The Nightmare Begins
I don't own Angel or Merlin
Thanks to deitclast, my betaThe Ruins of My Kingdom To Come
Chapter 8: The Nightmare Begins
“So. We've been here long enough, Illyria, for you to make plans.” Wesley noted cooly, not looking up from his notebook. It was the one notebook he'd had on him when they'd vanished from Wolfram and Hart into the past, and for that matter, he was writing with his last pen. He wasn't looking forward to using quills, inkwells and parchment. He'd have to do that soon though. The notebook was crammed full of his handwriting, his many observations and insights into this new world. Insights into Illyria, Arthur, Morgana, Merlin, Uther, Gaius and more. This whole time. He was of a mind to ensure his notes eventually reached the early form of the Watchers Council, still rebuilding from the remnants of its Roman predecessor, making contact with similar groups elsewhere in the world.
“Many plans.” Illyria confirmed. “None that I would share with you.” Biting back her frustration, she continued. “I wish to do violence.” Her voice was as cool and toneless as ever.
“You've been saying that ever since we arrived in Camelot. Over and over and over again, like petulant child demanding a new toy.” He set down his pen and looked up at her, closing the notebook. “Besides, you killed Sigan. That was only a week ago.”
“One death in the entire time we have been here. And it was, as you say, a week ago. That is not enough.”
“Illyria.” Wesley looked pointedly at her. “If you wish to get along in this new world that we find ourselves in, you're going to need to get around this urge to kill you've suddenly acquired since we've arrived in the past. You didn't go around demanding the chance to kill back in Los Angeles.”
“I am not a being controlled by urges as you are. I do what I will, because I will, not because of urges beyond my control. Control is what I am.”
“You are not a human controlled by biological and emotional urges, you mean. Except, of course, for the fact that in many ways you are a human. And even more so since I sapped much of your power with the Mutari Generator.”
“Watch your words, Wesley.” Illyria replied, in that same cool tone, voice flat, emotionless. But Wesley saw it. Saw the fire dance across her eyes, just for a moment.
“Don't think I haven't noticed your growing frustration.” He pointed at her. “And that, just now. That was anger. How does that feel?”
“I told you to watch your words.” There was no fire this time. She looked away from him, walking to the window. Opening it, she let the moonlight and starlight spill into the room, though the thunderstorm brought water with it, spattering some into the room. “You have your own plots and plans in motion as well, Wesley. Mine are not up for discussion, but yours are. I will not have my Qwa'ha Xahn working at cross-purposes to me.”
“I have a better idea. You tell me what you think I'm planning, and then we'll go from there.”
“I have no interest in games, Wesley.”
“But games are all we have.” Wesley shrugged and stood. “My plans are simple. Survive and record. I don't have anything particular in mind, for the time being. I spoke the truth when I told Gaius and Merlin that what I want, in many ways, is a chance to rest. I haven't really had that in five years.”
“Wesley, if you had true rest, with nothing to occupy your mind, your head would implode.” Illyria was wearing Fred's face, spoke in her voice, as she said that, then returned to her normal in-between appearance.
“I thought I told you not to do that.”
“I don't take orders from you. And the point stands. You're not simply resting, observing. You need something to actually do.”
“Think what you will.” Wesley replied, turning to the door.
“Don't think I haven't noticed, Wesley. You have been choosing your words carefully around the warlock, and the seer. What is your plan?”
“I wouldn't call it a plan.” Wesley replied cooly as he turned around. “Rather, its a fancy. A whim.” At her look, he shrugged. “Call it...a little bit of romanticism. In my own way, despite my poor luck, I'm a sucker for happy endings. Especially given the dearth of them in my life, and in the lives of those around me.”
Illyria let out an all too human scoff and turned back to the window. It was moments later when the scream came, and the glass clattered on the cobblestones of the courtyard.Well now. That cuts the conversation off at just the right time.
Ignoring Illyria, Wesley turned out of the room. Things were moving.
Merlin didn't bother to look like he wasn't paying attention as he cleaned up the burnt bits of Morgana's bedding or the glass, listening to the conversation around him. The sun streamed in through the empty window, creating a false illusion of pleasant atmosphere.
“I came back in with some extra blankets.” Gwen explained calmly, biting her lip against her nerves. “There was a candle, but I put it out.”
“Are you sure.” Uther drew close, looking at her, accusing.
“I blew it out, I swear.” Gwen protested, voice raising a little.
Arthur, arms crossed in front of him, cut in. “Gwen's been Morgana's servant for years. If she said she blew it out, I believe her.”
