Fandom: Merlin(BBC)/Harry Potter.
Characters/couples: Merlin, Arthur, Gwen, Morgana. Rowena Ravenclaw, Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Helga Hufflepuff.
Summary: Merlin has to help a druid woman's vision come true, since it will involve the future of all magic as well.
Notes: This started as a set of four one-hundred-words drabbles. It stopped at 7'200 words.
In the Stars We Trust.
He finds her easily enough, because she's not even trying to hide. The light from the moon and the stars shine upon the gold of her clothes, and Merlin stops a moment just to stare because she's breathtaking. Her hair is braided, a thick coppered-brown braid resting upon her shoulder, reaching her waist. There are marks upon her arms, vines wrapping themselves up her wrists and elbows and reaching deep inside her gown to somewhere that Merlin decides is safer not to considered, and there is also a raven upon her shoulder. She smiles at him, and Merlin almost thinks of smiling back before he remembers with a dooming sense of urgency that it's the middle of the night and that a druid decided to mind-call him away from his very warm, very nice bed.
“What are you doing here?!” He asks her in a harsh whisper, looking around to make sure that the patrol isn't there yet. “Don't you know about the laws?!”
The raven caws. The woman cocks her head forward, just a little, almost as if his words made no sense.
“I know about the laws that dictate against magic, Emrys, but I still had to come,” she tells him. “The stars told me so.”
Why, Merlin ponders, is it that attractive females are often crazy and why does he have to find crazy women attractive. One day, he hopes, he will find an attractive woman that won't be crazy. He also hopes that this druid is simply crazy and not crazy and dangerous, which is the other rather alarming factor in Merlin's life when concerning females.
“The stars told you to come despite knowing that Uther will have your head if he catches you here?”
“Everyone has a fate, Merlin,” and curse her for using the one thing that Merlin can't deny. “The stars have told me that I would meet mine here. If I was to run, who can tell if the stars would deem that fate worthy enough to go through the trouble of rearranging themselves.”
“Have you spoken with the dragon?” Merlin asks, before he shakes his head. “Never mind that. A meeting. What kind of meeting? And did you know there's a tournament so there's going to be about three times the usual knights that there are already here?”
“I will know once it happens,” the druid tells him. It's unfair that she's so pretty, Merlin thinks. If she wasn't, it'd be easier for him to tell her that she's absolutely crazy, thank you, and that she should just go home to wherever it is that the Druids live that is, hopefully, very very very far away from the courtyard where Uther likes to have people who practice sorcery beheaded. “I require your assistance, Emrys. Without you, I will surely die.”
He groans, and Merlin is well acquainted with this kind of defeat. It's the same kind of feeling it comes when Gwen smiles at him just so and Merlin finds himself helping her with the laundry, or when Morgana wants him to pick up something way too early in the morning and she makes her smile a little bit pouting or when Arthur is. Well, Arthur. “I hate it when you people use that. Fine, fine. I'll... oh, I'll say you're my cousin or something.”
“I thank you, Emrys, for your help,” she says, bowing her head. Merlin sighs. Of course that his life has to become increasingly harder each day.
“Thank me after we've not lost both our heads. And while you're here it's 'Merlin'. Also, you're not to do any magic at all, get it?” The young woman nods and Merlin rubs the back of his neck before he remembers. “How should I call you?”
She smiles as she answers. “I am Rowena Ravendaughter. And this is Claw, my familiar.”
The raven caws, flapping its wings once before it flies up to hide among the trees. Merlin barely avoids to shudder. Yes, because that isn't ominous at all.
Morgana likes tournaments. Well, that isn't completely true, perhaps. She doesn't like, exactly, the injuries the knights receive, or when they die and while she does enjoy swordplay and she does find it endearing when she sees someone talented make use of the sword, Morgana dislikes the sheer violence of tournaments, and she really, really dislikes the way men end up acting when their blood runs through their bodies, wild with the aid of sword and shield. That, she could do without.
But oh, the parties. Even if she could give up the endless chatter about dresses or court gossip (and oh, she would), Morgana could never give up the news about traveling, the way the knights that come to try and win against Arthur bring news about distant lands that Morgana might never be able to see on her own. That, she wouldn't trade for the world.
