Disclaimer: I do not own anything :D
A/N: So, hi guys! Here's the last chapter of "Bewitched". Thank you to all those who favorited, followed, and reviewed the previous chapters. They were greatly appreciated!
I'd keep this a/n short because I'm sure most of you are already eager to read haha.
Please review afterwards! Enjoy :D
Bewitched by WickedlyAwesomeMe
He couldn't sleep, but really, what was new?
King Arthur shifted on his vast bed, trying to find a comfortable position and at the same time making sure that his gaze would not stray away from his wife's form. Sleeping beside another person was strange to him; Arthur was used to rolling around his bed, trying to maximize its vastness and comfort. Now, he was forced to sleep at the far left of the bed, while Merlin silently slept on the right side.
He didn't really mind this new arrangement; in fact, the warmth that she exuded comforted him considerably. The problem was, her sleeping face was an utter distraction and no matter how much he closed his eyes and let sleep take hold of him, he couldn't help but stare at her for the whole night, the simple action bringing contentment to him, albeit humongous exhaustion in the morning.
It was partly her fault why he developed insomnia during nights when he needed to sleep the most. She chose the right side of the bed where the moonlight shines brightly at night. Bathed with the natural light made her look so appealing to him, so mesmerizing and Arthur thought he'd exchange all the sleep that he must have just to gaze at her peaceful face for the rest of his life.
It was a laughable habit, and perhaps an embarrassing one. He couldn't help it, though, and watching her sleep wasn't entirely a boring habit.
There were nights, though, when she, too, was awake. His cheeks gradually grew warm, remembering the first night they made love. The way her hands were everywhere, they way her scent filled his senses, and the pleasure of holding her tight and kissing her until the moon disappeared from the night sky…
"You should really get some sleep," her soft voice resounded in the whole room, startling him. Arthur looked at her in confusion, and Merlin shifted on their bed, her face now completely facing him. Her eyes were open and squinting, the remnants of sleep still obviously seen on her face. Her curly hair was splayed messily on top of their pillow and he could take a whiff of it. It reminded him of a flowery meadow and a cool, playful breeze. A small, sleepy smile was stretched on her face and his heart skipped a beat; he'd seen that smile for months now, and Arthur knew, no matter how much time passed by, that he would never get tired of seeing that expression on her face.
"I couldn't sleep," he truthfully said.
Merlin sighed and lifted her hand, placing it gently against his cheek. Arthur moved his face so he was now kissing the inside of her hand. "Tomorrow is a big day, Arthur," she said, pausing as a soft, dainty yawn escaped from her lips. He found his heart swelling with love just by looking at her, and he knew he was being ridiculous.
"I couldn't sleep," he rasped out again.
His wife shifted closer to him until she could snuggle against his chest. He automatically draped his arm around her waist, pulling her close to him. He tucked his chin on top of her head, and against his skin, he could feel her smile growing.
Arthur's hand now rhythmically ran through her curly hair and she sighed in contentment. The king bent down and planted a kiss on her forehead, on her nose, and finally on her lips. He kissed her, slow and gentle, and she responded eagerly.
"Merlin," he murmured, his lips now trailing down her jaw until her neck, and she released that same, soft sound that made his toe curl in delight. He was dropped kisses down to her left shoulder, tugging her sleeve away in the process. Merlin released an odd mixture of a moan and laugh, before gently pushing Arthur's face away.
Arthur groaned, annoyed at being stopped, but Merlin chuckled once again and placed a kiss on his nose. "Not tonight, great king," she softly teased. "You need all the rest that you can get. Tomorrow is a big day, remember?"
The King softly sighed and completely pulled away. Merlin, whose eyes were wide and gleaming in the dark, stared at him in amusement. "Blast those kings," he grumpily murmured, although he followed his wife and merely held her close.
Tomorrow, all the kings of the Five Kingdoms were to meet again for another peace conference. Arthur was somehow wary of this meeting, but he couldn't help but feel a little anxious and excited. The last time there was a peace treaty, his father was still alive and he became infatuated with Lady Vivian. Cringing, he could remember hazy pictures of his love potion-induced actions and he dreaded it. Now that he has his queen, though, he was sure that Vivian would leave him alone. Or better yet, he hoped that his father wouldn't bring her at all so that the peace treaty would go on smoothly.
Merlin, noticing the disgruntlement on his face, lifted a hand and fondly rubbed his cheek. "I'd be beside you all the time," she promised, a pretty grin blooming on her face. "Even if your council is scary and the kings are intimidating, I swear to stay beside you until the end of the peace treaty."
Arthur gave her a small smile and placed a chaste kiss on her forehead. Her constant presence beside his throne considerably calmed his chaotic and busy life. He couldn't imagine all the years his father had gone through without a queen by his side; he couldn't imagine the coming years without Merlin by his side.
"Now go to sleep," she admonished, snuggling closer to him. She pressed a few kisses on his jaw before resting her head on his chest.
A few minutes after, Arthur finally fell into a peaceful sleep.
The queen froze and slowly turned around, a sheepish smile blooming on her face as she gazed at Arthur. The said king had his arms crossed and his eyebrow raised in question. She could detect amusement in his eyes, though, and her sheepish grin widened.
"I was hoping you wouldn't be able to find me," she said, releasing a soft sigh. She lifted the hem of her wonderful dress, noting with dismay how it was now soiled from all the constant running she did in the meadows. "Should I return now?"
She longingly looked at the vast meadow, with beautiful flowers emitting a wonderful scent. The towering trees danced with the playful wind, and Merlin found herself sighing in utter contentment.
Days ago, she found this piece of land in Camelot and fell in love with it at first sight. Everything was alive, and it reminded her of Ealdor. Now that she was the queen of a great kingdom, she doubted she'd be able to visit her village for as many as she liked. Thus, after discovering this meadow, Merlin found herself seeking solace in this place, especially after a very long and tiring day.
Being a queen was not a joke. Everything should be absolutely serious and prim and proper and just downright elegant. As a queen, Merlin was horrified to discover she had to practice the proper etiquette and decorum. Since she was born and raised as a commoner, all the things that were thrust into her direction were terrifying and overwhelming and sometimes, she longed for the days when she could just meander through the forest without any knights constantly trailing her back.
There were times when she wondered if saying yes to becoming the Queen of Camelot was the right decision after all. Those times were miserable and exhausting for the young sorceress, feeling extremely restrained and suffocated.
But then, she'd see Arthur, and everything, every gruelling hour under her horrible tutor, every gruelling hour in the library memorizing the genealogy of the Pendragon House, every gruelling hour practicing proper curtsying and dining and dancing (for goodness' sake!) would all melt away, overpowered by the love she held for her king.
With Arthur, Merlin thought that all the sacrifices she made were all worth it.
"I'm sorry," she remorsefully said, walking towards her shoes and wearing them. Merlin also bent down and clutched her crown, flinching when she realized that Arthur was still pointedly staring at her. She straightened up and placed the crown on her hair.
"You didn't arrive on your supposed tutorial session with Sir Kay," he pointed out, his eyebrow rising higher.
Merlin slightly pouted. "He is a frightful man," she honestly said, wringing her wrists. He remembered how the member of the court stared down at her sometimes, making her feel insignificant and stupid and downright annoying. "I-I'm sorry… I thought I just needed a little break."
"Do you regret this?" Arthur blurted out. Her eyes widened at his implications and her jaw dropped. "Do you regret being my queen?"
"Of course not!" she cried with incredible passion, stomping closer to him. "How you can think of something so… so… ridiculous, Arthur Pendragon? My tutors might be horrible. My sudden responsibility might be terrible. My proper decorum and etiquette might be ghastly. But I love you, and don't you ever, ever think that I regret saying yes to your proposal."
By the time she finished her small tirade, she was heaving. She desperately wanted for Arthur to understand what she was going through.
To her utmost surprise, a small smirk appeared on Arthur's face. "Riling you up as terribly easy," he said. Upon seeing her shocked expression, Arthur chuckled and drew her into his arms. "Of course I know you're having a hard time, my queen. And I've seen how you worked so hard. That is why I love you, too… no, I love you more and marrying you was the best decision I have ever done in my whole life."
Merlin weakly hit his broad chest, prompting him to chuckle once again. "Prat," she fondly whispered, already standing on her tiptoes to meet his descending lips.
"I know," he murmured and pressed his lips against her waiting ones.
Her mind was a jumbled mess and it took all the willpower she could muster to stay seated on her throne, albeit stiffly, once the doors of the Throne Room opened and two guards, with Sefa, came inside. At the corner of her eyes, she saw Gwen's worried looks and Gaius' pointed stares.
A few days ago, Gwen told her of Sefa's suspicious disappearances at night. Merlin brushed such news away, too worried over the fact that her husband was somewhere away from Camelot, looking for his knights who mysteriously disappeared. Sir Gwaine and Sir Percival hadn't been found for days now, and Arthur grew immensely worried. Merlin desperately begged to come, but the king told her that while he was away, the kingdom needed their queen.
