So, I know I suck for keeping you waiting this long...but, God, school is stressful, and Im trying to graduate next semester and I finally got a job...whoop! So I've been busy, but yeah, what else is new right? Excuses are like you-know-what, everyone has them.
But I finished the hardest stuff and you guys will not believe how fast I whipped this shit out. Not saying that its shit, because I hope its not, but you understand my meaning. I've put off reading Inheritance just for you guys, because you don't deserve to wait any longer.
Also, thanks to your help I have been able to watch season 4 without too much hassle. Who is even more in love with Merlin? Whose life feels like its put on hold until this season ends? (emphatically raises hand) I sure as hell do. I think I'm obsessed, and its all I can do to not be like, *Merlin* *Merlin* *I love Merlin* all the time like a quacking duck or something. I seriously hope they do the reveal this season. My brain can't take it. If anyone wants to talk about things...please PM me...I can gush about everything, and NO ONE else I know watches this show!
Anyway...as you can see, I have presented you with a supremely long chapter PLUS and ending! Whaaa? I know, I know...I thought we'd never get here too. But this is it for my first real story. You guys don't know how much all your reviews/story alerts meant to me, and I read and re-read every single review. As always, please let me know your thoughts and again, thank you.
"I forgot about that." Arthur said finally, shooting Merlin a look. Then everyone chimed in…
"Hey, so did I! I forgot you mentioned a dragon!" - Gwaine
"Are you talking about the dragon Arthur killed?" - Leon
"The one who attacked Camelot? You talked to it!" Gwen hissed incredulously
Arthur just kept staring at Merlin, and the warlock felt uncomfortable because he had been dreading telling this story. It had been a difficult decision for him and he didn't really want to talk about it.
Arthur was still looking at him, a myriad of emotions flashing across the prince's face as he stared, first at Merlin and then at the table, running his hand across the designs carved into it's surface. Everyone was talking, making some comment or other, asking Merlin questions and voicing their opinions. After a time Arthur finally held up his hand for silence.
"You released it didn't you Merlin?"
Arthur's voice was devoid of inflection. He asked but he didn't need to, because he already knew the answer.
"You set the dragon free and it killed hundreds of people and destroyed Camelot."
Merlin had been about to reply, but instead he shut his mouth and after a moment he nodded in affirmation. There was a sudden silence, and then the exclamations resumed…
"Merlin, you didn't!"
"That dragon burned down half of Camelot!"
Merlin waited for everyone's opinions to be fully voiced. He knew he had to take this one.
"Why would you do that? It killed so many people…"Gwen said, her voice full of emotion.
Although only four of them had been in Camelot when the dragon had been released, the other knights had heard of it, some had even heard rumors from where they had been living. A dragon attacking wasn't exactly a normal occurrence, especially since no one had seen a dragon in roughly twenty years.
Arthur finally decided to voice what he had decided was the only reason Merlin had acted so foolishly.
"Are you that stupid Merlin? Did he fool you or something? Tricked your trusting mind into letting him 'be free'? Did you think he wouldn't attack the people who had held him captive? That monster destroyed Camelot, and he killed innocent people!"
Merlin waited for Arthur's ire to run it course, but he had decided that just because he deserved a little punishment, especially for those innocent lives that had been lost, he didn't think he deserved to be called an idiot. So when Arthur finally shut up and just glared at him, and everyone else was quietly awaiting Merlin's defense, his next words were still unexpected.
Merlin calmly turned to face all his friends who were now giving him solemn and accusing looks, and he straitened up and leaned back in his chair, and as his hand ran across the table's wooden surface he spoke loudly but calmly,
"Actually, I knew exactly what he was going to do. When I released him, I knew the odds were slim to none of him just flying away into the sunset. The truth is that I didn't have a choice. I feel terrible about what happened, and that guilt will stay with me always. However, what you all have failed to understand is that these past four years it's only been Gaius and me who have known what's really been going on."
"Leon, you asked me about Nimueh and now I can tell you that she was never in league with Morgana and Morgause because she is dead. I know because I killed her. Nimueh was trying to bring down Camelot because she hated Uther…which actually…damn, okay…" Merlin paused, an apprehensive look on his face.
"Arthur…that time you tried to kill your father because of Morgause and what she told you…all of that was true."
