last01standing: ([LOM] Sam Tyler)
[personal profile] last01standing
Title: Beneath Your Feet, the Magic Sleeps
Disclaimer: I have nothing to do with Merlin and make no profit from this endeavor.
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Arthur doesn't think much of the rumors about the Great Sorcerer chained beneath the castle until the sorcerer starts whispering to him. (The AU where Merlin is the Great Dragon)
Author's note: Er, hello new fandom? I'm American and know next to nothing about Arthurian legend. Forgive me? I TRIED TO BRITISH IT UP FOR YOU.



Beneath Your Feet, the Magic Sleeps


This is the story Uther tells Camelot:

There is a sprawling underground cavern beneath the castle that houses the most feared creature in the land. A sorcerer, bound by his own magic, chained to the ground and doomed to live forever in captivity. It is just, Uther says. There is no way to remove magic from the hearts of men. The Great Sorcerer stands as an example, a warning to all others like him.

But there are other stories too. Whispers about a boy born just a few days after the prince himself. About a boy who had not seen the sunlight since his first birthday, the day of his capture. About a boy whose eyes had flashed golden before he could even understand the need for incantations.

The castle blazes with stories but no one really talks about it. It's a communal, burning knowledge, this magic that buns beneath their feet. The boy himself is never mentioned but the last Great Sorcerer is blamed for all sorts of things: nightmares, missing items, the strange voice that whispers at night.

The young Arthur thinks nothing of it until the eve of his thirteenth birthday.

When the voice start whispering to him.

***


He thinks it's a dream the first time. A whisper in the darkness, not a plea so much as a statement. I'm here. Why don't you look?

Arthur jerks awake in bed, unable to shake the strange feeling of displacement and loss.

Look, the voice echoes in the recesses of his mind, why don't you look?

Arthur stares at the flames lapping at the edges of the wood in his fireplace. The fire never wanes, courtesy of his faceless manservant he supposes. "Who's there?" he calls suspiciously as he watches the smoke curl up towards the chimney.

No one answers him.

***


He tells Morgana about it the next morning and she gives him that devilish smile he's learned to loathe. "Oh, the Sorcerer," she says. "I'm surprised it's taken you this long to hear from him. He's been whispering to me since I moved here."

"The Sorcerer?"

"He's chained in the cavern below the castle or have you gone completely deaf to your father's rants as I have?"

Arthur bristles. "The Sorcerer's dangerous."

Morgana shrugs. "Depends on what he said to you."

"...He wanted to know why I hadn't looked."

"Doesn't sound remotely evil to me. Sounds more like someone trying to help you locate your socks."

"I have servants for that."

"Then perhaps he's simply lonely. Must be desperate to reach out to the likes of you."

"But you said he'd spoken with you as well. Have you gone to find him."

"Don't be stupid, he's a sorcerer. Of course I haven't."

"Right," Arthur says. "I'll just forget it then."

But he doesn't forget it. On the contrary, he finds himself combing through the castle looking for stories. The serving staff is wary, but indulges him because of who he is.

The stories are contradictory and numerous. The Sorcerer is reportedly responsible for flickering torchlight, disappearing rations, strokes of fortune-both good and bad and cracks in the floor. Arthur is smart enough to dismiss most of it as rubbish—his father wouldn't have let the Sorcerer live if he'd still had some influence on the castle—but one thing is consistent through the tales.

Gaius is the one tasked with keeping the boy alive.

When he demands answers from the physician, Gaius gives him a rather odd look and relays that the sorcerer is incapable of doing any of the things he'd been accused of and should the king find out he asked, there will be consequences.

Precisely three minutes after the conversation ends, Arthur goes to find the sorcerer for himself, treading lightly on the stone floor. He imagines himself moving silently on a hunt, picking his way through the forest, his prey in sight.

Three different guards see him but he is the son of the king so they pay him no mind.

He's never been down this way before, never been past the dungeons---empty now, in a time of peace---never even imagined the extent of the cavernous expanse that existed under the castle's very foundations.

He expects something great housed in here. The grandeur of dragon's wings, a man a hundred feet tall glowering down at him.

That's not what he finds.

What he finds is a rather slender, very pale boy curled up on himself, clothed in a truly foul shirt of indeterminate colour. He doesn't stir when Arthur enters and is so utterly unobtrusive that Arthur finds his eyes dismissing him to examine the rest of the space. When he finds no other signs of life, he returns his eyes to the filthy heap of flesh and folds his arms over his chest. In the most condescending tone he can manage, he says, "So you're the great sorcerer then."

The boy doesn't move. Arthur can't even tell if he's breathing. He's inclined to agree with Gaius: attributing any of the castle's oddities to this creature is nothing short of ludicrous.

Arthur stares at him for a long moment until his curiosity is satisfied and he turns on his heels to leave.

Only then does he hear the thin, reedy voice drift to his ears. "Who are you?"

There are so few people in Camelot who do not know him both by name and sight that the question halts his footsteps. He is omnipresent at social functions, at feasts, in the training arena, the golden shadow trailing in the whirl of the king's robes.

"Arthur," he answers finally.

When he turns around, the boy is struggling to his feet, the weight of the heavy chain scraping at the ground. "Arthur," he repeats. There's something shining out of clear blue eyes. Something completely and devastatingly human. "Not Gaius."

"I'm insulted that you would ever mistake the two of us, Sorcerer."

