Oh my gosh, I'm so excited to have finally completed this! You have no idea how long this has been in the work (since August if you're wondering). And I'm so happy it is finally completed so that I can share it with you guys! I also dedicate this story to my sister (as well as the Dragon Riddles chapter in my other Merlin fic as I never got around to doing that when I actually posted this), who has read every single crappy thing I produced, this being both the crappiest and the longest. Also the most time consuming on my part. And I actual did a read through before posting. This showing how much I care about this story.
I'm really excited because I think I got the characters down as well as I can, for the most part (Barring Gauis who I may or may not have accidently turned into Dumbledore.).
Anyway I hope you like it.
Arthur walked into the throne room feeling a strange sort of numbness. This numbness had been there since his mother first told him what his father had done. Since, he had first realized how innocent magic was. How needlessly every magic used had suffered, all because of his father's guilt; His father's guilt, which had now become his. That was the worst part, thought Arthur. He had walked into that castle with the guilt of his mother's death upon his back, but he'd walked out with the weight of thousands. Because it was, in a sense, his fault that magic had become persecuted. And he hated his father for that, for making him an accomplice in the slaughter of thousands.
But until his father had looked up, until he had said, in such an innocent concerned tone: "Arthur, where have you been? I've had search parties out looking for you." all that anger and hatred had been kept separate by an icy wall of shocked realization; the sense that none of this was quite real. But when he'd said that, that icy wall cracked and suddenly he was flooded by emotions. They surged through him like fire, burning his veins, and filling him with the desperate need for revenge.
This sudden rush of emotions after he had been devoid of anything for so long, took Arthur aback for a moment. And he stood reeling, in front of his father, trying to adjust to this hatred for the man that he had, for so long, admired. Arthur vaguely heard his father call his name.
It was the use of his name, by this-man, for he could no longer consider him a father, that did it. Arthur snapped to reality with an almost audible click. And he stood in front of Uther with barely suppressed rage, and said. "I know…" He paused gathering himself to say the words. "What you did to my mother."
It did not have quite the effect Arthur desired. Instead of gasping or getting angry or something. Uther just stood there calmly and dismissed Leon from the room, telling him that on no accounts were they to be disturbed. A malicious part of Arthur's mind thought of informing Uther that he was signing his own death warrant with that action, but he refrained. He might not even kill the King. He wanted to revenge, but more than that he wanted his father to confess to his crimes, show regret. That alone would go lengths in assuaging his guilt. Uther was a very proud man, if he was to admit he was wrong…he might just live (A part of Arthur, the part that was buried behind the hurt, the guilt, and the rage, the part that still loved Uther, shouted out that such a thought was wrong. That this was wrong. That he should wait until he was thinking clearer…)
Unfortunately for Uther's life expectancy, the first words out of his mouth were "What are you talking about?" As if he didn't know, Arthur thought spitefully. He saw this for the tactical move it was, have the opposition reveal how much they know and see if you can out maneuver them, and trick them. But Arthur gave into the man's wishes regardless and explained exactly what he knew, which was everything.
"You were, so desperate for a heir. You were prepared to us magic-"
The King cut him off "Did Morgause tell you this? She's lying." Arthur took a sharp intake of breath. He couldn't believe this, such a quick and cold dismal of the truth. Is that what magic user's felt as they tried to claim their innocence? Having their truth fall on deaf ears? Did they feel the righteous anger that he did? Arthur suddenly found him standing in the shoes of every "evil" magic user that had tried to kill his father. He understood them. Magic wasn't evil, it was never evil. Magic is a tool. And those who use it are hurt and scared, and oh so angry. Arthur understood, Arthur empathized. And more than that, Arthur agreed. Uther Pendragon should not be allowed to live. If he could not see the error of his ways then he would die for it.
That is why he continued on as if that man had never spoke. "My mother is dead, because of your selfishness and arrogance. Her blood is on your hands."
Again he was interrupted. "No, that's not true, but Morgause would have you believe that."
Denial! Again! He was behaving like a child, instead of a king. He had always played the child, Arthur supposed, ever since his mother had died. And to think that he had looked up to this man, a man not strong enough to admit his mistakes! Still Arthur talked, determined that for once Uther hear the truth, and believe it. "This it what fuels your hatred for those who practice magic. Rather than blame yourself for what you did, you blame them." This time Arthur paused this time of his own accord, wanting to see the King's reaction, hoping to get some sort of admission, or realization. To no avail.
"You would believe a sorceress's lies, over the word of your own father?" Uther asked as he approached him slowly. Arthur eyebrow's furrowed in distaste. He wanted to scream, how could he be so blind! Then Uther made it worse. "I can only think that Morgause has enchanted you."
