A/N: Hello! Most of you who are reading this will probably not know me, since this is my first time writing for the Merlin fandom...but don't let that stop you! I've been toying with the idea of writing a Merlin fanfic for a while, and I finally got off my butt and decided to do it - and this is the result.
Disclaimer (this applies to the entire story): I am not the BBC; hence, I do not own Merlin or the characters or events thereof. All I own is the story plot, which I had a lot of fun with.
Now with that out of the way, let us begin...
The Fog the Future Holds
The great call was a roar that pierced through the young warlock's sleep and intruded on his mind, yet it did not shatter the stillness of the night, because the sound reverberated only in Merlin's own head.
Merlin, for his part, bolted upright in his bed, blinking sleep hastily from his eyes.
"Kilgharrah?" he inquired hesitantly, reaching out with his Dragonlord powers over the distance that separated them. To his surprise, the Great Dragon was a mere three miles from Camelot.
"I need to speak with you. Come to our usual place of meeting."
"Now?" Merlin stared outside his small window.
"Yes, Merlin, now," Kilgharrah replied. "It's an urgent matter."
"Can't you just tell me over the mind link?"
In his head, Kilgharrah growled. "This is not something to be discussed by shouting at each other over a distance of three miles, Merlin."
"We're not shouting." Even as he said it, Merlin felt Kilgharrah's disapproval. "We're shouting?"
"In a way, yes. Now get out of bed."
"Okay, okay." Merlin hauled himself to his feet and began fumbling for his clothes, wondering how the dragon had ended up commanding the Dragonlord. As he did so, he recalled Kilgharrah's agitation as they'd spoken, and he wondered what could have upset the dragon so that it warranted him calling an impromptu visit in the middle of the night.
It would have to be something big, he mused as he pulled on his trousers. Something serious and grave and… At this point, his brain finally caught up with his thoughts and he realised the significance of Kilgharrah's presence.
"Oh, no," Merlin muttered, hurriedly increasing his pace.
Kilgharrah was waiting when Merlin made his way into the clearing, torch held high.
"All right, I'm here; what is it?"
Not wasting words, Kilgharrah replied bluntly, "Aithusa has healed Morgana."
Merlin stared, a sinking feeling in his stomach. "What? Why would she do that?" He had hoped, guiltily, that Morgana would die from her injuries and thus never threaten Camelot again – and yet, he felt strangely relieved that she hadn't.
Merlin, even after all she had done, remained of two minds about Morgana. While most of the time he resigned himself to the fact that she was a ruthless enemy of Arthur and Camelot now, there were those rare moments when he would wistfully recall their easy friendship. He couldn't bring himself to truly hate her, since he had a sneaking suspicion that, had he not poisoned her – and thus turned her utterly against him – things might have been different.
"I thought you were keeping an eye on Aithusa," Merlin added, somewhat accusingly.
Kilgharrah bristled. "We dragons do not smother our young ones as you humans often do," he informed Merlin tartly. "A dragon hatchling is allowed its freedom to develop its own gifts and talents. I may be Aithusa's guardian, but I am not her keeper."
Merlin sighed. "So what do we do now?"
"Young warlock, I do not think you understand the significance of this act. For a white dragon to heal someone, it must see something worth saving."
"Any life is worth saving, even Morgana's." Merlin still held this conviction, even though he knew that if it all came down to it, if he absolutely had to, he would end Morgana's life with his own hand.
"No, Merlin," Kilgharrah disagreed. "I told you once that white dragons are rare. The reason this is so is because they possess a tremendous amount of power. This sets them somewhat apart from the rest of our race. But for all their power, they have limitations that the rest of us do not have."
"Limitations like?" Merlin queried.
"White dragons are inherently good," Kilgharrah told him. "They are instruments of destiny. For a white dragon to turn so completely from its intended purpose that it becomes evil, it would require an immense amount of black magic wielded by a Dragonlord."
"So…Aithusa's not going to betray us anytime soon – is that what you're saying?"
