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"Arise, Sir Vidor, Knight of Camelot." Uther said withdrawing his sword as he finished knighting the latest additions to Camelot's forces. "Arise, Sir Caridoc, Knight of Camelot." The knights arose. "You have been accorded a great honor. With that honor comes great responsibility. From this day forth, you are sworn to live by the Knight's Code. You have pledged to conduct yourselves with nobility, honor and respect. Your word is your sacred bond. You will find no-one who better embodies these values than my son, Arthur." He said proudly resting his hand on his son's shoulder. "Follow his example, and you will prove yourself worthy of your title."
Suddenly, we heard a commotion behind the doors. Swords clashing and men groaning in pain. The new knights drew out their swords as a knight stepped in the Great Hall. Arthur stepped in front of the knights facing the intruder. The latter threw his gauntlet at Arthur's feet.
Arthur picked up the gauntlet. "I accept your challenge. If I am to face you in combat, do me the courtesy of revealing your identity."
The knight pulled his helmet off to reveal…a woman with long blonde hair and dark brown eyes. "My name is Morgause."
Morgause, Morgana's sister and Arthur's half-sister, at least in the legends. Here, I wasn't sure. Let's just say that things just got complicated. Morgana, Mordred and Morgause, the holy trinity that would lead Arthur to his death, well again, in the legends. Still, they were here the three of them. Mordred was still a child, Morgana was kindhearted. Morgause, on the other hand, seemed to hold a grudge.
I don't think it would surprise you to know that Uther was not too please with the idea of this son being challenged by a woman to a duel. Neither was Arthur.
"Do you know why she challenged you?" Merlin asked Arthur as he was pacing the room. I was observing Morgause through the window. She was training, swinging her sword in the air.
"I'm the King's son," I heard Arthur replied, "Perhaps she believed she will prove herself."
"Yeah, but you don't want to fight her, do you?" Merlin continued.
"I have no choice." Arthur answered. "If I refuse to fight her, I'm a coward. If I kill her, what am I then?"
"She has no intention of losing." I said. "She killed five guards only to get to you. You should not underestimate her."
"My father said the same." Arthur remarked.
"You've never faced a woman in combat. What if you hesitate?" Merlin said. "She could use that to her advantage."
"You think she'll defeat me?" Arthur asked outraged by the little faith that Merlin showed him.
"I'm just saying you need to be cautious, because it seems like she's pretty handy with a sword." Merlin replied.
"Since when do you know anything in combat?" Arthur mocked as I turned around to look at him. "I need you to take a message to Morgause for me. If I'm seen to do it, it could be viewed as cowardice. You must persuade her to withdraw her challenge."
"Shall I remind you that she killed five men in order to challenge you? Do you really think she is going to withdraw because we ask her nicely?" I reminded him my arms crossed over my chest.
"Please, Emma." Arthur insisted stepping towards me and resting his hands on my arms.
"Just warning you." I nodded.
Merlin and I knocked on the door and entered Morgause's chambers. Only for us to come face to face with a sword.
"What do you want?" The lady Knight asked us.
"We have a message from Prince Arthur. He wants you to withdraw your challenge." Melrin announced. "Arthur has no desire to fight you. If you withdraw, he'll grant you safe passage from the Kingdom. Leave now, while you still can."
"If Arthur has no desire to fight me, perhaps he should withdraw." Morgause suggested.
"Not likely," I answered. "He is not the kind to withdraw."
Morgause lowered her sword. "Then we have that in common."
"If you fight him, he will have to treat you as he does any other opponent," Merlin told her. "It won't matter that you're a woman."
"I do not ask for special treatment."
"I just want to know," I started, "Arthur has no quarrel with you, why challenge him?"
"My reasons are not your concern." Morgause retorted.
"Fair enough." I nodded.
"Don't put Arthur in a position where he's forced to kill you." Merlin begged her.
"Who's to say Arthur's life won't rest in my hands?" Morgause countered.
