Title: Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair
Character/s: Merlin, William Shakespeare
Summary: Merlin was always willing to help a friend but telling the true story of Arthur Pendragon was not in the cards.
Word Count: 1030 (sorry)
Prompt: # 145 Fair
Author's Notes: I have no idea where this came from. Also, since I'm American and not that up on Shakespeare, I may have taken liberties. The quotes are from the Scottish play.
Will had a way with words. Merlin had known him for years, watching him use a special kind of magic, words and grand gestures and sometimes ribald jokes to mesmerize the growing crowds at the theatre.
In a way, it was easier than any spell.
Of course, Merlin had to watch what he'd say around Will; the man was a sponge, soaking up everything and twisting it, making it into his own and then placing it back upon a stage where others could see, could hear. Could mock.
Nothing was sacred to Will, not politics, not romance, not love, not even the royal family although he was more circumspect about that than Merlin expected. After all, actors and play-wrights, even one as talented as Will, had to watch what they'd say. They could be ruined if the rich and powerful took offence.
Merlin's story was different. It was sacred, not to be turned into mere entertainment, no matter how clever the playwright. So Merlin never talked about his past, never talked of Camelot or Arthur or the grief that still clung to every part of him.
Until one Samhain when he couldn’t stand it anymore and got blazing drunk.
He didn't remember much the next day but Will looked at him with too-sharp eyes. Merlin only hoped that he hadn't used his magic at least. After all, they were still burning witches and he doubted that they'd see his gifts as anything but devil's work.
But Will said nothing, just started working on another play about treachery and pain. About how ambition could corrupt even good men into betrayal.
And when the play opened with three witches talking about fair and foul and murder, Merlin had to close his eyes because on the stage were three beauties, with black hair and pale skin, cackling over a cauldron.
They all looked like Morgana.
Will found him later, hiding in the corner. Laughing, happy with his latest play, he sat down, slapping Merlin on the back, mumbling something about runs and receipts.
Merlin didn't look up, merely stared down at the dregs of whatever tainted thing he'd drunk, wishing for more, wishing for enough to blot out the world if necessary.
"Duncan, my thanks to you. All that talk of witches and murder and treachery. They loved it."
Merlin only shook his head. Will didn't know who he really was but it didn't matter. He'd taken a part of the story, his story, and defiled it.
But Will wasn't done. "I'd had to write something for my patrons else I'd have written your story first. But now it's a success, Merlin and Arthur will be my next play. I'd thought that maybe the Queen would object to a story about Arthurian legends. After all, her uncle Arthur died at an early age; it might have been painful to hear his name after all. But my friends at court say to write it anyway. That it's such a part of England that a play about his life and death would be an inspiration."
Merlin lifted his tankard trying to chase the last drops, then gestured for another.
As if there was enough alcohol in the world to drown out the memories.
"With what you've told me of the Welsh tales – Morgana and Arthur and a young Merlin." Will laughed again. "Very unexpected for him to be the same age and a servant no less. But turning the legends on their head, all about magic and keeping it a secret." He turned, lifting his arm to signal for another ale. "Magic sells after all. And a tragic ending is always good for bringing in the customers."
Merlin was already drowning in his second tankard and Will didn't seem to care. He was scratching at his beard. "Although I will have to think about how to write the dragon. I do like Kilgharrah's name, sounds very mysterious. And change the elder Pendragon a bit, make him more of a villain. But sorcery and witches and Merlin hiding who he was from everyone, I could make a fortune."
"No." Merlin slapped his hand on the table, trying to keep the magic at bay. Getting drunk wasn't a good idea; it always wrecked his control.
"Duncan, I need the money." Will frowned at him, not understanding. "I'll give you a portion. A small portion."
"Will, I won't let you. I can't let you." Merlin could feel the pressure growing. Shoving it down, leaning closer, he growled out, "This wasn't just some story. It's my life."
"Don't be ridiculous. It is a tale told by an idiot…."
"I'm not an idiot!" Staring down at the remnants of his drink, he said more softly, "Only one man could call me that and get away with it and he's been dead a thousand years."
"Now I know you've had too much to drink." Will let out a snort, then grinned. "A thousand years… that would make you, what… the sorcerer Merlin?"
Merlin looked around. They were tucked away in a quiet corner and it would be easy enough to… kill but he couldn't do it. Not to protect himself when he could just vanish again, like he'd done so many times before.
So instead, still half-drunk with grief and ale, he pulled Will close and whispered into his ear, "Yes, it would."
Feeling Will's surprise, Merlin just tightened his grip and said, "Ofergiete."
Letting go, watching his friend slump forward unconscious, Merlin scrubbed at his face, wiping at the sudden wetness there. He'd have to move on now.
All for the sake of one foolish night and too much ale.
"I'm sorry." As he stood, he leaned over, ruffling Will's scruffy hair. "Write something brilliant. I know you can. But forget about Arthur Pendragon and his Merlin. Yes, it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying everything to me."
He took one last look at Will's slack face. "And someday he'll rise again and then there will be such a tale as even you could not tell, Master Shakespeare."
And with that, Merlin, ever alone, walked away and disappeared into the night.
Note: Ofergiete = forget