Just a little plot bunny that popped into my head and hasn't left me alone, so I thought I'd put it up, in anticipation for the new season which will start soon!

Disclaimer: I don't own Merlin

Chapter 1

Six months had passed since Morgana's latest attempt at taking the throne. Five months since Arthur admitted his mistakes and married Gwen.

Camelot was finally beginning to recover, the castle and surrounding towns having been rebuilt, new knights being selected and trained; things were going well for the people of Camelot.

But not so well for Arthur.

When he became king after his father died, Arthur had gotten his first taste of how difficult ruling a kingdom was. But now, between his uncle's betrayal and his subsequent marriage to a former maidservant, Arthur was beginning to see just how difficult ruling a kingdom was.

"I just don't understand. I am the king, so what difference does it make that I married Guinevere?" Arthur asked a yawning Merlin as he prepared for the day. "And hasn't she been wonderful. Guinevere has been the perfect queen, and it's obvious that she cares a great deal for the people."

"I don't think it's the general population that has a problem with Gwen," Merlin pointed out as he helped Arthur into his royal red jacket. "Just those stuck up nobles you call advisors."

"Merlin," Arthur said in a warning tone.

"What?" Merlin asked, feigning innocence.

"Just, shut up," Arthur said, grabbing his sword from the table and storming out of his chambers, slamming the door behind him. "AND DON'T FORGET TO DO YOUR CHORES!" Arthur hollered back through the door.

Merlin sighed, looking around the wreck that was the king and queen's room. He honestly didn't know what to think anymore. In some ways it seemed like his and Arthur's friendship had grown stronger, but in others, well, it didn't.

Merlin was afraid that after Agravaine's betrayal that Arthur would have a hard time trusting anyone again. After all, Agravaine had been his mother's brother, and had seemed loyal to Arthur and Camelot. But then Merlin's fears were put to rest when Arthur showed just how trusting he could be by forgiving Gwen.

Lately however, Merlin felt his friendship with the young king was beginning to strain and fray in places. He didn't blame Arthur, not entirely. After all, his best friend was under a lot of stress, stemming from those pompous nobles who believed that Arthur had made a grave mistake by marrying Gwen (these were the same people who did not approve of Arthur knighting commoners but had had to bite their tongues when the saw how good it was for Camelot). Not only was Arthur receiving pressure from them, but the knights and patrols were reporting an increasing incidence of bandits around Camelot, the outlying villages had a failure of their latest crops, and a rumor was spreading throughout the people. A rumor that Morgana was alive.

Straightening up Arthur's room, Merlin decided that he definitely did not want that last rumor to be true. He had held onto the belief that there was some part of the old Morgana left somewhere and that maybe he could bring it out, but this latest encounter with her had shown him that the old Morgana was long gone.

Merlin shivered as he remembered the feel of Morgana's magic. It was dark and full of malice and hatred. Merlin didn't think Morgana would ever change, and so, while it pained him greatly to admit he had lost yet another close friend, he hoped that Morgana had passed into the beyond, where hopefully she would be happy.