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       "I'll make sure to do that!" Naomi calls as she swings out of Gaius' door, nearly running over a man who was walking past the door.

"Oh! Sorry I jus-" She stops when she sees who it is. Curly black hair and high cheekbones. Eyes like amber fire.

Mordred.

In mail crested with a red dragon and a sword strapped to his hip. 

She wondered if he took special care putting those on, knowing how special he is, not just a foreigner, or a non-noble becoming a knight, (that was common enough with Arthur on the throne) but a Druid knight?

That was unique.

 

"You look as if you've seen a ghost."

His tone was different than other noblemen, or knights even, thinking they were better than her. Almost jokingly, like he didn’t particularly care that he had almost been rammed into the ground. He looked at her like he had never seen a person before, only been told about them, and that they weren’t as bad as he had been told.

 

He was also looking at her like she was crazy, waiting an answer.

A ghost, huh? Oh gods, the things he didn't know.

 

"I just...have never seen a knight before."

 

True enough. 

 

 

Chapter Text

Morgana loves the forest.

 

She loves the green. (Even though it doesn't really look pretty on a dress.) The green of the leaves above her head, the green of the leaves

encircling her (more protective than a castle ever could be), even the green of the air.

 

Morgana loves wandering through the forest, picking up stones and interesting plants, even this enchanted forest, with the looming statues; it

feels more like home than any home Morgana has ever known.

 

Morgana likes the solitude of the forest. Even though her magic touches the life she knows the forest is teeming with, Morgana still feels alone. (Because nobody can sneak up on one has powerful as her.)

 

That’s why she’s shocked when she’s snuck up on.

A girl, first seen through branches and leaves.

Then again, her trail on the path.

Thrice now, the girl with the long black hair.

Morgana is curious now. (And she knows how dangerous curiosity is.)

 

Then came the day the girl spoke to her.

         The girl walked right up to Morgana with a little bird chirping happily on her arm.

“Is it alive?”

 

The strange question was enough to draw Morgana up short.

Alive?

(This weird girl better run away if she knew what was good for her.) Morgana sighed.

The nightmares came hard last night. It was barely midday and Morgana was already tired and at her wits end.

 

“It is alive.”

 

 

The girl nodded and drew the bird closer. The bird chirped.

“Die,” she ordered, as if her command was not out of the ordinary.

Like she had always had the right to order things to stop being.

 

Her eyes flashed. The bird fell.

 

The bird hit the leaves lightly, dead as if it had never lived.

 

But Morgana wasn’t looking at the bird. Morgana was staring wide-eyed at the mystery girl.

(Who was this girl that she could command life?)

 

“Who are you?”

 

The girl smirked, “My name’s Naomi… but that’s not really who I am, is it?”

 

“Well then, who are you?”

 

Naomi bent down and scooped up the bird, brushed off the dirt, and breathed on the bird's little breast.

"Fly."

The bird immediately flew away very quickly.

(I don't blame it.)

Did Morgana want to leave? 

As she watched her mystery girl watching the bird twist farther away through the branches, Morgana knew she wanted to stay here.

That girl wasn't going anywhere. Not until Morgana knew all of her secrets. 

 

 

Chapter Text

The hovel surprises Naomi. Nestled in the forest, it looks cozy enough, but…

 

Isn’t this Morgana? Sister to Arthur, King of Camelot? Isn’t this Morgana, High Priestess of the Triple Goddess? Who is this person Naomi sees walking through the forest with no path or reason? Hiding in a hut?

 

Naomi knows of Morgana’s recent failed attempt to capture Camelot, and she knows she should listen to Gaius’ advice to be wary of Morgana, but it seems whatever dreams of power Morgana had, are gone.

 

I guess failure killed her spirits.

 

Or is she biding her time? Why else would Morgana stumble around as if a child?

 

Hopefully Naomi’s entrance is enough to wake her up.

 

*

 

Morgana looks at the girl (Naomi?), and wonders how she can be so…trusting. Morgana just grabbed the girls’ hand and led her to the shack, without explaining where they were going or even whom Morgana is.

 

She doesn’t even know my name.

She came with me, and she doesn’t even know my name.

 

A small part of Morgana thought it was better that way, but with little Aithusa winging to greet them, Morgana turned to tell this Naomi what mess she had gotten herself into.

 

-

 

A dragon! Yellow sunlight through white wings. Naomi fell in love immediately and completely.

 

And there are so many more of these at home.

Love for her future dragons exploded in Naomi as if they were her children.

 

Morgana turned to look back at Naomi; her black hair caught the sunlight, and suddenly Morgana was a part of the mystery of the dragon, surrounded by the green that bought out the color of her eyes so beautifully.

 

Wait-- beautifully? This is Morgana, Arthur’s sister, yes, but certainly not the leader of his fan club.

 

Then Aithusa’s left wing caught on a branch and he tripped in the air, tumbled, and fell to a crashing heap on the ground.

Naomi jumped forward to help, or see if he was okay, or do something, but Morgana’s arm caught her and pushed her back, away from the embarrased dragonet picking himself up out of the leaves.

 

Morgana stepped right in front of Naomi, blocking Aithusa from her sight, and with a commanding voice, much different from the way she spoke before, she tilted her head up, and:

 

“I am Morgana, High Priestess under the Triple Goddess, and this is my dragon.”

 

 

Morgana spoke with more force than she knew she had. Why had she brought this girl here, where she knew little-Aithusa would come eventually, if she didn’t want her to meet him? Why had she brought the girl anywhere in the first place? Better get this girl away from her before self-doubt took over her thoughts and revealed her weakness.

 

 

Naomi was always very faithful, even as a young child, before she heard of the Goddess, when her mother told her about God and Heaven and Angels, it sounded great to Naomi—except for one thing. It didn’t explain the magic flowing through Naomi’s veins. Once she learned of the Triple Goddess, from dusty books she nicked from her dad, Naomi knew in her heart that the Goddess is real.

