Beren (beren_writes) wrote,
Beren
beren_writes

Fic: To You I Pledge, Merlin (BBC), Merlin/Arthur, NC17/18, 01/07

Title: To You I Pledge (01/07)
Fandom: Merlin (BBC)
Author: Beren
Pairing: Merlin/Arthur
Rating: NC17/18
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by the BBC. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Warnings/Spoilers: general for season 1
Summary: Merlin lays his life on the line to save Arthur yet again, only this time there are witnesses, lots of them. Only Arthur prevents him going to the headman's axe straight away, but Arthur alone cannot save him. That is up to both of them.
Author's Notes: This one was a long time in emerging from my brain and it's a lot longer than I expected when I first started it. Thanks to Soph for the beta. It was written for the Merlin Big Bang 2009 boxofmagic. The PDF and .Doc versions are now up for download as well.
Word Count: ~45,160
Ch 1 | Ch 2 | Ch 3 | Ch 4 | Ch 5 | Ch 6 | Ch 7
My Fanfic Listings (LJ) | My Fanfic Listings (DreamW)

Chapter 1 Exposure

Merlin felt Arthur's body pressed against his, with the cold wall at his back, and the sensation of Arthur's lips covering his own was more than wonderful, but even as most of him surrendered, the voice at the back of his mind would not let him give in. He wanted this; he wanted this with all his heart, but one thing was very clear to him and it would not let him do it. As gently as he could he pushed Arthur away.

"I can't ..." he began to explain and watched hurt and disappointment flair in Arthur's features.

Defensive as ever, Arthur went to move away, harsh words on his lips, but Merlin caught him.

"Arthur," Merlin said, needing Arthur to really be listening to him, "I can't yet. There's something you need to know; something I have to tell you. Then ... if ..."

For once in his life he ran out of words. This was so important to him that it robbed him of the one weapon he rarely had any trouble with. Arthur's features softened again, seeming to understand, but Merlin knew that his prince could never really understand, not until he told the truth. Telling the truth scared him, and not because he thought Arthur would have him killed or tell his father, but because he thought Arthur might look at him differently. The fear of magic was so ingrained in Camelot and Arthur had grown up knowing nothing else and if Arthur hated him for this Merlin knew it would be the end of him.

"Then tell me," Arthur said simply and that was it.

The invitation was there and Merlin opened his mouth, but he just didn't know how to say it. He opened his mouth and shut it again, pausing to think of the right words. Seconds passed and he opened his mouth again, still unsure of what he was about to say, but knowing Arthur would press him for it in a moment. As he finally drew in a breath to speak, there was a banging on the door and Arthur looked away with an irritated frown.

"Sire," a voice came through the door, "your father, the King, requests your presence before the feast."

Merlin wasn't sure if he was relieved or as irritated as Arthur by the interruption; he was such a mess of emotions.

"We will continue this after we have paid host to these ignoble Barons," Arthur said, looking him in the eye once more. "I do not intend to let you go, Merlin, that is a promise."

All Merlin could do was nod.

====

The feast was, quite frankly, boring as the two Barons in court tried to out do each other with more and more outrageous stories of their gallant exploits. They had of course brought their daughters, who were being paraded in front of Arthur like prime beef, and Arthur was playing the dutiful Prince and taking notice of both sides. No doubt that was what Uther had wanted to talk to Arthur about, but it annoyed Merlin. It was Arthur's duty, but Merlin didn't have to like it.

Uther had changed a little since the whole questing beast fiasco. It had clearly driven home that Arthur was mortal, something Merlin would have expected a father to realise, but something, it seemed, about which Uther had needed reminding. Uther had been involving Arthur in many things far more lately, treating Arthur more as an equal than a son, but some things definitely hadn't changed. When it came to duty, Uther and Arthur were as bad as each other. Merlin was very much of the opinion that banging their heads together would not only be fun, but it might knock some sense into them as well.

