In Which the Author Delivers a Disclaimer: I do not own the show Merlin or any of its plots or characterizations of the Arthurian legend (which I also do not own).

In Which the Author Writes an Author's Note: This fic assumes that you have watched all the episodes of season 1-3. It will be reasonably canon compliant, given that Merlin is a girl and that change encouraged me to be rather creative with other aspects of the show. I am assuming readers are familiar with each episode of those seasons. Though the chapters will generally follow each episode, I will not recap every element. Unless I have something new to say about a scene that does not include the main characters, I am not likely to make more than a passing mention to it. This allows me to expound on scenes where the changes in gender and relationships influence the plotline, as well as adding new twists. I hope that doing this makes the story more interesting to read especially since as much fun as sword fights are to watch, they are tedious to read. As to season 4, I am not particularly fond of most of the episodes (I find Agravaine excessively irritating), and so although certain aspects from the season might make an appearance, as a whole, I have altered the first three seasons enough that continuing on would be rather nonsensical. I would like to add that I am indebted to the many wonderful stories I've read on this site, in particular the ones featuring a girl Merlin. While I hope that my story can stand on its own feet, I was grateful to be able to see how others had dealt with a gender swap.

In Which the Author Writes a Second Note: Due to my long absence and my further work on the story as a whole, I have reworked some aspects of the first three chapters. Nothing major was changed, but hopefully it is a bit better for this.

Chapter One: In Which the Princess Decides to Meet the Prince as a Pauper

Merlin walked into Camelot with a frequently stumbling lope that hopefully passed for a walk of a rather clumsy young man. It had taken her a couple of weeks of practice for this walk to become second nature to her for whenever she was in breeches. The constant tripping was a desperate ploy to help disguise the graceful gait that had been drilled into her since birth, as befitting the only princess of Powys. Of course, at the moment she was a temporarily—and secretly—exiled princess, having angered King Cyngen and Queen Bertha by her refusal to marry Prince Arthur.

Though Merlin had grown to be a reasonably graceful, charming and beautiful sort of princess, she had never quite fit into a family that had not entirely expected her birth. There are various royal reactions to a royal birth, particularly if the birth is of a daughter and not a son. Had the kingdom of Powys not already produced three strapping knights as heirs, the birth of Princess Merlin might have been heralded somewhat differently.

But to Cyngen and Bertha, Merlin was a surprising but long sought after means to an end. Though the alliance their kingdom had with Camelot was strong, evidenced by Powys following Uther into the Great Purge of Sorcery two years prior to the arrival of the princess, nothing cemented two kingdoms together so well as a permanent union. Hence Merlin's birth was considered fortuitous.

Bertha and Cyngen may have loved their daughter, but the machinations and political games they played were more suited for the three dutiful sons. Bertha, despite long having wanted a girl to follow the boisterousness of her third son Rhodri, did not in reality spend that much time with her daughter. At birth her usefulness had been proclaimed to be in the marriage bed and the queen had other things to occupy her time in the eighteen or so years before that political scheme became viable.

And so Merlin spent much of her formative years under the guidance of Hunith, her nurse. With her parent's minds occupied and three distantly adoring and much older brothers, Hunith and her son Will were in many ways closer than family. They alone were the protectors of Merlin's greatest secret, the bewildering fact that she had been born with magic.

Though Hunith was sure that the king and queen would not execute their daughter had they known her secret, likely choosing to leave her unacknowledged and exiled, she had counseled the princess to hide her magic from her earliest days, leaving Will and Hunith as Merlin's only confidants. The secret she kept ensured even more of a distance in her relationship with her family.

Nevertheless, it had come as a shock to nearly everyone when Merlin was not inclined to comply with her one destined duty: to marry Arthur. When no exhortations swayed Merlin on the subject of matrimony, a banishment of dubious benevolence was devised instead, hoping it would make her appreciate her duty. Merlin chose to join Hunith and Will, who had moved back to Hunith's home village Ealdor now that Merlin had reached marriageable age and did not require a nurse. With much persuasion, Cyngen agreed. Because it was in the neighboring kingdom, Merlin had gone in disguise to live there, posing as Will's younger brother. Concealing her identity had been a safety precaution, seeing as she would be unguarded and unable to call on the aide of Cyngen when secretly in Cenred's kingdom.