 

What else, then, does Naomi do, when confronted with such an explicit extension of her beloved Goddess, a High Priestess, said to be an extension of the Goddess's will?

 

Naomi kneels.

 

 

Morgana stops cold. The girl is kneeling on the leaves. Such an unusual reaction, such respect, Morgana has never felt this before, not as princess, not as Priestess, not as sorcerer.

 

Who is this crazy girl?

Commanding life and kneeling?

 

Morgana promises herself she’ll find out—take all the girl’s secrets and then make her leave. Despite this mystery girl, Morgana still wants to be alone.

 

 

Naomi can tell, even kneeling on the ground, Naomi can tell:

It isn’t enough.

Forget teaching Naomi secrets of magic, Morgana won’t let her come near the white dragon!

 

How can I get Morgana to trust me?

Chapter Text

A blue dragon and a white dragon dancing in the sky. A calm pool of water in which a woman lays in, obscuring her face. An empty castle, with three towers made of light grey stone, sits, waiting.

The vision fades to black, but she doesn’t wake up.

The dream changes.

 

The drug has left her veins; she can feel everything they do to her—she knows everything they want to do to her. Escape! Run!

 

Standing over a basin, the blood dripping off her arms.

 

He screams and screams and screams, but no one comes to save him, no one comes to stop her, she’s all alone in the room with the monster and bucket of flesh. The smell—

 

 *

 

Naomi sits up hard, her skin too hot and sweaty in the cool room. Aithusa runs from his nest in the corner, four small feet lightly tapping the wood. He leans over, laying his hot head in her hand, against her side. He can’t speak, but Naomi knows. I am here. Just a dream.

She smiles weakly at him, and leans back into the down pillows. Morgana, rolled up on the other side of the bed, turns toward them, frowning. Sweat shines on her brow.

Is everyone having bad dreams? It must be this place.

Naomi does not like this castle of ice and rock; in fact she is leaving today.

Back to Camelot, to warn Merlin of Morgana’s plans.

 

At her side, Morgana turns again, this time whimpering softly. Aithusa taps over to her side, and worms his head in between her arms. Naomi smiles at him, leaning closer and gently pulling Morgana’s hair away from her face.

 

-

Soft kisses wake Morgana, accompanied by a warm face in her arms.

Naomi. And Aithusa.

It is a miracle Morgana is used to waking with such love around her.

Tenderly, her muscles aching from tossing and turning, Morgana turns around and surprises Naomi with soft lips touching hers. They stay for a while like that, each one mussing up the other’s hair, quiet love filling the warm bed.

Until Morgana remembers the importance of today.

Naomi’s leaving.

 

She pulls back, worry around her eyes.

 

Worry for Naomi, she tells herself.

She knows it's worry for being alone.

 

That’s ridiculous, I’m not alone, I have Aithusa, and a whole castle of followers.

Even more, there is work to be done.

 

-

When they get out of bed, the floor is cold on their feet.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

A scream.

Naomi is only half-awake, sluggish and slow. Her visions fades in and out. She's laying on the cot at the far end of the hut.

Crashes. Men with swords. The image should cause panic, but Naomi only feels inexplicable calmness.

Flashes of purple light. That would be Morgana, farthest from calm a person can be: desperate. Naomi wants to stand and fight with her, to help, but her muscles don’t move when ordered.

A loud thud.

The flashes of light stop.

 

“Y’gonna tie up tha’ one?”

“No need, drug’s got her nice an’ quiet. She’s a pretty one, too.”

 

Drug? Naomi’s been drugged?

 

She smells horses, then all goes black.

 

Naomi wakes up right before she hits the floor. She manages to bring her arms around to cover her face, but the fall still jars her. The panic only sets in when she hears the voices.

 

“Oh yeah, Gif, you got the pretty one fu’sure.”

 

Naomi curls up in a ball, the taste of bile in her throat.

 

“The Lord has the sorcerer, an’ said he dudn’t care what happens to th’uther one.”

 

The sorcerer? Morgana.

Where is she?

 

“Perfect. Let’s keep this ju’ ‘tween me and you, yeah Gif? Don’want non’of th’uthers gittin’ any o’this.”

 

Oh no. Please no.

 

“Sure Terran, whatever you want. But I brought her, so I git her first.”

 

Oh shit.

 

Get her first? Like hell.

So they don’t know she’s a sorcerer? They will now.

 

As soon as she feels the first filthy hand touch her, <C’mhere sweet, won’t do to fight it.”> Naomi pounces.

 

She flips over, eyes flashing, her hair whipping the jerk across the face. His neck twists sharply to the side and he slides to the ground.

Before Douche #2 can shout, he chokes, his eyes bulging comically, face turning maroon and visibly throbbing. Naomi stays on the ground, panting, waiting. He keels over, dead.

 

She stands up now; they seem to be in a storeroom. Naomi brushes the dust off her skirt, and examines a rip in the seam. How am I going to explain this to Gwen?

 

Better things to worry about now. She checks her daggers, but thanks to the invisibility spell, they haven’t even unarmed her. The drug seemed to have worn off, her magic coming to her naturally and just fine.

Now for the real question:

Where is Morgana?

 

Doesn’t matter, this whole place is going down.

 

So what's the plan?

Hide and sneak around the castle, maybe find Morgana, and maybe rescue her?

 

Not Naomi’s style.

 

 

Raising her head, she pushes open the door, steppes lightly over the corpse, and proceeds to take down the whole castle.

 

 

From a serving boy, (all of whom, if they do not fight, she lets live) Naomi learns Sarrum is the Lord of this castle, carved illegally out of the fringes of Cenred’s kingdom.

Sarrum, with an intense hatred of all things magic, bought the whereabouts of a sorceress from an unknown source, and sent a team to capture her and her dragon. Her girl companion was a surprise.

 

Yeah, I’ll bet he’ll be surprised.

