Title: A Few Wise Words
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Leon, Gwaine
Summary: Continuing in the Seen and Hidden ‘verse. Arthur’s thoughts get the better of him and Merlin is there to listen.
Warnings: Mention of killing innocents
Word Count: 674
Prompt: #8 Burn
Author's Notes: Sorry for keeping you waiting…(I had/have a thesis that needed attending)… I hope this addition was worth the wait though.
Even though Merlin had said he would, Arthur woke Gwaine for the second watch and told him to wake Leon for the one after. It was his way of apologising for his outburst the previous afternoon.
Merlin woke suddenly at first light to find Leon in front of the low burning fire. “Arthur thought you could use the sleep,” Leon offered, seeing his dismay.
“But I said I would… I wanted to…” Merlin looked in the direction of where the King was sleeping. Even in his sleep, he didn’t seem to be totally at ease.
“I think it is his way of making it up to you,” Leon thought aloud.
Merlin hummed in agreement. He lay back down and closed his eyes, but the noises of the waking forest filled his ear and he was unable to sleep again.
As they rode back to castle, Arthur contemplated the presence of magic in Camelot and the evil depiction his father had given it throughout his life.
Father always said that magic was the evil; that it corrupts a person. But I’ve met people with magic who did seem to be corrupted; they didn’t use magic for evil ends. Father hated the druids, yet they lived in peace away from our lands, practicing magic their whole lives and causing us no harm.
Merlin noticed Arthur letting his horse hang off the pace of the main group. His eyes seemed to be fixed at a point atop his horse’s mane. Merlin pulled his horse’s reins and steered her around to trot up to Arthur’s side from behind. Gwaine, who Merlin had been travelling next to, looked back at the manservant next to his King. He smiled knowing he should have suspected as much.
They travelled for a while longer without Arthur acknowledging Merlin’s change in position.
“What’s on your mind?” Merlin asked, not being able to stand the silence anymore.
Arthur wasn’t sure what made him say it, but he blurted out the truth to Merlin.
“The punishments my father handed down for practicing magic and his assumption that all people who have ability with magic are or will become corrupt.”
Images of men’s heads being chopped off in the castle’s courtyard crossed his vision. Women being burned at the stake. Families being tracked down in the forest, knights cutting them down as they ran; men, women and their children.
Merlin didn’t know what to say to Arthur’s statement. He was saved from replying when Arthur spoke again, his voice a bit quieter.
“I saw so many seemingly innocent people die because of my Father’s law and his ruthfulness.”
Most of them did nothing wrong. They hid to save their lives… because they didn’t want to cause trouble…
“They just wanted to live.”
Merlin was admittingly shocked at the words coming from Arthur’s lips. How was he supposed to react to the prat he had been serving for years, while hiding his innate and strong magic, finally starting to realise that his father’s ways were not done out of duty but for other, personal, means? Was the time coming when Merlin would be able to reveal himself wholly to Arthur, instead of holding back the biggest part of him?
“You have a good sense of right and wrong, Arthur. If you do not want to be the type of king Uther was, then you don’t have to be. I think you have a connection with the people of Camelot your father lost sight of or never had. If you allow your heart to guide you, I believe whatever decisions you make, you will make it with the good of the people in mind.”
Arthur starred pointedly at Merlin for a few seconds and then shook his head. “How…?” he started to ask but let the rest of his question fall away in a sigh. “You know a few wise words every now and then doesn’t get you out of doing chores?”
“Awww… come on,” Merlin mock-whined.
Arthur genuinely smiled, which received Merlin’s warm smile in return.