Chapter 13: Cauldron Of Arianrhod
There was a slight chill in the air when Anakin arrived to the Cauldron of Arianrhod with Padme. He laid her gently down on the stoned gravel. Arthur had gone off to go find Morgana and Merlin leaving him alone. However he wasn't alone for much long, as he heard footsteps hurrying down the path and he saw Merlin rushing towards him but no Arthur or Morgana. Fear clutched through his heart as he hoped they weren't dead. He quickly got to his feet as he saw Merlin approach
"Where are Morgana and Arthur?" he asks straight out looking back over the path hoping they would come running towards them as Merlin dropped the bags before him and attempted to catch his breath once more.
"Morgause" he breathes "She...she..." he attempts to get his words out "She attacked us. Morgana was knocked out and I had to leave her behind" he pointed out seeing his friend's eyes widen
"Merlin, you idiot!" he cries "You left Morgana in the hands of a witch!" he angrily cries starting to move past him "You stay with Padme. I have to go help them!" he insists as Merlin holds him back
"No! Arthur's already gone back to help her. You need to stay here with Padme!" he exclaims. Anakin sighs for a moment, looking down at his sleeping wife and then back at his friend. He knew Arthur was strong but Morgause was still powerful but then again so was Morgana. He had seen her gone up against Palpatine with his own eyes so perhaps she could handle Morgause.
Anakin runs a hand through his hair, sighing. He may be still worried for his family but perhaps with Merlin here, they could find this sorceress. He looks around once more as Merlin speaks up looking over at the Cauldron of Arianrhod.
"It is as Gaius describes" he points out "The Cauldron of Arianrhod" he confirms. Anakin has now moved Padme closer to the water as he looks over at his friend
"Where is this sorceress?" he asks him as Merlin turns back to him
"Gaius says she is a recluse" he replies "She shuns the company of men" he explains as Anakin then speaks once more
"She's going to have to make an exception" he insists looking down at his wife "We haven't much time" he reminds him "Padme could wake at any moment" he warns him as Merlin, looking around for a decent spot to change then attempts to re assure him
"We've got more tincture" he starts to say before Anakin cuts him off
"No" he is quick to say "No more, I won't risk it" he tells him looking around "We have to find her" he insists as Merlin bends down to pick up his bag
"I'll search her out" he insists. He starts to move away however doesn't realise that the black dress has now fallen out of the bag and onto the ground. Anakin curiously wonders why his friend is carrying clothing. Merlin silent as he fumbles for an answer, quickly then starts to re pack the dress into the bag
"You didn't think this was going to be free, did you?" he simply asks as Anakin, confused even more then replies
"What are you talking about?" he asks him seeing Merlin look around them once more
"The sorceress..." he begins to reply "she likes to be paid in clothes" he lies turning back to his confused friend, he then goes on "She can't get to a tailor" he points out as Anakin then points out
"Why would a recluse be interested in clothes?" he asks him seeing Merlin sling the bag over his shoulder
"I don't know Anakin" he sighs "She's a sorceress. She's not going to be normal, is she?" he asks him. Merlin the turns on his heel and moves off leaving his friend standing there, still confused before he turns back to Padme.
Merlin hurried over the small rocky, grassy hillside, providing him with decent cover to change his appearance and Anakin wouldn't suspect that he was the sorcerer. He placed the bag down on the ground and began to empty out his equipment. He gives the black dress a shake before he then takes off his jacket. He could not believe he was about to do this but it was for his friends.
He then starts to wrap the dress around his waist, however he felt like something wasn't right. Suddenly he thought to how Gwen helped Padme and Morgana into their dresses and they were more elegant than this black dress, still he had to make it convincing and he would get this right.
Awaiting Merlin's return or hoping to see Arthur and Morgana again, Anakin sat beside his sleeping wife, just watching her, so peaceful. It was a shame that she had been in league with Morgause to destroy the kingdom and his family. It was still hard to believe.