 

The Lord was now in his private chambers with the sorceress, the dragon in the dungeons, and a pit was being dug to contain them both forever after.

 

Forever? Like hell.

 

She incapacitated most guards before any alarms could be rung, and put a sound-dampening spell on the chambers Sarrum was in. Then she took care of the rest of his forces. Naomi still had a lot of magic to learn, but some things were just brute force. She sent the serving boy to tell Morgana’s dragon what was happening and to stay calm; he would be safe there until Naomi came to get him. The castle was hers within an hour.

 

Now the tricky part: dealing with Sarrum.

It was rumored he had an anti-magic charm on his person.

Well then, I won’t use magic.

 

Unsheathing her daggers, Naomi kicked open the ornate door leading into Sarrum’s chambers.

 

 

 

-

Naomi sighed. Morgana was finally sleeping soundly. It had taken awhile to heal her after what Sarrum had—

 

No. It’ll be over soon.

 

She left Morgana on the bed, after pulling a fur over her. Barely breathing, she closed the door softly. She turned.

 

Sarrum was pinned to the wall opposite the doors, two windows on either side of him. His feet were stuck fast to the wall a few inches off the floor. On the floor near him was a naked sword, matching the empty sheath hanging from his hip. His balding brown hair thinned above an ugly, sneering face. Despite being at the mercy of a sorcerer, it was obvious he felt no fear.

 

We’re gonna have to fix that, aren’t we.

 

“A sweet honey, like you, magic bastard, or not. What’re you gonna do to me?”

 

Compressing the air around his body to hold him on the wall was not using magic against him, not technically. Did he still think Naomi was stupid?

 

“I’m not your ‘sweet honey’.”

Were all men like this? Not that she needed to be reminded of Gwaine at a time like this.

 

Sarrum didn’t answer that, but the look on his face was one of mocking disbelief.

What he did say was probably worse.

 

“Don’t worry, sweet honey. I wouldn’t have kept such a sweety like yourself in a pit with the bitch and the beast. Even if you are an abomination.”

 

Naomi unsheathed a dagger. The haze of red-anger she felt earlier had calmed into a black-purple feeling that coiled in her gut and loosened her muscles.

 

Time to shut him up.

 

 

*

 

When Morgana woke, she was curled up on the Lord’s bed.

The Lord? Sarrum.

Don’t worry Morgana, the pit will be your new home… for years. You and that runt dragon, too. And your girl? I expect the least of my guards have stolen her away by now. You’re all alone.

No! She pulled the fur on her over her head.

Wait, fur? Covering her?

Who would do that?

Her wounds were dull aches in her head. Healed?

 By who?

 

It is well known Morgana has no friends in the kingdoms.

Isn’t it?

She’s all alone.

Isn’t she?

 

It was just then Morgana became aware of groans and odd noises coming from the front room. She swung her legs around, and got up to see.

 

A second after she opened the door, she shut it.

 

Naomi? The girl Morgana met in the woods had done this? Even drugged, (of course Morgana is going to drug strange magic user she finds in the woods) Naomi managed to overpower Sarrum, quite violently, from the looks of the front room.

 

Who is this girl?

 

-

It was after, in the after, Naomi found her way back down to her body.

She was in the washroom, standing over a basin of water, washing the blood from her arms, picking bits of skin out from under her fingernails. The door opened loudly, and Naomi spun around, eyes wide, tipping the basin over, ready to scream, ready to fight, ready to—

It was only Morgana.

 

Naomi started to cry, hunched over in a ball.

 

The girl was pitiful, crying over Sarrum? Or the wreckage she had caused? Either way, Naomi managed to take over the whole castle, rescue Morgana, and thoroughly punish Sarrum, yet still, she was pitiful.

 

It was up to Morgana to drag them out of the chambers, carefully avoiding the mutilated corpse and pools of blood. It was up to Morgana to collect Aithusa, who was waiting impatiently outside by the steps of the castle. It was up to Morgana to drag now both of them, Aithusa, still bleeding from the restricting chains he was forced into and Naomi, nearly-passed out, away from the Black Castle and into the forest.

It was up to Morgana, and she performed, working enough to forget what had expired—and what nearly did.

 

-

 

Naomi lay in the bed, shaking even in sleep. Aithusa’s wounds were deep, cutting into muscle and, in a few cases, bone; they would not heal easy. He, too, was shivering while curled up in the corner. The shack lay in shambles, the valuable books and potions in a storm on the ground.

 

All Morgana’s fault. If she’d been stronger… If she hadn’t drugged Naomi…

 

Naomi was the only reason Morgana was not right now trapped in a pit, the only reason Aithusa was out of the chains.

 

Why had she done this, why had she saved her?

Didn’t she know who Morgana was?

 

No, it doesn’t matter. The girl is strong and Morgana needs that now. Besides, there is a debt to be paid.

 

Whatever the girl wants, Morgana plans to give it.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

When Naomi touched down, it was nighttime. She drew her heavy black cloak around her, <courtesy of the costume shop on the corner> and looked around.

The forest stretched on, looking ominous in the black, with no paths to be seen. As she turned around, a city rose up,

It was evening in Camelot, a cloaked figure stepped through the lower town. The figure stepped around people, around horses, pass flickering torches, and to the castle, through a hallway and to a door. The figure hesitated, then pushes open the door. Herbs hanging on the door swing, and Gaius looks up from behind his table. The hood is pushed back and a woman steps forward with a halo of black hair, closing the door behind her. In a soft voice, one that carries many secrets: “My name is Naomi. I come from a far off kingdom where magic is accepted and regulated by the crown. However, magic there is losing its potency; we need a High Priestess, one who is loyal to our crown, but they can--”

“--only be taught by a past High Priestess. You seek Morgana. Step closer, child, and speak softly. Magic is a grave offense in this kingdom.”

