Yeah, I know. nother reveal. But I have so many drabbles, one-offs and three-four chapter ones lying around, I figure I may as well get them uploaded :D
Please review and let me know what you think!
"Merlin! Get your lazy ass over here! We should have left half an hour ago…"
Merlin was grumbling as he walked over, and Arthur could swear he heard Clot-pole and prat in there somewhere. Gwaine and Elyan were laughing quietly, and Percival was grinning. Even Leon was smiling, and he was almost as impatient as the king was.
True, they had been waiting to leave for the hunting trip for some time now, but Merlin could hardly be blamed for the last minute chores Arthur had him doing.
Needless to say, all of them were pleased to finally be heading out.
Gwaine was busy telling Elyan about how the Tavern must be doing something different when they made the Ale, when another banter-thon broke out between the king and his manservant.
"Of course Sire. I do apologise for being ten minutes late, I mean, it's no problem at all that I got about two hours sleep last night..."
"You slept for at least three hours earlier in the day!"
"Not my fault your desk was so bloody comfortable… And you didn't need to chuck that damn goblet at my head again. Seriously, I swear your mind is not capable of coming up with anything new…"
"Oh really? Don't think I won't throw you in the stocks…"
"Okay, three things. One, that is an idle, pretty much empty, threat that you have used more times than I can count… Two, you'd miss me after about ten minutes and drag me off to do some other god-awful task. And three, you really are a prat."
"Oh, now look who can't come up with anything new!"
"Oh really? I gave you clot-pole, dollop-head, cabbage-head…"
"And nothing new for the last year… Really getting lax aren't you Merlin?"
"Yep, heard it…"
"Dear God! You are such a… a…"
Gwaine sniggered, elbowing Elyan, who, like all of the others, were listening in, grinning like idiots.
"Unless I'm much mistaken, we're about to hear something new…" He said, and Elyan nodded, actually looking forward to it.
"I'm such a what?" Arthur continued, oblivious to the attention they were receiving. Merlin literally growled, glaring as his mind racing to come up with some kind of insult.
"Well, if your royal ass-ship will let me think of something…"
A chorus of 'Oooh's went through the knights, but both servant and king ignored them.
"Aw, come on Merlin. Being a little slow today aren't we?"
"Oh, I'm the slow one? Who took half an hour to figure out how to put his chainmail on…?" Merlin snorted, and a name came to him. "Trust me, if you were any slower witted, even the cute little bunnies could escape you… you Stew Brain..."
The group were silent for a moment, and Gwaine burst out laughing. Hiccupping, he glanced at the glaring expression on his best friends face and gulped down another laugh.
"Really Merlin? Why Stew Brain?"
"Slow to warm up, then rises to the boil very easily. Stays hot for a long time, then goes all weird when it cools… Also full of mashed up stuff, and not all of its good…"
The knights thought this through, then shared smirks. Merlin was right. Again.
"Plus I was short on time…" Merlin grumbled under his breath, still loud enough for them all to hear.
Arthur was simply glaring at the scrawny idiot, seriously considering the stocks, when, said, scrawny idiot grinned at him, obviously challenging him. So Arthur did the last thing anyone expected.
"So… Now I'm a stew. Okay then."
He urged his horse into a faster trot, leaving Merlin to share a bemused look with the others before they all sped up their own steeds to catch up with him.
Half an hour later, Arthur called a halt, and recommended that they split into pairs to cover more ground.
Everyone agreed, and a hasty game of 'I'm not with Gwaine' broke out between Leon, Elyan and Percival. Elyan and Percival jumped down from their horse a minute second before Leon, and fist-bumped. Leon's face fell, and Arthur, no stranger to the game, had to pity him as he turned to sigh at the evil glare on Gwaine's face. Leon was not going to enjoy this…
They all knew how it went. One pair took the river to the camp clearing. Another took the clearing to the small stream, and Arthur and Merlin took the stream to the other river.
Mainly because Arthur loved to try and shove Merlin in.
