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The Tapestry

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1 The Tapestry on Sun 12 Aug 2012, 11:43 pm



Invincible intruders are popping up in Camelot. Only Excalibur can save Camelot. And Leon recognizes when Merlin is lying to him.


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SG: Agent Double-Oh-Negative
Merlin: Sir Leon
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2 Re: The Tapestry on Tue 14 Aug 2012, 3:20 am

Maeglin

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When Gwaine was nine years old, he killed his father.

"Go on to bed, boys," Sir Lamorak ordered. "Your mother and I got things to do."

Anna had been talking to twelve-year-old Gaheris and nine-year-old Gwaine quietly by the fire, stroking Gwaine's hair as she told them stories of heroic myths and ancient gods. Her accent was different from the people around whom Gwaine grew up (Gaheris' was too, a bit), and her stories were from a far northern land as exotic as her speech.

At Lamorak's words she went still and tense, and Gwaine and Gaheris sat up.


Sir Lamorak of Éire wasn't really his father, though. But Loth had died in a war when Gwaine was less than a year old, so he was the only father Gwaine had ever known. Gaheris told him of their father, sometimes, but he had been young, too. And mother did not like to talk about him.

Gwaine and Gaheris looked at each other. Gwaine did not like the way his mother reacted to the word 'things,' and he did not like the look on Lamorak's face when he said it. Gwaine didn't like much about the old man, admittedly. He didn't like the way he spoke to his mother. He didn't like the way his breath smelled. He didn't like how he would hit Gareth or Gwarae if they cried, or how he hurt mother if she tried to stop him. He didn't like how he kept maids, not only Anna, in his bed sometimes against their will. He didn't like that he beat his servants cruelly, and starved his hunting dogs. Gwaine especially didn't like how he got away it.

Gaheris had once tried to explain this to him. He said it was because Lamorak was noble. The older brother had tried to tell young Gwaine the difference between blood-nobility and character-nobility, but Gwaine had decided that he hated both.

Without anyone explaining it to him, Gwaine understood the value of money young. Why else would mother have married the aged and abusive Lamorak if not for money? She had loved his father, but she needed money to raise her children.

"Mama?" Gwaine asked, challenging the order he had been given.

Anna had nodded to him, sad but brave. "Go on to bed, sweetheart."

Gwaine looked between them. He had a vague idea what 'things' were, but only in that they entailed hurting his mother.

"No!" he said, and stood up, glaring at Lamorak.

"Gwaine," Anna said, more sternly. "Go check on your brother and sister."


Two good things only came out of Sir Lamorak, in Gwaine's opinion. Their names were Gareth and Gwarae. He doted on them religiously. They were, in fact, his world. His childhood was never happier than when he, his mother, and his brothers and sister were alone together. Lamorak ruined everything.

"Gwaine," Gaheris said, tugging at him.

"NO!" Gwaine said, and stamped his foot.

Lamorak went from his usual mildly annoyed to instantly enraged. Gwaine expected this, though, and leaped out of the fat old man's grasp. "I hate you!" Gwaine shrieked. The world made no sense except for hate. "You're not my father, don't tell me what to do! And stop hurting my mum!"

"Stupid brat!" Lamorak struck him so hard his head spun, but Anna and Gaheris had leapt to his aid, then, and paid for it: for being so old, Lamorak was strong, and threw Gaheris into the table, and then he put his pudgy hands around Anna's neck and squeezed. He was killing her.

So Gwaine drew Lamorak's own dagger from his belt and stabbed him in the back with it. It was a low strike, dead center.

Gwaine hadn't expected death to be so easy, actually. The knife just slid in, and Lamorak just fell, choked, and died. Gwaine would later learn that he had severed Lamorak's spine, a long list of instant kills he knew all to intimately.

Then mother had sent him to bed, angrily, even though she kissed him goodnight. Gaheris got to stay up late.

When he woke, Lamorak was gone, like a bad dream.


A year later, Lamorak's money had run out.

Two years after that, Anna and Gaheris were taken away by a fever. Gwaine had been the only one in the family to not even take ill. He led a charmed life like that.

Gwaine found jobs to support he and his younger siblings in the hovel they lived in. Some were honest, many were not. When he discovered that alcohol helped him forget, it quickly became a constant companion. Sometimes he drank away the money he had earned for food, but not often. Gareth and Gwarae were too important, too young. He would take any job. He cleaned stables, shined shoes, fed pigs, slaughtered cows, brought in harvest. He also fought, killed, stole, cheated, lied.

One winter he got a job as a mule driver on a caravan headed south. He left Gareth and Gwarae with enough money to last until Yule, telling them he would be back by then, with presents.

He wasn't. Heavy snows kept the caravan on the other side of the mountain.

"I'm not leaving, Gareth! Gwaine's coming back, he promised!"

But Gareth was wise beyond his years, and the kindly knight who wished to take them in (his wife was barren) was sure to represent better stability and safety than his brother, hard as he tried.

"We have no more money. Do you want to spend Christmas here?" he waved his hand derisively at the hovel.

"Yes. Because Gwaine will come..." Gwarae sobbed, stamping her foot.

"We'll leave him a note, Gwarae. For when he comes," Gareth said, and put his arm around her.


Gwaine never got the note, so he never came. Gwarae cried all through Yule. Gareth, who had not cried since Anna died, believed that Gwaine left them on purpose.

The hovel made it through Yule, but a squatter huddling there mid-February burned it to the ground through carelessness. When late spring thawed the snows and Gwaine returned over the mountains, the hovel was gone, and Gareth and Gwarae were gone.

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3 Re: The Tapestry on Thu 16 Aug 2012, 3:57 am

Leon knocked on the door to Elaine’s quarters, and was slightly embarrassed to find her new servant, Floree, answering the door. She greeted him with a bright smile, thankfully (or tactfully?) oblivious to his discomfort. But that was typical for Floree—It had been about a month since Elaine took her on as her personal maidservant, and by now she had a reputation for discretion and adaptability to every social situation and personality type.

Floree was also dating Gwaine, which made Leon simultaneously like her more and be more guarded around her. After all, being Elaine’s servant gave her far too much to tell Gwaine about his love life.

He nodded to her, and Floree gave him a warm, confident smile before she turned. “Sir Leon to see you, my lady.”

Leon followed Floree’s gaze to observe Elaine sitting with coils of thread in her lap. “Good morning!” she said, seeming to brighten when she saw him (which made Leon turn bashful all over again). She beckoned him forward. “Can you help me with this? I can’t hold the thread and wrap it at the same time.”

Leon obeyed, determined not to be distracted by the neckline of Elaine’s dress as he knelt beside her to pick up some fallen loops, but before he could get up again she said, “There, that’s perfect,” and slipped the skein of untangled thread onto his hands. In a moment she began wrapping the thread around his hands, her speed amazing Leon.

“So,” she said, eyeing him coyly, “How are things?”

“Oh—fine, fine,” Leon said. Elaine generally took control of their conversations, even though it had been at least a month since their first kiss. Still, he tried to contribute when he could think of anything to say. “How are you?” worked really well—Elaine liked to talk and he liked to listen.

“Oh, I’ve just been trying to get this last tapestry finished—Floree’s just gone down to get the trunk. Oh!—Arthur’s signing off on Gwaine’s nobility today, isn’t he?”

“Er, yes. As of this morning, Sir Gwaine will be Lord Gwaine.” He paused. “Though…you probably shouldn’t call him that to his face.”

Elaine giggled. “Gwarae seems excited, I thought. I imagine Gareth is too.”

“Well, it’ll be good for Gareth, certainly. He’s been getting on well with the knights—actually, I think I’m going to take him on as my squire.”

“Oh? Wouldn’t he be Gwaine’s squire?”

“No, of course not,” Leon said, watching her hands work. “Conflict of interest.”

“I see.” She lifted his chin. “You’re proud of him, aren’t you.”

“Gwaine? Well—I suppose so…”

“Ooh, if you can’t hide it from me, you won’t be able to hide it from him.” She grinned. “I think it’s a very attractive look on you.”

She took his hands, now thoroughly bound with thread, and pulled him forward for a kiss.

There was a bump at the door, and Elaine pulled away, having to pull quite far back to break contact with Leon’s lips. “Oh—that’ll be the new thread!” she said, as Leon slowly opened his eyes.

“Hmm?” he moved in for another kiss.

“I’ll just go help Floree bring it in,” Elaine said, and jumped up and skipped to the door. Leon glared at her, feeling more than a little sexually frustrated, but he extricated himself from the thread and tried to appear nonchalant as she and Floree reentered, carting between them a small trunk.

“Allow me,” he said, quickly taking the trunk from them and setting it on the table.

“These are the best threads in Albion,” Elaine said. She excitedly opened the trunk. “I’ve made this entire set of tapestries with these!”

“Very nice,” Leon said, not really noticing anything different about them. But he could see the love light in Elaine’s eyes as she picked up one of the balls of thread and touched it to her cheek. “I…hope you’re not going to be too busy weaving tonight?” Elaine just knotted her brow at him. “Tonight? It’s Friday.” He coughed, and Floree tactfully moved off to the next room. “I—er—you don’t have to be nervous at the Rising Sun, you know. Gwen’s going—I’m sure you can sit next to her while I play if you like.”

“Nervous?” Elaine asked, looking confused.

“Well, it’s just you talk so quietly when we’re there.”

Elaine blinked. “Oh. Right.” Then she grinned widely. “I think I can manage to go if I have a nice big knight like you to protect me.”

“I’m so glad,” Leon said, and leaned in to catch another kiss when someone burst through the door.

“Where’s my lovely girl, now?”

“Good morning, Gwaine,” Elaine said with a sigh as Leon leapt from Elaine and put his hands behind his back like a guilty teenager. “Floree will be right out…”

Gwaine laughed heartily. “Lady Elaine, can’t a nobleman just come and say hello to a lady?”

Elaine rolled her eyes and started putting away balls of thread. Leon fumed at Gwaine.

“I was here first, Gwaine,” he hissed.

“You need to stop getting so worked up,” Gwaine said, brushing his hair back as he waited almost on tiptoe. “If you would just go on a double-date, this would all stop being so embarrassing.”

Leon sighed, and a second later Floree appeared around the corner, and Gwaine greeted her with a long, intense kiss.

“Let him have his fun,” Elaine murmured, coming up beside him. She put her hands on his shoulder and pulled down, just managing to plant a kiss on his bearded jawline despite his tense stance. “We can continue our conversation tonight, can’t we?”

“Yes. Yes,” he said, trying to relax. He was about to lean down to kiss her properly when Floree gave a muffled squeak from underneath Gwaine’s beard, which kind of ruined the mood. He settled for a bow, and walked out, taking the time to whack Gwaine on the back as he was bent over Floree.

“Come on, you’re not going to be late to your own ennoblement.”

Gwaine reluctantly followed, and Elaine went back to putting away the balls of thread. Now and then she touched one of the soft coils of dyed cotton to her cheek. Floree watched from the bedroom, and only she could see the tendrils of golden magic flow from the thread and caress the cheek that Leon kissed moments before.


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Sandbox: Elinor Dashwood
SG: Agent Double-Oh-Negative
Merlin: Sir Leon
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4 Re: The Tapestry on Sat 18 Aug 2012, 6:47 am

While he stood there listening to Geoff and Arthur and Gwaine trying to hash out Gwaine’s history before declaring him a noble, Merlin wondered distractedly if there was such a thing as a ceremony that wasn’t boring. He thought hard about it for at least several minutes, and didn’t think he could remember a single one that hadn’t bored him half to death.

No, wait, that was wrong. There was the first one he’d ever been to, the one where the woman had tried to kill Arthur. That certainly hadn’t been boring. Also there’d been the one where Arthur had made him wear a stupid hat, right before he’d nearly died drinking from that poisoned goblet. It had been a nearly fatal disaster of a banquet ceremony, but it certainly hadn’t been boring.

“The records state that the Baron Sir Lamorak of Eire married an Orkneyan princess-,” Geoff was saying, but Gwaine cut him off, and Merlin looked up at the sudden change of speaker, leaving off on counting the number of banquets or ceremonies he’d seen where someone had nearly died.

“She had a name,” Gwaine practically snapped. "Anna." It was perhaps a little unnecessarily vehement, but Geoff didn’t seem bothered. He simply penned in the name and waited for Gwaine to stop glaring at him with an expression of mild interest.

“-Anna. And she had three children. That would be you, Gwarae, and Gareth,” he said, continuing his summary, and glanced sharply at Gwaine as the knight again opened his mouth to speak.

“You’re missing Gaheris. He was older. He died around the same time as mother,” he said, glancing at his other two siblings as if to reassure himself that they hadn’t shared the same fate as his mother and elder brother. Geoff raised both eyebrows.

“That makes you the oldest living heir, Sir Gwaine,” he remarked, penning this in as well, while everyone stared at Gwaine, who shrugged, neither confirming or denying the statement. Then Geoff started speaking again, searching for his place briefly with his quill before his voice began to drone on.

“So you knew all the time that Gwaine was a nobleman?” Merlin whispered at Leon, who was listening politely.

The knight nodded. “Not like it is now," he whispered, "all laid out, straightforward and official. Now that it’s on paper, everything will be different.”

“Really?”

“Well—not completely different, of course. Not for you and me. But it will change how the people see him.”

“I’m sure he’d hopes that you’re wrong,” Merlin said, but Arthur gave him a glare and he shut up, wondering how Leon got away with whispering during an official meeting and he didn’t—

Oh, right. Nobility.

Merlin tried to pay attention, but it was like his mind started wandering the second Geoff started speaking, and before long, it’d wandered from Gwaine’s siblings to Ealdor, and from there to his mother, and his father, and druids, and Freya. He frowned slightly without thinking. She was still stuck in the lake, despite his best efforts. He’d tried every spell he could find in Gaius’ books, and he’d convinced Freya to try a few she knew. They’d even tried working the same spells together, but the lake seemed impervious to all of their efforts, not even rippling a little in response unless Merlin, in his frustration, threw a rock in it.

“…and after that, the record ends, presumably because Lamorak died,” Geoff finished. He looked at Gwaine, quill poised to add any details he might be able to supply.

“Right, and that’s when Caerleon threw us out on the streets,” he added with no little relish. Arthur snorted, as if in disbelief, but the look on his face was more one of disgust. When everyone turned to look at him instead of at Gwaine, he shook his head once.

“Caerleon is a terrible king, and a worse human being. It does not surprise me he would deny aid to a knight’s family,” he growled, and then looked at Gwaine, “It doesn’t fix things, of course, but I’m sorry he threw you out. He did his rank a disservice in treating your family that way,” Arthur said honestly. Gwaine blinked, but nodded, apparently accepting the apology, or sympathy, or whatever it was.

“Sir Gwaine, the records fail to mention how Baron Lamorak died. Do you happen to know?” Geoff asked, finally, eager to fill in any holes he could in this record. It wasn’t every day he got to make sense of these strange histories of nobles. They were often too confused, the authors more concerned with painting their benefactors in a positive light to write down half of what they really did. When he asked, Gwaine shrugged a shoulder.

“A knife. In the back,” he answered off-handedly, and when Arthur gaped at him, added, “Yes, I did it. He had it coming.”

“You killed Lamorak?” Arthur asked, his tone of voice suggesting that he knew the answer, but was hoping that he’d be wrong.

“Yes, Princess, I killed the bastard.” Merlin looked from Arthur, who was turning one of those beyond-annoyed-but-not-yet-homicidal shades of red, to Gwaine, while his brain tried to play catch up. Of course, he’d heard a lot of this before, but when he’d heard it, Gwaine had said he never knew his father. But here, he was saying he’d killed the man. A man who, really, sounded nothing like the picture Gwaine had painted of his unknown father. One of these was a lie… but Merlin was no stranger to telling protective lies. Perhaps Gwaine hadn’t wanted to claim his father, or maybe there was something else going on that Arthur couldn’t know about. That, of all things, Merlin certainly understood. Anyway, as long as it wasn’t threatening the kingdom, Arthur, or Gwaine, it probably wasn’t important right at the moment.

“And just why, pray tell, did you kill a knight?” Arthur snapped at Gwaine, earning him a soft slap on the shoulder from Gwen, who didn’t apparently appreciate the tone he was taking with his knight. He sat back down, still glaring at Gwaine for an explanation, but didn’t speak again. Merlin glanced at Gwaine, who was grimacing at the tabletop as if trying to compose an answer.

“He was hurting my mum. And he hurt Gaheris. So I killed him,” he answered simply, apparently having decided on a shorter version than whatever he’d been thinking about for the past minute. He stared at the tabletop for another minute before giving Arthur a defiant look. Arthur, to everyone’s surprise, just shrugged a shoulder uncomfortably and turned to Geoff.

“Geoffrey, I don’t think the record needs to state Lamorak’s cause of death. History has done without so far, and I believe it will continue to do so without any damage,” he said. Geoff, who’d been about to pencil in Lamorak’s death by Gwaine’s hand, looked up at Arthur.

“But…” he started, ever in pursuit of historical accuracy.

"Are you sure that is wise, sire?" Leon added, looking concerned as well, but Arthur just put his hand in the middle of the page on which Geoff had been writing.

I said it’s fine."

Geoff and Leon obediently backed down, and there was an awkward silence as everyone was reminded of Arthur's dominance. Sure, now and then he spoke of equality, and occasionally acted on egalitarian sentiment, but that's what this meeting was, depressingly, all about. Arthur always had the last word, just because he was the highest born.

