Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Merlin characters.
- For the Love of Camelot -
5 weeks had passed and Merlin grew tired of staying in the small village of Ealdor. When he had left all those months ago, he had gone to find Camelot where he had met Arthur and his destiny. He had met Gaius and Gwen. He had discovered an entire new life! When he would leave Ealdor this time, he had no clue what he would find. He only knew one thing for certain: he had to leave this place.
Everyone knew of his magic and they avoided him and his mother almost completely. A few said 'goodmorning' or 'hello', but Merlin felt exluded, even looked down on as if he had no right to be here. His mother, of course, didn't mind. She was with her son and she only cared for his well being. Merlin had told her days ago that he was planning on moving on from Ealdor and she had not blamed him for wanting this. She had looked sad, though, but Merlin didn't allow himself to change his mind.
He wanted to travel, see the world, meet new people. He silently hoped he would meet people with magic, perhaps seek the Druids. His magic had grown strong again since Uther's tortures, but there was still much he could learn. Magic had many secrets and Merlin knew he could discover one or two.
And so tomorrow would be that day. Tomorrow, he would leave Ealdor in search of something more.
"I've been looking for you," Hunith suddenly came sitting next to her son in the high grass. She let her gaze fall upon every object surrounding them. "It's very lovely here."
Merlin only nodded. He had fallen in love with this place. He had just been wandering about, not really heading towards anything or anyone and suddenly, he had found himself standing on this very spot. The gras had come all the way up to his knees and when the sun shone down on it, the green almost seemed translucent. It had been a sight Merlin had never seen before.
"It's quiet here," Merlin explained. He looked at his mother, noticing she wore a sad gaze again. "I'll be fine, Mother," he assured her, "you don't need to worry about me."
Hunith placed her hand upon Merlin's shoulder and gazed into his eyes. "I always worry about you."
Merlin turned to look forward again, watching how the sun slowly settled down on the horizon. "I want to do this," he told her, "I want to see what else is out there."
"And you should," Hunith said. She had always been a mother who allowed her child to explore the world. In her case, that had been more difficult considering her child had magic and could be executed for that simple fact. She trusted her son, however, and she knew Merlin would always be careful.
"I bought you a gift," she moved her hand into her woolen scarf that covered her entire shoulders and when she opened her hand before Merlin, she was holding a small box made out of wood. It fitted right into the palm of her hand.
"You shouldn't have," Merlin said, but he gratefully accepted the little present. He slowly opened it, having no idea what could be inside, but what he saw mesmerized him. A tiny, starshaped pendant lay in it, its color gold. "It's beautiful," Merlin smiled, looking at his mother.
"It is for good luck and good health," Hunith explained, "it's said it possesses magic as well."
"I'll keep it with me always," Merlin told her.
"I will miss you," Hunith whispered.
Merlin turned and embraced her, telling her: "I'll miss you too."
24 months later
For two weeks now, Arthur had been sitting on his father's throne. He had been in charge of Camelot for more than 3 months already, but it still felt odd to be actually named King. Uther had died in his sleep after a long illness that Gaius had not been able to cure. Arthur didn't blame the phycisian because he knew Gaius had done everything within his power. Uther had simply grown old and tired.
And now Arthur was King and he had much on his mind. He finally understood the harsh decision Uther had made during his reign, he finally comprehended why his father could be so cruel en cold hearted at times. Arthur had one advantage, however, and that was Gwen. She supported him, stood by his side and gave advice which he always listened to but couldn't always follow.
And as he was settling in, growing used to the idea of being a King, another thought was constantly on his mind.
Arthur almost jumped twenty feet into the air. He had not heard Gwen enter since he had been completely absorbed in his own mind and thoughts.
"I didn't hear you enter," he told her. Gwen was wearing a long, velvet green dress with long sleeves. Around her neck hung a small en delicate necklace which Arthur had given her on her last birthday. His gaze then fell to her slim hand which he took gently in his own. Around her finger was a ring that had once belonged to Ygraine, Arthur's mother.
They had been engaged for a week now. Uther had never agreed with his son's relationship, but now that he was no longer the ruler of Camelot and since Arthur was, he had asked Gwen to marry him. She had said yes, of course, and Arthur had never before felt this kind of happiness. It felt as if everything was right in his life. Everything except...
"You look troubled," Gwen said, her eyes filled with worry, "what's on your mind?"
"I thought..." Arthur sighed, not sure if he should bother Gwen with this. Then again, she deserved to know, needed to know and Arthur wanted to share his thoughts and emotions with someone. "I thought he would have returned by now."