Merlin and Leon shared a look before they all split up, each knowing that this was not going to be a fun day.
What Merlin couldn't know was that this would be the most eventful day of his life… Or, close to it.
Three hours later, it was nearing noon, and Arthur had Merlin lugging around a brace of rabbits and had left a young buck's corpse lying by the horses. After leaving the rabbits, Arthur decided that there was time for one more foray before they joined the others.
Of course, Merlin's protests went unanswered, aside from a few necessary insults. None-the-less, the young man still kept on Arthur's tail.
Though he would never admit it, Arthur was impressed by how quiet his servant had become. However much he might say otherwise, he could barely make out the young man's light steps behind his own. It was for that reason that he didn't notice that the self-same man had stopped walking for a few seconds, and turned back, raising an eyebrow.
Before he could say anything however, he caught sight of Merlins raised hand, and shut up.
Another thing he would never admit was his, and his men's, trust in Merlin's instincts. If the young man thought something was wrong, then something was wrong. Though he had no idea how he knew sometimes…
Merlin gestured towards the trees behind Arthur, and, sure enough, a group of scruffy, armed men burst onto the path. Arthur sighed.
Why couldn't a hunting trip ever go as planned.
A few minutes later, and Arthur pulled his sword out from the abdomen of the last of his attackers, sending the limp body to the floor. Spinning, suddenly worried for Merlin, he was shocked to see his friend with a sword in his hand, courtesy no doubt of one of the bandits, and three bodies around him.
At Arthurs shocked look, Merlin shrugged, as if to say 'I'm Not Completely Useless' before his eyes twitched to something outside Arthur's field of vision. Turning, he saw a dagger spinning towards him. Too fast for him to duck… He flinched, but after a few seconds passed and he felt nothing, he opened his eyes to see the dagger floating in front of him. No sooner than he had opened his eyes, the dagger tumbled to the floor, and Arthur spun to Merlin, wondering what the hell was going on.
His confusion quickly changed to shock.
The colour may be fading rapidly, but it was there. Merlin's normally bright blue eyes were gold. Magic…
Merlin was a…
Arthur opened his mouth, but no sound came out. He tried again, and managed a few words,
"Y-you're a... sorcerer…"
The shock morphed into disbelief.
Disbelief into anger.
And anger into betrayal.
That final look made Merlin go cold, just before another group of bandits broke from the trees. Merlin had frozen at the look in the kings eyes, but as their attackers swarmed forward and Arthur made no move to defend himself, he knew he had to act.
Didn't mean it hurt any less…
Arthur couldn't believe it… But the evidence was there. In the form of the blasts of light and the figures that were being thrown back. Merlin had magic… had lied to him…
The man he had learned to trust was a sorcerer…
A bandit flew past him and Arthur re-evaluated his last opinion.
Make that 'a very powerful' sorcerer…
Eventually, the remaining attackers fled to the safety of the trees and Arthur saw Merlin… no, the sorcerer, turn and face him, meeting his eyes. The eyes that met his contained a flurry of emotions. Pain… Desperation… Sorrow… and a silent plea for him to understand…
Arthur tore his eyes away, a torrent of emotions filling him that he couldn't separate. Only one thing was clear to him, and he found himself acting on it. Magic was evil… sorcery was evil… Sorcerers were evil…
He took a step towards Merlin, only to see the man fall to his knees, obviously exhausted. He waited a few seconds, until it became obvious that he wouldn't be getting to his feet any time soon and he walked over to him.
Merlin had nothing to say, the look of betrayal in Arthur's eyes holding him still. Until he realised that he hadn't escaped the scuffle unharmed. He took his hand away from his side, only faintly registering the blood, before exhaustion hit him and he fell to his knees. He had just managed to get his breathing back to normal when he looked up to see a sword in his face.
Merlin lurched backwards, falling into the log behind him, his back crashing into it with a resounding crack. The pain was forgotten in an instant as Merlin got his voice back again.
"You're a sorcerer…" The kings voice was cold, and Merlin barely hid a flinch at the anger and betrayal that coursed through it.
