I started writing the beginning of my 'watching the series' story after episode 4x11. Then came the season finale and I started over. :P I've been done with the (complete) prologue for a while but I underestimated how long it takes to write a detailed episode description. Right now I've got enough material for about 3 chapters so I thought I'd try uploading the first part of the prologue. I've never done a Merlin fic before and I've never done a reading the books/ watching the series fic before either but I wanted to read one a little different from the norm and since I couldn't find one, here's my try. :)
Prologue part 1 : Contemplations and Resolve
Gaius will sometimes talk about the day that Arthur will know the truth about Merlin. He talks about it like it is still a goal to work towards for his ward, something to look forward to on those days that the burden of his secrets and responsibilities is so heavy that it threatens to crush him. He doesn't notice that Merlin has stopped mentioning 'that day' with any sort of frequency years ago and hasn't mentioned it at all since the day that Uther Pendragon died as a result of his spell.
Kilgharrah mentions Albion almost every time they meet because, to the ancient creature, it is the reason for all of Merlin's struggles. He speaks to Merlin about freedom for those like him, freedom for magic and a glorious kingdom of peace with a once and future king. Merlin still believes in Albion because he believes in Arthur and his loyalty is absolute. Also, almost all of his loved ones live within the walls of Camelot and Merlin would do anything if it would give them the best possible future. He isn't quite certain if he still believes in freedom for Magic but it could happen. The dragon hasn't been wrong yet and Merlin thinks that Arthur might yet figure out the existence of a truth beyond his view of magic, clouded as it is by his father's hatred, his sister's betrayal and Merlin's own lies.
Merlin has ceased believing though that there will ever be any kind of freedom for him. He once mentioned it to Lancelot in passing, that Merlin knows that there is never going to be a 'right time' for him to reveal himself, regardless if magic were to be legal or not. This last battle and all that it contained for him has driven him far beyond the edge. Merlin has killed before but it was always in defence of either himself or others. He never killed someone who was no real threat to him (regardless if they knew it or not) unless they were actively attacking either him or someone else. Now, partially through Kilgharrah, he has killed over a hundred men in Arthur's name and he knows that the young king wouldn't have wanted it. Merlin has become the kind of sorcerer that Arthur would be right to strike down. Someone worthy of the flames in the courtyard.
Merlin has never been a believer of the saying: "The ends justify the means" but while Camelot was lost he cast spells that should fit better into Morgana's arsenal rather than his own. One spell to direct any magic she cast towards him so he could let his own magic deal with it and another, encouraged by Gaius, taking away Arthur's very will. His magic created that travesty. It made it so his friend, his king, the man destined to rule over every one of the five kingdoms didn't have enough free will to decide for himself, let alone for his people. For that alone, Arthur would be justified if he were to run Merlin through. And beyond that there were the lies. Merlin has always lied to Arthur. About his abilities. About what he was doing at certain times. About who he was. But despite, or maybe because of that, Merlin tried to be as honest with Arthur as he dared. As long as it endangered nobody he wanted to tell his king the truth. But now Merlin has spun huge lies to Arthur for the singular purpose of manipulating him. The sword that Merlin burnished for him in dragon fire, magic and loyalty now hangs proudly from Arthurs belt because to him it represents the undeniable proof that he is worthy of being king, as if such a thing was ever in question! Merlin has always wanted for Arthur to have that sword, to take pride in it, but if Uther's son knew what it truly was he'd probably fling it away. Maybe after tainting it with Merlin's blood.
His scheme had worked. Merlin had deceived everyone and it paid off. All of his friends are still alive and happy to be back home. Arthur and Gwen were married, both glowing, bright like the sun. Spirits were high as homes were rebuilt and everyone seemed relieved. Everyone but Merlin. He was happy for his friends but he knew that he should have found a better way. He should have been capable of escaping Agravaine's men without resorting to lethal magic, hadn't he done so many times before? Surely there were spells beyond the realm of dark magic that he could have used on Morgana? Most importantly; he believed in Arthur didn't he? He'd told him so and he hadn't been lying. He had known for a long time that Arthur was going to be a great king, that he could do the right thing. So why couldn't Merlin show that to his friend without playing him like a puppet with spells and lies and manipulations?
All of these thoughts spun through Merlin's head as he sat down on his bed. Still wearing the jacket that Arthur had gifted him with just minutes before the wedding.
"No matter how entertaining it is to have you looking ridiculous Merlin. At my wedding is one time when you are allowed to look decent. For as far that is possible anyway."
It was the middle of Arthur and Gwen's wedding night, a week after they'd taken Camelot back and Gaius was sleeping, still recovering from the week he'd spend in the dungeons under Morgana's reign. He had insisted on attending Arthur's wedding but had needed to lay down immediately afterwards and despite all the time Merlin had spent tending to him this past week, they had yet to speak about what had happened. Just this once, Merlin wasn't sure if he would. Gaius would make Merlin feel better, tell him that Camelot was still here and that was what mattered, as he had after Merlin had poisoned Morgana. This time Merlin couldn't let that be enough.
