This is a Fate/Grand Order cross...and before you complain, recent additions to the franchise HAVE turned Merlin into a woman. Just wait until you find out who the father is. Though if you've already beaten the game, then at least you won't be shocked when it comes out later. Have fun and Happy Thanksgiving!
Under any other circumstance, James would have been highly suspicious of the woman before him.
However one look at her visage, and he had almost thrown himself on the ground in worship, and not because she was some great beauty.
How could he possibly deny her? Particularly when she was carrying a babe in her arms.
Besides, he and Lily had been trying for months without much luck to have a child.
With that done, the woman disappeared into the night, leaving only the infant in James' arms.
A private blood adoption to give the child the Potter/Black family magics, and no one needed to know that she wasn't their actual blood child. The biggest headache, however, was naming them.
The child had apparently inherited the metamorphamagi bloodline in spades. Ever since the adoption, they simply refused to stay one gender or another. On the plus side, the child was definitely magical.
Finally they settled on one.
Aiden Florian Potter. Aiden, for the child seemed to heavily favor Lily's red hair when they transformed into a little girl, and Florian, due to her origins.
There was no way the child was unrelated to the one who left her with the Potters. Their hair had been too pale and their eyes had been the same crimson color of the woman holding them. It would also serve as a reminder of the one who left them with the Potters.
With that settled, James happily spread the word of their new son, as the child had finally settled on a gender. At least outwardly anyway. They would have to teach them to hide any open changes before puberty hit, just to be safe.
Thanks to the ritual, they at least had a general idea of their birth date. July thirty-first.
Because they could not risk the danger of her origins being revealed, only those involved in the ritual of adoption knew of her likely parentage.
Sirius had even added the extra protection of a fidelius charm around the secret when he was added as the child's magical godfather.
For a time, little Aiden was loved by his new parents and spoiled rotten by his godfather.
That is, until Halloween.
Crimson eyes looked rather displeased. If not for the spells of protection she had cast upon the child, she never would have known of their condition or the attempt on their life.
It was bad enough there was some blasted prophecy that had been tied to her child. It was downright irritating that the paltry wizard had chosen her blood as the one to be the subject of it!
The small Beast normally liked to antagonize his master. Not this night. Not when the little Master had come so close to being killed by a lesser magic.
"What am I supposed to do? I have no idea how to be a mother!" she said to herself. A simple cantrip kept the world around her asleep. No one would see her.
Fou jumped down onto the ground and pawed at the little Master.
"You want me to take him in?" she said incredulous.
She sighed. She was not fit to be a mother. However...she had observed the people inside this home and knew for a fact they would not properly nourish her child to his full potential.
Then she had an idea. There was one other Being that she knew of that had trained a figure into a heroic spirit. One who had transcended humanity long ago.
The figure smiled. Perhaps the other would be amendable to an agreement? If she kept the child in that tower, it would never age or fulfill their full potential. She...was not good with children. Once they were older she would step in, but until then this child needed a true Home.
She picked the little one up and...satisfied his Master was not planning to leave the child at the mercy of this place...Fou jumped back onto her shoulder.
"You wish for me to raise and train this child?" said woman.
"The couple I picked originally were killed off, and the child became a subject of a rather weak prophecy. I refuse to leave them at the mercy of those who hate magic and would seek to quash their full potential rather than nurture it. Besides, some idiot left them on a doorstep with only a thin blanket at the beginning of November, without even bothering to ask the couple within if they would wish to raise the toddler in question."
The clouds parted, revealing a rather stunning figure of a woman with deep red hair that was rather long. Her figure was regal and she held herself like a queen of old. She also held a rather imposing spear of crimson, and it gave off an aura of death.
"What's your game, Merlin?" demanded the woman. Her name was Scáthach, the Queen of Shadows.
"I cannot handle children," said Merlin flatly. "There's a reason I asked that couple to take them in, rather than keep the babe myself. I can train them well enough once they're past puberty, but I am terrible with them before that point."
Scáthach gave her a flat look.
"I can feel your mark on the child. It is too strong for a simple apprenticeship bond," said Scáthach.
"...They are of my blood kin," said Merlin uncomfortably.