"Not long now, my love" he tells her just at the moment he heard sudden hurried footsteps and looks up to see Arthur and Morgana hurrying towards him. A relieved smile crossed his face as he sees them running towards him.
Anakin, happy to see them both, gets to his feet. "Morgana!" he cries happily embracing her "I thought we'd lost you" he tells her looking over at his brother "Good thinking going back for her brother" he tells him seeing Arthur grasp his brother's arm
"You would have done the same thing and besides Morgana's come after us" he points out as Anakin then asks her
"How did you escape Morgause?" seeing go quiet as Arthur grins over at her seeing Morgana straighten up
"Even she is no match for the first Lady of Camelot" she smirks proudly as Arthur then added
"Well, she almost nearly could have killed her but Morgana showed her how powerful she was" he added referring to her magic. Anakin embraced her once more
"So you used your magic again?" he asks her with a smirk. Morgana didn't respond but then again she didn't have to, he accepted her for who she was and was part of his family even if publicly he shamed magic. However, before any of them could say another word, Anakin, Morgana and Arthur all turned hearing the sound of footsteps slowly emerging from the hillside a short distance away, then they all saw an elderly woman, hunched over and in a long black dress that looked like it had seen better days.
She straightens up as they wonder is she the sorceress they had been led to, the one Gaius had suggested could help them. Anakin leaned in closer towards Morgana and Arthur
"Now it makes sense" he tells them in a low whisper seeing her adjust her dress and arch her back. What they didn't know was that she was really Merlin! Morgana and Arthur look over at Anakin as he goes on "Merlin said she had trouble getting clothes" he explains before they hear her speak
"Who are you?" she asks in a high pitched voice. Merlin was attempting to disguise his voice so that he couldn't slip up and reveal himself. "What business have you in this sacred place?" he asks as Anakin answers him
"Are you the Dolma?" he asks "Ancient Sorceress of the Cauldron of Arianrhod?" he tells her as they all see her hold out her arms as if to say that is correct, here I am
"Who else would I be?" she asks. It was then that Arthur leans in to Morgana and Anakin, there was something about this woman that made him think that they may have met before
"Does she look familiar to you?" he asks them as Anakin and Morgana turn back to the Dolma, staring back at her. There was something in her eyes as Morgana tilts her head
"There is...something" she confesses as they saw the Dolma call out once more
"What say you?" she asks "Why do you mutter?" adds as Anakin then replies
"You look familiar sorceress" he tells her seeing her look flattered, placing one hand on her hair, giving a playful smile
"Oh!" she gasps with a giggle "Is that so?" she asks as Arthur nods
"It is" he replies as Morgana then realises that Merlin is missing
"Anakin, where is Merlin?" she asks seeing both Anakin and Arthur exchange glances with each other, their eyes widening and then straight back at the Dolma
"What have you done with our servant!?" Anakin demanded reaching for his sword at the same time Arthur reaches for his as the Dolma, Merlin, thinks of a response
"Oh" she starts to reply "The gangly boy?" she asks them "Hmm..." she gushes as Anakin and Arthur slowly step towards her, ready to strike, fearing she had done something to their friend but she was quick to stop them in their place
"If you kill me, you'll never see him again" she warns them. They stop but stare at her hearing her go on "I am an old woman" she tells them "Is it not natural I seek some surety?" she asks before she then goes on "The boy will be returned to you, if and when we have concluded our business" she assures them as Morgana silently watches the Dolma. Why did she have the strangest feeling that Merlin was the Dolma? as she hears Arthur speak up
"You know why we are here?" he asks as the Dolma nods
"Nothing is hidden from the Dolma!" she exclaims before she snaps "Now hurry!" she cries "Before your Queen awakes" she tells them "Set her by the pool" she instructs as Anakin looks across at his brother who puts his sword away
"We don't have a choice" he replies as Anakin puts his sword away and goes back to where Padme still slept and carried her to the edge of the water. He steps back as he watches the Dolma kneel down before his wife.