The gathering was to do with trading routes and taxes and other boring things like that, at least that is what Merlin had gathered from Arthur's moans about how tedious it all was. Watching him from across the room, however, Merlin would never had known that Arthur was bored, well except for the fact that Arthur's eyes weren't sparkling in the slightest. Arthur wasn't even drinking that much, a sure sign this was all work and no play.

At least there was going to be some interesting entertainment at the feast. One of the Barons had brought along a troop of players and acrobats as a sort of gift to Uther and they were going to be performing. Merlin was looking forward to it and he hoped it would improve Arthur's mood; he wanted to have that conversation with Arthur as soon as possible and having Arthur in a bad mood to begin with would not be a good thing. In fact, Arthur in a bad mood might result with him in the dungeon for the night. The players would also, hopefully, take his mind off of that conversation for a while as well; thinking about it was making him nervous.

He knew well enough that Arthur would not betray him, but he had no way to know how Arthur would react beyond that. Arthur could be volatile and he didn't know if Arthur would understand his reasoning for remaining silent. They had been friends for quite a long time now and Merlin did not want that to change. He didn't think it would, but that was why they had to have this conversation first; just in case.

He loved Arthur, he was sure of that, but he could not let that kind of relationship be built on a lie.

Considering the thoughts that were running around his head, he was very glad when the players finally arrived. It started with one acrobat bouncing down between the tables and striking a pose. The tumbling was spectacular and gained everyone's attention and some heart felt oohs and ahs from the ladies present. Merlin found himself smiling despite where his thoughts had been.

"Our bold hero," a voice boomed from the hallway, "a brave and noble prince."

It was obvious where this was going right from the start, but Merlin was determined to enjoy it, even if it was all about sucking up to Uther. Arthur appeared amused if nothing else; the acrobat had a very bad blond wig.

As it turned out, the plot wasn't overly original, but the players were good. There was an evil dragon and an evil sorcerer and the handsome prince was tasked with rescuing the beautiful maiden from their clutches. There were streamers and smoke as the prince fought bravely to save the damsel and it was all quite exciting really, for a play that was. Having seen a real dragon, the fake one was a bit of a let down, but Merlin wasn't about to let anyone know about that.

Of course the prince slew the dragon and killed the evil sorcerer and rescued the girl to much cheering from everyone watching. Merlin would have clapped as well, except he was holding a jug of wine and remembered at the last second before he managed to throw it over anyone.

It was clear that the court was pleased, so as the players held their final positions, Uther stood. Then and only then did Merlin feel something strange.

"Well done, brave prince," Uther said, playing along with the actors, much to the courts delight, "you have defeated the evil and won your good lady."

The actor playing the prince smiled and bowed deeply, but Merlin found himself watching the fallen evil sorcerer. The man looked like an actor, was made up like an actor, but something was wrong and Merlin did not think the way the man looked at the king was acting. The damsel, who was actually a woman rather than a boy dressed up as a woman, moved from her prince's side and went to stand next to the downed sorcerer and then Merlin felt it; real power.

"The lady is mine," the supposedly fake sorcerer said and came to his feet in one smooth, unnatural move.

Uther clearly did not know how to take that, but Merlin realised he was the only one who knew that it was not some trick.

"Magic," he hissed at the person next to him, unwilling to shout it out himself, but knowing that, in Camelot, the whisper would pass quickly.

"I believe, Evil Sorcerer," Uther said, clearly still believing this to be part of the game, "that you are dead."

The man at the other end of the room just smiled.

"You will wish it were so," were the rather ominous words as the man brought up his hands to be matched by the woman and spoke words of power.

Merlin went completely cold as the guards and knights who came to attention at the threat were thrown backwards by a powerful wind conjured by the woman.

"Now your line ends, Pendragon," the male of the pair declared in a tone that would have made Merlin laugh if the man hadn't obviously had the power to back up the statement.

As the man called out a spell, one of the high windows burst inwards, glass shattering into lethal shards, and rather than falling, all of them flew directly at Arthur. Merlin didn't even think; he just reacted.

"No," he yelled at the top of his lungs and threw out his hand.

