Hi guys! Thanks for all those that have continued with this story. This will be the last chapter...I am leaving a somewhat open ending (ducks rotten fruit thrown) but as of now, have no concrete plans for a sequel. Hope you enjoy and as always, leave me a comment!
Chapter 19: Star Light, Star Bright
"And they lived happily (aside from a few normal disagreements, misunderstandings, pouts, silent treatments, and unexpected calamities) ever after."
― Jean Ferris, Twice Upon a Marigold
"You had better leave soon if you have any hope of being on time"
Harry jumped at the sound of Morgana's voice, sparing her a quick grin before refocusing on the stubborn weed that just did not seem to want to give up its spot. Annoying little thing.
"I still have plenty of time…." He denied though the weight of Morgana's reprimanding glare did not lesson (or better yet go away). If anything it seemed to grow with his attempt to reassure.
"Fine… I'm going to go wash right now and I'll be on the road within the hour…..happy?" he finally gave in with a sigh (not that he was all that shocked in his loss…when it came to the strong willed witch he was always losing these days).
"Good….the last message said that the old bastard had little time left. I know you'd rather not arrive before he is gone but you know that Arthur, despite what he insists, could use your support right now" Morgana stated.
And dammit, this was why he always lost…..she always seemed to know exactly what was going on in his head and used it against him.
It was true; while he loved any time he got with the Prince….he still would much rather spend it far away from Uther's poisonous reach. Of course the decrepit king had been steadily declining in health and sanity over the last year and (if word was right) had very little of either left…meaning that soon Harry wouldn't have to worry about the man at all. And yes, maybe he was procrastinating leaving to meet with Arthur because he'd rather not be there for Uther's final breaths (he'd much rather arrive after there were none left to be perfectly honest). But she was also right in saying that Arthur would want his support before-throughout and after the man's final days…..no matter what the tyrant had done, Uther still was his father.
"I'm going….you know that you could come with…." He offered, though he already knew her response.
"No. While you may have the ability to put past slights aside in order to give Arthur what he needs….I do not. It would be much better for all involved if I did not return to Camelot before Uther is good and truly gone" Morgana denied, much like Harry knew she would.
"Suit yourself" he shrugged before pushing himself up and dusting off his dirt encrusted hands. He sighed once more gazing over the lush garden that he had spent many an hour in since his hazardous escape from Camelot. No matter how much time had passed since the hasty escape and the trying months that followed, the memories of it were as clear as though it had taken place yesterday.
Darkness pressed down on him from all sides. Harry knew that this should concern him, he had never before been aware during his missing 'black periods,' and yet, somehow a part of his brain seemed to be aware that he was not in this space alone. There was another—and that other was slowly but surely pushing Harry's conscience further and further back into the overwhelming black.
Harry was having a hard time caring.
A small part of him (the survivor part—the part that forged ahead no matter what obstacle was presented, that persevered no matter the odds) was screaming at him to get up and fight. To not let this 'other' win. Whatever winning meant at this point…..Harry had the feeling that he wasn't the one doing it.
He was vaguely aware of the 'other' having a heated conversation with someone….someone familiar. Harry knew that voice…that face…he knew it intimately….who was it again? Why did Harry care?...he didn't…no, that wasn't right, he did. He did care for this person….
Arthur. It was Arthur that the other was speaking with.
A strong wave of betrayal and sadness threatened to overwhelm him, and for a moment, Harry wanted nothing more than to stop thinking and run further into the dark. It would be so easy….so painless…
He was teetering on the edge of doing just that when suddenly everything stopped.
His mind was wrenched forward—away from the dark, Arthur was there. Arthur was kissing him. He hadn't thought that he would ever experience that again, yet…..
He forced his weary focus to understand what was happening; Arthur was speaking again. What was he saying?
"I won't lose Henry, you have ten minutes…now go"
And then Arthur walked away….he walked away and left the cell door behind him open.
Harry didn't understand and he realized that neither did the other.
Arthur was letting him go? Why? Why would Arthur let him go…..why would he risk his own position….his father's wrath? Why….
And suddenly Harry knew. Maybe some small part of him always had….even now he wasn't sure he should—could, let himself know. What if he was wrong? What if he was being fooled again? What if…what if he was right?
He realized that even as he internally debated his new epiphany that his body was already responding. His feet didn't hesitate to leave the small cell, nor did they pause to duck out of the servants' courtyard exit when he passed it.
As he ran he felt the other fighting….denying….trying to convince him that he was making a mistake….and maybe he was. An hour ago he would have allowed the other to convince him that he was. But now…now that he saw Merlin's worried expression waiting for him in the shadows of the stable, a horse in hand, loaded up with a sack of supplies. Now that he had felt Arthur's lips against his once more, witnessed the remorse and the unspoken promise of a future from those same lips…..now…
….now he wasn't willing to listen.
The other had no place in this decision. And just like that the pain in his head tripled. Pounding and clawing at his brain as his body swung up on the saddle and rode swiftly through the densely thicketed forest away…..far away from Camelot.