“I didn't think you would come, lord Godric,” Uther tells to a young man, roughly the age of Arthur, perhaps a year or two older. He's tall and broad shouldered, his hair a golden brown that curls around his neck, and he has an infectious smile with dimples. He reminds her so much of Arthur that Morgana feels herself liking him already at the same time that she is almost certain that, if they talk to much, they will end up grating each other. “I heard a rumor that your father took ill? Is it serious?”
Sir Godric laughs. “Majesty, my father refuses to die, let it be a battle wound or let it be a simple cold, as he has called it. He was extremely angry that he couldn't come himself to fight in the tournament himself. If it was not for the presence of my cousin, I'm sure that it would have taken me to fight him before I was allowed to come.”
And the young man that had been waiting behind sir Godric steps forward. He's not quite a man yet. Morgana esteems him around fourteen years old, perhaps a little bit older. His hair is darker than Godric's, sleeker, but his eyes are of an icy blue that almost looks like silver. The set of his jaw does resemble Godric's, but that's all Morgana finds. The boy's eyes are guarded where Godric's are honest and warm.
“Your majesty, lady Morgana. May I introduce you to my esteemed cousin from my mother's side?” The young man bows, and then Godric puts his hands on the boy's shoulders, with an easiness that speaks of camadery. The boy didn't seem too pleased to be there, though, something in his expression suggesting that rather than his calm expression he would rather sneer. “Lord Salazar of Slytherin, from Hispania.”
Tournaments in Camelot mean waking up earlier than usual, mean more noise and the people hurrying twice as much through the castle and the courtyard, and it means that Arthur is in a positively foul mood since he has to do twice as much of what he has to do, which means that Merlin also has to do twice as much while having Rowena stuck by his side. Gaius hadn't believed the thing about Rowena being his cousin, obviously, but he had just raised his hands, telling him that 'he didn't want to know'.
So that means that Rowena, wearing a long sleeved dress that hides the marks upon her arms, is helping him carry blankets and books and everything he's told to carry when Arthur comes from the courtyard, not yet wearing his armor nor his cape.
“Go to the side,” Merlin tells Rowena urgently, not wanting Arthur and her to talk at all unless it can't be avoid it. “Now, now, now.”
She looks at him with her weird, not-really-in-this-world-but-sure gaze and she goes towards a trader that brought furs and other trinkets to sell. Arthur approaches him, turning to glance at Rowena's – quite attractive – backside. Merlin had told Arthur about her cousin having come here to find some medicine for her father, and that Gaius was making it but that it would take some days for the remedy to be ready, which Arthur, in the display of the big heart that he tried so hard to pretend didn't have, had said it was okay.
“Merlin, you didn't tell me your cousin was pretty” Arthur says with an almost leer that, if Rowena was actually his cousin, sire or no sire, Merlin might have to punch Arthur. As it was, he cleared his throat, causing Arthur clear his throat as well. “Are my things ready?”
Some days, Merlin wonders how the other squires got things ready when they couldn't just magic them to be done, but then he also wonders if every other knight was quite as demanding as Arthur could be. Merlin just smiled.
“Of course, sire! Should I fetch them?”
“Once you deliver those blankets, yes,” Arthur nods, turning to look towards Rowena, so Merlin does as well. Rowena has knelt besides a young blonde girl, and she seems to be talking to her, offering her an apple. The girl seems mostly terrified and a lot hopeful, but she keeps glancing towards the trader. Merlin notices the chain on her ankle tied to the wagon the man had brought, and he feels his heart ache. “If she's your cousin...”
Arthur nods. “When the medicine is ready and she's going back, have her take back enough food to take with her: if she needs a mule give it to her, I'll pay for it.”
If she's your cousin, Arthur hadn't said, her family possibly doesn't have beds and most likely they don't have enough food. But sometimes – only sometimes – Arthur does have enough care about his words not to say them out loud.
Merlin beams, because this is one of the many reasons why he's sure that Arthur will be a great king. Arthur nods to himself again before he turns around, walking towards the castle, climbing the steps two at a time, in the way he acts when he's feeling awkward and not wanting to show it.