The shards came to a shuddering halt only inches from where Arthur was now on his feet, twitching in the air like small glass ornaments as two lots of magic tried to contain them. Merlin felt like he was prickling all over, as if the shards were touching his skin rather than his magic, but he refused to let them go. This was not the controlled magic he had been trying to perfect with the aid of the book, this was the raw power inside of him; the power that burned in his eyes. The whole court could see him, they all knew what he had to be, but he could not let Arthur die.

There was a stunned silence across the whole room as if the shock of what was happening held everyone as still as the magic holding the shards of glass. With bloody death so close to Arthur it was as if no one dared move.

"I will see them dead," the sorcerer all but growled, shattering the stillness with another whispered spell, and another window exploded.

This time shards flew at Uther, Morgana and Arthur and Merlin thrust out his other hand as well, throwing his magic in the way. This was the kind of magic that came most naturally to him, the instinctive use of the power within his veins, but it was not easy. He could feel the pressure of alien power against his own and it was hard to resist it. It felt like a hundred hands pressing against him as he held the glass in place.

"I won't let you hurt them," he said through gritted teeth, taking his eyes off the shards just long enough to send a glare at Camelot's enemies.

He knew his eyes had to be glowing bright gold with all the magic flowing through him and he wondered if he even looked human anymore. His mother had always told him that the change in him gave him an air of someone not quite mortal and that she found it beautiful, but others might find it frightening. He hoped the other sorcerers found it less than settling at least.

"Foolish child," the other man snarled; "you are no match for our power and these cattle would kill you for what you are."

Merlin felt the pressure build and he forced his magic to face it. They were both working against him now; he could feel it, but he dug into the same depths that had helped him defeat Nimueh and found that he was not yet lacking.

"I stand for Camelot," he ground out his reply, pushing a small burst of magic at the foreign sorcerers, knowing they would feel it.

He did not have much to spare as he used everything he had to keep Uther and his family safe and there was no chance of using another spell. When he allowed himself one glance at Arthur, his friend was looking at him, shock having morphed into something else and he wished he had time to explain, but it was too late for that now.

"Then you will die with them," was the ultimatum delivered by the woman.

A third window shattered to yet another spell and this time, not only did the shards fly towards the nobles, but at Merlin as well. It was hard to stop them with both the other sorcerers working against him, but he felt his magic flare to protect him as well as the others and he held. The sorcerer snarled as the pair was thwarted again and Merlin felt the magic being used against him swell in intensity. He had to put everything he had into fighting the death that hovered only inches away from himself and those also under attack.

Flicking his eyes over to Arthur he sent a silent plea; he needed help.

"Attack, you fools," Arthur all but bellowed, even as the deadly glass moved a fraction closer.

It was a diversionary move, Merlin knew that the pair of sorcerers had enough power to divert the guards and knights, but it was what he needed.

It was only a fleeting second, but as his enemy threw off the opposition once more, Merlin felt the force directed against him stutter and he threw everything he had at the crack in the magical armaments. He screamed a battle cry and pushed every last ounce of strength he had into repelling the deadly weapons. Some shards flared and melted, some shattered into elemental parts and some flew right back at the pair who had created them. Merlin did not have enough time to see what happened as all the energy in his body was channelled into the one need and he passed out before he could see the benefits of his handiwork.

====

For a moment Arthur just stood there dumbfounded and watched the two sorcerers fall to their own implements of death. Both were riddled with glass shards as they had intended him to be and neither moved when they fell. It had been quite amazing to watch and incredible to feel. The touch of magic had been unmistakable and he had no doubt he had just experienced the clash of some incredibly powerful magical energy. That was when his eyes turned back to Merlin and all he saw was an empty spot where Merlin had been standing. It took him a moment to realise that Merlin, beautiful, stupid, brave Merlin had not run, but was in fact lying in a heap on the ground.

Arthur did not hesitate then; disregarding what he might have been supposed to do, he went straight to Merlin's side.

"Get them out of here," he heard his father rage, and he heard the guards doing as they were told, but no one came near him and Merlin.

