literature

And in the Darkness, Bind Them

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…running through the woods.  The dragon’s sharp eyes, dark and brooding, dig deeply into his back.  He’s running, always running, dodging tree by tree.  Sweat drips from his brow, his calf muscles burn.  He trips over a branch, knees buckling and hands colliding with twigs, and pauses for a second, just a second, breathing, just breathing…

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In his sleep, Arthur tenderly embraces Gwen and presses his nose against her soft brown curly hair, inhaling her sweet lavender perfume.  A quaint, warm smile slowly grows upon Gwen’s dreaming face.  Yet neither notices the long, forgotten dead fire and the coldness which spreads throughout the room.

Lancelot’s tilted head rests upon her doorframe.  His arms are drooped by his sides and his long cloak
graces the ground.  Behind closed eyes he dreams of running away with his Guinevere towards a distant land full of flowers and meadows and trees.  And there will be a river, yes, a river for them to bathe.  Yet his hands never meet her doorknob, and she never answers the door.  He sleeps through the night outside upon her doorframe.

By the light of the candles, Gaius sits in his chamber with a pencil clutched in his hand and his neck bent over a book. Wax methodically drips from the melting candles, slowly forming a murky pool on the floor.  But he notices neither the clumping wax, nor the slow dimming of the light, for his eyes are closed and he is asleep.

Uther sits upon his throne with the heavy crown upon his nodding head.  In his troubled slumber, he carries that hard, stern expression of a wearied king bearing the burden of numerous worries throughout the ages.  And he sleeps with a crease suspended between his brows.  He dreams of tomorrow when the court will need him to settle a simple matter concerning a foolish peasant girl’s use of magic.  He knows that this issue will be quickly decided; she will be executed for her crime and his sentence will serve as yet another warning to those who practice magic.  He will be one more step closer to ridding the citadel of this pestilence.  

Under darkness’s heavy cloak, all of Camelot is sleeping.
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“We will be like Gods, sister. You and I, together for eternity,” her sister says as she tenderly brushes a long, black lock away from Morgana’s face.  

Morgana smiles because she loves the world that Morgause opened to her, the wealth of life coursing through her blood, and the energy magic gives her.  And yet, she wants more.
So Morgause grants her wish and Morgana listens as the lyrics of her sister’s chanting are woven into song and spell.

Tonight, all of Camelot will sleep.  Under this veil, Morgana will claim them, one by one and they will be safely tucked away.

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…running through the woods.  The dragon’s sharp eyes, dark and brooding, dig deeply into his back.  He’s running, always running, dodging tree by tree.  Sweat drips from his brow, his calf muscles burn.  He trips over a branch, knees buckling and hands colliding with twigs, and pauses for a second, just a second, breathing, just breathing...

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And in the Darkness, Bind them – Chapter 2
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The 21st Century

Arthur was lively and vivacious, so full of life and spunk.  He had departed with a smile, promising that he would meet up with them at the library the next day.  

That was where they were waiting for him when Merlin received a call from Guinevere sobbing through the phone.  Through tears, she tells him that Arthur is in the hospital in a coma, although he has suffered neither head nor brain damage.

Frozen with shock- that was when Merlin’s vision started-

…running through the woods.  The dragon’s sharp eyes, dark and brooding, dig deeply into his back.  He’s running, always running, dodging tree by tree.  Sweat drips from his brow, his calf muscles burn.  He trips over a branch, knees buckling and hands colliding with twigs, and pauses for a second, just a second, breathing, just breathing…

Soon afterwards, Gwen suffers from the same illness and she lies in the hospital alongside her Arthur.  The same fate befalls Lancelot and Gaius and Uther.  All of his friends had mysteriously fallen prey to the same illness, and none of them awaken.

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He meets her in the hospital when he is sitting in his small fold up chair whispering into Lancelot’s ear.

“This morning the man who usually feeds and talks to the birds was already up, sitting in his regular spot on the bench.  And oh my goodness!  Those poor plump little buggers don’t need any more feeding-”

He pauses when he hears a sniffling from somewhere in the room and looks around.  His eyes settle on a woman with lovely light green eyes and long black locks, sitting beside Gwen, delicately brushing her fingers across Gwen’s hands, and whispering into her ear.

He quietly stands up and walks behind the woman, trying not to disturb her.  “She is one of my best friends, too,” he tells her in a hushed voice, trying to comfort her.
The woman looks up at him, her eyes filled with tears and she nods her head.

