Disclaimer: IDOM

AN: In anticipation for series 4 (OCTOBER 1ST, EVERYONE!), I decided that I should get on with a sequel to "A Soul, A Mentality, A Name"(if you have not read it, I suggest reading it to understand some references) because I have the feeling that after series 4, there will be no real reason for me to write a sequel. I'm planning to make this a 3-5 chapter fic, told mostly from Arthur's point of view (though I have to say, I do prefer writing in Merlin's... :P). I feel that not enough Reveal fics actually go in depth into the complications behind revealing Merlin's magic to the public, so that is what I'm going to try to cover here. Therefore, I should admit that there won't be a lot of action in this fic. If all goes well, I hope to be finished before the 3rd episode.

Warnings: swearing, mild violence (I hope) and...well, if I told you that bit, I might give away some of the story...though you may already suspect ;)

So I now introduce: Powerfully Modest, Modestly Powerful. :D Enjoy.

No Longer Alone

"Rise and shine!"

Merlin's cheery voice only just managed to break through the warm, heavy, pleasantly buzzing blanket of sleep covering Arthur's mind. It sounded like someone was calling to him from a distance across high-peaked mountains… or from the depths of an extremely long cavern…or from underwater…or perhaps it sounded more like the deep, soft whisper of the wings of a bumblebee at his ear… Hm…

He just flipped over and sighed, falling deep under that cozy blanket once again.

Then there was the annoying racket and clanging as Merlin flung the curtains open, and a brilliant burst of searing sunlight flooded into the room, which, of course, just had to activate an atrocious, pounding headache.

Arthur flinched at the abrupt, blinding, red glow he saw through his eyelids, and he groaned loudly, instinctively pulling his bed-covers over his head.

"Go away!" he muttered irritably. His eyes screwed together, and one hand kneaded his throbbing temples.

It was as though he could feel Merlin's smirk at him through the thick blankets, and suddenly, they were torn forcibly away from his head and off of his body.

Oh, so it was one of those days.

Arthur's eyes flew open. "MERLIN!" he roared. Ignoring the nausea rising in the pit of his stomach, he sat up quickly with a glare towards the raven-haired boy, whose infectious smile widened and whose brilliant blue eyes were still accented with the glorious gold of magic.

For a moment, Arthur blinked in astonishment, and then everything came rushing back to him. The Gvarath…was gone; defeated… with the help of a sorcerer—no, Dragoon…who was—is—in reality, Merlin… his friend… his story… the song.

Arthur must have hesitated a moment too long in shock because Merlin's smile faltered, and a worried, crazed light began to creep into his eyes.

A subtle throbbing hit his heart. The boy was still afraid, he realized... He didn't honestly think that I wasn't going to remember all that we've been through? Not remember every sacrifice and story? Arthur asked himself in hurt disbelief, contemplating Merlin's face.

No, that wasn't it. His friends had accepted him, embraced his gifts, and had given him the thanks he deserved—though in his mind, Arthur knew that he had hardly begun to repay the debts he owed to Merlin nor would he ever fully do so. He searched the warlock's face, and in seconds, he placed it.

He even admitted that it was his greatest fear. Merlin felt that he was going to be treated differently, and he was afraid that they may never again see him as the goofy, bumbling manservant that they'd all come to love and know and only see the powerful, law-breaking, potentially dangerous sorcerer. He was struggling to find the balance that he had hidden away—the balance of the foolish, sarcastic goofiness that he had used as his mask, which still remained a huge part of him, and the incredible intelligence and power of his magic that he had only sometimes allowed to slip out and reveal—and while he was struggling to find that balance, Arthur knew that the others, and possibly he himself, would be struggling to fully understand what it was that Merlin was going through and to fully understand that new balance. They may have accepted him, but they did not fully understand. That was where the fear originated.

Furthermore, Arthur realized, he must now feel even more out of place…because both he and Arthur knew that he wasn't just a servant—no, not anymore, and he was afraid of this new position, this new change... this new promise.

Arthur felt a sudden, unconscious, subtle resolve harden in his mind, but he could not identify what it was he promised himself to do. No, his damn headache was making it quite hard for him to formulate much deep, coherent thought.

"Too lazy to pull away the sheets away yourself, Merlin?" Arthur teased weakly.

Merlin's retort was instant. "I did do it myself."

Oh, ha ha, Merlin."You know what I mean," Arthur snapped half-heartedly, realizing the folly in wording the question that way. He knew that Merlin's magic was as much a part of him, physically and mentally, as it was for him to walk, talk, and breathe.