Merlin was sprawled where he had fallen and Arthur knelt down next to his friend. Unlike himself and the rest of his family, Merlin had not escaped unscathed. There was a long cut along one of Merlin's cheeks and a huge shard of glass was protruding from the flesh just below Merlin's right shoulder. It was just like Merlin to sacrifice himself to make sure others came out better than he and Arthur reached out gingerly to touch Merlin.

There were no signs of life in the body sprawled on the floor, no discernable movement, nothing to indicate that Merlin was not as dead as his foes. Only as Arthur's fingers touched the cold skin of Merlin's face did he feel the slightest breath on his hand and it was as if some of his own heat leeched into Merlin from the point of contact.

"Gaius," he said loudly, ignoring everything else and looking to the court physician for his help.

The way Gaius met his eyes told him all he needed to know as to whether Gaius had known of Merlin's abilities or not. There was fear in Gaius' expression, but it was not of Merlin, it was for Merlin. Arthur stood out of the way as Gaius sunk to his knees beside Merlin's still form and he waited until Gaius gave him one look. Only then did he turn to his father, knowing that he had to forestall the headsman's axe, no matter what else he did.

His thoughts were still spinning and part of him did not completely believe what he had seen, but things were beginning to slot into place in his mind. He knew one thing only for sure as his mind tried to contain the new reality and that was that he had to save Merlin.

"Arthur, you know what must be done," Uther said firmly as their gazes met; "you saw what he is capable of."

"What I saw was Merlin saving our lives, Father," Arthur replied, keeping the anger he was feeling just below the surface. "You would condemn him without a fair hearing?"

"The law is plain," Uther said, clearly unwilling to even remotely back down.

Then again, Arthur was not willing to give in either.

"The law is made by you," he pointed out, hoping that his father would see reason.

"He is far too dangerous," Uther snapped back, "he must be executed immediately."

That was it, Arthur had had enough, as the guards came forward he stood tall and looked his father straight in the eye.

"If you execute Merlin," he said very slowly and very clearly, "I will never speak to you again."

There was total silence through the whole court as Arthur and Uther stared at each other. For a moment he wasn't sure that his father believed him, but he meant every word and he let it show. It took long seconds, but Uther finally seemed to realise he was deadly serious and then his father looked at Gaius.

"He must be confined," Uther said and Arthur had the feeling he was missing something; "use the west tower and every means necessary."

"Yes, Sire," was all Gaius said.

Under Arthur's watchful eye and Gaius's guidance, two servants disappeared while Gaius did his best to stop the bleeding from Merlin's shoulder wound. When the two men returned they were carrying a large piece of wood that looked like a loose table top or something. Only once he had packed Merlin's wound did Gaius allow Merlin to be lifted and placed on the hastily made stretcher. No one did anything to interfere, but Arthur could feel the tension as everyone watched. All he was worried about was Merlin and he was not about to let Merlin out of his sight. He was all too aware that he was the only reason Merlin was still alive and he was not about to let some knight believe that in the best interests of Camelot Merlin should quietly die. Without even a glance at his father, he followed the makeshift litter out of the room to whatever was in the west tower.

The west tower was not part of the castle that was used very often. There were guest quarters at the bottom of it, but the top was shut off, supposedly storage rooms. Arthur had been told that some of his mother's things were stored up there and that his father had forbade anyone to go up there. It was the one boundary Arthur had never tried to push as a child, simply because it had always been clear to him how much pain remembering his mother caused his father. It was beginning to appear as if his father had used that knowledge to hide something else in the west tower as well.

He followed the men carrying Merlin up the stairs and towards a room he had never been into before. The room had ornate designs on the door and he watched as Gaius pulled a key from beneath his robes and put it in the sturdy lock. By the way the key turned easily in the lock, however, Arthur realised the door had not been left closed for long and, when the party walked in, it was clear the room was clean.

"What is this place, Gaius?" Arthur asked as the physician oversaw Merlin being carefully placed on the bed.

