Extracts from current Works in Progress
DUST BOUND – snippet 1
The blue light was hard to see through but after a moment the binocs compensated for the glare and the faeries came into view. As usual they made her stomach clench in a flipflop sensation that she deeply resented. They were hovering just above the ground outside the eastern wing of the compound, shimmering in and out of focus and switching shapes as they did so. She didn’t know if others saw them the same way she did; Addie preferred to not talk about them unless she had to. Her heart skipped a beat as she saw some idiot with a crossbow, only to settle again when she saw Ryder Hendrix’s shoulder edge in front of the trigger-happy rookie. The faeries didn’t usually turn violent unless crossed or attacked. Usually. The thought crossed her mind that although Ryder was a smug bastard, he could read crowds as well as she could. It looked like this was another Taking, earlier than scheduled but no cause for great alarm.
Addie lowered the glasses. She had no wish to see whose children they would take and instead rolled onto her back with her eyes closed. The dust felt almost like rain. It had rained on that day 17 years ago. Her eyes flew open and she shoved herself to her feet. It would be safe to head back now, they almost never attacked before a Testing, and with the Taking brought forward the Testing would be coming round again all too soon.
The old tales were right, she reflected as she jumped from the hood of a submerged car onto a fallen column that harked back to Roman times but was probably from an old bank. The faeries do steal children and when they return them they are never the same.
DUST BOUND – snippet 2
The wide path to the outside gate was lined with the community. They didn’t say anything; some didn’t even meet her eyes. She saw Doc smile and put both hands over her heart. The gate was closed but it was drawn open as she neared. She stopped when Ryder walked out into the middle of the path. She eyed his pack, long coat and the goggles that sat atop his wound scarf. He had a rifle strapped to his hip and a knife on the other leg. Nope. Not happening.
“And what, oh great and glorious leader, you do you think you’re doing?”
“Coming with you. Not very smart today are you?”
“I don’t need you to protect me.”
“What makes you think I’m doing this for you?”
Heat sparked on her cheekbones. “Fair enough. But you know me Ryder, you know how I travel. Think you can keep up?”
He quirked his eyebrow and his lips curled. “If I can’t, will you leave me behind?”
“Don’t be stupid. But don’t hold me back either.”
He stepped aside and bowed her forward. After a moment she shook her head once and hoisted her pack tighter on her back before walking past him and out the gate. He fell into step beside her, adjusting his longer strides to hers, and she squashed the flickering thought that it was nice to not be going out there alone. Alone with Ryder was probably worse than alone by herself. She flicked her eyes up at his square jaw and hazel eyes, noticing despite herself the way the weak morning sun still lit up the copper in his hair. Yes. Worse and, in some ways, more dangerous.
DUST BOUND – snippet 3
They ran down the hill, leaping over the ruins of buildings and dodging round the carcasses of cars. Dust continued to fall and the baying of the hounds drew closer. Pye fell behind and she dropped back and grabbed his arm. “Run. You have to run Pye. The hounds won’t stop.” Hauling him alongside her she followed Ryder as he ran down what must have been a main street. The grey heaviness deadened most sounds but from their left she heard a deep baying and glancing over she saw large black shapes running sleekly alongside. A baying came from their right and she didn’t bother looking.
She pulled down the scarf so her voice wouldn’t be muffled. “Ryder! they’re herding us. We need to sidetrack, now”
He didn’t acknowledge by so much as a nod but he immediately veered off on an angle towards a broken and shattered building. She dragged Pye along their new path, legs eating up the dust and heart pounding in her heaving chest.
The hounds veered too, but without warning Ryder swung round the other way, leaping over a fallen telephone kiosk that blocked what was left of an alley way in between fallen buildings, his hand sliding in the dust that coated it. She pushed Pye ahead of her and cursed inwardly as he scrambled awkwardly over the obstacle. Once he was safely over she hoisted herself up with her arms and swung her legs over. Ryder better know what he was doing.
She found him at the other end of the alley way, waiting for them, one hand gripping a metal fire escape.
“Are you mad?” she hissed “there’s no way that metal isn’t corroded”
“Only one way to find out. You know as well as I do that if we stay on the ground we don’t stand a chance against those things. Now climb, I’ll send the boy after you.”
