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Where Alphas Fear to Tread

Chapter Text

The air was foggy.
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, Arthur’s mind supplied giddily.
He didn’t know if everyone was silent or if his hearing had blown out.
Above them a figure flapped it’s wings, impossibly large, pure black.
The ground shook when it landed.

And there, Merlin. Standing. Dirty face. Scruffy clothes. Proud and defiant.

Merlin faced the dragon, “You came.”
“You called.”
At his feet, Mordred wasn’t moving, “Bring him to life.”
“I’m afraid that’s beyond my power.”
“Then who can?”
“I’m sorry, young warlock. He is gone for good.”
Merlin looked around. His pack didn’t look so good. Some were bleeding out on the ground. “Heal them.”
The dragon snorted, “You continue to overestimate my power. But if you act quick, they may be saved.”
Killigarah flapped his wings and began to rise off the ground.
“Wait, where are you going?”
“I’m leaving. I have been chained for over a millennia. I am free.”
“I demand you stay.”
Killigarah growled, “Little dragon lord, you haven’t mastered or understood you abilities enough to keep me here. You have no power over me. All of this, was merely a favor. And I found it quite fun although you spoiled it with that protective spell. I should warn you though, that you have cracked a rift in the world when you did that.”
“A rift?”
“You’ve brought magic back. It will begin again to weave its fingers through the web of the world. And it feels good.”
And at the end of this sentence, the dragon leaned his head back and roared. The ground and Merlin vibrated. But Merlin found he was not afraid.

▲▲▲

Consciousness came to Gwen like being ripped from a stormy ocean.
"Water." She croaked out, and the fuzzy figure next to her obliged. So she had made it. She was alive. That was good. But something told her she wasn't in a good state. Before she could bother to care about it, the darkness took her again.
The second time she woke, she noticed her lips were cracked and her mouth tasted like the seventh pit of hell.
"Good morning." Morgana looked painstakingly perfect and out of place sitting in her hospital room.
"Hello."
"How are you doing?"
"How long have I been out?"
"Five days. It was touch and go for a minute there. You lost a lot of blood."
Gwen coughed and felt a dull pain in her abdomen despite the apparent heavy doses of painkiller she was on, "I can tell. Where's Merlin?"
Morgana's face was remarkably still, "He's out."
"What's wrong? Did we make it? Is anyone..."
"Mordred is dead." Morgana said bluntly, "Arthur and Merlin are out planning his funeral now."
"Oh. Poor lad." Mordred's life had been so short. And so bitter.
"They're taking measures to hide the date and time from the news media."
"News media?"
"We're the pack that finally stopped Morgause, and we did it with a dragon. We're celebrities."
"I wondered if I was hallucinating."
"Nope. That was real."
"So do we have a dragon now?"
"No. It flew off. Nobody's seen it since."
"Huh. Who knew Merlin had it in him?"
"He is one badass Omega."
There was a beat of silence, "Who else?"
"Merlin was in a coma but is out now. Lance is going to have to have a few leg surgeries if he ever wants to walk again. Leon needed a whole lot of different surgeries and a liver transplant. Freya lost an ear. Everyone else is just broken bones, cuts, bruises."
"We made it out."
"Yep." Morgana smiled, "We did."
"Where's Elyan?"
"I sent him home. He stayed here day and night, watching over you. I don't think he could bear to lose you."
Gwen winced as she adjusted herself, "Yea well it pains me to say it, but vice versa for me."
Morgana was quiet for a second, and she wouldn't meet Gwen's eye, "There's something I need to tell you."
Gwen's heart almost leapt out of her chest, "Okay."
"I'm going back to England after Mordred's funeral."
That was not what Gwen was expecting to hear, "You're leaving us?"
"I don't have a choice."
"Everyone has a choice, Morgana, we just pretend we don't."
Morgana's voice was more level than it had any right to be, "I was always going back."
Inwardly, Gwen knew she was right. But she hadn't thought past Morgause. They both assumed they'd die in the fight. Right now, Gwen almost wish she had. Her mouth tasted metallic, "Did our night together mean nothing?"
"Honestly Gwen, it meant a lot to me. You were amazing and I really like you. You're the first person I've actually been interested in dating for over five years now. But I have a life back home. A pack. A company. I can't leave them, and I don't want to."
"Fine." Gwen spat out the words, "Fine, leave. My pack didn't even want to get involved in this shit. But here we are, fighting your battle and now that you've gotten what you need out of us, you can fuck off to your fairytale life in another country."
"It's not like that."
"Like hell it isn't. Get the fuck out of my room. I don't want you here. I don't even want to look at you."

▲▲▲

Mordred's funeral was a quiet affair. He didn't have any family, and he's switched schools when Morgause got him. There was a scattering of teachers, a few friends. But mostly there was Arthur and his pack. Pale, drawn faces and some of them still looked half dead, slouching in a wheelchair and leaning on crutches. Bandages and bruises littered their bodies.
It was raining, Arthur realized faintly. Somewhere in he back of his head he remembered a quote that during funerals, the rain only fell on the blessed.
He wished he believed everything happened for a reason. Instead of random, awful events occurring with no one but an uncaring and apathetic universe watching on.