"A room created to shut out magic," Gaius replied, moving to Merlin's side as soon as Merlin had been laid out properly on the bed. "It is both a place of refuge for those under attack and a place where a sorcerer may be imprisoned."

There were strange designs over all the walls and Arthur could only assume they were the barriers that Gaius was suggesting were in place.

"And why do I not know about this place?" he asked, feeling once again that his father was keeping him in the dark about things he should not be.

"Because your father believes that such times where it is needed are past," Gaius replied, carefully peeling the blood-soaked clothing from around the wound in Merlin's shoulder, "and it reminds him too much of your mother, Sire."

That was a bit of a shock.

"My mother?" Arthur asked.

Usually his mother was only ever mentioned in hushed tones, but Gaius seemed distracted enough to actually talk to him; not that he didn't wish the distraction was something other than Merlin.

"He had this room created for her as a place of safety while she was with child," Gaius said, examining the damage done to Merlin. "There are only two keys and I oversee the room's cleaning once a month. Just be glad this room exists or your father would likely have sent Merlin to the headsman's block by now."

Gaius sounded agitated and Arthur decided that it would be best if he stopped asking questions for now.

"May I be of assistance?" he asked instead.

It was then that Gaius seemed to remember exactly who he was talking to.

"Thank you, Sire," Gaius said, recovering himself, "if you would send someone for my things, I must attend to Merlin's wound, and in that cabinet you will find a satchel, if you would be so kind as to bring it over here."

Firstly, Arthur sent one of the hovering servants to fetch the things Gaius needed and then he went to the indicated piece of furniture. When he picked up that satchel it was relatively heavy and he brought it to where Gaius was waiting. The ties on the bag were waxed and sealed shut and it was clear it was not new wax; whatever was inside had not seen the light of day for years.

"If you would be so kind as to break the seal, Sire," Gaius said, still carefully dealing with Merlin, "and place what is inside on the table; we will need them later."

Without asking stupid questions, even though he had a thousand of them, Arthur did as he was asked and what was inside the bag was not what he expected at all. He pulled out the first of three wrapped packages, all in soft red cloth and he opened it to find an arm brace, only it was like none he had ever seen. Where most were plain or lightly decorated, this one was covered in carvings and edged with gold. It did not appear remotely practical and the designs did not seem to be picturing anything specific. Some of the engraving looked almost like writing, but it was no script he recognised.

Knowing that Gaius was busy, he waited to ask what he was looking at and instead, opened the other two packages as well. There was a second brace and a collar, almost as delicate as jewellery, but not quite. All three had similar designs on them, but even the braces were not quite the same and Arthur had the distinct impression that the items had a purpose that he could not divine. He had no idea why Gaius needed them, but he suspected it had something to do with magic.

Gaius' supplies soon arrived and then Arthur made himself busy helping the physician remove the glass from Merlin's wound and to bind it, as well as cleaning all the small cuts and scrapes that also seemed to be on Merlin's person. Where no injury had come to him or Morgana or his father, it was clear Merlin had not been so careful with himself.

"He is as comfortable as I can make him," Gaius finally announced and looked over to where Arthur had laid out the braces and the collar, "now we must use the bindings."

The expression on Gaius' face and the tone of the old man's voice did not fill Arthur with any liking for the strange ornaments.

"What are they for?" he asked, walking over and picking them up, returning to Gaius' side.

"They are a way to shut a sorcerer off from magic completely," Gaius said, taking the first brace from him. "They were designed to make safe an enemy so they could be brought to trial. No man or woman wearing them can perform magic of any sort."

It sounded like something a kingdom overrun with magic would need, but Arthur had trouble imagining it. He had only ever seen sorcery dealt with one way and most of those wretches would never have needed such binding anyway. Of course it did explain why the bag had been sealed for so long.

"They were created by Nimueh at the behest of your father," Gaius said even though Arthur had not asked; "when sorcery was prevalent. I assisted in their creation and saw them used only once. No sorcerer of power has lived long enough to need them since."