I didn't like her. I really didn't. Maybe it's because of what I know from the legend or maybe it's because, somehow, I suspected her to have ulterior motives. Motives that surely meant nothing good for Arthur or Camelot. Or us.
"You gave her a chance to withdraw." Merlin said as we helped Arthur into his armor. "Whatever happens, you are not to blame."
I stood before him and gave him a favor. "For luck." I said as I tied it up to his arm. "Remember, do not underestimate her."
"It is not my first duel, Emma." Arthur reminded.
"It is against a woman." I countered.
Arthur just rolled his eyes and walked out of his chambers and we followed him to the tournaments ground. Morgause was already awaiting him. Arthur stood beside Morgause while Merlin and I went to Gaius' sides.
"The fight is by the Knight' Rules, and to the death." Uther declared.
Arthur walked up to her and whispered something to her. Probably offering her a last chance to withdraw. He didn't have much chance as he put on his helmet and prepared himself to fight.
And fight they did. The only sound echoing through the tournament fields was the sound of their sword clashing. Morgause was as skilled as Arthur could be. They fought hard as if their lives were depending on it. Well, they were fighting to death, so, yeah, their lives were depending on it. Arthur managed to cut her arm which made her drop her sword. He allowed her to pick up her sword and she ran at him again. He was definitely stronger but she was faster. He had cornered her but she was able to dodge his sword and kicked the inside of his knee. Arthur lost his balance and fell backwards. Morgause pointed her sword to his chest and took off her helmet. I waited anxiously.
They talked. For a few seconds, before Morgause helped Arthur up. She spared his life.
Needless to say, that Arthur was now brooding in his room. "It could have been worse." Merlin shrugged.
"How, exactly, could it have been worse?" Arthur asked my brother.
"You could be dead." Merlin deadpanned.
"At least I wouldn't have to face everyone. I have never felt so humiliated in my entire life." Arthur retorted sitting up. "I was defeated by a girl."
"A woman." I corrected him and he glared at me.
"It's actually quite funny when you think about it." Merlin laughed. "Or not."
"No. It's like you said. I was hindered because I was fighting a woman." Arthur said to Merlin. "I was worried I was going to hurt her. That's why she won."
"You definitely didn't have a run in with Xena." I muttered putting away his sword.
"Xena?" Arthur repeated.
"A Greek warrior princess." I retorted. "You weren't hindered. You just have to accept the fact that women are as capable as man in a swordfight."
Morgause has left Camelot, only to God knows where. I was wondering about that thing she asked of Arthur. Because the Prince revealed to us of her sparing his life on the tournament field. He gave his words that he would go meet her and accept whatever challenge she would ask of him. Which he accepted. But was that really what she wanted? Another challenge? I just didn't understand.
Merlin and I walked to Arthur's chambers as we did every day. Except this time, there were guards standing by his doors. Which was quite unusual.
"Why are there guards outside the door?" Merlin asked Arthur who was definitely brooding or rather pouting by the window.
"My father has confined me to my chambers and has forbidden me from accepting Morgause's challenge." Arthur told us.
"You mean the promise you made to meet her and accepting whatever challenge she will ask of you?" I asked dryly. "I don't see why he would do such a thing."
Arthur glared at me. "I gave her my word."
"So, I take it we're going anyway?" Merlin nodded.
"You're smarter than you look." Arthur retorted. "Gather some supplies, we leave tonight. Oh, and…find a way to get me out of here."
I rolled my eyes and followed Merlin out of the room.
"How's Arthur?" Gaius asked as we stepped into our chambers. He was brewing a potion.
"You mean, after being defeated by a girl in front of the whole of Camelot?" Merlin asked. "I've seen him happier."
"I think you're enjoying this." Gaius commented.
"Maybe a little."
"Well, I don't." I said honestly. "Not that the prospect of Arthur being defeated by a woman is not funny. Especially when you know the animal and his macho attitude."
"Then what is it, dear?" Gaius asked me.
