In Your Frequency
"There is no God in a world full of sinners."
Merlin glanced around her, eyes narrowing at the bustling crowd. She sighed and her eyes flashed gold. From there, she suddenly knew where to go and she walked further into Camelot and her first steps towards her destiny.
She knocked on the door she knew she was supposed to go to, and when no one answered, she silently entered. She watched the old man on the ladder reaching for an old book before speaking.
"I didn't think you would be careless as to climb that high on a rickety ladder without assurance, Uncle Gaius."
Gaius whirled around, forgetting the height he was at, and promptly fell off the ladder and letting go of the book. In mid flight, Merlin's eyes flashed gold once again and Gaius stopped falling and landed softly on the ground, the book floating over to him.
"Shush now, Uncle. Don't want to get me killed, do you?" Merlin smiled, eyes twinkling.
"Wait…Uncle…Merlin!" Gaius's face broke into a grin and he ran to her, grasping her into a hug.
"This is for you, Uncle Gaius. Mother wrote a letter to explain my presence and why I'm here," Merlin explained, and then rummaged through her satchel until she found the letter and handed it to him.
"Just Gaius, Merlin. Uncle, for some reason, makes me feel old," he said as he started to break through the seal and begin reading. "And you mustn't use your magic so casually. It is forbidden around here. One found practicing sorcery will be sentenced to death. I just got you, my dear. I wouldn't want to lose you so soon."
Merlin grimaced, "I had some idea of that. A man was just executed outside for practicing magic and his mother swore vengeance on the royal family. But I had to save you somehow, right?"
Gaius grumbled under his breath, eyes scanning over the parchment quickly. "Be mindful and be careful. You never know when someone might bear witness to your sorcery. And I'll have you know that my ladder was very much assured," he admitted, waving at the ladder and letting a subtle glow emit from it.
"No magic, huh?" she smirked.
Her uncle shrugged, refolding the letter and placing it in a pocket. "Well, one must be careful and it can't be helped at times. I am getting on in my old age."
"Yes, well…am I to stay here?"
"Oh very well," he teased. "However, I am most curious. How did you do that without any incantation?"
"It's instinctive to me. I don't need to use incantations. When I learned that, I began practicing more until the times I needed an incantation became less and less."
"I see. That is very unique. How did you come to practice it?" Gaius asked, wary of saying the word 'magic' specifically in case someone were to listen.
"I was born this way," she admitted and he gaped comically at her for a few moments.
"Yes, very unique. I –Why on earth on you wearing men's clothing?"
Merlin rolled her eyes, "It was much easier traveling in men's clothing. You try traveling in women's clothing and I won't say anything."
"…Yes, yes. I see. If you don't mind, Merlin, there is a couple things I need picking up. Do you need a map?"
She shook her head, her long locks bound in a loose braid that she tossed over her shoulder. "I can find my way around the town. Just give me the list and I'll be on my way."
Using her magic, she quickly navigated her way around and found the places where she had to pick up things for Gaius. She made to go back when she watched a servant be picked on by a handsome, blond man and probably what were his lackeys.
"Now, now. That's no way to treat other people," she gave a big smile, eyes closed but for a sliver.
"Back away, idiot. It's none of your business," the blond man sneered.
Her mouth twitched, smile straining. "Only if business involves unnecessary conflict, my friend."
"Sorry, do I know you? You called me friend," he jeered.
Her smile dropped abruptly, "Oh, I apologize. I could never have such a prat for a friend. Ass."
That infuriated the man and he smoothly pulled out his sword. "Perhaps a lesson is in order?"
She sneered, "Who do you think you are? The King?"
"No. I'm his son."
Her face paled and then he was gesturing to his knights and she was being dragged away.
Damn, she should've kicked his ass first. At least then, she would've earned going to the dungeons.
"Foolish girl," her uncle muttered fondly.
"I didn't even lay a hand on him," she grumbled, letting Gaius lead her away.
