Disclaimer: I have no idea who owns Merlin ©, but I do know that it's not me!
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Way 7: Protecting the Once and Future King
Arthur stood in the great hall, before the throne of the king. Slowly, he lowered himself into the throne, feeling the weight of his crown on his head. It had only been a month since his father had died, a completely mundane illness taking him in the night. The now King Arthur was still getting used to his new position.
One day, you will be a great king, Arthur. I know that, even if no one else does. Even after five years, Merlin's words played in his head. He had sworn when he helped Merlin escape that he would be the king Merlin believed he would be. No one else would be executed for having a gift. He had spent the past month relaxing the ban on magic, slowly staggering his reforms to avoid an outright revolt of the nobility. After two decades of brain-washing, magic and its practitioners had become feared and reviled. It would take time to remind the people of the good magic could do.
Arthur turned to see Gauis entering the hall, and he smiled. "Sorry, Gauis. Lost in thought again."
Gauis smiled at him. "Still wondering where Merlin is?"
Arthur frowned. "It's been a month, Gauis. He said he'd come back when magic returned to Camelot. Where is he?"
Gauis laid a reassuring hand on his arm. "He'll be here, Arthur. When the time is right, he'll come back."
Arthur sighed and rubbed at his eyes tiredly. "I suppose you're right." He straightened in his throne. "Did you need something, Gauis?"
Gauis took a step back and bowed slightly. "Sire, you asked to meet my new assistant."
"Ah yes, I remember." Arthur answered, a small smile on his face. "I'd like to meet this young man. I've heard great things about him."
Gauis nodded and moved to open the doors. A young man entered and closed the door behind him. The two of them moved forward, and the younger man bowed. "Your Majesty."
"You must be Harold." Arthur said. "I had wondered who had managed to meet Gauis's exacting standards."
"It's an honor to meet you, Sire." Harold straightened. "I've always wondered what you were like."
Something about that bothered Arthur, but he pushed it to the side. "Well, I hope that you learn well from Gauis. He has served my family loyally for many years, and he is the best in all of Camelot."
"Yes, he is." Harold answered, his voice light. "Which is why it is a shame I won't be able to learn from him."
Arthur and Gauis wore similar looks of confusion. "I'm afraid I don't understand." Arthur said carefully. "What do you mean by that?"
"I mean, he won't want to teach me after I've killed you." Harold said conversationally. Moving quickly, he raised his hand, and his eyes glowed. "Bærnett!" Something bright and orange shot at Arthur, and for a moment, Arthur thought that this would be the end.
Then something struck him in the side, sending him sprawling. He hit the floor with a thud, and he turned just in time to see a figure burst into flame. "Ic i ácéoce!" The figure shouted. The flames went out, and Arthur stared at the figure underneath the flames. It casually brushed off some ash from his cloak and shook its head. The hood fell to pieces, revealing a slightly burned face. But Arthur couldn't contain a smile when he saw the face underneath the hood.
Merlin looked over and grinned. "Sorry, I'm a bit busy at the moment." He touched a hand to Arthur's forehead. "Bordrand fram áwierdnes!" Arthur felt a warmth flow through him, and he quickly stood. "Protect Gauis for me, Arthur." He turned to Harold, and an unfamiliar cold expression fell over his face. "By what right do you attack what is mine?"
"Yours!" Harold shouted. "How pathetic!" He turned to Arthur, his hand raised. "Ic i ábirstee!"
Arthur shut his eyes as the light sped towards him. But nothing happened. He looked up, and saw the rage on Harold's face. "Frustrating, isn't it?" Merlin commented lightly, a sarcastic bite to his voice that made Arthur wince. "It's a handy little spell I learned a few years ago. Not only does use the power of the caster, but it also absorbs attacks used against it to strengthen itself. The only way to end it is to kill the caster." Merlin smiled. "This fight is now between you and me, boy."
Harold's eyes narrowed, and a smug smile crossed his face. "I know your true name, Emrys! I can take your power and make it my own!" He raised both hands to Merlin, and began chanting.
Merlin gazed at Harold thoughtfully. "Leave now, and I will let you live." Merlin said calmly.
"Nice try, Emrys!" Harold shouted. "Ic copian úrerice!" The spell shot forward and struck Merlin in the chest. Then it sputtered to nothing. Harold's eyes widened and he stumbled back, tripping over himself. "But. . . how! I know your true name! Your power should be mine!"
Merlin stepped forward and knelt in front of him. "My name is Merlin." He lifted his hand and placed it on Harold's forehead. "Mamera."
Harold's eyes rolled back into his head, and he fell to the ground. Merlin stood and turned to Arthur. "Well, that was entertaining."
Arthur stared at Harold. "Is. . . is he-"
"No." Merlin assured him. "Come on, Arthur. Do you honestly think that I'm capable of murder?" He nudged Harold with his foot. "I've put him to sleep. I'll wake him up in time for his trial." He turned to Arthur. "He will have a trial, won't he?"
Arthur glared at him. "You know me well enough to know he will."
Merlin smiled. "Good to know that you haven't changed a bit." He started to turn away, but Arthur couldn't let things rest. He grabbed Merlin's shoulder and, before he even realized what he was doing, punched Merlin in the face.
Merlin stumbled back with a shout, clenching his nose. "What was that for!"
"It's been a month!" Arthur shouted. "Where have you been, you idiot!"
"Well I'm sorry, your Royal Pratness!" Merlin snapped. "But I haven't been pardoned yet!"
"Since when has the law stopped you from doing what you wanted?" Arthur shouted, taking another swing at Merlin, which the warlock dodged.
"I didn't want you to have to execute me!" Merlin shouted.
Arthur was going to shout back, something rash and ill advised, but something slapped the back of his head. He yelped, and heard a similar sound from Merlin. "Both of you will cease this immediately!"
Arthur looked up to see an annoyed Gauis staring at them, the dreaded eyebrow raised in warning. He suddenly felt like a stubborn two-year-old. He looked over at Merlin and saw a similar look on his face. He couldn't help it. He laughed out loud, Merlin joining in soon after him.
When the laughter died down, Arthur looked over at Merlin. "Well Merlin, I'm sorry to tell you, but I'm afraid I already have another manservant. A competent one."
Merlin shook his head, fighting a grin. "Oh dear, you got a boot licker, didn't you? I'm so disappointed."
Arthur snorted. "Don't worry. For some reason, Gwen seems to have made it her mission to scold me every time I step out of line. And then she apologizes every time. It's quite annoying really."
Merlin laughed. "Well, I always was a terrible servant. Looks like your free of me."
Arthur grinned, and Merlin got a sick feeling in his stomach. "Now Merlin, don't look so dejected. I'm sure we can find something for you to do." He slung an arm around Merlin's shoulders. "After all, now that magic is legal in Camelot, I need someone to parade in front of foreign dignitaries when they come to visit. That would make you 'Court Magician.'"
"For the last time, I'm a warlock!"
"And just think of the outfit. I'm thinking bright red robes-"
"Those things are just really thick dresses!"
"And a really big hat. No! A white turban!"
"Don't you dare-"
"With giant red feathers!"
"Maybe I should have let Uther execute me. . ."
That's all folks!
Thank you to everyone who favorited and alerted for my story. I hope that this ending is satisfactory to you all.