After a series of creative but unconvincing attempts to disguise her gender, Merlin had managed to find a way to bind all of her hair to the top of her head, and then cover it all with a good wig, darker than her real hair color. With a little magic helping the illusion, enchantments to ensure the wig stayed on and her feminine assets remained bound, a spell to deepen her voice, and a neckerchief to help disguise her lack of Adam's Apple, her transformation to Myrddin was complete.

At first, Ealdor was a breath of fresh air. Will tutored her in the walk and talk, and she enjoyed the brash and earnest manner she could speak with as an untitled boy.

After two weeks though, trying and failing to fit into the small farming community, Merlin and Will had approached Hunith with a plan. Perhaps if Merlin went to Camelot as the boy Myrddin she could meet this Prince Arthur, see if he could prove willing and inclined to protect her secret. If so, despite Uther's notoriously ruthless stance on magic, perhaps she could marry, allowing Merlin to resume her true place. Accordingly, Hunith arranged with her half-brother Gaius, who was the court physician in Camelot, for Myrddin to be his ward.

And that was why, two months after being banished, Merlin found herself walking into the citadel, enjoying the novelty of her unheralded arrival. Her eyes were on everything, but no eyes were on her.

The beheading of a sorcerer dispelled her excitement. It was a sobering warning. Though she had long ago accepted the terrible fate of magic users, the coldness in Uther's tone, followed by his calling for a celebration chilled her. She resolved that she must be more careful with magic than ever. Only moments later, she walked into the physician's quarters and startled the man she presumed to be Gaius into falling off his ledge; she slowed down time instinctively, giving her enough time to halt the man's fall and give him a safe landing.

"What did you just do?" Gaius demanded.

"Um..." Hunith had promised that Gaius was trustworthy, and that as he had practiced magic in the old days he would be able to help her better control her gifts. But Merlin had been planning on waiting a little longer before revealing the truth and seeking his help.

"Tell me."

"I have no idea what happened." Merlin continued to protest, but it was clear that she needed to work on her lying skills. Gaius raised a disbelieving eyebrow to impossible heights when she admitted to being born like this. Deciding to switch tactics she introduced herself as Hunith's boy and was soon settled in the back room of the physician's quarters.

Waking up in Camelot was different from the small house she had shared with Hunith and different again from her own royal chambers. For a moment she thought she had heard someone calling out her true name, but she saw no one when she opened her eyes. Anyway, no one could possibly realize the princess was in Camelot. She fully intended to take advantage of that fact, to do things she had always wanted to do but never been able to. She had yet to miss being Merlin.

Over breakfast, Gaius already clearly interested in her magic, asked about spells and incantations after seeing her stop the bucket of water effortlessly. Merlin had little in the way of answers for him, having been able to do everything she did since birth. Unable to openly discuss magic with other users, she knew little about how others ensorcelled. Realizing this, Gaius let her go after a few minutes, sending her out on a few easily navigated errands.

As Merlin set out to make the deliveries for the court physician, she felt so completely liberated from being herself that she thought she could completely be herself. No one knew she was the princess. In fact, no one really cared who she was at all. And that was fantastic.

As Merlin enjoyed her unheralded presence, she mentally began composing a list of everything she wanted to do while a boy. Regardless of whether she ended up decreeing Arthur marriageable material, this was a once in a life time opportunity.

Thinking of Arthur, Merlin supposed she really ought to come up with some sort of battle plan for how she was going to meet the prince. She, a peasant, couldn't simply demand to meet him after all. And who knew how much time she would need before she could make an adequate judgment about his secret keeping ability? Perhaps she should simply wait for him to be brought to Gaius' sick and injured? The more she thought of this, the better an idea it seemed. She would then know how he was when he was in a mood and that seemed a far safer impression to go off of than if he were merely polite. A man who remained pleasant and reasonable when in pain would prove himself to be the type of man she could rely on.

Having settled in her mind when and how she was going to meet the prince, Merlin began making note of things around the citadel that she wanted to see. She saw the stocks and idly wondered when the next poor soul would be standing there; part of her had harbored a desire to throw rotten fruit at whoever was in them ever since she had first seen them as a young lass. She had just seen a sign for a tavern, the Rising Sun, and concluded that of utmost importance was her finding time to get a drink in said tavern when her silly musings were interrupted by a group of noblemen bullying a servant, throwing knives at the target he carried while he ran to and fro.