He gently places his hand on her back. “I talk to them sometimes.  I don’t know whether they hear me or not.  But if they cannot…” he trails off and then sighs.  “You have to keep believing that they will wake.”

Tears continuously fall down her cheeks, and he takes off his neckerchief, and gives it to her, and leaves.

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The next time he meets her, he is in the café, mulling his thoughts over a nice, warm cup of tea.  
She’s sitting there too, alone, staring into her glass.  She looks so lonely, and he knows what it feels like to be lonely, so he picks up his drink and takes a seat around her table.

“I’m sorry about last week,” she says, her eyes meeting his.  “I didn’t mean to be so rude,” she continues, extending her hand, “My name’s Morgana.”

“That’s alright,” he reassures her.  “I’m Merlin,” he tells her, shaking her hand.

Morgana, what lovely light green eyes you have.

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Throughout the weeks, they meet each other and he gradually opens up his small world to her.  In the mornings they meet in the park Oh look at those charming plump birds!

they drink their tea in the café together I prefer caramel, Merlin.  I had some in France and fell in love with it.  Try some- you’ll become as addicted as I.

they go to the library and read the same books together.  I love Poe too, Merlin.  Annabel Lee’s my favorite.

and sometimes they go to the movies Let’s see The Notebook, Merlin.  It’s quite a tragic story.

With her, he feels alive and whole.  Every day he has so much to look forward to, and he has some much more to tell his friends.

He loves her smile, her broad smile that lights up her lovely green eyes.

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A day before she disappears they are in their usual café sitting around the table.   She returns his neckerchief and he puts it on.  The last time he sees her is when she walks out, promising him that she will see him tomorrow.  The next day he does not see her in the café or park or in the library, and he panics and rushes to the hospital where his friends lay.

Sunlight bursts into the room, reflecting off the stark, white hospital beds.

Each of them is lying there, row by row.

They are all his friends, many of whom he has known since childhood.

But Morgana is not there, and he is relieved.  Yet he does not know where she has gone and in his loneliness, he visits his friends every day, sitting in his small fold up chair, and talks to them in their sleep.

She left me, and I don’t know where she’s gone.  I’ve got nobody left but you now.

Somewhere in the distant lands of their minds he knows they exist.  But he cannot reach them; no one can.  For they are always sleeping and-

…only in the morn did the sleeping citadel awake to find their king still fast asleep on his throne, the prince in bed with his forbidden love, the outcast knight upon the doorsill of her cottage, and the physician asleep on his desk surrounded by his work.

But he himself has eluded them.  He is the frightened boy-


Merlin abruptly wakes up upon the hospital’s cold, white floors.  Tears water his eyes, making it hard to see as searches for a bed rail to use as leverage.  Once he is upon his shaking legs, he wipes away his tears and sits back upon his chair.

Those visions, he sighs to himself. Those damned visions!  They never make any sense!

They are all just quick flashes before his eyes of nonsensical pictures of darkness and faces.  They are just false images and nothing more, he tries to convince himself.

But in this vision, he clearly saw his friends.  They were asleep as they are now, and they would not waken – not even then.

No! he objects, his mind still wildly grasping at the slight chance that they will awaken.  It was just a dream and nothing more.

----------

Without her, his visions occur more often, plaguing his sleep and tainting his dreams.  Without her, he is-

…running through the woods.  The dragon’s sharp eyes, dark and brooding, dig deeply into his back.  He’s running, always running, dodging tree by tree.  Sweat drips from his brow, his calf muscles burn.  He trips over a branch, knees buckling and hands colliding with twigs, and pauses for a second, just a second, breathing, just breathing...

This- his most vivid vision- the first vision he ever received still haunts him.  It always begins in the same place; it always ends in the same place.  And he is always troubled by its dark sense of loneliness.

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Merlin whispers the book’s title to himself as he searches through the book cases.

“Can I help you?” someone asks, abruptly disrupting his concentration.  

Merlin jumps back, surprised.

“You shouldn’t creep up on me like that-” he begins. “Morgana!” he whispers in his loudest library voice. “Where have you been?”

She gives him a wide grin, the light playfully touching her eyes.  But there is something different about her.  Her smile is less lively and there are slight bags under her eyes.

“Oh - I was away at my sister’s, Morgause is her name – family business.  Besides, I hadn’t seen her in ages,” she responds, pointing down the aisle where another woman stands.  Morgause gives Merlin a slight wave and he waves back.

