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Magical tournament

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PROLOGUE

 

Many would say it was destiny or fate, while others may think it was just dumb luck. It does not matter which it is, thanks to this many lives were spared and the land could slowly start to heal. 


Arthur in his anger threw a chair on the wall. The hanged mirror fell down, and it shattered to pieces. More work for Merlin. He’s not going to be happy. With a resigned sigh he went to start picking up the broken pieces. Just to do something instead of thinking of Merlin going to the tavern with Gwaine. The piece of paper caught the king's attention. 

 

Dear Arthur,

 

My beautiful boy, I write this letter with shaking hands. Knowing that soon my time will come to say goodbye to you. I am glad you were able to find this secret place I created to hide my diaries. This way you will be able to get to know me. I created this spot in your chambers with my hands, so no one will know about it. I hope this will stay as our little secret. I wish I could see you now. Do you have blond hair , like me? Blue eyes? I hope you have friends that you can lean on. That you are not alone in this lonely world. 

 

My boy, my Arthur I want you to know that I love you more than anything in this world. Never forget that. 

 

With love,

Arthur’s mother, Ygraine 



Chapter Text

Today I found out that I’m pregnant. I am terrified and excited at the same time. It must mean that Uther did what I feared he would do, when he found out that I am barren. I dread the day when he realizes how he will have, how I will have to pay for our child. But did it ever stop him? He never truly cared how I feel. And yet I cannot stop smiling, knowing that I am to be a mother. Even if I will not be able to see how he will be growing up. I just hope he will know that I would do anything for my beautiful boy. That Uther will tell Arthur, how much I love him. 


Arthur entered his chamber with a proud and a cheerful aura all around him. It took him three months since he found the diaries of his mother to prepare everything. To convince his counselors that he is right about magic.

“What are you so happy about?” Asked Merlin, while he picked dirty sock from the floor, with a disgusting look on his face. “If you want me to muck your stables, then you’re late! I just did it!” Arthur rolled his eyes at that. 

 

“No Mer lin! I know you did it, I could smell horse dung, down the corridor.” The king wrinkled his nose at that. “Seriously Merlin! We have the stable boys to do this type of work. I thought you knew that by now.” Arthur frowned when Merlin looked at him blankly. 

 

“You want to tell me that I didn't have to … but you always tell me to do it!” Merlin looked confused, but it was slowly changing into anger.

 

“Merlin I always tell you to muck my stables, when I’m furious at you. Or when I just want to make fun of you.. but I never thought you actually were doing this work by yourself.” Confusion colored Arthur’s features. 

 

“But.. I .. You Clotpole!” Merlin having only Arthur’s dirty sock in hand decided to throw it at the king’s face. His satisfaction lasted only for a little bit, when it actually landed on Arthurs forehead. “You deserved this!” He took a step back. 

 

Mer lin! Did you just do what I think you did?” Arthur’s servant put an innocent mask and blinked at him. God it’s so unfair that I want to kiss that face! How is he doing this to me?

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He took another step back. Unfortunately he is the clumsiest person walking on this earth, and he hit the bed. It caused him to actually fall on it.

 

Arthur’s eyes widened when he saw Merlin laying on his bad. Long limbs landing in every direction. Tousled, raven black hair made him look otherworldly. His pale complection in contrast with his red bedlinen, created inappropriate thoughts in his head. And this wide blue, doe eyes were blinking so innocently at him. Almost begging him to join. In your dreams Arthur. 

 

“Merlin, if you know what is good for you you’ll get out of my bed. This instant!” He did not shout, but the seriousness in his voice compelled Merlin to obey without a second thought. 

 

“I’m sorry.” The blush that appeared on Melin’s face didn't help to control Arthur's thoughts.  

 

To take his mind from all this inadequate thoughts, Arthur went back to his door. “Tom, please inform the servants to arrange the bath in my chamber’s.” The guard blinked at him and bowed his head.

 

“My lord.” Tom went down the corridor in search of a servant to inform what their king needed. 

 

Arthur sighted tiredly, while he closed the door. He didn’t realise how weary he is from all the councils meetings. From constant fighting with elders.

 

“Arthur?” Merlin took a cautious step in Arthur's direction. “Why didn’t you ask me to prepare a bath for you?”

 

“Because Merlin you should be informed long ago that as a servant to a prince and now to a king you shouldn’t do everything by yourself. You can inform other servants to bring water to my chambers. And let them do all the hard work.” Arthur frowned. “All the servants know that.”

 

“You do remember that I was chosen to be your servant, because I saved your life? And you do know that before I came to Camelot I knew nothing of castle life?” Merlin looked at him, like he was an imbecile. “And you decided to tell me this now?! After doing all this chores for five years?!” Merlin, more than furius was upset with Arthur. “You’re right.. I’m an idiot.” He felt moistures gathering in his eyes.

