The Bargain

Chapter 18

"Gwen?" Merlin called gently to the queen sleeping on the ground, covered with his coat to make her more comfortable, even if she was still shivering. They were still by the creek and it was noon, so he was expecting Percival, Areisius and Gwaine to ride through the bushes at any moment. The queen stirred, blinking up at him.

"How are you feeling?" he asked her, turning his head sideways.

"Merlin!" she realized and got up and he took her into his arms as she hugged him. He realized how distant she had been for the previous couple of hours, it was like her mind was regaining consciousness.

"Eira's still somewhere in the castle. Leon stayed in the village of Dalry with at least eighty people they rescued from the cells. Gwaine, Percival and Areisius are arriving here soon," he explained, and she shifted closer to him.

"Who's Areisius? And what of the Helix?" she asked, and he was surprised to find that she was paying so much attention. Merlin took a breath and started to explain every single thing that had happened in Caerleon, about the bandits and Gwaine's sister and Areisius. Gwen gasped when she understood how much had happened to them, and then she just nodded as he spoke.

"What really happened to you?" Merlin asked her, studying her face carefully. He noticed a different look in her eyes, it was like a glint of fear followed her everywhere.

"I don't want to talk about it. As Leon probably told you, the warlord Aymon took over. I was foolish; his men were too many and too strong. It's all my fault. The citizens all knew who he was, but none of them were brave enough to tell us. That is also my fault. Camelot is slipping from my grip. I'm wasting everything that Arthur built up. The people are losing faith in me and I wonder if there is any chance we can get the kingdom back. Aymon made me answer questions, tortured me with his magic...he made me remember every single moment I ever spent with Arthur," Gwen finished sadly, no glimmer of hope left in her eyes like there usually was. Merlin didn't know what to say, he knew that she was broken inside; he too still hurt when he thought of Arthur.

"We did find the Helix, locked in an ancient cave deep in the forest. I have been told the prophecy, Gwen. There is a lot to process," Merlin mumbled softly, and then repeated the exact message Kilgharrah had gifted him with. Or burdened him with.

Gwen seemed confused, sad and overjoyed at the same time. He could see her trying to think through every word, staring at something invisible and biting her lip. "Arthur's child?" she asked, and Merlin nodded.

"I...I am already starting to think that that step isn't going to be difficult...I think I'm expecting a child, Merlin," Gwen explained nervously and Merlin saw a real smile escape from her lips.

He took her hand, comforting her, and smiled, feeling the warmth spread through him. He hoped that Gwaine, Percival and Areisius would come soon.

It was almost dark outside. Eira had given up waiting and had sat down on the cold floor, her arms aching from the strength of the chains that bound her to the floor. She didn't know if she believed Aymon, could her emotions really kill her? As if he could hear her thinking of him, the doors swung open and the king strolled in. She felt her heart start to beat faster and stood up, raising her head as he passed her. He finally stopped in front of the throne chair, sitting down and studying her without a word. His crown wasn't sitting straight on his head. Suddenly he laughed and the bejeweled, thin chains around his neck jangled with the movement.

"I can feel your emotions, Eira. They are simply vivid. I've never met anyone with such a strong emotional response, it's just incredible," he said, and she was once again struck by the sound of his voice; he enunciated each word in a sharp and quick way.

"I want to feel it again. I need to feel it again. I want to find out how much you can handle," he said and smiled in a strange way she had never seen before. He was insane.

"How much I can handle before what?" she asked and swallowed, trying to sound like his effect on her was invisible.

"Before you explode of course," he said and had that wicked smile on his face again, letting it continue into a piercing laugh. She pushed down the urge she had to beg for him to stop.

She was not weak and she was not about to let everything he had said earlier defeat her.

She wouldn't go down to her knees to save herself. She forced her eyes to remain open, staring into his icy eyes until he snapped his fingers.

