How epic was the opening episode?
Anyway, that aside, I cannot thank you enough for all of the amazing support throughout this, it has really blown me away. I'm so thrilled that you have enjoyed it. So much, in fact, it got me thinking for more plot lines - not promising anything because I don't know what the muse will do, but our favourite youngsters might, just might, return!
Hope you enjoy the final chapter!
It was early evening when the party finally reached Ealdor, but the King wasted no more time. Regardless of the fact it was growing dark, he nudged his horse to the top of a small hill.
"My Lord!" Uther blinked as Sir Oswald came running up, a nasty bruise in the centre of his forehead.
"Have you seen the prince?"
"I have, Sire. He seems well. Only the villagers don't seem to want to let him go again, I think we are going to have to take him by force, My Lord."
"Nonsense." Even Uther listened to Gaius when he snapped in that tone. Matthew had galloped down into the village to warn the people of who was coming, and no doubt see his own family again. Gaius knew a few of the villagers from when he had visited with Hunith, and was more than aware of not only Sir Oswald's love for blood-shed, but his less than favourable attitude towards Arthur. "No doubt you merely startled the boy. He doesn't know you, he has no reason to trust you."
"I am a Knight of Camelot, that should automatically gain the young prince's trust, not some peasant boy."
"Gaius is right," Uther snapped, his horse shifting underneath him as it felt his master's unease. "There has been enough violence. Arthur will come out to us when he sees I am here." Gaius tried not to let his sinking heart show in his face. He wasn't so sure. The last time he had seen the young prince, he had been running away from his father. But someone else answered that question for him.
Technically speaking, Leon shouldn't have even been out of bed, let alone riding. But Gaius didn't have the strength – or the heart – to force the young man to stay behind. He knew the only time Leon would consent to getting some rest was when he had his young charge back where he could see him. If he was honest, Gaius knew it would help Arthur as well. Despite Uther's words, he wasn't sure how the prince would react to his father, but he knew there would be no problems if a certain Knight was around. Much as he wouldn't admit it to the King, he knew they needed Leon.
Right now, he was paying no attention to what was going on around him, instead making his slow and steady way down the hill. Seeing the Knight moving out, Uther quickly touched his heels to his own mount and shot down the hill at a much faster rate, the rest of the Knights quickly springing after him to keep up with their King. It was dangerous being here, Uther was right in saying this wasn't Camelot. If any of the neighbouring kingdoms caught wind of the fact the King was here, the outcome could be catastrophic. But who was Gaius to stop a father going to his son?
Either the word had spread quickly from Matthew's arrival, or the villagers' curiosity simply got the better of them, but there were people milling around the streets in a way Gaius knew was not normal for this time of day, staring wide eyed at the procession making its way through their town.
"This way, Sire." Matthew had reappeared, his hand clasped in that of a young lady's, but on seeing the King, he gently shrugged her off and pointed to a hut Gaius knew well. Unable to stop himself, he urged his horse further up the procession, suddenly eager to get to their destination. Not only because he wanted to see if Arthur was indeed alright after his adventure, but to meet the boy letters had told him so much about.
Matthew jogged ahead, and before the King could even think of dismounting, a young woman came out of the house, looking strangely disapproving for a moment before her expression turned neutral and she dropped a curtsey.
"Hunith?" Gaius couldn't stop himself, dismounting before Uther even had the chance to acknowledge her greeting and striding towards her. Hunith heard her name and turned, her mouth dropping open in shock.
"Gaius?" Uther, however, was not prepared to wait any longer and he stared down at her from astride his mighty horse, even as a small child came running out, wrapping himself around Hunith's legs. For a moment, it was as a flash of fear shot through her before her hand drifted to her side and she stroked his hair comfortingly.
"You have been watching over the prince?" Uther's tone was blunt, and Gaius cringed slightly.
"That is correct, Sire. Merlin, run inside and tell Arthur to come out?" Gaius caught sight of Uther bristling out of the corner of his eye. No doubt the King was going to inform her that no one simply told the Prince of Camelot to come outside, but Gaius' attention was drawn onto the child as he drew back from his mother. It took all of the physician's self control to not gasp out loud. Knowing who the boy's father was, there was no denying that he was looking at Balinor's son. Not only looks wise, but the boy just seemed to radiate power. Hunith caught his slight movement and smile sadly, before glancing at Uther in fear again. Gaius got the message. He could see the likeness between father and son. The question was, would Uther notice? Luckily, Merlin spoke, drawing the attention away from his looks and onto what was coming out of his mouth.
