Writing Prompt

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Happy May Day! 🙂 Today's a photo fic post. Usually we end up picking stock photos for these but this picture is actually one I took a few years agao when I was in the UK. It's one of my fave pics from that trip - this day was one of the highlights of my time there.

We visited the Neolithic henge stones in Avebury, and it was an amazing experience. While walking around the henge, there was this tree with carvings in the trunk and hundreds of ribbons tied to the branches.

Anyhoo, I'm visiting the world of my serial, Your Lies (which I'll be posting chapters from again soon!)

For those interested, here are links for the other flash fiction peices that are kinda connected/set in that world:

The Lies Begin
Lying in Wait
Lying to Myself
The Lies We Tell
The Choice Lies Before You 
"Little Heaven" (Song Fic) 
Uncertainty
Promptly Penned #9 

This story isn't about the hero or heroine of the serial but a follow up to a couple of flash fiction pieces I did from this world.

Awakening (from Male #1's POV)
"Iowa" (Song Fic) (from Male #2's POV)
Promptly Penned #15 (From Male #1's POV)

For this piece, I'm still in Male #1's POV. So here we go...

"The Conversation"

My chest grew tighter, and my magic vibrated as I got to the top of the hill and came to stop beneath the huge tree. My power had been calmer the past few days. Getting away from campus, away from my responsibilties, my assignment had been exactly what I needed. I dreaded going back, but I didn't have a choice. Not really. I hated it, but it was important, necessary. It was what I'd been working for ever since...

I laid my hand on the rough bark - right over the carved names, Molly, Squidge, Owen - and closed my eyes for few seconds.

"Hey, Mol," I whispered, tracing a finger over her name. "Sorry it's been a while. Haven't been able to get back 'cause..."

Sighing, I let my arm fall to my side then turned around to sit with my back against the tree. Letting my head rest against the wide trunk, I looked up at  the hundreds of ribbons tied to the branches and dancing on the gentle breeze, and thought of Molly. I hadn't visited her grave since the day we'd buried her. Just the thought of it made me want to boot. But here...here, I felt close to her, like I had all those times we'd come to this spot before. Tying our own ribbons among the rest, making our wishes. Stupid innocent childish wishes.

And we'd talked. About everything. If there was one person in this life I'd been able to tell anything, it'd been my big sister. Sure as fuck didn't have that now. So when I could, I came here and talked to her. And, somehow, no matter how silly and useless it was, it helped.

"Fuck, Mol, it's so hard ," I continued quietly. "Doing this. Hiding what I am. Having to be around the fucking assholes, day in and day out. Having to see him. Nick." I practically spat his name. "Pretending I don't know what he did to you."

I scrubbed my palms over my face, magic pulsing quickly beneath my skin. Getting worked up wasn't going to help anything. I had to stay the course. For me. For all the magic users suffering. For Molly.

"Things are moving in the right direction, though. I'm where I need to be to do what needs to be done. Maddock and Delia..." I laughed lightly. "I had my doubts about them, even with what I've seen. Thought there was no way Maddock would ever be on our side, let alone a driving force. Not with what he came from. I could see he's a good guy from the start, completely in the wrong about magic users and magic in general, but beneath it all, he's good. But still, I doubted. Then, he met her. And, man...drawn together from the first moment, those two. But, shit, things are going to get so much worse before they get better. For Maddock and Delia."

I closed my eyes again, the images from my dreams flashing behind my lids. "And for me." I swallowed the lump in my throat that threatened to choke me, knowing what was coming. And soon. "I'm scared, Mol. So fucking scared, and I have no one."

I sat, silently, tears blurring my vision. Deciding enough was enough, I pushed to my feet and turned to look at our names again - carved into the wood years ago by Molly when our baby brother was born. I tapped Squidge, remembering how much I hated the stupid nickname she'd given me and wishing more than anything to hear it again.

Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out the length of silky green ribbon. I ran it through my fingers.

"You're probably wondering why I haven't mentioned him yet." I smiled even as my heart thudding painfully, The day Molly had been taken, I'd lost more than a sister. I'd lost my chance with a beautiful guy who was fucking perfect. Traded what could have been with him for the path I was on now. And even though I knew it was the right thing, I couldn't completely banish the regret I felt every second of every day.

I pictured his gorgeous green eyes, same damned color as the ribbon I held now. I remembered how they looked at me before, the happiness, joy, lust and the beginning of something more in them.

"I thought going away to university meant being free of him, of the reminder of what I couldn't have anymore, but... What were the odds we'd choose the same damned school?  I see him almost every day, and it hurts. So fucking bad. He hates me, Mol, and it kills me." I cleared my throat and moved over to one of the lower branches. "But for the greater good and all that, yeah? More important than something that could have happened."

I reached up and tied the ribbon around the limb. And made the same wishes I made every time I was here, every time I talked to my sister.

I wish you were here. I wish I could have a chance with him. I wish things were different. 

Stupid childish wishes, still.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Siobhan Muir

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Happy Monday! It's time for another flash fiction. This one inspired by "Ever the Same" by Rob Thomas.

I love this song. It's one of my favorites. I went into the world from my "Albion's Circle" series for this flash fic, and wrote a glimpse into what I feel is one of the most important relationships in that series. And it isn't one of the romantic relationships.

I have delved into this world in flash fic before, so if you'd like to see those, here are the links.

"Merlin's Cave"
"The Hammer's Coming Down"
"I Will Possess Your Heart"


~Arthur~

“Arthur.”

I looked up and found Anna standing in the doorway, hand braced on the wooden frame, looking as exhausted as I felt.

“If you’re busy—”

I snorted and pushed my chair away from the desk. “I was paying bills. Nothing exciting, and nothing that can’t wait. What do you need?”

Her lips quirked upward. “Always to the point and ready to jump in without even knowing what I’m about to ask for. I'd forgotten that about you.”

“Well, It’s been a while, hasn’t it? A very long while,” I pointed out, familiar sadness weighing heavily over me.

“Yes,” she murmured. “My memories are coming back—the ones from Camelot that were hidden…” She blew out a long breath. “But I’m realizing that time may have passed, but you’re the same Arthur. And you are exactly who I need, right now. Who he needs.”

I stepped closer. “Merlin?”

“He won’t listen to me.”

I nodded, knowing things were still strained between the couple. Mostly because of Merlin’s self-sacrificing tendencies, especially when it came to the woman before me.

“And another thing I know, that I remember,” she closed the distance between us and took my hands, “is when I can’t get through to him, you always can.”

“That didn’t happen often—you not getting through.” I squeezed her cold, trembling fingers.

“It’s different now.” She inhaled deeply, closing her eyes a moment against the tears that welled up. When her bright green gaze was on my again, she continued, “He doesn’t see me as he did then. He looks at me and all he sees is his failures. Not how I look at the past, Arthur,” she said quickly when I opened my mouth. “But he does. All those lives, never finding me or being able to save me… I’m not the same Annwyl from Camelot. Not to him. Not really. So, I can’t get through to him the way I did then. But you can.”