Merlin hardly took a moment to think about before she leapt into saving mode, much as she had last night with Gaius and magic. Dimly the reasonable part of her brain remembered Will having to save her in Ealdor, pointing out that while, yes, she could swear all she liked as a peasant, she was in fact disguised as a rather unimposing boy. Disregarding this sage advice, Merlin placed a well-worn boot on the target, calling out to the arrogant noblemen, "Come on, that's enough."

A blond noble, who had been laughing only moments before turned towards her. "What?" he said in a disbelieving voice.

"You've had your fun, my friend," Merlin replied easily. Though princesses were supposed to be coy, no one escaped living years in a court without learning how to diffuse tempers.

"Do I know you?" the blond asked, striding toward her. Merlin extended her hand.

"I'm Myrddin."

"So I don't know you?" Maybe the fashion in Camelot's court was to be repetitive.


"Yet you called me friend?"

"My mistake," Merlin retorted.

"Yes, I think so."

"I'd never have a friend who could be such an ass." Merlin hardly had a moment to revel in her triumph of blunt rudeness to a noble before he retorted.

"Nor I one who could be so stupid. Tell me Myrddin, do you know how to walk on your knees?" the blond said, advancing. Not liking his aggression, Merlin resorted to the cheap, but erstwhile always effective, trick of pulling rank. True, no one knew she had any, and she hadn't actually been introduced to King Uther, but she'd always found that mentioning the king, especially such a fierce one as Uther was reputed to be, helped bring people again to reasonableness.

"Who do you think you are? The king?" she asked as the blond twisted her arm behind her back.

"No, I'm his son, Arthur." Merlin turned her head to get another look before the guards led her away. Her parents wanted her to marry this? So much for her plans of possible capitulation. She would resist marriage with everything in her, even if that meant a permanent relocation to the boring and small world of Ealdor.

Later, as Merlin sat in the dungeons, she recalled with a grin that she had wanted to have every possible experience a princess didn't have and this was certainly a fresh perspective of a castle indeed. Idly she noted she really ought to check out Powys' cells. It would be a small victory to have nicer dungeons, but with such arrogance as was to be had in Arthur, Merlin was willing to take her victories where she could.

Merlin had progressed from the dungeons to the stocks. The situation was so patently ridiculous in many ways, that she couldn't suppress the grin when she wondered what her brothers would say were they to see her now. Cadell would have been the most appalled, while Rhodri would have been the most likely to see humor in it. Merlin wryly reflected he probably would be one of the tomato flingers.

Absently Merlin noticed a little girl trying, and failing to throw her lettuce far enough to hit her. Reminded of her earlier resolution to participate in produce throwing at the stocks, Merlin grinned. Though this wasn't quite what she had intended, she could hardly deny anyone else the chance to fling fruit with abandon. So she grinned and kept encouraging the little girl until at last Merlin was hit on the nose. She was not the only vegetable flinger to cheer at this small, but clearly important victory.

Just when Merlin was starting to get bored, about an hour into her punishment, Merlin was approached by a girl who looked to be about her age. She introduced herself as Guinevere, and the Lady Morgana's maid. She applauded Merlin's bravery. Merlin laughed when Gwen said she didn't look like a big muscly man. All things considered, she was rather glad she didn't bear a resemblance to Arthur. When Gwen mocked Arthur as a "rough, tough, save-the-world kind of guy", as well as a bully, Merlin wondered if she was about to get her first real female friend. Rank wouldn't matter here. Gwen seemed genuinely kind, and her slight awkwardness was clearly born of honesty, a character not raised to play the endless political games that had characterized the princess' friendships as a child. Merlin was happy she was free from such machinations here. As a boy she could be brash, and as a commoner she could be honest. Happy at this unexpected development, she once more grinned at her new fans.

Once Merlin had returned to Gaius' chambers and cleaned up, she found herself receiving yet another lecture on caution and discretion. Merlin had received many such lectures in her life, and was not unused to them. But unlike at home, Gaius was not opposed to her asking questions. The old man was even forthright about some of the causes of the purge. He had lived in Camelot through it all, was in fact an adviser to the king. Though Merlin couldn't find herself agreeing with the measures Uther had taken, particularly with the dragons, Merlin was grateful for the knowledge. The purge had never been something she could discuss back home. And as Gaius had said, power was easy to abuse. Remembering that prat Arthur, she just thought it didn't matter so much whether the power was magical, political, or physical.

