A/N: As promised here is the sequel to Forgotten Lives! I got the idea for the title from the British Army website which read - 'Securing Britain in an uncertain world.'
Everything was dark, like a cloudy black night with not even the smallest glimmer of light. Was this how it felt to die? Was he dead? Merlin coughed, finding it difficult to breath. A sharp pain filled his head. No, given the intensity of pain he was still very much alive. His whole body ached. He tried to make sense of the befuddled images drifting through his head.
What had happened?
Where was he?
How had he ended up in this place? His eyes scanned the room but he couldn't see a thing. The darkness was suffocating and he felt sudden panic well up in his throat. Tears burned his eyes.
"Arthur," he tried calling but his voice was soundless.
What was wrong with him? He tried moving but his arms and legs wouldn't co-operate. The panic he had felt now turned to dread. He was imprisoned within his own body. He fought to remain calm, his heart pounding in his chest.
A tap dripped in the distance. Someone was quietly weeping. It sounded like a girl.
"He's waking up."
A fragmented voice drifted through the darkness. He felt something sharp prick into his arm, an icy cold liquid slid into his veins. The panic returned in full force.
"W-What are you doing to him?" A girl whimpered in a scared broken voice. "Leave him alone ... please."
He recognised her voice; Emma. Horror replaced the panic.
They had Emma! He had to get to her ... he had to ... his eyes flew open. A bright explosion of white light burned the back of his retina. He blinked, tried swallowing but his throat was to dry. Some feeling began to return to his useless limbs. He started thrashing, hard cold metal dug into his wrists and ankles.
"Merlin!" he heard Emma cry. "You have to fight it!"
He felt an energy pulsating through his whole being, fighting to be released. He couldn't control. It wasn't a matter of just being scared he was now totally terrified. His magic swirled up and outwards. His eyes glowed with the golden fire of his magic.
"Stand back!" he heard a woman warn.
A cry broke forth from his throat in his attempt to control his own magic. But it erupted out of him and he uttered the words, as he always did, when finding himself in some dire predicament.
"Draca, eom, ala, sece findan metan, teosu hus anbid!"
His head fell back in sudden exhaustion against the hard metal table he found himself on. Tears leaked out of the corners of his eyes. What was the point ... there were no dragons left to call.
"Did you see that," the same woman exclaimed. "You see his eyes."
She sounded excited. "What is that ... Jarred?"
"An energy force of some kind Ma'am, just nothing I've ever seen before."
"Someone translate the words he just said."
As shattered as Merlin felt he forced his eyes open. He had to make sense on what was happening, find some way of rescuing Emma and getting them out of where ever they were. His eyes frantically searched for her till they found her sitting on a chair, knees drawn up to her chest, tears trickling down her pale cheeks. Her eyes met with his. He wanted to tell her sorry, how sorry he was for dragging her into this ugly mess.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. Her eyes filled up with more tears at the helpless pitiful sight he so obviously presented.
He felt a hand grip his chin and yank his head, forcing him to gaze up into a pair of cold blue assessing eyes.
"What ..." he spluttered relieved to find he had a voice again, "Are ... where am I?"
The woman smiled, but her smile was as cold as the icy detachment in her eyes. "You are in a laboratory."
It took a moment for those words to sink into his befuddled brain then it slowly dawned on him.
"I'm your lab rat," he muttered hoarsely.
She removed her hand from his chin. If he could, he would have recoiled from her touch, but he was strapped to what could only be described as an operating table, iron clasps on both his wrists and ankles. His magic obviously hadn't been strong enough to release him. They must have suppressed it somehow? Pumping him full of some sort of drug, which is why he hadn't been able to move or speak.
"We are a research institution. We test, experiment with unusual findings that cannot be explained with any sort of logical definition or terminology," she explained, her eyes raking over him before resting on his face. The words test and experiment causing him to shudder.
"You're an anomaly Merlin, a freak of nature."
He watched as she began to circle him, his heart beating erratically in his chest. Who was she? He frantically tried to remember the events that led him here, but nothing was forth coming. Think ... think Merlin! The woman stopped her pacing and leaned over him, her face mere inches from his. A finger trailed over his cheek. "What are you exactly?"
He tried swallowing again, but his mouth felt like sand paper. "Let the girl go and I'll tell you what it is you want to know."
The woman just smiled in a cruel way that was of no comfort. "I can't do that, she is a surety that you will do as we ask."
