A/N: You guys. All I can hear is Merlin's scream from the last second of the preview trailer, and I'm making strange involuntary keening noises in the back of my throat, hiding behind pillows and my fluffy Hobbit feels in order to make myself feel better. (THE FREAKING HOBBIT, BTW. THERE ARE NO WORDS FOR THE FANTABULOUSNESS) This little thing is really just an effort to make myself feel better, forcing out an optimistic ending because, well… I'm not really sure if I want next week to come, now. Merry Freaking Christmas, BBC. At least knock off Merlin's last episodes the way they're meant to go, alright? We can hope…
The only sound in the room was Arthur's voice.
"…my servant, Merlin, to be a sorcerer…"
His eyes scanned the room. He didn't know why he expected to see Merlin there.
"… although he has posed no threat to Camelot through magic, the matter must be settled immediately…
He wondered how the sorcerer fared. He'd taken the killing blow meant for the king, and had been in Gaius' chambers for a week and a half, leg badly injured, scraped, bruised, aching, and under a strict house arrest and guard.
"…the law dictates that practitioners of magic are to be put to death…"
In truth, he was almost glad Merlin wasn't there. It would have been too tense with him present. Already, the knights, Gwen, and Gaius were giving him all the emotion and tension he needed as he stood in front of the court. Looking up at them was difficult.
"…I am not my father. This is my kingdom, and its laws are mine to change, if I see fit to do so…"
He wanted his voice to stop wobbling. He wanted to not feel the tears rising in his throat.
"…and in his actions, Merlin has shown me nothing worthy of death. In him, I see nothing worthy of the punishment my laws assign to him…
He was shaking. He steadied his voice determinedly.
"…His magic is powerful. His deeds are great, and terrible. His ability as a sorcerer are unparalleled. And yet…"
He forced himself to look up again. He'd never seen the hall look so anxious before. He lost his train of thought, and paused awkwardly before regaining his footing.
"…The laws of these kingdoms are mine to change, if ever I should be persuaded to do so."
He knew he'd just repeated himself. He took a deep breath.
"…Merlin has given me every reason, every persuasion possible. And because of that, I am obligated, as your king, as a knight of Camelot, and as a man… a very small, blinded man…"
His voice cracked and he didn't mean it to,
"…to annul the wrongs I carry with me in light of what I have been given. That is why,"
He looked up and his gaze caught with Gaius', and the two seemed to share an understanding.
"For sake of all those of magic who may persuade this kingdom of the goodness in their hearts, I, Arthur Pendragon, King of Camelot, am repealing the law against magic."
Gaius closed his eyes, and it was the first time Arthur saw him cry.
The room erupted. It was chaos, wonderful, joyous chaos. The knights, Gwen, the peasants, they were all clapping and crying and cheering and shaking hands and pounding backs. Through the crowd, one of the older knights made his way to Arthur, and dropped to his knee.
"Sir Ordin, rise," Arthur said, somewhat bewildered. His confusion grew when the knight obeyed and turned up jaded cheeks covered in tears.
"My lord," He said, voice thick with emotion, "Thank you. And…" He looked terrified for a split second, before extending his hand. "May I one day persuade you as well, my lord." He nodded, his eyes flickering somewhat. Arthur's expression cleared, and he wondered just how astonished he looked.
"Ordin…" He blinked, and looked down at his hand. Setting his jaw, he took it with both hands. "It would be my humble honor, Sir Ordin."
Arthur hadn't ever seen the old man smile that widely before. Then, the knight was gone. He found Gaius next.
"Arthur…" the old man said, and bowed slightly. "I can say safely, Sire, that I have never been more proud of you, of the man you've become, in all my long years."
"Thank you, Gaius." He smiled, nodding compassionately. "I only wish that Merlin could…" his voice drifted off when he looked up at the balcony overlooking the throne room. The colored light streaming in bounced off something near the edge. He recognized it, and it flickered against the light rays as his face turned to surprised. Gaius followed his gaze. Arthur began to move, but Gaius stopped him.
"Sire," He said, "please, let me."
Arthur looked at the physician, and then nodded meekly. Gaius turned away, and Arthur watched him leave with surprising speed toward the jacket sleeve he'd spotted up on the balcony.
"Merlin," Gaius said as he approached, smile wide despite his displeasure that Merlin had snuck out, "Merlin, what are you doing here? If you're going to sneak in at all, you might as well come down to-" The words died on his lips when turned the corner and saw him.
Merlin had been given a crutch for his leg. It was on the floor, and he was leaning heavily against the wall to remain upright. His face was still, and covered in tears.
"Gaius, I…" he hadn't heard a word the physician had said. "I… I'm…" He turned to his longtime mentor, his face trying to learn a new expression to describe an emotion he'd never felt. "I- I'm free." His face twitched, and he laughed out loud, and more tears fell. "I'm… I'm free, Gaius."
It nearly broke the physician's heart.
Merlin gulped in another breath to laugh out freely, so freely, even as the tears fell and the sobs rose in his chest. He brought shaking hands up to cover his mouth and noises it was making, whether they be laughs or sobs or both. "It's over," He cried in a thick, deep voice. "God… Gaius, we made it."
"Yes, Merlin," Gaius said, trying to remember the last time he'd cried. It was probably when it all started, reaching thirty years ago, when the darkness of the Purge first fell. But the tears of the morning were different. They were tears of joy. He moved to Merlin "It's over, Merlin."
At at that, something in Merlin snapped, and fell away. The part of him that had been holding the weight of the world let its burden down, the strains and worries and pressures of a lifetime all collapsing and washing away in an instant. The feeling was so new and so wonderful that he couldn't cope. His whole body was shaking, and his injuries sent him sinking down the wall to the floor, tears, laughs, and now hiccups making him drop his head into trembling hands. Gaius was there in an instant.
"Oh, my son," He wrapped his arms around him, brought up a withering hand to Merlin's head and drew it close. "You've done it."
They stayed that way for a while. Crying, injured, aching and tried as he was, Merlin wondered if there had ever been a more wonderful feeling in the world.
A ways away, his silhouette quiet and unnoticed against the stained glass, another watched the scene unfold with a feeling just as alien as the one Merlin was experiencing. He would spend a lifetime trying to decipher it, but in those minutes, a strange, bittersweet part of him could only sit in serene, humble appreciation.
His smile genuine, his eyes sad, Arthur ducked his head and turned away.
If hearts could be heard, a trio of cries would be heard from the balcony that day.