If Gaius was surprised to see Arthur in his chambers when he returned from his rounds, then he didn't show it.
"Sire," he greeted, ever calm.
Arthur turned to him, the shock still not gone from his eyes. "Gaius." he said, and that was all he said.
Merlin lay in his room. Unconscious. Hurt. But sure to make a full recovery.
With his magic still intact.
Arthur could still scarcely believe it, and - had he not seen it with his own eyes - he doubted he would have. But he had. Merlin's eyes had glowed gold, a brighter gold than Arthur had ever seen and he had cast a spell so powerful it had knocked an army off its feet, only for Merlin to be hit by a stray arrow and fall to the ground.
So, Merlin had magic. And he had risked his life to save Camelot.
These two things seemed so jarring to Arthur that he was still taking time to wrap his head around it. And Gaius…
"I assume you knew."
Gaius saw no point in lying and he nodded solemnly; Arthur shook his head. "He trusted you, then," he remarked bitterly.
Gaius would have smiled had the situation not been so grave; Arthur's jealousy was as obvious as it was painful.
"Sire," Gaius said. "He didn't trust anyone with this. He didn't want to tell me. I found out the first day he came when he saved my life." Gaius was aware that he was only further incriminating himself, but he had to make Arthur understand. "He wanted to tell you, I think, but he didn't dare. You must try to understand."
"You have always been honest with me, Gaius." Arthur said. "Tell me. What are your thoughts on magic?"
Gaius sighed. "As I think you know sire. I used to practise it myself and as such, do feel that I am qualified to talk on it, but… you may not like what I say."
"The truth, Gaius."
Gaius nodded, accepting it as a command from the Prince. "I do not think magic is either good or evil. It simply is. It can be wielded as a weapon for either side; it can be used to heal, it can also be used to kill.
"Magic is not a simple concept. It cannot be categorised, either hailed or condemned. It must be taken as each individual case, and it depends wholly on the person as to what they use it for."
Arthur sighed. "Gaius, with all due respect that really does not help me." He leant back, closing his eyes. "Is that what Merlin thinks?" he asked, almost as an afterthought.
"No sire, it is not."
Arthur's eyes snapped back to Gaius.
"Merlin thinks that magic should only be used for good, that it is meant to be used to help and save, to protect and defend. He believes that people who use it for evil are twisting it, and that magic's true purpose is to be used for good. And, with such power as he has," Gaius sighed. "I think that is what saves him. His belief in good."
Gaius looked to Arthur who was listening, as Merlin had once told him he must.
"As I said sire, it depends on the person. Merlin is still the same person as he was yesterday. He is still loyal to you, and he always will be. The rest," Gaius shrugged. "I think should be for him to explain."
Arthur had always trusted Gaius, and he always remembered that conversation between the two of them during his slow acceptance of magic. He found that he agreed with him: magic simply was. It wasn't good or evil. It depended on the person.
And when the person was the Merlin he had always known, idiotic, clumsy, insulting, loyal, kind, moral… good. Well, Arthur felt he was safe.
Yes, I should be working on the next chapter of How They Find Out, but Elyan is giving me a little bit of trouble. Don't worry, if anyone reads that story, I've written most of it; it should be up soon *crosses fingers* So random little conversation between Arthur and Gaius because one little line of it popped into my head. I also blame studying Lord of the Flies, which is an almost constant comment on human nature, if you've read it you'll understand why I wanted to write something positive :)
Please review, I know it's short but I'd still like to know what you thought :D