She considered telling him she should be the one to stay until last but the Hounds’ cry echoed through the dust and she gripped the metal with both hands and began to climb. She was the lightest anyway – if it didn’t hold her it wouldn’t hold them.
The dust had had years to coat the metal and she felt her grip slip more than once. She tried not to rush too much but once Pye started clambering up behind her she began to move more quickly, so as to avoid him pushing at her feet. His fear was almost tangible. She spared a glance down and saw Ryder waiting at the bottom. What the hell was he doing? Her gut clenched. Stupid noble idiot. He was waiting to make sure they got up in case his extra weight tipped the balance and the metal broke. She climbed faster.
Her arms were burning by the time she reached the top of the building and she hauled herself over with shaking limbs. Pye fell down beside her and she leaned over to watch as Ryder began racing up the ladder. The man certainly had strength. The hounds call rang out and she let her chin fall on her arm as it rested on the ledge of the building. They were high, certainly, and the hounds (as far as she knew) couldn’t climb, but they were effectively cornered. And the hounds had masters.
REDEMPTION – snippet one.
Anton drew a breath. “Two of them are elves. Tiernan Allerman and his sister, Alaea. I do not know where they would be.” The tea sloshed over the side as his hand trembled and he grimaced at the burn. “I was hoping you might know of someone who has heard of where they have gone.”
Malcolm regarded him out of steady blue eyes. “Do you think they will want to see you?” he asked.
Anton’s stomach clenched. It was nothing he had not asked himself. “I don’t know. I think probably not. But I need to know if they are safe. There would have been others with them I think, Daegal Redbury and Marius Knightson, and possibly Reinaldo Olsen if he was still in town. I am not seeking their forgiveness – I do not yet deserve it, but I would offer them my aid if they will have it.”
Quiet filled the small room as the old man kept his eyes firmly on Anton’s face, his hand stroking his beard. The scent of the tea should have been calming but was making Anton feel a bit sick. At least, he thought it was the tea. Finally Malcolm sighed.
“You see, Anton, my problem is this. No-one really knows why you disappeared. Some say you saw sense (or turned traitor, depending on who’s telling it) and deserted. Others say you were told to disappear so you could hunt out dissidents. I might know some people who could help you but how can I know you will not condemn them all to death and worse? What can Malchor’s golden boy offer me as proof of his change of heart?”
Anton looked at his hands where they clenched round the mug. It was chipped and had been mended but was still useful. It still had value. “I had no need of a change of heart. The elf maid I spoke of, Alaea, she has had my heart in her keeping for some time. I would die to protect her and always would have. When I left, I believed I was doing the right thing. But this was never what I wanted and never what I fought for. If you heard of me you will have heard of my exploits on the battlefield. What they leave out of the stories is the blood lust, the kill or be killed, the black stone inside that cuts off any memories of what you have done until you have ended it. Because of what I have done, have been a part of, a piece of my soul has died. I would honour what is left of my soul and the lives of my friends by doing what I can to protect them.”
“Fine words, son, but fine words build no bridges. Or something like that.” The old man rubbed his chin and grimaced. “Gods know why but I think I trust you. Maybe it’s because you look like Malinda. She’s a good girl and thinks the world of you. She’s a smart little thing, maybe she’s right about this.”
Anton blinked rapidly at the thought of his tiny sister standing up for him. He wanted to push it back down, but another little tendril of hope unfurled inside him.
Malcolm stood. “I’ve made up my mind. I’ll take you to them. Let’s go.”
Anton got to his feet, still holding onto the mug. “Do you mean now? Shouldn’t we wait til dark?”
Malcolm snorted “Oh yes, wait until dark when all the nefarious deeds are done. That’ll make us look extra innocent when we get stopped by a patrol. No, we go now.”
Anton made sure to place the cup down on the table gently. He didn’t want to crack it again.
