A/N: This is it, I'm afraid. The end. The last part. No more updates after this. So enjoy the ridiculously short epilogue I've written up for you lovely people.
Arthur didn't see much of Merlin for the rest of that day, nor most of the next; it wasn't until three nights after the big reveal of Merlin's magic that they finally had time to sit together and talk, when Merlin came to deliver his evening meal. And talk they did. After so many days of thinking, Arthur had accumulated quite a large number of questions for his friend, all of which Merlin was only too happy to try and answer. And when he finally left for the night, Arthur went to bed with a peaceful feeling for the first time in a while.
They continued to meet almost every night after that, Arthur listening while Merlin explained his escapades since he came to Camelot. Some nights, Arthur would quietly listen with little comment; other times he would constantly be interjecting with questions and incredulous denials.
"Hang on... My wound from the questing beast was fatal?"
"I didn't actually defeat the afanc on my own, did I?"
"You mean you killed nimueh?"
"How could you release the dragon? Don't you realize the damage it did?"
Merlin would patiently answer each one, sometimes with a hint of shame or embarrassment at his actions, and other times with humor or sarcasm present in his voice. They worked their way through all the questions, all the explanations, all the details, and Merlin did his best not to leave anything out while Arthur brought up every point he could possibly have a problem with.
It took nearly a week for Arthur to get up the courage to ask Merlin for a display of magic.
Merlin smiled hesitantly at this request before whispering a foreign word into his cupped hands. When he opened them, a small blue and white flower lay in his palm, looking exotic but fresh. Arthur was too amazed to call Merlin a girl for conjuring a flower, and instead just admired the thing, noticing the intricate designs and the fragile leaves.
Eventually, having heard so many incredible and unbelievable accounts from Merlin of magical foes and heroes, it was an awestruck Arthur who sat in amazement, taking in the young, unassuming man before him and trying to picture him commanding a dragon or defeating a powerful sorcerer.
"About what you said before," Arthur told him, "I do think you're brave. You're not weak or useless. Lancelot was right, back when he said you deserve to be knighted. You are the bravest of us all."
This statement caused Merlin to break into a wide, albeit hesitant, grin. Ears slightly pink, he shrugged, repeating that he didn't do it for credit or honor, but Arthur could tell it meant a lot to him.
Merlin wasn't the only one made incredibly happy by Arthur's knowledge and acceptance of magic; Lancelot had approached Arthur the other day to thank him and to apologize for helping keep it a secret, and Arthur could have sworn he heard Gaius whistling the other day as he did his rounds. Even Gwaine was cheerier than usual, if that was possible, just because of everyone else's good moods. It was amazing how even in the wake of the tragedy which had occurred, they all managed to be in such high spirits.
It was after Arthur started getting used to the idea of Merlin being a powerful sorcerer that he began to think of the future. After all, he couldn't very well uphold the laws against magic when he was king, not after he had learned of its potential for good. And while he was not yet on the throne, his father was still ill and he was beginning to think that Merlin had been right; they were nearing a time when Arthur might have to step up and take his father's place permanently. And when that time came, he would find a way to make the kingdom welcome magic again, as long as it was good. He knew he would probably face strong opposition and controversy, and it would not be an easy task. But he knew that he could count on Merlin to help, and that Merlin would follow him anywhere no matter what he did; he would always have his friend by his side, helping him make the right decisions and producing spontaneous wisdom. He finally knew without a doubt that he could always trust him, whatever the situation, and also that the trust would finally be reciprocated.
But in the meantime, there was no way in hell that he was letting Merlin do his chores by magic.
A/N: Like I said... ridiculously short. But I hope you liked it, and I didn't really want to continue the story, just wrap it up. This is it! After about 8 months, it's finally finished. I'm planning on going back in the next few days and tweaking a few little things from previous chapters, but otherwise it's complete, so I'll take this opportunity to send you all a massive thank you. I know I haven't replied to a single review in all that time which is rather unforgivable, especially since I'm about to hit 150 (omg), but I want you all to know that every single one was read and accounted for, and they all meant so much to me while I struggled through this. Thank you all so much for making my first fic such a massive success and for boosting my self confidence off the charts. You guys are honestly the best.
I think I might have to take a small break from FanFiction, but I have a feeling I will be back soon. I have some ideas for other stories, so I'll try some of those out sometime. Until then, my friends!
- SwitzD (who loves you all to bits)