 

“Merl-” Athur got cut off with the knock to the door. 

 

“My Lord, your bath.” Merlin turned around and looked through the window. While Arthur complained under his breath.

 

“Come in.” The line of servants gathered in his chambers to fill the bath, which was taken out from the joined chamber by three servants. I should have realised that Merlin was always alone when he was doing his chores. And what are those looks they give to Merlin? What am I missing? After half an hour they finally were left alone. 

 

“Merlin.” Arthur straightened up. “I-” He couldn’t finish the sentence, because Merlin interrupted him.

 

“I know. Arthur I know You take me for an idiot.” Merlin turned around and sadly looked at Arthur. This pained eyes were killing Arthur.

 

“God Merlin! No! I don’t seriously take you for an idiot.” He rushed before Merlin would say something hurtful. And he would feel even worse. “I know I tell you that often.. but Merlin you’re the person I trust the most.” Arthur looked at him earnestly. Begging him with his eyes to believe him. “You know that, right?” Merlin’s face showed that he didn’t fully believe him though. 

 

“Sometimes I feel like you’re my friend Arthur. But other times I feel like you see me just as your manservant. Not important” Arthur blinked and looked down on the floor. Ashamed. It hurt him. “I know that you were thought to never show your feelings, because they are your weakness but I.. I don’t know. I just feel underappreciated? I saved your life so many times and I never even heard a thank you from you. I always stood by your side and yet lately you are pushing me away. And it hurts..” Merlin bit his tongue so he wouldn’t spill anything else. He already felt like he said too much. 

 

“Oh Merlin. I didn’t want you to feel this way. I had so many things on my head lately and I wanted to arrange them first in my head, before I talked with you about it.” He looked apolgetly at Merlin. “Take off your clothes and I’ll tell you some of it while you take a bath. You stink.” Arthur wrinkled his nose at the remainder of this smell. He saw the blush creep Merlin's cheek and this time it reached his overgrown ears. 

 

“What? But .. Water? It’s your bath? And what?” He’s so cute when he’s embarrassed and confused. Arthur smirked. It was a familiar territory.

 

“Don’t be a girl Merlin. Take your clothes off, because the water will get cold soon.” He rolled his eyes and went to his desk to gather some documents. The truth was that he wanted to give Merlin some privacy. He felt Merlin’s piercing look and heard his huff. God how I want to turn around and see if under all this baggy clothes he is only skin and bones or maybe he built some muscles over all this years? Is his skin as pale and smooth as in my dreams? When Arthur heard the splash he turned around. What he saw stopped his breath. Arthur's eyes widened and he couldn't stop the pained gasp that escaped him. At the sound Merlin turned his head to look at Arthur.

 

“Arthur? What happened?” Merlin’s skin was pale but it wasn’t smooth like he thought. His back was marred with scars. Different shapes and sizes. Arthur couldn’t take his gaze from them. Who did this to him? How? Why? He’s harmless! It’s just Merlin! Who would want to harm him? When did this happen? How could I never realise? Was I so absorbed with myself that I didn't realise that my bestfriend, the one I love, got hurt?  “Arthur?” The confused and scared voice brought Arthur back from his thoughts. 

 

“Merlin?” Pained whisper was ripped from Arthurs insides. “What happened?” Arthur didn’t realise that he was already kneeling behind Merlin and his outstretched hand was shaking. He touched the round scar on Merlin's neck. 

 

“Arthur.” Merlin gasped at an unexpected feeling from the press on his neck. At the sound Arthur drew his hand from the scar.

 

“Does it hurt?” Worry laced his voice. 

 

“It doesn’t hurt. I just didn’t expect it. I forgot it’s even there.” He laughed at that. though it was a little strained. Merlin took a soap that laid on a stool next to the bath and started cleaning himself in a hurry. He didn’t know how to explain all of his scars and he was tired of lying. He didn’t expect for Arthur to take the soap from his hands and he gasped again when he felt Arthur washing his head. 

 

“Merlin, will you ever tell me how it happened? How all this scars found themselves on your body?” He couldn’t hide the worry and sadness from his voice.

 

“Arthu-” He cut him off. Arthur took Merlin’s chin between his fingers and turned his head around so they would face each other. He was looking straight in the younger boys eyes, fearing to look down. He dreaded what else can be on his friend's body. 

 

“I don’t want lies. You may not be ready now but when you will be, will you tell me?” He’s gaze didn’t waver. Though it pained him even more when he saw resolve gather in Merlin's eyes. 

 

“Arthur, I want to tell you. I really do but not yet. I don’t even know where to start.” He looked down. “So please just let it go.” Arthur let him go and went back to cleaning his head.

