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11 August 2011 @ 02:43 pm
If You Ever Have Need: Questions and Answers (2/?)  

Title: If You Ever Have Need

Fandom: Merlin

Rating: T

Warnings: Slight violence and mild language. No beta. All mistakes are my own

Pairings: Mostly Merlin/Arthur friendship. Some mentions of Arthur/Gwen romance. No Slash

Spoilers: Through the end of season 2

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters or ideas. I just like to play with them. (Okay...that sounded wrong, but you know what I mean)

Previous: Chapter 1

Summary: When yet another creature attacks Camelot, Merlin is forced to reveal his powers. Unable to kill his closest friend, Arthur sends him away. What does that mean for their destiny?

Author's Note: Thank you so much for the reviews. I'm glad that I'm doing this fandom justice.

Chapter 2: Questions and Answers

Gaius is going to kill me, Merlin thought sadly.

He'd magicked himself into his tiny room adjacent to Gaius' workshop. He had half a mind to go tell the old man goodbye, but he knew that Arthur would do that for him. It would be easier for them all if he just left. He'd go to Ealdor for a time, long enough to tell his mother what had happened and to come to terms with it himself, but then he would find a way to move closer to the city to keep an eye on Arthur and devote himself to his studies. If he was going to protect Arthur from afar, then there was all the more reason for him to expand his knowledge of magic.

Sighing, Merlin grabbed his pack off the ground and shoved every piece of clothing he owned inside. He retrieved his spell book from it's hiding place and carefully laid it on top. There was no sound from the other room, so he guessed that Gaius was not there and ducked into the workshop to grab a few other books and supplies that he might need. He left the Sidhe staff for the time being. He didn't think he would need it.

He slung the pack over his shoulder, taking one last look around. He'd always expected that one day he would be forced to leave Camelot for one reason or another. It was harder than he'd expected though.

Footsteps sounded outside. Knowing that he would never make it out of Camelot without being seen if he went by foot, Merlin decided that he might as well use a little more magic.

"Lopraím le gnáthghaoth téigh in éaf dar dáta domhan go Ealdor," he whispered. There was a flash of light and he was gone, leaving no trace that he had ever been there in the first place.

oOoOoOoOo

The castle was quiet. With the threat gone, most of it's inhabitants had gone to king had accepted Arthur's explanation of events and Leon had done nothing to contradict him. A knight had been sent to gather what venom he could find, should wyvern ever attack the city again. Now all that was left was to explain to Gaius what had really happened. That was not a conversation After was looking forward to, not after the way the old man had left the throne room. He'd clearly been suspicious of what had actually happened to his ward.

In an uncharacteristic show of respect, Arthur knocked quietly on the door of the physician's chambers. There was no answer. He knocked again and there was still no answer. Finding himself worried about the old man, he pushed open the door and walked in.

Gaius was standing with his back to Arthur, in the doorway of Merlin's room, which was clearly empty. He didn't even hear the young man enter.

"Gaius?" Arthur called softly. He didn't even want to consider how Merlin had gotten everything out of his room in the fifteen minutes since he'd disappeared off the battlefield.

The physician started and spun around. "Sire," he said quickly. "Is everything all right? Were you injured in some way?"

At his words, Arthur's side suddenly ached and he remembered being thrown against the wall. So much had been going on, that he'd completely forgotten about his own pain.

"It's nothing, just some sore ribs," he said dismissively, anxious to get to the real point of his visit. "I came to talk to you about Merlin."

Gaius' eyes widened. "What happened to him?"

Arthur felt distinctly uncomfortable. "He did leave for Ealdor, but not for the reasons I gave," he said softly. "He left because he used magic to save the city."

The old man closed his eyes, as though his worst fears has been realized. "What did he do?"

"Then you did know?" Arthur confirmed. "I don't care if you did," he added quickly when Gaius did not answer immediately. "He saved my life. That's why I let him leave. I just need to know why he would do something like that."

Gaius looked up at the strangely vulnerable tone of the prince's voice. He'd never heard Arthur sound any more confused than he did in that moment. It was clear that he had no idea how to deal with the discovery that Merlin was a sorcerer.

Sighing heavily, Gaius directed the prince to a chair and sat down opposite him. When Arthur caught his gaze again, it was without any of the guards or pretenses he usually used to hide his emotional vulnerabilities. His eyes shone with confusion and pain and betrayal, but beneath all was something else, a desperation to understand.