"Merlin," the boy says.

"What?"

"Merlin. Not sorcerer. My name is Merlin."

The course of his life changes then, in that single instant if not before when he first heard that same voice whispering in his ears and he knows three things at once:

1)His father is completely wrong about magic.
2)This boy is not a threat to him
3)In the Camelot he wants to once rule, this will never happen


"I thought you'd be older," Arthur says, deflecting his tumulus thoughts. "Aren't sorceress supposed to be ancient men with great bushy beards?"

"I'm the only one left," Merlin replies matter-of-factly. "I rather expect they all look like me."

Arthur finds himself again at a loss for words. It's a good five minutes before he finds his voice to ask, "How long have you been down here, Merlin?"

"Don't know. Don't remember anything else. The only one who ever comes here is Gaius."

And now you, his voice adds even though he doesn't voice it.

"I must be going," Arthur says. "Someone will soon wonder as to my whereabouts."

As he walks away there's another scrape, the sound of the heavy chains dragging against the stone. "You'll come back, won't you?"

Arthur pretends not to hear him.

***


Morgana in a fit of forgetfulness loses one of her favourite earrings the next morning. Arthur encounters her on a tirade as she tears through her room looking for it, her put-upon maid trailing at her heels.

"Perhaps it's the sorcerer," Morgana says bitterly.

"It's not," Arthur replies from the doorway.

***


He sits cross-legged on the stone floor of the cavern, staring at Merlin who has the audacity to stare back. "Did you magic away Morgana's earrings?"

"What's a Morgana?"

"She's the king's ward," Arthur replies, watching as Merlin's mouth moves to fit the unfamiliar syllables. "I'm guessing that's a no then."

"Right."

"And all the other things in the castle, the voices and the disappearing vases?"

"Not me," Merlin says, his eyes wide. "Gaius asks me about it too but it's not me."

"You're a bit useless with magic for a sorcerer."

Merlin just stares at him.

"You going to admit it then?"

"Admit to using magic in Camelot?" Merlin says, some echo of Gaius's voice ringing through his speech.

"Yes," Arthur says, leaning back on his hands. "Seems to be a bit stupid when you look at it that way. I was just curious.

Merlin keeps staring, eyes wide like he never learned how to blink properly. His face works for a moment before he points to the thing on his ankle. "It stops most of the magic."

Arthur shifts on the spot. The chains seem unnecessarily thick for a boy not even his own size. Merlin doesn't seem to think any of it was unusual though. Just a fact of life. He bits his lip for a second and then closes his eyes. When he opens them again, they're gold.

Something builds up in his stomach, something light and buoyant and he doesn't figure out what it is until all of a sudden, he finds himself hovering six feet above the ground. He flails, kicks, tries to latch onto something, anything, but there's nothing in arm's reach but more air. "Get me down," he hollers at Merlin but after he figures he's not sprouted wings, he finds the sensation utterly fascinating. He laughs as Merlin slowly lowers him back down to Earth. The other boy's grinning ear to ear and it makes his pale face light up as his eyes tumble back to blue.

Arthur laughs with him until he remembers the boy is still in chains.

***


He knows he should not go back but finds he has no will to refuse himself this one rebellion. His father does not know—Arthur can only imagine the scandal if he did, the king's only son conversing with the great sorcerer. He takes care, comes at night or the rare time where he is under no obligation, bringing his books with him under the pretext of studying.

Merlin has some education in rudimentary matters which Arthur deduces come from Gaius's tutelage, but he lacks words from some basic concepts—has never had the occasion to learn terms like gauntlet, sword or daisy.

Arthur brings his studies to the cavern, climbing over the rocks until he can sit next to the boy as the pour over history together. Arthur reads the words aloud and Merlin follows along, learning the shapes of the words as they fit Arthur's voice.

Merlin will perform small feats of magic for him, a glow between his fingertips, levitation, creating heat but he can't do anything farther then about ten meters from his person and he can't do a thing about the chains.

In a few weeks, he's found he's spilled most of his life's secrets to this boy. Everything, in fact, but that fact that it was his father who imprisoned him.

***


Gaius catches him by the arm two months into these meetings, looking at him gravely. "I must advise you to take the utmost care in this endeavour."

Arthur holds up his book like it's a shield. "You advise me caution in my studies?"

Gaius arches an eyebrow. "With Merlin, sire."

The air goes out of Arthur's lungs. He's taken the meetings as carefully as he can, moving with the kind of subtlety few young men can managed. He goes at night, goes during hours when he knows no one will be looking for him.

"Don't worry, sire," Gaius says. "I won't tell your father."

"There's nothing wrong about what I'm doing," Arthur says. "There's not reason to keep him down there if no one makes use of his presence."

"Your father wishes the Great Sorcerer to serve as an example to the others."

"But he's just a boy. I doubt he's even had the chance to use magic for evil."

"I agree with you, sire. It's a travesty and I do like that you've befriended the boy but you should be wary of your father's plans for him."

"My father has locked him away. I imagine he would prefer not to slaughter an infant during the purges and simply wants him out of his mind."

"Your father plans to have him publicly executed the day you are made crown prince. It's to be a symbol—his way of proclaiming that he's handed his son a land free of sorcery."

Arthur pales.

"It's entirely likely that he would advance the day of his execution if something in his stature should change." Gaius, Arthur is grateful, accuses him of nothing—will accuse him of nothing, but the warning hangs in the air just as heavily as if it had been spoken. "Just so you are aware."

