Merlin shook his head at the sight in front of him fondly. If anyone had told him when he had first stepped through the gates of Camelot at eighteen that he would be seeing this fifteen years down the line then he would have laughed at them and called them mad. Though thinking about it with the way his life went with seers he probably would have gone into a panic and fled back to Ealdor.
But he hadn't and somehow his life had become this. It was far from perfect, far from calm. There were still those left that despised anything with the name Pendragon, still angry about Uther's reign of terror that sought revenge on them. There were still war lords and discredited kings that tried to attack the kingdom. There were the greedy and the cruel that wanted to feed on the wealth that was Camelot and Albion and didn't care how they went about it.
But there was good as well. Arthur was the finest King that the land had ever seen and his praises were sung from one end of the land he had united to the other, the other kings in the land recognised who Arthur was and what he had achieved with the respect and loyalty he deserved despite most of them being a good thirty years his senior. The people were happy and looked after, the smaller villages had never been safer in any memory, written or remembered, not to mention the physicians centres Arthur had set up regularly meant the people were healthier. The lands themselves seemed to be blessed, there was food to spare, all the granaries were stocked high year after year. It truly was Albion's Golden Age. And magic, magic ran through the cities again, druids, sorcerers, warlocks, witches all of them came slowly out of the woodwork when they sensed it was safe for them, gradually until they realised that they really were free to be themselves and magic was again freely allowed in Albion. Especially after the King's Consort was announced to be Emrys and Court Sorcerer.
Merlin couldn't believe it even now standing here watching his family as he played with the silver band on his finger, his betrothal band still beautiful as the day Arthur had presented it to him on his wrist. He had been so sure how his future would go. To have to watch the man he loved more than life itself marry his best friend, to have to play servant to them, watching their happy marriage, watch them having children together. And being nothing more to him than his friend and servant. It had been laid out before him, and his heart had been breaking.
"What is wrong?" Merlin jumped when strong arms wrapped around his waist and a slightly sharp chin was pressed to his shoulder.
"Nothing," Merlin smiled shaking his head turning to meet familiar blue eyes.
"Its not nothing, what's wrong?" Arthur demanded gently, and only his prat could do that.
"Nothing really, I was just being silly," Merlin chuckled shaking his head.
"You're not going to give in are you?" Merlin sighed amused.
"Nope," Arthur grinned.
"It is silly. I was just thinking about the way things could have gone," Merlin shrugged.
"Could have gone?" Arthur asked confused.
"If you had married Gwen, that I would have had to stand by your side and watched you be happy with someone else and would have had to smile and be happy for you," Merlin shrugged looking back to the sight in front of him.
"Except no matter the circumstances, even if I had married Gwen being the idiot I was, that never would have happened," Arthur said softly making Merlin look back at him in confusion.
"What?" He scrunched his brow in a way that Arthur could never resist leaning forwards and pressing a kiss to it.
"You wouldn't have stood there and watched me be happy with someone else, because the only person I could ever be happy with, is you. We're two sides of the same coin. We were always meant for each other," Arthur smiled warmly.
"I don't think that this is exactly what Kilgharrah had in mind when he first said that to me," Merlin laughed slipping his fingers through where Arthur's rested on his waist.
"I don't know, I don't think that there is any other way that this could have gone," Arthur shook his head before leaning forwards to press a gentle kiss to Merlin's lips. "You always said I was destined to be the greatest King Albion had ever seen, but you and I, we are Albion, together," Arthur said firmly, watching amused as Merlin blushed even now.
"Yes well," Merlin coughed.
"My Lords, we must start getting ready," Merlin rolled his eyes and aimed a kick at Gwaine who laughingly dodged back.
"Now now sire, no need to get violent," Mordred drawled as he walked in behind them.
"You're right," Merlin nodded before smirking at Gwaine as Arthur, Mordred, Elyan, Percival, Leon and Morgana burst out laughing.
"What colour?" Gwaine sighed.
"Purple and pink," Percival chuckled wrapping his arm around his lover's shoulders. "Lance and Gwen send their apologies but Gwen isn't feeling well today," He told Arthur and Merlin.
"Is she ok?" Merlin asked concerned.
"She's fine, the heat is just getting to her a little, I think the pregnancy doesn't agree with it very well," Percival assured him.
"I'll go check on her later after Elena has arrived," Merlin said still feeling worried for his friend for her first pregnancy. It had been so hard for her and Lance to get here everyone was more than a little worried for them.
"I'll come with you," Morgana nodded kissing his cheek before she moved into the throne room.
"She'll be fine," Arthur assured him, hugging him tightly around his waist as the others filed into the throne room.
"It will break their hearts if something happens now, she's so close," Merlin sighed.
"She's just feeling the heat more because of her pregnancy. Remember with Halia? You didn't want to even think about going down all these stairs and you were only in your fifth month," Arthur chuckled.