Arthur leaned forward, his elbows on his knees, looking completely wretched. "Why would Merlin even practice magic if he knew it was forbidden?" he asked miserably. "Why would he chose to be a sorcerer, in Camelot of all places?" Why wouldn't he tell me?

"To explain that, I must start from the beginning," the physician warned. "In the course of this tale, you may well learn things that you did not want to know and your beliefs will be tested. Are you sure you want that, sire?"

Slowly, Arthur sat up and nodded. Merlin had been his best friend. He needed to know why the first friend he had ever had had kept such a secret from him.

Gaius saw the determination in the young man's eyes. It was the same expression he got when he was about to go risk his life. He'd decided that he needed to know the answers and he wasn't going to stop until he got them.

"Very well then," Gaius sighed.

Realizing that he was in for a long story, Arthur made himself comfortable.

"The first thing you must understand is that Merlin is not a sorcerer," the old physician began. Arthur cut in at that.

"That's what Merlin said. He called himself a warlock. What's the difference?"

"A sorcerer must study the art of magic," Gaius explained. "They must learn incantations and study for years to master the old religion. A warlock is born with the power of magic. Usually it manifests in the late childhood, before young adulthood. Most of the time their powers appear around the age of twelve or fourteen, but sometimes they do not manifest until the individual is older. Merlin is an exception to that." The old man's eyes grew distant, as though lost in memory. "His mother came upon him just days after he was born, levitating half of their furniture. Such power is unheard of. When he first came to Camelot and saved my life without so much as a word, I could not believe it. No sorcerer or warlock has ever been powerful enough to create magic such as Merlin does without using an incantation. His magic is elemental. It is not something he chose."

Arthur frowned in confusion. "He didn't choose this. He was born this way?"

"Yes. He never had a choice in the matter. For Merlin, magic is as much a part of him as breathing. I tried to get him to top, for his own protection, but he did not. He could not."

"But why come to Camelot?"

A wry smile tugged at the old man's lips. "Hunith seemed to think that I could protect him and keep him out of trouble. I did practice magic before the purge and she hoped that I could help him gain control while keeping him safe. Though I may have succeed in the former, Merlin seems to attract more trouble here than he ever did in Ealdor."

"Then why did he stay?" Arthur asked slowly, more befuddled than ever before. "He had to know how dangerous it was. The day he came here, father was holding an execution!"

"He may well have gone had he not found a use for his powers."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

Gaius sighed again. This was going to be difficult to explain. "There is an ancient prophesy that binds the two of you. Unbelievable though it may sound, Merlin is your protector."

The prince's mouth fell open in astonishment, but Gaius plowed on.

"His magic kept him awake when the witch posing as Lady Helen sent the castle into an enchanted sleep. He dropped the chandelier on her. When that proved insufficient to stop her, Merlin slowed time so that he could pull you out of the way of the dagger. He used magic to force the snakes on Valiant's shield to come alive when the could not harm you so that you would not be killed. He conjured a wind to mingle with the flames of your torch to destroy the afanc-"

"Then why did the poison even effect him when he drank it just a few weeks later at the feast with Bayard?" Arthur demanded. "If he is so naturally powerful, then why did he not save himself?"

"It does not work that way. Powerful as he is naturally, Merlin still had to learn to unlock the whole of his powers," Gaius said impatiently. "Even if he had known a spell that could have saved him, the poison acted too fast. He wouldn't have stood a chance."

Gaius never thought that he would have to explain any of this to the prince. He always just assumed that one day Merlin would take care of it. Even then, these were not the kind of questions he'd thought his young charge would be forced to answer.

"Although, on the other hand, Merlin may well have been able to had he known the spell," the old man added after a moment. "He did manage to conjure that orb to guide you."

Arthur nearly fell off his chair. "That was Merlin!"

"You really do have no idea how much he has done for you, and all of it through magic," Gaius said ruefully.

As he picked himself up, Arthur considered everything that he'd heard, and they'd barely covered the first two months of Merlin's stay in Camelot. He couldn't help but wonder what else the manservant had done for him. Perhaps Merlin really had been his protector.

"Tell me everything," he requested quietly.

"Well, let's go in order then," Gaius sighed. His heart was warmed slightly by the fact that the prince seemed so eager to learn about Merlin. "After the chalice, the griffin attacked. Merlin enchanted Lancelot's spear so that it could pierce the creature's hide." No need to mention that he also created the false papers for Lancelot's knighthood, he added to himself.