Merlin grins before he approaches Rowena, who is still talking in soft whispers to the girl. The girl, with dirty blonde hair and dirty clothes that don't quite fit doesn't answer, though, and Merlin wonders if she understands her (the trader's accent, Merlin had heard, was rough, his Common more than a little coarse: who was to know where the slave girl came from, or if the trader had even cared about teaching her how to speak), because she just looks at the trader and then at them with her dark brown eyes, and then she moves again, as if trying to stop the chain around her ankle from hurting her. Merlin notices that the trader has brought some animals still alive as well. Birds locked inside little cages, rabbits, and the one the young girl is petting, a badger that blinks at the brightness of the day. The girl doesn't accept Rowena's apple, but she leavesit on the floor, near her, easy for the child to pick it up if she wanted.
“We need to go,” he tells Rowena, smiling at the girl, because even if she doesn't understand them, a smile is universal, or so has his mother told him since he was young.
Rowena stands up with a grace that betrays that she's not a commoner's cousin, but thankfully she's dressed like one and that distracts from almost everything. She allows Merlin to steer her towards the castle and the servant's wing, but she keeps on looking over her shoulder towards the little girl who, Merlin notices once he turns to look as well, has picked up the apple.
“That child,” Rowena starts, her voice dreamy.
“Rowena? That child what?”
“I wonder,” Rowena tells him, and then she remains quite for the rest of the day.
The first day of the tournament goes well: Arthur moves up, of course, as if anyone had ever suspected anything else. Gwen laughs at the enthusiasm Merlin shows, as if he could hide how much he enjoys the fights, how much he thrills when Arthur comes victorious from the fights, sweaty and perhaps bruised but very much triumphant, grinning in that happy way that doesn't show as often as it should on the crowned prince's face, but that has started to appear much more often since Merlin came to Camelot.
And then come the feasts, which is the part that Morgana enjoys, coveting news about distant lands like one covets a treasure. Gwen has teased her once or twice about her hunger for adventure, and Morgana has only laughed warmly at her.
Gwen, well. She enjoys both parts just fine, because she's a blacksmith's daughter so she knows that after a tournament her father will have more work to do and that is always good, and then she also enjoys the thrill of a fight. Fate has her a girl, yes, but since her mother died at childbirth and her father had to raise her, Gwen sometimes thinks that he raised her half as a son and half as what he thought a girl was like. But she is also a maid at king Uther's castle, meaning that she has been taught how to speak and how to bow and how to help Morgana into dresses, so that she can appreciate the silk gowns the ladies wear, or the way the guest knights move around with their capes, with their swords.
"You're staring," Merlin whispers at her, and Gwen nudges at him with her elbow. She wasn't quite staring, no. It's just that Arthur has been talking with sir Gryffindor for the last half hour, and their laughter is contagious. Sir Godric is loud but somehow not completely irritating by that, and he commands attention to himself in a way that reminds Gwen of Arthur, and it's almost, almost as if they could be brothers, or at least relatives which, she thinks, they're not, or at least not direct relatives. Arthur makes a joke and Godric throws his head backwards as he roars a laugh, almost as if he was the lion that shows upon his shield.
"I am not," she tells him, looking around to see if his cousin is there. But no, quiet Rowena with her eyes that somehow remind her of Morgana is by the other side, holding a tray, yes, but looking out through the windows towards the sky. "Is she alright, Merlin?"
"Mmmm? Oh, Rowena. Yes, yes," Merlin adds frantically. Gwen wonders if he notices what a rotten liar he is, but that is a matter for another time. "She's just, you know. Worried."
That, she can believe. But there is something else going on with the girl, Gwen thinks. She could believe she's worried about her father, about having to help her cousin while she waits for Gaius to finish the medicine. But there is something in the way she looks and moves that doesn't speak of worry. At least no worry like Gwen has ever known.
"Has Gaius seen her?" She asks Merlin, frowning. "I mean, if her father is sick, are you sure she isn't carrying the disease with her? She looks very pale, Merlin."
Merlin opens his mouth to answer, but then Uther stands up in the middle of the room, calling attention to himself.
"In this night, for the pleasure of your entertainment, I give you -- the panthere."
The door open and everyone moves aside, gives room as the trader that has been sitting at the marketplace comes inside, and the tiny blonde girl that serves him walks in as well, dressed in a brilliant colored gawn of blacks and golds that show how pale she is. She's standing on top of the multicolored beast, but on her hands, and she rolls on top of it with an easiness that Gwen remembers from being a girl. The animal moves lazily but it roars, even as the girl seems to be praying, small whispers breaking free as she does her tricks.
