Title: Together through the coming storm
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur (background Lancelot/Gwen)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, knights, Gwen
Summary: Arthur makes a decision.
Word Count: 593
Prompt: #12 Tease
Author's Notes: Sequel to “Threshold” (#9 Tears), “In Ruin” (#10 Tangled) and “Out of darkness into light” (#11 Temptation).
I should be ashamed of how little my drabbles have to do with the prompts. I will endeavour to do better!
Dawn is the time of execution. Arthur places the tip of Leon’s sword against Merlin’s fragile breast. “The law requires that you give a full confession. You may do so now.”
Merlin swallows, for all his bravery he is not eager to die. “I am a sorcerer, Sire. I have used magic-”
Merlin looks up, surprised.
“Start from the beginning,” Arthur commands.
Merlin looks at him curiously for a moment, before beginning a halting narrative. “I was born to Hunith of Ealdor and Balinor of Camelot.” Arthur starts, and the significance of the revelation is mirrored in Merlin’s eyes, but Merlin doesn’t stop. “I have used magic since I was a baby.”
Merlin is no story-teller. He rambles, lingers over details and forgets important events. As soon as the action moves to Camelot, Gaius infuses the narrative, the stern and loving guardian, confidante and mentor. Tears come, Merlin wipes at them ineffectually and speaks in stutters. Arthur aches for them both, the old man and the wayward sorcerer he took under his wing. He allows himself no tears however.
Dawn becomes morning, the light climbs higher and higher up on the wall, and Arthur thrills secretly at having bought himself a full new day and another night.
Eventually, Gwaine sits down on the floor, prompting the others to do the same. Arthur remains standing.
Merlin speaks of deeds of bravery and deeds of subterfuge, of secrets he has known and kept, of feats of magic big and small, and Arthur is overwhelmed by the goodness of it all. There are mistakes, even crimes, but in the end, Merlin has never truly abused his gift. Long before the story draws to a close, Arthur knows he could never condemn the boy kneeling before him to the pyre. It is, however, not as simple as just saying “You are forgiven”.
At last, Merlin has no more to tell. Not a soul draws breath as they wait for Arthur’s next move.
“I cannot simply release the ban on magic,” he says quietly. “Camelot would fall into chaos.”
“Then you must make rules.” With the sun shining on his upturned face, Lancelot looks like a Christian saint. It makes Arthur peaceful just to look at him. It gives him faith when he sees Guinevere squeeze her husband’s hand in encouragement.
“A set of laws to govern the use of magic,” Leon echoes, nodding thoughtfully.
“It won’t be easy,” Lancelot continues. “Magic has so many uses, the laws will have to be at once flexible and clear.”
“It will take time,” Gwen says. “There will be trial and error.”
Gwaine looks playfully up at Arthur. “But we have a king who will take us through the storm into a new day.”
“Don’t tease,” Arthur says, without heat.
“Gwaine is right,” Merlin says finally. “According to the prophets, you will bring magic back to Camelot, to all of Albion.”
Arthur reaches out a hand for Merlin, and pulls the boy to his feet. “Just me? That’s odd. I seem to remember something about two sides of a coin, or some such nonsense.”
Merlin ducks his head with a grin. “Oh that. You shouldn’t pay too much attention to mad old lizards. What do they know of destiny, yeah?”
Arthur smiles too. It’s tentative and a little painful, but true. “Nothing at all. Now tell me, oh great and powerful sorcerer, would you rather stay in the dungeons or in the stocks while I decide on the new laws to govern the use of magic in my kingdom?”