So this is it. The final part of this story, the epilogue. I have finally come to this story's end, to the end of the whole trilogy.
Here is a long author note, sorry to bother you with it, but I really feel like I need to write it all here. I'll just put numbers to make it a bit easier for you. :)
1. It all began with Merlin poisoning himself on the day of his execution. And I can honestly say that I didn't expect that I would be here, publishing the grande finale for the complicated plot lines that followed those events.
Arthur and Merlin have gone through a lot.
2. One thing I've never really written in my author notes is one important thing that has inspired me to write Arthur how he is.
The thing about Arthur is that he is a rather uncertain about himself, acting arrogant and proud just because he's unsure what Uther wants him to be like and what he should do in his life. He has built a wall around himself, a wall which Merlin sees through to. Or he's the first one to do it, anyway. With his aid, other people and most importantly Arthur himself notices that he is a good person underneath all of his social fences.
And that's one thing that has inspired me. Arthur has gone through some changes and he has had to face things that has made him realize few things about himself. When he thought Merlin had died after the poisoning, he had to really explore his feelings and thoughts for the first time. And that was the nudge that gave speed to everything else, in Friendship called treason, heavily in Damages and in this story, too.
I won't go deeper than that, because I have the epilogue right here. There are the most important things.
3. Then few more less-important things: I have gone through several chapters of this story, correcting all the obvious grammar and spelling mistakes that I have spotted or I have been kindly been informed about, to make it more readable and easier. You won't notice it, though, nothing changes in the chapters except the errors.
4. And a quick note on the spells that I used here: mostly they are 'real', taken from the show, but with this last story I used some Old English sources so when even if the spells are surely not correct in Old English, they mean something close to the things they are meant to do. For example, the fire spells or the healing spells.
5. And again, quick reminder that I'm not a native English speaker. The nonsense language, incorrect tenses and spelling mistakes? They are all because of that. I've been trying to work on those and I will correct all the mistakes I spot afterwards, but I hope it's beel all readable anyway. =D
A random boring fact: This is the first time ever I have written Gwaine. =D A random boring fact number 2: this fic, First day of forever, has the exactly same chapter count as Friendship called treason. So I was able to keep my promise about the length, yay! :)
6. Then, at last, I'd like to thank personally people that have reviewed and shared their views about this all with me. It's a long list, but all of you deserve it.
So, in no particular order, here it goes, thank you all:
Shere'Lifsil, CoolCarrot, Kitty O, llLethel, MirrorFlower and DarkWind, Word-Stringer, Cainchan, starlight564, IsabelEmrys, Emachinecat, MamzelleHermy, HighEmpress, AngelMouse5, ShiverMeFunzies, Freya1234, Katherine Moonhawk, EllieInTheMiddle, and cooking-ninja18.
There are several who are not mentioned here, as this is the list for the last part. And that's because one, there has been several visitors (who are much appreciated) and I know there are many that read my work but they might not never comment on it. And please note that I have almost 300 hundred revies for Friendship called treason, Damages has about 450 so it would make a super-long list to thank everyone who has reviewed. =D
(Not to mention that the review count doesn't mirror all of the people who have actually read the stories; for example I have currently over 80,000 hits on Damages, so...)
So to sum up: thank you!
7. Please do write one last review for me. Pretty pretty please? :)
What did you think of this? Was it good, bad, something between? What about the plot, the characters, my writing style? It's all yours to share, and it will be all noted and very much appreciated.
Here's the epilogue.
Story: The First Day of Forever (Chapter sixteen: Epilogue)
Sun was glistening above the city of Camelot.
Its light revealed the burnt east-side of the city, which was currently rebuilt. People moved in the streets and markets, but most of them had already gathered to the courtyard.
Arthur leant against the windowsill, eyes wandering in the city.
It had been a month.
A month since his father had died. Uther Pendragon had been buried to the royal cemetery with all the traditional ceremonies. Arthur felt the grief sting his heart distantly.
