“I can’t lose him! He’s my friend!”
“There might be a way, young warlock.”
“I’ll take it. Whatever the consequences are, I’ll take it.”
“Are you sure? Are you sure you’re ready for all the pain and suffering you will have to face, should you choose it? Because there will be no way out once you’ve chosen it.”
“For Arthur, I’ll walk into the depths of Hell. Anything is better than the future I’d have to endure without him.”
“Then so be it.”
Matthew Charlus Potter wasn’t an ordinary child. This was something that he realised as soon as he was old enough to notice the world around him. He was only a week old when his magic first developed, still blissfully unaware of everything even when he moved his cot from the nursery to his parents’ room. He was only three months old when he could talk, and it took him just a couple month to make proper sentences as he tried to stand up all on his own. By the time he was ten months old, he was already running around the house, nearly giving his poor parents a couple heart-attacks every few months.
His parents, Fleamont and Euphemia Potter, noticed it as well, of course. But the couple only ever realised how powerful their first born was. They didn’t really think much about it, although they always bragged to everyone about their son’s brilliance. After all, he was the reason Euphemia had managed to give birth to not only one, but two children, and it was all thanks to Matthew’s accidental magic when he was still in her womb. It was a story his parents told him and his brother almost every night before bed time, a story that made his little brother James practically worshipped the ground he walked on. No one ever figured how and why exactly Matthew’s magic was so powerful. No one really cared anyway, passing it off just as a mere coincidence. But not Matthew though. He knew the exact answer.
All he needed was to close his eyes and relieved all his past lives – all twenty of them.
Because, before he was Matthew the young wizard, before he was Michael the soldier, before he was Marcus doctor, before all the other bloody names that started with the letter M, he was Merlin.
The Merlin the wizarding world had worshipped for over fourteen hundred years.
(Doomed to forever seek his King, who will never remember him until it is time for Albion’s greatest need.)
Fortunately for him, his waiting was coming to an end.
And no matter what horror the future had stored for him, as long as he had his Royal Prat with him, he was ready for anything.
“Why can’t I come with you?” Matthew’s baby brother whined, his lower-lip jutting out adorably. Despite being older only by two years, Matthew had always felt like he was much older than James.
Probably because technically, he really was.
“Because that’s the rules, kid,” the older Potter replied as he ruffled James’ hair. His answer, and the gesture, only made James even more upset.
“I hate rules!” James exclaimed, crossing his arms across his chest petulantly. “One day, when I get to Hogwarts, I’m going to break as many rules as I can as payback.”
“I have no doubt you will, Jamie,” Matthew laughed. When he saw his mother glared at him, Matthew couldn’t stop himself from laughing even harder.
“Don’t encourage your brother, Matt,” Euphemia said. “He’s already a little monster without you encouraging his pranking-tendencies.”
“Oh, let them be, love,” Fleamont said in his sons’ rescue. “I can still recall a certain girl who used to pull pranks on Professor Slughorn with a certain current Head House of Gryffindor.”
"You used to throw pranks on professors with the Professor McGonagall?” Both Matthew and James exclaimed, much to their mother’s utmost annoyance.
Turning her glare toward her husband, who let out a hearty chuckle, Euphemia said, “All right, James, let your brother go. It’s almost eleven and he needs to find a compartment.”
For the second time that day, James pouted as he crossed his arms together again. This time, he even stomped his leg dramatically to show that his tantrum was the Real Deal. “Why does Matthew have to go? Why can’t I go instead? It’s not like there’s anything he doesn’t know already. He can do wandless magic. He doesn’t need to go to school.”
The smile slipped from Matthew’s face at the same time a stern look took over Fleamont’s face. Lowering himself toward his younger son’s level, the old wizard said, “James, you know that we’re not supposed to talk about this. It’s a secret, remember? Between the four of us. No one, and I mean no one, can know about Matthew’s magic.”
James looked properly chastised, like he always did whenever he disappointed his parents and his big brother. He lowered his head in embarrassment, and when he spoke next, he was barely audible. “I’m sorry Dad, Mum, Matthew.”
“It’s okay. I get that you forgot. It’s perfectly normal,” Matthew said, giving his little brother a hug to convince the younger boy that he wasn’t angry at all. James seemed relieved, and hugged Matthew with all the love a nine-year-old could muster. It warmed Matthew’s heart.
“Promise to send me a Patronus before bed time?” James whispered in his brother’s ears, lest their parents would hear. The two brothers knew how their parents didn’t really like it when Matthew used his magic more than what was normal, for fear that people would take him away.
“I’ll bloody Apparate into your room, if you want me to,” Matthew said much to James’ joy, winking conspiratorially at his brother before he turned to hug his parents goodbye.
He boarded the train and managed to find an empty compartment rather easily. After he’d stored his trunk away, he opened his window and waved at his family, promising them that he would write a letter right away once he’d arrived at Hogwarts. He kept on waving, laughing heartily at the sight of his little brother running along side the train until it moved much too fast, and James had no choice but to stop and settle with waving his hands excessively. When he could no longer see his brother, Matthew closed his window and took a seat, sighing deeply as he did so. For the first time in eleven years, he was finally alone without his family bothering him every few seconds. Oh, he loved his family dearly, and would not hesitate to do everything for them. But sometimes, he desperately needed to be alone, and as a hearty bunch, none of his family members understood it.
Matthew’s eyes flashed golden, and a book came flying out of his trunk onto his lap. It was his journal, one that he kept for centuries to keep records of his life. It looked rather slim, but with a spell that only he knew, the book had endless pages that he’d filled throughout all his years. In his every life, since before the day he died just a week after his King’s death, he’d send the book to Avalon, and it would remain there until the moment in his next life when he remembered everything again. When he was reborn for the first time, about a hundred years after his death at the age of seventy, it took him almost thirty years until he finally found his beloved King. Through out the years, until he found the blond, he’d desperately hoped that he’d find his other friends, just so he wouldn’t be all alone. They never came though, no matter how hard he tried to look for them. When he finally found his King, he told himself that it was fine that he would never see his other friends again, as long as he had his King.
But the King – his King, his Royal Prat, his Arthur – didn’t remember him. Couldn’t remember him
He forgot him. Arthur forgot Merlin.
And every single time they met in all the next lives they got, Arthur never remembered who Merlin was, never remembered about the life they’d shared back before all of Albion became one.
That was the price that Merlin had to pay for changing their destiny.
Merlin thought he’d known pain when he’d almost lost his King that day after Camlann. But it was nothing compared to the pain of seeing the blank look in his beloved’s eyes, of having to introduce himself time and time again.
A sound of the compartment door being opened snapped Matthew back to present time, and he gently closed his journal to avoid anyone reading what was written on it. Although, seeing that he wrote his journal in Old English, he doubted that anyone would understand anything anyway. Lifting his head up to meet his friend-to-be, Matthew put on his best friendly smile, a cheerful greeting was ready at the tip of his tongue.
Only to find himself looking into the eyes of a familiar pair of blue eyes and a head of golden hair.
The same blue eyes and golden hair that had haunted his dream for fourteen hundred years.
"Merlin,” the blond whispered, and Matthew was nearly brought to tears. The way his name came rolling out of those lips, it felt like a gentle caress against his weary magic, like a warm hug around his tired soul.
It felt like coming home.
He was named Artorius this time round. Artorius Rigel Black.
Son of Cygnus Black the third and his wife Druella. Younger brother to Bellatrix and Andromeda Black. Older twin brother of Narcissa Black. Cousins to Sirius and Regulus Black.
Also, the first Gryffindor in the Black family.
“You always did hate following your father’s wishes,” Mat – no, Merlin said. They’d snuck out of the common room and went to the Room of Requirements, to have the long discussion about their long and many lives. He looked at the blond sitting across him with a wide grin on his face as he once again thanked his stars that he was finally given the chance to be the man he once was a very long time ago – with the man he’d waited ages to finally be together again.
“I’m officially off the tapestry, I think. Which is nice. I’m setting an example for Sirius and Regulus to follow,” Artorius said, who preferred to be called Rigel instead of his first name, a cheeky grin on his handsome face.
To everyone else, they would be known as Rigel and Matthew.
But when it just was the two of them, they were Arthur and Merlin.
Two sides of the same coin.
Arthur told him that he had just turned four when he remembered everything – all of his past lives, starting from being the High King of all Abion, to being a Colonel in the armed forces during the Muggle’s first World War, and a Major General in the second War just a few years later. He told Merlin how he spent the day of his birthday pushing back his tears, not wanting to worry his twin sister – who no doubt knew he was upset because she was always in tune with his emotions, but knew better than to confront him about it. When he went to bed that night, that was when the dam broke, and he cried himself till morning. As he recounted everything to Merlin, the former king had tears in his eyes when he told the young warlock how lonely he’d felt, and how he’d wished every night for Merlin – his truest friend, his other half. It didn’t even matter to him that in his current new life, he was the son of one of the most prestigious Pureblood families in all of Europe. He’d lived countless lives as something much horrible, becoming someone whom his old-self had hated so much seemed trivial to him compared to the fact that for the first time in ages, he was all alone, and was terrified of the prospect. Therefore, when Arthur found Merlin that day on the train, when he breathed out Merlin’s name reverently as if it was a prayer, he finally felt at peace.
The blond reassured Merlin though, that despite feeling morose for his whole life until he found Merlin again, Arthur lived in a relatively decent family. His family, Pureblood maniacs that they were, wasn’t as bad as his cousins’ family. His parents were strict and rather aloof, but even when his true-self as Arthur Pendragon came out, Cygnus and Druella let him off the hook most of the time with nothing more but a few harsh words. If he really were a kid for real, not someone who had been reborn many times in the past, their words would upset him greatly. But he was practically an adult – numerous adults – living in a child’s body. It wasn’t hard for him to ignore his parents’ scoldings. In fact, he grew up with minimum contact with his parents unless at meal times, and during special Pureblood occasions. Most of the time, he spent it with his sisters, whom he loved with all his life. But of course, he was especially close with his twin sister, Narcissa. With a fond look in his eyes, Arthur told Merlin that even though she had fair colouring, his twin reminded him a lot of their old friend Princess Mithian. Especially during all the few times he managed to convince her to come with her and leave the stupid Pureblood dinners their parents had dragged them into.
The only other people in his family that he cared for were his cousins, Sirius and Regulus. The moment he’d lain his eyes on Sirius, two years before his memories came back to him, Arthur swore to himself that he’d do all his best to protect Sirius, the boy who reminded Arthur strongly of their old friend Gwaine, from his horrible parents. Even at such a young age, Arthur had known that Orion and Walburga were terrible people. He’d never liked them, and this led to his decision to protect Sirius, and later Regulus when the younger Black was born. Whenever he could, he’d ask his parents to allow his cousins to stay over for a few days. He would play Quidditch with the boys, teach them of all the right morals and ideals his and their parents had never taught them, and whenever he could convince his personal House-Elf Nimmy, he’d take them to visit countless Muggle places to prove his point that Muggles and wizards were the same. Every time both boys came over, Arthur would make sure they were happy and taken care for. Merlin had a smile on his face as he watched the obvious fondness Arthur had for his cousins. They both shared a laugh when Arthur recounted how he taught his cousins all the pranks they threw on his sisters, much to the exasperation of Arthur’s parents at the display of rebellion.
“And how does it feel being a rebel, Sire? To do the complete opposite of what was expected of you, instead of following what everyone wanted you to do,” Merlin asked, smiling.
The smile Arthur returned to him was a beautiful sight to see. “It felt liberating. I know it’s been literal ages, but it feels good to finally be able to live without a care over Uther scrutinising on every single thing I do. Especially now that I have you. In every sense of the way, not only because you got Sorted in Gryffindor with me. I know even if tomorrow’s the end of the world, at least I’ll always have you by my side.”
Merlin’s grin, if possible, widened even more. “You know I’ll always be by your side, Arthur. You’re the only friend I ever had, and I couldn’t bare to lose you.”
Arthur let out a soft chuckle, both of them knew that Merlin had just quoted something Arthur said a long time ago. The blond sobered up quickly though, and he looked at Merlin solemnly. When he reached out to grab Merlin’s right hand, the secret-warlock couldn’t help himself when his heart beat a little faster.
“You know,” Arthur began, sounding a little nervous. “I do remember. All the lives we had. All the times when you were more than my friend.”
(They were in the middle of a war, and they were aware of the punishment they would get if their superiors ever found out about their relationship. But Michael had finally found his King, who was now named Archie. He just found his other half, and after eighty years since the last time they became a couple, they were finally together again. There was no way he’d let Archie go. Michael would do everything in his power to protect Archie, even if he had to risk exposing himself as a magical being - as a warlock.)
“Y-you do?” Merlin stuttered. At this point, judging from how fast his heart was beating, he wouldn’t be surprised if he somehow died of heart-attack.
“Yes,” Arthur answered softly. “And i-if you want to, we can be that…again. I mean, even though it’s still unusual, homosexuality in the wizarding world isn’t as frowned upon as it is in the Muggle world. As long as we keep it low-key, I-I suppose it will…um, it’ll be fine?”
Merlin looked at the face in front of him. The face of the man he’d loved for over a millennium. He looked at those blue eyes that Merlin always thought to be more breath-taking than any sky, at those lips he’d still remembered how they tasted against his during those lucky times when they’d become more than friends. He realised that physically, they were only eleven year olds. But Merlin had never felt like a child since his mother was Hunith, no matter how young he was. Looking at Arthur, he knew that the blond felt the same. And like every other time in the past, Merlin would never let him go. Especially not now. The end was near. He knew it was time. Even if he only had a few short years with Arthur, he’d take it.
The young warlock didn’t even realise he was crying until he felt Arthur gently wiping them off his cheek. Merlin’s breath hitched in his throat when he noticed how close Arthur was, and he almost missed the fact that Arthur was looking at him closely, worry in his blue eyes as he whispered, “Merlin? W-why are you crying? Did I…did I get it wrong? Don’t you w-want…this?”
