The rain is pouring down, and it's because Merlin tore the sky apart. Magic thunders in his veins now, not like the ripples and aftershocks he's used to, the feeling of potential. The old ways lie blasted on the ground because of him.
This is only the beginning, Morgana had said.
"Merlin?" Gaius sounds shaky beside him; weak.
Merlin wonders if it would take just one touch of his fingers to bring out youth in the old man again. He smiles. "Come on. Let's go home."
He easily outstrips Gaius on the way back, and it feels like he's riding on the wind. When Camelot gleams in the distance, it's the jewel he remembers from when he first arrived. Now it's home, and it's his, and he presses forward faster still.
His mother is sitting up in bed, her skin clear and her smile warm. He rushes to kneel beside her.
"You see? I said you'd be all right."
She strokes his cheek, searching his face in wonder. "What did you do?"
He has beaten back the breath of dragons, and he has decided who shall live and who shall die.
"I saved you," he tells her. "And I always will."
There was fire in his chest and now he burns with it. He is of the old religion but not consumed with it, born with a destiny but not controlled by it. He has slain the Questing Beast, defeated a high priestess, and taken back the lives they stole away from him. There's nothing beyond his grasp, nothing he cannot have, and he understands that now. He can feel magic enough within him to tear Camelot down to the earth if he so wished.
He wonders if others can see it as he rides through the castle, if there's strange light emanating from him or if there are spells trailing in his wake. He knows he needs to calm himself, he needs to reign in this newfound power before it burns through his head and his heart.
Instead, he's running to Arthur's chambers.
Arthur's at the window when he enters. He turns, raises an eyebrow at Merlin's unexpected appearance.
"What is it you want this time?" Arthur asks.
Momentum has carried Merlin this far. He has destroyed ancient sorcerers and rewritten the balance of nature. There is nothing that is beyond him, and Arthur cannot refuse him anything, not now, not today. He reaches out, lays one hand where Arthur is still injured, and he feels the spell damage that's still causing Arthur pain. He realises it would only take one touch, one thought, to heal his wounds.
Merlin sees the scene play out in his mind, and this is how it goes. He draws his hand away, and Arthur looks up, mended and surprised, and that's it, no more secrets now. The revelation's overwhelming, but it's right. Arthur understands, reaches out a hand to trace the line of Merlin's face with new comprehension, and everything falls into place.
The vision fades.
"Merlin? Good god, man, you're shaking."
Arthur's gripping his shoulders, peering into his face, and all the manic energy and the elation dissipates. It's almost all Merlin can do just to stay upright.
"Come on, what is this? Last time I checked it was still my turn to be sick."
"Oh, you know me, I'm useless," Merlin murmurs in reply.
"Should I get Gaius? I should get Gaius."
"No, don't bother, I'm -- I'm all right." I used magic to murder someone because you nearly died, and it's my destiny to give my whole life to you, and there are so very many things I'll have to tell you sooner or later. His knees give out from under him and Arthur has to prop him up against the wall, hand not leaving Merlin's shoulder.
"What on earth am I to do with you?" Arthur asks.
Merlin laughs. "I'm sure you'll think of something."
"Yeah, what is it you said earlier? I'm stuck with you for life?"
"Aren't you the lucky one."
"Apparently." Arthur's fingers curl round the back of Merlin's neck, surprisingly gentle. "You're clearly not fine, you know."
"No, no I am, I just -- I just need a moment." Merlin grabs Arthur at the elbow, fingers twisting into the loose fabric of his shirt.
He and Arthur, they are not yet the men they will become, and that's all right. Merlin can do anything, and he will do everything, but not right now, not today. His eyes fall shut, and Arthur doesn't move. Merlin breathes, slow and deep, for the first time since Arthur was hurt. The momentum leaves him, his new magic fading away into the background where it belongs, and he feels himself again.