"You can't?" Hunith responded sternly, looking down at him. "Merlin, I told you to do something, I expect you to do it." Once again, Gaius found his attention drawn by Uther. He was watching the exchange curiously, as if not knowing how other parents reacted around their children. Arthur would never have dreamed of even thinking of doubting an order from his father, he knew the consequences should he do so.
"Arthur's hiding behind the bed."
"So I don't know where he is because he is hiding, meaning I can't tell him to come out here." Gaius heard a slight snort behind him, followed by a thud. He turned in time to see Leon clumsily dismounting, stumbling forward as he did so. No one else noticed the Knight's movement.
"Whose idea was that?" Hunith asked, a slight twinkle in her eye as she bent down to Merlin's level, all but ignoring the King. For once, Uther remained quiet. Gaius was sensing the man didn't quite know how to react around these people.
"His." Merlin muttered, glancing at the floor. "He said that if no one knew where he was, no one would be angry."
"Well, you can tell him that my promise I made to him on the hill still stands." Hunith responded, and Gaius got the sense she would have had her hands full over the last few days with the boys.
"But I don't know where he is!" Merlin said earnestly, a slight smile on his face even as his eyes glittered in the same amusement as his mother's.
"Then stand in the middle of the house and yell it, I'm sure he will hear where ever he is hiding." Giving her son a playful swat, Hunith straightened up as Merlin bounded back into the house. Sure enough, only a few seconds later, the whole party could hear him yelling his mother's message, causing Hunith to close her eyes, shaking her head in resignation slightly.
"My apologies, Sire, Ar...the prince has had a rough few days."
Uther nodded dismissively and dismounted, a guard hurrying forward to hold his horse as he did so. After Merlin's voice finally faded away, there was a moment of silence. Shortly followed by one word.
"Idiot." The whole group seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief at hearing their prince's voice, and Leon pushed his way past Gaius, only to stumble slightly and have to rely on the physician to keep him upright. There seemed to be some sort of hushed discussion going on in the house before Merlin reappeared, nodding seriously.
"He says he's not there." Gaius shook his head fondly, but there was a touch of sadness in the movement. Was Arthur really that afraid of his father? Something told Gaius that wasn't the case, more like he had found some sort of relief by spending a few days as a nobody, playing with someone much closer to his own age than the man leaning on the physician, breathing heavily.
"Arthur." Uther's voice rang with such authority that Merlin found his hand slipping into Hunith's, who gave it a reassuring squeeze whilst staring at Leon, as if trying to place the man. Soft footsteps announced Arthur's arrival, but Merlin found he was pressing himself closer to his mother as Arthur appeared. This wasn't the boy who had shared his blanket the night before. This was the prince.
His shoulders were back, his spine straight and rigid as his head was held high. But Hunith saw how tightly his hands were balled into fists behind his back and the way his feet seemed to drag occasionally as he forced himself out of the house.
"Arthur," Uther's sigh of relief was obvious, and Gaius caught sight of rapid emotions flickering across the King's face before he could control himself. But Arthur would not lift his head to meet his father's gaze. "Are you hurt, Arthur?"
"No, Sire. I hurt my arm, but Hunith made it all better again, like Gaius does." Arthur's voice was a little more than a mumble, but for once, Uther didn't comment on it, instead dipping his head in gratitude towards Hunith, who smiled slightly nervously in response.
"Good. Then you are fit to ride. We shall leave immediately."
"No." Arthur's answer seemed to escape him before he meant for it to come out, and he immediately flinched back as Uther looked at him. "I mean, can't we stay here a bit longer, Sire?"
"We ride for Camelot immediately, Arthur." Uther mounted in one fluid movement, his gaze growing angry when Arthur hadn't moved. "Immediately."
Arthur seemed to flinch again, but began to walk slowly forward. Merlin, on the other hand, wasn't happy. Running forward, he grabbed Arthur by the arm and planted himself in front of his new friend.
"Stop scaring him." He announced boldly. Hunith went scarlet.
"Merlin! Come here this instant!"
"No!" The young boy cried, upset obvious in his voice. "Arthur said he didn't want him to be angry! And he is! So Arthur should stay here until he is not!"