Merlin was apparently not the only one to notice the tension in the air. Leon, perhaps trying to save face but perhaps also trying to get Arthur to get off his high horse, said reproachfully, "I just want to tell you how I'm feeling..."

Arthur blinked at him, at first just surprised that Leon had talked back. But once again the attitude of the room changed--and the tension ramped up tenfold.

After a pause Percival cleared his throat.

"We've got to make you understand..."

"NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP, NEVER GONNA LET YOU DOWN--!"

"Stop that! Stop it!!!" Arthur wailed as the assembled knights all suddenly started singing, but the damage had already been done to Arthur's seat of command, and he was reduced to grabbing the nearest knight and threatening him with execution until they shut up.

"Gwaine, get over here and sign this before I change my mind about making you a noble!” Arthur shouted angrily, and he stared icily at Gwaine until he stopped laughing with the other knights and sauntered over to Geoff, who was trying to stifle a laugh. He took the paper that officially made him a noble, as recognized by the kingdom of Camelot and its ruler, and added his signature above Arthur's.

“…So, tavern tonight? I mean, it is Friday and we've just warmed up,” he said, ruining the solemnity of the moment further as he grinned impishly at the assembled knights, Merlin, and Gwen.


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5 Re: The Tapestry on Tue 21 Aug 2012, 8:37 pm

Maeglin

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After everyone began to disperse, both of his siblings accosted Gwaine at once:

"Ooohhh, the tavern?" Gwarae said excitedly. "Can I come, too?"

"Can I talk to you, Gwaine?" Gareth asked, not waiting for an answer before taking him by the elbow off into a side-corridor.

"Sure, Gareth," Gwaine said distractedly, and then, "A bit small for the tavern, eh, Half-pint?" he laughed at Gwarae, taking the opportunity to muss her hair.

"If height was the entrance requirement, brother, they wouldn't let you in!" she giggled, reaching up and mussing his hair in return.

"O-ho!" Gwaine laughed, grabbing her wrist and pulling her into his arms to tickle her ribs. "You take that back!"

Gwarae shrieked and struggled, but didn't relent, shouting, "Not til you say I can come to Friday Knights!"

"You're too young to—oof!" Gwaine began, but lost his air as she landed a sneaky but solid elbow square in his sternum. "Ow," he said, rubbing his chest with his (newly healed and newly freed) right hand. "I need to stop forgetting you're not so little anymore," he grinned, perhaps a little overly-proud of Gwarae's strength on the backswing.

Gareth coughed to get them to focus. "Gwaine," he said, sounding annoyed. "Why did you tell them that Lamorak was your father?"

Gwaine rolled his eyes and stepped further back into the corridor where they wouldn't be heard, growing serious. "I did not tell them that. I just didn't want to correct them."

Gareth narrowed his eyes. And Gwaine took this opportunity to realize that, yeah, all right, something was maybe a little bit wrong with him. They weren't lies, really, but the web of half-truths, omitted information, and dodged answers were growing thick around him. According to record, he was Lamorak's eldest surviving son, which was actually kind of repulsive now that he thought about it. He had told Merlin long ago that his true father was dead, along with some other white lies about how he liked to imagine his father had been a good man, was someone Gwaine wished were true. As for Sir Leon, well, he had told Leon all, really: but it had apparently come across jumbled enough (and he had been drunk enough) that Leon did not seem to be concerning himself about any possibly conflicting stories now. At any rate, Leon's kind soul had been pragmatic about it, focusing on the siblings that were still alive, and, bless him, he'd brought them back together again, and that was what mattered.

Basically, he was lucky no one cared enough to fact-check.

Gwaine realized he had been silent for some time, and Gareth’s stern gaze was demanding an answer. He marveled, not for the first time, how their dynamic had changed: Gareth had grown up, was no longer his little brother, but instead had gone and become an older brother in his own right. Gwarae and he had slid right back into their old relationship, but he and Gareth were still...negotiating.

“I don’t like to talk about it, all right?” Gwaine said, simply, casting his eyes down. “Much less in front of a court of strangers for record books.” Half of him was backing down because he really was scared, but he also knew the greater half of him was backing down because it was the only way Gareth would relent. Gareth, much like Leon, had not yet worked out how to be commanding without being a bully, and he erred on the side of kindness and caution, and, bless him, manipulation was not in his nature. But it was definitely in Gwaine’s nature: “If it’s about the title and eldest heir and all that, I’m sure we can make it a joint thing, or I can renounce it if you like.”

“Gwaine, I didn’t mean—” Gareth began, but Gwaine continued, partially to help convince himself:

“We can’t tell a little without telling everything, and I don’t know about you, little brother, but that is a story I would rather not be sharing the details of with anyone outside this family.” He fixed Gareth with a stare of his own, and pulled Gwarae close to him in an embrace to drive the point home. He had been without his family so long that he had forgotten it was what he lived for, and it was nice to have purpose again. “And half-siblings may matter, here, but it doesn’t matter to me, and I'd just as soon not give anyone the chance to call our mother a whore. Both of our fathers are dead and disenfranchised, anyway, Gareth. Turns out Orkneyan nobility is matrilineal, as it happens, but she was disowned when she ran off and married my father. Any protection we ever get will be from King Arthur. And by God, we could do worse.” Gwaine was really glad no one was around to overhear him, at least this last admission. Arthur’s head was big enough already.

Gareth’s brow knit together, but then he nodded, with a small sigh. “I suppose you’re right. It’s none of their business. And it makes no difference.”

Gwarae brightened. “And anyway, wasn’t your father supposed to be some prince? Brother to that king in Essetir?” she said, cocking her head up at Gwaine. “It’s bad enough I have to call my own brother ‘Sir’ or ‘Lord’...I think I’d bloody well refuse if it turned out I had to call you ‘Duke’ or ‘Earl’!” she exclaimed, poking him in the ribs.

“Aye, there is that,” Gwaine turned a snakelike smile on his noble but naïve little brother: “Things could always be worse!”

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6 Re: The Tapestry on Fri 24 Aug 2012, 4:24 am

Bye bye love,
Bye bye sweet caress,
Hello emptiness,
I feel like I could die,
Bye bye, my love, goodbye….


Despite their attempts to convince Lancelot to sing something that didn’t have constant reference to sentimentality, he decided to sing “Bye Bye Love”—a song which contained the very word they all hoped Lancelot would avoid, but at least it was upbeat and low enough for Leon to sing the harmony.

Still, by the end Percival was getting anxious to play something a little bit faster. “Alright, Leon, your turn,” Percival said, tapping the drums excitedly. “You have a song you’ve been working on, right?”

“I’ll go last if it’s all the same to you,” Leon said carefully, after taking a glance around the tavern.

“Elaine must not be here yet,” Gwaine half-whispered at Percival, who snickered like the eighteen-year-old that he was.

Leon just smiled. “Not all of us frighten away our lady friends with our singing, Gwaine,” he said, much to the amusement of the other Friday Knights.

“Yeah, Gwaine! Sing a song for Floree and we can see how long it takes for her to pull you off the stage!” Percival said.

“Believe me, boys, when she pulls me off stage, its for a very different reason,” Gwaine said, handing the bass viol off to a still-slightly-wistful Lancelot before he took center stage without so much as a backward glance. “What’s that song—it starts off with saz, I think….”

Leon rolled his eyes at Gwaine attempting to sound nonchalant about his most recent favorite song. But as soon as he played the first ringing chords and started a nice beat with Percival, Gwaine’s composure fell completely by the wayside.

Baby loves me! Yes, yes she does! Ah, the girl’s out of sight, yeah, says she loves me, yes yes she does, mmm gonna show her the night! Hey!

Leon and the others joined in on the “She got the way to move me, Cherry,” chorus, and for a while Leon tried to focus on the song and the tavern to distract himself. The recent fall harvests meant that more people were in the Rising Sun than usual, and this particular night seemed to demand happy, upbeat music. Everyone seemed to be dancing, talking, laughing. But over and over he found himself looking past their merriment for the one face that just wasn’t there. Leon thanked his lucky stars that Gwaine hadn’t noticed how distressed he really was at Elaine’s absence, or he would have never lived it down.

Leon felt particularly…vulnerable when it came to friendships. Perhaps it was because he was older than most of the knights he worked with, but it also had to do with things like those dragon attacks (it had to do with that more than he would ever admit). Whatever the reason, he always felt like friends were acquired and had to be looked after, like precious artifacts rather than people. He knew he ran after Gwaine and Merlin and the others like an old mother hen. This being one of the rare times that Leon found himself romantically entangled, he didn’t know how this particular trait of his would play out. Women could be sensitive about being treated like an object, and she might not see that he was just protective of everyone—and if he tried explaining it to her she would probably be insulted that he didn’t treat her differently than others.

The song finished with two perfectly-timed beats, and Gwaine beamed as the crowd cheered and Floree jumped up on stage to give him a kiss. Gwaine seemed really content with his life in Camelot these days. The ennoblement hadn’t put him in as bad a mood as Leon thought it might. With that, a steady girlfriend, his siblings' return…things looked like they were settling down for the perpetual vagabond. Leon hoped that his over-protective nagging was at least useful in that respect.

“Alright, if you’re not going to sing, Leon, I will!” Percival said, shuffling the otherwise-engaged Gwaine and Floree off the stage so that he could sing a shouty and fast-paced rendition of the popular tournament song, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” Leon had to concentrate on that song, but when he managed to look up for a moment, he saw Elaine grinning at him from the back of the tavern. Beyond the wave of relief at seeing her finally there, he couldn’t help thinking that she was late, probably working too hard on those tapestries again. But perhaps he was just being overbearing again. He played louder and with more flourish once he saw her, anyway, and suddenly the night’s festivities seemed perfectly justified.


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SG: Agent Double-Oh-Negative
Merlin: Sir Leon
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7 Re: The Tapestry on Sun 26 Aug 2012, 7:23 pm

When the barkeep finally chased everyone out of the Rising Sun, Merlin contrived to be the last one to leave, since he was planning on taking Diablo and riding straight for the forest. He just about managed escaping without notice, but Gwaine had noticed him hanging back as they left and stopped him before he could turn and ride for Freya’s lake.

“Hey, mate, where’re you going?” he asked, and Merlin turned and looked at him.

“Um… Gaius needed moth wings for something and… they’re really only out at night, this time of year, so I’m… going to get some,” he supplied automatically.

“Right…” Gwaine replied, and Merlin grinned brightly, “You’re going to the lake, aren’t you?” Merlin’s grin only brightened, and he shrugged one shoulder.

“Yes, I am,” he answered without hesitating, and Gwaine returned his smile before waving him off and turning towards home. When he was sure no one else was going to turn around and note that he was heading the wrong way, he turned Diablo and rode out to the forest, summoning a light as soon as they reached the deep woods so that the horse wouldn’t hurt himself tripping over something. By now, they both knew the way with their eyes closed, and it was a pleasant enough ride.

When they reached the lake, Merlin swung quietly from the saddle and tied the horse loosely to a low-hanging branch before looking around for Freya. She’d heard him arrive and was standing about three feet from the shore looking a little uneasy, probably because three feet from the water was about as far as she could go without having real problems. But she smiled at him, and he grinned back, and they went to sit where they usually sat, next to the mooring post for the long-gone boat. Merlin chattered away about Camelot and the knights for awhile, and Freya told him about the druids who’d started visiting occasionally.

“I’m sorry we haven’t found a way to free you from the lake, yet,” Merlin mumbled after Freya had fallen quiet and they’d sat there for several minutes. She looked over at his frustrated tone of voice and found him glaring past her at the lake.

“It’s not so bad. And it isn’t your fault,” she replied, and he stopped glaring at the lake to look at her in some surprise. Then he shrugged.

“I think I found another spell, though. There was one in an old book Gaius had that might do something,” he said, sounding a bit less forlorn, “The lake doesn’t want to let you go, right? So-“

“Merlin,” Freya said, interrupting him, and he stopped speaking mid-sentence.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, because that was not Freya’s normal tone of voice.

“Must we talk about this every time you visit? I’d rather hear about Arthur being a prat, or Gwaine and Leon arguing again, or… or anything, actually,” Freya said. Merlin stood up and started pacing.

“But- I thought- Don’t you want out?” he asked. He knew as soon as he said it that he’d reverted to what the others called the “kicked puppy” voice, which was really only slightly removed from actual whining, and he tried to ignore Freya’s brief wince.

“You know I would rather be able to follow you than be trapped here, Merlin,” she said perhaps a bit sternly, also standing, though she kept out of the way of Merlin’s anxious pacing, “But maybe this is how it’s supposed to be,” she added, and then regretted the words almost immediately, because Merlin actually looked angry for just a split second, and he stopped pacing to stare at her in utter bewilderment.

“So we should just give up?” he asked softly. He didn’t think he could give up. He thought he’d lost her once already, and now she was back, and not cursed, and he couldn’t bear the idea of her being stuck by this lake for the rest of her life. Since he’d brought her back to this, he felt responsible for freeing her from the lake as well.

“That’s not what I’m suggesting. But maybe we should stop trying so hard to find a spell or some way to fix this. Perhaps the lake needs me, or I need the lake. We’re certainly tied together. The lake has a consciousness, Merlin, and I can’t just ignore it or pretend it isn’t there,” Freya tried to explain, but this was clearly not helping, because Merlin just started pacing again. He ran a hand through his hair, which only served to make it stick out at twelve odd angles and made him look more harried.

He didn’t understand why he was more worried about this than Freya. If she wanted out, surely she couldn’t be serious that they should stop trying so hard to find a working spell and free her from the lake. Who cared if that was how it was supposed to be? He was sick and tired of hearing about things that were supposed to be, and of destinies and prophecies and all of those things that essentially meant he had no choice but to muddle through as much as he could to some foregone conclusion.

“I know, and I’m sorry. It’s something you’re going to have to get used to,” Freya said, and Merlin realized he’d actually been ranting out loud, his voice rising in volume as he grew more frustrated.

“I can’t. I can’t just give up,” he said, more quietly but no less adamant.

“I’m not telling you to give up, Merlin. But you have to think about this. What would Arthur say if I showed up in Camelot? I’m a druid, and your king is no fool, if half of the things I hear of him are true. He would recognize me for a druid.”

“He doesn’t recognize me,” Merlin said, sounding a trifle bitter.

“You’re not a druid, either. And you’re good at hiding, and I am not.”

“So go live with the druids! They would let you stay with them, I’m sure,” Merlin said. He threw his hands up in exasperation. “I hate this! I hate always having to think about everything before I do it! I hate that I can’t do anything magic around Arthur because he doesn’t know, and I hate lying to him and lying to everyone else. They’re my friends, Freya, and I lie to most of them every single day,” he said, turning to look out at the lake with his shoulders hunched and his head down. He kicked a rock out into the lake and watched it land with a hollow ‘plonk’ about five feet in.

“Why don’t you tell them?” Freya asked softly, and Merlin exhaled sharply.

“I can’t risk what Arthur would do. He’ll probably hate me, and I’ll be lucky if he doesn’t send me away, and I can’t risk that. It’s my destiny to deal with that prat for the rest of my life, remember? Kilgarrah would fry me if I ever messed that up,” he said.

“Yes, I remember. And you can stop sounding so bitter about it, because I know you don’t mind it,” Freya grumbled at her irritated friend, and was rewarded by a heartfelt sigh.

“This doesn’t solve a single problem,” Merlin said, looking over at Freya as she came to stand next to him. She shook her head.

“No, but perhaps if we let them alone for awhile, they’ll work on solving themselves. I’m safe here, at least. You needn’t worry about me,” she said, and he smiled just slightly.

“I’ll always worry about you,” he answered honestly, and Freya laughed.

“Yes, well, the feeling is mutual. Your arm is better now? No more falling down stairs?” she asked, and Merlin let himself be steered to a topic that didn’t involve arguing with Freya, content for the time being to talk about prank wars and magic tricks. But, he thought as Freya dozed leaning against his side, with his arm around her shoulder, this didn’t mean he was going to stop looking for spells if he had the spare time.


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Merlin: Merlin
Doctor Who: Sarasine (Sara) Tekri
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8 Re: The Tapestry on Mon 27 Aug 2012, 11:16 pm

Maeglin

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Gwaine shifted as morning light struck his eyes, humming contentedly and draping an arm across his bedmate. There was a tiny squeak, possibly words, and she shifted, too, and then there were lips on his. Gwaine was instantly alert, though he kept his eyes closed, preferring to explore her by touch alone.

He'd gone straight to bed after seeing Merlin off last night--and he'd actually intended to wait up for him, really--but then Floree had mislaid all her clothes--and, well, in practice he hadn't exactly got all that much sleep last night. He was actually sore this morning, which was a good sign. A very good sign.

Gwaine whimpered and cracked his eyes open as she pulled away from the kiss:

"You're going to be late for training, Gwaine," she told him. "And Sir Leon will--"

"Oh, ugh," Gwaine grumbled, "what did I say about mentioning Sir Leon in the bedroom?"

She flashed her signature ‘Oh, you,’ look at him, near as he could make out. "And Lady Elaine will be waiting for me," she said.

"Five more minutes," he grumbled, pulling her back to bed.

She giggled and smacked him in the chest as his hands wandered. "Come on, now, up!" she demanded, kissing his shoulder, kissing his neck, and biting his ear. He took hold of her tiny waist then, and squeezed, tickling her and delighting in her shriek--

Until she tickled him back.