▲▲▲

A lot of things happened in random succession after that. It was odd how time kept moving in a horizontal fashion. Something momentous had happened, and there was time, rudely continuing to push forward. He still had to go to work. He still had to pay bills and buy groceries. Arthur wanted to put his hands over his ears and stop it all. It didn't seem fair how everyone was moving on, turning the page and and remarking that casualties happen and they were lucky to be alive at all. The only one who Arthur truly felt might understand is Merlin, but after the funeral they hadn't talked, and Arthur was beginning to understand they may never talk again.
Morgana left.
Bought a plane ticket back to England and went back to her old life of running their father's company and her pack. He overheard Gwen and her arguing about it. He wanted to argue with Gwen as well, that Morgana couldn't just participate in this event that shaped their life, and then leave. She was one of them now. But he just didn't have it in him.
The 4:00am car ride was silent. Arthur didn't even want to complain about how Morgana never could pick a flight during a normal hour. Gwen was driving with them. She was still heavily injured, and he'd had to help her into the car. But she'd been determined to come and he wasn't going to stop her. She wouldn't even talk to Morgana during the car ride, preferring to sit in frigid silence. He wondered about them.

Arthur broke the silence, "When can I give your pack back?" He wanted done of this whole business. Wanted it to be over and done with so he could feel some sort of normal return to his life.
There was no response, "Gwen?"
"Trying to get rid of us? Don't want to pay our medical bills?" Came the bitter responce.
"I will still cover your medical bills."
"You can't just go into our lives, ruin them, and then abandon us."
"I'm not abandoning you guys. This was the deal. I'm just abiding by it."
Gwen sighed, "I don't know how much more upheaval we can take at the moment. And I'm going to have to heal before we separate. I'll talk to them about it."
Arthur felt a sharp flare of anger that they wouldn't just leave. They didn't want to be a part of his pack, why couldn't they just cut ties and be on their way?
Morgana chimed in, "You could just stay in Arthur's pack."
"Eat shit and die." Morgana and Arthur exchanged glances and the rest of the car ride was silent.

Arthur grabbed Morgana's bags and handed them to her, "Have a safe trip."
"Oh Arthur." She hugged him, "You don't need me. Never think you do."
"But it would be nice to have you around."
"I know. And if I could stay longer I would. But I have a life and I can't put it on hold forever. You're a wonderful Alpha. I've seen you lead and you're fantastic."
"Not as good as you."
"No one's as good as me."
She turned and glanced at Gwen, searching for any sign of warmth or understanding. But she continued to sit silently in the car, unmoving and uncaring.
"I'll visit soon." She said, and Arthur watched her walk off.

And then Gwen limped out of the car. She crutched toward his sister, "Morgana wait."
Morgana turned around and Arthur had to avert his eyes as they performed a kiss that would make the devil blush.
"Text me okay?"
"Of course."
"Have a safe flight."
Gwen began to painfully limp back and Arthur helped her get into the car. The second he began to pull away, Gwen started crying.
He was alarmed, "Um... are you okay?"
Gwen sobbed.
He awkwardly patted her back, "Hey. Hey, it's going to be okay."
"It's not going to be okay."
"I know."
After a few minutes she quieted.
He handed her a pack of tissues and she took them shakily, "I'm sorry, I never do this."
"Hey. You're fine. It's a difficult time."
"It's just so much is happening, and I'm on these fucking pills and I can't walk and I'm behind at work."
"I feel you."
"And I can't believe Morgana left."
"Yea. She's the worst."
"No," Gwen sobbed, "She's not."
"I know. I wish she'd stay with us too."
They sat in silence for a few seconds.
Arthur picked at his cuticles, "I can't go anywhere without someone taking a picture of me and I'm paranoid all the time."
"I'm sorry."
"Me too.
Gwen gave a broken laugh, "Fuck, I need a therapist."
Arthur gave a wane smile, "Me too."
"I think we're all going to need therapy."
"I'll look someone up. Someone discreet."
He stopped at a drive through for coffee and breakfast, "Once we get some food and caffeine, life will get easier."
Gwen gave a bitter laugh and he corrected himself, "Life will not get easier but we will be better equipped to take it on."

