Genres: WIP, romance, drama, magic reveal, established relationship
Word length: 16,000 +
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!
A/N: It’s my first Merlin fic – be kind. I really hope I didn’t make Arthur too out of character in this chapter. I think he’d be nicer to Merlin now that they are in a relationship, but only behind closed doors. I love their banter too much to completely do away with Arthur treating Merlin like a servant, and I don’t want to completely change Arthur.
Chapter 5: Arthur’s First Step
The following morning
King Arthur had been having a very good dream featuring him, Merlin, and a beach. Unfortunately, he was rudely interrupted by a loud banging and a familiar female voice.
“Arthur, are you still in there?” The voice asked, knocking at the door.
“Mmmph,” Arthur intelligently replied. He was nestled within Merlin’s arms and he didn’t feel like leaving anytime soon. Merlin was lightly snoring beside him. Arthur turned over to face Merlin. He looked so angelic – Arthur didn’t have the heart to wake him. Arthur would rather stay by his side and stare at his high cheek bones and alabaster skin. When asked as a young man if he’d ever be interested in someone so scrawny, so stupid, so male Arthur never would’ve believed it. But yet here he was, in bed with Merlin. He didn’t want to be anywhere else.
“Arthur? Hello?” The voice called out, sounding concerned this time.
“I’ll be right out,” Arthur called, feeling rather annoyed at the insistent voice. Then he whispered, “Sorry, Merlin.” He gently shook him and said, “I need you to wake up now.”
“Whatsgoinon?” Merlin slurred, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Then it hit him.
Arthur sat up and looked at Merlin. Merlin sat up and looked at Arthur. Their panicked expressions mirrored each other.
“Shit!” Arthur swore, flinging back the covers and trying to find his clothes that he’d shed the night before. “Morgana’s outside.” He managed to find his pants, and quickly slipped them on.
Merlin wasn’t so lucky. In his haste to get up, the young warlock tumbled out of the bed and onto the ground. “Ow,” he hissed as he rubbed his bruised left foot.
“Are you alright?” Arthur asked, after tugging a shirt on.
Merlin was pleased by this response, thinking Arthur would comment instead on how clumsy he was. To hear Arthur express concern for him was an unexpected pleasure.
“Fine,” Merlin muttered, embarrassed. He managed to pull on a pair of pants, and then a shirt. Unfortunately, he still had bed head.
“That’s it, I’m coming in.” Morgana threw open the wooden doors. Apparently Merlin had forgotten to lock them the night before.
“Morgana, what are you doing here?” Arthur asked.
“They would’ve sent a servant, but I volunteered.” Morgana noticed Merlin’s hair, which was sticking up in all directions.
She gave Arthur a knowing look. “The council meeting’s supposed to start in fifteen minutes. I thought you might need a little reminder. It turns out I was right.” She smiled prettily at them, showing off her pearly white teeth.
“Fifteen minutes until the meeting.” Arthur yelled at Merlin, mostly to keep up appearances. “I can’t be late on my first day
as king! You were supposed to wake me up.”
Merlin didn’t sound overly concerned. “I overslept.”
“That’s unacceptable.” Arthur glared his servant. “I should put you in the stocks for this.”
“Oh, no… not the stocks,” Merlin openly mocked his king.
“Arthur?” Morgana smiled sweetly at them, bringing the attention back to her. It seemed as if Merlin and Arthur were in their own little world and they had forgotten that she was even in the room.
“Yes, Morgana?” Arthur said, still glaring at Merlin.
“Why are you wearing Merlin’s shirt?”
“Uh…” Arthur trailed off. He’d been so wrapped up in arguing with Merlin, he hadn’t even realized that the shirt he was wearing was much too small. Arthur wasn’t sure if Merlin wanted to tell Morgana yet about them or not, so he said nothing.
“Well, you see, there is a very good explanation for that,” said Merlin. “I’m really behind on the laundry, so I let Arthur wear-”
Morgana stifled a laugh. It really was amusing listening to Merlin’s pathetic excuses when she clearly had figured out what was really going on between them.