 

“I let it go for now, Merlin. How can I protect you when I don’t know what’s going on?” Merlin sighed.

 

“It’s nothing to worry about. Just a few scars.”  He tried to turn to look at the blond but the hands at his head made it impossible to do.

 

“Don’t move.” Arthur rasped. He cleared his throat. “And it’s not nothing Merlin! You are under my protection! Therefore you should never get hurt.” It ended with a whisper. Arthur cleared his throat again and before Merlin could say anything more he pushed his head under water. “Take off the soup from your hair and finish washing. I’ll go for a towel and some clothes for you.” He heard sputtered water and he smiled briefly. 

 

“Arthur!” Cough. “That was mean!” When he finished, the towel and Arthur’s old clothes were waiting for him. While Artur was looking out the window. 

 

“So you were supposed to tell me why you were acting so strange this last few months.” Merlin tried to lighten the mood with his easy smile. 

 

“Right.” The blond sighted. “How about you pour us some wine and I’ll try to explain?” Merlin took the flagon and two cups from the table and sat down next to Artur in front of the fireplace. They took a few sips of the fine wine, before Arthur got the courage to speak.

 

“I decided to lift the ban on magic.” Merlin almost choked on his wine when he heard what Arthur said. “Are you alright?” He patted younger boys back with concern. Merlin couldn’t find his voice so he nodded. Arthur looked at him with worry. “I know you fear magic and I didn’t now how to tell you that I’m planning on lifting the ban. I promise you that I will protect you no matter what, so you have nothing to fear from magic users.” When he was saying it Arthur was looking straight in Merlin's eyes. He wanted him to know that he’s safe in Camelot even when the ban will be lifted. 


Merlin was wide eyed and couldn’t stop looking at Arthur with wonder. He’s lifting the ban! I’m going to be free! Wait? Arthur thinks I fear magic?!

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I hope one day you’ll understand what friendship is, my dear boy. Many say that when you’re in a high position, then you should not have friends. That everyone will want to use you. Love, don’t listen to them. I know it will be hard for you to find a real friend and some will just pretend but you have to have faith. And when you do find a real friend don’t you dare take him/her for granted. It will be a really lonely and cold world if you will have to walk it just by yourself. 


“Merlin!” Gaius gasped  when his apprentice entered their chambers in a rush. And when the younger boy shut the door with a bang he dropped the bottle and spilled the fluid on the floor. The old man wanted to be mad at his boy but with one look at him he got worried. “Merlin? What’s wrong? Has something happened to the king?”

 

“Hmph.. Armm...” Merlin’s words tangled together. He just couldn’t process what happened in Arthurs chambers. He looked up at Gaius with wonder. 

 

“Merlin, calm down boy. You’re worrying me.” Younger boy took a big breath in and gave his mentor a big smile.

 

“I’m going to be free!” He even jumped with joy when he told the news. “ We are going to be free!” Merlin giggled and was overjoyed. “Arthur just told me. He’s going to lift the ban on magic. Gaius, we won’t have to fear anymore!” He couldn’t stop rumbling. Even when he saw Gaius go pale. “Imagine this Gaius. I won’t have to hide anymore. How much easier it will be to protect him now.” Merlin got lost in his thoughts. In this new possibility. 

 

“Merlin,” Gaius's worried voice brought him back from his imaginary world. “Did you tell Arthur about your abilities?” For the first time the boy saw how pale his mentor was and he hurried to help him sit down. 

 

“I didn’t tell him yet. Didn’t really now how.” Merlin frowned at his uncle. “He admitted that he didn’t want me to worry.” Gaius relaxed at that, though he frowned when he saw tears appear in the boy's blue eyes. 

 

“Merlin? I’m sure it’ll be fine. He’ll understand.” He tried to reason. 

 

“But Gaius, you don’t understand! He didn’t tell me, because he thought that I’ll be scared.” Gaius blinked a few times.

 

“Oh Merlin.” Gaius patted Merlin’s hand. “I’m sure when you’ll talk with him and explain your reasoning he’ll accept it.” Merlin took a big breath.

 

“You’re right. All I have to do is to explain.” He bit his lower lip. “I’m an idiot.” 

 

“What did you do this time?” Gaius sighed, feeling that his boy did something stupid again.

 

“I ran away from him.” He hid his face in his hands. “I panicked. I just took off. I’m an idiot!” Gaius looked at the youngster with wonder. 

 

“I’m not going to disagree with you on this matter.” Gaius chuckled. Merlin looked up with a pout. “I do believe that you should go back to the king. Have a talk. I’m sure everything will end just fine.” With that he stood up and went back to work. Merlin took a few breaths in, straightened his shoulders and decided to face his king.