Enchanted him, enchanted him? Is that what Uther thought everytime someone tried to tell him the truth? A cold realization hit him, like a bucket of cold water being thrown over his head, momentarily calming his turbulent emotions. No, of course not, that brand of delusion was made specifically for him, Arthur, his son. If it had been anyone else, they would have been thrown in the dungeons, and executed. Like Gwen's father.
Fury rammed into Arthur with tenfold the force it had had before this realization. He screamed at Uther "You have hunted her kind, like animals." Still Uther's face remained calm in his delusions. Did nothing shake this man? "How many hundreds have you put to death to ease your guilt?"
Uther argued back "Those who use magic will stop at nothing to destroy us, I have only done what is necessary to protect this kingdom."
Arthur shook his head in disgust, contempt growing in him. " You speak of honor, and nobility," the two qualities he used to admire so much in this man "your nothing but a hypocrite! And a LIAR!" Beneath his rolling anger Arthur felt the grief that he was trying suppress seep into his voice. He had loved this man, and looked up to him, but what he looked up two was nothing but a façade, a falsity. His father...
As if hearing his thoughts Uther responded. "I am your king and your father, you will show me some respect!"
His father…no he would not think of this man as his father. That man had died with his mother apparently. But still, Arthur searched the King's face, desperate to find some remnant of that man. All Arthur saw was a blind and desperate fool. Never breaking eye contact Arthur slowly approached the monster he had once called father. Righteous anger replaced his despair and as he stared into the steel eyes of the man-no the monster, before him he ripped off his gauntlet. Arthur felt a grim satisfaction as he watched shock flit across Uther's face. He obviously hadn't realized how serious Arthur was till that moment. Arthur threw the gauntlet at his feet, the clanking of metal echoing around the room like the alarm bell during siege.
"Have you lost your mind?" Uther as if he could not believe it had come to this. When really what else could it have come to? As if Arthur would let him remain King after he had misused his power so.
"Pick it up." He had nothing else to say to this man.
"Arthur I implore you, think about what you're doing." Uther asked nervously backing up slightly.
"Pick. It up."
"I will not fight you."
Arthur had tried. He had tried to make Uther see the truth, to suppress his anger, to give him an honorable death, a death that he no longer deserved. He really had, but the King had pushed his limits. He had no choice. Arthur drew his sword.
"If you choose," Arthur breathed, approaching the king menacingly. "Not to defend yourself, I will strike you down where you stand." He was now inches away from the man and could see the lines of weariness and age that ran across his face. This did not sway him.
"You are my son. You will not strike an unarmed man." Uther said, though there was no belief behind this statement. Uther had his sword. There was a difference between having a sword and refusing to use it. They both knew that.
Arthur could not deny the latter, but could deny the first part of that statement. "I no longer consider myself your son." He said this both because it was true, and because he hoped that it might somewhat hurt his father. Ever since the troll he knew that Uther most care about him to some extent.
When he said that some part of Uther seemed to flinch. Though physically he kept staring at his son. "Then strike me down."
Arthur knew that at some point during this conversation, Uther had picked up his sword. Arthur may not of known this man as he thought he had, but he knew this: The King would not go down without a fight. Arthur stared at him, knowing this was a test. The man refused to believe that he could kill his own flesh and blood. His theory on Uther being armed was proven correct when Arthur suddenly swung his sword at the man only to be met by the King's blade.
The second the blades met Uther withdrew in disbelief, finally understanding how serious Arthur was about all this. "I don't want to fight you." He said slowly backing away from the seething prince.
Arthur twirled his sword in reply and fell into a dueling stance. They both knew this was a battle he would not lose. Arthur stalked forward step by step, sword ready to lunge towards the frightened King. Uther retreated just as quickly. Then Arthur darted a forward a look of intense fury on his face. And so their battle began.
Merlin sprinted through the hallways at lightening speed towards the throne room; his mind running just as quick. He had absolutely no idea what he was going to do when he got there. He was ecstatic that Arthur finally understood the truth about magic, but he couldn't allow him to kill his father. Once he got beyond his anger, Arthur would never forgive himself. He had to be stopped, that much was obvious. But how? He was obviously going to attempt to have Arthur see reason, but something told Merlin, that he was beyond reasoning at this point. If Merlin had known what he was planning before now, he might have been able to talk Arthur around. But knowing Uther, he had tried to deny the truth and made everything ten times worse. There was nothing Arthur hated more than being lied to.
So it was with a troubled anxious heart that Merlin finally arrived at the throne room. He attempted to open the door only to be thrown back by Leon. Merlin tried once more, only to be slammed into the wall.
With a fiercely protective look Leon said. "The king has forbidden anyone to enter."
Merlin did not know much about Leon but he knew he was one of the most loyal knights around, both to the King and to Arthur. He never deviated from his commands. Merlin only hoped he could convince him that for both the King's and the Prince's sake, he better upon that door. Still struggling Merlin shouted "They're going to kill he each other!" Merlin didn't know if it was the tone of his voice, the look on his face, or the fact that it was widely known around Camelot that Merlin would do anything for Arthur, but something must have convinced Leon because the next thing he knew they were charging into the throne room.
