A million, gazillion thank you's to Kitty O for beta-ing this.
Of all the ways Merlin had thought that Arthur would find out, this wasn't one of them. No accident, plot, desperate act, or revenge-bent sorcerer. It wasn't even Kilgharrah swooping in and telling him it was time, and giving him no choice in the matter.
Nope. It was Wyverns.
Merlin had no idea where they'd come from. The last time he'd seen them was in the Perilous Lands. He didn't know why they would come this far south. But they had, a pack of twelve. Ten of them where containing Sir Leon, Gwaine, and two other knights in a small semicircle. They were doing fine, and weren't in too much danger.
Arthur was. Two of the Wyverns had managed to slam him into a tree and knocked the sword out of his hand. He was also slightly dazed, all of which added up to him being Wyvern chow unless Merlin did something.
"Stupid destiny," Merlin muttered to himself. As Gwaine was frantically yelling at Merlin to run, and all the knights were staring at him when they weren't fighting off the Wyverns, there was no good way out of this. No quiet way out of this. Grumbling, he drew himself up and reached deep inside of himself where his magic lay. Where his magic lay…but also where the power of a dragonlord resided.
Briefly he considered what would happen if he did this. It was very likely he would end up in a courtyard with a pyre in it. He could escape of course. But if it was Arthur that had sent him there…He didn't know if he would. Because Arthur had become more than the Once and Future King to Merlin. He was a friend. An annoying, self-centered prat, but still a friend.
In a harsh, guttural language he ordered the Wyverns to leave the knights alone, to back off, and to leave Camelot or he would kill them all. Hey, it had worked on the Dragon.
It worked on the Wyverns as well. Reluctantly, they backed off from Arthur and the knights and bowed to Merlin, before slinking off into the trees.
Merlin sighed in relief. Then yelped as a sword point found its way to his neck. He jumped back and held up his hands, looking into the grim and shocked faces of Sir Leon and the two other knights.
"Woah!" he exclaimed. "That wasn't magic!"
"Then what was it, Merlin?" Arthur asked, gaining his feet.
Gwaine moved in between the other knights and Merlin before the latter could answer. "Put the swords away," he ordered them.
The knights glanced uneasily at Arthur. "Oh, just put them away," he snapped. "Merlin. What was that?" Arthur seemed slightly confused and was covering his uncertainty in curt snapping.
Merlin sighed. "Wyverns are relatives of the Dragons. You remember when we went hunting for Balinor?" At Arthur's nod, he continued. "I found out from Gaius before we left that when Balinor fled Camelot, he went to Ealdor."
"Where you're from," Arthur interrupted, showing he did remember something about his servant.
Merlin nodded. "He was…He was my father," he said, softly. "The power of a Dragonlord is passed from father to son. Through death." Merlin said the last so softly Arthur could barely hear it. Then his head snapped up, eyes wide and desperate. "Please don't tell your father. He would have me killed, and its not like I could help it, I couldn't pick who my father was, and I've only used this to help, like when the Great Dragon was attacking and…"
"Merlin!" Arthur cut him off. Merlin closed his mouth with a snap. Arthur stared at Merlin. The skinny, clumsy servant. A Dragonlord. The last Dragonlord. Merlin looked at Arthur with big puppy dog eyes. Arthur sighed. Why was it he couldn't be angry with Merlin when he looked at him like that?
"I didn't kill the Dragon, did I?" he asked.
Merlin grinned sheepishly. "No. I was going to…but I couldn't." He dropped his head.
Arthur was about to tease Merlin for being such a girl when Merlin looked up again, blue eyes solemn and old. "I couldn't be responsible for the death of his race. I couldn't cause the end of the dragons." Merlin gave a twisted half-smile. "We're both the last of our kind."
All teasing remarks died on Arthur's tongue. Merlin was right: if he told his father, Merlin would die, regardless of the fact that Merlin had used his gift to save Camelot. Arthur stared into the deep blue eyes of the last dragonlord, his servant, his friend, though he barely admitted the last one to himself. And he found he, like Merlin, couldn't be responsible for the end of an ancient race.
"I'm assuming you've only used this for good," he said ominously.
Merlin nodded. "I ordered the Great Dragon to stop attacking Camelot, and I ordered those Wyverns that were about to eat you in the Perilous Lands. Oh, and I used it to call the Great Dragon a few times, to get him to do some things for me…Like heal Morgana when she was dying."
Arthur raised his eyebrows at that one. "That was magic?" he asked. Merlin nodded. "Your father told Gaius to do anything to heal her. Including magic," he said softly. Arthur's eyebrows raised, they he sighed. "Alright. We'll talk about that later."
He turned to Sir Leon and his knights. "You will tell no one about this," he ordered. "You will swear that you will not reveal this to anyone." He glared at them.
Sir Leon bowed his head briefly. "Yes, my lord." He said obediently. "But, the King…"
"I will take all responsibility for this if my father finds out." Arthur said. "But if you keep your mouths shut he shouldn't."
"While my father thinks that the Dragonlords' powers are too close to magic, I disagree. And even if it was, Merlin didn't choose this, and has only used it for good. I will not sentence a man to death for that. So you will swear to never reveal this to anyone." Arthur pinned the knights with an imperious gaze. The knights nodded. Arthur turned to Gwaine, who merely raised his eyebrows. Arthur nodded.
"We're going back to Camelot," he announced. As everyone started gathering the supplies that had been scattered in the Wyvern attack, Merlin had a small smile on his face.
"Arthur?" He said softly. Arthur looked at him. "Thank you." Arthur looked startled, then nodded, moving off.
Merlin watched him go. Arthur had given Merlin something he'd never intended to. All Arthur's arguments could be applied equally to both his secrets. Maybe things wouldn't be so different if Arthur found out he had magic. Maybe…