Merlin let out a wet laugh as he scooted closer to hug Arthur, burying his face in the crook of the blond’s neck, even as he felt Arthur froze slightly against him. “Of course, I want this, you absolute clotpole. I’ve waited for over fourteen hundred years, you know. I want it. I want this. I want you."
“But why are you cry – ”
“I’m happy. Delighted. Joyous. Ecstatic. I mean, even though Kilgarrah had told me all those years ago that this day would come, I never really believed it, you know? Not after the I fifth time I was reborn and you still couldn’t remember me.”
The young warlock felt Arthur’s arms wrapped around him, and when he noticed how heavy the blond’s breathing was, Merlin realised that the former king was doing all his might to stop his own tears from falling. “I’m sorry,” Arthur said in that soft tone again. “I’m sorry that it took me so long to remember, that I left you alone for so long. I’m sorry for everything I’ve put you through. I’m sor – ”
“Sshh…” Merlin interjected his friend mid-sentence, rocking the blond gently in his arms. “It’s all right. It’s fine. You’re here now. With me. Everything’s going to be okay. And I swear, I’ll never leave you, Arthur. On my current family’s life, I swear it to you.”
Merlin had done everything for Arthur since their Camelot days. He wouldn’t let anything separate himself from Arthur again. Destiny would have to pry Arthur away from his cold, dead hands.
"Artorius!" a feminine voice called one morning, a month after their heartfelt night in the Astronomy Tower. Merlin and Arthur had just exited the Great Hall and were heading to their first class that morning, and upon hearing the voice, both Gryffindors stopped walking.
“Hello, Narcissa. Done being a prejudiced princess already?” Arthur said smoothly as he turned to face his twin sister, Narcissa Black.
As the blonde made her way toward them, Merlin took his time to observe Arthur’s biological half. Unlike Morgana all those years ago, Narcissa looked so much like Arthur, it was like seeing the prat with a skirt and long hair. However, while Arthur shone brightly in a golden light like the sun, Narcissa’s was more of the moon’s silver glow. The closer she got to them, the more breath-taking she looked, especially with her blue eyes, so much like her brother’s, flashing fiercely in anger. An anger that was aimed at the smirking prat beside Merlin. When Narcissa swung her hand to punch Arthur’s stupid Roman nose, Merlin was a little bit surprised to find that Arthur had managed to catch her hand. The girl was fast. Merlin would give her that.
“You, Rigel, is an absolute arse!” Narcissa spat out. “You promised! You promised that you wouldn’t leave me! And then you went on and got Sorted into Gryffindor, you traitor!"
The smirk on Arthur’s face dropped as he let out a sigh. Pulling his twin closer toward him, he then hugged her tightly until all the fight left the girl’s body. As he stroked Narcissa’s platinum locks, Arthur said, “I’m sorry, sis. I’m sorry I left you with the Snakes. I just… You know how I hate all those stupid Pureblood customs, right? It’s bloody ridiculous. I’m not you, Cissy. I wouldn’t be able to stand a single second there. So, I made the difficult choice and got Sorted into Gryffindor.”
“You should have told me though,” Narcissa sniffed, her voice a little muffled as she buried her face against Arthur’s shoulder. “You should have told me that you wouldn’t take Slytherin. I would have done the same thing, and then we would be together.”
“I’m sorry about that. But you know that you can always count on me, ’re just two tables away from me after all.”
Narcissa smiled, but a serious look took over her pretty face as she changed the subject. “Father and Mother are furious, by the way. Especially Father. He’s trying to get Aunt Walburga to blast you off the tapestry. You’re just lucky that she’s so worried about Sirius finding out what happened if she’s to burn your name. You know how our cousin worships you, as if you’re a God or something.”
Merlin couldn’t help himself when he let out a chuckle as he muttered, “Well, that’s something familiar.” He remembered fondly how in the past, as King Arthur, nearly every child in their kingdom looked at Arthur as if he was God himself. It took Merlin awhile to realise, however, that his comment brought the twins’ attention to him. It was obvious that they both had forgotten Merlin was there.
“Why, hello there, Rigel’s new friend,” Narcissa greeted him politely, her tone reminded him of Morgana, and his heart ached at the thought of his old friend.
“Hi. I’m sorry for my interruption. That was rude,” Merlin said with a smile, giving out his hand to her. “I’m Matthew, by the way. Matthew Potter.”
At the mention of his name, Narcissa’s eyebrows rose and her composure stiffened a little. Merlin had no doubt that his family’s reputation as the most respected blood-traitor family in Europe was something that the girl couldn’t quite accept, especially now that he was friends with her twin. But she said nothing of it, and took his hand to shake it. “Nice meeting you, Mr Potter. I’m Narcissa Black, as you’ve probably guessed already. I’m Rigel’s twin.”
Merlin smiled, nodding his head. “Yes, I can see the resemblance. You’re a lot prettier than the prat though. And please, call me Matthew.”
A genuine smile took over Narcissa’s features for the first time since she acknowledged Merlin. As if there was a switch, her whole composure relaxed as she let out a laugh. Merlin was even sure that for a split second, she had batted her eyelashes at him. “I like you, Matthew. And you should call me by my first name too. Narcissa. Or Cissy, if you want.”
“Narcissa’s such a pretty name though. Suits you perfectly.”
“Well, thank you, Ma – ”
“That’s enough flirting, you two,” Arthur snapped rather curtly, clenching his jaw. “Cissy, we’ll be going now. We have our next class in five minutes. Come on, Matthew. Let’s go.”
Arthur didn’t even give Merlin a chance to say a proper goodbye to Narcissa, and the warlock had to settle with waving the blonde goodbye. As they made their way to McGonagall’s class, Merlin noticed that Arthur had a furious look on his face as he practically stomped all the way to their class, obviously unaware that he was holding Merlin’s hand. Grinning mischievously, Merlin quickened his pace a little bit so he could lean forward to whisper to Arthur’s ears.
“I can’t believe you’re actually jealous of your own sister, Sire," Merlin said cheekily. “Your twin sister, if I may add.”
Back in Camelot, every insinuation of Arthur being emotionally transparent would send the former king running for the hills. But this Arthur, he merely scowled and pulled Merlin even closer, still blissfully unaware that he still had his hand around Merlin’s wrist. “Don’t even start, Merlin. It’s bad enough that in Camelot, I had to watch Morgana did the same thing. And don’t think I didn’t know that Guinevere used to have the biggest crush on you. At least now, I’m allowed to show that any flirtations sent in your way aren’t welcome.”
Arthur’s words warmed Merlin’s heart as the implications settled in. He’d noticed, of course, that Arthur always seemed to be rather against any interactions between Merlin and Morgana. But Merlin had always thought that it was because Arthur had feelings for Morgana, instead of Merlin. Looking at the blond, who made it a point to keep his eyes forward at the door to Transfiguration’s classroom, Merlin felt a smile began to grow. He didn’t say anything though. He merely followed Arthur to their usual seats, barely paying attention to anything else but the bloody emotionally inept idiot beside him. Even when McGonagall had reprimanded him for failing to answer a question she asked him, he didn’t really care about it.
As always, his whole attention was on Arthur.
Who had given him a cheeky grin as he winked at Merlin when he too, failed to answer McGonagall’s question.
Merlin had expected it to happen.
From the moment he heard the Sorting Hat announced Arthur’s House, he knew that it would happen. He even expected it to happen sooner, like the day after the Sorting. Still though, when he found a frantic Narcissa in the middle of the night in front of the Fat Lady’s portrait a week before Christmas holiday, he nearly had a heart attack from both the shock and worry. As the two of them rushed through corridors, he listened closely to what Narcissa said, growing angrier as he listened more to what had happened. According to the blonde, who had become his friend in a short amount of time rather effortlessly, she and Arthur had just spent the night talking in the Astronomy Tower, catching up on each other’s lives. They were just about to head back, with Arthur walking her to the dungeon, when a group of fifth year Slytherins, who Narcissa recognised as Bellatrix’s friends, cornered them. It seemed like everyone had found out that Arthur’s parents weren’t really fond of him for the stunt he pulled, and they considered it as a pass to show their own dislike toward Arthur. Especially since they noticed that Bellatrix made a show of ignoring her brother’s presence whenever they were in the same room together. Long story short, Arthur held back all on his own against the attacks as he led Bellatrix’s friends away from Narcissa, who was told to go get Merlin.
“I don’t know why it’s got to be you, though,” Narcissa breathed, panting a little bit from the running. “He merely said ‘get Matthew’, and ran off with those prejudiced arseholes hot on his tails. I guess it’s because your father’s got friends in the high places? So if this turns out into something serious, your father’s friends might be able to help.”
“Probably,” Merlin answered distractedly. His mind was whirring fast as he hoped that he wasn’t too late. He briefly acknowledged Narcissa asking him how he could have known where her brother was, but Merlin could hardly care.
They reached the Quidditch pitch in no time, Arthur’s magic rolling off him strong enough for Merlin to be able to detect it from across the castle. If he wasn’t too busy worrying over the fact that Arthur was surrounded by a group of Slytherin fifth years, Merlin would probably find the situation of Arthur being magical, and a rather accomplished wizard twice, as an ironic in-your-face karma toward Uther Pendragon’s spirit. As it were though, Merlin didn’t have the luxury to care about anything else but Arthur, especially when there was a spell flying from one of the Slytherins’ wand, heading fast toward the back of the former king’s head. Merlin didn’t even think on what he should do. He just did. Forgetting his wand completely, and Narcissa’s presence beside him, he thrust his opened-palm forward as he erected an invisible wall around Arthur to protect him, his eyes flashing golden. He’d always been aware that his magic was a lot stronger than the magic of present wizards and witches, seeing that his came from the Old Religion. So when Merlin punched the ground next, with magic woven around his fist, Bellatrix’s friends couldn’t stand a chance, and all of them dropped unconscious in a snap.
“What have you done?” Narcissa asked, worry colouring her tone as she observed the unconscious figures of Arthur’s attackers. “Are they fine?”
“Of course,” Merlin said, flinching a little when he noticed how cold his tone was. They’d attacked Arthur after all. But he softened his tone when he spoke next, upon seeing the frightened look on Narcissa’s face. “They’ll wake up tomorrow with no recollection of what had happened, and a terrible pounding in their stupid heads. But it’s nothing dangerous.”
“Are you sure – ”
“You shouldn’t have done that, you know,” Arthur said quietly, interjecting Narcissa’s words, his tone barely masking the fury he had. “I don’t need you to fight my battles all the time. I could handle them. I’m not as hopeless…”
The unspoken words rang loudly for them though.
I’m not as hopeless as I was before.
“They were attacking you,” Merlin replied in the same faux-calmness. “I didn’t have the choice.”
“Uh, excuse me…”
“So you swooped in like the reckless hero you always were. Bloody typical,” Arthur scoffed, ignoring Narcissa, his attention focused on Merlin. He rolled his eyes as he crossed his arms together in front of his chest, looking thoroughly ticked off. The gesture was so painfully familiar, and for a moment, Merlin was almost convinced that they’d gone back to Camelot.
“That’s rich, coming from you, you clotpole. It’s not like you wouldn’t do the same for me,” Merlin snapped, his temper wearing thin. At this point, they were standing nose-to-nose, both pair of blue eyes narrowed murderously.
“Seriously, you two…”
“Of course, I would do the same. But like it’s always been for ages, when the time comes for me to save your arse, I won’t be risking my neck. You know what people would do to you if they found out the truth about you. Gods, but you’re such an idiot.”
“You ungrateful, infuriating bas – ”
“Stop. Stop. Stop,” Narcissa interrupted loudly, and only then did Merlin and Arthur finally realised she was there, that she had been listening. “Firstly, you two have a lot of explaining to do for me, and I want to know everything. Secondly, feel free to bite each other’s head off, but after we deal with Bella’s friends. I mean, we can’t just leave them here.”
“We certainly can,” Merlin muttered under his breath, earning a glare from Arthur and a violent nudge on his side. Glaring right back at Arthur, Merlin finally relented. With a flash of his eyes, he sent the Slytherins back to their beds.
"Merlin’s beard,” Narcissa whispered in amazement. “How did you do that? Rigel, did you see that? How the hell did he do that?”
“Language, Cissy. You’d give our poor mother a heart attack,” Arthur said with an amused grin, which disappeared in an instance when his twin whacked the back of his head. ”Ow! No need to be so violent, sis!”
Narcissa narrowed her eyes at her brother before turning her glare toward Merlin. “You two owe me an explanation, remember? And seeing that we don’t have classes tomorrow, I want you to tell me everything tonight.”
Both Merlin and Arthur didn’t give the girl an immediate answer. The two shared a look, wordlessly discussing whether they could trust Narcissa with their millennium-old secret. Merlin could see that Arthur wanted nothing more than to tell his twin about it. Even back when he was much older, in all their past lives, Arthur had always been compassionate about all of his siblings – starting from Morgana and then Alana, from Franklin to Jonathan. Narcissa was his first twin, and Merlin could only imagine how much stronger their bond was. And Merlin himself? He turned his attention at Narcissa, who tilted her head up in a familiar act of stubbornness Merlin had seen countless times on Arthur. But it was the look in her eyes, how her blue eyes begged him and his brother to trust her, that broke his resolve. That was the moment he realised, that maybe this time, Merlin and Arthur weren’t entirely alone. That maybe this time, they could let more people in.
That maybe this time, things would finally turn out for the better.
“Very well,” Merlin said, and he almost grinned when both Black twins gave an identical sigh of relief. “We shall tell you everything. But you must promise us that you will never, unless your life is in danger, tell anyone about whatever it is we’re going to tell you. Under no circumstances, unless it is for the price of your life, that you’ll tell it to anyone. Not even for our sake.”
