Genres: WIP, romance, drama, magic reveal, established relationship
Word length: 10,000 +
Summary: Merlin's magic has been revealed and accepted by Arthur. Arthur was going to to run away with Merlin, but they decided to return to Camelot because Uther dies. Can Merlin and Arthur successfully maintain their romantic relationship with Arthur being King who eventually has to marry and produce an heir? A/M means male/male pairings SLASH 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!
Chapter 4: New Beginnings
“All hail Arthur Pendragon, king of Camelot.” The priest announced.
“Long live the king!” The knights chorused.
“Long live the king!” Morgana, Gwen, and Merlin echoed. “Long live the king!”
Arthur nodded at them in acknowledgement but didn’t speak. He locked eyes with Merlin, not feeling so lost knowing that Merlin was there supporting him.
“Sire, the people have heard the bells,” the priest said gently, as Arthur was struggling to absorb all that was happening around him. He tore his eyes away from Merlin and focused on the priest’s words. “They know your father has passed. You must speak to them; reassure them that you’re in charge and that you will keep them safe.” Address the subjects, right. Arthur thought. So much for easing into his kingly duties.
Merlin was the only one who noticed a flash of fear in Arthur’s blue eyes before it was overcome by a fierce determination. Now that he was the king, he bloody well was going to act like one.
“Then I will address my subjects,” Arthur declared, standing tall and proud. Then he locked eyes again with his sorcerer.
“Merlin, with me.”
Everyone present automatically turned their attention from Arthur to Merlin. This included the two guardsmen whose daily job was to secure Uther’s chambers. Their loyalties lay with Uther, and Arthur could see the hate in their eyes as they realized that Merlin had returned to Camelot. No matter – he would nip this in the bud.
“Sire, your servant has been accused of being a sorcerer.” One of the guards stepped forward to plead his case. “He must be a sorcerer – how else could he have broken out of his cell? Your father sentenced him to death and that sentence still stands.” Then he turned to Merlin. “It’s off to the dungeons with you.”
Both guards grabbed Merlin by his arms, but he didn’t struggle. Merlin knew that Arthur would intervene on his behalf.
“No. I’m ordering you to let him go.” Arthur haughtily glared at the guards, who reluctantly released Merlin, who slowly moved closer to Arthur.
“But sire…” The second guard protested. “The law says-”
“I’m the king now, and I have pardoned him,” Arthur cut him off. “Merlin is free of all past offenses, and if you want to keep your head you’ll bloody do as I say.” Arthur caught Merlin’s eye, and there was faint amusement in the warlock’s gaze. Arthur supposed he’d overdone it a bit with the harsh, condescending tone, but he was the king now, not Uther. He had to put the guards in their place.
“Yes, your majesty.” The guards bowed low at Arthur. There was an uncomfortable silence, which was eventually broken by Morgana.
“Arthur, have you seen this?” Morgana asked, pointing at the window and bringing him back to the present. “They’re waiting for you.”
Arthur looked down through the tinted glass windows at the townspeople holding a candlelight vigil for their king. The bells tolled out Uther’s death in the background. The severity of the situation flooded back to him, as his focus had been temporarily diverted by the guards arresting Merlin. This is happening all too fast, Arthur thought.
“I must speak to them.” How he wished he’d had time to prepare a speech. He had never addressed the public without something to glance at. Of course he wasn’t nervous because he didn’t get nervous. That was the lie he’d told Merlin before he competed in a jousting tournament that Uther had expected him to win. Right now he wished he was fighting in a tournament instead of about to give a speech in front of all of Camelot. At least he knew he was good at jousting.
Arthur turned to leave and Merlin fell into step beside him, as usual. They quickly descended down one of the castle’s stone spiral staircases and waited until the guards pulled the front doors open for them to pass through.
“I’m not sure I can do this,” Arthur said under his breath.
“Just speak from the heart,” Merlin advised.
Arthur stared incredulously at him. “Seriously, Merlin? What’s wrong with you?”
“According to Gaius, I was dropped on my head as a baby.” Arthur did chuckle at that, which was Merlin’s intention.
Arthur walked down the steps toward the town square, stopping a few steps before the bottom so his people could see him. Merlin stood next to him. As Arthur stared into the eyes of his frightened people, his heart started pounding and he forgot what he wanted to say. Arthur was consumed by his thoughts. What if they think I’m a complete idiot? What if they think my reign is going to be just like my father’s? What if they think I’ll be even worse than my father?