"Y-yes… But I've only ever used my magic to protect you… to protect Camelot…"
"Liar! Sorcery is… Evil! To study-"
"I never studied! I was born with it… I could move objects with my mind before I could walk… I never had a choice!"
Arthur took a small step backwards at this, before shaking his head,
"I wish…" A small undercurrent of his odd humour broke through at the words, but then his voice fell back to the low, apologetic tone.
"Arthur… I had no choice… I never had a choice… I was born into magic as you were born into royalty…" Merlin took a small intake of breath as he realised that this might be the only chance he had to convince him. "I was using magic before I could talk, and ever since I came to Camelot, I've been using it to protect you… I would never use magic against you or Camelot… I'd rather die than harm any of you…"
"And you expect me to believe that?" Arthur had no idea what the emotion was that was building up inside him, but he knew for now that he was relying on his anger.
"How can I believe anything you say? You've lied to me for years… I trusted you!"
And there was the source of the anger… He had trusted Merlin. Now he had had that trust thrown back into his face…
Merlin considered trying to get to his feet, but there were several things stopping him. One, his side was still bleeding profusely. Two, he still had a sword pointed at him, though it had been lowered considerably and was now not directly pointed in his face. Three, he wasn't sure how Arthur would react, having no idea what he was feeling. Merlin resorted to the one thing he knew he was capable of. And the one thing that would mean almost nothing to the blonde haired young man in front of him.
"Arthur… I-I'm sorry…"
Merlin's voice came out as a whisper, but one that cut Arthur to the core. The sorcerer's eyes blazed with sincerity, and a desperation warring with defeat. He found himself speaking out loud, his thoughts making themselves heard.
"You're a sorcerer… You used sorcery in Camelot… That's Treason. The punishment for treason is death…"
As Arthur said the last word, he found himself rebelling against it. Horrified at the thought of letting Merlin die. Not least because the young man had just saved his life… And it was likely not the only time, if all of the puzzle pieces putting themselves together in his mind were right.
But he was a sorcerer…
Merlin felt Arthur's eyes on him and looked up, meeting the Kings eyes. The betrayal and anger were still evident in them but also something else. Something he couldn't identify. He found himself speaking again, his voice quiet, but full of the emotional turmoil he was feeling.
"Arthur… You might not believe me and you have no reason to, I guess… But I swear to you, I have never, nor will I ever, use magic against you or Camelot. I'd rather die than hurt any of you. Even if you don't believe anything else I say, you have to believe that…"
The first two words that came from the Kings mouth had Merlin's spirits rising, if only a little.
"I do… From what I can figure, you very nearly have died a few times…"
Merlin grinned slightly, a ghost of his old humour back.
"More than a few…"
Arthur shook his head, pieces falling into place, and knowing he would have to hear everything.
One thing he knew, for sure, was that the young man in front of him didn't have an evil bone in his body… He was the same person had always known. Albeit being a bit… okay, a lot more powerful than Arthur could ever have imagined.
He was… Merlin. The same goofy, moronic, stubborn, disrespectful, clumsy, loyal- to the point of idiotic- Merlin that he had always been… He wasn't evil. The young man in front of him had had ample opportunity, and obviously had the power and ability, to harm him or destroy Camelot, and he hadn't.
Arthur shook his head slightly, knowing he was going to be seriously re-evaluating the young man in front of him an awful lot over the next few days…
He took a few steps towards Merlin, but stopped when the young man flinched slightly, eyes flitting fearfully to Arthur's right hand side.
That's when Arthur realised he still had his sword drawn. Merlin didn't really- couldn't really think he was going to…?
Sheathing his sword, he noticed a small, relieved sigh escape from the young man, despite his obvious attempts to smother it, and knew he was going to have to straighten this out.
"Merlin… You know I'm not going to arrest you right?"
The sorcerer's tense shoulders didn't loosen, and Arthur sighed. Sorcerer maybe, but still an idiot.