Narcissa looked both annoyed and excited. Nodding her head solemnly, she said, “I promise. In fact, if you can do it, I’m willing to do the Unbreakable Vow.”
“Oh, he can do it, alright,” Arthur chuckled. “Haven’t you seen what he’d done to Bella’s band of lunatics?”
His sister’s fair features paled considerably.
“Don’t worry,” Merlin said quickly, giving the girl a smile that he hoped would reassure her. “I’m not going to make you do it. Your brother trusts you, and I trust him. That’s enough for me.”
Narcissa beamed as she threw arms around the both of them. ”Thank you! You have no idea how much this means to me. I mean, Rigel can tell you how our sisters never trust me with anything.”
“That’s just because they’re both older than us, which they probably think give them the right to be a right pain,” Arthur replied casually, though he could fool no one with the sour look on his face.
“As if you weren’t an annoying big brother yourself,” Merlin quipped, remembering all the times Arthur’s younger siblings in their past lives whined to him about how much of an arse Arthur was.
“Me– Matthew, shut up,” Arthur snapped, but it lacked the usual mocking bite because of the near slip-up. Lucky for them, Narcissa didn’t seem to notice.
Merlin, ever the mature one between him and Arthur, stuck his tongue out at the blond. “Whatever you say, you prat... Now come on, we have much to talk about. I’ll take you some place we’ll have some privacy.”
“Where are we going?” the female Black asked as she followed Merlin and her brother. “Certainly not the Gryffindor tower? And obviously not the Slytherin dungeon either.”
“Of course not, little sister. Don’t be silly,” Arthur said with his trademark condescending grin. “We’re going to the Room of Requirement.”
“The Room of Requirement?” Narcissa said in confusion. “As in the Come and Go Room?”
“Yes. That’s the one,” Merlin answered before Arthur could.
“But no one’s been to that room since the time of the Founders! I read about it, you know. It’s said to be a secret room very much like the Chamber of Secrets. Minus the terrible monster, of course.”
“We know that. At least, Matthew does. Do you know that while the Chamber of Secrets was Slytherin’s, Hufflepuff had her own too. And that was the Room of Requirements. Matthew took me there on our first day,” Arthur said, looking at Merlin with pride in his eyes that warmed the warlock’s heart and made him blushed.
“Really? That’s amazing! How in the world do you know about this? Not even Bathilda Bagshot knows about this, and she’s the best historian ever!”
Merlin shared a smile with Arthur, who let out an amused chuckle. “Well, you see, I have this one advantage that dear Professor Bagshot doesn’t.”
Narcissa cocked a delicate eyebrow, crossing her arms together in front of her challengingly. “And what is this so-called advantage that you have?”
“I was there when this castle was built,” Merlin said, his smile widened as he watched the words slowly sunk in Narcissa. “In fact, I was the one who built this castle. History changed most of the fact about my involvement, of course, because I wanted it that way.”
“B-but…this school was founded a thousand years ago! If you really were there, that would make you over a thousand years old!” Narcissa exclaimed.
“A thousand, four hundred and ninety seven years, to be precise,” Arthur butted in, smirking. “And I just turned fifteen hundred years last October, as you know.”
“Wait – ”
“True, we don’t look like we’re over a millennium old. I suppose, physically, we are eleven years old. But our souls are much older.”
“What do you me – ”
“You see, we’ve been reborn many times in the past.”
“Twenty times, actually,” Merlin quipped as he slowed down to a stop, finally getting to their destination. “Back before Albion was united. Like, way back then.”
Both Merlin and Arthur Narcissa closely then, who was openly gaping at them as everything finally clicked in her mind.
“Are you saying that you two… That you’re…”
“King Arthur and Merlin at your service, dearest sister," Arthur said as he and Merlin both bowed down simultaneously.
They became Platinum Trio – the first trio to grace Hogwarts halls way before the Golden Trio would thirty years later.
And for quite sometime, Narcissa was the only one who knew their secret.
In only three years, they’d become well known among the inhabitants of Hogwarts, especially Merlin and Arthur. It was hard not to, what with Merlin being the most brilliant student in their year, and Arthur being the best Chaser anyone had ever seen since McGonagall herself was one. Their other friends had often joked how the both of them were practically joined at the hip. Wherever one was, the other would follow. When Arthur was practising Quidditch, Merlin would dutifully wait for him in the stands, usually reading. When Merlin was on his tutoring duties, it would be Arthur’s turn to wait for Merlin. When Narcissa found the time to join them, she completed them like a piece of puzzle. Merlin heard more than once how the professors would describe the three of them. Arthur was like the sun, and Merlin was like the Earth that orbit around him. With Narcissa around, she was their moon, with her silver beauty. The warlock knew that in the three years he knew her, there was no doubt in his heart that if he had to sacrifice himself for Narcissa, he would do it gladly.
When they’d told Narcissa about their past lives, it took the pretty blonde quite sometime to process everything. But all in all, both Merlin and Arthur thought she took everything pretty well, considering that her twin brother turned out to be the reincarnation of a legendary king, and her new friend was the legendary wizard. However, Merlin suspected that her easy acceptance came from the urge to ble able to learn of all the things Merlin and Arthur knew and had learned through out their lives. Although there were long periods of time when Merlin and Arthur weren’t around, they still knew a lot to fill in on every major historical event since medieval times. Narcissa’s favourite story, other than about their lives in Camelot, was the one about Merlin’s involvement in the building of Hogwarts, and how Arthur was reborn as the son of Godric Gryffindor himself. They told her that originally, Merlin was at the old age of fifty. He had been looking for Arthur for decades in his life, and had resigned himself to the fact that he wouldn’t find Arthur. Then, he adopted four brilliant young wizards and witches whose parents had died during the second Great Purge. Long story short, one of his adopted children grew up to be Godric Gryffindor, who would later introduce Merlin, who had just turned a hundred and ten and was in his death-bed, to his son Alastar.
Merlin remembered, before he succumbed to his death, the moment his ageing eyes landed on familiar blue eyes and a mop of golden hair, he knew that at last, he’d found Arthur again.
Quite incidentally, just a couple years after Arthur was reborn as Alastar, Merlin was reborn as well as Medwyn, and would later become the ancestor of the first generation of the Potters. Because he’d always been close with his oldest adopted son, who would later be known as Salazar Slytherin, he knew from the very start that he’d get Sorted into Slytherin. Despite being two years younger, he and Arthur, as Medwyn and Alastar, had became really close reall soon, pretty much like how they did back in Camelot. His life as Medwyn was quite possible one of the best lives Merlin had ever had. It was also the life when he secretly changed all the facts about his and Arthur’s lives in Camelot, for fear that one day people would realise that they’d always been reborn every few years. When he revealed that to Narcissa, she was both annoyed and understanding about his reasoning. But she was quick to push away her thoughts on it, and focused on her favourite part about the whole revelation – Merlin’s magic and Arthur’s swordsmanship. At first, she would only ask them to show her both Merlin’s magic and swordsmanship. But after a couple weeks, she became adamant that she wanted them to teach her.
As the last remaining representation of the Old Religion, Merlin’s magic was vastly different than anyone. Magic came naturally to him, seeing that he was magic itself. Therefore, no matter how hard Narcissa tried, her magic would never be as strong as Merlin. But because she knew Merlin was a special case, she was quite happy to settle as the third best student in her year, after Merlin and Arthur, who remembered all the skills he had as Alastar by the end of his first year. Swordsmanship for her though, was even more difficult than the advance magic Merlin taught her. But Arthur wasn’t only a great knight, he also was a great teacher. Even though it took Narcissa awhile, by the time they were at the end of their second year, Merlin was sure that Narcissa could easily kill any Muggle idiot without the help of her magic or even her sword. Arthur taught his twin that her most important and reliable weapon was her own body, and hand-to-hand combat was a vital thing to learn. They’d spend week ends teaching Narcissa in the Room of Requirement, or doing homework when they had them. Merlin felt a burst of pride every time Narcissa made an improvement, and he knew, judging from the look on Arthur’s face every single time it happened, that the former king felt the same way.
“Black, Sirius!” McGonagall’s voice brought Merlin back to present time. He was sitting next to Arthur like he always did, watching the slim boy that was Arthur’s cousin got on stage, a nervous yet brave look in his grey eyes.
Everyone waited with bated breath because the last Black son to be Sorted had ended up in Gryffindor. It was obvious that people thought that Arthur would be the only abnormality in his family, seeing that Sirius’ colouring strongly resembled Arthur’s older sisters. But Merlin knew, the moment the boy’s grey eyes searched the crowd of third years and found Arthur, who gave him an encouraging smile, there was no way in Hell that Sirius would end up in Slytherin with his cousins. He realised that other than him, the four Black children had realised about it as well. As it was, Merlin and the four Black siblings were the only ones who weren’t surprised at all when the Sorting Hat announced to the whole room that Sirius got into Gryffindor. With a wide beaming grin, the young boy made his way toward Arthur, who quickly enveloped his cousin in a hug, telling the boy tirelessly how proud he was of Sirius. When Arthur finally let his cousin go, Merlin kindly scooted over so the younger boy could take a seat between him and Arthur. The warlock then gave Sirius his hand, which the boy took hesitantly even after Arthur gave him an encouraging nod.
“I’m Matthew Potter,” Merlin introduced himself, smiling his trademark friendly smile. “Rigel’s told me all about you. Told me how you like Charms. It’s my favourite subject too, by the way.”
The wariness in Sirius’ eyes was replaced by gratitude and delight, and when he smiled, Merlin noted that he did quite look like Arthur in a way. “I like Charms. It’s difficult. And I like the challenge. I always think that life’s a bit pointless without a bit of a challenge every now and then.”
“Of course, you would,” Merlin replied, feeling his grin as he shared a knowing look with Arthur. The blond prat was right. Sirius did remind him of their old friend Gwaine.
The three of them proceeded to watch the rest of the Sorting. Merlin personally only paid attention because he waited for his brother, whose mop of messy black hair he’d seen from the moment the younger boy had entered the Great Hall. As Merlin waited for his brother’s name to be called, he used the time to observe Sirius closer, wanting to get a better look at the boy whom Arthur had loved as if they were brothers instead of cousins. It was obvious to see that physically, Sirius looked like the perfect poster child of a Black Heir. Sirius’ hair was rather long, curling at the back of his neck where it ended, and it was so dark it looked almost blue. Up close, Merlin realised that Sirius’ eyes looked more like silver instead of the normal grey that was trademark of the Black family, or even the rare blue that Arthur and Narcissa had. Judging from his current stature, the warlock could see that Sirius would one day become much taller than either Arthur or Merlin. However, as he watched Arthur fixed Sirius’ tie, wordlessly fussing over the younger Black, Merlin knew that taller or not, the blond would always see Sirius as the little boy he’d spent nearly all his year protecting.
Merlin averted his attention toward his brother, who was skipping excitedly toward where McGonagall was standing on the stage, the Sorting Hat in her hand. Merlin saw the way James’ eyes scanned the crowd, and he couldn’t help himself when he waved at his little brother. When James saw him, he waved his hand excessively, seemingly almost unaware that McGonagall had placed the Hat on top of his head. He faltered a little though, when his eyes landed on Sirius sitting beside Merlin, and the older Gryffindor feared for the worst. But his worry proved to be for naught, for a second later, a gigantic grin took over James’ head as he let out a loud laugh, surprising McGonagall who nearly dropped the Hat when she tried to take it off James’ head after the Hat had yelled out, “GRYFFINDOR!” Merlin noticed that his brother was Sorted almost instantly the moment the Hat touched his head. It didn’t surprise him though. From the moment he was born, James had always told everyone that he would get into Gryffindor like their parents.
“Trying to steal my brother from me, are you, Black?” James said once he reached Merlin and the two Black cousins, throwing himself to sit on Merlin’s other side. He gave Sirius a grin though, to show the other boy that he was joking.
Merlin noticed the slight surprise on Sirius’ face as he put two and two together. But he was quick to get over it, as he smoothly answered James’ teasing with his own grin on his face. “I didn’t know he was your brother, you know. He’s simply so much better than you can ever be, it’s just impossible to imagine that you two are related.”
“Sirius, don’t be a dick to your new friend,” Arthur reprimanded jokingly, winking at Merlin as they both remembered the first time they’d met. Merlin automatically chuckled at the memory.
“You’re such an arse, Rigel. Everyone and their mother know you’re an obnoxious prat." Feeling a little childish, Merlin stuck his tongue out at Arthur, who pouted as he rolled his eyes.
“I like you,” Sirius said, beaming up at Merlin. “It’s not every day I see people calling my menacing cousin a prat.”
"Him? Menacing. Ha. As if. He’s as menacing as a newborn Pygmy Puff,” Merlin scoffed, which made Sirius laughed heartily for the first time.
“Oi! I resent that!” Arthur exclaimed, mock-glaring. He turned his attention toward James, who had been watching quietly an amused look in his eyes. “What do you say, James? Do you want to team up with me so we can prank these insolent idiots as a revenge?”
At the word ‘prank’, the younger Potter’s eyes brightened. “You like pranks?”
“Oh, I most definitely do,” the blond replied, grinning as he gave out his hand to James, who took it with his own grin on his face.
“Then it’s a deal.”
“Goodness, you’re corrupting my brother, Rigel,” Merlin groaned.
“It’s fine. You have me,” Sirius quipped, looking a little shy even as he grinned mischievously. “I know all of Rigel’s pranks. And I know that you know all of James’. Together, we’ll destroy them.”
“Alright,” Merlin chuckled. “It’s official. I’m trading my brother with you.”
“Traitor!” James exclaimed, and the four of them shared a laugh.
