hurricanepixie (hurricanepixie) wrote,
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hurricanepixie

Hearts are not as a gift, but hearts are earned; Merlin Fic (2/3)

Title: Hearts are not had as a gift, but hearts are earned (2/3)
Authors: mydoctortennant
Pairings/Characters: Arthur/Gwen, slight Merlin/Morgana, Agravaine, Elyan, Gwaine, Leon, Percy, Gaius, The Dragon.
Warnings: Spoilers up to 4x09, AU after that, with no knowledge whatsoever of future episodes.
Disclaimer: Not real. Despite birthday wishes and night time prayers to Santa (all Hail Amy Pond!) Merlin still isn't mine!
Rating: PG13
Summary: With Gwen gone from Camelot, Merlin wil rest at nothing to soothe the niggling feeling that something was wrong. Very wrong.
Author Notes: Beta'd by my wonderful Wifey, sgmajorshipper who I sync watched 4x09 with, we broke together on our first time sync-watching - heartbreaking.
I wrote this because I was broken after 4x09, though 4x10 did ease that pain, this and the two short sequels which will eventually lead into a bigger story that is yet to be start but will be shortly. I've not read any spoilers for forthcoming episodes so I would be incredibly grateful if nobody discussed any in the comments. It's been eleven months hard work to be thrown away now! I was a little wary about posting because of it but I had to before it was all resolved really...
The title is from the poem "A Prayer for my Daughter" by W.B.Yeats which you can read here.
I just wanted to add a massive thank you to everybody who has responded to this story, it had been amazing, both on LJ and ff.net, it's genuinely been an amazing few days of such wonderful comments, thank you all so much!
Part One

PART TWO
PART TWO

Guinevere packed her belongings back together. With the permission of Mary and John she left the majority of her things with them. She didn’t want to be weighed down on her journey. She needed to be quick if she was to help at all.

The crystal she held in her hand was showing her the way. She held it up in front of her face one more time and it had started to tug in the direction back towards Camelot. Whether it was taking her to Arthur, Morgana or somewhere completely different, she was unsure; all she knew was she had to follow it.

She took a sword with her, a spare tunic and some food supplies but little else. She needed to right her wrongs.

X

Busying himself with council proceedings did nothing to help Arthur’s fowl moods. He gave no time to charity events or mindless tasks. He trained with his men; he saw to official proceedings and spent the rest of his time on his own. Merlin tried to keep within his company the majority of the time but he often sent him away.

It had been several days since the knights had located Morgana but Agravaine had not ridden out to her since. They were waiting with horses ready every night to follow him but if he wasn’t with Arthur he was overseeing events that Arthur was paying no heed to. Every day, it seemed that Arthur was becoming more like his father, his heart cold and unopened.

“Have you heard from her?” he asked Merlin one day, to the sorcerer’s surprise. Within prompting from others, Arthur hadn’t spoken of Gwen since she’d left. Merlin nodded.

“Not for some time, but she wrote me last week to say she was staying with Mary and John. She will be moving onto Ealdor soon. I’m sure I’ll hear from my mother any day now to say that she has arrived safely.”

“Good,” was all he had to say in return.

In truth, Merlin was starting to worry. Gwen should have been with his mother by now. She was merely stopping over with her old friends; at least, that was what she had said in her letter.

A knock came at the King’s door. Merlin’s ear’s pricked up, he was becoming used to recognising important information that he would need to relay to other’s later. Arthur had a habit of forgetting the details at times.

“Enter.”

“My lord,” it was Leon, he spared a look to Merlin and gave him a brief nod. It was time. “We have reason to believe we have found Morgana’s lair.”

“Then we must ride out right away,” Arthur concluded near immediately. It pleased Merlin. Throw himself into work, into a plan that they had wanted to work in their favour.

Perhaps Arthur was starting to see sense, or maybe he wanted it out of Morgana himself. That or he just wanted to halt her plans. She had already brought so many unwelcomed experiences into his life.

X

Having borrowed a horse from Mary and John, Gwen followed the crystal at a canter for most of the day. She stopped occasionally to allow the horse to drink but she kept going. After a while she realised that it wasn’t taking her towards Camelot. She hoped that she was riding for Morgana.

It crossed her mind several times that the woman could have been leading her into a trap. But she was already gone from Camelot, what harm was she to anybody now? She had no position and never would.

