A/N: This is just me expressing irritation at Merlin and Gaius' stupidity in 4.09. Did that annoy anyone else? It's not like love enchantments aren't used ALLTHETIME on that show. They should really have seen it coming. In fact they should know them all off by heart by now. I think this is a little like Kitty O's fic Merlin: How It Should Have Ended (because this is how I would like Merlin to end! Only... err... with less crack. That's just there because I have a genuine problem) which I recommend. Tis awesome. Hope you likes ]:)
"Duh!" exclaimed Merlin, smacking himself on the forehead rather harder than could possibly have been called for. "It's so obvious now! Arthur's right: I am an idiot!"
"Merlin?" Gaius called from over on the other side of the physician's chambers. "Am I going senile, or did I really just hear you say that Arthur was right?"
"I can't speak for whether or not you're going senile, Gaius, because that glass of 'juice' you're holding in your hand is actually Geoffrey of Monmouth's urine sample, but you did hear me correctly, yes."
Gaius quickly put the glass down and trotted over to his young charge, sitting down next to next to him on the creaky bench. He peered down through the general must of the room at the page in front of him.
"You're reading a book of enchantments! On the breakfast table! Anyone could walk in and see you!"
Merlin rolled his eyes tiredly. "Five people already have. One of them was the great King of Camelot himself."
"Then why do you suddenly trust his opinion about you, exactly?"
"Look." Merlin pointed at the page, which was all about love enchantments; specifically, enchantments to renew past feelings.
Gaius seemed unimpressed. "Why are you researching love charms, Merlin? I thought you were far too busy for that sort of thing?"
"I have some time… And Freya and I have been having a bit of a rough patch lately, what with me working such long hours; I just wondered if there might be something in magic to bring the spark back."
"Merlin! I thought you knew better than to use magic for your own personal gain!"
"I know, Gaius, I know. I'm not going to. But don't you see? It all makes sense now!"
"What all makes sense now? You sneaking off in the night and the roses missing from the royal gardens?"
"Ah. Yes. Don't tell Arthur about that, please."
"But that wasn't what I meant, Gaius."
Gaius raised an eyebrow. "Well, then. What did you mean?"
"Gwen! She was enchanted!"
"Gwen? Merlin, what are you talking about?"
"Don't you remember discovering that Lancelot was a shade?"
"And that he'd come to Camelot to do a bad thing?"
"And that that bad thing wasn't to hurt Arthur or the knights or anything like that, because he had a good chance to do that and nothing happened?"
Gaius nodded his head slowly and suspiciously, waiting for the surprise. There was always a surprise with Merlin, and rarely a pleasant one, like an extra piece of dessert.
"And then a bad thing happened, involving Lancelot."
Gaius looked blank. "What bad thing was that?" he asked eventually.
"Oh… yes. What's that got to do with anything?"
"Didn't you think it was rather out of character?"
Gaius shrugged. "Women are weak and fickle creatures, Merlin. Didn't your mother teach you that?"
"Yes, but still…"
"Then I don't see what the problem is, Merlin. Gwen made her choice and must suffer the consequences."
"That's exactly what she said! Oh you've all been brainwashed by sexist medieval propaganda!"
"Is that a bad thing?" asked Gaius, fiddling with his tunic.
"Oh. Then it was probably a woman who started it."
"I can't deal with anymore of this. Clearly I'm ahead of my time. Look, Gaius: we knew Lancelot was here to do a bad thing, agreed?"
Gaius considered this.
Merlin threw his hands up into the air in exasperation. "Morgana wouldn't just revive him from the dead and send him to Camelot to say hi because she felt guilty about his death! She's evil!"
"Good." Merlin calmed down slightly. "Did any bad things, other than the affair with Gwen, happen to Lancelot while he was here, that we know of?"
"No," Gaius thought. "Absolutely none."
"And then he killed himself afterwards, suggesting that his work was done, so a bad thing must have happened, yes?"
"But, according to you, no bad thing did happen. In fact, Arthur said he was noble in everything but his affair with Gwen. So, Gaius, what's the conclusion?"
Gaius scrunched his face up incredibly tightly with thought. "Well… Lancelot failed in his mission because he was led astray by Gwen, a woman. And women are always the cause of bad things. Always. We shouldn't ever look for other explanations, even when they're staring us in the face." He glanced down at the book of love enchantments and stroked the writing absentmindedly.
"No!" exclaimed Merlin, his frustration reaching its limits. "No! No! No! You bubble-brained buffoon! The only explanation is that the bad thing Lancelot came to do was to split up Arthur and Gwen by seducing Gwen! We know that Morgana hates Gwen because she wants to be Queen - she's tried to kill the poor girl before. Why are we so surprised by this?"
Gaius shrugged. "That would have been my second guess."
Merlin stabbed his finger down against the page. "Gwen would have had to have been given an enchanted magical object, and Lancelot could have done that easily without anyone thinking it was suspicious! In fact, I'll bet you any money it's a bracelet."
"Why a bracelet?" inquired Gaius, taking a swig of a nearby drink.
"Because she's incapable of coming up with new ideas - she's done bracelets before. Err, Gaius: are you drinking Geoffrey's pee?"
Gaius looked down at the glass and put it down cautiously. "Oh dear. I think I might have been. You know, it tastes like apples. Geoffrey probably ought to be informed."
Merlin was silent for a minute, before looking down at the book again and reading through the entire passage. "Gwen wasn't enchanted the last time I saw her, I know she wasn't: she loved Arthur."
"I don't feel well. Do I look any different to you?"