Gaius continued to make use of Merlin's skills as a delivery boy, asking her to take a tonic to Lady Helen. Merlin found herself rather looking forward to the feast that evening; she enjoyed singing herself, and had missed the courtly musical entertainments during her banishment in Ealdor. Her eighteenth birthday, just before the whole arranged marriage fiasco, had been celebrated with a feast and the finest bard in Powys.

With the audacity born from finding herself a complete nonentity in Camelot—aside from any notoriety that might result from calling his royal highness an ass—Merlin poked around Lady Helen's desk, curious at the doll and hidden book she saw there. Lady Helen's behavior surprised her, but she shrugged it aside and decided to use the time she had to see more of Camelot.

When Arthur saw the same brash peasant who had defended his servant yesterday, he felt a perverse thrill. Much as it appalled him that someone would speak to him as this boy had, it was entertaining.

Yesterday Arthur had been in what Morgana referred to as one of his moods. Disgruntled by a poor training session with the knights and frustrated when his father made yet another not so oblique hint at his should be upcoming marriage—though thank goodness the visit from Cadall, Powys' crown prince, had not yielded more than strong hints at future alliance—and encouraged by his chortling friends to show off his impressive aim with the knife, Arthur had taunted his servant.

Today, after Arthur taunted the strange peasant to not run away, he was pleased the boy once again turned to look at him. At the look on the boy's face, the prince was reminded again of the fleeting impression he had had the day before, when the boy had found out his identity; the look said plainly that Arthur had been judged and found wanting.

Sure that he couldn't be interpreting that look correctly, Arthur continued to goad the boy. "I thought you were deaf as well as dumb."

The boy straightened. "Look, I told you yesterday you're an ass. I just hadn't realized you were a royal one." Then insults flew between the two of them and before Arthur had really thought it out, he had thrown a mace to the lad. Not only was the boy brash, he was also a braggart. "I warn you, I've been trained to kill since birth."

Myrddin didn't seem impressed. "Oh? And how long have you been training to be a prat?"

Arthur scoffed. "You can't speak to me like that." Amusement was in the other's eye, even as he apologized. He gave a mockery of a little bow.

"And how long have you been training to be a prat, my lord?"

And thus ensued a mace fight in the marketplace. Despite the idiot clearly never having handled a mace before, Arthur was unable to land a proper blow on Myrddin. He certainly landed a blow on many a market stall, which he knew he'd have to pay for, but Myrddin always managed to wiggle away before it landed. Furthermore, Arthur himself was tripping over things, running into others, and in general being far clumsier than he ever recalled having been.

Thus it was that somehow Myrddin, despite having dropped his own mace, ended up grabbing the prince's once he fell into a stack of sacks and just as it looked like Arthur just might be facing a humiliating sort of defeat, the boy was distracted by someone in the crowd. Arthur quickly took advantage of the moment, grabbing the nearest weapon he could and reversing their positions. Once he had trounced Myrddin with a broom, he looked to see who had distracted the lad.

Gaius was standing at the edge of the crowd, his raised eyebrow indicating his disapproval. For a moment Arthur mistook the eyebrow as meant for him, which was truly unfair since he hadn't been the peasant boy fighting with the crown prince. But seeing Myrddin flush next to him, Arthur realized that Gaius was disappointed with the boy's behavior. Arthur had heard that Gaius was getting a new ward to be his apprentice, but he hadn't realized that Myrddin was the boy. Well, that changed things. Arthur had received many a lecture from Gaius and felt that that would be quite enough punishment for insolence. Sure enough, after assuring the guards that there was no reason to arrest the lad, Myrddin fell into step with the elderly physician. Letting off a little laugh in sympathy, Arthur watched him go before heading to the training fields himself. He needed to work on his mace work.

Though Merlin had to resort to cheap tricks to even survive the mace fight in one piece, there was something thrilling about being able to toss around words like ass and swing a mace at the conceited knight, behavior she certainly wouldn't have been allowed to indulge in if she had met his royal arrogance as his betrothed.