Yelping and laughing, Gwaine wriggled unceremoniously out of her grasp until, with a cry and a crash, he tumbled off the bed in a tangle of blankets.

Sir Percival, next door, banged loudly against the wall and shouted something inaudible, because as soon as Floree had leapt off the bed on top of him to make sure he wasn't injured, they both burst out laughing.

In just a few short months, Floree had become Gwaine's world. She could handle her liquor, beat him at dice, and knew every dirty trick in the book. She cut her hair short so she didn't have to pull it back while working. Her nails and hands were worn, but her fingers were experienced. Her voice was soft and pleasant, but it carried well, and she was certainly vocal when it mattered.

She liked riding horses, watching him swordfight, and crawling into the bathtub with him. She loved playing with Gwarae and braiding her hair since her own was never long enough, and even Gareth approved of her. She liked to tease Leon and (behind his back) Arthur, but was sweet to Merlin and Percival.

But she also kept him straight. She made sure he was on time to training and council meetings (mostly), she made sure he wasn't ever out too terribly late (although, as has been said, that didn't necessarily mean she let him sleep), she cut him off when he'd had enough to drink, and she cooled him when his temper flared.

So when they finished laughing, there, on the floor, she pinned him to the ground and kissed him, and whispered in his ear, "I think we can maybe spare fifteen minutes."

...

Twenty minutes later Gwaine was being rushed onto the training field still fitting on his shoulder plate. "Go get 'em, Tiger," Floree said, kissing him on the cheek and, when he had turned around, smacking him soundly on the arse for everyone to see. Hardly embarrassed, however, Gwaine only grinned at the assembled crowd and asked, "What are you all waiting for, 'eh?”

Leon gave Gwaine his disappointed-frown. “How nice of you to show up with a semblance of punctuality, Sir Gwaine.”

That was something, actually. Ever since his noble background had come out, Sir Leon had begun to treat Gwaine…differently. Better, technically, but also he called him “Sir” and “Lord” a lot, which Gwaine was not particularly fond of, and additionally, old Leo had seemed to have gotten it into his head that for reasons of birth and station, Gwaine ought to be held to a higher standard than his peers.

Which annoyed the snot out of him, frankly.

“How nice of you to volunteer for the first trouncing of the morning, Sir Leon!” Gwaine replied with a sharklike grin. He had actually had his heart more set on wiping the grass with Sir K’s face, but it turned out ignoring the attention whore was the best way to get under his skin, so Gwaine was going for that today.

“Oooooohh!” the other knights leered, laughing. Which was about when Sir Leon got his feathers ruffled, picked up a sword, and saluted him.

It was rather boring after the first three bouts. One could only watch Sir Leon get floored so many times before it started to just look sad, and most of the others had wandered off to spar with each other as Gwaine wiped a bit of sweat off his brow.

“Come on, Leon! One more go?” he said, bouncing on his feet as if to say ‘I could do this all day.’

Leon was trying to get his breath back, leaning against the post that Gwaine driven him to. He picked up his sword, which Gwaine had ruthlessly knocked out of his hand.

With a hammer.

“You’re probably not going to be in possession of a hammer in real combat,” Leon said, raising his sword and wiping a bit of sweat off his face. “Also, you didn’t wait for the count of three.”

“And real enemies will, eh?” Gwaine laughed and tossed the hammer across the yard, picking up another sword from the rack so that he had one in each hand. “Here. This a bit more realistic for you?” he asked, spinning both swords with showy glee.

“You did ask for it, Sir Leon,” Gwarae said matter-of-factly from where she was perched on top of a barrel to watch the proceedings. “My brother is undefeated!”

Lancelot quirked an eyebrow at that, but was too polite to say anything, and Gwaine shot her a sharp look.

“Oh!” she cried, giggling wickedly, and clapped both hands over her mouth. “Was that still a secret?”

“Oh, go on, go play somewhere else!” Gwaine told her, waving a sword in her direction. “Go…watch Percival wrestling Elyan!”

“Ooohh, okay!” she said, with a delightedly sinister gleam in her eye, and hopped off the barrel to run to the other side of the training compound.

“You know if you fought like that in a tournament, Gwaine, you would be thrown out in the first five minutes?”

“Oh, I know the rules. I’ve got one more hit to go.” Gwaine winked. “And there’s bets on,” he said, flicking his hair in the direction of the assembled knights who were trying to look like they were busy with their own sparring partners.

That offended Leon considerably, apparently, and to be fair Gwaine fought a bit harder to get the last hit in, but it really didn’t take that long so he spent a bit of time just toying with him there at the end.

“I don’t even know how you’ve lasted this long,” Gwaine said, taking both swords in one hand and offering Leon a hand up from where he lay on his back in the grass. “Two swords is easy. Imagine if I came after you with two axes!”

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9 Re: The Tapestry on Sat 01 Sep 2012, 6:30 am

Leon forced a smile and accepted his (numerous) defeats at Gwaine’s hand with the grace and composure expected of him as Arthur’s second-in-command. It was probably just Gwaine’s way of reasserting himself now that he was officially considered a nobleman of the court, and this sort of thing happened pretty often at training. Gwaine then proceeded to beat Percival, Lancelot, and Elyan in quick succession after Leon bowed out, thus fulfilling his sister’s unspoken challenge. Leon would have to talk to him about that. It’s one thing to fight so determinedly when training with those above one’s station— he had to prove yourself— but now that he was technically above them he would really have to start controlling himself. People looked at you differently when you were of noble birth…

“Now he’s just showing off,” he heard Gareth mutter at Gwarae as they watched Gwaine make his rounds through the knights, but she looked like she was enjoying herself too much to notice what her more serious brother was saying. Gareth’s short sword was sitting unbound from its sheath on the bench beside him, and it was clear to Leon that he had expected to be able to train as well. But Gwaine, as usual, seemed a bit too preoccupied with making training into a game, and Gareth wasn’t the sort to play about. Part of how Gareth acted gave Leon hope for Gwaine.

“Come on, Gareth,” Leon said, clapping the younger man on the shoulder. “At least he’s practicing, which is more than I can say for us.”

Gareth’s eyes flashed, expressing his excitement in such mild terms that Leon would have missed it if he wasn’t looking for it. He grabbed his sword and the two started sparring—not anything particularly serious, since Gareth had more self-defense training than anything else, but he had a good stance and responded immediately to Leon’s occasional corrections.

“Focus on the engagement in front of you,” Leon reminded as they circled. He came in with a slow swing to the right, but Gareth was distracted by his brother laughing, and he only barely blocked Leon’s blade in time.

“He really does act like that all the time,” Gareth said, finally forcing his gaze away from Gwaine to focus on the sparring at hand.

Leon nodded, and resisted the urge to shrug. You could put it down to Gwaine just being Gwaine but Leon didn’t think that was a very good excuse anymore. “Don’t worry,” he said, blocking a wild but fast blow from Gareth’s sword, “He’s gotten much better these past few months.”

“Do you think he can handle being a nobleman?”

Leon didn’t reply at first, watching Gareth’s eyes as they struck swords a few times purely on pretense. Why was Gareth asking him this? Surely this was a concern that he should take up with his brother… But Leon knew that it took time to navigate these kinds of relationships. Perhaps he thought Leon knew Gwaine better than he did at the moment.

Leon nodded. “I think so. And now that he has you two he won’t have an excuse if he doesn’t!”

This got no grin from Gareth as it would have from Gwarae, but Leon didn’t mind. He lowered his sword and glanced around the training field. He expected Elaine to be there—after all, she practically said she would, in her apology for missing half of Friday Knights. But she had said something about having to put the finishing touches on the tapestries, and this last set of hers was going to be presented tonight.

They had made plans to sit next to each other at the feast after the tapestry presentation, but Leon saw hide nor hair of her until he was seated with the knights and ladies at the feast table, with an empty chair beside him. He watched with shy pride as Elaine stood up next to Arthur and Gwen at the front of the dining hall, where the seven tapestry series graced the walls. They were absolutely gorgeous, almost seeming to shimmer in the torchlight, depicting the hunt, capture, and rebirth of a unicorn in rich brown, green, and white. She extended her artistic license quite a bit with regards to her subject—the hunters were thin and bathed in color, the unicorn’s mane and tail flowing majestically.

“We all remember that hunting real unicorns is wrong, of course,” Elaine said diplomatically after Arthur quieted everyone down. “The unicorn is a sacred being, and brings out the beauty and purity in all of us. I hope that these woven creatures will provide Camelot with much sport!”

She curtsied as Arthur gave his own little speech before everyone was allowed to applaud and start eating. A moment later she approached—Leon stood up and the other knights followed suit until she sat down.

“The tapestries are—very lovely, milady,” Percival stammered, almost as shy around women as Leon generally was.

“Thank you, Percival,” Elaine said. She was absolutely beaming, but Leon couldn’t help but notice something else in her expression.

“You look tired,” he said as Merlin appeared to pour wine.

She sighed. “Exhausted! I’ve never worked so hard on a tapestry set in my life! I’m very glad they turned out as well as they did though—since Arthur’s commissioning them I want them to be just right.”

“Well—if you’re tired, perhaps we ought to go riding later tomorrow than we planned.”

“Oh yes, our riding lesson! I nearly forgot!” She laughed until she saw his slightly hurt expression. “I’m sorry—but I was going to draw up the pattern for my next set. You’re going to love this idea. Floree helped me come up with it!”

“Did she?” Gwaine, who had been making eyes at said servant since they sat down, turned his attention back to the table.

“Yes! I wanted to do some portraits, but I couldn’t decide how to arrange them until Floree suggested that I do renditions of you, the Nine Worthies—“

“Of us?” Leon asked.

“Yes, there’s you, Arthur, Gwen, Gwaine, Percival, Elyan, Lancelot, Galehaut, and Merlin!" She giggled as Merlin nearly spilled some wine in embarrassment.

"You're--you're going to make a tapestry of me?" he managed, staring wide-eyed with a combination of excitement and dread that mirrored the looks of the rest of the knights.

"Of course! I want to capture, you know, the real core of Camelot. The Nine Worthies! I’m really very excited to get started.” She turned to Leon and smiled apologetically. “Perhaps I can just ride with you tomorrow instead?”

“Oh, whatever you like,” Leon said quickly. For her sake he tried to sound a little disappointed that he wouldn’t get to teach her any more about riding, but he rather enjoyed it when they rode together on one horse. However hard he tried to hide it, she seemed to notice his excitement anyway, and she just laughed and shook her head. The prospect of being in close proximity to Elaine for a few hours tomorrow certainly lifted his spirits about their relationship. But then Leon was perhaps too sensitive to these sorts of things.

He certainly needed his spirits lifted, because Gwaine continued to brag to the knights about how many times he managed to beat Leon earlier that day. The fact that Leon lost to Gwaine didn’t matter so much—losing was, after all, just a part of the training process.

It was just that Gwaine would not shut up about it.

“…I don’t even know how you’ve lasted this long,” Gwaine continued. “Second in command and all that.” He gave Leon a friendly slug on the arm. “Well, you just hang behind me next time we’re in battle, ok? I'll make sure he doesn't hurt himself,” he added as a joking aside to Elaine, who merely giggled. She was no help at all.

“We have two different techniques, Gwaine,” said Leon, for the fifth time. “You are a generalist fighter, and can fight well with any weapon, whereas I prefer to specialize.”

“Specialize!” Gwaine laughed. “All someone like that specializes in is losing.”

“There can be great strength in focusing on a single weapon,” Leon said. He felt a little flushed, perhaps from the wine. But really, he suddenly felt a bit braver in front of Gwaine than he would have before. Gwaine needed to stop acting like a bloody commoner—and not that he wasn’t a commoner, Leon felt he could and should speak his mind more freely. “In fact, I find that constraining oneself to a particular set of skills gives one a significant advantage over any opponent.”

Gwaine blinked, surprised that he had finally stood up for himself, but more likely concerned that he had finally gone a bit too far with the teasing. “Well, now!” he said with a laugh. “That’s a bold statement! I came at you with two different sets of weapons and you still lost! I think that makes specialization a little inferior to just being a better fighter.”

“A broadsword is not my weapon specialty."

Gwaine’s brow knotted. “What, a crossbow, then?”

“No. I’ll show you if you’d like.” He glanced at Elaine, who, far from being disapproving, watched with interest and amusement.

“Oh, no, Leon—you’ve had your beating, I couldn’t in all fairness give you another,” Gwaine laughed.

“Yes, I don’t think you could,” Leon said. He felt the hairs on his neck rising as his blood started pumping faster. He would never have said that to Gwaine when he was still just a commoner—after all, there was a certain amount of respect one had to bestow on commoners. He allowed himself a grin, happy to finally be crossing this boundary, to be riling Gwaine just like Gwaine riled him in the past…

“What, you’re saying I can’t beat you?”

“Not when I have my choice of weapon.”

“Ha! You’re on! I’ll have you on the flat of your back before five minutes!”

“Would you be willing to put money on that?”

Gwaine shrugged. “Make it—fifty gold pieces!”

“Fine. Tomorrow, then.”


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10 Re: The Tapestry on Wed 05 Sep 2012, 5:38 am

By the time the feast was over, Merlin was more than ready to leave the great hall and just go sleep for maybe the next twelve hours, or eight, or even five- he wasn’t really picky. But as he left, he was waylaid by Arthur, who was apparently incapable of lighting the fire in his and Gwen’s room unless Gwen was there to tell him how to do it or do it herself. So rather than going straight back to his room to sleep, he found himself tagging along after Arthur muttering the occasional sleepy curse as he tripped over the odd crack in the stone floor.

Merlin,” Arthur finally said in frustration as Merlin tripped and crashed right into him, nearly knocking them both down.

“What?” he asked, and continued walking.

“Are you sure you didn’t have too much of that wine while no one was looking?” Merlin favored the king with an eyeroll. “Well, why are you tripping over everything?” he added, taking Merlin’s eyeroll for a no.

“I’m tired,” Merlin answered.

“Well, you should probably sleep more, if you’re tired,” Arthur said, and actually grinned as Merlin just stared at him.

“Maybe I would sleep more if a certain clotpole would learn to light his own fires instead of leaving it to me,” he replied, and then yawned, and then tripped over another crack in the floor.

“You’re going to break your arm again at this rate, and then Gaius will be after me, because clearly it’s my fault that you are completely incapable of walking,” Arthur warned him. They’d just about reached his and Gwen’s chambers, and it seemed to occur to Arthur that letting a half-asleep Merlin near anything as dangerous as an open flame might result in disaster. He wheeled around to face Merlin and then took a step back as Merlin neglected to stop right away and nearly ran him over.

“On second thought, Merlin, why don’t you just go get some sleep? I can’t have you burning down the castle,” he said.

“You’re sure you know how to light a fire?” Merlin asked doubtfully, and then grinned and dodged, with the ease borne of years of practice, Arthur’s hand when it reached up to whack him upside the back of his head.

“Go on, before you fall down and bloody up the floor or something. You didn’t break the stairs, but I’m not so sure you won’t manage if it happens again, and I’d just as soon not replace them. Or you, for that matter, since you finally seem to have figured out how to be a reasonably competent manservant,” Arthur said, turning Merlin around and propelling him with a friendly shove in the general direction of the apothecary. “And don’t be late in the morning! Eight bells!” he called after him, and Merlin grinned again, because that was a full hour later than he usually showed up with breakfast for Gwen and Arthur.

He was just to the first set of stairs when he heard a scream. He couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman screaming, but a split second later, Arthur’s door slammed open as Arthur bolted out into the hall to identify the source of the sound.

“Was that you?” he asked Merlin, who just shook his head.

“It was back that way,” he said, pointing past Arthur’s room further up the hall. He had rushed past Arthur towards the sound before the king could say anything, but he heard him follow after the brief clatter of a sword being grabbed off of the table.

“Just what are you going to do? Fall on it? Perhaps you should stay here,” Arthur asked as they slowed down to approach the sound of clacking coming from around the corner of the hall.

“Arthur, you don’t even know what it is!” Merlin answered, “It might be magic!” Luckily, Arthur took his servant’s stumble not as a reason to keep him around, but as his usual concern, and just snorted.

“If that’s the case, all the more reason for you to stay here,” he answered, as if the matter were settled, and strode forward to look around the corner, sword held out. Merlin followed right after him, causing Arthur to jump when he leaned forward to see around the corner and bumped his sword arm.

MERLIN,” Arthur hissed at him.

“What?”

“I told you to stay back there!”

“Yes, and?”

“I gave you an order!”

“And I always follow your orders…” Merlin said, in that ‘catch up, we’ve been over this before’ tone of voice. Arthur scowled and muttered something about idiot manservants and no respect before creeping around the corner. They went several steps forward before there was a rushing and something charged out of a side corridor, knocking Arthur to the side and nearly trampling Merlin. The creature stood in the middle of the hall for just a moment before it wheeled and took off in the opposite direction, leaving Merlin and Arthur peering into the side corridor at a very dead body. Merlin shuddered, but at least this time it wasn’t burned to a crisp. He turned and looked at Arthur, and found his friend looking at him. They both turned to look down the hall.

“Was that…”

“A unicorn?”

They were both silent for several seconds. The body, once a courtier, had clearly been gored by a single horn. There was a neat hole torn in the middle of her dress and, of course, blood, which seemed to bother Arthur as much as it bothered Merlin. They both backed away, Arthur turning to face the direction the unicorn had gone, sword held out defensively and practically body-blocking Merlin from going after it or being gone-after, should it choose to reappear.

