A/N: This is a response to the drabble challenge "What Might Have Been" from The Heart of Camelot. (Come join us! Tell them spaingal sent you! ;) But no pressure!) I took the basis for the tension in the entire series - that of Uther's ban of all magic - and turned it sideways, kind of. I personally think this Uther is scarier.
Uther stared down at the crying infant and wondered if his son could tell that his mother was dead.
He finally had his heir, a son. But the same magic that had gifted him with Arthur had stolen his beloved Ygraine –
No. No, magic had not been solely to blame for this. Nimueh had told him. Gaius had told him.
"A life for a life, Sire. To create new life, an existing one must be taken."
He was just as much to blame as magic.
But he could not properly punish himself. Arthur needed him now.
Magic was to blame.
They were ordinary people. They didn't stand out. They were mothers, fathers, sons and daughters.
But they had magic.
By royal decree, magic was banned except in the protection of Camelot or the royal family. Every sorcerer, no matter their age or skill, must be registered with the Court Genealogist.
Any violation, of any part of the law, was punishable by death.
No one escaped punishment. Not even the sick child whose mother had not registered him on time, since no one else could care for him.
Uther watched in righteous silence as the child burned and the mother cried.
It was obvious what had occurred. The old woman's spell had been broken by a loyal sorcerer.
His eyes still glowing gold, the sorcerer was the boy Gaius had taken in.
The dagger still floated in front of Arthur, frozen, and he had not registered himself.
The death sentence was on his lips when Arthur suddenly gasped and the dagger dropped: harmless, defeated.
Cold-blooded calculation prevailed over misdirected self-hatred.
"You shall be Arthur's manservant, boy." He glared. "As long as you follow the law from now on. I will be watching you."
The boy gulped, nodded, and bowed very low.