Chapter Text

Merlin had been inconsolable after Mordred’s funeral. Freya was worried that something in him had…. broken. He’d been calm in the aftermath of the fight. Worryingly calm and collected, but she noticed his eyes were glazed over, almost glassy. As the astonished and singed onlookers hid behind their vehicles and gawked on, Merlin had been the only one to move. He’d closed Mordred’s eyes, and shifted his attention to the living alarmingly fast. His movements jolted Arthur into action and both worked in tandem to get Gwen and Leon to an ambulance, the pack began to unfreeze. They’d won. They were alive.
It was only when everyone in the pack was receiving medical attention that he collapsed. He'd been in a coma for three days. Around him, objects floated. Freya had woken up one day beside his beside to find that the entire room had lifted up into the air and was surrounded by a haze of dark purplish-blue.
He was feverish, and his eyes, when opened, glowed golden yellow. The doctors couldn't find out what was wrong with him.
And while he was incapacitated, the world recovered from its shock. The dragon had overcome the news like a tidal wave. Hundreds of networks showing the clip of an Omega calling a dragon to burn their enemies.
And Merlin? Merlin woke up a robot. He had been fine physically, it appeared. At least according to the doctor that performed the physical. He'd been released and continued with life. He visited the pack members in the hospital. Made dinner. Went to work. Planned the funeral. But while he was there, he wasn’t really. He didn’t joke around anymore, his voice was monotonous. He lived his life like it was his duty.
Everytime Gwaine and Freya tried to talk to him, he’d feign a smile and assure them he was alright and okay. But they knew he wasn’t. And when Gwaine tried to push him, Freya stopped him. He’d been pushed so much already, if Gwaine pushed him even more, Freya didn’t know what would happen.
And then after Mordred’s funeral, it was like the dam fractured.
Merlin had stayed behind at the grave, and Freya was unwilling to leave him. Merlin had wanted to stay back alone, but Freya sure as hell wasn’t going to allow him that, so she’d made an excuse about the lack of cars and stuck around.
She’d never seen him cry so hard.
“He was just a kid.” He kept saying over and over again.
“I know. I know.” Was all she could manage. She didn’t know what to say.
“Oh god, Freya. It fucking hurts.” He clutched his chest.
She began to cry too, “I know it does. It hurts me too.”
An hour later she’d pulled him into the car and he was still sobbing. She was worried he’d never stop.
“Hey Merlin. Can we go back?”
“No, I can’t go back there like this. I don’t want them-” He broke off but she understood. She wouldn’t want them to see her cry either.
So she just drove around. Bought him a hot chocolate and a coffee for her. She just needed the caffeine. They ended up in the driveway of their old home.
Merlin’s sobs had finally ceased.
They stared at the blue house silently.
“Home.” Merlin said tonelessly.
“Home.” Freya agreed.
“Only four years from paying it off.”
“I guess we’ll get that chance now right?” Freya asked.
“I guess so.”
“Remember when we first bought it?”
“Of course. You refused to move into me and Gwen’s shitty apartment.”
“Where would I even stay? It was one bedroom.” Freya remembered the rickety little apartment that Merlin and Gwen had introduced her to. They’d done their best to make it cozy, but although their personalities warmed up the place it had still been dingy.
“We would have stuck you on the coach near the kitchen.”
“Haha very funny.”
“Remember when we first showed Gwaine this house?” Merlin had stopped crying. His eyes were still red but he was sipping his drink calmly.
“It was sad how great he thought it was.”
“You thought it was sad?”
“Well, I guess it was cute. But for all the memories that we have in it, it is just a house. Gwaine’s excitement is proof he’s never lived anywhere nice before.”
“I never thought about it like that.”
They passed some time in silence, each mulling over their history in the house.
“Sometimes when I wake up I think it would be easier if Morgause had just killed me.” Merlin’s statement was devoid of emotion, and Freya had never heard such a comment but had a bad suspicion that he was telling the truth.
“Being alive is hard.”
“My magic is fighting me.”
"I was worried you were going to die in that coma."
"If Morgause didn't get the satisfaction of killing me, my magic doesn't get to kill me."
"Can you feel it?"
"I can. It's thrumming underneath my skin. So much stronger than it was before. I keep trying to press it down, but I can't control it. Somedays I wake up and it's things are flying across my bedroom."
"You never told us you'd found a dragon. Or that you'd been training."
"Yeah. It was my little secret."
"Not so little." They sat in silence, "What are you going to do now?"
"I don't know. I can't control it and I'm afraid of what will happen if I try something. I'm just trying to get through the day at the moment.
"Aren't we all. And while I don't know anything about magic, I think you should trust yourself. You saved us all. We owe you our lives. I trust you to do what is best."
Merlin started crying again, "God Freya, what would I do without you?"
“You'd do just fine."
"I'm having trouble waking up in the morning. It's just every day I wake up and I'm like, 'Another one?'"
I think you’re depressed.”
“I think I’m depressed too. I got this way when my mother died.”
“What did you do then?”
“Kept fighting. Pushing on. Organizing and distracting myself. Talked to Gwen a lot.”
“Well, just do that now. And it will get better, easier.”
“I hope so.”
“And I know we’re not as good with language as Gwen, but Gwaine and I could substitute. And of course you can still talk to Gwen.”
“She’s distant nowadays. It’s like she’s lost.”
“She slept with Morgana.” Freya said frankly.
“Yeah, how have we not talked about that?”
“They make a good pair.”
“I agree. I mean, they had chemistry from the beginning.” Merlin remarked.
“We’re going to have to talk to her to see if she’s okay.”
“I don’t think any of us are okay.”
“Are you okay?” Freya asked him.
“Fuck no.” Merlin replied.