For a while, everything had been just a pure whirlwind and merry-go-round for him.
The city had been more or less chaos in the night of his father's death, and it took awhile before all of the people with magic had been freed from the dungeons. Some of them had already died because of the spell, and many were buried with sorrow.
But fortunately most of them survived.
Arthur had sent guards to find his knights that had been trapped outside the castle. They had all done everything they could to calm the people down and saved several of them. Arthur had thanked all of his knights personally after he had made sure Gwen was alright.
Her name brought a smile on Arthur's face. She was somewhere in the castle, preparing. She had told him that he couldn't see her before the big moment - according to her, it was against an old belief.
Arthur let out a breath. Someone walked to the room.
-Everything's ready, Sire." a voice said. Arthur recognized it to be Leon's.
Arthur turned around and nodded. Gwaine was standing behind Leon, looking rather odd with the knight's ceremonial, ornamented robe on him. But then again, he was leaning to the doorframe so characterisrically that he failed to look formal and serious like Sir Leon. His eyes were playful.
-Don't stumble on your dress." he said and glanced at the long cape Arthur was wearing. Arthur couldn't help but to let out a small chuckle. -I won't." he replied to the knight.
-Elyan's ready, standing right outside the Court Hall doors to lead Guinevere in." Sir Leon added.
Arthur nodded and couldn't help to let out a small smile. -Good, very good. All is set, then. You should be on your way, too." Arthur said.
Leon nodded formally and turned to leave. Gwaine let out a laugh. -His Royal Highness is nervous." he whispered loudly to Leon. Arthur shot an amused glare at the knight. Gwaine just grinned and nodded his head before the two knights left the room.
Arthur turned again towards the window.
He had often thought about this day, but he had never quite imagined it to be like this.
When he had been young, he had always imagined that his father would have been alive on this day, just old enough to pass the crown to him. Arthur sighed.
He was alone now, the whole kingdom was his responsibility from this day on.
Uther had been buried. Rewin's body had been burnt alongside the body of the Great Dragon.
Many of the people of Camelot detested the dragon's burial because of the history with it, but Arthur knew that Kilgarrah had given his life for his own. There wasn't even a proper token of respect that he could offer to the brave dragon.
Arthur tilted his head as he watched the people gather fearlessly to the courtyard. They looked free. Like some tension would have fallen off their shoulders, like a constant fear.
Like the fear of getting executed for having magic.
But they had no need for that fear now. Arthur had already publicly announced that having magic wasn't a crime anymore. Using it to harm others was.
People had welcomed the new law with open arms, and many of them had claimed that they would never betray this new kind of trust that had been offered to them.
Arthur could hear footsteps entering the room. He didn't even need to turn around to look who it was. Those footsteps were so familiar, carved into his memory that he couldn't be mistaken.
-I was sure I'd find you here."
Arthur smiled faintly.
He turned his head to see Merlin walking to the room, stopping next to him. Arthur felt strong relief, once again, to see Merlin there.
His friend was still more or less recovering from the events caused by Rewin.
Arthur had been worrying over him for days, as he hadn't woken up. Ortheus had assured him that Merlin would be alright, along with his knights that had sat beside Merlin's bed with him from time to time.
All of them had been worried, of course, but Arthur was the one who just felt he needed to be there.
He had been there all the time, staying up and making sure Merlin was alright. And he was; there hadn't fortunately been any major damage.
Arthur had had the time to think about everything what had happened. He had the time to grief his father. And most importantly, he had had the time to adjust to the new situation.
Merlin had woken up after four days. Apparently, his magic had spent the time to heal him from all the damages he had received. Of course he was forced to stay in bed and recover, and after two weeks Ortheus gave him the permission to get up.
Arthur had been constantly worried, though.
But after these four weeks, Merlin was doing fine. He still got tired easily like all the others who had suffered from the spell, but otherwise, he was fine.