But it was just as well that Gaius interfered. Of course, he gave her a berating about the proper use of magic as soon as they were in his quarters. Merlin was so sick of being told not to use her magic, of having to hide such an integral part of who she was. Sore from the number of things she had collided with and feeling a pretty significant scrape on her back, she walked stiffly into her room, carefully lying down on her stomach. She was happy to be able to be a commoner, to be able to meet people like Gwen, but it was even more dangerous for magic here in Camelot than at home, even if in technicality the laws were the same. Uther's voice at the execution conveyed a ruthlessness toward the sorcerer that her own father's had never possessed.

While she was contemplating this, Gaius came in with a rag and bucket. Merlin assumed he was just going to leave the bucket so that she could clean her wounds.

"Sit up, take off your shirt."

Merlin panicked. While Hunith had sent her to Gaius with the expectation that he would help her with her magic—which he was already giving advice on—it had never really come up what to do if it was revealed she was in fact female. Should she confess the whole deal, royalty and everything? Say she was Hunith's daughter? Simply insist that she could clean the wounds herself? But then what if something happened and she really got injured and was knocked unconscious? Gaius would assume it was safe to take off her shirt and that would simply not do. She at least needed to confess her gender.

Merlin took a deep breath, "That really wouldn't be proper for a small scrape like this."

Gaius looked at her, clearly thinking she was being ridiculous.

"Because the thing is, I'm not really Hunith's son at all. I'm a girl." Merlin looked up to see his incredulous face. She had confessed everything else to Gaius, including the treasonous magic. She might as well tell him the rest. "In fact I'm not even Hunith's child. But she basically raised me and she loved me like a daughter and I consider her to be my second mother and Will to be a brother to me."

Gaius seemed to be contemplating this. "Were you raised in Ealdor?"

"No. I was raised in Powys. Hunith was my nursemaid. I'm on temporary exile in Ealdor because I don't appreciate my duty enough to marry a complete stranger who it turns out is a complete prat." Merlin paused. "I'm Merlin. Princess Merlin."

Gaius raised his eyebrow. "I see. I had wondered why the arrangements for the marriage of Arthur and the princess hadn't progressed, and I find that the answer has turned up right at my door."

He sat down on the bed beside her. "I'm assuming if you were to lift your shirt off of your back, certain areas would still be covered and I would be able to tend to your scrapes?" Merlin complied, and as he began to clean the cuts there was a brief lull of silence.

"Do you parents know of this, that you have been able to move things with your mind before you could talk?" Merlin shook her head. He continued, "It would be surprising if they did know and they still went forward with the arrangements for marriage. Uther is relentless in his execution of magic. I do not think being royalty would be any guarantee if you were caught using enchantments. I can understand your reluctance to agree to the match."

"I know. But as I was in Ealdor, disguised as Hunith's second son, I began to wonder if perhaps Arthur would be the kind of man who I could trust with this secret. But he's completely arrogant and self-entitled." Gaius worked in silence for a bit. Figuring the physician was well acquainted with the prince, Merlin took his lack of protest as a tacit agreement of Arthur's character. Thank heavens she had refused to marry him before meeting him.

Gaius continued to tend to her back, both of them apparently lost in thought. "You don't know why I was born like this do you?" She asked.


"I'm not a monster am I?" She had never confessed this so baldly before. Hunith had always assured her that she was special, but Gauis' shock at how different she was, his astonishment at her abilities, reminded her again of the weight of being dissimilar to everyone she knew.

"Don't ever think that." Gaius was firm, but kind. Merlin smiled sadly.

"Then why am I like this? Please, I need to know why."

"Perhaps there is someone with more knowledge than me."

"If you can't help me, then no one can."

Gaius eventually left Merlin with some medicine. She took it and brooded, realizing she had been hoping so much that Gaius would have answers, that he would be the mentor in magic that she had never had. He said perhaps someone would know more, but how did one go about finding such a person?

No doubt it was this chain of thoughts that encouraged Merlin to once more throw caution to the wind and seek out that mysterious voice when she heard it again that evening. With a flash of her eyes, she easily slipped past the guards, and found herself wandering deeper and deeper into the castle's belly.

She found herself in a huge cavern. But there was no one there.

Until there suddenly was a large dragon; clearly this was the dragon that Gaius had mentioned the day before.

When the dragon said that she had a destiny, a reason for her magic, she felt hopeful again. This could be her chance to no longer be so in the dark.

"Arthur is the Once and Future King who will unite the land of Albion."

"Right." Not exactly what she was looking for in terms of answers for her magic.

"But he faces many threats from friend and foe alike."