They were met by the sight of Arthur pinning Uther to his throne holding his sword above Uther's chest. He was going in for the kill. Leon, despite his warning, fell back in shock at the sight of His prince about to kill the king.
"Arthur!" Merlin shouted sprinting forward. "Don't! I know you don't want to do this!" His tone was pleading.
"My Mother," Arthur said with an agonized desperation, in his voice and on his face. "is dead because of him!" He had to make Merlin understand why he had to do this. Merlin had to understand, and agree. Because Merlin was always right. He always did the right thing, the noble thing. If Merlin said this was wrong…he wasn't sure he could do this. And he had to this, for his mother, and for all those with magic, Uther had to die.
"Killing your father won't bring her back." Those words were like a death sentence to his actions and his motives. His sword arm trembled, and his face crumpled. He could no longer hold back the grief he had been fighting. He was anguished and scared, but this was the right thing to do wasn't it? Merlin was still talking "You've already lost one parent, do you really want to lose another?"
He didn't, he realized, he didn't want to lose his father. But there was no choice. It was his father or his guilt. His debt for all of those with magic, he had to repay it somehow. This was the only way. He had to kill the King who started it all and spend the rest of his reign making up for what his father had done. But he was frightened to kill this man, this man who loved him. Some part of him still wanted to return that love, despite it all.
"Listen to him Arthur." Uther pleaded. Merlin watched as Arthur once more raised his sword arm, which had been slowly lowering as Merlin talked to him. Merlin almost cursed, how stupid was the man? Wasn't it obvious that anything out of his mouth would condemn him further in Arthur's eyes? He needed to shut up! But he obviously wasn't going to do that of his own volition, so very quickly Merlin muttered a spell that would freeze Uther where he sat. He was still awake, and he could twitch a little, but should he try to speak or move his appendages he would find it impossible.
"Arthur, please." Merlin moved forward slightly, ready to bolt towards the throne if Arthur made a move. Though, he acknowledged that any move on his part without magic, would be far too slow to stop the prince. "Put the sword down."
"You heard," Arthur hissed breathing heavily. As if this conversation was causing him pain. "What my mother said. After everything he has done, do you believe he deserves to live? He who executes those who use magic, and yet he has used it himself!" Merlin wanted to answer (though he didn't quite know what he would say) but Arthur kept talking, addressing Uther directly now. "You have cause so much suffering, and so much pain. I will put an end to that!"
Merlin could not do this, he could not allow Arthur to go through with this. And suddenly his head cleared and before he could stop them the words flew out of his mouth. "Arthur, wait!"
There must have been something in his tone, something that had not been there before because Arthur stilled. He was still breathing heavily and trembling, and he had not looked away from Uther, but he was still. Merlin cleared his throat knowing he was about to do something momentous and huge, something that would change the course of his life and how Arthur viewed him, forever. "Do you really believe," Merlin asked quietly, and calmly, his voice carrying throughout the room "Do you really believe that magic can be used as a force for good, and that this man should die for what he did to them?"
Arthur did not even pause. "All my life," Arthur spat "All my life Merlin, it's been pounded into me that magic is evil and death is the only option when it comes to those who posses it. The King of Camelot was the only good fighting against such dark corruption. But I got it backwards! It is my father who is corrupt, whose only option is death and it is magic that is good. So for the love of God Merlin, will you let me kill this wretch of a man already!
"No." And suddenly Merlin was between him and his father, cerulean eyes flashing with some emotion Arthur could not place, it almost looked like…joy. His sword was no longer pointing at his father's throat, rather it was somewhat poking Merlin's midriff.
"Get out of the way, Merlin."
Merlin remained silent and still glaring stubbornly up at Arthur.
"Get OUT, of my WAY!" Arthur roared. "Or I swear I'll-I'll…"
Merlin shook his head. "Not till you put down your sword."
"I'm not putting this thing down until the deed is done."
"Then I'm afraid we've reached an impasse. You're apparently not going to put down your sword, and I'm certainly not going to let you kill your father."
Arthur growled, running his hand through his hair in frustration." But you were there, you saw, you heard, how can you-What do you understand about my father that allows you to forgive him? What do you know that his own son doesn't, that makes you willing to defend him?"
Merlin gave small sad smile. "What do I know Arthur? I know you. I know that if you had any sort of rational thought at the moment you wouldn't be doing this. Uther's done nothing to earn my protection, but you have. And protecting you means protecting what you love; if that includes Uther than so be it. I'll protect him.