By the time the crystal had stopped moving, she was ten metres from a door to a hovel, and it was dark. Gwen had taken cover behind a few trees and their branches and waited to see if anybody would come by. For hours she waited but late into the evening she heard hoof beats. Branches snapped beneath the feet of the horse, closely followed by the feet of a man who disembarked it. Gwen moved forwards to try and catch a glimpse of the man’s face, she couldn’t be sure, but she was fairly self-certain that it was Agravaine. Everything about him was familiar.

He didn’t stay long, five minutes at a maximum. He emerged from the house and sure enough she had been right. It was him. She scowled. Why would he do such a thing?

He left quickly, the horse trotted up the bank towards Camelot.

Morgana looked around, Gwen quickly hid back down into the branches .She felt a hand on her shoulder. Menacing, too close to her neck to be friendly and too tight to be safe. “You made a grave mistake returning here, Guinevere.” The man said, hauling her too her feet and dragging her down the embankment towards Morgana would was smiling wryly.

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t the Queen of Camelot,” she ran her finger across her old maid’s cheek, she flinched away, “Oh, I’m sorry. For that’s not your title, is it?”

“What do you want from me?”

“Come now, Gwen, why so hostile?”

“I lost everything I had because of you.”

“Was it me though? Was it not your inner desires getting as they wished?” Gwen pulled forwards away from Agravaine and lunged towards Morgana but the older man was stronger than she’d anticipated and hauled her back away from her.

“Take her inside.”

He did as he was told. Morgana looked around the forest, making sure there weren’t any other figures hiding in the woods. When she was certain she was alone, she made her way back inside the hovel she refused to call home.

X

They made good speed, with Leon and Elyan leading the pack, having been the ones to find Morgana the first night. They hadn’t time to check that there were no tracks leading away from the place. Even if Agravaine wasn’t there, finding Morgana played a large part of their plan. She was still so adamant at bringing Arthur to his knees so doing likewise to her before she could initiate her next plot would be an added bonus.

They didn’t stop until they were at the site. They dismounted and tethered their horses a good fifty metres from the decline. Merlin knew the area; he’d been here twice now though the first time he barely remembered. He hadn’t thought to bring his disguise with him, should the occasion rise. It had all happened too fast for him to think about it.

He allowed the two knights to lead him to the clearing that served as Morgana’s entrance.

There were voices. Two females voices, both of which Merlin and all of the knights recognised straight away. The servant tried to catch a glimpse of his master’s expression but couldn’t see him clearly enough. He saw the side of his jaw clench and could only imagine that his face was otherwise blank, not wanting to show a shred of emotion.

Gwaine made to move but Percival pulled him back down to the ground. They knew Morgana’s power was more than enough to take one of them down at a time, maybe all of them at once. They had to time this perfectly.

Arthur remained quiet after they had moved away. He took off his gloves and warmed his hands rubbing them together. Merlin approached him, “None of you seem surprised to see my uncle here.” Merlin didn’t know what to say so shook his head. Arthur was barely looking at him and took his silence as a vow of agreement. “And Guinevere? Did you know she would be here?”

“No, sire.”

“Don’t lie to me, Merlin.”

“I would never lie to you.”

“What Gwen said, is it true? Was it Morgana?” Merlin nodded. The King was blank still. He walked off them, leaving Merlin and the knights together to think of what came next.

He found himself somewhere dry to sit a stone’s throw from his men, turning his back on them. He played with gloves in his hands. For days he hadn’t shed a tear. He’d felt like it but hadn’t wanted to give the traitor the satisfaction. But now? With the questions in the forefront of his mind he didn’t know what to believe. And his Uncle, so long he had questioned his loyalty yet he hadn’t wanted it to be true so ignored it in favour of finding another answer. But then here he was being made a fool, again. The man who had told him to kill his own betrothed for her actions; the man who had tried to stop him from marrying her was in league with his biggest enemy, had a hand in tearing his heart from his chest and ripping it to shreds. If only he had acted on his suspicions sooner, chances were he would have found Morgana before now. He would have been married to the only woman he had ever loved.

In anger he threw his leather gloves to the ground. He wanted to trust them but he’d never been able to believe a word anyone said to him from now on. Everybody lied to him. He wouldn’t have been surprised if Merlin did too.

