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13 February 2012 @ 10:41 pm
Merlin Reverse Big Bang: The Valley of the Angels, Part 3, PG-13  
Link to part 1

Link to part 2




“So,” Gwaine said, at the bottom of the cliff again. “We seem to be a bit stuck. But it’s a lovely scenic place… if a bit cold.” He clenched his hands into fists. “Had to do this in the middle of winter, didn’t we? Heaven knows Arthur couldn’t send us anywhere warm. He could at least have waited until summer to get us to fetch this uncle of his.”

He had pulled Leon in closer to the wall and draped his cloak over the two of them, regretting the fact that he had destroyed his own – for all the good it had done them.

The singing started again and he shivered.

“There’s got to be a way out of here somehow…” he said. “There is always a way out.”

*

It wasn’t as late in the morning as Gwaine had said, in fact it was still relatively early. But Leon knew what was wrong now. This was not a winter’s morning, like it had been when he had left Camelot only a few days ago. This was full summer. The sky a bright blue, the air warm. Something was wrong – beyond wrong. Time itself had changed. He had never heard of magic like this before, but it only made him more determined to find the source. He headed straight for the stables.

Merlin was there when he arrived, cleaning Arthur’s saddle.

If, of course, this was Merlin. Leon smiled at him warily and listened as he proceeded to tell him how insufferable Arthur was being today. He certainly seemed like Merlin.

“Where are you heading?” Merlin asked. Leon froze, his hands half way through buckling on the reins.

“Just for a ride,” he said. “To clear my head.”

“You were a little out of it last night,” Merlin said with a grin. “Though it does serve you right for betting you could drink Gwaine and Percival under the table. No one’s ever managed that.”

Leon frowned, but nodded.

“Are you alright?” Merlin asked after a second. “You seem a little distracted.”

“Fine,” Leon said, snapping slightly. Merlin shut up abruptly, looking a little insulted.

“Good,” he said. “Just checking.”

“Sorry,” Leon forced himself to say. He didn’t need anyone in this strange world thinking that he was doing anything unusual. “One of those mornings.”

“Right,” Merlin grinned again. “I know all about those.”

Leon really, really didn’t think he did, but he held his tongue and continued to prepare his horse, before leading it out.

“See you later then,” Merlin called after him. Leon waved distractedly behind him.

*

Morgana used the cooking pot to scry in. It wasn’t an ideal piece of equipment of course, but you couldn’t afford to be selective when you were running for your life. It took a little longer than usual, her own exhaustion showing, but she finally, finally found what she was looking for.

Leon. Of course. He didn’t look like he was in good way – poor man. She smirked at the image. And with him? One of the new ones, the man who had fought in the melee and saved Arthur from those idiots. What had his name been? Gwaine.

So, an old friend and a new one, trapped like rabbits. It would be so easy to finish them off where they huddled. Worth it too, to put an end to the man who had stood in front of her and stared at her without even bowing his head. No respect.

Morgana’s lip curled as she looked at the pair of them, imagining how simple it would be just to end them right there.

But no.

This was not the time for thoughtless reactions. She would get nowhere by killing them now – only attract Arthur’s attention at a time when she was not yet recovered enough to fight back. This would be a long game, a play of vengeance that she would work from as many angles as she could. She would not play such a simple hand. She would surround Arthur with conspiracies and enemies, and she would make sure that even if one plan failed, the next would not. She would not be so easily thrown aside again.

So she would rescue those brave knights, and she would let them get through with their message, and then she would have Agravaine inside the court and Arthur would never suspect.

But they could wait, she was sure, it wasn’t like they were going anywhere. She needed to work on Agravaine some more.

*

The road seemed longer somehow, this time. The sun overhead barely moved. He had thought that time had dragged last time, with Gwaine’s unstoppable noise, but on his own, his head turning over a million and one things, Leon couldn’t seem to move fast enough. Pushing his horse, he should be able to make it in two days, resting as little as possible.

The sun hadn’t even reached its highest point yet, but he felt as though he had been riding for hours, the miles trudging by.

He must have been missed by now, if this Camelot was anything like the Camelot he knew. He would have been expected to report for duty earlier, or to a delayed training session. Merlin would have told Arthur that he had seen Leon riding out. They would send someone out after him, but they would be more than a day behind, and Leon knew enough about covering his tracks.

*

Agravaine’s private chambers were just what they purported to be – private. He retired to them when he needed the quiet and stillness, or when his frustration rose to a level he could not control. The servants knew to avoid them at all but the essential times.