"Because no matter how you feel right now, he's your father and you love him. I don't understand, or particularly like Uther but I understand you. If I let you do this you'll never forgive yourself, And if I let this happen without preventing it, when I know I could have, I'd never forgive myself. I made a promise to protect you, no matter what, and I will; whether it's from monsters or your own foolish notions."
During this speech Merlin had stood taller as some certainty grew inside him. His eyes had grown harder and glinted, not with sadness, but with some strange fervor that transformed him somehow; into something that Arthur felt he should respect, perhaps even fear. And so it was this, strange new Merlin that said, eyes glinting and a promise in every word. "I swear to you Arthur Pendragon, you'll not kill this man tonight. Not while I'm around."
The worst thing was for Arthur, that part of him believed what this strange Merlin muttered. Suddenly killing the unarmed man before him…his father, seemed like the most impossible task in the world. And this angered Arthur more that anything. He was angry at how his scrawny manservant was stopping him from delivering the deathblow. He didn't stop Arthur physically but, with words. He hated how the image of Merlin's disappointment hurt him. Why couldn't Merlin understand that this was for the good of the kingdom, for everyone?
"This is some foolish notion, Merlin." Arthur spat. "This is justice. Justice for all those magic users who-"
Merlin scoffed, crossing his arms. "Don't go any further Arthur. This has practically nothing to do with avenging magic, and everything to do with your desire to get rid of your guilt. That's the only reason why you're so inconsolable right now. You think that because your birth was what killed your mother (something you had no control over by the way!), and thus set the Great Purge into motion, that these deaths are somehow you fault. You're so desperate to get rid of that guilt that your even willing to get rid of your own father. As if that will somehow repair all those lives that he broke. But let me tell you Arthur, killing Uther isn't going to fix anything, it's only going to make things worse. It's especially not going to relieve your guilt."
Then Merlin looked Arthur straight in the eyes, and his words pressed into Arthur as he slowly forced the reluctant prince to acknowledge what he was saying, to convince him of the truth "And do you know why it's not going to diminish your guilt Arthur? It's not going to get rid of your guilt because it's not your guilt to bear. You're not to blame for any of this. It was Uther's decision that started all of this. Anything you think you might have done against the magical community can't be accounted for."
Arthur growled. "What about the raids?" He asked bitterly, yet underneath the scorn Merlin could hear the despair in his voice. " What about the countless raids on those with magic. Those I hurt and hunted down, and killed. All those innocent lives. Dead. Dead at my hand."
Merlin shook his head, resolute in his convictions. "Not your fault. You didn't know what you where doing. You didn't understand the full situation, nor did you have all the facts. You couldn't have figured it out."
"I-but I could have!" Arthur said, frustration and anguish in his voice. "If I had taken the time to look at the people, as they truly are. But I didn't. I was happy to live my dream world where everything was perfect ignoring, the prejudice around me. While innocents were slaughtered, I did nothing. In fact, I did worse than nothing. I helped!"
"You've been led your whole life to think that magic was evil." Merlin said "That was a truth to you. And it didn't help that it was the man you loved and respected who told you this. Love makes us blind to reason and to obligation.
"Look at me," Merlin said to Arthur whose head was hung in shame. "Look at me, and if you've ever believed in a single word, a single truth that comes out of my mouth believe this: You are not to blame."
Arthur gave a combination of a roar and cry and slammed his fists into the table. He stood like that for a long while, both hands on the table, supporting his weight as his shoulders silently shook, and his tears silently fell. After a time, a shaking hand made its way up to his face to cover the tears that still fell, to cover this sign of emotion that had escaped.
"You don't- you don't understand Merlin." Arthur whispered hoarsely, his voice holding none of the anger from before but all of the agony. " You can never understand. Those are my people out there, they're my subjects. It's my job to protect them, it's my duty. My loyalty is to them. Every action I do is for Camelot, for its inhabitants. But for the those who posses magic, theycan never see me like that. For these years they haven't been able to see me as a force of protection and guidance, but rather a thing to fear and loathe. I'm a nightmare to those people. I'm a monster to them. And it's true, Merlin, that's worst part. It's not an unwarranted hate and fear, I truly am I monster."
Merlin looked at Arthur, a strange emotion filling his chest and his eyes begin to prick with the beginnings of tears. And slowly, his footsteps sounding out across the quiet room, Merlin walked around the table and sat down across from Arthur, a proud and soft smile alit his face. "For the longest time I thought I was a monster."
Arthur head snapped up, and he stared at Merlin astonishment spread across his face, yet somewhere in that astonishment he looked like a lost child who, perhaps, had found a way home. Perhaps Arthur wasn't as alone as he thought. Perhaps there was hope for him yet.
"I was already a bastard child so that was one point against me from the get go." Merlin started. "But more than that, there was something distinctly "off" about me. None of the villagers could ever pin point what it was exactly, but there was something that "just wasn't right." I told you before that Will was my best friend. But that wasn't the whole truth. He was my only friend. None of the other children would play with me. Either because their parents wouldn't let them near me or because they were a little bit scared of me. The ones that were scared teased me mercilessly, calling me things like 'freak' and 'demon child'. 'Monster' was a particular favorite of theirs." Merlin said wryly.