After that, Merlin began to practice his magic. He went from zero to a hundred and now it was all he did. He meditated, and researched old history. He skipped pack dinners, skipped work to sit in a cave and work on focusing his talents. His magic was uncontrollable and often things would float around him. Sometimes the pack helped him practice, throwing pens in the air to see if he could stop them from touching the ground. Sometimes he drifted off to who knows where and didn’t come back until the middle of the night.

They had a survivor's party. For what it was worth, Freya had fun. It was muted, and nothing like their raucous movie nights that spun out of control. Her pack wasn’t drinking for fun anymore, but only to dull the pain. They planted a tree to remember Mordred by.

Pack dinners became less mandatory. She assumed it was because Arthur had once needed a well-oiled pack, but now that the threat was over, it wasn’t as important anymore.

One day, Arthur called a pack meeting, “I made a promise to you guys, that you could move out when all this was over with. Well, we won. We need to decide when you are moving out.”
Gwen rubbed at her barely healed shoulder, “We haven’t talked about it yet.”
“Yeah, we’d need to figure out some logistics.” Merlin said.
“And you Elyan?
“Well, I have to say I’ve had some poor experiences with Alphas, but you seem to be an alright bloke. The house is good, and the city is better. I’d be fine with staying in, but honestly I’m going wherever Gwen is going.” Elyan said.
“You guys are welcome to stay in the pack. You fought with us and helped us win. I want you to say. But we can’t live in limbo, that’s not fair to anybody. I expect a solid answer in a week.”
Gwen and Merlin shared a glance and Merlin spoke, “A week it is.”

Chapter Text

Things were changing in the world. Some people began to notice a new thrumming underneath their skin. But when they reached for it, it faded away like a dream from last night. Long extinct plants were beginning to permeate ancient jungles. A certain professor with a doctorate in Medieval Magic studies began to notice some of his crystals were glowing at certain times.

But the Pendragon pack didn’t see any of that. They had other problems. Several had survivors guilt, most had therapy, whether physical, mental, or both. The press began to harass them for interviews and Arthur had to build a fence around the property to halt the constant stalking.

