Title: Ties That Bind
Fandom: Merlin (bbc)
Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin, and I also don't own the poem "Vivian and Merlin" by Ralph De Tunstall Sneyd.
Summary: When Merlin saves a young boy from would-be-kidnappers, he unknowingly starts the course of events that lead him to meet the boy's father, Arthur, who has played a painful part in changing Merlin's familiy's life in the past.
"So how did you meet her?" Arthur asked, leaning against the doorframe in mock nonchalance as Merlin got dressed for the date.
Freya, Sophia and Mordred were in the room, on the bed, keeping an eye on the dark haired man. And they were worried. Especially the girls. They'd never seen Merlin go through so many clothes only to discard them and look once more. He really acted like he wanted to look good for this woman, whom he wasn't even telling the name of. Smart man. He knew that when Sophia put her mind to something a name could be all she needed.
"Morgana introduced us." Merlin replied, picking out the most decent pants and shirt he owned.
Freya's bottom lip quibbled.
"The cross-dressing cyborg
?" Arthur's eyes narrowed. "I should've known. You should run far away from anyone that creature associates with."
"You know, you have to stop talking about her like that." Merlin glared at Arthur, and not amused this time. "She's been there for me during the darkest period of my life, and I won't put up with you calling her names."
Arthur looked away, face troubled. "I don't really
mean it when I-."
"I don't care." Merlin snapped, before taking in a deep breath and trying once more. "Just please refrain from talking about her like that from now on."
Arthur didn't answer, and didn't look at Merlin either.
"So, where are you taking this mystery woman?" Sophia wanted to know, eyes narrowed.
"La Belle." Her father answered.
Her eyes widened in scandal. "But you never go eat there because you say its bloody expensive!"
"Language!" Merlin turned towards her.
Sophia deflated, pouting. "Sorry daddy."
He sighed and went to bathe, taking the clothes with him.
Sophia watched him go and stayed silent until she heard the shower come on.
Then, she turned to Arthur with narrowed eyes and jumped off the bed, grabbing his hand and pulling him out of the room behind her into the living room. When she was sure that there was enough distance between them and her showering father, she let go of Arthur's hand and narrowed her eyes at him.
"What are you planning on doing about this? Because I'm giving you one opportunity to do something before I step in." Her eyes narrowed and her hands went to her hips. "And when I step in, shit will fly
"Sophie...language." Arthur sighed, bending down to look at her. "You know your father is already annoyed with me for swearing in front of you all. Try not to follow in my example and get me in more trouble with him?"
Her eyes narrowed, not moved. "Then bloody DO something!"
Arthur looked away, not seeming to notice Mordred and Freya in the background, watching them intently. "What do you want me to do? Your father has every right to go out with someone if he wants to."
"Says who?" Sophia wanted to know, snorting.
Arthur managed to smile somewhat at her.
"You have to do something." Sophia ordered. "Be more of a prat than usual. Scare her away."
Arthur's expression was comical. "Did you just call me a prat?"
"She means that in the best of ways." Freya hurriedly exclaimed.
"No she doesn't." Mordred snorted.
Arthur, defeated, turned his attention to Sophia. "Why would even want me to scare her away, Soph? Your father obviously feels he needs someone..."
"He has someone." Sophia glared at him. "He has many someones! He has us! He has you. That's all he needs."
Arthur cleared his throat. "I mean it in a different way, honey. Your father needs-."
"Someone to fuck
, yes, I know what you're talking about. I'm not a baby
you know." Sophia sneered at him, taking advantage of his moment of utter speechless horror. "Just because he's sick of being celibate doesn't mean he should go screwing the first hussy auntie Morgana throws his way. And I will be talking to her about this very soon, believe me. This won't happen again."
Arthur continued speechless.
"We want you to know that we understand more than you all seem to believe we do." Freya cleared her throat, seeming nervous to speak. "And we know you care about our daddy more than as a friend."
"It's kinda pathetically obvious." Mordred nodded, not at all sympathetic to his father's plight.
"I don't think-." Arthur began.
"Yes, you've broached the very problem of the matter." Sophia agreed, cutting into whatever he was going to say. "You don't think
. What if my father falls in love with this hussy? Where does that leave you and Mordred? Huh? You think this woman will be happy with the way our lives are going right now? No. SHE will want to be the one here, all the friggen time
, and she will be the one my father spends his time with, shares his concerns with, laughs with. Okay? Not you. You're going to be replaced." She narrowed her eyes. "Why are you pretending to be noble? Huh? You're not noble. Don't be noble. Be a selfish prat. You'll enjoy it more."
Arthur collapsed onto the sofa. "I can't believe I'm having this conversation."
