Disclaimer: I, in no way, shape, or form, own Merlin, BBC, the legend of King Arthur, etc. I am making no profit from this as it is fanfiction and free for anyone to read.
So, this takes place mid-season 5 somewhere. Gwen is currently herself, under no influence from Morgana. Mordred is not evil, nor will he be turning evil at any point. Merlin has either not heard the prophecy about Mordred, has chosen to ignore it, or the prophecy doesn't exist in the first place. Honestly, half of the reason Mordred went evil was because Merlin wasn't nice to him, which was just a stupid move on Merlin's part. Like, he tried that already with Morgana, and it didn't work out. So, for whatever reason in my fic, Mordred became a knight at the beginning of season 5, but Merlin was like, "Yay, another magic user in Camelot that isn't trying to kill Arthur!" rather than, "Some prophecy told me he's evil, so I'm just going to alienate him until he leaves."
Also, I'm calling Merlin a warlock because he was born with magic while everyone else (a.k.a. Mordred) is going to be a sorcerer or mage.
I know that some of the details are vague in this chapter, but there's going to be a round table meeting in chapter 2 or 3 where they're literally going to explain every detail of the magic reveal to Arthur to the knights.
Merlin absently munched on a handful of berries as his horse ambled along the road. Mordred rode next to him and was entertaining himself by causing the warlock's food to jump up and fly around at random intervals. Merlin couldn't bring himself to be annoyed, though. It was fantastic to be able to share magic with someone else, and the knights always looked at him oddly when he ate the berries he found. Just because they couldn't tell which ones weren't poisonous didn't mean that he couldn't. He was Gaius's apprentice after all.
"We'll be back to Camelot well before dark," Mordred commented once Merlin had succeeded in eating the rest of the berries- with the help of his own magic.
Merlin nodded. "I didn't fancy another night in the woods," he responded to the younger man. "Although, bandits do tend to attack me during the day, so I don't know that that makes us any safer."
Mordred rolled his eyes. "We both have magic and no one to hide it from at the moment. At this point, it would probably take a dragon to put us in any real danger. Although, the fact that you could just order it to go away negates even that, so I think we'll be fine."
Merlin laughed. He and Mordred- well, mostly just him because Arthur made him take Mordred along for protection that he really didn't need- were returning from a trip to rid a village of Wyvern. They two of them had basically just waited a few hours along the outskirts of the village for the creatures to attack, Merlin had ordered them to return to the Perilous Lands, no one had noticed, and the problem was solved. Well, the immediate problem was solved, at least, so Merlin and Mordred were returning to Camelot and Arthur.
The servant was about to speak again when the two mages heard hoof-beats coming up behind them. Before he even turned around, Merlin could tell that there were at least four horses quickly catching up to the travelers.
"Well, you were right about bandits attacking during the day," Mordred commented wryly while trying to catch a glimpse of their pursuers. "Should we run?" Their horses were still at a walk.
Merlin shook his head. "No point. If they're bandits, their horses are probably fresh. I'd rather be facing them when they get close enough to shoot at us."
"Bandits attack you far too often."
"Yes, they do," Merlin fervently agreed. He let his magic scan up the road in an attempt to see what they were about to face. When he managed to catch a glimpse, he rolled his eyes.
Gwaine howled with laughter as he began to pull ahead of Elyan. "Oh no you don't," the queen's brother yelled as he spurred his horse on to greater speeds.
Risking a glance behind him, Gwaine saw that Elyan's horse was tiring. "First one to the top of that rise wins," he called back as he gestured to a small hill ahead.
Gwaine cheered for himself as he won their impromptu race. Elyan pulled his horse to a stop next to him seconds later. "Congratulations, Gwaine. You've won bragging rights."
"You bet I have, and I'm going to make sure that Mordred, Merlin, and the princess know all about it once we make it back to Camelot in a few hours."
Leon and Percival were galloping after them, though at a more sedate pace, so the two racers waited at the top of the hill for them to catch up. "We've been out here for weeks," Leon berated them. "If your horses go lame in the last few hours before we get home, I cannot be held responsible for the wrath of the stable master."
"Let's let the horses walk the rest of the way, shall we?" Gwaine suggested.
"You're the one who started this in the first place," Elyan reminded him.
Gwaine sighed. "I just want to get back to Camelot where I have an actual bed and actual food."
"Don't we all." The four knights had been on a two-month patrol of the kingdom's borders. Some of the other knights had been slightly jealous of the elite round table, so Arthur had decided to send them on patrol to show that he wasn't playing favorites. Gwaine knew it was necessary and a smart move, he just didn't like it.