"Great King" she begins to speak "The magic in which that ensnared your queen is strong indeed" she explains "It can be fought, it can be broken but it can also be prevailed. Do you understand this?" she asks as Morgana and Arthur look to Anakin. They could see the seriousness on his face but also hiding the pain of what was happening
"I do" Anakin replies as Merlin goes on
"What we attempt will not be easy, if we fail, your Queen will lost forever" he explains as Anakin swallows the lump in his throat
"I understand" he only replies as Merlin looks back down at Padme
"Very well" she says "When I awake Padme from her deep sleep, she must walk into the Cauldron of Arianrhod of her own will" she explains "Only then will the spell be broken" she insists "But be warned, all the magic that binds her will try to fight against it" she cautions as Arthur steps up
"How then can we succeed?" he asks as Merlin looks to Anakin,
"Anakin must reach her" he concludes getting to his feet and moves around Padme going on "Reach that part of his Queen which is untouched by the evil Morgause" she points out as Anakin lowers his head
"Is there such a part?" he asks, he may secretly believe in magic but that didn't mean he trusted it completely when it came to those using it for evil. The Dolma continues on
"You must believe, there is" she only replies kneeling down to Padme "Prepare" she repeats as Morgana and Arthur watch Anakin moving closer to the Dolma and Padme. "Once she wakes, you have by a few moments" she reminds him. She is silent for a moment before she then begins to chant.
"Gieldc ic thec thissa meowlessawole Gyden aeblaece" her eyes flash gold as she finishes and gets back up to her feet, stepping away. There is silence as they wait for Padme to awaken. Anakin then kneels down to his wife watching her before she then slowly opens her eyes. She tries to wonder where she is, feeling the cold air against her skin, the water and rocky surroundings. She then starts to panic and wonder where they are
"Where am I?" she asks trying to get up to her feet "What have you done to me?" she cries out pulling herself into a sitting position
"You've been asleep for a long time" he tries to explain as she then scrambles to get to her feet
"Get away from me!" she cries out. Arthur and Morgana move away towards the water out of the way. They wanted to help but knew that only Anakin can do this. They see him move after her, grabbing hold of her arms
"My Padme..." he starts to say attempting to hold her still as Padme fights his grip
"Your Padme!?" she exclaims in shock "You stupid foolish man!" she scoffs "I was never yours and never will be yours" she snapped. Arthur felt Morgana grip his arm as he heard her becoming teary eyed. He wrapped an arm around her. It was so hard to hear Padme talking like this. Just what exactly did Morgause do to her to get like this? They then hear the Dolma speak up
"You must reach her Anakin" she persists "Reach out or all is lost" she reminds him as Padme looks across at the Dolma, confused at who this woman was
"Who's this old crone!?" she scoffs struggling in Anakin's grip even harder as he forces her to look at him
"You loved me once" he tries to tell her as Padme shakes her head
"You're easily fooled Anakin!" she only replies as Anakin ignores her words
"And still do" he points out. This was true. She may be right now under Morgause's spell but she was still his wife and perhaps like the Dolma said, the Padme he loved was deep in there. He felt Padme continue to fight him
"It was all a trick" she tells him "A subterfuge that would see Camelot destroyed once and for all!" she exclaims as Anakin shook his head.
"I don't believe that" he replies starting to pull her back to the water seeing her scoff
"You can believe what you like. The fact remains" she taunts fighting him as he continues back towards the water before the Dolma calls out to him
"No!" she cries "It must be of her own will" she reminds him. Anakin then stops, looking back at the Dolma then across at Morgana and Arthur. Morgana's eyes are in tears as Arthur is stunned, afraid to do or say anything. It was then Anakin knew what he could say to reach her. He tightens his grip on Padme's arms pulling her closer
"Look at me" he simply tells her "Tell me you don't love me" he goes on as she struggles
"Let me go!" she exclaims as he hears the Dolma speak up
"Anakin!" she warns wondering what he was doing as Anakin keeps her still
"Do you remember when I asked you to marry me?" he asks "Do you remember what you said?" he asks seeing her try once more to fight him as he goes on "You said with all my heart, that's what you said Padme" he tells her "There was no subterfuge, no trickery" he assures her "With all my heart" he repeats.