Which was why he was startled to find someone sitting at his desk, looking entirely at home.

He was even more surprised when he realised that it was Morgana.

“My lady,” he exclaimed, quickly shutting the door behind him. “What are you doing here?”

“I needed to speak with you,” she said.

“But surely, as you said before, it isn’t safe for you to be here.”

“No, but nowhere’s safe for me anymore.” She looked tired. “I need to know if I can trust you, Agravaine.”

“Of course, my lady,” he said.

“You are so quick to reassure me.”

“Morgana,” he said, crossing to the desk. “Uther and I have never been friends, and you know I have disagreed with many of his policies.”

“Those on magic?” Morgana asked.

“In part, yes,” Agravaine said. “The king is stricter on such matters than I would believe justified.”

“Then your thoughts and mine are similar on the subject,” Morgana said. She sighed and looked at her hands where they sat crossed on the desk. “He has taken all my power from me,” she said. “I have nothing left, and I am afraid that our views will now not be represented in Camelot.”

“Arthur, perhaps…” Agravaine suggested.

“As I said before, Arthur follows his father’s ideas. He sides with him on this. I have no friends in Camelot.”

“I don’t see how I can help you,” Agravaine said, looking puzzled. “I live here, I have no power in Camelot myself.” Morgana leant forwards, her face carefully earnest.

“Arthur trusts you, he will respect your advice, where mine would be unwelcome,” she smiled. “If you were to go to Camelot, then you could… persuade him sometimes. And perhaps help me to recover my position.”

“I would do anything to help you.”

“Thank you,” Morgana told him, looking up again.

“But I have no invitation to Camelot, and if Arthur and Uther are as you have said, turning against even those they trust, then I don’t believe I will be able to help anyone.”

“Arthur will send for you,” Morgana said, with great certainty.

“How can you know that?” Agravaine asked.

“I just do…”

“My lady,” Agravaine said, lowering his voice as placatingly as he could. “You are still unwell.”

“I am recovered enough. When Arthur sends for you, will you help me?”

Agravaine drew in a breath and straightened up. Morgana could see his vanity in the motion. He had always had that pride and vanity in him, she had disliked it when she was younger, and not seen it as the advantage it could be. It would make him easy to use and manipulate. She would convince him of his own vested interests in her success and he would follow her, blinded by his own weakness for her and his greed.

“I will.”

Morgana smiled, not letting her triumph show, she modified it, gentled it into something almost gracious. It would be a long journey, but she was a step closer, one step closer to getting everything she wanted.

*

Leon made camp for the night. He had not had a chance to pack more than the most rudimentary supplies so dinner was sparse and unsatisfying. The night air was at least warmer than the last time he had taken this route, and he did not shiver as he rested back against the tree, keeping his sword within easy reach.

He would sleep a few hours and then rise with the dawn to reach the valley the next day.

He managed to sleep far more easily than he would have liked, his eyes closing like lead weights were attached to them. An entire day of riding had worn him out, and the confusion had not helped. He was asleep before he could even contemplate the discomfort of the tree root sticking into his back.

He did not wake with the dawn, however, it was long before that when his eyes snapped open, aware that something was wrong.

Years as a knight, campaigns, camps and hunts had taught him to sleep with an ear open when camping. Danger came in many forms. Wolves could creep up in the night, brigands and bandits and other enemies would think nothing of slitting a man’s throat in his sleep to steal his bread and money. So Leon was alert in a matter of seconds, immediately knowing that he had been woken for a reason. He lay, forcing himself to breath carefully, feigning sleep still, and listening carefully.

There was someone there, sitting on the fallen log nearby. That was odd. A thief would have killed the sleeper first before helping himself to his belongings, a wolf could not sit.

He rolled over, still feigning sleep, his hand reaching for his sword.

“I’m not a thief,” an unexpectedly familiar voice said. “So you don’t need that.”

Leon didn’t let go of the hilt, though, just rolled back over and sat up, looking directly towards where the voice had come from.

Gwaine held his hands up as the point of Leon’s sword was directed towards his chest.

“Or you could point it at me anyway. Good to see you too.”

“You followed me,” Leon said.

