In the Back of Our Minds by Emachinescat
A Merlin Fan-Fiction
SUMMARY: Thoughts, memories, fears, joys, hopes, dreams, pain... A closer look at Arthur and Merlin's thoughts during the course of the first season and how their relationship changes, and the thoughts that we couldn't see while watching the show. Season 1.
A/N: I re-wrote this first chapter because I am going to go more in depth with each episode. Thanks to everyone who reviewed my first attempt, this one should be even better! :D
Please read and review. :)
In the Back of Our Minds
Chapter One ~ "The Dragon's Call"
It is amazing how one's life can turn around so dramatically in such a short span of time. I can't believe that I was actually excited about coming to Camelot; that I thought I could make a better life for myself here. I wish my mother hadn't found out that Will knows about my magic now; maybe I wouldn't be in this situation.
It's not all that bad, though, I suppose, if you don't count the fact that my life is in constant jeopardy because the King is a stubborn, blind man who closes his ears to everything once the word magic has cropped up in a conversation. Not that I've had much of a conversation with King Uther, though. Thank goodness.
The only time he has addressed me directly was when he appointed me as his son's manservant, and that opens a whole new slew of problems.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I am still reeling from the terrible sight that greeted me upon my arrival to Camelot. A man, hands bound, head on a chopping block, a deadly ax looming over his bared neck as the executioner, face concealed behind that dark, foreboding mask...The swish of the blade descending through the air, thick with tepid suspense, the squelch as the tender flesh, cartilage, veins, and sinew offered no resistance to the ax head that struck it full force...The grisly separation of the sorcerer's head from his body...
That was the first time I had ever seen an execution and it was more terrible than I could have imagined, especially since the horror was inflicted upon one of my own, my kin, a possessor of magic. Even if he studied, even if he wasn't born with the magic like I was, he still had the ability. He had the chance to do something with that power, something good. But whether or not he would use his magic for good will never be found out, because he is dead, his life wasted, thrown away by a King who is too ignorant to listen to reason.
That could have been me up there.
I don't know what to think about myself anymore.
Back in Ealdor, I had friends. Okay. A friend. But he accepted me for who I was and I didn't fear for my life when I was around him. I kept my "gifts" secret from everyone else. I knew I was different, that I was powerful, but the way my new guardian, Gaius, goes on about it...
I'm the most sensational sorcerer to ever hit the market
That is to say, I'm extraordinarily powerful.
Apparently the fact that I can perform magic naturally, that I was born this way, with magic flowing freely, unhindered, alive, and thriving through my veins, means that I am a "question that has never been posed," as Gaius put it.
That piece of information was enough to send me reeling. I'm the only one like this? The only one who has been, is, and possibly ever will be born with such great power? Others like me, with the raw abilities that I have, are unheard of? That is a lot of pressure to put on someone's shoulders.
To make matters worse, I went my whole life not knowing what purpose I served in the world, wondering if there were such things as destiny and fate, and if there were, did I have a place in them? Gaius seems to think so; he believes that I was given my magic for a reason...
I'm just lucky that he understood and didn't turn me in when to Uther when I saved his life using magic. I know that magic is illegal, but I couldn't just stand there and watch him fall to his death, could I? Uther's ban on magic, his hatred toward it, confuses me. Maybe I'm just naïve, having grown up in such a small village, away from Camelot and the laws that loom over it like a heavy cloud. I just don't understand...
What I did, saving Gaius, that was good. I saved a life. But if Uther found out, he would have me killed for doing so? Killing someone for saving someone else? That seems to be a bit redundant. How can he say that magic is evil, that it can only be used for evil, when it can so obviously be used for good?
I'm not a monster, am I?
Gaius told me not to think that. But I can't help it.
What if I am a monster?
Something quite remarkable about me: I have always had the most rotten luck. I suppose I could look upon the events of the past few days as something good – I mean, I did get a job. I saved a royal's life. I'm a "hero." And I'm not dead yet, which is an impressive feat within itself.