Sefa was then thrown on the ground and Merlin flinched. The tears that were shown in the maidservant's eyes twisted her heart in pain. She'd seen Sefa before, running around and doing errands for the kingdom. She even managed to talk to her a few times before, and she thought the maidservant was a kind, sweet girl. It turned out she was a Druid and she and her father had aided Morgana, who was behind the disappearances of the Knights of Camelot.
The room was silent, all expectant eyes looking at their queen. Merlin shook with overwhelming emotions, despaired with the fact that at the end of the day, they still knew her decision counted, even if she desperately wanted to be away from here as far as possible.
Merlin then took a deep breath and stood up. It wasn't proper for the queen to look weak and vulnerable in front of the people who looked up to her. She'd seen Arthur's stoic face before, even during the most pressing times, and once again, she was bewildered as to how nobles were able to successfully conceal their emotions.
"Guinevere saw you eavesdropping in our meeting a few days ago and leaving the citadel afterwards," Merlin started, surprised how levelled her voice sounded when her heart was pounding loudly inside her ribcage. "Do you deny this, Sefa?"
Despite the tears shining in her eyes, the maidservant shook her head. "No, my lady, I don't," she whispered almost inaudibly.
A lump formed in Merlin's throat and she briefly closed her eyes.
"I met with my father," Sefa hastily continued.
Merlin took a deep breath and opened her eyes. For a moment, she met Gaius' eyes and she could feel a sob trying to claw its way out of her throat. She would hate herself forever for stating the next few words, but the law is the law, and Sefa posed a threat far greater than anyone in Camelot right now.
"Bring her to the dungeons," Queen Merlin said, her eyes never leaving the defeated face of the maidservant. "Tomorrow after dawn, she is sentenced to death."
The room soon filled with Sefa's cries, now being dragged by the knights outside the Throne Room. Merlin chose to stare at the bare wall opposite her, trying to keep her emotions at bay.
Then, she dismissed the council, telling them to become alert if there were any news about the king and his knights.
"Everything will be all right, Merlin," Gwen whispered, placing a comforting hand on top of her shoulder, before striding away and leaving her alone.
Merlin thought she was the only person in the Throne Room, but when Gaius came into her vision and started walking to her, the stoic mask she crafted a while ago now crumbled down. Tears leaked from her eyes and sobs racked her body, and she was aware of the Court Physician's arms wrapping tightly around her shoulder.
"Hush now, dear girl," Gaius soothingly said, rubbing a hand against her back.
Fear gripped her heart. "Arthur might be in danger, Gaius," she whispered in terror, burying her tear-stained face against her mentor's neck. "S-Sefa heard everything and she might have told it to her father and M-Morgana." She took a deep shuddering breath and her tears increased. "O-oh God, Gaius, I don't know what to do."
"You must be faithful that Arthur will be able to come back," Gaius soothingly told her and Merlin sniffed.
"I'm going to follow them," she determinedly said, pulling away from the Court Physician's face and haphazardly wiping her tears away. "I have to follow them, Gaius. Arthur might be in mortal peril right in this very moment."
Gaius shook his head, aghast with her words. "You cannot, your highness," he pointed out, gripping Merlin's shoulders. "You have a great responsibility here in Camelot. You cannot leave the kingdom and put yourself in danger, too."
"Just because I am queen now doesn't mean I am not Merlin anymore, Gaius," she softly said, placing a gentle hand on top of her mentor's wrinkled one. "At the end of the day, my responsibility is still Arthur. My destiny is him and I cannot do nothing when I know he is in danger."
He tried to pull away, but Merlin held onto him tighter. "I-I trust the council with their decisions, Gaius," she murmured, drawing the old man into a hug. "I'm sure that once I'm gone, they'd be able to still keep the kingdom in its stable state."
Gaius was silent for a while and Merlin allowed him to. He knew he was struggling to choose whether to agree with her plan or not.
Finally, Gaius sighed and sagged against her in defeat. "Come back safely to Camelot," he whispered, brushing a tender kiss on her forehead. "That is all I am asking from you."
"I am still very cross with you," Arthur said once his queen entered their bedchambers. Merlin stared back at him, somber, and slowly nodded her head.
"I'm sorry," she all but whispered.
He tiredly sighed and walked towards his desk, sitting behind it to rest his weary body. They just arrived back to Camelot, and Arthur terribly missed the comfortable bed. They'd been sleeping on the ground for days and his back hadn't stopped aching ever since. Added from the discomfort was the fact that he was once again confronted by Morgana. And of course, the fact that Merlin defied his orders and followed him.
"You should have stayed in Camelot instead," he continued berating, his eyes never leaving her form.
Despite her remorse, she stubbornly lifted her chin. "Then, you could have died," she pointed out. Which was, to his dismay, the truth. Morgana had gained more power and she was starting to scout for other powerful allies. Arthur was beginning to fear for the day when he would be nothing but an insignificant dot in Morgana's life, with him helpless to defend himself against the powerful High Priestess.
"Merlin," he started, "you must understand that you are the Queen of Camelot now. The kingdom, our kingdom looks up to you and they have faith that we will be able to protect them from invasions and other threats. You cannot… you cannot just run away and follow me to my quests like the old times."
She was quiet for an eternity and Arthur wondered if she was angry. Expectantly, her eyes narrowed and she stomped furiously towards his desk, her eyes ablaze and her cheeks red. "It is my destiny to protect you," she harshly spat, prompting him to frown. "Kilgharrah spoke of a destiny far greater than anything else and I am merely following what I am supposed to do."
"Do not speak to me like that," he replied, annoyed. "I am still your King."
To his surprise, she scoffed. "And I am your Queen," she responded back, trembling with unsuppressed fury. "It is my duty to talk some sense to my idiotic king and no, you cannot tell me how I speak and how I act to the likes of you, you horrible, horrible prat. I just saved your blasted life and I-I was forced to sentence someone to death and you have no idea… no absolutely idea how - " Her words died down as her eyes shone with tears, and she turned her face away from him.
"The Diamir spoke of your bane, wouldn't you believe that?" she continued, her voice now thick with her tears. "A-and Morgana desperately scoured the whole lands to search for it, to know what your bane is, just to bring you down." She turned to face at him once again, her glare now filled with the tears that steadily flowed down from her eyes. "Now tell me, Arthur, d-don't you think it is reasonable for me to… to search for you and keep you safe?"
Arthur deeply inhaled and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He was making her cry again. Slowly, then, he moved out of his desk and walked towards his wife. "Merlin," he called, raising an arm. "I'm sorry."
The queen sniffled and went towards his arms. He tightly wrapped his arms around her and dropped a few kisses of comfort on top of her head. "I know what this destiny of yours speaks, and no matter how hard I try for you to ignore it, you can't," he sadly said. "But Camelot needs you, too, perhaps even more than I need you, and I cannot compete against my people now, can I?"
"Camelot will flourish because of your reign," Merlin told him. "And I have to make sure that you're alive until you are able to do so."
Strangely, that made him chuckle. "I cannot believe we are having our first major fight as a married couple," he said, a lilt of amusement at the tone of his voice. "It feels… refreshing."
Merlin, as her answer, had hit him weakly on his chest.
Arthur thought that their conversation was finally done, and he was actually anticipating sleeping beside his wife once again (or perhaps do more with her, really). He was about to pull away, but Merlin's hold on his tightened. When he questioningly looked down at her, fear briefly flashed in her eyes before an unreadable expression took place.
"What Sir Mordred did was very brave," she said, her voice oddly somber. "He had erred Morgana. I am sure she would not rest until she achieves her revenge. Mordred must stay… careful."
He merely nodded his head, not knowing what to reply. Somehow, he could detect an underlying fear in Merlin's voice and wondered why she was obviously trying to hide the fear she felt of Mordred's presence in the kingdom. Arthur then wondered if Mordred has a role in their destinies that Merlin refused to disclose.
He very much wanted to coax his wife to tell him, but it had been a long day.
One day, though, he would know.
He was sitting on his throne when she finally found him. Arthur, who was deep in thought before she came in, looked at her direction as she strode towards him. Her king already outstretched his hand, waiting until she could clutch it with her own, small one.
"How are you feeling?" Arthur said, worriedly peering at his wife. His gaze lingered at the obvious bruise on her neck, but Merlin quickly covered it with her free hand.
"I'm doing good," she told him, complete with a reassuring smile. Arthur didn't return her smile, though, and that made her worried. "Arthur, really, you should stop blaming yourself over what happened to me."
This time, that made him smile, albeit a small, sad one. "My father is a wrathful man," he said, taking in a deep breath. "I should have listened to you and Gaius about the consequences that could happen if I summoned my father from the dead."
"You just miss your father," she said, brushing some of his hair away from his face. "I cannot take that against you."
His hold on her hand tightened and fear filled his eyes. "He almost killed you Merlin," he pointed out, his voice barely audible. Merlin swallowed at his words, remembering how she was dragged around that empty corridor without seeing anyone at all but knowing that it was Uther's spirit who was doing such acts.
