A/N: Ok. I finally watched the finale, and I've got to say: WHAT THE HAS;OIDFJOSZ;I˚J;I #F WA!
That is all. Just in case there are those out there who haven't watched it yet, I would hate to spoil the ending. But seriously, I can't believe it's over. Sigh. What to do with my life now?
Wait! I KNOW! More fanfiction!
Here it is. The long awaited ending to this series. I'm sorry to see it end, but at the same time, I love finishing long projects. Gives a sense of completion, yes?
Merlin stood still, leaning over the wall as Arthur came up and joined him. The two of them stared out towards the large patch of forest that Merlin had disintegrated. A thin rise of smoke still curled its way into the sky.
Tonight, Merlin would be heading in that direction, seeking any of the druids who were undoubtedly watching Camelot very carefully right now. As soon as Uther had regained consciousness, he'd demanded a thorough search of the surrounding areas for more magical threats. Arthur had convinced him to wait to send the search parties until the following morning, which gave Merlin time to complete his first act as liaison and warn the clans of the exact search parameters.
But for now, he relished the peace that had descended upon the castle and the city.
They were at peace. After years of persecution, they finally had a way to combat the injustice. And when Arthur was finally king, they could put such meaningless death and hatred behind them forever. The thought left a smile on the warlock's face, even staring at the destruction he had caused such a short time ago.
"Gaius manage to patch you up again?" Arthur asked casually, looking out over the wall, too.
Merlin winced, and rotated his shoulder experimentally. "Yes. He had to redo the stitching, though. Thanks for that," he added sarcastically.
"Hey, desperate times, desperate measures."
"Do you really think they'll keep my secret?" he couldn't help but ask. It was a bubble of unease that had refused to go away. He didn't know Owen or Burik. Sure, they'd said they wouldn't say anything. But they'd also been facing a powerful warlock. Maybe they'd just said that in order to buy time, until Uther woke.
"My father's been conscious for hours, Merlin," Arthur said calmly. "Neither of them have made any move to see him."
"They could be waiting. Until neither of us will be watching for them."
Arthur shook his head. "They're men of their word," he assured Merlin. He placed a hand lightly on his good shoulder. "If they say they'll keep quiet, they will." He couldn't help but chuckle. "Anyone ever tell you that you have serious trust issues?"
He'd meant it as a joke, but when Merlin's face fell, Arthur couldn't help but wonder just what Merlin actually thought of himself after living in hiding, behind lies and secrets, for his entire life. Arthur certainly didn't blame him, but he wondered if Merlin somehow still blamed himself.
After a long, somewhat awkward silence, Merlin voiced a quiet question. "How did you know?"
The prince shifted next to him. He didn't need to ask what Merlin was referring to. He remained silent for a long moment as he considered his answer.
"It wasn't easy," he said at last. "You had me thoroughly fooled with your whole incompetence façade." That caused a small, impish smile to return to Merlin's face. "When you were facing off with Candun, and he said that I would have you executed the moment I learned your real name, do you remember what you said?"
Merlin shrugged. Not really.
"You said, 'You're wrong.'"
Merlin looked skeptically at him. "You're not trying to tell me you've known since I fought Candun, are you? Because you drove yourself crazy looking for me afterwards, and I know that wasn't a ruse."
Arthur shook his head. "No, but I almost identified you then. In those two words…I couldn't place it, but I knew your voice."
"How?" Merlin asked, eyes narrowing.
"It took me a long time to figure that out," Arthur admitted. "Even after I finally learned who you were, I still wasn't sure why what you said struck me so strongly. But I think I finally figured it out. It wasn't your voice at all, it was what you said."
"'You're wrong'?" Merlin repeated. "Well, I guess I do say that to you often enough."
Arthur gently shoved Merlin sideways for the retort. "Even back then," he explained, "when you had no reason to expect anything of me, you still trusted me. You still defended me to Candun. You told him I was worth it, that I wouldn't betray you. I gave you no reason at all to think you could trust me, but you still did."
"But I didn't," Merlin returned, voice full of regret. "Not really. I could have easily told you that day, but I walked away."
"Trust and wisdom do not always go hand in hand, Merlin," Arthur said softly. "Neither of us were ready for the truth to come out that day. You had the sense to know that; I did not."
Merlin was silent for a long time, turning those words over in his head. "So when did you actually figure it out? Was it after the fire?"
Arthur barked a laugh. "No, though I see now how much of an idiot I was for not figuring it out. No. You said the same thing, 'You're wrong,' to Anye. That's when I knew."
Merlin chuckled softly. "Two words," he said finally. "After all my secrecy, after living in hiding my entire life, two little words betrayed me."
Arthur smiled. "Yes. But I'm glad they did."
Merlin looked sideways at him, and they studied each other for a moment. "I'm glad they did, too."
A/N: I know, the epilogue was shorter than other chapters. That was intentional, actually. I just wanted to wrap things up nice and neatly.
Thank you to all of my readers! You've stuck with me for quite some time in order to finish this series. I really appreciate all your reviews and support.
What will I do now, you ask? I'M GOING TO DISNEYLAND!
JK. Although that would be pretty sweet.
First I shall return to Iron Grip,which has been on hold while I finished this up. After that, who knows.
Thanks for everything! Please leave me one last review for this story. I'd love to hear feedback, both about the epilogue in particular, as well as the whole of OWS and the series in its entirety.
THANK YOU EVERYONE! LOVE YOU ALL!