Love and Lakes

Councils and Chaos

Merlin cast spells around them that made them hard to see: if someone saw them lurking about, their eyes would wander and never quite land on them unless they were trying very hard.

Although Freya wasn’t going into Camelot, he didn’t want to risk them being caught in the woods. As they snuck through, very aware of everything going on around them, of every sound that they heard.

Eventually, by mid-afternoon, they reached Camelot, where Freya found a small grove to hide in. Merlin gave her a small kiss and a smile before heading into the city, where he took the spell off of him. It didn’t matter if people saw him now, because he was looking for Arthur, wasn’t he?

He strolled up to the castle and inside it, going straight to Arthur’s chambers. It seemed that nobody who was really concerned about Merlin saw him yet. Well, it seemed that way.

Gwen was heading down the corridor when she turned a corner and saw somebody who she really had not expected to see. “Merlin!” she shouted, running towards him at an alarming speed before wrapping him in a bone-crushing hug. “You’re back!” Merlin assumed Arthur had not told her his secret, surprisingly, by the fact that she was still glad to see him. He wondered why Arthur hadn’t told anyone, especially Guinevere... it gave him a small hope that perhaps Merlin wasn’t going to be beheaded or burned.

She stepped back, still holding him by the shoulders. “Arthur’s going to be so happy to see you.” she said kindly. However, at the mention of the King’s name, Merlin’s eyes flashed with hurt and... was it fear?

She furrowed her brow in worry. “What’s wrong?” She asked him.

Realizing that perhaps Gwen had seen how upset he was, Merlin masked his pain. “Oh, nothing.” He said, but Gwen wasn’t convinced. However, she still smiled and walked with him.

“Where have you been?” she interrogated like a terrified mother. Such questions like that she asked him the whole way to Arthur’s chambers, though Merlin didn’t tell the whole truth about what had happened. He didn’t want to tell Gwen of all that had happened, even though he knew he could trust her.

Gwen led him to Arthur’s chambers, and then left him with a smile. He swallowed his fear and his pride, took a deep breath, and entered.

It was obvious that Arthur had been a mess. Merlin could see that there was a pile of armor waxing materials in the corner, which had not been there when he was last at Camelot. With an inward groan of pity for Arthur, he realized that it must have been George who was Merlin’s substitute. However, it was unlike George to have to room in such a state of un-immaculate-ness, so Arthur must have made this mess all while George was off doing some sort of errand (probably making love to Arthur’s armor).

Merlin looked at the full extent of the chaos Arthur had wreaked upon his room. Chairs were knocked over, clothes were all over the floor, a goblet was shattered on the ground near a table and it was clear that the wine had spilled all over the floor. Closet doors were hanging off their hinges, Arthur’s bed was indescribably messed up, and papers were strewn every which way on Arthur’s desk. A plate of food, nice, good food, sat uneaten upon the table, and it was obvious Arthur had disregarded it without a thought.

The man himself was standing by the window, a hand raking through his hair and the other on his hip. Arthur was not wearing his favorite red, but instead a dark navy blue, and from what Merlin could tell he did not seem well at all.

Upon opening the door, Arthur said, “George, now is really not the time fo-” as he turned around, but seeing his old manservant he gave a cry of relief as a smile spread over his face. He began to walk towards Merlin, grateful that he was there, and shouted, “Bloody hell, Merlin, where have you been! I was -” but the look on his man servant's face silenced him.

His eyes held pain, unimaginable pain and hurt, and when Arthur walked towards him he could feel that Merlin was a bit more alert, and he was eyeing the door. With Arthur, Merlin had never felt this uneasy. Arthur’s smile soon slipped off his face once he realized that Merlin was not there to forgive him

Arthur quickly said, “Look, Merlin, I’m sorry, it was -” But each time Arthur was cut off by the young warlock, because he was simply so miserable that it was impossible to say anything.

Merlin murmured: “Look, Arthur. I have a destiny here in Camelot, I have a destiny with you, and I cannot shrug that off. But nowhere in the prophecy voicing my destiny did it say that we had to be friends. Just know that I am now here, ready to serve you.”

Arthur look devastated at how cold and hurtful his friend had been, and he stood there, frozen to the spot as Merlin exited the room. In a still just as shocked form, Arthur dressed himself and headed down to a council with the King Alined that he suddenly really did not want to go to.

Once inside the council meeting, Arthur tried to shake off the horrible feeling that had taken a hold of his gut, and the pressing feeling that he must go find Merlin and right his wrong, but he suppressed both feelings and took up his duty as King.

They discussed laws and peace treaties, and things that should change and things that should stay the same.

And then, Arthur finally thought of something that would resolve all of these problems: for Merlin, and the kingdom. He waited until there was an opportunity for him to speak, and then began.

“Listen, men, and keep an open mind.” He explained, the full attention of the court resting upon him. “I know that it is going to be hard to adjust to, and that it is against what many of you believe, but I know that it is the right thing to do. We must lift the ban of magic in Camelot.” Though a look of shock and disgust fell upon many of the men in the room, Arthur carried on. “I know that we see it as a force for evil, but in fact it is much like the sword. A sword can be used to kill and hurt innocent people, but at the same time, can be used to protect and defend those same people. It is not the sword that may be evil, but the intent of the user. To ban a sword would be ridiculous, so why is it not ridiculous as well that magic has been banned? I know personally that magic can be used as a force for good, and that by banning it, we have created many enemies of the people who were once loyal to us. So it is on these grounds that I believe that we should no longer ban the use of magic in Camelot.” Surprisingly, a majority of the men around him looked persuaded by the King’s arguments, including many of the Knights.

But one man in particular had an expression of both incredulous disbelief and venomous fury written across his face, and that man was King Alined. He stood up and began an instant attack on Arthur’s words.

“I apologise for speaking to you in such a manner, but how is it possible that you could consider lifting the ban? You are forgetting that it is by the hands of magic that both of your parents are dead, and many others. Magic is evil, and has been used like such for many years. To lift this ban would be undoing the work of your father, Uther, and causing magic to rampage across the kingdom in a way that we cannot control it. And lifting the ban would also cause great danger for the other kingdoms, would it not? All of the sorcerers would flee to Camelot, whereupon learning that they would be treated with kindness that they did not deserve opposed to the other kingdoms, and they would turn upon such lands, including mine. They would wage war, an unstoppable war that would simply be suicide for the common man to fight in. So it would be the death of all other kingdoms for yours to simply lift a ban that for so long maintained peace in the land. So, my lord, though it pains me to say so, if you attempt to lift the ban on magic, I will be forced to wage war on you and your people.”

Many of the knights and subjects most loyal to Arthur looked affronted, but King Alined did have a point, and a strong one indeed. Alined had won back much of the council members, and it was clear that lifting the ban was not a favorable opinion in this room.

Arthur nodded, defeated, and continued on with the meeting. A feeling of dread filled his stomach, knowing that he could not win back Merlin’s trust with the lift of the ban now, and that he could not improve the safety of Camelot. It was a horrible feeling, and Arthur left the room feeling very miserable indeed.

When Gaius arrived back from the council meeting, he found Merlin back where he had left him after greeting him and mercilessly interrogating him about what happened. He opened and closed the door, looking grim, and explained to Merlin what had happened in the meeting. “Alined had made it clear that he will wage war on any kingdom that lifts the ban against magic.” Upon hearing the news, Merlin’s head dropped into his hands in despair. He was doomed.

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