When the Sorting ended and the feast began, the four of them had dinner with minimum talking because of their Pureblood up-bringing. But it was clear that for the two Black cousins, they rather enjoyed the comfortable silence that fell between theme, no doubt it was much different than what they were used to growing up. Merlin knew that it was even more so for Arthur, who had grown up as a prince after all, fourteen centuries ago. After they were done with their dinner, Merlin and Arthur sent the two new friends off to join the other Gryffindor first years, fondly watching the two trading friendly insults at each other. Seeing that they were done with their dinner as well, Merlin told Arthur that they should be heading to the common room as well, to which Arthur agreed. They waved their goodbyes at Narcissa, who waved back at them as she walked side by side with her older sister Andromeda, before following the group of the younger students that James and Sirius had blended into. Once they were inside the common room, Merlin and Arthur stopped their brother and cousin to bid them good night before the younger boys entered their dormitory. It all went so well, with Merlin ruffling James’ hair affectionately and Arthur reaching forward to pat Sirius’ back.
Until Sirius jumped away from Arthur, hissing in pain at the contact.
"Oh right! I’ll give you the salve for your back in our dorm later,” James said kindly, completely unaware of the shift in Arthur’s temper, of the way the blond was narrowing his eyes at Sirius, who lowered his silver eyes to avoid looking at his cousin’s blue ones.
“What,” Arthur began, snarling in a barely repressed anger that surprised James. “The hell did those two sadists do to you, cous? And don’t lie to me. You know I can always tell, Sirius.”
Sirius clenched his jaw before he answered. “Father wanted to remind me what he’d do to me if I followed in your footsteps. Thought that if he could literally beat the message to me, it’d would stick. Obviously, he failed.”
The fire in the fireplace flared as Arthur’s breathing went laboured in his effort to control his temper. Merlin was thankful that everyone else had gone to bed except for the four of them. He put a hand on Arthur’s back to to calm him down as he told James to quickly get the salve. His brother, who finally realised what had truly happened, rushed off to get the salve their mother had given each one of them before they left. Guiding the former king to sit on the couch, he then turned his attention to Sirius and beckoned the boy to sit beside him.
“Will you take your shirt off for me?” Merlin asked kindly. “I need to see the extent of your injuries. If it’s too bad, we’ll need something better than my mother’s salve.”
Sirius nodded his head and did as he was told, his silver eyes flittered in Arthur’s direction a couple times as he took his shirt off. When James bounded noisily back into the common room, Merlin silently thanked his brother for the distraction it provided Arthur because, the moment Sirius’ back was revealed, and the horrible bruises came into view, the warlock knew there was no way he could stop Arthur from going to Grimmauld Place number 12 to kill Orion Black.
“Arthur,” Merlin said, not realising the name that had slipped past his tongue as he turned Sirius around a bit to hide the bruises from the blond’s eyes.
“Yes? Do I need to kill them?” Arthur replied instantly, equally unaware of Merlin’s slip-up.
In fact, no one seemed to realise – except for the bruised up boy who had nothing else to do but to pay attention.
“That won’t be needed now, no. Can you get the bottle of potion in my trunk though? And then please take James to bed. He’s hopelessly cranky in the morning whenever he lacks sleep.”
“But I want to – ”
"James,” Merlin said warningly, fixing his brother with a hard look. The younger Potter pouted but obliged nevertheless, stomping his feet all the way into his dorm as he followed Arthur.
“Is it really that bad?” Sirius asked once the two boys had left.
“Nothing that my mother’s salve can’t fix, it turns out,” Merlin said with a forced cheerful tone as he covered Sirius’ bruises with the salve, making sure he was extremely gentle. “The potion is to numb the pain, really. So you can sleep tonight.”
It was several seconds later when Sirius spoke again, his voice much softer and there were both fear as well as worry in it. “They’re going to kill my brother,” the younger boy almost whispered. ”Gods, they will kill Regulus once they find out about me.”
“I’d like to see them try,” Arthur’s voice boomed, making his reappearance known. He thrusted the potion into Merlin’s hand before he knelt down in front of Sirius, who was trembling as he fought to stop himself from crying. “Sirius, I won’t let them hurt your brother. I promise. I told you I’d always protect you, didn’t I?”
“But you’re all the way here! Whatever it is you’re going to do, it’ll be too late by then.”
“Trust me, okay? Just trust me. No harm will come on your brother, and you. I’ll make sure of that.”
Sirius looked like he was going to argue again, but Merlin quickly pushed the potion in his way so he’d drink it. After he made sure that Sirius had taken the whole thing down, he discreetly cast a spell to heal the wounds on the boy’s back faster, turning his head to the side so Sirius wouldn’t see the flash of golden in his eyes. When the boy yawned, Merlin quickly told Arthur to take his cousin to bed, and the blond immediately did so. Ten minutes had passed when Arthur came back to the dormitory, the thunderous look he had before in his eyes had returned.
“Mark my words; I’m going to kill them some day,” Arthur snarled angrily. Letting out a tired sigh, it was as if there was a switch as all the anger left his body, leaving him drained and upset. “I can’t believe they’d hurt their own son for something I did.”
Merlin looked at the blond sadly as he embraced him. “It’s not your fault, Arthur. It never is. So don’t blame yourself. Don’t you even dare to blame yourself, you noble prat.”
Arthur gave Merlin a small smile. “Will you help me, Merlin? Will you help me protect them?”
Merlin nodded. “You know I will, Arthur. I’m coming over to Grimmauld Place after this. I’ll put a Protection Spell on Regulus so his parents won’t harm him. Then I’ll leave a letter at my house for my parents, to tell them to please look after Regulus. They know about you getting into Gryffindor, obviously. They’ve been asking me whether you need help. I’m sure they’ll have no problem to take care of Regulus.”
“Thank you,” Arthur said. “And please, tell your parents how thankful I am for their offer.”
“It’s nothing. You know there’s nothing I won’t do for you.” Merlin then pulled Arthur onto his feat, and dragged the blond toward their dormitory. “Come on, let’s get you off to bed, Sire. I promise, I’ll take care of everything for you.”
“I really can’t imagine how I’ve lived all my lives without you, Merlin,” the blond as they made their way to their dorm.
(As Merlin practically tucked Arthur to bed, like he used to do centuries ago, they didn’t know that Sirius was half-awake in his room. As Merlin left the dormitory he shared with Arthur for Grimmauld Place, they didn’t know that Sirius had overheard everything the two talked about when they passed his dorm. As Sirius slowly fell back to asleep awhile later, they didn’t know that he had finally pieced everything out.)
Back when he was still living his life as Myrddin, adopted father to the four Hogwarts founders, Merlin remembered that he was the one who had suggested to his daughter Rowena Ravenclaw about having a subject specialising in fighting the Dark Arts. Gods knew how hard he had to protect Arthur against it back in Camelot. Rowena, ever the intelligent and logical one out of her siblings, agreed to it instantly and in a matter of two months, had shown him the complete curriculum of the subject, from first till seventh years. Merlin was the first Defence Against the Dark Arts professor, and he taught for many years until the day he died. Although his favourite subject was and would always be Charms, centuries of protecting Arthur made DADA his second-best subject. At first, he hated teaching it, because it reminded him how spectacularly he’d failed Arthur in Camelot. But after sometime, he grew to like it. He was incredibly upset when he found out centuries later, during one of his visits to Hogwarts as a merlin, that the position as a DADA professor was cursed by Voldemort.
“Can you reverse it though?” Narcissa asked as she walked with Merlin and Arthur to their DADA class, taught by their uncle, Alphard Black. “I really like Uncle Alphard. He’s a great teacher.”
“It’s not that he can’t,” Arthur answered for Merlin. “But more like he can’t.”
Narcissa pouted at her brother. “What the hell does that mean?”
“It means,” Merlin began, rolling his eyes at Arthur, who grinned sheepishly. “If I did reverse it, it would alert Voldemort that there’s someone powerful enough to do that. I told you I wanted to stay low until the appropriate time comes.”
“Oh, right…” She fell silent for awhile before she spoke again. “Dumbledore’s powerful enough to reverse it, doesn’t he? Why doesn’t he do that?”
“Again, reversing the spell would alert Voldemort. And the snake-faced git would probably take it as a sign that Dumbledore wanted an all-out war with him.”
“War’s coming though,” Arthur quipped in a strained voice. “No matter how hard Dumbledore tried to avoid it, it’s happening. Sooner than anyone would like it to be.”
Narcissa paled as she swallowed heavily, no doubt remembering the real reason why Merlin and Arthur were there. Her grip around Merlin’s hand tightened slightly, and the warlock could imagine that Arthur’s hand was gripped in the same manner in his sister hand. Giving the girl a reassuring smile, he gently thumbed her knuckles to soothe her worries. It seemed to work a bit, judging by the way Narcissa relaxed a bit. Merlin led the three of them into the classroom, where he noticed that the tables and chair had been pushed to the back of the room, leaving a single cupboard standing in the middle. It didn’t take him long before he realised that Alphard was going to introduce them to Boggarts. He told his friends about it, and he noticed the tense look on their faces. Merlin himself wasn’t exactly fond of Boggarts, but he’d dealt with enough already. After all, he’d known for centuries what his greatest fear was. Even after fourteen centuries, he could still remember that day as if it had only happened recently.
Alphard gave them all his signature smile that reminded Merlin of Sirius. In fact, in certain angles, the man looked a lot like his nephew. When Alphard saw the twins, he gave them a wave, to which Arthur and Narcissa replied with beaming smiles. The man began his class with his explanation on what was a Boggart, and what did they need to repel them. He then told them all to make a line so they could all try to face a Boggart one by one. Alphard’s way of explaining things always made everything seemed to be less dangerous than it actually was, and it was obvious that the students thought facing a Boggart would be fun, seeing that they were all fighting to get ahead of each other in line. Children, Merlin couldn’t help himself but to think so to himself, despite the fact that technically, he was still a child himself. But of course, he was no ordinary child. He was sure that most of his classmates had no idea what they would have to face, and even then, Merlin was sure that none of it would be as terrifying as the nightmare that still haunted Merlin every night.
Merlin and the twins weren’t quite the first ones, and not even the last either. The first one to face the Boggart was a fellow Gryffindor named Kingsley Shacklebot, whose Boggart turned into a great big flame that cranked the room’s temperature several degrees warmer before Kingsley turned it into a snowman. Merlin barely paid attention on everyone else, until was time for Arthur, who was standing in front of him. The blond stepped forward hesitantly, his right hand gripping his wand tightly. Alphard apparently noticed his nephew’s apprehension, and asked Arthur twice whether the blond was ready or not. Wordlessly, Arthur nodded his head as he lifted his wand forward in front of him and made a few steps toward the Boggart. The adorable kittens that had Transformed from the previous student’s Boggart began to take another form. At first, it was unclear what shape that Boggart had taken into. But the moment Merlin saw the familiar flash of blue, red and brown…
Everyone in the class gasped as the Boggart took his form, lying on the floor, his opened eyes staring lifelessly as blood pooled under his body. The class had fallen silent as everyone stared between Arthur and Boggart-Merlin. The warlock noticed Arthur lowered his trembling hand by an inch, and that was all it needed for the Boggart to change into another form. With loud crack, the Boggart had turned into another version of Merlin, only this time he was tied to a pyre, burnt alive – screaming. Several screams came out from the girls, though there were a few boys who yelled out their surprise as well. Beside him, Merlin felt Narcissa gripped his hand as she let out a whimper at the sight. However, Merlin could only focus on Arthur. The heart-broken sob Arthur let out rang loudly in Merlin’s ears over other noises, and like he had always done since their Camelot days, the warlock rushed forward to his rescue. He firmly pulled Arthur behind him, effectively blocking him from the Boggart’s view. Before the Boggart could fully turn into Merlin’s biggest fear, he thrusted his wand forward and yelled, ”Riddikulus!”
Merlin hardly noticed when his Boggart turned into hundreds of blue butterflies. He didn’t realise Alphard pushing the Boggart back into its cupboard with a wave of his wand. He wouldn’t even notice it if Kilgarrah had suddenly flown inside the room. Not when Arthur’s knees suddenly gave up on him, pulling Merlin down with him. Not when he was craddling his beloved King in his arms, pressing his forehead against Arthur. Not when he could hear Arthur whispering his name tirelessly as if it was a prayer, clinging onto him for dear life. He felt two figures dropping beside him, and it took awhile for him to acknowledge that it was Narcissa and Alphard. When Merlin tried to pull back a little bit so he’d be able to talk to the professor, Arthur quickly yanked him forward, shaking his head in panic as he begged Merlin to not leave him. He could only hope that no one could hear Arthur addressing him by his real name and not Matthew.
“Professor, can I take Rigel to the Infirma – ”
“Yes, yes, yes,” Alphard said quickly as he made a quick scan on his nephew’s condition, his grey eyes filled with worry. “And please tell Madam Pomfrey to tell the other professors to excuse Rigel from the rest of his class. Tell her I said so.”
“I will, Professor. Thank you.”
“Oh, Cissy? Perhaps you should go with Mr Potter and your brother to help them.”
“Yes, Uncle,” Narcissa replied as she quickly helped Merlin to lift Arthur up, unaware that she’d addressed Alphard as her uncle and not professor.
"Merlin, don’t leave me. Please. Don’t ever leave me,” Arthur whispered against Merlin’s chest, somehow reverting back to the Old Welsh they hadn’t used in over a millenium. He was thankful that Arthur’s voice was barely audible that only Merlin and Narcissa could hear.
"Come on, Arthur. I’m right here. I will never leave you,” Merlin whispered in return in Old Welsh as he pulled Arthur onto his feet. ”But I need you to stand up for me. Do it for me. That’s good. Thank you, Arthur. Thank you.”