The unspoken words do not leave his head as he trails the familiar path down to the cavern where Merlin greets him with a guileless smile as Arthur pictures his head on a chopping block.

He decides for now that it is worth the risk.

***


And it continues to be worth it. It's worth it for almost a year. Worth it because for once he doesn't have to wear the weight of the Price of Camelot. He's just Arthur and the bloke in the cavern that he shares his studies with, shares his food with almost daily isn't the Great Sorcerer but Merlin.

Then he's caught on the way down to visit. He's terrified for a split second but it's a miracle he wasn't caught sooner.

Arthur's fortunate enough to be caught on the way down to the cavern instead of the way back. He passes it off as a lark, feigning curiosity.

He pretends it's a place he's never visited.

Pretends he's never met Merlin.

His father lectures him for the rest of the day about the dangers of magic and the great triumph that brought the greatest of the magicians to their mercy. He doesn't mention that Merlin is Arthur's age or that he has been imprisoned so long that he's either forgotten or never known the world outside.

It's nigh impossible to sneak into the cavern after this. Even Gaius, who'd been coming and going for Merlin's entire life is suddenly under scrutiny.

The guard is so intense that Arthur knows his father must have guessed he spends his free time cavorting with the sorcerer even if he can't know it for sure. Arthur's best course of action is to forgo the late night visit and act as relentlessly normal as he can manage.

His time fills up with other things. Weapons training and studies about knighthood. His aptitude for history suffers without Merlin's endless fascinated presence on his shoulder and Arthur pretends he doesn't miss it at all.

For the first few months, he hears Merlin's voice every time he closes his eyes. An endless litany of Arthur, Arthur, where are you what did I do are you coming back? Arthur... Finally he relents and sends word with Gaius.

He needs Merlin to keep his head more than he needs to see his friend.

There's scarcely a word from Merlin for nearly two years after that and Arthur finds himself forgetting. Forgetting the blue eyes that flash gold and the wide smiles lighting up gaunt features.

Arthur grows into his armour, grows toward the crown and everything in his life is about as normal as it can be right up until the middle of his sixteenth year when magic crashes back into the land with a vengeance.

***


It starts innocuously enough, with Morgana in the throws of a nightmare that brings her flying in a panic into Arthur's chambers ranting about danger, magic and executions. Arthur grabs her by the shoulders and spends nearly twenty minutes calming her down. By the time she's coherent enough to tell him what the problem is, the dream has slipped elusively from her memory.

He promises Morgana he will be careful and watch for anything unusual before she drags herself away.

When his manservant brings him his breakfast ten minutes later, Arthur calls him Merlin.

***


He starts hearing shouting in his sleep. He tries to tell himself it's a product of his own nightmarish imagination but he knows that can't be true. His own voice has deepened significantly in the past few years but he Merlin's remains light. He could pick it out from anywhere. Even now, after years of missing it, he knows who's voice haunts his dreams.

It gets so bad he goes to Gaius who regards him first with suspicion and then later, pity.

"I think Merlin knew you would abandon him eventually," Gaius confides. "I just don't think he expected the day to come so soon or so suddenly."

"I didn't abandon him," Arthur snaps. It's impossible to keep his voice level. "I was forced away."

"I know how it must look to you and how it must look to him," Gaius says diplomatically. "Realize they are not the same."

"What's happened to him?"

"He's a sixteen year old boy who's spent his life in chains. Nothing's happened to him in years."

He does not say it's Uther's fault.

He does not say Merlin is the closest thing to a son he has ever known.

He does not accuse anyone of anything.

Arthur hears it anyway.

***


Camelot becomes a cacophony of screams at night. Morgana's night terrors keep half the castle awake and Arthur has Merlin bellowing at him in his dreams. It seems only a natural extension of this that the screams spread to the lower town as well. When Uther has six people over the course of two weeks executed for practices of sorcery after nearly a decade with that number executed, the people scream. Scream at the knights who drag them away, scream at Uther's unjust accusations. Scream about their own innocence.

Arthur watches the proceedings with Merlin's screams ringing in his ears. His father instructs him to become part of the hunt. To step up and become the leader he was always meant to be.

Arthur obeys because it is the order of the King but with Merlin's cries ringing in his ears, he finds himself incapable of arresting a soul.

This is what his father cautions will be his downfall.

***


Things get worse. Morgana starts sleepwalking and it's all her poor maidservant, Gwen, can do to keep her in her quarters at night. The girl hasn't slept properly in weeks, but Gwen's still better rested than Arthur.

The screams have been multiplying in his head. Not just Merlin anymore but also the echoes of the ones his fathers has executed for a crime that should not be a crime.

He catches two sorcerers one evening. A pair of sisters, just twelve years of age. He gives them each two silver coins and instructs him to flee though he doubts the heed his advice as it would mean leaving their ailing mother.

That night, Arthur wakes up with ringing ears and a sore voice that suggests he's joined the din that night. He wants desperately for a glass of water and no sooner does he have that thought then the cup of water on his dresser across the room shoots into his hands.

He's halfway through his drink when he realizes it's not a dream.

It's sorcery.

His eyes widen. "Is anyone there?" he calls even though he knows no sorcerer would be so colossally stupid as to perform magic in the castle for something so stupid as getting him a glass of water.

He thinks of the people executed since this started, screaming pleas of I didn't do anything. I didn't know. I don't have magic.