This time, she could hear his voice, echoing in the near empty room. "I'm like a second demon in your mind, the other being yourself. I know what your magical name is and I know that you haven't told Gwaine. You're scared of yourself Eira," he said, and she realized that every single word he had said was true. How did he know that about her? She hadn't told anyone about her magical name, which had been said to her in a dream when she was little. She hadn't understood it. Every time someone said it out loud, she felt a sharp sting in her mind. She winced at the mere thought.

"Oh don't worry. I'm not going to say it yet. But, I do also know what it means: followed, haunted, condemned, trapped by nightmares," Aymon stated and she could picture him laughing although everything was pitch black around her.

Suddenly, the lean, ghostly figure of her mother appeared before her. Her long, blonde hair was pulled into a long braid, which had the first flowers of spring in it. Eira saw herself as a teenager running into her open arms, embracing her fragile mother tightly.

Then, the image changed to one of her a few months ago. She remembered that day exactly. That was the last time she had seen her mother. Suddenly emotions crashed into her and she realized: her mother had known that something was wrong, she had sent her away from their village that day on purpose. Eira opened her mouth, letting a pained cry escape from her parted lips, taking her face into her hands. The image flashed in front of her and then, a sequence of images invaded her mind and with every image came a strong sting of an emotion. Every single kiss, thought, and touch she had ever had rolled through her skin and her mind was clouded, like she had been shoved into a corner. It was worse than before, and even small moments of joy didn't feel important. Then, Eira realized something, her moments with Gwaine all gave her a feeling of fear, which she knew wasn't right. In all the chaos, she opened her mouth again, her feelings draining from her heart. Emotions flowed out of her like a river being emptied. But she knew that the rushing water belonged there.

She tried to command herself to stop. The speed of the memories was tangling them together, and she felt fear and rage and anxiety at the wrong moments. The feeling of her mouth open gave her an urge to scream, and she did not let the urge pass. "Stop! You can not break me in this way! I am not afraid of you, you're just feelings! Just memories! I am not going to make what defines me into something negative!" she screamed, barely stopping to breathe because she knew she couldn't anyway. "I have control!" she shouted, letting the scream rise from her heart and carry all of the negative association with her emotions out of her body, feeling a rush of release when air finally entered her. Ice cold water was suddenly thrown on her, soaking every part of her and she heard Aymon laugh.

Then she heard rapid footsteps, retreating, and as they left she heard the slamming of the doors to the throne room. The images stopped flashing, the emotions stopped moving, and then everything faded and she was torn from consciousness.

"I think I know exactly where Jetta is," Percival said and pointed to a small house before he ran to it. "Meet us by the creek!" Gwaine whispered before he and Merlin charged up the steps and into the castle, finally reaching the place they had been trying to enter for over an hour with the help of magic.

Gwaine saw Merlin close his eyes before pointing in the direction of the throne room. He had found Eira using his magic. Gwaine knew that he would never have anything against it.

When they reached the door they discovered that it was locked, so Gwaine looked at Merlin, who seemed insecure.

"Do it then!" Gwaine said, grinning, and gave his friend an encouraging look before Merlin raised his hand and the doors were blown away, sending the shattered wood to the floor. Gwaine immediately spotted Eira laying on the floor in the middle of the large room, her hands bound to the floor. Merlin mumbled something and directed his gaze at her handcuffs, which came off easily, sending bright sparks into the air. "I need to find Gaius," he said before he ran back into the hallway to look for the physician. Gwaine flew onto his knees as soon as he reached Eira, stroking her cheek and trying to wake her up. She was cold, and a half-empty bucket of water stood next to her; she was soaked in the rest of it. When she did not respond, he realized how little time he had and picked her up, carrying her out of the throne room and then running at a fast but gentle pace, panic about to get the best of him. He drew his sword, running through corridors and down steps until he reached the square. Luckily, the gates were still open and Gwaine headed for the stables, opening doors of houses he passed with his sword and telling people to run if they wanted to get out. He grabbed a smaller, bridled and saddled horse with fear in its eyes, and there was nothing he could do to stop it when it started running, so he had to leap onto it, Eira, motionless, still in his arms. He had no idea how he managed, but he grabbed the reins, let a large group of horses in the stables loose and got through the gates. He directed the horse into the forest and glanced back, seeing at least twenty people running through the gates, away from the castle, the horses following too. Gwaine instantly smiled with surprise when he spotted Merlin and Gaius riding at the very back of the group. He heard Eira mumble something and faced back to the front, looking at her closed eyes before he steered his still panicked horse towards the creek. The people behind him followed, trusting him even though he wore no cape with Camelot's crest, nothing to signify or confirm that he was trustworthy. He guessed they took the first chance they got to escape. He felt the wind in his hair and suddenly laughed, remembering a day from his teenage years which he had spent on the back of a horse while he followed a train of smugglers.