Arthur paced around his chambers with worry. Wine and glasses left on the floor near the fire. I should have known it won’t be that easy. How am I going to tell my people that I’m lifting the ban on magic, and expect them to accept it, if my friend just runs away from me when he hears the news? He sat down in front of a desk. With a big sigh he dropped his head in his hands. I should have been more gentle with him. How am I going to fix it? I’ll have to talk with the knights about Merlin. Maybe Gwaine will be able to reassure him more than me? Arthur frowned at this thought. He shook his head. Lancelot! Yes, I’ll ask Lancelot to talk with him! Gwaine is too forward. He likes to touch Merlin too much. My innocent, pure manservant. He had to suffer without me noticing it. When did he get so many scars? He blinked when he heard a knock at his door.

 

“It’s Merlin. Can I come in?” Arthur could hear the worry in his voice and hurryingly opened the door.

 

“Merlin! You’re here!” He winced when he realised how silly it sounded. “I though-” he was cut off with Merlin closing the door behind him. 

 

“Please let me explain.” Arthur was doomed. When Merlin looked at him with this big puppy dog eyes he just couldn't refuse him. He could ask for a moon and he would find a way to give it to him. Arthur nodded dumbly. “Let's sit down for this.” When Arthur saw how nervous Merlin is he pointed at their abandoned places near the fire. Younger boy took a breath in. “I start with saying that you’re wrong.” Arthur winced. 

 

“Merlin.” He said his name firmly. “I’m not wrong with this. Magic is not evil in itself. It just is.” Merlin’s eyes widened. 

 

“God Arthur! No! I didn’t mean this!” He hid his face in his hands. “I’m just making this worse.’

 

“Merlin, calm down.” Arthur patted his soft hairs. “Where am I wrong, then?” 

 

Merlin looked up at his blond friend. “Arthur, I don’t fear magic.” Arthur's eyes widened. 

 

“Oh..” Arthur frowned. “But everytime something magical is happening you disappear or hide. And when the problem is solved you appear again. I don’t understand.” He looked at Merlin puzzled. 

 

“Arthur.” Merlin took a deep breath. “I don’t fear magic, because I have magic.” He shook with worry when he said it. Merlin stressed the world “have” so Arthur wouldn’t be mistaken. Arthur’s eyes widened with shock. And then he laughed.

 

“You don’t have magic. I would have known.” He chuckled again. “Merlin it’s alright to scared no one will - “ 

 

“Arthur!” The blond blinked at Merlin. “Do you truly believe that all this branches falling down on bandits was just luck? And all this lucky escapes?” Arthur looked at Merlin with wonder. Merlin knelt in front of Arthur and took his hands into his. “Arthur, I did it all for you. My magic is yours.” The tears run down his cheeks. He wanted to say it for so long. He couldn't believe how freeing it felt.

 

Arthur looked at his innocent, beautiful Merlin. He couldn’t believe what this boy was telling him. Arthur had to be honest with himself what Merlin said made sense. For how long Merlin lied to me? Does it matter? He looked at this crying man again and it dawned on him. Merlin did it for me! He learned magic for me! 

 

“Merlin you idiot!” Arthur went to his knees as well and just hugged his boy. “You shouldn’t have. It was so dangerous to use magic! If anyone found out.. Merlin you could have..” He shook his head not even wanting to think about it. “Merlin I understand that you learned this small tricks for me and the knights. I truly appreciate it.”

 

“Small… tricks?” Merlin repeated dumbly. 

 

“Thank you for protecting me, Merlin. But you won’t have to worry about it anymore.” He said it with a big smile.

 

“What do you mean? Of course I’ll be worrying!” Asked exasperated Merlin. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. 

 

“Merlin, I’ll do a magical tournament to find a suitable court sorcerer.” Merlin’s eyes widened. “This way you won’t have to worry about magical things. Of course it’ll take some time but I’m sure that I’ll be able to do it soon!” Merlin was speechless. What is happening here!!!

 

“Arthur, what are you talking about?” He thinks I’m using tricks. Merlin wanted to cry with frustration. 

 

“I don’t want you to get hurt again. And from what I learned and seen, magic can be dangerous. That’s why Merlin I want you to stay out of it.” Arthur was looking straight into Merlin’s eyes when he said it. There were many mixed emotions in both boys' eyes.

 

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Merlin stood up. “You really want me to stay out of this? After everything that happened?” He looked at Arthur as if he slapped him. “You really think I will not take part in this tournament?” He glared at his king.

 

“You will not! I forbid it!” He jumped up to be face to face with Merlin. “Merlin it’ll be dangerous. You can get hurt! I don’t want that to happen.” The king tried to reason.

 

“You want me to trust some stranger to take care of magic?” He looked with disbelief at his king. To take care about you?

 

“Then, you’ll help me with the law regarding magic. But you will stay out of the tournament.” He begged the younger boy with his eyes. Merlin looked like he was contemplating this.