Gwen smiled encouragingly. Her still free hand found its way to Arthur's face where she getly carressed his cheek with her thumb. "I'm sure Merlin will come," she told him, "he wouldn't dare miss our wedding next week."
Arthur chuckled. "Our wedding," he said, "the day you will become my Queen."
Gwen leaned forward, her head resting against Arthur's chest. "He'll come," she simply said, her voice soft. Arthur wasn't sure if she was trying to convince him of her words, or herself. "He has to come."
Arthur pressed a tender kiss against her hair and held her. "I love you," he smiled.
"I love you, too," Gwen whispered back.
The Wedding Day
Arthur looked down at himself, finding himself suddenly overwhelmed by all the red he was wearing. Or perhaps he was overwhelmed by everything that was happening or was still bound to happen? Arthur honestly didn't know. He and Gwen had prefered a small ceremony, very intimite, but as the King of Camelot, he was obliged to invite all kind of important people. Before he had realized it, he came to the conclusion that the entire Council Chamber would be filled with people.
It might as well have remained empty for Arthur, because all that he cared for was Gwen. She would have his complete and undivided attention. He wondered how she would look, but he was convinced she would look beautiful.
A soft knock on the door made him turn. "Enter," he said, expecting a servant to enter, but who he saw made him smile. "Merlin," he breathed.
Merlin bowed his head deeply, a large grin filling his face. "My Lord," he spoke softly and yet, with strength, "you look well."
Arthur stepped forward and then suddenly halted. He felt unsure of how to act in this situation. He had imagined Merlin's return many times, but never before had he thought that he would actually look different. Merlin had more...depth. He had always appeared so open, but there was something in his eyes now. Wisdom and... caution. Arthur couldn't blame him for that. The scars he had received in his torture all that time ago were still visible even though they had become nothing more than small, silverlike lines.
Even his clothes had changed. He wore brown trousers and a red shirt combined with a blue neckerchief. Alright, perhaps that hadn't change, but he did wear a dark blue cloak that seemed to match his eyes somehow and Arthur couldn't help wondering of it had somehow been made with magic.
"It is good to see you," Arthur told him sincerely.
"I wouldn't want to miss this day," Merlin told him, "it is a very important day."
Arthur nodded, thinking of Gwen again. In one hour time, he would be married to her. He would be able to spend the rest of his life with her. "You are here to stay, right?" He had to ask the question, but he felt relief when he saw Merlin break into a grin.
"I am," he said and then added, "if I survive today."
Arthur frowned deeply.
"I'm sure there is a big party tonight," Merlin laughed, "and you know I can't hold my liqueur." He suddenly turned very serious. "You have achieved much, Arthur," Merlin spoke in a tone that made Arthur realise that the young sorcerer felt proud, "and you will still achieve so much more."
"I owe it all to you," Arthur said. He couldn't begin to comprehend how much Merlin had helped him. Merlin would have died for him, he would have given everything for the then-Prince, but Arthur knew it was mutual. He would have, and still would, risk everything for the goofy servant.
A bell sounded in the distance, announcing the beginning of a feast. "I think that's your cue," Merlin said, "don't keep the bride waiting."
Arthur rose from his throne and gazed before him, seeing all the people before him look at him intently. They were probably waiting since the early morning already. There were familiar faces and friends like Leon, Gwaine, Lancelot and Gaius. Arthur couldn't recognize everyone, however, and he wondered how he could have invited so many guests. His attention was suddenly pulled to the opening doors. Only a second later, Gwen entered, Merlin walking beside her, holding up her hand proudly.
Gwen looked stunningly beautiful. Her long, brown curls lay loosely around her shoulders. Her dress was made of expensive silk and had a soft red color. She almost seemed to be giving light as she began to smile when making eye-contact with Arthur. Gwen and Merlin walked forward, everyone's gaze upon them.
When they stood before the King, they both bowed their heads in respect and Gwen stepped forward, letting go of Merlin's hand and whispering a soft 'thank you'. Merlin only smiled and went to stand next to Gaius.
"You look beautiful," Arthur told Gwen who immediately started to blush.
"He's back," Gwen whispered, her gaze sliding towards Merlin for a second and then focusing back on Arthur, "I told you he would be back."
Arthur nodded. "This is a perfect day, isn't it?"
"It truly is," Gwen smiled.
Thank you to all who stuck with this story until the very end!