On the other side, though, since my arrival in Camelot, I've smarted off to Camelot's prat of a prince, Arthur – twice, but I don't regret it; the man is an insufferable, narcissistic, pompous, arrogant, obnoxious idiot and needed to be taught a lesson. No, I don't regret calling him an ass – what better description could I have given him? He's a bully. I could have gone without getting thrown in the dungeons, locked in the stocks (I don't think I'll ever get all of these tomato pips out of my hair!), walloped with a broom, and that's not even mentioning the "reward" I received for saving the prince's life...
I've never liked bullies. People with power that strut around, putting others down, using them to their own advantage...it's just never set right with me. When I saw Arthur throwing knives at that poor guy – never mind the fact that he had wooden target in front of him, he still looked terrified – I knew that I had to do something. So I stepped in. And I don't regret it... Maybe I should have just walked away, and not let him goad me... My arm's still sore from where he wrenched it behind my back, and the dungeon was not comfortable in the slightest (and don't even get me started on the stocks, although they did allow me the opportunity to get acquainted with Guinevere, who seems like a very nice girl.
The second time we fought...
I almost had him. If Gaius hadn't shown up then... But either my bad luck was at it again, or Gaius just has impeccabletiming – and by impeccable, I mean terrible. He distracted me, and then I got whacked with a broom by Arthur. I was fully expecting to get thrown in the dungeons again, and I'm still not sure why Arthur let me go.
"There's something about you, Merlin. I just can't put my finger on it."
He looked thoughtful, confused, maybe even a little impressed. That made me wonder if there's really more to him than meets the eye. Maybe he's not being a bully because he liked pushing people around, but because he is trying to overcome his own self-doubt. He seemed surprised, a little taken aback, but also grateful to have someone stand up to him for once.
Maybe that's what he needs, a little voice in his ear, yammering on about how he should treat others, defying him, challenging him, but also advising and trying to be his friend...
It looks like have now been promoted to the position of "Arthur's Conscience," because there is no way on this earth that I am going to be Prince Arthur's manservant and be a bootlicker. I'm going to tell him what he needs to hear, when he needs to hear it, and I am going to advise him, and save his ungrateful life whenever the time calls for it as well...
According to the Great Dragon imprisoned in a cave deep beneath Camelot, that is my destiny...
Oh, lovely. Because when I considered my destiny, this is most definitely not what I had in mind.
I never expected Gaius to give me a sermon on how special my powers are, how special I am, and how someone like me must have something great ahead of them, let along a massive dragon living under the castle, who told me that I have a destiny. Gaius said something of the sort, too, not long after I arrived in Camelot, but, unlike this great, all-knowing, riddle-monger of a dragon, he had no idea what that destiny was to be.
I think I prefer Gaius's answer to the one that the dragon gave me.
My destiny is to protect the once and future king, Prince Arthur, from any magical and non-magical threats, and help to change him from a pompous, narcissistic, self-centered, arrogant prat to a great king that will one day bring magic back to Camelot and unite the land of Albion.
I suppose that will be a bit easier to do now that I get to spend most of the time with his royal stuck-up-ness as a servant for saving his ungrateful life.
I'm still trying to figure it out – how is becoming a servant for the prince supposed to be a reward for saving his life? I would have been fine with a simple, "Good job." Of course, if Uther ever found out that I used magic to help save him, and planned on using my powers to do so again whenever the time presents itself, he would have me burned at the stake. Again, if I'm using magic to save his son's life, how is it that I am using it for evil?
Royals. They make no sense, the lot of them.
All I know is, I hope this destiny thing is worth it, because I've got a ton of armor, a load of dirty clothes, and a messy room to clean before tomorrow morning.
What a wonderful way to start my first week in Camelot.
Who does he think he is?
I'm still trying to figure it out. Huh, if someone would have told me, just a few days ago, "You will get smarted off by a scrawny, cheeky git – not once, but twice – and then get your life saved by that scrawny, cheeky git," I would have told them off as crazy.
And then I would be eating my words as we speak.
I quite honestly have no idea what to think about this boy, this Merlin. He's not much younger than myself, and about my height, but he's thin and has no muscles – at least, none that I could detect under the ratty, too-loose long-sleeved shirt. Normally guys like him stay away from me. They know I can beat them in a fight, and they know I will. But this man?
He told me to my face that I am an ass. And that was just before he knew who I was.
The day after I had him thrown in the dungeons for being so impertinent, he proceeded to call me a royal ass, and ask me how long I've been training to be a prat. A prat!
