"But she can't be. I would've... it doesn't make sense...does it change anything?" Merlin looked down at her confused, usually he could tell if another person was a sorcerer, but he had had no idea. The Druid was still silent, eventually he spoke.
"It doesn't change anything, no" he answered slowly. "If anything it makes it slightly easier."
"You do not need to delve so deep into her mind. If she is a sorcerer, and from what I have seen she most probably is, all she needs is guidance on what to do. Even if she is trained she will still need the guidance and depending on how powerful she is a little more power."
"But I still need to gain her trust?"
"Yes, just to get past the barrier, you no longer need to delve deep within her mind." Nodding Merlin put his hands back on Iras’ head, closing his eyes he sent his mind inward again. He felt the same presence as before and wondered how he should continue. Last time he had called out just her name which made her panic and push him out of her mind. Did she panic because she didn't know what was happening? Was it because she didn't know who it was? Merlin knew he was chewing his lip trying to decide.
"Ira? It's me, Merlin" he mentally called out, hoping that if she knew it was him she might not panic so much. Nothing happened. He repeated himself, focusing on the presence. Still nothing happened until, very slowly, the presence he had been focusing on became sharper and clearer. It took on more of a personality, more of a form until a figure was standing in front of him. Except it wasn't a figure, not a physical one anyway.
"Merlin!?" Merlin could feel himself smile. "Are you dead?" She asked.
"No" he replied, he could sense confusion before she spoke again.
"But I am" she said, "I died under a willow tree thanks to a poisoned blade. If you're not dead, why...how are you here? Wherever here is" she added.
"The blade wasn't poisoned..." Merlin started to explain, but Ira interrupted him.
"Wait, I can see."
"You're showing me what happened after you found me. Huh, Arthur really has a thing about sorcerers, doesn't he?"
"What?" Merlin repeated, really confused, "how...?" He tried to ask to get her attention, but Ira just kept talking.
"Hang on I already know all of this" Merlin started to get frustrated as he tried to ask more questions.
"Stop!" He almost shouted. "I don't understand what is happening, ok. We only have a short amount of time for you to wake up and I need to work it out." He vaguely heard Iras reply, his mind was buzzing with so many thoughts and questions. He needed to find out if she really was a sorcerer, but not many people will admit to being one straight away, he decided to start with the simple questions first. "Ok" he continued a little calmer, "this image thing, what's it like?" For a minute he wasn't sure if Ira was going to reply.
"Think of it like a raven that carries messages except the message is a memory. You select a memory and attach it to the raven. I then receive the raven and look at the memory attached to its leg. But that's all I can see. Only the memory that you chose." It sounded simple enough.
"Right, so what did you mean when you said that you already knew all of it?" Again Ira took her time replying.
"I'm not sure, but I think that I could hear a lot of the conversations. Even though I was unconscious, I couldn't understand them, I just remember them" she answered before saying. "You said I could wake up, how?"
"We've brought you to a Druid camp..." a slight emotion surfaced in her presence but she managed to hide it before Merlin could work out what it was. It could've been panic, maybe she's worried about us finding out she's a sorcerer he thought. "...Because originally we thought it was one of their potions, it wasn't, but they told us another way to help you."
"And what's that?" She asked, this time she couldn't hide the suspicion and worry.
"It involves magic" he said cautiously, ready to gauge any response.
"Magic?" She repeated.
"Yes," still nothing to gauge her reaction with, she was good at hiding things.
"But wouldn't that require one of us to be a sorcerer?"
"It would, yes" he confirmed, wondering how long they were going to beat about the bush.
"How does it work?" The question felt sharp and calculating.
"I need to enter your mind" as soon as Merlin said those words he knew he had said the wrong thing.
"Please it's the only way you can wake up" Merlin tried reasoning with her. He could tell she was getting angry.
"Absolutely no way, I have never, and I will never let another person into my mind" she ranted.
"Another?" Merlin asked picking up on the word.
"It's ok" Merlin said, confident about what her issue with it might be. "You don't have to explain, I think I understand." He detected scorn coming from her presence. "No, I do. Something happened in the past, I'm not sure what, but I'm going to guess someone controlled you in your mind?" Ira was quiet for a while.
"You're only half right" she admitted begrudgingly.
"Do you want to tell me about it?"
"No" she answered immediately.
"Why not?" Ira took her time answering.
"It's personal" she said lamely. Merlin could tell she was getting angry.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry. It's just, for this to work, we need to be able to trust each other, and I thought this might be a good place to start, you know find out a bit more about each other."
"It's not" her reply was curt, the anger was still building. "You wouldn't understand anyway, even if I did tell you."
"You might be surprised" Merlin said. Ira didn't say anything but her mood suddenly shifted. From anger it plummeted into regret, pain and something else, but he wasn't sure what it was. "Are you thinking about what happened?"
"No" Ira lied trying to sound angry but she didn't, if anything it sounded like she was about to cry. Then it hit him.
"Was it love?" He asked quietly, Ira went silent, he knew he was right. "Were you betrayed?"
"No...yes...I can't...I don't want to talk about it."