The woman nods. The old man was taking this surprisingly well. “I had heard there was one here who had lived through the Purge. Is that you?” Gaius nods. “And,” here she leans in, speaking extra-softly, “is there one here who is called Emrys?” Gaius comes around the table and grips the woman’s upper arms, “How do you know that name?”

“The goddess sends me visions.”

Visions? Like Morgana’s visions? Well, in that case, the visions themselves were not harmful; it was all Morgana.

“I know that Morgana is a fugitive here, but I seek her knowledge, not her hatred. I am neutral, as is my kingdom, in this conflict.”

Gaius nods. “And what kingdom is this?”

“The Great… Austrian Kingdom.”

Austrian?

“Mmm. I have never heard of that one, it must be far away.” Gaius raised his eyebrows in doubt, but something about this girl…felt right to him, like she was to be trusted. He doubted Merlin would feel the same way when he got back; he was so long to trust.

“So, your only aim is to learn magic from Morgana?” Naomi nods. “Then you should know Morgana will try to teach you dark magic, magic that shouldn’t be learned. Magic that caused the Great Purge.” Naomi nodded. “I will resist her. I seek this only for the gain of my kingdom, I am sure you understand.”

Gaius understood, more, probably, then she would think he would, but he did. He understood she was doing this because she thought she had to, and because she wanted it. He could respect that.

 

The difficult conversation settled, Naomi took off the heavy cloak.

Gaius made a weird noise behind her and when she turned around both of his eyebrows her on top of his head.

“They don’t wear dresses in your kingdom?”

Naomi blushed. “Oh. Well…er...”

 

-

“Don’t worry, I have some old ones.”

 

This time, it’s Naomi who raises her eyebrows. “You do?”

 

Gaius chuckled, “They used to be owned by a friend of mine.”

 

“Oh. Thanks. Just… did she die, your friend?”

 

“No, no. She…moved on to better things.”

 

 

*

When Naomi next sees Merlin, there is no recognition in his eyes.

This isn't her dad.

 

-

 

Later, when Naomi left to put the dress on, it was just Gaius and Merlin left in the room.

Silently, they looked at each other, then Merlin sighed.

“I really don’t think this is a good idea.”

“We haven’t heard from Morgana since she stormed the castle with Agravaine.”

Merlin nodded, looking down, twisting his fingers,

“I know… I feel… something. A feeling. Almost like trust, but without a reason… It doesn’t really make sense. Maybe this isn’t a bad idea, but either way she can wait here for a few days before we decided to help her.”

Gaius nodded. “But after that, you’ll let her be taught by Morgana?”

Merlin shrugged. “If she was working for Morgana, she couldn’t know I was Emrys. But she does.”

“Yes, she does. So let me ask you this: do you trust her not to tell Morgana who Emrys is?”

Merlin bit his lip, eyes dark.

“I…

 

Merlin walked through Gaius’ door to see a girl with long black hair. She turned when she heard him come in, and when she saw him, her eyes widened. She stared at him, openly for a few seconds, then, less obviously throughout their subsequent conversation, as if she was looking for something in his eyes, in the way he answered, in how he looked at her.

What was she looking for?

 

“I do. Yes, I trust her at least that much.”

 

-

Outside the door, Naomi thinks:

I love you too, dad.

 

*

 

Walking through the castle, Naomi spots a room she hasn’t entered yet.

 

If she leaves the door unopened, it will itch her all night.

So in it is.

It’s the weapon room. Swords gleam on the walls, shields, spears, and other things Naomi doesn’t know the name of.

Surrounded by deadly weapons, Naomi remembers that she could die doing this. She could never make it back to her dad. Never see the dragons, never save magic.

 

No. I will.

I just have to prepare.

And what better way to prepare, than to have an extra weapon?

Naomi looks around with new interest; shopping is something she’s actually good at.

 

She’s in the far corner by a table when Merlin walks in.

 

The black leather feels solid in her hand. She knows its nothing special, certainly not for Merlin, who cleans better-made weapons everyday. But Naomi likes it. Already she feels a certain pull, an attraction to the gleaming twins. Daggers. Fighting with small knifes, unseen from the dark.

Unseen?

Naomi smiles, an idea lighting up her eyes.

 

She would have to ask her dad-- no, Merlin for the spell.

-

"You want me to what?"

 

"Turn the sheaths invisible."

 

"Why?"

 

"Why do you think?"

 

He shrugs, then, with a word and a flash of his eye, complies. The daggers disappear.

 

“Better learn how to use those.”

 

*

It is Gwaine (?) (The one who makes the servant girls blush) who ends up teaching her, though he doesn’t know it.

He sits on a stool in the armory, obviously bored, throwing a dagger into a post. Over and over. Naomi watches from directly next to him. (Turns out the word Merlin used to turn her daggers invisible works on people too.) When Gwaine gets bored of that, he switches styles, throwing backhanded.

Later that night, in the tiny brush room Gaius found for her to sleep in, Naomi copies what she observed. Once, the dagger actually stuck in the wall. Soon it suck over and over.

 

*

 

Gaius, who’s that serving girl? Is she new?

 

Yes, I believe so.

 

Oh. Ok.

 

Is she wearing my old dress?

 

Er… I hope it’s all right, my queen?

 

Yes, of course, I just didn’t expect it.

 

 

*

“Merlin! Who’s that pretty girl that you keep sneaking off to talk to?”

 

“Umm.”

 

Wow, dad. So eloquent.

 

“That’s… er… Her name is Naomi. She’s… er…”

 

“I’m his cousin!”

 

“Yeah, she is!”

Under his breath: “You are?”

 

“Yeah, I am!” Bowing to Arthur: “Hello, my King. I am new in Camelot, and I am so lucky to find myself a place to work in the castle.”

 

“Well, Naomi, Camelot welcomes you.”

 

She smiles.

 

“Now no more distractions, Merlin go clean my room.”

 

This is Arthur?

