Merlin sighed as he pushed the books to the edge of the desk. He needed a break. Court Sorcerer was a lot more work than he'd ever imagined. Arthur still made him practice his swordplay. Insisted it was part of his duty as a knight. Which was rubbish of course - his king simply enjoyed having something in which he could best his warlock.
He looked out the window at the peaceful valley below. The Windsors had been true to their word and Camelot and her surrounds had been signed over to Arthur and his kin for life. He wondered if they realised just how long that was like to be. The waters of Avalon had strange powers.
He had gone out with Aithusa before the rest came and called the castle of Camelot from the earth. It had drained him and the dragon had had to carry him home in her claw. It had been worth it to see the look on Arthur's face. And the relief on Morgana's. He had not called up the old castle; that would have been too painful for them all. He had called forth a modern take on a medieval castle, complete with many modern amenities that he found he couldn't live without.
Arthur was a good king, naturally, and with no supernatural terrors to combat he was able to focus on his primary goal, which was to restore unity and peace in the world. It helped that he had the backing of a powerful warlock. Well, three powerful warlocks actually but the world only really knew about one. Which was just as he wanted. It had been, and still was, a long difficult journey to peace. People were so distrustful and so much hurt and anger had been allowed to grow, fostered but not really created by the ill wishing of Morgause and her minions. But Arthur rose above it all. He had made it clear he had no desire to rule any more than the land he already held, but his people were fed, and busy, and happy, and Camelot was becoming the new home of software development in the British Isles. People who might not have listened to a poor king, no matter how scary his warlock, listened to a wealthy and popular one.
A soft scuffle outside his door made his heart lift. He swiveled on his chair so he was facing the door and waited expectantly. The door handle turned slowly and he watched in delight as two small bundles of human fell crashing to the ground, their teamwork complete. The young prince and his playmate quickly rolled to their feet, their laughter infectious.
"Daddy! Come play! There's horses!" he scooped up his daughter and swung her around, his soul lifting with her squeals. A small hand tugged at his jeans. "Me too uncle Merlin, me too!"
He put his daughter down and picked up the little prince. "Alright but it has to be separate okay? I'm not like your uncle Percival to be hauling two such giant sacks of potatoes like you."
Squeals of indignation this time. Arthur walked in just as he had given in and was zooming around the room with both toddlers tucked under his arms.
"Hard at work I see, Court Sorcerer."
He stopped, slightly dizzy, and set the kids on the ground. They promptly ran to Arthur, demanding 'Up! Up!" He scooped them both up and planted kisses on each cheek.
Merlin closed his eyes and the room slowly stopped spinning.
His king placed the children back on the ground and sent them out of the room with a tickle and a light tap on each back. As he straightened, he shed his relaxed father face and the king expression dropped down instead.
"I wanted to talk to you Merlin. About Mordred."
He sighed and sat back down on the chair. Arthur perched on his desk. "I've been wondering when you'd notice."
"He's so cramped here. He's asked to be allowed to travel and I want to know what you think"
He quirked his eyebrow at his king. "I think you already know what to do. You hardly need my thoughts. "
"Merlin. Come on. What do I do?"
"You say yes. You say "remember to send postcards", you say "bring me back a souvenir", but you say yes. He has to be allowed to stretch his wings or he will begin to spread them in other ways."
Arthur's eyes were sharp. "You are not afraid he will spread them in these 'other ways' when he is traveling, out of reach of your guidance?"
He shook his head. "Mordred is never out of reach. And he has had all the guidance he needs. What he needs now is to make his own path. Set his own destiny."
They both smiled at the word. Destinies were such troublesome things, but they had fought their way through theirs and come out the other side.
His king raised his eyebrows at him. "Do you ever wish things had happened differently? That you'd survived Camlan and ruled Camelot well and happily 1500 years ago, never needing to rise again?"
Arthur swung his leg and frowned in thought. "I have wondered, once or twice, what it would have been like to have grown old among the people I knew and loved back then, but if you're asking me if I would trade what I have now? The answer is a definite no. I've thought about it and I'm not sure I could have ever let magic back fully into Camelot, and I don't know if you would ever have told me who you really are. And Merlin, to have got to know you as you truly are, and to be able to have you as my true equal, has not just been a great pleasure, but I think it has allowed me to become who I truly am."
Merlin smiled. "Two halves of the same coin."
Arthur laughed. "No, no more destiny! Let us say rather, brothers"
He sighed with happiness. "Brothers. I can handle that."