The man, standing tall and huge like a bear himself, cracks his whip and both the little girl and the animal seem to wince. But the girl jumps down from his back and then she seems to dance, twisting her arms and herself in a way that Gwen wonders if it hurts, the panthere circling her as if it was about to attack, but it never pounces. The girl says nothing at all, her eyes cast to the floor, but as she's doing another cartwheel her foot gets stuck to the skirt of her gown and she trips. Gwen doesn't hear her complain, and even when the man cracks her whip and the girl tries to stand again she cannot. The whip cracks again and this time the girl does cry out loud when she puts her foot against the floor before she collapses.
The beast of a man raises his arm with the whip. Gwen feels her throat close. That brute of a man is going to hit that little girl that is barely standing at about four feet if, and she's moving forward, she realizes, even as she hears Arthur's voice giving a command, and Morgana's, and--
"That's enough, good sir," sir Godric informs the man. He's tall for his age as well, but still the man easily has his head on him. Godric doesn't let go of his wrist, though, glaring at the man. "Let the girl go."
The girl. Gwen turns to look again, but Merlin's cousin has reached for her first. She has wrapped her arms tightly around the young girl, tucking her close against her, a hand to her head and the other one around the tiny form that's shivering and trembling. Godric's cousin, lord Slytherin, has approached them as well, standing between them and the man, his sword still on it's sheath but his hand is ready, waiting for a command from lord Gryffindor.
The man seems to consider actually hitting Godric for a moment, powerful fist clenching tight before Uther stands up and the guards stand besides the man.
"Surely you won't attempt what would be shown as treason against one of my knights," Uther states clearly. Gwen doesn't have to turn around to hear the click of armor from the guards, she doesn't have to turn to see that most men must have their hands on the hilts of their swords.
The man seems to think better about it and he deflates, bowing towards Godric and then towards Uther.
"Mine," he says, motioning towards the girl. "I take it and go."
"Majesty, I apologize, but I cannot bear to see a child being abused," Godric adds him. He turns towards the man with such a look of contempt that Gwen has to blink, even as he reaches to the coin bag a this belt. He counts out loud and shows ten golden coins and five silver. "I believe this should cover the price for your slave."
It is more than enough. Gwen has seen slaves being traded by a third of that, and this is just a young girl who might, perhaps, grow to be beautiful with enough food if she doesn't have any diseases as of now, but that is yet to be seen. And Godric is paying in front of the king. The trader would have to be an idiot to try and negotiate this
Gwen gets to see the way the man's face twists in rage before he bows, snatching the coins from Godric's hand before he goes back towards his animal. Animal that, only now she realizes, remained calm during this whole ordeal instead of becoming scared. The man pulls at the leash but the animal will not bulge, remains close towards the little girl.
Gwen sees Rowena press a kiss to the girl's forehead, and then the girl whispers something -- she must not know Common because Gwen doesn't understand her at all, but after her words, the animal just turns around and goes peacefully enough.
“Other than very hungry and extremely tired, she's fine,” Gaius informs everyone of the present and, as if to make sure they understand, he hands the young girl a whole loaf of bread. The poor little thing takes it, huge golden eyes terrified and she glances around before she looks at Rowena, who smiles and nods. It's only then that the girl takes a huge bite of the bread, barely pausing before she takes another. If Gaius had to bet, he would say that she hasn't eaten in at least a day.
“Praise the Lord,” lord Slytherin mutters, apparently quite taken with the girl, standing close to where Rowena is sitting besides her. Merlin is smiling as well, apparently thrilled by the turn, which reminds Gaius of the talk he decided not to have with Merlin concerning his cousin. But that's one thing, and another completely different is, well.
“Merlin, a word.”
“Sure, Gaius,” Merlin smiles to the girl as well, bows his head a little towards lord Gryffindor and then he joins him. Gaius busies himself making the unguent for the girl's ankle, whispering. “Do you have any idea what that girl is, Merlin?”
Merlin opens his eyes wide, turning to look towards the girl who is, mercy, finally sharing a small smile with lord Slytherin, even though she's still tucked against Rowena's side. Sir Godric is also smiling, apparently amused by this.
“I... no,” Merlin starts, then looking at her. “Don't tell me she's some sort of demon.”