With Alphard clearing the way out for them, Merlin and Narcissa easily manoeuvred themselves out of the room with Arthur between them. Once they were safely outside, Merlin told Narcissa to hold on tightly onto Arthur, before he teleported them to the front door of the Hospital Wing. If it surprised her, Narcissa did well to hide it. Trusting Arthur with Merlin, she went ahead inside to get Madam Pomfrey to ready a bed for Arthur. The moment the matron saw Arthur wrapped in Merlin’s arms, she didn’t waste her time and ushered both of them toward the nearest bed. She quickly pushed a Dreamless Sleeping Draught down Arthur’s throat when she realised that the blond was going to have a panic when Merlin tried to pull away from him. Once Arthur was asleep, she waved her wand to make her assessment, and asked Narcissa what had happened. She listened quietly to Narcissa’s story, pursing her lips when the Slytherin reached the end of her story. When Merlin threw in Alphard’s message, the woman rolled her eyes and said that even without Alphard saying so, there was no way she’d let Arthur leave the bed.
“He’s terribly shocked by what he’s seen,” Pomfrey said as covered Arthur with a blanket. “It wouldn’t do him any good if he was forced to go through his day as if nothing had happened. No. The boy’s staying here until he feels better. Mental health is as important as physical health, you know. In fact, I think I’ll keep him here for the night. Just to make sure.”
“I’ll stay with him,” Merlin said strongly. It wasn’t a request, and the matron knew it. That didn’t mean she liked it though.
Eyeing Merlin closely for awhile, stealing a glance at his hand that was intertwined with Arthur’s, she nodded stiffly her consent. “Yes. I suppose you will, Mr Potter. Do you want me to ask the professors to excuse you as well?”
“If that’s okay,” the warlock replied, nodding.
“Very well. I’ll have dinner delivered for you as well then. And I’ll get your brother to fetch something for you to change into.”
Merlin smiled thankfully. “Thank you, Madam Pomfrey.”
Pomfrey returned his smile before she turned her attention to Narcissa. “Miss Black, I know you’re worried about your brother. But I’m afraid I can’t let you to stay here. It’s bad enough that I’m allowing Mr Potter already.”
“But I’m his twin sister!” Narcissa exclaimed, which made Merlin a little guilty. He’d always known that the bond between twins were strong. But what he and Arthur had was so much stronger. They were literally soul mates after all.
“I understand, Miss Black. However, I cannot change the rules. I would have sent Mr Potter away as well if I hadn’t feared that your brother would have thrown a tantrum about it.” The matron sighed heavily when she saw the stubborn look on Narcissa’s pretty face, pinching the bridge of her nose in exasperation. “You have two more classes to go to, don’t you? After that,you can go straight here and be with your brother and Mr Potter. I’ll even turn a blind eye if you decided to stay the night.”
Merlin’s eyebrows raised high up on his forehead. He’d known Madam Pomfrey for three years. She very rarely was lenient toward visitors, not even when it was Dumbledore himself doing the visiting. But he realised that Pomfrey understood that the matters of mental health needed nothing else but support from loved ones. The realisation brought a wave of fondness into his heart for the matron, and Merlin made a silent promise that he’d bring the woman some cake from the kitchen once Arthur was feeling better. He turned to Narcissa, willing the blonde to agree with Pomfrey’s offer with his eyes. Narcissa looked like she was going to argue though, glaring fiercely at Merlin for siding with Pomfrey. But in the end, it seemed like the blonde knew it was pointless. With a scowl on her face, Narcissa relented. She gave Arthur a kiss on his forehead and patted Merlin’s back gently, telling him that she’d be back later. Merlin smiled thankfully and gave the blonde a nod of gratitude before she left with the matron behind, who told Merlin that she’d be in her office if he needed her.
Once he’d made sure that Narcissa and Mada Pomfrey had truly left, Merlin scooted his chair forward to be closer to Arthur, and clasped both of his hands on top Arthur’s chest, where his heart was. The young warlock could feel the fast beating of Arthur’s heart, felt that despite being asleep, Arthur was still very much in distress. Wihispering some long, forgotten ancient spells, Merlin knew his eyes flashed golden as he used his magic to calm Arthur down. A part of him was tempted to take away Arthur’s memory of what he’d seen that day, but the other part of him realised that it would be a huge breach in Arthur’s privacy. He’d promised that he would never use magic on Arthur without his permission, unless it was a matter of life and death. Although all of his being argued that Arthur’s well-being wasn’t only in terms of physical, he knew that Arthur would beg to differ. So Merlin fought his instincts, and merely used his magic to soothe Arthur’s worries.
About an hour later, at around three, James and Sirius came into the Infirmary, both of them holding a bundle of clothes and other things for Merlin and Arthur. First and Second Years finished their classes around two hours ahead of the upper-years students, and after receiving Madam Pomfrey’s message, both boys quickly went to get Merlin’s and Arthur’s stuffs, when Merlin knew that usually they would spend the rest of their day hanging by the Black Lake until dinner time with their friends Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew. Merlin thanked them both and went to the bathroom to change out of his uniform, making sure that he did it in record time so Arthur wouldn’t be worrying over his absent if he was awaken. When Merlin returned back to Arthur’s side, it turned out that the blond was still fast asleep, with James and Sirius eyeing the older boy warily. Merlin noted fondly that there was something akin to protectiveness shone in Sirius’ eyes though, and he knew that if he wasn’t around, he could trust Sirius to look after Arthur.
Keeping his clothes in the drawer beside Arthur’s bed, the warlock proceeded to change Arthur’s out of his uniform. His fingers moved automatically as he got rid of the clothing from Arthur’s body, unaware that James and Sirius spent a good minute staring at them before they quickly turned their backs on them, face flushing when they realised Merlin wasn’t stopping himself from taking off Arthur’s pants. In Merlin’s mind, he’d gone back to fourteen hundred years ago, when he was undressing Arthur for his bedtime. It came naturally to him, as if the past few centuries hadn’t happened. It was only after he’d tucked Arthur under the blanket that he finally snapped out of it, realising what he’d done in front of his brother and Arthur’s cousin. As he looked at his feet, avoiding both younger boys’ eyes, he felt so embarrassed as if he’d done something inappropriate that he almost wished the ground would open for real and swallow him.
“Well, uh,” Merlin muttered, clearing his throat awkwardly. “I sup-suppose I should thank you two. For um, delivering our things.”
“It’s nothing, really,” James replied, his brown eyes were stubbornly fixed at the windows over Arthur’s head as his face flushed red one more time. Merlin could only hope that his brother wasn’t making any assumptions.
Even though, if James really did, obviously it wouldn’t be very far from the truth.
“So, what happened?” Sirius asked, thankfully distracting them all from the elephant in the room. “Madam Pomfrey merely told us that they Rigel’s here because he felt unwell during Uncle Alphard’s class. But she didn’t explain anything else.”
The young warlock didn’t immediately give an answer, for fear that he’d blurted everything. He wanted James and Sirius to know the truth. But he knew that it wasn’t only his secret to tell. If they were to come clean to two of the most important people in their lives after each other, he would like Arthur to be there with him to tell it.
“We were learning about Boggarts,” Merlin began his explanation carefully. “You know, the creatures that manifest into whatever we fear the most? Right um, we learned how to face it, using the spell Riddikulus to expel those creatures.”
“I’ve read about it,” Sirius quipped, his intelligent eyes glinted in recognition as his brilliant mind probably recounted every single fact he’d read about Boggarts. “The spell will force it to change into something funny, right? Because then it’ll bring laughter and Boggarts can’t stand laughter.”
“Yes, that is true,” Merlin confirmed, smiling slightly in mild amusement over Sirius’ brilliance. “So, uh, Professor Alphard then had us taking turns to face a Boggart, both Gryffindors and Slytherins. It was well over fifteen-minutes when it was finally Arthur’s turn. Long story short, when Arthur faced his Boggart, he couldn’t do it. And he went into shock because of it.”
“What was it?” James said in a small voice. “What was his biggest fear? What did he see?”
Somehow, Merlin knew that his brother, and probably Sirius too, knew the answer already.
“He saw me,” Merlin replied, swallowing heavily as he closed his eyes. “He saw me dying. Because that was– is his greatest fear.”
“He fears losing you,” James concluded, forcing Merlin to open his eyes. And at that moment, as his blue eyes met his brother’s brown eyes, he thought his brother looked so much older.
“You called him Arthur that night, when you tended to my wounds,” Sirius said before Merlin could even think how he could respond to James’ words. He whipped his head toward Sirius, willing himself to look calm and indifference.
“From Artorius,” the warlock replied. “It’s just four syllables too many, and I think Rigel’s much too pretentious. So, Arthur it is.”
James let out a small chuckle, and there was a sad smile on his face as he reached forward to take Merlin’s hand. “Brother, you don’t have to hide anymore. I know. Sirius knows. We know."
With those last two words, Merlin felt like a huge burden, almost as heavy as the burden he’d carried back in Camelot and he had to hide his magic from Arthur, was lifted. He felt his knees went weak, and was thankful that both boys were quick enough to catch him and guide him onto his seat. Running a trembling hand through his hair, he let out a wet chuckle as he looked at James and Sirius with tearful eyes. He opened his palm toward James, who easily linked his hand with Merlin’s, the blind trust the younger boy had reminded Merlin to all the times James would come into his room in the middle of the night when the boy was still a toddler, scared because of the thunderstorm that had kept him awake.
“You have no idea how I’ve always wanted to tell you about this,” Merlin whispered, tears falling profusely down his face. “But I was afraid that once you knew the truth, it would change everything between us. That you would treat me differently.”
“Don’t be silly,” James laughed, his own tears falling. “You’re my brother. You’re the one who held me every night through every thunderstorm when we were little. You’re the one who reprimanded me when I broke Mum’s antique vase, only to take all the blame when she found out about it. You’re my brother, the best brother in the whole universe. Nothing can change that.”
Merlin laughed as he pulled James into his arms. There were so many things he wanted to tell James, but his emotions were clogging up his throat. In the end, he merely tightened his arms around his brother, hoping that the hug could convey everything he wanted to say. That he loved James, that he would never let anything hurt him, that he would always do everything in his power to protect his baby brother. When he finally let him go, Merlin couldn’t help but to ask how exactly did James find out the truth, and when did he put things together.
“I’ve always known since we were children, I think. You used to call out for his name, you know. In your sleep,” James said, looking a bit embarrassed as if he was the one who was calling out someone’s name in his sleep. “You would say how sorry you were, that you were a sorcerer, and you’d only ever used your for him. Then, when it’s particularly bad, you’d beg him to stay with you.”
“That was when he died, wasn’t it?” Sirius asked, his silver eyes took a brief glance in Arthur’s way. “That was when Rige – when Arthur died after the Battle of Camlann.”
“Yes,” Merlin choked his answer, his chest constricted in the unbearable pain he always felt whenever he relieved Arthur’s death.
“That must be your fear as well then,” the young Black added. “To lose him. Except, you have lost him before, didn’t you?”
"Thirteen times to be exact,” Merlin said sadly, causing the younger boys to gape at him. “I’ve lived nineteen lives before, this is my twentieth – my last one. I’ve only lived four lives when I couldn’t find Arthur, or when we didn’t exactly live in the same lifetime. Whenever we did, I always tried to make sure that I would die first before him. Obviously, I failed. There were only three times when I died before he did, and two of those he didn’t even know I was there.”
“Oh, brother,” James whispered as this time, he pulled Merlin into a hug. “You must have suffered so much. I couldn’t imagine going through what you had. I’m sorry."
Merlin smiled as he stroked James’ air, finding it funny that in a way, he was the on who was consoling James. “It’s fine, James. It was all in the past. Most of them happened nearly centuries ago. Not even Dumbledore was even alive then, no matter how old he is.”
James chuckled at the joke as he pulled back, face wet with tears. As he wiped them, the boy said, “I think I’m going to get some food from the kitchen. Dinner’s still about three hours away, and you must be rather hungry.”
“I am feeling a little peckish,” Merlin agreed.
“That settles it then. Hopefully, once I’ve returned, A-Arthur will be awake and you both can tell us everything while we all eat.”
“Sure. And James, you can call Arthur and I whatever you want. Narcissa still calls us Rigel and Matthew sometimes.”
“Wait, she knows?” Sirius nearly yelled. “You two told her and not me and James?”
Merlin rolled his eyes, finding Sirius’ temper and his habit to make hasty-conclusions to be extremely similar to Arthur’s. “We didn’t tell her on purpose, of course. She saw me doing magic, my magic, and we had no choice but to tell her.”
Sirius’ mind only caught on one part though.
“You have your own kind of ma – ”
“Sirius!” James called out, glaring at his friend. “We agreed we’d do this once your cousin’s awake. So stop badgering my brother about this.”
The raven-haired pouted as he crossed his arms petulantly in front of his arms. ”Fine."
Merlin chuckled as he watched his brother’s and the young Black’s antics. Thankfully, James didn’t say anything that would start a fight and merely made his way toward the door to the Hospital Wing. When he had one hand on the door-handle though, he stopped. He turned back, a mischievous glint in his brown eyes as he looked straight at Merlin.
“By the way, Merlin?” the younger Potter said, his tone indicated that he could barely hold back his laughter, even though there was also wonder in it as it probably settled in the brunet’s head for the first time that his big brother was the greatest wizard of all time.
“I give you and Arthur my blessing. Just promise me that you two won’t traumatise my poor, innocent eyes when you two feel like snogging each other’s face off.”
Merlin could only stare at his brother’s retreating figure as Sirius’ bark-like laughter rang loudly in the room, followed by Madam Pomfrey’s stern reprimanding.
It had begun.
The year was 1972, and people were dying in an alarming rate.
The first few casualties of the war against Voldemort and his minions.