But they did notice one day when a car, poorly driven, screeched to a halt at their gate and an overweight African American boy hopped the gate, sprinting toward the house and collapsing on the steps.
A startled woman opened the door. She had a cane, “Hello?”
“Help…” The boy panted, “You have to help.”
“Merlin? Arthur?” Gwen called out.
A dark-haired Omega with no shoes on padded to the door, “Who are you?”
“My name is Kay. I’m Mordred’s friend.”
“Oh. Right, I saw you at the funeral.”
“Please. There’s a beast. You have to help.”
“What?” A blond-haired Alpha appeared.
“The head of a serpent and the body of a cat. It’s running loose. Nobody has seen it before and nobody knows what to do about it.”
The Omega grabbed his coat, “Gather everyone in the house who can fight.” He said to Arthur.
Kay was surprised to see the Alpha obey.
“Where is it?” Merlin asked him.
“Right downtown. I think it killed a shop owner.”
Merlin invited him inside and gave him a glass of water, “What happened?
Arthur came back downstairs, some of his pack trailing behind him as Kay began.
“Nobody knows. This gigantic beast just showed up and began destroying everything. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Half serpent, half leopard. I didn’t get a good look, it was moving so quickly. I saw you on the television. With the dragon. I thought you could help.”
“Well, we’ll do our best. Can you lead us there?”
Gwen had wanted to go, but both Merlin and Arthur stopped her. But Merlin wasn’t sure they were enough. Arthur, Gwaine, Freya, Elyan, Percy and himself. Gwaine had a double-barreled shotgun sitting across his lap, Elyan had a pistol. Freya had a kitchen knife, Arthur a switchblade, and Percy had a baseball bat.
He wondered what they were getting themselves into.
They saw the destruction before they saw the beast. Crumpled cars on their side, shattered windows. A deathly silence in the bustling town that Merlin found deafening.
They followed Kay until a fallen tree prevented the cars from going any farther.
They all got out, all silently amazed by the destruction around them.
“I hope they have insurance.” Gwaine murmured.
“Kay, you should stay here.” Merlin said.
“And let you all face it alone? No way.”
“You’re just going to be another person we need to look out for.”
“I’ll be careful, I promise.”
“No.” Arthur said, “The danger is too great.”
“Fine.” Kay pouted. “But at least take this.” He ran over toward the Civil war store and came with a sharp sword, “It will be better than that tiny switchblade you have.”
“You shouldn’t be stealing.” Arthur said, but still accepted the gift.
“They stole my ancestors from Africa, I stole a sword from them. We’ll call it even.”
Arthur held the weapon in his hand, “Wow, this thing has got some weight on it.”
Merlin thought he looked like a knight, before halting that thought, “Are we ready to go?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be.” Elyan said.
They followed the path of destruction through the city
And then they saw it. Sitting there drinking from a fountain in the market square. The sight of it sent shivers of fear through Merlin’s body. It was massive. Larger than a car. Gwaine got out his phone to take a picture.
The small group huddled behind one of the shop walls.
“Okay.” Arthur whispered, “We need a plan. We’ll never defeat that thing if we all just charge at it. Elyan, you’re the fastest, run out and distract it. Then, Gwaine will come from behind it and shoot it, before running away. At that point, we’ll all run at it, wounding it where we can. If you need to get out, yell at us to let us know. The key is communication. We need to keep it distracted so it doesn’t focus on one of us. Any complaints?”
There were none.
“Alright, let’s fan out. Me, Gwaine, and Freya to the right, Merlin and Percy to the left. Elyan, I’ll text you when we’re all in position.”
And slowly they snuck around the market square. Hiding in bushes and cars. Avoiding the alleys. Arthur thanked the landscapers for the abundance of shrubbery. The beast was done drinking from the fountain, and was resting on its sides, lazily flicking its tail. Arthur checked to ensure everyone was in position and texted Elyan, who came running into the clearing.
“Hey scary!” He yelled and shot a bullet at the beast, which lept to its feet and Arthur was struck by just how large it was. The bullet hit, but did no damage that he saw.
Elyan turned around and ran, and just as it was about to chase him when Gwaine jumped out from behind a car.
“Ello’ sweetheart!” He yelled and unloaded a round of bullets into its tail.
It didn’t make a dent.
“Oh fuck.” Gwaine whispered as he began to back up.
Arthur scraped up all his courage and ran at the animal, driving the sword into its fur. It sunk into the fur and made no dent.
But before he could yell to retreat, Percy, Freya, and Merlin ran out as well and for a moment they had the element of surprise, and the beast seemed too surprised to react as they all charged him.
But it recovered soon enough, and reached out to bite Arthur, except a force picked him up and dragged him away. He landed with a thump, not hurt but surprised and realized Merlin must have protected him.
But his brave pack wasn’t making any headway. They were only distracting it, and the beast was quickly getting bored.
“Retreat!” He yelled, but instantly realized running away would bring on a chase that they would certainly lose.
But then Arthur heard an engine, quickly growing closer, and a car zoomed into the square, giving barely enough time for Percy to leap out of the way as it ran straight into the beast. Arthur caught a glimpse of Kay in the front seat, screaming bloody murder and he was too relieved to feel angry that another teenage was risking his life for him. The car hit reverse and spun out of the square, going backward down the thin alleyway.
Enraged, the beast lept after it, Arthur giving chase, “Let’s go! Is everyone okay?” He shouted.
His pack was running after him.
Freya was limping, “We couldn’t wound it. I stabbed at it directly and it wouldn’t bleed.”
“I know. I didn’t see that coming. We’re going to need a new plan.”
“It’s a magical beast, it’s going to need magic to defeat it.” Merlin said.
“What do you need us to do?”
“I need you to keep it still. Just for a few seconds.”
Then Arthur heard a resounding crash and saw that Kay had backed up the station wagon right into the building. The giant beast encircled him, pawing at the windows. The glass shattered and Arthur heard Kay yelling.
They sprinted toward them and Arthur began yelling out commands.
“Freya, Percy, get Kay out of there and to safety. Elyan, Gwaine, stay with Merlin and ensure he’s protected when he casts the spell.”
“And what are you gonna do boss?” Gwaine asked.
“No idea yet.” Arthur said, as he charged.
He slammed his sword into the side of the beast and succeeded in distracting it from Kay. The beast hissed down at him and Arthur turned and ran. How in the hell was he supposed to keep it still? He heard his father’s voice in his head, “Find the resources around you, Arthur. Then make do with what you have.” He desperately looked around for some rope, coil, anything. Nothing. There were some old boards, power lines up above. And a dumpster. Throwing his useless sword to the side, Arthur opened the lid and jumped inside. By some stroke of fortune, it was empty. Arthur cursed whatever God was out there that his life had come to being grateful for an empty dumpster. The monster lunged to bite him, and Arthur threw himself out the other end. A drop of acid landed on his shoe, which began to sizzle. Running toward the front, he slid the lid closed over the beast’s neck.
Merlin, Elyan, and Gwaine were running up and Arthur heard clanging from the inside of the dumpster as the beast tried to free himself.
Merlin stood there and put his hands out and concentrated...and nothing happened.
Elyan and Gwaine ran forward to help him keep the lid closed.
Merlin was still concentrating. A power line burst up above, showering sparks on all of them
“Merlin! Any time now would be great!”
“I’m trying!”
“Now is not the time for performance anxiety!”
The beast had given up trying to loosen its head and began to use its hooves to free himself.
Arthur got nailed in the ribs and realized that he couldn’t hold it much longer.
“It’s fine, Merlin. Why don’t you just go for a nice little stroll while you're at it? It’s not like we’re over here struggling or anything like that.”
Merlin ignored him and continued staring at the beast and Arthur began to think up another backup plan.
The Omega yelled in exasperation and Arthur’s sword picked itself up and flew forward, lodging it in the monster’s heart.
It ceased struggling.
All strength left Arthur’s bones as he slumped to the ground next to Gwaine and Elyan and panted, “You should have taken longer.”
“You’re alive aren’t you?”
“You could have gone round for a cuppa!”
“Stop complaining.”
“Had a scone while you were at it.”
“Are you guys okay?” Freya was approaching with Percy and Kay.
“Just peachy.” Gwaine said from the ground.