The wide creek appeared in front of him, sheltered by trees, and he was grateful for the fact that it was still light outside. Gwen and Areisius stood on guard with their swords out, but waved when they recognized him. Gwaine quickly jumped off the horse and lay Eira on the ground. She blinked up at him, confused, and he sighed with relief that she was awake. Gwen grabbed some of the horses that were starting to calm down and tied them to trees, and when she turned around again, several people who had escaped stood there, breathing heavily and staring at her. Gaius dismounted, looking mostly startled and surprised, and then he started talking to Gwen. Merlin came walking behind Gaius, a genuine smile on his face, as he counted all of the people Gwaine had led there. Soon after, Percival came walking next to Jetta, who was crying with happiness and relief, and she was holding his hand like she never wanted to let it go. Percival saw that Gwaine was busy with Eira and nodded, telling Gwen that this was her moment to restore faith in her people.

Gwaine barely heard what Guinevere said as he helped Eira move to an area a bit farther away.

"You look tired," she said, looking up at him as she broke into a smile and laughed at his worried face. He leaned down and kissed her, but she wouldn't let him sit up again and pulled him down to the ground, wrapping her arms around him and kissing his hair.

"You're safe," he said and she stroked his cheek.

"You think I don't know that?" she replied and laughed slightly.

She then told him everything about Aymon and her magical name, and about her confrontation with her emotions. Gwaine then told her about Dalry and how they had gotten into Camelot. Neither of them felt like talking after, so Gwaine remained on the ground, his arms locked around Eira, and the two managed to hear the ending of what Gwen was saying.

"Has anyone ever been to the village of Dalry?" she said loudly with confidence in her voice, and Eira realized that the tone she spoke in really made her sound like their Queen again.

If Eira only heard her voice, she could imagine Gwen elegantly ruling over her people once again, and she almost forgot that the Queen was in a dirty and tattered dress with messy and untamed hair.

A few people mumbled answers shyly, saying that they had relatives there. Gwen chose one couple who claimed their son lived in Dalry to lead the twenty people to the village, and she instructed them to stay there until she returned, with Arthur. People gasped at the mention of his name, longing and admiration in their eyes as they fondly remembered their King.

Gwaine was forced to leave Eira when Jetta ran towards them, hugging Eira until she couldn't breathe. "Gwaine told me that Juliana is in Dalry. But you're staying here with Percival?" Eira asked her friend, already knowing the answer.

"Yes. I just can't leave him again. We were apart for so long. Besides, I bet Juliana's busy with Leon," her friend replied and laughed, looking at Percival and Gwaine discussing something. Jetta noticed that Eira was drenched in water from when Aymon had thrown it on her, so she helped her change into a dry, loose gown from a bag she had readied when Percival had found her. Eira and Jetta then sat together, watching as the twenty people gathered together and started to walk.

Merlin was deep in conversation with Gaius, who after sorrowfully hugging Merlin goodbye started to walk with the group too, deciding that his need was the greatest in Dalry.

Eira looked around, seeing that only she, Gwen, Jetta, Percival, Gwaine, Merlin and Areisius were left.

Areisius saw her and smiled, walking towards her and greeting her with a long hug.