“Merlin, don’t bother,” Arthur sighed. “I think she already knows. We can trust her.”
“Trust me with what?” Morgana smirked, knowing very well what.
“Oh, go on then.” Merlin gave his permission, his cheeks flaming.
“We were going to wait to announce it until the law against magic has been overturned, but you might as well know now.” Arthur grinned at Merlin, then turned to Morgana. “Merlin and I are together.”
“Finally!” Morgana squealed, jumping up and down with girlish glee. “This is wonderful! I’m so happy for you both.”
“Why does everyone say that?” Arthur sounded dismayed. “Was it really that obvious to everyone but me?”
“Yes,” Merlin and Morgana said simultaneously.
“How long did you hide this from me?” Arthur pushed.
“Long enough,” said Merlin, considering the matter to be closed. He’d never admit it to Arthur, but he’d been attracted to the young prince probably from the first moment he’d seen him. At that time, Arthur had considered him to be an enemy of the crown because he dare insult the king’s son. They had really gotten off on the wrong foot.
Merlin had instantly loathed Arthur as he watched him bully one of his servants. He’d challenged Arthur to a fight right then and there. He would’ve won if he’d been able to use his full range of magic. But since he couldn’t, Arthur had beaten him rather spectacularly. It had only been once Merlin had saved Arthur’s life and had been assigned as his servant that a truce stood between them. Then they built a slow, careful friendship which had eventually blossomed into something much stronger.
Arthur didn’t want to think about a sad Merlin who was too afraid to trust him with his secrets, about magic and about his amorous feelings.
Unknowingly, Morgana rescued him. “So when did all of this happen?” She gestured to Arthur and Merlin.
“While we were away, after Arthur rescued me from the executioner’s block,” said Merlin, reaching for Arthur’s hand. “But if you could keep this to yourself for the time being, I’d appreciate it.”
“Can I tell Gwen?” Morgana pouted. “I tell Gwen everything.”
“You can tell Gwen,” Merlin relented, after Arthur nodded at him. “But just her.”
“Thanks. She’ll be thrilled. Hang on.” Morgana looked like something had just hit her. “You’re really changing the law on the use of magic?”
“Yes,” Arthur said proudly, squeezing Merlin’s hand. “You see, Merlin is a sorcerer.”
“And?” Morgana knew this already.
“I don’t want Merlin to have to hide who he is any longer,” Arthur proclaimed. “He’s going to be appointed as the first court sorcerer that Camelot has had in a long time.”
“I can’t believe it,” Morgana whispered. “To not to have to hide – it sounds too good to be true.”
Merlin crossed the room to give Morgana a quick hug. “I told you it would happen eventually. Things are going to be better now for people like us,” Merlin promised. “You won’t have to live in fear any longer.”
Morgana gave a small sob. “I had wished that the ban on magic would be changed, every clear night when I’d see the stars from my window. It didn’t make any difference. But now…”
“Don’t tell me.” Arthur groaned as he watched this exchange. “First Merlin, and now you? Morgana, do you really have magical abilities?”
She nodded. “I do. But I have no idea how to control them. It’s rather terrifying. Remember that night where a fire burned down the canopy to my bed? That was caused by my magic.”
“Why didn’t you say something to me?” Arthur complained. “I would’ve kept your secret.”
Morgana shrugged. “I wanted to tell you. I almost did, but it never seemed like the right time. Besides, Uther would have
killed me if he found out.”
“No. Uther would have made an exception for you,” Arthur argued.
Morgana gave him a dark look. “Don’t be so sure.”
“He never would have killed his beloved ward,” Arthur said, but he sounded a tad uncertain.
Morgana shrugged. “I didn’t want to risk it.”
“The meeting,” Merlin reminded them, tabling the discussion for now. “Arthur, you need to go - now.”
“Morgana, you didn’t by any chance bring us breakfast, did you?” Arthur asked.
She shook her head. “I’m not your servant. Guess you’ll have to skip it.”
“Arthur’s the king. If he wants to take his breakfast during the council meeting, he can.” Merlin pointed out.