"And I'm not going to banish you… Or… Gods Merlin… do I really have to say it…? In Camelot's name, you're an idiot."
Merlin's muscles seemed to relax, and he gave Arthur a small, timid smile.
"You mean… You don't hate me?"
"Hate you? No… I just… It's just a bit of a surprise…" Arthur snorted slightly, knowing that it was probably the understatement of the decade, before continuing, "And you lied to me. For nearly six years."
"I'm sorry…" Merlin's voice was barely a whisper, but Arthur heard it none-the-less, and shook his head. Had he honestly thought that the man in front of him was evil? Arthur raised an eyebrow as he responded.
"For what? Saving my life?"
"I… I just…"
"I know why you didn't tell me… But… You know I would never have… Gods Merlin, how could you think I would…"
"Well… w-with your father, I didn't want to put you in a place where you had to- to choose. Between me and him… And after he died, you were always saying how evil magic is…"
Merlin shrugged a little, sighing before he continued.
"You have no idea how hard it is to listen to your best friend constantly calling you evil and untrustworthy… It just… I guess I was just too afraid to tell you. And I was used to keeping it secret. I guess it just seemed easier to keep hiding it."
Arthur was silent for several minutes after that, letting his thoughts straighten out. He eventually came to the conclusion that he was looking at one of the most loyal, self-sacrificing, ridiculous people he had ever met... even if he was the worst manservant in the history of forever…
Arthur snorted at this, knowing he was fooling himself.
Merlin was his friend- his best friend if he was totally honest- and had been for a long time. The question was, could that still be the case now?
Merlin had looked up at the snort, and looked confused, though his eyes were returning to their usual chirpy, energetic blue, if a bit cautiously.
Arthur simply sighed and head over, slumping down next to him.
Merlin stared, bemused, as Arthur slumped to a sitting position next to him, back against the log.
Now that he was sure Arthur wasn't afraid of him, and that he wasn't in imminent danger of being run-through with a sword, his muscles had relaxed, as had his heart-rate.
He also became aware that his side was still bleeding, just as Arthur noticed the same thing.
"Merlin! Why didn't you say you were hurt?!"
Merlin raised an eyebrow, reflecting his disbelief at the question.
"Really? Do I have to remind you, Sire, that in the last few minutes I have had a lot of other things on my mind…"
Arthur thought that over for all of two seconds, before he laughed.
Merlin felt himself grinning, then noticed that Arthur had a huge gash on his leg and the grin faded into a frown.
"It's not like I'm the only one that's hurt…"
Arthur looked down at his arm, eyes widening slightly.
"I hadn't noticed…"
Merlin felt a reckless impulse take over him, and decided to test his luck. Reaching over, he placed his hand just above the cut and muttered a few words in the old tongue. Immediately, the wound started healing itself, and within seconds, it had faded to a light scar.
Merlin looked up at the king, expression slightly worried as to the reaction that his actions would receive. To his shock, Arthur was smiling, though he looked slightly unnerved.
"…That will come in handy in future… You're turn."
He gestured to Merlin's own wound, and Merlin gave a grin before repeating the process. Arthur raised an eyebrow at the ease with which he did it.
"How many times have you done that…?"
"That particular spell? Only a few times… Healing you? I have honestly lost count…"
"Ah… I suppose I should thank you for that…"
"You? Saying thank you? You didn't hit your head did you…?"
After that, they sat in silence for a few moments before Arthur spoke up again,
"So… You were born with magic…? Just how powerful are you?
Merlin reddened slightly at this, and looked at his boots,
"Its… hard to explain… Can't we just say 'very' and leave it at that?"
Arthur blinked a few times, but let it slide, moving on to his next question.
"Okay… Then how many times have you saved me and Camelot?"
"I…" Merlin opened and closed his mouth, panicking slightly as something else jumped to mind.
"It's a long story… And won't the knights be getting worried…?"
Arthur cursed, jumping to his feet.