Morgana, Arthur and the Dolma watch as Anakin releases his grip on Padme who has stopped fighting him and is silent. It was like something inside remembered those four little words. Anakin steps past them and towards the water
"With all my heart" he calls to her and it was then, in that moment that Anakin had done it-he had found the part of Padme that was untouched
"With all my heart" she softly replies. Anakin then holds out his hand to her backing into the water
"Come" he only replies as Arthur and Morgana watch in silence upon seeing Padme walk towards the water, into the water placing her hand into his. He helps her move further into the water, releasing her hand watching her walk further into the water as the Dolma begins the second spell
"Yfel gaest ga thu fram thisselichaman bith hire mod eft freo" she begins as Padme, appearing in a daze continues into the water as the Dolma continues "Ar ond heofonutungo sceal thurhswithan!" she cries, eyes flashing golden yellow once more as she, Anakin, Morgana and Arthur all watch as a white light appears around Padme, as if it was cleansing her from the evil magic within her and then as if a huge weight had been lifted from her, Padme felt reborn and minutes later, the white light was gone. She was nearly fully in the water, her dress soaked as she turns back to them.
Anakin cautiously watches her as she then smiles back at him, the smile he remembered from their first meeting. She held out her hand to him making him grin and make his way through the water towards her where they then warmly and lovingly embraced. Anakin holds onto her, not wanting to let her go. He was cautious about this whole plan but feeling his wife nuzzling into him, he was happy.
Merlin watches on smiling. Even he couldn't believe that he had summoned the strength and his magic and had done it. He smiles as they continue to watch Padme and Anakin embrace right there in the water as Morgana looks up at Arthur, a smile through her tears.
"He did it" she whispers hugging him happily as Arthur smiles hugging her back
"Yes. We did it" he simply replied and they sure had. They were a family and together as a family, they saved Padme from losing her will and forcing her to destroy the kingdom and their family.
After their emotional, romantic reunion in the water, Anakin and Padme moved out of the water back towards Arthur and Morgana. They were preparing to leave as Anakin stood with his arm around Padme. She leaned against him looking back over at the Dolma. Her arms folded across her chest, smiling at them. Merlin was pleased to have his friends back happy.
"I owe you a great debt" Anakin tells her, "We both do" he adds smiling down at Padme hearing him go on "If there's anything I can do in return" he says "Perhaps a new dress?" he suggests. This took Padme by surprise.
"Anakin!" she cries in disbelief before Anakin is quick to reassure her
"She likes clothes" he explains. Merlin looks down at the black dress he was wearing when he realises that this could be a chance where he could point out to Anakin once again that not all magic is evil.
"There is one thing" he speaks in his high voice as Anakin simply nods
"Name it" he replies as Merlin clears his throat before answering him
"Remember what saved your queen" she reminds him "Magic and Sorcery" she adds as Anakin is then quick to add
"It was also sorcery that bewitched her" Padme felt Anakin's protective grip tighten on her. Anakin may privately believe that not all magic was evil but he still was King and had to continue his father's law right at the moment Arthur and Morgana look on, having moved back over towards them hearing the Dolma then point out
"There is no evil in sorcery, only in the hearts of men" she pauses before going on "My request is that you remember this" she only replies as Anakin is quiet before he then surprisingly nods
"You have my word" he promises her. The Dolma then nods seeing Anakin and Padme start to turn towards Arthur and Morgana not seeing the Dolma place her hands on her hips. Surely they weren't going to leave without Merlin!