Arthur's eyes widened in sudden understanding. "Is that why Lancelot left all of the sudden?"

"He heard Merlin incanting the spell. Merlin said that he felt that he had not truly slain the beast and was finished with the deceits. He left to earn his honor."

"So he knows too, then?"

Gaius heard the bitterness in the prince's tone and he could guess the reason why. Arthur was angry that Merlin seemed to have trusted Lancelot, but had not trusted him. Perhaps it would have been wise for Merlin to confide in the prince after all.

"It was not intentional, by any means," Gaius assured him. "Merlin had no idea that he'd been heard until they had returned to the castle."

For a moment, Arthur seemed to relax. Then his eyes flashed. "When Morgana fell ill, why couldn't Merlin do something?" he challenged. "Surely by that time he'd learned enough to save her. If he'd used his magic then my father would never have been put in danger by Edwin."

"That was my doing," Gaius admitted softly. "When the city was attacked by the afanc, Merlin used magic to heal Gwen's father and it nearly got her killed. I forbade him from doing the same thing again. By the time I realized who Edwin was, it was too late. He knew of Merlin's power. Had I tried to stop him, he would have revealed Merlin to your father. As it was, Edwin nearly killed me and the king before Merlin stepped in."

Arthur leaned back against his chair. It seemed that Merlin really had been doing all he could from the very beginning. "What else has he done?" he whispered. He was beginning to get the feeling that he had made a terrible mistake sending away the man who had apparently been protecting him without anyone knowing.

"I believe that next Merlin stopped Sophia and her father from sacrificing you to the sidhe so that they could regain access to Avalon, took a sword to the dragon so that it could ben enchanted to slay the dead, conjured the windstorm to save Ealdor, sou-"

"Wait a moment," Arthur interrupted, again. "Merlin called the wind in Ealdor?"

Gaius nodded, looking confused. He didn't understand the significance of that event.

"He tried to tell me," Arthur said weakly, understanding Gaius' expression. "Merlin tried to tell me that he had magic. Heknew he was going to have to do something. I didn't listen. When the wind storm appeared, I suspected it was him. But when Will confessed, I believed him, even though Merlin tried to stop him from saying anything. I should have known."

"Merlin may act an idiot, but most of the time it is simply so that he can use his magic to protect people," Gaius said fondly. "Of course he is sometimes just an idiot. He often acts before he thinks, but his heart is always in the right place."

A small, fond smile tugged Arthur's lips. "He always does seem to make a fool of himself trying to help someone. I can't believe that he did so much for Camelot in such a short time."

"Some of his greatest feats have been in the past year, but it was quite amazing how far he came," Gaius acknowledged. "I swear to you, my lord, all Merlin has ever done is try to protect you and Camelot."

"I'm beginning to believe that," the prince acknowledged. "All of this is making wonder just how many of my triumphs actually came at my hand."

"Merlin may have had a hand in those feats, but you were still the one to accomplish them."

Arthur scoffed. "Really? Did I actually slay the questing beast? Or the dragon? Both times, I was knocked unconscious and Merlin told me that I had. How was Sigan defeated, because that wasn't me either. Did I even kill the troll that married my father, or did Merlin do that too?"

For the briefest moment, Gaius considered telling the prince that he had, in fact done all of those things, but he knew that Merlin would want Arthur to know the truth. Hiding it had only served to make things worse when the secret was revealed.

"No, Arthur, you did not kill the questing beast," he said softly. "Merlin did after you were injured. Your sword was as useless against it as it had been against the gryphon. Had he not enchanted it, he would not have stood a chance. Sigan was defeated when Merlin chanced a dangerous spell to trap his soul back into the crystal. That spell could have killed him had it not worked. As for the troll, you did indeed kill it. All Merlin did was trip it up with the carpet."

Arthur mulled over the physician's words. Merlin really had done more than he'd ever dare thought, even after he'd realized that the manservant was a sorcerer... warlock... whatever he was. If he'd done all of those things and hadn't gotten any credit, he'd have gone crazy. It was one thing to let Sir William of Daira receive the honor of winning the tournament, but the people needed to know that their prince was willing to risk his life for them. They needed to know what he had done. How Merlin could do all of those things, risking his life in ways that Arthur could never understand, was something completely beyond him. How could the gangly, awkward, idiot manservant he'd become friends with be not only a sorcerer, but a hero?

"What of the dragon?" Arthur asked. He'd not missed that Gaius had left that out.

"I'd rather hoped that could be left alone," the old man sighed. "For that is a complicated matter."

