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Story Title: Beside Me
Chapter: 1.2 - This Could Be Home
Rating: R
Summary: X-Men AU: For many downtrodden mutants, rejected throughout a lifetime of unwelcome blood dictating their lives, Camelot Academy is not just a school - it's a home. But something dark is brewing, and Camelot is no longer as safe as it appears.
Word Count: 6250
Characters/Pairings: Arthur/Merlin, Gwen, Lancelot, Morgana, Gwaine
Chapter Warnings/Content: mentions of non-con and violence in the past, vague suicidal ideation if you squint
Beta: [livejournal.com profile] lasvegas_lights
Notes:For one, this fic is an AU of, not a crossover with, X-Men. The actual characters, organizations, ect. from the X-Men franchise probably won’t feature in this fic much, if at all – this fic is only loosely based on the franchise, pretty much only connected by the whole mutant thing, one some generalized plot elements. Otherwise, this fic is still predominantly Merlin-centric.

Also, the “Class” system – you see them with Greek letters in the comics, but numbered 1-5 in the movies, with 1 being the weakest, either a minor power, physical mutation with no power, or a dormant gene, and 5 being the strongest, basically capable of ripping apart a country or even theoretically the planet at will. I use Roman numerals I-V in this fic.

Chapter 1: School’s In Session
Part 2: This Could Be Home

Master Post

<< Previous Chapter

~*~


A day and a half later, the van drew up to a fucking castle.

It looked like something that belonged in 10th century France, in myths and magic – not belonging to modern day Scotland and housing mutants, the anomalous epitome in genetic science.

White, grand, and big as it was, Merlin looked on in awe, and he could feel the safety this place could provide for mutants.

There was no moat, sadly, but there was a large stone wall around it, at least for the parts Merlin could see – there appeared to be a few acres of land around the main castle, making the entire complex seem all the more bigger.

In a gap in the wall, there was an iron wrought gate, and, looking rather incongruous with the school, there were lots of security cameras around it, and an intercom.

“What’s your real name?” Wyvern asked as they pulled up to the gate. “Considering we’re a bit beyond code names now that we’re here…”

“…Merlin.”

Wyvern raised an eyebrow, and Merlin sighed.

“My mom was a bit of an Arthurian legend nut. My parents knew I’d be a mutant long before I was born, and an unusual one, so they thought it’d be fun or something like that.”

The man laughed. “We got named by the same legends, then. I’m Gwaine.”

Merlin smiled, and got out of the wan and went towards the intercom.

He hesitated, especially as he saw one camera swivel to face him, but then pressed the TALK button.

“Hello?” Merlin said into the speaker.

Silence.

“…hello?”

“Hello,” a man’s voice responded just when Merlin was about to repeat himself. He sounded slightly old, and his voice was polite. “Please state your business.”

Merlin glanced back to where Wyvern – er, Gwaine – was getting out of the van, holding the door as he warily watched the gate.

“This is the Camelot Academy, right?” Merlin asked.

“Yes, it is.”

“Um…we’ve been…this is a school for mutants, right?”

“Yes.” The man was being oddly monosyllabic. But maybe answers like these help protect the school, somehow. “It is.”

“Then…could you please let us in? Er, we’re mutants…”

A lifetime of drilled in secrecy made Merlin’s heart clench in instinctive terror at just outright saying it, that he was a mutant. But he heard simply, “Please come in.”

A buzz-whir sound echoed from nowhere, and the gate was opening.

Stepping back carefully, Merlin slipped silently into the van again, and once the gate was fully open, Gwaine drove them forward.

“Well,” Gwaine said quietly. “We’re here – let’s hope you were right about their mutant reception.”

Merlin laughed nervously and nodded.

The castle was still huge when they went towards where the road led them near the front towards a rather grand looking entrance at the top of a lot of stairs. In the distance, Merlin could see what appeared to be some children around a tree and one adult, but other than that, it looked like everyone else was inside.

“A school, right?” Gwaine asked. “You didn’t tell me you’d be going to Hogwarts.”

Merlin laughed, abrupt and unexpected. “I hadn’t…I hadn’t known. The website only gives the general area for where it is…the rest is password protected to protect the kids here, remember?”

Gwaine nodded. “Makes sense…”

When they pulled up near the entrance, there was an old man waiting for them, wearing slacks, with a small radio in his pocket, and a sweater Merlin was fairly certain went out of production about fifty years ago.

“Hello,” the old man said pleasantly when they slowly got out, and Merlin identified him as the man from the intercom.

Merlin tried to smile politely. “Hello, um…I’m the bloke from the…intercom…”

He felt rather stupid for saying that, but the man remained polite, nodding at Merlin, before looking at Gwaine.