Arthur studied his friend's face. Merlin chuckled. -If you are going to ask me for the hundreth time whether I'm alright or not, I can already say that I'm fine." Merlin said amusedly.
He tilted his head. -Besides, this is an important day for you." he added.
Arthur nodded. -I know. " he answered shortly. Merlin eyed him for awhile. There was a small silence.
-Are you ready for this?" he asked, more seriously.
Arthur took a deep breath. -Yes, I think so. I...I just wish my father was here."
Merlin sighed and turned his head towards the window. He had been told what had happened soon after he had woken up.
-I know, Arthur, but...You are strong. The grief won't break you, I know it." Merlin said quietly.
Arthur glanced at him. Somehow Gaius' name loomed in the air again. And very expectedly, Merlin was following his thoughts. -The grief I felt for Gaius didn't break me, either. It was poignant and strong, but not overwhelming. I still miss him, but I've learnt to live without him." Merlin said, and this time his voice didn't shake. He turned to Arthur.
-And I know you can do that too. From this day on, you will have Gwen as your queen. The knights are loyal to you and they will stand by your side whatever happens." Merlin said.
Arthur nodded, but then his lips curled into a smile. -Aren't you forgetting my clumsy Court Sorcerer from the list?"
Merlin chuckled and his eyes sparkled as he shared a glance with Arthur. -I think I won't never get used to the title." he mumbled, smiling.
Then slowly, he got serious. There was a small silence. Merlin took a deep breathe.
-I will always be here, you know?" he said quietly.
Arthur nodded slightly. -I know." he answered firmly. Because he did know it.
Their familiar, comfortable silence had landed again. For a moment, they just both let their eyes wander on the city of Camelot, glistening in the sun.
Everything that had happened before, was present, but wasn't haunting the past anymore.
Arthur had let go of the former memories and dark thoughts - they couldn't reach him anymore. They were important, but not demanding.
They mattered, but couldn't interfere.
Not after the moment Arthur had shoved them at Rewin's face.
The specialist' name still aroused a slight wave of disgust in him. But Arthur knew that it couldn't take over - few years back it could have, but not anymore. Rewin hadn't won. Even if he had killed Uther, he hadn't damaged Arthur. He hadn't taken Merlin with him.
The fact that even the dragon had sacrificed its life for him, made Arthur feel strong. Confident.
Kilgarrah had thought he was worthy to be saved. And from that dragon, it was an honour.
Arthur's old urge to build walls around himself wasn't necessary anymore. He didn't feel lonely. He didn't feel scared, unsure about himself - he felt safe in his own skin. Arthur knew he could make a difference in people's lives. He could change things.
He felt complete as this person he was now - it didn't bother him that parts of him belonged to the important people around him. He didn't feel uncertain for caring for people and letting them know it.
He loved Guinevere. He would do anything for his knights. He would die for Merlin. He would do it all without a question, and it felt good. Calming. Not disturbing, like he had sometimes thought.
It was natural. People were important to him, and he could it say it aloud.
Of course he would never get so good with words and expressing himself, but everyone who mattered, knew it and accepted it.
Arthur didn't feel scared about the fact that this was his coronation day and he would officially become the king of Camelot. Not prince Arthur - King Arthur. The title didn't make him want to crawl away from the people and feel unsatisfied with himself and his decisions. He had just the right people around him to help.
Arthur was ready to be king - it was a responsibility and his destiny, and he had accepted it.
Merlin shifted and interrupted Arthur's thoughts. He turned towards Arthur.
-Are you nervous?" he said, but had a playful tone.
Arthur chuckled and played along with their old teasy conversation style. -Would it make me a supercilious, dollopheaded prat if I denied that I am nervous?"
Merlin laughed. -Not quite, because I could tell you're nervous anyway. As long as you won't make me wear that awful hat again, I'm fine."