"It's Morgause." I said. "I am certain that she has an ulterior motive when she challenged Arthur, I just don't know what." I sighed. "But then again she left, so nothing to worry about, right?"
Merlin started to grind some ingredients loudly, distracting Gaius long enough for him to forget his train of thought. We both frowned up at Merlin, looking at him confused. And then he groaned.
He revealed to me later what made him groaned. He magically hid a rope under his shirt. Bounding it around his stomach.
"We got the supplies." Merlin announced as we stepped in Arthur's chambers.
Arthur dressed in chainmail was sitting on his bed with his sword in his hand. "Merlin. Is it my imagination or are you getting fat?"
"So fast? I don't think so." I said lifting my brother's shirt.
I helped Merlin unwinding it while explaining Arthur what the plan was. A plan that was quite simple which was to help the Prince sneak out of Camelot. And we were doing it the old fashion way. With a rope. Which, I hoped, was long enough.
Arthur opened the window, ready to climb out of it as Merlin and I were getting ready to lower him through it.
"Are you sure you're strong enough to hold me?" Arthur looked at us.
"Yeah. I'm stronger than I look." Merlin replied.
"And there's two of us." I added.
Arthur sighed and turned, he climbed out of the window but hesitated before sliding down the wall. Merlin and I groaned and struggled to hold the rope. Until it stopped going. I stupidly thought that Arthur was down the wall…Until I heard him.
"What are you doing?" I heard him called. "Lower the rope."
I turned around and realized that the rope was indeed too short. "There is no more rope." Merlin hissed at him. "I don't know if we can't hold it much longer."
"Do not let go of the rope!" Arthur ordered us.
Merlin and I held the rope as long as we could but Arthur is much heavier than he looks. And well, gravity did the rest. The Prince fell down and face first in a pile of dung, right below his window.
While Merlin and I exited the Prince's chambers, as if nothing happened, I wondered how come no one heard all the noises we made. It was quite the racket. Anyway, Merlin and I waited that we were out of sight of the guards and then, we rushed down the stairs, to meet Arthur in the stables.
After some cleaning and some whisper-shouting, Arthur, Merlin and I left Camelot in the dead of night to meet Morgause and her challenge.
"Which way?" Merlin asked the Prince as we came to a crossroads, after hours of riding through the woods. "Do you actually know where we're going?"
"It's this way." Arthur pointed to the left. But his horse refused to move. "Come on." He tried but the horse remained still. "What is wrong with this horse? It's even dumber than you, Merlin!" The horse finally moved and took the…right turn.
"Where are you going? You said left one minute ago." I called after him.
"It's not me, it's the horse!" Arthur retorted. "Morgause told me: 'When the time comes, you'll know your way.'"
"So, the horse knows where we're going?" Merlin muttered. "Great."
"I'm liking this Morgause less and less." I commented following Merlin and Arthur.
"What if Morgause challenges you to do something you don't want to do?" Merlin asked Arthur further down the road.
"I'm not expecting it to be easy, Merlin. That's why it's a challenge." Arthur answered.
"So, you'd do anything she asks of you?" Merlin continued.
"I gave her my word. It's a question of honor."
"So, if she asks you to jump off a cliff, you'll just ask how high. All because of honor." I asked this time quite fed up with this honor crap. "That is ridiculous."
"You know what is really ridiculous, Emma?" Arthur shifted to look at me. "You, rabbiting on. We're in Odin's territory. We could be attacked at any second."
"We just think it's strange to agree to do something when you don't know what it is." Merlin commented.
"One more word out of either of you and you will be taking the challenge in my place." Arthur threatened.
An arrow flew right by my face before finishing its course in a tree bark. My horse was spooked and threw me off and I landed hard on my back. A group of men came out from behind trees and attacked us. Judging by their outfits, they were Odin's men. Merlin pulled me up while Arthur leapt down his horse and defend us and himself against the men that were attacking us.