He kicked off his boots and pulled his feet onto the bed, letting his head rest on his knees and wrapping his arms around his legs.
He was so tired. He'd been tired the last time he had had taken the time to just sit here, ignoring the outside world. Tired of fighting his one-man war against Morgana. A war in which even his opponent didn't know who kept thwarting her plans. During the invasion he'd committed atrocity after atrocity and there hadn't been time. Arthur was a mess and Merlin couldn't afford to fall apart.
Slowly and soundlessly. tears began to run down his cheeks.
So he'd joked with the simpleton in the shape of Arthur, pretended everything was normal and then he'd grinned at the dragon as the plan to restore Arthur's faith took shape because he was just so relieved that he'd found a solution.
After they'd gotten back the worst of the rubble had to be cleaned up, Merlin had to help take care of the wounded, among which were Gwaine and Elyan, since Gaius was in no shape to do so. Then there had been the royal marriage and it had all kept Merlin busy enough to keep him from coming to the one inevitable conclusion that he couldn't escape now...
He was dangerous.
He didn't deserve Arthur's trust. He'd fallen so low that Agravaine of all people had recognised him as similar to him.
Merlin chewed on his lip, his eyes clenched shut as he yanked wordlessly at his hair.
There had to be a solution! Arthur still needed his protection so Merlin couldn't just confess and let himself be burned.
A shiver ran through his body as he imagined it, as he had so many times before. Forcefully he turned his thoughts away.
He wasn't sure what had happened to Morgana but he was fairly certain that she wasn't gone for good. He was equally certain though, that things couldn't stay the way they were. Arthur trusted him too much. Merlin had too much magical power and not enough things limiting him in its use. Merlin loved his guardian dearly and he'd taught him many things about the proper use of magic but Gaius could no longer be the only one holding Merlin back. Merlin's own safety was too important to the old physician and he was – Merlin swallowed – more than capable of ignoring and even condoning atrocities till they almost sounded like 'just and right' from Gaius' words. The great purge and his defence of Uther came to mind.
Just acting as a lawful citizen had ceased to be an option the moment golden eyes had opened themselves to the world and Merlin had drawn his first breath. With his very existence punishable by death, other laws didn't matter very much to him, they never could. The law was what made Merlin lie and lying had brought him where he was now.
Merlin stuck his thumb between his lips and bit on it. Hard.
If there had been no lies between him and Arthur, Merlin could have told his king about his uncle's betrayal a long time ago. Probably with the proof to add to it. The few days before Helios' army invaded, Merlin had been angry with Arthur because he never listened. If he'd just heeded Merlin's warning instead of threatening him with exile at every turn they could have been prepared. Many of the lives lost might have been saved. He no longer blamed Arthur. he blamed himself. He should have found a way to tell Arthur the truth… The whole truth. Everything…
Merlin's head shot up. His eyes wide.
That was it! He'd found it! Kilgharrah wouldn't be happy with this endeavour but he would know a way and the young dragonlord was fairly sure that the dragon would aid him in it regardless.
If he really had faith in Arthur, that he could be the great king that Merlin kept seeing in him, than Merlin would give him what he should have given him while he was busy manipulating and lying to his friend.
Merlin winced before his eyes turned hard. Locking his fears away behind iron resolve. He sat up and forcefully brushed his tears away.
Arthur needed to know everything. Not just about Merlin being a sorcerer and a liar that never should have been trusted, but about the danger that lay in killing him with Camelot's most dangerous enemy still out there. All the things that Merlin knew and had never been able to tell him; the nature of his enemies and the dangers they'd faced. If it was for the sake of his kingdom Arthur would ignore his disgust and do what needed to be done. If he still decided to execute Merlin that would simply mean that he'd seen something that Merlin hadn't for once.
Merlin grabbed for his boots and pulled them back on. Then he stood up, a minor tremble running through his body.
If Arthur was his king than he'd trust his decision.
Merlin jumped from his bed and hurried from the room. He was still tired but he had a dragon to see…
The sun had only just risen and the soft footsteps of the young servant on the stones were hardly audible as he made his way through the castle. His face was pale and his hair was wet, sticking up in strange angles. He'd washed up and left Arthur's jacked behind, back to wearing the threadbare servants garb and jacket that he'd worn since his first day in Camelot. Over the years, Merlin had often mourned how everyone looked at him and saw nothing but an loud-mouthed servant when in reality he was so much more. Now, he almost wished that the idiot everyone saw was all there was to him. It was preferable to the truth.
He was nervous. With every step he took through the quiet sunlit corridors leading to Arthur's room he wanted to change his mind and turn around. His hands grasped futilely at the four little stones in his pocket. Kilgharrah had come through.
"There is a way young warlock, if you truly need the young Pendragon to have the truth. Your whole truth. It is possible exactly because it is you who asks for such a thing."
Large golden eyes glow as they look down on the young man and for a moment Merlin thinks Kilgharrah can see why he has asked, though Merlin hasn't told him.