“She could be,” Gaius whispers again. “I'm pretty certain she's a Saxon, Merlin. Our people and the Saxons don't like each other very much. Then again, the same could be said about druids.” Gaius adds with a pointed look at Rowena, which causes Merlin to blush.
“But she's so young!” Merlin starts out loud, Gaius shushing him. Merlin then whispers. “Are you sure? I mean, she can't be older than, oh. Ten. Twelve if she's very, very small.”
“Merlin, if Uther finds out there might be a Saxon inside Camelot, he won't be happy about it,” Gaius tells the boy, trying to add the urgency of this. “He might not kill her if he's not sure, but you can be sure that the girl will spend the rest of her very short life inside a cell.”
“... okay, that's no good,” Merlin mutters to himself, looking towards the girl, then towards Rowena, and then towards the two lords who are now making idle chat with two of Camelot's sworn enemies. He seems to ready himself. “Uhm. Milord Gryffindor, if you'll pardon me... about the girl...?”
“I'm... wondering, what do you intend to do with her?” Merlin asks carefully, with much more deference than he usually has with Arthur. It's fortunate, Gaius thinks, that the crown prince of Camelot isn't present, or he'd be sure to mention that, and a quarrel would start again.
Rowena seems to hold her closer, which scares the girl again, making her drop her bread, clinging to Rowena's borrowed gown. Gaius sighs.
“Well, I did pay for her,” lord Gryffindor says, but then he smiles and shrugs; lord Slytherin rolls is eyes at that, kneeling to pick up the bread and offer it to the girl again. “But since your cousin seems quite taken with her, I wouldn't dare to tear them apart.”
“... I thank you, my lord,” Rowena murmurs, and she bows her head. Gaius has always been enthralled by the druids and their almost royal grace, but at the moment he hopes that the two lords don't think anything suspicious about a simple servant girl being as educated as a lady.
“It was my pleasure,” sir Gryffindor adds, bowing. “Right, Sal?”
“... yes,” the boy adds, but he doesn't seem that glad about having to leave the young girl.
Merlin had been quite certain that the girl was one of the persons Rowena had been meant to meet before she told him, her smile bright and eager.
“She speaks the animals tongues,” Rowena says, caressing the girl's golden hair. “That's why she was with that man, I'm sure.”
“You mean you don't understand her?” Merlin asks.
Rowena shakes her head no. “I know she has magic, but it is not one I'm familiar with, the same with her words.”
“Well, if we could at least know her name...” Merlin smiles at the girl, which at least made her smile as well. She has a truly pretty smile, and Merlin thinks that once she wins some weight back, she's going to be very, very cute. “Okay, I have an idea. Me? Merlin,” he says, putting his hands on his chest, then moving both hands to point at Rowena. “Rowena. Can you say that? Ro-we-na. And you are--”
He repeats the motions a few times, 'Merlin', 'Rowena', then pointing towards the girl. She finally nods, a little hesitant before she answers a hesitant: “Helga.”
“Helga? Such a pretty name!” Merlin says, beaming. The girl probably doesn't understand him but she giggles, and she takes Rowena's hands when Rowena offers them. “So, are you ready then, Rowena? If you are, you should probably go before...”
“... not yet, I'm afraid,” Rowena says, which was what Merlin had been afraid of and he groans. “I think I know who the people I'm here to meet are, but it's still no time for Helga and me to go to them.”
“Patience, Emrys,” Rowena says, her eyes once again doing the distant-and-sage thing that Merlin really finds scary-looking. “In time, all the pieces will arrange themselves.”
Merlin huffs, and he must have done something funny because Helga giggles again, and of course it's his luck that Helga doesn't call him Merlin but Emrys.
No-one is surprised when Godric and Arthur end up being the finalists. It is a little surprising, perhaps, that the other lord has quite a following inside Camelot, something about him being gallant and kind, and the news about how he stopped the trader (who collected his things and left town the same day Godric bought Helga) have run wild around town, making him as much of an hero as Arthur is.
“I don't mind,” Arthur says in the haughty kind of voice that tells Merlin that he cares a little, but not as much as he could as he secures his armor before the duel starts: the day is cold and gray and the only reason why everyone is out in such a dreadful weather is because of the fight. “It's good to have a worthy opponent once in a while.”