Merlin sighed. "I believe we established that there is a difference between 'lazy' and 'practical'. Forgive me if I wanted to keep a safe distance from your flailing limbs…."

He trailed off, and after a brief silence, he added quietly, "It doesn't bother you, does it? Because… I could—not—I mean—if you wanted me to, Arthur."

Arthur groaned again as another stampede of pain rushed through his brain, and he very slowly swung his legs over the side of the bed and put his head in his hands.

"You...you're asking…?" Arthur asked incredulously, looking up into the boy's wide, loyal, fearful, innocent blue eyes, eyes so oxymoronic and fascinating, eyes that could transform into golden orbs of power, wisdom, and strength in a fraction of a heartbeat. To think that Merlin had just offered to deny his true self even further, even longer, than he already had for Arthur's sake!

Arthur didn't want that, not anymore. He wanted Merlin to be free, to be who he had always wanted to be and always had the potential to be; he wanted to finally know his friend…and he most certainly wanted to continue to learn about it all and to see him do magic. It was thrilling to watch.

"Shut up, Merlin."

He watched with satisfaction as Merlin's face brightened when he realized that, through his brusque, familiar retort, Arthur revealed that he did not care that Merlin had magic nor did he want Merlin to feel that he should hide it any longer.

"Though, you must promise me, Merlin, to be careful," Arthur added quietly, locking eyes with the gangly young man. "Just because I know now doesn't mean that you should relax your vigilance. You should guard your magic with your life…until the time is right."

Merlin gave Arthur a look of almost insulting astonishment before smiling blindingly. "I'm always careful, Arthur. I would be dead by now if I wasn't. And you wouldn't believe how much like Gaius you sound….I've actually gotten that a few times today from both him and Gwen."

Arthur chuckled; Gaius and Gwen were most likely to have given him a speech and lecture. For good reason, the Prince thought worriedly. He could expect Merlin to give himself away in a moment of pure impulsiveness and eagerness. He shuddered to think…And to think Gaius lived with this worry for the idiot for years, he suddenly realized. Arthur found himself respecting the elderly physician all the more. Merlin must've been a handful.

"What time is it?" he asked, rubbing his eyes.

"A bit past midday," Merlin said cheerfully, starting to absentmindedly work at clearing the mess of Arthur's room as he talked.

Arthur watched him wonderingly. Why isn't he just using magic? Arthur asked himself. Why was he even bothering…?

"Gaius thought that it would be best," Merlin continued, "not to let everyone sleep all day or else our 'internal clocks'—as he called them—would get confused and flip our sleeping schedules from night to day."

"Damn physician," Arthur swore under his breath, his newfound respect vanishing in a flash of irritation. More than anything, he wished he could just ignore Gaius's orders, slip back into bed to fall asleep, and just wallow in the misery of his hangover.

Suspicion crept up his spine, and he narrowed his eyes at the bustling warlock, who now had a towering pile of clothes in his arms.

"How are you feeling, Merlin?" Arthur asked, a slight smile on his lips.

Merlin stopped what he was doing and cocked an eyebrow. "Why wouldn't I be anything less than fine, Arthur?" If Arthur did not know Merlin so well, he would never have caught the hint of strain in his voice.

Arthur smirked and tried to quell the laughter bubbling up inside him at the memories. He caught him…and it was obvious Merlin was trying to avoid it.

"Oh, no reason," Arthur said with a forced nonchalance. "I just seem to recall you drinking far more than I did last night…and yet, you seem to have recovered miraculously."

Arthur had to hide the grin that threatened to spread across his face at the mortified look on Merlin's face. "Are you quite sure you're alright? You don't feel the sudden urge to—oh, I don't know—burst into song, make the furniture start dancing around the room with you? Perhaps the urge to set yourself on fire and make every other thing in the infirmary explode? Maybe to bonk heads with Gwaine to prove who has the harder head, only to end up with your foreheads glued together? To try to fix that by trying to use that 'Astrice' spell and making both you and Gwaine fly across the room only to crash into the infirmary beds? Give Gaius, Leon, and Lancelot overgrown beards for suggesting that you should slow down on the ale? Hiccup colorful, floating balls of light and then…?"

Arthur couldn't go on. He snickered, then snorted, and finally, despite his painful headache, allowed a roaring waterfall of laughter to come pouring out of him at once. His eyes welled up with mirthful tears, and they trickled down his cheeks as he struggled for breath.