"Don't ... Merlin," Emma managed to speak in a choked voice. "Don't listen to her, you have to fight them, don't give in. I'll be fine."
"Someone shut her up!" the woman barked angrily.
Merlin watched with growing horror as a stocky man slapped Emma hard across the face, before yanking a handful of her hair and thrusting his face into hers. "Speak again and you'll be getting more of that."
White hot rage engulfed him. His eyes rested on the now angry red welt on her face. Her eyes widened in fear, whimpering she buried her face in her hands. His heart constricted in his chest.
He tried summoning up his magic, but it was no use. With a horrible sinking realisation he became painfully aware that he was totally in their control.
"I'm sure you don't want to see the girl suffer," the woman spoke.
He turned his hate filled glare to hers. Her cold forbidding gaze held his.
"Jarred," she began, her eyes never leaving his face, "bring me the vial."
An elderly man with horn rimmed glasses came into view, holding a kidney dish. He watched as she picked up the needle, pulling back on the syringe, giving it a flick. Yellow liquid of some sort oozed out.
His whole body stiffened in sudden alarm. "What is that?"
What did they want from him? What were they going to do? Who were they? How did he end up here?
"Think of this like a truth serum. It will make you tell me everything, anyone you've ever loved or cared for, everything that you've done your whole life long."
He blinked rapidly, as a new kind of dread took hold. No ... they can't ... he can't remember, he can never go back there.
"And you've lived a long time haven't you Merlin?"
His panicked gaze flew to Emma's. She looked so dejected, lost and sad. Her lips trembled as her imploring eyes met his. A silent message sent between them. He could see what she wanted him to do; use his magic. But he couldn't.
"Don't fight it effects Merlin. The experience will only be even more unpleasant for you than it already will be."
Emma's eyes widened, stricken. He tore his gaze away from her and towards the woman who loomed before him, the sound of his hard laboured breathing filling the air.
"Why are doing this ... what do you want from me?" he asked, struggling to suppress the tremor in his voice.
The woman merely smiled in her cold calculating way. "In order to harness the energy you possess I need to know where it came from, who you are, what you are."
Merlin dreaded the worst and screwed his eyes shut.
"Just relax Merlin."
He felt the needle pierce his upper arm. He tried to remain calm as possible, but he couldn't think for the blood rushing to his head. A sudden fiery pain raced through his body causing his back to arch. Memories took hold. Painful terrible memories, each one ripping through his emotions, and he cried out. "Make it stop, please ... make it stop," he pleaded, his whole body now shaking, uncontrollably.
"Don't fight it Merlin," a disembodied voice whispered through the painful fog that filled his head. "Go back," the voice continued, "all the way back to the very beginning."
He collapsed back onto the table, his mind slipping through time like flicking through the pages of a book.
"Who are you?"
His head thrashed from side to side as he tried to fight the effects of the drug, but the pain now raging through him became too much. He just wanted to escape it. Felt a deep seated exhaustion take hold.
His mother appeared before him, and he ran into her welcoming arms; 'Merlin.'
She held him tenderly, stroking his damp hair that was plastered to his forehead.
'What am I?'
'A boy Merlin, a different, unique boy, but so very very special, never doubt if for a moment, I love you my son but you must be careful. There will be people that will try to kill you for what you are or even worse control you. You must keep you're magic a secret.'
"Y-Yes ... secret," he mumbled.
"What is the secret Merlin?" The voice was coaxing, soothing almost and he couldn't resist it.
"Magic ... I-I have magic ... I was born with it."
"When were you born Merlin?"
"Years ... many years."
"How long have you lived?"
"A thousand – four hundred years."
"What are you?"
He made some feeble attempt to fight once more. The dragon flashed before his eyes; 'young warlock'.
He wanted to reach out to Kilgarrah, beg him to save him.
"What are you Merlin," came the same coaxing voice that he couldn't refuse.
"W-Warlock ... I'm a warlock, the last of my kind."
He didn't know how much time had passed because he was no longer there. He was trapped in a nightmare world, re-living every single memory and moment he'd spent on this earth. Faces of people he had known, places he'd been, things he had done, all of his regrets; every pain filled moment he'd lived and suffered.
He wanted to forget, everything. Never open his eyes again, never see the light of day such was his torment.