"And all my life I believed them. Every word that came out of their mouths I believed. It didn't matter how many times my mother told me it wasn't true, that they just didn't understand how special I was. None of it mattered. Because they were right, I thought to myself, they were all right. I was a freak. I was a monster. I deserved their scorn, their hatred. I had to believe it. Because what other plausible reason could there be to hurt someone as deeply as they hurt me, unless it was the truth?"
Merlin could see the anger that was growing on Arthur's face on his behalf and felt slightly touched. "But the point is: they were right."
Arthur opened his mouth to object.
Merlin held up a hand. "Not about me being monster. But about me being "off "somehow. They were right. I was different. I was a freak, in a way. I possessed something that set me apart from everyone else. Something I've had since the moment I took my first breath. Something that would get me killed for simply existing. You see Arthur, I am in the unique position of being born with magic." Merlin's eyes lit up and a small flame flickered to life in his hand.
Arthur couldn't breathe. Not because Merlin had magic. As shocking as that was, he knew Merlin and his magic was no threat to him. Merlin could never be a threat to him. No he couldn't breathe because he was agony, complete and utterly debilitating agony. Because every sorcerer that had ever begged for mercy, every druid that had cried out when they saw him coming, every man, women and child (for there had been children) that had ever screamed as they burned he saw with Merlin's face.
He was in agony because he could picture a small boy with disproportionately large ears that stuck out from under his mop of raven black hair and a smile that could light up a whole room if given the chance. And he saw that boy being mocked. He saw that boy crying in his rickety bed. He saw that boy coming through the door, trying not to wince as he hid bruises from his mother. And he heard that little boy, that boy who would grow up into one of the best men Arthur knew, ask himself why he was born a monster? Why was he hated so? And suddenly Arthur wasn't sure he would take a breath even if he could. Because living would mean acknowledging that he and his father were responsible for Merlin's pain. If not for him, Merlin would have been able to grow up peacefully, proud of his gift. Merlin could have-
And suddenly Arthur was thrown back by a slap to the face, and he found himself on the ground, his hand held to his cheek. Above him Merlin, panting hard, glared down at him. "Pay attention, clotpole! You're not allowed to zone out while I'm bearing my soul to you!"
And Arthur saw that Merlin's hands were shaking slightly. And that under his rage, Merlin was scared. A thought occurred to Arthur then, and it was almost as horrible as the ones prior. Was Merlin scared for him or of him? Arthur wasn't particularly sure he wanted to know the answer.
"Why? Why did you-Why would you?" was all Arthur managed to get before Merlin cut him off with a sharp "Shut up!" as he pulled Arthur back into his chair and sat down in his.
Merlin ran his fingers through his hair and he shook his head as a tight, weary smile appeared on his face. "It so…you, Arthur to think I blame you for this. You don't get it do you? You don't understand just how much you've changed-no, improved my life. Before I came here, I was hated, I was scorned, and more than that I was cursed. I had this huge, incredible," His eyes softened as he described to Arthur his magic, "wonderful power Arthur. And I had to keep it hidden, because for some reason people hated what could have helped them if I had only been given the chance. So I had to trap it inside me, and that hurt Arthur, because it was so much bigger, so much more than I could control. And despite my best struggles, it kept getting out. And people were becoming more and frightened if it, of me."
Merlin's eyes grew a bit haunted. "And every day, Arthur, every single blasted day, I would ask myself why, why would I be burdened with this great, fantastic power, if I could never use it?! Why was it that I could do so much good, but have to stand by silent for fear of my own life?" Merlin started to shake now and his eyes were shining mysteriously bright "That was the worst part, Arthur. Most days, I would think I was a monster for simply having magic. But somedays, the days when people died of starvation, and the crops withered, and people got sick, the days I could have prevented, I wasn't a monster because I had magic, I was a monster because I never used it to help, to save."
Arthur looked at Merlin uncomprehendingly, here was this man who had been persecuted by these villagers all his life, who had been mocked, and scorned, and hated by them. And here he was in tears because he couldn't save them. Simply because if tried they would have killed him for it. "Merlin, they would have killed you if you had tried."
Merlin shrugged his shoulders. "I knew that, but how was I to know that mattered? How was I to know that my death wouldn't be best used helping my village? That the death of clumsy outcast Merlin would matter in the slightest? I thought I was going to spend my whole life in Ealdor, Arthur. I thought I was going to spend every single miserable day of my existence there, hiding my magic, and struggling to control it. With such a future ahead, wouldn't you want to end it with some kindness, make your last act useful?"