I sighed, not exactly agreeing with her, but I wasn’t prepared to argue it. Not when there was Merlin to deal with.

“He won’t sleep,” she said before I could ask what the issue was. “He’s pushing himself too hard. For me, for you, for the Circle. He’s trying to figure out a way to find Jamie, to stop Mordred, to,” her voice cracked slightly, “to make things okay between us. He isn’t giving himself time to rest, and he hasn’t…hasn’t taken the time to grieve at all, let alone properly.”

“I’ll talk to him,” I assured then kissed her cheek.

“Thank you,” she said as we parted.

I headed out into the hallway then toward the stairway up to the third floor—Merlin’s space. I stopped and looked back at her. “You need to rest, too.”

“I will, when I know he is.”

Shaking my head, I made my way upstairs. Merlin wasn’t exactly alone in the self-sacrificing department. Hell, that could be attributed to damn near everyone in this house. Myself included. Of course, it was sort of a requirement when you vowed to come back, life after life, to fight against things most people believed were fantasy.

I didn’t bother knocking on the door and strode into the large open room. Merlin was at his desk, old books open and covering the space in front of him. His dark hair stood on end, from his habit of shoving his hands through the strands in frustration, and he was pale as fuck, with dark circles underscoring his eyes. Eyes that he could hardly keep open. Stubborn bastard.

I walked over to his side and settled a hand on his shoulder.

He startled slightly and sleepy blue eyes peered up at me. “Arthur?”

“Come on. Bed.”

Shaking his head, he turned back to his books, pulling one closer. “In a bit. I just need to—”

“You need to sleep. You can look at this with fresh eyes in the morning.”

“Arthur, I don’t need a fucking keeper,” he snapped. “What I need is to work, to figure out what to do, what to…”

And there were those hands in the hair…

I shifted and, gripping the back of his chair, pulled it back. Then, I grasped his elbows and yanked him to his feet, ignoring his protests. I pulled him around the desk, past the shelves of books and the table weighted down with even more books, to the large bed at the opposite side of the room.

I pushed him to sit on the edge of the mattress then crouched down to untie his boots. He jerked away, and I grabbed him by the calf, scowling at him.

“Merlin!” He stilled, and I pulled off both boots, tossing them to the side before standing. “If you want to sleep in something other than what you have on…”

He glared up at me, and I returned the hard look, not giving an inch. He pushed to his feet, hands clenching and unclenching at this sides.

“Don’t need a keeper,” he said again.

“Not a keeper. A friend,” I murmured. “A friend who worries. A friend who loves you.”

His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed audibly. “Low blow.”

I lifted a brow and waited. He muttered under his breath, and in a blink, he was standing there in a pair of pajama bottoms and threadbare t-shirt.

“Now, you’re just showing off.” I bent, reaching around him, and pulled back the duvet and sheet. “In.”

He looked as if he was going to argue again, but after a moment, his shoulders slumped as he sighed.

“In,” I repeated, a bit more gently.

Woodenly, he moved onto the bed, laying on his back and staring up at the ceiling. I toed off my shoes and stripped down to my boxers and t-shirt before climbing in beside him.

“Turn off the lights, Merlin,” I instructed.

“Arthur, please,” he whispered.

“Lights,” I said, adding a bit what Merlin called my “royalty” into my voice, knowing what needed to be done, knowing what he needed.

He blinked rapidly, then all the lights, save a small lamp across the room, went out. His breathing quickened and became harsher with each exhale. When his trembling shook the bed, I rolled onto my side and laid a hand on his chest, over his heart.

“It’s not all on you, Merlin. Stop carrying it all.”

His entire body jerked, and he shook his head frantically.

“You need to give some of it up. Give some of it to me, so you can rest. So you can be better and do what needs to be done. The weight of it all is crushing you, my friend.”

“You’re one to talk, sire.” The snarkiness of his words was completely ruined by the tears in his voice.

“Yes, and when the time comes—because it inevitably will—when I need to give up some of what smothers me, when I need to rest, you’ll be there to remind me, won’t you? It’s what we do.”

“I can’t sleep. Every time I close my eyes, I see…”

“What? What do you see?” I asked when he fell silent. Because it could be so many things. Living the lives we did, there was no shortage of horrors to relive in the quiet unguarded moments.

“Arthur," he said, voice small and quiet. "I killed him.”

I closed my eyes as my throat tightened, the pain from that loss still a very fresh wound. “It wasn’t your fault. You know that.”

“No, I don’t. I don’t know that,” he bit out. Then, his hand covered mine. “Whose fault is it, if not mine? I should have…should’ve done it differently. Should have figured another way to stop it.”

“It was Mordred,” I said, loud voice echoing through the room. “He set that in motion. And don't start down the road of questioning or diminishing the choices we make. We all made the choice to be here, and to give our lives if necessary. He did what he believed to be right." Even as I was assured Merlin and believed everything I said, with every ounce of my being, I couldn't quite bring myself to say his name, yet. My fallen knight. The first of the fallen in this life.  "And he’d be pissed as fuck, Merlin, if he knew you were blaming yourself. Don’t lessen his choice, his sacrifice like this. Honor it. Be better.”

“How many more are we going to lose, before this is over? Before we stop him?” He gulped. “Am I going to lose her again?”

Merlin moved closer, just an inch or so, but it was enough. I pulled him the rest of the way and held him—like I had hundreds of times before, like he had held me just as many times, if not more, when I was the one in need.

“We will stop Mordred. And we’ll keep Anna safe.” I said firmly, closing my eyes, praying I was right, this time.

“I’m so tired, Arthur.”

I had to fight to keep quiet, to not cry at the depth of pain and sorrow in those four small words. Silence settled over us, and slowly, Merlin relaxed and grew heavy in my arms. I continued to hold him as sleep finally stole over him, trying to give him what strength I could, hoping it was enough.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mulliin | Gwenydolyn Cease
Kris Norris | Paige Prince | Siobhan Muir

(and a big welcome to Siobhan who will be joining us for flash fics!)

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It's time for another Promptly Penned post. I'm back with Justin and Harris for this one - they are in my head, folks, and I can't shake them loose. Never mind I won't be able to work on their actual book for a while. My brain doesn't like me very much, glomming on to every idea/story but the one I need to be actually working on. I'm guessing (hoping?) that I'm not the only one this happens to... But anyhoo, here are the other pieces of flash fiction I've written in this lovely world and I've marked the ones that are specific to Justin and/or Harris with an **, so if you want to have a look-see, feel free.

Part 1 - "The First Step"
Part 2 **
Part 3 - "Never Gone" **
Part 4 - "Unfinished" **

As always, the prompt itself is in bold.