He rubbed his face and exhaled into his hands.

Regardless of his feelings, he couldn’t let Morgana hurt another person. He couldn’t let her get the better of him again. Hurt though he may be, he still loved Guinevere, there was nothing in him that could allow his sister harm her. He hadn’t been able to do it himself. He’d rather send her away and carry on living knowing she was off elsewhere moving on than kill her.

He still loved her. That in itself was not a revelation. The fact that dawned on him following that thought was; he wanted her back.

He stood quickly and marched back to camp. With his sword in his belt he went straight past the other knights, without thought and straight down towards Morgana’s hovel. The moment they realised what he was doing, each of the knights were grabbing their swords and running after him.

If they weren’t so close to the door, Merlin would have questioned what he was doing. It wasn’t sane to just go storming into the hideout of the enemy who had power enough to kill you with one thought.

The look of steely determination on the King’s face was enough to tell anybody not to question him. There may not be an exact plan in place, but something along the lines of winning wouldn’t go a miss.

Opening the door was easy, it wasn’t bolted in any way, the group of them walked in weapons held high.

They were greeted with a sight that they had anticipated. Gwen’s feet were tied with rope, he hands clasped with chains to one of the chairs whilst Morgana and Agravaine stood by her. When the surprise came of the half dozen men, Morgana turned on her heel and smirked before raising her hand. In one fellow swoop she sent Elyan flying backwards. Agravaine was shocked. Arthur was on him in a shot, his fist connecting cleanly with his jaw and sprawling him backward. Morgana grabbed her own weapon but proceeded to bring her possessions down on them from the shelves. The knights were blocking attacks from all angles before Gwaine managed to get forward enough to send a blow of his own at her.

Merlin moved back, shielding himself with the shelves. Using his own powers he sent Morgana flying back against the wall, it wasn’t a long enough flight to knock her out but it knocked her for six and disoriented her long enough for the knights to be on her, pining her and tying her with anything they could find.

The sorcerer could have sworn her heard a laugh shortly before he saw her eyes glow and the knights around her all flinched back like they’d been burned. She stood, the ties dropping from her. One flick of her hand and her eyes shone amber again and they all started heaving like they were choking on something when all there was was air.

Merlin quickly countered it; they were all on the floor heaving for breath.

Confused, Morgana set about causing them further pain, only to be halted by an unseen force.

Arthur stood opposite his uncle. He had a dangerous look in his eye.

Gwen sat there and looked up at him nervously but he didn’t look at her.

“I knew it was you. I knew you were a traitor.” He raised his sword and moved to swing it at his opponent. The man swiped a block but Arthur followed it blow by blow. He wasn’t stopping, wasn’t yielding to his uncle’s pleads. “You don’t have the right to ask for my forgiveness. I thought you were helping me.”

“I was helping you.”

“By turning your back on me? By plotting against me with her? Have you ever told me the truth?” Agravaine opened his mouth to answer but Arthur didn’t allow him to answer, “Was the fact that my father had died not enough that you had to try and bring me down and ruin every aspect of my life whilst you were at it? Not enough to take the throne, but ruin my marriage too?”

“Technically, you weren’t married.”

“You never approved.”

“Your people would think you a joke, Arthur.”

“Less of a joke to stand up for what you believe in than to marry the woman you love, no matter who they are.” Out of the corner of his eye he saw Gwen turned away from his a small smile on her face. “You made a fool of me, Uncle. Time and time again. Not anymore. Nobody deserves that. It doesn’t even make sense. To try and destroy the last thing that remains of your sister to help the bastard child of the man you hated. It would make sense to help me. But not her.”

“What are you going to do? Kill me?”

“I should. Isn’t that what my father would have done? Executed traitors?”

Behind them, Morgana had turned her attentions on the serving boy who had, thus far, stayed out of her way. “You think you can hide, Merlin.” She drawled, “Pathetic. You couldn’t even kill the King properly.”

“Neither could you.”

“I think you’ll find I succeeded in killing one of you.”
X


“You’re weak, Arthur. You allow people to walk all over you. Allow them to make a fool of you. You are blinded by your love and faith in people to see what really lies behind their eyes. I am not the only one who betrayed you in recent times. Guinev-“

“Leave her out of this. You know fully well the true circumstance of the situation.”

“The emotions were already there.”