“You were expecting me to just let you run off on your own without back up?” Gwaine asked, laughing. “Solidarity, brotherhood, remember? The tenets of chivalry and the knights’ code that we must uphold.” His voice was mocking, but his expression was serious, Leon blinked at the juxtaposition. The Gwaine he knew would have mocked the idea through and through – wouldn’t he? “You weren’t yourself this morning, and when Merlin said he’d seen you riding off – and not in your usual direction – I thought I’d come and see what was so urgent it kept you from your knightly duty of mocking Arthur’s hangover.”

“You shouldn’t have followed me.”

“The thanks a man gets for helping,” Gwaine said, shrugging and dropping his hands down again. “You’re lucky I did. You didn’t give anyone a reason for being absent. Luckily I’ve had practise at giving excuses. No one’s expecting either of us back in Camelot for days.”

“They’re not?” Leon looked at him. He had never been this confused – not even when Uther had married that troll. He couldn’t find anything in Gwaine’s words that seemed like a trap, but if there was magic involved, there had to be a trap somewhere, surely?

“No,” Gwaine said. “Now how about you put the sword down and tell me why you’re retracing a journey we took a year and a half ago. This isn’t something to do with why you were talking about Agravaine this morning, is it?”

“A year and a half…” Leon said, lowering the sword.

“Yeah,” Gwaine said. “When Arthur sent us to go get the…” Gwaine cut himself off. “Well, my mother always taught me not to speak ill of the dead.”

“We started the trip two days ago,” he said. It was Gwaine’s turn to look confused.

“Two days ago?” he asked. “Two days ago we were in Camelot.”

“No, two days ago we were sent out to fetch Lord Agravaine to aid Arthur while the king was… unavailable.” Gwaine stared at him.

“The king?” he said. “You mean Uther.”

“Yes, of course, King Uther. Who else?” Leon asked.

“Arthur… Arthur’s king, he has been for…” Gwaine cut off as he saw Leon gaping at him.

“Arthur’s king?”

“Yes, if you’d stayed in Camelot long enough to actually see the man nursing his poor wounded head, you would have known. Look, I don’t remember you knocking your head last night but you might have done. We should get you back to Camelot, have Gaius take a look at you.”

“I…” Leon paused. “I fell into the pool. The wind…”

“What wind?” Gwaine asked.

“The wind in the valley. You went out to taunt it, I knocked you out of the way and it grabbed me instead. I remember falling.”

“The valley?” Gwaine’s confusion fell from his face, replaced with a look of complete seriousness. “You mean the valley with the angels – that valley.”

“Yes.”

“That’s the last thing you remember?” Gwaine asked. He looked thoughtful for a long moment.

“Yes,” Leon repeated.

“That was a year and a half ago.”

“So you’ve said. There must have been some kind of magic.”

“Of course there was some kind of magic,” Gwaine said. “I mean, the way we got out of there, and the wind… There was definitely magic. You think that it sent you here?”

“I can’t come up with a better explanation,” Leon said with a shrug.

“You’ve either forgotten the last year and a half…” Gwaine started, trailing off again. Leon waited for him to finish the sentence, but there was nothing forthcoming. He finally noticed that Leon seemed to be waiting for a conclusion and coughed. “Or you’ve been sent into the future by a magic wind monster angel. Might explain why you were unconscious like you were”

“Unconscious?” Leon asked.

“You were out for over a day.”

“So you believe me?” Leon asked.

“Something strange happened in that valley. You seem convinced. We might as well go out there and see what we can find.” Gwaine shrugged. “Though I can’t say I’m looking forward to seeing the place again.”

“Right,” Leon agreed. He wasn’t sure whether Gwaine’s presence was a good thing or a bad thing, but it might at least make the hours slip by faster.

“We should get some rest,” Gwaine said, heading over to where he had reined his own horse to a nearby tree and pulling off a sleeping roll.

Leon watched him thoughtfully for a few moments. Of all the people in Camelot to come after him, Gwaine was not the one he would have thought of first. Lancelot, perhaps, Percival, maybe, Merlin definitely – he turned up everywhere – Arthur possibly, but Gwaine?

“Why did you follow me?” Leon asked, unable to keep the question in any longer. Gwaine turned, looking honestly surprised by the question.

“You didn’t seem yourself this morning,” he said. “And when have you ever known me to turn my back on an adventure?” he grinned, but Leon had the distinct feeling that there was something else behind the smile and it was that rather than the words themselves that convinced him to speak again.

“Thanks.”

“Don’t thank me yet,” Gwaine said. “I’ve learnt more songs in the last year and a half – and if you really don’t remember any of them, then I’ve got to teach them to you again.”