The last thing he recalled from that night before the pain grew to be too much was Merlin pressing a folded note into his pocket, the words "it's from Arthur" falling from his mouth.
Then he was gone, cantering at a pace that would surely exhaust his poor horse within hour as Camelot grew smaller and smaller, until it was but a speck on the distant horizon.
When he finally came too he felt like a different person. No, that wasn't quite right….he felt like the same but completely different aspect of the person he was always meant to be. And ok, so now he was just confusing himself…simply put, when he awoke to find himself situated in a long abandoned cottage, wards erect and functioning, he knew something had changed.
To his shame….it took him several stressed filled hours of frantic self assessment to realize just what that change was.
The nagging, itching presence that had been hounding him since he first awoke in this strange new place was gone. For once, Harry was completely aware and alone in his own head. There was a simple clarity to his thoughts that he hadn't even been aware he was previously missing. He felt…good, whole….complete.
He felt like he could finally call himself Henry and truly understand what that meant. He was no longer Harry….he was no longer….Myror….
He was Henry Emry's. Convict, escapee, sorcerer and lover of the future king of Camelot.
It was freeing.
The monumental shift in self, not to mention, the weight of the past several days, made it so that Harry forgot to even look at Arthur's note until he was safely ensconced an abandoned cottage just bordering the edges of Camelot's boundaries—several days after having actually received the correspondence.
Reading the short but sincere words from the man he now could admit he loved, had only cemented this notion.
Arthur had written the letter as though he knew that it would be Harry that he'd be speaking with (despite Harry now knowing the prince had no way of actually knowing that…especially considering the last face to face interaction he had had with the other). And, had it come from anyone else, Harry would have thought the words trite and overly sentimental….coming from Arthur however—knowing the man like he did, and just how hard it was for Arthur to express himself and his emotions-he couldn't help but feel touched.
It would seem that Arthur's one small act of trust and love (that open cell door) was enough to erase the many small but hurtful stabs of mistrust and betrayal of before. Harry knew that it should not….but, well, there really was no way to reason with how one felt. It was never logical…it just was.
And truthfully Harry didn't want to keep fighting….to keep denying himself happiness out of fear of what might happen. For better or for worse; he loved that stupid dolt of a prince and he could only hope that Arthur's returned love was enough to see them through the rocky times ahead.
Only time would tell.
Two months after his hasty escape
-a, in no way, boring two months; despite him being basically isolated from the rest of civilization. The following excitement was largely due to the fact that Morgana had shown up one day out of the blue, satchel in hand. Apparently she was not quite as willing to continue with her magiclessness front as Merlin was, and had decided—upon learning that Henry had escaped with the help of her brother and his personal servant,—that she too wished to escape. The delay was mainly due to the fact that Merlin and Arthur (to a lesser extent) were wary about trusting her with Harry's new location…though eventually she had somehow proven herself…and had promptly made herself welcome in his quaint little home. Harry never did manage to pry just how she had regained Merlin's trust, out of her: some things where better left a mystery in his opinion.-
Harry had met face to face with Arthur for the first time since Arthur's confrontation with the other. There had been a mere second of wariness from the prince—one that was immediately disregarded once Arthur got a clear look into his clear green eyes—followed by a very long (and satisfying) evening of getting reacquainted.
They had continued to communicate since then—mainly through letters, though Arthur had managed to sneak away from Camelot a few times to meet face to face. It was through these interactions that Harry was kept fairly in the loop regarding the comings and goings of Camelot (Merlin had visited a time or two as well and often sent messily written notes along with Arthur's neater letters….though Harry had noticed that his brother seemed to have taken to sending far lengthier letters to Morgana…..curious….).
Arthur had told him of the massive upheaval that his escape—and later Morgana's running had caused within Camelot's court. It seemed as though Guinevere's own hand in what went down had come out….(though just what part she had played, was of course, skewed and completely misrepresented)…no matter how or what had actually happened, Harry couldn't help but feel a bit hurt by the girl's actions.
From what he and Arthur had reasoned, it would seem that Gwen had been in some way responsible for the other's appearance. A servant had come forth stating that she had seen Gwen talking with a man who looked suspiciously like the banished druid, Mordred, only hours prior to Harry's escape. That paired with the fact that she was the last one to bring him food….made it look a lot like she had helped him escape (at least in Uther's eyes)—though in Harry and Arthur's, it seemed far more likely that she had a hand in aiding Morgause's and Mordred's schemes (Especially after Morgana confirmed that Morgause's original plan had something to do with a potion and Harry's mental state).
They would likely never know what truly happened—especially since Gwen had pulled a disappearing act the day before all this came to light (Uther was still scouring the land for her—unsuccessfully). But they had agreed that it was a worry for another time.
They had much larger, more important matters to concern themselves with (and yes, those did marginally include the fact that not only had Gwen disappeared but so had Morgause and Mordred). But mainly they centered around their plans for when Arthur finally took the throne.
