Here goes, my first author's note; first finished story, actually. Crazy. Why crazy, you may ask? Well, it's crazy because I'm continually saying that I'm a reader, not a writer. But I finally got enough ideas crammed in my head that one broke out and took full control of my mind and fingers, and thereby my computer. (Some of those ideas have leaked onto my profile page and are looking to be adopted, if you're curious) Of course, this was not so difficult seeing as it's currently 2:15 in the morning (shh…). Anyways, here's my story. It's based off of the episode "Queen of Hearts," offering a situation to settle the thing with Arthur knowing but not questioning (*sarcastic gasp!*) the fact that a sorcerer just admitted to enchanting he and Gwen when they were both clearly not enchanted. Anyways, I hope you enjoy it Don't forget to review!

God bless *heart*

Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin

- o ~ o -


Merlin twitched in his sleep. He had been trying unsuccessfully to get some sleep for a few hours now, mainly due to the fact that he was in the Camelot's prison for sorcery, and had the joy of his own execution to think about till morning. After that, he'd either be fleeing the city, back to work with Arthur in his young-again body (the ideal option), or… he didn't really want to think about the third possibility.


What was that irritating noise? And how did it sound so close? It was only after giving the noise close attention that the young-but-appearing-very-old warlock realized the reason for the noise appearing so close was that it was caused by… what were those, pebbles? …hitting him on the shoulder. The combination of exhaustion and his powerful attempts to ignore his aching body's complaints seemed to make him oblivious to little things like rocks thrown at his head. And he wouldn't have even thought to investigate the source had it not been for the startling familiar voice that soon followed.

o ~ o

"Wake up, sorcerer!" he whispered fiercely. "D-" He couldn't believe he was doing this. "Dragoon!" he said, a bit louder this time.

At the sound the sorcerer bolted up right, with surprising ability for someone his age; the man was clearly ancient. It was about time, Arthur had been bouncing pebbles of the prisoner's shoulder and head through the bars of the cell for the past two minutes.

The sorcerers face turned questioning as confusion slowly left his features, "Prince Arthur, wha-"

"I want answers." He said, still keeping quiet. He wasn't expecting any guards to patrol near-by for a while yet, but that didn't mean their echoing voices mightn't be heard.

"I know I'm not enchanted, I know Gwen's not enchanted. We sincerely care for each other, so what exactly are you playing at sorcerer? Whatever it is, I hope it's worth your death, seeing as that's what it's cost."

o ~ o

Merlin stared back at him for a moment. A motive, he needed a motive. Why would an old man fake an "attack" of sorts on Camelot's royals when he was really saving them? Think! Ugh, he just wanted Arthur to drop the subject and leave; all the different lies were hurting his head, and oh, how he hated the lies. At the same time, he almost wished Arthur wouldn't leave… he wasn't sure if he'd get the chance to speak to his friend again, he still had no clue how he'd handle tomorrow.

"I'm waiting sorcerer," Arthur snapped, as if the word itself tasted bitter to his tongue. Oh, how Merlin wished for the day when Arthur would see the goodness in magic.

Suddenly, he wasn't looking for an escape from the conversation, he saw opportunity in it. Quick review: you are an old sorcerer who just saved Gwen (who you don't know personally) for her sake as well as Arthur's (who you also don't know) and it came with sacrifice that was seemingly given freely.

An idea came.

o ~ o

Arthur watched as Dragoon's face warped with conflicting emotions, exhaustion, pain, and… hope? Before finally settling into a sort of bitter-sweet smile.

"Have you time for a short story, sire? I think it'll answer your query."

"There has been an error, of sorts, with the exchange of shifts in guard duty tonight, in case you haven't noticed. I'd say there's an hour before the next set comes in. Now why were you putting a poultice in my chambers?" He was tired, it had been an extremely stressful few days, aside from the fact that his manservant was now missing, at the tavern again, likely as not, and he did not have the patience to wait for an old man to try to recollect a fable.

"In good time. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but was it not so that before I appeared, your lovely Guinevere was the one set for the pyre?"

Arthur gripped his sword at the words, a habit he'd developed of late. "Yes," he replied through gritted teeth. "But why did you get involved? Do you know her?" His voice turned threatening at the thought of Guinevere being acquainted with the darkness and corruption this sorcerer surely held. She'd seen enough of it in Camelot, these past few years especially, without the added stress of being acquainted with it personally.

"No, I do not know her personally, but I did not have to, to know the position the two of you found yourselves in."

o ~ o

The prince eyed him suspiciously. "Really? Your father was so paranoid about sorcery and blinded by prejudice that he tried to have your love killed for an enchantment you were never under? How crazy," Arthur retorted. Really, he couldn't stop acting like a prat for two minutes, could he?

