A/N: This first chapter's mainly a link between the prequel fic and this. Next chapter will get more into the new plot.
By the way, I had some people ask me during Arthur's Silent Guardian when these fics are set. They are set after the second season, though ASG really doesn't have anything that specified any particular time frame. This fic will be more clear in that regard.
Two months had passed since that night. At first, Arthur had carefully monitored all those around him, trying to determine just who Emrys was. He had hoped, now that he knew Emrys existed, the sorcerer-in-hiding might look at him just a little differently than before, and thereby give his identity away.
Was it Gaius? The physician may be a bit distracted sometimes, but Arthur knew from experience how wise the man was, and he was certainly loyal to Camelot. But Gaius was an old man. Even if he was a sorcerer, could the man have moved so quickly? Could he have survived such an attack?
Was it one of his knights? They had sworn an oath to protect both him and Camelot with their lives, of course, so that would make sense, and they were certainly fast enough without magical aid, with it who knows what they would be capable of? But the knights were in constant eye of the king. Would any sorcerer truly be foolish enough to stay so close to certain death?
For all he knew, Emrys could even be a woman! Arthur had no idea of the capabilities or limitations of magic. Who's to say there wasn't some spell out there that would allow Emrys to alter his—or her—voice?
But Arthur could perceive no oddities in anyone's behavior, nor could he match the voice of those haunting two words to any voice he heard.
It was maddening.
Arthur would never truly give up. He would never be able to stop himself from subtly searching for Emrys, but his silent interrogation whenever he spoke with anyone became more of a nagging thought in the back of his head than a conscious prodding. He knew Emrys was here in the castle, somewhere, but Arthur was forced to accept the fact that he had no way to find the man. At least, he tried to convince himself that he had accepted that fact. A small part of him was relieved that the mystery remained unsolved—a very small part. If he didn't know who the sorcerer truly was, then he wouldn't really be committing treason by turning a blind eye. The rest of him burned to know the truth.
He had confessed to Merlin the whole truth of that night. Whether he admitted it out loud or not, Arthur knew that Merlin was a friend, not just a servant, and that he could trust the boy to keep quiet, even about sorcery.
"How did you manage to escape?" was the first thing his servant had asked that morning, as Arthur stared at his breakfast, really not all that hungry.
Arthur had very nearly repeated the lie he had told to his father, but looking at Merlin's face, Arthur had changed his mind. "A sorcerer saved me," he said instead. Merlin's eyes widened in shock, though he looked slightly amused. Arthur laughed slightly at the look. "Strange, I know."
"Why would a sorcerer save you?" Merlin asked slowly.
"He said…that it was my destiny to take the throne, and his to make sure I lived to do it. Even..." Arthur trailed off, not entirely sure how to voice the last part.
"Even if he had to die in my service."
Merlin nodded slowly. "That's some dedication," he confessed.
Even knowing Merlin's trustworthiness, Arthur still hesitated to tell his friend this last part. "He lives in the castle," he said at last.
Merlin seemed to take this news surprisingly well. His eyes widened again, and a slight strike of fear crossed over them, but he took it in stride, not even questioning if that were possible.
"Does your father know?"
"You really are an idiot, aren't you?" Arthur said with a roll of his eyes. "If my father knew, do you think I'd be sitting here eating my breakfast while a sorcerer roams the castle halls?"
"Now you're using your brain."
Merlin shifted his feet slightly, seeming agitated about something. Arthur resisted the urge to roll his eyes yet again. If Merlin got so worked up over such a silly little insult, he was losing his resilience. "How did you tell your father you escaped then?" he asked suddenly.
"I told him I escaped on my own of course."
"And he believed you?" Merlin asked incredulously.
Arthur glared at him. "Why Merlin, I'm flattered at your confidence in me."
Merlin ducked his head, failing to hide a grin. "Well you were the damsel in distress, after all," he muttered. Arthur stood up, grabbed a pillow, and proceeded to pound his friend with it. When he finally stopped the two were both laughing.
Arthur smiled at the memory. Why was it that Merlin could always lighten his mood? Still, Arthur was glad he had someone to confide in, even if it was an incompetent, insubordinate manservant.
In a way, Arthur was more grateful for his servant's company now than he had been before. He knew without a doubt that Merlin was not Emrys—that would just make no sense at all—and it was nice to have the luxury of such certainty with at least one person.
"You're thinking about him again, aren't you?" Merlin asked as he hung up another outfit in Arthur's wardrobe.
Arthur came back from what appeared to be a sort of trance. "What?"
Merlin grinned. "If I didn't know any better I'd think you were pining over your lost lover."
Arthur glared at him. "I am not!"
"Well who could blame you? He did save your backside. I guess you could call him your sorcerer-in-not-so-shiny-armor."
Arthur whacked him across the head. "One more word, Merlin, and I'll have you put in the stocks!"
Merlin continued to grin, but didn't say another word.
"I just wish I knew who he was," Arthur said after a moment's silence, staring out the window again.
Merlin ducked his eyes back to his work, fighting the sadness that overwhelmed him. I wish you knew, too.
"Why do you care so much?" Merlin asked when the silence became too much for him. "He's just a sorcerer after all."
"Just a sorcerer? Merlin, do I need to remind you how powerful sorcerers are? It's only reasonable to want to keep tabs on him."
"Is that it then?" Merlin felt his stomach drop at those words. "You really just don't trust him?"
Arthur opened his mouth to make another retort, but it died in his throat. "No," he admitted, "I do. It's just…an excuse I guess. How strange is it that this man has saved my life who knows how many times and I don't even know his name?"
Merlin shrugged. "Apparently that's how he wants it."
"But why?" Arthur practically wined. "He's not even asking for recognition for what he's done! Shouldn't he want someone to know who he is? To know it's him who's doing all these…heroic deeds?"
Merlin suppressed a sigh. Arthur really didn't understand. "Do your knights protect Camelot for fame and glory? Or because it's what needs to be done and they have the power to do it?" Arthur didn't answer, he just looked at his manservant, silently inviting him to continue. "Why do you expect any differently of a sorcerer?" Merlin asked quietly.
For a moment, Arthur stared at Merlin as though he had two heads. Once more he opened his mouth for a retort, but he slammed his jaw shut after realizing he didn't have an answer. Merlin gave him a sad smile, realizing what the silence meant. He then gathered up Arthur's sword. "Time to get this sharpened," he said as he opened the door to leave. "I'll be back with it after a little while."
Arthur stared after his manservant as he left, thinking hard about those last words.
Why did he expect so differently of a sorcerer? He'd accepted the fact that Emrys was an ally—no matter what means of a weapon he used—and he'd even accepted the fact that not all sorcery can really be evil. If sorcery could be used for such good, how could it be? Why then was he still having such a hard time letting go of this idea that sorcerers were somehow…less honorable than any other person? If his knights could conduct themselves with such honor, why could a sorcerer not do the same?
It was a problem part of his mind had already solved, and part of his mind stubbornly clung to. It was hard to erase an entire lifetime's worth of brainwashing, no matter how much evidence contradicted it.
And since when was Merlin so perceptive? What happened to "he's just a sorcerer"?
Arthur felt a headache coming on.
A/N: Hope you enjoy the sequel so far! Please review to let me know what you think. And just a heads up, updates are not going to be as quick as ASG was. I'm in the thick of the semester now so a lot of stuff is going on. So please be patient with me! I'll update as often as I can.