Character/s: Merlin, Gaius
Summary: A brief look at the relationship between Merlin and Gaius.
Word Count: 182
Author's Notes: I've been fascinated by the Merlin/Gaius relationship since the very first episode. Maybe that's lame, but whatever. :)
They are gathered in the throne room for the same reason they almost always are, these days: Uther has caught another sorcerer.
Merlin stands close to Gaius, clasping his hands as Gaius does, chin steady and eyes inscrutable the way Gaius's are. When the hapless young witch is sentenced to death, and her screams tear through the hall more damagingly than her magic ever could, Merlin pretends he is Gaius, old and grave and prudent and silent, even though the breath catches in his throat and then he can't think straight for his fury.
He doesn't move. He doesn't give himself away.
Later, in their chambers, Gaius will tell him not to try to save the condemned witch. Later still, Merlin will try anyway, all the while not begrudging his mentor his characteristic inaction, only ever understanding him, only ever grateful for the stoic bearing, the staunch chin, the silence and the sorrow beneath the silence. If it weren't for these, Uther would have caught Merlin too, long ago.
Gaius is a broken man, but Merlin has never known a whole one.