Merlin's face didn't help matters much at all. He was glaring at the Prince heatedly, but eventually, when Arthur gave no inclination that he was going to stop laughing anytime soon and when he realized that the look was hardly doing its job properly, the glare softened to a sheepish embarrassment and amusement.

When Arthur finally calmed enough from the giddy laughter, Merlin said seriously—though his eyes betrayed him and glinted with pure joy to see the Prince so uninhibited and happy—"I was going to relieve you of your hangover, but I'm not so sure you deserve it now."

There was his answer. That's how…

Arthur bit his bottom lip, his chest shaking with another wave of laughter as he tried to sober himself. He wanted to just release that laughter, but the sudden promise of a remedy for the wretched headache from Merlin only just overcame that desire—only just.

Merlin lips twitched at the sight of the Prince trying to bottle up his laughter, and he pretended to sigh wearily. He plopped the big pile of clothes onto a chair and padded lightly to Arthur's side.

"You have no idea how long it took me to clear everything up this morning!" he said, sitting next to the Prince. "You better be thankful that we weren't in Gaius' chambers or I would've been spent the next year fixing everything we—er, I—" he corrected quickly, seeing Arthur's raised eyebrow "—damaged." He threw his hands up in the air. "And those balls of light are still bouncing around the room; Gaius had to close it off until I found a way to get rid of them!"

"Really?" Arthur snorted.

"Really. Now, move your hand, Prat," Merlin said.

With a scowl, Arthur did as he was told, and Merlin's cool, long fingertips replaced them, applying a far gentler pressure than Arthur had previously. Merlin muttered some words, and with a flash of sparkling gold, Arthur felt a stream of cool refreshment trickling through his mind like a stream, carrying away all nausea, pain, and fogginess with its calming flow.

Arthur sighed with relief, and Merlin's eyes faded to blue, shining with a newfound and utter joy as he realized, once again, that he could use his magic in front of his master without any fear of persecution.

"Handy spell," Arthur commented, grinning up at Merlin.

"Don't get any ideas. I already warned Gwaine that the more frequently it is used, the less potent the relief becomes." His brow became heavy, and he pursed his lips. "It's so ambiguous," he complained contemplatively. "I'm not sure if that means the spell becomes less powerful the more frequently you use it throughout the day of one specific hangover or if it becomes less powerful as you continuously use it on multiple hangovers throughout the course of a lifetime."

Arthur frowned, seeing the complications. "Is magic always like that?"

Merlin shook his head, and he stood once again. "Not all of the spells are that...touchy. It's just my luck to need and use the ones that are."

Arthur barked a laugh. "So, no lasting damage from last night, whatsoever?"

"Nope," Merlin said smugly, popping the 'p'. "Gaius and Gwen managed to get me up to clean the infirmary and then to wake the Knights. I even healed their—erm—minor afflictions."

"Minor…afflictions?" Arthur repeated slowly.

Merlin blushed and turned to shuffle through the Prince's clean clothes. "Bruises, small burns… you know, I did warn you all. But, of course, you didn't listen to me." He gasped and gave Arthur a critical look-over. "Did I—is there anything—?" he asked worriedly.

Arthur shook his head and snickered, and Merlin exhaled with relief.

"Good," Merlin murmured.

With a jolt, Arthur asked, "How long have you been awake, Merlin? It must have taken quite some time to sort out your mess."

"It didn't take so long," Merlin muttered humbly and guardedly, avoiding his eyes.

He—he shut me out! Arthur thought indignantly. He didn't know what to make of that but decided not to pressure Merlin. He should be used to this by now and should expect to remain used to it. Merlin was naturally that way—he would talk when he was ready—but that didn't make it any less infuriating.

"Is there a reason you woke the Knights before me?"

Merlin tossed a simple red shirt at his face. "Finally! A useful question! Now, hurry up, and get dressed. We're going for a ride."

"A ride?" Arthur asked incredulously at the abruptness of the idea, pulling the fabric from his head. He felt a rush of emotion. First astonishment and amusement—in reaction to the thought of Merlin ordering him around. Then excitement—to simply go on a ride with his friends, for the fun of it (though if this was Merlin's idea, there was probably more to it than fun), was incredibly appealing to him. And finally crushing disappointment.

"Merlin…" he sighed, wincing with regret at the thought of Merlin's crest-fallen face. "I—I probably should report to the council…and my father—he needs to know I'm alright and well."

