The Master of Time Series
A group of stories about Merlin's life after 5x13 and how he comes to fully understand his Destiny and 'The Once and Future King' prophecies.
Master of Time: Slave of Destiny
Arthur is dead and Merlin is convinced he has failed in his task. But the warlock is not yet ready to give up, quite convinced that he can change history. Convinced that this is not the end.
A/N: A reworking of my fist ever fanfiction, 'A Stone of Time' (Now deleted) which I was ridiculously proud of but which failed to make much of an impression. Originally written during Series 3 I touched on quite a few things that would eventually happen and have now developed it further with my numerous head-canons and previous stories in mind.
So, for my regular readers, this chapter starts with a drabble from 'The Heart of Camelot', includes a quote from 'All Our Secrets' and will soon herald the promised return of Freo from 'An Easy Life', although I'm certain that you will still be able to follow this without having read them.
Oh, and be prepared for time jumps. Quite a bit of this story is non-linear.
Camelot Great Hall: Queen Guinevere's Coronation
(A 275 word drabble)
Guinevere sits on her throne, regal but forlorn, wearing what Arthur called her 'business gown': Blood red velvet and off the shoulder.
"Long live the Queen."
Sir Leon's call is repeated by the Court and echoes around the Great Hall, although there is little joy in the sound. They all love and respect her but are still grieving for their king. As is she.
As the words die, Gwen looks to her right and gives a small, sad, encouraging smile, lifting her hand towards the figure lurking in the shadows, beckoning him forwards.
His eyes are still red and haunted, but he certainly looks better than he did when he turned up last night- his expression wary as he moves towards her, eyes darting nervously to the large crowd.
"Where has he been these last few days?" Leon whispers beside Gwen, but she just shakes her head and doesn't reply.
He is one of the most recognisable people in Camelot, still wearing his trademark neckerchief, despite his other smart clothes showing that he is no longer a servant. However, the carved white staff he carries gives a very specific, silent message to the court, even if it wasn't for the recent rumours that have been circulating about his part in the infamous battle of Camlann.
Guinevere says nothing as he walks forward, standing tall – proudly lifting his chin as he moves to the right hand side of his queen's throne. When Sir Leon steps away, whispers break out around the Hall as everyone realises exactly what is being implied here.
Queen Guinevere has reinstated Nimueh's role as court sorcerer and given it to Merlin.
Camelot Great Hall: Shortly after Queen Guinevere's Coronation
"Are you sure that was wise?" Leon asked the queen, his gaze nervously shifting to Merlin standing sadly to one side. "They've only just lost their king, is now really the time for such drastic measures?"
"I could have put it off and waited, it's true," Gwen replied calmly as she rose from her throne and walked forwards. "For a week, a month … perhaps a year? But when would the people of Camelot truly be ready to hear that magic was no longer outlawed? They now know exactly who Merlin is and what he did at Camlann." She glanced over at the sorcerer, standing over to one side and nervously looking at his boots, and smiled slightly. "They honestly trust him as much as they did Arthur."
"Perhaps." Leon turned back to look more closely at the young man, noticing the bags under his eyes and thinking that he had aged more than any of them in these last few, grief-filled days.
Inseparable. That was the one word that he would have associated with the two of them – Merlin and Arthur. And, in that way, more than any other, Leon could see how Gwen would now be able to connect more to Merlin than any of her new advisors. For those two understood the loss of their fellow soul-mate far more than any other here. And 'soul-mate' was definitely the appropriate name for the late king as far as that pair were concerned.
"Where were you, Merlin?" Percival asked, moving hurriedly forwards. "Where have you been? We were all so worried."
He clasped a surprisingly gentle hand on Merlin's shoulder and the slimmer man smiled, a slight frown on his face as if surprised at such concern.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to worry you it's just... there was something I had to do." His voice had become much deeper in the last couple of years but now it seemed even rougher – an indication of spent tears, perhaps?
"When did you get back?" Leon asked.
"Just last night." Merlin exchanged a glance with the queen. "Gwen and I had things to discuss."