"Me neither." Sophia narrowed her eyes at him. "I would have thought you two would have gotten your acts together before things deteriorated this far!"
Arthur just looked at Sophia. "How old are you again?"
"Don't change the subject." Sophia glared.
"Soph, time out." Freya cleared her throat and went to sit next to Arthur, looking soulfully up into his eyes. "We don't want you to go, Arthur. We-we love you." She blushed and looked down. "And we're really happy having you and Mordred around. We don't want that to change. That's why Sophia's being all mean."
"I'm being blunt, but some people can't take the truth and call it mean." Sophia defended herself. "There's a difference."
"Hush." Freya surprised everyone by saying, before turning to Arthur, placing her hand on his. "Whose going to be there to battle the monsters away if you're not in the other room when I wake up from another nightmare?"
Arthur looked down at her, face filled with millions of emotions. "Frey
"And I'm not going back to that empty house." Mordred assured him, taking in a deep breath. "So you better make sure you don't lose Merlin because I'm not leaving here, dad. This is home."
Arthur turned to look at his son in silence before giving a little smile. "This is
home, isn't it?"
Mordred nodded, scratching the side of his face. "And, you know, I agree with Soph. You should be an utter bastard. But when Merlin isn't looking, of course. He won't forgive you otherwise."
Arthur smiled and leaned forwards, pressing a kiss to Freya's forehead, before getting up and hugging Sophia and Mordred before going to his room.
Obviously to think.
The kids shared a look as his door closed.
"What do you think?" Mordred frowned.
"I'm shocked Freya actually told me to hush." Sophia admitted.
"He meant about the situation." Freya rolled her eyes.
The redhead made a face. "He's an adult, you can't trust him to do the job correctly."
"I agree." Mordred was quick to nod.
Freya took in a deep breath. "So we prepare phase one then? Just in case?"
Sophia nodded. "Most definitely."
"You did remember to tell him that if he wants to bail in the middle of the date to text us and we'll call with some excuse, right?" Morgana checked for the hundredth time.
"Yes." Gwen sighed as they sat on their sofa, unwinding after the long day at work. "I told him, and he's sure he won't need our help." She frowned. "I'm kinda sure he won't either."
"Oh bollocks." Morgana grumbled. "If I had known that he'd actually like that girl-!" She glared. "I mean, Pendragon's an utter asshole, but he's an asshole I've gotten used to! I could never get used to Vivian!"
"She's annoying." Morgana countered.
"She'd be a good mother for the girls."
"The girls have two mothers! Us!" Morgana replied. "It's only fair they get two daddies as well!"
Gwen suddenly grinned. "Admit it Mor, you want Merlin to end up with Arthur. You're invested in their relationship."
Morgana pouted. "I will never admit to such things."
Gwen just sighed and leaned against her girlfriend, cuddling. "Don't worry, I doubt one date is going to change anything."
Morgana gasped in horror. "Gwen! You just jinxed us!"
"I find it so commendable, how you took care of your children like that after she left you." Vivian commented over her dish, smiling. "Some fathers just don't take to fatherhood, but the look on your face when you talk about your kids, its very endearing."
Merlin blushed as he looked down at his own plate. "I've been talking nonstop since we sat down, haven't I?"
"But I've enjoyed listening!" Vivian was quick to reassure him. "You have a very intriguing life, Merlin. Especially this relationship you have with this Arthur guy and his son even since finding out that he was the one your wife left you for." She smiled. "That shows the type of man you are, you know? I can't think of anyone else, myself included, who would have reacted that well to everything the way you did."
Merlin cleared his throat, blushing darker. "Yes, well, Arthur can be a prat, but he's also one of the best persons I know. He's incredibly generous and loving when you get to know him. He-he has a hard time showing that to Mordred, or, well, he used to. They're slowly building a much more closer relationship. It's beautiful to watch them get passed each other's walls."
Vivian watched him silently.
"And he's always looking out for me, though he denies it to the end." Merlin grinned brightly. "And he's always trying to pay for everything, which is utterly annoying, but since he'd staying with me I know he feels that way he isn't leeching, which he isn't. Me and the girls love having him and Mordred around. They're part of the family."
Vivian's smile went tender. "He very protective?"
"Yeah, sometimes ridiculously so." Merlin snorted. "I think, sometimes, he really believes I'm a girl."
The blonde laughed at that. "Oh, I doubt that."
"No, seriously!" Merlin announced, clearing his throat. "He says: 'Merlin, you're such a girl' all the time!"
Vivian brought her napkin to her mouth as she laughed, body shaking.
Merlin grinned at her before taking another bite of his food.