Merlin sadly smiled. "I was a servant, Arthur," she said. "Even a banished one. Of course, if your father is still alive, he wouldn't accept me." She looked away from him as hurt filled her eyes. "Some of our people don't accept me, too. I hear your council talk sometimes, Arthur. I hear people talk so I am not even surprised your father was so keen on getting rid of me."
He gently forced her to look into his eyes once again. "You are a great queen, Merlin," he stated with unwavering conviction. "No matter what some ignorant people say, there are those who see your capabilities and potentials. One day, they'd remember you as the greatest queen Albion had ever had."
She chuckled at his ridiculous comment, but felt flattered nonetheless.
"I accept that I can never please my father now," he continued. "But, I cannot thwart away my beliefs just because he doesn't approve of them. I am my own man and you said it yourself before – a great king follows his heart."
Arthur stood up and drew her into a hug. "I love you," he sincerely said. "And not even the ghost of my father can change that."
She froze in shock and turned around, surprised to see that Princess Mithian had called for her attention while she was strolling towards her bedchambers. Merlin honestly thought that Mithian and her father already left Camelot and back to Nemeth, that was now theirs again. Apparently, she thought wrong, for the princess stood opposite her, an indecipherable glint in her eyes.
"P-princess Mithian," she greeted, silently annoyed at her slight stutter. Merlin met the eyes of the beautiful princess, and kindly smiled. "What can I do for you?"
For a moment, a flash of pain appeared in Princess Mithian's eyes and Merlin, with a lump forming in her throat, knew of the feelings that Mitihan still held for her husband.
When the princess sought for Arthur's help, despairing over the fact that her father was in danger, Merlin could see the hope and faith that the princess had for the king. And Arthur agreed, which Merlin wasn't really surprised. Arthur had a penchant for helping those who were in need; Merlin would be aghast if Arthur refused.
It turned out that their little quest was a trap for Arthur, and Mithian kept on sending the queen messages along the way. Mithian's maidservant, Hilda, turned out to be Morgana in disguise and the High Priestess forced Mithian to lie to the monarchs of Camelot so that she could kill them easily.
Arthur was furious with the betrayal at first, but Merlin understood.
"She was afraid," Merlin told him soothingly, trying to calm him down. "They have his father and their kingdom, Arthur. Mithian was just afraid."
With their oppressors defeated and Morgana once again on the run, Mithian was forgiven by Arthur and he bestowed upon them the kingdom that was rightfully theirs. King Rodor promised that this day would never be forgotten in the history of Nemeth, and he also promised an everlasting peace between the two kingdoms. Arthur appreciated this and Merlin, prideful, knew Arthur was slowly stepping towards his destiny of uniting all the kingdoms for a better Albion.
"Thank you for helping my father and me," Mithian then said, breaking Merlin off her reverie. "I… I've placed the king's life in danger, but you still forgave us and gave us back our kingdom." Mithian, to Merlin's utmost surprise, deeply bowed in gratitude. "We are forever indebted to you and the king."
Flustered, Merlin shuffled closer to the princess and urged her to straighten herself. "No, no, really," she blabbered, her cheeks now a lovely shade of red. "We only do what we think is right."
Mithian smiled and nodded her head. "I foresee a better Camelot now that she has two, great royals ruling over her," she stated sincerely, and Merlin couldn't help but feel moved by her words.
"I am sure we have allies like you who will stay by our side unwaveringly," Merlin said, prompting for Mithian's smile to widen. "Camelot, Arthur, and I cannot battle against those who threaten to destroy us without the aid of our friends."
For a moment, Mithian merely openly stared at Merlin. The queen felt conscious under her intent gaze, but then, to her surprise, Mithian placed a smooth hand on her calloused one. "Arthur chose a wonderful queen," Mithian whispered. "I am glad that it is you who trumps a princess."
At loss of what to say, Merlin whispered a soft, "I'm sorry." She felt guilty for being the reason Mithian wasn't able to achieve her happily ever after with Arthur. She still vividly remembered the days when Princess Mithian visited Camelot and she was still the betrothed of the king. Despite her heart breaking, Merlin could see that Mithian's feelings for Arthur was genuine, and the heartbreak that she had to endure most probably caused her a lot of tears and grief.
"You mustn't apologize," Mithian said, the smile never leaving her face. "After all, I cannot compete with Arthur's true love."
Merlin's cheeks considerably grew warmer. "One day," she softly spoke, "one day you will find that one man who will mean the world to you, too."
Hope sparkled in Mithian's eyes and she earnestly nodded her head.
The princess then bid her goodbye and she was left standing in the corridor, staring at Mithian's back in sorrow and wonder.
"I was starting to think you've been kidnapped or something," Arthur's voice called. Merlin rolled her eyes and grinned, turning around to see her husband waiting impatiently in front of their bedchambers, his arms tightly crossed against his chest.
"Impatient, aren't we?" she teased, sauntering towards him. Arthur easily wound his arm around her waist and pulled her inside the room. She giggled when he placed a kiss on a particularly sensitive spot on her neck.
"It had been a long day," Arthur pointed out, quickly locking their door.
Merlin grinned and intertwined her fingers with his. "Indeed, it was," she said.
His wife wasn't the same ever since they confronted the Disir, and Arthur knew it was his entire fault.
A choice had been made – accept magic back in Camelot or not. Although he fully accepted the fact that his wife was magical, and was born with it, bringing magic back in Camelot was a wary business to the king. Not every sorcerers and sorceresses were the same as Merlin; there were those who wished to bring harm to others and who were even willing to kill anyone who stood in their way.
Arthur had not given his decision yet, and for the following days, his life was in a complicated mess. He realized what he was thrust into, what grave decision he should make, and he had no idea what to do. One of his finest knights, Sir Mordred, was severely injured and letting him die would be such a waste to Camelot. The boy showed amazing potential and capability to be one of the best knights in Albion; Arthur didn't want to be the reason for Mordred's death.
Merlin hadn't been exactly helpful with this ordeal. In fact, Arthur suspected that she was avoiding him, and it frustrated him so. She didn't understand that choosing was such a difficult task. Ever since he was young, he believed that magic was evil. He met her, of course, and fell in love with her and made her his queen. But that did not mean that everything he believed when he was younger was gone.
"What must I do?" Arthur finally asked one night when they were getting ready to sleep. He felt her freeze beside him, and Arthur patiently waited. This was a particularly sensitive topic to his wife; he knew of her desire to practice magic freely and he knew that above all else, this was something she had coveted the most.
"I-I'm not really sure I can answer your question, Arthur," Merlin murmured in their dark room. "I think it is best if you just sleep. It had been a long day."
Arthur sighed through his nose, already feeling frustrated. "Why are you avoiding this topic, Merlin?" he asked, voice thick with annoyance. "I'm asking for your opinion, and it is best if you answer me properly."
She was silent for a while, and Arthur wondered if she had blocked whatever noise he made and just went to sleep.
"Because I'm scared of what you'd decide in the end," she whispered. In their dark bedchambers, he could hear her tears and he swallowed.
He didn't raise this question anymore until on the day he was to confront the Disir once again. Merlin, who still wasn't properly talking to him, decided to come with him on that day. Arthur very much wanted to forbid her from doing so, but he knew it was her he wanted to be beside with once he speaks his decision to the Disir.
Before coming inside the cave, he left all the weapons he brought on the ground. Keeping his wife beside him at all times, they finally strode inside until they came upon the Disir. They still were menacing as always. Their mere presence brought shivers down his spine and although he wasn't a person of magic, Arthur could feel that they were powerful.
"Have you made your decision, Arthur Pendragon?" the three boomed in unison, and Arthur earnestly nodded his head.
"I've contemplated for days, and I came up with my decision," he said. Beside him, Merlin stiffened. "I… I realized that perhaps magic isn't evil itself, but is just a vessel to bring harm to others. I've witnessed magic wielded for evil, but at the same time, I've witnessed magic wielded for good." Briefly, he looked at his wife, who was reduced to silence. "I-I cannot deny the fear that I have of bringing magic back to Camelot, but perhaps… perhaps, my kingdom will be a better place if I bring it back once more."
Merlin gasped and she stared at him, wide-eyed. Arthur refused to meet her eyes, though, and instead looked at the Disir.
"You made your decision" –
- "And now the stars have decided" –
- "Your fate is sealed, Arthur Pendragon" –
- "And now you must return to Camelot and keep your promise." They exclaimed the last part in unison, the cave almost shaking with their voice.
Later that day, Arthur and Merlin returned. His queen had been silent all throughout the journey, and Arthur had no idea how to approach this new topic.
He had said it – he'd revoke the law prohibiting magic – and although he knew his father would be a million times wrathful, Arthur couldn't deny the relief that he had felt.
Really, Merlin was still to blame with his decision. He told it to Gwaine once – he'd do anything for her.
The next day, the law was rebuked, and to say that the council and the whole kingdom were astonished was an understatement. All the protests that he received all fell into deaf ears and Arthur knew it would be best to be scarce for the following days. There were people who believed and followed his father's ideology before; once he retracted the law, there would be a great change in Camelot.