Eventually the world slowly began to return to normal. A flicker of rationalization flared in his mind. But he was spent, saturated in sweat, weak and helpless. The raw emotions leaving him nothing more than a shattered empty shell, he couldn't even summon the strength to open his eyes. In the distance he could hear a voice calling to him, "You have to come back Merlin ... come back to me ... please ... you have to be alright!"
They sounded so distraught, so sad. His own face was wet with tears. He felt like he'd re-lived a thousand years over again. But somewhere through the haze he fought to hold onto the memories that brought him hope, nothing more than a fading thought. He grasped it. Arthur; if he could only reach Arthur.
Summoning what little strength he had left he whispered one last spell through his parched lips. "ahreddan me ... findan me ... laboratory ... hurry ... Arthur."
He shuddered in a breath. Then darkness claimed him and he welcomed it.
~~Twelve months earlier~~
Arthur waited impatiently by the front door for Merlin. He ran a frustrated hand through his newly cropped hair, which felt odd given the somewhat longish mop it'd been in the many months of convalescing from his injured leg. He tugged at the brace on the same said leg glad to finally be free of that infernal contraption he'd endured for five long months. Least it had only been five months instead of the eight month prognosis he'd initially been given by the orthopaedic specialists.
Thanks to Merlin's healing spell. Unlike a lot of other people with his type of injury his recovery had gone smoothly and quickly. He still had to wear a brace on his leg for another month and attend therapy sessions three times a week to restore range of motion in his leg, especially his ankle which was the worst affected.
Merlin would use what he called 'a little bit of magic' which helped with him regaining motion without it appearing overly suspicious. The medical professionals often declaring his leg had healed at an exceptionally, and somewhat amazing rate and that he was very lucky given the type of fracture he'd had. He was lucky, he had Merlin. At first he'd been apprehensive letting Merlin use magic on his leg. He still had nightmares of him collapsing by his bedside when he'd first used magic in hospital, saving his leg from being amputated but at great risk to his own fragile health at that time.
Merlin was back to full health now, though he still walked with a discernable limp, especially when tired; the doctors had assured him it would improve with time.
It had been a long road to recovery for both of them. Arthur was now walking fine, though slowly. He wasn't allowed to do much of anything in the way of exercise other than swimming. Swimming wasn't an option for him. His legs were still horribly scarred and though he would never admit, he was self conscious of it. He still had to wear the pressurised bandages on them. But at least he could now bloody well drive a car again, and he no longer had to answer people's nosy questions, which Merlin never had a problem with. But then he never had had Merlin's patience.
He would have gone mental, he was sure, if Merlin hadn't been with him. Thinking of Merlin, what the hell was taking him so long? At this rate he was going to be late for his first day back at work.
"Merlin!" he yelled, his voice echoing through the cottage and up the staircase.
Gwaine came waltzing through the front door, obviously returning from doing a night shift.
"Alright keep your hair on tubby," he remarked with a quick grin.
Arthur gritted his teeth, Gwaine's new nickname for him and not terribly original.
"I'm not tubby," he retorted.
Gwaine's smile merely widened and he had the audacity to pat his stomach. "You keep telling yourself that Princess, nothing wrong with living in denial."
He glared at him. How the hell Gwaine had managed to get posted to the same base as him after his tour of duty was over was beyond Arthur. Clearly the gods were laughing at him. Or maybe the gods just didn't know what the hell they were doing? Because seriously his life was anything but normal or simple, how could it be?
He'd previously been the King of Camelot and now he was living again in the 21st century; that wasn't normal.
When someone fell in love, a relationship should be able to develop, which would involve dating, getting close maybe even eventually leading to marriage. And what did he have? A deranged father that had sent the woman he loved to the far ends of the earth in an attempt to keep them apart, and if she so much as saw him his father would probably have her head. That wasn't normal.
The same people he'd been friends with in the so called 9th century he was still friends with in the 21st century ... not normal. Then there was Merlin. Merlin looked just like any other average young man out there trying to make his way in life. They were best friends, they hung out, but unlike his other friends out there Merlin had magic. Oh and he happened to have lived over one thousand and four hundred years – definitely not normal!