A man came at us, his sword high ready to strike us but he froze and fell, a sword in his back. Arthur kept fighting the men, grabbing the sword of one of the fallen men. One man was on a tree branch with a spear, readying himself to strike Arthur. I nudged Merlin and pointed at the man. "Garn onbaerne!" Merlin whispered. The spear burst into flames in his hand and he fell down the tree.
"Don't worry, I'll deal with this. You stand there and just watch." Arthur said breathless.
"Maybe we should turn back. The woods could be full of Odin's men." Merlin suggested as we joined Arthur with our horses.
"You can go back if you want to. I won't stop you." Arthur replied.
"You don't know anything about Morgause." Merlin continued while I was nursing my back. "You don't know what she's going to ask you to do. We don't even know where we're going. We're following a horse!"
"Morgause said she knew my mother." Arthur revealed to us.
There was pause as I glanced up at him and then at Merlin. "That settles it, then." I said climbing on my horse, my back throbbing with pain.
"Are you alright, Emma?" Arthur asked me.
"Yes. Nothing hot water can fix." I retorted quickly. "Let's go."
Merlin and Arthur sat at a campfire later that day. Emmanuelle was sleeping on a small blanket, her back to the fire.
"Will she be alright?" Arthur asked his manservant.
"She's stronger than she looks." Merlin answered turning briefly to his sister. He turned back to the Prince who was deep in thought. "What was your mother like?" Merlin asked the Prince.
"I never knew her." Arthur answered. "She died before I opened my eyes."
"I barely know anything about her." Arthur continued.
"Can't you ask your father?"
"He refuses to talk of her. It must be too painful for him." Arthur shook his head. "Sometimes, it's as if she never even existed. I still have a sense of her, almost as though she is part of me."
"It's the same with my father." Merlin said. "I never knew him." Arthur looked up at the boy. "And my mother has barely spoken of him. I've got this vague memory…It's probably just my imagination."
"I would do anything for even the vaguest memory." Arthur said.
"So, would Nellie." Merlin gazed at his sister. "She has no memory of her parents whatsoever."
"Parents?" Arthur asked the boy confused. "Isn't she your sister?"
"Not by blood." Merlin shook his head. "She was found by my mother when she was a baby. My mother never knew why or who would abandon their child."
Arthur looked at the young maid who would risk anything for her brother and himself, realizing sadly that she was more secretive than he thought.
"Is that why you're so determined to find Morgause, to see what she knows about your mother?" Merlin kept asking.
"Is that so wrong?" Arthur turned his gaze back on Merlin.
"No." Merlin answered.
"We should get some rest." Arthur said getting up.
"Seems your horse has brought us to a dead end." Merlin commented as we stopped at the edge of a lake the next day. I scoffed.
"Now where's he going?" Arthur protested as the horse started towards the water.
"I think you're going to get wet." Merlin smirked.
"You don't say." Arthur grumbled.
"Arthur?" I called as his horse led him to the waterfall. "Are we supposed to follow him or something?" I asked to Merlin.
As an answer, Merlin nudged his horse into motion and together we followed in the steps of the Prince. Once we stepped through the waterfalls, we walked through a tunnel that led us to a wooded area. A castle was standing in front of us.
"Where are we?" Merlin asked as I stopped next to him.
"I don't know." Arthur answered.
We moved towards the castle. "If we weren't sure Morgause was a sorceress before, we can be certain of it now." Merlin suggested.
"That must have been how she defeated me. She was using magic." Arthur said as if he now found a logical explanation to his losing the duel.
"You are still on that." I exclaimed. "She wasn't using magic."
"And what would you know about magic, Emma?" Arthur countered.
"Definitely not as much as you." I bit back.
We climbed down our horses and walked up stairs only to be met by a block of wood with an axe stabbed in it. Arthur walked to the block of wood and grabbed the axe.
"Now what?" He asked looking around him.
"Maybe we should ask the horse." Merlin suggested.
"Well, there's no one here. Maybe we should leave." I suggested.