Arthur's eyes had never been more serious, and Gwen reassuringly put her hand on his arm, but Arthur remained quiet, his eyes intent on Merlin.
"The truth is that your mother couldn't get pregnant, so Uther asked Gaius to ask Nimueh to give him a son. She warned him that there would be a price to pay, but Uther didn't listen. I know he didn't expect Ygraine to die, and her death forever changed Uther's view of magic and after that he went after it, not just to keep it from being used for the wrong ends, but to keep it from being used at all. He wanted everything and everyone who had any sign of magic to be destroyed. I don't exactly know why, but I can assume it was to ease his grief, and most importantly his guilt. The only way I could think of to keep you from killing your father, which I knew would ruin you forever, was to lie to you. It was the most difficult thing for me to do because…well because if you had known the truth you would have seen that magic wasn't evil, and you could have accepted me. I lied and in so doing I made you hate magic even more."
Arthur had watched and listened to Merlin speak, and he felt like he should say something, respond in some way, but it was too difficult to think about it now.
"Please Merlin, just keep talking." Arthur said quietly when Merlin paused, waiting in expectation for an outburst. This silence was almost worse than Arthur's anger.
"I don't really understand what's going on…" Gwaine piped up with an expectant look.
Leon explained the situation briefly to Gwaine, Lancelot, Elyan, and and Perceval, and afterwards the three knights just nodded, understanding the grimness of what Merlin had just said.
Arthur had been born because of magic.
And Uther was an even bigger ass than they had all thought.
"What the hell was wrong with him?" Elyan let slip.
Arthur didn't even blink at that, because honestly, he was thinking the same thing.
"Continue Merlin" Gwen said softly, her hand on Arthur's arm, offering him the only comfort she could.
So Merlin began from the beginning.
He described the first day he heard Kilagarrah's voice to the moment he had released him. He told them about Nimueh and how he she had conjured the Questing Beast, and how Merlin had gone to trade his life for Arthur's (to which Arthur only shook his head in disbelief), and how instead of dying himself, as he expected, his mother had come to Camelot dying of a disease instead. Then he told them how Gaius had gone in Merlin's place, and how Merlin had got there just in time to kill Nimueh with lightning he had brought down from the sky.
"When I went to see Kilgarrah after that I was so angry. He had manipulated me, had used me for his own purposes, and I told him I would see he was never released. He blew fire at me, I blocked it, and then I vowed he would never see me again." Merlin scoffed ruefully,
"So much for that plan, because when Sigan was destroying Camelot and Gaius and I had no idea what to do…I had no other choice. I went down to see him and asked his help. He made me promise then that someday I would free him. I had to promise you see, I thought that someday meant very far in the future, and I could twist that so I wouldn't have too. At least not for a long time. Please understand Arthur, I could either chose someday, or watch Camelot fall. You understand don't you?" Merlin's voice was pleading.
A, "What changed?" was Arthur's only reply. Merlin lowered his head,
"Morgana." He said softly. Then he looked up at Arthur,
"When Morgause put that sleeping spell on Camelot, I went to ask the dragon's help. He refused me, said my promises didn't mean anything. I swore again that I would free him but he wouldn't believe me. In the end, I had to swear on my mother's life."
Gwen's sharp intake of breath showed that she at least understood the gravity of what Merlin had done.
Merlin smiled tightly at her, "Yeah…Kilgarrah knew that her life meant more to me than my own. He accepted it and told me how to undo the sleeping spell." Merlin suddenly stopped, like he couldn't continue.
"Merlin…" Arthur prompted.
Merlin shook his head, "It's bad Arthur. I don't want to tell you." He nearly whispered. Arthur's face took on a look of concern.
"Whatever it is Merlin…I can take it. I know I'm not doing the best job, but I will be able to handle it. And whatever you say Merlin, I do trust you."
Bolstered by this show of faith, Merlin was able to continue.
"He told me that the source of the sleeping spell was Morgana."
Arthur's head shot up, his eyes slightly frantic,
"Then? That long ago? She was against Camelot?" His words hardly made sense but Merlin understood. He shook his head slowly,
"In her defense, I don't think she knew exactly what she had agreed to do, but by then of course, it was far too late. Arthur, I have many regrets where Morgana is concerned. I could have done more for her, and maybe, when she came to me, I should have told her about my magic…maybe then she wouldn't have felt so alone, and maybe then she wouldn't have turned against us like she did."