"Be lucky I was able to release you at all. But you must be punished."
She groaned, "Why is it that I suddenly have gained bad luck here in Camelot?"
Gaius' lips twitched upwards.
Minutes later saw Merlin glaring at him, as she was locked up and then people were throwing rotten food at her. Only he was able to see her deflect the food with magic, and place a subtle illusion allowing it to look like she was being hit.
"Hello there," a lady slightly younger than her shyly greeted Merlin.
Merlin winced as another banana peel headed her way, but she smiled back after. "Hello. I'm Merlin."
"I'm Guinevere. Most people call me Gwen."
"It's nice to meet you. Have we met?"
"No, no," Gwen blushed. "It's just that I saw what you did. For Gregory earlier. It was kind of you to stand up to Prince Arthur."
"Someone had to," Merlin glowered at the rotten food-covered floor around her.
"Still. It was very kind and brave."
"I would wave that compliment off, but you know," Merlin smiled cheekily, clenching and unclenching her hands. "You might want to go now. Rotten food incoming."
Gwen gave her another shy smile before ducking away. Merlin went back to glowering at her laughing uncle.
"Now that the humiliation is over, you want something, don't you Uncle?" Merlin asked disgruntled, freed from the stocks.
"I need this potion to be delivered to Lady Helen."
"Yes, Your Majesty."
"Don't be smart with me, girl."
Merlin just sniffed haughtily and trotted away with the potion.
After the odd meeting with Lady Helen and another humiliation at the hands of Arthur (she had been so close to beating him, if it weren't for Gaius!), Merlin was looking forward to just settling down and going straight to sleep.
But then the voice that's been haunting her since coming there was speaking her name again.
Warily following it, she was surprised when she was led to a cave underneath the castle. While she was surprised at that, she was staggered to find a giant dragon staring her down.
"You…you're the one who's been calling my name," she whispered, eyes wide.
"Yes. I must tell you of your destiny. With you by his side, you and Arthur, the Once and Future King, will unite all of Albion."
That snapped Merlin out of her dazed. "No. No, you are quite mistaken."
"Without you, Arthur will never succeed. Without you, there will be no Albion." The dragon looked at her gravely.
"No, you've got this wrong," she insisted.
"There is no right or wrong, only what is, and what isn't."
"But I'm serious! If anyone wants to go kill him, they can go ahead. In fact, I'll give them a hand," Merlin glared at it, mouth curling into a sneer.
The blasted dragon actually started laughing at her.
"None of us can choose our destiny, Merlin. And none of us can escape it," it stared down at her in amusement.
"No. No way. No. No, there must be another Arthur, because this one's an idiot," she stubbornly said.
"Perhaps it's your destiny to change that."
She gaped as it just left her at that before huffing and childishly stomping out.
She delivered a sleeping draught to the Lady Morgana in the morning, awkwardly meeting her until Gwen stepped in and broke the ice. She quickly fled after, hiding in Gaius' chambers for the rest of the time until the ceremony where Lady Helen was to perform.
The ceremony wasn't at all what Merlin had expected.
The beautiful Lady Helen began singing and it was as lovely as people had claimed. That is until it began to weave a spell around everyone in the room, and Merlin saw everyone falling asleep and cobwebs starting to cover them. Desperate, she pulled at her magic and the chandelier fell on top of Lady Helen.
Everyone began waking up and Lady Helen, now revealed to be Mary Collins and mother of the man Merlin remembered being executed her first day at Camelot, groaned in pain and glared at the King and Prince.
Mary took out the dagger from her sleeve and threw it dead on towards Arthur.
Merlin frowned and her eyes flashed gold. Running forward, she grabbed a hold of Arthur and pulled him away, allowing the dagger to embed itself into his chair. With that, Mary died and everyone started exclaiming in excitement, worry, and confusion.
"That was most surprising. You, my boy, have done me a great service. You must be rewarded for saving my son's life," Uther announced, watching Merlin closely for some reason.
