Disclaimer: I don’t own BBC Merlin.
Merlin had never heard something so terrible as the screams the woman gave while she burned outside in the court yard. Gaius held him as their ears and minds rang from her voice outside and her magical voice inside. When the horrible sound finally stopped and their ears could only pick up the crackling of the fire outside, along with the smell to their noses of the burning flesh, the young boy brought tear filled eyes to look up at the man holding him.
“Am I going to burn too?” he asked quietly. Gaius shook his head and held the young boy closer.
“No, my child, you’ll be safe as long as you stay hidden from now on. We will teach you to control your gifts and no one will know any longer,” the man answered gruffly. He held down the sobs of fear and anger as his arms pulled tighter together.
“Gaius, am I a monster?” The guardian answered that he wasn’t as they both held each other in comfort.
Later that night the little blond boy couldn’t be kept in his chambers by his nurse maid any longer. He ran out with her screams following him as he giggled through the halls toward his best friend’s rooms. He didn’t even knock as he burst into the physician’s chambers and ran passed a shocked Gauis. “Merlin! Merlin come and chase butterflies with me!” he called through the door as he went up the short stairs. The lock clicked into the slot and Arthur stopped short. “Merlin?” he called out.
Gauis had been in shock to see his prince run in. “My prince, please come here.” He sat the boy down at the table that they usually ate their meals in. Arthur fit better in the small stool than Merlin’s more slight body did. “Merlin cannot play today. He cannot play for a long time. You need to go and stay with your nurse maid. Please, my lord, do this for me?” Arthur looked over at the door confused but nodded.
As he walked to the big door to the chambers he stopped, turned and smiled at Gauis, “I’ll see him again, though, right? He’s going to get better?” Gaius nodded and the bright smile widened before he rushed back out into the castle once again.
Behind the locked door Merlin sat with his back against the wall next to his bed. He formed a bright blue ball in his hands and swished it around his fingers as tears fell from his face. If he was sick, than he never wanted to be cured, he thought. He extinguished the ball and looked up as the door unlocked and the latch moved to have Gauis enter. “I’m not sick,” he said as he crossed his arms and pouted, “I want to go and play.” The table next to the boy rattled a bit against the stone flooring.
“Let’s work on controlling your emotions first,” Gauis said as he sat down on the bed next to the child. Merlin brought his face up and let the tears fall down his cheeks. “Having emotions is fine, but you need to learn to control them so you can control your power. I’m sorry Merlin, but this is to keep you safe.”
The physician wasn’t anywhere to be seen when he walked into the chambers that evening. Across from the room was the closed and locked door of his best friend. He knocked on it, “Merlin?” He heard shuffling on the other side, but the door didn’t open. “They sent mother to the other side today,” he said just loud enough to be heard through the door. Sitting down on the top step he leaned back against the door. “Merlin, I’m sad. I really wish you’d come out of there and talk to me. Father says I can’t cry until the candles are snuffed and I’m alone in my chambers. Princes and Kings need to be strong and I really just want to cry right now,” he sniffled and wiped his eyes and nose on his tunic sleeve.
Behind the door Merlin’s eyes watered. He stood up suddenly and walked to the door. Hesitating with his hand out to unlock it the tears fell from his eyes again and he lowered his hand. He could not go against the king or Gauis. Sighing, he slid against the door down to the floor to listen to his best friend sob on the other side.
He would learn to not be a monster and he would learn to control his magic so he would be able to play with his friend again. He didn’t want to be locked in his chambers for the rest of his life. He didn’t want his friend to forever not know who he was and not know him as a friend ever again.
It had become a regular habit for him to skip his lessons and hide in the physician’s chambers outside of the door where Merlin was a prisoner. Gauis had caught him a few times, but he just said he wanted to keep his sick friend company. Knowing the physician’s schedule helped to stay away from being scolded, though, and today was no different.
“It’s been almost a year,” Arthur said as he leaned against the door again. He heard his friend, ever quiet on the other side, slide to sit against the door with him. They were back to back as Arthur talked. “I still miss her, you know?” he sighed as he reigned in his want to cry and continued on with something.
“Merlin, father brought this awful girl here, too. You should really meet her. I think maybe you’d get along with her, but she is just horrible to me. She calls me these names and says I’m spoiled. I don’t know where she got that idea from, either, but she won’t stop. Her name is Morgana. She’s a daughter of a lord in the North, I think, and I just want her to go away. Father says she is staying, though, and he has promised her father to care for her. Oh, Merlin, when the snows come I hope you can come out so we can throw snow balls at her together,” he rambled on and on about the happenings of the castle and kept his friend up to date with everything he could. After he would run out of things to say he would promise to come back and always leave before the bell toned that Gauis would be returning.
In evenings Gauis would lock the main door to the chambers and Merlin would come out to spend time in the common area. He did lessons to learn to control his magic, create herbal tinctures and help the physician make his potions. Tonight the little boy asked, “Can’t I go play tomorrow? I promise I won’t use my magic.”
The man sighed and shook his head, “Merlin, you’re not ready. You’re still too uncontrolled and too emotional. You need to learn to bring everything inside and keep the magic contained.” The candles flickered and the fire in the hearth rose a bit as Merlin balled his fists.
“I can’t help it! It happens automatically and I am trying!” Merlin yelled. He stomped his foot and the vials sitting on the table shattered. At the destruction around him, he knew he had lost his case to play outside. “I’ll help you clean up,” he muttered in defeat as he went to get the bucket of water and a rag.
Gauis joined him as they carefully cleaned up the glass and debris from where their work station is. “One day, Merlin, you will be able to control this. One day you’ll be able to leave from here free again,” he put a hand on the young boy’s shoulder.
“Can’t you remove this curse?” Merlin asked as he looked up from where he was kneeling to get the shards from the floor. This time no tears came to his eyes, and Gauis feared that before the training was done he would break Merlin’s kind spirit. He shook his head and the black haired boy sighed and went back to cleaning.