It started with Edwin and Meredith Prewett – parents to Fabian, Molly and Gideon Prewett. They were killed in their own home, the whole place practically reeked of Dark Magic with the Dark Mark glowing maliciously in the sky on top of their house. Then there was Eric Fawley, older brother to Alice Fawley, Frank Longbottom’s girlfriend. The older Fawley was killed by Death Eaters in his second year serving as a member of the Order of the Phoenix. Eric’s death was followed closely by the death of twenty Muggle orphans when Voldemort himself destroyed an orphanage called Wool’s Orphanage. Students from Third Year and older were whispering left and right about taking sides. Order of the Phoenix, or Death Eater? That was the two big questions everyone had to choose. The older the students were, the more serious they got about their options. Merlin’s heart broke whenever he saw a professor approached a student to deliver the terrible news of the death of their family members. It broke his heart even more as time passed, and those children slowly became used to to those news.
They were children. Children shouldn’t have worried over the deaths of their family members.
Children shouldn’t have gotten used to the Death.
How Merlin wished he was older so he could outright fight Voldemort now before he killed more people in his insane agenda of purification. He knew that his magic was more than strong enough to defeat Voldemort. Even in his young body, Merlin’s magic had always been more developed than it should have been, courtesy of the fact that his soul was centuries old. But the same couldn’t be said about Arthur. Merlin knew that there was a reason why Arthur was reborn as a wizard, and even though this was the blond’s second life as a wizard, there was no way that he would be ready to fight Voldemort and his Death Eaters along side Merlin. Back then, even though he was powerful Alastar’s magic was mostly used for teaching, once he took over his father’s position as a Hogwarts professor. The wards Merlin and the Four Founders put around Hogwarts were strong enough to battle the Muggles and their pitch-forks when the Second Purge came. This time, it was much different. Not only they would be fighting accomplished wizards instead of paranoid Muggles, they would be going against one of the Darkest wizards of all times.
He knew that Arthur was just as frustrated as he was though. He could feel the former king’s irritation growing whenever they the Daily Prophet and there were more people dying as days passed. It was more than once that Merlin had to physically stop Arthur from sneaking out of Hogwarts in the middle of the night, by pinning the blond’s body onto the ground after Merlin surprise-attacked him and tackled Arthur onto the ground. Lanky and slight he might be, but Merlin had ages of experience in trying to stop Arthur from doing something stupidly heroic. Every single time he stopped Arthur, the bigger Gryffindor would hiss at Merlin to let him go. Sometimes, as if they had a telepathic link that alerted them of Arthur’s and Merlin’s distress, both James and Sirius would wake up as well, staring at the two older Gryffindors wrestling on the ground, before they quickly helped Merlin to stop Arthur from leaving. That would, more often than not, led to a screaming match between the two Black cousins that only stopped until they realised that they’d woken the rest of the Gryffindors. Only then would they stop fighting, and Arthur would grudgingly agree to stop trying to sneak out.
That was, until that news came.
Merlin cursed fate that it had to happen in the middle of a Quidditch game.
“Arthur. Arthur! Arthur, stop! There’s nothing you can do!” Merlin hissed in Old Britonnic as he and Sirius worked together to keep Arthur from marching from the Quidditch pitch. From the corner of his eyes, he noticed James had flown off to go get Narcissa.
“Let me go,” Arthur gritted out, struggling hard to pull his arms free from. He was seemingly unaware of his Quidditch team staring at him, his position as Captain and star Chaser forgotten. “I’m going to talk to her. I’m going to make her see some fucking sense. DAMN IT, MERLIN! LET ME GO, YOU IDIOT!"
The warlock only wished that everyone thought Arthur was cursing him instead of calling him by his real name.
Sirius, Merlin said in his mind, causing the Second Year to jerk in surprise. It was the first time after all that Merlin used his magic to speak telepathically.
Yes? Sirius replied in hesitation, although his face betrayed nothing.
You and James need to get everyone away. Let Narcissa and I deal with Arthur.
All right, Merlin.
Although he shared the same stubborn qualities as his cousin, Merlin was thankful that when it came to the well-being of said cousin, Sirius was rather easy enough to reason with. After making sure that Merlin could hold on Arthur all by himself, Sirius quickly went to get Narcissa before he told James what Merlin told him to do. By the time Narcissa had pushed her face in Arthur’s line of sight, Merlin noticed that Sirius and James had herded everyone else away from them – even McGonagall. Sending a wordless thank you through the telepathic link to both Sirius and James, Merlin then focused all his attention on his King, who had calmed down slightly as he listened to whatever it was that Narcissa whispered into his ears. It was several minutes later that Arthur finally stopped struggling against Merlin, and allowed himself to be led to sit on the bench in the Quidditch changing room, with Narcissa plastered closely by his side. It was only after Merlin had knelt down in front of Arthur to send him a wave of soothing magic, that the warlock could finally hear what Narcissa was whispering in her brother’s ears.
“…not Morgana. Bella’s not Morgana. She knew what she was doing when she joined Voldemort. Whatever she’s chosen, it’s not your fault. It’s never your fault. And even then, what had happened to Morgana wasn’t your fault either. It’s no one’s fault but their own for making those awful choices. So, please, don’t leave. Don’t leave me, brother. I need you. I need my twin, my big brother."
Merlin felt like there was a knife being pushed deep into his heart as Narcissa’s words finally settled in. Even after all these years, it turned out that Arthur was still blaming himself for what had happened to Morgana. Merlin had told Arthur of what his betrayal to Morgana that had pushed her completely into Morgause’s influence. It was a burden he’d carried for centuries, though as years passed, he’d learned to live with what he’d done. Especially when Arthur told him that he understood why Merlin did what he did, and that he’d forgiven him. But never, not in a million years, would Merlin ever consider Arthur blaming himself as the reason for Morgana falling victim to the Dark Magic. There were a lot of people to blame for what happened to Morgana – Merlin, Uther, Morgause, and even Gaius – but never Arthur. The former king had always tried to reason with Morgana, to see the good that he hoped his old friend – his sister – still had. It broke Merlin’s heart when he realised that in Arthur’s eyes, Bellatrix becoming a Death Eater felt like he’d failed Morgana all over again.
They never talked about it, but Merlin always realised the similarities between Arthur’s older sisters with Morgana. Bellatrix was like the vengeful Morgana that had tried to kill them, while Andromeda was the compassionate Morgana who had helped Merlin to save Ealdor. It was probably why Arthur, whether consciously or not, distanced himself from both of them. He should have known that the first time Bellatrix allowed her friends to attack him all those years ago probably hurt Arthur more than it should be. He should have known that whenever he saw Andromeda beamed up at the sight of Ted Tonks, the sad smile on Arthur’s face talked of how he regretted all that Morgana had lost and could have had. Arthur rarely talked about how things were between him and his older sisters, especially after he got into Gryffindor. But Narcissa would sometime let slip to the young warlock how Bellatrix was the one who held little Arthur when he had his nightmares, who had taught him along side Andromeda how to fly and to be the great Chaser he was now.
“Rigel?” a faint, feminine voice was heard. Arthur was the first one to react, and Merlin understood perfectly. After all, Andromeda did sound remarkably like her older sister.
“Andy,” Arthur whispered, his eyes welling up once again. “Andy, I’m sorry. I know she wouldn’t have become a Death Eater if it weren’t for me. If I hadn’t become a Gryf – ”
“What the hell are you talking about, kid?” Andromeda said with wide eyes as she took her seat at Arthur’s other side. “We have always known that Bellatrix is too much like our parents. We’ve always know that her love for us will always precedes her loyalty to the Pureblood ideals. You should have realised that even if you’d become a Slytherin, Bella would still join Voldemort.”
“But – ”
Andromeda cut Arthur’s words short when she cupped her brother’s face in her hands, forcing the blond to look down at her. “Rigel, I want you to listen to me right now, and never forget what I tell you. You are not the reason why Bella did what she did. If anyone should be blamed, that would be me. I’ve known for sometime that she planned on becoming a Death Eater after she graduated. I’ve known, and I did nothing. I could have talked her out of it, I could have told Dumbledore about this, I could have told you. But no. I kept quiet. I turned away from the truth that I’m going to lose my sister. And I did that because I was scared. Because I’m not you, Rigel. Because I’m not the brave Gryffindor you always are, always have been, and always will be.”
“I – ”
“So, I want you to shut up and stop blaming yourself. You are not to blame. It is not your fault. And I forbid you from doing something as stupid as coming to see her to make her see some bloody sense. If there’s anything you and Bella have in common, that will be your utter stubborness. There’s no talking Bella out of this, Rigel, and you know that. Like you, once she’s set her mind on something, it’s almost impossible to change her mind.”
“Andy – ”
“I can’t lose you too, brother,” Andromeda said, her voice breaking as her tears began to fall as well. “I’ve lost Bella. I can’t bear to lose you too. Especially not when I know that it’ll be Bella who’s going t-to…to take you from me. Please, Rigel. Don’t do this. Stay here with me and Cissy.”
It was awhile until Arthur exhaled a wet and trembling sigh as he nodded his head. Gently, he lifted his arms around his sisters as he pulled them into his arms, burrying his face into their hair. Merlin politely stepped out to allow the siblings some privacy, where he found James and Sirius were waiting patiently with the rest of their Quidditch team. At the worried look in Sirius’ eyes, Merlin realised that the younger Black was the one who had gone to get his other cousin for Arthur. Flashing the Beater a reassuring smile, Merlin then went forward to hug Sirius, who let out a heavy sigh as he returned Merlin’s hug. When he pulled back, he saw that upon seeing him, McGonagall and Madam Hooch had come over to him. McGonagall started to interrogate him on how Arthur was doing, and Hooch tactfully asked whether Arthur could continue the game or not. Before Merlin could answer her, Arthur came out with both of his sisters by his side, saying that he’d need to have some drink first and then he was good to go. Both women didn’t seem convinced, but at Arthur’s insistence, they relented. McGonagall then went on to tell the other professors about it while Hooch had gone to tell the Ravenclaw team that the game would continue.
As Arthur went to get ready with his team after James passed him his drink, Merlin went back to the stands with Narcissa and Andromeda. He didn’t even realise he’d gone to the Slytherin stand with the Black sisters until after he noticed James’ funny look on his face as he flew into his position with Sirius behind him. He flashed a sheepish grin toward his brother when he finally realised where he was, to which Narcissa noticed as well when she saw Sirius gestured about it to her. But no one else seemed to notice, and even if they did, Merlin had relatively good relationships with most of the Slytherins for them to ignore him. So, Merlin focused his attention on the game, watching Arthur flying fast toward Ravenclaw’s goal-post with the Quaffle in his arms. The other two Chasers, James and Kingsley Shacklebot, followed closely behind and they made a great team as they passed the Quaffle between each other to avoid Ravenclaw’s Chasers snatching the Quaffle from them. When Arthur passed the Quaffle to James, who quickly threw it into one of the goal-post and scored, Merlin and the two Black sisters probably cheered the loudest.
“You care about him, don’t you?” Andromeda said awhile later, without taking her eyes off the game in front of them. Her question caught Merlin off guard, he almost didn’t see Sirius and Frank Longbottom working together to beat the Bludgers away from the Chasers, especially Arthur as the star Chaser.
“I’m sorry. What did you say?” Merlin asked, even though he heard perfectly well what was said.
“You care about my brother. About Rigel. A lot, it seems.” Andromeda then turned around and looked at Merlin, smiling the gentle smile Merlin often saw on Arthur and liked to think as his smile. “Cissy told me what happened last year, you know. During Uncle Alphard’s class.”
“I think everyone’s known about it by now,” Merlin said awkwardly, even as he let out a small chuckle. “Not when there were forty other people there in your uncle’s classroom.”
Andromeda laughed. “True. But that’s not point. I’m talking about how quick you were to take care of Rigel, and how the fear of losing you was enough to cripple my brother, no matter the fact that it was just a Boggart. My brother’s more like our older sister than either of us are willing to admit. And that is a compliment because Bella is the strongest person I know. So, you can imagine how surprised I was when I heard from Cissy what had happened.”
“Well, um… Huh. I uh – ”
“There’s something about you, Matthew,” Andromeda said, her smile widened as she patted Merlin’s arms, oblivious to the fact that her words brought back memories in Merlin’s mind. “There’s something about you, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. But I know now that you’re good for him. That you’ll look after him.”
When Andromeda gave him one last smile before turning her attention back to the game, Merlin felt terrible. He always hated hiding the truth from people he cared about, and he knew that after that day, he’d grown to care about Andromeda the way he now cared about Narcissa and Sirius. But again, it wasn’t only his secret to tell. It was Arthur’s too. And the last time they revealed everything to James and Sirius, Arthur had hated the look in both boys’ faces – the worry, the fear, and especially the awe. Both Merlin and Arthur had agreed, that they would only reveal everything to everyone once they’d graduated. When they were finally ready to face Voldemort. Until then, they would keep everything a secret.
“I’m going to kill him.”
“Cous – ”
“No, cross that. I’m going to kill him and her.”
“Goodness, it’s just a date, Rigel. It’s not like he’s asking her to elope with him.”
“BUT HE’S A STINKING MALFOY!”
Merlin rolled his eyes at the furious blond, who was glaring venomously at him. It was on a sunny Saturday in March, and they were a week away from the time for Hogsmeade visit. The both of them were joining James and Sirius with their friends for breakfast, when they noticed that everyone in the Hall had gone silent. It took them awhile to realise that everyone was staring in the direction of the Slytherin table, where an unusually nervous Lucius Malfoy was making his way toward none other than Narcissa Black. It was deadly silent, and Merlin could hear from across the room what Lucius said to Narcissa, asking her to go to Hogsmeaded with him. He felt Arthur tensing beside him when Narcissa beamed at the older Slytherin, and agreed to go with Lucius. If it hadn’t been for Andromeda’s quick thinking, who was close friends with Lucius, by dragging both her sister and her best friend out of the Hall, Merlin knew that Arthur would march toward Lucius to break the other blond’s neck – without magic.