REDEMPTION – snippet two
Alaea started drifting around the room once more. She adjusted the set of the curtains and fidgeted with the set of the clothes hanging over the rail near the fire. When she spoke again it was in a quiet voice that Jelena had to strain to hear. “I had forgotten about the wheat. How Anton” she stumbled over his name ‘how he cared for all those people.” She fidgeted some more and Jelena watched her with patient compassion. Then Alaea heaved a big breath and turned to face her “How could the same man care for so many and yet kill so many more? How could someone who made children laugh every day with his silly stories watch as soldiers put swords through other children’s mothers? How could the same man who sat with Tiernan so many evenings talking about music and history be a man who killed other men just because they were elves?” the words were tumbling out now and tears glistened on her cheeks.
“How could a man who held my heart destroy it so badly?” Her hand came up to her mouth as if she realised she’d said more than she intended. The two women looked at each other and Jelena wondered if she should embrace the young elf, or if it would not be welcome. She wished she found it easier knowing what to do in these situations. Alaea let her hand drop and sighed. “I cannot speak to Tiernan about it, he continues to have a stubborn faith in his friend. I thought as you were a soldier you might be able to explain it to me.”
Jelena put down her coat and took Alaea’s hand, leading her to the ottoman. They sat awkwardly next to each other and Jelena stared into the fire, hands clasped tightly between her knees. “I wish I had more answers for you Alaea, and I don’t think you will like the ones I have. Anton is, was, a soldier. One of the best. He loved the idea of service to his country; that’s the same ideal that made him ensure that the most needy families were fed every winter. As a soldier, you are trained to follow orders. It’s not just a case of ‘I was given orders’ it’s a case of automatic hear and obey. An army has to have obedience if it is to be strong.” She ran one hand down her plait and tugged at the ends, trying to work out how best to explain it to someone who had led a fairly sheltered life until recently. “It is like with a child. A small baby doesn’t understand why they can’t hold the knives, you just have to teach them to respond instantly when you say no’.
“But I don’t think he was just being blindly obedient” Alaea said and Jelena could hear the pain in her voice, “even Malinda thinks he went eagerly, she doesn’t say so but you can tell by how she avoids it’.
Jelena rubbed her eyes. “No I agree, he isn’t a blind man. I wasn’t there for the coup but it didn’t surprise me to hear that he supported Malchor so willingly. He admired him a lot. I did too to tell you the truth.” She grimaced at Alaea “I told you you might not like what I had to say. Malchor was someone who held out a promise of a brighter, fairer tomorrow. A country led by men of deeds not breeding. It is an attractive vision. Of course, it wasn’t until later when he had consolidated his power that he began to really push the anti-elf policies. I too have talked to people and even Marius admits that the first push North was genuinely held up as a bid to restore Devnor’s stolen lands. It wouldn’t surprise me if Anton was so enthused by the vision he saw that he was blind to the impact it had on others.”
She looked down and saw that while her own hands had relaxed somewhat, Alaea’s were twisting around each other tightly. She put a hand on them to stop her and the young woman took a deep breath.
“I think that’s my real question then. How could he, knowing me, and” she added hastily “my brother, not be aware of the impact on us? Did he not care? How could he not notice if he did care?”
Jelena smiled and felt her sadness seep into her smile. “That’s what makes it a tragedy. He did care and he didn’t notice.” She squeezed Alaea’s hand gently “I hold out hope that we will see Anton again one day. When that day comes you will have to decide if bitterness or forgiveness will make you happier. And if you cannot reach forgiveness then perhaps understanding will do.”
Alaea gave her a half smile and disengaged her hand as she stood up. “I think that will depend on the manner of his return. I would like to be happy, but I cannot quite see a happy ending.”
REDEMPTION – snippet three
As she helped Alex stuff his brightly coloured garments in the rucksack, Alaea felt Anton’s eyes on her. It was if he was devouring her with his gaze and she felt herself begin to flush. She wished she had a pretty dress like the one Jelena had worn for the council hearing and had put away carefully with just a twinge of something that might have been regret on her face. The cowled tunic she wore had once been one of her favourites, the soft dove grey a colour she knew suited her. She detested it now and the grey was merely dingy. Her leather pants had worn up a little better under the hard wear but she’d already had to stitch up more than one hole. Not that it should matter what he thought of her when she had told him she didn’t want him around but it absolutely did.
“Why are you sending me away Anton? You know you need me here.”