He finishes the glass of water and carefully sets it back onto the floor. He takes a deep breath, raises his hand and throws his will at the cup.

Nothing happens for a long moment but just as Arthur starts to feel relief that it was all a mistake, the cup wobbles and makes its hesitant way into the air.

He thinks of Merlin grinning as he performs this same feat on a human being. He has to consciously remember to breath as he puts the glass back down on the floor.

He suspects he has committed high treason.

***


He goes to Gaius in a frenzy. Arthur does not know how to be in a frenzy properly. He's been schooled in motion since birth; the way to walk, the way to deceive. He is unaccustomed to the feeling that he is vibrating out of his skin. He can feel the magic crawling just under the surface of his skin, just itching to get out. Almost like his body rejects the mere idea of it.

He is after all, Uther Pendragon's son.

"Gaius!" he calls. "Gaius! I'm having a very big problem."

Only Gaius is not the only one in the room. Morgana is with him, looking just as panicked was a large book hovers in the air between them. The book plummets suddenly toward the ground and without even thinking of it, Arthur reaches out with his mind and stops it.

Gaius looks horrified. Morgana, hopeful. Arthur takes it all in until he can't think of anything he wants to see less. When he closes his eyes, he sees a great pyre, flames lapping at his legs.

Underneath it all, Merlin is still screaming.

***


Morgana's better at it then him.

Even though the craft is magic, Arthur feels a little inadequate. However Gaius suspects she has a slight advantage over him.

Suspects she may have had magic all along.

Arthur's more of a bystander. Proximity, apparently, is the key. The Sorcerer has been locked up so long with so much power languishing at his fingertips, it's no wonder some of it started to spill out into the world.

No wonder some of Merlin's magic has spilled into Arthur.

***


Gaius cautions him against it. Considering all the magic pooling in Camelot, the guards for the captive sorcerer will be vigilant.

Arthur's also decided that he will see Merlin today. See Merlin for the first time in years and maybe find the right words to stop him screaming.

He's feeling reckless, borrowed magic dancing to his fingertips. When he pushes with his mind, he topples a statue, sending guards flocking to the source of the noise to investigate.

They leave no one behind to continue the watch. It is a fact that Arthur would have beaten out of his own knights, but something he is grateful for now.

The path down to the cavern is familiar, just like that buzz of excitement that curls into his stomach.

Merlin's changed. It would have been impossible not to, but it surprises him all the same. Merlin's grown upwards and inwards. The gangly frame is painfully thin, the prominent bones of his cheeks only serving to highlight the skeletal nature of his body. There's a gaunt, haunted look to the eyes. The eyes that are still blue even flecked with gold.

"Merlin," he says upon the rediscovery of his voice. "You look like hell."

The boy across from him lights up. There's no other word for it. His eyes go wide, his mouth twists into a manic smile. "Arthur," he breathes, instinctively moving toward him.

The first two steps take him to the edge of a ledge and the third and forth take him off. He doesn't all and it's some combination of that fact and the one that tells him he's gone completely insane that has Arthur stepping out over the edge to embrace him.

As soon as he touches the other man, he worries about magic bleed into worries about how fragile Merlin is. How cold.

It's Merlin who pulls back first, looking at Arthur like he can't quite believe he's here.

Arthur answers the unspoken question about his arrival. "I'm sorry it's been so long but my father would have had you executed."

"Your father?" Merlin parrots.

Arthur realizes he's never confessed this particular secret to Merlin. Either out of shame or selfishness he couldn't let his friend know his father was the one who incarcerated Merlin after birth. Never mentioned that he would inherit this same kingdom. "I'm Arthur Pendragon," he says. "The prince."

He expects something more from Merlin, but he just nods and lets it pass like the words don't mean a think to him. He seems oddly listless where he'd been jubilant to see him just moments ago. "Why are you here, Arthur?"

"Magic has returned to Camelot."

Merlin steps back three steps, back onto solid ground. "You think it's me," he sputters, looking betrayed in a way Arthur has never seen. But then he's looking at his own feet and back to Arthur who is still suspended stupidly over the crevice. Merlin's jaw works for a moment before he slowly raises a bony finger toward him. "Arthur, I'm not doing that."

Arthur looks down. The plunge would hurt if he took it but not kill him. There's a continuous strain in the back of his mind, like a muscle not yet trained in use. "I know," he says.

He won't say it's him, but the words hang beside him in the air. Arthur does not fall.

***


Twice more he sneaks back, showing off magic that should not rightfully be his but magic he already refers to mentally as his.

"Gaius says they're executing sorcerers." Merlin speaks without the caution he needs. He speaks carelessly, throwing weight into words that could get a free man exiled for treason. "They didn't do anything wrong."

"Magic is a crime," Arthur says miserably. He brings his hand up almost without thought and draws a shimmering circle in the air. He has to be careful not to do the same when he practices swordsmanship with his knights.

"You could be killed."

"Look who's talking," Arthur retorts before letting the humour drain out of his face. "Merlin, I never should have stopped coming to see you."

Merlin touches the chain on his ankle. A nervous tick no man should have.

"I'm not going to let them kill anyone else," Arthur says. "And I won't let them kill you either."

"Honestly, down here, I'm probably the safest sorcerer in all of Camelot."

"No," Morgana tells him later. "No, he's really not."