“I'm sure you'll win anyway, sire” Merlin tells Arthur confidently.
Arthur huffs, but Merlin catches his smile anyway.
What Merlin doesn't tell Arthur, of course, is that it's a shame that there has to be one loser, because both are so very worthy of winning, and he finds no fault in Godric. During the last few days, Godric and his cousin have been a constant visitor at Gaius place, ready to visit both Helga and Rowena, and Godric hasn't seemed to care carrying Helga on top of his shoulders, making her laugh. There is also the part where Merlin is almost positive that he did so to win Rowena's favor of sorts, but as far as he has seen, it hasn't moved from that. Salazar, also, seems quite at ease with both women, talking slowly, his foreign accent almost making him sound as if he hissed as he talked.
As he comes near to the arena, he finds Godric kneeling down, Salazar holding his shield and sword, Godric's helmet under his own arm.
“Can I have a kiss?” Godric asks. Helga looks around, confused, but then Godric pulls Salazar close, kissing his cheek: that makes Salazar blush and stutter, calling his cousin something probably very unfitting of his rank. It doesn't matter much, because Helga giggles, hiding her smile behind her hands before she nods, tiptoing so she can press a kiss to Godric's cheek.
There's something there, Merlin thinks, something that he can't quite point his finger at. He sees the four of them and his eyes almost wants to glaze over, the way it happens when he witnesses a magical miracle of sorts. Godric stands up and he looks at Rowena, and Rowena, folding her hands on Helga's shoulders, just raises an eyebrow, as if daring him to ask for the same. But Godric just clears his throat before he nods, bowing his head before he walks towards the center of the arena, just before it starts to downpour and Uther orders the fight to be postponed until the next day, with the weather hopefully more merciful.
Merlin is having his favorite dream, green lands everywhere around him, the sound of water and music and the sun shining warm on him when he feels himself being shaken away. There's two frantic sets of voices calling him 'Emrys', and when he opens his eyes he sees Rowena frowning, her raven on her shoulder and Helga's fearful expression back on her face.
“Wha--” it's the first thing in his mind, not quite ready to stand up from the floor.
Helga breaks down into the gibberish she speaks, but this time as fast as she can so that Merlin, that had been sort of translating the sounds of her language by pointing and mixing can't even try to understand her. He turns to look towards Rowena, but her expression is also grim.
“The shadows are coming,” she tells him, and Merlin gives up on the idea of sleep, pushing the blankets away. “I do not know what is happening, but the stars predict death upon us.”
“Why can't the stars ever predict something nice for a change?” Merlin mutters before he shakes his head. Focus, he needs focus. “What do we know?”
Helga pulls at his sleeve, and Merlin turns to look at her. Looking as frustrated as she's scared, Helga crawls quickly towards the table where he hides his grimoire, pushing it away to take it, and Merlin has no idea how she knew that was there because not even Rowena seemed to know it was there by her expression.
“How did you... never mind,” Merlin interrupts himself, accepting the book and opening it, but when the girl looks at him expectantly, he has to shrug. “I have no idea what I'm supposed to be looking for.”
The girl shrills again, her frustration evident before she starts turning the pages herself, muttering in her language. Then she points towards a drawing of something that looks part rat and part lizard, its fur a deep red color. Merlin reads out loud:
“Leontophone, a small animal that kills lions. But there are no lions in Camelot,” Merlin starts, but the girl keeps pointing towards her ankle and then towards the book and Merlin pales when he remembers that, if they go by the shields of arms, at the moment Camelot does have a lion inside its gates. “Rowena, is that what you saw?”
She shakes her head no. “I see the danger Godric might suffer, but it is Camelot the one in my visions of darkness.”
And that's when he hears the scream.
“I saw them,” Morgana assures, still in her nightgown, leaning against Uther's side. “It's almost lethal folds of darkness, coming nearby. They where here...”
“My dear, the storm is affecting your mood,” Uther says kindly. Merlin really, really wishes that he didn't know that Morgana's dreams have this pesky thing of coming out and becoming real, but he still glances around.
Arthur, who's more known for giving Morgana's dreams the benefit of doubt at least, looks around, and then he leans close to the window.
“What the... guards!”