"Merlin!" This time, Merlin seemed to catch the tone of his mother's voice and he slowly moved back towards her. As soon as he was in reach, Hunith caught him by the arm and pulled him into her. Merlin glared around the group, clearly not happy. His frown only deepened when he caught sight of Sir Oswald glaring at him from the back of the group. Merlin allowed himself a small smirk at seeing the bruise on the man's forehead – no one hurt Merlin's friends and got away with it – but as the man's glare deepened, he stuck out his tongue before wriggling back into the safety of his mother's legs. Gaius was the only one who saw the exchange, and secretly smiled to himself. Oswald was a bully; it was good for him to be humbled, even if it was by a seven year old boy.
"My apologies again, Sire, he is only young..." Uther didn't seem to be listening, but instead was staring at Arthur. In return, Arthur was staring at the ground, biting his lip as he clearly fought back tears. Gaius sighed.
"My Lord, perhaps the boy is right? The prince must be tired, and it's late. Let him sleep here, we can ride for Camelot at first light."
"I can manage." Arthur muttered, still staring at the floor but clearly wanting to once again prove himself to his father. No one noticed Gaius mutter something to Leon, who nodded softly in response.
"Good, then we shall..."
"My Lord, I must rest." Leon suddenly declared. Almost immediately, both Hunith and Gaius were watching Arthur, whose head shot up so fast it must have hurt. He took a shaky step forward.
"Leon?" Arthur's voice cracked halfway through that one simple word, a clear sign of how much hearing that voice meant to him. Hunith smiled as she realised her thoughts about the injured young man were correct. This was the man Arthur clearly idolised. Leon matched Arthur's step forward, bringing him into the prince's eye line. There was a split second as Arthur merely stared, before he had run forward.
Leon had just enough time to bend down before the prince latched on around his neck. He glanced at Uther for a split second, but proceeded to wrap his arms around the boy, hugging him tightly.
"I'm sorry! I'll never run away again! You didn't wake up, I thought you weren't ever going to wake up! It's all my fault, I know I was bad, I promise I won't..."
"Arthur, shh." Leon responded gently, his tone far more direct than he would have normally used on the prince, especially in front of Uther. But considering the circumstances, he didn't know how else to get the boy to come down. "Of course I'm going to wake up, you promised to show me how you could ride Rogeo, remember?"
He felt Arthur take in a shuddering breath and drew back slightly, ruffling the prince's hair. "I'm sorry, Arthur. I tried so hard to protect you, yet I couldn't stop them."
"S'not your fault. I was the one who ran away."
"You were upset," Leon responded gently, before freezing in mortification when he realised who else would have heard his words. He very deliberately didn't look anywhere in the vague direction of the King, although he could feel Uther's piercing stare on them both.
"It's settled then." Gaius broke through the silence happily, smiling as Leon once again wrapped his arms around Arthur and returned the child's fierce embrace. "Sir Leon shall remain with Prince Arthur and they shall join the rest of us in the morning at the main camp. Is everything to your satisfaction, Sire?"
Uther had no choice but to agree, especially as Arthur's eyes were already dropping. It was clear the prince was exhausted, but he wasn't going to be letting go of Leon's neck anytime soon. He fiddled with his horse's reins for a moment.
"Back to the camp." A chorus of responses met him as everyone turned. Uther nudged his horse forward a couple of steps until he was level with his son and Leon, before leaning over. For a split second, he clasped Arthur on the shoulder before moving off, but everyone could see how much the prince relaxed even more after the touch.
"Gaius?" Hunith's soft call made the physician hurry over and he embraced her before bending down to have a proper look at Merlin. He knew full well Uther would have expected him to stay here; Arthur needed a proper examination before they rode in the morning.
"So this is Merlin." Gaius said kindly, smiling at the suddenly shy boy. For someone who would announce to a King who had been called a tyrant by many that he was scaring his own son, Merlin did not like the physician simply peering at him, instead trying to hide behind his mother's legs. Hunith automatically stroked his hair again, meeting Gaius's eyes.
"He's like his father." He murmured softly, so quiet that no one else heard. Hunith nodded, tears sparkling in her own eyes as Merlin slowly came out behind her, watching Arthur. Gaius followed his gaze and smiled at the all too familiar argument taking place.
"But I'm not tired." Despite the fact Arthur was leaning on Leon, still refusing to let go, he was being as stubborn as ever.
"Of course you are not, Sire. But you can just lie down for a moment with me, can't you?"
"Don't try it! I know what you are like and I'm not...not..." A loud yawn punctuated the rest of his sentence and his head snuggled into Leon's shoulder. "Not tired." He finished somewhat pathetically.