"You kept your promise." Morgause said stepping down another flight of stairs. She was wearing, and it hurt me to say it, a beautiful red gown.
"What is the nature of the challenge you wish to set me?" Arthur asked her.
"Place your head on the block." She said grabbing the axe. I glanced at Merlin behind me. "You gave me your word that you would do anything I asked." Morgause reminded him.
"Arthur?" I called.
"Arthur, don't." Merlin asked him.
"What do you think you are doing?" I asked as I saw him kneel in front of the block, placing his head on it. "I won't let you do this." I yelled as I felt Merlin holding me back.
"Stay out of this, Emma." He ordered me.
Morgause placed the axe on his neck. She raised it up in the air. I looked at Merlin, silently begging him to do something. I'm ashamed to say that I didn't care about the risk of his secret being revealed, I just cared for the Prince's life being saved. However, the axe never went down on Arthur's neck. Morgause just placed it next to the block.
"You have shown that you truly are a man of your word, Arthur Pendragon." Morgause said. "And for that, I will grant you one wish. Tell me what it is that your heart most desires."
"You said you knew my mother." Arthur answered. "Tell me all that you know about her."
"Perhaps you would like to see her." Morgause suggested and I glanced at Merlin.
"I want that more than anything." Arthur replied.
"As you wish."
I did not like where this was going. Morgause led us to another courtyard. A small altar was sitting there. Waiting for us. The sorceress walked up to it and started her enchantment.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Merlin asked Arthur.
"If either of you were granted the opportunity, would you not want to meet your father?" He turned to me. "Or you, your parents?" I frowned at that. I was confused at his words. What did he mean by 'parents?' Hunith is my mother. At least in this world.
"Uther won't forgive you if he finds out you've collaborated with a sorcerer." Merlin kept trying to convince him.
"What if my father's attitude to magic is wrong?" Arthur said back.
"You really think that?" Merlin asked him hopeful.
"Perhaps it's not as simple as he would have us believe." Arthur continued. "Morgause is a sorcerer, she has caused us no harm. Surely not everyone who practices magic can be evil?"
"Maybe. But we still don't know what her real intentions are." I hissed at him.
Morgause briefly looked at me as she turned to us before setting her gaze on Arthur. "It is time." Arthur walked up to her and stood at her side. "Close your eyes." She asked him. And Arthur did so. Then she whispered. "Aris mid min miclan mihte thin suna to helpe. Hider eft funda on thysne middangeard thin suna w'aes."
Time seemed to slow or rather it stopped. Everything hung in the air, I could feel the magic used by Morgause. It was vibrant but also…dark.
"Arthur?" A woman breathed out. "Arthur?"
"Mother?" Arthur answered opening his eyes.
"My son." The woman threw herself into his arms. "When I last held you, you were a tiny baby." The late Queen Ygraine stood before us. She was truly beautiful. Arthur and she shared the same traits. They shared the same blue eyes and the same blond hair. "I remember your eyes. You were staring up at me. Those few seconds I held you were the post precious of my life."
"I'm so sorry." Arthur apologized.
"You have nothing to be sorry for." Ygraine stopped him.
"It was my birth that caused you to die." Arthur insisted. I didn't know that he felt so much guilt about his mother's death.
"No. You are not to blame." Ygraine protested.
"I cannot bear the thought that you died because of me." Arthur's voice broke.
"Do not think that." Ygraine hugged him once more. "It is your father who should carry the guilt for what happened."
"What do you mean?" Arthur asked her.
"It is not important." Ygraine brushed it off. "What matters is that you lived."
"Why should my father feel guilty?" Arthur asked pulling away.
"It is better left in the past." She said.
"You cannot leave me with more questions. Please." Arthur begged her.
Ygraine took a moment before answering him. "Your father…he was desperate for an heir. Without a son, the Pendragon dynasty would come to an end. But I could not conceive."
"Then how was I born? Tell me."