“We have to go find it,” Merlin said finally, and Arthur turned and looked at him.

“You’re still half-asleep!” he said, because Merlin yawned almost as soon as he’d stopped speaking. This was technically true, but nearly being trampled had served admirably to wake Merlin up, and he just shook his head.

“I’m fine. Look, if there’s a unicorn killing people, we have to…” Merlin said, and then realized they couldn’t very well kill it. He remembered what’d happened last time Arthur had killed a unicorn.

“Well, I don’t think it’s very pure if it’s goring people to death,” Arthur answered, clearly thinking the same thought. “It has to be dealt with. We should tell the knights, if we’re going to have to hunt it down.” Merlin grimaced. This sounded like another long night, to him. With killer unicorns. Fantastic. Arthur was grimacing too, but as far as Merlin knew, he really had no excuse, other than a unicorn killing people in his castle, and he hadn’t been grimacing a minute ago. He looked at the king and raised his eyebrows.

“Oh, Leon and Gwaine are going to find it endlessly amusing- Gwaine especially. ‘Gwaine, Leon, there appears to be a unicorn in the castle, and it’s killing people. No, really, we just saw it. There’s a body.’ I’ll never hear the end of it,” Arthur complained as they threw a nearby blanket from off the floor over the body and then went to find the two knights. Merlin laughed, until Arthur reached over and swatted him- and then he moved out of strike range and laughed some more.

“What is so amusing?” Arthur asked when he’d calmed down.

“Nothing, just… ‘Arthur, those horrid gnomes you’re collecting are killing people.’ Does it sound familiar?” he said, and laughed again. Then he ducked a candlestick that came hurling across the hall right at his head, catching it and setting it gently on the ground.

“It’s not funny, Merlin,” Arthur said in exasperation, and Merlin looked at him like he was absolutely out of his mind. This was hilarious- well, except for the very not-hilarious dead body. But Arthur having to tell some ridiculous story to Gwaine and Leon? Merlin was never going to let him live it down. Ever.

“It’s a little funny,” he answered.

“Yes, well, you always were a little easily amused…” Arthur half-growled as they entered the hall where all the knights’ rooms were located.


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11 Re: The Tapestry on Sun 09 Sep 2012, 7:14 pm

Maeglin

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"Gwaine...Gwaine! For heaven's sake, Gwaine, come on!"

It took Gwaine quite a few moments to realize that the voice calling his name repeatedly was not coming from the tangle of limbs and sheets beneath him.

And that was when he also realized that the knocking which he had thought was the bed hitting the wall was actually coming from the door.

"Oh, you've got to be kidding me," Gwaine groaned quietly, leaning down to press his forehead wearily against hers. Floree laughed, a little breathlessly. "Who is it?" he called at the door, though he was pretty sure he knew exactly--

"It is I, your King," Arthur said, in a voice that was trying to sound less embarrassed and more annoyed. "And Merlin!" added another voice that sounded like it was trying not to giggle nervously.

"I'm going to need a few minutes," Gwaine said, desperately trying to get back to his business at least long enough to--

"Now, Sir Gwaine," Arthur practically growled. "There has been an attack in the castle."

Well, and that killed it.

"All right, all right," Gwaine said, just as Floree kissed his nose:

"You'd better go," she said, wriggling under the covers invitingly, "I'll still be here when you get back."

"Oh, sure, it's all right for you..." Gwaine grumbled, locating where his trousers had been cast upon the floor and donning them hurriedly. He strapped his sword belt low over his hips before grabbing his boots and stepping outside.

He flashed his king and his servant--and Leon, who was already there, fully-dressed--a cavalier grin. "So where's the party?" he asked, belying how worried he potentially was. "What's happened?"

"Unicorns," Arthur said, crossing his arms.

Gwaine's eyes bugged out, then shot to Merlin, whose eyes were giggling though his mouth was serious. Then to Leon, who looked somber.

"Unicorns?" Gwaine asked.

"Unicorns," Arthur and Merlin said together.

"But unicorns don't attack people," Gwaine insisted.

"These do," Arthur said evenly.

Again, Gwaine looked to Merlin and Leon for confirmation, who both shrugged.

"But I didn't think you could kill a unicorn, without, like, destroying the land--"

"I know," Arthur said. "But unicorns also do not customarily waltz into castles and kill people. So we have no choice but to go after it. Preferably without sending the entire castle into a panic, so if you could exercise discretion, I would appreciate it."

Gwaine raised his eyebrows at his king, impressed, and nodded. For the first time he realized Leon was toting his favorite crossbow. Arthur now handed another crossbow to Gwaine.

"Gwaine, I need you to look to the servants' quarters and the lower levels. Leon, you have the courtyard and hall. I will check the upper towers," Arthur ordered.

"Merlin should come with me," Gwaine said, "he's more familiar with the lower levels than I," which was a lie, but he wanted Merlin to have a chance to speak freely and use his magic if there was an opportunity, and he wasn't going to get it with Leon or Arthur.

Arthur nodded. "Happy hunting," he said, and they parted ways.

"So, let me get this straight," Gwaine said quietly to Merlin as they went down a narrow flight of stairs to clear the wine cellars. "Arthur has killed a unicorn before?"

"Yes. It was a long time ago, and he didn't know--"

"And Camelot is still...alive, how?"

"Yes. Well. He, um...apologized? Proved himself worthy, and the unicorn came back to life. It's complicated," he added quickly, because Gwaine had stopped and was staring at him like he had gone mad.

"So this isn't a unicorn, then," Gwaine said, turning and continuing down the aisles of barrels, searching for any signs of disturbance.

"I saw it myself, Gwaine--"

"I believe you, Merlin, but it wasn't a normal unicorn. Right? I mean, could it have been conjured by someone? Or can unicorns go rogue? Might be something to ask...Gaius..."

"What is it?" Merlin hissed, as Gwaine trailed off and immediately dropped into a crouch.

"Don't move."

"Hoofprints?"

"No..." Gwaine said, picking up what looked like a tiny loop of thread. "It's--"

But then two things happened at once: First, whatever was on the other end of the thread gave it a sharp tug--perhaps one of the kitchen cats--and pulled it out of Gwaine's fingers, hard enough to sting. Second, they heard a cry from above that sounded suspiciously like one of Leon's hunting calls that neither of them were ever going to understand but what they guessed either meant "help!", "contact!" or "I got him!", but either way was probably important.

So, pounding up the stairs and exploding out into the courtyard, crossbow at the ready, Gwaine and Merlin arrived just as Arthur showed up, only to see Leon standing triumphantly over the body of a dead unicorn.

There was a pause, then, "That's not a unicorn!" Arthur, Merlin, and Gwaine cried in unison.

Leon looked a bit disappointed. "Is this not the creature you--"

"No, you're right, Leon," Arthur said, "this is what we saw in the hall but...now that I see it up close, it--well--"

"It looks like a goat!" Merlin squeaked.

"When have you ever seen a goat that huge before?" Gwaine asked, turning on him.

"And Anhora's unicorn didn't have a beard!" Arthur added.

"Well, it's got a horn, what is it, then?" Leon demanded.

"Wait, wait, wait, what's it--Merlin, what's it doing?" Gwaine shrieked, pointing wildly, as the unicorn's body faded into nothingness before their very eyes.

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12 Re: The Tapestry on Wed 12 Sep 2012, 7:38 pm

“Oi!" Leon exclaimed as the unicorn disappeared before his very eyes, leaving his arrow, which had pierced the creature’s heart point-blank, rolling gently along the marble floor. He snatched it up angrily, and was suddenly grabbed from the side.

“Are you alright? What happened?” It was Elaine, who’s quarters were nearby (Leon blushed that he ran to guard this particular stretch of hallway completely on instinct). She was clutching him tightly, and he immediately reciprocated.

“Some sort of creature,” Leon said. “We—thought it was a rogue unicorn…”

“And you shot it?”

“Er—yes.”

“Then you must have…” she paused, looking worried, “…used the eighty-pound gut string I bought you?”

“Of course,” Leon reassured her.

“What kind of bolt did you use?”

“Well, maple, naturally, for an animal that size.”

“How many pounds? Medium-sized animals can be a bit tricky to gauge—“

“Whatever it weighed, it’s gone now,” Arthur said quickly to interrupt their little moment, and Leon forced himself to focus on the task still at hand. “It was certainly a kill, but no living creature would just—disappear like that!”

“It was born of magic, then?”

“Conjured by some sort of artifact, I imagine.” Merlin said with a nod. Leon glanced at him and he added, “I mean, it must.” But he sort of blinked oddly. Leon thought that was a little suspicious, but before he could question it Arthur spoke.

“For once, I’m inclined to agree with Merlin. My father had enough attempts on his life with magical items for me to recognize it—this is being caused by a thing, probably in the possession of a sorcerer.”

“For what purpose, sire?” Leon asked, but his question was answered in the look that Arthur gave him—Camelot’s power gave it many enemies, and, unfortunately, magical attacks on the crown, though varied in method, were fairly common. Still, any brush with magic set Leon’s teeth on edge. As predictable as such attacks could be, magic took on so many forms that practically anything could happen…

“Double the guards, especially around the rooms of the nobility. We’ll have to do double-shifts for the knights. I don’t think we need to wake Gaius for a problem that has been dealt with, at least for the moment. “

Leon nodded, and Arthur walked off. Gwaine looked offended.

“I got up just to hear him say that?” he whined.

“Good night, Gwaine,” Leon said, turning to go give the orders to the guards.

“Oh, no, you go to bed,” Gwaine said, throwing up his hands. “I’ll go tell the guards, its no trouble—I’m not going to be doing anything else tonight anyway…!”

Gwaine wandered off grumbling, making Leon furrow his brow in confusion until Elaine gave him a squeeze and withdrew into her room, leaving Merlin and Leon alone in the hallway.

“I’ll check if Gaius is awake, anyway,” Leon said, walking Merlin back to the apothecary.

“I doubt it—he wouldn’t hear all of Gwaine’s horses put together for all his snoring,” Merlin laughed. But he seemed to appreciate the company, and Leon wanted to be sure that no other unicorns would show up to menace Merlin on his way back to the apothecary. They paused at the court yard to let a score of guards pass. “Hey, each morning I appear to lie at your feet, all day I follow no matter how fast you run, yet I nearly perish in the midday sun.

“Shadow,” Leon replied. “That’s an old one.”

Merlin snorted. “There’s a riddle out there that you don’t know the answer to, Leon, and I’m going to find it.”

Leon just grinned, but it faded as they watched the soldiers pass. “Did you grow up with druids in Ealdor?” Leon asked.

“Hmm? No, why do you ask?”

“Only you seem familiar with how magic works. But I suppose you picked up a lot of it from Arthur.”

“Oh, probably,” Merlin laughed.

They watched the last of the guards move on down the hall, but Leon he found himself glancing at Merlin again out of the corner of his eye.

Strange…


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13 Re: The Tapestry on Mon 24 Sep 2012, 5:16 am

Once they were certain that the unicorn was, in fact, something conjured from magic, Merlin knew he’d once again be making the trip out to the forest rather than getting a good night’s sleep. Quietly, because there were numerous guards wandering the castle, he made his way to the gates and slipped outside, taking the by-now familiar path to the forest, where he knew he’d find the druids.

As sometimes happened, he stumbled upon them almost without realizing he’d been anywhere close. It was one of the older druids who spotted him and stepped from where he’d been keeping watch by leaning against a tree. Merlin, who hadn’t been paying much attention, jumped and had conjured a very slapdash shield before it registered that it was only one of the druids, and not something about to attack him. The druid just raised both eyebrows, reminded Merlin strongly of Gaius, and made no comment as the shield spell flickered out of existence.

“That would not stop an enraged stoat, Emrys, much less any real threat,” the druid finally commented, and Merlin frowned. Before he could say anything, though, someone else came crashing through the forest and shouted a hello that could probably be heard for yards around.

“Merlin! Looking for spells, again?” Taliesin asked, a little globe of light bobbing ahead of him as he came closer. Merlin grinned, and the elder druid stood and watched both young men with a very blank face before nodding back toward the druid camp.

“Taliesin, were you not told to stay in camp?” the man inquired, and Taliesin looked momentarily abashed. It lasted approximately a breath before Taliesin brightened up.

“I thought maybe the giant scorpions were back again,” he said, and the man’s gaze went momentarily to Merlin, who tried to look very innocent. The elder druids seemed intent on maintaining that Taliesin should act more dignified, which meant, among other things, that he shouldn’t make outlandish excuses for things. He disagreed, often loudly, on the grounds that he shouldn’t have to act dignified just because he was named after, as he said, “an old dead guy who spent a little too much time in a cave”.

“…And I see you have picked up that particular habit…” the elder druid said. Without denying it, Taliesin turned and dragged Merlin back to the camp, leaving the long-suffering druid to his lonely watch. When they reached the little circle of tents and torches, Taliesin dropped easily to sit cross-legged near one of the smoldering fires and was about to speak it back into life before he stopped and looked at Merlin, who stared at him in confusion for a moment before realizing that Taliesin meant for him to bring the fire back.

Forbærn,” he muttered, holding his hand out to the dead fire, and it flared into life with a little whoosh of air.

“So, did you come for more spells?” Taliesin asked, and Merlin shrugged.

“Have you found any?” he asked, and wilted a little as Taliesin’s grin lessened.

“No, not yet. ‘Fraid you came out here for nothing, unless you’d like to stay for awhile. They’re teaching me shield spells tomorrow,” he said, grinning slyly, and Merlin shook his head.

“I can’t- but do you know anything about…” here he paused, unsure of how to describe the unicorn-that-wasn’t-a-unicorn, “…well, I’m not really sure what it was. We chased down something that looked like a unicorn, but then Leon shot it and it just disappeared. And it had a beard, and it looked sort of like a goat,” he said. Taliesin’s eyebrows went up and he whistled between his teeth.

“You shot a unicorn?” he asked, horrified, and Merlin shook his head vehemently.

“No, it wasn’t a unicorn. It was something else. I hoped someone here might be able to help,” he said, looking around at the quiet tents.

“Can’t say I’ve ever heard anything about not-unicorns,” he admitted. He looked around expectantly, as if waiting for someone to appear from one of the tents with an answer. Instead, the older druid who’d been on watch stepped into the circle of light cast by the fire, surprising both young men when he stepped on an errant stick.

“Not-unicorns? I am afraid I have heard of no such thing,” he said, and Merlin sighed. This worried Merlin far more than if the man had stated that they were a rare and aggressive variant of man-eating unicorns that could only be killed with some very specific spell that it would take Merlin days to master. If the druids hadn’t heard about the creature, Merlin wasn’t sure how they were going to deal with it. Taliesin looked both disappointed and put-out.

“And you can cease looking at me in that manner, Taliesin. I have told you countless times that there are more things in heaven and earth than even I have dreamt,” the elder druid said. Then he turned to Merlin, “Are you certain that you will not stay? I believe your shield spells could use practice,” he commented, and Merlin shook his head again.

“Arthur would notice I was missing. I should go,” he said, standing and stretching. He bit off a yawn and looked from Taliesin to the young druid’s mentor. “If you hear of anything…” he started, and the older druid held up a hand.

“You will be the first to know. I will send Taliesin with any news. Try to stay out of trouble, Emrys,” he said, and turned to Taliesin. “And you go get some rest, lest you remove a limb by casting a shield in the middle of it,” Merlin heard as he was walking away. There was silence for just a split second. “…You can really do that?” he heard Taliesin ask, sounding aghast, and then laughed when he heard the reply. “Perhaps. Would you care to test the theory?”

By the time he reached the castle, he was too tired for any protracted sneaking, so after sneaking in the gates, he took the most direct route back to his room. He was too busy yawning to pay much attention to where he was going, short of trying to avoid the majority of the guards out on duty, and nearly ran Leon over before he realized that the knight was standing directly in his path, looking a little bit confused at finding Merlin out wandering after he’d seen him just earlier when he left Gaius’ quarters. Leon, generally a morning person, brightened when he saw Merlin had risen early as well.

"Hallo, Merlin!" he said, and Merlin was startled from his thoughts. Stifling another yawn, lest Leon realize he hadn't, in fact, been to sleep at all, Merlin grinned more-or-less earnestly and waved at the knight. "No more unicorns?" he asked by way of greeting.

"Not yet, thank heaven," Leon answered. "Arthur's going to speak to Gaius about it today--perhaps he can find an explanation. He's awake, then?" Merlin shook his head. It was reasonable to guess that no, Arthur probably wasn’t awake yet, since Merlin’s name had yet to be shouted across the castle.

"I... uh, I haven't been over there yet. I was just about to go get his and Gwen's breakfast and take it up," Merlin answered quickly, mentally cursing that he'd just guaranteed that he'd not even get an hour to rest after his night spent in the forest. Which meant more dropping things and tripping over things, and probably more getting scolded for not sleeping enough. Again.

"Oh, I meant Gaius," Leon said, with a smile, "What's he got you doing so early in the morning?" Merlin cursed, mentally. He was tired, indeed, if he hadn't realized who Leon was talking about, but Leon didn't seem to notice. "Oh! He needed moth wings for something he was working on, and they'll all be hiding by later this morning," Merlin supplied easily, hoping he hadn't used this excuse already. "Are you patrolling? Or are you just awake early?" he asked, mostly to distract Leon from thinking about that too carefully, but also out of genuine curiosity.