 

“I’ll help with the laws.” Arthur sighed, thinking that he won this argument. The king smiled at his manservant and before he realized what he was doing he hugged the younger boy.

 

On the next day the citizans of Camelot got informed about the ban on magic being fully lifted after the tournament, on which the court sorcerer will be chosen. Anyone with magical abiliteies can paricipate and be chosen.    

Chapter Text

One day you will fall in love. This emotion will slowly crawl into you. And you will realize it at the most unpredictable moment. And when you do realize it, don’t fear it. Cherish it, because if you are like me, in time it will become the oxygen you will need to breathe. Many would say that I am naive but I believe that love will help you in times of trouble or be able to overcome hardship that you will face. What you have to know about love, is that if it is not nutrated it can easily fade. 

There was a time when I loved your father (or maybe it was the image he created), and I thought he loved me back. I was so young when we met for the first time and he could be so charming. It was easy to believe in his softly spoken words. When he found out that I am barren he changed. He became obsessed with finding a way to have an heir. I couldn’t give him one thing he needed most… I felt so useless. It is a sad world in which you have no one you can trust. He took me from the place I knew, I understood, to a place where I had no one. How silly of me to trust his empty words! To how many women did he speak like that? With how many did he sleep after charming them? I should have known… should have seen the signs… but you have to understand that I wanted to believe in his words, the alternative was too scary to even think of.  Then I saw a man. I have never seen eyes more blue. He was the first one to ask about my feelings or my thoughts. He was the sun that brightened this dark place I ended up in.


Arthur stood in his chambers thinking of things he’ll have to discuss with Merlin. His friend was smarter than he thought. And his inputs about magic were direct. The problem was that he couldn’t really concentrate on what the boy was talking about. All he could do was focus on this eyes. Dark blue, with speckles of gold on the edges. It was like watching a night sky full of stars. And the passion he spoke with. This happiness he radieted with when they were discussing magic was so intense. All he could really think of was how he wanted to kiss this plump lips. A knock woke him up from his musings. 

 

“Enter!” He groaned when he saw Gwaine enter his chamber’s. “What are you doing here?” He hoped it would be Merlin. 

 

“Hello to you too princess or should it be queeny now?” Gwaine chuckled at his joke. “I come to check on you. So? What’s up?” He asked while he stole an apple from Arthur's table while he leaned on it.

 

“Gwaine, you now that I am the king?” All Arthur received was a frown. “You can’t speak like that to me!” 

 

“Okay, so what are you up to? You seemed out of sorts for some time. The knights are worried.” Arthur blinked at that and a small blush adorned his cheeks. 

 

“Oh. It’s just some laws I would have changed much sooner if not for this elders I have in a council.” He didn’t know why he was telling this to Gwaine of all people. “You don’t even know how hard it is to work with them!”

 

“Hold on! I don’t need to hear more. My head started to throb.” 

 

“You just asked!” Arthur growled. If you don’t want to know, then leave me alone so I can think of a way to spend more time with Merlin.

 

“Yes, yes I know.” The knight said dismissively. “If you don’t like to work with them, then just change conculers.” He looked at Arthur as if he solved his problems. 

 

“It’s not that simple Gwaine.” He could feel a headache coming. “Don’t worry, soon I’ll come back to training and sparring with you.”  He smirked. This time it was Gwaine who groaned. 

 

“Well if you’re fine and don’t need our help, then I’ll leave you to yourself.” He stood up and headed for the door.

 

“Did you just come here to annoy m-.” He got cut off with Gwaine stiking half of an apple to his mouth.

 

“It’s hard to find a good king. I just came to check on you.” Gwaine patted Arthur’s cheek lightly while he was saying it. And at this exact moment Merlin crashed into Arthur's chambers. 

 

“Arthur! Sorry for being la-” Merlin blinked at the scene in front of him. Blushing Arthur with Gwaine leaning into him. “-te.” 

 

“Merlin! Mate, it’s been so long since I saw you!” He bounced to Merlin. Leaving blushing and choking king behind.

 

“We just saw each other this morning.” He frowned at Gwaine. The brunet turned to Arthur. “Are you alright?” He asked worriedly. 

 

“Fine.” The blond gasped.

 

“Do you want me to come back later?” Merlin asked, unsure of the situation he just saw. Uncomfortable feeling settled in his stomach. 

 

“No! Gwaine was just leaving. Right, Gwaine?” I will not lose my precious time with Merlin!  

 

Merlin still looked hesitant. “Prin- I mean queeny’s right. I just came to check on him.” He patted Merlin’s head. “We should hang out soon.” Gwaine winked at Merlin when he was leaving. After my dead body!

 

“Are you sure, you are alright?” Worry was evident in Merlin's voice and on his face.  