*

Morgause did not wake again. She was getting paler by the day and her breathing remained shallow and strained. Morgana was beginning to think that the recovery she was trying for would be impossible. She had tried every method of healing she could think of, from magical to herbal, and she found herself, at times, almost wishing that Gaius were there. Not that he would help even if he could, these days, but there had been days when he had seemed to know everything.

Morgana herself did not sleep. She kept vigil, staring at the wooden wall and turning everything over in her mind. Betrayal, Camelot, loss, family. It all wound itself together in her mind, until it was the same thing, and still she stared at the wall.

The recent months had taught her one thing. There was nothing left in Camelot that held value for her any more. She had gone down that root. She had tried mercy. She had offered Gwen – even Gwen – a place at her side, and all her overtures of peace, mercy and kindness had been cast aside as though they meant nothing. No one there cared anything for her anymore, so why should she show them any mercy.

The next time, she would not be so weak. She would show them that she meant every word she said, and she would not spare a single life. She would see Arthur dead, Gwen too, and all of those ridiculous knights. She would see Camelot as a wasteland, and then she would rebuild it, better, cleaner, with none of the taint of Uther’s ways.

She reached out to take her sister’s hand; it was too cold and she shivered at the touch. It felt as though she was holding the hand of a corpse already. She looked back to Morgause, dragging her eyes away from the wall, and was grateful to see that her sister’s chest still rose and fell with her breathing.

“No mercy,” she said into the still air, and Morgause seemed to smile.

*

Gwaine hadn’t been lying about the drinking songs, he had learnt several new ones in the year and a half that Leon supposedly had missing from his memory. They were, without exception, disgusting, undignified and ridiculous, and Leon had to suppress a smile or three.

“There’s your sense of humour,” Gwaine said, looking back as Leon failed to conceal a grin. “Good to see it back again. That’s not something I’ve missed you know.”

“What do you mean?”

“Always so serious,” Gwaine said. “Duty, king and Camelot – not necessarily in that order. I’ve spent a year and a half working on getting you to relax a little bit and then you return to your old ways.”

“Not old ways for me,” Leon pointed out.

“Whatever…” Gwaine said with a shrug. “The point is the same.”

*

Morgana set out early, letting magic guide her towards the valley. She did not feel comfortable leaving Morgause alone for as long as this was likely to take, but she knew that her sister would not appreciate it if an opportunity like this was left to fade because of her. Morgause would be as eager as she was – more eager, perhaps – to see this done, to crack open Camelot once more.

And she was doing this for her sister after all, getting justice on the people who had murdered both of them – or tried to at least.

The magic guiding light darted off between the trees and she set off after it. She would save the two knights and they would never know that it would have been better for them if they had died in that valley.

*

Gwaine woke up with a crick in his neck, trying to remember what had happened the previous day. His fingers, back and arms hurt. In fact, he considered, stretching out, all of him hurt. He hadn’t felt this worn out and bruised in a long time, nor woken up this cold.

Memory filtered through gradually, reminding him of the valley, the angels, the wind and Leon.

He froze, mid stretch, and looked down to his side. Leon still lay there, exactly as he had the night before, not having moved an inch. There was a moment where Gwaine wasn’t sure whether the other man was still alive, but then he saw his chest rise and Gwaine let out a huff of breath he hadn’t been aware was stuck in his throat.

“Morning,” he said. Still no response. “You know, you’re far more interesting when you’re talking to me, even if it is to remind me that I’m supposed to be upholding Camelot’s honour.” He sighed.

Time to find a way out. There was no way back the way they had come, no way ahead, and no way up. There had to be another way, though. Maybe a tunnel...

*

The future was different. It was not just Arthur being king, it was everything. Gwaine told him, after Leon had assured him that he did want to know, about Lancelot and Agravaine and Morgana (always Morgana) and the sword in the stone and everything.

Leon listened, feeling a little sick, and he wished that he hadn’t asked, but he felt better knowing, because now maybe he could change things. Maybe he could stop Morgana from opening that portal, so Lancelot wouldn’t have to walk through it. Maybe he could keep Uther from dying, and he could definitely stop Agravaine. He could make sure that leech never had any power in Camelot.

He could change everything, and he started to plan, letting Gwaine’s voice fade into background noise as he thought things through, occasionally asking about a detail to make sure that he took everything into account.