Merlin rolled his eyes, and he smiled victoriously, picking up the stack of dirty clothes as he spoke. "Your sense of duty amazes me, Arthur. Truthfully. But do you think I hadn't already thought about that? It's all been taken care of—Gaius talked to the council members, each of whom were quite impressed, though a bit aggravated, with the half-truth he told them about the Gvarath—another thing you don't have to worry about, might I add…"

"What did he tell them?" Arthur interrupted.

"He told them the truth," Merlin reassured him. "I believe he decided to even include that I was there with you; he just omitted the magic part of it."

Merlin looked pleased, but Arthur felt some emotion he couldn't place sting at his chest.

"They decided that you could have another day of peace before meeting with them again," Merlin continued brightly. Arthur frowned, sensing that Merlin was not telling him everything that had taken place. He was keeping something from him. "And Gwen told Uther that you're safe and would be in to see him later this evening."

Arthur's brow crinkled. "But wh—?"

Merlin's eyes glowed gold, and Arthur found an invisible force gently hauling him to his feet. He smiled to himself at how Merlin seemed to be using his magic without even thinking about it and merely doing…If this was how ingrained that magic was in him—he used it so effortlessly—Arthur was even more impressed with Merlin's level of control and caution.

"You wouldn't want to disappoint everyone who decided to humor me this morning when I very randomly asked them to help me get some food and horses prepared and when I refused to give them a proper explanation."

Arthur contemplated the young man before him, imagining the reactions of his Knights to whatever quirkiness that Merlin had displayed, and he concluded, "You're impossible, Merlin. How could you possibly foresee me going along with this?"

Merlin didn't answer, but he gave him a small, knowing grin.

Arthur understood, and he returned a genuine smile at the goofy boy, his heart filling with brotherly fondness for him and with gratitude for his uncanny ability to predict what it was Arthur wanted, what he needed: another day to simply be Arthur—not Prince Arthur, not Regent Arthur…just Arthur, the Arthur who recently uprooted a major, ingrained mentality and molded a new one for himself that contradicted everything he had been told and taught.

"Thank you, Merlin."

Merlin shrugged. "I'm doing it for me as much as I am doing it for you," he said modestly. "No need to thank me."

Arthur disagreed with that, but he dropped it. "So you organized this?" Arthur asked.

"Yeah, with some help from Gwen, of course. The picnic was her idea."

So Gwen was coming along as well? "Where are we going?"

Merlin's stormy blue eyes didn't lose an ounce of their sunny playfulness, but a spark of dark wisdom flickered within the depths. "There's something I want to show you."

Arthur's interest leapt with his half-answer, and he was about to ask another question before getting cut off by Merlin.

"Would you prefer to ask questions, or do you want to see for yourself?" Merlin asked in exasperation.

"Fine," Arthur grumbled.

"Good, 'cause we haven't got all day." Merlin turned away with the armful of clothes. "We'll be waiting in the courtyard," he called over his shoulder.

"Wait!" Arthur exclaimed suddenly. Merlin turned, a questioning eyebrow raised.

Arthur didn't know exactly why or how it was bothering him, but it was. It was bothering him in the way an unbearable itch does...except this itch was underneath his skin, deep, deep inside, where he could not scratch it.

There was an awkward silence, and Merlin finally prompted, "Yes?"

Arthur blinked and began rather awkwardly. "You don't have t—just leave the clothes, Merlin. I'll fetch someone else to do them for me."

The warlock's eyes widened slightly in surprise, and then they became interestingly unreadable.

"I bet I could finish washing them and still manage to beat you to the courtyard," Merlin finally said with a defiant cheekiness. Without another word, his eyes became golden, and Arthur's chamber door flew open.

Arthur watched as Merlin, taking extra care to avoid the door-frame, gawkily strode through and as he walked away. The door closed behind him with a soft click.

Staring at the doorway for a moment, he shook his head, the unexplainable itch grating away at his mind ever more ardently.


The pounding of horse's hooves, the exhilarated whooping of Merlin, the hollering of the Knights behind them, and the whoosh of wind surrounded him. Another sound, his own wild laughter, added and blended to the mix of sounds, and he felt the comforting weight of Excalibur jostling against his leg with every gallop.

With a wide grin, he briefly looked back at the Knights and Gwen; the distance between them was slowly lengthening as they reacted too late to Merlin's challenge of a race.

Now it was only him and Merlin.

He bent low over his horse and urged it on, and he saw, only just ahead of him, Merlin doing the same. To his credit, Merlin was an accomplished rider—he sat on a horse with a deceptive poise and grace, bouncing effortlessly along with the speeding movements of the horse, but he was nothing to Arthur.