"Not exactly, but the gist we share. Forbidden love, facing the approaching death your love; be thankful I came, that your love was able to be saved. Mine was not so lucky." Merlin wouldn't give Arthur the chance to respond.

"I was just a year or two younger than you are now, in service to a prince when I met my love. It was my job to guard him, and I was his best defense, whether he knew it or not." Not, Merlin thought, but didn't speak. "But whether or not he did, she did, my love knew how much I protected the prince and the kingdom; knew of all the times I saved him, even though he didn't always know it himself."

"What was her name? Your love?" Arthur asked, sitting as he spoke. Perhaps it was his fatigue, he thought, but he was interested to hear this man's story; to hear that he and Gwen were not the only ones to face such a challenge. And he was grateful, however he acted, that she had been spared the fate that Dragoon's love had apparently met. A slightly pained look came to his eyes, as he thought of what could of happened to Gwen. He shuddered a moment, inside.

Merlin smiled a little, happy to have Arthur obviously absorbing his story. His story, not a lie, this time. After all, the only time Arthur will ever hear of Freya from Merlin will likely be after he shares the rest of his secrets with him.

"Her name was Freya," he finally replied. He smiled again, slightly. He wouldn't let his grief show this time, he would remember the happiness and the hope he had for the story's impact on Arthur. "She was a druid," he added blandly, not allowing the prince the time to find significance in the fact. Let him forget the differences between their situations for a moment. "She was kind, and had the most beautiful smile. She was my first love, and I love her still."

o ~ o

Arthur sat silently just outside the bars, waiting for the old man to continue. Whether or not he wanted to admit it, again with the sleepiness, his brain weakly attempted to argue, Arthur was not seeing any corruption in the man. In fact, he seemed like a normal elder, sitting peaceably, sharing a story from his youth; a normal elder, with the exception that they were sitting in the dungeon beneath his father's castle.

Dragoon took a deep breath, ready to continue. "Freya… she was banished, in a way, from the kingdom of the prince I protected. So she planned to leave, and I supported her in that decision, it was far too dangerous for her to stay. But I wanted to go with her."

"She didn't want you to go?" Arthur asked, his brow furrowing slightly in confusion.

"I was the prince's best protection. She wouldn't have me leave that. More than that, she didn't want me to leave my friends. She was not known to the area, she had no life – there." The man stuttered slightly. (He'd nearly said "here," but the prince didn't notice any slip.)

"I did," he continued. "She loved me, so she wanted that life for me, she thought it was best. But it didn't matter to me. I loved her, and so I planned to meet her, to leave the city with her… When I went to meet her, she had already left. I found her not long after, surrounded." He swallowed hard at this. "With my help, she and I escaped the ones who were attacking her," another gulp, "but she suffered a wound. I stayed with her all night, trying to heal her, but I wasn't strong enough." He sighed; Arthur gulped a little.

"I took her to a lake; she had told me about where she lived, before she came to- to the kingdom where I lived, and about the beautiful lake her town bordered on. The least I could do was give her a sight like that she adored, one last time."

o ~ o

Merlin couldn't help it, he choked a little.

o ~ o

Arthur's heart felt for him; his brain no longer blaming it on fatigue. The thought of a girl being attacked, of it costing her her life, his love, was so angering. He supposed he should've been blaming this whole story on sorcerers' tricks, but no, he knew the feeling of pain in seeing a loved one face death, Dragoon was not faking this hurt.

"She thanked me, for making her feel loved. And she died."

Arthur's heart clenched, and he averted his eyes from the old man, not wanting to show the feelings appearing on his face with more clarity every passing moment.

o ~ o

"I spoke a spell, to light the fire on the small boat I'd laid her in, and giving her her funeral on that lake. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, I think, with or without my magic." He paused a moment, recollecting the reason for his sharing this story with his friend.

"So you see, sire, I have felt the pain that you felt here not one day ago. And I've also felt love, like you feel with your beloved Guinevere." Arthur's mood lightened at the thought of her, if only slightly, for the somber tone of the man across from him. "We are not so different, you and I. Save our ages," Merlin corrected somewhat hastily. "I would not see you suffer the same loss I did, when it was in my power to save you from it. That you and Guinevere were unknown to me personally did not matter, for I knew your story. I try to keep an eye on Camelot when I can," Merlin added for explanation when Arthur gave him a questioning, somewhat skeptical look. "Not a bad idea, when you're an outlaw."

o ~ o

At that moment, the whole situation took a somewhat ridiculous light in the prince's eyes. This old man an outlaw? He mentally sighed. It wasn't really a question, save a question of authority, perhaps. This man is not corrupt, his thoughts continued. He risked his life, is giving his life, most likely, to save Guinevere's, a debt I could never repay. He suddenly came to a decision, but before he acted on it, a new question appeared in his forethoughts.