 

“Yes, I am fine.” The king rolled his eyes. “Let’s sit down.” Arthur poured the wine. “Help yourself. You’re so thin I’m afraid the wind will topple you over.” He said while he pointed to the food on the table.

 

“Thanks. Not everyone is fat.” Merlin looked innocently at his king.

 

“I’m not fat!” Arthur gasped, offended, while Merlin chuckled. After that they chatted about less important things for a bit.

 

“Arthur.” Merlin started cautiously. Arthur looked at Merlin with a boyish smile. “There are some things I should tell you.” The blond straightened when he saw how worried Merlin was. 

 

“You know you can tell me anything.” Arthur took the younger boy's hand and started patting it in a soothing way.

 

“It’s about the tournament.” The king frowned. “I want to participate.” He said ina rush. 

 

“Merlin.” The king sighed. “We talked about it.” 

 

“No, we didn’t.” Merlin revoked. “Why can’t you understand that I want to protect you?” 

 

“Oh Merlin. I know that you want to protect me.” Arthur moved his hand to Merlin’s cheeks and squeezed it lightly. “Why can’t you understand that I don’t want you to get hurt? I can’t bear a thought of you being hurt and I wouldn’t be able to help you.” 

 

“Who said that I will get hurt?” Merlin looked insulted. “I’m more powerful than you think.” 

 

“Merlin, listen. There may be really powerful sorcerers. Who probably has more experience than you. All you have are probably one or two magical books and who knows what more. Am I right?” Merlin blushed. Because technically Arthur was right. The problem was that he didn’t really know how to tell Arthur everything he did for him with his magic. And how do you explain that you are MAGIC?  But he dreamed about the day he could stand beside his king and when it was so close to his reach he didn’t want to lose it to someone else. 

 

“Maybe I don’t have that much experience but I saved your ass so many times that I’m sure I’ll be fine!” When Arthur saw tears of frustration appearing in his Merlin’s eyes he backsteped a bit.  

 

“Shh Merlin.” He rushed to Merlin’s side and hugged him. “Let’s do it this way. The tournament will take place in three months. You will try to get ready and then we’ll see. Okay?” He hoped it would calm the younger boy down. When Merlin realizes that it’s too much for him he will quit himself. 

 

“You don’t believe in me.” It wasn’t even a question. And it hurt the boy more than he thought it could. He looked up at his king. “You think I’m useless.” Arthur’s eyes widened with shock. “Everytime you go and fight in your stupid tournaments and I stand behinde worring all the time but I never complaine.” That was bullshit and Merlin knew it. “I let you go fight because I know how important it is for you.” Merlin stood up. “But when I want to do the same.. you..you..” Merlin sniffed. “Why can’t you just believe in me?” The boy looked so broken that Arthur's heart ached for him. “What do I have to do for you to believe in me ?” When the first tear escaped he rushed out of the room. Leaving shocked and hopeless Arthur behind. How do I fix it?!

Chapter Text

Dragonlords. Let me tell you something about this magnificent race. Like the name says they are lords of the dragons. They have great power. They do not only control dragons but they can borrow their strength as well as turn into them! Oh imagine how amazing it is! I wish I could do that. Be able to change into something else. Be able to fly… to feel free. Oh Arthur it must be an astounding feeling. The most amazing thing among them is that when they fall in love it’s for a lifetime! When they bond, there is no going back. They cannot betray one another. Isn’t that wonderful? 

 

It is sad that there are not many dragons and their lords left. I heard that decades ago there was war between them. And because Ambrosious line won they become something like royalty among dragonlords. And I met him! The last of the Ambrosius line came to visit, to sign a treaty. His name is Balinor. He is something else. He has this strength in his strides and yet he can be so caring. I saw him pick up a little girl that tripped. He does not act like lords around here. He is not so full of himself. I can not stop listening to the stories he says. Of wonders and dangers he faced. And this eyes. They are so blue, just like the sky above my head. The way he looks at me makes my very blood boil in my vines. 

 

Again there is this feeling of forbidding at the back of my head. Like I will be a cause to his end. Oh Arthur, if Uther will ever find out… the things he would do. The price our people would have to pay. I fear to even think about it. So we tried to squish this feelings before they became too much. How we tried, my boy. If only we were stronger. It is so unfair my boy, that my husband can go and bed anyone he wants. Be it a maid, a wife of his knight or just a visiting lady. And yet I cannot leave him. Have to be by his side, have to pretend that I know nothing. I am just his possession… nothing more. Do not be fooled Arthur. He does not love me. He never did. Now I know what love is. If only I and Balinor met sooner.