Merlin saw Arthur freeze. To snap him out of it, he gave Arthur a subtle kick on his foot. Arthur got the message – he needed to start the speech. He took one look at Merlin, who gave him a tiny grin before he took a few steps away, leaving Arthur to take the stage. Then King Arthur squared his shoulders, cleared his throat, and began.
“Thank you for being here tonight.” Arthur raised his voice so that all could hear their new king. “It is with a heavy heart that I announce my father’s passing. He was your king for many years, and you his loyal subjects. I humbly ask for that loyalty as I begin my time as king. I will be upholding some of the fair and just laws that have governed Camelot for generations. However, I will be moving to change several of those laws. It has not gone unnoticed that there have been many executions during Uther’s reign. Many of those deaths were, in my opinion, unnecessary. I will not idly sit by as my subjects are slaughtered on false charges.”
Some of the townspeople were nodding at some of the things Arthur was saying, so he took that as encouragement.
“As my first act as king, I officially pardon all those who have been falsely accused of sorcery by my father.” He nodded to Merlin, who nodded back. Arthur had just ensured that Merlin’s charges had been dropped, in front of all of Camelot. No one would mistake Merlin for a criminal again.
The crowd was eerily silent. Merlin guessed that most of the townspeople were still in shock from Arthur’s announcement. He was in mild shock himself, even though he knew Arthur had told him beforehand what to expect. Hearing Arthur say “pardon” and “sorcery” in the same sentence was quite jarring and, in a way, endearing. Arthur seemed to be getting used to people using magic. Merlin was very proud of him for this.
Arthur continued on. “My second act as king, will allow the children suspected of sorcery who have been banished from Camelot may return without fear of persecution and reunite with their families.”
The crowd started cheering softly, and a few people clapped their hands.
Feeling a bit braver, Arthur kept going. “My third act as king is if someone is accused of a crime, they have a right to a fair trial. If you are found innocent, you have nothing to fear.”
The cheering masses were thrilled by that decree – they thought it was unfair that the law said that the accused would be found guilty before proven innocent.
“My fourth act as king is there will be a tax reduction for all. I know how hard you work, the farmers, the laborers, the
servants.” Arthur glanced over at Merlin who gave him a tiny smile. “You all deserve enough money so you can have food, clean water, clothing, and a decent roof over your head.”
People were screaming their thanks for that one. Arthur was almost stunned into silence. He’d hoped that they could cheer especially for that one. And they did! A warm feeling settled in his chest. He was almost through the speech and he hadn’t messed it up.
“Finally, let me say that I will do everything in my power to keep the citizens of Camelot and its defenders out of war. I will not consider warring with any enemy unless all peaceful solutions have failed.”
Arthur’s audience roared their approval, some of them shaking their candles in the air.
“In conclusion, I have no doubt that our kingdom will stand strong as long as I can rely on the loyalty of my subjects. Thank you and long live Camelot!!”
The crowd’s cacophony was quite deafening to Merlin after Arthur finished his mercifully short speech. He would have loved to return to the castle and his bed, but Arthur had other plans in mind. Arthur pulled Merlin into the crowd so they could mingle. Merlin would bet his life that Uther had never taken such an action. Arthur had already proved that he was going to be a better king than his father.
Surrounded by the rippling sea of glowing lights, Arthur and Merlin walked around and spoke with the townspeople. Merlin stuck close to Arthur, just in case someone was trying to off him. After all, after Arthur, there was no heir to the throne. Merlin was about to keep going, but he heard a teenage girl’s timid voice.
“Prince Arthur - I brought you a flower from home.” He nudged Arthur, who turned around to meet the girl.
“Thank you,” Arthur said graciously. He smiled as the girl handed him a red rose. “It’s beautiful”. He thought, I think I’m going to let Merlin have that.
“Oh, uh, I mean King Arthur. I know you are not a prince. You’re the king. Sorry, my lord.” She hung her head.
“It’s fine,” Arthur waved it off. “I’m not used to being called the king.” She raised her face to him once more. What is your name?”
“Hunith, my lord,” said the shy girl, blushing at being directly addressed by the king.
“Hunith – that is a beautiful name.” Arthur graced the girl with one of his knee-weakening smiles. She looked like she was about to burst with excitement. “That is my servant’s mother’s name. Did you want to ask me something?”
“Umm…yes. Hold on, I forgot. Oh! Now I remember. Do you have to sleep in your crown?” The girl asked.
Arthur chuckled. “No, I don’t have to. I don’t sleep in my crown.”
“When are you going to get married to a queen?” Another girl asked him.