“Buried. Buried in a distance memory of a man I knew years ago. Ever since he left years ago I have never thought of him in that way.” Gwen argued, her back on Agravaine, but she could see Arthur looking down at her. “I’ve spent the last three years waiting for the day that I could finally call myself Arthur’s Queen. One more day and you ruined that. You and Morgana.” She spared a look up to Arthur who was still looking at her. “I love you. Only you.”

Arthur acknowledged her with a small smile but turned his attentions quickly on his traitorous Uncle, “Give me one good reason not to run you through where you stand?”

“I’m family.” He said with hesitating, a hint of laughter laced in his voice.

“That didn’t stop you killing my father.”

“The performer killed your father.”

“He was recovering. The pair of you, together.”

“It was the sorcerer. It was he who conjured the spells that killed him on your word. Your actions killed your father.”

“He was already dying. You plot against your king. Both of them, for that you will pay the price.”

“Arthur, no.” the voice in his ear was Guinevere.

“This man is a traitor to Camelot.”

“Then take him back to Camelot, show him for what he is worth. If he dies at your hand you will forever feel guilty and question yourself. You must take the evidence, Arthur, we know where it all points. We know what he has done. He tells you to make an example to the people. Let him be made an example of.” She held his gaze. There was a day when she would have looked away from him, stepped back over her words, apologised for speaking out of turn. But this was who he wanted her to be, to advise him, to give him assurance that what he was doing was right and to tell him when she thought him wrong. “Do not think of what he had done to you. Think of what it meant for the kingdom. They deserve to know the truth.”

“He will not come willingly.”

“He does not need to. What is a man against four of Camelot finest knights, the King and a useless servant?”

A bitter laugh came from behind him. “You keep your back turned for too long, Arthur.” He turned to face her. In her arms she had Merlin, a knife to his throat. On the floor were his three remaining knights since Morgana had taken Elyan out on first blow. Each of them were unconscious from lack of oxygen coming into their lungs. “I think you’ll find it’s I who am calling the shots.”

“Let him go, Morgana.”

“Or what, brother?”

“Arthur!” Gwen’s cry alerted him to the oncoming attack from his uncle. He dodged it and knocked the man to the floor with ease. He took his sword to the chains about Gwen’s wrists and they fell loose, allowing her to get her hands free. She untied the knots quickly at her feet and scrambled forwards, taking Agravaine’s sword from him and keeping it pointed to his neck. “Don’t try anything.” She warned.

Morgana laughed once more.

“The pitiful thing is you still think you can beat me.” She pressed the blade more firmly to Merlin’s throat; he was scared to swallow should he cut himself. “How about a deal, Arthur. I let Merlin here go free and you stay.”

“Merlin and Guinevere and you’ve got yourself a deal.”

“Even after what she did to you, you are willing to let her live. I’m impressed, before you would have made her suffer as you did. You’re growing up.”

“You’re the one that’s going to pay Morgana. Not her.”

She let Merlin go, “Go.” She ordered him but he stood, reluctant to leave Arthur alone with her. “Leave now, Merlin, or I will kill you both and make him watch whilst I do.”

“Merlin go, take Guinevere with you.”

“Arthur-“

“GO. That’s an order.” He could feel Gwen’s eyes on him but he couldn’t look at her still, “Both of you.”

“I won’t leave you her with her,” she told him determinedly.

“Go with Merlin, take the knights and get out here.” He pushed her towards Merlin, not giving her any more choice. Morgana, true to her word, released her hold on the knights and allowed them, aided by Gwen and Merlin to be escorted from the hut. Once his back was safely on Arthur, Merlin allowed himself to think of the only thing he could to help him.

“And then there were two.”

“Ignoring our dear uncle on the floor.” Arthur said casting the man a disdainful look.

Morgana laughed, “He has failed me quite enough for one life time.” She said, her eyes turning amber before Arthur could stop her, the man now limp on the floor. The life was quickly leaving his eyes.

“You didn’t have to do that.”

“He died traitor and a failure, it would have been crueller for him to live. I, of course, should I fail today, will have to find another person to be my eyes and ears within the castle. Maybe Merlin; or maybe Gwen, for she has already betrayed you the once, it wouldn’t be hard to sway her again.”

“You’ll do best to stay away from my people. Come near them again and I will kill you.”

