Disclaimer: I do not own anything :D

A/N: So hello! Here's the Merlin fanfiction I've mentioned before. Yeah, yeah, you're probably surprised with the fact that in this fic, Merlin is female. Although I ship Merthur (with Merlin as a boy, of course), I kind of found myself obsessing over Female!Merlin fics XD Perhaps it's just a phase, I'm not really sure.

I've decided to write a Born-a-girl!Merlin fic in the end because it wouldn't stop bugging me. This will only be a total of five chapters (you'd understand why as you read the chapters) and I have no plan to write more (unless, of course, a plot bunny bites me again).

This story will be filled with spoilers from the series. It would help that you have at least a little background of the original series, though.

So yeah, I hope you like it. All grammatical errors are mine XD This story isn't beta-ed so yeah, blame everything to me.

Please read and review! Enjoy!

Title: Bewitched
Author: WickedlyAwesomeMe
Language: English
Form: Multi-Chaptered
Genre: Adventure/Romance
Rating: T, just to be safe (rating may change)
Warning: Character death, violence, cuss words, and innuendos
Pairing: Merlin/Arthur Pendragon
Summary:"None of us can choose our destiny, Merlin. And none of us can escape it." She had always been an unfortunate little thing, with a penchant for danger and an obvious love for clumsiness. Merlin wondered if life was purposefully being unfair to her. Born-a-girl!Merlin; Merlin/Arthur Pendragon

Bewitched by WickedlyAwesomeMe

Chapter One

Ealdor was a peaceful village. Although it is part of a kingdom famously ruled by a ruthless king, the village had never truly encountered any unfortunate incidents that caused great grief and sorrow to them. With its vast meadows and towering trees, its friendly people and quiet markets, with its warm days and cool nights, who could not fall in love with such a lovely place?

Merlin had been in Ealdor for sixteen years now, and she had always considered this as home. She established wonderful relationships with her neighbours, and perhaps even a possible love (she was still quite confused with her feelings for Will), and things were smooth and quiet and just… just simple.

And Merlin, for the life of her, felt absolutely empty. Yes, the village was wonderful. Yes, the village held everything she needed. Yes, the village provided her with the love that she rightful deserved. But still, something constantly niggled in her heart, something she couldn't place finger upon.

She was different, that much she knew. Her mother constantly reminded her that, with brief fear flashing in her eyes before fondly staring down at her daughter. Although mothers were obliged to say that their children are special, Merlin's case was different.

She truly is special.

She is magical.

The first time she completely understood the magic she possessed was when she was barely six. A rare invasion by their neighboring village had caused an uproar in Ealdor, and little Merlin was terrified for herself and her mummy. Hunith, out of desperation, hid her daughter inside a barrel while the invaders barged into their house.

"Don't make any noise," her mother soothed and Merlin was forced to nod her head.

One of the burly men was about to slash a sword against her mother's chest. Merlin shook with unsuppressed fear and anger. She felt warm all over and with just a brief blink, the man was on the floor, unconscious. Hunith immediately brought her out of the barrel and Merlin started to cry.

"Did I do that, Mummy?" she sniffd, haphazardly wiping her tears away.

And Hunith, with familiar fear now obviously written all over her face, merely shushed her daughter. And that was when Merlin knew she was different, in a magical kind of way.

It was a struggle to hide the special gift that she had. Sometimes, she would aimlessly think of doing something and then it does happen. Hunith constantly reminded her to be discreet, to avoid using her magic at all cost, and Merlin tried very, very hard. But there were random bursts of magic she could not control, and both she and Hunith knew then that perhaps, what she withheld was far more powerful than ordinary magic.

For years, Merlin was successful to hide her magic. There were times when she felt that the villagers suspected. She heard them talk, anyway. It was always suspicious as to why they had the healthiest pigs, the most flourished garden, the warmest house, and Merlin, saddened, knew she had to be more discreet.

Magic wasn't exactly prohibited in Ealdor. It wasn't exactly accepted, either. With their village at the border of Essetir and Camelot, with the latter infamously known for its deep loathing for magic, it was best for sorcerers and sorceress alike to keep their magic to themselves.

So yes, things in Ealdor were the same.

Until, he came.

Patrolling, they said, but Merlin was not stupid. Camelot and Essetir had always been warring against each other for years. King Cenred was not exactly a wonderful king (who was she kidding, he was a bastard) and had a couple of fights with their neighbouring kingdoms. Formidable Camelot was one of them, and to see the Prince and some of his knights patrolling Ealdor was enough proof that they were feeling threatened by their king.

King Cenred was brewing something, but Merlin really didn't know. Their king was more ruthless and annoying, and if she wasn't a mere commoner and if magic wasn't feared, she would have singlehandedly overthrown him. She voiced out this little fantasy to her mother, and although horrified, Hunith was holding back a smile. Even her gentle, kind mother agreed with her!

Thus, Ealdor drastically changed for the following days. With royalty amidst them, they scrambled about, trying to make the Prince comfortable.

Merlin had heard a lot about him. He was handsome, with soft, blond hair and handsome facial features (his cheekbones were to die for). His eyes were round and very blue and his lips were full and pink. He was the best swordsman in all the Five Kingdoms, and he had led a lot of battles victoriously.

Apparently, people forgot to include that he was a royal prat. He prattled about his position with great emphasis so that people would attend to his very beck and call. He had his knights wrapped around his annoying finger and he held this smirk that only seemed to be reserved to those below him. And he wasn't even the Prince of this kingdom!

But Ealdor being Ealdor, they welcomed any small disturbances. Poverty and desperation made them dreary, and to see a healthy monarch was refreshing. Merlin sometimes saw her neighbours, darting hopeful looks at the Prince, hoping against hope that perhaps, they could help them rise above this cruel hunger. Merlin, of course, knew that it was impossible because Prince Arthur Pendragon was as awful, if not more awful, than their damned King.

She had steered clear from him for days, wanting to be as far away from a prince of a land that kills persons of magic. Just his mere presence made her skin crawl and Merlin desperately wished that he would soon leave them alone and bring his stupid ideologies with him.

One fateful night, though, when everybody was already asleep, some knights of Cenred attacked Ealdor. Apparently, it came to their knowledge that a small troop of Camelot knights were residing in their village.

The village was roused from their sleep as they heard the fearful clanging of sword against sword and the screams of order from the warring troops.

The night was ablaze with fire and thick with the pungent smell of blood. It was instinct for Merlin to help, and even if Hunith frantically ordered for her daughter to stay put, her pleas fell into deaf ears. Adventures like this were embraced tightly by the young sorceress. Every nerve in her body awakens with adrenaline and she just absolutely love the feeling.