Dread coursed through Arthur's veins. Was he going to learn something that would truly change his opinion of Merlin? Whether he was or not, he had to know what had happened. "Tell me, Gaius."

The old man nodded. "Very well. Do you remember Balinor?"

"How could I forget him?" Arthur grumbled. "We travelled through Cenred's kingdom to find him only to have him die saving Merlin. What about him?"

There was a pregnant pause. "He was Merlin's father."

This time, Arthur really did fall off his chair. Suddenly, it all made sense, why Merlin had been so quiet on the journey, why he had been the one to get the old man to come along, why Balinor had sacrificed his life, and why Merlin had been so affected by his death.

"His father?" Arthur murmured.

Gaius nodded sadly. "He didn't know until just moments before you left. I cannot imagine how hard it was to lose Balinor so soon after finding him. But in dying, the power of the last dragonlord was passed on to his son. Merlin is now the last of his kind."

"So he's a warlock and a dragonlord?" the prince choked. "Don't tell me he's a fairy too!"

"I certainly hope not," Gaius sighed. "The power of the dragonlord is what allowed Merlin to defeat the dragon. However, he did not kill it. They are both creatures of magic, kin of a certain kind. He could not bring himself to spill anymore blood. The dragon is subject to his will."

"Of course," Arthur grumbled. "The idiot is controlling the bloodthirsty monster. How did I not guess?"

"The dragon's knowledge has saved Camelot many times," the physician pointed out. "Had it not been for him, the wraith would have killed your father, Sigan would have overthrown the entire kingdom, and you would still be in love with Lady Vivian. Merlin knew that."

Arthur began pacing. After a moment, he stopped and stared at Gaius with tormented eyes. "So, he really never hurt anyone? He never used magic for evil?"

"The only people Merlin ever hurt were those who attacked Camelot," Gaius said firmly. "He has never taken a life that could be spared and he would never dare to use evil magic. Sigan offered him that chance and Merlin turned him down."

"All he's ever done is protect Camelot, protect me, and I sent him away." Arthur ran a hand through his hair. "He must hate me. Everything he's done for me and I-"

"Gave him enough trust to let him live," Gaius cut in. "Merlin knew that he was asking you to accept a lot and frankly I cannot believe that you are taking it so well."

"It all makes sense," Arthur admitted quietly, sinking back into his chair. "All the close calls, all the times I should have died or Camelot should have fallen and somehow did not. This explains how Merlin always seemed to know what was going on, why he always seemed to be in the right place. I always thought he was just in the way, but if it hadn't been for him, I'd probably be dead. But..." he looked up and again, Gaius saw the confusion in his eyes. "If magic isn't evil, then why did Merlin, the warlock himself, tell me that magic was evil after we met with Morgause?"

"Because he knew that if you killed your father you would never forgive yourself," Gaius said. "The kingdom would have been thrown into chaos and you would not have become the king you are destined to become. Merlin could not let that happen. You cannot even begin to guess how much it pained him to tell you that magic is evil when he knows better than anyone that it is not."

Arthur couldn't take any more. His mind was spinning. He wanted so badly to believe that what Gaius said was true and that Merlin really was not evil. Everything seemed to point to that. But he could not forget that his entire life he had been taught that magic was the worst evil in the world. As much as he could not see Merlin, goofy, idiotic, disrespectful Merlin as someone as cruel and malicious as the king claimed sorcerers to be, he could not help but fear that he perhaps his friendship with Merlin was keeping him from seeing clearly.

He needed to be alone, to think.

"I should go," he said, standing and moving slowly toward the door. "Thank you for telling me all of this. I...I need time to think."

Gaius nodded. "Of course."

"This will stay between us," Arthur promised. "I want no harm to come to Merlin."

"Thank you, sire. Merlin truly did consider you a friend. That is why he protected you, not merely out of a sense of duty."

Arthur paused, his hand on the door. He couldn't admit how much that meant to him. Nodding once to Gaius, he left the room and made his way back to his chambers. To his surprise, he found that they weren't empty.

oOoOoOoOo

Author's Note: So this turned out not quite as I intended but I think I like it. I know it seems like a spent a lot of time covering what had already happened, but in a lot of the fics I've read, I was left with the feeling that Arthur took things too well too fast. I've always thought that he would have questions that needed answering. This is my solution to that. I'm sorry that so much of it ended up rehashing what had already happened. The next chapter will carry the story forward more

Chapter 3