“Hello,” Gwaine said simply.

“Welcome to Camelot Academy,” the man said, with a gentle and welcoming smile on his face, gesturing that they should follow him. “For Gifted Students. I am Dr. Gaius R. Wilson. Just call me Gaius, everyone does.”

Gifted…well, that was one word for it.

They were led through a series of hallways and staircases that had Merlin nearly lost, except for some helpful signs posted here and there giving a rough map of each floor – and seriously, this place was huge – and led them into an office in a room in the middle of the castle.

Inside, lots of books and bookcases, sofas, and a desk with a fancy monitor and what looked to be a powerful computer underneath – Merlin could just see Will drooling over the processing power the thing looked to have – and Dr. Wilson…er, Gaius…sat in the fancy chair behind the desk, and indicated they have a seat in one of the many chairs before the desk.

Merlin sat down immediately, and Gwaine eyed the room a little warily, before he sat down, too. Both of them had pushed their chairs back a little, so it would be easy to get up and run instantaneously.

He felt oddly comforted that he wasn’t the only nervous one, here.

“Now, since you have my name, it seems only reasonable for me to have yours,” Gaius said, pleasantly.

“I’m Merlin Emrys,” Merlin said. He was startled to see a look of recognition pass through the man’s expression, but Gaius then smiled wanly at him, and looked to Wyvern beside him.

“Gwaine,” Gwaine said simply, offering a hand. Gaius shook it with a smile.

“From the looks of you boys, am I safe in assuming you have been travelling for quite some time?” Gaius asked, leaning back, as if they were all just chatting idly. From the alertness in his eyes, though, Merlin didn’t doubt that everything they said was being carefully filed away in the man’s brain.

“I always travel – don’t have any place to settle down,” Gwaine said with a shrug. “Go wherever the work goes. I picked up this one-” He jerked his head in Merlin’s direction. “About two days ago.”

Gaius turned to Merlin and raised an impressive eyebrow at him, asking for an elaboration.

“Um…I’ve been…I’ve been traveling for a few weeks, now,” Merlin said. “From Cornwall…mostly on foot, a train here and there when I could manage a ticket.”

Gaius smiled and nodded. “Well, I can find a place for both of you in this school – even you, Gwaine, if you are willing. A few caveats to that, though.”

Merlin’s eyes widened as Gwaine sighed beside him, and Gaius shook his head.

“Well, Merlin, you are a student, I believe so this one does not apply to you,” he said congenially. “Gwaine, though – I have no trouble with adults finding sanctuary within my school. However, this is not purely a charity – you will be expected to work one way or another, or contribute to the school. There are many positions possible for this school, but I will not be able to allow you to laze about and feed off the system, as I have a limited amount of resources at my disposal. You can work here, and will be receiving pay, while being provided for. Or if you can find any other way of contributing to help the school, you will be readily accepted. But this will not be a free ride for non-students.”

“I expected as much,” Gwaine said. “If I stay, I’ll work.”

“If?”

“I only heard about this place when I offered the kid here a lift,” he said. “I mostly came to get him here, and because I was curious.”

Merlin looked at him, rather surprised. He’d seem so genuinely interested in the school…

Gaius nodded. “Understandable – I can afford for you to have a few days to get a feel for this school. After that, however, you will need to make a decision.”

“Sure thing.”

“And, something for both of you,” Gaius said, looking at them both. “I have certain agreements with the government in order to maintain the safety and secrecy of this school. One of them is that all mutants here be registered. I understand you might be hesitant or even frightened of this measure. I can arrange for the file to be government access only, and requiring a high security-clearance to be seen, as well as a requiring a reason or warrant to view. But, it is a necessity for our collective protection. I am quite sorry, but I felt you must know.”

“Oh, um,” Merlin bit his lip. “I’m already sort of registered…I filled out the little form thing, anyway, the most basic one. Public database.” Of the levels of registration, Merlin had at least opted for the least intrusive one, basically just telling the database his name and that he happened to be a mutant. “Do I need to go for one of the higher levels?”

“No – basic level is enough. I will ask to alter the access level of your file. Gwaine?”

The man sighed. “I’m…let’s just say the government already knows all about me. So yeah, I’m registered.”

Gaius smiled. Merlin imagined if he’d had a grandfather, he would have smiled like that.

“Good. One unpleasantness out of the way. Now, I would like to give you both a brief medical check-up, both to ensure you have no serious medical complications, and to gain a better understanding of your powers. Don’t worry, I do this for everyone who comes through here, and most of them find it as much of a nuisance as you likely will, soon, but all of them agree it is necessary. If you will follow me, gentlemen.”

~*~


Gwaine followed Gaius alongside Merlin.

