Past and Present Danger
A/N: No, I was never going to kill Merlin. How could I? He's Merlin! Anyway, thank you so much for all your lovely reviews. I've had a great time writing this story and I really appreciate all of you who've left feedback. It really does make a difference. I figured I might as well upload the final chapter now, as it's written and ready to go, rather than making you wait .
I've got a new story idea buzzing around my mind at the moment, although it's not properly fleshed out yet, so I'll have to mull it over for a bit longer before I upload anything. I've got about 4000 words written though, so as long as I manage to get some more done over the next few days, it might be on sometime next week –no promises though! The title is 'Hidden Motives', so keep an eye out.
Well, on with the very last instalment of Past and Present Danger. I really hope you enjoy it and reviews would be great! Thanks again.
x x x
Arthur left the Council meeting quickly. It had been long and arduous. Every single person in there had already known what had gone on with their younger selves and Morgana -the rumours had spread through the entire city in a matter of hours- so why did he have to repeat it all? Of course, there had been some slightly incorrect accounts of event, the most bizarre of which was that Merlin had turned himself into a dragon and had been the one to fly them back and forth to find Morgana. Arthur had quickly corrected that misconception, but had then had to explain the fact that Merlin was a Dragon Lord, which until then had been one of the only remaining secrets that the Council didn't know. That had taken more explanation than Arthur really would have liked, but he had finally escaped his kingly duties.
He turned the corner, meaning to head to Merlin's chambers and fill him in on all he had missed, but instead he found himself heading towards the battlements, wanting to get away from everyone for a while. In all likelihood, Merlin would be sleeping anyway. He had done that a lot in the three days since he had all but died in the clearing. With several cracked ribs, a huge gash in his head and an ankle he could barely walk on, Arthur supposed he did have the right to sleep in a little more. Not to mention that fact that he had saved all of their lives again.
So it was with surprise that Arthur walked onto the battlements to find Merlin leaning over them, his elbows crossed in front of him, staring out over Camelot.
'You mean to tell me,' Arthur called, causing Merlin to jump and turn round, 'that I just sat through that Council meeting on my own, while you were up here taking in the view?' He stopped as he came to stand beside Merlin. The warlock grinned and stood up, no unease in his posture, no grimace of pain at the movement. 'I thought you were ill in bed!' Arthur said incredulously.
'Well excuse me for finally managing to focus long enough to heal myself with magic,' Merlin returned.
'Well then, as a completely healthy member of the Council I'm sure you could have found your way to the meeting rather than up here.'
'I didn't really want to,' Merlin shrugged, that infuriating grin still on his face. Arthur shook his head and gave Merlin a friendly shove before they both moved to look out over the city. 'So, did I miss anything important?'
'Not really. Oh, but they do know you're a Dragon Lord now,' he added nonchalantly.
'What?' Merlin spluttered. 'I thought we were keeping that one under our belts; not letting on that we have a dragon at our disposal.'
'Trust me; it's better than what they were thinking before.' Merlin looked at him quizzically, but he just shook his head and laughed to himself. If that annoyed Merlin, he didn't let on.
They stood there in companionable silence for several minutes, watching the lives going on.
'I think I've remembered when it happened,' Merlin said quietly.
'What do you mean?'
'I mean I think I can remember when I got sent to the future.' Arthur looked at him, waiting for him to go on. 'There was one time when I was little. I'd been playing by the stream and then the next thing I knew, Will was dragging me out of the water, yelling for someone to help. I'd fallen in, but I had no memory of how it had happened.'
'I think when I got back to my own time I over balanced and fell in.'
'You: clumsy?' Arthur teased.
'Well what about you? Any idea of when it happened?'
'No,' Arthur sighed.
'Do you want to know?'
'I'm not sure, I suppose I-'
'No, Arthur,' Merlin interrupted. 'I mean it. Do you want to know?' Arthur frowned at him.
'Are you telling me that you know?'
'Of course not, but all you need to do is remember.'
'Merlin, I know you think I like listening to you talk in riddles, but I really don't.'
'Sorry, I always forget that you can't handle anything too intellectual.'
The warlock laughed and then nodded in assent.
'Alright. It's simple really. Our memories of that week were erased.'
'I'm aware of that, Merlin,' Arthur sighed.
'I erased them,' he replied quietly, before turning to look at Arthur. In an instant, Arthur understood what he was saying. The implications raced through him and he stood up straight, turning to look at Merlin fully.
'Are you saying you could bring those memories back?'
'I was the one who cast the spell; it's easy enough to reverse it. If you want.'
Arthur considered it. He had seen most of what went on for his young self, but there were several things that were missing, and he could only guess at how the Prince –how he- had felt at certain points. He remembered seeing his young self face down on the floor in the forest, battling guilt; he remembered seeing the boy's reaction to Morgana's death.
'The Prince didn't want to remember those things,' Arthur said slowly.
'Does the King?' Merlin asked.
'Do you?' Arthur asked instead, avoiding the question.
'I think I understand more of what my younger self went through, what with the body swaps. I don't think I need to remember.'
Arthur nodded and looked back over the city. There were some good things: his missing memories held the recollection of his first meeting with Merlin; of their first adventure together; their first acts of friendship, but they also held Arthur's first act of betrayal.'
'I don't think I want to remember.'
'It wasn't all bad Arthur,' Merlin said softly. 'The Prince came through in the end.'
'You mean I came through in the end.'
'Well,' Merlin sighed, 'you know how it is; you never get things right the first time round.'
'I'm serious, Merlin,' Arthur said quietly. Merlin sobered up at his tone and nodded in understanding.
'You don't have to remember. I don't have to bring them back.'
'What I did to you, Merlin…' he tailed off, suddenly feeling the shame that his younger self had felt when he had realised what turning Merlin over to Morgana had meant.
'The Prince came and apologised to me, Arthur; you came and apologised. I forgave you,' Merlin shrugged. He turned so that he was facing Arthur. 'And if you need it: I still forgive you.'
Arthur nodded his thanks, feeling his throat closing up at Merlin's simple and easy forgiveness.
'Whether we remember or not,' Merlin continued, 'we still learnt all the lessons we needed by watching ourselves deal with it as children. Maybe that's all the memory we need.'
'What lessons did you learn?' Arthur asked, genuinely interested in Merlin's response and pleased that he could speak again without betraying his emotions.
'That we were always going to be friends eventually; that you always had the makings of a great King.'
'Makings that only came to the surface because of you,' Arthur pointed out with feigned irritation.
'Well we both know I'm the wise one, guiding you on your journey,' Merlin grinned. Arthur returned the expression, but both of them knew that he was right. 'What about you? What lessons did you learn through all of this?'
'Probably too many to count,' Arthur shrugged. He swallowed heavily and then glanced over at Merlin. His friend was listening with interest, no teasing in his eyes anymore. 'But there was one lesson that I learnt -probably the most important one.'
'Oh, yes?' Merlin asked. 'What was that?' He had picked up on the solemnity that had entered Arthur's tone and waited patiently for the reply. It took Arthur several seconds to continue. Not because he didn't want to tell Merlin, but because he wanted to make sure that his friend understood the truth in it.
'I learnt that I trust you, Merlin. I trust you completely. I trust your intentions; I trust your motives; I trust your advice.' He couldn't help but smile at the look of thanks and joy that spread across Merlin's face. 'I trust you,' he repeated simply.
Merlin said nothing, just nodded in response; for once at a loss for words.
They stood side by side, looking out over the city and all the land beyond. For now, the future was assured and it was theirs to shape as they saw fit.