Arthur shook his head. And with a voice hoarse from grief and anger for his friend answered "I…I don't know what I would have done Merlin, but I don't think it would have been something so kind as that. Why didn't you just…leave?"
Merlin shook his head. "I couldn't Arthur. I had my mother to take care of. I couldn't just leave her. But one day, I guess something changed, because she just handed me a pack, and told that I was going to Camelot to Gauis, and that perhaps there I would learn to control my magic, and then she shoved me out the door."
Arthur stared at him she incredulously. " She sent you to Camelot to keep you safe?! She did know that Camelot is the heart of the anti-magic society? What was she thinking?"
Merlin glared at him a little. "Don't insult my mother, Arthur. You'd be dead if she hadn't sent me here, so shut up." Arthur raised his eyebrow at that, but Merlin did not pause long enough for him to comment. "If I'm correct, she understood that my grip on my magic was becoming more tenuous by the day. And that more and more each day I was losing control of my magic, until sooner or later I was going to lose it entirely and everything that these villagers suspected would be proven true, and I would die. Camelot had two things that worked to my advantage: Gauis and anonymity.
"As you know, Gauis used to practice magic and my mother hoped that he could teach me how to control it. But the latter was the far greater gift in my opinion. As soon as I stepped out from the borders of Ealdor, I was free in a way you could not imagine. For the first time I wasn't "Merlin the Freak", or "Merlin the Monster", I was just Merlin, and I could be anyone I wanted to be. And then I got here and I felt so hap-"
Merlin laughed and shook his head. "I'm over romanticizing things. Actually, arriving at Camelot was probably the most terrifying experience of my life. The first thing I saw was that poor man being put to death the practice of magic. I was scared out of my wits and wondering why on earth would Mother send to a place that was about to celebrate it's '20th year of a Magic free Camelot."
"Ha!" Arthur said, "You questioned her sanity too!"
Merlin rolled his eyes. "But I trusted her, and off I went to Gauis to receive my second heart attack of the day. Because as soon as I got to his chambers, he fell off his little rickety balcony and I had to save him with my magic. I was sure that I was going to become the second person to beheaded that day, despite Mother's praise for him. But after some interrogation he thanked me and sent me to my room."
"So you're saying that Gauis has known all along, that you have magic?" Arthur questioned.
Merlin scoffed."And you're honestly surprised? You know how close we are Arthur. Depending on each other for your continued existence tends to do that."
Arthur flinched at the reminder.
Merlin glared at Arthur. "Stop being so overdramatic Arthur, none of this is your fault to begin with so stop acting like every word out of my mouth is a barb against you.
Arthur glared. "In my defense you haven't really told me anything that contradicts that. Sure Camelot was your "fresh start" but you're still oppressed and scared for your life, forgive me if I don't see how that such a big improvement."
"God forbid I get to tell my story the way I want to." Merlin huffed good-naturedly under his breath, feeling remarkably carefree since revealing his magic. "Fine Arthur, let's skip to the important bit. My second day there I ran into someone who revolutionized my life. I ran into you, the most pompous arrogant prat of a man I'd ever met, and you threw me in jail and the stocks, which despite my lack of the pyre was some pretty accurate foreshadowing of my life up until this point…lots of stocks and jail cells.
Arthur was glaring at him again. Merlin got the subtle hint that he still wasn't making Arthur feel any better.
"Anyway you know the rest, I saved you're life with magic and I became your-"
"Wait, you're saying you used magic to save my life, that first day?" Arthur questioned.
Merlin nodded. "Yes, and every day since." At Arthur's dumbfounded expression, Merlin tsked. "Honestly, do really think chandeliers fall on evil sorceress' for no reason whatsoever?"
Arthur shook his head, and waved his hand as if batting of an irksome fly. "I'm more interested in the everyday since, Merlin."
"Let's just say I have two jobs at Camelot, serving you and saving you." Merlin said grinning then paused. "Well, if you count apprentice physician then I have three. But the point still stands I've saved you more times than I can count.
"I remember the day we fought in the market, with the maces. And before you ask, yes I was using magic, and no it's not cheating because you had years of training. We both used what skills we had." Merlin sighed. " But afterwards, I remember standing in Gauis' room as he admonished me for my recklessness. And I remember saying 'If I can't use magic, what have I got? If I can't use magic, I might as well die.' I couldn't live without my magic Arthur. It was a part of me, my most defining feature, it made me who I was. And to be told that I couldn't use it, the one thing that made me special, it made me feel useless, worthless. It was the thing I hated most about myself, but it was also my most treasured gift. Because I knew how wonderful magic was, I've felt just how fantastic it can be. Magic shaped my entire life, Arthur. And if I couldn't use it, this amazing burden of mine, then was the point of living?
