Genres: romance, drama, magic reveal
Word length: 2,400
Summary: Merlin has just saved Arthur yet again with magic, and this time King Uther saw. Merlin is sentenced to death. Will he get a chance confess his true feelings for Arthur.. Work in progress.
Disclaimer: Merlin belongs to the BBC, not me.
A/N: I will update this quite regularly.
Disclaimer: Merlin belongs to the BBC and the four J’s - Julian Jones, Jake Michie, Johnny Capps
and Julian Murphy. It’s not mine. If it were, I’d make Merthur canon!
A/N: It’s my first Merlin fic – be kind. I usually write Star Trek and Kirk/Spock so I’m used to writing slash but I’m a little Trekked out at the moment. I was so excited when I stumbled up Merthur and I wish I’d followed the fandom when it was actually on TV. I know everyone and their brother writes about Merlin’s magic reveal, but I just had to try my own take on it. It’s such a fun trope! Oh, and I’m American so forgive me if the dialogue isn’t quite right. And now, on with the story!
Chapter 1: Revelation
The night before the annual tournament
Arthur finished dressing in his night clothes behind the screen, ready to fall into bed after a hard day’s training. It was the night before the annual tournament and he wanted to get a good night’s sleep. But first, he wanted to speak with his manservant.
“Oi, Merlin, are you there?” Arthur asked.
The young sorcerer looked up. “Just finishing my cleaning. What do you need?”
Arthur walked over to where Merlin was sitting. “I just wanted to talk.”
“Shit,” Merlin muttered under his breath. It was never a good sign when a lady said that, and Merlin imagined it would be much worse coming from the Crown Prince. Also, there was a slight chance that Arthur had learned of Merlin’s secret. He didn’t want to put Arthur in a position where he’d have to choose between his father or Merlin. He was terrified that Uther would win, and where would that leave Merlin? He’d either be dead or at best, disgraced.
“Sorry, Sire,” Merlin said as he grew pale. “What did I do wrong?”
“You didn’t do anything wrong,” Arthur said soothingly, locking eyes with his manservant. “I just wanted talk to you man to man.”
“Yes? Go on, then,” said Merlin. He relaxed now that he was sure Arthur hadn’t discovered his secret.
“I only wished to tell you that even though you’re always stumbling over your own two feet, you’re often late, and you’re somewhat dim, you’re still the best servant I’ve ever had. You have saved my life several times, and I will never forget that.” Arthur placed a comforting hand on Merlin’s shoulder. “I know I don’t ever say it, but I consider you to be a friend. To be fair, you still are an idiot, but you’re my idiot. I just wanted you to know that.”
“I feel exactly the same about you,” Merlin said, beaming. “You are closer to me than anyone.” But then Merlin paused. “Hang on. Arthur, why are you telling this?”
Arthur shrugged, pulling his hand away. “Just in case I don’t live through the fight tomorrow.”
“You will, I promise!” said a gleeful Merlin. “You’ll prove to the people of Camelot yet again that you deserve to be their future king.”
“Going to save my life yet again, Merlin?” Arthur teased. “Or are you that confident in my abilities as a knight?”
“I’d rather not say, Sire,” Merlin said quietly. He had meant it to be a teasing remark, but it hadn’t come out that way.
“You know you don’t have to call me ‘Sire’ when we’re alone,” Arthur reminded him.
“I know,” Merlin said quietly. It was a sign of respect, one that he believed that Arthur had finally earned from him. “I wanted to.”
“You know that can tell me anything, right?” Arthur said.
“What do you mean?” Merlin pressed.
“Oh, Morgana mentioned that you had a lot on your mind lately. She wanted me to talk to you about it,” Arthur admitted. “She thought that if you’d open up to anyone it would be me. Not sure why.”
Merlin inwardly groaned. He was going to kill Morgana! Why had he ever decided to confide in her about his magical abilities? Then a stab of disappointment flooded his body. Arthur was only having this conversation because Morgana suggested it. Of course Arthur would never initiate a talk about feelings. Why had he thought differently?
“Will that be all, Sire?”
“Will that be all, Arthur,” the prince corrected.
“Arthur,” Merlin said softly.
“That will be all,” Arthur said, his authoritative manner restored. “See you bright and early. Don’t be late.”
