Oh jeez, I am so sorry this is late. I was being a lazy piece of shit and putting off writing this, but I am back... for good I hope.
So, since I am tired of angst (I watch Shameless, Teen Wolf, and Supernatural all in a row, so I am all angsted out right now), I tried to not write angst. I probably failed, but I did try.
So thanks to everyone who reviewed, alerted, and/or favorited last chapter. I love you guys, and would love to hear from you again.
Thanks for reading, sorry if anyone is OOC (I really need to sit down and rewatch the show), and I don't own 'em.
"Sit," Arthur said the moment he opened his chamber door, pointing at a chair across the room. Merlin walked past him, slowly sinking into the chair, watching as Arthur paced back and forth, Leon and Gwaine lingering behind him.
"Leave us," the blond commanded, without looking at Leon and Gwaine. Both knights shot Merlin an uncertain look, but he wasn't sure whether they were afraid of leaving him alone with Arthur or vise versa. Finally, they nodded and stepped outside, closing the door. Merlin suspected Gwaine was hovering outside, ready to burst in if he was needed.
"Arthur, I can explain…" Merlin started, but the blond raised a hand, cutting him off.
He paced back and forth, a slow, steady gait across the floor. "So, the dragon…"
"Kilgharrah," Merlin corrected softly, looking down at the table, making a neat pile out of the papers littering the surface.
"…is not dead," Arthur continued as if Merlin hadn't said anything, "and you, apparently, are a Dragonlord. Have you always been a Dragonlord-"
"Well, no, but…"
"-or is this something that has been gifted to you? Since you were utterly useless during the first dragon attack, and since the dragon-"
"Kilgharrah," Merlin supplied, reorganizing Arthur's quills from big to small.
"-isn't dead even though you told me I had killed it, I doubt it was the former. So that must mean Balinor somehow gave you the power before he died. Am I right?"
Surprised, Merlin looked up to see Arthur giving him an expectant look, one eyebrow raised, arms crossed against his chest. "In a sense," Merlin confirmed slowly, glancing back down at the table again.
"Was it a spell? Some sort of ritual? Or…"
"He's my father," Merlin said to the table, and Arthur's words died on his lips. "Balinor was my father." When Arthur failed to say anything else, Merlin looked up a second time.
Arthur looked dumbstruck, his arms no longer crossed, hanging loosely at his sides. He opened his mouth three times, no doubt attempting to say something and failing, but finally he croaked, "What?"
"Balinor was my father," Merlin repeated quietly, looking at the table again. "I, uh, I found out before we went looking for him. Gaius told me."
"Is that why…?"
"Yes," Merlin responded nodding.
"Can we talk about something else?" Merlin didn't mind talking about his dad, he recalled telling Gwaine about him years ago, but he didn't want Arthur to have to dredge up his last memories of Uther. The fact that both Uther and Balinor's deaths were so similar, both having been killed in front of their sons after trying to protect them, wasn't something Merlin wanted to think about let alone make Arthur.
Arthur nodded, obviously reading something on Merlin's face, and asked, "So the dragon…?"
"Kilgharrah," Merlin stated calmly, a third time. "Yes, he's become a surprisingly good friend over the years."
"He attacked most of Camelot," Arthur reminded Merlin, slowly crossing the room. He took a seat across from Merlin, resting his hands on the table. "He killed dozens of people."
"I know," Merlin murmured tracing patterns into the table with his fingers, magically drawing a dragon eye. He hated thinking about everyone Kilgharrah killed because each and every one of those deaths was Merlin's fault. He may not have directly killed those people, but he did unleash their killer, allowed a pissed off, vindictive dragon to roam Camelot. Did he really expect Kilgharrah to just fly away into the sunset?
"So, what happened really?" Arthur asked after a long pause, leaning forward, "Since I didn't exactly kill this Kilgharrah."
