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Arthur left his bed and leaned against the coolness of the castle wall. He looked out over Camelot, his shirt clinging to him with perspiration despite the late hour. It was a full moon, but still a month before midsummer and Arthur was restless, not just because of the heat.
Staring at the moon, he sighed. ‘I just wish I had someone in my life who understands my needs. Someone to share this with. Someone who isn’t Merlin.’
He returned to his bed and eventually fell asleep to be disturbed by a dream so vivid he could barely believe it wasn’t real. He was standing on the shore of a lake. It was dawn, misty, but the sun was beginning to warm the air. A boat was heading towards him with no obvious means of propulsion, a single figure on board. It glided to a halt in front of him and he could see it was a woman.
She beckoned him onto the boat, and he walked forward, watching her curiously. She was swathed from head to toe in a gauzy material that hinted at the body it covered, but also concealed it. She motioned him to be seated and then, as the boat glided away from the shore, unveiled her face.
He didn’t recognise her, but the oval face was framed with curling dark hair, the eyes a melting deep brown. He could see her silhouette through the filmy material, the curve of her breasts, the gentle roundness of her hips. He was ensnared, his body suddenly responding to her as they entered the mists.
And then he woke, Merlin swishing back the drapes of the bed to find Arthur rapidly dragging the covers over himself despite the warmth of the morning.
‘Are you all right?’ Merlin asked.
‘Yes. Yes, why do you ask?’ Arthur retorted.
‘It’s just that you look a bit . . . well, odd, to be quite honest.’
Odd was exactly how Arthur was feeling, but he wasn’t going to confess as much to Merlin, his manservant hidden under the covers was causing him enough confusion. He sent Merlin away and lay back on the bed, the woman’s face clearly etched on his mind as he attended to his own needs.
He had the dream again that night. This time the boat was further away and he waited with ill disguised anticipation for it to approach. Once again, the woman was swathed in filmy cloth, but this time he was certain he could see more of her body, faint shadows which had previously been obscured, nothing tangible, but enough that his body responded as urgently as it had before. He had no idea who this woman was, or why she was having this effect on him, but he felt a connection with her that he hadn’t experienced since Guinevere.
That thought brought him abruptly out of the dream and he lay crossly in bed, waiting for dawn, unable to sleep again. Every night he had the same dream, but sometimes the boat began its journey further from the shore and some nights he woke before it even reached him, to his frustration. On the times when he did enter the boat, it was to find her gossamer thin robe becoming even more transparent, the curves of her body more clear, shadows and details forming where there had been none. Every night his body responded to her in the same way, but he was unable to touch her. She never spoke but he could imagine her voice, soft and low. He almost felt that he could smell her scent, layered, floral but musky, feminine but sensual. He lost concentration during the day, blaming it on sleeping badly due to the continued heat, but the reality was that he was becoming obsessed with this woman in his dreams.
* * *
Towards the next full moon, the castle was in preparation for the midsummer feast. King Barlis would be bringing his daughters, the eldest of whom had been proposed as a match for Arthur, uniting the two kingdoms as Barlis had no sons. Arthur, who had not given it much thought that month, was particularly tetchy with Merlin.
‘But WHY can’t you decide what to wear?’ Merlin was asking, his face concerned for once. Arthur was never normally so indecisive about his clothes.
‘Oh just get me anything.’
‘A lovely velvet frock, perhaps?’
Arthur clearly wasn’t listening, so Merlin chose a tunic at random and some freshly washed breeches. It was only when Arthur was dressed and took a look at himself in the glass that he realised he was wearing hunting britches.
‘Merlin!’ He threw an apple at his servant as his face appeared at the door. Merlin ducked and it missed. ‘Why have you given me these to wear? It’s a feast not a farmers guild!’
Muttering under his breath aboutsomeoneonlyjustnoticing what they were wearing, Merlin found a more suitable pair of breeches and Arthur changed.
‘Well, you want to look your best for Lady Merril,’ Merlin commented, fastening Arthur’s cloak around his shoulders.
‘Lady Merril. King Barlis’s eldest daughter? Erm, the one you’re supposed to be marrying? The one Uther promised you to?’
Arthur’s heart momentarily clenched. This wasn’t how he’d planned gaining a queen to rule alongside him in Camelot. His father would have approved, a marriage for alliance, but canlı bahis for Arthur that wasn’t enough. Guinevere had ruined him in so many ways. But it was time to forget her, to move on without her. For the future of Camelot.
