Chapter 6 Reentering
Finally, it was over. Ending with the Battle of Camlann, Arthur was exhausted. "I never knew. He's done so much, and I never knew any of it." Arthur took a shaky breath. "Merlin is the bravest man I've ever known; and I've treated him horribly."
"Arthur," Freya spoke up. "Merlin knows you've accepted him. That is all he's ever wanted. To be accepted, not recognized."
"He should be rewarded at least."
"Then do what you think is right. That is what you've always done, and it has served you well." She said.
"Freya?" Arthur asked. "You said that I will rise again when Albion's need is greatest. Do you know what that need is?" She shook her head. "No, I do not have a seer's gift, so I do not know. However, now you have awaken, I know it will happen soon."
"When will I leave?"
"Momentarily, dawn will be breaking in the living world shortly. So you will have a whole day in your journey to Camelot. Although you will not be going alone."
"I won't?" Arthur asked in surprise. "Who's coming with me?" Freya stood up, Arthur followed her, facing the woods. Arthur saw what may be an Elf walk towards them. He wore a long grey robe and had long silver hair. The Elf seemed to be carrying something in his arms. Another walked by the Elf, but had no resemblance to him. Arthur's jaw dropped open when he saw who it was.
"Careful princess, you might catch flies."
“Gwaine?!” Arthur said in disbelief.
“But, if you’re hear, then, that means...” Gwaine nodded to Arthur's assessment. “How?” Arthur asked.
“Gentlemen, now is not the time. You both need to return to Camelot as soon as possible.” Freya began, but Gwaine stepped closer, making her a little uncomfortable. “Hello beautiful. What might your name be?”
“Gwaine!” Arthur scolded. “Not now!”
“There’s no time like the Present” Gwaine defended.
“Gentlemen!” Freya said more sternly. Both men turned and stopped their argument. “Thank you. Now that I have your attention. The time to leave is now, you can have your barters on the way to Camelot. Merlin will need you both, if Albion is to succeed.”
“Will you come with us?” Arthur asked thinking mostly so Merlin can see her again.
“I cannot” Freya said sadly.
“Please, join us” Gwaine said. “If I’m going to be stuck with princess here, I would not mind your company at all.” Freya gave a slight chuckle, Gwaine’s face light up. “Behold, a laugh worthy of the fair maiden” he said rather dramatically. “If I were to die in this moment, you would make me a happy man just by the grace of your laugh.” Freya gave an involuntary, smile which made Gwaine light up even more.
“Gwaine you’re already dead!” Arthur said rolling his eyes.
“What? I’m just being friendly” Gwaine told him.
“We both know exactly what you’re doing and it’s not going to work.”
Gwaine was about to retort back when Freya sighed. Honestly it like talking to children. “I appreciate your kind words sir knight, but Arthur is right; my heart belongs to another.”
“Who?” he asked curious of the answer. “Merlin” she said sadly. Gwaine’s eyes widened. His friend would have to do some explaining when they got back. “How?” Freya’s eyes were still sad as he wondered what happened to them.
“A story for another time” Arthur interrupted seeing Freya hesitant on the question. She gave him a quick smile of thankfulness, Arthur gave her quick nod back. That however still didn’t stop the pain of guilt he felt. “Remember what I have said Arthur” Freya said as if she read his thoughts. Arthur nodded again, but he couldn’t push it aside.
“My lady,” a new voice sounded. Arthur felt embarrassed, he forgot the Elf was there. Listening to the whole conversation. “Yes Thondiair, thank you. We have prepared druid clothes to help you blend in.” Thondiair handed them the fabrics. Arthur and Gwaine took them gratefully. “Your Camelot capes and armor might cause suspicion. Remember, you both have been dead for nine months, you would cause quite a shock should you be recognized. Show yourselves only to the ones you trust the most. Until you prove to Camelot that you are the true Arthur Pendragon.”
“How will I do that?” Arthur asked unsure. “Show Merlin this,” Freya held out her hand over the pool. For a second nothing happened. Then a gleaming sword flew up from the water and landed into her hand. Arthur immediately recognized it as Excalibur. Freya held out the sword to him. “This will prove to him that you really are the true Arthur Pendragon.”
Arthur took back Excalibur, missing the sword’s familiar weight. “We will leave you to change, then you must return to the world of the living.” Freya and Thondiair bowed before walking away. Arthur and Gwaine changed in silence, each men consumed in their own thoughts. Arthur swung his green cloak around his shoulders, concealing Excalibur within it. When they were ready, Freya and Thondiair returned to them. Gwaine seemed to know Thondiair, he said goodbye to him first. Arthur and Freya stood near each other as they watched Gwaine and Thondiair. “Arthur?” Freya began.
“Would you do something for me?” she asked him.
“Anything” Arthur said, he meant it.
“Tell Merlin that I miss him, and...” She paused, bringing a hand to her mouth, holding back a sob “and that I love him.”
Arthur felt another fresh wave of guilt “I will.” Freya hugged him tears sliding down her face. “Thank you” she whispered in his ear. Arthur hugged her back. Unable to stop the thoughts from coming. Because of him, Merlin couldn’t be with the one he loved. Because of his father’s law on magic Merlin had lost so much. They pulled back and Freya kissed him on the cheek. “Do not blame yourself Arthur, you have been forgiven by me as well as Merlin. It will do no good to carry guilt."
“It’s not just Merlin though. Many has suffered from my father’s law. And mine.”
“You are not your father Arthur Pendragon. You have opened your eyes to what Uther has been blinded. A new age is about to be born, and I think, you will find you have more friends than you realize.”
“I do not deserve forgiveness from them.” Arthur said knowing who she was talking about. “You do not have the power over who forgives you, and who doesn’t. It is their choice, Arthur. My advice is to accept it.”
Arthur nodded at her words of wisdom. “It is time” Freya said quietly. Gwaine came over and they stood by the pool. “Arthur,” Freya spoke. “You are Merlin’s courage. Gwaine, you are his strength. Remember this in the times ahead. Whatever may come.” Arthur remembered being called courage by the bridge keeper on his quest to the Perilous Lands. Now he knew what the dwarf said when he advised him not to dismiss magic lightly. “Farewell, until we meet again” Freya said. This time Arthur and Gwaine bowed to both Freya and Thondiair. Freya blushed as she has never been bowed to before. “Thank you for your kindness” Arthur said to them. “It has been our pleasure Arthur Pendragon, the Once and Future King.”
“When I return magic to Camelot," Arthur said speaking to the elf, "you and your kind will be able to walk freely within the land again; with no fear. I make this promise to you.” Thondiair smiled “We will eagerly await that day my lord. Thank you.”
“To enter the world of the living, wade into the pool and you will return to the edge of the waters of Avalon. Hurry, make way to Camelot as quick as you can. Tell them that their king lives.” Each side bowed once more, taking their leave. Arthur went in the water first, quickly followed by Gwaine. Arthur took one last look back at the pair. Before taking a breath, and dunking his head under the water.