Disclaimer: Not my characters. Gutting.
A/N: I have so much work to do right now- but the first episode of Merlin aired last night and this had to be written. Alteration of the scene where Arthur wakes up in the forest having been knocked out during the battle. Reveal!Fic (cause I really do never get bored of these, and when they bloody hell is it actually going to happen!?)
Arthur felt groggy, like he was surfacing from a pool of oil. There were twigs digging into his armour that were in turn digging into him. His body felt like a bag of sand, unable to budge.
He forced his eyes open, his sight adjusting to the grey light that had fallen upon the forest. His manservant's concerned face swam into view, and Arthur rolled his eyes.
"What happened?" He groaned out.
"You don't remember?"
Arthur screwed his face up as he rubbed the back of his neck, "Where are the others? Leon? Elyan?"
Merlin twitched nervously, "There was nothing I could do, I had to get you to safety."
Arthur let out a bitter laugh, "What actually happened?"
"The usual, I saved your neck."
"You saved me?"
"Yes. And I can juggle. I keep telling you I have many talents."
"Including speak a second language, it would seem."
Merlin looked taken aback, "What?"
"When you shoved me down by that tree, you whispered something at the men who were coming after us. . ."
Merlin's eyes suddenly filled with fear. Arthur held his gaze, letting the sentence hang.
"I'm not a fool, Merlin."
The servant didn't know whether he wanted to laugh or cry at that. It summed up everything, really. Could Merlin just run?
"Your eyes flashed gold."
Running felt impossible; his legs felt liquid. He wondered if he was visibly shaking. Merlin's whole brain froze, his body couldn't move, squatted down in front of Arthur. The King's eyes were calm, yet with vulnerability glittering lightly in their depths. Was he scared?
His normally flawed but believable silver-tongue was failing him too, ". . . I thought you were sleeping."
"I wasn't sleeping Merlin, I hadn't even passed out! I was struck on the back of the shoulder!"
Arthur rubbed his head, breathing harshly from his nostrils. "How long have you been hiding this from me Merlin? How long did you expect to keep this hidden?"
Merlin looked down at the soil, wishing the dry ground would soak him up. The silence was heavy. . . "Forever."
It answered everything. The dark haired boy met the King's eyes, blue on blue in the silvered landscape. Something inside of Arthur chipped away.
"Why wouldn't you tell me?"
"You're the king, Arthur." Merlin's voice was old, tired, " The timing was never right, there was always something going on. . . something happening. The laws have never stood in favour for someone like me."
"So nearly a decade by my side and you still thought I would sentence you to death without so much as a glance over my shoulder?"
"It wasn't worth risking the decade we already had."
Arthur blinked uneasily as Merlin's tone becoming more steadfast, wisdom swirling within his words. It wasn't a question of his own life for Merlin; it was a question of what they had built.
"I didn't want to put you in that position, Arthur. It was simpler trying to keep my being a warlock and you entirely separate."
"Magic is me and I am magic. Have been and always will be."
Arthur let out a breath he didn't realise he'd been holding, "Why haven't you just killed me Merlin? Every sorceror wants my family's dynasty dead. For years you've been stood right by me, polishing my amour, washing my clothes. . ."
"Because you're different. You're not your father, however much you've tried to be at times."
"My father was a good man-"
"Your father wasn't evil, Arthur. He just saw enemies where he didn't have them. You don't realise what alliances you can create. The people you can bring together."
Arthur's voice was level, "You believe in me."
"As I always have sire."
Arthur let out a breathless laugh, dropping his head back for a second. This was ridiculous. Surreal. Yet it all made sense. It felt like the world was turning inside out; clearly that was the right way.
"So you've spent years hiding it from me. And you just threw it all away to chuck a couple of guys off their horses? Really, Merlin, god knows how this hasn't happened sooner."
"We all make mistakes."
"Most especially you."
Merlin gave Arthur a withering look. Arthur's smirk in response made Merlin's insides glimmer a bit. Maybe everything would be fine. More than fine. He felt as if a shackle had been loosened. Perhaps it had fallen altogether.
"What can you. . . do then with it?"
Merlin's eyes lightened at the question; he looked sheepish, "A lot."
"A lot a lot?"
Merlin only responded with a mischevious glint.
Arthur bit the inside of his cheek, his eyes glittering with challenge, "Show me."
Merlin didn't move, a beat passed; Arthur jumping as the small fire beside them roared up into a tower of flame before sucking back into itself.
"Do I really want to know how powerful you are?" Arthur sighed with a small smile.
"Probably not. Might put your ego in jeopardy." Merlin grinned back.
They held each other's gaze. The puzzle of Merlin finally clicking into place. The years of confusion and fighting for balance in their relationship evening out.
Merlin shuffled a little closer, "Look, you've learnt a lot over the years, but there's still a long way to go. I can't tell you everything. But I can promise you, I will spend every decade I have protecting you."
Arthur's lips briefly quirked into a smile, "As long as you promise to do as I tell you."
The manservant tried to surpress an impish grin, "Thaaaat's never going to happen."
Merlin dragged Arthur onto his feet, "So it would seem."
A/N: QUICK. Back to the law books! This never happened. So much work. Gah. Please R&R ladies and gents. Minx x