Arthur's horse leapt over a log, and he felt his stomach drop in absolute exhilaration. He felt so light and free—as though he was flying. He couldn't remember the last time he rode so quickly without armor on.

He saw Merlin look back at him and childishly stick out his tongue.

Arthur jabbed his heels—a little harder than necessary—into the horse's side, and with his heart pounding and mind rushing with adrenaline, he gained some ground and was now riding shoulder to shoulder with Merlin.

The two horses rolled their eyes and snorted at each other, partaking in the challenge just as much as their riders were and sensing the intense competitiveness between the raven- and golden-haired young men.

The ancient tree, bent to resemble an old woman stooping over a hearth, was becoming increasingly close. On a nonverbal consensus, the two had designated that tree as their finish line.

With a final burst of speed, Merlin's horse only just beat out Arthur's.

"You had a head start!" Arthur exclaimed as his excuse for losing.

Merlin beamed, his naturally tousled hair now a wild mess. "Barely!" he disagreed. "You were on my tail in less than a millisecond! I can only accept that excuse from the others," he said cheekily. "That is what I call a head start." He pointed down the trail, where Arthur could only just see the others following.

Arthur had to concede to Merlin's point there. Grinning at the remnants of the rush, he agreed, "Fine. You win, but I'm calling the rematch."

Merlin laughed and swung down from his horse.

Arthur frowned. "We can't be at this mysterious place you're taking us all to yet, can we?"

"No," Merlin said. "There's a stream nearby that we should leave the horses at, and then we can continue on foot. It isn't far at all."

Arthur waited expectantly for Merlin to perhaps reveal some clue as to where they were going, but he was disappointed. Dismounting, he grumbled incoherently under his breath about secretive warlocks.

The others finally caught up with them, and before they could say a word, Merlin teased, "What took you so long?"

Gwaine blew some hair from his face and chuckled. "Merlin, mate, I think you could just about outrun almost anyone."

"I bet that has to do with the fact he's all skin and bones," Percival added slyly. "The horse probably didn't even realize he was sitting on it."

"Ha-ha, Perce. Good one," Merlin said without enthusiasm.

The other Knights laughed. It was a joke that they all shared—they were forever teasing Merlin about his lanky physique, to which Merlin usually replied that he hardly had the time to fatten up as he was too busy running around after Arthur.

"It's a survival skill I learned," Merlin babbled jokingly, elaborating on Gwaine's point. "Yes, it's a very useful skill to have, especially for secret warlocks serving under trouble-seeking Princes, who manage to get themselves captured or kidnapped every other week. And it is reassuring to said secret warlock that can he escape in a multitude of ways, owing to the ever-present possibility of being arrested and executed for simply breathing."

Arthur's eyes widened at the light-heartedness in Merlin's tone. The Knights had similar reactions to Arthur, but it was Gwen, of course, who spoke out, "How can you even joke about that, Merlin?"

Her voice was indignant and worried at the same time, and Merlin's smile faded. "Sorry," he apologized, hiding his eyes. "It's how I cope with the fact that it's the truth, that my very means of existence is hated, illegal, and considered evil in Camelot. I'm still uncertain if that will ever change, so I make a joke out of it. That way it hardly seems as bad as it truly is in reality." He smiled sadly. "It's a small comfort... but a comfort nevertheless."

Merlin turned away, implying that he did not want to continue speaking of it, and started to lead his horse. "C'mon," he said. "We're nearly there."

Arthur and Gwen exchanged a look, and an unspoken conversation took place.

Lancelot sighed. "Imagine living like that," he muttered, beginning to follow.

"He's far braver than we give him credit for," Leon agreed.

Elyan carefully lowered himself from the saddle, wincing slightly. His wound from the Gvarath was still bothering him. "He's incredible," he said simply. "I don't think I would be able to do what he has done."

"What I find most incredible," Arthur added quietly, "is that he continues to be so…Merlin…and so modest about his power, which is far greater than I can even hope to comprehend. I feel that what we have seen is only a drop of what he has in him. I hate that he feels so…ostracized because of the fear my father placed in the minds of the people." Arthur pondered the raven-haired servant ahead. "And, what is more," he added to himself, "he's still here…by my side."

"Are you coming or not?" Merlin called, turning back.

"Hold your horses, we're coming!" Arthur shouted.

Gwaine pursed his lips in mock thoughtfulness. "I don't think he'd willingly let his horse go gallivanting through the forest, Arthur. He needs it for the ride back."