As days turned to weeks which turned to months it was obvious that this event was not quite as far in the future as they had once thought. Uther's mental status and health were declining at a scarily rapid pace (one that Harry could only guess was helped by the stressors of Morgana running, Harry's escape and the rising discontentment from his subjects).
For himself, Harry could not quite make up his mind if Arthur's coronation was too far or too close in the future. His feelings on the matter varied depending on the day. On one hand, he wanted Uther gone….but on the other, he was still uncertain that he wanted to take up the mantle that would no doubt be thrust on him once Arthur became King. It was a heavy responsibility to bear…..
One that he wished he could have more time in preparing for.
But it appeared that it would soon be upon him, prepared or not.
It was only knowing that this time—it would not fall on him solely; in fact, it would be rest much more on Arthur's shoulders with him only there to help lessen the load—that stopped him from running for the hills.
He could not do that to Arthur…..more importantly: he did not want to.
So steeling his shoulders Harry urged his mount into a fast canter…. There was no time to delay…
He had a prince—no King, to help….and better yet, a future to make.
He couldn't wait.
A Year later
The sound of tree branches being knocked against the filthy panes had become almost inconsequential to Mordred in its familiarity. Sadly the safe house that he had retreated to was not exactly located in the continent's most amiable weather sphere.
Not that this bothered him….he rather thought it apt that the gloomy, desolate weather reflected his own mood so well. He did not, after all, enjoy failing.
And failing is exactly what he had done. He really shouldn't have been so surprised by this turn of events….not really, his plan had been, he could admit, flimsy and farfetched at best. Looking back on things, he could see that it was really only ever going to fail. Still….it smarted.
But, no matter, Mordred was not a quitter. While yes, for now, he may have been forced to retreat and would likely need to regroup and re-strategize in the near future, he was not defeated. Not entirely, anyway. He had done the smart thing and gotten out while he still could. He had further tracked down Morgause and taken care of that loose end.
The witch would be a threat to him and his future no longer. It was better this way- like a sickly forest was better for having been set ablaze- he could pause for a moment and then come back stronger and more vicious then before. It had been needed.
He had been curious after Uther's death, just what direction his scion would take Camelot. And while not what he would have done, he could admit that Arthur had proven to be a far more adept ruler then his father ever was.
He was even man enough to admit that many of the new policies and strides taken towards integrating magic back into daily life (in a safe and healthy way of course—the sneer at this comes unbeckoned) were surprisingly successful. (He had his suspicions that the King's new consort, not to mention, his consort's brother in the role of newly appointed magical advisor, had a large hand in said success—curse them-).
But still…..no matter how accepting Camelot was turning out to be towards those of special talents, it was not enough. No….Mordred's goals had never been geared towards becoming merely accepted. He had never once wanted magic or magic users to become mundane or 'normal,' it was almost more of a slap in the face then having them be persecuted and villainized had been. Magic was might.
Magic was meant to rule….not be ruled.
And it would be…..someday….he just needed a bit of time was all….a bit of time and perhaps, a bit of help.
A quiet knock sounded at the door.
…speaking of which
He couldn't say he was surprised to see her standing there, back straight, jaw set and determined. He had had the feeling when he first heard of her disappearing act that he would see her again.
The set to her jaw drew tighter and the haggard lines spreading from her once warm eyes amplified.
"They almost found me, I had to run" she stated her voice hoarse with disuse, "I have nowhere else left to go."
The smirk he wore grew wider.
"You will always be welcome here my dear" he stated stepping back to allow her entrance. One that she hesitated a mere second or two before taking.
"Do make yourself at home….we really do have a lot to discuss"
Gwen's tired look morphed into one of pure malice as she moved to set the cloth bag containing what appeared to be a stone on the abused table top.
"I was hoping you'd say that"
Chapter title: from the children's song, Star light, Star bright.
Star light, star bright,
The first star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight
The superstition of hoping for wishes granted when seeing a shooting or falling star may date back to the ancient world. (wikipedia)
Muhahahahha…..yes I am evil….open ending (cackles) despite this, their likely will not be a sequel, and even if there is, it won't be for some time.
Thanks for reading I hope you enjoyed, to clarify a few points;
1)Harry and Myror finally merged into one because Arthur finally demonstrated that he truly loved Harry. He was willing to let Myror go—someone who had a grudge and wanted to kill him—simply on the off chance that Harry might be somewhere buried with in. This gave Harry's half the strength to fight once more and the love that was recognized by his actions was enough to finally cement the two polarized halves into one. Harry's half having been the more dominate side of the personality will have more of his personality traits apparent in their new person, but there will be a bit of both.
2)The stone that gwen has at the end may, or may not be, that stone Harry gave Merlin to help track him down all those moons ago. I'll leave it up to your lovely imaginations to decide just what that means.
3)I hope I tied up most strands of the story, likely there will be some I missed. I apologize for these but hope you enjoyed the story regardless. Thanks for sticking it out!