“Sleep well,” said Merlin, taking his leave of Arthur and returning to his chamber. He wondered what his prince would do if he knew just how many times Merlin had saved his life. It would probably be a severe blow to his overly large ego. With that thought in mind, Merlin fell asleep with a grin on his face.
The following morning
How had it come to this? Merlin wondered that as he watched the knights fight each other. Arthur was in yet another life-and-death situation and he didn’t even realize it! It hadn’t started out that way. So far, the tournament had gone well for Arthur. Seemingly encouraged by the screaming from the crowd, he picked off his opponents, one by one before only one was left.
It quickly became clear that Arthur was the strongest competitor on the field. Merlin’s chest burst with pride as he watched his friend take out each man with well-placed blows. As always, Arthur shone on the battlefield. Merlin had never seen a more beautiful sight than his future king decked out in gleaning silver chain mail and his knight’s blood red uniform, his blue eyes gleaming out of his helmet. Then, out of nowhere, danger reared its ugly head.
The prince was locked in a swordfight with what he thought was his last opponent. Arthur was holding his own, which was no mean feat since he’d been wounded earlier in the leg. Arthur was a great swordsman, but occasionally he did make mistakes. He wasn’t completely invincible, even if he liked to think he was. Merlin swore under his breath, as another foe pulled himself up from the ground and charged towards Arthur. The man was directly behind the prince, who didn’t see him. Arthur’s enemy flung his sword towards the prince, who had just neatly dispatched his final opponent. This was in clear violation of the rules, that competitors were only to wound and not kill.
Merlin whispered a spell from his hiding place under the stands, halting the sword midair just before it pierced Arthur in the back. That throw was scarily accurate, too accurate. It had to be the work of someone using magic! Merlin hoped that the spell would deter the man, but he kept running towards Arthur. The unknown assailant reached his hand towards the sword and wordlessly called it back towards him, catching it neatly in his left hand. Then the man waved his other hand in Arthur’s direction, his magical force knocking Arthur off his feet and onto his back.
Arthur groaned as he struggled to get up. Merlin shook with barely concealed anger – no one hurt Arthur while he drew breath! Instinctively Merlin’s eyes glowed gold as he threw up a shield of white light all around Arthur, in hopes of protecting him from the magician. But without an incantation, it was somewhat difficult to maintain. It was also zapping his strength to keep his presence a secret from those around him.
“Where are you, sorcerer? Come out and face me like a man!” The evil warlock yelled. “Or your prince will die and Camelot will have no heir to the throne.”
Arthur managed to stand up, bravely wielding his sword in an attempt at protecting himself. However, the prince’s right leg was still wounded from earlier in the fight and Merlin could see him wince as he limped forward. Clearly, Arthur’s opponent had the advantage even without magic. With it, he seemed unstoppable.
Merlin had two choices. He could face the sorcerer in a proper magical duel and reveal his secret, or he could do nothing and let Arthur be killed. There was, of course, only one choice he could make. He stepped on to the field, walking swiftly towards the enemy.
“Leave the prince alone! Your quarrel is with me,” Merlin announced, much to the crowd’s surprise. He didn’t dare look at Arthur to see his reaction, not wanting to be distracted from his task at hand. Merlin strode in front of Arthur, blocking him from the evil sorcerer’s path. If he was successful, he would call the attention towards himself and away from Arthur.
“Emrys,” the man acknowledged with a nod. “We shall see which of us is more powerful.”
Merlin knew that the sorcerer would not rest until he saw Arthur (and probably Uther) dead. If he escaped, Merlin was certain he’d try to kill Arthur again, perhaps when Merlin wasn’t around to save him. Merlin hesitated for a fraction of a second, not wishing to take any life no matter how evil the person was. But when the sorcerer flung blue bolts of lightning towards Arthur, Merlin simply reacted with a protective instinct. He repelled the lightning, sending it back towards the sorcerer, penetrating the unsuspecting man’s weak shield and killing him instantly. The evil man fell to the ground. Merlin warily approached him, feeling no pulse and confirming that his opponent was indeed dead. Then he released the energy barrier around Arthur. Merlin wobbled and almost fell down - he was so drained from depleting his magical reserves. It had taken everything he had to defeat the sorcerer. Ever proud, Merlin found the strength to stand upright. He would take his sentence like a man.