"Wait, so who did frame Guinevere? Why would someone do all this?"

"That is not my place to say, not right now."

"But… you may not have another chance."

"Perhaps not," he replied sadly, but did not speak further.

Yes, you will, Arthur thought, his thoughts flying irrationally now. The guards could be heard approaching, though still a short distance away. But how could he possibly fly the escape of an old man from the dungeons now?

o ~ o

"You should leave, before the guards come."

Arthur stood, beginning to leave.

"But," he continued. Arthur stopped. "Let me leave you with this. My magic is like the swords of your knights. You train them, teach them to use their gift properly, and expect them to use them nobly for the good of the kingdom, and they live in peace. It is when men use their swords for evil works that they become criminals; they do not become criminals for merely owning the means to commit these acts. It is the actions, not the possession, of a man that determines his goodness or equally, his evil heart. To ignore this principle has been the way of Camelot for far too long." The footsteps rang closer now. "I think that is the last of our time together, Prince Arthur."

o ~ o

Arthur nodded. It made sense. Not the leaving (though that would be a good idea right about now), but what the man said about the nature of magic being like that of a sword. But still, could he trust it? He had seen sorcerers corrupted by magic so many times, with such hatred, too. Could he really say that magic did not corrupt? Perhaps this man was the exception to the rule? He was not sure. What he was sure, as he nodded again to the man and quickly left the area, was that this sorcerer was not guilty. Later. He thought as he made his way up the stairs. He had not been anticipating this. He didn't have his keys with him. He would get them from his chambers, sneak back down, and free the old man. The old hero, his thoughts voiced. Gwen would be on the pyre tomorrow, with himself locked helplessly in his chambers, if not for Dragoon. Heh. I guess he is kind of great, he thought.

But no! His brain suddenly started. He had only managed to speak to Dragoon at all because he'd altered the schedule for the guards, he would now be under constant watch, as he was supposed to be all night. Sure, Arthur could simply order them away, but what good would that do? He was still enchanted. He thought irritably. He wasn't even supposed to be out of his chambers.

It was by some fluke the next morning that the king decided Arthur could escort the "traitorous criminal" out to the pyre. Apparently Arthur was acting "sane" now, where he hadn't been before? He couldn't show any signs of weakness in the matter in front of his father or his men, lest he be put under house arrest yet again. It was with this in mind that Arthur made his way to the dungeon, and escorted Dragoon out of his cell and through the castle. He'd almost tried to halt everything at Dragoon's attempt to stay the execution. "There are other crimes I wish to confess." I'm so sure. And he would've heeded it, but he looked at his men and recalled that that wasn't something "un-enchanted" Arthur would do.

He had to admit, Dragoon certainly played the part of corrupted sorcerer well, but he'd seen the truth in his eyes when they spoke the night before. And he saw the true fear in his eyes as they walked out to the crowd. Arthur hoped he had a plan.

o ~ o

Merlin was panicking. The spell hadn't worked, and he couldn't see Gaius. What was he going to do?

There! He sees Gaius in the crowd, holding the potion. A momentary (and very fiery) distraction, and…

o ~ o

Arthur only afforded Dragoon a few moments before running after him. He is very spry for someone his age, Arthur mused as he and his guards chased after him.

Merlin. His idiot manservant had finally shown his, evidently still drunk, face. And Arthur actually was glad. So it was with a hidden, inward smile that he reported to his father that the "wicked sorcerer" had escaped without a trace. He wasn't sure how much Merlin had helped, but he and his guards had lost Dragoon following the slight delay in the chase he provided. Of course, his relief wasn't going to change the punishment Merlin had at all. He needed a strong lesson. He sighed a little. That boy really needed to stay out of the taverns.

- o ~ o -

Voila! I finished my first story! No WAIT. Before you go, I would like to ask you:

Did you like it? No? What'd I do wrong?

Can you help me make it more in-character? (Keeping the Dragoon-the-Great-guise in mind.) I haven't seen as many episodes lately as I'm sure many of you have, so some assistance on this front would be greatly appreciated.

How was grammar? I wasn't extremely thourough in my proofreading, so I'd appreciate any corrections you could point out. Anything missing? More descriptions in some places, confusion, anything?

*Also, random, but, how'd you come up with your penname?

Thank-you much for reading, all of you :) Let me know what you think if you wouldn't mind taking the moment. And check out my profile, writers! I have lots of basic plot ideas for anyone who wants to write them! Happy reading & writing, all!

God bless *heart* :)