Arthur was miserable. Merlin spoke to him, only when he needed to. What did I do wrong, this time? Why can’t this idiot understand that I want him to be safe?! Arthur went to the window, shut his eyes and put his head on the glass. A pained groan escaped him. What should I do? How do I apologise, when I don’t even know what I did wrong? Slowly he opened his eyes and looked outside. He smiled when he saw Merlin.

 

There he stands. He looks so happy, so free. Just like a fairy from out of this world. This astonishing man is even more beautiful inside than outside and I can’t believe it’s possible. It is amazing, how just a sight of this silly man can brighten my day. Then, Gwaine appeared and Arthur’s great mood changed. And how is that, when this annoying knight appears near my manservant I’m becoming furious. 

 

Arthur watched their interaction. How easily Merlin could laugh with one of his best knights. How his , he will be damned if anyone will say otherwise, boy can act so free around Gwaine. Then Arthur saw something which made his blood boil. Merlin blushed. His Merlin blushed, and it was not towards him. How dare he?! How dare Gwaine make his Merlin blush?! And why would Gwaine give Merlin a flower?! Arthur was angry at Gwaine, at Merlin, but mostly at himself. After all it was his fault, he is still not sure what he did wrong, that Merlin was upset with him. So right now he not only had work to do, but find a way to brighten Merlin up around himself. First he had to meet with Mathew. He heard he’s the best in this art. With a sigh he put on the cape and left.


Merlin was furious. How dare he?! I’ll show him! I’ll show all of them what I’m capable of! Just you wait, you clotpole! In his head he could hear Arthur voice screaming, it’s not a world, Mer lin . It’s so, is! Though the other servants, guards didn’t fear him, today they decided to leave him alone. Something in the air around him was making them stay away from him. There were no silly 

remarks of how he didn’t look like a king's servant. Or that he shouldn’t do this, or that, because it’s not proper. No one was trying to trip him and no one was calling him names. The brunet frowned when he realised that. He looked around with suspicion, but nothing was amiss, so he continued his journey to the armory in hope of finding Lancelot, or at least Gwaine there. 

 

Unfortunately his two favorite knights weren’t in the armory. To his bad luck Paul the big nose and Mark the small eyes were present. They were newly knighted nobles from some big families, he didn’t really care to remember from which though. It’s not like it was important anyway. 

 

“Oh, if it isn’t the king's servant? What are you doing here alone, servant?” Merlin barely contained himself from rolling his eyes at Mark the small eyes. Do they really need to remind me all the time that I am just a servant here? As if I wouldn’t know that I am just a servant! But not for long. Just wait for a tournament! 

 

“I’m looking for Lancelot and Gwaine, have you, by any chance, seen them?” He tried to be nice, but of all the knights he had to bump into the meanest ones. 

 

Paul the big nose wrinkled his nose with disgust. “You do not speak like that to the betters. Has no one learned you manners, idiot?” He hated it when others spoke to him like that. He didn’t mind much when it was Arthur though. 

 

“I’ll show you respect, when you’ll earn it.” Merlin was so fed up with all this nobles and their ways. With servants who thought they knew better, because they were raised into this positions. He raised his chin  at the knights. 

 

He didn’t flinch when he saw Paul raising his hand to hit him. He did sigh though, with relief when he heard the door open. When he saw it was Leon he couldn’t help but smile, while the knights tried to look innocent. 

 

“What is going on here?” The head knight asked. He turned concerned eyes at Merlin. He knew that the younger boy had some trouble with the stuff and some of the noble knights and he couldn't help but worry about him. He saw how the brunet changed the prince, now the king,  into a better person. How thanks to this boy the king was able to move with his life after so many betrayals. Therefore he decided a long time ago to protect the slim boy however he could. 

 

“Leon! Good to see you.” Merlin smiled, creating a dimple in his cheeks.  “Nothing is going on.” He put on an innocent mask. “Just looking for Lancelot or Gwaine. Have you seen them?” The knights looked with shock at the interaction between a servant and a head knight. 

 

“I saw Gwaine heading to the gardens. I didn’t see Lancelot, though.” He smiled at the boy. He could see how the boy was tired. Arthur probably spoke with him already. I hope Merlin took it in a good way. “Merlin - .” He looked at the two new knights and almost groaned. He couldn’t talk with Merlin in front of them. It was too dangerous a topic to have here. 

 

“Is there something you need Leon?” Merlin looked at Leon with his big, round eyes. 

 

“Can you come to my chambers when you’ll be done with your work?” We can discuss the ban and his reaction there. I should invite others too. Leon felt really good with this plan. Merlin's eyes widened and a small blush appeared on his cheeks.

 

“Umm… sure. I’ll try to finish my work as fast as possible to join you there.” He left with a small wave to Leon, not even looking at the new knights. 