“No, Arthur, you won’t. We both know you’re too noble to kill your own blood. You don’t care for me but you do care for honour. The knight’s code, personal glory. Yet you allow yourself to made a fool by a girl. A maid at that.” She taunted, stepping over the dead body of their uncle, “Was she worth it, Arthur? Was she worth the hurt?”

“Guinevere will always be worth more than you. There is nothing but evil in your heart, where once it was good, only filled with good intentions but now your heart is black as the night.”

“Rather poetic of you, Arthur. Some might think the girl has made you weak. I can see it in your eyes; you still carry a torch for her, you’ve forgiven her for what she did.”

“What you did. Guinevere would never betray me that way.”

“But she did. All I did was a little coaxing. The feelings were there, she was just doing a very good job at ignoring them. Rather sweet, and problematic for me, but I overcame it. It goes to show even the nicest and most decent of humans can be turned into liars.”

“Says Morgana, the true example of her own words. What happened to you? You used to fight for the rights of others, for their lives. So many times did I help you in defying my father to save another. Yet here you are, murderer of people. Ruiner of lives.”

“So melodramatic, brother, or had you forgotten? You like to ignore the fact that you father was the worst liar of them all. For so long he told you lie after lie, your whole childhood shrouded in them, mine also. My father died in battle, so I was led to believe. And you wonder why I wanted revenge on our father. Killing him was the best thing I ever did.”

That was enough to make Arthur swing at her. She raised her hand, expecting to send her brother flying backwards, but the spell backfired, sending her backwards through the air into her own shelving unit. She fell to the floor, out cold.

Arthur took the opportunity to run.

X

He wasn’t surprised to find the group of his men still loitering waiting for him to return. It wasn’t often that any of them would actually follow any of his orders in these situations. Without even thinking, once he rejoined the group he embraced Guinevere, who was more than thankful to see him, running her fingers through the hair at the nape of his neck.

Even on remembering himself he didn’t let her go too soon or too harshly. He was happy to be alive, and he was sure she was too.

“We should return to Camelot.”

“What about Agravaine?” Merlin asked him as they began to untie their horses in favour of riding for home.

“Dead. She killed him. He was no longer of use to her, so she killed him.”

Merlin couldn’t help but think of how she had done the same thing to the shade of Lancelot. Once she had achieved as she had set out to and his use was done, she had him kill himself before the truth could come out. It was a near fool-proof plan, but Merlin was no fool (most of the time).

“I’m sorry, Arthur. I know you trusted him.”

“And I was wrong too. I should have believed you from the start. Now we should get out of here before Morgana comes round. Whatever spell she was going to try on me backfired, and it might not last for long.”

Merlin sighed, happy that the spell he had cast on her had worked in their favour. Whatever she had cast on Arthur would be done to her instead, if she had attempted to kill him, she would be dead.

X

A quiet knock came to his chamber door. Arthur stood in his window looking down over the people in the courtyard. They gathered in wait for his verdict. Since his return with Guinevere in tow there had been mass speculation as to where their relationship would be going. Would he accept her back into his life, or would she merely be back in Camelot a maid in the royal household. “Come.” He spoke out, knowing it would be the one who invaded all his thoughts. Everything led back to her.

“You wanted to see me, sire.”

“Yes, Guinevere.” He gestured for her to come inside and she shut the door behind her. They stood in an awkward silence for a long while. He didn’t know how to start and she didn’t feel like she had the right to. “I wanted to know what you were doing at Morgana’s hut, how you found it?”

“When I with Mary and John I met this woman. She told me what Morgana had done and gave me a crystal, told me to follow it. She told me that without me you would die and that you needed my help in your battle against her. As it turned out you saved me from her, you saved my life again and for that I am eternally grateful. You could have left me to die. It’s what I deserved.”

He shook his head. “You do not deserve to die, Guinevere. My uncle may have told me as such but as it is, it was also down to him that you were presented to me in this way.” Arthur paused in his speech to take in the image of her before him. She was back in one of her usual dresses. One she had made with cloth gifted to her by Arthur himself. Intricate flowers embroidered into the hems, a brown belt attached about her hips. Every part of her was a reminder of what they had had. “You must understand Guinevere, that just because I have allowed you to return to Camelot that it means that we can go back to where we were.” She went to reply to him but he held up his hand to silence her, she obliged, “What you did, even though endured through magic, it was the ounce of truth in it that made it hurt so much. I know once you carried a torch for him, no matter how long ago. I can forgive you; I did long before I knew of the true means of the situation, but I don’t ever know if I’ll ever be able trust you again.”

