The midday sun blazed over Camelot, trapping smoke down by the ground and creating a smog that would choke even the bravest. The guards remained in their towers, poking their heads outside only long enough to assure themselves there were no armies on the march, and the lower town, usually bustling with the fervour of market day, was silent.
The new king lay in his bed, blissfully unaware of the day's events, and so no-one noticed as a small dark haired figure slipped quietly out of the gates, trying not to cry.
In Which Merlin Leaves, And Gaius Get's Angry
It wasn't until two days after the coronation that Merlin's absence was felt. Agravaine waited in the council chamber, trying to control his pacing as the clicking of his boots bounced off the stone walls, as the temperature moved towards the uncomfortable and his impatience mounted. Ten past, quater past, half past eleven; where in the name of heaven was Arthur?
He looked up as a guard marched in, one of the many nameless and faceless sentries to be found about Camelot, and smiled sardonically as the man saluted.
"My lord, I bring a message from the King."
"Say on then, my good man." Agravaine replied with a royal sweep of his arm, inwardly amused by his nephew's new title.
"Sir, the King begs your forgiveness for his lateness- it seems his lazy good for nothing servant failed to wake him at the proper time." The guard barked, badly hidden smile obvious beneath his helm. Agravaine had no doubts those were exactly his nephew's words, and forced himself to smile back, dismissing the man with a wave of his hand.
The minutes ticked by, the temperature in the room rose, but the King's uncle noticed none of it, his scheming mind assigned to the problem of Arthur's lazy, good for nothing servant. He had thought on his arrival that his main problem would be Guinevere, with her fierce loyalty to Arthur, her obvious hold over the King and her quick- for a woman- political mind. But now he saw the greater danger, for the servant Merlin, with his carefully cultivated demeanour of idiocy and ridiculously large ears, was a far larger and more insidious threat. More than ever he found himself thanking heaven for Arthurs obliviousness- had he realised the depth of loyalty, and the intelligence at his command, Arthur would have been unstoppable.
Arthur sighed as the guards pushed open the heavy doors, already longing to throw the heavy band that encircled his head out of the nearest window, priceless or not. He wondered idly how his father had worn it every day for so long, and, ignoring the stabbing pain that always accompanied his father's face, forced his face still as he entered the room.
His uncle bowed, dark head bent in submission that belonged to his father as Arthur approached, and waited silently for the King to be seated at the head of the table, blonde hair mussed and unkempt.
The silence stretched, the silence of two people who are both waiting for the other to speak first, as Agravaine stood expectant, and Arthur stared at the table as if it held the secrets of the universe.
Until a crash echoed as the doors slam open, to reveal Gaius, wrinkled face red with fury. The normally placid court physician was shouting, enraged, shaking off the guards that tried to stop him entering with bellows of anger, waving a piece of parchment like a sword in front him.
"What have you done?" He roared, looking fiercer and more threatening than Arthur had ever seen him. "What have you done!"
Agravaine was on him in an instant, sword point rested on the court physician's chest, but Gaius didn't even notice, slamming the parchment down in front of Arthur with a bang that echoed like a mountain falling.
No matter what Arthur says, I'm not stupid. You know I'm not, or I hope you know, and I hope you'll stay as convinced as you are for as long a time as you have left, because the gods know you're the only one who does. But being intelligent has its drawbacks, and now I think I've figured it out... I'm done. My destiny is done. I can't do this anymore, not that I was ever really doing it; I was just breaking it a little more every time I tried, and now it's shattered and can't be fixed.
He said I was evil, Gaius. I'm glad you'll never know how much that hurt.
So, tell Gwen I'm sorry to leave the Prat to her keeping, but I'm sure she'll do a better job than I did. Between the two of you, you can probably stop him doing something too stupid, and tell Gwaine and Percival and the rest not to let him get too arrogant (more than he already is) or you'll be able to see his puffed up head from the Fisher Kings Tower.
As for mother...make something up.
Arthur stared. He couldn't stop, he just stared at the words on the page till they blurred together and Agravaine and Gaius began a furious conversation, because Merlin couldn't have gone. He couldn't just leave. Arthur didn't know what he was talking about with the references to destiny, but he didn't care, because he'd never said Merlin was evil. Loyal, decent, innocent Merlin, how could anyone call him that?
No, something else was going on here. He didn't know what; didn't have the faintest clue, but something had to be going on.
In a moment Arthur was on his feet, breaking up the argument between his two closest advisors, as both turned to face him, one old, one of royal blood, but with identical looks of anger.
"Uncle, summon the knights."
Agravaine blinked, a frown furrowing his forehead as if his king were speaking in a code he was yet to decipher.
"Your majesty, you cannot seriously be thinking..." his uncle protested, but he cut him off, anger sharper than any sword.
"Merlin is my friend, uncle. He would not just leave, so something else is going on here, and I intend to ride after him and beat him until he bloody well tells me what it is."
Gaius began to bow, to murmur his gratitude, but his uncle caught his shoulder as he made to move past him, dark eyes boring into him. "I am sorry Arthur, I truly am, because I know how much you liked him, servant or not. But you are King now. Everything is different. You cannot ride off after a servant so soon after your coronation, if it is even true that something is happening to him."
"But..." Arthur wrenched his shoulder away, but his uncle held on, fingers tight on his skin.
"And who is to say he even wants you to find him? If as you say, something else is going on here, then he left for your safety. Riding off after him is hardly protecting yourself."
Gaius could only watch, white faced, eyes glittering with so much anger it seemed he could not speak.
And Arthur felt the fight drain out of him as he collapsed on his chair, unable to meet his old tutor's eyes.
"You're right Uncle." He sighed, and felt something collapse in his chest. "We have more important things to talk about." His voice sounded hollow even to him. "Will you please excuse us Gaius?"
He didn't look up. Not till Gaius had gone, and his uncle began to speak again.
Yeah, I know, but watching The Wicked Day and how depressing it was, I had to write this. Colin Morgan and Bradley James were pretty damn amazing, and I wanted to do something about what happens to Arthur without Merlin, and how Arthur discovers who his best friend is, without Merlin trying to stop him.
So...review? Should I even continue?