***


At night, he and Morgana don cloaks and take to the town in an effort to get as many sorcerers as possible away from immediate harm. There are people of all ages. From six year old girls to old decrepit men. Half of them have never intentionally used magic—in Camelot the intentional practice of magic is tantamount to suicide. The old man eyes him critically and tells him it's been too long since magic was in Camelot. Magic wants to be used and after so long without it, it's positively flooding out. "Magic," he says, "Will use itself if there is no one around to wield it."

As if on cue, Arthur's own magic tries to rise up in his chest. He pushes it back down angrily as the man watches. "You have magic yourself," he observes. "And yet you stay in Camelot."

"Someone's got to get the rest of you lot out." Arthur snaps, pushing him toward the door. "I doubt you have until morning before they come for you."

The instant his hand touches the skin on the man's arm, he stops moving, his feet rooted to the ground. "That magic is not your own."

Arthur snorts. "Point me in the right direction and I'll gladly return it. But something tells me neither of us have that luxury."

The man remains rooted to the spot, staring at him. "And you, Arthur Pendragon, would you still be doing this if you had not come by this magic?"

He falters for a single moment, thinking of Merlin chained for years under the castle. He would have broken him out in a second if he thought it possible to do so without getting one of them put to death. "Of course," he replies. "But if you're not gone by daybreak, there will be nothing I can do."

Morgana's waiting for them at the gates of the city, a group of her own in tow.

"Thank you," the man says. "I will be glad when I can call you my king."

Arthur exchanges a look with Morgana. They both know that if Uther finds them out, that day will never pass.

***


Arthur and Morgana pick fights with each other for the rest of the week. Snarling verbal attacks that appear so vicious that Uther takes both of them separately and cautions them about respecting the other. That only escalates the squabbles. It's a mutual defence mechanism. They are both doing the same work every night and should one of them be implemented, it would not immediately cast suspicion on the other.

In an odd way, this is the closest he's ever been to his almost sister. She's the only one he can insult freely and expect it in return, the only one outside the dungeons that knows all his secrets. It's comforting to know that no matter what they say to each other, they will still be allies when the sun goes down.

They're under no illusions of safety. One of them will surely be discovered. They are too recognizable to get away with this indefinitely. There's kinship that goes beyond blood in that. Morgana is his sister and he can feel his own magic twisting around the both of them in an effort to keep her safe.

But in the end it is neither Arthur nor Morgana who need protection.

It's Merlin.

***


Arthur's out with the knights when it happens, purposely leading them in a direction opposite the ones where he knows the small tribe of magicians to have fled. There are two different knights who look uncomfortable with the hunt. If Arthur focuses, he thinks he can almost see the magic in them as well. He will have to talk to Morgana about recruiting them or getting them out of the city. The rest of them Arthur knows would have no qualms about hauling a sorcerer in to be burned.

They would haul him in to be burned if they knew.

Burned. The word catches in his mind and then a voice says, They're going to have me burned.

He looks around wildly for the source, but it's coming from everywhere and no where all at once. Arthur. The name slams into him and he's completely blinded by nothing but panic and Merlin.

When he opens his eyes, he's flat on his back, one of the knights lingering over him, worry etched into his features. "Sire?"

"Camelot," he croaks. "I've got to get back to Camelot."

"I'll see him home," one of the knights says quickly. Arthur recognizes him as one he suspects of magic. One who can't--as he can't--hunt sorcerers. "You should go on without us."

The knight's name is Peyton and if Arthur should ever inherit the knights as his own, Arthur will see him properly rewarded. He rides just to his left, no protesting for a second the haste with which Arthur urges the horses on. He doesn't speak until they're at the gates of the city and only then does he turn to say, "Sire, I do not wish to ride out on another task such as these."

Arthur blinks. "The magic thing?" he says taken aback.

"I had hoped you would understand, sire."

Arthur nearly laughs but Merlin's sending him a constant stream of panicpanicPANIC and if he strains himself he can hear Morgana's voice as well, can imagine her trailing after Uther yelling at him until she's locked up right next to Merlin.

He raises his hand and the gates to Camelot fly open. It's a risky move that leaves Peyton staring after him in shock but Arthur has the vague notion that this is going to end today one way or another. He feels giddy somehow, magic jittering up his skin, curling like it was waiting for a purpose and maybe, just maybe this was it's purpose.

In the courtyard, there is a seas of people all straining to get a look at the man. From the taller vantage point of the horse, Arthur can see him. Can see Merlin tied to the stake, Merlin who is determinedly looking at the sky and not the people.

He's been locked up so long, it must feel like the first time.

Uther stands tall over the courtyard, over the people of Camelot, gathered t see an execution. "Behold this sorcerer. The greatest of his time."

Arthur dismounts his horse and pushes his way through a crowd too focused on a speech to even realize their prince was among them.

"The sentence," Uther finishes," is death by fire."

The flames go up just as Arthur makes his way to the front of the crowd. He screams stop, but the fire is already blazing.

Merlin screams his name.

The king screams his name.

Arthur raises his hand and quells the flames.

There is a deadly hush that befalls the crowd. Arthur knows how it must look. The kings son, a sorcerer. He tries to push it from his mind as he steadfastly ignores them all as he steps toward Merlin, withdraws his sword and slices through the bonds. Merlin collapses, too long without significant exercise. Too many paces today for him to really make a threat for flight. Arthur catches him on his shoulder, holding him steady until he can stand up on his own.