Sir Mordred, as promised by the Disir, was well, and Arthur couldn't help but notice the new twinkling in his eyes, especially on the days after his declaration.
"Why did you do it?" Merlin asked him one, cold night. She was huddled at her side on their bed, her back facing him.
Arthur sighed and shifted a little closer to her. She felt a warm and honestly, he was cold. "I did what I thought was right," he murmured to her. He stretched out his arm and reached for her shoulder. That was when he discovered she was trembling. "Merlin?"
With just a speed of light, Merlin was suddenly bestowing him salty kisses on his face, her hands roaming all over his body and Arthur just felt so, so light-headed.
He held her cheeks to stop her pleasant assault and stared at her tear-stained face in amusement. "Why are you crying?" he asked, fondly wiping her tears away.
She grinned beautifully despite her tears. "I feel… I feel free," she whispered, leaning closer to him. Her lips tenderly brushed against his, and Arthur felt his heart swelling with love. All the worries he felt for the coming days because of his revocation all dissipated into thin air.
He did this because he thought it was the right thing.
He did this because he loved Merlin too much.
"Thank you, Arthur Pendragon," she whispered and for the rest of the night, she showed her gratitude to him.
Arthur swallowed a growing lump in his throat as he blindly followed the knights. Beside him, he could hear Gwen's guttural sobs and he tried to desperately block them away, but failed miserably in the end. Merlin seemed too drained to shed some tears.
In front of him were the Knights of the Round Table, somberly carrying the body of Sir Elyan, as they brought their heroic friend to his burial.
The king's hands tightened into fists, remembering who had caused such turmoil in his council, and a promise of vengeance grew in his heart.
Weeks ago, Merlin suddenly disappeared from Camelot without any trace. Merlin was to go to Ealdor to visit her aging mother. Although she was already queen and Hunith could live with them in Camelot, Merlin's mother chose to stay in Ealdor instead because it was her home. Merlin didn't argue with this anymore and instead promised to visit once in a while.
Arthur was unable to come with her due to his piling amount of responsibilities. Hence, he appointed his strongest knights, Leon, Elyan, Gwaine, and Percival, to accompany their queen. Arthur trusted his life to the knights he now considered as his friends, and he knew they would guard the queen with their life, too.
Imagine his despair when the knights returned, with Percival and Leon severely ill and with Merlin not with them at all.
"We were attacked by Morgana, sire," Elyan gravely reported. "And she took the queen with her."
For days he was in distress. Arthur grew restless and before even dawn arrived, they already set into a quest to find Queen Merlin.
Along the way, Arthur had no absolutely idea where to go. Combined with his restless heart, he couldn't think properly. All that was in his head were images of his wife tortured and other ungodly things and he couldn't shake off the feeling of foreboding in his heart.
Just when he thought that all hope was lost, Percival and Leon, who both recovered from their illness, woke up with the same nightmare – they both saw The Dark Tower, a place feared by knights because no one came back after venturing to it. Arthur, though, asked for his knights to accompany him to the tower because he suspected that his wife was there.
They arrived and Arthur knew it was too easy. The tower was infamously known for its strange magic, and as his knights scoured to find their queen, Arthur feared that they were too late.
They had set off numerous traps and some of them were wounded. Sir Leon took an arrow to his arm and Arthur would have a sword on his head if Gwaine hadn't pushed him away on time.
Sir Elyan broke away from the group for a while, until Arthur and the others heard familiar screams. They came upon a room, with a distressed Merlin warning Sir Elyan, who was fighting against a charmed, hovering sword. Elyan fought valiantly, but he couldn't defeat the magical sword. In the end, he was stabbed and the sword dropped on the uneven floor, immobile.
They all went back, without any trace of Morgana. Elyan, unfortunately, wasn't able to make it and had died in the process. Gaius tried to inquire Merlin about what had happened back in the Dark Tower, but the queen was still emotionally unstable.
"Sire," Sir Mordred said, giving Arthur a bow with a flaming arrow. As the knights placed Elyan on the ceremonial boat, Arthur aimed the arrow at Elyan's boat. Once he was considerably away from the shore, he released the string and the flaming arrow came hurtling towards the boat. It ignited into flames and all somberly watched as they all remembered the death of a noble knight.
A knock from their door broke Arthur off from his concentration and he quizzically looked at the wooden door. He shot a brief glance at his slumbering queen, before rising up from his desk and striding towards the door. Opening it, he was surprised to see a grave Sir Mordred.
"You must come with me, sire," his knight urged. Arthur quickly darted a glance at Merlin again, before nodding his head and striding outside.
"What is it?" Arthur asked, but Mordred shook his head. He seemed too determined to show it to Arthur instead; hence, the king allowed him.
As they walked through the dark corridors, Arthur nervously looked at the knight beside him.
He should have expected that after the revocation of the prohibition of magic, many would take a step forward to reveal that they were persons of magic. What surprised him the most was the fact that Sir Mordred was a young sorcerer himself. Merlin didn't seem quite surprised with this information; in fact, she seemed like she had known it all along.
With magic now accepted, Arthur thought that Camelot had changed. This brought about slight awkwardness within his people, but at the same time, relief from those who had hidden for ages. Although he was still miffed with how people freely used magic for the first few weeks of his revocation, now, he could look at sorcerers and sorceress without batting an eyelid. Arthur thought he was getting better now.
Mordred led him to the dungeons, and Arthur had an inkling as to where he was bringing him. His suspicions were only confirmed once they stood at the prison cell of Tyr, his accused stablehand. Upon seeing that his majesty visited him, the servant bolted towards the prison cell, his wide, fearful eyes already filled with tears.
"P-please, sire, spare me," he beseeched. "I was only doing my work, I swear. And I've never wished for harm to come upon you."
Arthur believed him. Oh good Lord, he did, but the evidences pointed to him, and he was helpless about it.
To his surprise, Mordred strode forward and placed a hand on the boy's shoulder. "You were framed, weren't you?" he demanded. Tyr nervously shifted his gaze away from the knight. "Tell us and you'd be spared."
More tears filled in Tyr's eyes and he vigorously shook his head. "I-if I tell you, s-she'll kill my mother," he blubbered out.
"She?" Arthur asked, knitting his eyebrows. Pursing his lips, he glared darkly at no one. "Morgana."
But Tyr shook his head and his tears increased. "I-I c-can't tell you," he sobbed, hiding his face away from them. "I-I can't."
"What is it that you know?" Arthur demand, now frustrated and angry. "Tell me or I swear - "
Mordred placed a hand on Arthur's arm and pulled him away. "Sire, he is afraid," he muttered, and Arthur tried his best to control his anger.
Impatiently, but silently, he waited.
"I-I was held up in the stables last night because one of the horses was suffering from colic," Tyr sputtered out after a few minutes. "I-I saw someone messing up with the King's horse and I confronted her, but she threatened to kill my m-mother and I didn't know what to do."
Arthur's heart froze, believing that there was a traitor amidst them. "Who is she?" he demanded. "Who is this person that wishes me dead?"
But Tyr merely shook his head again, and Arthur grew frustrated.
"He is distressed," Mordred said, expelling a soft sigh. "Maybe it is best if we continue interrogating him tomorrow."
Arthur gave Tyr a wary glance before nodding his head. Both he and Mordred then left the dungeons in uncomfortable silence. The implications of a betrayal sat heavily atop their heads and Arthur was at loss of what to do.
"Why did you bring me to the dungeons to speak to the boy?" Arthur then inquired after a few minutes of silence. He darted a quick glance at Mordred and saw the unreadable expression on the knight's face.
"I suspected it wasn't his fault," Mordred explained. "And I fear that if he is to be executed tomorrow, you'd still continue being in danger, Arthur."
The king took a deep breath and ran an exhausted hand through his face. "You are a good knight, Sir Mordred," he complimented, prompting for the knight to smile.
"I promised to ensure your safety, Arthur," he said. "You did not need to thank me." Mordred then bowed down and turned around, leaving a bemused Arthur staring at his retreating back.
The next morning, Tyr was discovered dead in his prison cell. And Arthur, with a sinking heart, deduced that whoever was the traitor in Camelot was keen on killing him.
Mordred stared at the scene unfolding before his eyes, especially at the wounded boy on the ground.
"Daegal!" he hissed, scrambling onto his knees to look at the suffering boy. "What have you done?"
The boy shakily smiled, his clutch on his bleeding wound tightening. "I-I finally did something right, didn't I?" he asked, tears gathering at the corner of his eyes. He took a deep, shuddering breath and tightly closed his eyes in pain. "I-I p-proved myself worthy in the end." Tears now leaked down from his eyes and he sadly grinned. "I deserved to d-die from all the things I've done. B-but I'm happy that I was able to do something good in the end."
Mordred sadly looked at his injury, his hand hovering above it. "I can heal you," he offered, but Daegal lifted a bloodied hand and held Mordred's hand, shaking his head in the process.
"No, I'll be fine," he croaked, his voice growing weaker and weaker. "Y-you must protect your king."