They walked up and down hallways and staircases – Merlin was going to need a map of this place, he just knew it – and reached an infirmary. Inside, he was met with the strange mix of some of the most modern and up-to-date looking infirmaries set inside stone walls and archways of the castle room.

There were two rows of five comfy-looking beds with curtains around each, and through an archway in another room, Merlin could see another room of medical equipment, with four examination tables, two rows of two, at the end.

With a gesture from Gaius, they took a seat on two tables, facing each other.

“I think I can say right off the bat you’re a touch malnourished,” Gaius said while eying Merlin critically. “I will need to draw a blood sample to get an accurate measure of it-”

“Try very malnourished,” Gwaine muttered.

“-and to look for other illnesses, and keep your DNA on record,” Gaius said amicably. “See what your genes say of your powers, that sort of thing. And any other medical issues relating therein.”

“Give him a full STD work-up, too,” Gwaine said immediately.

Fucking bastard-

“Hey!” Merlin shouted, feeling blood rush up to his face in fury and humiliation, tears prickling at his eyes.

This man may have helped Merlin, but that didn’t give him any right to make any sort of medical choices, or any other choices, for Merlin.

None.

Gaius frowned in alarmed confusion, while Merlin glared at Gwaine.

What?” Gwaine challenged, leaning back on the bed and staring down Merlin. “I believe you’re the one who called it an ‘occupational hazard’.”

“Actually, I hadn’t-”

“Be glad I didn’t suggest a full rape kit!” Gwaine said.

“What are you talking about?” Gaius asked, a look of deep concern on his face as he looked at Merlin.

Merlin shut his eyes. He was so hoping to avoid this. He could have just come here and then forgotten all about this, but no, this prick had to…had to…

Damnit.

He sighed.

“I…I didn’t have much money when I ran away, sir,” Merlin said, hesitantly. “I did whatever it took to survive on the streets, and…well, good looks can go a long way. I…”

Gaius’s expression turned to one of saddened understanding. “I understand, my boy. And, Gwaine is right to worry for you.”

“…I made them use condoms,” Merlin grumbled indignantly, face still red. He couldn’t believe he was talking about this with them! Gaius was so…he was like a grandfather, and he had to wipe at his eyes as humiliation got to him. Why the hell did he have to go through this?

“And the time you were drugged?” Gwaine demanded.

“Gentlemen,” Gaius said, placating. “It might reassure both of you to know that our DNA renders mutants immune to most venereal diseases.”

“It’s the few we aren’t immune to that worries me,” Gwaine said under his breath.

“Why do you even care?!” Merlin demanded. “You barely know me.”

“You’re a good kid-”

Merlin laughed, disbelieving. “Like I said, you don’t know me!”

Gaius sighed. “Gwaine, perhaps you would like to get some rest in one of the infirmary beds while I talk to Merlin?”

Gwaine smiled sardonically in understanding. “Of course, Doc.”

And he walked out, smiling sadly at Merlin before slipping into the next room.

Merlin sighed, dropping his face into his hands. A moment later, he jerked away, alarm on his face, when Gaius had reached out to rub his shoulder.

Gaius held out his hands, showing them both, in a calming gesture. Apparently, he’d dealt with a lot of fucked up kids, before. Not surprising - this was a school for mutants during an anti-mutant government regime.

“Sir,” Merlin said. “Bad things happen when mutants touch me skin to skin, so…so please be careful.”

Gaius nodded in understanding. “Your power.”

“…yeah,” Merlin said, nodding, wrapping his arms around to hug himself after setting down his bag on the bed beside him.”Um…I can like…absorb mutations…I can absorb mutants’ powers. I don’t take it, they still have it, but…the absorbing part, itself, hurts, a lot. For me, and for them, and it can leave their powers weak for a while after, too.”

Gaius nodded, turning around and pulling on rubber gloves. Merlin breathed a small sigh of relief when he saw that. “If you will roll up your sleeve, Merlin, I will draw your blood to take a look at your DNA later – it will let me have a much better understanding of your power.”

Merlin nodded, pushing up his sleeve and letting Gaius draw the blood. The man vialed it, labeled it, and put it in the fridge as Merlin rolled his sleeve down over the band-aid and fidgeted on the table.

He wondered what Gaius would find out. Would he able find a way for Merlin to not absorb powers? Would he find out what Class of mutant he was? Merlin always felt like a II, but he thought maybe a III was more likely, if he was able to get some more powers as Mum had always said, however much he didn’t want to. He hadn’t really met other mutants, obviously, so he didn’t know a lot about it (but he knew enough). He doubted he was a Class IV, and seeing as he has yet to kill himself in a violent fury of his own power he obviously wasn’t a Class V. Maybe Gaius could figure out how many powers he would absorb before he just couldn’t get anymore? Or-

“Now,” Gaius said, leaning against the table opposite to Merlin. “Will you please explain what you know of your power?”