She cast her eyes sidelong at Alex while she busied herself with the buckles. The pain in his voice was stronger than she expected. It was a relationship she continued to marvel at. Anton pulled the lapels of the young elf’s coat closer together and brushed off a shoulder.
“Because I need someone that the people in Dafydd’s camp with believe and will follow, and you’re the best person for the job. You’re from Port Adair, you’re eloquent..”
“And I’m an elf” came the bitter response
The patience in Anton’s eyes was the same as she’d seen when he was trying to persuade Malinda of something, his voice was as gentle.
“Yes, an elf. You should be proud to be able to serve your people in this, young peacock. It isn’t a safe trip, there will be many happy to get rid of you for simple entertainment. You will stick to the forests and travel at night. I don’t want harm to come to you.”
The boy looked up between his hair which continued to flop in his eyes.
“You aren’t just trying to get rid of me?”
Anton laughed and the sound froze her in place. It had been over a year since she’d heard him laugh. Gods it was glorious.
“No, young imp, I don’t want to be rid of you and wish you will hurry back with an army at your side. We need you here.” He smirked “Reinaldo’s already been sobbing into his stew. His income is going to go down without you to throw money at him every night”
She gave up trying to look busy and just watched. To see him like this, playful and protective, was to see him as he was before he went to war. Something in her heart hurt at the realisation that it was a young scrap like Alex who brought it out in him and she wondered if what she and Anton had was too battered to ever get back to that. He met her eyes at that moment and she chanced a small smile. He seemed to freeze and then his smile widened into one she knew was just for her. She bit her lip as her cheeks warmed and she hoisted Alex’s bag up.
“Here you go. He’s right you know. This is a good thing you do for our people.”
Alex shouldered the bag and sighed.
“I know. Can you tell Malinda I said goodbye? I’d hoped they would be back from the infirmary by now.”
He looked so woebegone that Alaea gave him an impulsive hug.
“I will tell her. She will be sad to see you go.”
Her own throat was closing up a little. First her brother and now Alex. She felt stupidly alone for a moment, but then Anton was giving Alex his own bear hug and she thought that maybe she was only as alone as she let herself be.
She let Anton walk his friend out to farewell him and moved restlessly over to the mantel to fidget with the ornaments there. Really she should have gone at the same time, she thought, but then she wouldn’t want Mali to think she’d not stayed to see her and she had promised to pass on Alex’s goodbyes to her. Her eyes rolled and she plonked the small china bird back on the mantel and spun around to leave. Anton filled the doorway. She stood still, her fingers on her right hand beginning to pull at her the edge of her tunic. Her breath seemed trapped in her chest and her mind went blank. Her only consolation was that he seemed just as frozen. He ran his hand through his hair and began to speak, then coughed and tried again.
“That was kind of you to bring Alex a bag. He was worried about his clothes.”
“Well, I didn’t want for Reinaldo to rip them up for rags to clean his blades.” Her heart leapt at his delighted smile and she continued speaking despite her voice seeming to not want to be under her control “he has no sense of fashion that man”.
This time when he laughed she knew it was because of her and she couldn’t stop her heart singing. There never was anything as wonderful as his laughter. It was a rich rolling sound that swept others up in its joy. Her own smile grew even though she felt her lips trembling. But when he moved closer to her she couldn’t help but step back, cursing herself even as she did so. His smile died but the tender light stayed in his eyes. He put a hand out and she looked at it until it began dropping away and then she couldn’t help but reach out and grab it.
“Do you know something Alaea?” he said as his thumb stroked gently over her wrist. She shook her head, her heart pounding.
“Every feeling you have is written on your face.” Her eyes met his and the understanding in them made her knees weaken. “You’d make a terrible card player. Never play with Reinaldo. You’d lose more often than Alex does.” He squeezed her hand and turned to the door. “I think I hear my gallumphing little sister and her devoted swain”. She pulled her hand back to her side, still feeling the warmth of his hand, so large and strong it made her now callused hands seem so frail and delicate.
She swallowed “Alex said they’d been at the infirmary, is she healing?”
He nodded over his shoulder as he reached the latch, Malinda’s earnest voice reaching them even through the thick oak. He paused before he opened it.