They time passed more quickly now, and it seemed like no time at all before the village he stayed at the night before last was in sight. They did not approach it this time, but made straight for the forest. Gwaine had managed, at some point, to take the lead, though Leon wasn’t sure when, or why.

“What did happen?” Leon asked, finally. “In the valley.” Gwaine paused ahead of him.

“Honestly?” he said. “I have no idea. We were trapped, you were unconscious, and I couldn’t find any possible way out. I thought we were going to die there. Then there was some sort of… blast. Bright light everywhere, and that singing started, and the next thing I know I’m waking up on the floor of the valley, you’re awake again, and suddenly we can walk out.”

“A bright light?” Leon asked.

“Precisely,” Gwaine said, shrugging.

“And how did I wake up?”

“I don’t know.”

Leon hoped that they would work it out, because if he didn’t go back now, everything was going to turn out exactly the same.

*

Morgana found the valley sometime after midday, she couldn’t be sure of the time through the canopy of the trees. The first sign she saw of the place was the evenly arranged stones, like the stone circle that her sister had taken her to sometimes, only just a long, double line of them.

She could feel the magic, warding and guarding spells, holding something in, but frayed at the edges and cracked.

There was wild magic there, wild magic that she had never experienced before, it felt like crackling under her skin, like pure magic, pure power. It revived her as she walked towards it and she could imagine using this power to rip Camelot apart, stone by stone.

But Arthur was protected; she had to do this carefully and intelligently. It was difficult to remember that with the power pulling her, reminding her that she was connected to something so irresistible and overwhelming. She had to pause for a few moments to draw in her breath.

Then she went on again.

The stones were old, worn away at the edges, but she could tell that the holes had been made in them deliberately, though she could not have said how. Magic, most likely, but not enough to keep them from weathering. Around the base of each stone there were runes inscribed – a language her sister had taught her, but the words were almost worn out of all recognition.

Morgana walked up and down both sides of the valley, examining every stone.

*

There was someone above them, Gwaine was sure. He could hear footsteps and, a little while ago, the person had kicked some small stones down over the edge of the cliff.

He called out.

*

“Hello?”

Morgana started, stepping back, away from the edge. She had not been careful enough. Gwaine must have seen her. It was not Leon’s voice that she head. Perhaps he was still unconscious. She frowned as she realised that she might have to do something about that. The stones were not the only problem, it seemed.

“Is someone there?” Gwaine called again. She did not answer.

*

Perhaps he was just jumping at shadows, but he could have sworn there was someone on the cliff top.

If he could just get word out, then they might have a chance.

*

At the head of the valley, where it first opened out, there was one stone, slightly larger than the others and less worn. The words of the spell, carved around the base, were visible still and easy to read. This was the focus of the spell, Morgana knew. This stone was the important one, the one that pulled all the others into line. She reached out tentatively to touch it, and started at the spark of magic it gave off. It was sour and when she looked carefully, there was a split, right down the centre of it, a hairline fracture that went all the way through and would, inevitably break apart.

Whatever these stones imprisoned was close to escaping.

*

Magic. They could feel it, new magic. Dark and swirling, like the magic of the ones who had trapped them here. It was out of their reach, though, above their valley, but they knew its intent. It would remake the spell, bind them again.

They howled.

*

The sudden noise made Gwaine clap his hands over his ears, shouting in surprise.

*

On the cliff top Morgana felt the noise vibrate through her. It felt like need and hate and despair and it called to her. She wanted to join it.

Somewhere inside her, though, she remembered her purpose. She could not afford to lose herself here. She had to stay focussed. She dragged her hands up, though it felt like she was fighting herself every step of the way. She put both hands on the stone, one on each side of the fracture and forced herself to ignore the screaming inside her and recite the words.

*

Leon walked into the valley again, Gwaine still in front of him, bracing himself for the wind, but none rose. The valley was almost unnaturally still.

“So,” Gwaine said, sounding a little unnerved. “This is it.”

“Yes…” Leon agreed.

“What now?”

“I don’t know.”

*

The power was immense. The sort of power that was lost to the world these days. It rushed through Morgana and she could feel the stone and the spell knitting together again. She could feel the screaming increasing, raging against her. Then, as soon as it had started, it was smothered.

*

Sudden silence, Gwaine looked around, but could see no one but Leon, still lying there. Nothing moved. The wind was gone. He straightened completely and turned again, his shoulders slowly slumping back down as the tension leeched from him.

