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One Night Could End It All

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Merlin groaned, gripping tightly to a bucket while sitting on the floor next to his bed. He was greatful he thought of putting it next to his bed the night before.

He noticed first rays of light started to enter his room for his small window. With a sigh, he laid his head against the side of his bed and kept the bucket balanced on his lap. He needed a drink of water, but he didn’t feel well enough to stand up yet. So he just tried to relax for a moment and hope that his stomach was fully empty.

This wasn’t the first time in the last week Merlin had gotten sick. At first he assumed he just ate something that didn’t agree with him, but this was the third morning he’s thrown up now and he didn’t know why.

He wondered vaguely if it was nerves. About a month ago, he had returned from a patrol and things between him and Arthur have been awkward ever since.

Before they had started their return trip back to Camelot from that patrol, they had stopped at a tavern. The knights ended up getting pissed that night, and somehow Merlin did as well.

Merlin couldn’t really remember half the night, but the next morning he thought he must have died and went to heaven; for he was pleasantly curled up against a certain blond haired prince. The dream was shorted lived though, as Arthur woke up and started to panic. Although Merlin didn’t remember what happened, he could give a pretty good guess by the pain in his behind and lack of clothes.

It had taken everything Merlin had to keep a straight face as he watched Arthur panic. Arthur had gone on about how they would act like it never happened and how it could never happen again. Merlin knew this. He knew for a long time that he could never act on the feelings he had for the prince; because he was just that, a prince. And princes couldn’t have servants as lovers; especially those of the male variety.

So he had sat there, trying to keep his magic from exploding in response to the pain he felt. Then when Arthur seemed to be done with his spill, Merlin said he understood and fled the room as fast as he could.

The ride back to Camelot that day had been awkward, and all of the knights noticed.

Even after they returned, the pair couldn’t bring themselves to even look at each other.

Merlin did end up spending a couple days hiding from Arthur when they got back, but finally went back to work in fear that the King would flog him if he didn’t. Yet they ended up still trying their best not to be in the same room as each other—especially alone—for more than a few moments.

Merlin did what chores he needed to do in Arthur’s chambers when he knew the prince was training his knights or talking to his father. And when Merlin seemed to not find anything to do that didn’t involve being close to him, Arthur made up some chore to do across the castle.

Gwen had been asking him lately what was wrong with him and Arthur, but he really had no idea what he could tell his friend. He simply said they had a fight, but never had a fight between the two lasted this long.

If he didn’t know any better, he would think the entire castle was worried about them. He was sure people had bigger problems to worry about than if the prince had issues with his manservant, but he always seemed to be catching people throwing him worried glances lately. And just the other day, even King Uther had inquired if Merlin was feeling well as he served drinks the other night to the royal family over dinner.

Merlin started to cough again and dreaded the thought of throwing up more. In the end, he just dry heaved a bit—though, that didn’t seem much better.

He was trying to even his breathing back out when Gaius knocked on the door, “Are you alright, Merlin?” The question came through the door.

“I’m fine,” Merlin croaked, “My stomach just feels a bit upset.”

There was a pause, and he could imagine Gaius’s thinking face. “I shall make you a tonic, then,” Gaius informed and Merlin heard him shuffle away from the door, back towards his working area.

Merlin’s head felt heavy as he laid his head back down. He wiped some sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand and prepared himself mentally. With how he was feeling right now, the last thing he felt like doing was going to wake Arthur up. With much effort from his tired body, he was able to get slowly to his feet. Once he was sure he wasn’t going to need to use his bucket in the imitate future, he wobbled out of his room in search of some water.

***

Thankfully, the tonic Gaius gave him seemed to help his stomach and Merlin was able to make it to Arthur’s room almost on time this morning.

Merlin entered Arthur’s room while balancing the prince’s breakfast in his arms. “G’morning,” He mumbled as he sat the breakfast on the table. Arthur was sitting up on the edge of his bed; still not dressed and hair sticking out everywhere.

“You made it before I dressed myself this morning,” Arthur pointed out, a yawn muffling his sentence before it ended. Arthur stood up and stretched his arms over his head; Merlin tried not to stare at Arthur’s bare chest as he did so. He really loved fresh out of bed Arthur and he used to not mind an eye full to start off his day. But now, any lingering glances between the two left them with discomfort.