"Then why didn't you Merlin? Why didn't you save her?" Gwen asked, her voice sounding like she was holding back tears.
"Honestly, I'm not entirely sure Gwen. Remember, telling people about my magic is not something I do, so I always hesitated. Even when she came to me, absolutely panicking because she was afraid she had magic, I still couldn't tell her…something was always holding me back. Kilgarrah had warned me about her, he called her a witch, and said she was part of the union that would bring destruction to Camelot. I didn't believe it then, but after your father died Gwen, Morgana tried to have Uther killed. She backed out at the last minute, but still…it wasn't something she should have ever considered."
Merlin took a deep breath, ignoring the stunned looks on everyone's faces at what he had just revealed.
"Morgana was always tortured. She saw things, and no one ever believed her. She actually warned me once for you Arthur. Do you remember Sophia? You thought Morgana was jealous but she saw Sophia standing over you as you drowned. You nearly were dead by the time I got there too, I-"
"Wait, what? Sophia? You told me…you said you knocked me out and brought me home!" Arthur cried indignantly.
Merlin smiled. "Sophia and her father were Sidhe, powerful fairy type creatures who rule Avalon. They got kicked out because her father killed one of their own, an act that resulted in his permanent exclusion from Avalon, but Sophia could return. Of course, she he had to sacrifice, well, she needed to sacrifice your soul to do it. I ran and saved your arse from a watery grave and then told you that, because you didn't remember being brainwashed. That was the first time I saw Avalon."
Merlin paused, his mouth pursing in contemplation.
"Morgana warned me about the Questing Beast too for that matter." Merlin shook his head,
"I just wish…" But he trailed off because really, what was the point? Morgana had her loyalties now…her path was set, and so was his.
The atmosphere grew tense as Merlin made that statement in his head, not for the first time either. Everyone in the room could now see the incredible weight that Merlin had been carrying. Arthur thought that all this time he had been making all the decisions and dealing with the consequences that followed. Now though, now Arthur could see that Merlin had been fighting his own battles all along, and those battles had been far more serious and dire than he could have ever guessed. It was also starting to dawn on the prince that maybe many of those decisions and burdens Arthur himself had struggled with, Merlin had been dealing with those same issues and could never tell him because it involved magic.
"So what happened Merlin?" Gwen prompted softly, seeing that Arthur was still trying to process everything.
Merlin gave Gwen a small smile, probably the saddest smile Gwen had ever seen. The rest of the men around the table saw the pain in Merlin's eyes.
"The dragon told me that Morgana was the source of the pestilence, that she was the living vessel for Morgause's sleeping spell." Merlin gave a harsh laugh, "I like to tell myself that I couldn't believe it, but even then…I knew what she was capable of. I just didn't want to believe it."
"What did you do?" Arthur asked, realizing that the way Morgana had been kidnapped had always seemed off to him somehow.
"I asked him that." Merlin answered, his voice slower.
"I asked him how to stop her, and I'll never forget his words. He said, 'that is easy young warlock, you must kill her' and I did." Merlin said, rushing ahead, ignoring the gasp from Gwen and the reaction of the others, "After you left Arthur, I put poison in the water sack and practically begged her to drink it. She knew almost immediately what I'd done, the way she looked at me…"
"I was crying as she died in my arms, but Morgause sensed what was going on. She barged through the door and demanded to know what I'd done. I told her. She said if I told her what poison I used she could save her. I wanted that too. I didn't want to live with having killed her, someone who I still considered my friend. So I made a bargain, I told her the name of the poison in exchange for her getting rid of the knights and the sleeping spell. Morgause loved Morgana, that's one thing you didn't have to worry about, when Morgause took Morgana with her you can be sure Morgana wasn't suffering."
"Then, after Morgause had left with her, in the middle of the knight…I took one of the swords from the Medhir Knights, and I went down into the heart of Camelot, climbed down into the dragon's cave and used magic and the sword to set him free. I knew what he would do, I knew what it would most likely cost…but I did it anyway. I couldn't see another choice."
Here Merlin stopped talking, his eyes intent on watching Arthur's reaction.