She battled against Cenred's knights because admittedly, the Knights of Camelot were far more chivalrous and gallant (and really, Cenred's knights were just atrocious to look at). Merlin hid behind barrels and houses, trying to be inconspicuous and for a while she was successful.

Until, she spotted the Prince of Camelot, not far away from where she hid. He was at the mercy of one of the opposing knights, his sword kicked far from his empty hands. He was wounded, she noticed, with his sword hand bleeding profusely.

The arrogant clotpole was in a momentary state of vulnerability and Merlin knew she must laugh. He was an annoying little being and things would be better off without him. After all, he would someday rule in a kingdom where they executed people like her. She knew she must hate them, hate them for making her suffer, for making her mother suffer. But then again, Merlin would never be Merlin if she did not have a good heart.

Hence, she stepped away from the shadows and summoned a great wind. Cenred's knight was lifted in the air and thrown mercilessly against a tree. Merlin cringed when she heard a sickening crack and she directed her horrified eyes at the immobile knight on the ground.

Perhaps, she thought, she had gone too far. For the past few years, she'd never killed anybody with the use of her magic.

Shaken with the thought, she was not able to see an infuriated and frightful Prince of Camelot scrambling onto his feet. He grabbed his fallen sword and ran the great length between them. The sharp end of his sword was pointed threateningly in her direction and Merlin knew her secret was revealed.

How could she be stupid? He was the Prince of a kingdom trained to spot a sorcerer or a sorceress. It wasn't a wonder she was discovered immediately.

Horror grew in her heart and she knew her fate was sealed. Merlin fell down on her knees, her eyes wide with fear. She trembled with emotions and unwittingly, tears started to form at the corner of her eyes.

"Please don't kill me," was all she managed to say. She grew terrified of the idea of leaving her mother, who nurtured her and loved her. Despite her magic, Hunith never showed any disgust or loathing. Her mother was growing old and she wouldn't be able to do the chores alone.

A small tear slid down from her face and something in the furious Prince snapped. His hold with his sword slackened and something indecipherable flashed in his eyes.

Confusion mingled with her fear, especially when Prince Arthur released his hold with his sword and gripped her by her shoulders instead. He dragged her across the village, with the battle now ended. Bodies littered on the ground and Merlin grew sick in the stomach. Her eyes anxiously searched all around, hoping that her mother was not part of the deceased.

Such was her concentration that she was surprised to see that they were in her home. How he knew where she lived, she did not really know. But it relieved her immensely when she saw that her mother was inside, unscathed.

Merlin scrambled towards her mother's arms and cried in relief.

Apparently, though, the Prince wasn't done, for he took a step forward, reminding them of his presence.

As mother and daughter curiously looked at the stoic Prince, Arthur's eyes briefly landed on Hunith's face before he stared intently into Merlin's eyes.

"You are coming with me."

Camelot was completely different from Ealdor. It was lively and colourful, exotic and wonderful. Village people bustled all throughout the kingdom. Most were in the market, buying and selling. It amazed her of the amount of children running amok. Back in Ealdor, she was one of the youngest. The castle was not too far away and Cenred's kingdom was nothing compared to Camelot's grandeur. The familiar Pendragon seal was scattered all over, constantly reminding the people who their ruler was. Knights of Camelot were among the crowd, their shiny armors standing out.

And Merlin, begrudgingly, admitted that she fell in love with the place at first sight.

The emptiness that she felt back in Ealdor seemed to be momentarily vanquished by Camelot's beauty. She heard wonders about this place from her mother, of course, and it was like she walking inside one of her mother's stories now.

Reality came crashing down to her, though, when she felt the Prince's hold on her tightened. She was sitting in front of him on his horse, the grip of his uninjured hand on her tight and tense. She scowled and tried to squirm away, but his hold tightened more.

She now absolutely hated him. With his arrogant eyes, annoying smirk, and loathsome attitude, Arthur Pendragon instantly became the most hated person in her life. Uther Pendragon might probably be on her top list, but she hadn't officially met him yet; thus, Arthur easily claimed the first place.

Merlin fought so hard with him when he ordered for her to come. But one little sentence from him ceased all the exclamations bubbling inside her.

"You are a sorceress. I can instantly kill you with just a slash of my sword."

And in that moment, he looked fearsome and ferocious, like a wild animal ready to pounce. She had forgotten his kingdom was infamous for killing her kind. Beside her, Hunith started to cry, and Merlin wrapped her arms around her mother for comfort.

Briefly, Arthur and Hunith's eyes met, and Merlin was confused as to why her mother's tears slowly subsided. There was something in Arthur's eyes that seemed to fully calm her mother down.

"You must come with him," her beloved mother told her. And Merlin was dumbstruck! Before she could even protest, Hunith drew her into a hug while her daughter cried bitter tears. "You are not safe in Ealdor."

"And you think I am safe in Camelot?" she cried back, unable to see the little flinch that Arthur Pendragon made.

Hunith brushed her hand on her curly locks and managed to considerably calm her down. "You are not destined to stay here in Ealdor forever, my daughter," she said. "You are lonely in this place. Perhaps, you will find your happiness in Camelot."

And so, here was she, riding on a horse with the annoying Prince of Camelot. Merlin somehow had this inkling that the Prince would hand her over to his father so that Uther would have the opportunity to build a pyre for her for all the sorcerers to see. The thought made her blanch in terror; if she were to die today, then her mother would be really, really sad.

They finally arrived, and Arthur Pendragon brought her to a room. Inside was an old man in a room full of potions and fumes and vials and books.

"Sire," he exclaimed, surprised to see the determined prince and the frightened village girl. His eyes lingered on Merlin's fearful face, before he shifted his gaze back on the prince. "What must I do for you?"

"You have a spare room, Gaius," Arthur said. He, Gaius, nodded his head. "I want you to keep her here for an indefinite time."

The old man was surprised with his request and once again looked at Merlin. "And, why is that, sire?" he asked.

"I am your Prince," Arthur coldly replied. "I am not obliged to answer your questions."

Judging from the way Gaius' eyebrows shot up in surprise, it was a rare sight for him to see Arthur Pendragon as such. Merlin wondered what was keeping the prince on edge and turned to look at him with a glare.

"Of course, sire," Gaius said. "As you wish."

Arthur then turned to look at Merlin, matching her glare once he caught sight of it. "And you," he started. "Can you shorten your hair?"

Merlin frowned, clearly surprised. She never expected those words from him. "Why must I - "

"Answer me," he ordered.

He looked so fearsome once again and she swallowed. "I-I can try," she stuttered.

"Do it."

She willed her magic and she felt a sudden release. Her eyes flashed gold and her hair instantly shortened. Beside her she heard Gaius gasped, and she feared whether he would attempt to kill her, too, like what Arthur did the first time he discovered she had magic.