So, Merlin forced his eyes away and went to push the heavy curtains away from the windows to let some of the morning light in. As Arthur sat down to eat, Merlin hurried to put the bed back together and then started to pull some clothes out for the prince’s day.

“What are you doing this morning?” Merlin asked as he dug around the wardrobe.

“Training,” Arthur answered, still not sounded completely awake and had a tired roughness in his voice.

“There is a council meeting this afternoon, so I’ll need a bath ready when I’m done with the knights,” Arthur continued and Merlin made a sound of agreement as he pulled out Arthur’s training clothes.

“Merlin…” Arthur said to catch his attention and the tone in his voice made Merlin tense.

“Yes, Arthur?” Merlin encouraged nervously.

“Nevermind,” Arthur said after a pause and continued with his meal.

***

A week later, the two still hadn’t talked things out, but they seemed to fall back into something a bit more normal. Though, of course, that wasn’t good enough for Morgana.

“Oh, Merlin,” Morgana called out as Merlin was on his way to Arthur’s room to clean. Morgana was grinning at him like she was planning something. Add Gwen’s timid smile from her place behind her lady and Merlin was now very scared about what Morgana would want with him.

“Hello, Lady Morgana,” Merlin greeted, throwing a nervous glance at Gwen.

“Just who I wanted to see,” Morgana said, lopping her arm through his and started to pull him away, “Won’t you come and speak with me for a moment, Merlin?”

“Um, sure?” Merlin answered against his better judgment. He was pretty sure he didn’t really have a choice anyhow. “What do you need, Morgana?”

Morgana just ‘hmm’ed at him and continued to pull him along. Once they were down a hall that was barely used, Morgana started: “So, what is going on between you and Arthur?”

Straight to the point; very Morgana.

“What are you talking about?” Merlin asked in reply, trying to seem truly confused.

Denying it; very Merlin.

Morgana wasn’t fooled, he knew, he was a horrible liar. But he tired anyhow. Really, one would think with how often he had to lie about his magic that he would be better at the whole thing.

“Come now, Merlin,” Morgana said, “I grew up with Arthur and I know you pretty well. Something has been wrong with the two of you for weeks. You might have got the rest of the castle to believe you two made up, but I’m not that stupid.”

“Morgana, really, it’s fine,” Merlin tired.

“We’re just worried about you two, Merlin,” Gwen added, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“Arthur is just being his normal royal prat of a self,” Merlin said, “Really, it is fine. Thank you, but you two don’t have to worry.”

“What did he do?” Morgana asked, staring him down. Merlin realized some of his bitterness from the whole thing must have slipped out in his reply.

“Nothing, Morgana,” Merlin sighed, “I have work to do, so if you will excuse me.” Merlin couldn’t look at the girls as he quickly turned and headed down the hall.

He hated lying to the two. It was bad enough he could not tell them about his magic, but this time they were just being worried about him. But he couldn’t very well tell the King’s ward that he slept with the Prince.

Merlin rolled his shoulders, trying to relax when he realized that his magic was sparking at his figure tips.

“Do you think he will be alright?” Gwen asked Morgana as they watched Merlin retreat down the hall.

“Of course he will,” Morgana grinned, “Because we will make sure that he is.”

***

Another week pasted and things between Merlin and Arthur didn’t change. Though, Merlin could feel Morgana plotting. Even Arthur seemed to feel it. In the end, Morgana will probably not even have to lift a finger. The two would likely fix it themselves just because the vibes that Morgana was giving off was freaking them out so much.

Merlin sighed softly as he worked at polishing Arthur’s boots. He had come to almost enjoy polishing—of course, he never planned on telling Arthur that. It gave him time to think and it was a lot easier than some of the things the Prince had him do.

Though, right now, he just felt very tense. Arthur was sitting at his table, looking over some papers for the kingdom. Once this scene would feel peaceful to Merlin and he was upset that he had lost that.

He tried to ignore the broken friendship between him and Arthur, but the quietness was making it worse. Just when he thought he could relax, he would suddenly get lonely and feel like crying. Then he would just as suddenly get pissed off at Arthur for being a prick. In the last hour, he was pretty sure he went around in this emotional circle nearly twenty times.

Unexpectedly, Arthur’s hand slapped down on the table, breaking the silence of the room.