Leon noticed Merlin's unease--he had to look for it before, but now it was obvious. What could he be hiding? "Oh," he said, for Merlin's benefit, then added, somewhat distractedly because of Merlin's evasiveness, "Oh, I always get up early." He didn't have much else to say, and the silence would rapidly become awkward. "Come on, we can walk up to Arthur's room together."

Since Merlin now had no choice but to go along with what he'd said he was doing, Merlin flashed one of those easy-going grins and headed for the kitchens. As he gathered Arthur and Gwen's breakfast, he attempted to work through what the druids had told him, both about the unicorns and the increasingly frustrating search for a spell to free Freya, but he wasn't getting very far. If he wasn't so tired from having to hide all this nonsense from Arthur...

He was just tired and distracted enough to follow that thought to more serious consideration. By the time he'd left the kitchens, Leon still in tow, he'd worked himself into a serious state of frustration and indecision. Life would be unimaginably easier if he didn't have to sneak around Arthur and the others- that was, if Arthur didn't just exile him from Camelot. Was it even worth that risk? He knew what Gaius, Lancelot, Gwaine, and especially his mother would say... but they weren't exactly impartial. He looked over at Leon and considered the knight. "I have a question," he said a bit hesitantly.

"Sure," Leon said, not thinking much of it.

Trusting that Leon wouldn't pursue the subject if he recognized Merlin's hesitance and awkwardness as not especially wanting to discuss the matter in depth, Merlin gave his question a moment’s thought, and then spoke up. "If... you knew something, and you knew Arthur should know about it, but it wasn't necessarily a danger to him if he didn't know, would you tell him? Even if there might be really serious consequences to yourself?" he asked, finally, hoping it was an ambiguous enough question to not give Leon any ideas about what Merlin was really talking about.

Leon gave the hypothetical matter some thought. He cleared his throat. "The king is not just my liege-lord. I helped raise him, after a fashion. And on more than one occasion I got him out of serious trouble--sometimes without him even knowing it at the time. He's my king, but he's also my friend. I would tell him of everything that I thought would be useful to him." He gave Merlin a sidelong glance. "...may I ask about the nature of these serious consequences?"

Merlin gave Leon's answer some consideration, realizing only belatedly that he'd been asked a question. "The consequences? I suppose... imagine they'd be very serious, and very unpleasant, but probably not physically painful-" he hoped, anyway, because it was true that Arthur was not his father, and probably wouldn't burn a sorcerer unless they'd done something truly horrible, "And likely not quite so serious as a death sentence. But they would be bad," he said. Hopefully this still sounded hypothetical enough, but just to be careful, he absorbed himself in navigating the stairs with the tray he was holding, avoiding looking at Leon.

"I see," Leon said. He thought for a moment. "I guess you--the hypothetical person, that is--would have to decide whether he values Arthur or his reputation more. It isn't easy to be honest sometimes...but in my experience telling the truth has always been the right thing to do in the long run. After all, you cannot read Arthur's mind--you cannot know for certain what he will think of any truth presented to him. Witholding information assumes you know better than him, and perhaps you do. But does anyone have the right to control someone else like that?"

Merlin must have looked as confused as he now felt- and more than a little guilty, but hopefully that was less obvious- because Leon laughed. "I hope that didn't put you at more of a loss. Is there...anything you want to tell me?" For just a split second, the thought went through Merlin’s head Yes, there actually is, but he shook his head to dislodge it.

“No, nothing I can think of. But Gaius is probably awake now, if you wanted to go talk to him,” he said helpfully, pausing at Arthur and Gwen’s door to knock. Faintly, he heard “Come in!” in unintended unison, and grinned crookedly at Leon. “Thank you,” he said, somewhat belatedly, and shouldered open the door just in time to catch one of Arthur’s witty comments, leaving Leon standing alone in the suddenly deserted hall.


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14 Re: The Tapestry on Thu 04 Oct 2012, 10:28 pm

Although it turned out that Arthur was indeed awake when Merlin and Leon arrived, Leon stayed only to confirm with Arthur that no more unicorns had been sighted that evening.

“I don’t want to leave it as things stand,” Arthur said. “But it is very odd that whoever did it decided to conjure up a unicorn-creature…I wonder if it might have something to do with the presentation of the Tapestry last night.”

“Of Elaine’s tapestry, sire?” Leon asked, confused.

“Oh, I’m sure she didn’t do anything,” Arthur said quickly. “Only the sorcerer might have conjured the unicorn as some sort of sick joke. Tell the guards to be on the lookout for any strange creatures. After your duel we will go talk to Gaius—if you’re feeling up to it, that is.”

It took Leon a moment to realize first what Arthur was talking about and second what he was implying. He smiled. “Are you saying I can’t beat Gwaine?”

“The only one who might beat Gwaine on a good day is me,” Arthur said. “And I wouldn’t put a bet on my chances, honestly. What on earth made you pick a fight with him?”

Leon shrugged. “Gwaine should be expected to put his money where his mouth is, sire. Although I don’t know if Gwaine can afford fifty gold pieces if he loses.”

“Haha! If you beat Gwaine today I’ll give you fifty gold pieces!” Arthur laughed. Leon just bowed and went to get ready for this—duel? Bet? It felt more like a training exercise.

The House of Cameliard originally descended from an ancient line that crossed the sea long ago. And although Leon was clearly a weapons-enthusiast, the traditional weapon choice of his house was the only thing he really specialized in. He jumped up brightly from the grass where his weapon box now sat as Gwaine and a few more audience members approached the training field. Behind him Gwaine hauled his own weapons-box, filled with an amalgam of well-used weapons from swords to maces.

“You’re on time!” Leon said, surprised.

“A man is never late for a duel,” Gwaine said. He turned, smiled and waved at someone in the audience, and Leon observed Floree waving back from the crowd. Where was Elaine? But she always came to watch him train, and he did tell her about this little bet he had with Gwaine. No doubt she would be along any minute—a watched pot never boils, after all…

“Well, let’s get started then,” Leon said, “I have a meeting later.” He reached down and picked up his weapons.

Percival, who was standing with the other knights nearby, burst out laughing. “What, that’s your secret weapon?”

“Mmhmm,” Leon said.

“You’re going to kill me with a kitchen knife?” Gwaine laughed.

“The correct term is longsword,” Leon said, holding the light, thin blade easily in one hand. It shone from excessive polishing, which probably also made Gwaine laugh. It looked like the idea of a sword more than a real one—almost like a toy.

“Well, can’t say I didn’t warn you,” Gwaine said. “Get your armor on and we’ll get started.”

“I’m not going to wear any armor.” It was very hard for Leon to keep from smiling at this point.

Gwaine gave a pout of confusion. “Fine! Chain mail never suited me, either,” he said, dropping his armor unceremoniously on the ground. Leon shrugged and—well, no time like the present, and it was traditional, and Elaine had to be somewhere in the crowd by now—

--took his shirt off.

Gwaine looked like he was going to collapse from shock. “What are you doing?”

“I thought you liked fighting with your shirt off,” Leon said, grinning despite his rich blush. “Hand me my cloak, will you?”

Not to be outdone, Gwaine had to whip his own shirt off before he wordlessly handed Leon his cloak. With a flick of his wrist Leon had it draping down from his hand in an elegant plume.

“Cloak and sword?” Elyan said, apparently horrified.

“You’re serious,” Gwaine said.

“I’ll let you go first,” Leon said helpfully, leading the way to the center of the training field.

Gwaine muttered, “This will be too easy,” and ran after him with a mace.

“Do go easy on him, Sir Leon,” Galehaut said to Leon with a wink and a smile.

“What do you mean?” Lancelot asked. “You think a little sword like that is going to be any match for a—oh—”

Leon gently flicked his wrist as Gwaine came at him swinging, and in a moment Gwaine had his mace trapped in red fabric with his ribs being tickled by Leon’s blade.

“Hoi!” Gwaine said, pulling free. Almost everyone in the audience was as stunned as he was, except for Galehaut who just looked smug. Lancelot started to fork over some gold.

“Hold on!” Gwaine shouted, pointing at those who were grudgingly exchanging money as he glared at Leon. “I wasn’t ready!”

“Alright,” Leon said, flicking the cloak back. “Let’s try again.”

This time Leon went a little slower, letting Gwaine get in several blows with the mace which Leon either dodged or snagged with the cloak. When Leon had an easier time of it like today, cloak and sword could look quite elegant. The red fabric swished around at his feet as he gave a few light jabs which Gwaine blocked, but Leon didn’t put enough strength behind his blows to risk damage to his lighter sword. Instead he saved his strength for dodging, and the blade, when properly handled, needed little strength behind it. If he were really exerting himself, the technique would look a little more sloppy, but be no less effective. He gave a distracting swirl of the cloak, during which Gwaine lost his mace but grabbed a couple of swords from his box to try again.

Leon jerked one sword out of his hand and put the sword tip at Gwaine's shoulder, who glared at him in confusion. "You never beat me!" he said, as if that would fix everything.

"Sorry," Leon said with an apologetic shrug.

Gwaine narrowed his eyes. "I know that look."

"What look?" Leon said innocently.

"That one. You're enjoying this, aren't you?"

Leon tried unsuccessfully to hide his grin. "Erm. Yes. Very."

"There's just a little trick to it or something," Gwaine muttered, shaking his head in disbelief, "I'll figure it out..."

He tried an axe, next.

Then a shield and a dagger.

In the end, when Leon made his lunge, Gwaine stumbled backward over his abandoned weapons and was left sitting on the ground with Leon’s sword under his chin.

His mouth dropped open. Leon gently closed it with the tip of his sword.

Gwaine jumped to his feet. “One more go.”

Leon giggled. “You’re just going to keep calling do-overs?”

Gwaine blinked. “Who are you??”

Leon just laughed.


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15 Re: The Tapestry on Tue 09 Oct 2012, 6:21 am

Maeglin

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Gwaine was making himself dizzy trying to figure out how he could have possibly gotten out of that with his skin if, you know, it hadn't been play-fighting. If Leon hadn't been cheating.

One thing was certain, he had to make Leon teach him that style soon, before someone dangerous figured it out and tried to kill him with it. It was no good being vulnerable like that.

Floree had come up to him, draping her scarf around the back of his neck and bringing him in for a kiss. He melted into it, and for a moment all was all right with the world. Also--

"Hey, that's an idea!" he shouted, pulling Floree into a tight embrace as winked at her sidelong. "It's all this one's fault, really. Everyone knows women spoil men from war and questing. Why I once knew a boxer who wouldn't even lie with his wife the night before a big fight, said she tired his legs out!"

The sophomoric laughter which echoed around them were punctuated by Floree's squeak of indignation. "You brute!" she laughed, and tugged hard on his chest hair until he released her. When she was free, she dropped the smile into a full-blown scowl. Gwaine immediately stopped laughing, and the crowd of knights around them did, too.

"Oh, come on, Flor, I was only joking--" he said, making a grab for her arm, but she twisted out of his grasp and, as swift as a snake striking, slapped him across the face.

Now the crowd was silent. "It appears I have made you into a coward, if your misogyny leads you to insult me like this in front of your friends. Maybe I'd just as soon you had slept elsewhere last night!"

Floree spun on her heel and walked off.

There was a beat, then "Ooooohhhh," came the chorus of knight laughter.

Gwaine frowned, flushing bright. "No, crap, wait--Floree!"

"Hey wait," Leon said, catching him by the shoulder and holding him there. "Where is Elaine? Did she not come? Did you see her?"

"What, are you hoping I was checking out your girlfriend?" Gwaine muttered darkly, now that Floree was out of range. A weight settled in the pit of his stomach as he realized he would have to apologize later, and Gwaine hated apologizing.

But now he peered up at Leon, who, for the first time since he'd actually beaten him in a fair fight, looked vulnerable and lost. "What, she wasn't with Floree?"

"I told you, Gwaine, I didn't see her. I don't think she came!" Leon cried, hastily donning his tunic again.

Gwaine tried not to laugh.

"Um. Well, are you going to go look for her?" he tried, not-so-secretly hoping Leon would say yes and leave so he could go talk to Floree.

"No," Leon sighed deeply.

Gwaine waited, but nothing more was forthcoming.

"Oh for Christ's sake, fine," Gwaine said, ushering Leon away from the field as he snatched up his own shirt. "I'll buy you that drink I owe you while we try to forget about women and you tell me what the hell that even was back there..."

Leon actually brightened a little, though he cast a glance over his shoulder forlornly, as if he expected or hoped to see the Lady Elaine suddenly appear. Then, turning back, he rallied, and smiled shakily. "I told you already, Gwaine. Specialization."

"Yeah, yeah," Gwaine said, waving dismissively. "We've been over this before. It's all well and good if you can choose weapons for a playfight, but it's just as often that a man can't choose the time or place for a battle. I prefer to be ready for anything. Which is why you're going to teach me."

It actually wasn't that hard to say, blurted out like that. And it certainly didn't sound as if he was asking for help or anything. It sounded more like a demand, which was good.

Leon grinned sideways at him, the big adorable fluffy inbred oaf, as if he understood what Gwaine meant anyway. "Of course, Gwaine," he said, irritatingly magnanimous. "But I must warn you, it takes some practice, and much patience."

"Ohh Goddd," Gwaine groaned theatrically, as he pushed open the tavern door for Leon to go ahead of him. "We know how much I hate that. Two ales, Stewart. And a whiskey for me."

"A bit early for that, Sir Gwaine?" Stuart raised an eyebrow at him, and raised both eyebrows when Gwaine actually slapped the gold on the bar voluntarily.

"It's been one of those days," he said.

He was at the corner table with the two tankards of ale and the dram of whiskey neatly balanced in his hands shortly. Leon took his ale happily, they clanked glasses, and drained a few gulps in silence. Fighting worked up quite a thirst.

"Ahh," Leon said, smacking his lips and grinning. "I needed that."

"You better drink up, lad. Not letting you do that to me ever again."

"This is nice," Leon said, strangely affectionate.

"I know we're both in the doghouse, mate, but this isn't a date," Gwaine laughed. "Not that desperate, yet."

Leon chuckled--which was odd: Leon never laughed at his gay jokes, probably, Gwaine guessed, because he never understood them--and said, "No, I mean it. Us. Having a beer together, being able to relax, you know, without the others around."

Gwaine stopped mid-swallow, and very nearly choked. "Um. What 'others' are these?"

"You know, Percival, Elyan, Lancelot. It's sometimes nice to just be with one's peers, to let go--"

"What?" Gwaine asked again, because surely he was misunderstanding the ginger knight. First of all, how were the rest of the knights not their peers? Secondly, Gwaine was always 'relaxed' and thirdly, Leon never 'let go'--so what was that supposed to mean?

Then Gwaine noticed that Leon was very definitely relaxed, as if for the first time. Gwaine usually characterized Leon's posture as either being held up by a string hooked between his shoulder blades, or a stick shoved up his backside (depending on how he felt about Leon at the time). But right now, Leon was downright slouching.

He looked at Gwaine, confused, his smile fading. "I only mean--you know, we're meant to be role models for those less fortuna--"

"No." Gwaine said. "Do not finish that sentence. Just." Gwaine tried to control himself, knew Leon didn't know any better, or anyway that was the excuse Gwaine was giving him now. Technically, Leon was probably trying to be nice, and Gwaine would look like a sore loser and a huge tool if he overreacted now. He leaned his head back against the wall with a loud clunk. "Can we just--go back to talking about fighting again, please?"

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16 Re: The Tapestry on Mon 15 Oct 2012, 5:41 am

With an annoyed sigh, Merlin rested his head on the book he’d been leafing through, drawing one of those arched-eyebrow looks from Gaius. He raised his head and crossed his arms across the volume before resting his chin tiredly on them and looking at his mentor.

“Merlin, when is the last time you slept?” Gaius asked, and Merlin shrugged one shoulder.

“Last night?” he asked, and then yawned.

“The state of your room would imply otherwise,” Gaius said severely, gesturing for the book. Merlin slid it across the table and looked back through the open door to his room.

“But it’s clean!” he protested. Gaius merely looked across the table at him. Merlin muttered under his breath and dropped his gaze to the pile of books scattered across their table. He dragged another one to him and idly flipped a few pages.

“Have you been sneaking off again?” Gaius finally asked, while Merlin fidgeted evasively. He didn’t like lying to Gaius, if he could help it. He was already lying to everyone else, there was no need to add Gaius to that list. So instead, he didn’t say anything, hoping Gaius would drop it. He wasn’t in the mood to be lectured on top of being sleep-deprived.

“Merlin?” Gaius prompted, and Merlin sighed.

“It wasn’t exactly sneaking,” he answered, and looked up to see Gaius practically glaring at him. He changed tactics, grinning disarmingly, but Gaius was no more fooled by his grin than he was by anyone else’s.

“You stayed inside the castle walls, then?” Gaius asked.

“Well, no, not exactly,” Merlin admitted, and raised his head from his arms. “But it wasn’t sneaking! No one has to sneak past Camelot’s guards.” The humor was lost on the older man, though, and the grin gradually fell from Merlin’s face. He could tell from Gaius’ face that he was about to get a lecture- again- and frowned.

“Merlin, you must stop sneaking out so frequently! What if you’re caught? Were you going to see the druids again?” Gaius asked. This had become an old argument of late. Gaius was convinced that Merlin would get caught sneaking around and have to come up with some likely reason- and someday, someone would see through one of those wild tales- and then he’d be found out. When he’d attempted to communicate this to Merlin on several occasions, Merlin had only become irritated and then found something else to do for several hours that kept him well away from the physician’s quarters.

