Title: Life goes on
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Canon era, post-Camlann!au where Arthur lives and they discuss Morgana a bit.
Word Count: 812
Author's Notes: No idea how genuine this looks. Sorry I'm a bit late this week. Title fail.
Merlin races up the stairs, cursing Arthur for being late to his own feast and making Merlin have to check on him. It had been down to either him or Gwen making the extra trip but Gwen hadn't wanted to ruffle her dress and Merlin, scowling heavily, agreed to go look for the king and see what's keeping him.
He wasn't worried, he reminds himself. The king had almost been dead but he had been making excellent recovery and they did wait for almost a week before throwing feasts dedicated to Camelot's victory, the return of magic to the kingdom, Arthur's return from the brink of death, and to Merlin’s dismay, appointment of the first Court Sorcerer Camelot has had in three decades.
Today's feast though had an element of melancholy attached to it. Merlin hadn't been very pleased when the council had proposed a feast in the name of Morgana's defeat. He had seen Arthur stiffen as well, but he had reluctantly agreed, because he was too self-righteous to deny his people's happiness.
Merlin hadn't been pleased, and he had waited a whole ten minutes before going in search of the king when he had failed to turn up on time.
He reaches the royal chambers, pokes his head in and is immensely relieved to see Arthur there.
"There you are. The feast awaits you, sire. You're already late," he says and makes to go back. He pauses in his steps and turns and pokes his head in again, though, when Arthur's expression registers in his head.
"Arthur?" he calls to no response. The king stands stock still, staring at his sword on the table in front of him with an expression that is downright anguished. Merlin cautiously walks closer, and he is almost at his side before Arthur stirs.
"Merlin," he says, and Merlin is a little relieved that Arthur’s not totally out of it. It is short lived, though.
“What’s wrong?” Merlin asks.
“I can’t celebrate this,” Arthur says after a moment. “I should have… I should have repealed the ban on magic a long time ago, I should have fought harder for her, I—”
“No!” Merlin interrupts him. “If what happened to Morgana is on anyone’s head, it’s mine. I thought we went over this.”
Arthur turns looks at him.
“You had no choice, Merlin. I, however…”
“Don’t you dare, Arthur. Morgana had plenty of choices as well, you know. I’m not saying that I’m not to blame but she made all the wrong decisions. She was not innocent.”
Arthur turns back to the table and frowns, not replying. After a minute, he says, “I know.”
Merlin sighs in relief. But before he could say anything else, Arthur continues.
“I just… wish it could have been different. Especially after I became King. Her quarrel was with Father. I had hoped, foolishly perhaps, that we could have dissolved our differences after his death. Maybe even ruled together.”
Merlin’s eyes widen in surprise. He had not heard this confession before.
“Arthur!” he says, not having a response for that.
“Yes, I know. She would never have agreed to that,” Arthur continues, and Merlin reckons this isn’t the first time he has reasoned against this possibility in his head. “She was always so stubborn, too stubborn for her own good sometimes.”
It takes a little effort, but Merlin has a glimpse of the Morgana of old times in his head, fighting against chains in the dungeon for the sake of a druid boy’s safety against the king himself, refusing to give up until he had been brought to safety. “Yes, I suppose she was,” he says finally.
Arthur looks at him again, and he shakes himself from the melancholy that has settled over them. “I’m glad she didn’t win, though. She wasn’t a very good ruler, those few days she was Queen. Camelot is lucky to have you, Arthur.”
That seems to straighten Arthur’s back a little. Merlin takes that as a small victory and he somehow manages to pull on a ridiculous smile before continuing.
“…and the people of Camelot apparently want to celebrate the fact that they have a cabbage-head for a king instead. You should give them the chance while it lasts, don’t you think?”
Merlin does a small dance of victory in his head when Arthur lets out a snort at that. His smile turns more genuine by the minute.
“Careful, Court Sorcerer. I’m still the king, and the stocks are still open,” Arthur says, putting on a scowl. His features soften after a moment though, and he gives a stern nod to himself as he makes his resolution and picks up his sword from the table, looking at it before tucking it into his belt.
“Come on. They are waiting,” he says before passing Merlin and walking out of the door.