“I understand.” She bowed her head and made to leave.

“No, Guinevere, you don’t.” She was confused, her brow knitted, “Despite all that, the time I spent without you- I missed you. No matter how else I feel I will always love you. We may not be able to go to where we were, but my suggestion is this: we try.” She was speechless, “The people may think me crazy, but there has never been another for me, Guinevere. Your actions were not your own and that will be explained, but I cannot go back to that. In time, maybe. Fictional though it may have been, there is a part of me now that will always suspect the worst. Not just in you, in everybody. But the last few days, I have not been myself. It has felt as though a part of me is missing and that part of me is you. I cannot be without you, Guinevere. Part of me wishes it wasn’t so, but the rest of me, the part that never hated you, it knows that you make me a better man. I was lost without you.”

She stood in silence once he had finished, tear tracks down her cheeks. She wiped them away. He had seen her cry enough times in the last days to know that she was sorry. Yet she did not feel that she had a right to cry, herself it may not have been, but the image of her had been what had caused his pain and for that she could scarcely forgive herself.

She tried her hardest to formulate words, after a few false starts she managed to string words together, “I am sorry, Arthur. With every ounce of my being, my heart, my soul, I give everything to you. Everything felt so real when it was happening, but part of me knew something was wrong. The back of my mind screaming at me, telling me that it wasn’t me, but I couldn’t control myself. Knowing those feelings were once there, it made it all the harder to ignore them. I do not trust myself. But I never wanted to ever hurt you. You’re the one I love Arthur. You. I loved him once, long ago, but never whilst I ever thought I had a future with you. I understand that things may never go back to how they were, but as long as I have you in my life, I’ll be happy with that.” She managed a small smile but felt like crying on the inside. She much she had wanted for him to take her in his arms and kiss her on the forehead, to tell her to was all okay. They could work through it but she knew that was so unlikely, “I should get back to work.”

She moved off towards the door and paused for a moment before pulling it open. She did not wish to cry again. Composing herself she pushed down on the door handle but the sound of his voice stopped her in her tracks.

“Guinevere?” She couldn’t turn back to look at him but did not move, “I want to be angry with you. I want to make you hurt as much as I did. I did want to. Maybe I should still, but I don’t. They say love conquers all. And no matter what else I’m feeling, it’s my love for you that wins over them.”

“What are you saying, Arthur?” she asked him, her voice cracking over her words. She was confused and hopeful and so full of questions.

“Everybody deserves a second chance. Especially when it wasn’t their fault. I love you, Guinevere,” he reached towards her hand, running his thumb over the back of it, “And I can’t live without you.”

He gently pushed a stray curl behind her ear. She couldn’t say a word; they stuck in her throat with her breath. All anger he had had behind his eyes was gone with only affection in its place. A look she had feared she would never get again.

“Take it slowly, let me prove myself to you.” She said, enclosing her fingers tightly around his.

“We’ve taken it slowly for three years, Guinevere, I can’t go back to that. I rather liked being able to walk about the castle with arm in mine, being able to kiss you without worrying about who would see us.”

“But the people, what would they think?”

“I don’t care. I’ll explain everything to them. They can know that I’m forgiving you for what you didn’t do. They can accept that their King has made a choice and they will stick by me. The people love you, Guinevere, more so than they do me, I’m sure.” They both shared a light laugh, “If I can forgive, they can.” She still looked unsure. He could understand her questions, they had all passed through his own mind, but damn them, “We can prolong our engagement. We can show them all what you’re made of and how happy you make me. Besides, somebody needs to judge all these county shows; I cannot face another pumpkin competition or whatever drivel Merlin signs me up for.”

“That would be punishment enough,” she said through tears that had fallen.

“You needn’t cry, Guinevere.”

“These are happy tears, I assure you, Arthur.” He smiled at her and pulled her into him, wrapping his arms around her. He pressed a firm kiss to her forehead. She smiled into his chest, knowing she was back where she belonged.