‘Anyway, they’ve just arrived,’ Merlin continued. ‘You’d better go and meet them.’
‘King Arthur.’ Barlis greeted Arthur warmly and the two men hugged. Peace had been good for both their kingdoms. ‘May I introduce my daughter Merril,’ and out of the shadows stepped a willowy blonde figure. Blushing she curtseyed deeply in front of Arthur. He took her hand to raise her, meeting her eyes for the first time. She was not unattractive and he smiled warmly at her.
‘You are very welcome, my lady.’
‘And . . .’ King Barlis looked around him. ‘Avalon? Avalon!’ From near the fireplace where she had been playing with latest litter of puppies, a figure approached. ‘Arthur, my other daughter, Avalon,’ he continued with a sigh.
As she curtseyed, he could see that she was wearing riding boots rather than velvet slippers like her sister, and that her dress, although richly embroidered, was mud splattered, her dark hair tumbling unruly over her shoulders. But it was as she looked up to him, holding out her hand for him to raise her, that he realised he had seen her before. As she placed her hand on his, such was the spark between them that he almost threw it aside. She looked at him curiously, her smile faltering, but it was her. The lady from his dream.
He took a deep breath, calmed himself, and acknowledged her curtsey with a bow. ‘My lady Avalon-‘ Her name caught in his throat.
‘I know, awful isn’t it? You can call me Avi. Everyone else does. Except father, of course.’
She glanced up at Barlis who was barely concealing his annoyance. ‘Avalon!’ he reprimanded. ‘What have I told you about . . .’
‘Talking too much?’ she prompted. ‘Or over-familiarity? Guilty on both counts,’ and she laughed, seemingly oblivious to the looks she was receiving from both her father and her sister, and Arthur’s complete confusion. ‘Anyway, I am honoured to meet you, my lord,’ and she bobbed another curtsey and stepped back.
Barlis ushered his daughters out of the room with an apologetic backward glance at Arthur.
‘Arthur?’ Merlin prompted.
‘Whatisthe matter with you? You look like a startled sheep.’
‘Merlin . . .we’re going to see Gaius.’
* * *
‘Well, it could be dark magic, my lord, but it seems unlikely. After all, you say that she knows nothing about it?’
‘She didn’t appear to. I . . .’ He stood up and started pacing Gaius’s laboratory. ‘How could I know her? I’ve never seen her before but she’s been in my dreams every night for a month.’
‘Exactly a month?’
‘Oh, err . . . well, I think it was a full moon when I had the first dream.’
Gaius frowned. ‘Well, unless you made a wish on the Bright Moon . . .’ Arthur suppressed a cough and Gaius looked at him sharply. ‘Perhaps you’d like to share that wish.’
Arthur squirmed uncomfortably while Merlin began to grin.
‘Shut up,’ Arthur snapped.
‘I didn’t say a word!’
‘Arthur?’ Gaius prompted.
‘Doeshereally need to be here?’ Arthur asked, nodding at Merlin, who was obviously enjoying Arthur’s discomfort.
‘Yes, he does,’ Gaius replied. ‘He is in a much better position to observe you than I am, and it’s a full moon tonight when the magic is at its strongest. He stays. So?’
‘I . . .oh lord. I wished for someone to share my life with. Someone who understood me. Specifically, someone whoisn’tMerlin.’
‘Oh harsh,’ Merlin laughed.
‘And then the dreams came, Arthur?’ Gaius asked.
Arthur nodded. ‘And they’ve been getting clearer and clearer. Last night’s . . .’ He paused. ‘It was . . . extremely . . . vivid.’
‘And explains why your sheets have needed more frequent washing. Sire, I do believe you’re blushing.’
‘Merlin, hush!’ And Arthur picked up a bowl and threatened to hurl it in Merlin’s direction.
‘Well, my lord, it appears you may have wished yourself into this situation,’ Gaius added, ignoring Merlin.
‘But it’s impossible. Avalon . . . I’m certain Avalon is my destiny, but Barlis wants me to marry Merril. I can’t ignore her for Avalon, he’ll take that as an insult.’
‘I’ve known Barlis a very long time, Arthur. It wouldn’t be just an insult if you rejected Merril. It would be a declaration of war.’
* * *
That evening at the feast, Merril was sitting next to Arthur, doing her best to entertain him. He smiled politely as she talked about the journey, how she had the decency to take a litter while Avalon had insisted on riding herself. She was sat further round the table talking to Gwaine and Arthur was unable to suppress an acute feeling of jealousy as they laughed together. First Lancelot and Guinevere. Now Gwaine and Avalon? ‘Agh!’