The crowd was dead silent. True, Merlin had protected their prince from certain death. He had also just broken the most sacred law of Camelot – he used magic. He had revealed to all that he was a warlock, and an extremely powerful one at that. Merlin knew, just as everyone else did, that he would have to pay for his crime with his life.
“Merlin, you are to be executed first thing tomorrow for practicing the art of magic,” said Uther, just like Merlin knew he would.
“Guards! Take him away.”
Merlin finally dared look at Arthur in the eye. The prince’s face reflected the shock of Merlin’s revelation. The young warlock noted the faint flash of fear in Arthur’s penetrating gaze. Then it was gone – Arthur had wiped all trace of emotion from his face. Merlin held back a sob – Arthur was afraid of him, after everything he’d done to protect his master and more importantly, his friend. He knew then that he could not count on Arthur coming to his defense. Sometimes Uther’s son could persuade his father to reconsider his punishments, but this time it looked like Arthur agreed with Uther’s sentence. And why wouldn’t he? Arthur had been taught from a young age that all magic was evil. That belief wouldn’t change just because Merlin had demonstrated his powers in public, not matter how good of friends they were. Still, Merlin didn’t regret his decision to save Arthur. At least the man that he secretly loved would live to see another day.
“Uther, wait!” Lady Morgana pleaded. “He saved Arthur’s life – surely that counts for something.”
“He is also a cold blooded murderer,” Uther pointed out. “He broke the law and death is the price. Morgana, you will spend the night in the dungeon for your treasonous comment. I will free you after Merlin’s execution.”
“No! Merlin!” Morgana screamed, her face full of horror as she struggled against the guards that took her away.
Morgana’s servant Gwen did not look much better. Gwen covered her mouth with her hand, blinking back tears. She and Merlin were close, often sharing stories about their lot in life as servants and comparing notes about their masters. How she wished there was something she could do. But alas, there was nothing. If Morgana couldn’t sway the king, no one could.
“Arthur, no suggestion about how Merlin is to be banished instead of beheaded?” Uther asked, clearly anticipating one.
“No, Father. I cannot trust him again. He committed sorcery – he deserves what he gets.” Arthur glared at Merlin, crossing his arms over his chest.
Merlin almost lost it after that. “Arthur, I didn’t want you to find out this way,” Merlin choked out, taking a step towards his prince. “I’m so sorry. I swear, I only used my magic for good.” Merlin knew it wouldn’t matter at that point what he said, but he wanted Arthur to know that his intentions were honorable.
“You will address me as ‘Sire’ or not at all,” Arthur said coldly. He backed away from his servant as if he would be infected by Merlin’s magic just by being near the young warlock.
All the fight went out of Merlin at this. In the space of a few minutes, he’d lost Arthur’s friendship – the one thing he valued most. When the guards came to collect him, Merlin went quietly. What was the point in struggling if Arthur was already against him? It was probably better this way. Merlin did not want to live in a world where Arthur despised him for something that he was born with, something that he had no control over. Magic was a part of him, and he a part of it. As he was led away, the young warlock kept his eyes on his prince for as long as he could before Arthur disappeared from his sight.
Later that night, Merlin hoped against all hope that Arthur might come to visit him in the dungeon to say goodbye. But the hours went by and there was no sign of Arthur. Merlin tried to go to sleep, but the image of the executioner’s axe kept him awake. He was terrified of being beheaded. Would it hurt? Would anyone else mourn him besides Morgana and Gwen? What would happen to Arthur after Merlin’s death? That scared him even more than the thought of the execution. If Arthur didn’t live to be king, then the shining future destiny of Camelot that the great dragon spoke of would never come to pass.
Early the next morning
Merlin was almost asleep when he heard someone turn the lock on his cell. A bolt of fear rushed through him, remembering the looming execution as he sat up with a start. Had the guards come to take him to his doom? Then Merlin watched as a hooded figure entered his cell, reaching for his hand. Instinctively, Merlin grabbed it.
“Come with me,” the male voice whispered. Merlin would recognize that voice anywhere – Arthur had come to rescue him!
A/N: Reviews are great! Next part coming in a few days :) Questions, comments, concerns? Let me know! Thanks to my mom for betaing. She's not into slash but she still did it for me. My mom is fantastic.