Merlin moved on from the dragon eye, busying himself with a few of the symbols he had found in the book Gaius gave him, murmuring, "I told him to leave and never come back, and I threatened to kill him if I ever seen him around Camelot again."
"Then you told me…"
"I told you that you had dealt him a mortal blow. I don't agree with what he did, in fact I hated him for it for a very long time, but he was the last of his kind, like me, and I didn't want to see yet another species get destroyed because it happened to be magic." Merlin neglected to mention Aithusa, since even he had no idea where the younger dragon was, and Kilgharrah had been very vague when Merlin last asked about him. "And I know you don't agree with me, and I don't blame you, but that's how I felt, still feel, and I don't regret letting Kilgharrah live."
Arthur's face was unreadable, but he still nodded, letting Merlin know he understood. It was quiet for a full minute before Arthur said, "I'm sorry."
"What?" Merlin looked up from his symbols, eyebrows furrowed.
"I told you that no man was worth your tears."
"Yes, and at the time…"
"No, he was your father, Merlin. You deserved to grieve for him," Arthur said softly. "Was your father the only one? How many others have you lost and been unable to mourn?"
"Arthur it doesn't matter," Merlin mumbled keeping his eyes down, trying hard not to think about Freya or the countless others he had lost and couldn't grieve because dark forces and unfortunate circumstances took them away.
"It does matter, Merlin," Arthur argued jabbing his finger into the table. "And this is exactly why I want to make magic legal again, for those families and friends who were unable to mourn their loved ones. And for those who died for what they believed in."
"And to stop anyone from becoming like Morgana," Merlin supplied softly, returning to his symbols.
"Exactly," Arthur replied nodding. The two men fell silent, but Arthur disrupted the quiet a moment later. "So, tell me about him."
"Who?" Merlin looked up, his fingers hovering over a particularly complicated symbol.
"Balinor. I know you didn't know him for very long, but I'm sure you learned a few things about him from Gaius and your mother."
Merlin glanced down at his symbol, slowly tracing the lines he had already made, and softly said, "He was brilliant. A little reclusive, but I'd be too if I had to live in a cave for twenty years." He caught Arthur wincing, but decided not to mention it. "He really loved my mother, probably would have married her if he could have, and…" Merlin shrugged, digging his palms into his eyes. "I would have loved to get to know him better, you know?"
"Take it from someone who's lost both parents," Arthur started softly, ducking his head so he could catch Merlin's eyes, "I understand perfectly."
Merlin half smiled, sniffing, and he said, "My mother told me that he used to carve little dragon figurines for the kids in Ealdor. He also used to tell stories, long before the dragons were a dying breed, about man and beast living together in harmony. It would have been nice to learn these things about him from him, but I appreciate my mother telling me."
"My father once told me that my mother had an old book of fairytales she'd read to me," Arthur confessed quietly. "He said that, even though I had yet to be born, she wanted me to know her voice before anyone else's."
"I'm sorry I never told you about my magic," Merlin said softly, after another long silence, abandoning the symbols, fiddling with one of the three quills, twirling it between his fingers. "You deserved to know a lot sooner, but…"
"You've already explained yourself," Arthur interrupted, "there's no need to do it again. But, for future reference, if I am about to run into something you claimed I killed, let me know ahead of time. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes," Merlin replied nodding.
"And Merlin…" the younger man looked up, "…every piece of advice has its exceptions. Do you understand me?"
"Also, I expect my table to be the way I left it when I return," Arthur added getting to his feet. He nodded at the symbols and dragon eye. "Those are terrible drawings, Merlin. Keep your day job."
"You're servant?" Merlin joked clearing the drawings with a wave of his hand.
"No," Arthur replied with a small shake of his head, a look of wonderment on his face. "I was thinking Court Sorcerer." Smirking at the shock on Merlin's face, Arthur turned and walked out of the room, beckoning for Leon and Gwaine (the latter trying and failing to look innocent) to follow him.