“What are you doing?” He shouted at Lancelot who appeared quite frantic with his dark eyes taking in everything but Gwaine. “If you are here to stop me I swear to you…”
“I am trying to get to Merlin…” Lancelot started down the stairs towards the underground prisons when he suddenly stopped in his tracks and turned around to look at him. He cursed as he nearly lost his footing and grabbed hold of the banister before he went crashing down the steps. “Are you going to Merlin, too? Are you trying to save him from a fate worse than death? What are you going to do…” he looked suddenly suspicious and glared up at Gwaine who had gotten to his feet and was coming down the stairs towards him. “If you are going to cause Merlin harm, you’re going to have to go through me first!”
“What are you talking about?” Gwaine asked angrily. “Merlin is my friend. Of course, I won’t cause him harm, you blithering Frankish toad!”
For a moment Lancelot stared at Gwaine wordlessly, his mouth moving but no words coming out. A minute later, he nodded and rushed down the stairs with Gwaine hot on his heels.
“What are they charging him with?” Gwaine asked as they reached the first landing together. “I mean, Merlin has magic but he’s never used it for bad.”
“I know he hasn’t, but that is the point, right? He was born with magic and because he’s used it, he’s the enemy. It doesn’t even matter if we are his friends and know that he has a good heart, it’s the fact that he is a sorcerer that will be the cause of his judgement.”
Gwaine was about to say just how foolish any judgement would be when Merlin saved the lives of so many people when Lancelot hurtled through a door and disappeared into the darkness that made up the castle’s dungeons. He also charged through the door, making it bounce off the wall with a loud thud that echoed loudly through the hall and made everyone there jump in surprise.
“What is going on here?” Gwaine heard Lancelot call out in a cell at the end of the dank and cold hallway, and he hurried through to it and kicked open the door to see Merlin crouched down upon the floor, his hands bound by iron manacles that were attached to a long chain upon the floor. He was surprised to see Arthur there, his face white and furious, his hands clenched tightly into fists that shook with quiet anger, and eyes that were the coolest that he had ever seen.
He was about to say something in anger because it was clear that Arthur had struck Merlin when he noticed another man hidden in the shadows of the cell. A man in a dark coat was bent over trying to stem the flow of blood from his now broken nose, and in a moment later after he had gotten over his initial shock did he realise that the young king must have struck that man down.
Merlin moaned in pain and moved closer to the wall, and it was this that made Gwaine go to him at once. Lancelot made a move to go towards Merlin as well, but his anger kept him rooted to his spot beside the door. His dark eyes glaring daggers at both Arthur and the man in the dark coat.
“If I ever catch sight of you abusing any man or woman who are unlucky enough to enter these cells for whatever reason, and I’ll have you hanged.” Arthur raged, and from his position on the floor where he held Merlin tight to his chest, Gwaine was surprised that the king didn’t spit fire from his eyes. Lancelot looked back and forth from Merlin to the man that had clearly hurt him enough to cause him such pain and suffering, and though he took a few steps closer to his friend, he was divided over making sure that he was alright and causing as much damage as he could to the man who had hurt him in the first place.
“You are clearly mistaken, Milord. This thing… this whatever he is, is a traitor to Camelot. He has magic and would be more than happy to use it against all of us.” The man stood to his fullest height and glared down Arthur through eyes that seemed to be devoid of any life. “I was just getting it to confess to crimes when you came down. It’s not as if you feel any sympathy for that.” He motioned towards Merlin who was slumped in Gwaine’s arms. “He’d be more than happy to have any of us killed. After all that’s what him and his kind do.”
Gwaine threw the man a contemptuous look. “He has a name. His name is Merlin and he is not at all evil, you…”
“Gwaine, please!” barked Arthur whose eyes had turned an icy blue, a sure sign that the king was angry. For a few moments, Arthur looked over at Gwaine whose stare was equally unwavering before turning his attention back to the man. “Caradoc, I want you upstairs. You are to present yourself to me in the throne room in two hours. I want to speak to… I need to speak to the sorcerer.”
Lancelot made a noise of protest at the word and Gwaine felt Merlin tense in his arms. He threw a dirty look at Caradoc as he passed, but Lancelot pushed the knight roughly from the room in his anger.
“You mustn’t feel angry with Caradoc,” Arthur said wearily as he moved towards Merlin. Gwaine tightened his hold on him and shielded him from view. Lancelot threw Gwaine a wary look before he went beside him and removed his sword. “He lost his entire family to Morgana last spring. His mother, his wife and little daughter, and his surviving brother and sister. I knew that when he found out that Merlin…”
“You came too late!” Lancelot snarled. “He hurt Merlin before you had a chance to even get in here to have him sentenced!”
“Merlin was born with magic,” Gwaine said angrily. “If you sentence him to death because he was born a sorcerer, then you’ll have to kill every knight for being born a man.”
“I wasn’t going to have him sentenced to death,” Arthur said softly. “I knew what he was long before he exposed is magic.”
Gwaine and Lancelot exchanged shocked looks.
“You knew?” Merlin asked in disbelief, raising himself from Gwaine and looking up at Arthur with a strange look on his face. “You knew what I am?”
“Of course I did.” Arthur said sadly. “I knew for a long time, and now that your secret is out there, I would like to know everything about it.”
Merlin looked surprised but slowly nodded. “I’ll tell you everything from the beginning,” he said quietly. “I’ll keep no more secrets from you.”