Merlin leans to look as well, and by the way he hears Helga gasp, he gathers that she did the same. The trader is standing there, in the middle of the courtyard, as tall and imposing as he was a few days ago, and he's glancing up at them. But somehow he's much scarier now, with his dark clothes and the water of the storm surrounding him, and then he opens both arms and his cloak and even he seems to dissolve into moving shadows that slither through the courtyard and up inside the castle.
“Morgana, go back to your room and lock the door there; Arthur, give the alarm. There's a wizard inside the castle.”
As Uther strides to take Morgana back to her rooms, Merlin rushes to Arthur's side.
“Take your cousin and that girl with Morgana, Merlin, and stay there protecting them,” Arthur orders, not waiting for him to say yes before he goes away, which is the only reason why Merlin doesn't even bother trying to feel bad for disobeying.
Because yes, there is a wizard inside the castle, and right now he has to take care that the other warlock doesn't harm anyone inside.
Finding shadows in a dark castle is much more harder than you can imagine, and Merlin would have been stuck for hours they didn't have if not for the fact that Helga could understand animals, and thus she guided them right there where the mice were running away and with good reason, Merlin thought: it wasn't that these creatures were scary looking. They seemed like shadows moving on the floor, folds of darkness as Morgana had called them.
It had more to do with the fact that you felt despair by being near them. Merlin heard Helga moan and fall down, completely pale. Even Rowena seems affected, and Merlin can't clear his head enough to try and think of something to stop them.
When all he can hear where screams, he suddenly sees a light and the feeling of despair left. He turns around as he hears what is most definitely a spell, jaw dropping as he sees Salazar casting the spell again.
“They're weak against light attacks,” the lord tells him, and Merlin hasn't quite gotten his jaw to get back to working, but he manages.
“Yes,” Salazar says, hissing the 'S' a little, which makes Merlin feel almost like an idiot, as if he had been just stating that the sky is blue.
“I really don't think that we have the time to go through this at the moment, nor that it is safe to discuss it inside these walls,” the lord says which. Okay, does have a point.
Helga, who has also gotten over the stupor created by the creatures has turned to look at him and at Slytherin, and Merlin can understand her enough to know she's asking about Godric.
“Where is sir Godric?” Merlin asks.
“He was the one to discover their weakness about the light, so we separated to stop the creatures from killing everyone,” Salazar says before he frowns. “Is he in danger?”
Merlin opens his mouth to answer, ready to tell him about the creature that kills lions and that he doesn't want to bet on it being symbolical enough or not, but then he hears Arthur scream, and panic runs through Merlin's veins.
“Go,” Rowena tells him. “I will explain everything.”
Later, or if there is a later, Merlin will make the mental note to apologize to her for his manners, but at the moment Merlin runs as fast as he can, casting light spells when he catches sight of the slithering shadows, trying not to think of the times when they unwrap themselves around a body that is more likely dead, empty eyed and mouth open in a silent scream. Arthur, he thinks, and by the second floor he leans against a window to see that Arthur is fighting against that brute of a Trader, and he's not only fighting but losing, since he's surrounded by those shadows; Merlin rushes towards him but he's already feeling the symptoms of being near those shadows: the lack of breath, feeling worthless, remembering Will's death. He can't do a thing, he's useless, Arthur will die because he can't think of a way to stop those creatures from sucking his very soul and--
Helga screams. Merlin sees pass right in front of him the rat-lizard, only that he hadn't been aware that it was the size of a cat rather than a mouse. And behind the girl Rowena is also running, and the two of them run right to the courtyard where Arthur is fighting, and at least the scream of the girl seems to awaken some of Arthur's chivalry from above the darkness of his heart. He gains strength again, but Merlin knows it won't last much, and he can't think of a single spell to help.
But Rowena, even as she wraps her arms around Helga, both their cloaks soaked and sticking to them has began to cast a spell out loud, her eyes shining like a star: as she does this, the shadows surrounding the Trader begin to merge, and Merlin Merlin would have recognized this as sorcery even before he had come to Camelot. Merlin sees Helga open her arms for the leontophone, hugging it tightly before it freezes, turning into a harmless red statue.
