A Sorcerer's Retribution
Arthur groaned with frustration as he was forced to lean on Merlin to make his way back to his chambers. He'd stood in front of his Knights, attempting to look uninjured, because he hated looking weak in front of them, it was demeaning, but he didn't like looking weak in front of Merlin either.
"How is it," Arthur began as they stepped through the doors of his chambers, "that whenever we get attacked by bandits or slave-traders or demented sorcerers, you end up not having a scratch on you, and I end up injured in some way?"
"I've always embraced the greatest way of avoiding getting hurt," Merlin grinned. He was enjoying Arthur's being injured far too much.
The King snorted. "You mean the great way of hiding behind trees like a coward?"
Merlin rolled his eyes and set Arthur down in a chair a little more firmly than necessary. "No, it's called staying away from men with sharp pointy things. Works quite well, I hear."
"Well, you were there when the bandits attacked," Arthur pointed out.
"That's not the point. I didn't go near them."
"You hid behind a tree like a coward."
"I am not a coward." Merlin glared at him, something glinting in his eyes that Arthur had begun to notice more and more when he insulted his manservant like this. It looked like his friend was upset about being unappreciated.
"Fine," he let Merlin win. His manservant began trying to take his shirt off to inspect the damage to his side, where the injury was. He made it difficult by keeping his arms tight to his sides.
"Arthur," the brunette sighed. "I need to see where you're hurt. I might need Gaius."
The King didn't lift his arms, staring at his manservant. "You might not be a coward, but you are incredibly lucky."
Merlin shot him a confused look, giving up on his shirt for a moment. "What do you mean?"
"I saw that lance. It was heading right for you."
His manservant laughed. It had a nervous edge to it. "The man who threw it must've been a really poor shot."
"He wasn't," Arthur said slowly. "The lance changed direction mid-flight."
"That's impossible," Merlin stated, not meeting his King's eye.
"It was going to hit you. It was heading right for you, and then it wasn't. I thought you were going to die, and that man hit me with his mace because I was watching you," Arthur stated bluntly.
"You must've been seeing things, Arthur. Battle can do that to people," Merlin said, still not raising his gaze from the toes of his boots. "And if that man hit you with his mace, you might have broken ribs. I'll go get Gaius."
Arthur quickly grabbed the manservant's wrist – an extremely delicate wrist, almost girly, at that – to stop him from leaving. "I wasn't seeing things."
Merlin tried to tug his hand away. "Arthur, let go."
"No, not until you stop lying to me. You did something to make that lance switch direction."
His manservant stared at him for a long moment, panic in his eyes. The King tightened his grip, staring back resolvedly.
Suddenly, Merlin's shoulders slumped, and his gaze dropped to the floor again. "Alright, I did do something to it."
"What did you do?"
"I…" The brunette straightened, moistening his lips with his tongue, blinking rapidly as if he was pushing back tears. His expression was pained. "I used magic," his voice fell to a nearly-silent whisper on the last word. "But I never wanted to hurt you, Arthur. I never would. I've been protecting you." His voice was pleading as he raised his gaze to Arthur's face. "Magic's not evil. Here, I'll show you."
Arthur was a bit stunned at the last sentence. Triumph colored his thoughts. He had let go of Merlin's wrist, and he forgot to resist as his manservant finally succeeded in pulling off his shirt.
"I can heal you," Merlin explained, moving the fabric aside. Then he froze.
Arthur watched, slightly guilty, as his manservant's gaze fell on his bare torso, which was completely unblemished and obviously quite unharmed.
Merlin's gaze travelled back up to his face. His expression was a mixture of shock and anger. "You tricked me! You pretended to be hurt so you could get me to tell you!"
The King grabbed his shirt out of his manservant's hands, grinning. "It worked, didn't it? I've known for ages. I had to think of some way to get you to tell me."