Justin rubbed the back of his neck and gave into the urge to look around the bullpen—at the team. His old team. Well, not quite. Liam wasn’t leading the team anymore, and there was Harris—sitting at Justin’s old desk. And the younger man had hardly looked at Justin since he’d arrived over an hour ago. And any glances sent his way…weren’t exactly friendly or welcoming.

He wondered if Harris worried about his job—that with Justin’s appearance, he’d be ousted so Justin could slip back into his old role. As soon as that thought entered his mind, he shoved it aside. No, he figured Harris was secure in his place on the team. It’d been nearly four years, and from what Justin had observed, Harris got along with everyone, and he had no reason to have that particular worry.

And fuck it, that meant his attitude probably had to do with that night. Shit. Which also meant Justin would have to talk to him, clear the air, so there wouldn’t be any problems working this case together.

“All right, everyone, it’s late,” Adam announced. “Head out, get some rest, and back here at oh-six-thirty to go over what we have.”

The sighs of relief from his former teammates made Justin smile. He knew they’d been pouring over this case and were likely exhausted. He may have been away for a while, but he sure as hell remembered the long hours they put in here.

“I know we have to be back early,” Scott said, standing and stretching his arms over head, groaning at the popping joints, “but we should go out for a drink. Just one,” he added when Adam arched a brow.

Sarah jumped in, then, and Justin suspected they’d come up with this plan as soon as they’d heard he was coming. “Come on, gangs all back together… Well, it will be when you call Liam to meet us at Tate’s? An hour or so, one drink, a bit of catching up before we’re back, neck deep in this and don’t have a moment to spare?”

Adam looked between the two for a long moment then nodded. “An hour. I’ll call Liam.”

He walked away, pulling his cell from his pocket, and Scott and Sarah grinned at Justin.

“Come on, man. We’ll go grab a table.” Scott grabbed his weapon and creds from his desk then put on his coat. He frowned when his gaze landed on Harris, who was still pouring over the file in front of him. “Hey, kid, let’s go. Drinks are on me tonight.”

“Gonna pass. I really want to get through this before I head out.” He looked up, brown eyes settling on Justin a moment before darting away. He smiled at the others. “You guys have fun, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Are you sure? You hardly ever come out with us.” Sarah said with an exaggerated pout. “Beginning to think you don’t like us, Harris.

Harris rolled his eyes but didn’t respond. He just turned back to the file, effectively shutting everyone else out.

Justin drew in a deep breath, feeling the guilt weighing heavily. He’d better take care of this now.

“Go on ahead,” he told Scott and Sarah. “I’ll be right behind you.”

Both of them frowned, but they didn’t argue. As soon as they were out of earshot, Justin stood and, circling the desk he’d commandeered, walked over to stand in front of Harris’.

“Hey,” he said softly. “You should come. You’re a part of the team. I’m just here to consult at Adam’s request. And...it’d be nice to catch up.” He sighed when he didn’t get any kind of reaction from the other man. “Look, you don’t need to let my mistake that night fuck things up and—”

“Wow.” Harris straightened, leaning back slightly in his chair. After a moment, he shook his head. “Okay, then. Can we just pretend, for one fucking second, that you’re not a complete douchebag.”

Justin stumbled back, feeling almost as if he’d been struck physically. “Douchebag?”

“I’m not going out for a drink. I don’t want to, and it has nothing to do with my place on the team. As it is now. But I’m not a part of ‘the gang’,” he sneered. “And I’m not going to waste my time pretending that I am.”

He pushed his chair back and stood. With jerky movements, he secured his gun and pocketed his creds before locking his desk. Then, he grabbed the files from his desk and shoved them in his messenger bag. Justin just stared, unable to grasp a solid thought, let alone respond with words.

Harris started to walk away, shouldering past Justin, but then, he stopped abruptly and spun around. He closed the distance between them, standing so close Justin could feel Harris’ breath gusting over his face.

“’It’d be nice to catch up.’ Are you fucking kidding me? What is there to catch up on, Justin? We worked one case together, and one that hardly brings on the warm fuzzies. And that night…” He laughed, a flat, hollow sound that just fucking hurt. “Clearly not enough to even warrant a catching up since you made no fucking effort to so much as talk to me afterwards. And I understood. At first. How could I not. But then, so much time passed, and I got to hear from everyone else that you’d been in touch with them. But I wasn’t worth even that. Made my place very, very clear. So, again, I’ll pass on the drink and happy reunion.”

He pivoted and walked away again, throwing over his shoulders. “And just a bit of advice, no one wants to be called a fucking mistake, you douchebag.”


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah MullinGwendolyn Cease | Kris Norris

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I clearly have issues coming up with standalone stories for flash fics... I've gone back to one of my boys... You could read this on its own but if you'd like to take a gander at the other stories in this world:

Part 1 - "The First Step"
Part 2
Part 3 - "Never Gone"

This one is another peek into Justin's head... A similar, and yet very different, spot than we last saw him in "Never Gone".

"Unfinished"


Justin walked toward the kitchen, navigating in the dark, not wanting to wake his guest. Someone he hadn’t seen in years—takeout and booze in hand, wanting a visit and a place to sleep for the night. Justin had a slight pang of guilt that he’d hadn’t had a bed to offer, not in the tiny one-bedroom he currently lived in. He’d tried to give up his own bed and take the couch himself, but had just received a smack upside the head for his trouble. Oh well, at least his couch was fucking comfortable. And after the amount of alcohol they’d downed the night before, he figured the other man likely had no problem falling asleep.

Neither had Justin. Falling asleep was never the issue. Staying asleep, however…

He sighed as he opened the fridge. He should be used to it. He hadn’t had a solid night’s sleep in the last fucking three years. Not since…

He cursed, shoving aside that train of thought, and grabbed a bottle of water.

“Wanna grab me one while you’re in there?”

“Fuck!” Justin fumbled and barely stopped the bottle from dropping to the floor. He withdrew another water and, shutting the door, walked into the living room. “Sorry, boss. Didn’t mean to wake you.”

A soft huff of laughter, and in small amount of light from the streetlamps coming in through the window, he saw Liam—his former boss—shake his head. But he didn’t correct Justin. He’d stopped doing that about an hour after arriving.

“Didn’t wake me.” He held his hand out for the water and motioned for Justin to sit next to him.

“Okay, but I don’t want to keep you up.”

“Shut up and sit down.”

“Yes, boss.” He plopped on the cushion, as ordered, but looked everywhere but at the other man.

After a few minutes of silence, a hand came to rest on his shoulder. “Sometimes, it helps to talk about it.”

“About what?” he asked flatly.

Liam’s fingers tightened. “The nightmares.”

Justin jerked his head around and stared at the older man. “How did you know?”

“That you had nightmares? How could you not?”

Liam tilted his head to the side and stared intently. Justin fought not to squirm. Damn, it’d been a long time since he’d been under the full force of that stare. And fuck him, he kind of missed it.

“Justin,” Liam sighed. “The things we see, the things we face, doing what we do, nightmares are par for the course. But having to face the…horrors, knowing that your brother did those things? Bound to screw with your head.”

