Title: If wishes were horses
Character/s: Merlin, Hunith
Summary: Hunith discovers young Merlin is using magic again. She’s at her wits end.
Word Count: 800
Camelot_drabble Prompt: 418 Ambitious
Author's Notes: If wishes were horses, beggars would ride – Scottish proverb
Disclaimer: Merlin characters are the property of Shine and BBC. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Tending her garden, standing just outside the hut’s single window, at first Hunith only heard Merlin’s giggling. Such a joyous sound, one so full of life and delight. She didn’t want to interrupt whatever had made Merlin so happy, but a moment later, her heart nearly stopped when Merlin said, “Posy, I’m going to be the greatest wizard – ever.”
She’d been so careful to explain things to Merlin but a five-year old wanted more than silence and secrecy. He’d turned her world upside down with the ease of his magic, how he could wish for something and it would float into his hands. She adored him but there was danger, too, and she didn’t know how to handle it. She was at her wits end.
Carefully, she walked into the hut and closed the door behind her.
Merlin was sitting on the floor, his back to Hunith, playing with their hen, Posy. Clucking quietly as Merlin stroked her, her now-unnaturally green feathers turned to blue, then pink, and finally a lovely gold.
Giving another giggle, Merlin said, “Posy, you are my best friend in the whole world.” When Posy just clucked, then began pecking at Merlin’s hair, Merlin let her, bending his head closer so she could reach. “And when I grow up, I will still be your friend, too. Even when I’m High Wizard of Ealdor. Even when me and Mummy lives in a palace. You can stay there, too. And I’ll magic up the best straw for you.”
Turning rainbow-coloured, the hen didn’t seem to care, just hopped off Merlin’s lap and began pecking at the floor, looking for seeds. As Merlin turned around, he finally noticed Hunith standing there.
“It wasn’t me,” Merlin said, looking guilty and defiant at the same time. “A witch came in and….”
Sitting down at the table, Hunith stared at Merlin a moment, wondering what to do, then burst into tears. It was all too much. She was afraid for Merlin, for herself, for the little brightly-coloured hen clucking at her feet.
Merlin ran over, then flung his little arms around her. “I’m sorry. It was me but I wanted to… I’m sorry. Please don’t cry.”
Grabbing onto him, hugging him tight, she tried to get herself under control. She needed to be firm but all she could think of was that Merlin was too careless for words, that at any moment, someone, anyone, could raise doubts and accusations and she’d lose the one she loved most in the world.
“Merlin, you can’t… you… it’s too dangerous.” Hunith buried her face in his chest. “If anything were to happen….”
“It won’t, Mummy, it won’t. I’ll be good. I’ll hide my magic, just like you told me to.” It sounded like he was crying, too. “I’m sorry. Please don’t cry.”
Hunith looked up to his tear-streaked face. “If it hadn’t been me outside the window, if the headman had heard you or saw Posy looking like that, he’d take you away and give you to bad men and I’d never see you again.”
Merlin blinked at that, frowning as if it had never occurred to him that people could hear him through the window. “But Mummy, no one comes near and I can change Posy back. It’s easy.”
“It’s dangerous,” Hunith snapped. But when Merlin looked like he was going to cry again, Hunith took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Merlin, they would kill Posy if they saw her like that. They would kill me, too, or take me away and lock me up in a dungeon and then kill you. You have no idea how badly people would react if they found out.” She took his face in her hands, then said, “You have to promise and mean it this time. Change Posy back and then never use your magic again.”
“But Mummy….” Merlin was already starting to look defiant.
It wasn’t in Hunith’s nature to be stern, but she had to for Merlin’s sake. She let him go, then pointed toward the hen.
“Turn Posy back now.”
It looked like Merlin was going to object, but one look at her face and Merlin wilted. A second later, Merlin’s eyes flashed, and Posy was just a plain-coloured chicken again.
“Now promise me, you won’t use magic ever again.” She grabbed his shoulders and gave him a little shake. “Promise me, Merlin.”
He looked away, and then nodded. “I promise.”
It was only a half-hearted response, but it was the best she could hope for at the moment. Hunith knew that it wouldn’t be the end of it, but at least Merlin was realising, at least for now, that using magic was dangerous, that Hunith was worried enough to cry about it.
She only hoped that it would be enough.