Daegal stared at Mordred one last time, before unconsciousness consumed him and soon, the poor, heroic boy was dead. Mordred ran his hand through the boy's eyes to close them, before climbing up to his feet and strolling towards one of the balconies. Gazing down, he could see the bewildered faces of the council as they stared at the dead body of Sarrum. If it weren't for Mordred and Daegal, Arthur would have been dead right now.
From his place, Arthur lifted his eyes and met Mordred's gaze. There was a silent demand to know the truth from him and Mordred, with a sigh, knew that the king wouldn't rest until he acquired the answers.
Later that night, Arthur met Mordred in the most secluded part of the forest. Arthur, at first, suggested that they talk in his bedchamber because it was the safest. Mordred, with a wry smile on his face, shook his head no; despite how ironic it may sound, the royals' bedchamber was the least safe place in the whole kingdom.
"You know something I don't," Arthur pointed out, crossing his arms as he paced to and fro. Mordred opted to stand still and warily watch the restless king. "What is it? And dear God above, you must tell me. Stranger things have happened in Camelot these past few days. There were a lot of death attempts to me and although it should have been a natural occurrence, I am starting to become alarmed."
Mordred pursed his lips and took a deep breath. "What I tell you might break your heart, sire," he gravely said.
Arthur stopped pacing and fully turned to stare at him. His eyebrows were knitted deeply and worry flitted on his face. "Whatever do you mean?" he asked.
"I-I observed things," Mordred said, clenching his hands into tight fists. "I've noticed things these past few things and one thing that is alarmingly unsettling to me was the fact that your queen is acting strangely. Or, at least acting like she isn't in her right state of mind."
The knight was surprised when Arthur didn't look astonished at all. In fact, he looked fearful and resigned, his shoulders slumping in exhaustion and defeat. "I was hoping nobody would notice," he said, a wry smile blooming on his face. "But my queen is acting more and more suspicious as the days passed by. I'm starting to grow worried."
"Perhaps, it isn't her will she is following," Mordred offered. "Despite having spent time here in Camelot for less than a year, one thing I truly understand is that Queen Merlin is someone of a kind and pure heart. I suspect that… well, she is under a spell. A powerful one, dare I say it."
Arthur seemed like to instantly be drained for all the energy that was left in him. He wobbled towards a fallen log and plopped down on it, his exhaustion screaming in every inch of his body. "I've suspected that Morgana had done something to her while holding my wife captive in the Dark Tower." He imploringly looked at Mordred. "What must we do?"
Hesitantly, the knight stepped forward and nervously swallowed. Although the king had revoked the law prohibiting the usage of magic in Camelot, Mordred was still wary in broaching about that particular subject to him. Mordred had revealed he was a Druid, of course, and had random bouts of magic here and there. But he was so used in hiding and living in fear – it should be understandable that although he felt free, there was a part of him that feared that this might only be a ploy for Arthur to discover who were all the persons of magic, gather them all, and kill them all together.
The only thing that made him firmly believe that Arthur was sincere of his revocation was that his queen herself was a person of magic. Arthur didn't seem to fully understand the greatness that was prophesized for Merlin, or Emrys, but Mordred did. As a boy, he heard a lot of stories about her, stories of wonder and amazement, and the promise that through her, magic would be welcomed once again.
He met her once when he was young, and his heart already grew comfortable around her. He suspected her hesitancy to help him in the end, but her kindness won, and he was able to flee away from Camelot.
Now that he was a knight to Arthur, Mordred had seen her at times and he could see that she was wary of him. Which he really thought was reasonable, because the druid knew of his destiny with Arthur, and in that destiny, he was Arthur's doom.
Mordred shook with silent rage, the fists in his hands now tightly clenched. He didn't want to cause the downfall of Albion's greatest king. He had seen Arthur, he had seen how he struggled to do the right thing, even revoking a law that had an important part in Camelot's history. Mordred believed that Arthur would do wonders to the kingdom and killing him would be a very dishonourable destiny.
When he was young, the druids spoke of destinies and fates and one thing that stood startlingly clear for Mordred was the fact that although destiny's call would be the loudest, most powerful call a person could hear, a person with a steadfast heart could still be able to defy it.
Mordred refused to kill Arthur when the time comes, and he swore to protect the king instead, believing that his destiny was to stay by Arthur's side, even Merlin's, and serve them with unwavering faith and loyalty.
That was why he was doing this. That was why he was helping Arthur, because he knew the king would be lost without his queen.
"I've talked to the Dochraid," Mordred softly started. When Arthur questioningly looked at him, the young knight sighed. "She is a knowledgeable person of the Old Religion and I believed she would provide the answers to our questions. She didn't fail me." Mordred briefly pursed his lips once Arthur's attention was solely on him. "Merlin's body is nothing but an empty vessel filled with Morgana's will."
Arthur took a deep, shuddering breath. "H-how can we free her?" he asked, his voice shaky from the revelation.
"There is such a place called the Cauldron of Arianrhood," Mordred continued. "Queen Merlin must willingly enter the lake for her to be freed from the curse. If she were forced, beguiled, or tricked, she will fall into the abyss and be lost forever."
Arthur, at first, replied silence to Mordred's words. Mordred allowed him, knowing that it was something huge to take in. Their task to bring the old Merlin back was startlingly huge, and they knew it would take a huge amount of effort and determination to bring her back.
"Thank you, Mordred, I…" The words died down from Arthur's face as he directed his shining eyes at the druid. Mordred was struck with the vulnerability in Arthur's eyes and he knew, right there and then, that his unwavering love for the powerful sorceress could get her back.
Briefly, the images of his prophecy regarding Arthur Pendragon flashed before his eyes.
Mordred stiffened, silent determination radiating in his body.
He would defy whatever destiny he has with Arthur. In fact, he would change it, with all the power that he had even if it caused his life.
That was the only, single emotion coursing through her veins and as Merlin woke up, surprised to see her bastard husband and a curious Mordred hovering above her form, she knew that they had tricked her.
The queen quickly scrambled on her feet and darkly glared at Arthur. He was looking at her with that disgusting sympathy and love he seemed to hold for her. "Merlin…" he called, reaching for her arms. Before she could even squirm away, she was trapped tightly in between his hands.
"Let me go," she exclaimed, her skin crawling by his mere touch. She hates him, she hates him, she hates him were the only things running through her mind; that, and the fact that she was supposed to kill him for all the awful things he had done to her and her kind.
"Merlin, listen to me!" he implored, shaking her vigorously. "You are under Morgana's spell. You are being bewitched by her so that you can kill me in her stead."
Merlin saw red at his accusations. "How dare you," she spat venomously. A sudden bout of magic burst out of her system and Mordred, the closest thing to Arthur, was the unfortunate receiver of her accidental magic. Mordred was thrown into the air, landing with a mighty thud a few meters away from them. He was knocked unconscious by the impact, and Merlin could feel a smug smile growing on her face.
"I love you," Arthur declared, now clutching both of her hands. "And you love me, too, that is why you are going to willingly go into the lake to be free from the curse."
She vigorously shook her head and glared at him darkly. "Everything I've shown you, everything we've done, it is but a mere fantasy, Arthur. An illusion to trick you so that I can kill you. A plan that I've devised with Morgana and" –
But he didn't allow her to finish because he sagged against her in plea, and something inside her heart stirred in recognition. She had seen him in this state countless times before and Merlin was reduced to silence as something peculiar in her heart formed.
"Remember when I asked you to marry me?" Arthur softly murmured, lifting up his head to direct his glossy eyes into her hateful ones. "I told you that I'd give up everything I have just to be with you. And remember what you answered? You said you'd do the same for me, Merlin. No trickery, no fantasy."
He completely released his hold from her and took a step back, his eyes unwaveringly holding her gaze.
Tears blurred her vision, watching as Arthur slowly entered into the water. Memories of their past flashed through her mind's eye, and she was confused.
Slowly, her legs dragged her towards him, her heart already bursting with emotions. "I'd do the same for you," she whispered as she finally entered into the waters. White light engulfed her body and instantly, her mind was cleared. That constant niggling at the back of her head, that constant presence that urged her to kill Arthur, all disappeared into the water and as the white light diminished, all she could see was her husband, her king, her Arthur, smiling lovingly at her.
She reached for his hand and he tightly clutched hers. He drew her into a hug, relieved that she was back.
She, Arthur, and a revived Mordred all returned to Camelot after their successful quest. Merlin was greeted warmly by Gaius and Gwen, who both knew of her enchantment.
Before she went to sleep for that day, though, Merlin sought for Mordred. She found him in the armoury, cleaning his sword, and when she entered, he abruptly stood up and bowed down.
"Why did you do it?" she blurted out, unable to contain her curiosity any longer. "Why did you help me and Arthur?"
Mordred smiled and straightened up. "I know that you are aware of the destiny I have regarding Arthur," he said. Unwittingly, she stiffened at his words. "But through this, I wanted to prove myself loyal to your king." The knight took a deep breath, his eyes softening as they met hers. "I can… I can see what Arthur can do to Camelot and I do not want to be the cause of his downfall. I want to change my destiny, Emrys. Believe me when I say that I desperately do. That is why I need your help. Help me not to waver from the right path; help me not to lose sight of who I want to become. The moment I came back to Camelot, your heart had never rested since but please, just this once, believe me."
