Chapter 10 An Unexpected Suprise
Merlin was depressed. Anyone could see that if they looked. Merlin sat at the lake for a long time after Arthur and the boat turned to ash. Emotionally, and physically spent, Merlin fell asleep listening to the small waves wash on the shore. Unmoving for a long time.
Once he woke, Merlin gazed into the lake. "What do I do now Arthur?" asking into open air. The answer came like a whisper, Gwen would need help as the new Queen of Camelot. Arthur would want him to go back for her. "Thank you my friend."
Gwen knew that her husband was dead, but the look in Merlin's eyes confirmed it. "I'm so sorry Gwen, I failed."
"No Merlin," she said gently, cupping his face with her hand. "You stayed with him until he died and protected him. Thank you Merlin, you have been a loyal friend to both of us." Gwen wrapped her arms around him as they shared their grief.
"Merlin?" Gwen said after a few moments.
He looked up at her, breaking apart from the embrace "Yes?"
"I know Merlin. I know what you did at the battle of Camlann." Merlin froze.
"Gaius told me" she took his hands. "I'm not afraid of you Merlin, I know you would never use magic against us. You have too good a heart for that." Merlin broke down in sobs. The secret that he had kept hidden was out; and he was accepted. "I want to build a new world Merlin, a fair and just world for those with magic. Will you help me?" He couldn't believe what he was hearing. The day prophesied since the dawn of time has finally come to pass. Gwen wasn't afraid of his magic, she saw him as the same Merlin she had come to know over the long years.
It hadn't been easy. It took much persuasion for the council members who have stood by Uther and his reign over magic. It wasn't just the councilmen though, Gwen wanted the public's opinion. She formed a council for the people and asked them their views on allowing magic. During Uther's reign, everyone was afraid of helping strangers. Not because if they were sorcerers, but because they were afraid of getting caught and accused of conspiring with magic. It took many months to make an agreement. Many were still afraid of magic, since the all of the attacks they've had with it. Slowly but surly, they were able to be persuaded. Gwen has not been able to lift the ban on magic; that power only laid with the King. Yes she was queen, however she doesn't hold that much power. The best she has been able to do was make a peace treaty with druids, and those with magic.
When the announcement was made, the druids still did not trust Camelot, thinking it was a trick to draw them out. For proof, Merlin went to Isildur and his camp. Asking if they would be bold and live within, or at least near Camelot to prove the Queen would keep her word. Isildur accepted this request, and they went back together. It took a while for the druids to trust Camelot, Merlin didn't blame them. Finally they came. At first, some only to see what it would be like, more and more started coming. Some even began building lives in Camelot. Merlin helped them start out, finding work and getting to know the people. It was awkward for both the people and the druids, soon they became used to the changes and treated each other fairly.
Gwen was missing Arthur, Merlin could tell that. Thinking a hair ribbon might cheer her up a bit, Merlin went down to the market. Of course it was nothing compared what she really needed. Though it would be nice to see her since all of the work regarding the druids have been taking up most of his time. Merlin smiled when the children asked him to do magic. Everyone was shocked when they found out, the people acted nervously around him. That quickly changed, and Merlin was thankful for that. During his performance, he noticed others were watching him, smiling to himself. Merlin waved the children off after his display, thinking he caught sight of a familiar blond head of hair. Merlin's eyes grew wide, it was Arthur. Gwaine stood next to him. Turning away, Merlin felt grief overcome him again before shaking it off. No, they were dead, his mind was playing a trick. That's all. Letting out a sigh, Merlin focused on the task he came down for. "I'd like to buy a ribbon please" saying as he went up to the merchant. Paying the money for a purple one, Merlin thanked the seller, picking his way back through the crowed. Keeping his head down so he wouldn't see Arthur's face again. Maybe he was going mad.
Merlin found Gwen in the chambers she shared with Arthur. "Hello Merlin," she said giving him a soft smile. Merlin noticed she looked exhausted. "Bad dreams?" he asked her sympathetically, Gwen nodded. Gwen hasn't had a good night sleep since Arthur died. She missed being beside him when she woke up. Missing his scent and strong arms protecting her. Merlin sat down at the table on the opposite side. "I bought this for you today," he said pulling out the ribbon. "Oh Merlin, It's beautiful," she said taking it from him. "Thank you."
"Will you help me try it on?" she requested. Merlin smiled "Of course." Going behind her, Merlin helped tie it in her hair. "How do I look?"
"Absolutely beautiful" Merlin said honestly. Gwen gave a giggle at that. "Thank you Merlin," she said solemnly
"For what? It's just a ribbon" he said confused. "No, not just for the ribbon, for coming back and helping me. It's been hard without Arthur, I'm glad I have my friends to help me with the kingdom." Merlin smiled and took her hands in his. "You're strong Gwen, I have no doubt you would have exceeded if I hadn't come back."
"Merlin, you are one of my oldest friends, it wouldn't have been the same without you."
Merlin stood up and hugged her. "I'll always look out for you Gwen, I promise you that" She hugged him back. They stayed like that for a while, taking on each other's support. Finally Merlin pulled back. "Would you like me to make a sleeping draft for tonight? You look like you need a good night sleep."
"If you don't mind, I think I would."
"It's no trouble at all, Your Majesty" Gwen rolled her eyes at him. Merlin just gave one of his signature smiles, this time it reached his eyes. Even if it was only for a moment. Gwen walked him to the door. "Seriously though," he said turning to her before walking out. "You are strong Gwen. Never forget that." She smiled, "Thank you Merlin." He smiled back, then turned away.
Gwen watched him disappear around the corner, sighing when the door clicked shut. She really did need a good night sleep. Gwen was about to go behind the changing screen when a knock sounded against the wood. "Enter," she granted. The door opened.
"He's right you know; that's one of the many things I love about you."