"You don't have to keep your magic a secret anymore," she said and smiled, reassuring him that she wasn't upset. The two talked about it for a while, until Areisius went to start a fire to keep them warm. Gwaine saw that she was alone again but he didn't say anything to her, she just felt the warmth inside of her grow when he wrapped his arms around her again, both of them laying down on the ground and listening to the sounds of the arriving night.

"We haven't done this in a long time," Eira said, looking up at him.

"Maybe we can just freeze time and stay like this," he replied, kissing her neck and getting his fingers tangled in her hair. "I wish were alone," she whispered softly and he nodded.

Merlin cleared his throat and everyone looked up at him, with evident attention and in a way with more respect, since everyone knew that his magic was what had helped them get so far.

"We're getting up very early tomorrow and it will take us about three and a half hours to reach Avalon. We will revive Arthur and journey back to Camelot. When we arrive before nightfall, everyone originally from Camelot in Dalry will meet us in this forest somewhere. We will attack King Aymon and restore the kingdom. Arthur will have two full days left after that day, and then, he will return to Avalon. There is nothing we can do after that," Merlin stated and slowly, thoroughly, repeated the prophecy for everyone to hear.

"As I said before, everyone who is worthy of it will have their age frozen in time for twelve years, like Arthur's own age. The reason for this is unknown. The faces were given to me in a dream. That gift will be given to everyone here, including a few other people. The strange part is that the second revival, in twelve years, will not be Arthur's last," he finished, and Eira hadn't seen him smile like he was smiling in that moment. She felt his joy spread to her, and although she was slightly confused and surprised, she was grateful. She could not even begin to understand how hard it was for Gwen to be told that her husband would have three days to live, and that she would then have to wait twelve years for him.

Eira looked at Gwaine, still next to her on the ground. He smiled and kissed her cheek, breathing into her hair. He then let his hands travel down to her stomach, but tried to move away when she realized that he was going to tickle her.

"You're doing it on purpose!" she squealed as she exploded into a fit of laughter and he grinned at her playfully. "I wish you were ticklish!" she said when he stopped and hugged her again, closing his eyes.

"Oh, Eira, I'm afraid your revenge will have to be in another form," he mumbled, pretending to be asleep. She bit her lip, turning to face him, and buried her face in his neck. "I won't forget this Gwaine," she replied and laughed.

"Keep it under the blanket," Percival teased as he threw a blanket on top of them, covering both of their faces. Instead of releasing Eira, Gwaine started to blow upwards, trying to move the blanket with his mouth. "Lazy," Eira mumbled before joining in and helping him until their heads were uncovered. "How am I supposed to stay under the blanket if I can't breathe!" Gwaine said, giving Percival a playful glare.

Percival was now sitting by the fire, his arms around Jetta, who was sleeping, leaning against him. Areisius and Merlin were sitting on the other side of the fire, eagerly talking about magic, Eira supposed. Gwen sat by herself, wrapped in a blanket, and Eira understood that she needed space and time to be alone with her thoughts. Gwaine saw Eira's mood shift, and stroked her back. "Don't sink into a sad mood. This is our night to celebrate," Gwaine said and she smiled at his effort. He truly did care about what she was feeling. Sometime, she would tell him about what Aymon had said about her, and her mother. She knew that he would understand everything. "Well, we can't do everything we usually do when we're celebrating," she replied and he sighed, "I know." There was one thing he really wanted to do; he ached for the touch of her skin against his body, but knew that he would have to wait.

She turned so that she was facing him, their faces close, and she studied his brown, caring eyes. "I had nearly forgotten how beautiful you are," he said and his words instantly made her smile. He leaned forward, letting his lips brush against hers lightly. She laughed, dipping into a deeper kiss. He let go and kissed her neck, and she felt his warm breath against her cold skin. He discreetly pulled up her loose gown a bit and trailed his fingers down her legs, pressing her body to his. She exhaled, opening her eyes again, enjoying his touch. Someone cleared their throat, and Gwaine removed his hands from her, annoyed at being interrupted.