When she'd finally gotten over her fit of giggles, Vivian pulled the napkin from her lips. "Your family sounds beautiful, Merlin. I hope to one day have one like that myself, but I just haven't found the right guy." She gave him an amused look. "All the good ones are taken, or gay."
"Not all..." He worked on cutting a bite.
"Those I met at least." She replied easily. "So, tell me more about you and Arthur."
"Not really much to tell." He shrugged. "Best friend. Prat. Housemate. Sometimes co-parent, sometimes yet another child to look after. That sums everything up perfectly."
"What does he think about us going to dinner?"
Merlin paused. "To be truthful, he wasn't very happy."
"I can imagine." Vivian grinned, shaking her head. "You know, I find it ironic. I'm a Vivian, you're a Merlin, and he's an Arthur."
Merlin paused. "I hadn't thought of that."
Vivian looked both ways, before leaning forwards on the table and lowering her voice. "You know, between you and me, I always thought the king should have bumped uglies with the warlock."
Merlin choked on his chicken, eyes watering as he hit his chest. "Excuse me?"
She giggled at his reaction. "Well, Vivian was the love of Merlin's life, and she was that of his, right? But she allowed her love to become obsessive enough to trap Merlin for herself for all eternity. And I always thought that Arthur got engaged to Guinevere to try and get Merlin to act. I mean come on, Merlin warned Arthur beforehand that marrying Guinevere would end up in sorrow. Why else would Arthur, who trusted Merlin in everything, go against him because of some woman?"
"Merlin was old." Was all Merlin could answer. "There was no way that anything was going on there."
"I've done some research, and the term 'old' could have been symbolic for his knowledge, and not his age." Vivian responded with a grin.
"He was old." Merlin shook his head.
"Well, maybe Arthur liked older men with phallic hats."
Merlin snorted, remembering the magician's pointy hats in the cartoons. "It was rather phallic, wasn't it?"
She nodded before going back to the previous topid. "Another theory of mine is that he was really young, but made himself look so he'd be more respected."
"Poppycock." Merlin shook his head. "He was old. And I can prove it." He cleared his throat."Old Merlin, skilled in Bardic lore,
Well versed in many a mystic rite;
Who, into past and future, saw;
And, to whose inner sight,
Was pictured many a secret thing!
Sat in the forest near a spring.
His beard and locks were white with years;
But sight and hearing true and keen;
And simple habits loved by seers,
Gave zest for life, I ween:
And so, on Vivian, he did gaze,
When she would come the Bard to praise!"
"In that same poem..." Vivian grinned.
"Oh, Merlin, kiss me; press me close, my dear!
I fain would have thee in my fairy realm,
Renew thy youth; come quickly, never fear;
For I command thee, come!"
Madly did Merlin kiss the fairy Queen!
In the dim forest wildly did he love!
Her flesh to his with ecstasy supreme,
His amorous heart did move!
He kissed again, and lo! the forest dell,
With branching oaks, before his sight did fade,
A soothing glamour o'er his senses fell,
His heart's swift course was stayed!"
Vivian's face went serious. "She enchanted him away from his place at Arthur's side, and made him her entranced lover. Because she knew that while he was entranced by her beauty and youth, and all they had in common, that he wouldn't have left Arthur's side for her. And she grew desperate and enchanted him during sex so that 'with youth renewed' he would be her 'lover dear, upon some fairy shore'." Vivian smiled sadly at Merlin. "I don't know you very well, Merlin, but listening to you talking, I know you wouldn't leave Arthur's side to be my lover upon some fairy shore...unless I knew magic and used it against you."
He was silent, face made up in a thoughtful frown.
The blonde reached over the table and placed her hand on his. "Are you getting what I'm telling you?"
"You think I'm in love with Arthur." He nodded.
She smiled and nodded. "Yeah, and I think, just from hearing how you say he acts with you, that he likes you too."
"He hates gays." Merlin confessed. "He hates them with a passion."
"He's in the closet then." Vivian announced. "But Merlin, he's in love with you, and you're in love with him. You two have a family together, can't you see that?" She smiled more tender. "You're practically married."
Merlin blinked. "I-I-." He leaned back in his seat in awe. "He was acting weird about Lancelot being close to me...and about me going on this date."
"He's jealous." Vivian assured him. "He mightn't even realize it. He might be just as adorably oblivious as you are about it, but you owe it to the both of you-and to your kids-to do something about this."
Merlin still hesitated.
The blonde tightened her hold on his hand. "Okay, I wasn't going to say anything, but looks like I'll have to." She smiled. "Remember when you asked me if I wanted to see a picture of your family? The picture you showed me has Arthur and Mordred in it." She paused. "I know Arthur Pendragon."