Leon stood up, his hands sliding around Arthur's legs when it was clear the prince was not going to relinquish his hold on the Knight's neck. Arthur mumbled some sort of protest, but his limbs automatically wrapped around Leon's waist. With the Prince of Camelot safely back in his arms again; Leon took a few steps forward, going slightly pale.
"Sire?" Gaius cursed at forgetting that less than a day ago, the man was not even conscious.
"I'm fine. Where shall I put him?" He turned to address Hunith, who was watching Arthur snuggle into Leon with a smile on her face. She was glad the prince had someone he could clearly rely on. She nodded towards the blankets in the corner and watched fondly as Leon gently placed the half-asleep prince down, tucking it around him. She wasn't sure whether Gaius was either ignoring them, or deliberately looking the other way as Leon's hand ghosted over Arthur's hair gently. Her attention was distracted by her own son as Merlin wound himself around her legs where she was sitting.
"He's not going to be sad again, is he?" There was such a childish innocence in his voice, so full of concern that Hunith once again found her hand stroking his hair reassuringly.
"Does he look sad to you?" She murmured gently, gesturing over to where Leon was still attempting to untangle himself from the possessive prince. Every time he worked Arthur's arms free, the child would just grab hold somewhere else, causing Merlin to giggle. Eventually, Gaius' smirk became obvious.
"Arthur." There was the merest hint of a warning in his voice, but the prince huffed irritably and finally let go. Leon came to join the others, although he would not sit. They were in the doorway of the hut, both Hunith and Gaius sitting on the ground with Merlin resting his head on Hunith's lap. Leon leant against the doorway, but after a while, it became clear he was struggling, so he gingerly lowered himself to the floor.
"It's fine, Gaius." Anyone could hear that his teeth were gritted, and Merlin lifted his head sleepily.
"Do you need it to be all better?"
"That's what Gaius is doing, Merlin, hush now." Gently pushing him back down again, Hunith caught Gaius' eye and grimaced. She knew the physician knew enough about her son to realise Merlin could unintentionally cure Leon with far more ease. Not that the child knew what he was doing, however. The magic was simply bursting out of him. It was fine now, things could be explained away. But she knew he would have to learn control, and fast. There was a companionable silence between the three adults, Merlin tracing patterns in the dirt as he fought off sleep before Hunith spoke again.
"He idolises you, you know." She said gently to Leon, feeling a rush of amusement as the Knight clearly blushed in the dim light.
"I just oversee his training, Madam."
"Nonsense," Gaius scolded gently, watching the Knight in concern. It was clear his injuries were troubling him, but his eyes were sparkling with relief, and the physician knew he would have no chance at checking the man's wounds now. Not until he had practically fallen asleep himself, for he would do nothing that would restrict his vision or movement. Leon may have been sitting down, but Gaius had been around Knights long enough to know the young man was keeping watch. "You are more to him than that, and you know it."
"What about his father?" Merlin muttered, making to rise again, but Hunith rested her hand against the side of his head, keeping him lying down. She knew it wouldn't be long before Merlin had fallen asleep. "Why does he make Arthur cry?"
"Merlin, hush, child. Things are different for Arthur than they are for you." Hunith chided gently. It was her turn to blush now. She was sitting with the Court Physician and a Knight of Camelot, with their prince sleeping in her house. Yet her son was happily insulting the King, not seeming to realise what he was doing.
"He doesn't hold back, does he?" Gaius said softly, smiling at the sight of mother and son together. He honestly never thought he would see it. Although he knew of Merlin's birth and the power the boy was already showing, he didn't want to suddenly declare he was riding out to Ealdor in case the King should grow suspicious. Before Hunith could answer, the patter of feet could be heard and Leon closed his eyes in resignation. One look at his face and Hunith knew this was a regular battle.
"Sire, you should be asleep."
"Don't want to be on my own." A pouty prince suddenly appeared, sitting down next to Leon and leaning into his side, yawning as he did so. He tried to wriggle his feet around Merlin, but the younger boy just kicked him irritably for his trouble. Neither of them had the energy to take it any further though.
Within only a few moments of Arthur being outside, Merlin had fallen asleep across Hunith's legs, and Gaius quietly fetched the blanket, draping it over the boy with a tenderness Leon pretended not to notice. He could feel Arthur sagging against him more and more, and in one movement, pulled off his cloak and mirrored Gaius' actions, tucking the young prince up in it. Arthur sighed in satisfaction and closed his eyes.