“This is why I keep you around,” Arthur said to Merlin, patting him on the shoulder. “You always think of everything.”
“Your father never ate during council meetings. I’m not sure that’s a great precedent to set,” Morgana cautioned.
“Who cares?” Arthur said flippantly. “Camelot’s not going to fall because the king has changed his eating habits.”
“You should have more faith in him, Morgana. If he’s going to change the law against magic, he’s going to need his strength,” said Merlin.
“Thank you.” Arthur grinned smugly at Morgana. Then he turned back to Merlin. “Will you fetch us breakfast?” He almost sounded apologetic. Merlin wondered what had gotten into Arthur. Was it because of their recent change in relationship that he was being so thoughtful?
“Of course.” Merlin frowned, realizing what Arthur had said. “Wait. Us?”
“Yes, you idiot. Do try to keep up, Merlin.”
“But I can’t eat in front of the noblemen,” Merlin protested. “It would be disrespectful.”
Arthur waved him off. “I won’t have you fainting away during the meeting due to skipping a meal.”
Merlin’s jaw dropped. “You want me there for the entire meeting?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, staring down a wide-eyed Merlin. “I thought that was rather obvious. What?”
“Uther never let servants-”
Arthur cut him off. “I’m not my father. I suppose I’ll have to prove that to everyone.”
“I suppose you will,” said Merlin.
Arthur gave Merlin a pointed look. “Merlin, what are you still doing here? Breakfast isn’t going to fetch itself. Oh, and fix your hair. You look like you spent the night in the stables.”
Merlin rolled his eyes. It seemed like Arthur-the-prat was back. He was somewhat glad – he didn’t want Arthur to change completely just because they were together. The young warlock flattened his hair and took off to grab their breakfast. Arthur got up to leave as well, but was halted in his tracks.
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Morgana asked.
“I don’t think so,” said Arthur. His hands automatically went to his legs to make sure he indeed had pants on. There had been one memorable occasion when he’d been about to leave his room and he’d forgotten his trousers. If Merlin hadn’t noticed that he wasn’t wearing pants… Arthur shuddered to think of the humiliation that would’ve come with that.
“How about your crown?”
Arthur frowned. “You mean my father’s crown? I’m not even sure where it is. I haven’t officially been crowned king yet. The staff needs at least two days to prepare for my coronation.”
Morgana shook her head. Was Arthur really this dim? “You need to wear your symbol of authority. Where’s your old crown?”
Arthur’s forehead wrinkled. “I don’t remember.”
Morgana shook her head, then produced his crown. Arthur quickly put it on. The band of gold sprinkled with tiny rubies encircled his head. Thankfully, it was nowhere as heavy as the crown he’d have to wear for his coronation.
“Morgana, you’re a lifesaver,” Arthur said gratefully.
“So I can come with you to the meeting?” She pressed.
“Why not?” Arthur was certain this had been Morgana’s plan all along, but he didn’t mind. During the meeting, he needed all the allies he could get. He would be bending the rules to let a woman sit in, but Arthur was planning on doing a lot of that anyway. What was one more change?
Arthur made his way to the throne room where the meeting was being held. A smug-looking Morgana walked right behind him.
The new king strode into the throne room like he owned the place, which of course he did. “Good morning,” Arthur said pleasantly, nodding at all of the noblemen who were seated at the tables near the throne. He then went over to each man and shook their hand, much to their astonishment.
“Thank you for coming,” Arthur said after settling down on his throne. “I will need all of your support in the years to come.”
The men stared at each other, dumbfounded. Uther had never bothered to greet them individually before. He’d always just gotten down to business, not bothering with any of the pleasantries.
“Do I have something on my face?” Arthur said wryly as he glanced around the room and was met with wide-eyed stares. “Come on, speak up.”
“It’s just that we’ve never heard the king say ‘thank you’ to us before,” Geoffrey of Monmouth finally answered him.
“Yes, well, I’m not my father, and I plan on doing things a little differently,” Arthur said lightly. He felt the weight of every eye in the room on him, but he stood his ground.
“Why is she here?” The oldest, most wrinkled man asked, pointing at Morgana. “Women are not permitted at council meetings.”