"Shut up, Gwaine," Arthur muttered as he began to follow Merlin's path.


Arthur was the first to recognize the place. "You didn't have to bring us here, Merlin," he said, his throat suddenly thickening.

Merlin had led them to a lake.

It was beautiful—the sunlight danced across the deep blue waves in a hypnotizing, spell-binding pattern. Snow-peaked mountains loomed in the distance, and a small semi-circle grove of trees protected the bank and adjoining grassy clearing from human interference.

Another might have seen this as an ordinary lake, but Arthur knew better. He knew that the waves sparkled far too brightly, that the water was far too blue. He felt the sweet magic of the place—fickle and wild yet subtle and gentle. It reminded him—in a way—of Merlin's.

Merlin's cerulean eyes became as unfathomable as the lake. He did not turn to face Arthur, and he ignored the reactions of the slightly delayed Knights as the realization hit them as well.

"Is this—?" Gwen began quietly.

"This is where…." Leon and Percival said together.

"This," Merlin began in a soft, wavering tone that caused the Knights to instantly quiet themselves and listen, "is the Lake of Avalon. Some call it the land of eternal youth."

Merlin suddenly walked a few paces forward and knelt on the grass. He absentmindedly tore at it. "I first saw this lake when I discovered a plot for Arthur's life—and that was my first confrontation with the Sidhe. I took my first swim in its waters when I was nearly too late to stop them and had to dive in to pull him out; he was drowning."

Arthur and the Knights exchanged looks, recalling the full story of Sophia and her father…That had been years ago.

"This is where I first hid your sword, Arthur," Merlin said, and all but he looked at the sword at Arthur's hip. "This is also where I laid Freya to rest." His voice caught, and he swallowed convulsively against tears Arthur knew were rising. Gwen broke away from the line of stunned Knights and knelt beside him, placing a warm hand on his trembling shoulder.

Merlin acknowledged her gesture by taking her other hand and squeezing it gently. He steeled himself and continued, "It was these waters that also provided the information necessary to defeat Morgana… Freya—with the power of her promise to me and the lake's magic—spoke to me and helped me to retrieve the sword. She handed it to me herself, out in the deepest part of the lake. I'm not sure how it was possible," he whispered hoarsely.

Merlin paused, and his mouth opened as if to say something else, but he hesitated uncomfortably, unsure if he should go on. The moment vanished quickly. His eyes hardened with determination, and his voice became even softer. "This is a…private place. I came here to think. Every time I was stressed, confused, hurt, scared, sad, lonely…because of what I had to do—lie—day in and day out, because of everything I have done, because of the responsibility and destiny I carried with me, because of the weight of the guilt I felt for the outcomes of certain decisions…every time I thought that there was no one that would understand, I slipped away and came here."

Merlin brusquely brushed away at a renegade tear and bowed his head in remembrance for what this place meant to him, and the rhythmic, soft tumbling of the water on the bank was the only sound to pervade this special moment.

For that was what it truly was. Arthur was touched by Merlin's words…and by the mere fact that he decided to share something so private, something that represented so much of Merlin's truth and pain, with them all. The other Knights were staring wide-eyed at Merlin, and Arthur decided to break the silence. He was the first to move.

He squeezed Merlin's other shoulder and repeated, "You didn't have to bring us here, Merlin."

Merlin's tear-filled blue eyes finally wrenched themselves from the waves and looked into Arthur's. His face broke into a weak version of his familiar lopsided, impish smile, and he said, "Of course I did, Arthur. This place represented my loneliness, my solitude, and my deepest secrets. It witnessed much of the pain I had to hide. I had thought about it over and over again. To me, it is only fitting that I bring you here—you all here—to not only apologize for not trusting you in the first place, for not giving you the chance to understand, but to prove to myself that I don't have to be alone anymore…I don't have to hide."

Merlin's smile widened until it finally reached his eyes. His voice grew stronger, and he declared, with the air of a man that wished he could have said the words long ago, "Thank you. I am no longer alone."

AN: Forgive my mistakes... It's been a long week, and I probably should've done another read-over. If you see anything that horrifies you, please let me know. I can't stand seeing incorrect grammar in my writing. :P

Another thing: updates will be extraordinarily random. Sorry about that.

Edit 06/12: Holy cow, after reediting SMN (with it's overly generous use of the simple sentence), it feels as though a completely different author wrote this! :o Sorry. I felt the indescribable need to comment on that... Carry on. ;)