"Are you forgetting something!" she calls out, slightly annoyed. Morgana, Padme, Anakin and Arthur turn back around. Morgana realises who she is talking about but she smirks at seeing Anakin and Arthur acting oblivious. Arthur shakes his head
"Don't think so" he confesses as the Dolma sighs, rolling her eyes
"The boy?" she reminds them as Anakin looks around, sighing
"Ah, ah of course" he mutters "I thought everything has gone unusually smoothly" he admits as the Dolma then reminds him
"That boy was your surety, Great King!" she tells him "Without him, your queen will still be lost" she points out as Arthur moves up alongside his brother
"I'm not sure that's quite true" Arthur tells her knowing that they would have figured something out as the Dolma snaps
"And I say it is!" she cries "You owe him a greater debt that you can possibly know!" she exclaims approaching him. Arthur looks across at his brother who thinks for a moment before he speaks
"Right" he starts "Uh, I'm sorry" he replies "I'll..." he pauses before he has a thought "Give him the afternoon off" he concludes. The Dolma, Merlin, lets a sigh of disbelief-he disguised himself as a woman, stopped them from being burned from a dragon, fallen down a cliff and saved Padme from Morgause's spell all for an afternoon off! He then looks back up at Anakin,
"One day" he replies "Great King, you will recognise the true worth of those who surround you" she only cautions him. Anakin is unable to respond, pulling back from her slightly as the Dolma sighs,
"Go!" she simply tells them waving her hand before him and turns back. The Dolma watches Anakin, Arthur, Morgana and Padme move away. Slowly she steps to step back towards the spot where she had emerged from. Unexpectedly, all four turn back to look at her causing her to remain still giving a small smile and wave. Anakin gives her a return wave before they continue to move back up the track giving her, Merlin, a chance to hurry back and change back and catch up with his friends before they had left him behind completely.
Now back out of his disguise, Merlin had caught up with his friends and together the five friends had made it back to their horses and were heading home. Padme sat behind Anakin, her arms around his waist as Arthur rode up alongside them leaving Morgana and Merlin to ride alongside each side.
She didn't dare want to say anything to Anakin or Arthur but she had a strong feeling that Merlin was really responsible for what happened at the Cauldron of Arianrhod, not the Dolma. He had stopped the dragon attacking them and with his magic, killed Palpatine all those years ago.
As they all saw Camelot in their sights, Morgana smiled before she spoke "Anakin's a lucky man" she observes as Merlin simply nods
"Yes" he replies before he hears Morgana laugh
"Not just to have Padme, Arthur and I" she corrects him looking across at him "But to have you" as Merlin playfully teases back
"He'd find someone else to do his and Arthur's chores soon enough" he replies as Morgana shook her head
"It was hardly a chore" she tells him glancing over at him "That was your magic back there, wasn't it?" she asks him seeing her friend remain silent as Morgana smirks "Have no fear" she assures him "They already know you have magic Merlin" she reminds him "But I will not divulge your secret this time" she promises "I admire you" she confesses looking over at Anakin, Arthur and Morgana before going on "It can't be easy to do so much for so little reward. They may have secretly accepted your magic but pretending to just be a servant isn't easy" she concludes
Merlin shakes his head "I do not seek reward" he assures him. This was true. Any time Merlin used his magic was purely to keep his friends alive and happy as Morgana then asks
"Recognition then?" she asks as Merlin simply then replies
"Our friends are safe and well" he says "That is all I require" he insists seeing her smile
"You see Merlin, we do have something in common" she reminds him nodding at their friends "The future of Camelot" she admits sharing a warm smile between each other. Merlin is silence as they continue to ride behind Anakin, Padme and Arthur. Merlin sought comfort in Morgana's kind words and truthfully, having her by his side and with his vision for a strong, safe kingdom, perhaps one day magic will return and they can publicly be free to be themselves for all to see.