“I missed you,” he tells her.  “A lot,” he shyly adds.

“I’m sorry,” she says, pulling him into a tight hug.  He closes his eyes and smells her sweet perfume, and tucks his nose into her long, black locks.

Morgana gently pulls herself out of the hug and then turns around towards the book shelves.  Her fingers lightly brush over the spines of the books and after a minute, she pulls one out.

“Is this what you’re looking for?” she asks, handing it to him.

“How did you know which-” he begins, and Morgana flashes him another one of her smiles.  “Oh,” he continues, “You heard me talking.  I see. Yes - that’s the one,” he says.  As he takes the book, his eyes catch her shimmering bracelet.  Three amber stones set into the metal, surrounded by etched writings in an ancient tongue.  And in those stones –

…there are shadows that seem to glow and fade, foggy streaks across a smooth radiance. But the center stone does not glow; it is large and dark and as he stares at it…

“Merlin? Merlin!”

He opens his eyes to Morgana’s face above his.  Her hands gently clutch his shoulders as she lightly shakes him and calls his name.  Embarrassed, Merlin quickly stands up, swaying slightly from headrush.
Morgana concernedly looks at him. “Are you alright?”

Merlin hesitates.  He cannot really tell her that he is seeing things or she will think he’s crazy.  And after these visions he is always shaken.  “I’m alright.  Just haven’t been sleeping well these past days,” he tells her, which is not entirely a lie because he hasn’t been sleeping well since those nightmares have become more frequent.

Morgana pats his back.  “Make sure you get some good sleep, Merlin.”

You too, Morgana.  Those bags do not belong under your beautiful eyes.

“Thanks.”

He feels Morgana’s questioning eyes upon him as he walks towards the book checkout.

----------

With her return, Merlin meets with Morgana, yet it feels as if she’s avoiding him. She frequently tells him that she needs to go to bed early because of an appointment she has somewhere, or her sister needs her, or she needs to get more sleep.  So each time he meets her, he tries to extend their short time they have together by claiming that he is searching for his lost tea, or watch, or a book, but he is really searching for her.  He is searching for her beautiful long black locks, her charming broad smiles, and her lovely green eyes.

But something changes about her.  Her smile is less exuberant, her eyes a little less lively.  She never responds to his advances.  Ever gesture he makes towards her is met with an ever mysterious smile.  She is a mystery to him, his mystery, a mystery he wants to learn.  Because in his heart, he loves her.

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And in the Darkness, Bind them – Chapter 3
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The one day when Morgana phones him with her voice shaking, he quickly hurries over to her place.

She looks tired, so very tired, and her eyes are weary.  She lies in her bed, crying, with sister‘s arms around her.

Merlin rushes up to Morgana, touching her face, wiping her tears away with his fingers.  “Are you hurt?” he worriedly asks.  “What’s wrong?”

“I-I am sorry,” she says, breathing heavily.  “I have waited too, too long.  I needed them, and now I-
I need you,” she barely whispers.  

“I am here,” he reassures her, “I love you.”

And he looks into her eyes, her lovely shimmering green eyes.

Morgana’s briefly smiles, but her lips soon desolately fall.  “But you don’t understand,” she shakes her head, “I-,” she hesitates, “-I need your soul.”

Merlin stands there, dumbfounded, a questioning crease forming between his brows.  

She needs my soul?

“I had to take their souls, all of them,” she tries to explain to him. “You still don’t remember - do you?” she asks, her eyes searching his confused face.  

“Souls of whom? Remember what?”

Morgana’s eyes prick with tears.  “You find them in every lifetime, Merlin, no matter the distance, no matter your profession.  You always--”

... feel so small compared to the enormity of the world.  But his world is so small, so very, very small.  He has found his friends - again. Yes, this is Arthur, his prince, and Gwen, Arthur’s love.  Yes, this is Lancelot, the one who always falls prey to fate, falling in love with the wrong woman and having his heart broken in every lifetime.  Yes, this is Gaius, his beloved guardian, and Uther, the tyrannical King.  He knows now that these are his friends, his old friends from long, forgotten years…

He is an artist, painting torn pictures of his angry visions.  

He gives himself up to her.  

He is a poet, writing furious words on his ruined tablet.  

He gives himself up to her…  

He is a pianist, playing melancholy tunes of Chopin’s nocturnes.