Arthur was thinking about of lot of things. He was now trying to alter his view of the events to fit with what Merlin had just told him.
"Morgana still remembered what you had done when we rescued a year later her?" He asked. Merlin nodded,
"Yes, she did. She hated me." Merlin replied softly. Arthur nodded as if he had expected that answer,
"And she didn't tell us you'd poisoned her because you knew what she had done." Arthur stated.
"I can only assume that's the reason. Although, I believe she underestimated Uther's adoration for her…but I don't know. Where magic was concerned Uther was unpredictable. Also, she wanted to go back to the role of being Uther's loving, trustworthy ward so she could better try to kill him, and you. As it turns out, the truth is that I did kill Morgana that day. She returned and she was never the same. She was filled with hate and no one could reach her. She lied to everyone."
Arthur shook his head, "Not to you. You knew what she was, that she wasn't lying to you."
"Actually I believed her at first. She told me she understood the mistake she had made, that she didn't understand what she was doing, that she wanted to change and that she wanted to be friends again. I believed her." Merlin responded.
"Until of course, I followed her out into the forest and got chained up by Morgause." Merlin rolled his eyes, "Sometimes I do real stupid things…" Merlin leaned back into his chair and ran a hand aggravatingly over his face, "It just got really messy after that." Merlin said, his face showing a distasteful expression as remembered the pain of being stung by the Serket.
And then when Arthur questioned him about it, the whole story was revealed about what exactly happened to Merlin in the forest.
"See Arthur," Merlin said after telling that part,
"I was dying in the forest, and I told you so but you just didn't believe me." Merlin said smugly.
Arthur's face screwed up as he tried to remember what Merlin was talking about. Eventually he did remember though, and a slight flush graced his cheeks because Merlin had fooled him so thoroughly that Arthur hardly ever questioned anything.
"My God Merlin, how did you survive?" Lancelot asked, his head shaking back and forth in amazement.
"You said you couldn't break out of the chains with magic." Elyan added.
Arthur looked at his knights and then looked back at Merlin with a Gaius-worthy eyebrow raised in agreement of the question.
Merlin made a face, "Uh…I called the dragon and he rescued me and healed me from the poison." Merlin muttered quickly, his eyes trained on the surface of the table.
"You called it? And it listened to you?" Arthur asked incredulously, and then after a moment when Merlin didn't say anything Arthur added, "I guess I didn't kill it then?"
Arthur was not happy about that fact.
"Seems not Sire." Leon said consolingly.
Merlin still didn't reply, and he wasn't looking at anyone.
"Merlin, it sounded like you and the Dragon weren't exactly friends…why would he save you?" Perceval asked next.
There was a slight silence and then Gwaine asked, his voice steady and completely serious…
"Merlin, only Dragonlords can call a dragon." Gwaine's voice went a little higher after saying the word Dragonlord, belaying his excitement.
"Gaius said that Balinor was the last Dragonlord though." Gwen pointed out reasonably, causing Gwaine's earnest grin to falter slightly.
Arthur had turned to Merlin though and from what he could see from Merlin's profile, the man's eyes had tightened and his jaw was clentched.
"Was Balinor the last Dragonlord Merlin?" Arthur asked directly, his voice showing his impactience with Merlin's sudden reticence.
"Yes." Merlin answered, his voice tight with emotion.
Merlin looked up then and met Arthur's eyes, and Arthur was surprised at Merlin's expression; surprised and confused.
"He was the last Dragonlord. Maybe Gaius never mentioned it, but a Dragonlord's gift is passed from father to son."
Gwaine's intake of breath showed that he understood where Merlin was going, and so did everyone else moments before Merlin spoke the words himself.
"Before we left to find him Gaius asked me if my mother had ever mentioned my father, if she had said anything about him. As it turns out, Balinor was my father, and when he died his gift passed to me." Merlin's voice was bitter.
"By freeing Kilgarrah I caused my own father's death."
Gwen's eyes were tearing up because she recognized that pain in Merlin, and her heart hurt for him. She shook her head silently.
"It wasn't your fault Merlin."
"It seems that no matter how hard I try, I still fail. I just…I just loose them. And it is my fault. I almost had you killed when I cured your father, I've almost lost Arthur and Camelot countless times…Will, my father, Freya…I've lost them all."
