Authors: Katherine Sparrow
I took in a deep breath and made my eyes open. “I’m fine.”
I sat up and looked around. We were back in Merlin’s hotel room. Morning light streamed in through the window, and I saw Lila lying in bed beside me: awake and exhausted-looking. Adam was sprawled in his open cage, once-again human and sleeping. I wiped my nose with the back of my sleeve. It came away red.
Merlin walked to my side and offered me a tissue.
Merlin, not Kestrel.
“How much do you remember?” he asked carefully.
I swallowed a couple of times. “The beginning of things,” I said faintly. I dabbed at my nose, hoping I didn’t look like too much of a mess, and searched my body. Now that I knew the forgetting spell was there, on my person, I could find it: a near-invisible blue ring wrapped around my forearm. It was made to look small, but it was anything but. Part of it was damaged, and white light shown through. Someone vastly adept at magic had placed this forgetting spell on me, so well-made that it even made me forget its existence.
I ran a finger over it and watched Merlin.
He handed me a steaming cup of coffee and sat down on the edge of the bed. He still wore the rumpled clothes he’d had on when we battled Guinevere.
He could have done anything to me while I’d slept.
But he was the one who’d put the forgetting spell on me, most likely. Friend or foe, I wondered.
“You knew about the forgetting spell,” I said. “Because you knew I would not recognize you, when you showed up at my shop. That’s why you called yourself Kestrel. A small hunting bird, much like a Merlin. Clever. But enough games, Merlin. Tell me what you know.”
“We will talk. When you are better rested and have had time to think things through,” he said. “When everyone is rested.” He nodded at Lila.
I turned to my assistant. She looked so young and mortal, lying in this huge bed full of fluffy white blankets.
“You gave me quite a scare,” I said to her.
“I’m glad I wasn’t around when Guinevere was queen,” she whispered.
“You should be, truly. How do you feel?”
“Weak. Tired. Pissed off.”
I nodded. She had lost too much life energy. She would be feeling weak for a long time.
“And how is Adam?” I asked Merlin.
“He wakes to eat large amounts of meat and then sleeps some more,” Merlin replied. “They are both lucky to be alive.”
I nodded. “They are young and will heal fully in time.” I stood. “And you and I will talk soon.”
Merlin was right. I needed time to think about all my new memories.
I drove Lila to my house. We spent the day watching driveling romantic comedies
Lila’s favorite. We ordered any and all of her favorite take-out food, and throughout the day delivery men brought us pizza, Chinese takeout, coffee, and even a chocolate cream pie. Lila’s phone kept whistling, chirping, and making other absurd noises. I made her ignore all of them.
At the end of the day I tucked her into my bed and slept on the couch. More memories bled through into my dreams. Of Merlin. Of Merlin and me. No new revelations came, just the luxury of remembering lost pieces of my own life.
Lila woke me up the next morning, bouncing on the couch. “Good morning!”
“You should be sleeping,” I grumbled and studied her. A bit of pink brightened her cheeks, and her eyes looked less dull.
“You know everyone is talking about you, right?” She grinned. “The great Morgan le Fay. They’re calling you the grand witch of Seattle. Hey, that sounds like sandwich. I bet you some hipster is going to make a Morgan le Fay sandwich. Grand witch. Oh jeez, your nose is bleeding again. Is that some kind of witch thing I don’t know about?”
I blinked. “What?”
“No, the other thing. What people are talking?”
“Um, well, you sort of totally outed yourself when you saved all the witchy women of Seattle from Guinevere. All the local witches are flipping out.” She handed me some tissue.
I cursed in a couple of languages as I wiped up my bloody face. Was it too late to hunt each of those women down and set a forgetting spell on them?
“There’s a chat room where people talk about you and a couple of fan sites already. Also, I’m sort of famous too, because everyone knows I work for you.” She grinned with her gray-tinged face.
“I’ll deal with all of that later,” I said. “You look well enough to go home, where you will stay until you feel completely better. I will pay for sick leave. Don’t come back to work until you are fully healed. The level of life-force you lost is—”
“Sure thing, worry-wart. Geez, you almost sound like you care about me or something.” Lila gave me a long hug and took a grocery bag of take-out with her.
I took a long shower and then cleaned my small house thoroughly, twice. I pondered the forgetting spell, and all the things I couldn’t remember. It was like searching for the shape of fog. I took a walk and thought about Merlin. I went over each memory I had of him, looking for places and moments of clarity about who he really was. I thought about sharing the Grail with him. I’d trusted and loved him completely in that moment. Yet he was also the man who’d stayed away from me when I had a forgetting spell on me. Why? I could come up with a dozen reasons, but had no intuition about which answer might be correct. I walked halfway across the city and back.
I stayed up late that night, examining the forgetting spell and doing certain experiments on it to test its boundaries and properties. Finally, I must have dozed because I woke at five a.m., shaken awake by dreams of my own ancient history. And another nose bleed.
I drove to work.
Morgan’s Ephemera was the disaster I needed to take my mind off everything. It would take all day or more to clean it. Before I began, I made coffee and took out my tarot deck. I shuffled the deck a couple of times and wondered if I really wanted a reading today.
With a shaking hand, I pulled the Magician.
A moment later the door clanged open and he came in. Merlin looked well-slept and bright-eyed. He looked exactly like the man I’d been having graphic and extremely pleasant dreams about every time I closed my eyes. A woman my age should not blush.
“I was wondering if you would actually show up,” I said.
“I said I would.” He stood in the doorway, looking me up and down with a worried look on his face.