Merlin nodded. “Well…the only real one of my own I have is to absorb people’s powers. I’ve had telekinesis all my life because when I was born, my father – he was a mutant – touched me.”

Gaius gave Merlin a shrewd look. “Your father was Balinor Emrys, I’m assuming? I suspected from the moment I saw you, but I wanted to be sure.”

Surprised, Merlin nodded, staring at him in confusion. “Yeah…why? Did you know him?”

“Yes,” Gaius said, smiling at Merlin paternally. “We were both researchers and activists, for mutants and mutant DNA.” He paused. “You and I have already met, Merlin – I was a good friend of your parents many years ago, and I was one of your mother’s doctors when she learned you would be a mutant. I attended your christening, and was the first physician to see to you after your birth. I've been to your parents home several times, too.” The old man smiled a little sadly. “The last time I saw you and Hunith was at your father’s funeral.”

Merlin swallowed. This was the first time he’d ever met someone beside his mother who knew his father, even knew about him, beyond the fact his father’s name was well known as one of the first mutant casualties of the Gene Riots. And the idea that he may have met Gaius before in his life, even if he didn’t remember it…

“You knew them?” Merlin asked hoarsely.

Gaius nodded, a sad look on his face. “Your mother and I drifted apart after your father’s death, and I haven’t heard from her since then. Tell me, how is she?”

“Er…all right I guess, now,” Merlin said. “She – she was lonely, I think, after my dad, but…we managed. We lived very well. She took care of me, did everything she could to give me a happy childhood.”

Gaius smiled. “I’m glad to hear that. Considering what happened to so many other mutants and their families…I’m only sorry that I didn’t try to search for you two harder – perhaps you could have been a student here much earlier.” Another pause. “Though considering the attack on the school so long ago it’s probably just as well you weren’t.”

“Um…right,” Merlin said, not sure what to say. Gaius seemed to realize his dilemma.

“Ah, sorry, my boy, for subjecting you to the bumbling woes of an old man. Please, continue, Merlin,” Gaius said, softly.

“Um…when I was little, about seven, we had a gardener over to help lay down some grass in my mother’s garden, and I had touched him, and…suddenly, it was like my blood was on fire, but at the same time I felt really cold, like my bones were made of ice or something, and it hurt and I got dizzy and I hadn’t really eaten by then so I just passed out. My mum talked to the man – he had empathy. He could know what people were feeling just by touching them, and I’ve been able to do the same since then.”

Gaius’s eyebrows went up, but he nodded.

“I’ve become a fan of gloves and long sleeves since then,” Merlin said. “I can control the other powers, but I still don’t know how to not absorb people’s powers.”

“We offer students a chance to train and understand their powers in one of our classes,” Gaius said. “Perhaps you will discover something then.”

Merlin brightened at the thought.

“Anyway…since then, I’ve only gotten one more power. It wasn’t long after I ran away. One of the…one of my…um, someone I met on the streets – I hadn’t known he was a mutant, and when…” When he shoved his cock into my mouth. “…when I touched him, the same thing happened. He could see in infrared light.”

“Can you control that?”

“Yeah,” Merlin said. “I could shut it off. Same with the empathy thing. I haven’t seen anything in infrared since that night.”

“But you still have the power?” Gaius asked.

“Yes. All my powers, they just stay there in my DNA afterwards. Those powers I can control, easily – the only one I can’t control is my own.”

Gaius seemed surprised. “You aren’t the only mutant to be able to take other mutants’ powers and capabilities…but I have never heard of someone who manages to actually keep another’s powers – especially without taking it from the original mutants.”

Merlin swallowed.

“Um…right. Well, I still prefer to avoid it. It’s painful and I don’t want more powers.”

Gaius nodded. “It’s all right, my boy. Normally, I like to see new students’ powers in action, but I think for this case, I will make an exception, as it causes you pain. If you are ever willing to demonstrate, however, let me know. You can take the power from me – I can heal people, to a certain extent, by touch.”

Merlin hesitatingly smiled. Being able to heal people just by touching them sounded rather nice, actually. “Um, maybe…later?”

“Whenever you feel up to it, and not a moment before,” Gaius said, smiling. “Now, what are the effects if touching nonmutant humans?”

“Nothing,” Merlin said. “Not even people with normal human genetic mutations, the not-mutant mutations and stuff. Only mutants, specifically.”

“And, what of the mutants after you absorb their power?”

“Fine,” Merlin said. “My dad held me all the time as a baby, and I used to hang out with the gardener while he showed me how to use the empathy and how to properly make a flower bed for my mum.”