None of the adults moved for the rest of the night. Sleep didn't seem important, not when they had the boys to watch over. There was a sleepy heaviness hanging in the air, and Leon couldn't remember the last time he felt this content to simply sit and do nothing, but keep his prince safe.
Leon didn't notice that he had eventually nodded off until loud voices drew from his slumber.
"But I want it!"
"You have half!"
"Your half is bigger!" The Knight struggled to his feet, glancing around to see Hunith hurrying back to the house, annoyance in her features at the row coming from within. Leon entered himself, only to see the Arthur and Merlin glaring at each other from across the table, the bread broken between them.
"Boys!" Hunith's sharp reprimand made Leon smile, although neither of the children paid attention to her. Merlin seemed to soften a little, but Arthur was clearly too annoyed. Leon rolled his eyes as the prince reached for the bread again.
"Arthur!" His sharp, ringing tone made everyone jump, and Arthur glanced up guilty. "What's the first rule of the code?"
"Poke it with the pointy end." Arthur said with a disarming grin. Leon had to fight to keep his own smile off his face.
"That's my rule and you know it. What's the first rule, Sire?"
"Yes you do." Leon's tone was blunt and firm and Merlin found himself sidling over to Hunith, clutching onto her with wide eyes as he watched the scene. For her part, Hunith was just glad there was someone who was clearly more than prepared to discipline the prince. It would be so easy to just let him get away with everything. "I'm waiting, Arthur. All that a man has..."
"...let him share amongst his brothers." Arthur muttered, glancing down at the table before pushing all of the bread over to Merlin's side. "M'not hungry anyway."
He made to push past Leon to storm outside, but the Knight caught him around the shoulders, spinning him even as he bent down.
"A Knight always has to share equally, Arthur. What if someone was weaker and you ate the bigger half every time? They would only get weaker, and then they wouldn't be able to fight. Things have to be shared, it's the way things are done." Arthur nodded glumly, but Leon could see his mood was beginning to lift. Merlin pushed himself away from Hunith, snatched up a piece of the bread and offered it out to Arthur. For a moment, Leon thought Arthur's pride would stop him from accepting the food, but he allowed Merlin to place it in his hand.
"Thanks." Both Leon and Gaius exchanged stunned glances at Arthur's appreciation, but before either of them could say anything, a lone horse stopped outside. Immediately, Leon pushed Arthur behind him, allowing Gaius to take hold of the prince's arm and pull him to the safety of the corner. Arthur wasn't going alone though, he simply grabbed onto Merlin on his way past and pulled the younger boy over with him.
Leon's hand drifted to the hilt of his sword, resting it lightly on the pommel as the door opened, but his jaw dropped the second before he bowed.
"Sire!" There seemed to be a sharp intake of breath as the King stepped through the door of the small hut. Hunith curtsied as Gaius dipped his head. Even Arthur glanced at the floor, but Merlin merely stared at the man, arms folded across his small chest. Uther seemed to be uncomfortable at simply standing there, but the item clutched in his hand showed that he was clearly trying to make amends.
"You have Camelot's gratitude, Madam." He said softly to Hunith, who looked slightly startled, but managed to curtsey again anyway, her eyes flickering over to Merlin and shooting him a warning look. Arthur was still studying the ground, but glanced up quickly as Uther walked over, crouching in front of his son. Holding out her hand, Hunith gestured for Merlin to go to her, and the child did without arguments.
"I thought you might like this back, Arthur." Uther said gently, shaking out Arthur's jacket and holding it out to the prince. For a moment, Arthur didn't look like he knew how to react, glancing up at Gaius. The physician nodded encouragingly and Arthur slipped his arms into the jacket, allowing his father to tug it up properly. For a moment, Uther ran his finger under the scarf Arthur was still wearing, anger flickering into his eyes when he felt the rope burn, especially considering Arthur flinched slightly. He quickly withdrew his hand and straightened the garment again.
"Thank you...Father." Hunith felt tears momentarily catch in her eyes. Since meeting Uther, this was the first time Arthur had addressed him as his father rather than as his king. Maybe there was hope for them yet?
"Are you ready to come back home, Arthur?" Another somewhat startled look was shared between Leon and Gaius, neither of them having seen Uther this gentle with his son before. Little did they know the King hadn't actually returned to the camp the night before.