"Can you conceal… those?" Arthur then continued, his gaze lingering on her chest. Merlin grew considerably warm and instinctively hugged herself.

"Why?" she asked, narrowing her eyes. Now, she was just plain annoyed.

Arthur's glare darkened. "Just do it," he spat.

Merlin sighed and heeded his order. She looked down at her chest and was surprised to see that it was as flat as a man's. It was strange, though, because she still felt they were there.

Arthur seemed satisfied for he nodded his head in farewell before leaving.

Merlin thought he would not be coming back for today. Gaius, who turned out to be the Court Physician to the King and the Kingdom, was a nice, old man, albeit a little cranky at times. Merlin was relieved to know that he would not blab her secret to the king. In fact, he seemed far too happy to share his responsibility with her.

It was when she was chopping the liver of a frog when Arthur strode inside the room once again. Clutched tightly in his hands were a servant's garb and he gave it to her. Curious, Merlin stood up from the bench and examined the clothes.

"These are men's clothes," she pointed out.

"Obviously," Arthur said, smirking when she looked at him in confusion.

Merlin bit her bottom lip, the gears inside her head turning and turning, until everything clicked in place. With her short hair and concealed breasts, she could easily be mistaken as a boy. And now, with the clothes in her hands, she understood what Arthur Pendragon was trying to do – he was ordering her to disguise herself as a boy.

"B-but why?" she asked, downright dumbfounded.

"Because Gaius needs a new apprentice and apparently, it has to be a boy," he stated matter-of-factly. He chewed his bottom lip and was humoured at the surprise on her face. "Idiot," he added as a little afterthought.

She sputtered like a fish out of the sea. "I… I… um…" she mumbled, her cheeks coloring. "I… I thought you'd hand me to your father so he can decide what to do with me."

Surprisingly, he was not surprised with her words. "Well, aren't we presumptuous?" he snarled, prompting her to glare. "If I wanted you dead, Merlin, I could have done so with my sword. Now, stop asking questions, and just change into those clothes."

He made a turn to leave, but Merlin stopped him.

"Why?" she exclaimed, unable to stop herself. "Why are you doing this?"

His back was still facing her, but Merlin could see how his shoulders tensed. "I am not inclined to answer such ridiculous questions from the likes of you," he insulted, briefly looking over his shoulder to glare at her. Normally, Merlin would have easily snapped back at him, but there was something in the tone of his voice that confused her so much.

Arthur then quickly walked out of Gaius' chambers without another glance back.

Merlin sighed and frowned at her new clothes. She darted a brief look at Gaius, who remained silent during the ordeal. When she met his eyes, he warmly smiled, and Merlin wondered if he knew something she didn't.

"Your Prince is an odd one," she pointed out, making a face.

"Oh, he is," Gaius said, his smile widening. "And a lot more, my dear girl. He is so much more."

Merlin, dubious, only nodded her head and strolled inside her room.

Why she saved that damned clotpole, she did not really know. But now, here was she, waiting for his arrival in his bedchambers.

It all started when Merlin delivered potions for Lady Helen. She was a beautiful lady, with looks that rivalled the other courtiers in Camelot. Merlin felt insecure in her presence, remembering her curly locks and simple features. She soon shook the envy away, constantly reminding herself that nobody knew she was a girl except the Prince and the Court Physician.

Merlin knew she should start getting used to the idea of running errands for Gaius. As the new Court Physician's apprentice, she was stuck with the mundane tasks that Gaius seemed to carelessly order her to do. Merlin bit her tongue, restraining herself from answering back whenever Gaius ordered her to do another ridiculous task. He could be annoying at times, yes, but he was still a kind, old man.

After delivering the potion to Lady Helen's bedchambers, she was able to come face-to-face with the lady herself and Merlin instantly knew that something was wrong. Especially because she was able to spot a strange, little poppet inside her room.

"What are you doing here?" the frantic lady asked. "What have you seen?"

"N-nothing, my lady," Merlin quickly answered. "I'm merely delivering potions from Gaius." And she immediately scrambled away before she puts her foot inside her mouth.

Merlin was terrible in lying and it was a wonder how she was able to hide her magic from people. Now that she had to hide her gender, too, she had no idea if her honest self would be able to do it well.

That evening after her confrontation with Lady Helen was a feast in honor of the said guest. The courtiers and knights and other royals all came to witness Lady Helen's performance. Apparently, she was a good singer.

She caught sight of Arthur numerous times, who she kept on shooting furtive glares. No one seemed to notice the hostility she held for the Prince, except for the Prince himself, who returned her glares with amusement.

Morgana Pendragon then came, with a revealing dress complementing her smooth features and all eyes were instantly on hers. If there was anyone who could rival Lady Helen's beauty, it would be Morgana. She was as fair as a rose and if Merlin felt insecure in Lady Helen's presence, then Merlin now absolutely felt like a mere insect with Morgana in the room.

"Beautiful, isn't she?" Guinevere, or Gwen, asked, smiling at her mistress. Merlin had met the maidservant a few days back and they instantly became friends.

"She is," Merlin said with a smile. Although Morgana's presence made her feel insignificant, Merlin still knew that the King's ward was kind and generous. It was hard to dislike her when she was very likeable.

Merlin thought everything would turn out all right until, Lady Helen started to sing. Merlin grew exhausted from her voice and through heavy-lidded eyes, she could see that people were one by one dropping in exhaustion, with cobwebs forming on their bodies. Merlin snapped out from her stupor and quickly covered her ears. While everybody was unconscious, she released her magic to defeat the sorceress in disguise.

Everything after that was a blur. The broken chandelier. The hurtling knife. Arthur's bewilderment. Her bewilderment. And Uther's so-called reward to her for saving Arthur's life.

Here was she now, waiting for the clotpole she was forced to serve, and wondered if the stars above were teaming up against her. She had always been an unfortunate little thing, with a penchant for danger and an obvious love for clumsiness.

Merlin wondered if life was purposefully being unfair to her.

"I see you managed to become my manservant without me trying anything," the Prince Prat exclaimed, announcing his presence. Merlin glowered at him, as usual, and crossed her arms against her chest. She was annoyed, and very much infuriated to herself and the blasted prince.

She just wanted to go home and see her mother, and Will, and the vast meadows and the towering trees.

"Why did you agree with your father?" she said, rolling her eyes. "I loathe you, you loathe me. The feelings between us are absolutely mutual. Wouldn't it be annoying to have me as your manservant… sire?" She added her address through gritted teeth, once again reminded of her new position.

Arthur looked absolutely amused and Merlin had to restrain herself from lashing out at him with the use of her magic. Never in her life before had she ever met such an infuriating man. She prided herself of her control before, although there were rare moments, but he seemed to be testing her patience. Briefly, she wondered if disguising her femininity and her magic in a dangerous kingdom was such a wise decision after all.