His life was complex and complicated but he wished more than anything, it was just boringly ordinary. Only the last five months had been incredibly tedious and frustrating. He drank and ate more out of boredom alone. And it had caught up with him a bit. Okay, so he had put on some weight as a result. It was expected given he hadn't been able to do any physical exertion for last six months. It had taken its toll on his body as much as he didn't want to admit it. In the past he would go for a long run whenever he felt disgruntled or frustrated, but as that was no longer an option for him he'd resorted to eating and drinking more beer than usual. And he'd had plenty of frustration these last six months. If Gwen had been here it would have been different. But he hadn't seen her for six long painful months and in that time his bitter resentment towards his father had increased. He lived in an age of so called freedom only he really wasn't anymore free now than he had been before. Uther Pendragon still controlled many facets of his life, and he was merely the puppet dancing on the end of his string.
He could piss his old man off, tell him he wanted nothing to do with him but what good would it do? It wouldn't change his or Gwen's current situation. So he contemplated heeding Morgana's advice, 'Get into his good books again, make him believe you have forgotten Gwen and take a new found interest in the business.'
He could still see her pacing the lounge room floor of the Cottage the other day. 'Watch everything he does,' she'd continued, 'look for his weaknesses, look for ways we can exploit him.'
He'd squirmed uncomfortably on the sofa. Right now he still hated the sight of his father. He didn't know if he could bring himself to be civil to him. Even after being discharged from hospital and having to live, once again, in that large gloomy mansion he'd avoided his father as much as possible. How the months had dragged by. One day had seemed to blur into the next. After two months of that he had decided to move in with Merlin. Merlin had to spend another month in hospital before he was discharged and then he stayed with Gaius whilst recovering.
Gaius hadn't minded him coming to stay. "I was expecting you," he'd said with that knowing glint in his eyes. "Merlin will be happy, he's bored to tears."
He knew all about that.
They had spent the next several months watching a lot of DVD's and far too much television. They played board games, debated politics, argued over what TV program to watch. More often than not they grated on each other's nerves, Merlin still called him a prat and a host of other names, but Arthur wouldn't be without him. It had made those months bearable. When the frustration and sometimes depression hit him, Merlin would tell him yarns about the different things and jobs he had over the years. He liked hearing them, the stories were strangely soothing, 'you're like a regular history walking book Merlin,' he'd tell him. Merlin would smile, obviously liking the analogy. 'Yeah I guess I am.'
Surprisingly his father hadn't complained when he told him he was going to stay with his friend Emmett at Gaius' house. His father respected Gaius. He was someone important, an esteemed professional and that made him worthy in his father's eyes. Unfortunately Uther often did visit, even staying for dinner. What riveting conversations they held. Arthur choosing to say little as possible, and the night generally ended up with a lecture of sorts once Gaius and Merlin were out of earshot.
"I do not understand Gaius' affection for the young man?" The boy is not much more than a commoner. He had sense to join the Army and make something of his life and for that he is to be commended I guess."
Arthur gritted his teeth. If only his father really knew who Merlin was. And if he did he would probably try to kill him - again.
"He has also managed to impress you as well," his father continued, with a wry shake of his head, he glanced at him, "I never could understand you Arthur, the friends you chose ..." his father voice broke off there and the unsaid hung between them, 'the women.'
"I must be a big disappointment for you," he'd returned, feeling both glad and bitter about it.
His father's eyes raked over him and Arthur would see the displeasure on his face. "Sometimes I wonder if you are aware of who you are and what you'll become?"
Oh he was definitely well aware of that, just he didn't want it.
"You dress so scruffy now Arthur," his father continued, "You are a Pendragon and should act the part."
He went out of his way to dress deliberately scruffy when he knew his father was coming. It gave him a perverse sense of satisfaction.
"You need a haircut.'
He supposed he did, though they'd been little point if he wasn't back at work yet.
"You need to shave and you need to start caring about your appearance again."
It was around this time Arthur would begin to drone his father's voice out, wondering when he'd be done with this lecture. He would find himself longing for the solitude and confines of his room.
"I watched you tonight, what you ate, and how much wine you had to drink."
Arthur rolled his eyes. His father was merely just getting warmed up and the lecture was far from over. "You don't have anything better to do with your time father?" he dryly quipped.
His father's eyes narrowed. "Gaius and I had only one glass of wine to your three," he continued.
Next time he'd make sure it was four just to piss him off even further.
"There's not much else to do but drink."
Which, unfortunately was true.
"And you've put on weight."
"I don't care," he snorted.
His father was visibly shocked. "You don't care," he gasped, "How can you not care?"
His father stood directly in front of him, pointed a finger in his face. "You are in a rut."
"It's my problem, not yours," he sighed.
"That girl has done this to you."