She stared at him for a while, wonder filling her eyes. The Old Religion spoke of his inevitable destiny with her husband, and true, she had been wary of him ever since. But when she walked forward and drew the druid boy into a hug, the same scared, druid boy they had helped before, she could feel his sincerity.
"I will help you," she finally said, running a comforting hand through his back. If it meant saving two, great people, then she'd do everything in her power to save the both of them, even if it costs her life.
When he entered their bedchambers, she was seated on her chair in front of her boudoir, thoughtfully combing her curly, dark hair.
Arthur released a soft breath in relief, knowing that she was safe.
A few days ago, she spoke of this Druid, old woman named Finna, who spoke to her about the great prophecy. Merlin was drawn to her promise of the truth, and she insisted that this Finna would provide her all the answers that she wished to receive. It wasn't until she disappeared for a few days when Arthur discovered she had been having secret conversations with the druid.
Enraged by her mindlessness, he sent for a search party, intent on finding his wife. Arthur reckoned she had put herself in danger far too many times, and once he found her, he would give her a lifetime of reprimand.
They found her three days after, dishevelled and tired, but nonetheless well. She had the remnants of a wound, but she was well. All the reprimand that sat at the tip of his tongue disappeared upon gazing at his wife. Before he could even inquire her where she had been, Merlin became unconscious and Arthur brought her back to Camelot.
"Will you now tell me what stupidity you had done a few days ago?" Arthur entered, tightly crossing his arms. He saw how Merlin stiffened and slowly turned around to gaze at him.
"I'm sorry for causing you worry, my king," she whispered, and Arthur found himself deflating soon. He could never really stay mad at her for a long time, and that was very much unfair to him.
"Why did you follow her?" Arthur then asked, sauntering closer to her. "Gaius told me that the Druid old woman is mysterious. What if she is working under Morgana?"
Merlin shook her head and smiled. "She's not, and she delivered a message most peculiar," she said, the smile now faltering. When he continued to questioningly look at her, Merlin continued, "You do know that I have knowledge of your destiny, Arthur, and I've withheld it from you ever since."
He slowly nodded his head, intently listening to her words.
His wife looked away from his gaze and thickly swallowed. "Mordred…" she started. Arthur's back straightened at the mention of his name. "Mordred was destined to kill you, Arthur, you know."
His eyes widened in sheer disbelief. He remembered his loyal, kind knight and for the life of him, he couldn't believe her words.
"I know it is hard to digest, but that is the truth," she continued, running a frustrated hand through her lovely hair. "And I've tried to protect you from him for weeks, Arthur, but your knight" – a small smile bloomed on her face – "he proved to be the most loyal knight you ever had. He is also aware of his destiny, but he asked me to help him choose another path, and I've sworn to aid him ever since."
"What are you trying to say?" Arthur asked, now walking closer to his wife.
"Finna," she started, a strange look settling on her face, "Finna changed a few of the things I've believed for years. She delivered a message, one stating your future, and then, there was… hope. For both you and Mordred."
Arthur's heart soared with her words. "What did she say?" he softly asked.
"That in the land of Camlann, a great battle will unravel," Merlin softly said, staring at her hands in deep thought. "That in the land of Camlann, the call of destiny will be at its weakest. That in the land of Camlann, the future will only be defined through the actions that will be done by those involved." She gave him a tearful smile, relief flooding on her face. "She never spoke of the inevitable confrontation between you and Mordred, Arthur, and I firmly believed that this is an indication that both of you will be spared from whatever intertwined destiny you used to have."
Arthur grinned jovially. "That is good to hear," he said, not really knowing what to say. His heart was bursting with too much joy to properly think of the right words to reply.
Apparently, though, Merlin wasn't done.
"While following Finna, I was greatly wounded," she continued. The smile on his face faltered, but strangely, Merlin seemed too happy to notice. "Kilgharrah cured me and gave me a startling news, Arthur." He was still strangely looking at her as she slowly placed a hand on her stomach, her eyes now shining with tears. "I am carrying your chil. For two weeks now, and Kilgharrah spoke of a great future for your heir."
His world seemed to stop at her revelation. Strangely, everything around him turned hazy, and that was when he realized that his eyes filled with tears with her news.
Arthur slowly approached her and fell onto his knees once he was in front of her. With adoring eyes, she stared down at him, and more tears escaped from Arthur's eyes.
"A child," he whispered breathlessly, lifting a hand and placing it against her stomach. It was still small and unnoticeable, and Arthur wondered what it would look like once Merlin's stomach was showing.
"Yes, a child," Merlin replied, bending down to place a kiss on his forehead.
Arthur was brought tp his feet, bringing Merlin into his arms. He crushed her against his chest, careful not to squeeze her too tight, and bestowed kisses on her face.
She giggled, but allowed him to, understanding the emotions he must be feeling.
"I promise to build a better Camelot for our child," he murmured, finally capturing her lips. Against him, Merlin's mouth lifted into a small smile, a silent agreement to his promise.
"If we do not free the Druid girl, Mordred will not be saved anymore," Merlin murmured, and Arthur's heart sank, knowing that she spoke the truth.
A few days ago, they came upon a helpless, Druid girl named Kara. Arthur was intent on saving her, clothing her and feeding her if it was even necessary, and they all believed that it was what Kara wanted. But then, to the surprise of everyone, the Druid girl lunged towards the king and almost killed him.
She had killed a few innocent souls along the way, and Arthur had no choice but to sentence her to death.
"Repent, and I will spare you," he ordered one time, but the girl, proud and pompous, refused, saying that she would not bow down under a ruthless king.
"Revoking the law must have made you proud, great king," she spat, a hint of sarcasm in her voice. "But that doesn't erase all the inhumane things you have done to our kind."
Tomorrow, she was sentenced to death, and Arthur was so, so torn. He discovered from his wife how this girl held a special place in Mordred's heart. His knight had begged him to spare her a few hours ago, stating about her naïvety and ignorance, and through this whole ordeal, Arthur could see how Mordred desperately loved the girl, even though she absolutely didn't deserve him.
"The law is the law, Merlin," Arthur pointed out, a tone of finality in his voice. "I cannot do anything about it."
The truth was, his lack of sternness already spoke volumes to Merlin and she knew what he was trying to tell her. He expected disappointment in her eyes when he told her about the truth, but she must have seen something in his eyes for she serenely smiled and nodded, surprisingly dropping the subject with perfect ease.
That night, Arthur made it a point not to move when he heard Merlin leave his room. When the bells rang, signalling the escape of a prisoner, he merely sat in his bed, immobile. Even when some of his knights rushed inside and told him about the escape of Kara, Arthur merely stared at them and nodded his head, telling them they shouldn't waste their time anymore. Although the knights answered his words with sheer disbelief, they followed their king.
The next day, everything seemed as if nothing out of the ordinary happened. Merlin had a certain bounce in her step, her hand constantly gravitating down to her still-small stomach.
He had encountered Mordred soon, and there was silent gratitude in his eyes. "Good morning, sire," he greeted, bowing down in respect, and Arthur smiled, knowing he had spared the poor boy from a broken heart.
Perhaps, he would be able to save Kara wherever she was right now. Mordred was a good man, and his pure heart could reach out to those whom he loved the most.
"Good morning, Sir Mordred," he greeted, strolling away from his grateful knight, knowing that he had done the right thing after all.
"Do not follow me tomorrow."
It wasn't an order, but a silent request, and Merlin could hear the plea in his voice.
She rolled around on their bed, her body still bit sore from their act of love a few minutes ago. Arthur, whose face was glowing under the moonlight, was staring at her in sheer determination. There was a thin sheen of sweat on his forehead and Merlin reached out, gingerly wiping them away.
"You should have learned your lesson, Arthur," she admonished, a small smile appearing on her face. "I do not listen to you, remember?"
He caught her hand and held it tight against his bare chest. "Merlin, I am not jesting around," he sternly said, and she deflated, because she knew that no amount of cajoling could lighten the feeling of foreboding. Tomorrow, the Knights of Camelot were set to travel to the land of Camlann, and even though they did not voice it aloud to each other, both the monarchs of Camelot were terrified of what tomorrow would bring to their lives.
"I'm coming with you," she harshly said, her eyes already shining with tears. "And Morgana might have taken my magic, but I am coming with you."
The thought that her magic was stolen from her still terrified her. Morgana finally knew she was Emrys and Emrys was her, having had a spy planted in Camelot. Gaius told her of the Crystal Cave where magic had been born and suggested that if she wished for her magic to return, then it was the best place to go. She planned to go there first thing in the morning while Arthur and his knights journeyed to Camlann. And then, she would follow them and help them defeat the High Priestess once and for all.
Arthur's free hand travelled down to her bare abdomen, his touch warm and soothing at the same time. He absent-mindedly started rubbing her stomach, the fear in his eyes already speaking volumes. "You're with a child," he murmured. "It will be dangerous for the both of you."
