Title: Like a Fine Wine (13)
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Mordred, Alice
Summary: Mordred was standing in the doorway, a midnight-blue cloak draped around his shoulders, and he stared down at Arthur with a smile on his face. “Hello, Arthur,” he said. “Long time no see.”
[ Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | AO3 ]
Warnings: Canon-typical violence.
Word Count: 1000w
Prompt: 383 Hocus Pocus
Author's Notes: I swear I had this written several days ago...
Before Merlin could respond, the door to the bedroom burst open, and Alice stumbled in. She was wearing a plain white nightgown and fluffy pink slippers, her grey hair springing free of its plait to curl wildly around her ears.
“Merlin?” she said, clutching at the doorframe as the walls shook. “What’s going on?”
“I’m sorry, Alice,” Merlin said. “I didn’t mean to involve you in this.”
“There is a sorcerer attacking my house,” Alice said, as if they could somehow have missed it. “You will tell me what you have done.”
The accusation in her voice made Arthur bristle, but Merlin raised his head, glancing back at her with an unreadable expression.
“You remember,” he said. It wasn’t a question, but Alice wrapped her dressing gown more tightly around her body, drawing herself up.
“I have no idea—”
“Don’t lie,” Merlin snapped. For the first time, it occurred to Arthur to wonder what Alice was to him, under the circumstances. Merlin had been reborn this time, just like he had; did that mean Alice was actually his aunt, or had their relationship been different back in Camelot? “You know who Arthur is, don’t you?”
“Well, I—I…” Alice trailed off, her gaze darting between the two of them as though searching for an escape. Then her eyes landed on Arthur’s sword, and her shoulders sagged. “Yes. I know who he is.”
Merlin and Arthur exchanged glances. While they had run into a number of other reincarnated souls over the years, this was the first time any of them had remembered their previous lives.
“Do you think—?” Arthur started, but Merlin talked over him.
“When I first knew you, you were a powerful witch,” he said, speaking rapidly as yet another attack rocked the building. “That man out there wants to kill Arthur and take over the world. If I distract him, can you get Arthur someplace safe and protect him until I find you?”
“No,” Arthur said forcefully, before Alice could answer. “I told you, I’m not running away. We tried doing this your way, and it didn’t work. Now it’s my turn.”
They glared at one another for a long moment, before Merlin finally threw up his hands. “Fine. If you want to get yourself killed, go ahead. Just know that, next time, I’m going to walk the fuck away as soon as I see you coming.”
“You do that,” Arthur said, not believing him for a moment. If there was one thing that remained constant in every lifetime, it was that Merlin would always come for him. He looked at Alice. “I don’t suppose you have some kind of protection spell, something we can use to slow him down?”
“As a matter of fact, I do,” Alice said slowly. “But it’s going to take some time.”
“Is your hocus pocus ready yet?” Arthur asked tensely, some minutes later. The three of them were downstairs, the lights out, Arthur standing guard by the entrance while the two sorcerers laid out their spell on the kitchen floor. “I don’t think the wards are going to hold much longer.”
“We’re working as fast as we can,” Merlin answered through gritted teeth. He didn’t bother to glance around, but continued scrawling runes onto the white linoleum, while Alice hurriedly added ingredients to a mixing bowl. “Although it would certainly help if you stopped interrupting.”
Arthur snorted, but didn’t respond. There was a strange feeling in the air, similar to the change in air pressure during take-off, and the thunder of Mordred’s spells outside had gone ominously silent. The hair rose on the back of Arthur's neck. “Merlin, I—”
The door exploded inwards. Arthur was knocked off his feet and hit the wall, all the breath slamming out of him. With his ears ringing, he barely heard Merlin's shout of alarm, nor Alice's shriek as she ducked behind the kitchen counter.
Mordred was standing in the doorway, a midnight-blue cloak draped around his shoulders, and he stared down at Arthur with a smile on his face.
“Hello, Arthur,” he said. “Long time no see.”
Arthur scrambled to his feet, and Mordred let him, watching with an indulgent expression as Arthur braced himself for a fight. Excalibur had dropped from his grasp on impact, and Arthur could see it wedged under the kitchen table several feet away, perfectly intact and completely useless. They were out of time.
“You know,” Mordred said, conversationally. He took a step forward, and then another, strolling inside without so much as a flinch. “I never get tired of savouring this moment.”
“Is that so,” Arthur responded. Discreetly, he glanced over his shoulder, looking for Merlin and Alice, but he couldn’t see either of them from this angle. “Personally, I feel like it’s getting a bit repetitive.”
Mordred’s smile grew, and with a flick of his wrist, he threw Arthur back against the wall for a second time, his head colliding with an antique death mask before he bounced off and crumpled to the floor. Hot blood burst inside his mouth and he landed heavily, rolling onto his side with a gasp of pain.
“I’m glad to see you’ve regained your memories. It wouldn’t have been nearly so much fun killing you if you didn’t understand why.”
“Oh, I understand why, all right.” Arthur heaved himself up once again, wincing a little as he wiped his chin with the back of one hand. There was still no sign of Merlin or Alice, though Arthur thought he could hear someone whispering, somewhere out of sight. “I understand that you chose vengeance over those who loved you. Over the oath you made to me, your king. I understand that you’re a coward.”
Mordred snarled and lunged at him, foregoing magic this time to wrap his hands around Arthur’s neck. Arthur fought back, bringing one leg up to knee Mordred in the stomach, but Mordred didn’t so much as flinch.
And that was when the dragon erupted from the wreckage.