Title: The Blood Drop
Pairing/s: Implied Arthur/Merlin
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Uther, Morgana
Summary: As Arthur strives to rebuild Camelot, the jewellery that queen Morgana left behind when she fled serves more than one purpose. (Set post Season 3's finale)
Word Count: 800
Prompt: 108 - Exquisite
Author's Notes: The symbolism of jewellery can be fascinating...
The Blood Drop
Arthur's face was grim as he threw back the lid of the decorated casket.
Merlin gasped. He had never before seen so many gems and this much gold, not even here at the court of Camelot. The treasure before him glittered to rival the Crystal Cave.
Arthur pushed aside Morgana's jewel-encrusted crown and picked up a magnificent necklace, heavy with purple amethysts. He held it gingerly in his gloved hand.
«Do you think any of these might be enchanted to cause harm?»
Merlin was mesmerized by the mound of jewellery, but he did not sense any dark magic resonating from the casket.
“No, Arthur,” he replied after a moment. “Morgana was single-minded enough to believe she had won the throne for once and all. So was Morgause. They saw no need for such subtle traps.”
“I think you're right.”
Arthur shovelled pendants and earrings away to reach for a chain set with brilliant emeralds. His hand shook, and he laughed bitterly.
“This necklace! How many times did I see her wearing it? Green and sparkling, just like her eyes..... It is an heirloom of House Gorlois, isn't that ironic? She wore it on feast days when we both stood at my father's side. Her father too, had I only known.”
“I'm sorry,” Merlin said, his voice gentle. “I know it hurts.”
Arthur drew a sharp breath and looked away, refusing to acknowledge the pain. “Father always showered Morgana with jewels, especially after her return to us last year. Now those very gifts mean we can afford to restore Camelot to its glory, the way it was before her undead army wreaked havoc here.”
He rifled through the casket, making diamonds and pearls clink and rattle. “Good thing she didn't have time to magic her hoard away when she left.”
Suddenly his hand stilled. He held a delicate drop-shaped ruby pendant up towards the light.
“Have you seen this before?”
Merlin shook his head. “I think it's new.”
“A pendant like a drop of blood. A fitting gem for a cruel queen on her stolen throne.” Arthur closed the casket lid with a decisive bang.
“I will have it all sold.” He turned away and strode towards the door. “Morgana will pay for what she did. Literally.”
King Uther's state of mind hardly improved. He lived in a world of his own, his eyes full of confusion. Arthur was always attentive when he visited his father, but grief seemed to linger in the air around the two of them.
Merlin could sense Arthur's pain as hope dwindled. The king would not make a full recovery.
The rebuilding of Camelot took many months and every penny from the sale of Morgana's jewels.
Finally it was time to celebrate that Camelot's restoration was complete.
King Uther would make a brief appearance during the feast, leaving his chambers for the first time since he was rescued from the dungeons.
As always, Merlin helped Arthur dress for the big event.
The prince had been short-tempered all day. “My father, - do you think... Will he...” Arthur bit his lip and cut his own question short.
“It's a good sign for Camelot that he will be there, sire,” Merlin replied diplomatically. With practised ease he draped the voluminous cloak across Arthur's shoulders, and moved in front to fasten the gilded clasps that held the crimson cloth in place.
“Wait!” Arthur exclaimed. He reached into his pocket. “This goes onto the left clasp.”
He dropped something small and shimmering into Merlin's hand. Morgana's ruby pendant, the blood drop.
The crimson and gold of the Pendragon crest met in the exquisite piece of jewellery.
Merlin's eyes met Arthur's. Neither of them spoke, but a look of complete understanding passed between them. Merlin stepped closer. Squeezing Arthur's shoulder briefly, he offered physical comfort where no words would do.
Arthur's strong frame slumped as he leaned on Merlin and held him tight for a brief unguarded moment of intimacy.
Afterwards, Merlin carefully adjusted the clasp as instructed.
On this day when the king would be attending the revels as a mere shadow of himself, and Morgana was out there somewhere plotting death and destruction, Arthur had decided to wear a token of the Pendragons' pain and loss.
Morgana; - friend, sister, daughter, betrayer, usurper; - during the celebration of her defeat, her ruby in its delicate golden setting dangled next to the dragon crest over her half-brother's heart. The gemstone glistened whenever Arthur moved.
It looked like a fresh drop of blood from the deep wounds of a royal family torn apart forever.
And maybe, Merlin thought with renewed sadness, that was exactly what the jewel had represented to Morgana too.