She adamantly shook her head. "I'm still coming with you," she harshly said. "And you cannot stop me." Tears filled her eyes because she was terrified, for her, for Arthur, for her son, and she knew that if she didn't do anything, more danger would fall upon them. She had talked to Mordred a few days ago, and the knight promised a steadfast protection to their king. And she was so grateful to Mordred, because she knew she could trust him. She just wished that his constant presence with Arthur would keep her husband alive while she journeyed to the Crystal Cave to reclaim her magic.
Arthur dropped the subject and instead gave her a kiss, and Merlin couldn't shake off the fact that he was saying goodbye.
The next day, he was gone, and Merlin swore so loud because it was almost noon and she hadn't gone to the Crystal Cave yet. Arthur and his knights were most probably already halfway to Camlann, and Merlin's heart filled with dread.
Gaius greeted her, softly telling her that Arthur ordered for him to keep her inside, but both knew that Merlin would still do everything just to go to the Crystal Cave. Thus, Gaius reluctantly let her go, watching with sad eyes as the queen travelled to get her magic back.
By the time she arrived, she was utterly exhausted. Being pregnant for four months already tired her so.
"I'm sorry, my love," she whispered, placing a comforting hand on her stomach. "But your daddy needs our help, okay? We must stay strong together so that he can still see you once you arrive in this world."
It didn't surprise her that Morgana was waiting for her when she arrived. "Hello, Emrys," she greeted, her voice harsh and biting. Merlin hugged her abdomen, a sign of protecting herself and her child. Morgana didn't know that she was pregnant, and Merlin feared of what she would do if she knew.
Morgana trapped her inside, and Merlin helplessly looked around. Tears already steadily went down to her face, and she didn't know what to do. Arthur and his knights might already be in Camlann and here was she, vulnerable and weak.
The voice startled her, especially because she knew that voice. Weakly turning around, she beheld the spirit of her father, and more tears escaped from her eyes.
"Are my eyes deceiving me?" she breathlessly asked, lifting a hand to touch Balinor. But all she touched was air, and her father sadly smiled.
"I am but a spirit, here to help my child," he said, his eyes filling with warmth.
"I… I'm trying my best, but m-my magic doesn't return," she sobbed, tiredly wiping her tears away. She was so exhausted and she just wanted to rest. She feared that her exhaustion would cause drastic consequences to herself and her child. If in the end her son would be taken away from her, then she didn't know what to do.
Balinor smiled and sauntered closer to his daughter. "My child, you must have faith," he said. "You are born to be the greatest sorceress everybody would have known. That is your destiny and not a mere, fickle enchantment could take that away from you. Close your eyes, summon your magic, and I promise to you it will not fail you."
Her father was then gone, and Merlin warily looked around. 'Close your eyes,' a voice whispered, and she obeyed. Taking in a deep breath, she summoned her magic, summoned the part of her that was harshly ripped away from her. And then, she could feel every nerve in her body, every cell tingling with power and she knew she had it back.
Blasting away the rocks that had trapped her, Merlin went to Camlann to help.
With a silent prayer to anyone who could hear her, she wished she wasn't too late.
He was stabbed by a magical sword, and Merlin helplessly cried over his form. Mordred had been wounded, too, unable to help his king when Morgana effortlessly pierced a sword into his arm. The wound was deep and sickly, and Arthur was growing sallow.
She had summoned Kilgharrah and he brought them on the banks of the Lake of Avalon. Up ahead was a small isle, said to heal any wound that was inflicted, whether mortal or magical, and Merlin was determined to heal her husband.
Along the way, they were confronted by Morgana, and enraged with how things ended, Merlin killed her instantly. Despite her power, Morgana was still no match against her.
"Mer… lin," Arthur gasped, raising a hand to wipe away the tears steadily streamed down from her eyes. "Y-you mustn't… cry."
Her tears turned earnest and she hugged him to herself. "No, no, you will not die," she frantically exclaimed. "I forbid you to die, Arthur Pendragon."
He weakly chuckled, followed by coughs that racked his body. Slowly then, he removed his ring that bore the seal of the Pendragon House, and offered it to his wife. Merlin, knowing what this meant, desperately shook her head and refused to accept the seal.
"You will not die," she shakily exclaimed, but Arthur merely smiled.
"Even when you are stubborn you…" His words died down as pain flashed before his eyes. He briefly shut his eyes before opening them once again, still staring at his queen adoringly. "You are still quite beautiful, do you know that?"
He clutched one of her hands and kissed her knuckles. "I love you," he whispered. "Always remember that, my queen. I…I'm sorry I will not be able to witness the growth of our son." Consciousness seemed to leave him for he sagged limply against his wife. Terrified, Merlin felt for his pulse and was relieved that it was still there, albeit a little faint.
"KILGHARRAH!" Merlin screamed, and the great dragon swooped down in her command. Beseechingly, she stared at the dragon. "Bring us to the center of the lake, please, before I run out of time."
"Arthur is destined to live a short life," he whispered in sorrow. "One cannot change that."
Harshly, she stood up and darkly glared at the dragon. "Mordred was destined to kill Arthur, wasn't he? But look at what happened – he is still loyal to us. He just embodies the fact that one can change his destiny if he desperately wanted to."
Merlin fell down on her knees in front of the dragon and bowed down her head. "Please, please help us," she sobbed. "A life without Arthur will be an unworthy life."
Kilgharrah expelled a soft sigh before scooping Arthur's unconscious body onto his scaly back. Merlin had a difficult time sitting on top of him, and once she finally did, the dragon opened its mighty wings and flew into the sky. They immediately landed on the isle, and Merlin desperately dragged Arthur's body onto the ground. Turning her shining eyes at the dragon, she asked, "What must I do now?"
"Helping him requires great magic, young sorceress," he said, gravely staring at the king. Life was slowly slipping away from him, and Merlin knew that if she didn't act quickly, Arthur would die. "It will be dangerous for you and the child that you are carrying."
"Can't we at least try?" she whispered, fearfully clutching her stomach. 'We must stay strong, my love,' she silently added in her mind.
Kilgharrah sighed and directed her to scoop a small amount of water from the lake. Merlin did so and poured it inside Arthur's mouth. "Close your eyes, Merlin," the dragon said, which she did. Kilgharrah touched a paw against her forehead, and she was suddenly overwhelmed with a spell he had etched into her brain.
"þín bealubenne níedhæse béo gebatad," she started, her eyes already turning a blinding shade of gold. "Unc níedhæse áleofae sælefurðor ."
White light engulfed Arthur's dying body, and hope bloomed in her heart. When the light disappeared, Arthur was still the same, though, and Merlin fearfully looked at Kilgharrah. "What is happening?" she cried, tightly clutching both of Arthur's hands. "Why isn't he awakening?"
"Helping him requires great magic," he reminded her, and she helplessly stared back at her husband.
She repeated the spell, again and again, until she was exhausted, but all those didn't cause any change on Arthur's form. His breathing was starting to become faint and soft, and desperately, Merlin placed her head on his chest. "You cannot give up now, Arthur," she brokenly whispered, lifting her face to gaze down at him. One of her shaky hands landed on his cheek and she gingerly leaned down. "I love you," she murmured, "Please don't leave me."
Her lips then tenderly brushed against his, and to her utmost surprise, Arthur took a sharp intake of breath. His heartbeat increased and the color on his cheeks returned. Merlin released a surprised cry, and launched herself into his arms as Arthur started to weakly cough.
"I did remind you helping him requires great magic, young sorceress," Kilgharrah said, fondly staring down at the happy couple.
"Thank you, Kilgharrah," Merlin said, turning around to face him. The great dragon deeply bowed his head.
"I am forever indebted to you since you are the last of my kin," he said. His golden eyes looked at her almost-swollen abdomen and smiled. "And now, a little Dragonlord is on his way to this wonderful world. In the future, I am to serve him, too."
Merlin and a still-weak Arthur rode on the dragon's back and they flew into the sky, journeying back home.
The day was warm and comfortable, and Merlin found herself gazing at the clear, blue sky, her heart already at rest from all the worries and responsibilities she had back in Camelot. She disregarded the fact that her beautiful dress was most probably soiled with dirt right now. She disregarded the fact that the council would give her a disproving eye for ditching the council meeting. She disregarded the fact that she still had a mountain of papers waiting to be read and signed back in her bedchambers.
Today was a wonderful day, and Merlin refused to mar it with her responsibilities.
Sighing, her hands lazily grazed on the grassy meadow. Once in a while, she would clutch a small flower in her hand, and she would smile at it, reminding her of glorious summers and playful days back in Ealdor. Hunith came to visit a few weeks ago, but she had left now, and Merlin must admit she now terribly missed her mother and her village.
Camelot was home, though, of course, and she would gladly give up all the riches in the world if it meant she could stay in the beautiful kingdom forever and ever.