“Morgana is here as my guest.” Arthur glared at the elderly fool. “You will treat her with the respect she deserves.”
“Yes, my lord.” Properly chastised, the man grew silent.
Morgana took the empty seat on Arthur’s left. She grinned at Arthur, thrilled to have been included in the proceedings.
“So, first on today’s agenda we have…” Arthur was cut off as the doors burst open to reveal Merlin carrying a silver breakfast tray.
“Sorry, sire,” Merlin winced, hoping he hadn’t interrupted anything important.
“Ah, Merlin.” Arthur smiled at his servant, hoping he didn’t look too besotted. That would not do in front of the council.
Merlin approached the throne, placing the tray in front of Arthur. The king took one of the two plates and filled it with half the food on the tray for himself. He then distributed the rest of the food on to the other plate. Then Arthur gestured to the empty chair on his right, handing the extra plate to his servant. Merlin locked eyes with Arthur, still not sure this was such a good idea. A servant sitting at the king’s table? Surely that would be against the unspoken rules that governed the nobility.
Arthur raised his eyebrows as if to say ‘I dare you’.
The noblemen whispered to each other as they watched Merlin and Arthur tuck in to their breakfast, but they were too frightened to say anything directly to the king’s face. Arthur finished his second piece of bread before returning to the business at hand.
“As I was saying,” he continued, “the first thing on our agenda is the motion to add more land to our kingdom. The land in question currently belongs to King Cenred. My father was a proponent for this addition of property, but he died before it was officially approved. Personally, I believe that our patrols are spread thin enough, that we already have more than enough land. I also do not wish to go to war with Cenred’s kingdom. I promised the people peace, and that is what I wish to do. However, if anyone has other opinions on this matter, I will be glad to hear them.”
The council debated this matter for about an hour, with Morgana staunchly backing Arthur’s plan. Merlin didn’t say a word - he was content to watch the proceedings as the noblemen argued their position. Eventually, most of them agreed with Arthur’s opinion. Those not in agreement were quite reluctant to give up an opportunity to gain more land, but they were in the minority.
Arthur cleared his throat, glad that they’d moved past one of the things on his list. “The next item on our agenda is lowering the taxes for those in the lower town and outlying villages.”
This idea was met with much outrage. Arthur could only get everyone to agree to a one percent tax reduction, which he supposed it was better than nothing. If he could lower the taxes a little at a time, perhaps he would one day reach his objective of making sure that all of his citizens had their basic needs met. He then called for a short recess and temporarily adjourned the meeting.
Arthur spoke in hushed tones with Merlin and Morgana about the law against magic as he waited for the men to return. He was pleased that no one had protested against their places at the king’s right and left side. Arthur wanted them both as his trusted advisors - especially Merlin. He wanted to do as much as he could to raise Merlin’s standing with the council. Morgana already had her position in the king’s household, but Merlin would need more time before the council was ready to accept him as their equal. It was a lofty goal to be sure, but he was confident he could make it happen. He wanted to, for Merlin’s sake. Arthur wanted his kingdom to know of Merlin’s pure heart, of his will to only use magic for good. The young king knew when that happened, the people would love Merlin almost as much as he did.
The noblemen slowly filtered back into the room, one by one taking their seats. Arthur called the meeting back to order as soon as the last man sat down.
“Now we come to the third item on my agenda,” Arthur smiled grimly at the council, catching both Morgana’s and Merlin’s eyes. He was doing this for them, and the other citizens under his protection that were born with magical abilities. It was time for change, and Arthur knew it would not be easy. His people had suffered much from Uther’s reign of terror, and suddenly allowing magic would probably confuse and scare some of them. But Arthur knew that it was his destiny to change the law and hopefully people’s opinion of magic users. He knew that this motion would be most likely met with anger and fear, but if he ever wanted to appoint Merlin as court sorcerer, he had to take this first step.
Arthur bravely stood up, gathering the attention of everyone in the room, and proclaimed, “I move that we overturn the law on the ban of magic in Camelot.”
That was when all hell broke loose.
End Chapter 5