Arthur laughed uncomfortably and told her he didn’t know. He caught Merlin’s eye and suddenly it was time to leave.
Merlin waited for Arthur to finish mingling with the crowd. When Arthur finally disentangled himself from a gaggle of girls, they ascended the steps to Arthur’s chambers. He would have to move into the King’s chambers at some point, but not tonight.
“Those girls seemed to be very interested in you today,” Merlin pointed out.
“Well, yes, young ladies are going to follow me around. I have dealt with that all my life. It comes with the title. But don’t worry, Merlin.” He brought his voice down to a whisper. “You’re the most important person in my life.”
“Glad to hear it. Fantastic speech you gave there,” said Merlin with a grin, patting Arthur’s shoulder.
“Thank you,” said Arthur, puffing up with pride. “It was, wasn’t it?”
“There was one part that I had an issue with.”
“And what would that be?” Arthur asked.
Merlin waited until they were safely inside Arthur’s room before he continued.
“You don’t know?” Merlin frowned.
Arthur shook his head. “What are you on about?”
“How about being falsely accused of sorcery? That hardly describes me.”
Arthur threw up his hands. “I had to start somewhere. I don’t want to legally recognize those with magic until I have met with the council. I want to do this properly for all our sakes. We’ll need time to convince the council, to establish guidelines for those who use magic. In my haste to help the innocent magical folk, I don’t want to leave us vulnerable to those who would use magic for evil.”
“Good point,” Merlin reluctantly conceded.
Arthur yanked his shirt and pants off, not bothering to go behind the screen. Merlin automatically hurried to grab Arthur’s night clothes, but Arthur stopped him.
“No. I can do it.”
“Are you sure you know how?” Merlin teased, pleased that Arthur wasn’t treating him like a servant when they were alone.
“Shut up, Merlin,” Arthur said amiably as he quickly changed clothes. He flopped onto the bed, not bothering with the covers.
Arthur patted the spot beside him. “Join me.”
“Don’t mind if I do.” Merlin snuggled up next to Arthur. “I just realized something?”
“What?” asked Arthur.
“I’m in bed with the king of Camelot,” he pointed out.
“Oh, well spotted.” Arthur rolled his eyes. “And I’m in bed with a sorcerer. You know, I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to being called the king.”
“You will,” Merlin assured him. “You’re destined to become the greatest king Camelot’s ever had.”
Arthur went silent.
“What is it?” Merlin pressed. He could tell that Arthur needed to tell him something.
“Not that it matters now, but I just wanted to let you know that I wouldn’t have ordered you to save my father.”
“Because if he lived and somehow found out about you…” Arthur shook his head. “If I had to choose between you and my father, there would be no contest. I’d choose you in a heartbeat.”
“Yes, you idiot.”
Merlin smiled at the insult. It was more like an endearment these days.
“Also, I realized that it would be better for my people if I assumed the throne. I couldn’t personally kill my father, but since someone else set things in motion, who would I be to stop it?”
Merlin tightened his arms around Arthur. In no certain terms, Arthur had admitted that Merlin had been right about the whole Uther predicament. Merlin wondered if such an occurrence would ever happen again, and decided he didn’t care if it did. He would just take care to savor this time.
“But you miss your father despite all that.”
“Yes.” Arthur sounded miserable. “I shouldn’t, he’s mostly been a terrible father to me. But he did the best he could without my mother to help him. He prepared me well for the kingship. I think I heard him hint his approval of something I did once, maybe twice. He did always like my swordsmanship. Although he forced me to train three hours a day so that I would be the best of the best.”
“All that training has made you the best swordsman in all the land,” Merlin reminded him.
“That’s true,” Arthur acknowledged, trying to sound smug and failing miserably.
“He was too hard on you,” Merlin said. They both knew that was a gross understatement.
“You don’t know the half of it,” Arthur whispered.
“Then tell me.” Merlin tried to coax him into it.
“I… I don’t know if I can.”
“I won’t think less of you or anything if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“I’m not worried about that,” Arthur scoffed. “I’m not a girl, Merlin.”
But Merlin saw right through the act. “Arthur, you don’t always have to be strong. Not with me.”
“Yes I do. I cannot afford to show weakness – it could lead to Camelot’s downfall and...”
“That’s your father talking,” Merlin interrupted.
“He’s in my head, all the time,” Arthur confessed. “How am I supposed to rule to the best of my ability if I’m constantly questioning my own judgment, comparing it to what my father would do?”
“What did he do, Arthur? Tell me one thing he did to make you feel this way.”