He turns to his father, knowing before he turns the kind of look he'll find on his face. The mix of horror, anger and disappointment.

"You're a sorcerer," Uther says.

Arthur loops and arm around Merlin for support. "And you're executing a man who's spent his entire life locked beneath the castle."

"He's the Great Sorcerer."

"He's my friend and has been for years," Arthur says, trying to ignore the gaping crowd around him. "Being a sorcerer doesn't have a thing to do with good or evil and if you think a single soul would choose magic under your rule, you're wrong."

"Seize him," Uther says.

Morgana's voice rises above the clammar of voices, her tones sweet though her body language suggests she'd stab Uther if she had a knife. "Are you really going to kill your only son? You'll lose the kingdom for sure."

Arthur doesn't want to hear the answer so he doesn't wait for his father to give it. Uther stands with his mouth agape and Arthur, half carries Merlin out of the square. Morgana calls after him, "I'll meet you at the gates in ten minutes."

***


Merlin's shivering by the time they reach the gates even though it's far warmer here then the caverns ever were. His eyes keep skittering towards the people, the faces, the houses and Arthur wonders what it must be like to take it all in for the first time.

"I'm sorry," Merlin stutters at him. "I can see why..." he squeezes his eyes shut. "I wouldn't want to leave."

"Shut up," Arthur growls. "This isn't about you. This is about right and wrong."

It's a little bit about Merlin but he won't say that. Especially not when he spots Morgana rides toward him, her face set. She's carrying enough provisions for Arthur to think that she had seen this day coming.

***


The three of them sit huddled together outside the walls of Camelot. There are shouts coming from the wall and if Arthur closes his eyes, he can still hear screams, just muted somehow like his magic is fading as Merlin grows stronger beside him.

He thinks it's a good thing. He never wanted this. Never wanted to do anything but what was right.

"Looks like we've instigated open rebellion against the crown," Morgana says, her voice tinged with slight amusement. "Oops."

Merlin looks at her, wild-eyed like he can't quite make sense of anything she says, like he doesn't want to be blamed for this mess. Arthur hesitates for just a split second before wrapping an arm protectively around his shoulder. "I prefer to think of it as a revolution."

The fire crackles in front of them. Warmth seeping into every facet of his being. Beside him, Merlin graces him with a smile that only looks slightly deranged.

Inside the gates of Camelot, the world changes for the better.

(end)

(no subject)

2/10/10 22:47 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mangacat201.livejournal.com
That is a BRILLIANT idea. it totally should be more of verse. And Arthur having magic, I love it when Arthur has magic!!!
Cat

(no subject)

3/10/10 14:41 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
hee! I kind of love the idea of Arthur with magic too. He would freak so very badly.

Thank you so much for reading!

(no subject)

3/10/10 00:03 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] kookiety.livejournal.com
Oooh this is lovely.
I utterly and completely enjoyed reading this ^^

Uther locking Merlin to eventually execute him on the day Arthur was crowned prince was distressing and more so - distressingly believable (Look, son, bbq!).

Merlin's life was tragic. Merlin's magic leaking around was fantastic. Merlin giving Arthur a bit of his magic was something I would offer ritualistic sacrifices in the form of leaves, fire and pebbles to see canon :D

I loved your Arthur. And your Morgana. And your Dragon!Merlin. And the relationships in between.

(The summary made me imagine Merlin as a dragon, scales and all - which is something that will probably never get out of my head. It would have been so very convenient if he was a dragon - chomp or roast teh evil. Not that your dragoney!Merlin isn't amazing ^^)

And oh yes - *random-person-from-your-new-fandom waves hello*. Tis a silly place, hope you enjoy it :)

(no subject)

3/10/10 15:14 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
*WAVES BACK* This fandom is so wonderfully silly. I adore it.

The summary made me imagine Merlin as a dragon, scales and all - which is something that will probably never get out of my head. It would have been so very convenient if he was a dragon - chomp or roast teh evil.

And now, I can't unsee it either. Damn you. Have some surprise comment fic:

Arthur, the voice hisses at him as it has every night for the past week. Arthur, you gigantic prat, I'm in the cavern. Come find me. I shouldn't need to spell it out for you exactly.

He still remembers when he wakes up. Which is strange because he scarcely remembers his dream and can't think of a single reason why a mysterious voice would call him a prat while he sleeps. Which is probably why he heads to the cavern if he's honest with himself. If there is someone there, he will have then put in the stocks.

"About time," the voice greets as he steps inside. "You're three weeks late for your destiny, you stubborn prat."

"Who dares speak to me this way?"

There's a snort and then the rush of air from a pair of great wings as a dragon lands in front of him. "I'm called Merlin."

Arthur gapes. "You're a dragon."

"I really prefer Merlin."

"I'm the crown prince! I can't be talking to a dragon."

"I would prefer not to talk to you either, but reportedly we're too sides of the same coin."

"The other side of my coin is a dragon?"

"It's destiny," the dragon says.

"So change it!"

"I can't. It's destiny."

Silence.

"If it helps, I would prefer if the other side of my coin wasn't such a prat."

(no subject)

1/11/10 00:23 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] kookiety.livejournal.com
D: FEEL FREE TO HATE ME. I DESERVE IT. I have this horrible habit of letting comments pile till there is this pile and then I miss out on amazing things like this D:
(There is a long list of people who will tell you I do this... - which, um, makes me awful, I know. Sorry.)

