I'd planned on writing more about Aric and Michael, but this song really didn't lend itself to their story. As I listened to it, I kept thinking of Merlin and Anna from my Albion's Circle series. Probably because I'm back writing them. I don't know how well I kept to the song itself, but this was inspired by it... So, I went with it - though I'm sure I'll be back with my boys soon. 🙂 They're still talking to me.
So, here is a glimpse into Merlin and Anna's past - the eve before battle, the very first time they faced Mordred, back in the days of Camelot.
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The quiet surrounded me as Camelot’s great army slept. I’d been unable to do the same. I’d tried—mostly for Merlin’s sake as he’d fussed at me the night before. And for Arthur and Galahad and the others who kept casting worried glances my way as we’d sat around the campfire. So, I’d retreated into our tent with Merlin and curled up beside him on the fur-covered pallet. Being in his arms had helped—it always helped—but it hadn’t brought me rest.
Frustrated and unable to stop the doubt and fear vibrating inside me, I reluctantly slid from Merlin’s embrace, not wanting to interrupt his sleep. And, even if I lay still as a stone, eventually he would sense my unease. Particularly since controlling my power was becoming more difficult by the minute. The air in the tent teemed with it, and I tried to rein it in as I quickly dressed. With one last look at the man who slept surprisingly peacefully, I slipped outside.
A few men sat around fires throughout the camp—either on watch or, like me, unable to sleep. I paid them no mind and made my way into the trees. I didn’t go far—just far enough to be away from the bustle when everyone began to wake but close enough I’d hear if there was trouble.
I stood in a small glade and stared into the darkness, struggling against tears that welled up, that nearly choked me. Swallowing the lump in my throat, I closed my eyes and reached out mentally, letting my magic touch on all the wards and protection spells we’d woven around the encampment. All intact and strong. I sensed each of the men—Magical and non-Magical—on watch around the perimeter. Everything was as it should be, and yet, an uneasy feeling curling around me, squeezing me to the point I couldn’t breath
Morning would soon be upon us, and battle would begin. And I, Camelot’s strongest Seer, saw nothing.
I had tried everything in my power to see what was coming, to glimpse any hint of what the battle would bring. Even going so far as ingesting a complex combination of herbs said to induce visions. That had only succeeded in making me unable to control my magic at all, and had spent an hour vomiting in my chambers as my belongings either shattered or floated around me. The only redeeming thing about that entire experience was no one had been around to witness it.
I sighed as Merlin’s arms came around me, pulling my back against his front. I covered his hands with mine and let my head rest against his shoulder.
“What’s the matter?” he asked, pressing his lips to my temple.
“I can’t see,” I said softly. “I’ve never been so blind to what is ahead.”
“All will be well,” he assured. “This is hardly the first time Camelot has been at war.”
But it was the first time they’d ever faced such a Magical threat led by someone who once claimed friendship and swore loyalty to Arthur and Camelot, someone who’d betrayed them in every way possible.
“I wish you wouldn’t go onto the battlefield,” I whispered, selfishly. I couldn’t shake the feeling something bad was going to happen to him. And being unable able to see…only strengthened that fear. But, while I knew he could provide protection from afar, he never would. It wasn’t who he was.
“My place is by Arthur’s side.”
“Funny, I thought it was by mine,” I snapped, jerking out of his arms and stepping away.
I pressed the heels of my hands to my eyes, hunching over as I tried to calm down. I felt the comforting touch of Merlin’s magic, twining around me, gliding over my skin.
“Annwyl, please.” Desperation filled his voice, and straightening, I turned around. “I love you, more than anything, you know this.”
“Just as I know you love your king, and you will do everything in your power to protect him.” I closed the distance between us and reached up to cradle his face in my trembling hands. “Forgive me. I’m tired, and not being able to see makes me… I’m uneasy. But I know you need to be with him.”
His hands settled on my hips, fingertips pressing hard. “And I’ll come back to you. Always.”
“I know.” I brushed a thumb over his lips, enjoying the resulting shudder and swell of power.
“Mordred will not win,” he said firmly. “We’ve ensured that by creating the Circle. You ensured it by finding the spell to do so. We’ll stop him, Annwyl. And, after…”
“Yes?” I moved closer, biting back a moan when his hard length pressed against my stomach. “What happens after?”
“After,” he drawled, “we return to Camelot and ignore our friends and our duties for days while I keep you in my tower and show you again and again how much I love you.”
“Bold promises,” I teased.
“I always keep my promises, love.” He dropped a quick kiss on my lips. “Actually, why wait?”
I huffed out a laugh as he let go of my hips and grabbed my hand so he could pull me behind him as he walked.
“Merlin,” I said, trying to keep my voice hushed.
He said nothing as he led me back to camp then into our tent. Once inside, he muttered and the candles inside the space flamed to life. His bright blue gaze seared as he turned toward me.
“We’ve hours yet before the sun rises,” he said slowly. “If you can’t sleep, let’s not waste them.”
I let him tug me back over to the pallet and followed readily as he stretched out on the furs. I shoved aside the fears and uncertainty that still filled my head, anxious to lose myself in him. In the way we came together, the way he made me feel.
But, even as we moved, loved each other, I couldn’t help but feel as if this were the calm before the storm. That, come morning, once the battle began, there was no turning back. Everything was going to change.
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