“I thought they might know something about the unicorns, Gaius, I had to go! We have found nothing in any of these books, and we never will. I won’t get caught,” he said, omitting his close call when Leon had found him sneaking back into the castle.

“And what if one of the knights catches you? If any of them should find out about your magic-“ Gaius said, and Merlin shoved himself away from the table to stand and pace, interrupting the physician.

“What if they do?” he asked, half-rhetorically, and saw a look of momentary surprise cross Gaius’ face, “I am so tired of lying, Gaius. They’re my friends, and Arthur is the king and my friend, and I lie to most of them every day of my life!” Now Gaius was looking at him with a look compounded of confusion and dismay. He shook his head, abandoning the book he was holding to stand as well, though he kept out of the way of Merlin's pacing.

“You know what will happen if they find out. They would have to tell Arthur,” he said evenly, trying to reason with his distraught charge. Merlin grumbled and dropped back into the chair where he’d been sitting. Gwaine and Lancelot hadn't told Arthur, but he knew if he said anything, his mentor would undoubtedly come up with some argument that they'd both been Merlin's friends for far longer than they'd been knights- and as such, were still loyal to Merlin before Arthur, when it came down to it. Gaius continued watching Merlin for a moment and then also sat back down. Then he sighed, and Merlin glanced up at him.

“My boy, I wish there was an alternative,” he said sympathetically, reaching across to pat Merlin’s arm where he had again rested it across the table.

“I hate it, Gaius,” Merlin said, realizing he was practically whining, and then heaved a sigh. He hated it, but there was nothing he could do about it, not without making a huge mess of everything. He’d have to be content with not lying to Gwaine and Lancelot, and keeping making up outlandish excuses for the other knights and for Arthur and Gwen and everyone else.

“I don’t blame you. But you must stop sneaking out instead of sleeping. You’ve been asleep on your feet all day, and someone will notice. You need sleep if you’re going to stay sane,” Gaius said, and Merlin gave him a look that fairly plainly said he saw this as a challenge. “I’m serious, Merlin. You can’t keep living like this,” Gaius said, and Merlin grinned, remembering when he’d once said those very same words to Gwaine- and his friend’s response. He was about to respond to Gaius as Gwaine had once responded to him, but the door swung open and Leon walked in. He didn’t look injured, and anyway, his and Gwaine’s sparring match should have ended awhile ago. Still…

“Please tell me you and Gwaine are both still in one piece,” Merlin said with a laugh, practically jumping up before Leon could take in that he’d been sitting with his arms draped tiredly across the many books on the table and arguing with Gaius.


_________________


Merlin: Merlin
Doctor Who: Sarasine (Sara) Tekri
Supernatural: Alexander (Alex) Colt
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17 Re: The Tapestry on Tue 16 Oct 2012, 4:45 am

Leon smiled when he saw that Merlin appeared to be in a good mood. He certainly needed some cheering up after the strange way that Gwaine had ended their conversation at the tavern. He wasn’t sure about what he did wrong, but Merlin’s usual cheerfulness put him in better spirits.

“Hallo Merlin,” Leon said, then, turning to Gaius, who unfortunately looked in distinctly more of a bad mood, “The King would like to know if—“

“—Merlin’s already told me,” Gaius snapped, “And I’m not any closer to finding out anything about this unicorn business than I was this morning.”

“Right.” Leon cleared his throat. “I’m just, er, worried….”

“Worried? You? Never!”

Leon rolled his eyes, trying very hard not to blush. “It’s just that—well, Lady Elaine presented those tapestries of unicorns, and then magical unicorns attack….”

Gaius waved a hand. “It’s alright, Sir Leon—I think we’re all fairly certain that she has nothing to do with this.”

“Oh. Good,” Leon said, sagging with relief, “What makes you so certain?”

“We didn’t have any problems with unicorns before the tapestries were presented, and they’re hung in a public place. It might have inspired any sorcerer to try to attack the throne in such a symbolic way. And…”

“And what?”

“…Well, you’re courting her, aren’t you?” Gaius said, as if that was explanation enough, before he harrumphed and moved off to ‘see if the Physiologus could offer any insights.’ Leon wasn’t really sure what that comment about courting Elaine was supposed to mean, so he tried changing the subject. “Did you see the fight?”

“No!” Gaius shouted grumpily from behind a pile of books.

“Oh,” Leon said, then added, “Elaine wasn’t there, either.” He was about to launch into a more in-depth description of his current romantic not-quite-a-problem when he realized that Merlin was still in the room, picking at the binding of a book while he stared off into space. “You saw the fight, right?” he asked.

Merlin looked up and nodded. “Gwaine says you’re going to teach him how to do cloak and sword,” he said, sounding skeptical.

Leon nodded excitedly. “I’ve never gotten to teach it to anyone before. Though I’m not sure Gwaine has the patience. Oh--speaking of patience, I found a really good word puzzle I’ve been meaning to show you—“

“If Merlin has the patience for word puzzles, perhaps it means he has the patience to fold the laundry like I asked him to,” Gaius said, suddenly swooping down upon them to rap Merlin on the knuckles. “And stop picking at that book, or you'll ruin the binding!”

“But the laundry’s done!” Merlin insisted.

“'It’s done' my foot!” Gaius said without even batting an eye. “Don’t lie to me Merlin, now hop to it!”

“You can tell when he’s lying? Just like that?” Leon asked, surprised as Merlin scampered off towards the cupboard. Merlin looked back at them with an apprehensive glance.

Gaius nodded, not really paying attention. “It’s all in his ears,” he said, arranging books on the table so that Merlin’s death-glare was completely lost on him.

“Right,” Leon said. He felt himself frowning, and he excused himself soon afterward. Then he was right about Merlin lying to him…but for what purpose? Was it worth pursuing? What kind of secrets could a young servant like him have? He didn’t really get much of a chance to think about it, and as soon as he had a minute free he went straight to Elaine’s quarters.

“I’m sorry, Sir Leon,” Floree said, looking apologetic as she stood in the doorway to Elaine’s quarters. “My lady is under the weather today. I didn’t have the heart to wake her.”

“Of course, of course,” Leon babbled quickly. He nodded to the servant and walked back down the hallway feeling a little better. Women were entitled to off days, or so he had been raised to believe. He couldn’t expect her to be with him every moment, no matter how much he wanted her to.

He passed by the great hall, and glanced at the tapestries Elaine made. They were exquisite—why would a sorcerer take something so beautiful as inspiration to do something so horrible? It made his stomach turn just thinking about it. Someday Arthur might make magic legal in Camelot, but Leon didn’t think he would ever be able to accept it . It did too much damage. For a second his mind flashed back to the feeling of the Cup of Life returning breath to his lungs, and the things the druid said to him when they rescued the knights from the gnomes. He was still fairly certain that he should never have drank from that damned cup. But now that he had…what did it mean? Was his very life to be imbued with that which he hated and feared most?

He shook his head and continued on to his other duties.


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DW: The Bachelor
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SG: Agent Double-Oh-Negative
Merlin: Sir Leon
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18 Re: The Tapestry on Fri 19 Oct 2012, 11:45 pm

Maeglin

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“Easy, Rae,” Gwaine said, standing behind his sister and tugging on the kitestring, “you see those towers? Don’t want it to get caught.”

“I’ll worry about the towers, Gwaine!” Gwarae insisted, jabbing her brother gently in the stomach and moving out of his reach.

“But doesn’t the king dislike his knights courting serving girls?” Gareth asked. “Floree’s wonderful, Gwaine, and I really like her, but, well, won’t King Arthur get mad?”

Gwaine snorted: as if he ever cared if Arthur did get mad. But that needed more explanation, so, “You do know the queen herself was a serving girl.”

Gareth’s eyes bugged out appropriately.

“She was! Honest. Daughter of a blacksmith. You just ask her. You know, when I first saw her I tried to…” Gwaine began, laughing, but as Gareth was giving him a hard look and Gwarae had turned on him with a gossipy twinkle in her eye, he quickly amended his statement to, “tried to give her a flower. Didn’t work, though.”

“Good for her,” Gareth laughed as Gwarae giggled: “Well, bugger that!”

“Gwarae!” Gareth and Gwaine said at the same time, and then glared at each other, but Gwaine was too busy laughing and Gareth continued, appalled: “Where on earth did you hear that?”

Gwarae shrugged. “The knights.”

“Do you even know what that means?” Gwaine asked, folding his arms and raising his eyebrows suggestively.

“Couldn’t you try to play with other girls sometimes?” Gareth pleaded. “The practice field is no place for a lady.”

Gwarae did not dignify either of her brothers’ words with comment, but chose to roll her eyes dramatically instead. Then, with a gasp, she turned back to her ball of string, which was now void of string.

“Oh, no!” she cried.

“What, what’s wrong?” Gareth asked, rushing forward, as Gwaine looked up.

“Damn,” he said, looking up at the kite that had sailed free of its tether.

“Damn!” Gwarae said, stamping her foot.

Gareth looked up, too, and sighed resignedly: “Damn.”

Then Gwaine laughed as he peered up at where exactly the kite was snagged, shielding his eyes from the sun that hung low on the horizon. “Oh no, wait! Wait, this isn’t a problem at all. This will be good.” He clapped each sibling on the shoulder and started walking. “Just come with me. You’ll want to see this.”

“Are you going to climb all the way up there, Gwaine?” Gwarae asked. “Percival said you did once! I’d like to see that!”

“Nope,” Gwaine said. “Well, that is, yes. But you’re coming with me.”

“Coming where, Sir Gwaine?”

Gwaine stopped cold. He fixed an innocent grin on his face before turning around. “Coming up to the ramparts with me, George,” he answered sweetly.

George, that irritating servant who knew too bloody much about everything and everyone (but damn could that man shine a boot), narrowed his eyes. “I believe the King has already reminded you several times of the danger in playing about on the causeways, Sir Gwaine.”

“Playing?” Gwaine scoffed. “Who said anything about playing? We are all adults here, George. I was just going to take my dear long-lost siblings up to see the sunset and the beautiful view of the town. How could the King disapprove of that?”

But before George could really respond, Gwaine turned back around, ushering brother and sister ahead of him double-quick.

“Gwaine, that was rude, he was still talking,” Gareth scolded.

“Just keep walking,” Gwaine told him.

“Look. We’re not going to do anything dangerous, are we? Or something that would displease the King?” the younger brother tried, but Gwaine squinted at him.

“My God, you’re as bad as Sir Leon. Relax, would you? Here, up these stairs, quick,” Gwaine said, shoving them in the correct direction. Gwarae was already scurrying up the stairs, skirts clutched in an unladylike fist, and Gwaine was close behind, so the middle sibling really had no choice but to go along. It was a long, spiral stair in a narrow tower. Gwaine nodded at the watchman posted in the tower as they passed. The guard snapped to slightly more attention at the sight of him, which seemed to impress Gareth somewhat, but Gwaine waved him off. “Just here to watch the sunset, Roland. Follow me,” he added to his siblings, and proceeded to walk the rampart.

“Oh, this is lovely!” Gwarae squealed as they made it out to the middle of the long walk along the outer wall. They could see the mountains in the distance, and before them the town spread out, already beginning to twinkle as it was shrouded in darkness. The sun played orange on the clouds as it touched the peak of the mountains.

Even Gareth was impressed. “It’s a shame that tower is in the way—oh! There’s our kite!” he said, pointing at the adjacent tower not ten feet away. The kite was strung around the gargoyle on the top of the parapet, not too far, but for all intents and purposes, far enough. “Well, I guess it’s stuck there,” he lamented. Then, “What’s that?” he asked Gwaine, somewhat alarmed.

“Gwaine!” Gwarae cried. “What’s—you’re not going to—“ Gwarae, a permanent grin still fixed to her features, nevertheless looked somewhat concerned as her brother balanced a sturdy plank of wood from their causeway across to the parapet where their kite was snagged.

“I’m not,” Gwaine said, with a wide grin at his sister. “Not by myself, anyway.”

Gwarae jumped up and clapped her hands excitedly as Gwaine adjusted the board so that it rested solidly between the crenels along both walls, even as Gareth looked on, frowning. “You’ve got to be kidding. That’s at least a—“ Gareth looked down, but didn’t bother calculating. “That could kill you. If you fell.”

“No one better fall then, huh?” Gwaine teased.

“Isn’t there a door there? Around the other side?” Gareth asked, pointing to the causeway leading to the adjacent tower.

Gwaine shook his head. “Sorry. Tried that already, believe me. The door’s stuck fast. Probably all the pigeons that use it as their latrine. So. Who’s first?”

“Oh, but Gwaine, it’s scary!” Gwarae said, looking down with as much trepidation as determination.

“Hey, hey,” Gwaine responded softly, turning her to look at him. “It’s not scary. I won’t let you fall, okay, half-pint? You don’t even have to go if you don’t want to. I’ll go get the kite.”

Before she could draw another breath and Gareth could utter a protest, Gwaine had leapt up and danced across the board. Seeing how easy (and fun!) he made it look, Gwarae’s courage returned. “Wait! Wait, I’m coming.”

Gwaine grinned and leaned heavily on the board on his end to keep it steady. “Okay, come on across. Hands and knees is best. May want to tug up your skirts.”

Now Gareth found his voice. “Gwarae, no!” but the youngest Orkney had already got up on the board, and shouting any more or tugging her would only be a danger at this point. A few breathtaking seconds later, she was across, laughing giddily in Gwaine’s arms.

“All right, Gary, your turn.”

“Absolutely not! And don’t call me Gary! I’ve not been called Gary since—“

“Since I’ve not been around to call you Gary, I know,” Gwaine said, solemn. Gareth flinched, and there was a weighty silence between them, filled only by the wind whistling around the tower. “I won’t let you fall,” Gwaine insisted, his outstretched hand demanding.

Gareth pursed his lips. He didn’t look down—the height was not what bothered him—but he stared hard at Gwaine, as if trying to read him, as if his face was an open book in a language he didn’t understand. He glanced at Gwarae, who looked earnest and pleading, and then back at Gwaine. Then he gave a short nod and made his way across.

“And,” Gwaine said, once he was safe across, “you'll see it’s worth it.”

The view really was. Before them was only sky, unmarred by tree or tower. The light became rich and orange and was pink on the clouds now. Flecks of clouds filtered the light, spreading golden streaks across the sky. The snow on the mountains sparkled and reflected the light even more, and more and more lights were coming on in the darkening town below them.

“It’s beautiful!” Gwarae exclaimed, wrapping her tiny arms around both her brothers. “I’m so glad we’re all here! Together again. It’s perfect!” And then she burst into tears.

Gwaine laughed to keep from doing the same, pulling her tight with an arm around her shoulder. “Me too, Rae.”

When Gareth beamed at him above Gwarae’s head, Gwaine couldn’t be sure whether his heart was breaking or growing twelve sizes.

Before the sun had set entirely, Gwaine let go of Gwarae and began sizing up where the kite had snagged on a gargoyle. He could probably get it if he jumped—and he tried, experimentally—but came up just a few inches short.

So he climbed.

“Oh, no, Gwaine!” Gareth said, catching sight of what he was doing. “Just leave it, you’ll kill yourself. We can make a new kite.”

Gwaine laughed as he shifted his weight to avoid a tiny brick that jutted out of the wall which felt a little precarious. “Got to get it while it’s light. Don’t worry about it, I’m almost—”

Then many things happened at once. Gwarae let out a blood-curdling shriek, like the bay of a banshee, and Gwaine almost lost his footing. He looked up at a disheartening rattle to find that the plank for going across the two causeways had been knocked loose and clattered to the ground far below them.

Also, there was a unicorn.

Presumably the beast had cleared the distance without the aid of the plank and had knocked it loose. It looked a little bigger than the last one. But Gwaine did not really take in much more before all he saw was red, because his siblings had been knocked over, Gareth falling protectively over Gwarae, and the unicorn reared up on its hind legs and was about to trample them. For a single terrifying moment, the kind that stole your breath and jolted your heart and clamped down on your chest all at once, Gwaine realized he was too far away to help them.

But he was already moving, his body responding instinctively to the danger before his mind could catch up, and gripping the lip of the ornamentation below the gargoyle, he swung round and, narrowly missing the business end of the horn, caught the unicorn full in the face.

Gwaine surprised himself with the force of his blow, especially as the unicorn, at the height of rearing up, was unbalanced and tumbled over the edge of the parapet, whinnying loudly in pain and rage. He might have followed it over, as his fingers lost their hold, but as it was he rather unheroically flopped on his back (an alternative he would take any day).

There was silence.

A too-long silence, really, that was suspicious more than comforting, before Gareth and Gwarae both leaped excitedly to their feet. “My gosh, Gwaine, are you all right?” “You saved us!” “Did you see him kill it?” they babbled, talking over each other.

“I’m fine,” Gwaine groaned, trying to force his lungs to breathe properly after the evacuation of air. “Help me up.”

“Was that a unicorn? I’ve never seen one before!” “It can’t have been, they don’t kill people!” “What was it doing up here?” “That was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!” “The unicorn, or Gwaine kicking it in the face?”

As his brother and sister continued to talk excitedly, Gwaine cast a surreptitious glance over the edge of the wall to where the unicorn should have fallen.

He tried not to react physically when it wasn’t dead on the ground where it was supposed to be.

“Um. Hey, are you both okay?” Gwaine asked, serious. “You’re not hurt?”