Gaius smiled. “Bit of a green thumb?”

“…um, not really…I just, I just like nature and stuff, my mum’s the gardener,” Merlin said, blushing slightly.

“I have a student whose power is control over living plant life. She almost singlehandedly maintains the flower gardens on campus. I will be sure to introduce her to you.”

Merlin liked the thought of that.

“Is that all you know of your power?”

Merlin nodded.

“Well, then, for the rest of the check-up…” Gaius went over some place and pulled out a form. “I keep an active medical file on all my students. Do you have any doctors or primary care physicians who I can contact?”

Merlin shook his head. “My mother was a nurse, so she could always take care of me. And I was a healthy child, anyway. Apart from a visit to an A&E for a broken arm when I was six, I never had to go to a doctor. And we worked hard to keep my genes a secret, so…”

Gaius nodded. “Well, then…on that note, how did you break your arm? Just for the files, if there's no physician for me to contact.”

“I was trying to levitate myself onto our roof. My friend was already there – he’s the only one who knew about my power – shouted something at me and my concentration broke and I fell.”

Gaius seemed surprised.

“You could levitate a friend? Yourself?” Merlin nodded. “Hm…telekinesis is a fairly common power – I have many students with that as a primary or secondary power – but being able to levitate people at the age of six…well, that’s fairly impressive. The Hover Games will be happy to have you.” At Merlin’s look of confusion, he added, “The telekinetic students have developed a series of mock tournaments and games to test telekinetic power.”

Merlin blinked, stunned at the possibility of other kids with the same power as him, moving things with their mind like him, and, and playing with them, and competing even, and, and-

“Now,” Gaius said. “Any other serious injuries I should know about? No? Good.”

He continued his way down a series of common medical questions, illnesses, medications, family history, the usual.

When Gaius paused at a question, Merlin glanced at the form.

Sexual history.

Oh, no. “Do I…?”

“Yes, Merlin – I at least need to know if there is anything you have done that is potentially harmful. I understand this will be difficult – I do, in fact, have one other student who had also had to resort to such measures to survive. I know this is difficult. Just tell me what you can.”

There was someone else in this school like him? Like him as not just a mutant?

Merlin went through it quickly, refusing to look up at Gaius’s face as he explained what he’d done just to get to this school, to survive out on the streets. He’d left home in a flurry of grief and atonement, and in barely a week he’d gone from good kid to mutie whore. (He made sure to phrase it in another way to Gaius, though).

They finished up with less painful questions, along with a lot more questions about his power, and with that, Gaius put the file away by the computer, and he went into the other room, gesturing for Merlin to follow him, where they accidentally woke a dozing Gwaine, and Gaius handed Merlin some things while telling Gwaine to continue sleeping. “I’ll show you to your rooms before I deal with Gwaine.”

~*~


Merlin walked slowly down the corridor, looking at all the numbered doors around him.

“When the castle was built,” Gaius said. “It had a few room sizes. Small servant quarters, slightly larger servant quarters, rooms for guests who were not nobles, rooms for guests who were nobles, and rooms for the royal family. These are those ‘servant quarters’.”

All the doors were numbered, and many had placards with names of students, either one or two to a door, and most of those had other signs bearing the students’ names, as well.

“These,” Gaius, pointing towards doors with one name on them. “Are the smaller ones, and rooms for individual students. These-” The two-name ones. “Are bigger, and are for students to share. The rooms without names are empty ones, and you can take any one you want, either a single one, or if you can find a student by the end of today who you would like to share with, you can join them.”

Merlin nodded, already deciding on a single one.

“You are allowed to decorate your room all you want. Encouraged, in fact. Just so long as whatever you do can be taken down or washed off at the end of the year for the breaks, because that is what you will do. And I don’t mind students moving around when they wish – though I cap it off at no more than once every other week. Just let me know if you change a room.”

Another nod. “So, if the servant quarters are the dorm rooms, what are the other rooms?” he asked, curiously. He looked at the paper map of the school Gaius had provided, much to his and Gwaine’s relief (“I told you this place was Hogwarts!”), and got a pretty good idea of where everything went.

“The smaller guest rooms are the personal rooms for the staff,” Gaius said. “The larger ones are used as classrooms. And the royal chambers have all been converted into various common rooms, three large and four smaller ones.” Gaius smiled fondly at Merlin again. “Your friend Gwaine wasn’t the only one to make the Hogwarts connection, either – a few years back, the students named each of the smaller four lounges after the four Houses from Harry Potter and rearranged all the furniture so the colors would match appropriately.”

