nose scrunched slightly. "A servant charged with mucking out the stables, no less." He knew he was exaggerating. That this was unfair. But talking to Lord Vane was really something he preferred to avoid. A small, prodding feeling of guilt made itself known at the back of his mind.
Macedonius frowned. "You don't sound very happy to see me," he said. He stepped closer, his hand resting on a sheathed blade, the other behind his back. "All I am doing is collecting my horse; I'm afraid it is time for me to take my leave."
A myriad of emotions made themselves known at this notion. He had had conflicting feelings of sending Macedonius on his way since his arrival two weeks ago. He had known the lord would eventually have to leave and go back to Etyn, and it was unlikely that the two of them would ever cross paths again. Despite all of that, Merlin couldn't help but feel relieved. The time that Macedonius had been in Camelot had been the most nerve wracking of his life (that he could recall, anyway). With that relief came guilt; he had helped raise the man, for gods sakes! He shouldn't be happy to see him go!
But, then again, he wasn't. Not really. Despite Mace's graying hair and lined face, he still saw the young, mischievous teenager he had taught all those years ago. A strange mixture of pride, sadness, and regret replaced the fleeting relief. All of a sudden he felt his feet moving forward on their own accord. He ended up with his arms wrapped tight around the other man. "I'm sorry," he muttered against his shoulder. "Mace, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for leaving, for being a coward, for not being able to help Bradyn. I'm so, so sorry."
Merlin ended the embrace and took an awkward step back. He grinned sheepishly and said, "And I'm sorry for getting your clothes dirty."
Macedonius smiled fondly. "Ah, not to worry," he said. "No harm done. They're just clothes." He gently brushed away the dirt.
"I've come to say goodbye," he started again, meandering into the stable in search of his horse. Merlin followed him in, helping him look for the splotchy white mare that was his. "And," he continued, "I came to ask a favor of you."
"And that is...?"
Macedonius didn't answer. He kept on searching along the lines of horses and their stalls, patting some of them on the sides while he looked. They were at the very back when he finally found her. "Ah, there you are," he said, smiling.
Merlin stayed quiet and watched as the old lord readied his horse. He didn't bother to say that such a task wasn't meant for the likes of a lord, but for those of stable hands like Tyr. It was little things like this that set Macedonius apart from the multitude of other lords, of whom cared little for their serfs and servants and only for their own wants and interests. Merlin had been sure to teach the young lord in such a way that he would have respect for all, even those designated as lesser than him. This included doing lots of hard and dirty work that he wouldn't have even thought of doing had it not been for the warlock and his highly unconventional teachings.
Clearly, all his work in Etyn had not been for nothing.
"I want you to kill Bradyn."
... Or perhaps not.
Merlin's head whipped around to face the lord. Macedonius stood in the stable stall, fastening his reins on tight. He didn't meet Merlin's eyes. Aghast, he choked out, "What?"
"You heard what I said," was the only answer.
"But... What? No! I'm not... I—I'd never so much as even think of killing Bradyn, let alone do it just because you told me to do it!" Merlin shouted. "For gods sakes, he's your brother!"
"You think I don't know that?" Macedonius asked tersely. He turned to Merlin and looked him straight in the eye, anger radiating from him. "I know my brother. He would never do these things. Bradyn is too good a person to even contemplate killing women and children, but somehow he's out there, right now, doing just that!"
Merlin's glare faltered. "I came to Camelot to tell King Arthur my... brother was slaughtering his people alongside his own sister. But when I saw that you were here, I..." he paused, his anger leaving him. He appeared as though he had aged another ten years, his shoulders sloped and his back losing its rigidness. "I thought you might be able to help."
Sighing, Merlin said, "How is killing Bradyn going to help? Surely there's a better way."
"Not that I know of."
Macedonius led the pretty mare out of the stable and into the sunlight. Merlin followed quietly, thinking. His hand had begun to tremble with nerves.
Taking a deep breath of fresh air, the warlock noted the group of knights in the courtyard. They were the very same that had accompanied Macedonius to the city. "You're leaving now? Right now?" Merlin asked.
Macedonius mounted his horse and said, "I am afraid so. I need that answer now, Merlin."
Merlin frowned in disgust. "On whether or not I'll kill your younger brother, you mean?"
"Yes," he replied. "It will be a mercy. Will you do it?"
He was silent for a moment. What should he say? It felt as though there was no decision to be made: He would never kill Bradyn. It didn't matter that he was working with Morgana or that he had killed innocents. The boy had been just as important to him as Mace had been. Merlin just knew that if he agreed, he would never be able to go through with it. There was no questioning it.
But he had seen how close the two had been. They would do anything for each other, it had seemed, and a rational part of Merlin's brain pointed out that there had to be a reason one would want the other dead. Maybe Macedonius was right. Maybe Bradyn didn't really exist anymore.
He sighed. "Alright," he agreed. "I'll see what I can do."
Don't forget to review (and fave and follow)!