Chapter Text

Gaius had just begun grading the final papers when he heard a, “Hello?”
A young Omega man was standing in the doorway. Gaius recognized him instantly.
“Hello Merlin.”
“You’re Professor Gaius?”
“And you’re Merlin Emrys.”
“You know who I am?”
“My dear boy, everyone knows who you are.”
“Do you have a minute?”
Gaius pushed aside his papers, “I do. What can I help you with Mr. Emrys?”
“Merlin is fine. And well, you’ve seen it.”
“Yes. You called a dragon from the earth to save your pack from certain death.”
“People have been searching for him. They haven’t seen anything.”
“I doubt they’ll be able to find him. The only one who could is you.”
“Which is kinda why I came to see you today.”
Gaius pushed his pencil cup to the floor and instantaneously, Merlin put his hand out. The pencils froze in midair. Gaius stared at him in astonishment, “So it’s true.”
“Um… yeah. Apparently.”
The pencils fell to the ground and Merlin bent to pick them up, “The only problem is, I’m having some trouble controlling it.”
“How do you do it? Did you enchant any spells in your mind?”
“No? I just...felt it.”
“Hmmm.” Gaius peered at him, “And could you always do this?”
“No. Not until I became an Omega. And then the dragon taught me. He said the change was triggered because of my Grade change.”
“Alpha to Omega?”
“Yes.”
Gaius mused for a moment, “It’s entirely possible. The Omegas of old were the most powerful.”
“So, what if I became a Beta?”
“Do you plan to become a Beta?”
“It’s a long story.”
“Why don’t you tell me along the way. I’m not sure how much I can help you. But I can at least give you a place to start. Follow me.”
And Merlin told him the whole story, from the beginning when Arthur had captured his pack, to their defeat of the monster tearing up the square.”
“So you want to know if your powers will be diminished or become nonexistent if you decide to separate out of Arthur’s pack?”
“Exactly.”
Gaius mulled it over for a second, “Even if it did, would that be so bad?”
“To not have my powers? That would be horrible.”
“Well, you’ve lived most of your life without them.”
“But now that I have them, it’s like…” Merlin didn’t know how to describe it, “It’s like having another arm. A part of you.”
“If that is the case and you are so attached, you’re going to need to keep your head down.”
“Keep my head down? Why?”
“You have brought magic back into the world. That’s a dangerous thing. People will love you, worship you. But just as many will fear you and what you have brought into our world.”
“I didn’t mean to.”
“You know, I don’t think they’ll take that as an excuse.”
The University of Camelot’s library was one of the most extensive in the country. The students mostly used it for all-nighters but it contained books, articles, newspapers, and anything other form of knowledge you could ever want. Gaius spoke with the ancient librarian Geoffrey, who looked Merlin up and down before admitting them to a dark, cool room. Shelves lined the walls, filled with ancient looking books. Merlin shivered.
“You’re going to want to be very careful with these. I’ve been working on digitizing them, and the paper is so thin that they dissolve with human touch.”
Merlin’s magic thrummed underneath his skin.
Merlin pulled one from the shelf, “Can we check them out?”
Geoffery sniffed, “Absolutely not. They’d surely disintegrate in lesser conditions.”
“I can give you access to the school’s database.” Gaius said, “Geoffrey has put them online.”
Merlin opened the book and was dismayed to find it wasn’t in English.
“It’s written in Gaelic.” Gaius said, “Difficult to translate. But not impossible.”
“Are they all like this?” Merlin closed the book and opened another.
“My books!” Geoffrey cried.
“What?” Merlin asked absentmindely, absorbed in a chapter.
“You stop that this instant, young man!” He said.
Merlin looked up. Books were flying across the room, twirling in the air. His magic was singing.
“Oh my gosh. Um, sorry.” Merlin said. He called his magic back to his own skin. Nothing happened.
“It’ll ruin them!” Geoffrey was panicked.
But Merlin could tell him that that wasn’t true. His magic was being ever so gentle with the books. Caressing them gently as they soared through the air.
“Merlin! Pull it back!” Gaius said.
“I’m trying!”
He wrestled with force, pulling each tendril back to himself. One by one they relinquished their hold on the books and gently placed them back onto the bookshelves.
“Dear god.” Gaius was looking at him was an expression of concern.
Geoffrey kicked them out of the library.
“That was quite the show, Merlin.”
“I didn’t mean to! It just does what it wants to do. All the time. That’s why I came to you.”
“It’s too free.” Gaius mused, “You’re going to have to learn how to control it. I can help you translate.”
“Yes. Yes, I’ll need the help.”
“I’d advise you to start with the Balthild’s Leabhar de Gheasaibh Furasta.”
Merlin looked at him, lost.
“Balthid’s Book of Simple Magic."
“Ah.”
“I will send you the link. Do not worry, it is easier than it seems. The language is not so different from english and now of course, there’s the internet. And you can always text me.”
“Will you look into my Omega problem?”
“Of course I will. But I cannot promise anything. Magic has been gone for more than a millennium. There’s not much research on it.”
“But it’s out there.”
“Yes. And I gather that since your dragon, information on it will explode. You’re going to need to figure out how to control your magic, Merlin, and fast. I saw the chaos the questing beast left behind.”
“We got there as fast as we could.”
“Not fast enough. If what the dragon said is true, that monster will not be the first thing that the earth spits out. You’ve brought magic back into the world, for good or for worse and you’re going to have to face the consequences.”