The flash of light took him by surprise, burning so brilliantly that it seemed to block out everything else he could see.

*

Morgana’s eyes were closed, but even through her eyelids the brilliance of the magic clicking back into place still seared her retinas.

And then the magic was gone, snapping shut in a complete circle, leaving her reeling, clutching the stone in front of her just to stay upright.

*

Down in the valley, Gwaine collapsed, falling face forwards.

*

She did not have long, but the magical residue still lingered in her, enough for some small spells. Enough to get her from here to there.

The two knights were lying side by side, Gwaine groggily murmuring, Leon as silent as the grave.

The spell commanding Gwaine to sleep took hardly any energy at all, and she turned her attention to Leon, who barely moved, the only sign of life his shallow breathing.

It would be so easy to kill him here, steal his life from him. His sword and Gwaine’s both lay nearby, along with rocks, if she wanted to make it look like a tragic accident. She reached towards one, unable to quite resist, but she caught herself in time and pulled her hands back into her body, quashing the rising wave of hatred inside her.

They had to get through; their message should reach Agravaine without any problems arising. Arthur would not know she had ever been here, Agravaine would go to Camelot and then…

Well, then she would see what happened.

She crouched down over Leon and thought of the irony that here he was, at her mercy. The man who had refused to bow down to her was going to be in her debt for the rest of his life, no matter how short a time that might be. It was a pity that he couldn’t know the fact. Maybe she would tell him one day.

She planted her fingers on his temple gently, almost caressing.

“Hello again,” she said, smiling. “Time to come back.”

*

It felt like someone had grabbed him by the heart, and was tugging. Leon gasped, hand reaching for his chest.

“What’s wrong?” Gwaine was at his side in an instant, holding him up as Leon’s knees threatened to buckle.

“I don’t know…” he said back. “I think I’m being pulled back.”

“Doesn’t look like much fun,” Gwaine commented. Leon laughed a little, but then the jerk came again, yanking at him, hard, and his laugh turned into another gasp. “Perhaps you should sit down.”

“I’m…” fine was on the tip of Leon’s tongue, but it was snatched away. The pressure had risen to his head, like he was being pushed out of it. His vision was darkening. He was dimly aware of being lowered to the rocky ground.

*

He was easier to find than she would have thought. Morgana was pleasantly surprised. She had imagined his soul would be miles away by now. She pulled at it through the vague connection she could feel, muttering the words of the spell that she could barely remember.

He was resisting her.

“Idiot,” she said. “You need to be here. You belong here. Come back.”

*

It was like something hit him in the stomach.

“Leon?” Gwaine’s voice was miles away. “Leon.”

There was a feeling of hands on his face warm and large, rough palms against his jaw. But Leon was losing touch with the world around him. He felt cold.

The hands on his face changed, hot became cool, calluses vanished and fingers shrank.

Fingers, pressing against the sides of his face, cool and dry. He opened his eyes.

“Gwaine?” he said.

“Not quite.”

Leon sat up and pulled himself backwards, reaching for his sword.

“Morgana.”

“How nice of you to remember,” Morgana said. Her eyes were the same as he remembered, cold and hard when she had ordered the soldiers to shoot the civilians. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to kill you, not today. That would ruin my plans.”

“Agravaine,” Leon said. He saw the look of shock cross her face.

“Yes… How do you know that?” Morgana stepped forwards and he raised his sword to her. “Do you honestly think that can stop me?” Her eyes flashed gold and the sword flew across the valley to clatter against the rock. “You’re not being very grateful, you know. I did just save your life.”

“I know everything,” Leon said, frantically searching for something to distract her with. His sword was no use against her magic, he knew. “You’re not going to succeed this time. I will stop you.”

Morgana looked at him like he was a particularly stubborn beetle that refused to be squashed.

“I was already going to wipe your memory of me, I suppose I’ll just have to wipe it of the rest as well.” Her voice lowered and hardened. “Nothing’s going to stop me this time, Leon. Nothing. Your precious Prince Arthur isn’t going to stop me.”

“Morgana.”

She raised a hand and spoke a word and Leon found himself unable to move, frozen in place. Then, slowly, she came forward, her voice sweetening again into that false, honey tone.

“Now relax, this will only take a moment.”

*

Memory spells were difficult and without the wild magic from before having boosted her abilities, Morgana wouldn’t have been able to wipe more than a few minutes. But somehow Leon had discovered what she was doing. Who knew where that magic had sent his spirit, and who knew what he had learnt there. She would have to take all of the past couple of days. The man had hit his head, a little memory loss could be expected, after all.