Leaning forward, Justin set his water on the scarred surface of the coffee table then scrubbed his palms over his face. He didn’t want to think, let alone talk, about the nightmares. Of course his stupid fucking brain circled back to the one that had woken him less than half an hour before.

Starring his brother, Jonah, of course. He’d been standing over Justin, who had been strapped down on a table. Just like all of Jonah’s victims had been. He’d known it was Jonah from the start, even though he hadn’t been recognizable. His face hadn’t been human. It had been covered in metal and gears and...stuff. But it hadn’t been a mask—it was his face. His face was just…not human.

Justin rolled his eyes. It didn’t take a fucking shrink to figure the meaning of that, did it? Three years ago, he’d discovered his brother wasn’t human. He was a monster. This was just Justin's brain’s way of illustrating that.

The dream was starting to fade, blur around the edges as dreams often do, and Justin couldn’t even bring the particulars into focus anymore. But Jonah’s eyes…  Those were still vivid. Cold, assessing, emotionless—no sign of caring or love. No sign of a brother in those fathomless pale eyes. Only the monster he’d been. The monster Justin hadn’t seen until it was too late.

“Justin.”

Liam’s low hoarse voice brought him out of his mind and back into his dark living room.

“Sorry.”

“You need to stop wallowing in your guilt. You blame yourself and that isn’t going to lead you anywhere good. Trust me on that. You ran away, isolated yourself, wrapped yourself in the weight of that guilt, and it’s suffocating you. You haven’t even given yourself time, or permission, to grieve.”

Justin sat back and gaped at the older man. One, because that was the most words he’d heard his boss string together in one go. Two, because his uncanny ability to see what Justin tried to hide from everyone. From himself. Though he shouldn’t be surprised—Liam had always had that talent—but time had made Justin forget.

“Grieve?” he croaked. “I am not the one who needs to grieve. That falls on the families who lost someone they loved. My brother was not a victim, Liam. He was a monster who tortured and killed at least a dozen men. A psychopath unable to even feel love.”

“Ah, but that’s the thing, isn’t it? He can’t feel love. But you can. You did.” Liam cupped Justin’s cheek a moment then patted it. “You, just like those families, lost a loved one. Lost a brother. And you are allowed to grieve., Justin.

Justin forced a laugh. “Didn’t take you for the touch-feely type, boss.”

“I’m not. Never have been. But you’re family. And family looks after its own—even when they don’t want looking after. Or think they don’t deserve it.”

“Boss…don’t,” he pleaded, heart hammering, throat tight, eyes stinging.

“You may have left the team—hell, I left the team—but you did not leave your family.” He shook his head. “Can’t. Not possible.”

Justin thought of who he’d left behind. The man in front of him—the boss, the man he’d looked up to so fucking much. Adam—SIC, a second boss, really, but the one who had taken Justin under his wing from day one. Scott and Sarah—the agents who razed and supported him in equal measure. And Harris—Justin didn’t exactly know where he fit in the “family” Liam spoke of. Harris had been attached to the team during the investigation that lead to Jonah. Hell, Harris had taken Justin’s place when he’d left. He didn’t really know the kid.

His breath stalled as pale sweat-damp skin, dark eyes and tousled hair flashed through his mind.

“It’s time to come home, Justin.”

He was thankful to be pulled away from memories of what he regretted—regretted leaving behind, not having done. Because he couldn’t bring himself to regret that one night. No matter that he probably should.

“I don’t know if I can,” he whispered. “I always said I would—when I got past all of it. But I’m not sure that it’ll ever be over. Not for me.” He cringed as his voice broke and cleared his throat. “I don’t know that I can come back to the Bureau, boss.”

“It’s time to come home,” Liam repeated. “Don’t give a shit whether you go back to the job. Come back to your family. Let us help you though this. Help you grieve. Because until you do, it won’t be over.”

Justin sniffed and swiped angrily at the dampness now coating his cheeks. He froze when Liam’s arms came around him.

“You are allowed, you know? Grieving the loss of your brother isn’t a betrayal. It doesn’t lessen what you feel for those families.”

Hearing the thoughts that needled at him constantly voiced—and damn him, how does he do that?—Justin felt something deep in his chest give way. A sob forced its way up, up, up until it pushed past his lips. Liam’s embrace tightened, and Justin let himself lean into the other man. To take the comfort for the first time in three years.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Kayleigh Jones | Kris Norris

5 Comments

This month's song is "What Are You Waiting For" by Nickelback. Have a listen if you like:

This fic didn't really go where I expected but I went with it. 🙂 It doesn't really go with the theme of the song, I suppose, but that's okay. It was what came from me, and that's what these flash fics are all about.


What are you waiting for?

Maddie Ainswirth stared at her resume on the computer screen as the conversation from the previous evening ran through her head—or at least her mother’s side of it, which admittedly was the majority of the words spoken.

You’re wasting your time and your talent. As a PA for a non-profit? Honestly, Madeline. With your degrees and your skills, you could be making a more than decent living, with a PA of your own, getting the recognition you deserve.

And by you, her mother meant we—we as in the Ainswirths. All of Maddie’s accomplishments, or lack thereof, reflected on the family as a whole. And unlike her siblings—Maddie was falling short. But that was her jam, apparently. She’d been an average student. Hadn’t dated the right boys. Sure, she’d earned two degrees, but what was having degrees in English and marketing when compared to two lawyer brothers and a CFO sister? And one would think she’d have a leg up on the sister who was a stay at home mom, but that was just fine because she’d married up.

Don’t you want to make something of yourself? Make your way to the top, feel the pride in that? I don’t understand how you can be happy, how you can be satisfied filing papers and bringing Leo Carver his coffee. I expected more of you.

That had, of course, been designed to shame and push Maddie to…to…to be more. But it didn’t. Because she was happy where she was. She loved her job, which wasn’t as a PA anymore, not for over a year, even if her mother refused to remember that bit. Maddie worked alongside Leo, running their small office and staff. It definitely wasn’t just filing papers and fetching coffee. Oh, she still did plenty of that, but she did so much more. She was making a difference. And she’d tried to explain that to her mother, but making a difference didn’t mean shit if it didn’t come with an impressive job title, money or public recognition. Preferably all three.

Maddie rubbed at her temple and continued staring at the screen—at her list of qualifications and skills—before clicking over to the email from her mother and staring some more. At the links to more suitable jobs.

“Hey, Mads,” Leo greeted cheerfully. Juggling a bag and drink holder, he used his foot to pull the chair from his desk over to hers. Settling in beside her, he announced, “Food time.”

She glanced at the clock, shaking her head when she saw it was already after five pm. “Hmmm, guessing that means it’s gonna be a long night?”

“Got you a double,” he said apologetically as he placed a tall coffee next to her keyboard.

She inhaled the spicy scents as he opened the takeout bag. ““And Indian food? Wow, you must really feel bad.”