“Thank you, Alaea” his voice was low and gentle and she knew he didn’t mean thanks for the bag. She took a breath and smiled a little awkwardly.
“You are welcome, Anton”
REDEMPTION – snippet four
Once outside the gates the seething mass of people petered out into a steady stream. They remained near the outside of the gate, watching over the refugees. The sound of horses hooves came and Daegal looked to see Anton riding a circuit around the city, Marius at his side. He saw Jelena wave and smile widely when Anton waved a salute back. Something twisted inside him and he didn’t realise he was frowning until he saw Jelena’s brows lift when she looked at him.
“What’s the matter with you?”
“Nothing” he shrugged.
She frowned and edged her horse closer.
“That’s clearly not true. You’ve hardly smiled since Anton returned.”
He looked down, away from her clear blue eyes that saw too much. Their knees were almost touching and he wondered suddenly what it would have been like if they’d never been forced into this war. Would she ever have let him as close as she had? He drew his eyes away from her strong leg encased in her combat trousers and tried to summon a smile.
“It’s really nothing, I must just be tired. Rowdy inns and noisy peasants and all that.”
She shook her head, her plait swinging. “No Daegal, you don’t get to do this. You don’t get to encourage everyone else to admit to their fears and then refuse to talk about your own demons. That isn’t fair”.
He felt his mouth twist as he gazed at her, her strong face intent on him. He realised with a pang that he didn’t want her to think less of him for admitting that he couldn’t forgive Anton as unconditionally as she seemed to. He cast a glance around. There were others on patrol and no imminent danger. He made a decision.
“Walk with me. I can’t talk on this horse.” He felt a flicker of his usual self “he’s a bit of a gossip”
She smiled but the blue of her eyes stayed troubled. “All right, but we better stay near them in case”
The grass under his feet was trampled into mud which would turn into a boggy mess once the rain came but the flickers of hardy green gave him an odd feeling of lightness. They walked the horses in silence until he spied a broken old wagon bed half hidden by weeds. Looping the reins lightly so the horses could graze he sprawled out on the ground with his back against the wagon side. Letting his head fall back he looked up at the sky; the dark clouds closing in and obscuring the sun seemed to suit his current mood. Jelena squatted on her haunches next to him and he could feel her troubled gaze on his face. Finally he turned to look at her.
“It’s harder than I thought. Anton coming back.” His hands clasped loosely over his bent knees he contemplated the grime ingrained in his sleeves. “I thought it would be easy, you know. He’s my family, he’s been there for me when no-one else was. I thought that forgiveness and understanding would just happen.” He let out a huffed sigh. “In fact, I thought I’d already forgiven him and was feeling pretty virtuous about it.” He turned a wry face to hers. “Turns out I was completely wrong and I’m the one who’s finding it hardest to deal with his return. I mean, gods Jelena, even Marius is back to trailing his every step and Alaea’s smile is lightening every day.” His hands tightened their grip. “And then there’s you of course”
Her brows contracted. “Me? What about me?”
“Well, you’re pretty happy to see him aren’t you? Lots of hugs and laughs and no tension at all”
Understanding lit her eyes. “Jealous, Daegal?”
He shifted uncomfortably in the face of her tight voice. “No. Well okay yes a little. But not of the hugs” she looked dubious and he tried to articulate what it was he really felt “I’m jealous of how easy it is for you. I’m jealous of how quickly you fit back together again while I’m standing in the corner trying not to hit him.” Compassion lit her eyes now and she reached out as if she’d take his hand but then she drew back.
“He’s my family too” she said quietly, and Daegal remembered the way that the Baruchs had taken in the disgraced noblewoman when she’d given up dresses for swords. He remembered the way she’d refused to cry and the way that Anton had helped her get back together after the pain of her family’s distance. She turned and sat next to him, stretching out those long legs and sighing as her back met the side of the wagon.
“It isn’t just that though. I understand him, Daegal. In a way that maybe you just won’t ever. It’s the reason that Reinaldo and Marius have accepted him back, even if it took Marius longer. But then, he’s always been one to hold the moral high ground.” She turned her gaze back on him, clear blue and direct. “We are soldiers.”