It always came back to Gwen. It even hurt hearing him call her 'that girl'. It brought back a rush of bitter resentment that had been his constant companion these last four months.
"Yes let's blame Gwen and not the real culprit which is you father."
"I was doing it for your own good."
He shook his head. "I'm tired of this conversation. You might control my life but you can't control what I do on a day to day basis." He took a deep breath and pin pointed his father with a stony glare. "What I eat or what I drink is my business."
The look on his father's face was priceless. For once the man had nothing to say. "Now if you'll excuse me I'm tired and I think I'll go to bed."
With that he gripped the crutches tightly in his hands. "See you later father," he muttered and left.
He went in search of Merlin, still inwardly fuming but also feeling strangely hollow. When would this be over? How in the hell was he ever going to be free of his father?
He needed Merlin. The young man had a way of calming him. He found him in the lounge room, sitting on the sofa, the television was on but Merlin didn't appear to be watching it. Arthur flopped down onto the sofa letting his crutches fall to the ground.
"Just shoot me now Merlin and put me out of my misery," he muttered heavily. "Or better still just shoot my father and this will all be over."
Merlin glanced at him, a slight wry grin crossing his face. "You want me to kill him?"
If only it was that easy. But no, he really didn't want Merlin to have murder on his hands.
"It won't be forever Arthur."
"Feels like it though," he murmured, running a hand through his already dishevelled hair.
"Don't worry, Morgana will be back next month and if anyone can bring your father down, it would be her."
Morgana was, after all, the perfect schemer and better still; she was on their side now.
That had been two months ago and he hadn't seen his father since. Getting in his father's good books considering all that had taken place between them these last six months wasn't an option. He didn't know if he could do what Morgana suggested currently feeling the way that he did. The bitter resentment towards his father ate away at him. He hated feeling this way. He was sick of waiting. His life felt as if it were in limbo. Half the time he didn't know what to do with himself.
At last Merlin was coming down the stairs. It seemed odd seeing Merlin back in uniform as much as it was odd to be wearing the Army uniform again. In a strange twist of fate Merlin had also been posted to the same base as him.
"Not my doing Arthur," Merlin had said, "Guess I'm just fated to follow you through life."
Arthur wouldn't have it any other way.
The base they had been posted at, Aldershot, was conveniently close to the cottage and hence them all now living there, a much better alternative to living on base. Though sharing a house with Gwaine had its moments. The said man was now waltzing up the stairs looking far too cheery for Arthur's liking.
"Enjoy your day at work lads, I'll think of you when I'm fast asleep," he said over his shoulder. "Oh and Merlin you might want to keep Princess away from the morning tea lady, and her trolley full of all those delicious cakes and biscuits. His waistline could certainly do without that."
Merlin grinned, a hint of amusement in his eyes. "I'll try, but you know Arthur."
Arthur rolled his eyes and snorted in contempt. Would he never hear the end of it? Just how long would it be before he could go running again? And why was it that Merlin, who also hadn't been able to do any exercise, was still skinny? Did the young man have hollow legs? But then Merlin ate healthy. Merlin didn't drink beer or any alcohol for that matter. Though he had filled out somewhat and wasn't so gaunt like he'd been in hospital. There was a healthy colour in his face again, a sparkle in his eyes.
"What took you so long," he hissed when Merlin reached him. "Now as a result I had to be subjected to Gwaine's teasing."
"You should be used to it by now," he replied with a smile.
He merely grumbled under his breath, grabbed Merlin by the arm and half dragged him out of the front door.
"You want me to drive Arthur?" he asked as they walked to the car.
"No offence Merlin, but you drive like an old man."
Merlin tilted his head to the side as if considering that statement before replying, "None taken."
They climbed into the car.
"No offence Arthur but you drive as if you own the road."
Trust Merlin to have the last say, he mused.
"I find myself fearing for my life," he continued in a teasing manner, glancing his way.
He shook his head and put the keys into the ignition.
"I hear they run support help courses for people suffering from road rage," Merlin continued. "You should consider it Arthur."
Merlin eventually shut up, though for a while Arthur began to wonder if he would ever stop prattling about how terrible his driving was.