"But you changed everything, Arthur." Here Merlin's voice softened, and his eyes lit up with a sort of un-tempered joy. "You gave me a purpose. For the first time in my life I had a reason to use my magic, a good and noble reason. A reason that one day might free my kind forever."
Merlin looked down scuffing his foot. "And maybe that day might be today" he said quietly, then he looked up, his voice regaining a little bit of its volume. "And somewhere along the way, it grew to be more than an obligation I had to do the right thing, and a hope at a chance for a better future, I started doing it because I cared about you Arthur, because you're my friend."
Merlin plopped down in his seat. "And that's it. You're no more a monster than I am, Arthur Pendragon." Merlin said kindly. "Neither of us can change the circumstance of our birth, the results of it, or the power we've been given. What we can change is what we do with that power. I was born with a great magical gift, and I truly believe that my purpose in life is to protect you with it. You were born in great tragedy, the start of a troubled age. But you're a prince, and one day you'llbe a king. Maybe it's your purpose to set things right."
And Arthur just stared, at Merlin. Taking it all in. Here was a man, who had every right to hate, to despise him, sitting in front of him and telling them how they weren't so different after all. How they both had power that needed purpose. And how they both were people, sometimes misguided, but always good.
"That's it?" Arthur said with saddened incredulity , "Merlin, I-I genuinely don't know what to say. You are great man, to give so much, for so little, and to do it with a smile and I-"
Arthur moved suddenly, kneeling in front of Merlin, smiling slightly at how they had come full circle, from him forcing Merlin to kneel in his pigheadedness to Merlin forcing him to kneel in sheer gratitude. "Thank you" Arthur said, utter sincerity in voice. "Thank you so much for all you have done and sacrificed. I am," Arthur paused here his voice choking up a bit," honored to know you Merlin."
And Merlin stared at him, tears sliding down his face, and gave a tremulous smile "The honor is all mine, Sire." And with that he pulled Arthur up from kneeling position and into his hug. And to his surprise Arthur almost returned it, giving him a "manly thump" on the back, before pulling away quickly.
"We're never doing that again, Merlin." Arthur said, pride already leaking back into his voice. "It's not befitting for a prince to be seen hugging a manservant."
Merlin grinned, as he wiped the tear tracks from his face. "Wouldn't dream of it."
There was a silence as the two fully let it sink in just how many incredible changes had occurred in the past hour or so.
"So," Merlin asked tentatively breaking the companionable silence that had stretched between them. "What does this mean for magic?"
Arthur raised a brow. "We can hardly allow it to continued to be punished. And I think-" Arthur said as he looked back at Uther, before doing a double-take "Merlin what on earth have you done to my father!?"
Merlin looked around to see Uther twitching and straining as much as he could against the magical restraints Merlin had put on him. He was also glaring furiously at Merlin. Arthur's disapproving stare wasn't helping any.
"Oh don't look at me like that." Merlin grumped. "I was trying to get you to calm down long enough for you to see reason. But every single I got you halfway rational he would speak up and make everything worse! So finally I just shut him up. And you can stop with the disapproval, using magic on an unwilling participant is far better than killing him."
This sobered Arthur considerably, "I appreciate you preventing me from following through with that, it was a decision I would have greatly regretted. And it would have been no way to start my reign."
Merlin's head snapped around. "Do you mean-"
Arthur nodded. "It is obvious to me that my father is delusional when it comes to all things magic, nor do I think anything I say could change or sway that belief, no matter what evidence you may provide that proves otherwise. And in light of the true nature of magic I can no longer support his reign, or allow it to continue. So in order to set things right, I'll take the throne of Camelot and legalize magic."
Merlin broke into a ridiculously large grin. "You don't know how long I've been waiting to hear you say that."
"I think I can imagine." Arthur replied, before looking once more at Uther, his brow wrinkling in concentration. "I honestly have no clue as to what to do with him. But right now I'm more concerned with whether or not the guards and knights will accept the change in leadership."
Merlin, as someone who had been unfalteringly loyal to Arthur since his arrival and had also seen the way the knights treated him (fondly, since most of them having watched Arthur grow up, but with some respect), had trouble believing that anyone would not follow Arthur opened his mouth to say as much, but he was interrupted before having the chance to utter a single syllable.
"I believe I can answer you're question, Sire."
Merlin and Arthur whipped around to see Leon who, along with Gauis, had been standing there the entire time. Merlin blushed at the thought of sharing his personal and painful back story with someone he barely knew, as well as revealing his magic. Arthur's shifted his weight awkwardly, embarrassed that one of his men had seen him cry and hug a servant on the same day, it was rather embarrassing (not that he regretted his actions, he just wish they hadn't been displayed so publically).
Leon ignored both reactions or perhaps he just wasn't aware. " I cannot speak for the guards, but I believe whole heartedly upon hearing what I have today, that most of the knights will proudly swear fealty to you.
