Author's Note - Thank you very much for all your very kind reviews, they have kept me going all this time up until this point and I'm very glad you've stuck with me. Sorry the update took so long but I've had exams so things got a bit hectic.
Anyway, I believe this may be the last chapter so don't be too disappointed that I don't spurn out more. Unfortunately, I haven't castrated Uther no matter how much some of you guys wanted him to be. You may not like the ending but I thought it fitted with both Arthur's and Merlin's characters. Please give one final review with your opinion of the whole thing. Thanks.
Arthur stared at his manservant for a moment, not quite believing his ears, since when had Merlin become so sincere? Not that he minded, in fact, the prince was truly over the moon – ecstatic – especially when he saw they expression on his father's face. Uther looked thunder-struck, his mouth hanging wide open and his stance losing its confidence. The raven haired boy had just taken all the king had said and thrown it back in his face; not one insult or jibe had managed to upset or hurt him. Obviously the manservant was tougher than he looked.
Merlin himself was still yet to open his eyes. It was as if he was too exhausted to bother, or maybe he just didn't want to lay sight on Uther – the man who had almost ruined his life – again. Either way, Arthur knew he was going to say no more in this conversation. Therefore it was up to him to set down the rules for the future.
"Father," the prince turned to the older man with a fierce look in his eyes, "You better understand that I will tell your secrets to the people if you do not leave all your old ways behind. And if you ever do anything else to hurt Merlin…." Pausing for effect Arthur glared at Uther. "Then mark my words, I will seek revenge."
Uther didn't look like he could quite believe his own son was turning against him, even threatening to kill him, for a mere servant boy. There was some feeling of regret in the back of his mind, that he'd alienated his child so much, after all he'd done to conceive him. However, he doubted there was any thing he could ever do to repair their relationship.
"Arthur…" he began.
"I don't want to hear it. I will continue to help you with the kingdom and the people but that will be in the capacity of the Prince of Camelot; not as your son." With that icy statement Arthur's mouth became a thin line and he turned away from the King. Uther looked outraged but there was little he could do; Arthur was heir to the throne by blood. He didn't like being made or ordered to do things by other people.
Seeing that he would not be able to win the argument today, Uther stormed from the room, his fists clenched tightly by his side. The door slammed loudly behind him. Arthur watched him go, his eyes lingering on the empty space which his father had once occupied. Something inside him could not quite fathom how he had stood up to the King of Camelot and won – for now. The future would be hard, just as Merlin had foretold.
With that though reminding him of the manservant, Arthur walked over to his friend, cautious, wondering how he would be received. As he approached within a couple of feet of the boy, Merlin spoke.
"Thank you," he breathed. Arthur was perplexed.
"For saving me from Uther."
"Oh, it was nothing."
"Are you sure you are okay?" The prince was concerned by his friend's weakened state.
"I'm fine, Arthur, just a little shocked." Merlin finally opened his eyes and the prince allowed himself a sigh of relief. A pair of startling blue eyes stared into his own and they sparkled with happiness. He felt a warm smile spread across his lips in return. Then he said, a shy expression flitting across his face, "I'm glad to know you think so much of me. That'd you'd be willing to fight Uther for me. I could never have dreamed…" He tailed off, words failing him.
"Like you said before, Merlin, the fight is far from over," Arthur answered seriously, "We can't escape Uther but if we stick together then I think things will be all right."
"I'm prepared," Merlin nodded.
"Prepared for bed," his friend added, seeing Merlin was dead on his feet, and led the young man over to his bed, gently helping him into it. The manservant sank between the covers and then paused, watching his friend.
"Are you going to go?"
Peter was ecstatic. He was riding a horse! But not just any old horse, this horse belonged to Arthur Pendragon himself. It was a beautiful thoroughbred creature with smooth velvety chestnut flanks and bright, alert eyes. The Prince called his Aster which meant star. Sitting atop his broad back, the boy felt as if he could jump the highest hurdle, chase the fastest stag and lead an army into battle – all at once. His heart swelled with pride and happiness.
Glancing over the paddock, he spotted the owner of the horse himself. The golden haired man was leaning nonchalantly against the enclosure fence. His clothes were casual: a loose red shirt and black trousers thrown haphazardly on. That may be because of his lack of a servant however. Behind him, on the wooden fence, perched another young man – his former servant – raven haired and pale skinned. People would call him the Prince's best friend, his greatest ally, a wise advisor; Peter would call Merlin Arthur's lover.
Kicking his borrowed ride into a powerful but perfectly smooth canter, the boy took off round the enclosure – churning up dirt and dust as he went. Horse and child sped passed their two observers as no more than a brownish blur.
"He's getting better," Merlin commented as he watched the boy's movements.
"Hmm….much," Arthur nodded in agreement.
Peter had never ridden before he came to Camelot so the prince had thought it would be good for him to learn. In past lessons which Arthur had imparted on his student, Peter had ridden normal stable horses. However, as a treat, the young man had agreed the boy could mount his own steed. Obviously, being only twelve, Peter was a bit too small for the animal but he was coping relatively well. There had only been a couple of spills and a few bruises so far.
Arthur felt pressure on his shoulders and realised that his friend had leant forward from his perch to press his hands on Arthur for balance. The prince raised an eyebrow in surprise and coughed pointedly. Merlin just blew the hair on top of his head so the golden locks went the wrong way – sticking up randomly. Shuddering, Arthur shook himself to rid himself of the tingles that travelled down his spine. How could Merlin be so irritating and yet so arousing?
"How's your father?" Merlin suddenly asked from behind and Arthur froze, his expression falling. "Is he still ill?"
"He's dying," the Crowned Prince spat.
"Well…that's what you wanted, wasn't it?"
"Was it? I don't know. I think he's just doing it to make me feel guilty – so I feel I must reconcile. On his deathbed I'm supposed to hold no grudges." Arthur spoke with complete contempt at his father's manipulations.
"It's your choice, Arthur, you don't have to do anything for him," Merlin replied, his sky-blue eyes soft with love and affection.
"I know, but…"
"But after all this time you haven't talked with him unless absolutely necessary and you feel that you don't really want him to go without saying goodbye? I understand, Arthur. What happened is in the past, we've all moved on."
"Have you though, Merlin? I don't want to hurt you even more, now you're near the end of the road of recovery."
"Arthur, its fine, I'm fine."
The warlock gripped onto his lover's shoulders and spun him round so they were facing. He stared firmly into Arthur's eyes, making sure he got the message, Merlin had put the past behind him – well, as behind him as it could go. Scars never completely faded.
Once he had the prince's attention, Merlin jumped off the fence and kissed him. Their lips ghosted each other and then pressed more firmly – slightly parted. It was sweet and heartfelt and just what Arthur needed. He drew back smiling.
"Merlin, you are the best thing that has ever happened to me," Arthur stated, his expression sincere.
"And you to me. Now…." Merlin paused, taking a deep breath, "Go say goodbye to your father."
I kind of thought that Merlin is the forgiving-ish type. Obviously he won't ever forget what Uther did but I think he's strong enough to move on, with Arthur's help. I also thought it would be wrong if Arthur didnt say any goodbye to Uther. As you can see, to please some of you I have killed Uther so our fav couple are free! Sorry I didn't include any sex scenes between Arty and Merly, can't write them....*shrugs* REVIEW ONE LAST TIME!