 

*

Early mornings in Camelot are quiet. The day’s noises did not wake up with the baker, whose chimney is filled with smoke, or the smith, whose forges are heating up, or the serving girl, who has already cleaned three rooms and changed half a dozen chamber pots.

For Naomi, the early morning is the perfect time to hide in the stable.

 

Avoiding chores is such a chore.

 

Good thing, I have such good company.

She keeps herself busy by brushing the horses; giving special attention to the little mare Naomi has already named Elaina.

 

 

One day soon, I will escape with you, Elaina.

 

*

Coming down stairs with baskets of clothes to be washed, (sometimes chores couldn’t be avoided) she swings around the stairs, bumping into someone, but she can’t see because she’s piled the baskets too high.

“Oh sorry, gosh it’s these stairs, I swear.”

Naomi awkwardly stands there, unable to see the person, and unwilling to set down all her baskets. “It’s at such an awkward angle, this turn, and the window is put just so, so that when its around this time in the morning, it hits your eyes right at the worst time.” Naomi shut herself up as she realized she was rambling.

“Oh, I know. These stairs were always my least favorite ones.”

Wait. I know that voice.

It was the queen.

Oh shit.

Naomi puts the baskets down.

 

Gwen smiled at the black-haired girl.

“Oh, it’s alright, I assure you. Accidents happen, though you should know not to stack baskets quite so high. Here, I’ll help.”

Gwen picked up a basket and started down the stairs, much to the relief/confusion of the girl.

She didn’t quite know why she was carrying laundry down the stairs again, but maybe something about the new girl’s lack of an answer.

 

Or perhaps it was because Gwen knew her dress?

-

The girl walked next to her on the stairs, disregarding the servants trying to climb up the other side, and was intently focusing on nothing. Gwen had been queen long enough to know when someone is watching her. And the whole way down the stairs, that girl was looking at her. Gwen knew by now to know how to look back in such as way as to say: I know you are looking at me.

However, as they came to the bottom of the stairs, Gwen realized she had been using Court-level tactics on a normal serving girl.

But she herself had been not to long ago.

Was there anything such as a normal serving girl?

 

They brought the baskets into the laundry room and set them in the to-be-washed pile.

“What do you have to do next?” Gwen hoped the girl didn’t ask why she asked, because she honestly didn’t know.

The girl picked at the end of her skirt,

“The mean one- Greta- she told me I had to fill the east wing with fresh flowers, but that’s nearly two dozen rooms and I have no idea where to get flowers…”

 

“I know the best place in Camelot to pick flowers, I used to pick them all the time when…when I was a serving girl.” Gwen turned and led the way down the stairs.

Naomi decided to follow her, despite the awkwardness of wearing one of Gwen’s old dresses.

Fresh flowers were a high-commodity after all.

 

*

“Have you met the new serving girl?”

A whole castle, a whole city, and of course Arthur knew which girl she was referring to.

 

"Black hair?"

Gwen nodded.

"Merlin’s cousin?"

"She is? She didn’t say."

Why did they mention a new serving girl? The king and queen?

Maybe because there wasn’t anything else of importance happening. (But that wasn’t quite true: harvest reports were trickling in, barbarians were getting more and more restless, new knights were being trained, etc.)

Perhaps it was because she was so mysterious.

(But how could a normal serving girl be mysterious?)

 

*

The next morning, Gwen wandered around, avoiding queen work she had to do. Looking for Naomi. When the girl wasn’t found, she went as far to ask Greten where the maid had gotten to, but Greten told her Naomi hadn’t checked in that morning.

She was gone.

 

-

Merlin and Gaius knew, of course, where she had gone. Not that they told anyone else.

Naomi had promised to visit sometime, and to give warning if Morgana ever planned anything against Camelot.

 

Did Merlin trust her?

The feeling in his gut said yes, but common sense said no.

 

He decided he would watch, and be ready to take her out.

Chapter Text

Waiting, Naomi leaned against the black tree.

-

Gwen snuck out, anxious to meet Morgana again.

But when she got to the meeting place, it was not Morgana waiting.

*

“Gwen. Hello again. I’m glad you could make it; I’m sure sneaking out of your own castle was a pain.”

There was pain in Naomi’s voice.

-

“Where is Morgana?”

“She couldn’t make it. Very busy, you see. She sent me.”

Sent? “You?”

“Me and Morgana are… I’m her student.” Not for much longer.

“Her student? You…have magic?”

Naomi nodded.

Gwen just smiled. "I always knew there was something odd about you."

Oh, Gwen.

*

The wind picked up, then, reminding Naomi of the warm bed awaiting her.

Let’s get this done quickly, then.


“You have something for me?”

Gwen shook her head, confused. “Not for you, for Morgana. She asked me to bring her anything I could, and I have.”

“But you haven’t killed Arthur yet, have you?”

Gwen shook her head. “I tried, I honestly tried, but I failed. Oh!” And here, Naomi could tell very well how different she was from sane-Gwen, “I failed Morgana!”

“No you haven’t. Give me what you’ve brought and I will bring it to Morgana and give you her new orders.”

Gwen chewed on her lip for a minute, then shook her head, determined to see Morgana face to face. “But, Naomi, you weren’t even at the-“

*

“No.” Enough playing nice, Gwen isn’t herself. (The real Gwen would react completely different upon learning Naomi was a sorcerer.)

“Give me what you have.”

Gwen pulls a scroll out from inside her cloak. This is where all of Arthur’s patrols will be covering for the next few weeks.

“This is good.” Especially since I’m the one getting it, Morgana will never see this map.

“Morgana now wants you to lay low-” At the look of confusion: “To not do anything for a while. We don’t want you to get caught. Morgana is relying on you, Gwen.”

Gwen smiled, happily docile. “I know.”

*

The night swallowed Gwen’s retreating figure. Naomi sighed.

She had three more spy meetings this night.

Chapter Text

         Are ghosts actually blue? Is that a thing?

This one is.