The Trader... no not a Trader anymore but a monster that was once a human but has no more soul is still standing, even as Rowena keeps on chanting with Helga, and all this happened where they are surrounded by knights and he has no way of hiding, no way of aiding them without making sure that they discover his secret, and this wasn't supposed to happen, Rowena and Helga will now be killed and Merlin keeps looking around to try and see if some inspiration strikes, or divine help, or something that--
A huge silver lion jumps forward out of the sudden, tearing at the once man with its teeth. It roars, once, and Merlin stares because that was amazing, fantastic, unique and he didn't do it. The chaos is everywhere as the spell that darkness commanded is broken, as Uther orders the guards to capture the sorceress now. Merlin takes advantage of the confusion to slip away, trying to either remember a spell so that he can disappear them or create a new one, but before he has even started trying to think about what would be needed for an invisibility spell, he sees sees a hand coming of nowhere and he sees the owner of that hand the girls with him, making them disappear.
As soon as that happens, the huge silver lion which had kept the guards at bay roars, just once, before it disappears.
Merlin almost, almost decides to collapse there but instead he rushes towards the room where he was supposed to be before Arthur goes there to check on him and his cousin and oh god please let them be there or it's going to take a lot of skill he doesn't have to lie to Arthur about that.
Arthur is most definitely not pouting. Really. Despite the laughter in Morgana's voice, he is not pouting.
He takes Godric's left hand with his own, smiling.
“I hope you know that I'm expecting a rematch,” he tells the knight, glancing towards his bandages right arm which had meant that Godric had had to give up the fight. It's good that Merlin had to go with his cousin to take her to her town. It wouldn't do to have his murmurs at the moment.
“I was hoping you'd say that, milord. Although, perhaps by next time you'll also fight my cousin.”
The boy who is still looking entirely too grim and serious. Arthur had thought that the fight of two nights ago might have caused some sort of reaction, but he's still looking at him as if he was an enemy. Still, he smiles and bows his head a little.
“I'll be looking forward to that as well, lord Slytherin.”
“And thank you both for your help,” he tells them. “I do not know how many more we would have lost without your courage.”
“It's the least we could do,” Godric says with another smile. It's a shame that they live so far away and that lord Lionel Gryffindor only has Godric as a son. He would have made a fine knight in Camelot. “I pray that the next time we cross each other might be more fortunate.”
“I pray for the same thing.”
Godric grins, bows at Morgana and kisses her fingertips before he hoists himself, only almost losing balance for a moment before he manages to get the reins of his horse in one hand, and then he and his cousin leave Camelot at once.
“Our mothers are sorcerers,” Godric tells Merlin. “It's a secret, of course.”
That is, of course, the understatement of the year. Merlin feels his jaw, once again, stuck to his knees, even as he listens to Godric's cheerful retelling of his secret life as a warlock.
“Father has no idea. But uncle Balthazar is also a sorcerer.”
“Hispania's laws are much more friendly for our kind.” Salazar says.
“Which is why Sal hated coming here.”
“Coming to that murderer's land...” Salazar huffs, but Godric laughs, which causes Helga to laugh as well. Merlin realizes she is quite taken with him, which makes him shake his head a little. There is simply too much to take and not enough time.
“See, I know all that, but still. I think Arthur will be a fine king,” Godric shrugs. “So we have to hide as of now, and it is indeed bothersome, but there isn't much we can do now. I keep thinking there should be some sort of shelter for our kind, but...”
He shrugs. Rowena smiles, and she's doing again that creepy thing where she knows something she's not saying.
“Anyway, Sal's taking them with him to Hispania when he goes back in a month. It'll be much easier for him to protect them there, and he might even get a chance to find about Helga's parents.”
Merlin nods, but he can't help but feel a little bit sad. It was nice to have other sorcerers nearby to talk with, people who still practiced magic and who knew what it meant to have to hide.
He turns towards Rowena.
“But you won't come back to your people. Is that alright?”
“No,” Rowena answers, looking at the perfectly clear blue sky. “The stars have whispered to me. I will come back to this land. We all will, when magic is restored here.”
Rowena smiles at him, Claw on her shoulder, cawing, and it's still the creepy thing, but Merlin feels better this time with it. “We will see each other again, Merlin. Trust me.”
“G'Bye, Emrys!” Helga chirps, waving her hand back from Godric's horse. “G'Bye! G'Bye!”
Merlin waves goodbye as well, and as he watches the four wizards go away, Merlin thinks about Rowena's words, and he hopes for them come true.