"Yes and no. She is a pawn of destiny, Merlin, just like you and I – and destiny works in strange ways sometimes. She cannot betray our cause itself, but in order for our cause to prevail, it may be necessary for her to betray us."
"You're not making sense," Merlin complained, frustrated and annoyed by Kilgharrah's ever-cryptic comments.
"Suffice to say, young warlock, that Morgana's destiny may not unfold as I once thought."
Merlin immediately jumped on this piece of information. "You mean she might not be my greatest foe after all?" Hope rose inside him, hope that Morgana might yet be saved.
"Of that I have no doubt." Kilgharrah's quick, firm answer was like a slap in the face; Merlin blinked. "However, I am no longer sure how she will fulfil that role."
"How else can she fulfil it?" Merlin demanded. "Isn't it obvious enough?"
"The prophecies are tricky, young warlock. The same passage can have several different interpretations. Something that seems clear at first may prove not to be." Seeing his Dragonlord's displeased frown, Kilgharrah summarised, "In short, Merlin, I may have been too hasty in encouraging Morgana's demise."
Merlin's frown disappeared, to be replaced by a look of utter bewilderment. "You've been telling me for years that I should let Morgana die."
"And yet, you never have," Kilgharrah pointed out. "And the one time you might have – albeit unintentionally – Aithusa healed her. This leads me to speculate that Morgana is important enough to the fate of Albion that destiny will not allow her to be killed."
Merlin exhaled, attempting to adjust to the change in his worldview. "This changes everything, doesn't it?"
"Indeed," the dragon agreed. "And I apologise for misleading you. As a creature of the Old Religion, I should have known better than to assume. I am reluctant to admit it, but perhaps I was too blinded by my feelings for Uther to even consider other possibilities."
"But Morgana never did anything to you."
"It was not what she had done, but rather what she would do – or what I thought she would do – that made me despise her."
That made Merlin pause. "What she would do?" he asked cautiously. "You mean, taking over Camelot?"
Kilgharrah shook his scaly head. "Worse than that, young warlock." He seemed to hesitate before adding, "The prophecy states that she will kill you."
Merlin gasped. "What?"
"As I said before, Merlin, prophecies are tricky," Kilgharrah reminded him. "They do not always mean what we think they mean. I suggest you put it out of your mind for now, and leave the interpretation of prophecies to me. At the moment, it is the least of your worries."
"In what distorted universe is Morgana killing me the least of my worries?" Merlin demanded, in a somewhat strangled voice.
Kilgharrah's nostrils flared in warning. "In this one. Heed my advice, Merlin, and do not dwell on it. You have far bigger things to be concerned about than what Morgana might or might not do."
Merlin had not failed to catch the change in the dragon's tone. "Bigger things?" he said warily. "Like what?"
In response, Kilgharrah stretched out his neck and reared his head, his gold eyes burning with something indecipherable. At that moment, he looked more majestic than Merlin had ever seen him.
"The time of prophecy draws near, young warlock. The Once and Future King sits on the throne of Camelot, with his prophesied Queen by his side. The dawn of Albion is at hand. All that remains is for Arthur to be made aware that magic can and has been used for good."
Kilgharrah looked straight at Merlin, whose eyes were wide and unbelieving.
"Merlin, it is time for you to reveal yourself as the great warlock you truly are."
Merlin stood rooted to the spot, unable to move, or even think. All his breath left him in one big whoosh. When Kilgharrah spoke again, it was softer and more gentle, as if to reassure Merlin.
"It is time for Emrys to take his rightful place beside his king."
A/N: As most of you can guess, this story picks up directly after Season 4. Oh, and I know that in canon Aithusa is presumed to be a male, but I like him - her - better as a female. If Aithusa is a girl, it brings hope that the dragons will return, eh? And I freely admit to making up some mythology about white dragons - it's my story, after all. Hope you enjoyed the first chapter, because I will be updating daily - thus, Chapter 2 will post tomorrow! And until then, of course, I would love to hear your comments!