"No Merlin" Gwen replied, a sudden warmth filling her soul as she thought about what Merlin had done for her. He had given her valuable time with her father.
"I would never blame you. Never. Neither would anyone else you mentioned. You always did your best, I can see that and so can everyone else." She stated firmly, reaching over Arthur to grasp Merlin's hand.
"Merlin…I, I'm so sorry, I told you- I told you not to cry tears for any man, and I could see how upset you were but I just thought- I didn't understand-" Arthur said haltingly.
"No Arthur, there was no way you could have known." Merlin replied giving the ashamed prince a small, comforting smile.
There was a moment of silence before Arthur tentatively said outloud his revelation that Will hadn't actually been the sorcerer. Merlin chuckled a little and shook his head,
"It was all me."
"Who is Freya then?" Gwen asked after a moment. Merlin's face grew serious again,
"I loved her." Merlin said simply, with a rueful shrug.
"What? Who was she?" Arthur asked, his voice showing more surprise then it should have.
"How did I not know?" He asked earnestly, wondering how he could have missed his friend falling in love. The he had to remind himself that he had missed much more than that.
"You knew. Well, at least you knew something was wrong." Merlin smiled a little then, "It was during the week when I insinuated that I thought you were gaining weight."
Arthur gaped at him, first over the remembered outrage of being called fat, and then after a while, as he thought about it, with a sickening lurch he knew exactly who Merlin was talking about.
"The Druid girl. The one that turned into the beast who was killing people!"
"She was cursed!" Merlin snapped back quickly, his eyes stormy with anger.
"What she was wasn't her fault! Some evil witch cursed her just because she had been defending herself, she didn't have a choice." Much quieter now, "She didn't want to be a monster…"
Merlin's voice showed more than just a defense of this girl, it was clear that this topic hit close to home.
"But Merlin- I , I killed her." Arthur said quietly, his voice filled with guilt. He felt horrible and he couldn't imagine how he would feel about someone who killed Gweneviere. He could hardly even think about it.
"I know." Merlin answered, but his expression wasn't angry.
"You didn't know, and I can't blame you for that. All you saw was a monster who was killing innocent people." Merlin continued, his voice calm and devoid of anger.
There were a few more reasurances, but after that moment things flowed easier. Merlin was able to talk about everything without fear, knowing that the worst was over. Of course, there were more surprises (Arthur was completely indignant about his quest to the Fisher King's Lands, and couldn't believe that he hadn't gotten to see what Merlin had. Gwaine was rather put out too.)
"What the hell Merlin? I signed up for the adventure, not the little tour of the castle you know?" Gwaine had exclaimed, his face showing his disappointment.
"I can't believe my quest was about you!"-Arthur
"What do you mean the trident meant nothing? It was key to me becoming King!" Arthur had squawked out, rising from his seat and hitting the table in frustration.
Merlin had merely laughed, and the whole table had joined in at Arthur's expense.
However, at the end of this journey of tales, everyone looked at Merlin and saw the most incredible man they had ever met, and were lucky enough to call their friend.
Of course, when everyone finally parted for the night, Arthur went to his room and without bothering to change out of his clothes he had just lain, spread eagle on top of his sheets, staring at the ceiling. Arthur went over everything Merlin had said, literally going through the past four years. At some point he got up, lit a candle, and began writing down the questions he still had for Merlin. He got very little sleep that night.
Merlin, on the other hand, had never slept sounder in his life. Oh sure, he knew that this was only the beginning, and that although Arthur said he trusted him, it would take time for that statement to be completely true. Despite this sobering fact Merlin felt light, happy, and at ease because he knew that he would never have to hide from his friends again. He knew he was accepted and that he was loved.
Arthur and Merlin were best friends, and destiny was on their side.
Arthur would eventually trust Merlin again everything would be okay.
In the end, they would be just fine.
AN: Holy Crow...Can't believe thats over. I hope it didn't seem too rushed or anything but the fact was people, this was long and hard to write. I think I have that frozen hand disease. I just want to say that I LOVED writing this story, because I know that the reveal in the show won't have this type of closure. I just hope they at least insinuate that Merlin "told him everything", but I don't want to get my hopes up.
Please review and I promise to reply to every single one. Thank you all again :)