‘My lord?’ Merril asked.
Arthur hadn’t realised he’d made a noise, but stamped bahis siteleri his foot and muttered, ‘Cramp.’ He moved his chair so he could no longer see Avalon and turned his attention dutifully to Merril. She was not unpleasant company, and he found himself warming to her, but his heart was not in it.
* * *
This time the boat was waiting for him in his dream, the lady, Avalon, dressed, disappointingly, in a long hooded cloak. She still didn’t speak, just stood and watched Arthur as he climbed into the boat and took his seat. She remained standing as the boat headed towards the misty isle and Arthur realised it was evening rather than morning. For the first time, the boat nudged against the island’s beach and Avalon stepped carefully out of the boat and waited for Arthur. He followed her and she turned and walked up to a semi-ruined building where she was met by four women. Arthur was quite pleased to see that they were dressed in the diaphanous drapes previously worn by Avalon, and as he walked past them into a partly furnished room, they plucked at his clothes, removing them without him realising until he stood, naked, before a deep bath.
Avalon waited as the four women encouraged him into the bath and they soaped and stroked him with gentle fingers until two of them lifted a blanket and he stepped out into it. They dried him and then drifted back as Avalon turned, beckoning him towards another room. To his immense relief there was an enormous bed in the centre of the next room. Avalon stood at its side and as he approached she let the cloak fall from her shoulders.
Arthur’s breath caught as he took in the delicious lines and curves of her body, but it was when their eyes connected that he felt the strongest shudder of lust.
‘Arthur . . .’ she whispered, the first time she had spoken. ‘Arthur . . . you wished for me. Come . . . be with me.’
‘Can I trust you?’
‘You wished for me. I am what you wished for.’
She reached out her hand and he took it, touching her for the first time, and energy flowed through him making him feel sublimely alive. Gently he pulled her towards him and then she was in his arms and he was kissing her, stroking gentle fingers over her skin as their lips met and moulded one another. She tasted wonderful and he slid his fingers over her shoulder and into the hair at the back of her neck, pulling her closer to him. He manoeuvred her onto the bed and she willingly followed his lead. He lay next to her and kissed down over her shoulder, along the collar bone and down onto her breasts.
She released a sigh as he caught against her nipple and he took it between his lips and began to gently suck. She moved languidly as he kissed and caressed her, exploring her contours, responding to his touch. He was indulging himself in this dreamworld, taking advantage of the complete freedom, allowing his fingers to stroke and touch and softly squeeze, and Avalon responded, matching his touches with her own, stroking down his torso, over his hips and thighs.
She wrapped her fingers around his manhood, and then slid her lips over its tip. Arthur stretched out luxuriously onto his back as she knelt above him and began to gently suck at him, her lips widening over the tightening skin as he lengthened within her. She flickered butterfly light fingertips over his body as she sucked him, holding him more firmly between her lips, winding her tongue over the tip as he raised his hips up towards her until he could hold himself no longer and released himself into her, groaning with relief as he climaxed.
Not wanting to lose a moment of this experience, he stroked fingers over her stomach, gently over her hip bones, and then between her legs. She parted for him, allowing him access to her femininity. She was breathing deeply and he matched the movement of his fingers to her tempo, her body undulating, and he kissed down her body, replacing his fingers with his tongue. She gasped as he entered her warm wetness, tasting and sucking, locating her bud so that she moaned and he circled it with his tongue and then started to suck, to tease it. Avalon was whimpering now, pushing herself against him, grasping the sheets, twisting them in her fists as he grasped her hips with his hands to focus more closely until she could bear it no more and a shudder of ecstasy wracked her body.
It was then that he entered her, at first slowly, then increasing the pace, thrusting deeply into her as he took her emotions onto new levels. She responded to him so wonderfully, he had never met anyone who had given herself so fully, so completely to him, and as he looked into her dark eyes, they seemed to flash with a golden aura as he released himself within her.
* * *
‘You must leave now, my lord,’ she softly as they walked towards the boat.
‘I will return tomorrow?’
Avalon shook her head. ‘You will see the boat, but you cannot land on the island until the next full moon.’
‘The next . . .?’ He remembered his frustration over the last month. ‘But I cannot wait bahis şirketleri that long!’
‘You must leave now, my lord,’ she repeated.
‘And what if I refuse? Do I have a choice?’
‘You always have a choice.’
‘Then I choose to stay here. With you,’ and he took her by the hand and led her back into the ruins of the castle.