Merlin’s eyes were bloodshot from staring at his laptop. Scribbled notes and papers cluttered the table. Floating pens and pencils surrounded him. He hovered his hand at the mug. He hit google translate.
“Éigigh.” The automated voice said. He hit it again, “Éigigh.” She said again.
“Eigigh.” He said. The mug lifted into the air and smashed down on the table, shattering into a dozen pieces.
“Ugh,” He yelled. How hard was it to make a stupid mug float? It would have been easier without speaking the words. But Gaius had said that learning the language now would make bigger spells easier later on.
Someone was coming down the stairs behind him.
Arthur's voice came from behind him, “Merlin, it’s two in the morning. Why are you still training?”
“I have to get this right.”
“Well, can you practice with something plastic at least? We only have so many mugs.”
“I thought the glass would make my magic more careful.”
“Did it?”
Merlin scowled, “No.”
“You should go to bed.”
“You go to bed.”
Arthur raised an eyebrow at him, “I’m trying.”
Merlin blushed, “Whatever.”
“It’s Thursday. Don’t you have work in the morning?”
“My job sucks anyway.”
“What do you do?”
“I’m an accountant. It’s the most boring job in the world.”
Arthur sat down, “So quit.”
“It is never that easy. What do you do anyway?”
“I work for a nonprofit.”
“And do you like it?”
“I love it. I get paid to help people. We minimize food waste and give it to people that need it.”
“So you’ve never stayed at a job you don’t like?”
Arthur gave a small wince, “I have.”
“Then you know.”
“But I’m not currently at that job now.”
“Well, I don’t hate my job. The people are fine and my boss is a jerk. But the pay isn’t bad and the benefits are good. But at the end of the day it’s just boring.”
“Not what you dreamed of doing?”
“No.”
“So if you could do anything, what would it be?”
“Well right now,” Merlin waved his hand over the scattered papers, “This.”
“You’ve brought magic back, a force thought to have died out a millennial ago. You could make a fortune just selling the story.”
Merlin scoffed, “Absolutely not. It’s my story.”
“You haven’t even thought about it?”
“I mean thought about it, yes. But the spotlight and having that kind of scrutiny on me? It just seems like no fun.”
“Yeah.” Arthur agreed. He looked at the time, “Well, I hate to pull rank, but I am your Alpha. For now at least. It’s too late for anyone to focus on anything. Go to bed.”
“Alright. Just one more try.” Merlin took another cup and placed it in front of him, “Éigigh.” He said.
Arthur watched in awe as the cup levitated into the air and froze, slowly spinning.
“I did it!” Merlin said joyfully.
Arthur could do nothing but watch his face shine with pride, “So you did Merlin.” And before Merlin could catch his look of admiration, he added, “And it only took you all the glassware in the house.”
“Whatever prat. I won your tournament for you didn’t I?”
“Probably would have won it without you.”
“As if!” The mug fell as Merlin lost his concentration, and Arthur snatched it out of the air before it hit the table, “Stop using the glassware.”
He set the cup down before walking back upstairs, annoyed at himself.