“So so bad.” He held a fork out to her, his green eyes twinkling and his mouth twitching up into a smile. “Big meeting’s tomorrow, and there’s no way I can do this without you, Mads.”

With a smile of her own, she deleted her mom’s email without a second thought, then closed her resume before moving the mouse and keyboard to the side. After taking the offered fork, she also accepted the plastic container she knew would contain her favorite curry. Glancing at him from the corner of her eye, her thougths went back to her mother and the conversation they had, it seemed, every time she saw her.

Would she always be happy here? She didn’t know. Some days, it was hard and grueling. The late nights were killer. But the work they did was worth that. And hell, even the hard days, the late nights were made bearable by not being the only one running for coffee. By Leo bringing her her favorite takeout. By being needed and appreciated for who she was. And that, right there, was something that had been lacking her life until she’d started working here. Working with Leo. He’d seen potential in her, where everyone else her life had only seen flaws and disappointment. He’d encouraged her, helped her shape that potential into something more. Something solid and good.

“Mads?”

“Hmmm?” She blinked and met his gaze.

“Everything okay? You’re a million miles away.” He settled a warm hand on her shoulder, and his thumb grazed the skin on her neck.

And that… Well that was new. The subtle touches, the long looks, the not-quite-uncomfortable but heavy silences that settled around them sometimes. Maddie had no idea where this new thing would go—if it would even go anywhere—but she couldn’t deny the thrill of excitement that coursed through her when she thought about the possibility of more developing between them.

She smiled and shook her head. “All good. I’m right here.”

Leo nodded, grinning in response then shoving a forkful of chicken tikka masala in his mouth. Maddie chuckled and leaned slightly into his touch before digging into her own meal.

What was she waiting for?

Her answer to that wasn’t one that would make her mom happy, that was for sure. She wasn’t trying to make it to the top of anything or looking to increase the size of her portfolio or see her name in the news. She had what she needed and was exactly where she was supposed to be.

Yes, Mom definitely wouldn’t be happy because If Maddie was waiting for anything… she was waiting to see if that more would happen.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Kris Norris

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For today's Promptly Penned, I once again ventured into the world of my serial.

For those interested, here are links for the other flash fiction peices that are kinda connected/set in that world:

The Lies Begin
Lying in Wait
Lying to Myself
The Lies We Tell
The Choice Lies Before You 
"Little Heaven" (Song Fic) 
Uncertainty
Promptly Penned #9

And the link to the chapters of the serial: Your Lies

This story isn't about the hero or heroine of the serial but a follow up to a couple of flash fiction pieces I did from this world.

Awakening (from Male #1's POV)
"Iowa" (from Male #2's POV)

For this piece, I'm back in Male #1's POV. So here we go... (Actual prompt is in bold)


I watched Maddock walk out of the apartment we shared and silently counted in my head.

1...

2...

3...

4...

"I can't believe he's going out with that Magical Sympathizer. Again." Mark practically spat the words as he flopped onto the sofa next to Kevin, who nodded.

Fuck, he hadn't even made it five seconds. God, I hated him. Hated being here, pretending to be one of them. Hated that I had to sit here with not only a straight face but an agreeable one as they spewed anti-magic bullshit. All the while my magic skittered beneath my skin, aching to lash out, to take them out before they could do more harm to those like me.

"Chill out," Nick said, strolling in from the kitchen. "He'll lose interest soon enough."

And him... My magic wanted to do so much more to Nick Collins. It wanted to squeeze the life out of him, slowly. Slowly enough he suffered. Just as Molly had suffered, just as the life had been squeezed out of her...by him.

I inhaled deeply and shoved my magic down. Because now was not the time. It would come, soon enough, but I hadn't spent the last years carving out my place in this group to let it all go to waste by acting impulsively. Luckily, Nick wasn't here often, so it wasn't always so difficult to control myself and the power that lived within me. Though, fuck, even without him around, it was getting harder and harder to live like this.

"But he's not focusing," Mark argued. "He's starting to question what we're doing. She's filling his head with ideas that go against everything we've been working toward.  Fucking Magic Users and their Sympathizers. Shouldn't even be allowed here."

"Or anywhere," Kevin added vehemently. "Abominations. All of them."

I fought not to sneer at him - or throw him across the room with a flick of my wrist. They were the abominations. The monsters. And they needed to be stopped.

"She's just a piece of ass, playing hard to get. And once she gives it up, he'll move on." Nick sat in the chair across from me. "He'll do what he needs to do. Besides, going home for the long weekend will help set him straight."

"True," Mark said with a laugh. "Daddy and Mama Roberts sure as hell aren't going to put up with their baby boy crossing lines."

I forced myself to chuckle along with them as my stomach clenched painfully and my head throbbed. Again. More and more, I fought against horrible headaches. The result of suppressing my magic and from little to no rest. - I might be able to push my magic down and hide what I was, but I couldn't stop the visions from coming while I slept. In fact, they seemed to come more frequently the longer I muzzled my magic and kept it deep inside. But there was nothing for that. It was necessary. For the greater good. And it was a small price to pay to do what was right. That's all I ever really wanted. That and making my sister's killer pay. I had to accomplish the first before I could see to the second.

The short break from classes would help. The people who thought they were my friends believed I was going home while I'd told my parents I was staying near campus, to swamped with schoolwork to come before the longer break over the holidays. In reality, I was going somewhere I could be myself. Somewhere I didn't have to hide. Somewhere I could loosen the hold on my power and let it free.

The pain in my head ratcheted up a notch at the mere thought of my parents. I loved and hated them in equal measure. They were good parents, for the most part, always good to me and my siblings. But I loathed their weakness. When I looked at them all I saw was a foolish pair who blindly accepted and followed the anti-magic movement. And all the while, unbeknownst to them, two of their children had the very thing they, with their passivity, helped oppress and persecute. To be honest, the reason I still maintained contact with them was because of my little brother. He showed no signs of having magic, but my powers hadn't awakened until I was in high school - the night Molly was murdered. So I would watch Owen and keep him safe.

And there was the fact it solidified my cover as someone who was strongly anti-magic  to remain the good son, so I'd keep doing that as long as I needed to. No matter how hard it was.

I focused on the conversation around me, and quickly tuned the hateful words and ranting out again. I bit back a sigh and shifted into more comfortable position. Only three more days of this. Three more days of pretending, of hiding, of doing what needed to be done. Then...then...I could be me. Even if it was only for a short time. It would be enough. I would make it be enough because it couldn't be otherwise. The work I had to do was far too important.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Jessica De La Rosa | Kris Norris

 

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Time for flash fiction! Here is our photo for March.

And here, for better or worse, is what I've come up with. 🙂 It's just a scribbled little short that may end up being something longer if I ever decide I want to try my hand at a historical. o.O (forgive any anachronisms and the like--as I said this was just something that stuck in my head and I quickly jotted down. 🙂 )


After stepping from the carriage, Ash closed his eyes and stretched his arms overhead as he let the quiet wash over him. The last several weeks had been utter hell. The peace a few days in the small cottage on the edge of his lands would bring him was exactly what he needed.