There's something about this Merlin that I can't put my finger on.
I would never admit it to anyone, but I'm still a bit shaken by the whole nearly dying experience. The lengths that old hag went to to get revenge for her son's death...
Morgana was glad that I was okay, but she didn't seem too upset by the fact that I was almost killed. After the feast, she had shot an annoyed glance at my father and muttered something under her breath about "That poor woman." I don't understand what she's so upset about. The lady's son had practiced magic, and by the laws of Camelot, magic is banned. My father was doing what any good king should do, upholding the law.
When I told Morgana this, she scoffed at me, keeping her voice low so that Father wouldn't hear her. "The man committed no crime – he was only using magic, he wasn't hurting anyone with it! Surely not everyone with magic can be evil!"
Her words are still ringing in my head.
"The more people he executes, the more criminals he'll create...That poor mother. I'm almost sad that she died such a terrible death. She should have fled Camelot when she had the chance. Not that I want her to hurt you, of course, like she threatened, but I feel so bad for her anyway. I hate having to watch an entire family be wiped out because of Uther's blind hatred..."
"I don't understand how he can stand there and watch person after person be decapitated or burnt at the stake for simply using magic. If someone has used their magic for evil, by all means, torture and kill them...But for good? Or in a neutral way? Why is healing a mother's wound, using magic to clean your house, or even magically making yourself taller something to die for? For heavens sake, if someone gets sick and is suddenly well, they are liable to get killed just because they had a remarkable recovery! If magic can be used to save lives, it can obviously be used for good."
She was really in a mood after the events of the feast. She just wouldn't let it go, following me all the way to my chambers, trying to convince me that Father is wrong.
But he's not.
I used to think that Morgana opposed Father just to get some sort of a reaction out of him, but now I'm not so sure. She seemed so adamant, so passionate about it that I can't help but wonder if its really how she feels. And if she really has a point...
Of course she doesn't.
Or does she?
I almost died tonight.
It's not that I'm scared – I'm not. For heaven's sake, I'm the prince of Camelot, and I don't get scared. I've trained as a knight, I am the best at what I do, and other people respect me for it. I've been on quests, I've seen death, I've almost died before.
This was different.
The woman was out to get me – me – specifically. It wasn't as if I was in the midst of a group of enemies that just wanted to kill as many people as they could, not caring who they were. This woman was after me.
And had I done anything wrong? It wasn't my fault her son chose to break the law and get himself killed. She was wanting revenge on my father by killing me. I still don't see how that's fair. Maybe everyone with magic has some sort of mental deficiency.
Speaking of mental deficiencies...
If it hadn't been for Merlin, I would have been dead. The idiot saved me, although I have no idea why he would do something like that, put his life on the line for me.
I feel ashamed that he even had to save me. I don't know what came over me – it certainly wasn't fear because I am a prince and not afraid – but it was like my feet were stuck to the floor. I couldn't seem to make myself move, make myself dive out of the way.
That knife would have embedded itself in my heart...I would have been dead, my blood leaking from my no longer beating heart, face pale and limp, blood mixing with the regal red of my cloak, eyes open yet unseeing...dead...
Merlin saved me.
I don't know what to think of my new servant, but never would I have thought after that first meeting that he would have saved my life. In fact, if someone wanted to kill me, I might have thought he would help them... Maybe he doesn't hate me as much as I thought... But why should I care what he thinks about me? I'm the prince.
I don't care.
Really. I don't.
I don't understand him, but maybe now that he is my servant, I can figure him out...
He defied me, called me names, tried (and spectacularly failed) to fight me, and yet, there's just something about him that's almost comforting.
He doesn't treat me like a prince, he treats me like a person. He has no regard for titles.
Also, he saved my life. I had him thrown in the dungeons, for crying out loud, I humiliated him by beating him in a fight – twice – and he still saved my life.
Maybe having him for a servant won't be as that bad...
If nothing else, the fact that I don't get him makes him interesting to be around, to try and figure out.
And he's annoying. And talkative. Probably incompetent and lazy too. Oh, yes, and a complete idiot.
Good grief, how am I going to survive him being my servant?
A/N: Please review, and I'll have Valiant up next! :D