Title: No More Lies
Character/s: Arthur, Dragoon the Great
Summary: A "The Wicked Day" AU... The discussion between Arthur and Dragoon does not go according to plan.
Warnings: Magic Reveal
Word Count: 960
Prompt: #53 ~ Pretending
Author's Notes: Sorry about the cliffhanger-ish ending... *winks*
Arthur turned around at the sound of the door behind him creaking open. His eyes widened as he recognized the old man…Dargon the Great or some such silly name: the man he had caught putting a poultice under his pillow. That act had almost gotten Guinevere killed… although, to be fair, the sorcerer had proclaimed Guinevere’s innocence and very nearly lost his life as well.
Mentally, Arthur shook his head; he couldn’t believe that Gaius would send Arthur to him for help, of all people!
The elderly sorcerer’s face scrunched into a crusty sneer as he snorted in indignant recognition.
“You!” Arthur couldn’t help but say. Smooth, Arthur… he berated himself. Great way to get on the dotty old man’s good side…
The sorcerer’s voice crackled with insolence. “So…we meet again, Arthur Pendragon.”
Arthur couldn’t help it; his hand slid slowly across his waist toward the pommel of his sword. What good a sword would do against this man, he hardly knew. But he still felt quite naked and exposed without his steel between them.
The man’s eyes zeroed in on the movement. “You have come to kill me?”
Never breaking eye contact, Arthur slid his arm back to his side. “No. That wasn’t my intention.”
Arthur stood firm as the sorcerer stalked closer and closer, until they were almost nose to nose. The blue eyes searched his for a long, long moment…and then the bravado abruptly left the man. His shoulders drooped and the feisty light in his eyes dimmed. “Not like this…” the aged man said, and his voice suddenly sounded much older than even his obviously advanced years.
He waved a hand at the seat behind the table they were standing next to. “Sit, please.”
Arthur side eyed the man, but pulled out the chair and sat warily.
The sorcerer gingerly eased himself into the other chair with a grunt, shaking his head wearily. “This will never work…” he grunted, and Arthur thought it seemed that the words were directed more to himself than to Arthur.
“What won’t work?” Arthur asked, in spite of himself.
The old man’s eyes raised and met Arthur’s own and he was shocked to see a sadness that was bone deep within them. “You do not trust me. And how could you, really, after what you think I’ve done?”
“Do you…do you know why I’ve come, then?”
“I do,” came the grave reply.
Arthur looked down at the rough-hewn wood of the table and traced a finger over it. “Then, can you help me?”
The silence that stretched out between them felt interminable to Arthur. Finally, after he had feared that the man would never answer, Arthur heard the soft reply. “Yes. At least… I can try.”
Arthur opened his mouth to thank the man for his kindness—for it could only be considered such if the aged man would attempt to save the life of a man who would see him hanged—but the sorcerer put up one gnarled hand to stop him.
“But not like this. Not with this…distrust between us. I need you to know that I will not harm your father; that I would never harm your father. If this is to work, you must know the truth, Arthur. No more pretending; no more lies.”
The sorcerer pushed himself to a stand, towering over Arthur now. Feeling at a disadvantage again, Arthur made to move, but one knotty finger indicated that he wait…and for some inexplicable reason, he did.
“Please know…” the elderly man said softly, fear seeping into his voice for the first time since Arthur had met him, “that everything I have ever done has been for you, Arthur. I have used my gifts only to help you; to protect you.”
Arthur looked up into the wrinkled face in bewilderment. How had this man helped him? How could he possibly have protected him? Before the incident with the poultice, Arthur had never seen him in his entire life.
One wrinkled, bony hand reached into a pocket in the maroon robe he wore and extracted a small vial. The liquid inside glowed an ethereal, otherworldly blue.
Arthur’s eyes were riveted to the potion. “What do you plan to do with that?” He could not help the edge of apprehension that crept into his tone.
“Don’t worry…” the old man croaked, his eyes downcast as if the question pained him, “it’s not for you. It’s for me.”
The popping sound of the bottle being unstoppered echoed around the little hovel. “Just promise me this…” the sorcerer said, looking deep into Arthur’s eyes as if he knew the prince better than Arthur knew himself, “…that you will at least allow me to explain before you run me through…”
Arthur stared at the old man for a long time before he gave him one terse nod.
The sorcerer shut his eyes and let out one long sigh before raising the bottle to his lips and drinking a swallow from it.
Pushing the cork back into the open neck of the bottle, the sorcerer set it on the table in front of him.
Before Arthur’s eyes, everything about the elderly man began to change: his long white hair and beard melted slowly upward...getting darker and darker as it did. The wrinkles on his face and hands melted away as if the skin were made of clay, remolded and reshaped by the gods. His spine slowly straightened, the burden of years removed from the drooping shoulders.
And once the transformation was complete…a very familiar face and form stood before Arthur, still draped in the damning maroon robe.
“Merlin!” Arthur gasped, not believing what was right before his eyes. “You’re a…you’re a…?”
Merlin bowed his head penitently. “Yes, Arthur," he confessed. "I have magic.”