* * *
‘Gaius, I still can’t wake him,’ Merlin said anxiously. Arthur was thrashing about in bed, occasionally moaning. ‘I heard him call out but when I went to him, he was like this. What do I do?’
‘It is as I feared. He is lost in his dream.’
‘The moon was full last night and at its most powerful. His wish is coming true in his dream. He has chosen to stay there.’
‘His wish? Well, that would explain the . . .’ and he twitched the sheet back over Arthur’s tumescence. ‘But how do we get him back? He can’t go on like this!’
‘No, Merlin. No, he can’t. Fetch the Lady Avalon.’
Avalon arrived in her nightgown, hair in disarray. She saw Arthur and took a step back from him. ‘Is he ill?’
‘Not exactly, my lady,’ Gaius replied. ‘He keeps calling your name.’
‘Mine? But why mine? Why not Merril?’
‘I don’t know, my lady, but it’s definitely your name. Can I ask you something?’
‘Have you ever dreamt about Arthur?’
‘No! Indeed, for the last month I have not dreamt at all, which is unusual. I have slept heavily but woken exhausted.’
‘The last month? Since when exactly?’
‘Since the last full moon, sir.’
‘Lady Avalon, did you . . . did you make a wish that night?’
Avalon flushed furiously and bowed her head. ‘It was an indulgence, sir.’
Gaius patted her on the shoulder. ‘I understand. But . . . your wish?’
‘I . . . I wished to have someone in my life who understood my needs.’ Avalon was trembling, partly with embarrassment, partly with fear. ‘What have I done?’
‘I think you have invoked some ancient magic, more elementary even than the Old Magic. You both made a wish together on the Bright Moon. I think . . . I think Arthur is living his wish in his dream. Yet you have felt nothing?’ She shook her head. ‘You have not yet known a man?’ he asked gently.
She shook her head, shame flushing her cheeks. ‘No sir.’
‘Then I think the ancient magic has protected you.’
‘But . . . King Arthur . . .?’
Gaius shook his head wearily. ‘I cannot undo what he has done. He has chosen to remain in his dream.’
‘Can I do nothing?’ Merlin asked.
‘I’m afraid not. This is beyond even . . .’ he trailed off as Merlin looked back at Arthur.
He had momentarily lapsed into stillness although his body was still tense. Avalon approached and sat next to him on the bed. She stroked a hand across his forehead. He seemed to respond, turning towards her, his muscles seeming to relax. She stroked down over his face, her fingers drawing along his strong cheekbones, his fine straight nose, tracing the outline of his mouth. He responded by kissing her fingers and taking the tips between his lips, gently sucking them. This surprised her and she withdrew them quickly. At once Arthur reacted, his forehead wrinkling in consternation and he turned his head from side to side as though searching for her. Tentatively she returned her hand to his forehead, stroking him into calmness once more.
‘Gaius?’ she asked, looking for some kind of explanation.
‘My lady, you, or your spirit, are with him in his dream.’
‘I am? I have heard of shades, but I thought they were spirits of the dead?’
‘They are, but ancient magic allowed for more freedom of movement of living spirits, especially . . .’
‘Especially their, ahem, sexual elements or fey spirits. I think that is what has happened here. You both wished for the same thing on the same moon, but while your earthly life is protected as your fey spirit fulfils your wish, Arthur has no such protection.’
‘But how do we get him back?’
‘I can think of only one thing, but it is too much to ask.’
‘What, Gaius? Whatever it is, I will do it.’
‘I cannot ask that of you.’
‘Ask me what?’
‘Your fey spirit is bonded with Arthur’s in his dream. To release him, you must bond your actual body with his, recapture your spirit.’
‘You mean . . .?’ She had stopped stroking Arthur’s face and he was becoming restless again. ‘But that would mean . . . I would shame my father and my name, and . . .’
‘I know, my lady. That is why I cannot ask it of you. And your fey has been released in complete freedom, to behave as it desires. It may be . . . difficult for you to . . . align your conscience with its actions. And it will have become stronger since its release as it will be drawing on Arthur’s spirit which was, well, let us say, more developed than yours.’
‘But if I don’t? Arthur?’
‘Arthur will die, my lady. He will not eat or drink while he is in this state.’
‘So I give myself to him . . . or he dies?’ She was looking between Gaius and Merlin, hoping for one of them to offer an alternative solution, but they simply bowed their heads in acquiescence. She looked back at Arthur, watching his features as some drama she could not see played out behind his eyes.
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