"My previous manservant was such a bore," Arthur lazily said, striding inside his room to sit on his chair. He leaned his head against the head rest. He lifted his feet and placed them on top of his desk, crossing one above the other. "I'm sure your presence will be… entertaining."

"And what am I now?" she asked, miffed. "Your personal jester?"

Arthur smirked. "Now that you think about it, I'd say that position suits you more," he said, nodding his head in effect. Merlin bristled and clenched her fists. "And before you start trembling with unsuppressed rage, polish my armor, will you? And now that you're at it, tend to my horse. She needs a bath and some brushing. Perhaps, you can also muck out the stables now. Oh, and my clean clothes haven't been delivered for days. See to it that they are here tomorrow morning."

He opened his eyes to look at Merlin, who was now comically staring at him with her mouth ajar. "Yes?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

Merlin took a deep sharp intake of breath. "Nothing, sire," she said, giving him a false smile. "Is there anything else?"

Arthur made a great show of thinking. "Oh, right, yes, my training boots need polishing, too. And" – Merlin's right eye twitched – "I think that's it for now. You are dismissed for the day."

She stiffly bowed down and left. "I hate you," she whispered and stomped away. Arthur perfectly heard her words and grinned in amusement.

Things would surely be different now, he thought.

"I… expected differently," the dragon said, staring at her with wide, golden eyes.

Merlin scowled. "And I expected not hear things in my head," she spat, rolling her eyes when the Great Dragon released a deep rumble. "Why do you keep on calling my name?"

"You have a great destiny ahead of you, young sorcerer - "

"Sorceress," she quickly corrected. When he looked at her in surprise, Merlin gestured at her clothes. "I'm merely disguising myself as a boy. Actually, it is Prince Arthur's fault, but you don't really need to know that."

Once again, the dragon was looking at her with an expression akin to amusement. "Very well then, young sorceress," he said, his smile unsettling. "As I was saying, you have a great destiny ahead of you, a destiny you will share with Arthur Pendragon."

Upon hearing his name, she frowned. "With Arthur Pendragon?" she asked.

"He is destined to be the greatest king, who will unite all the kingdoms of Albion for the future generations," he answered. "It is he who will bring back magic into this land. And it is he, and he alone, that you must stay with, Merlin. That is your destiny."

There was a funny expression on her face. "The greatest king," she said. "Right." She was reminded of the petty tasks he carelessly ordered her to do, and was unable to laugh in disbelief. "You should see him then. I don't think he has the makings of a great king."

The Great Dragon merely smiled. "You will be surprised what Arthur Pendragon is capable of, young sorceress," he said. "But for now, you must stay beside him and keep him safe. The young prince is in constant danger and it is up to you to protect him from those who wish him harm."

"B-but why me?" she exclaimed, but the dragon already took flight.

"None of us can choose our destiny, Merlin. And none of us can escape it," was his parting words before he completely disappeared from her sight.

Merlin, perturbed, turned around and stomped away. In a span of a week, she was able to shoulder three huge responsibilities – Gaius' apprentice, Arthur's manservant, and apparently, the clotpole's savior.

She was just an ordinary girl (well, as ordinary as a sorceress can be)! She has dreams for herself and none of what was happening to her right now was part of it.

She was waiting, smugly, and Arthur expelled a soft sigh.

He was a man of pride, with an honor to defend and a reputation to maintain. As the Prince of Camelot, a lot was expected from him. He had been trained to become a knight and a king by his father and his tutors ever since he was young, and along the way, he kind of picked up his true importance to the kingdom. He was always, always a special boy, with a special task and a special responsibility.

And so far, he was doing well. He became the mightiest swordsman of the Five Kingdoms and the proud trainer of the finest knights Albion had ever seen. He was dashing and gorgeous, with eyes as blue as the seas and blond, windswept hair that he playfully ruffled in effect. He was smart and courageous, unwavering and loyal. He was everything Camelot needed, women desired, and men envied.

But then things changed once his pretty eyes laid upon Merlin of Ealdor. Back in the village when they visited and ridiculously excused they were patrolling, he had seen her, running around, with curly, black hair billowing behind her back. Her blue eyes were wide with innocence and spirit. But what caught his attention the most was her smile.

She was… good to look at. Not pretty, oh no. He'd seen far prettier girls than her, with golden hair and a beautiful body. Merlin would pale in comparison to all of them. Annoyingly enough, though, he couldn't get rid of the image of her smiling face.

It annoyed him to bits and pieces to see that she completely ignored him while he and his knights were in her kingdom. It annoyed him to bits and pieces to see that her attention was solely on a village boy named Will. And no one had ever ignored him before; thus, Arthur believed she was one of the most unlikeable person he had ever met (although her smile was, well, likeable).

And then, Cenred's men attacked and they defended and then she happened. Her eyes flashed gold and he saw how she effortlessly killed the man, despite the guilt she had soon shown after. He acted out of instincts and pointed his sword at her. The girl trembled in fear, but she didn't deny her magic and Arthur was so, so torn.

"Please don't kill me," she exclaimed, so softly her words were carried by the wind. But he was a stubborn man and he prided himself with his unwavering resolve. She was a mere village girl and nothing more. Not a lot of people would miss her and his father would be very proud if he discovered his son killed a sorceress.

But then she started to cry and his unwavering resolve wavered. He briefly remembered her smile, her smile that haunted his dreams, and was sickened with the fact that it was him that made her cry. And soon, he acted without thinking, bringing her with him to Camelot and dressing her up as a boy. It was still unknown to him why he did so, and he couldn't, for the life of him, answer her when she questioned his intentions.

She was his manservant now, and things were going on so smoothly. The Lady Helen fiasco was a blessing in disguise. Arthur had this annoying wish to make her his manservant, but his father would get suspicious if he sacked his boring manservant and choose her instead. But then, she saved his life and here was she now.

And then this – Valiant. He knew she didn't trust him but he brushed her ridiculous suspicion aside. He was a knight, after all, and although he was admittedly dastardly, Arthur could not go around accusing people. She kept on pestering him, saying that his shield had venomous snakes on it. She used those eyes of hers again, and he had no choice but to accuse the knight in front of his father, only to be shamelessly humiliated in the end.

Merlin was still adamant and Arthur was tired. He mindlessly sacked her, and the sorceress was so dejected Arthur had to bite his tongue so as not to immediately blurt out that he was joking. And for days, he had to endure the service of his previous, boring manservant, all the while refusing to admit that he terribly missed clumsy, annoying Merlin.

While fighting against Valiant, the snakes were brought to life and Valiant grew hysterical. Horrified, Arthur fought him with equal fervor, silently thinking to himself that Merlin was right and he was a complete idiot.

