After his promise to the Druid boy, Arthur did a lot of thinking. He didn't tell anyone what he was thinking, not even Merlin, but he eventually came to a decision that would change everything.
It took months of planning and months of work, especially because he didn't tell anyone ahead of time, but he eventually did enough work that he knew it would work.
Then his father died.
He didn't know why but he believed the sorcerer when he said he didn't kill Uther. Well, he didn't believe him immediately. He didn't believe him until he was sitting vigil for his father overnight and he thought about it.
Why would he have done that knowing it would have caused magic to still be illegal? If he had asked for something else, Arthur wouldn't have believed him, but to just ask for his people's freedom?
No, Arthur believed him. But he didn't know why his father had still died. He stopped his work and waited and thought about it for a very long time, while watching others around him.
He knew what he had to do.
A young girl had been thrown in front of the throne by two of the guards.
"Your Majesty, this woman stands accused of witchcraft."
"My brother was sick, I was just trying to help him." She sobbed and bile rose in his throat at the knowledge that by law she should be put to death.
Arthur looked at her for a long time before looking up at his court and the other citizens who had gathered for his judgement on the trial. After a long moment of silence he stood up.
"I, King Arthur Pendragon, hereby declare that from this day forward, unoffensive magic is no longer punishable by law. So long as that magic is not actively being used to harm someone there is no reason for it to be brought before my court again. The genocide of magic users has gone on long enough. As king, my word is law and so it is done."
The crowd stood in silence and the girl cried as she was escorted out.
She was the last trial before his council meeting so he went directly there, thankfully beating the gossip. Unfortunately he knew the older knights and members of his council would be difficult to convince.
"Before we begin, I should inform all of you of a rather major law change I put into effect just moments ago. I know many of you will be against it and will argue that I should have spoken with you first but it is already done. I will remind you at this time that I am the king and my word is the law, and you will respect that no matter your grievances." He paused for a moment and saw many members tensing up as they waited. Arthur noted Gaius raising his eyebrows and hoped that Gaius wouldn't argue too much. He had been a staunch supporter of Arthur's father and he had also always been able to make Arthur feel guilty even when he had done no wrong.
"As of today, any unoffensive magic is no longer punishable by law. I have decided to end the genocide of magic users. I also am issuing a pardon to all magic users who did us magic to no harm to others except in defense of themselves or others." There was a long silence while everyone stared in shock that was broken by a sob behind him.
Arthur turned quickly to see Merlin holding a hand in front of his face and sobbing.
"I'm sorry, sire, I'm so sorry. I just I never expected it to actually, and now it has, and I just can't-" Merlin sobbed again shaking and Arthur stared in bewilderment. Arthur was even more baffled when he heard a laugh from one of his knights and spun to see that it was Mordred grinning like a loon.
Everyone was quiet for another moment staring at the sobbing manservant and the giddy knight until Gaius stood up. Arthur watched Gaius hesitantly, waiting for Gaius to pass judgement on his decision.
Gaius seemed to tremble for a moment before he too started laughing, except he was crying as well.
"I'm so proud of you, sire." Gaius told him between laughs and Arthur swallowed hard. "I'm so very proud." Then he moved forward and hugged Merlin. "Oh my dear boy, everything is going to be okay." Merlin just nodded his head where his face was pressed against Gaius's chest and he didn't say anything else.
Then Mordred stood up and hugged Merlin as well, spinning him in a circle. That was no less baffling for Arthur, especially when he knew that they didn't get along.
Then he saw that while Merlin was still sobbing and incapable of speech (oh the wonder of a silent Merlin), he was also grinning widely.
"Would any of you care to explain?" Arthur asked in exasperation.
"Oh Arthur," Merlin beamed, "I'm a sorcerer."
Arthur stopped thinking in shock for a moment.
"And so am I." Mordred laughed.
Arthur just stared at them in shock, as did the rest of the court present.
"I'm no sorcerer, sire, but I have dabbled in magic more than a few times in my life." Gaius also admitted.
"Well, then, now that that's out of the way, might we be getting on with the council meeting?" One of the elder members of court asked shrewdly.
Arthur turned his bewilderment to the council member and just started to laugh.