Despite the two years gap between them, it was very well-known among Hogwarts inhabitants that Arthur and Lucius hated each other. They both became Chasers for the respective Houses around the same time, and were equally brilliant. The fact that Lucius became Captain a year before Arthur did, even if technically, Arthur was still a lot younger when he finally became Captain, made the former king extremely bitter. People always speculated why exactly Arthur and Lucius hated each other, and most of them thought that their animosity came from the fact that they could have been brothers with their similar colouring. Merlin didn’t know why Lucius disliked Arthur, but he knew exactly why Arthur disliked the Slytherin. With his troublesome past, Arthur had developed abandonment issue, without the blond himself realising it. So, when Arthur found out that Lucius had become Andromeda’s best friend, he felt like he was being replaced. In a way, his reaction toward Lucius and Narcissa going together for Hogsmeade was rather understandable. If he had reacted that badly when Lucius became friends Andromeda, it was bound to be much worse if Lucius ended up dating Narcissa.
“Narcissa’s a big girl, cous,” Sirius said, showing his rare act of wisdom as he pushed a plate of toast in Arthur’s way. “She can take care of herself. I know you’re worried that Lucius asked her out just to get back at you, right? But really. Even if he does, Narcissa’s more than capable to hurt him.”
“Besides,” James butted in, lowering his voice a bit so Remus and Peter couldn’t hear him. “If you taught her just half of what you and Mer– Matthew have been teaching me and Sirius, I don’t think Lucius stand a chance against her. She’s going to destroy him.”
“Well, yes,” Arthur reluctantly agreed. “But still though – ”
“And then there’s also Andromeda,” Merlin quickly added. “You don’t think she’ll just keep quiet if Lucius has hurt Narcissa, right? I don’t think even you are save from her wrath for hurting Cissy.”
Arthur pouted when he realised that he was outnumbered. Huffing petulantly like a little child, he bit viciously into his toast as he glared at the three of them. ”Fine. I’m not going to kill him. Yet."
“Good boy,” Merlin said as he patted Arthur’s blond head, grinning widely when Arthur glared at him. The four boys around them couldn’t help but to laugh at their antics.
“I think the biggest issue is how we aren’t allowed to visit Hogsmeade as well,” James said, changing the subject. “It’s just unfair! We demand equal rights!”
“It’s not like you haven’t sneaked out to Hogsmeade before,” Remus said flippantly, which attracted Merlin’s attention.
"Lupin!” James exclaimed indignantly, throwing a grape at his best friend.
The other boy merely shrugged as he unapologetically said, “Oops.”
Merlin shook his head as he fought the smile that threatened to take care over his face. “James, I can’t believe you’re using Dad’s Cloak to sneak around. I am so telling Mum when we get home.”
“You’re the worst brother ever,” James huffed out dramatically, causing the six Gryffindors to laugh.
“Who are you two taking to Hogsmeade, by the way?” Peter asked, which instantly drained all laughter from Arthur and Merlin.
Both the older Gryffindors fell silent as they both shared a look between them. They’d both known about each other’s feelings since their first year. The people who mattered the most to them – Narcissa, James, Sirius and now Andromeda – had also known about it, and had given them their blessings. But the truth was, neither Merlin nor Arthur had really made it official between them. At first, it was because they were physically too young. Although, they knew that it wasn’t entirely too abnormal for relationships to start at eleven years of age. But now that they’d become teenagers, they didn’t think much about it because the dynamics between them had never really changed anyway. Since their time in Camelot, they’d always been that close, always had been willing to die for each other. While Andromeda was worrying over her relationship with her boyfriend Ted Tonks, and Kingsley Shacklebot was trying all his might not to swoon whenever Amelia Bones smiled at him, Merlin and Arthur had always known that they were each other’s until the time they’d finally fulfilled their destiny. Their destinies had been intertwined since centuries ago.
“Peter, you’re hopeless,” James sighed, rapping his knuckles not-so-gently on the other boy’s head.
“What?” Peter said, looking both confused and annoyed as he rubbed his head. “It’s not like they have ever been seen with a girl other than Narcissa Black. In fact, I used to think that Matthew had feelings for Rigel’s twin, and that’s why they’re so close.”
“They’re seeing each other, Peter. Gods, but you really are stupi – OW!” Sirius yelled mid-sentence, glaring at his cousin when Arthur flicked his ear. “Why did you do that for?”
“Don’t call your friend stupid, stupid,” Arthur reprimanded, frowning in a way that reminded Merlin of Gaius, and he almost giggled at the thought.
"But you just called me stupid!” the younger Black exclaimed angrily. “Besides, you call Matt an idiot all the time. How’s that different?”
“One, you’re my baby cousin so I get all the rights to call you anything my heart desires,” Arthur replied with a smirk. “Two, Matthew calls me names all the times, so it’s only fair.”
“You’re such a cock, you bloody clotpole,” Merlin drawled monotonously, narrowing his eyes at Arthur, who merely cocked his eyebrow condescendingly in return.
Merlin was expecting another witty remark from Arthur. But it was Remus instead who did it.
“And here I thought you liked it, Matt,” Remus said smoothly, the mischievous glint in his eyes failed to hide what he was actually insinuating.
In unison, Arthur and Merlin blushed at Remus’ words, and James and Sirius looked between amused and uncomfortable, while Peter seemed like he was slowly understanding everything. Clearing his throat awkwardly and noisily, Arthur said, “You’re deceptively wicked, Remus. Turns out all that quiet and docile manner are merely a farce to hide the annoying arse you really are.”
Remus shrugged casually, even as he let a small smile slipped onto his face. “Well, I was only being logical. No doubt that you’d have done it in the past.”
“We just turned fifteen a few months ago, Remus,” Merlin said, his face was still a little red. “I turned fifteen on January first, and Arthur on October eleventh.”
Somehow, before the frown came on Remus’ face, Merlin realised what the younger boy was talking about. Shaking his head, Remus continued. “I didn’t mean past as in the past few years. I meant it as in much further. Like, several decades ago.”
This time, everyone except Peter, gaped at Remus.
“Y-you know?” James whispered, his eyes wide as he stared at his friend.
Remus, the infuriating little shit that he was, tilted his head to the side in faux-innocent. When he spoke next though, he made sure that his voice was faint enough so no one but the five of them could hear him. “Know what, James? That Sirius’ cousin is the reincarnation of King Arthur? That your big brother is the reincarnation of the Merlin himself?”
Late as always, Peter’s eyes widened as he exclaimed, “HOLY SHI – ”
“How did you know?” Merlin quickly asked, his hand flying forward to cover Peter’s mouth.
“From the moment James introduced you two to me.” Remus paused, and for the first time that day, he looked nervous as he shared a look with his friends. “I uh… I can hear things better than most people. And I– I can sense other people’s magic. Yours is extremely powerful, Merlin."
The young warlock stared at the younger boy long and hard. Of course, he’d known of Remus’ condition way before his brother and his friends found out about it. He’d sensed the Darkness that came from the wolf inside the boy. But it was faint, covered by the pureness of his heart. But at first, Merlin thought that it was only because Remus was still a child. He couldn’t help the gripping fear he felt at the thought that the older Remus got, he’d lose himself completely to the wolf. That was why he told Arthur about it, who could barely sleep a wink because he was worried over the fact that his cousin was sharing a dorm with Remus. But as they watched Remus became even kinder than they could possibly imagine, the pureness of his heart maintained a firm grip around the Darkness that came from the wolf, Merlin and Arthur knew that they were wrong – and how embarrassed they were about it. They should have known better than to judge Remus for something that he could have no control over. After all, Remus’ case wasn’t all that different than Merlin’s back in their old Camelot days.
“Brother?” James’ voice called him back to reality. Blinking back into focus, Merlin turned his head toward his younger brother.
“You know that Remus and Peter can be trusted, right? I can vouch for the both of them.”
“And me too,” Sirius added, his silver eyes were aimed at Arthur though because everyone knew that if Arthur said no, Merlin could easily change his mind as well.
It was Arthur who gave the boys their answer. “We believe you. All of you. So, don’t worry about me chopping your heads off, or Merlin cursing all of you to turn into a frog.”
The tension faded from those boys almost immediately upon hearing Arthur’s words. There were relieved smiles on their young faces, and Sirius even went as far as giving Arthur a quick hug. “Thank you for not killing us, Your Highness,” the younger Black said with a cheeky grin on his face.
“Sod off, Sirius,” Arthur laughed, his head reached forward to ruffle Sirius’ hair.
“Hold up for a moment though,” Peter suddenly said, raising a hand. “I still have one question.”
“Yes, my boy. You are going to Hell,” James said drawled out, making a cross-gesture before he clasped his hands together like a Muggle priest would.
Peter, whether because he didn’t understand what James said or because he was used to his friend’s insults, ignored him. Looking from Merlin to Arthur seriously, the younger boy said, “Who are you two taking for Hogsmeade though? You haven’t exactly answered my question, you know.”
“He has a point,” Remus agreed, also with a serious look on his face as he nodded in agreement with James and Sirius as well. But the seriousness the four of them had didn’t last long before they all broke in laughter.
“You little shits,” Arthur said, rolling his eyes both in exasperation and fondness. Heaving out deeply, Arthur clapped his hand once and put on a determined look on his face. “Very well, then. Since you’re asking for it, I’m going to do it.”
The four boys stopped laughing abruptly at the same time Merlin stared at Arthur warily, noticing the faint mischief in the blond’s eyes.
“Arthur, what are you – ”
“Matthew Potter,” Arthur said loudly as he got up from his seat, attracting the few people left in the Great Hall, including Dumbledore and McGonagall. “We have been friends for almost five years now, and I can’t help it when my heart demands for something more.”
“Stop it, prat. You’re embarrassi – ”
“So, will you give me the honour of becoming your boyfriend, and to go on a date with me to Hogsmeade next week?”
It was silent. Utter and complete silent. Heck, Merlin didn’t even have to be a werewolf to be able to hear everyone’s heartbeat. From the corner of his eyes, he saw some of the girls he recognised as Arthur’s fans to look extremely disappointed and were on the verge of crying. Over Arthur’s shoulder, much to his amusement, he saw Dumbledore passing a couple Galleons into McGonagall’s hand, who looked mildly pleased. The sight made him laugh, especially when Dumbledore winked in his way. Still with the remnants of his laughter, he looked back at Arthur and nodded his head, feeling his cheeks hurt when his grin widened into epic proportions. When Arthur beamed at him, pulling Merlin onto his feet so that their faces were only an inch away from each other, Merlin thought he’d never seen Arthur more beautiful than he was at that moment. When Arthur leaned forward and pressed his lips gently against Merlin’s, the young warlock felt the happiest he’d ever been in all the centuries he’d lived.
(Narcissa and Andromeda weren’t happy that they’d missed it all out. They really weren’t.)
“Cool badge you have there, Matt. Very shiny.”
“Shut up, Rigel.”
“Always knew you liked it when you ordered me around.”
“Bloody hell, ew! I don’t need to know what you two do behind closed doors!”
“Get lost, midget. The grown ups are talking here.”
“I am literally two inches taller than you.”
“And I’m literally several centuries older than you, so sod off.”
“Hard to believe you two are supposed to be older than me.”
Merlin, Arthur and Sirius whipped around, finding the grinning face of a young boy who could very well be Sirius’ twin if it weren’t for his younger face and smaller build. Face splitting into a grin, Arthur leaned forward and hugged the boy tightly. ”Regulus! It’s been sometime!”
“Five hours and fifteen minutes, to be precise,” Regulus Black replied dryly. “You and Matthew missed breakfast. Euphemia was looking for you two. Thought Sirius and James had locked you in the closet again.”
“Hah. So funny,” Merlin drawled out, rolling his eyes. The youngest Black grinned in return.
“Oh, so sorry, Monsieur Prefect.”
When Arthur and Sirius laughed, Merlin could only shake his head as he fought back a grin. “You Blacks are absolute prats.”
“Yet you’re in love with one of them,” James quipped cheekily, materialising beside Merlin with a laughing Narcissa beside him.
His brother’s words brought a smile on his face as he turned his head to the blond prat beside him, who had turned his beaming smile at him. Bumping his shoulder against Arthur’s, he softly said, “Yes, I am.”
“Aw, aren’t you two so sweet?” Narcissa sighed dramatically. With a grin, she took Merlin’s and Arthur’s hands in both of hers, and began to drag them to find an empty compartment. “Come on, let’s find some place to sit. I truly hate those other Prefects. Bloody pretentious arses they all are.”
“You should be comfortable with them though. Your boyfriend’s just like that, after all,” Arthur said sweetly, giving his twin a mocking smile.
“Arthur, don’t start. You too, Cissy,” Merlin quickly said before Narcissa could reply her brother. Turning to the three boys, he said, “You’re all welcome to join us, you know.”
“Nah, we should get back to Remus and Peter,” Sirius said, nodding at James.
“And I promise my new friend Barty that I’ll sit with him,” Regulus said.
Merlin nodded and smiled. “Very well. See you later then.”
He bade the boys farewell before he allowed himself being dragged by his Slytherin friend. Merlin and Narcissa had spent the first half an hour of the train ride meeting the Prefects. He’d left ahead of Narcissa because his fellow Prefect from Gryffindor, Mallory McKinnon, pulled him away from the other Gryffindors to properly introduce herself to him. Mallory was a beautiful girl who came from the clan of the McKinnons – a family nearly as large as the Weasleys. She was quite intelligent, and was the only female player in Arthur’s Quidditch team, playing as Seeker. As she spoke, Merlin found himself strongly reminded of Freya, and it made it even easier for him to like her. He knew that working together with her wouldn’t be so bad. Before she went off to join her friends, Merlin saw her waving at a young brunette from his brother’s year, who was sitting with another girl her age with a head of fiery red locks. Merlin immediately recognised the two girls. Marlene McKinnon and Lily Evans – the two girls Sirius and James had spent the whole summer talking about when the Black boys stayed over with Merlin’s family.