His thoughts drifted to Gwen's latest letter as he drove to base. They wrote letters to each other as a means of communication, addressing them to and from Merlin so his father wouldn't get suspicious. Sometimes they even chatted on Skype, if the she was in range, which wasn't often. She had been sent out to a field hospital in a remote camp with limited facilities. No doubt his father had a hand in that as well, he silently fumed. It wasn't doing much for his already frustrated and often angry state of mind. But Gwen was due for a two week R&R break shortly and they now discussed ways they could secretly meet without his father finding out. And this is what his life had been reduced to! He was 24 years old and having to sneak around like a child just to see the girl he happened to love. What he wouldn't give for a simple life!
It had been harder to read her letters as time passed. Despite her attempts at being forcibly cheerful he could still tell she was extremely homesick. She was now all alone over there. Lancelot and Percival finished their tour of duty at Camp Bastion two months back and were now posted at Dalton Barracks. They all still kept in contact on a regular basis. Morgana had returned from Camp Bastion a month ago and was posted at the Bulford Camp. And Gwen was still at Camp Bastion, in Afghanistan, which rankled Arthur to no end. It wasn't fair, but then since when did life play fair?
It was even worse when she wrote stuff like; I love you, I miss you, I think about you all the time. It made his longing to see her and the pain that would reside in the pit of his guts much worse.
His letters were less expressive. He tried to keep it light and a bit humorous by writing about how annoying Gwaine was. He wrote about the antics he and Merlin got up to. He wrote about how good it felt to have the external fixation removed from his leg. There were so many everyday activities he had taken for granted. How he had developed a new found appreciation for the simple things in life. Simple things like driving a car, walking down to the local corner shop to buy a paper, wearing jeans as opposed to shorts he'd had no option to wear for five months. Being able to curl up in his favourite sleeping position when in bed and not having to get around on crutches, which he now had permanent calluses on his hands from.
He didn't write about his often dark moods. The depression he sometimes felt when all alone. The doubts he had about ever being free of his father's control. Merlin had a knack of getting him out of his dark frame of mind but there were still enough times he couldn't shake the lethargy that often overcame him. Hopefully now he was back at work it would get better.
"How's it feel going back to work?" Merlin asked breaking into his train of thought.
"Least it's better than being stuck at home but no doubt I'll be relegated to clerical duties only for the time being."
Merlin let out a deep sigh. "Yeah tell me about, all I've done is stock shelves with medical supplies, order stock we need and sterilising."
He had started back at work several weeks before him.
"How are you going to survive without Oprah every afternoon Arthur?" Merlin lightly teased.
"And Dr Phil," he continued, "Solving everyday lives problems."
"He reminds me of Agravine. I just don't trust him, there's something not right about him."
They had had many conversations about the various television programs they'd been subjected to over the last six months, too many. Not to mention the amount of DVD's they had watched. Harry Potter several times over and Lord of the Rings, which was Merlin's favourite.
"You reckon magic will ever come back?" he'd once asked him.
They had sat on the couch, in the dark, Merlin just having turned the television off.
"I don't know, I don't think people believe in it anymore. It's stuff of myths and legends now."
"Then why are there so many books, films even television programs about it?"
Merlin would take so long to answer that Arthur would have to prompt him by nudging him. A pained look would fill Merlin's eyes, a look Arthur had gotten to know all too well.
"I've lived a long time Arthur, saw many terrible things done, innocent people burnt at the stake during the middle ages ... people always so afraid of what they don't understand. Magic seeped back into the ground from where it came in a world that couldn't accept it."
Merlin still managed to astound him with his knowledge and wisdom.
"Magic is now nothing more than an elusive dream and wish for a bygone era. It's gone but never forgotten."
"And the future?"
"The future is never set in stone."
He had spent so many hours contemplating his own future. Why he now existed? What it meant?
"Why do we long for peace whilst the whole world is driven by power and greed? How can peace ever be accomplished whilst these two opposing forces exist?"
"It's because of the drive of men for power that we long for peace, an end to tyranny, a restoration of what should have been from the inception of our very own existence."
"What are you saying Merlin?"
He sighed. "I don't think it was ever meant to be this way, which is why we live in an uncertain world, full of doubt and far too much insecurity. We are always searching, searching for something that, it seems, never can be found."
"Then what is the point of it all?"
"Hope," Merlin simply returned, "we have to live in hope ... believe in it, if we don't ... what else is there?"
At this moment in time Arthur was finding it hard to hope about anything. Since when had he become so cynical? He hated the bitterness that often filled his heart. But he clung to Merlin's words as if they were a lifeline. He really would be lost without him.