He grimaced but he knew what she meant. He could fight but he’d never gone to the academy, never been attracted to the life of the military. She sighed “I don’t mean that you don’t have an appreciation of what it means to be a warrior, you are after all a skilled fighter” he ducked his head to hide his surprised smile; praise from Jelena was like rain in a drought. “But you’ve never fought simply because somebody told you to. You have that blessing, Daegal, to be someone whose bad memories from a battle are yours alone, not ones that you doubt, that you wonder if were right. Because the choices were always yours.” Her gaze turned inward and he moved slightly, wanting to be nearer.
“What about you” he asked “you don’t strike me as someone to blindly follow orders”. Her mouth twisted and his breath caught at the thought that he might have caused her pain
“Not blindly no, but there are things I have done that I’m not proud of” She pushed up off the ground, dusting the seat of her coat. “And that’s why it is easier for me to forgive than it is for you. I know the pain of second guessing what you did for someone else. Your heart is more pure and that means it might take longer for you to truly accept what he did. I know you, and I know that what happened at Ravens Water is something you might never forgive.” She did hold out a hand then, and pulled him up when he gripped it. She released his hand and looked to where Marius and Anton were riding over to join them. “Just remember that he can’t forgive himself either”
Daegal stretched his back and sighed. “Wise words. I’ll think on them” He walked to stand next to her where she watched their friends and the first drops of rain began to fall. Leaning in close so that he could smell the lavender in her hair he grinned. “and yes, I’m a little jealous of the hugs. But admit it, you’d be mad if I wasn’t”
Merlin – The Return of the Once and Future King (Fanfic) – Snippet One
Snippets are from full book. First 10 chapters available here
The first thing he noticed that morning was that there was no pain. He blinked once or twice and tried to decide if he was still sleeping. Finger and knee joints weren’t screaming for attention as they normally did and his back felt nothing but the comfortable firmness of his bed. Comfortable. Now that wasn’t a word he’d used much in the last 500 years. Experimentally he stretched out his arms. A vigorous energy shot through his body. His heart leapt as the blood pulsed through more strongly than it had in recent memory and he felt the magic curl around his hand, as if it was a kitten seeking to be stroked. “Forbearnan” he murmured, and then jumped out of bed as the fire leaped high. “No! Bugger! Um, ācwencan!”
The fire vanished replaced by the smell of burnt wool. He screwed up his nose and turned to look about the room, nearly knocking the lampshade with his head. That was strange. He flexed his straightened shoulders, relishing the fact that he was no longer stooped over. He took a dazed look at the smoking carpet, realising he wasn’t squinting. With an oath he stumbled backwards; no long grey beard, no wrinkled skin. Both hands went to his face and felt a short stubbly beard the likes of which he hadn’t worn for centuries. Strong muscles and youthful though trembling hands forced his gaze to the mirror by the bed. A face he hadn’t seen in a very long time looked back at him. His heart skipped a beat.
“Well. That’s unexpected.”
A knock at the door dragged his face away from the mirror. He pulled his pajama pants up on much narrower hips and pulled the drawstring tighter. The knocking got louder. “Yeah, alright I’m coming!”
The knocking was pounding the door by the time he got to the door and pulled it open, the safety chain catching. Gwaine’s familiar shock of hair framing his worried eyes appeared through the narrow crack. Those eyes quickly widened and his friend’s jaw dropped. “Merlin!”
“Yeah, I know. Surprise. Come in” He unhooked the chain and stepped back, running a hand through much shorter hair.
Gwaine edged in through the doorway.
“Bloody hell, mate, I mean it’s certainly an improvement but what’s going on?” his friend wrinkled his nose. “and what is that smell?”
“Carpet. Burning. Well, it’s out now so I guess you could say charred.” He forced himself to stop babbling as Gwaine’s face screwed up in more confusion.
“Magic, Gwaine. That’s what’s happening. But I’m not sure why”.
“I don’t understand”
“Join the club” he muttered, turning away. This was too much to focus on this early in the morning, despite the energy racing through him. Tea would help.
It was a bit unnerving, the way Gwaine stared at him while he made the tea. He couldn’t blame him though; he kept stealing glances at his own reflection in the window.
“So, Merlin, any thoughts on why a thousand year old man suddenly looks 33? Sure you weren’t mucking around with youth spells or something?”