It's Uthur, that much is obvious. He's pissed, that's even more obvious.

Maybe it's because the commoner-turned knight is sitting in his armory and an obvious invisible sorcerers is sitting next to him. (Okay, so maybe Naomi could use more instruction on her invisible daggers. Sue her for trying.) (Also, could Uthur see her? Can ghosts see invisible people? Is that really a thing?)

Before Naomi thinks to do anything to stop him, Uthur throws a shield down on Gwaine, knocking him out.

Then he turns to her. "Who are you?!"

He tried the shield trick on her, but she deflects it with magic. He looks even more pissed at that.  

“Hey douchebag! Who am I? I’m a follower of the Triple Goddess, learning magic from your daughter, who's also the High Priestess. I'm the daughter of the greatest sorcerer to ever live, who is also Arthur's best friend. Magic never left Camelot, and never will. Deal with it.”

The rest of the fight is a blur after that. 

Eventually, Gwaine wakes back up and, rather than revealing himself, Uthur explodes into a bunch of dust. Naomi, however, decides to make herself visible. 

"Wow, that shield could have really hurt you if I wasn't here."

And how. 

"Thanks, little lady, for your help."

"I ain’t anybody’s ‘little lady’, but you’re welcome. Gwaine, right?"

He nods, helping her up, then keeps her hand and bows to her, "Sir Gwaine. And you, my little lady?"

She scoffs, but allows it.

“Naomi.”

He kisses her hand, eyes sparkling.

Naomi smiles back.

I like this one.

 

-

After that they had a crazy night in the tavern.

It was similar to bars at home, not that Naomi goes to those often. (Only when Kalie or Gabriel drags her out)

The beer was...something different. You could get it 30 times stronger, enough to knock Naomi out for sure, or so weak you could guzzle all you wanted all night and only have a buzz. 

-

It seemed like a usual thing for Gwaine though; nobody noticed when he brought a new girl in.

Of course, their exit was less graceful.

Gwaine, despite being a knight, managed to get drunk enough to insult somebody, who then got upset. Soon the whole bar was in an uproar, and Naomi and Gwaine ended up outside in somebody’s flower bed.

-

Later, getting a mixture from Gaius for a more serious purple-ish bruise on his head, Gwaine looked over at Naomi, an odd look in his eyes;

"You’re pretty all right, little lady."

Naomi smiled.

"You’re not so bad yourself, little knight."

 

*

 

Naomi could not sleep in her old cupboard. Not now that she knows which room used to be Morgana’s.

It’ll itch until she checks it out…

 

 *

 

Naomi was back.

Just like that, popping back into Camelot as if she never left.

Does she think she can just do that?

Not on Gwen's watch. 

Chapter Text

Each step away from Ismere, Naomi got more and more worried about leaving Morgana alone. They haven’t been separated since Sarrum’s castle, and that didn’t exactly go very well.

She has to warn Merlin, though.

Morgana tried to keep it from her, but slavers were bringing men from all around to dig; and Naomi has seen the knights.

Camelot's knights.

*

Of course when she got to Camelot, Merlin and Arthur were already gone.

Gaius was not happy she was here and not backing up Merlin, but there was nothing she could do about it now.

(Not that she particularly wanted to reveal to Morgana that she was helping Merlin and Arthur.)

*

She regretted ever leaving when Arthur returned with Mordred at his side.

 

As soon as she saw him, she watched him and didn’t stop.

 

Was he already working with Morgana?

I can’t leave until I know that.

 

Merlin watched her and Mordred both.

*

They met up in Gaius’ room.

“What do you know about Mordred? I noticed you watching him.”

Gaius was defending Mordred, but Naomi knew better.  

“What do you know?”

Merlin hesitated, narrowing his eyes, as if to say, no that’s not how things work around here.

She sighed.

“I came to tell you Morgana is massing power in the castle at Ismere, and searching for something called Arthur’s Bane. I thought you wanted to know about that. But when I got here, you were already gone. As far as I know, Mordred is not working with Morgana.”

“Do you think that would happen? 

“Well, he is a druid.”

“You know that?”

“Of course I do.”

“Right. Of course.”

“Why does Arthur trust Mordred? Enough to make him a knight?”
The ceremony had been yesterday, the day after they got back.

“Mordred got between Morgana and Arthur, saving Arthur.”

“And he's not dead?"

“No, but… I nearly was.”

 

That hit Naomi hard. Morgana almost killed her dad? No—her past-dad?

The Morgana Naomi remembers; soft kisses in bed and warm lips under a waterfall, would she do this?

And Mordred? The same Mordred that kills Arthur, is saving him now?

And what does “getting between” them mean? Is Morgana okay?

Naomi wants nothing more than to run back to Morgana and make sure she is safe.

That is the last thing she can do right now.

As she leaves, Merlin calls out: “Watch out!”

 

“I’ll make sure I do that!”

Chapter Text

“Where are you going?”

She answers without looking at who it is.

“Out. For. A. Walk. Bi- Wait, Gwen?”

Goddess, that was close.

“Usually my subjects call me Queen Gwenivere.”

There was a smile in her eyes, so she pushed.

“But that sounds horribly boring. I like Gwen better.”

Gwen laughed, stepping closer. “So do I.”

They’re on the balcony overlooking the castle yard. Torches glitter in the distance. The night air reminds Naomi of the balcony at Ismere, and she wonders if Morgana is waiting for her in the icy castle.

Gwen is hesitant, full of questions. Where did Naomi go and why did she come back now? She says she’s Merlin’s cousin, but Merlin’s never talked about having a cousin before, and neither did his mother.

This girl is more mystery than she’s worth.

Gwen is enthralled.

-

The hour is late; the fires are beginning to dim down. The moon is big and bright over the tops of the trees; Naomi’s hair shines black. Gwen wonders what it would feel like to run her hands through it.

“Will you come to bed with me?”