I'M SORRY YOU LOVELY, LOVELY BRILLIANT PERSON. I also hope I'm not sounding creepy but you wrote comment fic where MERLIN is a DRAGON and MERLIN and horrified Arthur and Merlin is somehow Merlin and yet cryptic as the dragon is supposed to be and I have too much glee at that which is fighting with misery at reading this nearly a MONTH late so.. that is why the comment is like this. I will stop babbling now.

This would have been a fantastic twist (not that I mind young!Merlin because he seems very fond of young!Arthur and the bromance is so aww). Very How To Train Your Dragon. Ooh.

Also, *waves* the fandom is lovely. It's also not aware it's lovely, it needs to meet other fandoms to realise that. It reminds me of tea. Tea is always lovely.

YOUR SURPRISE COMMENT FIC MADE MY DAY :D

I don't know how keen you are for hugs from random, forgetful people who mean well but sometimes suck - but um, I would bestow you with a dozen.

:D

Again, I'm so, so sorry. I'll run away now.

(no subject)

2/11/10 01:03 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Don't worry, you're not the only one. I was completely computer free for about three weeks while comments king of kept building and building and building.

Dragon!Merlin works disturbingly well. I kind of prefer the crack!fic version to the real one. (And I have never seen this How to Train Your Dragon. The kid's voice in the previews made me want to smash my head against the wall so I decided not to view it.)

I'm completely all right with late, babbling comments. Especially from the folk here in the Merlin fandom. COMPARED TO SOME OF THE OTHER FANDOMS I SNEAK IN AND OUT OF, THIS ONE IS FULL OF BUTTERFLIES, RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS.

*hugs*

=)

(no subject)

4/11/10 15:07 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] kookiety.livejournal.com
I will phew away in great relief. And sympathise with the comment piling, except mine happens because I am odd and yours for no fault of yours.

He does, doesn't he? I can see him cracking jokes and being all ~destiny~ and occasionally puffing a bit of fire when Arthur gets too pratty.

(The movie. Is. Well. See - all of it is nice. The animation is nice, the story is nice, the music is nice. Put all that niceness together and it becomes one hype of very nice which is the reason for all the glowing reviews. Separately nothing is so awesomely awesome but all together - I quite liked it.
I assumed the movie would be terrible and watched because I was really bored and was all set to hate. And then got laughed at when I liked it. Heh.
And yes, first sound of the voice made me frown. Then the dragons charged in and I melted.)

Yayy!
LOL. I'M GLAD YOU SEE IT THE SAME WAY. I got into the fandom and pretty much gasped at how fluffy it is. Problem is some of the fans haven't been in wanky fandoms before so THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY'RE MISSING. They think they know what wank and drama is, no they don't! They don't know what 'shipping is srs business' means, they haven't endured pages and pages of meta. They haven't seen their fandom on f_w! Again and again. THIS FANDOM MAKES YOU WANT TO RUSH IN rather than eyeing from afar. IT GLITTERS AND SPARKLES AND FLOATS AND NUZZLES. It's like a baby unicorn.

Oh dear, you like hugs. I just might adore you insanely.
*HUGS!*

:D

(no subject)

7/11/10 18:46 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I do so like nice movies. It's not gong to make me cry, is it? Toy Story 3 was the only movie that managed to do that in the past decade and I DON'T LIKE GETTING ALL SNOTTY WHILE I WATCH MOVIES. (that said, I will be sure to check this out. After nano.)

MERLIN IS SO THE BABY UNICORN FANDOM. (I mean seriously, I hung around the jossverse while it was blowing up. Not to mention Dark Angel which is still shady waters. Or Supernatural. God, don't get me started on the wank in supernatural) IS IT REALLY ANY SURPRISE THAT PEOPLE WANT TO FROLIC IN MERLIN AFTER ALL THAT. (I certainly plan to stick around. I may have kind of sort of signed up for the [livejournal.com profile] apocalypsebigbang for Merlin. Which I have massive guilt over because I'm not sure I want this happy bouncy place to go boom.)

*twirls you* LET US NOT GO TO CAMELOT. 'TIS A SILLY PLACE.

(no subject)

3/10/10 01:31 (UTC)
ext_3336: (hitting people with swords)
Posted by [identity profile] vensre.livejournal.com
:O That was awesome! The moment when Arthur lifted his hand and doused the flames was a perfect climax.

(no subject)

3/10/10 15:15 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I'm so glad you enjoy it!

(no subject)

3/10/10 03:02 (UTC)
ext_14845: betta fish (Default)
Posted by [identity profile] fish-echo.livejournal.com
Dude, awesome! :)

My very fav was this bit "Looks like we've instigated open rebellion against the crown," Morgana says, her voice tinged with slight amusement. "Oops."

Also, you have an 'all<->fall' typo somewhere I think?

(no subject)

3/10/10 15:18 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I adore Morgana. I do so wish she isn't doomed to be evil.

(Er, I can't find the typo you mentioned? AM I GOING MAD?)

(Also, is it sad that when you comment on my fics, my brain goes: what kind of hockey players would the folks in this fandom be? Because Arthur would be this defenseman who keeps charging up to try and score with the offense to leave poor awesome goalie Merlin to fend off soverymany breakaways. I HAVE PROBLEMS, OKAY?)

(no subject)

3/10/10 04:48 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] da-cursednlucky.livejournal.com
You are a mad, mad and utterly brilliant person for writing this.