Arthur sighed. “I suppose telling you this won’t lead to the fall of Camelot. I know I can trust you not to tell anyone, it’s just…”
“Yes, and no.”
“You don’t have to say anything,” Merlin assured him. Maybe he was pushing too hard. After all, Arthur had only just assumed the throne. Making him face his insecurities – especially those that had to do with his father – may not be the best thing for him right now. But Arthur surprised him as he began to speak.
“I was five years old when he made me watch a woman be burned at the stake.” Arthur’s shoulders shook as he remembered that terrible day. “I begged my father not to make me go, but he wouldn’t listen. He told me that it builds character to watch a witch burn and that as the future king one day I would have to preside over executions so I might as well get used to it. Can you imagine? A little boy subjected to that. I learned to fear magic and my father’s power all in one day.”
Merlin shook his head. He figured something like that had happened to young Arthur. Uther’s scare tactics were legendary – it made sense that he would use them on his son along with his subjects. “That was cruel of him. You were much too young.”
“That morning – I can’t get it out of my head!” Arthur winced as he recalled the memory that was seared into his brain. “As soon as the poor woman started shrieking in pain, I threw up my breakfast. My nurse hurried me away after that, but I’d seen my father’s disappointed gaze directed at me. That look was worse than any physical punishment that he could have given me.”
“I’m sorry,” Merlin said quietly. His hand automatically found Arthur’s, but Merlin dared not do more. He wanted Arthur to continue his story.
“That was the first time I thought to myself that I didn’t want to be king, not if I’d have to carry out sentences like that. I asked him why we couldn’t just banish the witch. He said that she would surely come back to Camelot for revenge with stronger powers than before. Then I asked him how he knew for sure that she was a witch, and he couldn’t give me a straight answer. That was when he told me that magic had killed my mother.”
“Do you think he was making it up? About your mum?” Merlin asked.
“No.” Arthur sighed. “I think he was telling the truth. It would certainly explain why he hated those with magic enough to kill them.”
“I’m sure if your mother was here she’d be very proud of you,” said Merlin.
“I hope you’re right.”
He held Arthur, enjoying the closeness between them. Usually it was Arthur holding Merlin, not the other way around. But tonight was an exception. Merlin felt honored that Arthur was comfortable enough with him to show some vulnerability. He knew it wasn’t easy for Arthur, as his father had drilled into him that confiding in someone was a weakness. Merlin was glad that Arthur trusted him with his insecurities. Arthur would have to show the face of a strong leader at all times, except when he retreated to his chambers. Merlin vowed he would be there for him when Arthur let his walls come down, however briefly.
“I should go.” Merlin moved to get up.
“No. Stay with me,” Arthur pleaded.
Merlin really didn’t want to go back to his chambers. Ever since Gaius had died, he’d hated living there. There was too much to remind him of the years spent with his mentor. Gaius was the closest thing he’d ever had to a father. He had believed in Merlin, more than Merlin had believed in himself. The physician helped Merlin face the facts that magic would always be a part of him, that it was gift that could be used for good. He’d learned so much from the old man, both in terms of healing and magic. Also, he taught him when to interfere in a tricky situation, and when you should not interfere. (Merlin was terrible at those – he always wanted to interfere and save people) He knew if Gaius was still alive today, he would approve of Merlin being with Arthur.
Yet, Merlin wasn’t quite ready for everyone in the castle to know about him and Arthur.
“Arthur, I don’t want people to think that we’re…” He trailed off.
“Why not?” Arthur whined. “I thought we already decided this.”
“I think it would be better for everyone if I didn’t sleep here until you repeal the law about magic. I don’t want anyone to think I used my magic to make you do it.”
“Come on, Merlin,” Arthur groaned. “One night spent here isn’t enough to start a rumor.”
“I don’t know…” Merlin fretted. He’d spent the night in Arthur’s chambers before, once when he was literally too tired to move. On one memorable occasion, he’d fallen asleep on the floor beside the bed. Arthur had nearly tripped on him when he woke the next morning. They’d been able to explain the situation to the servants easily enough.
“Please? It’s my first night as king. I don’t want to be alone.”
How could Merlin refuse that?
“Alright,” he relented. “But only for tonight.”
“You’ll be back tomorrow night,” Arthur said confidently. “I’ll convince you.”
Merlin didn’t feel like arguing with him. “Go to sleep, Arthur.”
“Mmm. My Merlin,” Arthur muttered before he fell asleep.
“Yours,” Merlin whispered before he joined Arthur in slumber.
End Chapter 4
A/N: Hope you liked. Reviews are great!