 

Two nobles were shocked at what they saw and what they heard. They couldn’t understand what just happened. Did sir Leon, the head knight, just invite this useless servant over to his place? They straightened when the piercing and angry eyes turned at them.

 

“If I see you raise your hand or insult Merlin again, you will have to go against me first, and then the King. Do you understand?” His anger was palpable. 

 

“But… Sir..” The big nose tried to reason. 

 

“There is no but, sir Brotlik. Do you understand?” He looked at this ignorant men and couldn't help his disgust at the thought that a lot of nobles are like them. “Sir Gotleck?” He will not let them hurt Merlin. 

 

The knights looked at eachother. “Yes, Sir. We understand.” They answered. Leon was satisfied for now. When he left, he didn’t see the look the knights give themselves. Is this boy that good? The only thought that runs in their head.


Merlin ran to the gardens to catch Gwaine. He loved the gardens. All this different types of flowers. It was really refreshing to just walk around them. He couldn’t help but laugh looking at daysies and the bees that were flying around them. It seemed like out of nowhere Gwaine appeared behind Merlin. He put a flower he picked up behind Merlin’s ear. In return he got a scared yelp and a blush from him.

 

“Gwaine!” The younger boy couldn’t help but gasp with a giggle. “What was that for?”

 

“Why Merlin! Just happy to see you.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “Wanted to scare you a bit. And you looked so good laughing I couldn’t help myself.” Merlin blushed even harder at that. 

 

“You can’t say things like that!” Gwaine frowned. Displeasure evident on his face.

 

“Why? You’re my friend Merlin, therefore it’s fine to do it.” Merlin couldn’t help but smile at him.

 

“Thanks. It’s nice to hear it from time to time.” He scratched his head with embarrassment. 

 

“Oh then, I will tell you this as often as I can!” The knight put his hand around Merlin’s shoulder. Merlin sobered a bit.

 

“Actually… There is something I should tell you before.. umm.. you decide..” He stammered. Why is it so hard to say it?!  

 

“Merlin, my friend, there is nothing you can tell me, that will make me change my mind about our friendship.” He looked down at the nervous boy. 

 

“You’re sure?” He looked up at Gwaine with so much hope, that it almost broke the knight's heart.

 

“Of course! Though I don’t think this is a good place to discuss secrets.” They looked around and saw a few ladies and lords walking around the gardens.

 

“You’re right. How about we meet later in Leons chambers?” He hoped that the head knight wouldn’t mind it. But it was something he needed to tell all his friends, not only few. He needed all of them on his side if he wanted to win Arthur over with this tournament. 

 

“Sure thing!” He looked up at the sun and pouted. “I think my time is up. I need to go to the training ground.” Merlin chuckled at that. “Okay, I’ll inform others, okay?” He looked straight into Merlin’s eyes, looking for any wrong reaction from the boy. When he nodded, it seemed like he guessed correctly that Merlin would want to say it to all of his friends. They parted with a wave and a promise to meet later.


Arthur stood in front of a shoddy cote, somewhere in the forest not too far from the citadel. He was radieting with anticipation but you could detect slight fear as well. He took a big inhale and knocked on the door.  He heard rushed footsteps and before he could decide against it the door opened angry, middle aged men. 

“If you’ll come here…” His eyes widened when he realised who stood in front of his house. “My lord!” He hurriedly and awkwardly bowed. “How may I help you?” He looked uncomfortable and Arthur couldn’t blame him. How often do you meet a king in front of your door? 

 

“I would like to use your talents, if you wouldn’t mind.” The men’s eyes widened and a big smile appeared at his face. After so long he was finally noticed. “Can we talk inside?” He didn’t want to be overheard. 

 

“Of course, My lord! Please come inside.” He let Arthur inside his small place. 

 

“Thank you.” He looked around and saw how little this man had. Do all of my people in a lower town live like that? He thought of Merlin and his mother and winced. This men had much more than they did. He came back to the present when he heard the grunt behind him. 

 

“So how may I be of use, my Lord?”

 

“I would like to hire you for a district job. I heard that you’re one of the best in town in sculpting in a stone. Am I well informed?” He tried to sense the men. He heard a bit of him, but he needed to be sure he would not say a word to anyone about it. 

 

“You flatter me, sir. I don’t know if I am the best, but I’m very good in this art.” He puffed his chest with pride. 

 

“Good. Very good. You will be paid handsomely if you’ll be discreet and the sculpt will be to my liking.” Arthur saw the frown appear at Mathews face. 

 

“I’ll do my best, my lord.” The men bowed. 

 

Arthur explained what he wanted him to do. How big it had to be. The king had a feeling that this men would do a perfect job. He wanted it done at the end of the tournament. It was supposed to be a gift to all magic people for what he did in his ignorance, and his father in his hate, done to them. He just hoped it would be enough to start righting the wrongs.