Title: Ties That Bind
Fandom: Merlin (bbc)
Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin.
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.
"How can there be nothing in any of these tomes?" Morgana snapped, sweeping them off of the table. "These are the most obscure volumes from my father's extensive library! How is it that there is nothing on the curse placed on the witches or how to undo it?"
"Morgana." Gwen sighed, seeing the mess of books on the floor.
Her girlfriend sighed and collapsed on the seat. "I'm just so tired Gwen."
"We all are." Arthur murmured from where he was leaning against the sink, dancing a coin over his knuckles in a bored fashion.
"Has anyone noticed how odd Freya's been acting this last week?" Merlin asked, gazing out the window at the children, who were in the small backyard.
Mordred and Sophia were playing cards with steely intent.
Freya sat on a plastic chair, gazing out ahead of her unseeingly.
His usually lively and sweet daughter had been very silent this week, and she was looking paler, her appetite dwindling.
He was worried, but whenever he tried to talk to her she would just hug him and tell him that she didn't want things to change.
He was scared that things with Arthur were going too fast for the kids to digest.
Despite his feelings for Arthur, if it was hurting his daughters he'd have to end it.
And yet Freya acted the same with Arthur as she always did.
If not more clingy.
So it made Merlin wonder if the problem wasn't Arthur but something else.
Which just confused him further.
What was bothering his daughter so much?
"She's got enough to worry about, we're not exactly safe." Morgana murmured, leaning her forehead against the table with a loud thud. "If things continue this way then we're so screwed."
"Don't say that." Gwen scolded softly, reaching over and rubbing her girlfriend's head.
"It's the truth." Morgana mumbled into the table top.
Gripping the coin in his fingers, Arthur flipped it in the air and caught it in his palm, gazing at the side that'd fallen up. "Right."
Merlin raised an eyebrow as Arthur pushed away from the sink and came towards him, pressing a kiss to his lips.
Arthur gave him a small smile before walking passed him to the kitchen door and slipping out to the backyard.
Sophia nor Mordred looked up, both refusing to be distracted.
Freya jumped when Arthur placed a hand on her shoulder. She looked up, eyes wide, before her gaze lowered, sad, and she listened to him as Arthur bent to his knees before her, talking.
Merlin couldn't hear what Arthur was saying, but when the blonde out his hand on her knee, Freya put her hand on his and squeezed tightly.
"I hate to say this, but he's actually becoming a good dad." Morgana, who'd looked up when the door had closed behind Arthur, watched him and Freya. "And Freya's always been most attached to him."
"Talking about dads." Gwen mumbled, looking up at Merlin. "I spoke to ours last night."
Merlin turned to his adoptive sister in surprise.
He used to keep in constant contact with Hunith and Gaius, but lately, with all that had been going on, he hadn't had the head. "Is he and mum okay?"
"Ya." Gwen nodded, pulling a curl behind her ear. "But they are planning on visiting. Soon."
"What?" Merlin sat down heavily.
"They want to meet Arthur and Mordred." Gwen smiled awkwardly. "They've heard so much about them from Morgana and I, and even John has met Mordred...you know Mum. She was terrified that you'd never let yourself be happy after Morgause, but she knows that things with Arthur are different."
"How could she possibly know?" Merlin blinked.
"For having no magic in her veins, that woman has an uncanny way of always knowing things Merlin, you know this." Morgana raised an eyebrow, unable to believe he said that. "Remember what you told me she told you about Morgause?"
Merlin winced, remembering.
"And remember what she told me about Morgana?" Gwen agreed. "It's like she has the ability to sense compatibility."
"What did Hunith say about me?" Morgana asked, curious.
Gwen blushed. "Nothing you need to know."
"But baby, this involves your mum's opinion of me." Morgana was grinning evilly because she knew very well that the people she called 'mum' and 'da' absolutely adored her and treated her as if she were their child as well.
Merlin was about to slip out of the kitchen and see how the conversation between Freya and Arthur was going, when suddenly he felt a shock of something unexplainable rush through him.
Immediately he turned around and his narrowed gaze went to the front of the house.
It couldn't be.
"I don't like this, Uther." Nimueh turned towards her boss, frowning. "He's gone silent. Last week we were under constant attacks, some appearing so random, and then nothing? He's up to something. Or he got something he wanted and he's figuring out how to use it. Or something."
"Yes, I have thought of these possibilities." Uther mumbled, sitting upon his throne-like chair, eyes narrowed and fingers steepled over his chest. "Sigan has never done anything randomly, so those attacks served him somehow. We just need to figure out how."
"With the Seers blind we're handicapped." Nimueh paced the floor. "We have all of our men searching and trying to discover-Lance hasn't even been able to go back to the Emrys Residence because he's our best man and we need him on this case right now. And that leaves your son and the others vulnerable."
"Do you truly believe that I have not thought about that?" Uther raised an eyebrow.
"No, I know you have. But what I don't understand is what they're doing still at the Emrys Residence." Nimueh turned and slammed her palms down on his desk. "I don't care how good the magical barriers are there. It isn't safe."
"And what do you propose then?" Uther sighed.
"We bring them here, locate them in the headquarters with the other high risk clients." Nimueh responded. "They'll be safest here where our strongest magical wards and such can protect them."
"My son will not hear of it." Uther frowned.
"He will if you make him see that it's the only way to keep Merlin and his family safe." Nimueh pressed. "He knows something's going to happen, we all do, and he's going to do what needs to be done to keep Merlin and the children safe."
Uther looked up at her, silent, before reaching for his phone. "Hopefully he sees this reasonably."
Nimueh just returned to pacing the floor.
"Princess, you've got to open up." Arthur sighed, not liking to see her so closed off like this.
Her eyes, as they rested on him, were sad and scared.
He'd been worrying about Freya as well this last week, but he'd wanted to give her some space. But a week had passed and she wasn't bouncing back, and while Arthur loved Sophia greatly, he had a special love for the soft-spoken, heart-filled Freya. Something about Freya made him want to be a knight in shining armor to protect her from the monsters, while Sophia made him worry about the monsters because the redhead would most probably try to enslave the creatures to do her bidding.
"Daddy," it made his heart sing every time Freya or Sophia called him that ever since he and Merlin had let them know officially that they were together. "I don't want things to change."
"Change is a part of life, hon."
Freya shook her head stubbornly. "It's bad."
"It doesn't have to be." Arthur tried to explain.
"It is! It's horrible! I don't want it to happen!" Freya's eyes filled with tears. "Does it happen because I See it? Is it my fault?"
Arthur's eyes widened. "Frey? Are you Seeing things you remember?"
But before the girl could answer, the sound of multiple things breaking inside the house shattered the silence.
A couple of minutes earlier, Merlin had left Gwen and Morgana in the kitchen, following his feeling, a cold, sick sensation swirling in his stomach as he made his way throughout his house. He felt lightheaded and dizzy and...and...
Standing before his front door, Merlin's heart raced and his stomach grew queasy and he stared at the wood, breathing erratic.
It couldn't be.
Taking in a deep breath, Merlin reached for the handle and unlocked the door, pulling it open.
His eyes widened in horror at what he saw upon his doorstep.
His throat went dry. "Morgause."
And then his magic reacted and everything exploded.