A pair of small, chubby hands suddenly encircled around her neck, startling her. Soft giggles from behind her made her grin, and she quickly turned around, attacking her five-year-old son with incessant tickles. "That is punishment for surprising your mother, young man," she lightly admonished, her eyes twinkling adorably as her son turned red in the face.
Benedict, fondly called as Benny by those around him, gave her a toothy grin. "Sorry, Mummy," he said.
"Aww, you adorable little thing," she cooed, pulling him into her arms and dropping kisses on his face. Her son giggled once more and even placed a kiss or two on her cheeks.
"Daddy said we must go home," Benny said once his mother calmed down. Merlin grimaced, knowing the reprimand she would receive once Arthur sees her.
The queen sighed and stood up, brushing off some dirt from her backside. Although she loved being a queen, sometimes she just abhorred the mundane responsibilities that was required from her.
Grabbing one of Benny's little hands, they meandered through the forest until they emerged from a clearing. King Arthur stood waiting, his arms tightly crossed against his chest with a reproachful look on his face. Merlin, unable to help it, rolled her eyes at his ridiculousness.
"I'm sorry," she softly muttered, as Benny broke free from her grasp and ran towards his father. Arthur caught him easily in his arms and effortless lifted him up. The boy grinned widely at his father, and Merlin, in spite of herself, smiled as the king deflated. Arthur constantly voiced out to her that he adored his son and he'd do anything for him.
"Really, Merlin, must you run away every time you need a break?" Arthur asked, outstretching his hand. He waited until she grabbed it before starting to lead his small family back to the castle. "You know what the council will think."
"After all these years, Arthur, your council still terrifies me," she said, shuddering in effect. Arthur chuckled at her ridiculous actions, and Merlin grinned.
They finally entered the small village in Camelot and their people stopped whatever they were doing to pay their respects. Merlin smiled wonderfully at everybody, and her heart swelled with pride and joy upon seeing that they smiled back with equal sincerity. Years had passed, yes, but she thought that more and more people were starting to accept her as their queen.
Merlin watched with amusement as her son looked around in quiet wonder. One time, he asked his parents as to why people bow down when they were in the vicinity. Benny was still too young to understand the responsibilities his family had towards the people of Camelot. Although young, Merlin could see that he had the best and worst qualities of his parents.
Physical wise, Benny was a spitting image of his father. With immaculate, blond hair (slightly darker than his father's), and eyes as blue as the deep sea, Merlin could already foresee the coming days when her son would be an absolute heartbreaker. He had his mother's curly hair, though, and ridiculously enormous ears. Merlin adored this little part of him, though, and she could tell from Arthur's look that he seemed pleased with it, too.
Character wise, Benny had a penchant for adventures, which he acquired from both of his parents. When he was still a wee baby, he used to disappear from their sight, having crawled to the darkest alcove or the highest stairs just to investigate. Gaius once pointed out that children were naturally curious, especially when they were at their developing age, but he couldn't believe how overly curious their child was.
Benny could be ridiculously clumsy at times, too, which he most undoubtedly inherited from Merlin. Numerous times he would get injured, and although this horrified his poor mother, Benny would merely sheepishly grin and apologize.
He has his father's temper, though, and this made Arthur amused. Benny could throw monumental tantrums at times, and Gaius was reminded of similar incidents during Arthur's childhood.
Despite all of this, Benny had the makings of a king. He was still terribly young, and he had a lot of things to endure before achieving greatness, but his heart was full of compassion and kindness. He was a very loving boy, too, and Merlin could detect that in the future, their people would adore him.
They passed through the Training Grounds, bringing Merlin's mind back to the present. Benny squirmed in delight and Arthur laughingly placed his son back onto his feet. Benny ran into the vast field, watching with unbridled enchantment as the knights sparred against each other. One thing that Benny also inherited from his father – his love for swordfights.
Some of the Knights of Camelot noticed their new audience, and stopped sparring all together.
"Hey there, little tyke," Sir Gwaine exclaimed, rushing forward to carry the little boy onto his shoulders. "Fancy a small battle?"
Benny vigorously nodded and pointed his finger at the closest knight beside Gwaine. Apparently, it was Mordred, who amused raised an eyebrow. "I challenge you to a fight, good sir!" the little boy exclaimed. Comically, he removed an invisible gauntlet from his hand and threw it to the ground.
Mordred, playing along, nodded his head and placed a hand against his heart. "I am honoured, my lord," he murmured reverently. He grinned when the young prince giggled, before jumping from Gwaine's arms to grab a small, wooden sword.
"Tsk," Merlin said, crossing her arms as she watched her son play. "One day, he is going to be the death of me."
"He has the makings of a great knight," Arthur pointed out, his chest puffing in pride. "I'm sure he will be hailed as the greatest swordsman in Albion. Next to me, of course."
Merlin rolled her eyes. "I just wish our son didn't acquire your inflated ego," she playfully teased, prompting Arthur to boisterously laugh.
The king then held her hand and led her inside, knowing that the knights would take care of their future King.
"Tomorrow is a big day," Merlin pointed out after a few moments of silence. At the corner of her eyes, she saw how Arthur's jaw tensed. Fondly, she knew he was trying very hard to mask his nervousness. "You must be nervous."
"Nervous?" Arthur scoffed, although his voice lacked its usual obnoxious tone. "I do not get nervous."
"Whatever you say, my lord," Merlin said with an amused lilt in her voice.
Tomorrow, all the kings of Albion were to dine in Camelot in honor of the peace that had been established ever since Arthur's reign. It was a momentous event, especially because they were to celebrate it with the king that had started it all. Merlin could understand Arthur's nervousness, especially because a lot of kings were to arrive and anything could happen.
Arthur worked very hard to bring peace that Albion deserved, and Merlin had supported him all throughout the way. The king already achieved the greatness he was destined to have, and Merlin couldn't be prouder for her husband.
With a smile, she gave him a brief kiss on his cheek. "I'm sure you'd be brilliant tomorrow," she assured him, prompting Arthur to smile.
"Sometimes, your faith in me is astounding," Arthur said, a handsome smile on his face.
She gazed at him fondly and placed a hand against his cheek. Tenderly, she ran her thumb against his cheek and Arthur leaned towards her touch.
Gazing at him now, she realized they had gone a long way. They'd been through a lot of trying times, most of which almost caused their lives, but they were still here, still together, and Merlin couldn't ask for more.
"I'm proud of you, Arthur," she murmured, and her heart swelled when Arthur gave her a wonderful smile. She never voiced it out loud to him, but she would never tire from seeing his smiling face at all.
"I have a great queen beside me, after all," he replied, pulling her close as he skimmed his nose against hers.
As Arthur kissed her, Merlin anticipated the future. Once upon a time, she was just a village girl, with a special ability. Once upon a time, she was just an unfortunate little thing, with a penchant for danger and an obvious love for clumsiness. Once upon a time, she disguised herself as a boy and hid her magic just so she could follow the path towards her destiny.
And now, here was she, the wife of a wonderful man, the mother of an adorable son, and the queen of a beautiful kingdom.
Destiny could be a funny little thing, that much Merlin understood. There were those who had no choice but follow what was ahead of them. But there were those who proved to themselves and others that destiny should not dictate whatever they chose in their life.
Nonetheless, Merlin viewed everything that had happened to her in the past as something special to her. Without them, she wouldn't be who she was right now.
Arthur slowly pulled away and looked at her adoringly. Such gazes used to be a fantasy to her, and now they were a dream come true.
She didn't have the ability to see the future, but Merlin could foresee a wonderful future for her family. Trying times might strike them, but she knew they would stay together to guard whatever genuine feelings they have for each other.
Queen Merlin Pendragon swore that until the day she died, she would fiercely protect her love ones.
"I think it is best if we meet the council now," Arthur said, laughing when Merlin grimaced. "All hell will break loose if even their king ditched them too."
He held her hand again and resumed their walking.
His hand was a warm reminder of the love she now received from a man she didn't thought she would ever love and who would love her back.
Looking at Arthur now, Merlin knew that whatever happened in the future, she would always stay by his side.
 þín bealubenne níedhæse béo gebatad. Unc níedhæse áleofae sæle furðor – Your mortal wound will be healed. You will live once more.
A/N: End of story! How'd you like it? Tell me in your reviews :D
So yes, dear readers, we've finally reached the end, although the journey was kinda short :D As of now, I really have no intention of continuing this story. As much as I would like to make this whole story longer, my brain now fails me and my schedule restricts me from properly thinking.
Honestly speaking, this whole thing was a blast to write! I've read a few Female!Merlin fics out there, and they were really good. I hope this story made you smile, frown, and even glare haha.
As you can see, I haven't killed Arthur, Mordred and Gwaine. I've bawled my eyes out when Arthur died, and I want this story to have a happy ending! I love Arthur too much and I couldn't bare the thought of losing him in this fic too. And Mordred! The series made Mordred seem so lovable. And Gwaine… need I say more?
Perhaps in the future, I might continue writing Female!Merlin stories. The whole gender bender thing interests me, so I'm sure someday I'd come up with a new plot :D
That's it for now! I hope you liked how everything turned out!