"What of the parasite in the infant's soul?"
"What?" said Merlin. She scanned her child and was rightly appalled to see that shred of disgusting magic attempting to latch on to their own.
With a thought and a little bit of her own magic, the parasite was immediately purged. The scar which had been inflamed began to heal over. However something remained.
She would have to investigate what it was and whether it was worth the time to remove it. The blood magic she left alone...it was clear that it had only enhanced her child's potential and was done out of love, not malice that that parasite was.
Scáthach looked at Merlin curiously. Merlin's past failure with Arturia...or "Arthur"...could be forgiven. They had set the child up with the best possible chance at success. It was hardly the Magus' fault that destiny had doomed that kingdom to failure due to Arthur's insistence upon an image of what a King should be. That child had a misguided idea of what a knight, let alone a king should be to their people.
That the Magus acknowledged that she would be a terrible mother and had set her own child up with a loving family actually spoke well of her. She could not handle children. She acknowledged this and did her best to insure her own blood would be loved and raised properly.
Scáthach looked at the babe with interest. Their potential was great indeed, made more so with the blood adoption ritual she could sense on them. That they had no defined gender was not her problem...as the Queen of Shadows she was well versed with such beings, particularly since she lived in the epicenter of the legends.
"I will take the child into my care," said Scáthach.
"Thank you," said Merlin with relief.
"When the child is ready, I will tell them the full story of their origins."
The babe deserved that much at least.
If Merlin had not left the babe with their biological father, it was likely they were gone or as equally indisposed as she was.
The Queen of Shadows had to smile at the tired grin the toddler gave her. It had been a long time since she held a babe in her arms.
"What is their name?"
Merlin had an amused look on her face.
"Aiden Florian Potter, from what I was able to ascertain. Fou will check in on them from time to time...he is rather fond of the infant."
Aiden was an acceptable name.
There was a Grim staring far too intently at the young Lordling. Aiden was a happy child, and while Scáthach did not coddle them she did spoil them with affection.
Aiden took one look at the creature and broke out into a delighted smile.
The dog barked with delight, and immediately slobbered on the seven-year-old. Aiden laughed happily, hugging the false hound without hesitation.
"I do not care how the child acts around you. Reveal your true form now, wizard, so that I might have the measure of you myself," said Scáthach.
The dog gave them one last unhappy lick, before turning into a rather wretched figure.
This was a wizard who had seen better days and had gone through hell. He had enough fire in him to track down the child, yes, but whether he would survive her was another question.
Then she felt the obvious bond the man had with Aiden, and realized who she was dealing with.
"You are the godfather."
"I am," agreed Black.
"Give me one reason why I should allow you to stay and help nurture the child."
Sirius seemed to contemplate her for a moment, before settling on an answer she would accept.
"I named the child my heir, and while I have no doubt that you would teach him how to behave like a proper Lord, the fact is that you are not familiar with the power struggles of the wizards. I merely wish to fulfill my duty as godfather and insure Aiden receives their full inheritance, even if they are not of my blood by birth."
"And why should I care about the power struggles of the wizards?" she asked calmly. His words rang with truth, and she could tell that the bond he held as the child's godfather was the only thing keeping him sane at the moment.
"Dumbledore. While he knows Aiden is alive, he is also very persistent. If Aiden does not show up at the school or in magical Britain once he is of age to begin formal magical training, he will not hesitate to use any number of methods to retrieve him," said Sirius. "There is also the fact he has a phoenix bonded to him as a familiar, and any number of house elves."
Scáthach frowned. A phoenix could prove troublesome, and the needless death of the elves would prove a headache if the Fae courts ever learned of it. Just because they would not blame her for their deaths did not mean they would forget why it happened. As weak as they were, house elves were still part of the Faerie courts and appearances had to be kept.
"What is your plan then?"
Sirius had a mischievous glint she could appreciate.
"I want to help raise and train Aiden so that when he arrives in Hogwarts, they won't know what hit them. If he accidentally ousts the old fool, the better."
"Make no mistake, wizard. If you wish to stay and help train the child I have no objections. However I will be putting you through similar training. I do not tolerate layabouts."