"We're all waking up early tomorrow. You two should get some rest now. In one hour, I'm forcing everyone to sleep. Remember, we're winning back Camelot tomorrow!" Percival announced and Gwaine rolled his eyes at him. Eira wriggled out of Gwaine's arms after adjusting her dress and went to sit next to Gwen.

Gwaine looked at his sword stuck in the ground, and he was grateful that he had brought all of his things with him from Dalry. His armor was there too, and he realized that he would have to wear it tomorrow when they fought for Camelot with Arthur. He was excited to see Arthur again, to fight by his side, and he felt that it was all coming together again.

When Camelot was theirs again, he would return to live in his chambers in the castle, with Eira.

There was something he really wanted to ask her.

Jetta walked towards Eira and Gwen with a bag. "Ladies. I thought we would all go down to the wider part of the creek and bathe. We have one hour until Percival and Merlin will force us to sleep. I brought more fresh clothes as I knew you both needed them. I even managed to get some soap," Jetta said happily and proudly. Eira took Gwen's hand and followed Jetta. "Men, we're going to bathe in the creek. We're bringing a sword, so if you follow us, we can guarantee you won't make it through the night," Eira announced loudly and smiled. She grabbed a spare sword and the girls, all laughing, increased their pace as Jetta took the lead.

Gwen, Eira, and Jetta walked back to the place where they had made camp for the night, feeling satisfied and refreshed, wearing clean dresses. Merlin and Areisius were sleeping, and Gwaine and Percival were eating and talking. Eira grabbed an apple and lay down where she and Gwaine were sleeping, covering herself with the big, soft blanket. She felt extremely tired from the day's events, and when she was half-asleep, Gwaine lay down next to her, placing an arm around her and kissing her lips softly. "I will do my best to make sure that no nightmares bother you tonight. I love you Eira. More than anything else in the entire world," he whispered in her ear. Almost fully awake now, she heard every word he said and smiled. "I know we've been so apart, and up and down. But you will always mean everything to me, Gwaine. I love you too," she mumbled back and kissed his shoulder, the only place she could reach. He gave her a disappointed sigh, referring to the part of him she had kissed, and moved so that she could reach his lips. She felt heat spread inside of her as he kissed her upper lip and then the bottom one, parting them with his tongue and exploring her mouth once again. He still felt completely new to her, and she knew that after a million times of kissing him, it still wouldn't be enough. She returned his kiss with more passion, but eventually she felt his force fade, his lips still faintly touching hers. She noticed that his eyes were closing; he was falling asleep, and she laughed quietly.

Gwaine woke up first, Eira stuck to him, and he gently moved her, brushing a stray lock of hair from her face as he got up. He had gotten an idea, and went to find the bowls they had eaten in last night. He took a spoon and banged it against one of the bowls, causing a loud, metallic clashing noise.

"Three and a half hours to Avalon, the sooner we get there the faster I can return to the tavern in Camelot!" he announced obnoxiously, continuing to make noise, hoping that it would wake everyone. Sure enough, it did. Areisius stirred, quickly getting up and preparing his horse willingly, without a word. Gwaine was taken aback by his swiftness and enthusiasm and chuckled to himself. Percival, with his arms wrapped around Jetta, stood up and glared at Gwaine, rolling up his blanket so that it would be more precise as he threw it at Gwaine. Gwaine dodged it, and, wide awake, jumped up and down, still banging the spoon against the plate, stopping by Merlin and yelling at him to wake up. Eira groaned, and Gwaine pretended to be scared when she pushed the blanket off of her, charging towards him like an angry bull. She threw herself onto him, battling him to the ground, and bursting into laughter. He pinned her down and tickled her until she begged for mercy, rolling away from him.