"So she must have taken the enchanted object," Merlin added 'bracelet' under his breath, because he was sure that was what it was, "off. We just have to find it. Hopefully she took it off in Camelot somewhere. I'm going to start retracing her steps and looking for it. I'll start with her house. Oh, and Gaius?"
Gaius' tongue had turned purple and he was rather perturbed by this fact, so he wasn't paying much attention to Merlin.
"It was you who told me not to tell Arthur that Lancelot was a shade, wasn't it? Even if it hadn't helped Gwen, it probably would have been nice for him to know that his friend hadn't betrayed him too. And, as it turns out, it would have helped Gwen, if only I'd used my brain. I'm never taking your advice again."
Merlin exited the chambers, throwing the door open dramatically and turning left.
"Merlin," Gaius called after him. "Gwen's house is the other way."
"Arthur!" Merlin ran into Arthur's chambers beaming delightedly, clutching a bracelet. "Arthur I found it! It was in the dungeons! It must have fallen off in there, or something! Arthur?"
"Ah, Merlin. There you are. Finally got thrown out of the tavern, I see. Come on, we're going to find Guinevere."
"But, Arthur! I've found this bracelet and it proves that Gwen didn't betray you on purpose, because it's magical, Gaius will tell you - if he's recovered from drinking Geoffrey's pee, that is… Wait, did you say we're going to go find Gwen?"
"Yes, Merlin. You really do like to ramble, don't you?"
"She's innocent, Merlin."
"I know that!"
Arthur rolled his eyes and continued getting ready to travel. Now that Merlin was no longer in a frantic state of excitement, he could see that Arthur was actually getting dressed for a journey.
"Of course you know that, Merlin: I just told you. I don't know why I bother sometimes."
"But… How do you know that?" Merlin asked, lowering his bracelet in defeat and feeling rather late to the party.
"Morgana told me."
"Morgana told you?" This Merlin really didn't believe.
"Yes. She was here just now. Doesn't the castle look slightly different to you?"
Merlin looked about himself, and saw that the castle was in the state that it was usually reduced to after some epic final battle or other.
"Woah…" he remarked. "What happened here?"
"Morgana happened here. While you were in the tavern she came in through the siege tunnels under Camelot, I'm not quite sure how she got that information, and led an invasion from the inside. At first it looked like she had the upper hand, but I brought things round in the end. I always do!"
"Wait… You mean you won without me?"
"Of course we won without you, Merlin. No offence, but you're just an underweight servant. You're not exactly necessary to battle strategy. You can be more of a hindrance than a help with your persistent clumsiness."
"You're welcome." Arthur grinned at him as he slid his riding gloves on.
"But I still don't understand what you mean when you say 'Morgana told you'…"
"Oh… Well, you remember I said that for a while she had the upper hand?"
"She did that arrogant thing villains always do: she told us all of her evil accomplishments, and all of her future plans, which was how we brought her down in the end - if you want to win a game, it's generally a bad idea to reveal all of your future moves in advance - but one of her evil accomplishments was apparently ending mine and Guinevere's relationship. She was entirely responsible for that, and she seemed rather proud of it too. She also seemed to think I'd killed Gwen! Something about shooting a deer? I didn't understand what she was talking about, and that made her rather annoyed, I think. I do hope Gwen isn't still a deer, Merlin. I'll love her whatever she looks like, but I'd rather not have to follow her droppings to find her."
Arthur was ready to go, and Merlin was still standing there, looking amazed at the fact that he'd been left out. All those years, moaning about never getting any time off, and here they'd gone and defeated Morgana without him and he didn't even seem grateful for it. He felt a tad hypocritical, but it couldn't be helped.
"Oh, and Merlin? You'll never guess who the traitor is?"
Merlin opened his mouth to answer but didn't get the chance.
"Agravaine!" Arthur enthused, looking bewildered as they strolled together down the corridor. "Isn't that strange?"
"Very strange, Sire."
"And to think, I never suspected a thing!"
"One of the guards said he'd suspected something fishy about him all along: his eyes being too close together. So he was handsomely rewarded for his keeping an eye on him, which he's been doing, apparently."
"What?" screamed Merlin, outraged. "That's ridiculous! I knew he was the traitor!"
"Did you, Merlin? Why didn't you say anything?"
"Why didn't I…?" Merlin sighed, his shoulders drooped and he gave up. "Never mind."
They walked past a pair of sniggering guards, one of whom was showing off all of his new bling to the other.
"Ah! George!" Arthur waved to the blinged-up guard in acknowledgment, who waved back guiltily. "Ah, Merlin, that's the guard I was telling you about: the one who knew about Agravaine all along. He must be very clever."
Merlin shot the guard a very dark look as they walked past, making every effort to memorise his face. Inexplicable bad things were going to be happening to George very soon, Merlin would make sure of that.
"So…" Merlin held out the bracelet. "I suppose you won't be needing this?"
"Why would I need a bracelet?"
"Oh! Wait - do you think Guinevere might like it as a present? Do you think it might help her warm to me again?"
"No, Sire. I think that is the last thing it will do."
Merlin arrived back in the physician's chambers, feeling very tired.
"Did you find it?"
Merlin scowled. "That's not a very nice way to talk about Gwen. I know you don't like women, Gaius, but really…"
Gaius frowned. "Gwen? I was talking about the bracelet. Did you find it?"
"Oh. Yeah. But I missed the battle. They didn't even need me."
"You should be proud of Arthur: he's growing up."
Gaius sat down with Merlin on the bench and offered him a cuddle. "So… you went looking for Gwen?"
"Yeah. But when we found her, and explained everything, she told us to stuff it."
"I don't know. I don't think I'll ever understand women."
"I never have, Merlin. I never have."