Before the start of summer, Merlin had told Arthur that his mother invited him and his cousins to stay over at his house. Arthur agreed, and after he told his own mother, who merely nodded her pretty brown head without saying a word, Arthur went to Grimmauld Place to pick his cousins. Fortunately for him, neither Orion nor Walburga were home that day, and Arthur left a letter for his uncle and aunt explaining that he’d been given his parents’ permission to take his cousins on a holiday with him. Arthur had always spent his summers with the Potters, and it was Sirius’ second time to be there. For Regulus though, it was his first time because he couldn’t come with Sirius the first time since his parents wouldn’t allow it. That was why this time, Arthur had seen to it that his aunt and uncle weren’t home to stop him from taking his cousins. The boy was understandably nervous about it, even though Fleamont and Euphemia always came over to Grimmauld Place every few days since Merlin asked them to in Sirius’ First Year, to make sure that Regulus wasn’t being abused by his parents for what Arthur and Sirius had done. He still didn’t know the Potters very well except the glimpses he saw whenever he sneaked out of his room. Therefore, when Arthur introduced his youngest cousin to Merlin and James, the warlock made sure that he was extra friendly toward the young boy.
At first, Regulus was a little hesitant to join the many activities Merlin and Arthur had invited him to join – from playing Exploding Snaps and Quidditch, to playing Scrabble and the Muggle football. He was tense, his eyes always looked around warily as if his parents could come up any second to take him away and punish him for leaving. Not that Orion and Walburga hadn’t tried. Oh, they had tried the first morning the Black boys were staying over. But Euphemia unsheathed her claws, and snarling at those two lunatics that if they tried to take Sirius and Regulus away, she’d call the Aurors and have them incarcerated for child abuse. They wisely relented, knowing that even though they were the ones who were members of the Sacred Twenty Eight, the Potters had the Ministry at the palm of their hands. When Regulus heard about it from a grinning Arthur and a laughing Sirius, that was when the boy finally relaxed, sighing heavily as all the burden he’d been carrying since the moment his cousin had ‘kidnapped’ him from his home disappeared. Merlin was really pleased when the next time he asked Regulus to play chess with him, the boy nodded his head enthusiastically and went to follow Merlin to the living room. The warlock didn’t even notice it when the boy had beaten him.
Without the fear of his parents’ punishments haunting him, it was like Regulus had transformed into someone else. He participated in all the activities they all had with an excitement that caught even Sirius and Arthur, who knew the boy all their lives, off their guard. It only helped that Merlin’s parents treated him as if he was another one of their sons, smothering him with parental love that they boy craved fruitlessly from his own parents. When Arthur and Merlin found out about Sirius’ crush on Marlene and James’ on Lily, it took only a little goading from the older Gryffindors that for Regulus to join them in teasing Sirius and James about it. It pleased Merlin so much to see the boy so happy. He didn’t even mind when both Black brothers and James had gone on to tease him and Arthur whenever they caught the two of them stealing kisses. In no time, all five of them were joking around as if they’d always done that for years, as if they really were brothers for real. Merlin found often find himself staring fondly at Arthur wrestling Sirius to the ground whenever the boy had teased him, or when the blond was discussing Chaser tactics with James who was listening raptly, or when Arthur would talk to Regulus softly that nothing would change even if the younger boy got Sorted into Slytherin.
Merlin got along really well with Regulus. The boy, who looked at his older brother and cousin with something akin to hero-worship in his grey eyes, took one look at the way Merlin interacted with his heroes, and instantly warmed up to the warlock, even when he was still worried about his parents taking him away. Quiet where the older Blacks were loud, Regulus often preferred Merlin’s company over the loud idiots that were Arthur and Sirius. Merlin would ask Regulus to join him to make various Healing potions, after he found that Regulus was most interested in Potions. The boy was the first one to find out that Merlin was appointed as Gryffindor’s Prefect, even before Merlin himself did. He was looking for his Hogwarts letter among the many letters the Potter household had, when he accidentally ripped the envelope of Merlin’s letter, and the golden Prefect badge rolled out. After apologising profusely to Merlin as he gave him his letter, Regulus then congratulated Merlin loudly, alerting everyone in the house of the brilliant news. His parents were extremely pleased to hear about it, both were Prefects themselves back in their days. Arthur had swooped in to kiss Merlin the moment Euphemia and Fleamont pulled back from their son, and it took James clearing his throat loudly and obnoxiously for the two of them to pull apart. It was probably one of the best summers Merlin had ever had in a long time.
The train pulled to a sudden stop, jerking Merlin roughly out of his reverie. Looking out through the windows, he saw they had arrived in Hogsmeade, although it didn’t explain why the train had stopped so suddenly instead of slowing down smoothly like it always did. He felt Narcissa scooting closer toward him, her chin on his shoulder as she also took a look out of the window. “That was weird. They usually slowed down first before stopping completely,” Narcissa commented.
“He probably forgot the brakes,” Arthur said off-handedly as he pulled their trunks down. “Come on now, you two. Let’s go.” When both Merlin and Narcissa didn’t move, the blond sighed and tugged both of their robes. “Don’t you Prefects have duties to do? Some poor midget’s hand to hold lest they’ll fall into the Lake?”
“You’re an arse,” Merlin said with a glare, even though he followed the former king , pulling his trunk behind him.
When they got off the train, they found every single one of the students were scattered all over the station, all of them talking with each other about what was wrong with the train. Merlin heard his brother’s voice calling out his name, but he didn’t shout back a reply. He suddenly felt his magic growing restless in him, a clear sign that something dangerous was coming. He narrowed his eyes as he craned his neck to look around, to find out what was happening. He barely realised his brother’s presence with him, falling into a discussion with Narcissa and his three friends about why the train had suddenly stopped. When an overwhelming sense of terror gripped him, Merlin’s hand flew back searching for Arthur’s, who automatically caught it in a firm grip. Arthur turned him around, asking him what was wrong, worry filled his blue eyes. But before Merlin could answer him, came a loud explosion just a few metres away, and everything fell into chaos as students ran all over the place. It didn’t take him long to notice the sight of the hooded-figures who had Apparated into view, knowing instantly who they were.
"DEATH EATERS! THERE ARE DEATH EATERS HERE!” someone screamed. “EVERYONE, RUN!”
It was madness. There were people running everywhere, bodies pushing against each other. Merlin couldn’t even see anyone but Arthur ahead of him, who was frantically pulling his hand to follow him. He briefly noticed that his brother was running with Sirius, who was holding onto Narcissa’s hand. That was when the curses started to fly around, hurting people, destroying things. He saw Hagrid’s massive figure waving his umbrella over his head, attacking the Death Eaters as he used his body to protect the children closest to him. Some of the older kids tried to fight back against the Death Eaters, and the sight of his fellow students dropping and flying like inanimate objects sent chills down Merlin’s spine. He used his magic to help whenever he could, muttering spells under his breath as his eyes glowed golden. But with Arthur dragging him by his dominant-hand, running as fast as he could, it was rather hard to aim his attacks. The most Merlin could do was to cast Protection Spells, especially to the younger kids who were basically sitting ducks as they huddled together. His worry lessened a bit though when he remembered that both his brother and Arthur had never taken off the Protection Amulets he’d gifted them a couple years before. His only regret was that he’d never had the chance to make the same Amulets for the rest of the Black children.
“RIGEL!” Narcissa’s voice suddenly rang loud and clear over all other noises, causing both Arthur and Merlin to stop abruptly. “RIGEL, HELP!”
“CISSY!” Arthur called back, dragging Merlin toward the direction of his sister’s voice. “CISSY, WHERE ARE YOU?”
Instead of Narcissa’s voice giving an answer, they heard Andromeda’s voice yelling, ”Protego!"
“Arthur, they’re over there!” Merlin said, pointing at the figures of Narcissa and Andromeda fighting two Death Eaters, with a terrified Regulus pressed between them. Cursing under his breath, Merlin noticed that his brother and Sirius were fighting three Death Eaters along side Remus and Peter, just a few feet away from the Black sisters and Regulus.
“Let’s just hope that Narcissa, Sirius and James remember everything you’ve taught them,” Arthur huffed out as he pushed against people to get to their friends.
“Why aren’t the teachers here yet?” Merlin said, throwing a look around, hoping that Dumbledore and the rest of the teachers had arrived.
“Because they haven’t known yet,” Arthur answered, realisation dawned on him. He took out his wand from his pocket and didn’t even waste a moment before he exclaimed, ”Expecto Patronum!”
In the two times Arthur was reborn as a wizard, his Patronus always took the form of a dragon – his namesake. Even though he’d retained all his memories as Alastar Gryffindor, including all his knowledge of magic, Arthur had always refrained from showing his abilities to people, knowing that as Rigel, he shouldn’t have been able to do a quarter of the things he could do. That was why, when Merlin was teaching James and the other two Blacks how to cast a Patronus Charm, Arthur always made excuses so he wouldn’t have to do that, even though he knew that it was alright for him to demonstrate his magic in front of his cousins and James. Thus, when a familiar silvery-dragon that Merlin hadn’t seen in centuries came out from Arthur’s wand, he was rather thankful that everyone was too busy trying to save their own lives to notice Arthur’s Patronus. As the blond relayed his message to his Patronus, Merlin noticed that there was another Death Eater coming toward Narcissa and Andromeda, and the two Black sisters were too busy fighting their opponents. Before he realised what he were doing, that he was supposed to take his wand out from his pocket, Merlin thrusted his hand forward and sent jet of light toward the Death Eater with a golden flash of his eyes.
“Stop it!” Arthur yelled, pushing his palm forward to stop Merlin. It was too late though. He’d sent the spell crashing against the Death Eater. Attracting all the other Death Eaters’ attention.
"There he is!” a Death Eater yelled. “That’s the one you should capture!”
At first, Merlin thought the Death Eater’s pointed finger was aimed at him. But then he realised that he was wrong. Because Arthur’s hand was the last one left hanging in the air when the spell hit the Death Eater, they’d all thought that he was the one who had cast the magic. For the first time in a long time, Merlin felt terrified beyond relief. He’d made Arthur a target by using his magic. He had endangered his life again. What was worse, however, because Arthur now had his own magic, the heroic prat was convinced that he could protect himself without Merlin’s help. The warlock could only stare as Arthur recklessly used his body to protect Merlin when both of them were too late to cast the Protego Charm, knowing that the Amulet he wore could protect all kinds of curses. Merlin quickly gripped Arthur’s hand tightly when the former king started to make his way toward his sisters, but Arthur, who was always physically stronger than him, used all his strength to yank his hand free from Merlin’s grip. Merlin let out a frustrated groan as he had no choice but to join the fight, heading toward James and his friends to help them.
Bastard, Merlin snarled in his mind to Arthur, who he knew could hear and feel his anger loudly in that stupid blond head of his. Don’t you understand? I’m supposed to protect you. It’s my destiny.
I get that, Arthur replied, sounding a little distracted since his attention was divided. But don’t you think that it goes both ways? That I’m supposed to protect you too? Two sides of the same coin, remember? We’re each other’s half.
Merlin growled angrily as he sent a particularly vicious hex toward a Death Eater, surprising his brother. I don’t fancy living for a few more centuries just because you get yourself killed again, prat. So, you better don’t do anything stupid.
We’ll be making our family sick with our display of affection before you know it, Merlin. Hang on.
Arthur broke off the telepathic link, much to Merlin’s dismay. But the warlock knew that if they planned on winning the battle, neither of them could afford being distracted by the mental conversation they had. So grudingly, Merlin focus his attention on fighting the remaining Death Eater, telling James and his friends to leave him to find a place to hide. His brother and Sirius looked like they wanted to argue, and if it weren’t for Remus, they would most definitely do, despite the situation. From the corner of his eye, Merlin saw that Arthur was fighting back to back with Andromeda against two Death Eaters, while Narcissa had run off with Regulus to join James and his friends. He was too busy watching the two Black siblings fighting, and he didn’t realise there was another Death Eater joining the fight, sending him a jinx in his way that sent him flying. Although he hit the ground rather roughly, he was relatively fine. But that was all the distraction they needed to catch Arthur off his guard. Before either of them could see it coming, the new Death Eater had thrown a dagger at Arthur, which hit Arthur in his shoulder.
That was when Merlin knew that the knife was made of cold iron.
Because the only reason the Amulet failed to protect him against the dagger was because it was made of cold iron.
Being a knight, although it had been centuries since he last became one, Arthur was used to physical wounds caused by sharp objects. Merlin was even sure that Arthur probably didn’t even notice there was a dagger sticking into his shoulder, seeing that he kept on sending hexes after hexes toward his opponent. But what Arthur didn’t realise was, with the dagger in close proximity to his Amulet, all the magic Merlin had poured into it had stopped working. When he saw a spell headed toward Andromeda, and Arthur casually stepped in front of her, thinking that it wouldn’t have hurt him, Merlin felt his breath caught in his throat. When Arthur stumbled into Andromeda’s arms, blood dribbling out of his mouth, Merlin felt the power of the Old Religion started to well up inside him. When Arthur pushed himself off his sister, once again using his body as a shield to protect her, Merlin knew sparks of his power came flying from his fingertips. When a Death Eater popped out of the blue in front of Arthur, grabbing his motionless hand, Merlin exploded.
"NO!" the warlock howled loudly as he sent the wave of energy crackling around him flying toward every single Death Eater around him, killing them all in an instant.
He was too late though.
(“It’s too late… It’s too late…“)
The Death Eater had taken Arthur away.
(“All your magic, Merlin, and you can’t save my life.“)
Merlin might as well die, for without Arthur, he saw no point of living.
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