Arthur liked the things even less the more he heard about them, and he could see the reluctance in Gaius as the man lifted one of Merlin's wrists and placed it in the first brace. So far Merlin had made little movement, only reacting slightly to Gaius' ministrations, but Arthur heard Merlin whimper quietly when the brace was snapped closed.

"I am sorry, My Boy," Gaius said gently, smoothing the hair from Merlin's forehead, "but it must be done."

Almost the moment the brace was closed, Arthur saw a change in Merlin. He had seen many men wounded and drifting just under consciousness as Merlin had been, but when the first brace was put in place it was almost as if life flowed out of Merlin completely. Merlin's features relaxed totally and any tension just flowed out of him and Arthur didn't like it at all.

The second brace went on and this time there was no sign Merlin knew anything was being done at all.

"Gaius, what is happening to him?" Arthur asked, afraid that they were doing something terrible.

"Merlin is not just a sorcerer, Sire," Gaius said, picking up the third and final binding; "he is magic. I have met no other man or woman like him. These are the ultimate imprisonment for one such as he; I cannot begin to guess what they are doing to him."

"Then we must take them off," Arthur said, ready to remove them himself.

Gaius looked at him them, full of sorrow and worry.

"And your father will have Merlin executed," Gaius pointed out simply. "We must do as the king wishes for any chance to save him."

It felt so wrong and Arthur couldn't even explain to himself why. He knew so little about magic, other than that he was supposed to wipe it out at every opportunity, but he was beginning to think that was wrong.

"If you would be so good, Sire," Gaius said and Arthur moved, albeit reluctantly, to help the physician place the collar around Merlin's neck.

Merlin had to be bound or he would be killed, it was that simple, but Arthur wished it was not so.

====

Arthur walked into his father's presence and knew it was not going to be a pleasant meeting, which was why he stood in front of Gaius.

"Well, is the sorcerer awake yet?" Uther snapped almost immediately. "What does he have to say for himself?"

"Merlin is deeply unconscious, Sire," Gaius said before Arthur could stop the man speaking; "I do not believe he will wake for some time."

That didn't please Uther any more than everything else seemed to have.

"Arthur," his father rounded on him, "did you know about this?"

"Of course not," Arthur replied, affronted by the suggestion; if he had known he was completely sure he would not have let Merlin stay in such danger, but he was not about to tell his father that.

"And you, Gaius?" Uther snapped.

Arthur prayed for the physician to lie, but he should have known that was not what Gaius would do and when Gaius looked at the floor he knew what was coming.

"I did, Sire," was the short reply.

"Treachery," Uther hissed and Arthur knew he had to do something before Gaius ended up in as much trouble as Merlin.

"Father," he said, stepping into Uther's line of sight, "Merlin saved our lives today at almost the cost of his own; that is not treachery. Never once has he failed to come to my aid; that must count for something."

His father's gaze was full of fury and he knew that there was little rationality in the king when it came to magic, but Arthur was not going to let Uther win this one.

"I ask only two things," he said, knowing that he had to head this off before he found himself in the dungeon listening to Gaius and Merlin being executed outside, "that Merlin be given a fair hearing. He revealed himself to save us and he deserves the chance to defend himself. And secondly that you do not condemn Gaius for keeping safe the only family he has here. Think for a moment what you would do for me. There is no one you have trusted more and Gaius has only ever made this one mistake."

He held himself tall and looked his father directly in the eyes as he asked, son to father and prince to king. Given how his father usually reacted to magic he was doubtful he would be successful, but he had to try.

"Merlin is contained, Sire," Gaius said, voice low and eyes still cast to the floor; "he is in the tower room and wears the bindings even now."

Uther looked at them both then and turned away, making a low growling noise.

"Be gone from here," Uther said without looking back at them; "I will discuss it no more."

And that was it; they were dismissed. Arthur was not sure what that meant, but it was better than hearing his father order the execution of two people he now considered friends.

====

Arthur wanted to go back to Merlin, but he knew eyes would be watching him to see what was going on, so he let Gaius go back and he walked towards his room. He wasn't overly surprised to find Morgana sitting there waiting for him with Gwen by her side.