"Queen Guinevere," Geoffrey interrupted as he joined them from the back of the Hall where he'd been finalising the official documents.
"It's fine," Gwen replied. "Merlin is no longer a servant. I've formally given him the role of advisor that he's had unofficially for a few years now." She smiled nervously. "Plus his new title, obviously."
"Court Sorcerer." Geoffrey visible shuddered before turning to Merlin. "I just hope you have better luck than the last one," he said before bowing to the Queen and heading toward the exit.
"So, where have you been these last couple of days?" Percival asked.
"Trying to put things right," Merlin replied simply.
"I don't understand."
Merlin sighed deeply. "It doesn't really matter – I just misunderstood, that's all. It's now time to look forwards, not backwards."
"What was it you misunderstood?" Gwen asked gently.
"The never-ending circle of his fate," the sorcerer replied cryptically. He turned his back and strode out of the Great Hall, unaware of the confused looks the others were giving him.
"Do you have any idea what he's talking about?" Leon asked Gwen and the queen laughed lightly.
"Not a clue, but hopefully he'll tell me more later. He and I still have a lot to discuss."
The Lake of Avalon: Three Days Earlier
Merlin watched the little boat drift out onto the water through a haze of tears. He had failed. His life was effectively over. He could think of nothing but Arthur and could feel nothing but pain.
So, what now? He couldn't see how he could go back to Camelot now. Couldn't see how could he face them all after everything that had happened. But then again, how could he not go back? Could he really abandon Gaius and Gwen and all his other friends there?
He probably should go back, but now did not seem like the right time to do so. He just felt he could not give in quite yet. Despite everything, despite having set Arthur's body adrift onto the lake, there was one part of him that felt that there was something more he could do, something more he should do. It was quite some time before the answer came to him.
The Crystal Cave.
Merlin remembered all the power he had acquired when Morgana had trapped him there recently; all the knowledge and the control he had gained over the crystals. Surely, with all that power..?
Suddenly determined, Merlin retraced his steps and set off on the long walk back, stopping only once at the place where he and Arthur had encountered Morgana.
The place where he had killed her.
He buried the sorceress' body within a rough stone cairn within a small, wooded copse. Honouring her memory, despite the evil she had committed.
"I was going to leave you to the wolves just as you would have done with us," Merlin said sadly as he placed the last stone on top of the pile. "But, even after everything you did, I cannot. Perhaps in death you will find the peace you never knew in life. Perhaps, you were right about that next life."
He laughed then, unwilling to accept that idea, just as he was unwilling to take the chance about Arthur returning. Such things could not be possible, no matter what Kilgharrah had said. Once dead you were dead and all attempts at bringing someone back would result in the return of a shade or a ghost; Ygraine, Lancelot and Uther were proof enough of that. No, there was only one option left to Merlin now and that lay in the past not the future.
The answer to everything lay back in the heart of the Crystal Cave.
A/N: So, here we go again. :D As usual I'm fairly well ahead with this and should be able to keep up regular once or twice-a-week updates. Book One has ten chapters and explores Merlin's experiences in and around Camelot in the years after 5x13. Book 2 and 3 (and any others I plan) will move ahead to chart different re-incarnations of Arthur and the rest of the gang - something I haven't yet tackled and am very excited about trying.
As I said at the top, this story is an excuse for me to put all my last series thoughts down in more details and also an opportunity to include my personal head-canons from various stories. For a start, I never had any doubt that Merlin was in Camelot during the Coronation scene. I know there's no evidence for it but, it was just something that jumped out as me at the time and I was keen to share that head-canon with you.
This 'Book' will remain T rated but I am still assuming 'All Our Secrets' and 'An Easy Life' actually happened as well as a number of other characters and ideas I used in various drabbles and stories.
As usual, I will keep detailed information up on my profile page and update it as often as possible with news, information and spoilers. Again, as usual, if you have any questions do feel free to ask and I will respond - even if my replies end up a little Kilgharrah-like.
I hope you enjoy it,