“Lord Ashton?”

Or it would when he could send the servants who had accompanied him back to the manor. He’d wanted to set off on his own, but had agreed to having an escort to quiet his mother’s nattering. Though he hadn’t agreed to let them stay and soon enough would be sending them on their way. If his mother found fault in that…he would deal with it when he returned. Just as he’d dealt with her daily dissatisfaction every damned day for as long as he could remember.

With a sigh, he turned to the young man who was clearly awaiting instruction. Ash glanced at the driver, Henry, who was caring for the horses then nodded toward the carriage.

“Once you’ve brought in everything, have something to eat—cook packed enough in the basket for the two of you—before you return to the manor.”

“But, my lord, your mother insisted—”

“My mother is a visitor in my home, and her orders mean nothing,” Ash snapped.

“Thomas!” Henry said. “Get to it, boy. Once the horses are rested, we’ll be on our way. Please forgive him, Lord Aston,” he added more quietly. “He doesn’t understand, but he’s learning. He’s a good boy.”

Ash sighed and dragged a hand through his hair. “I know, Henry. Forgive me. I should have more patience.”

The driver, who had been with Ash’s family since they were both boys, grinned. “I understand why you do not, my lord. Perhaps you’ll find some while you’re here.”

“Perhaps I will.”

He clapped Henry on the shoulder then waked toward the cottage. Thomas rushed out and past Ash, eyes trained on the ground in front of him. Ash sighed and made note to be kinder to the young man in the future. It wouldn’t do to have those in his employ fearing him. He wasn’t his bloody father.

Crossing the threshold of the open door, he stopped short, staring at the dark-haired man crouched in front of the large fireplace. Ash schooled his expression and, stepping farther into the room, cleared his throat. When the man twisted slightly, Ash lifted a brow.

“I would have expected,” he said flatly, “having sent you here first thing this morning, that you would have at least gotten a fire started already. Very disappointing, Peter.”

“Ah, but I have.” Peter turned back to his task. “The fire in the kitchen is blazing and currently heating water. I know how cross His Lordship is after a long ride and thought perhaps a bath would be welcome.”

Fighting the smile that threatened, Ash ignored the gasp and wide-eyed stare from Thomas - likely in response to Peter's impertinent tone and words -  and simply pointed where the young man could set the satchels he carried. Ash watched Peter light the fire and coax the flames higher as the rest of the supplies were brought in.

“Lord Ashton,” Thomas said haltingly, even stepping back slightly when Ash turned his gaze upon him. “That’d be all of it, my lord. H-h-henry wants to leave straightaway to get back before nightfall. If…if that’s all right, with you…my lord.”

“Of course,” Ash said, deliberately softening his tone. “Thank you, Thomas.”

The young man bowed and scurried out the door.

“And what did you do to frighten to piss out of that poor boy?”

Ash turned to find Peter on his feet and facing him. “I didn’t do anything,” he protested.

“You were cross, weren’t you?” Peter continued as if Ash hadn’t spoken. “I knew it.”

“Watch yourself,” Ash warned him. “I could send you back with Henry and Thomas.”

“You could…but you won’t.” Peter bent at the waist with a smirk, eyes sparkling and staying on Ash. “Shall I prepare your bath, then…my lord?”

Stomach clenching at the drawled words, Ash nodded, not trusting himself to speak. Not yet, not with the door open and the sounds of Henry and Thomas speaking outside drifting in.

Peter moved, but rather than toward the kitchen, he stepped closer to Ash. Angling his body away from the door, he let his long fingers brush against Ash’s.

“Of course, my lord,” he murmured. “Anything you please, my lord. I live to serve, my lord.”

He continued the soft mocking words as he walked away. Ash remained stoic until Peter disappeared through the doorway to the kitchen at the back of the cottage. Once he was out of sight, Ash’s lips curved, and he realized he felt lighter than he had in ages.

Yes, this had been the right choice, he thought. Here, he would find his peace. Peter would make sure of that. As he always did.

 


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Kris Norris

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Hello! This month's song fic is based on "Glycerine" by Bush. Here is a video if you want to have a listen:

Oh this was a haaaaaard one. LOL But finally something popped into my head and I'm rolling with it. Have no idea if it truly fits the song, but either way, it's what came while I was listening so it counts. 😛 Here we go...


"Don't even think about it."

"Huh?" I didn't even look at my best friend, Lily, as she practically spit the words at me. No, my eyes were on my boyfriend...ex-boyfriend. He wasn't mine anymore. And that was a good thing. Though looking at him across the crowded room, it was hard to remember why. I wanted nothing more than to push my way through the people between us and wrap myself around him.

What can I say? When it came to Josh, I was fucking weak. After the last time we broke it off -yeah, the last in a long line of break-ups; like I said...weak - I had promised not to go back. Hell, coming to this party was supposed to be all about getting over Josh and maybe moving on to someone else - the last thing? Lily and our friend, Tom's idea. I didn't think hooking up while I was still clearly stuck on Josh was a good idea, but they had dragged me along. Obviously, they hadn't expected Josh to show up. I hadn't either. Parties weren't exactly Josh's thing.

"Dammit, Sam." Lily grabbed my arm and spun me around to face her. "Look at you - all freaking gooey eyed the second he walks in the room. You need to remember why he is bad for you. You broke up with him for a reason! Hell, a lot of really good reasons."

"Lil... It's not like he's a bad guy."  I glanced over my shoulder then yelped when her dainty, but amazingly strong fingers grasped my chin and turned my face back toward her.

"I'm not saying he's a bad guy," she said, not so convincingly. "But you two are wrong for each other. Your relationship was codependent, at best. The two of you together...do not make good choices. And the last time," she leaned forward and dropped her voice, "he hit you."

"We were drunk," I protested. "And I hit him, too."

"Yeah, and most of the time you're together, more often than not, you're drunk or you're high. See? Bad fucking choices, Sam." Her eyebrows shot up as she gave me "the look".

I hated that don't-disappoint-me look. I thought by moving away from home, i'd escaped it, but nay, nay, Lily kept it alive and well.

"But you constantly put all the blame on him," I pointed out. "And the problems we had, they're not all on him."

"No, they're not," she agreed. "You're both motherfucking idiots when it comes to each other."

I shook my head. She didn't get it. Even though I was the one who had initiated half our break-ups, I loved him. And I hated being alone, being without him. And it wasn't as if it was all screaming fights and arguments between us. There were a helluva lot of good times too. And I missed those.

"We have been," I said, mostly to get her off my back. "But..."

I looked back again, and my stomach jumped when I saw Josh weaving his way through the crowd toward us.

"No. No buts, Sam," Lily said, loudly enough that, even with the music blaring, people turned to look at us.