“Don’t be stupid, I haven’t done that since 1915”
Merlin – the Return of the Once and Future King (Fanfic) – Snippet Two
The explosions had stopped and the air was filled with white dust from the concrete. People were hurt and shaken but what was worrying Merlin was the mood of the crowd. He’d seen disasters like this before, been in London for many attacks over the centuries; never had he seen a people turn on itself. It was like watching starving wolves rip each other to pieces while the lions waited at the sidelines.
Elyan stepped in to a fight and broke it up – they didn’t argue with the man with the sword. All over the square there were fights breaking out and people began picking up rocks from the ground and hurling them. It didn’t seem to be aimed at anyone or anything, just general outpouring of rage.
“Arthur, we have to stop this, they’ll kill each other!”
Arthur looked around and then ran to the statue of Queen Anne that stood in front of St Paul’s, pulling himself up over the anti-pigeon spikes to stand next to the saintly queen, one arm holding her round her neck for balance. Merlin stood below him, on the lap of one of the stone ladies in waiting. The scuffles had turned into full on riot now. Arthur’s voice was harsh as he shouted for them to stop, but it didn’t carry far over the yelling and screaming and the sirens. At that moment someone threw a rock right at his King and without a thought Merlin stepped up and flicked it aside with a look. He could feel anger rising and with a few harshly murmured words and a gesture from him the crowd found that the rocks they held were suddenly so heavy they dropped harmlessly in front of them.
Arthur stood above the rubble, majestic even in his torn t shirt and dust covered jeans. Excalibur shone in the sunlight filtering through the dust and a sea of cellphone cameras were lifted, recording every moment. Merlin shrugged inwardly. At some point in time the rest of the world was going to have to know about Arthur – looked like the world had decided it would be now.
Merlin – the Return of the Once and Future King (Fanfic) – Snippet Three
Mordred. Mordred can you hear me?
Emrys. What is it? I am here.
How to say it.
I am afraid.
Mordred’s voice in his mind took on a deeper urgency. Are you hurt? Is Arthur okay?
Arthur is fine. Very kingly. I on the other hand am losing control. His hands twisted around each other and he took a shuddering breath. How do we do it? How do we keep the power chained so that we don’t unleash hell on the world?
His eyes opened and he looked at Gwen. Arthur had stopped the bleeding but there were streaks of it still down her face. Those men had bruised her but it had been him and his power who had knocked her out. Guilt washed over him and he looked away.
Emrys. Of all men I know, you are the one best suited to answer that question. How did you stop this time?
A frown wrinkled his brow and he looked under his eyelashes at his friends.
Love. It was love that stopped me.
I told Morgana once that the love that binds us is more important than the power we wield. It was you who taught me that. You have the answers within you Merlin. Do not doubt yourself. We do not doubt you.
Arthur came over and held out a hand. Accepting it, he allowed his king to pull him to his feet. Arthur met his eyes with a half smile and gripped his forearm tight. “Gave us a scare there Merlin, but I knew you wouldn’t do it. It’s just not who you are.”
He smiled a little. Maybe he was right, it wasn’t who he was, but he could never forget that it was who he might become.
Merlin – the Return of the Once and Future King (Fanfic) – Snippet Four
Merlin inhaled deeply “Then magic will return until the world’s end”. He quirked his eyebrows at the dragon. “At least this prophecy has a happy ending.”
Aithusa blinked slowly at him and he heard her voice in his mind. The ending is not certain to be happy for all, Merlin. You must be careful. I know what you mean to do.
He straightened his shoulders and met the dragon’s gaze. Tell them and I will unleash such wrath upon you. You know how it must be, Aithusa, for Albion. For Arthur.
The great head lowered and a wave of sadness hit him with such strength it took him a second to realise it had come from Aithusa. Stepping forward he leaned into her neck, inhaling her scent. We are, both of us, the last of our kind. The thought was so mingled he didn’t know if it was his, or the dragon’s.
Light Breaks – Snippet 1
Phoebe looked up at Eru and Damon then dragged herself to her feet.
“What about my children?” she asked. “Will they be safe with me?” Her voice caught on the question and Damon felt a sudden tightness in his chest at the thought of her pain.