"Your father betrayed me. He went to the sorceress Nimueh and asked for her help in conceiving a child. You were born of magic." I looked up at Merlin who seemed as surprised as I was.
Uther Pendragon, who declared magic to be a crime punishable by death, used it to conceive an heir. I didn't know if I should believe it since Ygraine was summoned by Morgause. But behind some lies there's a bit of truth.
"That's not true." Arthur shook his head refusing to believe it.
"I'm sorry, Arthur." Ygraine apologized. "Your father has deceived you as he deceived me. To create a life, a life must be taken. Your father knew that."
"He sacrificed my life so the Pendragon dynasty could continue." Ygraine continued. "It makes you no less my son, nor me any less proud of you." She declared. "Now I see you, I would have given my life willingly. Do not let this knowledge change you." She said before disappearing.
"No! Bring her back!" Arthur begged Morgause.
"I cannot. Once the doorway is closed, it is closed forever." Morgause explained. "I am truly sorry that you learnt of your mother's fate in this way. I can only imagine how it must feel to discover that your father is responsible for her death." She kept on fueling his anger. "It is an unforgivable betrayal."
I took a step towards him. "Are you okay?" Arthur was more than angry. He was furious. I, actually, have never seen him like that.
"Arthur?" Merlin called.
"Fetch the horses." He ordered us tightly. "We're returning to Camelot."
Arthur seemed like a man on a mission. I've never seen him like that. So angry. When I saw him pulled out his sword while climbing down his horse, I knew what he was going to do. That was Morgause's plans all along. To bring Arthur to the edge. To push him to murder. I wasn't sure whether Ygraine's confession were true or not but they were enough reason.
"Arthur!" I called after him as he climbed the stairs. I followed him up the stairs but I stopped as I heard Gaius calling our names.
"I'm relieved to see that you're safe. Where's Arthur?" Merlin did not answer him as I joined him, he only walked away.
"Arthur was born of magic. Wasn't he?" Merlin asked Gaius as joined him under one of the alcoves.
Gaius remained silent. "So, it's true. Uther used magic…" I frowned at Gaius.
"All those people he's executed." Merlin spat. "He's as guilty as they are. He sacrificed Arthur's mother. He as good as murdered her."
"He blamed it all on magic." I said confused and somehow disappointed by Uther's attitude.
I'm not saying I admire the man. No. He is a horrible, horrible man but for twenty years Camelot has been safe. Which means he is not that bad of a King. Also, I thought he had other reasons for hating magic so much. I thought for a long time that it was because he feared what he couldn't understand. Not because he killed his own wife.
"People should know the truth about what he has done." Merlin said. "How could you not tell us?"
"I fear what Arthur would do if ever found out." Gaius admitted.
"Too late for that." I said starting towards the castle. Arthur was going to kill his father.
Sir Leon was standing before the doors to the Council Chambers. I tried to force the passage but Leon blocked me.
"The King has forbidden anyone to enter." Leon told me.
"They are killing each other." I yelled in his face. Merlin ran past me and shoved the doors open.
"Arthur! Don't!" Merlin shouted seeing the Prince standing over his father with a sword in his hand. Ready to strike his father. "I know you don't want to do this."
"My mother is dead because of him." Arthur argued.
"But killing him won't bring your mother back." I told him slowly making my way up to him. "You've lost one parent. Do you really want to lose another?"
"Listen to them, Arthur." Uther begged him.
"Arthur, please." Merlin breathed out. "Put the sword down."
"You heard what my mother said." Arthur kept yelling. "After everything that he has done, do you believe he deserves to live? He executes those who use magic, and yet he has used it himself. You have caused so much suffering and pain. I will put an end to it."
It seemed that there was no stopping him. "Morgause is lying." Merlin said and I turned to him. We knew she was telling the truth. "She's an enchantress. She tricked you. That wasn't your mother you saw. It was an illusion." What was he doing? "Everything, everything your mother said to you, those were Morgause's words."
"You don't know that!" Arthur countered.