“What? No. Gareth just fell on me!”

“We’re fine, Gwaine. Why? What are you—what’s going on?” Gareth said, sounding more than a little worried.

“Because, I—um—” Gwaine looked down nervously again, then up at the kite. With a bit of a running start and the flood of adrenaline that was still pumping through his limbs, he managed to jump high enough to snag the kite free of the gargoyle in a single bound. He handed it off to Gwarae and clapped Gareth on the shoulder: “Do you trust me?” he asked.

“Um. What—”

“Do you trust me?”

“Gwaine—” Gareth said, his voice going a bit shrill as he guessed at what Gwaine was about to do.

“I will be back for you as soon as I can,” Gwaine said, and held his brother’s gaze for half a second longer before going to the wall and jumping over the side.

“No!” Gareth shouted as Gwarae shrieked again, but there was a whoosh and something flew past the tower so fast it disturbed a few stones.

Now Gareth and Gwarae caught sight of the unicorn again: it was not dead, but it was in fact, still alive and raging.

And it was also flying, wingless, off towards the courtyard.

And also their idiot brother was perched atop its back.

Open-mouthed silence reigned. The sun dipped below the horizon.

“Well now how are we going to get down?”

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19 Re: The Tapestry on Sat 20 Oct 2012, 11:04 pm

Once he got off-duty Leon stopped off at Elaine’s quarters again, hoping that his gift of flowers would allow him entrance, but apparently she was busy working and asked not to be disturbed. He left the flowers with Floree, anyway, and went off to look for Gwaine. It was probably a little too early for Gwaine to be at the Rising Sun, and he hoped to catch the man when he was alone. He wasn’t really sure what he was going to say—probably some sort of apology with an implicit question to figure out exactly what he did wrong—but he hoped that Gwaine would at least appreciate the gesture.

His thoughts were so engrossed that he was almost bowled over by Gwaine himself barreling around a corner.

“Gwaine! I’ve been meaning to talk to you,” Leon said, until Gwaine shushed him.

“No time!” he had a manic look in his eyes, and his hair looked a little more wind-swept than usual.

“What’s happened?”

“Unicorn!” Gwaine said, dragging Leon down another hallway.

“Another one?” Leon hurriedly looked ahead. “Which way did it go?”

A deafening crash of breaking glass made Leon and Gwaine wheel around.

The unicorn now stepping slowly towards them over shards of stained glass was definitely not the same unicorn as the one before. The previous unicorn, for instance, was smallish, almost deer-like in appearance. It was lithe more than muscular. It wasn’t sweating like a horse, towering over them, with smoke pouring out of its nostrils and fire alight in the back of its throat. It didn’t have eyes like a lion and it certainly didn’t have a horn that resembled a giant barbed pike.

This one did.

“Well, I wasn’t exactly following it,” Gwaine explained sheepishly, and the beast charged.

Leon and Gwaine both pushed each other out of the way at the same time, meaning the unicorn charged between them and narrowly missed them both. With shoes full of glass shards they ran back the opposite way, the unicorn gathering speed behind them.

“So, Leon!” Gwaine shouted over the sound of the unicorn’s closing pursuit. “What did you want to talk about?”

Leon, figuring Gwaine’s chattiness was due to the fact that they might die at any moment, replied, “Oh, you know—I just wanted to apologize for making you—“ he paused as they both tried to turn a corner at breakneck speeds, ran into each other, and sprinted down a new hallway, “making you angry.”

“Is this about that ‘less fortunate’ crack you made earlier?” Gwaine panted.

“I didn’t mean to upset you.” They tore around another corner, to the screams and shouts of servants and guards that they were rapidly leaving behind—at least the unicorn didn’t seem intent on chasing them

“What about that business with the non-nobles not being your peers?”

“Our peers,” Leon corrected. They ran through the armory, and armed themselves as they were running—Gwaine with two swords and Leon with his beloved crossbow. “What about it?”

“Aren’t you going to apologize for that?”

They burst through the far doors, giving Leon a long enough shot to stop and load his crossbow. “Well, yeah—I’m sorry that upset you,” Leon reiterated, sliding the crossbow bolts deftly into place.

“Wait. You mean to tell me you’re apologizing just because I got mad?” Gwaine was practically whining—a sure sign that he was livid. The unicorn appeared, black hooves pawing at the ground.

Leon shrugged and hefted the crossbow onto his shoulder as the unicorn started charging. “Honestly, Gwaine, I’m not really sure what else I should be apologizing for.”

Gwaine facepalmed. Leon didn’t blink as he emptied four bolts into the unicorn’s massive chest.

The unicorn kept on charging.

At the last second Leon used the crossbow to block the unicorn’s horn, but the force behind the creature’s charge shoved him back on his heels against the stone wall behind them. The unicorn snorted and pawed at the ground, its horn mere inches away from Leon’s throat.

“Just because I’m a nobleman, it doesn’t make me any different from Percival or anyone!” Gwaine shouted, not really paying attention to the unicorn as he swatted at it a few times with his swords.

Leon’s arms started to shake as the unicorn pressed closer. “Whatever you say.”

“Ugh, you’re hopeless!” Gwaine snarled, taking out some of his anger on the unicorn in front of him. But the blows just seemed to bounce off.

With a roar Leon gave his crossbow a sharp twist. The unicorn’s head snapped sideways, the horn clipping the side of a wall-mounted brazier. With a flash of light the horn broke—crystal shards scattering across the floor, the jagged horn root oozing glittery blood as the creature recovered.

“I suppose the bolts didn’t take, either,” Gwaine said.

“Oh, really, I hadn’t noticed.” He whipped off his cloak and used it to distract the unicorn as it charged again. It got caught on the unicorn’s horn, and Leon held on tight to the other end, trying to figure out what to do next.

“No need to get aeriated,” Gwaine said, rolling up his sleeves.

“What does that even mean?!”

Gwaine just shrugged and jumped on the unicorn’s back. “Come on, unicorn, let’s go,” he said, kicking at the unicorn’s sides. It reared up with a scream, hooves tearing through the air. Leon was nearly jerked off his feet.

“Stop helping!” Leon yelped, barely avoiding an obsidian hoof.

“Sorry!” Gwaine said, but he wasn’t sure how to get down, and clutched to the unicorn’s back as it bucked and brayed.

Thus, Leon was far too distracted to notice as the shards of horn unraveled into silver luminescent thread.


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20 Re: The Tapestry on Mon 22 Oct 2012, 1:55 am

After dealing with the laundry, Merlin sat back down at the table and made a half-hearted attempt at looking through the books again. But he kept drifting off, and finally gave up, standing and stretching lazily.

“Gaius, I’m going to go muck and feed the horses,” he said, and Gaius grumbled something at him from where he was deep in thought with one of the books. Taking this to mean he didn’t need him around for any reason, Merlin grabbed his jacket and trekked over to the stables. He cleaned them and threw fresh hay in the horses’ feed buckets, and snuck Diablo an apple before going upstairs to polish the armor he knew Arthur had undoubtedly left out for him.

The king was sitting and glaring at a pile of papers on his desk when Merlin shouldered open the door. He didn’t even look up, apparently deep in thought.

“If you’re trying to light them on fire, you might try using a match…” Merlin commented finally, and Arthur jumped and looked at him.

“Haven’t we talked about knocking?” he asked, pushing the papers away and dropping his quill on top of them.

“Maybe I did knock and you didn’t hear me.”

“You did not knock.”

“I could have,” Merlin answered, and Arthur arched both eyebrows at him. “So were you trying to light them on fire just by glaring at them?”

“Merlin-“

“Because I don’t think you can do that without magic-“

Merlin-“

“And if you had magic-“ Merlin was still talking, but that actually made him laugh. Before he could finish what he was saying, he had to dodge a glove that was flying for his head. The idea of Arthur having magic was so preposterous that Merlin laughed again, and this time failed to duck the partner to the previous glove as it bounced off his face.

“What was that for?” he asked indignantly.

“You were chattering,” the king answered, but now he was laughing. Merlin bent to retrieve the gloves and tossed them back to Arthur. “Were you here for some reason other than driving me mad?” he asked, and Merlin nodded to the armor that Arthur had left strewn over two chairs and several feet of floor near his table.

“You were going to polish armor? Before I told you to do it?” Arthur asked.

“I-“ Merlin started, and then frowned. He really had no answer to that.

“I take it there was nothing in Gaius’ books about the unicorn, then,” he said, and Merlin grinned.

“No. Nothing at all.” Arthur went back to the table and dropped into his chair with a heavy sigh.

“The one Leon shot looked exactly like the ones in the tapestry. They must be related,” Arthur mused.

“But-“ Merlin started, about to defend Elaine since Leon wasn’t there to defend her himself, and Arthur waved him silent.

“I’m not blaming Elaine. Leon would not be anywhere near her if she was a witch,” Arthur said. “But perhaps it was only the one unicorn, and I’m worrying unnecessarily.” He glanced up again from the papers to find Merlin looking at him skeptically, though he said nothing.

They both looked up as they heard a clatter, followed by the sound of glass breaking and, shortly thereafter, screaming. Merlin and Arthur both jumped to the door and bolted into the hall.

“You were saying?” Merlin asked as they ran toward the shouts.

“Shut up, Merlin,” Arthur responded.

They reached the unicorn just in time to see Gwaine get thrown off the beast. While Arthur ran forward with his sword drawn to aid Leon in the attack, Merlin skidded to a halt next to Gwaine, who was already standing back up.

“Are you alright?” Merlin asked his friend.

“Am I alright?! I just rode a unicorn!” Gwaine responded, and Merlin gaped at him in disbelief.

“You have no sense of self-preservation, you know that?” Merlin asked, sounding harried, and then yelped in surprise as Gwaine pushed him toward the wall and the unicorn charged past them, Leon and Arthur hot on its heels. It reached the end of the hall and wheeled around, head down, to charge the pair of them. Merlin watched as Leon fired a shot that appeared to do absolutely not harm to the beast at all.

“I should mention our weapons haven’t been able to touch it,” Gwaine remarked, before charging forward to join the other two. The unicorn didn’t even slow down, swinging its head as it charged right through Arthur, Leon, and Gwaine, throwing all three of them out of the way. Merlin realized, somewhat belatedly, that he was now directly in its path and stepped back without looking. His heel caught on a corner of one of the stones in the floor and he toppled over backwards.

Before he could shout a spell to stop the unicorn trampling him (and worry about the consequences later) Arthur had jumped in front of the thing, putting himself in the way, and Merlin hurriedly changed his mind from a spell to slow the unicorn down- no time to think of one- to a hurriedly-muttered version of the same spell he’d once used when Lancelot had been jousting with a very angry gryphon.

“Bregdan anweald gafeluc,” he said, a split second before the unicorn reached Arthur. The king struck forward with his sword at the same time as he stepped sideways, and the sword buried itself in the unicorn’s chest, any tell-tale blue glow quickly extinguished. Arthur let go of the hilt as the unicorn crashed past him and buckled to the floor, coming to rest mere feet from Merlin, who looked, wide-eyed, from the dead unicorn to the king and his knights.

“What were you thinking?” Arthur asked him furiously, stomping over and yanking him to his feet by his jacket collar.

“Er,” he said, still looking a little startled.

“Next time something is trying to kill you, get out of the way!” Arthur snapped, and then wheeled around as Leon tapped his shoulder and pointed at the unicorn, which was vanishing again. Merlin brushed off his jacket and watched the unicorn fade to nothing. Gwaine stepped over next to him and nudged his shoulder.

“That was impressive,” he muttered softly, and Merlin grinned. That had been kind of impressive. He looked at Leon and Arthur, who were talking in loud, excited voices about that attack Arthur had just pulled off. Merlin wondered if they would be nearly as impressed if they’d known about him enchanting Arthur’s blade at the last minute. It had certainly ended well, and of course, the enchantment hadn’t done anything except make the blade able to pierce the unicorn’s hide, but… Merlin sighed softly. They’d made a good team, and no one even knew. Except Gwaine, who patted Merlin’s shoulder sympathetically as Leon and Arthur joined them, their boots scuffing through the leftover shining dust left by the unicorn. Merlin tipped his head to the side as something caught his eye, and he reached down to pick up a piece of something that had been dislodged by Arthur’s boot.

“What is that?” Arthur asked, reaching over and snatching it without asking. Merlin frowned at him and snatched it back.

“That’s a tapestry thread,” Gwaine said, and then glanced almost apologetically at Leon.

“A magic tapestry thread?” Arthur asked, and looked like he was about to saw something else, before he was interrupted.

Gwaine twitched, as if remembering something, and cursed under his breath.

“I, uh, have to go!” he said, grinned, and bolted down the hall, saying something about having to go get Gareth and Gwarae from a roof. Leon, Merlin, and Arthur all looked at each other for a moment, and then Arthur looked down at the floor again, scuffing the dust with his boot.

“It seems as if magic has determined to ruin even the purest of things,” he said morosely. Merlin very carefully avoided looking at Arthur or Leon, pretending he was looking very hard at the thread still held in his hand. He glanced up when he heard Arthur walk away, and then looked at Leon.

“I’ll just go get a broom. This dust is already getting everywhere!” he said, smiling ruefully as he looked down the hall at the dust Arthur and Gwaine had both tracked with them.


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21 Re: The Tapestry on Tue 23 Oct 2012, 5:12 am

“…Because of this, I think it would be best if we put your tapestries in the vaults for a little while,” Arthur finished, shuffling his feet a little bit despite himself. “Just until we figure out what’s going on.”

“Of course,” Elaine said. Her face was nearly as flushed as Leon was. But it was an embarrassing situation, even if the only people present were Arthur, Leon, Gwaine, Floree, and Elaine. You didn’t present something as beautiful and valuable as a tapestry—a set of tapestries—only to have them be taken down. Leon had a hard time looking up from his shoes, wishing there was something he could do but knowing there really wasn’t.

Arthur, who wasn’t enjoying this any more than anyone else, gave a curt bow and stepped towards the door. “I’ll take care of it right away—“

“Oh—I suppose, do you think you ought to take this one, too?” Elaine said. She went to her loom and unrolled a corner of a large, exquisite tapestry, revealing the smiling face of Lancelot in its weave. “It’s the Nine Worthies tapestry I was telling you about…”

Leon stared at the intricately-woven tapestry. She must have been working on it nonstop. “You…finished it already?” he asked, baffled.

Elaine nodded, a little nervously. “I got inspired.”

“Well, I suppose we ought to keep them together,” Arthur said. “Just in case.” Arthur bowed very low. “Thank you for being so civil about this.”

“Not at all,” Elaine said quickly, as some guards quickly hauled the huge tapestry out. Arthur gave one last apologetic glance back before he exited and Floree both exited.

“Well, I suppose we’ll have time to go for a ride tomorrow,” Elaine said, sitting down in a huff on the couch. Leon quickly followed. “And I had a very good idea for the next tapestry, as well…”

“We can do whatever you like, tomorrow,” Leon said. He tried not to hesitate before he put his hand on Elaine’s. “And your work will be back up soon, I’m sure, once we figure out what’s going on.”

“I just don’t understand why someone would want to cast a spell on a tapestry. I suppose I don’t really want to know.” She sighed. “I used to know a druid once—he lived not far from Ascolat. He always used to bring us honeycomb in the summer. He was nice. Is it so hard to use magic for good anymore?”

Leon bit his lip. “Well, if you like, we can go buy some honeycomb in the Lower Town tomorrow.”

Elaine laughed and shook her head, putting her cheek on Leon’s shoulder. “You knights are so chivalrious,” she said, before she gave a little sigh. “I don’t know, though.”

Leon, somewhat distracted by the unexpected contact, started to let his mouth work on replies while he put his arm around her. “What could you possibly have to do tomorrow that can’t wait?”

“It’s not that. I’ve just been so tired recently.”

“You’ve been working too hard on those tapestries,” Leon agreed. “I thought I was never going to see you again.”

“Well, it’s my job,” Elaine said, looking up at Leon from his shoulder with a raised eyebrow. “That’s the whole reason why I’m here.”

Leon paused. “The whole reason?”

Elaine sat up, her face a picture of consternation. “Well—not the whole reason, obviously.”

“What’s another reason, then?” Leon said, trying to be playful but also trying to prove a point.

Elaine gave a sly smile. “If you’re trying to get me to say something unladylike, then perhaps I misjudged your chivalric intentions.” She jumped up and started messing about with some spools of thread near the loom.

“It just seems like you’re never available anymore, that’s all,” Leon said. “You might find that taking breaks can be very beneficial to the—“ he faltered for a moment— “creative process.”

She turned around sharply. “Sir Leon, I do believe you’re trying to boss me.”

“I’m a knight, it’s my business to want to protect people.”

“Keeping a lady from her craft is getting a bit excessive, don’t you think?”

“I just think you should give the weaving a rest for a while. Magic is dangerous in any form, and—“

“Hold on a moment—Do you think these killer unicorns have something to do with me, or something?”

“Do they?”

The words left Leon’s mouth and hung dead and unmoving in the air. Had they just—did they just have an argument? Between two people as polite and noncombatant as Leon and Elaine, it was certainly possible that they wandered into an argument without even realizing it.

And Leon had just unintentionally accused Elaine of witchcraft.

“I should probably—“

“Yes, I think I had better—“

“—things to do—“

“—we’re both a bit tired—“

And Leon found himself standing in the hallway, staring at Elaine’s door. He stood there a moment, then leaned against the wall. What the hell is wrong with me?