Merlin glared at him, and for some reason, Arthur had an urge to step back.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN? YOU KNEW?" His voice was terrifyingly loud and edged with a tone that for some reason made the King think of dragons.
He took a step back, and Merlin stalked after him, hands trembling.
"I SPENT HOURS LYING AWAKE AT NIGHT HATING MYSELF FOR NOT TELLING YOU, AND YOU KNEW?"
For the first time, it crossed Arthur's mind that just maybe this hadn't been the best idea. "Merlin, you're the one who didn't tell me!"
"I DIDN'T HAVE A GOOD ENOUGH REASON TO TELL YOU! YOU'VE BEEN RAISED TO HATE SORCERERS! BUT YOU FIND OUT AND YOU'RE OKAY WITH IT, AND YOU DON'T BOTHER TO TELL ME?" Merlin threw his hands in the air, and the windows of Arthur's room shattered. His friend didn't notice as the King cringed. This had definitely not been a good idea.
"Merlin, calm down!"
"WHY SHOULD I CALM DOWN? HOW WOULD YOU FEEL, IF YOU HAD TO HIDE THAT BIG OF A SECRET FROM SOMEONE YOU TRUSTED, ONLY TO FIND OUT THAT THEY ALREADY KNEW? HOW DO YOU THINK THAT WOULD MAKE YOU FEEL?!"
Arthur flinched again. He hadn't thought of that. "But I'm okay with it! You know now!"
Merlin crossed his arms over his chest, still glaring. The very air of the room seemed to get colder, and Arthur realized he wasn't imagining it when the fire went out for no apparent reason. The warlock took a long breath before letting it out and raised a finger in Arthur's direction. How he managed to make even that movement look menacing, the King had no idea.
"Just how long have you known?" He asked, voice cold.
"Er," Arthur began, feeling a bit like a reprimanded child. "A few years?"
Gwaine cringed when he heard Merlin's raised voice. He sounded like a dragon. A very, very angry dragon, who was about to murder someone very painfully. He and the other Knights had seen the windows of Arthur's room shatter. He'd suspected Merlin was involved.
He wasn't all that surprised when Arthur's chamber doors flew open, one of them cracking in two, before the Knights even reached them.
The King came barrelling out and began sprinting down the hall. "Help! He's an insane sorcerer! He's trying to kill me!"
Merlin rushed out after him, eyes glowing gold. A vase shattered near Arthur's head, shards of pottery raining over the corridor. "I'LL TEACH YOU TO KEEP SECRETS, YOU BASTARD!"
The two disappeared around the corner, leaving a group of stunned Knights in their wake, listening to the sound of magic-induced destruction echoing back.
Gwaine grinned. "He must've finally told him."
Leon nodded, smiling. "About time. I've known already for… how long has it been?"
Elyan answered for him. "A few years?"
One of the newer Knights leaned forward and tapped Gwaine on the shoulder. "Why aren't we going after him? He's trying to kill the king!"
Leon burst out laughing. "Merlin couldn't kill anyone! Especially not Arthur."
"But he's a sorcerer," the Knight protested.
Leon just shook his head, smiling patronizingly as he patted the shocked and very confused Knight on the shoulder. "Come along. Let's go tell the royal glassmaker he has work to do."
And afterwards, nobody dared mention the few hours that King Arthur spent being Queen Arthur, and how he'd been forced to apologize to Merlin, with flowers and chocolate, and make him Court Sorcerer, before the warlock would turn him back, unless they wanted to find their head on the chopping block.
Disclaimer: The wonderful Merlin doesn't belong to me. *sniff* :(
Hope you enjoyed that! I wanted to write a reveal fic that wasn't quite so long-winded as The End is Only the Beginning. And not to worry, I'll be back to writing that one soon, I just needed a bit of a break. ;) (Yes, yes, I know, I'm a horrible person, leaving you on a cliffhanger like that. But I'm working on it, I want to live up to the expectations, alright? ;) )