"Well?" Morgana asked, standing up as soon as he entered the room.

"He's alive," Arthur said, feeling exhausted by the whole thing and going to sit on the bed.

"And?" Morgana pushed, because that was what Morgana always did and Arthur found the annoyance he felt rather refreshing.

As least he could still manage that.

"And I don't know," Arthur replied and let a bit of his exasperation show; a bit of normality through the strain. "There is a room in the west tower, a room that shuts out magic; that's where Merlin is. He had been bound further with what Gaius called bindings; I have never seen them before, but they shut out magic completely. That is all I know."

"And his wound?" Gwen asked in a hesitant tone.

With everything else going on, Arthur had almost forgotten about that.

"Deep, but not dangerous, I believe," Arthur replied in a much less terse tone; it was impossible to be nasty to Gwen; "Gaius did not seem worried about that."

Gwen at least looked comforted by that.

Morgana walked over to him and sat down.

"What about your father?" she asked, clearly treading very lightly for a change.

"He is allowing Merlin's confinement for now," Arthur said, trying to sound sure of himself, "and I do not see why that should change."

He did not want to upset either of the women, but it was clear Morgana saw straight through him.

"But this is Uther we're talking about," she said blackly, "and Merlin is a sorcerer."

No one said anything for some time.

"I never suspected," Gwen finally broke the silence, "well not really. There was that time in Ealdor. It does rather explain some odd things though."

"Like friendly, hovering balls of light," Arthur commented and then realised both women were looking at him rather oddly.

"Are you going to explain that?" Morgana asked him, crossing her arms and giving him a look.

It would have been fun to refuse and frustrate her, but Arthur didn't really think that any of them were in the mood for childish games.

"When I went for the flower," he said with a shrug; "I didn't find my way out myself, a ball of blue light led the way. It felt familiar at the time and I think it must have been Merlin."

"But he was unconscious the entire time," Gwen pointed out.

"When has something like that ever stopped him getting his own way?" Arthur replied and for the first time since the feast managed to raise a smile.

He shook his head; it was still hard to believe the power he had felt coming from his manservant; his inept and slightly idiotic manservant at that. Of course, given what he knew now he was beginning to think maybe all of Camelot was soft in the head, not Merlin.

"He was magnificent today, wasn't he?" he heard Morgana say and it surprised him; Morgana was not usually taken with such fancy.

"I've never seen anything like it," Gwen admitted with a small nod; "or felt it; all the hairs on my arms stood up."

"I had no idea such things were possible," Morgana added and Arthur suspected she and Gwen gossiped like this quite a lot of the time since it felt like a habit, "I mean I've heard the stories, but to actually see it. There had to have been thousands of glass shards just hanging in the air."

"Pretty if they hadn't been for such a dark purpose," Gwen agreed and Arthur was not sure if they remembered he was there.

"Will we be allowed to visit him?" Morgana asked, suddenly snapping back to him so fast that Arthur had to let his thoughts catch up.

Uther had not forbidden it, but Arthur did not think it was likely to be a wise move.

"Better that you didn't try," he said, thinking it through; "we do not want to anger the king. The less he has to rage about the better."

Morgana looked as if she wanted to argue, but couldn't fault his logic.

"You're not going to let that stop you though, are you?" she pushed just a little.

"Of course not," was his vehement reply.

Until his father stood there and ordered him not to see Merlin nothing was going to prevent him.

"Good," Morgana decided with a firm nod, "then we will just have to give you things for him. We can't have him believing those of us out here have forgotten him."

When Morgana said things in such a tone it was pointless to argue, and in this case Arthur actually agreed.

"If you insist," he replied, since it was also not a good idea to give in too easily.

On to Part 2
Tags: category: slash, ch_story: to you i pledge, fandom: merlin, ficfest: big bang, fictype: 30kwds up, fictype: chaptered, genre: fantasy, pairing: me - merlin/arthur, rating: r to nc17
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