"This has been her plan all along, to turn you against your father." Merlin continued. "If you kill him, the kingdom will be destroyed. This is what she wants."
"Listen to him. He speaks the truth." Uther added.
"Swear to me that it isn't true, you are not responsible for my mother's death. Give me your word!" Arthur urged his father desperately.
"I swear on my life. I loved your mother." Uther answered. "There isn't a day that passes that I don't wish she were alive. I could never have done anything to hurt her."
Uther did not deny anything. Neither has he confirmed it. Knowing how his mind works, I suppose that he really didn't believe himself to have caused his wife's death by using magic. Deep down though, he knew he had a hand in this.
Arthur finally dropped his sword and fell on his knees. "My son." Uther laid a hand on his son's shoulder. "You mean more to me than anything."
"I'm sorry." Arthur said quietly.
"You are not to blame." Uther retorted resting a kiss on his son's head.
I sat on my cot that night and looked at Merlin, who was quiet. "I truly admire you, Merlin." I said softly.
He looked up at me. "Thank you." He smiled. "But why?"
"He was ready to accept magic. Finally." I explained moving to sit next to him. "And you ruined it just to save Uther." I paused. "You could have truly been yourself and yet you sacrificed this chance for a king who hates magic."
"Arthur could have never forgiven himself if he had gone through with it." Merlin replied. "You know it as much as I do."
I rested my head on Merlin's shoulder. "One day, Merlin, he will know who you truly are." I promised. "And he will accept you."
Merlin and I were back at doing our chores while the Prince was lost in his thoughts by the window.
"I am indebted to you both." Arthur said. I stopped and looked at him. "I had become…confused. It is once again clear to me that those who practice magic are evil and dangerous." I briefly glanced at Merlin. We both knew this would happen. He didn't make it any easier to hear it. Especially for Merlin. "And that is thanks to you."
"Glad we could help." Merlin said smiling sadly.
As I stepped through our chambers, I froze in my steps. The King was there. In person.
"My Lord." Merlin greeted him nudging me. I bowed to the King as my brother did.
"I wanted to thank you in person for your actions yesterday." Uther said. "You are loyal servants to Arthur. I am most grateful."
"We were just doing our duty." I answered this time.
"You have proven yourself to be a trusted ally in the fight against magic." Uther continued.
"Us?" Merlin said slowly.
"Those who practice magic will seek to exploit Arthur's inexperience. They will attempt to corrupt him." Uther kept on. "You must be extra-vigilant."
"We'll keep our eyes peeled." Merlin promised.
"I know you will." Uther started towards the door. "If you ever speak of what happened between myself and Arthur to another living soul, I will have you hanged."
"Right, of course. Yes, my Lord." Merlin and I bowed to him as he left.
"Why am I not surprised by the death threat?" I said looking up at Merlin.
"Like father, like son." Merlin retorted.
"Is that Uther I saw leaving?" Gaius asked as he stepped in.
"Yeah." Merlin answered turning away from him. "He just popped in to say hello."
"What did he want?" Gaius asked us.
"He wanted to thank us for being a trusted ally in the fight against magic." I explained. "Although, Merlin did all the work."
Gaius looked at Merlin. "How you've managed to keep that head on your shoulders is a mystery beyond our greatest minds." I sat at the table across Merlin. "Uther should be grateful. Merlin, your life would have been easier and safer if you had let him die." Gaius sat with us. "You must have been tempted."
"Maybe for a moment." Merlin replied. "But Arthur wouldn't have been able to forgive himself if he'd gone through with it. It would've destroyed him."
"I'm proud of you, Merlin." Gaius told him.
"Nellie's admiring me, Arthur's thanking me, Uther's grateful, you're proud…I have never been this popular!" Merlin smirked.
"I'm almost certain it won't last." Gaius countered.
"Just let me enjoy the moment." Merlin said putting his feet on the table ad crossing them. Which earned him a chuckle from Gaius and me.