 

Naomi turns back and follows Gwen inside. She longs for Morgana, but perhaps this would be better than another night alone.

Besides, how can she refuse her queen?

*

The queen’s bed is bigger than the one she shares with Morgana.

-

Naomi fits into the space Gwen keeps in her heart for memories of Morgana.

*

Gwen found out early on what happened when Arthur left.

(He seemed to take the sun with him.)

The king was often gone. When he wasn't hunting with Merlin, Arthur was rushing out to save his knights (or the city). Gwen fell in love with Arthur for his heart, and she knew without his actions, it would be difficult for Arthur to reconcile himself with his past. But most nights Gwen slept alone.

Tonight she wouldn’t have to.

*

Naomi knew what was happening. Arthur was gone; he took the knights, including his new Druid knight, along with Merlin out hunting.

Gwen and Naomi were both left behind.

In the morning, Naomi would return to Morgana and Aithusa.

Gwen would be left alone for real then.

(Maybe that’s why Naomi agreed to spend the night.)

*

They talked all night, rolled up in the ridiculously big bed.

Naomi recounted mishaps from being a serving girl, including pains over how huge Camelot is. (“I won’t even make it down the hallway before somebody else gives me three new things to do.” “And the labyrinth, oh sorry, I mean the North Wing.”) They laughed, joking about how they would rebuild the castle if they could. Gwen wanted a white fortress on a hill, while Naomi described a castle, with three grey towers, on an island.

*

Naomi wouldn’t answer her when she asked where she went. Why all the secrets? Should Gwen ask Merlin?

-

Naomi told herself she didn’t answer because she didn’t want to involve Gwen. The more Gwen knew about Morgana, the more she was connected, the bigger the target on her.

(Naomi knew Gwen was already involved. She was the freaking queen of the kingdom Morgana wanted for herself, and kind of married to the person Morgana hates most.)

*

Gwen finally ran her fingers through Naomi’s dark hair.

She had fallen asleep, breathing soundly, curled up on her side. Gwen traced her skin with light fingers. Some things a queen can’t have.

*

She dreamed of living in Naomi’s castle, waking up and looking out the tallest grey tower. She turned back from the window, and Naomi was sitting on the bed.

*

Naomi also dreamed of her the castle with the grey towers. Two of the towers were shorter than the first, and they were jealous. They screamed and screamed at the first tower, wanting it to fall down and so be equal height to them.

*

She slipped out of bed before the sun rose, careful not to wake the woman sleeping next to her. The floor was cold on her feet, and the early morning air was silent around the lace robe she slipped into.

Footsteps down the hall. The door opened. Gwen turned to shush Merlin before he woke Naomi, but she found herself looking at Arthur instead.

-

The girl on the bed was still sleeping, unaware of the notice being given her, or the sun rising. She was obviously naked under the sheet Gwen had thrown over her, long black hair in tangles.

Arthur was mindful Gwen did not appreciate his absences, and so he accepted her solution. Sometimes, serving girls would wind up visiting the queen’s bed for a night or two. Always girls, and they never asked for more than they got. He accepted it. (He could not bear the thought of leaving Gwen waiting and waiting for him when we wasn’t coming back.)

Arthur was not that surprised to find Naomi in his bed when he returned; she was not hard to look at, after all.

He did wonder why she was still asleep. Have a late night?

Arthur decided it was probably best not to tell Merlin that Gwen had slept with his cousin; Arthur waved him away when he tried to bring breakfast and clean the room.

They ended up sitting on chairs at the table, Gwen still wrapped in her lace robe, watching Naomi sleep.

-

She frowned without waking up. What was she dreaming about?

-

Naomi rubbed her eyes, and stretched. Blinking through the sunlight filtered across the curtains, Naomi sees two figures.

Arthur. Gwen. Morning.

Naomi rolls around, pushing her face between the pillows, exposing her pale back to the cold air.

Morning can wait.

*

Eventually, Arthur and Gwen manage to coax Naomi out of the bed. (Even though it’s probably not even 7:30 yet.) After a while, Naomi did come around, enough so to tell them she was leaving Camelot. She listed some mysterious excuses that Gwen didn’t believe for a second.

And not an hour later, she was gone.

-

She stopped by Gaius’ first, of course.

“I’m off again. I’m almost done, actually. There’s little left to learn. I will tell you if something happens. And you’ll tell me if Mordred does anything strange? Anything at all?”

They agreed.

She left.

Chapter Text

When Naomi saw the waterfall, she freaked out.

A shower.

Finally.

 

*

It was actually just a dip in the river; a small ridge of rock stopped sharply and dropped a few feet directly down. The river poured on indifferent, permitting clear water to jet in a waterfall, pooling on the rock.

 

*

Morgana was staring at Naomi as she woke up.

“There is a debt to be paid.”

Naomi took this in, and decided it was way to early to be talking doom and gloom. She told this to Morgana.

“Usually, the payment is a life for a life.”

Naomi decided to get up now.

 

-

 

They were back in the hovel, and it didn’t look too bad, but, she supposed, Morgana must have cleaned up a bit.

The white dragon was curled up in the corner, keening softly every now and then.

“His name is Aithusa.”

“Hello,” Naomi called. Aithusa lifted his head with a wince. His wounds were deep, caked with mud and half-broken scabs.

A rush of pity filled Naomi’s heart; she went over to heal him, observed by Morgana.

Examining him with doctor’s eyes, Naomi realized the chains that held him down in Sarrum’s castle had had barbs and twisted spines in them.

She supposed they worked to keep him down, but with the price of deep furrows bored into his neck muscles. The muscles had attempted to

heal, but were not joined together smoothly, creating more problems than a clean break would. The restraints had wrapped around his neck

dozens of times, pulled taunt, and across the joints of his legs.

His eyes were bloodshot.

“Aithusa, I’m going to try to knit your muscles back together properly.”

She always explicitly told her patients what she was doing to them, even with the kids in the hospital.