She spoke the words of the spell, enunciating each syllable as carefully as she could, a wrong word or sound could destroy the man’s mind, and that was not an option – not today.

Morgana felt his memories draining away from his mind, trickling until she had to stop the deluge, for fear of losing all of it. He must remember his mission, he must not lose so much as to appear suspicious.

She severed the connection and ended the spell, whispering again the spell to induce sleep and Leon slumped backwards again, his head hitting the ground.

To her right, Gwaine was beginning to stir. She frowned. He should have been out for hours. She glanced at him for a long moment, considering him. Too strong for his own good, too much will power. She might have fun with him – later. But not now. Now she had to go. Morgause needed her and these two needed to get to Agravaine.

*

Gwaine hated hitting his head, really he did. If there was one injury that he could have done with never having again, it would be a head injury. Arthur would no doubt have made some sort of crack about him losing enough of his intelligence through drink to have any to waste in head injuries. But mainly it was just the groggy feeling that he had when he came round. Give him a dozen hangovers any day rather than one concussion.

He sat up, grimacing, and glanced over at Leon and started. He had been watching the other knight for the past day, on and off, and in that time, since Gwaine had covered him with the cloak, he hadn’t moved a muscle. But now he had. He had definitely moved. Gwaine could be observant when he needed to be, and he would need to be completely blind to miss the fact that Leon’s body was two feet away from where he had left it. Even more noticeably, Leon’s sword was in his hand and his arm was extended away from his body, lying awkwardly stuck out, his cloak thrown off.

“Leon?”

No response.

“Leon?”

A groan.

“Leon?” Gwaine struggled to his feet and walked over to the other knight only to be met by the point of Leon’s sword, pointed at his chest. He sighed and stopped. “It’s just me.”

*

Leon had the strangest sense of déjà vu as he looked at Gwaine standing at the other end of his blade. He pushed it aside, looking around the strange valley they seemed to have found themselves in.

“Where are we?”

“You don’t remember?”

“Arthur sent us to Agravaine,” Leon said.

“Yeah, and we agreed to help the kid in the village out finding his girl,” Gwaine said. Leon just stared at him. He had no memory of that. “Creepy singing angel stones, remember? Magic wind?”

“Magic?” Leon struggled to his feet. His arms and legs felt leaden, like they hadn’t been used in days.

“You must have really hit your head,” Gwaine said. “But you’re awake, which is better than before.”

“How long was I…?” Leon asked, looking around. There was a stream and a small pool, and beside it was a pile of bones that had once been human, bleached white.

“About a day or so,” Gwaine said. “You should probably go easy: you must have hit your head. I imagine that Agravaine will have a physician. You should definitely get someone to look at you.”

“I’m fine,” Leon said, shaking the cobwebs out of his head and dropping the tip of his sword down as he realised that he was still pointing it at Gwaine. “Sorry. It’s just…” His head felt thick, like it was fully of fog, and he knew there was something that he had to remember.

“Right, it’s okay,” Gwaine said. “Look, I’m going to try the exit again, you stay here and get your bearings.”

Leon watched him go and tried to string his thoughts together. There was uneasiness in his stomach, like there was something he needed to do, and he didn’t understand what Gwaine meant by ‘check the exit’. If he had been knocked unconscious a day ago, why were they here? Why hadn’t they already found a physician?

“Apparently whatever that light show was earlier must have unlocked the door,” Gwaine said. “I don’t know what happened, but we’re free.”

“Then we need to get to Lord Agravaine,” Leon said, “We’re already a day behind schedule.”

“Not yet,” Gwaine said. He crossed over to the pool and knelt down to pick up the bones, wrapping them up in what looked like…

“What did you do to your cloak?” Leon asked in horror. Gwaine winced and then put on his best smile, the one he always used when he was cheating.

“Necessary casualty,” he said.

Leon decided not to ask, at least not yet, though he had no idea what Lord Agravaine would think. His memories of the man painted him as a very proper nobleman. The shreds of Gwaine’s cloak would probably cause him some sort of small seizure.

*

“The knights will be arriving shortly,” Morgana said, stepping out of the shadows of Agravaine’s room. He jumped, his heart skipping a beat, before recovering and offering her a smile.

“You look better,” he commented. She smiled, slowly. It was a dangerous sort of smile, which made him blink, but when he looked at her again, it was gone, replaced by her usual look.