"We have company," Percival interrupted them. He was looking at the part of the road that had been hidden by the hill. The other knights turned to see two mounted and cloaked figures a distance down the road. One had a green cloak on that Gwaine swore had come from the druids while the other was swallowed up by midnight blue fabric.
"Let's go introduce ourselves, shall we?" Gwaine asked. "Someone has to make the first move." He started forward without waiting for a response. Leon noted that he was rather more careful with his horse this time.
All of the knights kept a careful eye on their surroundings in case this was some kind of ambush. The two figures lowered their hoods as the knights drew closer, but they were still too far off for Gwaine to make out features. "Merlin?" Percival called out. "Mordred?"
Gwaine laughed as he realized that the strangers were indeed his friends. "What are the two of you doing way out here?" he asked them. The six of them wordlessly turned in the direction of Camelot and continued to talk as they rode.
"Mordred and I were taking care of something," Merlin told them with that honest vagueness Gwaine had come to expect from his friend. "Don't ask because I honestly can't tell you anything. Arthur will probably call a round table meeting tomorrow to explain everything."
"How's my sister?" Elyan asked.
"She misses you, but she's fine otherwise. We've only been away from Camelot for a day."
"Did she make you that fancy new cloak?" Gwaine asked.
Merlin nodded. "I think she was stress-sewing. A lot has happened in the past two months." Merlin paused. "I'm just going to stop talking now because I can't explain that either."
Gwaine pursed his lips, but decided that tricking information out of Merlin later would probably work better than badgering him about it now. He diverted his attention to Merlin's companion. Mordred, as a round table knight, had been assigned to the patrol with them. However, he had fallen ill just before they left, so he had had to stay behind with Arthur and Merlin. "Wherever did you get a druid cloak?"
Mordred, and the other knights, gave him an odd look. "It's mine?" Mordred answered.
"Am I missing something here?" Gwaine wasn't sure why everyone was acting like it was perfectly normal that a knight of Camelot was dressed like a druid.
"Merlin and I didn't want to draw a lot of attention with Camelot colors, so we chose to wear cloaks that we had," Mordred tried to explain.
"Yes, but why is it a druid cloak?"
"Gwaine," Elyan asked slowly, "where do you think Mordred's from?"
Gwaine shrugged. "I haven't really thought about it. He saved us from Morgana, so Arthur knighted him. I guess I just assumed he had been travelling around before that. You never talk about a family or anything." Everyone was still staring incredulously, and Gwaine was beginning to feel uncomfortable.
"I'm a druid, Gwaine," Mordred finally said. The young knight pulled up his sleeve to reveal his tattoo. "Everyone else knew this, right?"
Merlin laughed at Gwaine's completely dumbfounded expression. No one had been trying to hide the fact from him. Mordred's heritage wasn't common knowledge, but it wasn't exactly a secret either.
Gwaine was still looking relatively confused by the time they made it back to Camelot. Merlin was glad to reach the cobble-stone courtyard after only a day of being away, so he could only imagine how ecstatic the knights were after two months.
A servant of about seventeen met them in front of the castle and grinned up at Merlin. "Did your secret mission go well?" he asked brightly as he took hold of Merlin and Mordred's horses.
"It's not a secret mission if you shout about it," Merlin teased as he dismounted. Gale was Arthur's new manservant. Though Merlin technically still held that position, he really hadn't acted as much of a servant for the past month and a half. Once Arthur had discovered his magic, Merlin had first been shunned then unofficially promoted to some kind of advisor. That was yet another thing that was going to have to be discussed at the next day's round table meeting.
Gale laughed. "The king wanted to see you as soon as you got back. I'll take care of your horses if you let him know his knights have also returned."
"Thanks, Gale." Merlin and Mordred pulled their bags from the horses while several stable hands came out to assist the other knights. "Mordred and I have to go talk to Arthur," he told them. "I'll tell him that you're all going to eat and go to bed."
"He'll probably expect you to be at training tomorrow morning," Mordred added. "So I'm assuming that you'll give your reports at the round table meeting afterwards."
The knights nodded wearily. They all seemed to have realized that they were finally home and had lost all energy. Gwaine hadn't even bothered to ask who on Earth Gale was. Merlin and Mordred hurried up the front steps of the castle before disappearing inside.
So, next chapter will be much more exciting. Merlin's going to reveal a newfound talent, and the knights are probably going to be told about magic.
Criticism is wanted. I really want to improve my writing, so any kind of comment helps.