“Truly Phoebe I do not know.”
Her lip trembled and the look she gave him was a hurt one, as if she had hoped for a different answer. He tried again, hoping to mitigate her pain.
“They only want you and your powers. But although I cannot see Marius hurting any child, I cannot guarantee that Aeron would not use the children as pawns to force you to do her will. Honestly, I believe they would be safer if they were not with you.”
Phoebe’s eyes filled with tears. Damon marvelled at the sight. Those blue eyes wet with liquid emotion. He had never cried. His people didn’t. Suddenly she doubled over as if someone had punched her in the gut, great heaving sobs ripping out of her. Eru took her arm and she turned into him like a child seeking comfort. Damon found that he had to look away from that. When her sobs began easing Eru took himself off to find tissues. Damon took his seat beside Phoebe on the couch. He looked at her devastated face and wondered what it was about this woman that made him want to do anything if only she would smile.
“You know, when i was little….” he began but the words stopped. He’d never talked to a human this way. He never really talked to his own kind either.
Phoebe pushed the hair out of her eyes. “Yes? When you were little?”
He tried again.
“When i was little my mother sent me and my brother away. She was in danger and she wanted us to be safe. We went halfway across the country to an uncle’s estate. We didn’t see her for a long, long time”.
Phoebe let him be silent for a moment then asked
“how did you cope? Did you ..” her voice broke again “Did you hate her? Were you frightened?”
Damon shook his head gently.
“I didn’t hate her. I was frightened until I reached my uncle’s house. I felt safe there. But although i was sad and missed my mother, I didn’t hate her. Even when i didn’t see her for years. I knew that she did what she had to in order to keep my brother and me safe. It won’t be easy Phoebe, but your children will be ok. They will understand”.
They locked eyes for a long moment. Phoebe reached out and took Damon’s hand in hers.
“Thank you”, she said, “I still feel like crap but I appreciate the effort”
Light Breaks Snippet 2
All I could see was a swirl of energy in multiple colours – purple from Damon, yellow from Marius and that dirty crimson from Aeron. If colour could ever be a cacophony this was the time. It was overwhelming. I was aware that the purple was not only attacking the other colours but it had spread out to form a shield around Eru and me.
They moved so fast it was hard to track them.
I felt a huge pressure building up within me, and I figured it was a reaction to the powers of the others. My eyes went to Damon He was so strong; he looked like he could hold off the world forever. But then Eru’s voice was in my ear.
‘Pheebs, I think if you can do something you should, Damon looks like its taking a toll. I reckon he could do with some help.’
I looked closer and saw the strain around his eyes and suddenly the strength of his body looked more like a body under an enormous amount of pressure. I could feel panic rising. I had no idea what to do. Marius was right, I didn’t have any control over this whatsoever.
“Phoebe!” Eru’s voice was more urgent now, I could see without being told that the purple around Damon was wavering. Crimson and yellow were pushing it back. The blue was back around Eru but it was weak and dilute.
“What do I do Eru!”
“I don’t know! I’m not the one with magic spells up my sleeve! Just stop it!”
Stop it. Yes, I just have to stop it. That became the focus of all my thoughts. One great giant mental squash.
Nothing happened, which made me feel foolish. Phoebe. Focus. Feel it. I shut my eyes and tried to do what Damon’s voice in my mind sang to me, to feel that buzzing inside me and to channel it somehow. My arms rose of their own accord. I took a breath then in my mind I pushed out STOP. The result was unexpected. I’d half expected my colour to be the red I’d seen earlier but instead a great blanket of white fell on the warring shades and simply snuffed them out.
Damon fell backwards and would have fallen if Eru hadn’t darted forward to grab him. Marius and Aeron also stumbled then stood staring in disbelief. I didn’t quite know what to think myself. Aeron thrust out her arm but nothing happened. She stared at her hand as if it didn’t belong to her then thrust it out again with a harsh shout. Still nothing happened. It was if that cloud of white, which was still lightly swirling over the ground in little tufts, had sapped all energy from them. I looked at my own hand. It felt pretty tingly. I concentrated and little red glows puffed out from my fingertips. Huh. That was unexpected.