Merlin smiled at the thought. He would have to start looking for the more serious online House tests. He was pretty sure he was Hufflepuff, but he did like the thought of being a Ravenclaw…

“Now,” Gaius said, stopping Merlin in the middle of the hallway. “We generally endorse a bedtime between eight and ten, in the evening, though you can stay awake in your own rooms. We do not have a curfew for wandering inside the complex, though be warned, from nine in the evening to six in the morning, any infractions of the rules will receive double the punishment. Unless you have permission from a teacher, you are not allowed out of the castle main during that period.”

Merlin nodded. “I’m not…I don’t much like causing trouble, sir.”

Gaius smiled. “Good, then. The kitchen is open at all times – we are well aware how off-track many students’ metabolisms and dietary needs are. You can eat all you need, though please do not take this as license to gorge yourself unnecessarily. The meal times are in the pamphlet.”

Merlin, yet again, nodded. This was so much information, so fast, and so soon after spending weeks on the streets, focused just on making it to the next day alive and with food in his stomach if he was lucky.

“Classes start at nine in the morning, and generally end mid-afternoon, depending on your age and schedule. Tomorrow, we will have you sit a series of exams to determine where you are, academically, and we will create your program accordingly. For today, you can settle down in your room and explore the castle to get a good idea of where everything is.”

“Thank you, sir,” Merlin said, turning his head again to look at the empty rooms.

Gaius patted his shoulder. “It is no trouble at all, Merlin, it’s what we’re here for. Make yourself at home.”

“I mean it,” Merlin said, looking around, down at the pamphlets in his hands, everything. “I just…thank you. For making this place, for us to be safe.”

“I didn’t make it, Merlin, I just run it now,” Gaius said. But he smiled and added, “But you are welcome, Merlin. And so long as I have something to say about it, this school will always be a safe place for you.”

With that, he turned and left.

Merlin wandered through the corridors, opening various nameless doors to check inside them. They were all pretty much the same – a single bed, a desk with a small lamp, and a wardrobe. The rooms, despite being from a medieval time, had room lights, and electrical sockets. Every few rooms would be one of the bathrooms, with dividers between the multiple showers and toilets.

All in all, considering these were actually dormitories, they were actually quite luxurious.

It was in a daze that he picked a room, near the end of the hall, and set his bag on the desk.

His room felt somewhat empty as he packed away his meager belongings, but it was still his.

He sat on his bed and skimmed through the pamphlet, glad to see the parts that older students were allowed out on the weekends to the local village a few miles away (seriously, Gwaine was right, this place was Hogwarts). He didn’t have much money left, considering how his last ‘sale’ was interrupted, but he had enough, so he could go buy a set of clothes on the weekend.

He jumped as suddenly, he heard a bell ring, before relaxing – it was signaling the end of a class.

And even as he listened, within a few minutes, he heard several people in the hallway outside. He even cracked open a door to look. Most didn’t notice or pay attention. Seeing as there were actually almost four hundred people in the school, according to the pamphlet, people probably didn’t know each other well enough to instantly recognize him as new, for which Merlin was grateful.

Stuff packed away and map in hand, Merlin went out to look around the castle. Seeing as it was going to take forever to get a hang of the place, he might as well get started on it now.

~*~


By day, Arthur Pendragon was the star of Hurstierpoint College. He was a football and rugby champion, and he had an excellent academic record, second to almost none in the school. He was human, he was normal, he was real, and he was perfect, or tried to be.

He tried, because then maybe it would make up for his imperfection, the biggest deformity one can have.

At night, he was just a mutie, trying desperately to pretend he wasn’t, and wishing his father could find the cure faster, so much faster.

He wanted to be Uther’s son again, human again, and real again.

This night in particular, he tugged off the straps holding him in and holding him together, and breathed a sigh of relief as his wings spread out. He stretched and stretched until all six meters of feathered muscle were reaching across the corners of his room. It felt good to finally be able to stretch them again. Beneath his slitted shirt, his entire torso flexed to match them. (An advantage of wings were the brilliant chest muscles he got to go with them).

“Your muscles look so good through your shirt,” some girls would say at school. “Why don’t you take it off?”

Luckily, they were the sympathetic sort, and all it took were a few lies about an old spinal defect and surgery scars to keep them from probing closer.

Then he pulled them back in, just enough, and pulled the screen out of his window, and clambered up onto the edge, before looking down the three stories to the ground.

“Don’t worry,” the well-bribed researcher at Pendragon Inc had said after analyzing Arthur’s wings. “He will need to maintain them so they don’t atrophy and affect the rest of him before we can find a cure, but he won’t need to fly or any such thing.”

(Arthur had breathed out a sigh of relief at the time – he wasn’t going to turn into a bird.)