"Damn it… We'd better get back…"
He held out a hand to Merlin, who hesitated slightly, if only for a fraction of a second, before he took it and felt himself pulled to his feet. His smile faded slightly.
"Are you going to tell them…?"
Arthur sighed, shrugging.
"I don't really have much of a choice, do I…"
It was a statement, not a question, and Merlin nodded, before his face split into a grin, leaving Arthur bemused.
"What's so funny?"
"Gwaine… He's going to have far too much fun with this…" Merlin's face turned serious again.
"The others though… I don't know how they are going to react…"
"Don't worry about it… It'll be fine…"
"Really?" Merlin looked sceptical. "You're my best friend and you came this close-" Merlin left a gap of about a centimetre between his thumb and his forefinger, "- to running me through with your sword…"
Arthur immediately looked to the sword at his side and a look of horrified guilt came over his face.
Arthur was horrified with himself. Merlin was right… The strange burst of warmth he had felt at the words 'best friend' were overshadowed by the fact that he had come far too close to hurting him…
Arthur stumbled. What could he say? The guilt ramped up a notch as he saw a flicker of understanding, and guilt flash over Merlin's face. Now he was feeling guilty?
Gods… He was so…
Arthur didn't get a chance to finish the thought as Merlin quickly spoke up.
"I didn't mean it like that… I just… This morning, no-one but Gaius knew I had magic, and now…"
A voice came from their right, faint.
"That would be Gwaine." Merlin said, his voice slightly strained, "He's the only one I know who has a voice that loud… Obviously Leon had enough of him…"
Merlin felt a hand grip his shoulder, and turned to see Arthur, looking guiltier than before, though he couldn't figure why.
"Merlin… It'll be fine. I know it will. Trust me…?"
He made it a question, and Merlin felt his tension drain away, before smiling faintly.
"If you'll trust me…?"
They were still for a few moments, before Arthur nodded, smiling.
"Deal… Now we'd better get going…"
Merlin took a few steps after the blonde, but suddenly felt something blossoming in his chest. He felt himself fall to the floor, the same thing trembling inside him. Arthur turned back, dropping to his side, concerned, and Merlin exploded.
His laughter echoed around them, sending Arthur tumbling back in shock.
"What in the… Merlin?"
It was a few moments before Merlin could stop laughing long enough to give a half coherent answer.
"I'm… I'm sorry, but it just… It's so…" The laughter burst out again, and he clutched his ribs, his chest starting to ache slightly. His next words were clipped, and full of mirth.
"You… I never thought that… well, that you would take it this well… After everything and…"
Merlin couldn't continue and burst into another round of giggles.
Arthur looked completely bemused, but at those words, he seemed to understand, though the slight panic at the state Merlin was in didn't diminish.
None-the-less, there were several reasons why he didn't interfere as his manservant rolled around on the floor, laughing his head off.
One, he hadn't seen Merlin looking this…free and truly happy in quite some time.
Two, he understood why Merlin was acting like it. Relief was evident in the laughter, and Arthur had no idea how hard it must have been for the young man to live in Camelot over the past few years with the threat of execution hanging over his head every day. He deserved a few moments to let it out.
Three, he was actually having a hard time not laughing at the sight of a grown man acting like a child.
And four, he hoped that some of the others would run up and see him in this state.
Merlin would never live it down.
Speaking of others, Gwaine and Leon chose that moment to run in on the scene. Arthur burst out laughing at the bewildered expressions on their faces as they spotted Merlin, who, at Arthur's sudden laughter, looked up at the two men, saw the same thing, and burst into an even worse bout of giggling.
A soon as he started laughing, Arthur found he couldn't stop, both at the sight of Merlin and the two knights, and at the ridiculousness of the situation.
Here he was, the King of Camelot, and he was laughing at the sight of a powerful sorcerer, who, incidentally, happened to be his best friend, who was acting like a small child.
Eventually, they managed to calm down slightly, which, of course, was Percival and Elyan's cue for arriving.
And off they went again.
All in all, it took almost ten minutes for Arthur to get back to his normal self. Merlin took almost twenty.