"Some of us," Leon continued on in a way that made both Arthur and Merlin believe that he was one of them, " who were around during the time before the great purge, or who have never been against magic, have often reviled in killing the druids, who are peaceful people, but have continued on in order to assist them in escaping massacres. I know many people who will be overjoyed to hear the shift in views. And those who are not, don't seem the sort of men worth keeping around anyway, Sire." Leon gave a jerky bow "If you'll excuse me, I'd like to alert and ease the knights into the change of power."
Arthur nodded, but as Leon turned to leave, he stopped him "Oh, and Leon, now that I am ascending the throne, I can no longer maintain my position as Captain of the Guard. Due to you're loyalty to me and easy acceptance of my new values and beliefs, I can think of no one I'd like to bestow that title to than you."
"Thank you, milord," said Leon breaking into a smile before continuing to leave the room.
As soon Leon had left, Gauis had swiftly walked over to Merlin, sweeping him into a hug. "I am so proud of you, my boy, so proud." He shook Merlin a little for emphasis while Merlin was grinning from ear to ear. "You finally did it."
Merlin laughed, and hugged Gauis back . "I couldn't have done it without you, Gauis."
Gauis chuckled as he released Merlin, smiling fondly. "I doubt that, Merlin, but for the sake of this old man, I'm glad I was a part of it. Getting to know you has been one of the greatest joy's of my life."
Merlin nodded, his eyes once more shining. "And you mine."
"Arthur," Gauis said as he turned from Merlin to the man in question. "Don't think that I am not proud of you're actions today as well. You have shown great integrity, compassion and sense of justice, even in the face of going against someone you love. You are shaping up to be a great King Arthur Pendragon, and I couldn't be more proud."
And to Arthur's surprise, Gauis hugged him as well, something he had not done since Arthur was a little boy, an injured little boy at that. And as he hugged him he whispered in Arthur's ear. "Thank you for accepting Merlin's magic, it means the world to me, and to him."
Arthur couldn't help but glance over at Merlin, who was smiling softly, eyes glowing golden, as he made a miniature dragon comprised of blue light fly around his hand. And Arthur whispered back "It was my honor."
"Now" Gauis said loudly, catching the attention of Merlin who quickly extinguished
the dragon. "I'm going to take Uther to his room till you two have decided what to do with him."
Merlin stepped towards Gauis. "You really don't have to Gauis-I can do it."
Gauis raised an eyebrow and tsked. "Nonsense Merlin, I may be old, but I'm not invalid." He walked towards Uther and then, to both Merlin's and Arthur's shock, his eye's flashed golden and he lifted the still immobilized Uther into the air. "And I've still got some magic in me yet." And with a twinkle of his eyes, and a swish of his robes Gauis whisked out of the room leaving a shocked Arthur and Merlin alone.
"You can never tell with Gauis." Merlin said, staring after the man. "You spend you're whole life thinking he's the mature wise one and then he does something like this, and you realize that he's probably got into more trouble and mischief then you ever will."
Arthur couldn't agree more. "And then he has the gall to admonish you for it."
Merlin turned to look at him surprise and excitement in his gaze "You mean he does that to you?"
"I was half raised by Gauis, Merlin." Arthur said, rolling his eyes at Merlin's antics "I've gotten that speech more than once."
Merlin grinned. "And the eyebrow?!"
"I still haven't stopped getting that one." Arthur remarked smiling slightly as memories of just how many times Gauis had raised his brow in such a manner.
"Me neither." Merlin replied his grin growing even larger than before
"That's because you're an oversized child, Merlin. I don't doubt for second that you deserved everyone of those." Arthur stated, before muffling a yawn. "And if there's nothing more to be said, I think I'm going to retire to my room for a rest before the council get's wind of this."
Merlin suddenly realized that he was very close to collapsing from exhaustion after the stress and excitement of today's events. "I think that's the most sensible thing you've said all day."
Arthur threw a near by goblet at him. "Shut up, Merlin."
"How is it that you always manage to find something to throw at me?" Merlin asked, rubbing his shoulder, as they headed towards to door.
"It's a special gift that I have, Merlin, and with you it's quickly becoming my most valued ability. Right up there with my fantastic skill with weaponry."
Merlin snorted. "I didn't know you cared."
They were almost out the door, when Arthur turned to him. "Just because I'm not addressing it now doesn't mean that I'm going to leave it alone. Sometime soon, I'm going to have you tell me a full account of all that you've done."
Merlin grinned, before continuing out the door and into the hall. "Gladly Sire, that is, if you think your pride can handle it."
Arthur raised one eyebrow (something that Merlin was now very certain that he had learned from Gauis) "My pride is very persevering Merlin, I highly doubt anything you say could change that."
"So you admit that you're a stubborn prat, then?" Merlin asked, mischief aglow in his eyes, as the two friends walked down the hallway.
Arthur turned to smirk at him.