Title: Cries of Unshared Grief

Summary: You're on Chapter 4. If you don't know what you're reading…I am very disappointed in you.

A/N: I have no excuse for how long this has taken. I'll put an author's note with my reasons at the end so you don't have to wait even longer.

Chapter 4

"You two are both idiots," came a voice from behind them. Their laughter stopped abruptly.

Arthur would never admit to being worried about Merlin of all people, but he was. He positioned his sleeping roll a bit closer to the fire than it had been before he had woken. The fact that it was within earshot of Merlin and Gwaine was purely coincidental. He was just cold. Nevertheless, he listened intently to everything Gwaine and Merlin said.

Arthur couldn't believe he had been such a prat. He had completely forgotten about Will! After Ealdor he had barely spared him a moment's thought. It was so like Merlin not to remind Arthur. Honestly, the idiot had chosen to just suffer in silence instead of showing that his best friend had just died? Then again, Arthur hadn't been exactly comforting. He listened with growing horror as Merlin's story unfolded bit by bit. He had magic. Merlin had magic. Magic! The evil that had killed his parents and corrupted his sister was being used by his best frien-servant. The only reason Arthur hadn't jumped up and arrested Merlin already was, much as he hated to admit, that if anyone deserved the chance to try to explain themselves it was Merlin. So Arthur kept listening.

Arthur had never been more confused in his life. Merlin had magic, but he had had magic since he was born. It wasn't a choice, but he had lied the whole time. Merlin had killed Arthur's father, but it had been an accident. Arthur had killed Merlin's love and Merlin forgave him. Balinor had been Merlin's father. That explained a lot. Arthur hadn't killed the Great Dragon. Ego wound. But as he listened, Arthur felt his anger and hurt fading into sympathy and even guilt that Merlin had gone through everything he had, and gone through it mostly alone. He listened as Gwaine comforted Merlin and then told him to go get some rest. He was impressed, though not surprised by Gwaine's willingness to accept Merlin. He had certainly accepted it more quickly than Arthur had. He listened to Gwaine joking about turning him into a frog before training.

"You two are both idiots," he said before he could stop himself. They stopped laughing immediately. What little color Merlin had regained since his nightmare drained from his face and Gwaine stepped forward in a stance that was both challenging and protective. Arthur stood, facing them.

"Arthur-I-um…I can explain!" Merlin blurted out.

"You've already explained everything Merlin," Arthur said seriously. Gwaine's hand was resting on the hilt of his sword.

"Well then, Princess, since everyone's fully explained, perhaps you should just get be going back to bed," he said, as if daring Arthur to even think of hurting Merlin. Arthur rolled his eyes.

"Stand down, Gwaine. I'm not going to hurt Merlin," he said exasperatedly. Merlin stared at him in shock.

"You're not going to hurt me?" he asked incredulously, "Why not? I deserve it, don't I? I used magic. I am magic. I've lied to you ever since I've known you, and even though I've only ever protected you, aren't you angry?"

"Do you want me to be angry, Merlin?"

"No, but I expected you to be."

"Well, you're an idiot." There was a pause as Merlin's face seemed to return to its usual color and he even began smiling.

Then Elyan ruined the moment completely by hissing, "Yes, this is very touching and everything, but can you all be quiet?" Merlin's jaw dropped.

"Is everyone still awake?" he asked quietly.

"Yes, ofcourse."

"Yep."

"Pretty much."

Merlin's face went from its usual pale color to an even paler hue, then as he realised that nobody was attacking him, his cheeks started turning pink. "Sorry. You shouldn't have had to listen to that. I mean I'm glad you know about the magic and don't hate me for it, hell I'm likely going to be happier than I've been in my life once it sinks in, but I wish you hadn't heard everything."

"Merlin," Arthur said seriously, "I can't say I'm happy with a lot of what I heard, but the only reason for that is that you were in pain, and you had to bear it alone. Parts of the time when I was listening, I was angry. But knowing how much you've gone through just to protect me, to protect Camelot; that made me realise that I can never hurt you. Things are going to change, Merlin. I'm going to start changing things as soon as we return to Camelot, before that even. Right now, show me some magic." His mouth was rather dry and his heart pumped faster, but he knew this had to be done. He had to make that step towards accepting Merlin's magic.

"Show you magic?" Merlin repeated. Arthur nodded.

"Alright."

Merlin whispered something; his eyes flashed gold, and in front of him a ball of blue and white light appeared. Arthur gasped softly. He recognized it. He caught Merlin's eye and knew that Merlin had known he would recognize it.

"How?" he asked.

"I don't know. I was unconscious, but Gaius told me I was conjuring this and shouting your name. I guessed after that, and then Morgana told Gwen what you told her, and Gwen told me."

"Thank you, Merlin." Both men knew how much it was meant.

"You're welcome."

"Beautiful, now let's go to sleep," Gwaine said, "Princess can take over watch. Merlin, no offense but you look terrible. Sleep." And with that, Gwaine lay down and fell asleep. The knights around the camp grumbled in agreement. Merlin, after one last look at Arthur, followed suit.

The End

A/N: Finally! This took way too long and it was entirely my fault! Sorry if it's a bit short, but I really wanted to get this finished and I think everything that needed to be said was said. This story took a very different turn from what I was originally intending, but I think it turned out okay. Thank you so much for reading this story, whether you read it, favorited it, put it on your alert list, and especially if you reviewed it. I would list everyone as a thank you, but there are too many of you amazing, kind, wonderful people.

Why this took so long: I am lazy, I am busy, I had writer's block, I have twenty-three stories in my head at one time and have been writing those. That's all I've got for you.