"I don't see what this has to do with me."

"Everything," the dragon stated. "Without you Arthur will never succeed. Without you there will be no Albion." The dragon's answers sounded distinctly like the same sort of rhetoric that her parents had used to try to persuade her to agree to marriage to the blond.

"No. NO. You've got this wrong." Arthur's life could not be the reason behind the gift and the burden of her secret. He had nothing to do with her.

"There is no right and wrong, there is only what is and what isn't."

"No, if any one wants to kill him, they can go right ahead. In fact I'll give them a hand."

"No one can escape their destiny," the dragon laughed.

"Then perhaps there is another Arthur, because this one is an idiot." Merlin spoke with the conviction that the two confrontations had revealed his true character.

"Then perhaps it's your destiny to change that." And with those enigmatical words, Merlin was left alone, pondering whether it was possible to change the prideful prince, and wondering how she would even get the chance without first marrying him, something she remained distinctly unwilling to do.

Arthur seemed to be on the mind of more than one person, because the first thing she heard when she knocked on the Lady Morgana's door with medicine from Gaius were these words:

"You know, I've been thinking about Arthur. I wouldn't touch him with a lance pole." Merlin couldn't agree more. She had temporarily forgotten that she wasn't a girl, and that it wasn't exactly proper for her to be in the room while Morgana was behind her dressing screen. But she remembered when Morgana asked her to pass her her dress.

"I think that you have me confused for someone else, my lady. I'm Myrddin, Gaius' ward. He asked me to deliver your medicine." Morgana poked her head around the screen. There was a very awkward pause. Merlin smiled sheepishly and went to back out. Fortunately Gwen arrived, gave her a weird look, and Merlin beat a hasty exit, for once not having to fake the clumsiness.

It was weird to be at a royal feast and not be the guest of honor. Gaius had to gently remind her that she was there to work. A royal court was completely different to observe when one wasn't part of it. Shortly after she arrived, Morgana made as ostentatious an entrance as possible. Gwen followed soon after, sidling up next to Myrddin. Merlin was so busy smirking at the stunned face of the normally overly self-confident and self-possessed Arthur when he saw Morgana, she almost didn't catch Gwen's comment.

"Some people are just born to be queen."

"No," Merlin said, slightly sarcastically. Enigmatic dragons be damned, if Morgana wanted to marry Arthur then clearly it wasn't Merlin's destiny after all. Morgana was welcome to him. She felt relieved, but surprised. She'd have thought Arthur and Morgana would have a more brother/sister relationship, having grown up together. She'd grown up with Will, basically sharing a parent, and she couldn't imagine marrying him, and he was a very nice boy, not at all arrogant like his royal highness.

"I hope so. One day. Not that I'd want to be her. Who'd want to marry Arthur?" Gwen continued. Merlin smiled. She had thought at the stocks that Gwen would be a good friend, but she was even more convinced now.

"Come on, Gwen. I thought you liked those rough, tough, save-the-world kind of men," Merlin couldn't help teasing.

"No, I like much more ordinary men like you." Merlin laughed. It was just too funny.

"Believe me Gwen, I am not an ordinary man." The comment was made in complete earnestness.

"I mean, not you, obviously, but more ordinary men, like you." Clearly, the boy disguise was continuing to hold up. She decided to no longer point fun at Gwen's expense.


Shortly thereafter, while Merlin was still trying to figure out precisely what she was meant to be doing at the feast, Uther welcomed Lady Helen, who then began to sing. Merlin was entranced. She really did have a beautiful voice. Despite the words being in a foreign language, they seemed to connect something deep within her. It wasn't until Merlin noticed everyone who was sleeping, that she realized with a start that it must be magic; magic that was reacting to the presence of her own, keeping her awake. She clapped her hands over her ears anyway.

Those at the feast were all already deeply asleep, cobwebs slowly growing over them. Merlin saw that Lady Helen, if it was in fact the real Lady Helen, was slowly advancing towards the high table, her gaze on Arthur. As she reached in her sleeve for a dagger, Merlin glanced around for a way to stop it. So it was with a flash of eyes, the chandelier fell on top of the woman. And with another flash time slowed down enough for her to pull Arthur safely out of the trajectory of the witch's desperately thrown dagger. With a painful thump, both of them landing heavily on the stone floor.