“I feel better,” she agreed. Her smile faded to seriousness. “You can’t let them know I’ve been here.”

“They won’t find out anything from me,” he assured her.

“Good,” she said, stepping back into the shadows. “I look forward to working with you.”

*

They returned the bones to the village nearby and found their horses in the stable where they had left them. Gwaine managed, with more tact than Leon would have believed him capable of, to inform the villagers that there was some sort of monster in the valley of the angels and it shouldn’t be bothering them from now on, but it might be best to stay away anyway.

It was strange, but as he presented the bones to the girl’s mother, wrapped up in Camelot red, the tattered cloak didn’t seem so tattered anymore, instead it seemed a fitting shroud.

A young man thanked them for what they had done with tears in his eyes, and Leon knew that he should recognise him, but he had no memory of the man at all. Feeling awkward, Leon just smiled and accepted the thanks before leaving the village with the distinct feeling that he had missed a lot.

“So what really happened in there?” he asked. Gwaine shook his head.

“I have no idea,” he said, before deflecting the conversation back to one of his terrible stories. Leon opened his mouth to tell him to be quiet, for once, but the words didn’t come. Instead, he found himself listening, and even laughing.

By the time they reached Agravaine’s hall and the small village that surrounded it, the feeling of uneasiness had lifted and Leon felt lighter than he had in months.

*

Lord Agravaine wore all black. Rumour had it that he had worn mourning colours since his sister’s death more than twenty years ago. He certainly seemed to like the colour. Gwaine thought he looked like a large black crow – a crow that was very pleased with itself. In fact, he reminded Gwaine of every single reason he had always hated the nobility. He had that expression in his face that said clearly ‘I deserve this and you do not’. Certainly, Agravaine was polite enough, following the correct formulas for dealing with knights of the realm, but beyond that, his charm seemed to be thinly covering contempt.

And they were supposed to be bringing him back to Camelot with them? The next year stretched endlessly ahead of him.

“My lord,” Leon said, bowing, Gwaine following him a half-second behind. “We come from his highness, Prince Arthur, with news and a request. If we could speak with you in private?”

“Of course,” Agravaine said, before waving his servants and personal guards out of the room.

When they were alone, Leon outlined the situation in Camelot, and Agravaine’s face tightened into one of concern.

“I had no idea things had become so bad. The lady Morgana? It can’t be.”

Leon assured him that it could be and it definitely was.

“The king is naturally upset by the incident,” Leon said, clearly aware of the implications of what he had to say next. Gwaine was glad Leon had insisted on doing the talking, handling Uther’s catatonic state with tact and diplomacy was not something he felt his own talents were up to. Leon continued. “He has… withdrawn from public life and Prince Arthur is currently running affairs for his father. In the circumstances, the prince feels that it would be best if he were to have a more experienced member of his family to offer advice.”

“Surely Uther…”

“The king is not in a position to offer advice,” Leon said slowly, and Gwaine could see from the tightness in his jaw exactly how much it cost the man to say even that.

“I see,” Agravaine said, leaning forward and resting his chin on his hands. “I am honoured that Arthur would think of me. Of course I will come. Anything I can do for Arthur, the crown and Camelot. I am his to command.”

“Then you will return with us to Camelot?” Leon asked.

“Yes.”

*

Morgana watched the proceedings in her scrying dish, and smiled to herself. Arthur’s own insecurities turned against him. This was all going to work out perfectly.




-
 
 
 
calamity_kitten: JJ - Perrrfectcalamity_kitten on February 14th, 2012 09:35 am (UTC)
Wow. Just...wow!

I love this more than I can say. You have the voices of both Gwaine and Leon down pat; I could *hear* them in my head.

And the angels! The angels!!! Maybe I'm bias from watching (waaaaay) too much Doctor Who, but those things creeped me out! I lovelovelove the idea of them. Although now, of course, I want to know so much more about them. Who were they, where did they come from?

I also enjoyed the scenes with Morgana. So much potential went down the drain when the show skipped a year between series 3 and 4, but as long as there's fic like this one I don't mind. This is now my head canon!

Thank you so much for writing this, it was great!

*off to re-read*
=^.^=
archaeologist_d: Merlin Emrysarchaeologist_d on February 17th, 2012 12:43 am (UTC)
That was so sad about the girl and her boyfriend. Loved the idea of the angels and the wind. Well done.