"Because I was weak."
"Loving someone isn't a sign of weakness" Merlin tried to explain.
"It was for me. The one time I let my defences down, thinking I was safe, happy even, he..." She trailed off.
"He what?" She let out a short sneering laugh.
"Let's just say he threw it back in my face, hard."
"But if that happens…" Ira didn't let him finish.
"If that happens, what? You just pick yourself up and carry on as if nothing happened?" It was Merlins turn not to answer. "You can't. Not when something like that happens, not when everything and everyone you knew was taken from you. You don't know what it's like, having someone in your mind controlling you. Having no control over yourself." Merlin didn't know what to say, something big had happened, but what?
"I do understand" he said calmly seeing that she too was calming down after her outburst of anger. "I had something similar happen to me, which I have never told anyone about.Only one other person knows the full story."
"What happened?" Ira asked.
"If I tell you will you tell me what happened to you?" Ira thought about it for a moment.
"I suppose a story for a story is fair enough, yes" she agreed begrudgingly. Merlin was still a little unsure, Ira picked up on the concern.
"I give you my word, if you tell me what happened to you I will tell you what happened to me." she said slightly amused, "and I don't go back on my word." Merlin could tell she was being truthful so started his story.
"It was a Fomorroh." He showed her how he was captured by Morgana and how he was ordered to kill the one person he was supposed to protect. He showed her everything, all his failed attempts, how he had no control over what he was doing. He did however leave out the part of fighting Morgana with magic. Ira listened to the whole story without interrupting. Only when he had finished did she say something.
"So how did you stop it?" Merlin hesitated, would now be the best time to tell her? Could he even trust her to keep something like this a secret? No, he decided not yet.
"I killed it, with fire" he answered simply. There was silence.
Ira knew it was her time to tell her story. She didn't want to. For years she kept it to herself, could she trust him? She thought back to her first time in Camelot. Wasn't he the person she went to when she needed someone to trust? Hadn't he helped her without asking too many difficult questions? Ok, so it wasn't about trust, she knew she could trust him, but where to begin?
"It was quite a while ago, not too soon after me and Gwaine had split up. I was travelling with...with a friend, his name was Bonum. We all called him Bo for short, he hated it." Merlin could tell she was smiling. "We were passing near Lots kingdom when we came across what looked like an abandoned. Well it wasn't quite a castle but it was a lot bigger than your average house. It might have been a really big church. It was in ruins anyway. We looked around for a bit, didn't find anyone or anything so we decided to set up camp there for the night. It offered good shelter you see and we knew it was going to start raining that night." Merlin could see the memory unfold as she was explaining. Ira looked a lot younger.
"From the beginning Bonum had a bad feeling about the place but I managed to convince him that one night wouldn't hurt. It was just coming up to midnight when we heard a noise coming toward us, it was a person. He told us his name was Malum. We thought he was just another traveller so we let him share our fire and he shared his food, he kept looking at me though and smiling. He was full of compliments, I didn't think anything of it. He also managed to convince us to stay for another day, or two, I can't quite remember. Anyway over the short period of time, I got to know him, or I thought I did, it wasn't the real him. Bonum kept wanting to leave, I don't think he fully trusted him. One day he asked when were we leaving in front of Malum." Ira paused, Merlin could see the worry in his eyes through the memory and the look Malum gave him.
"They started fighting" she continued. "Eventually he said he was leaving. He asked me if I was coming with him, I hesitated. I. Hesitated. If I hadn't we might of got away from there alive. But I hesitated, and he left." The memory stopped as Ira stopped talking. But not before Merlin saw the look of hurt and betrayal he gave her before he turned and walked away. Merlin wanted to say something, to console her perhaps, but he kept quiet. He knew if he wanted to see the end of her memory he had to let her continue at her own pace. He waited. The silence stretched on, until, eventually Ira started speaking again.
"I realised I had been an idiot" she said quietly. "I realised that I didn't owe Malum anything but I owed Bonum everything and I turned away from him. But I realised this too late. I tried to leave, to go after him, but Malum stopped me. I thought he wasn't going to let me go at first, but he acted happy with my choice. So I made to leave, packed up my stuff and...at the very last moment he stopped me. He said he wanted to try something, to test something he's been working on. I told him I didn't have time and tried to walk away but I couldn't move. I asked him what he was doing, I tried to fight back, my sword was at my side but I couldn't even get to that. He seemed surprised, he said it had never worked so well before and he wanted to see how far he could go so...so he ordered me to kill Bonum. I refused but my body turned and started walking."
Ira stopped talking again, but this time she let the memory play out. Merlin saw her finally catch up to Bonum, the happy look on his face when he saw who it was, the comment he made. But he also saw the confusion when Ira drew her sword and the shock as he realised she was going to kill him. Merlin watched as he fought for his life not knowing what was happening. And Merlin saw Ira, a skilled swords person get past his defences and plunge her sword through his body.
"That's when I get control back" the quiet voice made him jump. "Only once I struck the fatal blow was I allowed control over my body again. Knowing I couldn't do anything to save him, I had to watch him die." Merlin looked back at the memory, Ira was on her knees, holding his body. She wasn't crying, she was in too much of a shock to. It looked like he was about to say something but the memory stopped suddenly.