Hence, here was he now, in Gaius' bedchambers. The Court Physician was currently away, but Merlin was there, with an expectant look in her eyes.

Damn it, he did miss her.

"Well?" she asked, lifting an eyebrow.

Arthur was a man of pride, dear God above, but he was desperate, he was forced to apologize to a servant. "I'm sorry," he merely said. Nothing more, nothing less. The embarrassment was so huge it almost suffocated him. He wanted to turn around and leave, but then, she smiled and his brain was once again a jumbled mess.

"There you go," she said, having such a feminine look on her face when she was still disguised as a boy. "It wasn't so hard now, was it?"

And he vigorously shook his head no, and prompted to rehire her. Although numerous complaints escaped from her mouth, Arthur couldn't help but detect the small smile she was trying to suppress.

She was pacing when he arrived.

Arthur gave her a bewildered look and she merely sniffed.

"It will not do you good if people catch you crying," he admonished, his voice surprisingly tight. "Suspicions may arise."

Merlin couldn't help but roll her eyes. "A boy can still cry, thank you very much," she said. "And shut up, I'm distressed. What news do you have?"

The Prince scoffed at her audacity and was about to lecture her about proper decorum and respect, but Merlin was just tired, so tired, and she wanted to go to sleep. She had released quite a lot of magic for the day and although it was refreshing, it still had taken its toll on her.

And Arthur noticed, for he pursed his lips and merely sighed. "Guinevere has been released from the prison," he said, prompting her to sigh in relief. "My father thinks she isn't guilty anymore now that the Afanc is dead."

More tears slipped past her eyes, but they were more of joy now. "I'm glad," she said, haphazardly wiping away her tears. Arthur was looking at her strangely, and she glared at him through glossy eyes. "What?"

"It was you who aided me back in the cave, wasn't it?" he asked. Merlin almost flinched at the accusation in his voice.

She avoided his gaze. "Gaius said that the only things that can kill it are two of the other elements. In this case, I chose fire, because he is born in the water," she said slowly, not really knowing how the prince would react when their topic was about magic.

"You could have been seen," he snapped. "Morgana was with us, and she is loyal to Uther."

"S-she wouldn't tell him even if she discovered," Merlin defended, thinking of kind, sweet Morgana.

"Still," Arthur said, crossing his arms. "It was dangerous."

Merlin glared and turned her eyes away from him. "Then, what was I left to do?" she spat. "I was the one who caused Gwen fear for being wrongly accused. I was the one who healed Tom, all right! I cannot do nothing, Arthur. I-I had to help Gwen and relieve her from the stupidity that I had committed."

And she was crying again, damn it. She hated it when she cried. Merlin didn't like to feel helpless.

Opposite her, Arthur expelled a soft sigh. He was struggling to find the right words to say, especially because there were tears in her eyes once more. "Just… just be careful in the future," he tiredly said in the end, before turning around and leaving a befuddled Merlin in his wake.

She was shivering, with a blanket draped around her shoulders while she carefully ate her porridge. But dear God above, she was all right and that was all that mattered to him. He leaned heavily against the door frame upon seeing her recovering from her illness and Arthur banished the images of her dying and helpless form.

When she was poisoned, he believed it was the most frightening day he ever had. And he just knew, because she saved his life, that he must save hers, despite the fact that his father refused for him to undergo the said journey. He just got released from the dungeons for disobeying his father's order, and he was so exhausted and tired. But before going to his bedchambers, he just had to make sure that she was all right.

He took another step forward, alerting her of his presence. Merlin swiveled around, her face still pale with a thin sheen of sweat on her forehead. Nonetheless she smiled at him, and Arthur felt a small lump forming in his throat.

"I see you're still alive," he casually said.

"No thanks to you," she rasped out, her voice still cracking due to her illness.

They were silent for a while, and wonder filled her eyes. Arthur tried to desperately hide the feelings that formed in his heart when she was still dying and… oh God, oh God, she almost died and it was because of him.

"T-thank you," Arthur started, and he swore his eyes brightened a little. "For saving my life."

And she smiled, so brilliantly Arthur felt that every guilt he had for putting her in danger all melted away. "And you saved mine," she said. "So, thank you, too."

Arthur swallowed, not willing himself to speak. Merlin must have seen something in his eyes for she slowly stood up and wobbled closer to him. His arms were instantly outstretched in front of him in case she fell (and he would dive down or jump up just to catch her). And then, she stopped a few meters in front of him and lifted her hand. To his surprise, she patted his head, that same gentle smile still stretched on her face.

"Thank you, Arthur," she said once again, and Arthur's breath hitched.

He gave her a shaky smile and restrained himself from wrapping her tightly in his arms. "Of course," he said and she continued to smile.

She hadn't served him for the following days, and she knew Arthur must be infuriated to her by now. But she couldn't bring herself to serve him once again, after how he failed to defend Lancelot from his father's harsh verdict. Again, it was her fault, her entire fault, that a friend of hers was to be sentenced to death.

She heard his arrival even before she turned around. His harsh "Merlin" made her flinch, but she continued to be stubborn.

"Look at me when I speak to you," Arthur snapped, walking closer to her and clutching her arm. She made him look at him and Merlin, with all the willpower she could muster, tried to remain tear-free. "Why haven't you attended to your chores?"

"I'm sorry, sire, I'm just too tired," she said, casually shaking his hand away from her arm. She took a step back at him and was unable to restrain a glare.

Arthur matched her glare and crossed his arms. "Lancelot is banished instead," he said, and Merlin slightly deflated. "He saved my life, after all."

But she expected something else, something more, and she knew Arthur saw the disappointment in her eyes. Kind Lancelot, with handsome eyes and an honest personality, with a deep desire to become a knight and defend the needy, and with a subtle affection he held for her friend, Gwen, was banished from the kingdom of Camelot all because of her.

She knew it was her fault, but she couldn't help but lash out at Arthur, too. "He could have been a brave knight," she whispered, infuriated with the unfairness of it all. Why can't commoners, brave and strong, be knights, too? Why must innocent girls, with a simple wish to practice magic, be killed for what they were born with?

Camelot was an unfair kingdom.

"But he broke the law," Arthur said. "You broke the law. And he must be punished, and banishment is his punishment."

"Why can't we break another law?" Merlin implored, too distressed and tired. "You started with me, Arthur. You broke the law for me. I'm a sorceress. Aren't you supposed to be disgusted of people like me?" He flinched at her statement. "And I'm a b-blasted girl, who is disguising herself as a boy to become the Court Physician's apprentice and the Prince's manservant. I… If anyone is to be punished, it must be me."