"Thank you, Your Majesty. Please. It's alright. I am fine," Merlin tried not to become too red in the face.
"But I insist. In fact, I shall appoint you my son's manservant."
"What?" both Arthur and Merlin asked incredulously at the same time.
"Great! Now let the feast continue. Guards, remove that filth so that the celebrations may continue underway," the King ignored the protests of his son and the more quieter and hesitant ones from Merlin.
The feast continued and when it ended, only Gaius, Arthur, Merlin, and Uther were left.
"Gaius, you may leave to your chambers now. Arthur, you are dismissed. You there, stay a moment. I have some things to discuss with you," Uther surprisingly ordered.
Gaius hesitantly left Merlin in the hands of Uther, and Arthur left with only a slightly questioning glance.
"You used magic."
Merlin froze, terror seizing her.
"Speak, girl," the King's voice turned harsh.
She swallowed in fear. "Yes, Your Highness."
"I am not foolish nor blind. I have faced magic before and can recognize it. I glimpsed it as I accidentally looked to you when that hag threw the dagger at my son, and your eyes glowed briefly of gold. You used sorcery in that moment, and I suspect when the chandelier fell atop the witch."
She gulped again, "Yes."
Uther's eyes narrowed. "You would be executed for the treasonous practice of sorcery."
Merlin's eyes shut close.
"You will listen to me, girl. You used this devilry to save Arthur. And you will continue to do so."
Her eyes shot open and she stared at him in surprise, "Milord?"
He looked at her coldly, "You heard me. I will keep you alive. Watch over Arthur and keep him safe, and for that you may keep your life."
"I…I understand," she hesitantly answered.
"I know of the traditions of sorcery. I know there are oaths. Swear by your magic that you will not harm myself or my son or Camelot, and let it be binding," Uther continued, surprising her again.
"I swear on my magic, let it be binding, that I will not or ever harm Uther or Arthur Pendragon, nor of their land Camelot. So shall I swear by the roots of Gaia, and my life is forfeit if I dare rescind my word in any way with the intent of harm," she said confidently.
He nodded, still gazing at her with cold eyes. "You will continue to serve my son as his manservant, so that you can easily keep watch over him."
"Milord, as you've acknowledged several times now, you know I am a girl. I cannot serve him as a manservant," Merlin nervously protested.
"My son would have noticed before had he actually paid attention. As I've said, I am no fool and I am ever watchful, so of course I would notice your sex before he. As it is, everyone is under the assumption you are a boy. I've even made it more convenient for you, announcing you as a boy before the assembly."
"I have no Adam's Apple," she winced.
He raised an eyebrow at her, "Surely you can cast an illusion? No one has paid much attention to you before to notice that, so you can easily place the illusion and no one may know the difference. And you wear that blasted neckerchief anyhow."
She conceded reluctantly.
"You know, you call this devilry and yet you are willing to allow it. Would you call me the devil and still allow me to watch over your son?"
He half frowned and half smirked. "I would not call you so much the devil, as that would give you too much credit. A demon perhaps. And I will ensure my son's life by any means."
She rolled her eyes before realizing who she was rolling her eyes to. Nevertheless, she spoke out. "Then perhaps it would be more accurate to call you devil and I your lowly demon subordinate? Perhaps then I shall say 'I am the devil and I am here to do the devil's work.'"
His face smoothed out and showed no emotion and she feared she may have spoken too out of turn.
"Then perhaps you are right," he murmured. "But does it really matter in the end?"
She stared at him before she seemed to just transform before his eyes, her back straightening and she standing in more confidence. Her eyes hardened and he could see flecks of gold in the blue oceans of her irises.
"Do we have an agreement then?" he held out his hand.
Her eyes briefly showed surprise at his odd show of equality before they hardened once more. She shook it.
"We have an accord," she quietly said, agreeing.
Destiny, it seemed, had grabbed onto her anyway.