Arthur walked into the physician's room, feeling comfort wash over him at the familiar smell.
"Arthur! How can I help you, Sire?"
Smiling slightly at the man who had been a father to him, Arthur sat on a bench. "I need you to tell me about Merlin."
Gaius' smile dropped.
"You knew, didn't you?" Arthur realised, hurt. "You knew about everything. About the magic, and Morgana, and -"
"Yes, I knew." Gaius interrupted. "I didn't know everything, but I knew. And unfortunately I can't tell you."
Gaius sighed. "Because it's not my story to tell."
There was a faint breeze, a swirl of leaves and petals dancing through the air, and suddenly a woman stood in front of Arthur.
Arthur's hand flew to his sword.
"Peace, Arthur Pendragon. I bring a message from the one you call Merlin."
Relaxing his hand, Arthur looked at Gaius, who nodded.
"There is a clearing not far from Camelot where he meets with the dragon Kilgharrah. I am to open your eyes to the way."
Arthur raised an eyebrow. "How?"
In answer, she pointed at him and Arthur's eyes watered at the pain in them. When it subsided, he looked up and glared at her.
"Now you can see the way." she smiled wanly. "Follow your eyes, Arthur Pendragon."
Arthur growled as she disappeared into a breeze that swept past him and out the door, which was glowing a faint blue.
"Follow your eyes…"
Arthur looked back from the door the see Gaius looking at him anxiously.
"Don't be too hard on him, on Merlin. He has his reasons."
As Arthur opened the door and noticed the blue trail on the floor, he sighed. "Reasons that I need to know, Gaius. And one way or another, I will find out."
Arthur saw the blue fade from his vision as he walked into a wide clearing. Merlin was stood in the centre, gazing upwards at the sky.
Arthur felt rage fill him. How could Merlin stand there so calmly after everything that had happened? How could he act like he'd done nothing wrong? How could Merlin act like he hadn't betrayed Arthur worse than the king could ever have imagined?
Striding furiously over to the man he thought he knew, Arthur cleared his throat. "Magic. You have magic." he spat out, feeling the words boil in his mouth like poison.
As Merlin lowered his head to look at him, Arthur saw that he wasn't as calm as he had first appeared; he was pale and shaking slightly. "Arthur…" he whispered hoarsely.
Holding up a hand, Arthur turned to face his servant. "You lied to me, Merlin. Every single day, every time you looked me in the face you were lying to me!"
"Well what was I supposed to do?" Merlin yelled. "Walk up to you that day: Hey, I'm Merlin, I've had magic since I was born and I'm destined to help you be the greatest King Camelot has ever known. You'd have killed me there and then!"
"How long have we known each other, Merlin? How many chances have you had to tell me?"
Merlin scoffed. "Every time I tried you gave me yet another lecture on how people like me are evil, soulless murderers that only want to kill every person they meet that doesn't have magic! Is that what I am, Arthur? Is that how you see me?"
Arthur shook his head slightly. He wasn't sure. He knew Merlin, but didn't this prove that people with magic couldn't be trusted?
Merlin sighed and held his hand to the air. The wind whirled and Arthur's eyes widened as a young woman walked into the clearing. Arthur recognized her; he'd seen her around Camelot with Merlin almost every day. She was also the woman who'd brought him Merlin's message.
"You called for me, Emrys?" she said.
Merlin held out a hand and the woman took it. "Arthur, this is Deliphna. She's a sprite, and a friend of mine. You recognize her, don't you?"
Arthur nodded. "She's the woman that you walk with around Camelot."
Deliphna nodded. "I am also the protector of your wife."
A chill settled around Arthur. "Merlin, just how many magic users are in Camelot?"
"At the moment…" Merlin paused for thought. "About 5."
"5? And you didn't think that I needed to know?!"
Deliphna shook her head. "They keep their distance. I protect the Queen, Emrys protects you, there is a druid among the guards that helps patrol the town and there are two servants that help ward the castle."
Arthur's mouth dropped open. He couldn't believe this. He'd been planning to try and persuade Merlin to stop associating with sorcery, but now it was all going wrong.
"Arthur," Merlin said gently. "I know what you're thinking, and I'm sorry. Really, I am. But asking me to give up my magic is like telling you to give up Camelot. It's never going to happen. I can't."
"Why?" Arthur's voice cracked slightly.
Merlin sighed again and turned to Deliphna. "Say the spell. Show him."
Arthur flinched as the woman muttered under her breath. Her eyes glowed with molten gold and suddenly the gold was all around him, settling in the earth and on the trees, even a bright dusting of gold on Deliphna herself.
"Arthur, look at me."
Arthur looked at Merlin and his mouth dropped open. Merlin was covered in gold. Arthur could see it sinking into his skin, the excess saturating the air around him. Merlin was gold.
"Merlin, what -"
"You know what it is, Arthur."
"I can't - I can't say…"
Merlin rolled his eyes. His glowing, golden eyes. "It's magic, Arthur. It's me."
Merlin nodded. "I can't give up my magic because I am magic."
Arthur's mouth was dry. He could feel himself trembling. "You are magic."
"And magic is me. And Arthur, you have to believe me when I say that I've only ever used it for good. I've only ever used it for you."
Arthur's head was pounding, and spinning, everything was crashing in his head all at once. "But…Morgana…"
Merlin suddenly looked fierce. "I fought Morgana. I love her, and I almost killed her countless times to protect you. Do not try and make this about her. This is about you and me."
"Well, forgive me, Merlin," Arthur bellowed, loosing his temper suddenly. "Because I must be really stupid. How the hell does you protecting me stand alongside a relationship with the woman trying to kill me!"
"I don't know! Arthur, god help me, but I don't know! I fell in love with her when she was still…well, her and I can't let go of that. But I couldn't let anything happen to you either."
"Why?" Arthur choked.
Merlin looked at him sadly, the gold fading from him as the spell wore off. The look Merlin gave him now was all him; sad blue eyes, and pale skin with bruises and cuts all from fighting for Arthur. "You're like my brother, Arthur, and I couldn't lose you."
"Even if it meant choosing between me and her?"
Merlin sucked in a breath, anguish in his eyes. "Arthur, no! Please! I don't want to hurt you, and I don't think I ever would, but please don't ask me to choose."
Realising something, Arthur laughed hollowly. "I'd lose, wouldn't I? If you ever had to choose, it would be her."
Merlin hesitated. "I don't know."
Arthur smiled, then laughed in relief. That answer was so…Merlin. He didn't know how he could ever have thought that Merlin would have betrayed him on purpose.
Arthur pulled him into a tight hug. "Don't ever keep anything like this from me again. I'm begging you."
Merlin smiled against Arthur's shoulder and returned the hug in kind. "There's nothing else to tell you, Arthur."
"Are you sure?"
Merlin smiled his free, easy smile, and it made Arthur's heart glad to see it. "Positive."
A.N. - I updated! Yeah, I'm surprised too! I hope you like it, especially the person that wanted me to focus on Arthur's reaction to Merlin's reveal (I can't remember your name, sorry)