"Gwaine don't ever do that again," Gwen said, also awake, clutching her stomach from laughter. "Do what?" he said innocently. "You mean this?" he asked and started banging the plate with the spoon all over again. Eventually, Areisius snuck up behind him and grabbed the plate, running off and hiding behind Eira. Gwaine shrugged and gave up, very amused as he watched the group laugh their way onto the horses after they had packed up. There was one horse less than the people in the group; the rest had been taken to Dalry. Eira and Gwaine shared a look, saying that they would share a horse. Gwaine at first helped Eira mount the large gelding, but then reversed the elegance of it as he pushed her up playfully. She slapped him lightly on the arm, "You're in a good mood today," she commented. He grinned, mounting the horse behind her. "Wait, now I can't steer the horse! And I know you're dangerous," he said jokingly.

"Then climb over me," she said, almost as if she was commanding him. He looked at her curiously but then stood on the horse, balancing, and climbed over Eira, and she shifted backwards so he could take her place in the front. He turned around and gave her a quick kiss. She pushed him impatiently and he looked ahead, realizing that the rest of the group had already started riding.

"Come on, then!" she urged him and he got the horse in a fast trot, catching up with the group. The forward movement drove Eira backwards and she gave out a little scream before she gripped onto Gwaine, placing her arms around his waist to hold on.

The sun had just risen, and Gwaine smiled as he heard the sounds of the forest waking up.

Eira saw how happy he was and moved her hands from his waist, massaging his back and then shoulders. It was slightly difficult for her because he was wearing his chainmail and armor.

"I'll be completely happy when I'm back in the tavern with you by my side and a jug of ale in my hand," he said, and sighed longingly. She laughed loudly.

"Well Gwaine, that part of you hasn't changed. But there is one part that has. I remember the days I was with you in Camelot, you know at the very start, and one evening I joined you at the tavern. You put on a show and many women around me listed and described their numerous encounters with you. I was jealous. You seemed so wild and careless," she told him.

"I still am, but there's one difference. For a while, ever since I was a teenager, I only thought life was about women and fun. I made mistakes and realized that there were always consequences.

Now, there's something that's changed in my life. I met this girl, and she absolutely enchanted me, even after she stopped actually enchanting me. In the end, she is the only one I want to be with. And you know what I think? I think she should march back into that tavern and tell all the women there of the wild, numerous encounters she's had with me. Maybe then they'll understand that there's only one person I'm interested in," he explained, turning around and smiling at her. He had never had the same feeling in his heart that Eira gave him compared to the women he had spent brief time with in the past.

"There's a lot of things in our pasts that we haven't told each other," she confessed. He nodded.

"Well, we have three hours in front of us, so why not? Start from the beginning," he said.

Merlin's ears had started to get tired from hearing Gwaine and Eira talk for so long. Percival and Jetta were also talking, but they seemed more serious; they weren't erupting into laughter at something only the two of them understood, or flirting without a break. Every now and then Gwaine would make a highly inappropriate comment, causing the entire group to turn around and stare at him. At the same time, Merlin couldn't blame them, the couple had been apart for a long time and this was one of their only chances to have fun. He wondered if it was also jealousy nagging at him.

After everyone took a short break from riding, Merlin concluded that they had one hour left until the would reach the lake. He was so nervous that he felt like he was going to start shaking soon. When they reached the lake, he and Eira would somehow figure out how to use the Helix and he understood that it would do most of the work. He was so overjoyed with the fact that Arthur had been meant to temporarily rise in the prophecy too, it wasn't just in their idea. He guessed that that made it a whole lot easier to accept. Then, twelve years. He knew he could wait that long.

Gwaine offered to walk for a bit to give the horse a rest, and Eira was grateful for it because she really wanted to talk to Jetta. She seemed troubled. She walked the horse up next to her friend, smiling when she got Jetta's attention. The two girls trotted forward slightly, not wanted to be disturbed by the men. Gwen was still in her own little world, staring down at the ground.

"I noticed you're not yourself. Is something wrong?" Eira asked her friend softly. Jetta sighed and met her friend's eyes.