(no subject)

3/10/10 15:19 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
But you like me anyway, yes?

(Thanks for reading)

(no subject)

3/10/10 12:43 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] angelqueen04.livejournal.com
Oh, wow! This AU is amazing! I love the idea that magic is overflowing from lack of use in Camelot, to the point that even Arthur of all people is able to tap into it and use it when he has to.

"Looks like we've instigated open rebellion against the crown," Morgana says, her voice tinged with slight amusement. "Oops."

*cracks up* Oh Morgana, I love you and your smartass-ness. Hee!

Excellent fic!

(no subject)

3/10/10 15:20 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I'm so glad you like it! New fandoms are a bit terrifying. Especially new British fandoms because I angst over language. But everyone here appears super bouncy and it's kind of incredibly fun! Yay!

(no subject)

4/10/10 19:11 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] meri-contrary.livejournal.com
This is wonderful. I've not seen this take of the 'verse yet and it feels really original.

(no subject)

31/10/10 18:02 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Glad I could be at least a bit original.

(and sorry about the fail in replying until now. I don't currently possess a computer.)

(no subject)

5/10/10 03:45 (UTC)
lunchee: zoom of what I actually look like. Forreal. (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] lunchee
OMG YES.
When Arthur has magic, it is my absolute favourite! And the way you cultivated his, Morgana and Merlin's relationship -- wonderful! Having the royals sneak people out of Camelot!! While I would hope to see some sort of epilogue, two or five years into the future, this story is pretty much perfect the way it is. Thank you so much for sharing :)

(no subject)

31/10/10 18:03 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Oh, there are others with Arthur containing magic? I will have to seek them out some day.

I don't plan for an epilogue but I am writing Merlin for the apocalypse big bang so I should be around.

(Sorry it took me so long to reply. RL eats everything)

(no subject)

5/10/10 12:59 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] hermette.livejournal.com
Oh my. This is sort of staggering. What a lovely concept, and beautifully executed too. I'm with everyone else; I'd love to see this universe explored more.

(no subject)

31/10/10 18:04 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
(sorry for the reply fail but...)
Thank you so much!

(no subject)

13/10/10 09:25 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] archaeologist-d.livejournal.com
Loved that Arthur has magic. Loved that he was willing to save Merlin no matter what. Great job.
(deleted comment)

(no subject)

31/10/10 18:04 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I don't have any more planned but you can bet you'll see me around Merlin again. =)

(no subject)

21/10/10 02:51 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] chibirhm.livejournal.com
HOLY BAJESUS THIS IS AMAZING.

(no subject)

31/10/10 18:05 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I'M GLAD YOU LIKED IT!

(no subject)

10/11/10 01:34 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] lolafeist.livejournal.com
I love love love vaguely crazy Merlin here. All of this is just great.

(no subject)

27/11/10 23:56 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thank you so much!

(no subject)

16/12/10 06:13 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] quenderra.livejournal.com
OMG - this is brilliant! Such a unique idea, and you've written it extremely well.

Wonderfully done. Definitely a tale I'll be reading again.

(no subject)

29/12/10 05:33 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Heh! I'm so psyched you like it!

(Seriously, it makes me feel way less nervous about writing Merlin for the [livejournal.com profile] apocabigbang)

(no subject)

29/12/10 22:18 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] quenderra.livejournal.com
How could I not like it? You really did do an awesome job with it. ^^

And don't feel nervous! The most important things are to do your best and, above all, enjoy yourself. I'm sure you'll do great!

(no subject)

30/12/10 00:03 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Aw, you're sweet. Thanks. *hugs*

(Oh, I'm having a ball. I always do. I'm just a bit worried this is a little too sci-fi for the Merlin crowd. Perhaps I should work in a unicorn...)

(no subject)

16/12/10 06:19 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] dean-is-batman.livejournal.com
BEST FIC EVER. <3. So many sad moments, but just so damn awesome. <3

(no subject)

29/12/10 05:34 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I'm so glad you like it!

(also, SUPERNATURAL PEOPLE WHO WATCH MERLIN AS WELL CLEARLY ROCK)

(no subject)

20/4/11 00:00 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] dragongirl-g.livejournal.com
Wow - this is gorgeous! I love your plot and your storytelling is lovely. My heart bled for Merlin and Arthur (his nobility was just incredible here), and of course your strong Morgana is simply wonderful.

(no subject)

20/4/11 03:02 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
=) Thank you so much. I've missed the old Morgana. Can't help but write about that one. And Arthur and Merlin can't help but be wonderful together.

(no subject)

6/6/11 14:23 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] wwwiamasheep.livejournal.com
He suspects he has committed high treason.

"Looks like we've instigated open rebellion against the crown," Morgana says, her voice tinged with slight amusement. "Oops."

Bless their laconic hearts.

(no subject)

31/7/12 22:19 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] jess666666.livejournal.com
Brilliant, I'm pretty new to the Merlin fandom, and I'm glad I stumbled onto your fic, truly enjoyable! Good job! :D

(no subject)

4/8/12 04:10 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thanks so much! I'm surprised you found my little fic if you were new. I kind of zone in and out of Merlin fandom. On the whole it's really quite lovely though. One of the friendliest ones around.

(no subject)

28/1/13 11:03 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] pawpawpaku.livejournal.com
Yes that was fantastic! :D

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