“Just some stretching and tension exercises we can work out so the muscles will not develop into full-flighted wings but will not atrophy, either. Don’t worry, Mr. Pendragon – we can make sure the mutations will have minimal impact and your and your son’s lives.”

After Arthur’s wings started growing, they’d moved out here to the country, where it was more secluded and much, much, much more private. Arthur had hated it at first, missing the city with fierce longing (and a part of him was looking forward to being able to back to the city, as soon as he was cured). But at times like this, he found it useful.

He turned so he was facing into his room, feet on the ledge, hands clutching the sill, his curled body hanging off.

Then he started moving his wings.

His wings were the weakest muscles of his body, limbs that he rarely got to use. But he couldn’t let them atrophy from dysfunction, and so he did use them.

It felt a little ridiculous, flapping his wings while hanging off the edge of the window, but he knew better, now, than to just drop and hope for inertia to help.

When he felt himself lifting up almost, amid the drafts of air surrounding him as it went from his wings to the walls and back to him, he let go.

There was that brief moment of terror, like there always was, that he would just fall and kill himself (and today was one of those days where this was a bad thing, though not all days were).

A jerky movement, however, and he was up in the air.

He didn’t go far – barely a few dozen meters up (he never flew higher than that), in short, choppy movements that made him feel rather clumsy in the air (he tried to remember that soon it wouldn’t matter), before he glided down and dropped onto the roof.

He would love to be whole and fully human, again. But when the day came that he was cured, he would still miss his wings.

With a heavy sigh, he slipped off the roof and went back to his room, strapping his wings close to his back again, trying to feel like that was right, that was okay, that was where they were supposed to be..

Soon, and it would all be over. Soon, he would be a real person again.

~*~

Next Chapter >>

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Date: 2011-03-12 08:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pallorsomnium.livejournal.com
Yay an update!! :D I've been tracking a number of your stories now and I like the Merlin/X-men AU you've got going. (And yay for the Hogwarts-like academy~) I can't wait to see where all of this is headed, and for when Merlin and Arthur meet!

Date: 2011-03-20 07:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
Glad you like it. I'm a Harry Potter nerd who can't help with the references - as you'll see next chapter, which I've just posted. ;)

Date: 2011-03-12 09:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sighnomore.livejournal.com
Very exciting chapter :D I wonder how Merlin will settle in at the academy. And poor Arthur having to hide from everyone like this :(

Date: 2011-03-20 07:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
I do love Arthur angst...and I've just posted the next chapter, so you can go find out how he fares now! :)

Date: 2011-03-12 10:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] welshinnit.livejournal.com
I'm really enjoying this - please update soon :-)

Date: 2011-03-20 07:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
I just did. :)

Date: 2011-03-13 03:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ontinia.livejournal.com
Completely adore this fic.

Date: 2011-03-20 07:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
Thank you. :D

Date: 2011-03-13 03:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lachatblanche.livejournal.com
Oh I love this!! *sigh* You have no idea how glad I am that Merlin is safe and sound at the Academy! Though I kinda wanted to punch Gwaine (GWAINE!!!!) for his blunt revelation of Merlin's prostitution, even though I know that he did it because he was worried. I just felt so bad for Merlin then! *hugs him* I cant wait to see what level power he is though (Im hoping for a badass Level V!) And I cant wait for he and Arthur to meet as well!!

Loved this so much and I absolutely cant wait for the next part! Please update as soon as possible!!! :D xxx

Date: 2011-03-20 07:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
I wanted to punch Gwaine, too. Well, actually, I wanted to delete that bit, but for the sake of the plot and his character, leaving that in was more important. D: But I regret nothing! :P

Heh, Level V = not so badass in this 'verse - most people know that most Class V's have died in a violent manner with their powers. Class V's are scary. No one wants to be a Class V, at least in my own little X-Men AU verse. (Like I said, this is very loosely based off the actual X-Men franchise, so a lot of things are very, very different).

And - I've just updated. ;)

Date: 2011-03-13 05:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] reni-m.livejournal.com
Great update!
It's a relief that Merlin made it to the Academy safe and sound.
Oh poor Arthur. Accept yourself and give those wings some proper exercise! He should listen to Gaga's new single.
Looking forward to the next chapter!

Date: 2011-03-20 07:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
Er...Gaga's new single...? *is pop-culturally illiterate*

And, next chapter's been updated. :)

Date: 2011-03-20 02:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] reni-m.livejournal.com
Hee, the new single is called 'Born This Way.' Basically telling everyone to accept themselves, the song is quite catchy actually.

Date: 2011-03-20 09:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
Ah. Thank you!