Chapter Text

“But I mean we were subject to Merlin when we were his Betas!” Freya said.
“Because we chose to be! I did not sign up to be Arthur’s and neither did any of you.” Gwen shot back.
A pros and cons list dominated the wall. A shelf floated mischievously in the corner.
“But we have the choice now. And all I’m saying is we have to choose wisely.” Merlin said.
“You guys! We’ve been arguing about this for two hours now. Can’t we take a break?” Gwaine had given up and was on his phone.
“Please, Gwaine it’s been like thirty minutes. And strap yourself in, Gwen can argue for hours and not tire.” Freya said.
“Yea, how can you be so ambivalent?” Gwen turned to Gwaine, “This is our future.”
“I’m not fucking ambivalent! I think we should leave, but keep Arthur close to us. So that if we change our mind, he can take us back. I’ve already made that clear.
“Oh great, so the best way is not to decide? That’s not fair to anyone.” Gwen’s phone rang and she huffed, “Let me take this.”
Freya eyed Merlin, “If you would take a lead, we’d know what to do.”
“I don’t even know what to do. I don’t like the power he has over us but I’d prefer to keep my strength of power.”
“But Gaius warned you against your power!”
Gwen brushed in the room, “Hey, we have to go. Mithian said that there’s trouble at the mall.”
Merlin sprang up, “Magical?”
“Very. She said something about fairies.”
“Alright, let’s go. The mall, you say? Get Arthur?”
He ran out the door, a bit too excitedly if you asked Gwen. Nobody was.

They weren’t fairies. Or, they might have been. But the modern term for ‘fairy’ alludes to a miniature flying creature, exquisite and beautiful. These things were blue, lumpy, and absolutely terrible. Merlin hurriedly clicked through his laptop, trying to identify them.
How they’d gotten into the mall, nobody knew. But they were pilleging the food court, and apparently having a food fight. Everyone had evacuated.
In the chaos, nobody had taken notice of the pack peering in at the carnage.
“Sidhe!” Merlin cried, “They’re sidhe.”
“How does that help us?” Arthur hissed, as he watched one nail another with a pot pie.
“It says they’re not evil, but fierce protectors. Their force is derived from nature.” Merlin slammed his laptop shut, “We’re going to have to relocate them.”
“Okay.” Arthur mulled over his options, “Freya, Leon, go check the pet store. Gwaine, Percy, have Gwen and Lance drive you to the pet store in town. And don’t let in here to fight! They are not well enough. Get as many cages as you can. Large ones, so we can fit them inside. Merlin, research places where we can put them.”

The cages were barely large enough. The blue things flying around were about the size of a medium dog. How they were going to stuff them in, Arthur had not a clue. But his pack was looking at him, waiting for a move, so he grabbed one of the large enclosures and snuck around into a Panda Express. One of them was trying to figure out the oven, and curious snorts emitted from it as it turned the knob. Quick as a flash, Arthur grabbed at it, cringing at the slimy skin as he wrestled to draw it into a cage. It sank its teeth into his arm and Arthur grunted, but didn’t let go. He shoved it in and slammed the door, latching it. The blue thing slammed against the entrance, slobbering at the grating. One down. A couple dozen more to go. He returned to get another cage.
“You’re bleeding.”
“As ever, a master of observation Merlin.”
“Forgive me for caring, prat.”
“Whatever. Is it poisonous?”
“I think you should be okay. Just don’t make a habit of it.”
“I’ll try not to.”

Mithian showed up with an oversized butterfly net and offered her help. He accepted as gracefully as he could while chasing one of them around a table.
Capturing got harder after the first ten were locked away. Mostly because the other Sidhe had noticed them, and began to target them with fast food.
A bunch still floated above them, out of reach, beaning them with cheap Indian food. Gwaine was trying unsuccessfully to reach one, and they pelted him with chicken nuggets.
“I think we can leave the rest.” Merlin remarked, “They’re pack creatures, so the rest should follow us.”
Loading up supernatural creatures into the back of a truck was not easy work. Transporting them was even worse. They spat and slobbered everywhere and Arthur thought of his poor backseat that he’d just cleaned. And above them, a swarm of the angry blue beasts followed them. Arthur only wondered what they would look like to an onlooker.

They arrived at a blue lake. It was far away from the city, hidden by a lush forest. The creatures in the air quieted and began to explore the area.
“Nobody owns this place?” Mithian looked around.
“Government owned.” Merlin said. He was carrying a crate. The creature inside was snorting.
“Wait, what happens when we open that?” Gwaine asked.
“Only one was to find out.” Merlin unlatched the door and stepped backward. The hideous creature shuffled out, looked around, and began splashing in the water.
The other crates appeared to quiet down as well, perhaps sensing they were not in danger.
The pack began to unload and open them, and surprisingly, noone was scratched or bitten in the process.
They continued until all the cars were empty. The Sidhe buzzed around their new home.
“They are content.” Merlin said, smiling. His face glowed and Arthur was happy to see him so pleased.
“We all make a pretty good team, don’t we?” Mithian said.
“Indeed.” Arthur replied.

11:20pm
Merlin: [We’re here to stay.]
Arthur looked at his phone, and smiled.