Arthur laughed out loud for that. The memory of the hat was entwined with the poisoned chalice, but the memory wasn't disturbing, it was just a memory. Darker memory, yes, but it lacked its power as it was put in line with hundreds of other ones. Memories of Merlin...There were too many good ones to let the painfuls to stand out.
-You're not a servant anymore, so you don't need to wear the hat." Arthur replied, amusedly.
Merlin smiled widely and locked eyes with Arthur. After a moment, Merlin got a bit more serious. -And you're not a prat anymore." he said quietly.
Arthur had to look away, feeling a bit embarrassed for the compliment. -Really?" he asked, trying to sound teasy but there was a real question behind it.
-Really, Arthur. I mean it. You have grown up. We both have. You have changed so much from the arrogant prince I met in the market place long ago."
Arthur couldn't help but to smile for that memory.
Merlin took a breath. -I couldn't have ever imagined that after all these years and everything we have gone through together, we'd still both be here on this day. I admit that there were moments I was about to give up - on you, on myself, on our destiny, on everything. But I kept going nonetheless, as did you.
You never gave up, as much as all of those people, like Mordred and Rewin, tried. You stood up to them and you made your own choices in your life. You chose to listen to your heart and not what other people told you. And without that strength that is in you, we, and especially me, wouldn't be standing here now. You have the heart of a king. And you aren't just crowned to be king, Arthur, you have become a king.
And I'm glad that I've had the honour to share it all with you."
Arthur looked up to Merlin. He could feel how touched he was for the words, and he didn't feel awkward for it. Merlin's eyes glistened just a bit as he stood there, smiling, rays of the sun golden on his dark hair.
-Thank you." Arthur breathed out, those two words filled with such emotion that he could feel it sparking in his chest. The feeling of warmth, of joy and inner peace.
Arthur studied Merlin's sincere blue eyes. He was so happy that they were both still here.
Merlin had really proved that he would do anything for him - and he had done it, too. Pulled him back from the other side, defied the death itself.
Arthur tried to find the right words.
-I..." he started and eyed Merlin, trying to sum up everything he felt and thought. He blinked and his brows furrowed. -I don't know what to say, Merlin...I'm just...glad I met you." he said sincerely, but he felt like he wanted to add something and sought the words again. -I...
But Merlin just nodded and smiled, interrupting him. -I know, Arthur. I know."
Arthur let out a relieved breath. He was certain that he had never smiled this much during one single day.
Camelot was heading for a new time. There were lots to do and many things that needed to be changed. But then again, he had never felt this confident about the future. Arthur felt strong. He had just the right people by his side to do it.
For a moment, they were silent again.
-Remember when I told you that I would gladly be your servant until the day I die?"
-Yes, I remember. Why?" Arthur answered, raising a brow.
Merlin turned to him, looking puzzled. -Well, that's not going to happen."
Arthur looked at him, confused. But then Merlin grinned. -If you want me to stay only as your Court Sorcerer, that is."
Arthur snorted in a very non-royal way. -Very funny, Merlin."
His friend answered by laughing. A quiet knock interrupted them.
A guard, the same that had healed Merlin, named Will, stood on the doorstep.
He bowed slightly. -Sire, Sir Elyan sent me to tell you that everything is ready." he said.
Arthur nodded. -Thank you." he said. Merlin didn't miss the way Arthur thanked people nowadays. It had become more like a habit to the prince - no to the king, Merlin had to correct himself.
The guard bowed once more and left the room.
Arthur took a deep breath.
There was a small solemn silence.
-So, this is then." Merlin said, his words mirroring the situation a month ago when they had gone against Rewin. But now, the moment was completely different. It was filled with hope, not with despair.
-Yes, this is it." Arthur answered.
The king nodded once, and then slowly, started to walk towards the door. Towards Guinevere, waiting there for him, towards the people of Camelot. Towars the future.
And as Arthur took the steps and headed to the door, he didn't need to turn around to check whether Merlin would be following him or not.
This was the first day of the new time - the first day of forever, and he wasn't alone to face it.