"You given anymore thought about what Morgana said the other night?" Merlin asked him.
He slowly shook his head. "I don't know if I can," he admitted, "get in father's good books feeling the way I do."
Merlin always did; always had.
"You given anymore thought to contacting Emma?"
Merlin suddenly turned to him shocked, eyes widening. "How did you know ..." he began.
"You've been looking at that bit of paper you carry on you for months Merlin."
"B-But," he spluttered.
"Curiosity got the better of me and you weren't any forth coming with information when I asked you about it so I went through your wallet and found it."
Arthur tried not to smile at the gobsmacked expression on Merlin's face. "You went through my wallet," he gasped, "t-that's ... sneaky."
His smile widened. "Yeah I'm learning it from you."
Merlin shut his mouth and frowned at him.
"And when have you ever had the chance to meet a girl?" he continued.
"I'm not seeing any girl," he muttered appearing flustered.
Arthur was confused and also surprised. He tried thinking over the few times they ever went anywhere and he couldn't remember Merlin talking to a girl and then it clicked.
"Was she the girl at the tavern all those months back? You were talking to her outside?"
Given Merlin's sudden guarded expression he knew he was spot on. "Alright, yeah, it's her number."
Merlin truly did keep his little secrets.
"You've not rang her?"
He quickly averted his gaze and Arthur's curiosity increased. "Why?"
Merlin glanced down at his hands, which were now clasped together. "It's complicated."
"How's it complicated. From memory she was pretty, though maybe a bit young ... is that what you mean? After all if you went out with her that would make you one hell of a cradle snatcher," he grinned and nudged him.
"Just concentrate on the road Arthur before you get us both killed."
He really was touchy about the whole girl thing, Arthur mused. Just exactly how long had it been since he was last with a woman?
"It's not as if you look old now. What are you? About 22 years of age so to speak? If she's 18 that's only four years ..."
"It's not that, it's just ..." he paused, looking somewhat pained, "I knew her before."
He frowned at him and the way he was now kind of wringing his hands together.
"From Camelot days Arthur," he hastily continued.
"I don't ever remember seeing her."
"She was after your time," Merlin said and taking a deep breath he blurted out, "she was your grand-daughter."
Arthur sat in shocked silence. Had Merlin just said what he thought he said? No ... how was that even possible? It can't be; can it?
"She probably just reminds you of her," he eventually returned.
That had to be it.
Merlin shook his head. "It's her. I know it is, there were things she had said," he sighed, "things that only she could know."
"And she remembered you?"
"No but she felt the connection."
Arthur was completely stumped now. See, this was how his life was anything but normal.
"B-But how is that even possible Merlin? If she was my granddaughter then what is she doing here now?"
He shook his head. "I really don't know how this works anymore than you Arthur, but you know given your heritage line you'd have over a thousand descendents by now."
Arthur hadn't really thought about that. A thousand descendant's ... really?
"The only thing I can think of is that maybe she has some part to play in the future and the so called formation of Albion."
"You still believe in that?" he snorted.
"It's the only explanation as to why we are all here. Why I've lived so long."
Silence descended as Arthur pulled into the base and found a parking spot.
"You don't believe Arthur?"
He slowly shook his head. "I don't know what I believe anymore," he muttered as he opened the car door and climbed out.
Merlin sat there in the car, not moving. Arthur was becoming more cynical by the day. It was a worry. He was a worry. Being separated from Gwen was beginning to take its toll on him. Uther needed to be horse whipped. But until they had gathered enough evidence and proof to bring him down there was little either of them could do about it.
Now Morgana was back she was hell bent on exposing Uther. They talked a lot about it. It seemed so weird to be conspiring with her, but it also felt good, right somehow. She was currently looking into the death of her mother, certain there was more to her death and a lot of facts were covered up.
She had been trying to talk Arthur into getting into Uther's good books, but judging by the look on Arthur's face whenever she mentioned that, Merlin could tell it was the last thing he wanted to do, the words he'd uttered a moment ago confirming it.
"You have to convince him Merlin," she said to him the other week when she had come over for dinner. He was walking her to her car, parked in the driveway.
"We need him to play his part."
He turned to her in the half light cast from porch lamp, her face was tense. "Arthur isn't in a good place," he told her.
"I can see that!"
Yes, he could tell. Not to mention the many conversations they had had about what to do with Arthur?
"I'm worried about him."
So was he.