He gives himself up to her…  

…But he himself has eluded them.  He is the frightened boy, running through the woods-

the dragon’s sharp eyes, dark and brooding, dig deeply into his back.  He’s running, always running, dodging tree by tree.  Sweat drips from his brow, his calf muscles burn.  He trips over a branch, knees buckling and hands colliding with twigs, and pauses for a second, just a second, breathing, just breathing.

“Why did you not heed my words and let the witch die?” the dragon’s angry voice rumbles in the heart of the forest.

He casts his eyes away from the fiery depths of the dragon’s gaze into the winding distance.

“Because I love her,” he says, barely audible with unshed tears in his eyes…


He has loved her more than twice? This unimaginable, heartless cycle has been repeating itself for years on end?

Merlin hollowly stares at the floor, tears falling from his tear-soaked eyes, realization striking at his very heart. “Why did you want me to remember?” he murmurs.  

His eyes suddenly lock with hers, full of anger and rage. “I have always loved you!” he yells, and then his voice hushes into a whisper.  “In every, single, lifetime. You vowed that-”

...He speaks softly, almost blankly, too numb to feel. “Will I see you again? Will I remember?”
Morgana’s voice is soft, hesitant. “You will all be reborn, in every age.  No one will ever remember but you.  But you will always remember too late…We will meet again in another life, you and I,” she assures him. “We will be together again.”

…She tenderly strokes his black hair, holding his head in her lap, tears falling from her desolate eyes as she whispers into his ear.  “We will meet again in another lifetime.”


Merlin tries to resurface-

“I’m sorry,” he faintly hears, Morgana’s voice delicate and distant.

-but his visions are too strong.

He is the frightened boy in the woods, running away with his dragon...

Merlin wakes, gasping on the ground.  His breathing heavy, his body covered in sweat.  Morgana is kneeling beside him.  Her hand is touching his cheek, softy, caressingly.  Tears tremble in her eyes, her eyes-

…In the beginning he had magic, and his magic loved hers, so powerful so clean, so pure.  Yet she chose to follow her sister Morgause, and together, they put the whole of Camelot asleep.  And in their sleep, they vengefully claimed Morgana’s friend’s souls, for her friends hated magic and therefore hated her.  

Only one escaped, running through the woods.  But he eventually he gave himself up to her so that they could forever be together.  The price was dear, and they ripped his magic from him so that he could harm them no more.  

At last they had taken his soul.  And within the darkness, they bound their souls to the stones.  And with his magic, they blessed the stones to grant her and her sister eternal life.  
In every lifetime, she weeps for him, until he is reborn. And in every lifetime he is fated to love her so very deeply. He always remembers her lovely green eyes.  Yet he never remembers the past until it is too late, until she reminds him.  Because in each lifetime each soul must be reclaimed in the same order and his soul must only be taken the moment he remembers.  That is the nature of the spell.

She loves him so much; she wants him and every fiber of his being.  But she cannot bring herself to both love him and claim his soul.  So her heart grows cold as she keeps her distance.  In every lifetime, she throws him glances of her secret isolated, distancing, love.  Yet she loves him with a love that is more than love—


-Her bracelet glows and he feels his eyes dimming, his mind drifting.  And in those stones –

…there are shadows that seem to glow and fade, foggy streaks across a smooth radiance. But the center stone does not glow; it is large and dark and as he stares at it, he feels as if he is being pulled into the depths of the abyss.

It is for him…

Morgana tenderly strokes his black hair, holding his head in her lap, tears falling from her lovely green eyes, and whispers into his ear.  “We will meet again in another life.”

Who is he?  Where is he?

He is the frightened boy in the woods, running away with his dragon...
Title: And in the Darkness, Bind Them

Fiction Note: Beta'd by Captain Ozone. Thank you so much! :heart:





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Comments4
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Hotheaded-dork12's avatar
Whoa! Are you writing more ore is this just a one-shot? 
cakelady1's avatar
WOW. I was hooked in the first few words and couldn't stop reading. Love it. Are there others?
TheRedNeckercheif's avatar

Thank you very much! I'm happy that you enjoyed this piece. ღ

You can find a complete list of my most recent works under my Ao3 account, Forbearnan. There, I've posted several drabbles and two other longer works (aside from this one).

I'm also currently working on a 30k+ fiction for the Merlin BigBang Challenge. :)

Thank you so much for your lovely comment! :star:


~TheRedNeckercheif
Blostma1's avatar

Heartbreaking and well written.