"That's all I can show you" she said. Merlin knew there was more but whatever it was it was personal so he didn't say anything.
They were silent, a full minute went by before Merlin spoke.
"What did you do?" He asked.
"I killed him" she replied. "It took a while, I first had to learn how to block people out of my mind. I don't know how he did it, I don't want to, but I know he didn't do it there and then. He was slowly working his way into my mind over the days I knew him. I killed him though, I managed to track him down."
"I'm sorry" Merlin said, "to lose such a good friend in such a way..." He trailed off not knowing what to say.
"It's fine, it was a long time ago." Merlin suddenly thought of Freya, he didn't know why, but all of a sudden he was remembering the short period of time they had spent together. "Who was that?" Ira asked. Merlin felt like an idiot, he hadn't meant for her to see that, to see her. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to." Merlin wasn't going to say anything, but decided that the more Ira knew about him the quicker she might trust him. He didn't tell her everything, some of it he still wasn't willing to share, but in a way he felt relieved to be sharing it with someone, to, in a way, get his feelings off his chest. "I'm sorry" she said quietly once he had finished.
"Thank you, it's quite similar to what happened to you, we both had people we loved taken from us."
"It's not the same. Freya got taken from you. In the end there was nothing you could really do, it wasn't your fault. I however was the one who took Bonums’ life."
"Not willingly." Ira didn't say anything.
Merlin knew they were running out of time, he had to find out if she was a sorcerer to know how to continue, but would she want to tell him? The obvious answer was no, not without something in exchange. It might be possible to use the story idea again, if he told her he was a sorcerer then wouldn't she have to tell him she was one as well? Seeing no other solution he decided to try it.
"Ira, can I ask you something? How many times have you gone back on your word?"
"Never" she replied.
"I want to tell you something, something that will help you wake up."
"But something that if anyone else found out about would definitely mean my death, so in order to tell you I need you to give me your word that you won't tell anyone else."
"You have my word" Ira replied seriously.
"I'm a sorcerer, I have magic" his statement was met with silence.
"That must be hard" Ira said, "living in Camelot with Arthur."
"Why don't you go somewhere where magic isn't outlawed?"
"I can't. My destiny is to protect Arthur" he explained, more silence. "Ira" he said, throwing caution to the wind. "When I first tried to contact you, you pushed me out of your mind" he paused before adding, "with magic." Merlin could sense panic. "Are you a sorcerer?"
"But what you did can only be done with magic, you're not helping, I just told you I was a sorcerer."
"No you don't understand, I don't know. Stuff just happens."
"Stuff just happens?" Merlin repeated really confused.
"When I was young I started noticing that whenever I showed a certain type of emotion things happened."
"What sort of things?"
"Uh stuff moved slightly, once something broke, I even set something on fire."
"And that happens with specific emotions?" Ira nodded. "So what happens when you panic?"
"I push people away, like I did with you."
"When did you first find out about this?"
"I can show you if you want, I was five or six..." Merlin watched the memory. It started outside in a massive garden, Ira was running through tall green hedges.
"Nice dress" Merlin commented, he heard Ira laugh. "You look so young."
"You think I look young, just wait" she replied as a boy, who Merlin instantly recognised to be a very young Gwaine, suddenly jumped out from behind a hedge and made Ira laugh. It was a high pitched giggle, something Merlin would never have associated with the Ira he knew now, and started chasing her. Still laughing he chased her out of the hedges to a small wooded area. Breathing heavily and trying not to laugh so hard Ira slowed to a stop and looked around, Gwaine couldn't be seen. She called out for him but he didn't answer, calling out again Merlin could see she was getting worried. He saw something move in the corner of his eye and a shadow jumped out from behind a tree and grabbed Ira. It was only Gwaine, but Ira panicked and the next thing he knew Gwaine was flying back into the tree like an invisible force had thrown him back, it was magic.
"What happened after that?" Merlin asked after the memory ended with Ira running away.
"Gwaine was unconscious. I didn't know what I had done, at first I thought I had killed him. When he woke up he told everyone that he had tripped backwards over a root and hit his head against the tree. Though when we were alone he confronted me about what really happened."
"What did you tell him?"
"What I told you, I had no idea. After the second or third time we realised it was my emotions that triggered it so I worked on not letting things get to me."
"Hence why you're so laid back all the time." Ira nodded.
"It actually helps with a lot of other things too."
"You know, you have the skills, you could train to be a sorcerer."
"And be hunted! Great idea!' Ira responded sarcastically.
"That's not what I meant."
"I know. I'll think about it, though I think our first concern should be working out how I'm going to wake up."
"So you trust me?" Merlin asked carefully.
"Enough, you've seen why I don't like the idea, and you've probably seen the most personal memory I have, so why not?"
"Great, the spell can only be performed at a certain time of day. I'll be back soon though" he promised and removed his hands from her head. Grinning he looked up to the Druid. "How long have I got to learn that spell?" He asked, the Druid smiled back."An hour."