Title: Cassadaga (Ch. 5)
Character/s: Merlin, Kilgharrah
Summary: Merlin would love to know what Kilgharrah is really after.
Warnings: talks of ghosts and the dead, mix of beliefs
Word Count: 1k
Prompt: #254: You’ll be Back
Author's Notes: Ch. 1 | Ch.2 | Ch.3 | Ch.4
The first time Merlin made contact with a spirit he was seven. Hunith, his mother, up to that point had attributed her son’s disposition for inexplicable occurrences to external and very logical factors other than a strong ability to converge with preternatural forces. She thought of his gurgling and random pointing as part of his development, his quiet search around their house on shaky feet as curiosity for the world, and blamed her neighbors for the strange noises she sometimes heard deep into the night. It never crossed her mind her infant son was in fact cohabiting with souls from the spirit world. Bright colorful lights that became play mates before he was cognizant enough to realize playing with ghosts wasn't the norm for everyone.
It wasn't until Merlin let out his biggest secret after his seventh birthday when Hunith understood her son was different. He had a precious gift.
Merlin had been playing with his best friend who showed up to celebrate the occasion with him. When questioned he said he was talking about the boy who came from the forests, Hunith had read about invisible friends in parenting books before, but the way her son spoke, his descriptions, made her stop to wonder. One call to her brother, a lot of explaining, a very confused boy and endless possibilities. Gaius and his mother made things easier for him. Gaius, his guide and mentor gave him knowledge. His mother provided love and understanding. Thanks to them he embraced a part of him that can be scary and overwhelming.
Merlin won't ever forget about those early days. His uncertainty. He remembers the boy too. His name was Mordred. A boy just like him who became attached to Merlin and refused to pass on, he wasn't ready to ascend. Merlin likes to think they were friends.
What he remembers the most is his appearance. As a child he was amazed to be able to look through him. His image flickering in the night. Sometimes, if Merlin made him smile his eyes would fill with colour, bright and alive like the morning sky. The rest of him remained translucent. So different from Kilgharrah who not only has a corporeal body but is also a cat. A cat who’s blissfully ignoring Merlin in favour of eating some the leftover grilled salmon Merlin had in the fridge. He refused to even come near the cat food Merlin supplied for him. Not even if the word gourmet was in the can.
He observes Kilgharrah. He looks like any ordinary cat, black coat shinny under the kitchen’s light, aloof and dismissive. Only interested when he’s the center of attention wants Merlin to listen to him. The truth is this is too strange even for Merlin. His mind goes back to Mordred, he was easy to read, he was a lost spirit, benign and calm. Kilgharrah’s motives are a mystery to him.
One minute he’s trying to help lost souls to follow their journey and the next he’s stuck with a reincarnated cat who claims is going to help Merlin to fulfill his destiny, as if he actually knows him.
“Stop it,” Kilgharrah says jumping on the table startling Merlin out of his reverie. He holds onto the edge of the table to stop himself from ending up as an awkward heap of limbs and chair on the floor.
“Don’t do that!” Merlin says shooting Kilgharrah a dirty look and crossing his arms.
“I won’t if you stop thinking I’m a malevolent spirit trying to deceive you.”
One of Merlin’s eyebrows lifts in surprise. “And you’re not?”
“The laws of the universe forbid me from deceit. My power is bound. If I were to break the laws and limits I’d probably come back as a roach next time,” Kilgharrah says. His voice horrified. It makes Merlin smile.
“Roaches are also important. A necessity to keep the balance of the earth,” Merlin teases.
For a cat Kilgharrah sure knows how to look unamused. “Must I remind you I’m a cat. I can meow all night, jump on your head and scratch your favorite sofa.”
“Fine,” Merlin says defeated, his quiet life is not a price he’s willing to pay. “I’ll trust you for now. But you’re going to answer a few questions.”
Kilgharrah starts cleaning himself, his paw running down his head, obviously concluding their talk. That went well.
Merlin is full of questions. Most of them concern his so called destiny and Kilgharrah’s part on it. He answers in riddles and leaves Merlin even more confused.
“In time, you will learn,” he says, yellow eyes boring into him. Merlin tries another tactic, asks him about his life getting in return a talk about hairballs he could've done without.
“If you’ve ascended and come back, why do you still have your old memories? I’ve been under the assumption souls can't remember.”
“That's true but I’m a spirit guide. Past memories are essential for my job,” he says calculating, “And I also have my own unfinished business.” Merlin doesn't continue his interrogation sensing Kilgharrah is done sharing.
Morgana’s enthusiasm is more than Merlin was expecting. In the years he’s known her she’s never shown such excitement. She took well the news of him having a spirit guide. Even more when he presented Kilgharrah to her and the cat instantly took a liking to her flat. Its coziness and various spots to take a nap. The fact Gwen fed him only served to make Kilgharrah purr and turn on his back to show them his belly. Merlin was slightly offended by the sight. He’s the one he’s supposed to be guiding them.
“Merlin this is our chance to know more about the spirit world,” Morgana says practically jumping on her seat. “This is overwhelming proof of other realms!”
“As much as I understand where you’re coming from I’d like to focus on this talk of destiny he keeps going on about, we made an arrangement but he refuses to speak in clear english,” Merlin says eyeing Kilgharrah lounging on Gwen’s lap. Pawing at tarot cards from the new fairy deck she’s bought. Gwen is convinced he’s trying to help her. Unlike Morgana and him, Gwen wasn’t born with a natural ability to read and perceive other realms. She’s self-taught, a curious girl who stumbled into Albion seeking knowledge and found Morgana.
“There’s not much I can do to help you, Merlin,” Morgana says. “I mean you do believe in destiny, right?”
“Of course I do. It’s hard not to.”
“Well then, time will tell. Our fates and destinies are already written for us. We have to keep on living and lookout for the extraordinary. I’m sure soon enough you’ll find what you’re looking for,” Morgana tells him.
He knows. Her words are something he’s always believed in. Fates written on the stars, the balance of life, destinies to fulfill. Life and death. Lightness and darkness. What he wishes is he could tell Morgana how he feels. His heart hammering in his chest like something is about to happen, the jittery nerves that kept him up last night. The feeling that the world is much bigger and full of mysteries and unknowns.
“I suppose you’re right.”
“I always am.”
“Oh,” Gwen gasps, Morgana and him turned to her. She’s smiling, almost cuddling Kilgharrah. “Merlin, do you think I could borrow your cat. He’s like a good luck charm. My readings are spot on tonight.”
“Go ahead. I need to sleep.”
Maybe without his so-called spirit guide he can pretend nothing’s changed and he’s a simple man.
But the thing is the universe keeps on writing his history, fate’s cards already dealt, already set into motion. Even when he chooses to remain oblivious.
His destiny arrives on a cold spring afternoon, dusk painting the sky with reds and oranges, fiery and alive, the sun melting and disappearing over the horizon before twinkling stars fill the darkness of the night.
Some things are inevitable.