"You don't understand," I said, gaze darting between her and Josh.

"Fucking right I don't understand. I don't understand how you can choose to be miserable. How you can choose to be in a relationship that is no good for either of you. Hell, if you love him so damned much, think about him. Being together is not good for him. Do what's right for you and Josh." She spoke right in my ear and quickly, clearly wanting to have her say before he could hear.

"Sam."

And damn...damn, damn, damn. In what world was this fucking fair? How affected I could be by one word, my name, on his freaking lips... I turned and actually sighed like a little girl watching a Disney movie. He was too damned pretty for my own damned good. His full lips curved into the crooked smile I thought about more than I ever wanted to admit to anyone.

"Hey, Josh, what are you doing here?" Lily said bluntly. "You hate parties."

His expression fell. He glanced between us a few times, then his gaze landed on me. "I... Well, I was hoping you'd be here. I wanted to talk, but didn't think you'd answer my calls."

"That should have been a big clue. If he won't answer your calls, why would you think he'd want to see you?"

"Lily!"  I stared at her, stomach sour and heart racing.

"Dammit, Sam." She met my gaze, then lifted her hands and let them drop, slapping against her thighs. "I love you, but you're gonna do whatever the fuck it is you want to do anyway, and I don't have to watch it. Can't bear to watch it.  Just call me when it's time to pick up the pieces...again."

Without giving me a chance to respond, she turned on her heel and strode away. Cheeks hot and hands shaking, I faced Josh.

"Is she right? You don't want to see me?"

I cleared my throat, staring at him, wanting to do the right thing. Only problem was I didn't know what the right thing was when it came to him and me.

"Why would you even want to? A few weeks ago, you couldn't wait to get away from me," I choked out.

"I was stupid, fucked up on the pills and everything. I haven't..." He wet his lips and ducked his head, looking at me from beneath those insanely long lashes. "Haven't touched them since. Haven't had a drink. I even...I even went to the counseling center, saw someone. Been seeing them a couple times a week. Talking though a lot of shit. You know, about my mom and dad and stuff."

I nodded, heart aching for him. If I'd thought my home life sucked when I moved out, it was a fucking cake walk compared to what Josh had gotten away from.

"I just wanted to talk. I get if you don't want to be around me. That's fair. Grant - that's the counselor I've been talking too - said I shouldn't... Well, he didn't think it was a good idea to see you, again. You know, like we were. But I need to at least talk to you. I was a complete ass; I see that now. I'm so sorry, Sam."

"It wasn't just you," I protested. "I"m sorry, too."

"Can we get out of here and go somewhere quiet to talk?" he asked. "Please."

"Yeah, we can talk."

He grinned and grabbed my hand. As we dodged people and made out way to the front door, I promised myself to be strong, this time. We'd talk, put things to rest, maybe? Or maybe with the changes he was making and the help he was getting, he'd be in a better place, and we could make it work. Not now, of course, but in the future. Because I couldn't deny I wanted a future with him. Always did.

Ten minutes later, when my back hit the wall of Josh's dorm room and his lips were on mine, Lily's words sounded in my head - Wrong for each other... Codependent, at best... Bad fucking decisions... - but I shoved them aside. She didn't know. She didn't understand.

"Fuck, Sammy, I missed you," Josh murmured, trailing kisses along my jaw and down my neck. "Hate being without you. Feel so damned numb." His hands flexed on my hips as he pressed closer. "I can feel again, now. With you. Taste so fucking beautiful, babe. Love you so much. God, is it the same for you?" He lifted his head and met my eyes. "Is it just me?"

I cupped his face and pulled him in again then whispered against his lips, "No, me too. God, me too."


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah MullinGwendolyn Cease

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All right, my lovelies, today is a promptly penned post. We all get the same prompt and get to write something from it. This one is hella short. It has been a crazy time here--I'm trying to finish a book, life is kinda exploding chaotic around me, and right now, all I can think about is going to bed.

So, some people will be happy to see there is no sweeping sad, angsty story today. 😉 Nope, it's short, sweet and...one might say, fluffy. So enjoy. 🙂 (The actual prompt is in bold)


Philip lifted his head as the man beside him groaned and stretched. He bit his lip as he took in the long lines of Kev’s nude body. When the bright green eyes lost their sleepiness and focused on Philip, he smiled.

“We were supposed to go a real date, this time,” Kev said hoarsely, and Philip’s smile grew into a grin at the sound. Who would have thought the straight-laced Kev was a screamer? Well…his neighbors sure as hell knew now.

“Mm hmmm,” Philip replied absently, reaching out and dragging his palm down Kev’s chest.

“You promised.” Kev gave an exaggerated pout. “I really wanted to see that movie.”

“It’s not my fault. I couldn’t find the show times.” Philip inched his hand lower, loving the way Kev’s breath caught and his eyes darkened. “That's what happens when you don't have reliable Wi-Fi, sweetheart.”

“Like you don’t have enough data.” Kev scooted closer.

“True…” Philip rolled onto his side and pulled him closer. “Should I check now? I’m sure there’s a late showing.”

Sliding his fingers through Philip’s hair, Kev chuckled. “Nah, realized I don’t want to see it that much, after all.”

Thank fuck, Philip thought as their mouths collided.


Bronwyn Green| Deelylah Mullin

4 Comments

Hello, all! It's time for another flash fiction. When I looked at this photo, the first thing I thought of was Albion's Circle, my Arthurian-inspired series, and the lives the characters lived in the past. So I went with that--a little piece from the world of Albion's Circle and their first life in Camelot. 🙂

Enjoy!

I walked through the corridors of the castle, heart heavy and vision blurred with tears. Only days before I had been longing to be here, sore and weary from the countless nights of sleeping on the ground and drawing upon my magic more than I ever had before. I just wanted to return home. Return to Camelot. And now, here I was. The battle was won; Mordred had been defeated.

But at what cost?

When this began, when we formed the Circle, we had all agreed Mordred needed to be stopped no matter the cost. And every one of us had known the price would be a hefty one, that we’d have losses.

I knew better than most—often waking up drenched in sweat and physically ill from the visions I’d had. Visions of blood, pain and death. But I had never imagined it would end like this. Nor how cold and empty I would feel when all had come to pass. I pulled the heavy red cloak more tightly around me. I didn’t think I’d ever be warm again.

Now that I was here again, it didn’t feel like home, anymore, and I wanted to be anywhere but here. Thank the Goddess I didn’t have to stay. Once I did my duty and completed the task that had fallen on my shoulders, I could put as much distance between Camelot and me as I could manage.

I squared my shoulders as I approached the throne room. The guards pulled the large doors open, heads bowed respectfully as I strode past. Unlike the last time I’d been here, the room was empty, save the woman who waited. The queen.

My gaze immediately fell on the unoccupied throne beside her, and tears threatened again as the air left my body in a whoosh. Darkness edged my vision, and my magic vibrated along my skin, pushing out, wanting an outlet for the anger and grief welling up.

