Epilogue: Beginning Again
-Six Months Later-
Arthur disengaged his stare from where it was fixed firmly on the toe of his boot and shot a glare at the decidedly pink walls of the castle corridor. He really didn't agree with his Court Sorcerer's taste in decoration. Yes, he and Gwen had just welcomed their beautiful baby daughter into the world, but was all the pink really necessary?
He froze, seeing a magenta garland hanging from a torch bracket, and tried not to lose his temper. It's only for one day. Just one day. You're the famous King Arthur. You can survive one day with a pink castle, right?
Every piece of him that still clung resolutely to the idea of masculinity and all the virtues contained therein screamed a very loud, resounding NO! to that statement.
He contemplated turning around and storming through the castle until he found Merlin and told him to change it back, but rejected the notion almost instantly. His friend had bottled his magic up for far too long, and Arthur suspected the man was compensating with big, extravagant displays like this. This wasn't the first display, either. First, there had been those complicated flashy explosions in the sky, which Merlin, being an idiot, had called 'fireworks'. Then there'd been the talking animals, first the cat, then the horse, because Merlin had claimed he wanted some intelligent conversation for once. Oh, and Arthur didn't even want to remember that time when he'd been so famously turned bright green like some sort of wood nymph until he'd given the warlock a day off. And the everlasting fountain of mead that the man had made as a birthday gift to Gwaine. Not to mention the self-playing instruments that had blared every time Arthur or Gwen entered a room. And that 'Narnia' country he'd found in his wardrobe that day when Merlin had claimed he was bored. And… well, you get the picture.
Still, even with all these displays of – admittedly very impressive – power, Merlin wouldn't want to put an end to this one. And Arthur could never truly order him to stop. He wanted his warlock to be comfortable showing off. He never wanted the man to have to hide again. Any un-comfortableness he'd originally had for the displays of magic he had smashed to bits. He'd nearly gotten his most loyal ally killed, and he would never let it happen again. And even in the moments when he'd actually go to tell Merlin to put an end to it, it would never work, because he'd find the warlock happily strutting around in those ridiculous blue robes of his with that pointy hat, complete with red neckerchief, and Merlin would give his King the look, the look which happened to be even worse than Gaius's famous eyebrow look. No, Merlin's look was all big blue eyes and pouting lips and shoulders slouching under a wave of disappointment. Not even his father could have said no to that look, he was sure of it.
The worst thing was, his precious baby daughter, Melora, appeared to have inherited the look by some horrible twist of the Fates. The first time he'd seen her, bundled up in his exhausted wife's arms, she'd looked up at him with those big blue eyes set in a face with that beautiful dark skin of Gwen's, and he'd known he was doomed. He couldn't even say no to Merlin when he had that look. How was he supposed to stay strong when it was his firstborn baby girl? Doomed, he was doomed.
He sighed, resigning himself to his fate as he stepped out the front doors of the castle into the courtyard.
And then he stopped dead.
In the center of the stone-cobbled area, a huge statue rose towards the sky. It was a larger-than-life version of he and Gwen, looking adoringly down into a bundle of blankets that was apparently his newborn daughter Melora, recreated in lavender marble.
This was too much.
"MERLIN!" Arthur stalked back into his – pink – castle. He was going to find his Court Sorcerer and murder him. Or… well, maybe not murder him, but perhaps the stocks. No, even that was too harsh. Perhaps he'd take Merlin's beloved pointy hat away?
Oh God, he thought, barely managing his fierce expression as he stalked down the corridor, I am going soft, aren't I?
-Two Years Later-
"Merlin! Why is there a dragon flying towards Camelot? You're a DragonLord! This isn't supposed to happen!" He waved a hand angrily at his Court Sorcerer, forgetting that his sword was in his hand.
Merlin took a leap backwards to avoid the blade and promptly turned the weapon into a long-stemmed rose, eyes flashing instinctively gold.