Instead, he had found himself watching a scene that seemed nothing more than a distant memory to him. A family scene. He had watched how Hunith had soothed Merlin to sleep, watched how his own son had refused to leave Leon, the Knight offering him the same sense of comfort the mother had done for her son, allowing Arthur the sanctuary of sleep. And it was in watching he realised just how much he had been missing out on in his son's life. He had meant every word he had said to Gaius the previous morning about wanting to make things right with Arthur, and he intended to start now. They would wait in Ealdor – despite the potential risks to the Kingdom – until the prince was ready to come home.
Arthur, however, was ready. He looked at the King for a long moment before suddenly throwing his arms around the man's neck.
"I'm sorry! I didn't mean to run away! I didn't mean to be bad!" Uther didn't seem to know how to react, but after a moment of staying frozen, he gently returned Arthur's embrace.
"No, son, it is I who am sorry. You only did what you thought was right."
"Sire?" Gaius gentle prompt gave Uther the nudge he needed to pull himself together and he slowly stood up, before taking Arthur's hand in his own and beginning to walk outside. He pulled himself up onto his horse, motioning for Leon to help Arthur up. But the prince pulled away from his Knight, glancing back towards the house.
"Go on." That was all the invitation Arthur needed before he had run full speed back into the house, almost bowling Hunith over as he hugged her fiercely. She bent down, gently wrapping her own arms around the boy.
"We shall miss you, Arthur." The prince nodded, emotion constricted his voice. He eventually pulled back, kissing her cheek.
"You saved me."
"You have Merlin to thank for that." She responded with a smile, turning towards her son who was watching Arthur with an almost angry expression.
"Why do you have to go?" He demanded, hands tugging at the bottom of his shirt in a way that showed he was upset.
"Because I have to." Arthur responded sadly, but Hunith knew it wasn't sadness at returning to Camelot as such, but more leaving his new friend behind.
"Fine! Go then, I don't care!" Merlin stormed outside and his mother shook her head fondly, resting her hand on Arthur's shoulder as she steered him back towards his father.
"He's just upset, Arthur. He'll be fine."
"You'll tell him I...that I..."
"I'll tell him." The mother responded gently, knowing what Arthur wanted to say even if the prince couldn't get the words out himself. She smiled at Leon as the Knight lifted Arthur, placing him in front of Uther. The King's hand immediately steadied his son, and her smile widened, thinking of how many times the young prince had done that for her boy. Uther nodded at her once again and turned his horse around. Gaius reappeared with both his and Leon's mounts, and the Knight quickly trotted after his King.
"Look after him, he is special." Gaius murmured softly as he embraced her.
"I know." Hunith responded simply, glancing around for her son. "Merlin, come back!" A small figure was running after the horses, and as she watched, Uther's came to a halt.
The King had heard the mother's call and glanced down to see a small black haired figure trying to catch up with them. He reined to a halt as Arthur glanced down at the boy.
"Here!" Merlin's hand thrust upwards and he forced something into Arthur's hand. Slowly unclenching his fist, Arthur felt his breath catch in his throat.
"My thingy. For when you feel sad." Merlin stated, smiling hesitantly at the prince. Arthur's response was a little watery.
"Will I ever see you again?" Uther tightened his grip on his son and smiled down gently at the boy who had made Arthur feel this safe.
"Destiny has a way of throwing things together. If it is meant to be, you'll see each other again."
Behind him, Gaius smiled, having just caught up with them enough to hear the King's words. Little did the man know it was his own persecution of the DragonLords that had made their meeting to be feasible at all. Merlin nodded seriously, running back down the hill and meeting his mother half way.
Arthur kept his head craned around as they set off again, his fingers stroking over the wooden toy.
"Bye Merlin." He whispered, knowing there was no way the boy would have heard him.
But yet, further down the hill, an unnaturally warm breeze was swirling around mother and son, the latter's eyes burning brightly. The words carried, and Merlin smiled sadly. Just as the horses disappeared from view, Hunith squeezed her son's hand gently.
"Are you alright, love?"
"It's not goodbye, not really." Merlin declared with such a confidence that she didn't doubt him for a second. "Can I have berries?"
Chatting non-stop, he led the way back down the hill. Just before he entered the house though, the seven year old turned, staring up the hill with a maturity that was unnerving for a child his age. When he spoke, he no longer sounded like a boy, but someone old and wise.
"Until next time, Arthur Pendragon."
But then the moment had passed, and berries once more occupied the boy's mind.
Ta da, the end!