"It's about Areisius," she said, swiftly glancing behind her to make sure that no one could hear them. Eira nodded at her to continue.

"I feel some strange connection to him...I feel like I have met him before," Jetta explained.

"I'm sure you at some point noticed the tension between Juliana and I, right?" she continued, looking at her friend for an answer. Eira nodded immediately, she had seen something between the cousins the first time she'd seen them together. "Then I'll tell you," she warned, swallowing. "My mother and her sister, Juliana's mother, had us at about the same time. Matilda whom you've met, the youngest of the three sisters, had her child eight years later, making our boy cousin a bit younger than Juliana and I. Strangely enough, Matilda never told us the boy's name. One day, the three mothers and us three cousins were out on a picnic, when our cousin was about a year old. Juliana and I took him into the forest while the mothers ate, showing him flowers and exploring the forest. Suddenly, the boy fell to the ground and his eyes glowed white, and he was trembling. Juliana and I froze. A few seconds after that, a man came our way on a horse, acting friendly at first, but then picking our small cousin up, saying that he wanted to help him. Juliana and I nodded, being naive and scared, and before we knew it, the man had ridden off with Matilda's child. Shocked and terrified, Juliana and I walked back to our mothers, crying and saying that someone had taken him away. Matilda was devastated, and our mothers told us about how she searched the kingdom for years, yearning for her son to come back to her. Juliana and I argued about who's fault it was, and we've never been close since. The thing is that when Camelot was attacked a few days ago and we got a glimpse of Aymon's face, both Juliana and I instantly recognized him. He was the man who had taken our cousin away."

Eira's jaw dropped. "You think that Areisius is your cousin, Matilda's child?" Eira asked, stunned by her friend's story. Jetta nodded, tears welling up in her eyes.

"I have more reason to believe you. When I was captured and confronted by Aymon, he mentioned Areisius, saying that he had watched him in Caerleon. He seemed awfully interested in his magic," Eira concluded.

"It has to be him. I've been thinking about it the whole night. I was scared to say it before, since I wasn't sure," Jetta finally said, and quite boldly, she turned around, focusing her attention on the group, and told them exactly the same story she had just told Eira.

Eira watched Areisius' bright blue eyes light up. Adding to the reason for Jetta's theory to be true, Gwaine and Percival confirmed that they had seen the same magic when Merlin had spoken through Areisius. Suddenly, Jetta leaped off her horse and ran up to Areisius, pulling him from his horse and embracing him for a long time. She looked like she was about to cry, but then she just mumbled something in his ear. Eira could see that Areisius struggled to keep his own emotions contained.

"I am so sorry," Jetta mumbled, hugging her cousin even harder.

"I really don't remember a lot...I lived with a man in Caerleon until I was thirteen, and he told me that my parents had abandoned me and that I needed to live with him in order to understand my magical abilities," he replied, his voice shaking.

"If only Juliana were here, and Matilda," Jetta said, looking full of joy and sad at the same time.

"You will see them both tonight. We've arrived," Merlin said, swallowing as he saw the lake in front of them. Eira dismounted before the rest of the group did and walked up to Merlin, who was already standing right by the shore.

"Are you ready?" she asked him, nervous all of a sudden. He met her eyes, nodding, and reached down, taking a small object wrapped in cloth out of his boots. He gently put the cloth down, turning the object in his hands. It had a cylinder-like shape, like a miniature wooden ladder wrapped around an empty glass vial. It was absolutely beautiful, and Eira admired the unique beauty of it as Merlin passed it to her. "The prophecy says: 'use it right and it will listen'," Merlin stated, looking confused and thoughtful. Eira turned around, and looked at Percival, Jetta, Gwen, Gwaine, and Areisius, who had formed a line behind them, like a protective half circle. Merlin closed his eyes, whispering something and then opening his eyes as they flashed gold for a split second.

"We have to wade into the water," he said. Eira nodded. She removed her cloak and Merlin took off his jacket, and she took his hand, nodding at him again to tell him that she was ready.

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