Merlin's eyes widened. "What?"
She looked a little sheepish. "We dated, kinda. Went out for dinner, twice." The blonde shook her head. "The Arthur Pendragon I know was nothing like the man you described. No one knows that Arthur Pendragon. Only you. He's let you in, Merlin. He's shown you how he really is." She squeezed his hand. "See what I'm getting at?"
Merlin blinked, before looking up at her.
"So where's this mysterious woman?" Arthur cleared his throat and stood up, taking in a deep breath when Merlin returned home that night. "Don't tell me she's so magnificent you had to keep her away out of fear that I'd steal her from you."
Merlin paused, looking up at Arthur in odd contemplation.
All the words Arthur had been practicing jumbled up in his throat.
What...was up with Merlin?
Was-was that really the reason why Merlin hadn't brought the bird over?
"She was Vivian Melrose."
Arthur froze, remembering the beautiful woman he'd once thought might be have been 'mother' material for Mordred, but he'd ended the relationship after two dates because she'd been too sweet, and she'd looked too much like Morgause. He couldn't consider spending his life with someone like Vivian, but Merlin? Would he
"You have nothing to say about that?"
"Yeah." Arthur cleared his throat. "She's too blonde for you."
"Too blonde." Merlin blinked. "So I shouldn't like blondes?"
"Yes!" Arthur grinned, until suddenly his eyes widened. "No! That is not
what I'm saying! Blonde's are good. Very good. For you. Of course. I don't like blondes. I like brunettes."
Merlin tilted his head to the side. "What are you saying, exactly?"
"I-uh-I don't approve of you being with her." Arthur hadn't meant to say that, but he went with it. "Whoever you invite into your life you're inviting into mine, so I should have some say in this."
Merlin was silent for a moment. "What about you?"
Arthur froze. "What...about...me?"
Something was lighting in those eyes. "When you find someone, do I have say in who she is?"
Arthur frowned. "Me find someone?"
"Yeah." Merlin nodded. "You find someone."
Arthur hadn't studied for this test. "Yes?"
That odd look entered Merlin's eyes once more. "Good night Arthur."
Arthur opened his mouth, and couldn't think of anything to say.
He just turned and watched Merlin go towards his room, closing the door.
And then Arthur cursed angrily, kicking at the sofa. "Dammit! Coward
"He bombed." Mordred sighed, closing the door on his father's disgrace. "We're going to go ahead with the plan."
"I knew it." Sophia sighed, looking under the bed and pulled out a large, antique spell book. "Lock the door, we don't need someone walking in on us."
Mordred locked the door.
Freya reached under her bed and pulled out a box and put it on the bed. "Everything we need is in here."
"Good, good." Sophia nodded, watching as Freya put everything out on the bed.
Mordred joined them. "I've never done anything like this before."
"Me neither." Freya admitted.
"How hard can it be?" Sophia scoffed, grabbing the sheet of white parchment paper. She looked at the incense. "You sure that is love drawing incense?"
Freya nodded. "I followed the book to the letter. I mixed 2 tablespoons of sandalwood, lavender buds, and orris root powder to the powdered mixture and added six drops of rose oil and one drop of cherry oil."
"Good." Sophia nodded, drawing two male symbols-or the symbols of Mars-onto the parchment.
Mordred went to the closet and opened the door, to reveal he'd altar assembled there.
"Nice job." Sophia grinned.
Mordred smirked. "I know."
Sophia placed the paper on the alter and set two red candles on the paper, one over each Mars symbol. Together the kids cast a circle as they'd studied, and then Mordred, who had the most power of the three, stepped forwards, lighting the first red candle."Lord of lust, we appeal to thee
," he lit the second candle. "Lord of lust, make it be."
He lit the charcoal, and when it began to glow, he sprinkled the love-drawing incense on it.
Freya stepped forwards with a patch of blonde hair that had been collected from Arthur's brush, and dropped it into the flame of the first candle.
Sophia stepped forwards with a patch of black hair that'd been snatched from her father's brush, dropping it into the flame of the second candle.
Staring into the smoke, Mordred visualized the ones whose hair had been burnt."The god of lust their eyes do kiss,
And rise into ether, gather into mist,
Then return to Earth and their feelings impart,
A passion so great as to inflame their heart."
Suddenly the flames on the candles quivered violently before going out simultaneously.
The kids shared a look.
Freya worried her bottom lip. "Did it work?"
Mordred made up his mouth.
Sophia took in a deep breath. "We'll know after they wake up tomorrow. It will have taken effect by then."
The kids shared a grin, and then hurried to get rid of the evidence.