Like all her magic, like when she saved Gaius, she had reacted instinctively. It seemed the dragon had been right about the dangers to Arthur. It was galling to be forced to concede that her magic had indeed helped save his life. But despite all the dragon's hints that she was supposed to save the prince, she was as shocked as everyone else when Uther named her Arthur's manservant.

Arthur's was not the only indignant cry.

All in all it was a twist ending to the day. When Merlin had conspired with Will to make it to Camelot, she had justified it by planning on meeting Arthur, seeing if he was the type of man she would even want to marry. But in arriving in the land as a commoner, she had not actually anticipated being in daily contact with him. After seeing his arrogance first hand, she didn't want to be.

But the dragon's parting words, that maybe she was supposed to change the idiot, coupled with her impulsive rescue, made her wonder if she should take the position as his manservant. She would still stand up to his presumptuous behavior. What could be the worst that could happen? He fire her for being honest? She wasn't actually looking for job security; she would doubtless be summoned from exile within a few months, and subjected to another round of lectures on duty and matrimony.

Despite her indignation at Gaius classifying her brilliant use of subterfuge in the magic versus mace fight as "idiotic pranks", Merlin knew her use of magic so often was just that - nothing more than a paltry, private, party trick. Unable to use magic openly, she had rarely had the opportunity to do anything more meaningful. Saving someone's life - even the life of someone she personally disliked- -with her gift was something she wanted to repeat. Sure Camelot was dangerous to be practicing magic in, but in disguise as a servant, she would be in a position to protect Arthur, as the dragon intimated he would need.

Gaius came in greeting her as a hero, unwittingly echoing her own reflections about the purpose of her magic. She was touched by his gift of a spell book. The purge had not eradicated all traces of magic in the library of her home castle, but she had only every been able to sneak glances at the tomes that remained, with no one to answer questions, or indeed any real use for her knowledge.

All in all, she liked Camelot. She already respected Gaius, and she felt she had found the makings of a true friend in Gwen. And perhaps Arthur was a better person on a one to one basis, without a body guard of jeering noblemen egging him on.

"Gaius, I can see the advantages of working for Arthur; having a job, getting to know him better, saving his life…but do you think it would be wrong of me to be his manservant seeing as I'm, well, you know?" Merlin almost hesitatingly posed the question.

Gaius considered that for a moment. While Merlin was neither servant nor man, Gaius thought she would be able to fulfill any tasks Arthur could set her. Frankly, he thought it would be beneficial to any ruler to see how their castle was run. Though he knew Merlin to be dead set against the match, he privately thought that Arthur and Merlin could quite possibly be a very good pair. Though Merlin's antics in the marketplace were rather daft considering who she was pretending to be and where she was, Arthur would benefit from a wife who was unabashed in standing up for what she thought was right. And though Merlin only saw a royal ass in Arthur, Gaius had known Arthur all his life, tending to many a wound and often answering questions for a youthful prince. Beneath his condescension and pride, Gaius believed he had a good heart and that he wanted to be a good king. This could be a chance for Myrddin to meet that side of the prince.

"I think perhaps if you are his manservant that you might find that maybe there is more to Arthur than you think." And with that vague pronouncement Gaius left her alone for the night.

In Which There is a Closing Author's Note: When I first started writing this story, I typed up all the episode titles and then, in one massive brain-storming session, typed out a summary of what I projected would happen in my story, based on what I remembered about the actual episode, my primary impression of that episode, and what I thought would change in my royal, female Merlin retelling of the episode. These short little summaries were the original chapter titles, and my inner sarcastic imp was unleashed to do its worst. Later, as I've gone through and actually written the story, I have reined in much of the sarcasm, seeing as my work is not a parody, despite the times the impulse to poke fun could not be restrained.

I actually like quite a few of these chapter titles, which so often are brief loving parodies of the series, and was torn between using them and using the more reasonable chapter titles I created. And so I compromised with myself: whenever I have come up with a tamer real chapter heading, I will include the more verbose, more mocking, alternate title here, at the bottom.

The original story name is actually: In Which Merlin Is Rewritten as a Female Character and the Author Makes Even More Changes to the Arthurian Legend, Though She Compensates by Throwing in Clever Allusions to the Originals

And this chapter was at one point called: In Which Fate Pulls Together Two Protesting Royals and Tells Them They are Destined to be Together Often Enough That One of Them Starts to Believe It