 

She placed her hand lightly along his neck, and breathed in.

*

 

“I don’t know what happened, or why these wounds are as bad as they are. It’s as if they are purposely healing worse than the actual wounds

were in the first place.”

Naomi had never failed to heal anything. She even healed Arthur, who had been dead for a considerable time.

Morgana nodded.

“Sarrum had many anti-magic restraints; this could be from another.”

“The way the fetter dug into his throat, I doubt he’ll ever speak again.”

 

*

“Morgana,”

“Yes?”

“It’s bath time.”

 

Morgana sighed. Would this girl ever say anything that made sense?

She could sympathize with a desire to be clean, though, (there was dried blood caked in Naomi’s hair) so Morgana took her to the waterfall.

-

After washing all the evidence away, Naomi returned to Morgana’s hut.

“The debt…”

“Morgana, what I want most out of anything in the world is to be taught magic.”

Morgana appreciated the girl’s forthrightness, contrasting with her memories of Uthur’s court.

Tutelage? Morgana remembered learning from Morgause, and how everything she learned seemed another mountain climbed, another wonder

discovered, another tool obtained.

Whatever else, Morgana could empathize with a desire for power.

(And a desire to not be lonely)

“I can give this to you.”

*

Morgana began to teach Naomi things Morgause had taught her.

Days passed, then weeks. Eventually, Naomi was reading the writing of Nimueh and the High Priestesses before her, learning the secrets of the

Old Religion. In Morgana’s dusty hovel, surrounded by magical relics passed down from ages old, Naomi fell in love with her Goddess all over

again.

-

Teaching was a new experience for Morgana. Before Naomi, she had little drive. Watching Aithusa grow, and wander the valley. Now, magic

filled her days. In teaching, Morgana became better, remembering things learned long ago.

Her days were filled with magic, and her nights…

-

Naomi had a habit of washing at night under the waterfall. She’d heat that section of the river, and stand under the steam.

Morgana had a habit of watching her.

When she left the steam cloud, the moonlight sparkled her black hair, and the cool night hardened her nipples. She used magic to dry herself

after wringing out her hair. Strong, lean arms. Was her skin as soft as it looked?

 

Naomi looked up suddenly, holding Morgana’s eye.

(What was she thinking about?)

She gestured for Morgana to come over. Did she mean to-?

She did apparently; Naomi marched over, grabbed Morgana’s hand, and pulled her into the waterfall.

-

Morgana’s dress got more than a little wet. She could dry it later.

*

They ended up in Morgana’s bed, sometime after.

 

Whispers:

 

“Morgana?"

“Yes?”

“I think I love you.”

Morgana did not remember what love was, but she wasn’t going to say that to the girl she did not want to lose.

(Was that what love was?)

“Go to sleep. You have to control the four elements in the morning.”

 

*

It was weeks later, when it happens.

Naomi is reading on of the scrolls, a history of exotic castles, when she comes upon something she does not understand.

“Morgana?”

She does not look up from the chair across the room.

“Mm?”

“What is a Diamir ?”

She shakes her head, but sighes, and comes over to read the passage.

Morgana looks up quickly, a strange smile alighting her face.

 

“What is the Diamir? It’s the next step.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Well? How did it go?”

“I brought down a rock-slide in front of a cave; he’s buried in with no magic!”

 

Oh shit.

He escapes right? But what if he only escapes because I help him? But I can’t leave now, he’s so far and people will die, maybe even important

people.

Not to mention it would mean leaving Aithusa behind. And I can’t do that.

Merlin is just on is own.

-

Naomi stepped away from Morgana, leaning against the rocks, surveying the army below them. From this height, the hordes of men look like a

river, flowing smoothly where she directed it.

Behind her, Morgana continues with her ceremony. It’s her big day.

“Now, Aithusa, I, High Priestess Morgana, of Morgeuse, bid you breathe on these blades and forge them in your dragons’ breath.”

Naomi looks up.

Two blades. Each with a destiny. Each with a kill-list. A list only Naomi knows.

A blinding white light pours from Aithusa’s maw. The swords grow red then blue then white. The unholy fire stops, and the blades dim down.

Morgana takes hold of a sword and sheathes it. She grabs the other and gives it to Mordred. “I give you this blade…”

Pretty words, thinks Naomi. She steps closer.

Is this really the blade that kills Arthur Pendragon?

Kills him once, maybe, but not for long. Not for forever.

 

She remembers him, nearly two years ago, (or a thousand years in the future, depending on how you think about it), the Arthur that she brought

back to life. He was… quieter than his younger counterpart. (She thinks the quietness comes from sadness. Grief.)

Smarter too, Naomi hopes, a better king. She has to believe he will be a better king.

 -

Merlin was adamant that she not change the future, and she doesn’t plan to. (However much it may hurt)

Look what happened when she tried to interfere with Mordred’s destiny.

But wasn’t Morgana different?

Naomi had recently visited the cave, stepping lightly around the dragon eggs that she knew would be found

later (by herself).

Hadn’t she just carved the names of the High Priestesses into the wall, and the prophecy as well? (She also set up the book

with the page she wrote. One thing she learned from Back to the Future 2.)

Morgana wasn’t in the prophecy; her destiny wasn’t (literally) set in stone.

Could Naomi change Morgana’s future?

 -

Aithusa’s head bumps her hand, breaking up her thoughts. The blades have cooled; the battle awaits. Camelot’s troops are just over the ridge;

the vanguard may have already reached them.

Ravens swoop and caw in the blackening sky.

 

Morgana and Mordred have already left the ridge where they had gathered. Did Morgana give her instructions before she left? A kiss, a well

wishing? Naomi doesn’t remember.

She tells herself it doesn’t matter; there will be plenty more time for kisses.

 

She cradles Aithusa’s face, lightly scratching the ridges around his eyes. “Friend… I need another favor…”

Aithusa nods, whispers, “Anything for you.”