“Lady Morgana.” Queen Guinevere stood, hands clasped in front of her.

Annoyance flared at the formality of the greeting, considering we were alone, but I pushed it aside as I lowered into a low curtsy.

“Your Majesty,” I murmured.

“You bring news?” she asked, moving down the two steps to stand directly in front of me.

I rose and inhaled deeply, again quelling my irritation. I had no ill feelings toward the queen—my brother’s wife—but I was exhausted and had little patience for foolish questions. I wouldn’t be here if I had no news. I wouldn’t leave the battle if it continued, and she knew that. Or she should.

“I do,” I said tightly. “It’s over. Mordred is dead, his army defeated. Albion is safe.” I closed my eyes, trying to be strong enough to say the next words. “Arth…” My voice cracked. “King Arthur fell in battle, Your Majesty.”

Her gasp echoed in the large chamber and I opened my eyes to see her stumble back, one hand pressed to her stomach, the other covering her mouth.

“We suffered many losses, but we—”

“Lancelot?”

My magic snapped outward and a loud crack exploded behind Guinevere. She spun around, face pale, tearful eyes wide, to see the throne she’d been sitting on when I entered split in two on the stone floor.

I struggled to contain my errant power, too fueled by my emotions. I may not have completely understood my brother’s marriage and the arrangement he had with his wife, but I never considered it my business, and even as upset and grieved as I was, I didn’t want to hurt anyone. Not even the woman who wasn’t adequately reacting to the news of her husband’s—my brother’s—death.

I ignored her fearful and questioning gaze. “Your lover is well and safe. As Arthur’s first knight, he was delayed in returning to your side by his duties.”

“Morgana,” she whispered brokenly.

“Gwaine, Owain and Erek fell,” I continued, reporting the Circle and the loyal knights who had bound themselves to us. “Percival was wounded but is on his feet and aiding Lancelot. Galahad is well but won’t return to Camelot for some time. He is caring for Merlin.”

“Merlin?” she interrupted. “H-how badly is he injured?”

“He’s not injured. Not physically.” I met her eyes. “Anna is dead…by Merlin’s magic.”

“What?” She shook her head. “That’s not possible. He would never harm Anna.”

“I never said it was intentional. He was consumed by Arthur’s death,” I said pointedly. “He had no control of his power and would have destroyed everyone on that field—friend and foe alike. If not for Anna. She took the magical blow.”

Guinevere gaped, tears streaming down her face. “But I don’t understand.”

“You don’t understand what, Your Majesty?”

“Why wouldn’t Merlin—and Galahad—return to Camelot?”

“When he realized what had happened, that his Anna was gone—at his hand, no less—he went mad. It took everything I had magically to bind him, to prevent him from doing the very thing Anna had given her life to prevent.”

“I still don’t understand, Morgana,” she bit out, shaking her head. “Why would you not bring him home? Where he belongs, where he is needed?”

“Is that your worry? That Camelot’s Magical isn’t here to aid you in your rule?” My magic swelled, crackled on the air. My cloak rippled around my body and my hair lifted off my shoulders.

“That isn’t what I meant!” she protested. “I won’t lie and say I’m not concerned about the vulnerability of the kingdom without its king and without the protection of its most powerful Magical, but my concern for Merlin and his wellbeing is greater.”

I believed her, and that fact alone calmed my magic.

“You didn’t see him, Guinevere,” I said, dropping titles and formality. “He lost his king and his love—he lost two parts of his soul. Losing one would have been enough to break him. Losing both… It may be too much for him to bear. I had to bind his magic and put him into a deep sleep. Galahad and I will watch over him and help him through this. Lancelot and Percival know where we are, if you’ve a need to contact us. I prefer not to tell anyone else our whereabouts. Not with Merlin so vulnerable.”

“Not even me?” she asked quietly.

“You’ll be informed if it’s necessary. At this moment, it isn’t.”

She straightened her spine and pulled her shoulders back. “I could order you to tell me. I am still your queen.”

I smiled humorlessly and looked past her, waited until her gaze followed mine to rest on the ruined throne.

She turned back to me and stared at me silently for a moment, then she dropped her eyes. “Are we enemies now, Morgana?”

“No. You are my queen,” I said. “I will follow you as loyally as I did my brother. But you would do well to rule as he did. He never tried to force my hand simply because he sat upon the throne.”

She nodded but kept her gaze on the floor. “I…I shall try to do well, for Arthur, for Camelot.” She cleared her throat and lifted her hand to swipe at the tears skittering down her cheeks. “I’m afraid, Morgana. I never thought I’d be alone in this.

I forced myself to step forward, to see past my own riotous feelings and sympathize with her. The woman who had been given to a king to strengthen alliances, her desire ignored in the arrangement. The woman who had become a strong friend and companion for my brother, even if there wasn’t great romantic love between them. The woman who now bore the full weight and responsibility of the crown.

“You aren’t alone,” I said quietly, placing a hand on her shoulder. I could be for Guinevere what Arthur would want me to be. A source of support, an ally she could rely on. I could…I would do this, in his memory. “You are never alone…sister.”

She brought her hand up to cover mine. “Thank you, Morgana. When I asked about Lancelot…” She swallowed audibly. “I meant no disrespect toward Arthur. I did love him; he was my greatest friend, and I feel his loss keenly.”

“I know. He really was the best of all of us, wasn’t he?” I inhaled deeply and squeezed her shoulder before stepping back and letting my hand drop to my side. “And you needn’t fear for Camelot and Albion. It is protected. You’ve powerful Magicals here with more returning soon.”

The corner of her mouth quirked up. “But they aren’t you, Merlin, and Anna. They’re not the ones I prefer to have at my side. Just as Arthur did.”

“No, they’re not, but they were trained by us and will serve you well.”

She nodded with marked reluctance. “Will you keep me apprised of Merlin’s condition?”

“Of course. I will send word as often as I can. And I should be on my way, now.” I dropped into a curtsy, ready to take my leave. “Be well, Your Majesty.”

“Will you return when we…” Her lips trembled, and she pressed them together a moment before continuing. “Will you return when we lay Arthur to rest?”

“If Merlin is well enough,” I said. “I’ve already said my goodbyes to my brother, but if I’m able, I will be here.”

“I’ll pray for Merlin, for all of you, as you heal,” she said quietly. “And I will hope for the quick arrival of the day comes that Camelot can welcome all of you home.”

I bowed my head slightly before turning and exiting the room, the chilling hollowness I felt earlier returning with a vengeance. I welcomed it, this time. Anything was preferable to the consuming ache of loss and overwhelming helplessness I’ve felt since throwing my magic at Merlin as we stood over the bodies of the two most important people in our lives. As I walked past the columns, I pulled the cloak’s hood over my head and pulled the fabric more tightly around my body, even though I knew it would warm me. How could it when the coldness was coming from inside me?

 


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Kayleigh Jones  | Kris Norris