“Yes, well, I don’t have the memory to know if you are a man of your word these days or not.” I held out my arm with the forgetting spell wrapped around it. “The memories are leaking out slowly.”
“I have never lied to you. I will never lie to you,” he said, striding across the room until he stood too close.
I handed him a mug of coffee and led him back to the card table. I sat down and gestured for him to sit across from me. I needed the space to think. To not grab hold of him and do what every one of my instincts urged me to do.
“I’m guessing you’ve figured out who made the forgetting spell by now.” He took a long sip of coffee, like he had no cares in the world.
I was a creature made of nerves and fire. I wondered if he felt anything, or if everything between us was all long ago ended, and I just didn’t remember it yet.
“I do know who made the spell.” I took a deep breath. “I did. Who else would have been able to make and bind me with such a spell? But it doesn’t make sense why—”
“Why you would put a forgetting spell on yourself so massive that you might imagine you were growing old and senile, so huge that it hid you and made you almost impossible to find, and so strong that when it starts to break it might tear your very mind apart, all so you could forget I ever existed?” he said coolly. “Agreed. It doesn’t make sense.”
Ah, his indifference masked anger. Anger was better than nothing. I stared at the smooth, dark surface of my coffee and bit my lip. “I bet I had a good reason, but I don’t suppose you are going to tell me why, are you?”
“I made a promise to you that I wouldn’t.”
“Did you also promise to stay away?” I asked. “Is that why
“I have some dignity, Morgan. The love of my life deleted me from her memories. I can take a hint.”
The love of his life. Heat rose across my body. “But then you came and found me when Guinevere came to town.”
“It was not my intention. I’d been tracking Guin for months, trying to stop her. I didn’t even know she was after you or that you were in Seattle, but then I was running from the trolls and I felt this draw, and I let it pull me, and there you were. And
damn it Morgan, once I saw you, I wanted to breathe your air for a bit, even though I knew it was all impossible and foolish and that I would have to leave without you ever knowing who I was and
anyway, it was a good thing I stayed since Guin was after you.”
“Because I’m so weak and helpless?” I rolled my eyes.
“You are ten times the witch that Queen Guinevere will ever be, but as soon as you saw her, as soon as she started telling you the truth about your own past, I knew some of your memories might surface and when they did your forgetting spell might break. And if that happened during battle, as it did, I thought you might need back up.”
I nodded stiffly. “Thank you.”
I glanced at him and saw the man who knew me better than anyone, but also? He was a complete stranger. And I was so used to keeping people at arm’s distance, I was so good at it, but now that he was here? How had I lived for so long without him, without any hope at all that someone such as he existed? I wanted to keep looking and never look away. What the hell had happened that I would decide to so thoroughly banish him?
I bit my lip and held tight to my own hand to keep from reaching for him. “I’ve been wondering what to do now that the spell is breaking. There are three options. I could just tear the thing apart. Come what may.”
“Come what may,” he agreed.
“But it is a huge spell. The small break is giving me headaches and nosebleeds. Perhaps I should not risk breaking it and letting loose a deranged Morgan le Fay on the world.”
“Or I could move to a new city, repair the spell, and return to my quiet life, none the wiser that you ever existed.”
His eyes burned. He said nothing.
“Damn it man, are you going to make me spell out the third option?”
Merlin held entirely still. “Yes.”
“Fine. The third option is that I could let the spell break slowly. But I would be vulnerable as it did. As the spell breaks, all the creatures across the world would be able to find me, and I’m betting more than a few of them would love to try their hand at destroying me, especially if word got out my memory was diminished. I would be blind, not knowing what might be coming for me, with my mind so compromised.”
“And?” he said.
I sat up straight. “And I would need help. I would need someone who knew my history. I would need someone who was strong and magical to help me as I would continue to have blackouts and seizures from my returning memories. I would need you to stay.”
He let out a long sigh. “And is that the only reason you ask?”
“No. Dammit Merlin, perhaps this is entirely wrong and self-destructive, but I don’t think it was a mistake that you found me. Now that you are here, you can’t leave. I want to make more and recent memories with you and now that I remember you exist, you are haunting me and I’d rather you just stuck around so I wouldn’t feel so bothered by your absence.” I took a deep breath. “Unless of course that thought is abhorrent to you. I do not know what I’ve done to you or what you think of me.”
Merlin moved around the table and pulled me into his arms. We held each other hard, we pressed ourselves against each other, and his kisses? Well, he had learned a thing or two since the ninth century.
The Dragon’s Secret
, Book 2 of The Fay Morgan Chronicles
Chapter 1: A Hundred Forest Fires
“You didn’t,” Lila said.
My shop assistant and I walked through Pike Place market and sipped our coffees from Ghost Alley Espresso. It had been made for us by a flirty, straight-edge vampire. We were on our way to open up my store, Morgan’s Ephemera, housed in the lower levels of the market.
“You didn’t,” Lila said again.
I sighed. “Yes. I really did. I thought it would be best to be direct with Merlin. The tactic has never failed me before. And in any case, we were lovers for decades. I didn’t know what else to do.”
We walked past the fish-throwers packing fresh salmon into the shaved ice.
“So you for reals showed up at Merlin’s hotel suite wearing only a trench coat and heels? Baller move, Morgan,” Lila said.
I sighed again. “Enough talk of the man who is much too much of a gentleman.” I remembered the way his eyes had coursed up and down my body, hot and hungry. I remembered how he had told me to cover up as he invited me in for a perfect cup of black tea before sending me home. “Tell me of your studies, Lila. Have you started on Caliban and the Witch?”