Date: 2011-03-13 05:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bookflight.livejournal.com
Love the introduction of the Academy (and the Hogwarts comparison). I'm very curious to how Merlin will interact with the other students. It will certainly be an interesting adjustment for him. Also, I like how you've maintained this older, rebel persona for the Gwaine/Wolverine character. It's allowing for that wonderful dynamic that Rogue and Wolverine have(at least, that they have in the films). However, for me the real shining, brilliant moment of this chapter was the interlude with Arthur. I love how he has this internal mantra of sorts about when he'll be a "real" person again. Heartbreaking.

As always, eagerly awaiting the next chapter!

Date: 2011-03-20 07:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
It was fun, turning Camelot into Hogwarts. ;) And yeah, of all the character interactions, Wolverine and Rogue are probably among my favorite. :) And writing the bit with Arthur was fun in a hurty and angsty way.

Next chapter's just been posted.

Date: 2011-03-13 07:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shan-n.livejournal.com
I am so glad I clicked on this fic. Soooo goood.
Poor Merlin. =(

Date: 2011-03-20 07:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
I'm glad you clicked, too. :D

Date: 2011-03-13 07:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kesterel.livejournal.com
<333 So much love for winged Arthur! Thankyou so much for writing this brilliance and can't wait for the next part.

Date: 2011-03-20 07:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
I love winged Arthur, too. :D Next chapter's been posted!

Date: 2011-03-13 08:44 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Well, that was a very fast update. The only downside to it was that I was done reading it so soon. XD
Lovely writing as always, had me hooked from the beginning. I'd love to see more soon!
Lizzie

Date: 2011-03-20 07:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
Sorry for the chapter chapter, but I'm glad you enjoyed it all the same. Next chapter's been posted!

Date: 2011-03-13 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] myrimidryad.livejournal.com
Aha! It was Gwaine! ^^ I love Gaius - he's wonderful. And the description of the school and the comparison to Hogwarts is fabulous! The further explanation of Merlin's powers is helpful too. :) But poor Arthur. :( Can't wait for the next update! :D

Date: 2011-03-20 07:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
Yes, it was. ;) Glad you like Gaius, I like him too. ^+^

And I am a total Harry Potter nerd who saw Camelot in the first episode and went "So that's where Hogwarts came from..." :P So yeah, tons of references, which you'l find more of in the next chapter - which has just been posted! :D

Date: 2011-03-14 12:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yjackie.livejournal.com
I <3 you, I <3 you, I <3 you (x a million.) As soon as I saw that you had updated, I shoved my textbook to the side (it's gonna come back to haunt me on tuesday when I have my midterm) and gave a little squeal as I dived in.

I've read so many Merthur fics so far, and so many of them are so well written. And most of them are finished.

BUT my favourite of them all, is this one. Even with only a prologue and one chapter, I adore this fic and your writing to death. I can't wait til Merlin and Arthur meet. =D

Thanks for the awesomeness!

~Jackie

Date: 2011-03-20 07:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
Heh, I'm glad you like the fic so much! I'm sorry this isn't finished yet, but I'm glad you still like it. If it helps, the next chapter's just been posted!

Date: 2011-03-18 04:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] darkestnight12.livejournal.com
I get it! Merlin is Rogue and Gwaine is Wolverine. ;D WINZ. o_O Arthur's angsting is breaking my heart. I adore the comparison of the mutant school with Hogwarts! *glomps Merlin* Lovely update!

Date: 2011-03-20 07:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
Mm, it's not exactly a "translation" of character-to-character from franchise to fic...though if it is then Merlin won't be JUST Rogue ;P

Date: 2011-03-20 11:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] darkestnight12.livejournal.com
Erk, I didn't mean it that way! o_o I just meant the mutant power sort of thing. Though Merlin's absorbing seems much safer than Rogue's (and more powerful too 'cause he gets to keep the power forever afterwards) and Gwaine has Wolverine's claws, yes?

Date: 2011-03-20 09:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
You are right on that account. :D I just mean it won't really stay that way... >:P

Date: 2011-03-20 01:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elirwen.livejournal.com
So I was right about Wyvern being Gwaine. :)

Poor Merlin... The things he went through... :(

But now he's safe and can learn to use his powers, so yay for it. :)

I'm so looking forward to the moment when Arthur will realize that he's not inferior because of being mutant.

Date: 2011-03-20 07:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
Yes you were. ;) And yes, poor Merlin - someone should really stop torturing him. *shifty eyes* But yes, he is safe, now! Arthur has a long way to go - but the next chapter's just been posted, so he's one step closer! ^+^

Date: 2011-03-27 04:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] iichristinll.livejournal.com
I'm so glad Merlin's at the school now. It's so exciting :DDD

Date: 2011-03-27 06:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nyxelestia.livejournal.com
He's way past being at school now. ;)

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