He wanted to go back in there and apologize straight away. But he didn't want to crowd her. He certainly didn't want her to think he was being over-protective.

He stalked off a second later, trying to shake the last few minutes, and the thoughts they conjured, from his mind.


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22 Re: The Tapestry on Fri 26 Oct 2012, 5:50 am

The forest was not proving easy to navigate, even with the added help of a bobbing light that Merlin conjured to hover by his shoulder. His feet kept catching on roots and low bushes, and twice he face-planted in the leaves. At this rate, he was going to have to be extra-sneaky getting back into the castle, if he didn’t want someone to catch him and wonder where he’d been and why he was covered in leaves and dirt.

His crashing did alert the druids, though, so Taliesin found him before he’d wandered for long. This time he didn’t sneak up on him, but stepped from around a tree and was waiting when Merlin very nearly crashed into him.

“I begin to see how you broke your arm,” the druid remarked as he led the way back to the camp.

“That wasn’t exactly my fault…” Merlin responded. He looked past Taliesin, over the shorter man’s shoulder, and saw the welcoming glow of a fire. When he dropped gratefully beside it, Taliesin looked over at him with a slight frown of concern.

“How long has it been since you slept?” he asked, and Merlin snorted.

“You’re as bad as Gaius…” he said, but didn’t answer the question.

“Maybe, but mate, you have to sleep sometime,” Taliesin argued, folding up and sitting across the fire. “In fact, comes to that, what are you doing out here? We haven’t found anything about your unicorns…”

“We think they’re related to the tapestries that Lady Elaine has been weaving for the castle. There were unicorns in some of them, and we found threads when we killed another one earlier. I had to enchant Arthur’s sword before he could kill it,” Merlin said. He dug around in his jacket pocket for the threads he’d found earlier and held them out to Taliesin.

“Who is ‘we’?” Taliesin asked absently.

“Oh. Arthur, Gwaine, Leon, and me.”

“I thought you said Arthur and Leon didn’t know about your magic,” Taliesin asked. Merlin blinked at him.

“They… don’t?” he answered, and Taliesin looked up from the threads.

“Then how did you…?” he started, and Merlin just shrugged.

“Oh, I’m used to it. No one noticed. Except Gwaine, but he already knows.

“That sounds unbelievably bothersome,” Taliesin finally commented. Merlin snorted softly.

“I won’t argue with you. But can you tell anything from the threads?” he asked, motioning to the strands still held in Taliesin’s hand. The druid passed them back.

“I think they’re magic, but that should be obvious, given the source. The magic is actually in them, though, not… on them. If the magic had been woven in to the tapestries, I think it’d be the latter. It feels to me like the magic is actually in the strands themselves,” he said, and huffed a sigh. “Is that of any help?” he asked. Merlin thought for a minute, turning the threads between his fingers before he stuffed them back in his pocket and stared at the fire. “Merlin?” Taliesin asked, and Merlin raised his eyes from the flames.

“I think so. At least we know it isn’t Elaine. I’m not sure where she gets her thread, but she doesn’t make it herself,” he said, although he was beginning to have his suspicions. There were very few people involved with the tapestries, and if it definitely wasn’t Elaine… He frowned. This was going to give him a headache.

“Really, though, when’s the last time you slept? You look like you’re about to fall face-first into the fire,” Taliesin mentioned after he’d had enough to Merlin’s brooding silence, and Merlin grinned at him. “You know people who don’t sleep go crazy, right?” the druid added jokingly, “Oh, but wait. You do magic in full view of the king just because you’re sure he won’t notice. Clearly you’re already crazy. Never mind.”

“Someday, I’m bringing Gaius with me to meet you,” Merlin laughed, and then seemed to realize something. “On second thought, you both would probably nag me to death…” He shook his head. He could just imagine the pair of them nagging at him. They would probably enjoy themselves to no end, but they might drive him insane.

He sat for awhile longer and talked to Taliesin before he finally pushed himself to his feet and started the walk back to the castle. He went slowly to avoid falling on his face again and wasn’t thinking very hard about the route back. It came as a surprise when he found himself standing just inside the trees before the shore of the lake. He was about to look around for Freya when he hesitated. He seemed to be having trouble, of late, with mentioning the spell holding her to the lake even when he really didn’t mean to bring it into the conversation. It was like it just happened, and then they would argue, and he really hated arguing with Freya. But he couldn’t just not think of getting her free of the lake. So instead of going to find her, he turned, feeling more than a little guilty, and trudged back through the forest to the castle.


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23 Re: The Tapestry on Fri 26 Oct 2012, 8:21 pm

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Gwaine slept fitfully, and woke early. He laid there for a long time trying to decide what was bothering him before it clicked.

He was alone.

Gwaine was a people-person by nature. Most of his life he had been a loner, of course, but not by choice. And now, he had gotten quite used to the rhythm of Floree's breathing, her warmth curled up next to him, the fact that she talked gibberish in her sleep and kicked his covers off the bed so that he usually had to get up once or twice to retrieve them.

He didn't like waking up alone.

And that Meant Something to Gwaine, who as a rule never kept a partner for more than a week (not always by his own choice, to be fair). He either skipped town, or she would, or it would fizzle out the morning after, or he'd pay the lady and be gone, or she'd pay him and leave.

Floree wasn't his first steady girlfriend ever, but she was definitely the only one who had ever mattered.

So he got up. He dressed, making a special effort to brush his hair and find clean clothes.

He found Floree with Elaine.

"Can I speak to you?" he asked, looking apologetic.

She raised a haughty eyebrow at him, considering, but nodded and followed him out. "Do you mind if we walk?" she asked. "I've been cooped up all day."

"Well that maybe did ruin my plans of getting down on my knees and begging for you to take me back," Gwaine said, with cautious mirth, but she peered at him sidelong and then giggled, so he assumed he was okay.

"Whatever makes you think I'd ever take a scum like you back?" she said sarcastically, even as she took his hand and squeezed it. "You're handsome, you're brave, you're noble--"

Gwaine pulled a face, and she whacked his arm.

"Oh, stop. It suits you. And I was talking about nobility of character, not of rank, anyway," she said, biting at her bottom lip seductively.

His confused/horrified face remained, and she laughed out loud.

"See, and you're funny, and you're clever, you're a poor loser--which I like. If you're not mad when you lose, you're not trying."

He stopped. They had made their way by now to the throne room, and it was empty. He pulled the door open and ushered her inside, where it was more private. There he pinned her against the wall and kissed her deeply, drinking her in like water in a desert.

"I love you," he whispered, almost before he could stop himself. He panicked, briefly, jerking his head back to gauge her reaction. Was it too soon to say that? Gwaine wasn't good at relationships. He was only going to drive her away again.

But to his relief and delight, she smiled, and blushed. Her hand crept up to run through his hair, and he very nearly closed his eyes, relishing in the touch. He was perfectly helpless when she petted his hair. "I love you, too, Sir Gwaine. I..." she flattened her lips together shyly. "Probably more than I should," she added.

Gwaine grinned widely. "After that list, I'm more than a little surprised, too. I wouldn't love me." He winked and leaned in and kissed her again, cupping her face in his hands. For once, he was trying to be chaste about this, but then her hand wandered.

"Oi! Easy, we're in the throne room, Flor," he laughed, breaking away from her a bit.

"Shy, are we?" she teased.

"What, me?" Gwaine practically squeaked, pressing his palms to her shamefully. "Never!"

She crept her hands up inside his tunic and dug her nails into his sides, making him hiss. He spun her around, and they backpedaled to the table. They were beginning to run out of air, panting. He lifted her until she was sitting on it and kissed her again, but this time his lips wandered, and he focused a nibbling bite on her throat.

"Floree," he gasped.

"Yes, Gwaine?" she said.

"Marry me," he begged.

"Thought you'd never ask," she replied.

Some time later, Gwaine realized that they were actually doing this on the actual Round Table. But by then, it was too late to bother relocating, or really even care. They had lost their clothes, but it was cold, and Gwaine had pulled his cloak up over them like a blanket. And Floree, as usual, was making a racket.

So it was no surprise when King Arthur walked in, flanked by Leon and Merlin, and followed by the Queen and a gaggle of knights and councilmembers. Damn, Gwaine thought, that council meeting was today?

But what he said, beaming up at the mixture of startled, appalled, and bemused faces glaring disapprovingly at him, was, "Congratulate me, boys! I'm engaged!"

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24 Re: The Tapestry on Mon 29 Oct 2012, 2:16 am

Merlin collided with those in front of him when they stopped suddenly upon entering the council chambers. He expected a, “Honestly, Merlin, you could at least watch where you’re going,” from Arthur and a, “Alright, Merlin?” from Leon, but he got neither. They were both standing in shock. Stepping to the side to see around Arthur, Merlin discovered why, exactly, everyone had stopped moving in such a hurry.

In the silence directly after Gwaine’s announcement, there was the audible sound of a certain manservant’s forehead hitting his palm. Gwaine was not. Merlin risked looking up from his palm, thinking perhaps they were having some sort of group hallucination or something equally ridiculous, because surely, even Gwaine would not… and on the Round Table. Surely…

But, no, Gwaine was still there, not even looking embarrassed, although Floree certainly looked a little taken aback at a whole group of councilmen strolling in unannounced on the two of them. Merlin slapped his palm to his forehead again.

SIR GWAINE!,” Arthur practically bellowed, apparently having overcome his shock enough to shout at his knight. Glancing at Leon, Merlin saw the tall blonde was slowly looking less flabbergasted and giving the table one of those long, appraising, horrified looks. Merlin had seen that look before. It was the same look Leon had given the kitchen that time Merlin, Percival, and Gwaine had accidentally upset the biggest cooking pot into all the smaller ones while trying to steal a chicken roasting over a neighboring fire. It was the one that suggested that he really truly didn’t believe that whatever he was looking at would ever be clean again. Then he looked at Gwaine, who would be stone dead if looks could’ve killed and Arthur had anything to do with it.

Nope. No, absolutely not, and also, No. Merlin turned around and was actually leaving when Arthur, apparently done glaring ineffectively at his knight, caught him at it.

“Where are you going, Merlin?” he asked, and Merlin looked at him over his shoulder, pausing mid-stride.

“I… uh… chores?” Merlin asked, grinned, and then stopped when this failed entirely.

“Go round up some of the other servants to clean the table,” Arthur said, and Merlin drooped visibly.

“I am not cleaning that table,” Merlin replied, and when he realized this was the council he was sassing Arthur in front of, added a quick, “Sire.”

Arthur rolled his eyes.

“Make Gwaine clean it!” Merlin said, aware he sounded very much like a whiny five-year-old.

"What's there to clean up?" Gwaine interjected. "I can aim, you know--"

“He, unfortunately, has to get dressed for the council meeting,” Arthur said, thankfully stopping Gwaine from continuing. He glared at Merlin when he looked ready to interrupt with another complaint, “Which, I might add, you must also attend, so hurry up and find some servants to clean this up. We’ll be in the banquet hall until you deal with this,” he said, nodding to the other council members, who left with rather a lot of vehemence, like a flock of startled birds.

“I’ll go with him!” Leon volunteered, and Arthur looked at him. Leon tried to look like he very sincerely wanted to help Merlin and not like he was avoiding the round table. Arthur huffed and waved at the eldest knight.

“If you both are not back by the time we start the council meeting, I will make you clean the round table,” he threatened, and shook his head as manservant and knight practically dashed off. “ALONE!” he shouted after them, and then trailed off after the rest of the council.



Last edited by Caitydid on Mon 29 Oct 2012, 2:39 am; edited 2 times in total


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25 Re: The Tapestry on Mon 29 Oct 2012, 2:25 am

“…And I want a detachment of guards by the tapestries both day and night,” Arthur was saying. “Until this unicorn business is solved, training is postponed. Sir Leon will be organizing search parties to seek out any sorcerers that might be taking refuge in the Lower Town. Knights will be expected to…”

Sir K looked around at the grim faces surrounding the Round Table, all seats full except for one, because Gwaine was still getting dressed. Despite Gwaine’s rather creative announcement of his engagement to Floree, the council meeting was too important to ignore. No one seemed very willing to touch the table, though.

K barely stifled a yawn, but no one seemed to notice. Everyone seemed to be ignoring him these last couple of days. Word had gotten around and most of the sensible knights wouldn’t have anything to do with him, and Arthur had been too busy with his unicorns to do any riding or hunting. Even the damned Queen seemed intent on excluding him. Well, he knew when he wasn’t wanted. A few days away would be just the ticket to put him back in everyone’s good graces.

Besides, he hadn’t been completely idle. He had more than enough to do around Camelot, what with watching dear little Merlin go and visit his little druid friends…

When they were dismissed he graciously let Sir Leon move past without even trying to trip him. He figured the whole isse of his girlfriend being implicated in this magic business was enough of a joke to last for weeks. Instead he lagged behind as the rest of the knights followed Leon out.

“What is it, K?” Arthur asked as he gathered up his paperwork. Thankfully Gwen was talking to Leon and wasn’t around to cause any trouble.

“It’s my mother, Arthur,” Sir K said. “I just heard that she’s been doing poorly and I thought I ought to pay her a visit.”

“We need every man we have to deal with these unicorns,” Arthur said, shaking his head. “I couldn’t possibly let you leave now…”

“Of course, sire, I know how much Camelot means to you.” He looked down but his eyes flashed gold. “I’ll be back in a few days.”

“You’ll be back in a few days, I hope?” Arthur replied immediately. Sir K smiled and nodded—it was amazing what a little well-placed magic mind trick could do.

He managed to arrive at Tintagel in half the usual time, again relying on magic to give his horse the extra speed it needed. He arrived just in time for lunch, and it appeared that the Lady Morgana already had company.

“…The fact is, Morgana—I still don’t trust you.” This was said by a dark figure lounging in a chair opposite Morgana’s. Sir K took one look at the crossed swords that were lying nearby and knew exactly who it was.

“Morgana!” he said, grinning. “I didn’t know you conspired with ghosts, even if they are royal.” He bowed before the dark-haired man. “King Cenred, I presume?”

Cenred raised an eyebrow. “This is your famous associate, I suppose,” Cenred said, taking a nonchalant drink of his wine.

Morgana, radiant as always, nodded. “Killhwch.” She put out her hand to him and K readily went to her side, pulling up a chair beside her and eating freely from her plate. “King Cenred was just relating to me how he survived the last battle for Camelot.” She gave Sir K a kiss then turned her eyes back to Cenred. “I was under the impression that Morgause killed you.”

“I would be a very poor king if I was presented with an immortal army and did not protect myself,” Cenred said.

“You put your blood in the Cup of Life,” Morgana said. “But then you would have—“

“Died with my men? I said I was clever, Morgana,” he said, condescension dripping from his voice. “I drank from it, actually. And I haven’t died yet.”

Sir K couldn’t help but laugh out loud at this. But apparently no one else found it very amusing, so he went back to eating.

“You still haven’t told me where Morgause is,” Cenred continued.

“She’s safe,” Morgana said. “And alive, for now. My magic is keeping her alive. If you grant me control of your new army you can see her for yourself.” She smirked. “You can take revenge for what she tried to do to you.”

“You really expect me to believe that, Morgana?” Cenred spat. “I’ve seen the way you two look at each other. She liked you more than she ever liked me, that’s certain.” He stood, dropping a chicken bone unceremoniously on the table. “Should you choose to try taking over Camelot again, my lady, rest assured that you can count on me as your ally—after Arthur’s head is on a spike next to his knights. Until that day comes, I’m afraid I can only offer you the wise council of a king who has been at the ruling business a lot longer than you have.”

Sir K marveled at the stares going on between Cenred and Morgana—it was like watching a dog fight. But although they looked like they wanted to, they didn’t lunge at each other’s throats, and Cenred left without another word.

Morgana sighed angrily, and K instinctively ducked—you learned to do this sort of thing around a witch as powerful as Morgana. His foresight saved him several burns as the candelabra on the table exploded.

“I hope you have better news for me, my love,” she said, making K start to wonder why he thought coming here was a good idea.

“Well, they found out that the tapestry threads are the culprit,” K said, carefully, “which is a little earlier than you predicted….”

Morgana furrowed her brow. “Damn that Emrys! He’s helping Arthur, I’m sure of it...and he’s become even more bold since Uther’s died. Have you found out who it is?”

“No, my love,” K said, but he could give bad news like this with a smile that could win over the most furious heart. “But it’s too late. Floree’s lady just finished weaving something called the Nine Worthies, which I think is composed of mostly warriors? Camelot’s knights won’t stand a chance.”

“And Arthur, too….” Morgana smiled, the thought of Arthur’s death always putting her in a good mood. With strength fueled by magic she pulled K into her lap, stroking his hair fondly. “And the dragon?”

“Being woven as we speak, I imagine,” Sir K said. “I suppose that will take care of any other resistance easily enough.” He glanced at the door that Cenred exited out of. “I’m surprised you offered Morgause’s life in exchange for Cenred’s petty assistance.”

“I can tell Cenred anything I like,” Morgana said, her fingers tickling K’s side with magical electricity that sent K squirming. “Morgause and I have particular plans for him. Everything’s falling into place precisely as we predicted.”

“I’ve always said that you’re very attractive when you’re plotting.” He paused, as Morgana started to unlace his shirt. “I…suppose you don’t have any messages for me to take back to Floree?”

Morgana smiled. “Not at the moment.”

Later, Sir K decided that he would have to thank Gwaine for the table idea.

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