Eventually though, the raven haired young man managed to calm down enough to get to his feet and speak coherently, but he had no sooner started to tell Gwaine that there was nothing wrong, when he started hiccupping.
Of course, Arthur started laughing again, though not as heavily, and the knights also began chuckling. It was strange how quickly the hiccups halted, or at least, it would have been if Arthur hadn't seen the tell-tale flicker of gold. Which he had only seen because he was looking for it.
It was nearly an hour later that they eventually managed to start the trek back.
After about ten minutes of idle chatting, Arthur withdrew from the conversation, and into his own thoughts. Which centred around the raven haired, moronic, idiotic, ridiculously immature, disrespectful, insubordinate, clumsy, gangly, quick witted, wise, loyal and powerful sorcerer he had as a manservant.
Over the next twenty minutes, Arthur figured out several things.
One, Merlin was in no way evil.
Two, Merlin was much braver than Arthur gave him credit for.
Three, He was going to have to make some changes in Camelot.
Four, He was going to have to make some change in the way he treated Merlin. Maybe.
Five, He was best friends with the most loyal man he had ever known.
Six, He was going to sit Merlin down and get him to tell him everything.
Seven, He was going to make sure that Merlin had told him everything.
Eight, He was going to have a hell of a week explaining this to the knights and the council.
Nine, He was going to very much enjoy the looks on the council member faces as he told them.
Ten, He was putting far too much thought into this, when he should be focusing on the fact that his best friend had magic. Something that was bothering him far less than he knew it could be.
And Eleven. He should really stop thinking, because he was getting a headache.
He was just realising this when Merlin slowed down and drew level with him. The knights continued on, instinctively leaving it to Merlin, who looked at Arthur, concerned.
"Arthur…? You've barely said a word since we set off…"
"I'm just thinking…"
"Well, we both know that's not good for you…"
The grin was at odds with the blue eyes, which were filled with worry. But it was not, Arthur realised, for himself. Nope, the idiot was worried for Arthur. He shook his head at the sheer ridiculousness of it. Here Merlin was, having revealed something completely… impossible and dangerous, yet he was worrying about the man that ad nearly killed him.
But he let it drop, resolving to lecture him on his sheer idiotic-ness later.
"Yeah… I'm already getting a headache…"
At that, Merlin's eye flitted ahead, noting that none of the others were looking, and turned to Arthur, a silent question in his eyes.
Arthur raised an eyebrow, knowing that the question held more than just the obvious.
Still, he didn't hesitate before shrugging, and nodding his consent.
Merlin murmured a few words that Arthur couldn't make out, and his eyes flashed gold.
But, unlike the first time, Arthur found that it wasn't disconcerting. More like it looked natural. Normal even.
Immediately, Arthur felt the headache start to recede, and he grinned, silently thanking him.
Merlin returned the grin, then it faltered slightly.
"When are you going to let them know…?"
Arthur didn't have to ask who he was referring to.
"Well… First, I want to hear everything that you have done since you came to Camelot. Reckon you can tell me that all in one night…?"
Merlin blinked a few times, before grinning ruefully.
Merlin looked almost defensive.
"It's a long story…"
"… Right. Well, either way, I want to hear it. Tonight..."
The usual sarcasm that accompanied Merlin's use of titles was virtually undetectable, and Arthur raised an eyebrow slightly, but put his face back into neutral before Merlin could notice.
So, Merlin was a sorcerer.
Merlin. Was. A. Sorcerer.
Arthur finally let that completely sink in, and he grinned, then snorted, then burst out laughing.
No it was Merlin's turn to look worried, but it didn't last long. Within moments, he had joined in, leaving the knights to wonder, again, what they were missing out on.
Neither realised it, but both Merlin and Arthur thought the exact same thing.
Let them wonder. They'd know soon enough…
So, next chapter...
The knights find out on their way to deal with a magical threat in the outer villages, involving several sorcerers.
Oh, and Merlin finally just snaps.