She didn't know why he grew so furious of her words. In three big strides, he was in front of her, his form menacing and frightful and Merlin felt scared. He grabbed her right wrist and held it tight. "If it isn't because of me, you would be dead right now," Arthur hissed. "How dare - "

"Why am I even here?" she tearfully asked, the tears now gathering in her eyes. The sight of them slackened Arthur's hold and an unreadable expression appeared on his face. "I just… I just w-want to go home."

And Arthur fled, without a glance back.

"My father is a ruthless man, Gaius, I'm sorry," Arthur said, surprising Merlin when he bowed down in regret. "I hope his moment of… of weakness can be overlooked."

And Gaius smiled and ushered Arthur to straighten his back. "I am sure your father was merely doing his job," the old physician said. "And I cannot blame him for thinking about Camelot first before me."

Lies, all lies, but Merlin held her tongue. Uther was blinded by Edwin's brilliance in curing Morgana and he didn't fire Gaius, the man who had served him for ages and reluctantly allowed the king to start the Great Purge, because it was for the betterment of the kingdom. It angered Merlin so much and Uther now officially held the top spot of the most loathsome person she had ever met.

The way Arthur's eyes flashed made Merlin understand that, he too, did not believe Gaius' words. But Uther was his father, and he was obligated to love him no matter how ruthless he had become.

Briefly, Arthur's eyes connected with hers, and she sighed. She couldn't blame him of Gaius' momentary suffering this time, no matter how much she desperately tried to. Hating Uther came so naturally, and it should be the same case with Arthur. But he took it upon himself to humble himself down before Gaius and apologize in behalf of his father. Uther, who was the one who made a mistake in this whole ordeal, merely reinstated Gaius as the Court Physician once again as if nothing happened.

Uther and Arthur's differences were starting to become startlingly obvious. And Merlin, no matter how awful it had sounded, wished that Arthur's reign as king would come sooner.

"You idiot! Arthur! Arthur! Come on," Merlin frantically exclaimed, desperately dragging the unconscious Prince back on the ground. The water from the lake had made him heavier than necessary, and Merlin, with all the strength that she could muster, heaved him back on the ground.

'Stupid Sidhe, stupid Sidhe, stupid Sidhe,' she kept on muttering to herself while she pumped out the water that Arthur had swallowed.

It was all their fault Arthur was on the brink of dying and she would never, ever forgive a Sidhe if she ever crossed a path with one in the future.

A few days back, Sophia and her father, Aulfuric, came into Camelot, helpless and needy and damn it, they all believed their lies. Until Arthur started to show obvious interest towards the girl and Merlin just felt so… so infuriated. Arthur neglected all of his duties, prompting Merlin to be the receiving end of the punishment Arthur should have rightfully deserved.

Merlin should have listened to Morgana's warnings, despite how unsettling they sounded. The Sidhes were about to sacrifice Arthur to go back to their world and she could not believe how selfish they could be. They should have known how great Arthur would be in the future, and the destiny that would change the future.

"Come on you, clotpole!" she cried, tears now streaming down from her face.

To her utmost relief, Arthur started to cough out the water he swallowed. Merlin sagged in relief and continued to cry, placing her head on top of his heaving chest. Arthur weakly placed a hand on her neck and absent-mindedly patted it for comfort.

"What happened?" he asked as Merlin straightened up and looked down at him again.

"You were enchanted by Sidhes," she said, a bitter tone in her voice. "And they tried to drown you."

If it was possible, Arthur paled more. "Sophia?" he said. When Merlin pursed her lips and nodded, Arthur groaned and rolled his eyes. "I should have known. I felt something weird once my eyes settled upon her."

And then, Merlin started beating his chest with unsuppressed fury. "You could have died, you clotpole," she cried, her tears increasing. "She's beautiful, all right, I know. And you fell for her, you useless man. And now, you almost died and it's all… all your fault and your stupid weakness for beautiful women and… and…" And she deflated, too exhausted to continue berating him.

Arthur, on the other hand, was staring at her with such a comical expression on his face Merlin couldn't help but glare. "What?" she spat, loudly sniffing.

The Prince had the audacity to laugh, which was surprisingly boisterous on his state, and he just shook his head. He sat up and gleefully trapped her in his arms. Merlin froze in his embrace, but gradually relaxed, but continued to cry.

"I thought you already died," she whispered so softly, wishing Arthur hadn't heard.

But he did, and his heart skipped a beat. She was right, after all. He had this stupid weakness over beautiful women… but in his case, though, he had this stupid weakness over a particular beautiful woman and she has no damn clue in the whole world.

"Arthur," Morgana beseeched, her beautiful eyes shining with tears. "He's just a boy."

The Prince sighed, his eyes briefly landing on the frightened, Druid boy. He was just a boy, all right, but he was a Druid and it was rightful to kill him. But then, here was Morgana, asking help from him to help the boy. He always knew that Morgana has a kind heart, and despite her earlier lies of not keeping the Druid boy in her bedchambers, Arthur knew the truth.

"You know I can't help," Arthur said, shaking his head. The little boy trembled and he hid behind Morgana, as if already knowing the fate that was in store for him. "I can't, Morgana, I'm sorry."

The King's ward started to earnestly cry, and although it pained him to see her like this, Arthur knew he had to refuse no matter what.

"Arthur," Merlin whispered from the corner. She had been quiet for the whole exchange, and it surprised him to discover that she was still there. Arthur then turned his gaze on her. "Please."

Her eyes were bright with suppressed tears this time. There was an underlying trembling in her hands, which she now curled into fists. She was afraid, so afraid, for the life of a little boy.

Briefly, Arthur imagined it was her that the guards were looking for, being pursued in every corner of the kingdom, while his father sentenced her to death for being a sorceress. He blanched with the thought and some of his breath was knocked off him. He tightly closed his eyes as her screams rang in his ears as the fire in the pyre licked her dress and then… and then… she was gone.

His resolve had broken and he shakily opened his eyes once again. When they landed on Merlin's, she must have seen the expression on his face, for she broke into a brilliant smile. She was smiling again, and that was all that really mattered to him.

"Meet me at midnight," he tiredly said, surprising both Morgana and the Druid boy. "Don't be late."


Merlin flinched when a loud bang was heard in Gaius' bedchambers. The Court Physician looked up from his book in surprise, and upon seeing an enraged Arthur Pendragon, Gaius rolled his eyes and stood up from his seat.

"I must take my leave," he said, ignoring Merlin's pleading looks. Arthur didn't even seem to notice him leave and instead strode purposefully towards her.

"How could you agree with my father's plans?" he hysterically asked. "He could have died!"

"And so could you," she answered, surprised at how calm her voice sounded despite the loud pounding of her heart. Arthur could be honestly scary when he wanted to be. "And your father knew this, so he ordered me to drug you. He has your best interests in his heart, Arthur. And besides, the wraith was after him. You couldn't have killed it if you want to."