"You're right, I'm just…"
"I know, all of us want this to go well for them. I'm pretty sure though between you, Morgana and Gaius every inch of magic is going to make sure this baby is born well," Arthur kissed him softly once more. "Come lets go and rescue Father from our rabble,"
"I'm not sure he wants rescuing," Merlin smiled fondly starting forwards, laughing when Arthur refused to let go of his waist and just trailed behind him.
"Are we ready?" Uther asked blinking at them a little. He was a hell of a lot better than he had been, but his mind was still a little confused at times and he sometimes lost days here and there.
"Yes, Elena will be arriving soon," Merlin reached down and helped Uther to his feet. "Like father like son," He chuckled reaching up to straighten Uther's cloak as Arthur pouted and looked down to check his own, seeing it was indeed as squint as his father's.
"You're lucky you don't have to wear one," He huffed battling to get his own to lie right.
"I'm Consort and Court Sorcerer love, you are the knight," Merlin smirked.
"Told you you should have knighted him as well," Uther muttered.
"To many titles!" Merlin waved him off. "Now come on or we will be arriving after them,"
"Are we ready dears?" Hunith smiled hurrying over to them. Merlin reckoned he would never get over the sight of his mum fussing over Uther before sliding her hand into his. Not to mention is raised a hell of a lot more eyebrows than were already raised at their unusual family. Not that it mattered so long as everyone was happy.
"Ready," Merlin glanced around him.
"What's that look for?" Merlin asked softly, neither of them moving yet as they took in the same sight.
"Its just…Uther Pendragon, still imposing and scary…being trailed after by five little girls, I'll never get used to the sight," Arthur admitted with a smile.
"You think Mum's going to tell him he still has a pink ribbon in his hair?" Merlin chuckled starting to walk.
"Probably after she realises Nai has taken her shoes off again and still has her wooden sword," Arthur smirked.
"She is completely your daughter," Merlin sighed in mock frustration, laughing when Arthur scooped him up and spun him around. He caught Hunith and Uther looking over their shoulders and shaking their heads before they turned and carried on hoarding their granddaughters outside to the courtyard. A small but real smile on Uther's lips as he took in the happiness on his son's face.
"Five daughters," Arthur grinned like an idiot looking at their rabble with complete love in his eyes even as Ygraine decided to levitate her older sister to see if they could see Elena's caravan yet. Hunith rolling her eyes while Uther practically had a heart attack, especially when the next moment Morgana and Elyan's eldest Sophia decided that doing the same with their youngest boy Gai would be a good idea.
"Not for much longer," Merlin said quietly as they stepped out into the sun on the top of the stairs.
"Huh?" Arthur frowned in confusion, not to mention a little bit of worry. Shaking his head Merlin smiled softly, and a little shyly at his husband, getting Arthur's complete attention.
"Five daughters and a son," Merlin practically whispered moving Arthur's hand to over his stomach. He watched as it took a few second for the news to sink in and then register with Arthur before his blue eyes widened.
"A…you're…are you…" He stammered.
"I've not had it confirmed with Gaius yet, but I can sense it, and I sense a boy," Merlin smiled biting his lip.
"A son! Another baby! Merlin!" Arthur shouted happily scooping up his husband and kissing him firmly.
"I swear they are like bloody rabbits!" Gwaine grumbled loudly before wincing and pouting when Hunith smacked him over the head.
"You knew!" Uther accused her.
"Of course I did, a mother knows! Plus look at him, he's glowing again," Hunith snorted.
"Another grandchild," Uther started smiling widely.
"May the Goddess protect us all," Leon snickered.
"You're going to have to get more knights for piggy back rides," Percival grunted from where he had two of Morgana and Elyan's children and two of Merlin and Arthur's hanging off each arm, lifting the giggling children up and down.
"I can't believe we are adding another one to this madness," Arthur grinned happily finally releasing Merlin from his kiss.
"Ah, the more the merrier!" Merlin shrugged looking out over their madness.
"Nai! Take that sword off you belt!" Hunith shrieked horrified.
"Sophia put down your brother!"
"Samuel come on, turn uncle Gwaine's hair back to its normal colour!" Gwaine pleaded.
"Where are your shoes!"
"Nathanial no! Listen to your mother! Spears are not to be levitated and juggled because you are bored!"
"I'm thinking Gwen had the right idea," Merlin snorted shaking his head.
"Think they will notice if we sneak off?" Arthur muttered tugging Merlin a bit closer.
"As much as I would like to, I think they might, King Arthur,"
"Spoil sport King Merlin," Arthur huffed before letting out an oof of breath when their youngest barrelled into his legs.
"Horsey! Horsey!" she squealed pointing as Arthur lifted her up. He and Merlin started laughing as they took in the lone horse racing to the courtyard, five knights quite a bit behind her.
"I see Elena isn't any fonder of carriages than she was before," Arthur grinned shifting his daughter to his hip and slipping his fingers through Merlin's, stepping down with his family around them to greet their friend as she galloped into the courtyard with a grin at the sight of them. It might be madness, but this was his madness and he wouldn't give it up for the world.