Title: Flipping the Coin (previously named Two Sides of the Coin)
Summary: Arthur is determined to change things in Camelot. He sends Merlin and Gwaine on a quest of discovery. They must stay one step ahead of Morgana...and someone else who lurks in the shadows. In an epic battle, prophecies are fulfilled and the fate of Albion will rest with one man.
BAMF! Bromance! Redemption!
Rated: T for some descriptions of violence.
AU version of Season 5.
Notes: After the initial one shot idea, my muse took off at a dead run with this story. I didn't have a beta, nor did I trust beta's due to prior experiences. I now have one that is more than I could have ever dreamed!
Thank you, Nance, for being so patient with my bad grammar and punctuation. You have helped to make this story flow with a clarity I could only dream of. IcarusLSU for being a cheerleader, trampoline, and ranting board when I needed you.
For those of you that have read this story already, you may notice I shuffled some things around from the original posting. Mainly, setting "Two Sides of the Coin" apart from the main body of the story, as it was originally intended to be.
For any new readers: this is the sequel to "Two Sides of the Coin" (which was formerly the name of both pieces together). I hope you enjoy all that is to come. Please leave a review along the way if you would be so kind, I love reading the comments and any constructive criticism.
IDOM, any remaining errors are solely my own.
Flipping the Coin:
It was well into the night when the four men finally settled into a table near the back of the rogue's favorite pub. The woman at the bar was just about ready to close up, when they wandered in. Elyan handed her two gold crowns to stay open and serve them so close to morning. The round woman pushed away her exhaustion and plastered a smile on her face, one that was streaked with soot and dirt. She bid them welcome. Nearly every sane man or woman in the citadel were sound asleep at this hour, but most of Camelot would be hard-pressed to call these four Knights sane at any time of day. They were known throughout the kingdom as the most trusted of King Arthur's men. Aside from being knights, they were his personal guard, and the commanders of his forces.
The barkeep fought with a greasy strand of mouse-brown hair that refused to stay under her head scarf. After a few moments she gave up trying to look presentable and let it hang limp across her left eye. She gathered some tankards and a couple of pictures of ale. Setting them on the table in front of the men, she assessed them briefly, her eyes coming to rest on Gwaine. When the man first came to Camelot he was nothing but trouble, packaged in a handsome form, barely a woman could refuse.
The tavern girls always flocked to him...they never cared about the fact he had nothing but himself to offer them. The gambling men would do what they could to win a few coins from him, which he rarely had at that time, simply because he was a good amount of fun. Now, that he was a knight, he had coins in his pocket...most of the time, although if he survived an evening long enough with the gambling, he usually passed out drunk before he remembered to pay.
Leon sat quietly in the corner, his back to the wall. Covered in grime, sweat, and who knows what else, he was careful not to lean against it. Gray-blue eyes stared somberly towards the door, not really seeing anything in particular, his thoughts turned inward, heavy from the revelations at the meeting. He felt so much inner turmoil. He knew Merlin...the loyal idiot who stood up to a teenage bully before, and even after, realizing it was the crowned prince of Camelot...The boy always seemed to be full of surprises, and now the elder Knight understood why.
Logically, Leon knew the man he saw rise up to face Arthur in the King's Solar was the same boy who followed them around like a lost puppy for so many years, but the difference in the presence he commanded was so dramatic, it confused the knight.
"Sir Percival! Tell us your tale!" Gwaine raised his tankard to the large man.
The large man, his arms bear under the armor and cloak, took a sip of his ale and seemed to study the many scratches and gouges that graced the table in front of him. "I'll see if I can remember it all," he began. Lifting the cup to his lips, he downed a good portion of its contents and then began to tell the others of the druid legend he had learned growing up.
"Centuries ago, before the Romans came to this part of the world the land was said to be united under one rule: a partnership of two men. The first is referred to as the 'Once and Future King of Albion' the other is called 'Emrys' who was said to be the leader of the druids, and an ambassador for the Old Religion."
"If the 'Old Religion' was old centuries ago, how long ago was it new?" Elyan contemplated, not realizing he had spoken out loud, until he noticed the others regarding him quizzically. "Sorry, I'll shut up and let you continue."
Leon chuckled and seemed to be coming back to his normal self finally. "You realize you ask more odd questions about things than my nephew." The dark skinned knight refilled his tankard and took a long draw off it, managing to look chastised. Leon turned back to the others. "Go on, Percival, we're listening."
"They were said to be 'two sides of the same coin' as was mentioned earlier. Some of the druids said the word Emrys means immortal, other referred to it as the man's name suspecting that it was the northerner's version of Ambrosius...it really varied from camp to camp.
"It was said he could control dragons and all other manner of mythical beasts, the elements bowed to him, and he in turn bowed to the Great King. To say which one had the most power, all you need do was flip a coin."
"And someday, when the land was torn asunder by war, the two men would be reborn and the Old Religion would become new again and all of Albion would be united once more." A new voice chimed in.
"Mordred! Where did you come from?" Gwaine piped up, with a suspicious smile. The men were so engrossed in Percival's tale they hadn't paid any mind to the door. "Come join us, have some ale!"
"You know the legend?" Percival asked the newest of Arthur's knights.
"I would love to Sir Gwaine, however I just happened by on my rounds with the guard and noticed the light still burning inside this establishment. So, I wanted to make sure nothing was amiss. ...And to answer your question: yes I do know it. My father was a druid, until he was put to death by Uther." His voice took on a hint of bitterness at the memory.
Leon drew a breath. "I remember that. I'm sorry, my friend."
"Thank you, Sir Leon." Mordred gave a slight smile, before he glanced around at the four Knights, confusion etched his young face. "So...may I ask, why you all are here in the tavern, telling old druid legends and drinking when it's almost dawn?"
The four glanced silently at each other, they looked more like guilty children, than Knights of Camelot. "No reason really, just bored and couldn't sleep." Gwaine said, trying to sound innocent as he poured a third tankard of ale.
The young knight's eyebrows rose skeptically, "All four of you?"
"Yes, all four of us." Leon's tone held the air of authority over the newest recruit. "Perhaps, it would be best if you continue with your rounds of the city."
Mordred stiffened and bowed sharply to the Knight Commander. "Of course, Sir. Good night, or morning, My Lords." He backed away a few steps before turning for the door. He bade the lady barkeep a good night as well before he stepped out into the street.
Mordred paused outside, inhaling sharply the moist pre-dawn air, his mind racing. There was no reason he could determine for those men to be gathered at such a time, discussing what would amount to children's stories in Camelot. No reason...unless, something earlier in the night had changed. His mouth formed a small grin. He could guess what that something was. He lifted his eyes to the castle towers. "Well done, Emrys." He whispered coldly into the gathering sunrise.
A new day was dawning in Camelot and the future of the greatest kingdom in history rode with it on the horizon…