"Look what you made me do! Excalibur is not supposed to be a rose!"
Arthur shot a horrified look at his now-destroyed weapon.
"And really, if you weren't such a prat, you'd notice that I am a DragonLord and the dragon is obviously here because I wanted him to be!" He crossed his arms and shot a firm look at the rose. It turned back into a sword, and Arthur nearly dropped it as its weight increased substantially.
"It's a bloody great dragon, Merlin, not a puppy! Why do you want it here?"
"It is a him, Arthur," the warlock scolded. "And Gwaine wanted to meet Kilgharrah." He glowered at his King, probably offended on behalf of his giant lizard pet.
Arthur sighed inwardly, sheathing Excalibur before the famous sword got turned into something more embarrassing. "And Gwaine gets what he wants because…?"
"Because I promised, and I actually keep my promises, unlike a certain neglecting father I could mention." He gestured a hand behind Arthur, and he turned just in time to nearly be knocked over by his two-year-old daughter.
Arthur grinned and caught up his gorgeous baby girl in his arms, feeling a twinge of guilt. He was supposed to spend today with his daughter, but that really hadn't happened. "Melora!"
"I wanna ride the dragon!" Melora exclaimed happily. "Unca Merwin, can I ride the dragon?"
Arthur's smile changed to a look of horror in a matter of seconds. "No! Melora…"
The little girl's big blue eyes filled with tears. "But I wanna ride the dragon!" she insisted, pouting, little pink lips quivering.
"I'd let you ride the dragon, sweetheart," Merlin said happily, not helping matters in the least.
"Merlin!" Arthur reprimanded him, seeing the way his daughter's eyes lit up.
"Fine," the warlock turned away, "But it's not my fault that she's going to cry."
Melora burst into tears.
"Oh, Melora!" Arthur shot a frantic look at his retreating friend, who offered no help whatsoever. "Fine, fine, sweetheart, I'll let you ride the dragon, just don't cry, or your mother will be upset with me."
At this his daughter was all smiles, done crying in an instant. She sniffled slightly and then struggled to be put down. "Yay! Unca Merwin, daddy says I can!"
Merlin's chuckle drifted back down the hall. "I knew he would, sweetie. He could never resist those eyes."
Arthur watched his daughter scamper off after his friend, feeling distinctly disgruntled. "You're the one who taught her how in the first place," he growled, stalking after them.
"You deserve it." Merlin turned to grin at him. "Now everyone knows exactly how to order you around. It makes you a much better King. No executions, banishments or wars. You can just go play nice with a dragon."
"Idiot," Arthur muttered, not really meaning it.
Merlin smiled. "Prat."
And they walked side by side to meet the dragon, because whatever their differences, they were still the two sides of the same coin, destined to create a new era dawning after the ending of the old. Because the end truly was only the beginning.
And, truthfully, Arthur would really never be able to resist those eyes. Or the threats of being turned into a tree. Being a warlock did have advantages.
Disclaimer: Even after all this, I still don't own Merlin. *sniff* Virtual cookies to you if you watched the animated movie The Sword in the Stone and remember Merlin and his blue robes and tall pointy hat (not to mention the suitcase that could fit everything)!
Hope you enjoyed the story, you guys! Thank you so much for all your support! I can't believe it's over. I don't want it to be over. *sniff* :( I'll have to write another soon! Oh, and so you know, Melora is supposedly King Arthur's daughter in the Irish tale of Melora and Orlando. Thanks for the entertaining reviews, hilarious comments, constructive criticism, and overall inspiration. Many of your comments are responsible for random ideas I had that turned my relatively simple plotline into a completely twisted plotweb. I blame you. I spent nights lying awake just trying to figure out how the heck I was going to get our beloved Merlin out of that mess. Anyways, I'm sad that it's ending, and I love you all. Bon Voyage as you explore the world of fanfiction, and be sure to check out my favourites list if you're looking for other awesome fics. There are tons on here I absolutely adore. ;)