Which was a complete lie, of course, because of the magical sword the Great Dragon gave to her. She flinched at the memory of his enraged tirade after discovering it was Uther who used the sword, and immediately stole the sword so she could throw it away as far as possible.

"My father is growing old," Arthur growled. "Do you realize that he had placed himself more in danger by battling the blasted monster?"

Merlin sighed and shook her head. "I'm sure you've confronted your father already and he explained himself, so I'm not really sure as to why you're getting angry with me," she said, frowning at his ridiculous behaviour. Sometimes, Arthur could be melodramatic.

He was about to burst once again, but then stopped himself and sighed. Arthur plopped down on the nearest chair and buried his face in his hands. Merlin looked at him worriedly, surprised that he was acting like that despite his father's safety.

"The sword," Arthur stated, slowly lifting his head to look at Merlin. "That sword that he used… it had something to do with you, hadn't it?"

Merlin's eyes widened. Arthur wasn't supposed to know that. "H-how did you know?" she asked, clearly nervous.

"He was babbling about it, and then mentioned your name in the process," he said. "I placed two and two together, and I knew it must have been your doing." Conflicting emotions appeared on his face. "I… why did you help him, Merlin?"

She bit her bottom lip and looked away from him. "He didn't deserve to die," she smoothly lied.

Arthur snorted. "Oh, my father deserves to most absolutely die for all the atrocities he had done in the past and the present," the Prince snarled, prompting her to flinch. "So why, pray tell, did you help him after all the things he had done to your kind?"

She knew right there and then she had no choice but to answer his question. "Because you love him," she softly said, returning her gaze back on his face. "B-because I know you'll be devastated if he dies and you'd blame yourself."

He was stunned with her response and sprung up on his chair with so much speed. In just a blink, he was in front of her, so close, so near, and Merlin felt uncomfortable under his piercing gaze. There was something in his eyes that confounded her, and she couldn't bring herself to look away.

"Y-you - " he whispered, his breath brushing against her red cheek. And then, the spell was broken and he took a few careful steps back. Merlin found herself properly breathing again and she stared at the prince, wide-eyed and downright confused. "T-thank you, Merlin." He shifted his gaze away from her, and his cheeks grew bright.

And Merlin, equally flustered herself, merely nodded her head, not trusting herself to speak.

He knew following them was a bad idea, but it was Merlin for goodness' sake. How could he resist her pleas?

A few days ago, her mother arrived in Camelot to seek help. She was clearly wounded, but her pains were forgotten upon seeing her daughter who was, to her utmost surprise, disguising herself as a boy. But after some explanations from Gaius and Merlin, and even him, she fully understood her reasons. It didn't help, though, that Hunith kept on giving him strange looks.

Apparently, she arrived to seek help from the king because of a man named Kanen, who was terrorizing her village. Ealdor wasn't part of Camelot, so he knew it would be unlikely his father would agree. In the end, he was proven right.

He already rehearsed an apology speech to Merlin, with words of defense for his father and an assurance that Kanen would soon tire of their village and leave them alone. But when on that night Merlin told him she was to leave for Ealdor, his speech was forgotten and he knew right there and then that he must follow her, no matter what.

They arrived in Ealdor, and Hunith must have alerted Merlin's disguise for they kept their mouth shut despite giving her furtive glances. Morgana and Gwen were with them after all, so all hell would break loose if they discovered that the Prince's manservant was actually a girl.

For days, Arthur trained the men and the women to fight, and he at first thought it was a hopeless case. They were never born to hold a sword in their life, but their determination was astounding. Merlin's faith in them was an added bonus to his deep desire to help them and Arthur, as days passed by, believed they would be victorious.

There was a little problem, though, and it was embodied by her best friend, Will. He remembered seeing him back then and he briefly wondered if they were lovers. Arthur couldn't concentrate whenever he saw them together. Will seemed to equally hate him, and there was this unspoken rivalry between two men.

On the day they were to attack Kanen, everything passed by with a blur. All he could remember was a huge whirlwind and numerous dead people once again because of Merlin and he was terrified – for her and her secret. As he went towards them, though, Will caught an arrow for him and died, with a horrified Merlin hovering above his body.

And Arthur… Arthur blamed himself for bringing tears in her eyes. The arrow was aimed to him, but the blasted man just had to show-off and protect Arthur.

The Prince felt so guilty for hating the man (but really, he couldn't help it), and the image of Merlin's tear-stained face still haunted him.

They went back to Camelot now and Merlin was relieved from her duties. Arthur terribly missed her, though, so it was a surprise to him when she one day came with his breakfast tray balanced on both of her hands. Arthur was instantly brought to his feet and Merlin backpedalled in surprise. She almost let go of the tray, if it wasn't for Arthur's quick hands, which relieved her from her burden and he placed it on his table.

An awkward silence followed and Arthur was terrified to discover he was speechless. Even the normally talkative Merlin was silent, and he found it extremely uncomfortable.

"I…" Arthur started, swallowing and looking away. "I-I'm sorry for what happened to… err… Will."

Pain briefly flashed in her eyes, but she then smiled. It wasn't the strained and forced one, and it immensely relieved Arthur. "I know you are," she said. "That is why you shouldn't blame yourself."

"The arrow was supposed to be targeted to me," he snarled, annoyed that she was saying such words. He expected her to blow up to him, to blame him for her best friend's death, but she neither did any, and it made him feel more awful about himself.

"William is a good man," she told him. "Despite the attitude that he had showed to you, he knows you mean a great deal to me – to Camelot, so he did what he thought was right."

Her cheeks were now sprinkled with a lovely shade of red and Arthur was positively sure he was mirroring her expression. He caught her brief slip and swore his heart soared with her words. All the guilt he had was momentarily forgotten and he just stared at her, disbelieving.

"So, yes, well… um," she stuttered, "I brought you breakfast because I know I've neglected my duties for the past few days."

And Arthur, not trusting himself to speak, merely nodded his head.

"You are an annoying idiot, do you know that?" Merlin exclaimed as she and Arthur returned to Camelot. The Prince, after considerably recovering from the sleeping draught that Anhora gave him, shot his manservant a brief look of annoyance.

"I think we've already established that," Arthur said, a soft yawn tearing away from his mouth. The effects of the sleeping draught hadn't entirely worn off yet, but Arthur insisted for them to return. He wanted to see once and for all if the sacrifices he made finally paid off.

But Merlin wasn't finished. "What if what you drank was really poison?" she continued, bordering hysterical. "You're life isn't worth sacrificing, Arthur. Better for a servant to do it than a future king."

Arthur scoffed. "Then, I would have failed my task," he said. "Camelot will be forever doomed all because of me." He glared at her, about to retort something, back, when he noticed with sheer horror that there were tears in her eyes and her hands were trembling.