"I understand, oh Queen of Shadows," said Sirius solemnly. He would do anything to stay with his godchild.
Sirius didn't know the almost literally hell he had agreed to go through. He would learn soon enough.
Aiden was laughing happily, as they cuddled with Fou. The odd Beast had attached itself to them a long time ago, but had a habit of wandering the worlds. It always came back though.
Feeling Fou's pat on the cheek was always amusing. Hard to believe this small creature was on the same level as the infamous "Primate Murder" aunt Scáthach told them about.
They had recently turned eleven, and Scáthach had something big planned for them.
She was going to introduce them to their actual mother, not the woman who had adopted them and had given her life to protect them.
Regardless of what people might think, Lily had truly loved her child and hadn't hesitated to shield them from the half-assed wizard who tried to kill them.
Sirius still complained of headaches due to the fact that Aiden refused to stay one gender or another. Scáthach laughed at his misery, before introducing him to one of the few Fae she knew who was the same.
Aiden had loved those lessons, because it had solved a great number of mysteries they had about their gender. Namely that there was absolutely nothing wrong with them for not preferring one over the other, and that if the mundane fools had a problem with it then it was their fault not Aiden's.
That being said they had a preference to gender neutral clothing and had learned to tolerate being referred to by one gender or another.
Aiden knew their mother was very important, especially from the tone Sirius got whenever aunt Scáthach spoke about her. She always rolled her eyes at this, but never spoke about why Sirius seemed to revere their mother so.
Aunt Scáthach had said that their mother loved humanity as a whole, but had great difficulty showing affection to individual people. It was why she had wisely decided to leave her child in the care of someone she knew could be trusted to raise them properly and with love, as she would be unable to give the needed affection to a growing child.
At least they had Fou. Scáthach had told him about familiars, and since they were blood related the bond had easily jumped from their mother to them. It didn't hurt that Fou liked them so much.
If Fou had not chosen Aiden, then their aunt would have made sure they had a proper familiar before they attended the rather lackluster schooling for wizards.
They sensed more than saw their mother approach. They had to stifle a laugh when Fou tackled her with annoyance.
"Fou!" the beast scolded.
"Good to see you too Fou," said his mother, mostly amused.
Aiden could see their mother in them. It was clear they had picked up more of her features than their mystery father.
"Hello Aiden. My name is Merlin."
"Hello, mother," said Aiden, hugging her. The awkward way she patted them on the head said volumes. However once that awkwardness passed, she was rather friendly enough.
In order to insure Aiden kept their inheritance through their adopted parents, they would have to suffer through five years of what their mother and aunt deemed "third-rate" magical training at Hogwarts.
Their uncle Sirius might have objected, but even he could admit that the training under Scáthach had given him better understanding over magic than he had ever gotten at Hogwarts.
It didn't help that the school didn't have nearly enough teachers and taught students in groups. The pace would follow the slowest child, and due to the inbreeding and increasing laziness of the purebloods, that meant they would have greater trouble understanding the lessons.
Quite a few children graduated with a half-assed understanding of their magical abilities and were content to follow in their parent's footsteps without bothering to improve themselves in the least so long as they did their duty to the family and produced a child of acceptable magical power.
Sirius reluctantly admit that he himself had been rather lazy towards his lessons, outside of planning up new and oftentimes rather unpleasant pranks towards Slytherins.
It was a rather enjoyable day, made even better when the letter appeared.
Sadly Sirius could not take Aiden to Diagon, as he was considered dead to the magicals. If they realized otherwise, they would not hesitate to send Dementors after him, as he had escaped false imprisonment in their worst prison despite never having been convicted of anything in the first place.
Their mother was out as well...if Sirius had recognized her at a glance, there was no doubt Aiden would have to deal with unreasonable expectations if the wizards knew of their heritage. Especially by their so-called government and the fool known as Dumbledore.
As such Scáthach would be taking Aiden to Diagon. While the odds of her being recognized were fairly high, it would also play into the story that Dumbledore had insured that the famous "boy who lived" was trained properly.
Scáthach did not take apprentices lightly. Aiden was already well versed in how her apprentices should behave in public, as such she was the safest option.