Uther turned his piercing gaze to his son. “She could have been burned alive.”
“Lightning struck the castle roof last night.” Arthur countered, one arm pointing in the direction of the offending part of the building. “That could've started the fire.”
Uther looked away, pensive. “Perhaps.”
Arthur spread his hands wide, pointed upwards. “What other explanation is there?”
“Someone started the fire deliberately.” Uther didn't wait for a response before he turned for the door, Arthur following after him. Merlin finished the cleaning and hurried after the prince. Uther was moving quickly enough that Arthur found walking alongside difficult. “How did they reach Morgana's chambers unchallenged?”
Arthur shrugged, at a loss. “I don't know. There are too many guards. It shouldn't be possible.”
“And yet they managed to do so.”
“I can't explain it.” The Prince shrugged again.
“Well I can.” Uther answered, drawing up short. “They used magic. Arrest all those we have under suspicion.”
'all?' Arthur gaped a moment, his face written with shock. “That's going to take time.”
Uther turned to his son, stepping in close, barely any space between then. “My ward has been attacked. Time is something we do not have.”
ATS-Merlin-ATS-Merlin-ATS-MerlinWhy does he insist that Morgana can't be told?
Merlin couldn't understand what Gaius was thinking, why he was insisting... Morgana wasn't a stupid woman. She would figure it out....or if she wasn't careful, she would lose control of her magic and end up using it in front of people who shouldn't see it.I know. I was there.
He'd been where Morgana was now. Even if she wasn't there yet, she'd be there soon. Fear, doubt...it was a hole you could dig yourself into, so deep you could never come out.
“Flowers, Merlin? And whoever for?” Wesley asked from an alcove. “A certain King's ward, perhaps?”
Merlin turned to face him. Ever since he'd arrived, Wesley was everywhere half the time, and nowhere at all the other half, it seemed like. Either he was always around when you didn't need to find him, but if Gaius ever sent him to find the man, he was never around...it got frustrating, quickly. “What is it to you? And for that matter, what is anything to you. You're always around, saying strange things. You're up to something. What I can't figure out is what.”
“Of course I'm up to something. But if I told you what it was, you wouldn't understand. As to what it is to me, nothing, really. Just making conversation.”
“Why do I get the feeling that you could 'just make conversation' all the way to taking over the kingdom, if you put your mind to it?”
“Because I probably could make a convincing go at it it.” Wesley admitted. “Words have power. They have the greatest power. The power to plant ideas. The power of one truth. The power of the words of friends to eachother.”
“You're not making sense.” He paused, looking away for a moment. “No, you are making sense...in a sort of roundabout way. This philosophy, isn't it? Like in some of Gaius' books.”
“In a manner of speaking.” Wesley replied. “Tell me, what do you think about this? Morgana knows, doesn't she?”
Merlin looked around. The hallway was empty, no guards, no other servants. He nodded. “She might. She suspects...but she's afraid.”
“Afraid? Of what? Just...being found by the king? I suppose that's a great deal to be afraid of, given his track record.”
Merlin shook his head. “No...I don't think that's occurred to her yet.” Why am I telling him this...he's...
Yes, Wesley was probably up to something. But this...he couldn't talk to Gaius about it. Gaius had made up his mind...And I...I can't. What's right? He has reasons – good reasons...But...
“Right now...” Merlin trailed off. “She's questioning her sanity. She's wondering if she's lost control of her senses.”
“How do you know this?”
“Because I've been there!” Merlin said, voice raised. “I know what she's going through. I'm the only one here who knows.” He realized how loud he was speaking. “I'm the only one who can help her.” He added softly.
Wesley raised an eyebrow. “Oh?” He stepped out of the alcove he'd been standing in, brushing past Merlin. Without turning, he added. “The question is then, Merlin, why don't you?” Without waiting for an answer – one Merlin didn't have anyway – he walked off, whistling a merry tune. Merlin didn't know it, but it was the one he'd whistled after that conversation about the stars he'd had with Morgana, just a few nights ago...
The storm was back again this night. Or another storm. Regardless, it was raining, thunder and lightning crashing around, an assault on the eyes and ears, even inside the castle as he was.
Merlin cupped his hand around the back of a candle, leaned in and blew it out, then did the same to another. Before he could move on to the rest, the door flew open, Morgana coming through as if it hadn't even been there, wearing only a nightgown. Despite himself, Merlin noticed it, for all of a second, before he looked back up at her face.