"Your life is always worth more than mine, Arthur," she whispered, looking at him intently, a silent warning of the coming future. "Remember that."

"But not to me, Merlin," he answered back, prompting her to widen her eyes. "Not to me."

If he were to drink a thousand poisons just to keep her alive, then dear God above, he would gladly do it.

"What's this I heard?"

Merlin pursed her lips and glared darkly at Gaius. The Court Physician sighed and shook his head, once again striding out of the room. It was starting to become a routine. Every time something drastic happens in Camelot and Merlin was involved, Arthur would barge in, Gaius would leave, and Merlin would be the receiving end of the prince's wrath.

Sometimes, Gaius was a ridiculous man.

"I'm waiting, Merlin," Arthur said.

His manservant sighed and turned around. What beheld her was a stern Arthur, with his arms tightly crossed against his chest. He looked stressful and tired, and in his eyes, she could see his hope that what he heard would not be true.

"Gaius was right," Merlin said, and fear appeared in Arthur's eyes. "Morgana tried to kill Uther."

It seemed like he was let loose, with his arms now falling limply against his sides. Arthur heavily leaned against the door frame, trying to let her words sink in. "B-but why?" he asked, looking at her imploringly. "My father loves Morgana very much. I-I can't believe…"

"But she didn't, in the end," Merlin said to appease. "She saved him in the end."

Arthur's eyes quickly shot back at hers, and they instantly narrowed. "You're not telling me something," he said.

Merlin sighed. How come he could easily read her now? "N-no, I think you're just imagining things, sire," she shot back.

"You're a terrible liar," he replied back with a glare. "If you want me to spare you from the stocks, then you better tell me."

His manservant thoughtfully nibbled her bottom lip and looked away from his piercing gaze. "I-I fear for Morgana's future," she said. "The dragon says she will be a threat to Camelot."

"You speak to the dragon?" Arthur asked, bewildered. Blanching, Merlin realized she had forgotten to tell him this simple detail. When she nodded her head, the Prince snorted in disbelief. "Do you have any other secrets you wish to tell me, Merlin?"

She looked at him beseechingly, hurt, betrayal and anger on his face. "I-I don't want to break your heart, Arthur," she whispered. "I cannot burden you with my knowledge of the future."

She knew he wouldn't understand how big her responsibility was. And she refused to share it with him, only cheering him on and guiding him towards the right path. Arthur has a far greater responsibility and he had to do it without any hesitation; else, he would not achieve the greatness that he was destined to have.

"Why are you doing this?" Arthur suddenly exclaimed, his eyes wild and fearsome. "Why… you… you take it upon yourself to protect me, you idiot. I do not need your protection."

And she merely smiled, knowing that it wasn't true. If it weren't for her, Arthur might be dead right now.

"It is my destiny to protect you," she said. "And neither you nor I can change that."

"I called for Merlin," Arthur rasped out, glaring at the exhausted Court Physician. "Where is she?"

Gaius shook his head. "She is tired, sire," he explained. "I am asking you to let her rest."

But he couldn't accept that. Here was he, with a healing arm, when people kept on telling him again and again that it was a miracle that he was alive after being bitten by the Questing Beast. He had heard stories before and knew that no mortal could escape death after being victimized by the Questing Beast. Hence, he deduced that it was Merlin who had something to do with it and he had to make sure she was all right.

"No," he harshly replied. "I have to see her, Gaius. Please, bring her to me."

The Court Physician sighed and placed Arthur's healing potions on his bedside table. He left, and a few minutes later, Merlin was walking through his threshold. She looked even worse than Gaius, and momentarily, Arthur regretted calling for her.

"You called for me, sire?" she asked, offering him a small smile.

He glared in return, dumbfounding her. "What recklessness have you done once again, Merlin?" he growled, not missing the flinch that she made with the tone of his voice. "You look awful and I am not going to take your excuse of exhaustion as the truth."

She merely shook her head. "You are tired, sire," she said. "Go back to sleep."

Merlin made a move to turn around, but Arthur was instantly on his feet. He had not been standing for days and he swayed on the spot. Merlin, horrified, was instantly by his side, and urged him to sit back on his bed. Arthur then slid his good arm around her waist and held her close, glaring darkly down at her that she was drawn to look away.

"What have you done?" he hissed. "And I want the truth, Merlin."

And so, she told him. She told him of her meeting with Nimueh, and the fact that she bargained her life for his. But the High Priestess had other plans and instead targeted her mother. Gaius went to the Isle of the Blessed to exchange his life for Hunith, but Merlin killed Nimueh in the end, restoring the balance in the world.

By the time she was finished, Arthur had his face buried at the crook of her neck.

"Arthur?" she whispered, tentatively placing a hand at the back of his neck.

"You must stop this," he ordered, pulling away from her. Merlin was surprised to see that Arthur's eyes were shining with suppressed tears. "Y-you can't just throw your life away for mine."

"That cannot happen, Arthur," she said with a small smile. "I'm sorry."

"Oh, to hell with your destiny!" he exclaimed. "I shouldn't have brought you here in Camelot in the first place." He was heaving with anger and guilt and raw despair and he just wanted her to be as far away from him as possible so that she would be safe. It was his entire fault she was yammering about stupid destinies and unwanted protection. It was her who needed protecting, and dear God above, he would gladly assume the role of her protector.

Thus, the next words he uttered broke his heart, but he knew it was for the best. "You must immediately return to Ealdor and stay there," he ordered. Her eyes widened in shock. "I forbid you from protecting me and heaven forbid you if you break my order."

She was instantly enraged and she squirmed out of his embrace. "You cannot do such a thing," she admonished, her eyes dangerously flashing. "You have no right to decide what I do with my life."

"I am your Prince," he spat. "I have every right."

And then, she started to cry. Earnest, honest-to-God tears, that reached Arthur's very soul. "I-I can't leave you behind, Arthur," she said, looking so pitiful and wonderful and God, Arthur just wanted to kiss her. "You can't make me."

She then turned around and left his room, her cries echoing in his ears.

Deep inside, he couldn't shake off the great relief he felt with her words.

A/N: YAY, end of chapter one! How'd you like it? Tell me in your reviews :)

As you can see, the plot is still based on canon with the obvious twist that Merlin is a girl XD I'm already about to start typing the fifth chapter, which I kinda foresee would be a hard chapter to write because the plot of Series 5 is already complicated and climactic. So yeah, I hope I'd do that chapter some justice.

I actually thought of writing this as a novel-length fic, but my busy schedule wouldn't permit me. Besides, if I've recounted the events once again, you'd probably get bored. :D

I might update this Friday or something. I'm not really sure. Just wait for my next update!

That's it for now :D Again, please review!

With love,