With a questioning frown, Arthur pulled on the cord that was still around her neck, pendant under her dress. When he caught a glimpse of the simple band, he took the cord from around her neck and broke it. He dropped the ring into his larger hand and took her left, slipping it back onto her finger. She was busy looking down at her finger, running her thumb over the metal, warmed from its continual contact with her skin. He gently tucked his finger under her chin to make her look at him. He kissed her firmly on the lips.

Her arms looped around his neck, treasuring every point of contact, and making herself as flush as she could to his being, never wanting to let him go. Bringing his arms around her back, he settled her against him.

The door opened, Merlin entered without knocking and nearly walking straight into the pair of them. He caught the look on Arthur face and smiled broadly before quickly disappearing out of the room again. He kept smiling as he walked down the corridor.

“What’s made you so happy?” Leon asked him as he saw the servant. “Arthur run out of jobs for you to do?”

“If you’re after Arthur, I would leave him for a moment.” He grinned and carried on towards the kitchens.
Leon laughed at him but continued on to Arthur’s chambers. Unlike his warning bearer, he knocked first and awaited a reply before he entered.

“Come.” Arthur said after a short while, a cough straight after.

Leon entered, to begin with he did not notice his childhood friend sitting at the table but once he registered the King’s unkempt appearance he sought her out. With the truth of the situation uncovered he hadn’t expected it to be long for the pair of them to be reunited, even with the underlying emotions that were bound to remain for some time.

“I can come back later, my lord, if you’re busy right now.” He looked to Gwen who looked away from him.

“I should be going,” she announced, slowly standing. Arthur approached her and kissed her quickly with a smile on his face, “I will see you in the morning.” He nodded and pecked her on the lips before allowing her to leave.

As the door closed behind her, Leon turned to the King with a broad smile, “I am glad you have sorted it out, my lord. Nobody makes you happy like she does.”

“Nobody loves me like she does.” He admitted, quickly moving away from the subject, “What was it you wanted?”

X

Gwen walked from the castle with her purple cloak around her shoulders. She did not miss the cold looks some of the staff gave her. Others greeted her with warm smiles and told her they were happy to see her back in the palace walls.

“My lady,” she heard from a familiar source as she started down the steps into the courtyard. He bounded after her, blue shirt and red scarf.

“Not yet, Merlin.” She smiled at him in return; something told her that he had played a large hand in her acceptance back into Arthur’s life. He would never brag to the point of telling her as much but deep in her heart she had known it as fact. He kept his word and he had promised that he would help her to return to Camelot. She hadn’t expected it to have been as quickly as it was, nor had she expected ever to be wearing the ring on her finger ever again.

“But soon,” he teased, tapping her hand pointing to the ring that graced it. She laughed slightly, happy to have her friend back with her again. “Everything is right in Camelot. You and Arthur are back making eyes at each other.”

“You will be back cleaning up after him.” She teased though she wondered how much longer Arthur could go on without accepting to the fact that Merlin was far much more than his servant and friend. He was, and always would be, Arthur’s first port of call for advice much as Gaius had been for Uther. Though he may not have been all that vocal about it, Arthur trusted him and knew that Merlin was destined to be more than just a servant who spent all his days cleaning.

“Gwaine has been stealing from the kitchens.” Merlin told her, like a child who was telling his parents on his sibling. Their close friendship made Gwen smile. Since Lancelot had first left it was as if Merlin had lost somebody, there was a void in his life that was graciously filled by the drunkard knight. There was always a wider smile on Merlin’s face when he had been spending time with Gwaine. Merlin continued on his recounting, “Percival and Elyan have been making bets on how long it’ll be until Beth hangs him, Percival seems to think another five minutes whereas your brother had gone for a more laid back approach of another day.”

“Beth loves the attention they bring her,” Gwen reasoned, “I bet two.” They laughed together as Merlin accompanied her to her home. He hugged her as they reached her door and wished her well rested. “All back to normal in Camelot, then.”

“Yes it is,” Merlin grinned.

When she shut her door he did not head back to the castle. In apprehension, he left the city and went in search of what had happened to the sorceress.

END NOTE: One more part after this, then two short one-shots to tide us over into another longer story. Thanks so much once again, and again I ask for no spoilers in comments. You are all amazing people and I appreciate the time each and every one of you give to read anything I write, be it story or prattal <3
Tags: ♥ arthur/gwen, ♥ merlin/morgana, ♦ merlin
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