"I think once Gwen returns for her R&R and he sees her he'll be in a better place and then maybe he'll be more willing."
Morgana unlocked her car, her long dark hair falling like a curtain to partially obscure her face.
"The difference between me and Arthur is that I think with my head and he thinks with his heart."
Merlin wasn't entirely convinced about that but she was able to control her emotions, when it came to Uther, effectively well in comparison to Arthur.
"Let's hope she can snap him out of his current lethargic state of being," she continued.
He was certain she would. It was Gwen after all. If anyone could sort Arthur out it would be her.
"He's lucky to have you."
He detected the faint wistful tone in her voice, felt a tightness in his stomach at her words.
"You are not alone Morgana," he softly spoke.
It was important she knew that and held onto it.
Her expression softened. "You are a good friend, to all of us."
He nodded and opened the car door for her.
"Ever the gentleman too," she continued, managing a smile.
He shrugged casually. "Old habits die hard."
She lowered herself into the driver's seat. He had his hand resting on the top on the car door. She glanced up at him.
"How is your magic feeling?"
"Good," he frowned puzzled, "Why?"
"You doing anything next Saturday?"
He shook his head, still confused.
"I need your help with some research I'm doing. I may require the use of magic to get into places I can't otherwise get into."
"This to do with your mother?"
She nodded. "Yes."
"I'll help you."
She smiled sweetly at him. "Thank you Merlin."
Arthur's impatient rapping on the car door window startled him out of the memory. He turned his head and glanced up at Arthur's impatient scowl.
"Are you day dreaming again Merlin."
Sighing he opened the car door, remembering back to his encounter with the Diamair, 'what is Arthur's bane?'
How true those words had been, with a shake of his head he slowly realised that it was still true in this lifetime; unfortunately.
"You know sometimes you do remind me of a doddery old man," Arthur remarked as he slowly climbed out the car.
He scowled at him. Arthur smiled in that smug way of his and they began walking towards reception.
"You like pottering around in the garden, cooking, reading and you certainly take your merry time with getting anything done," he continued.
Oh, so he was being amusing now.
"Least I keep active," he quipped, casting a sly glance Arthur's way. "As opposed to you being a couch potato and sitting all day long in front of the idiot box, becoming even more of an idiot than you already are."
"Merlin," he began warningly.
"Yeah I know, shut up."
"You got it."
Merlin quietly murmured a spell under his breath and the car keys flew out of Arthur's pocket and into his hand.
Arthur stopped and turned to face him, frowning with suspicion. "Did you just use magic?"
"Yeah, I got the car keys," he grinned, waving them in front of Arthur's annoyed face. "Looks like I'm driving us home."
Arthur frowned in a not happy way. "That's cheating Merlin."
His grin widened. "I know." He patted Arthur on the shoulder. "You better bring a good book to read on the way home. You know how slow I drive." He raised an eyebrow. "Just like an old man."
Arthur still didn't look impressed. "Merlin," he began evenly, "Give me the car keys back - now."
He shook his head and began walking towards the medical facilities, glancing over his shoulder at Arthur, who was glaring at him.
"Least we'll get home safely," he couldn't help saying, "I'll see you at five, don't be late."
He kept walking, shoving the keys in his pocket, a wide smile still plastered to his face.
"You know you are really annoying Merlin," Arthur called after him.
"I know and you'd get bored if I wasn't," he returned over his shoulder.
"I don't know how I put up with you."
He saw Arthur shake his head, a slow amused smile crossing his face. Merlin shoved his hands in his pockets, the warm summer breeze gently teasing his hair. Some days it felt good to be alive. And it always felt good when he had one up on Arthur.
A/N: Please review and let me know what you think. I am really very anxious to see if people like the first chapter of this sequel?
I'm quite excited about where this story will go, though it took a while for me to figure out where and what I would do.
I couldn't help doing the whole circular narrative thing. You can blame Inception for that :) It also makes the first chapter more interesting, because most of the chapter is taken up with setting and place and reflection, on Arthur's behalf, of what had happened over the past six months.
I have the whole story figured out in my head but I've not written it all. You would have waited six months probably if I did that and by that stage you probably would have given up on me writing this sequel!
The next four weeks of my life are extremely hectic, just like the last four weeks have been, but after that I will have a few weeks leave. So I'm not sure how quick I will be with updates over that time. I'll try my best.
Thanks for reading! Feedback is greatly appreciated!