“Is Gaius here?” Morgana asked, a note of...desperation in her voice. I was right...
“Uh...No, he's not here at the moment.” Merlin said, thoughts racing...here was a chance...she had to have...something else had happened tonight...what? He needed to help her...But if I do...I can't...but...
Gaius told him he couldn't...and he had a point. It might be safer, for the both of them...but Uther was rounding up suspected magic users, all because of this...if she didn't get control of her talent...more incidents...Morgana is my friend. Whatever else she is – Uther's ward, a noblewoman...she's my friend. I can help her. I'm the only one in this castle who can actually help her, rather than just try to bury the problem and hope it goes away.
“Should be back soon.” Merlin finished. His mind, still torn.
“I need to speak to him.” Morgana demanded...or pleaded...it was...she did both, even, as she walked towards him. “Where is he?”
“He's gone to see the King.” Merlin answered. This close...he could see it. The fear in her eyes, the barely kept back tears...I don't...was it this bad for me, when it happened?
Merlin didn't think so.... But then, I didn't have Uther proclaiming the evils of magic every five minutes around me, executing people just for having magic...
“What's wrong?” Morgana opened her mouth...looked away and closed it, stepping back a pace from him. “You can trust me Morgana.” Can she?
“You know you can.” If she told him...it would...he had to do it. He had to help her. He swallowed the lump forming in his throat. She looked back towards him.
“I'm scared, Merlin. I don't understand anything anymore. I need to know what's happening. Please...” This time...it really was pleading, begging...Merlin saw it...understood...
“Gaius will be back soon...he'll be able to help you.” Merlin said softly, cursing himself. Stupid, stupid! Merlin, you have to- you need to-
Morgana shook her head, stepping towards him. Without thinking, Merlin took a step back himself. “He won't. I don't want any more remedies. They won't do any good.” She took another step, and so did Merlin. “Its magic, Merlin.”
“What?” Again, he screamed and railed at his own cowardice.
“I'm your friend. You know I wouldn't make this up.” That was certainly true...
“Of course.” He nodded
“And you believe me...You think its magic too...” Declarative...and a question...not of him...of it all...she wanted the answer, wanted to believe...did she see it, was it slipping in his expression....? “Please, Merlin. I just need to hear someone say it...” The pleading grew stronger.I have to...I have to help her.
Merlin took a slight breath, his mind made up.
“So I don't keep feeling like I'm imagining it.”
“You're not imaging it, Morgana.” Merlin said, voice as quiet as a dropping pin. “I don't just believe you. I know it. I know you have magic.”
“What-” Morgana couldn't help the relief in her voice...but.. “How- why- you say...”
“I know you have magic, Morgana.” He repeated. “I know it...because...” He reached out his hand to the two unlit candles and they sprang alight. “Because I have magic too.”
Morgana looked to the candles, to him...she looked past him a moment, wordless, soundless noise escaping her lips. “But-”
“Morgana.” Merlin cut into her conflict. “You have magic. You're not imaging it. You're not insane.” He swallowed, throat and mouth dry. “This isn't a curse. Having magic doesn't make you evil.”
“But magic-” A life of Uther's tutelage, living in Camelot in a land swept by the Great Purge... “It is a blight on the Kingdom. A force that can only be used for evil...”
Merlin put a hand onto her shoulder, Morgana's voice trailing off into silence. “Are you evil Morgana. Do you feel evil?” He couldn't let her crawl into the hole of fear, doubt...he'd spent time there...it was hard to come out. He didn't want her to go through that. “Do you want to overthrow Camelot? Kill Uther, Arthur? Do you want to hurt innocent people? You're the same person you have always been. You weren't evil last week...you aren't evil now.” He looked right into her eyes. “Last year, when the druid boy was here....you asked me something about magic. You asked: What if magic isn't isn't something you choose. What if it chooses you? Did you choose magic? Did you you study it? Ask for it? Learn it? No...Magic is yours, but not by your choice. Its part of you.”
Morgana looked at him, breathing in and out quickly, too quickly. She gulped for air, trying to breath deeply. “And you...your magic...it...?”
“I was born with it.” Merlin confirmed. “At first it was just...accidents, like what's happening now...instinct...sometimes it still is. But I learned to control it.” He reached to the candles he'd lit just before, and they went out, then they came back. “You're not crazy, Morgana. You're not evil. I've been where you are.”
“Merlin...” She said softly, looking at him, right into his eyes. “Help me...help me please
“Always, Morgana. Always.”