"You are a creature of the old religion, bound to the very land on which you stand. Your soul and mine are brothers. If asked by me for your truth the land will reveal any significant memories it holds pertaining to that truth. It can only be done once."
"Will you do it?"
There is a certain desperation to Merlin's face. Ten days ago this young man called Kilgharrah forth to kill the many enemies that were hunting his king. The great dragon hasn't forgotten that this is the boy that desperately asked a dragon with a vengeful heart; where it was said that his destiny had to include murder? This is the boy who wouldn't let the witch die, though he knew that he would pay for it, because he couldn't bear to see everyone grieve. As the one who Merlin turns to when situations are at their most dire, Kilgharrah has seen him cry more than once and he knows his heart.
"I will. Sit down young warlock. This enchantment will take some time and as its focus you are needed for it to work."
Merlin sits on the wet grass, his legs are crossed and he raises his dark head and stormy eyes towards the stars before looking into the large golden eyes.
Kilgharrah roars and for a moment it seems nothing will answer him, but the dragon's large eyes glow brightly. Than a deep magic grabs hold of Merlin. It feels like his own but vaster, connected and familiar yet alien. Like he could have found it if he'd reached out but he has simply never thought to call on it. Waves upon waves of magic crash through him. Some of it is Kilgharrah's magic but he's closed his eyes to Kilgharrah as he fights the urge to panic. Powerful he may be, but he has never felt something like this before. It touches him, holds him in its grasp as it takes the time to recognise him and all that he is. Then the land lets him go…
Merlin falls forward and his hands dig into the earth as he pants for breath. The cool night air is once again clear of magic and when he looks up he finds that before him lie 4 small stones, each a different tone of bright blue. Kilgharrah is just looking at him and he looks back at the dragon in question.
"Every one of these four stones contains almost 10 hours of 'truth' about the time since your arrival in Camelot. The darker the blue of the stone, the closer to the present lies the knowledge. If you pick them up you'll see that they each have a gold side. One has to put them down with their gold side visible for the images contained to continue playing, if no gold is visible, the images will simply stand still."
Merlin sits back up and picks up the stone with the lightest colour, turning it around and around in his hands. The gold side of the stone reminded him of Kilgharrah's eyes. He gathers the other stones and starts putting them in his pocket.
The dragon calls him and he looks up at the grave edge to his voice.
"For each stone to activate your magic will be needed. But for you to activate one will take great strength and it will likely leave you unconscious for several hours. I urge you to take great care in using them."
Merlin stands up and stares at the last stone still in his hand. He looks up at Kilgharrah and nods.
He turns to walk away.
"One more thing young warlock."
Merlin looks back.
"As the stones contain the memories of the land, before viewing them one cannot know what they contain. They may even contain things that you, young warlock, are not yet aware of."
Merlin nods again. Nothing more needs to be said. He turns back in the direction of Camelot and leaves the clearing. Behind him he can hear the sound Kilgharrah's wings, maybe for the last time.
Arthur's door was closed. Merlin knew that Gwen was in there with him. It was still too early for them to wake and he didn't want to return to his room only to change his mind so he walked to the nearest alcove and sat down on the floor to wait. He had not yet been told how the fact that the King was now married would impact on his duties but he supposed that it mattered little now. Arthur had given most of the day to day tasks of ruling Camelot over to his council for the week since it seemed that, while married kings of unstable kingdoms couldn't go on honeymoon, it was decreed that they could have a week free of court matters following their wedding unless there was an emergency. Arthur had probably not planned to spend this week dealing with Merlin but there was nothing for it.
Merlin's dark head bowed as his thoughts returned to Arthur's devastation, his sheer hurt when he found out that Agravaine,the last of his family, had betrayed him. The same emotions had played across his face two years before, with Morgana, and the young Warlock didn't want to see it again. Would it happen again with Merlin? No. Merlin decided. As much as he'd once wished otherwise, he was just a servant, not family like those two. He and Arthur had never even shared so much as a hug between them and besides, Arthur had Gwen now.
Time seemed to speed by as Merlin waited, his thoughts rushing frantically into every direction. The question that Lancelot had once asked him returned to him and this time he couldn't help thinking about it.
"What do you think he'd do?"
What would be the best way for the king of the realm to deal with a traitorous sorcerer who was still needed in order protect Camelot but who was too dangerous to be left free? Merlin's very thoughts wanted to shy away from that question but he didn't allow them to. Maybe there was a way to shackle him, like they had Kilgharrah. Somewhere they could cage him to be let loose every time something threatened the kingdom. To be put back where he belonged after it was done.
Merlin clenched his eyes shut at the image and it felt like his heart was being ripped out of his chest but he forced himself to consider it.
If he swore an oath not to attempt escape and sealed it with magic it should be possible. It would also mean that Arthur would still be safe and that was the most important thing wasn't it?
He now felt such a strong urge to run that he jumped up and walked straight to Arthur's door. He needed go in now! He lifted his hand to knock -why would he knock? He never knocked- but the door opened before he could and he came face to face with a radiant Gwen.
AN: Please review. :)