“Good God, Merlin,” Arthur growled, “What is wrong with you?”

Merlin sat with wide eyes for a moment, staring at Arthur. The Prince was glaring back at him in annoyance.

Merlin felt himself grow angry. What was wrong with him? Oh, maybe the fact that Arthur hadn’t looked at him in the eye in over a month. Or on the rare chance they playfully bickered together these days, it ended up having a very real edge to it.

Or the fact that I am sitting right next to you and yet I miss you like I haven’t seen you in years, Merlin thought.

“Oh, nothing,” Merlin replied sarcastically.

“Don’t give me that,” Arthur said, “You have been thinking so loud for the last hour that I am sure half the castle can hear you. And I know you don’t have enough thoughts to fill up that head of yours, so what is wrong?”

“I have plenty of thoughts, you clotpole,” Merlin argued back.

“Really, Merlin?” Arthur asked.

“Yes, you prat,” Merlin said, glaring at him.

“Than why don’t you share?” Arthur pressed.

“Because you are the one that’s avoiding talking to me,” Merlin growled. “I know the night at the tavern is bothering you too, but you are stubbornly against talking about it. Even if it means that we will never talk properly again.”

Arthur looked pained and started, “Merlin, you know we can’t—“

“No, you listen to me,” Merlin said, standing up, “We haven’t said more than we needed to each other in over a month. If you don’t want to talk about that night, than fine, but don’t think I can just forget that. I get, I swear I do; you’re the bloody prince and having sex with your manservant is against some stupid rules. I wont tell anyone and I wont expect it to happen again. But I don’t care if you regret it, Arthur, I don’t.”

Merlin didn’t wait for Arthur to say anything and he hurried out of the room. Once he made it back to his own room in Gaius’ chambers, he fell onto his hard bed and let himself cry.

Chapter Text

Merlin leaned back against one of the pillars in the throne room. There was a meeting going on and Uther’s lecture was making him sleepy. He hoped Uther would finish this before he fell asleep standing up. With his luck, he figured that would somehow end with the whole castle starting on fire.

He saw Arthur giving him a pointed look and forced himself to stand up properly. Some how, the two were nearly back to normal now. It has been over a month now since Merlin’s rant. Arthur tried to talk to him about it afterwards, but Merlin ignored him.

Merlin had said what he needed to say and he didn’t really feel like spending another night crying. And with how off his emotions have been lately, he wasn’t sure he would make it back to his room before the tears started again.

There was still random moments of awkwardness, but apparently the two couldn’t stay at odds with each other. It must have been the whole ‘two sides of the same coin’ thing. Either way, Merlin was grateful.

He didn’t have to worry about Arthur anymore, but he was a bit worried about his own body. He was still throwing up, regularly, and he seemed to find himself unable to totally control his emotions. He was getting headaches often and the other night he had the weirdest dream.

He had said something to Gaius and the older man knotted his eyebrows and stuck his nose into a book. Because not being told anything made him feel so much better.

Finally, Merlin found himself following after Arthur towards the Prince’s chambers.

“…Merlin, what are you doing?” Arthur asked over his shoulder, giving his manservant a perplexed look.

Merlin realized he had been rolling his shoulders and trying to stretch out his back. Lately his body would suddenly ache for no reason.

“My back hurts,” Merlin pouted, wiggling again.

“Really, maybe I should have you join the knights in practice to work up your body. You can’t seem to do anything without nearly falling asleep.” Arthur sighed.

“Yes, because I am not busy enough taking care of the royal prat,” Merlin said, glaring at the back of Arthur’s head.

“You are a bit useless. Training with the knights might do some good,” Arthur said with a lightness to his tone as he entered his room.

“More likely, I will end up cutting my own hand off,” Merlin said helpfully.

Arthur stared at him, thinking of the possibility, “… True. But do you think you can get me some lunch without killing yourself?”

“Yes, sire,” Merlin mocked and headed back out of the room.

***

As Merlin made his way back, he glared at the plate of food he was carrying. The food had looked perfectly fine and he was sure the cook wasn’t about to do anything to the Prince’s lunch, and yet, the smell of it made Merlin’s stomach cringe.

Merlin nearly sighed with relief as he sat down Arthur’s food in front of him. He hurried over to the window and took a deep breath.

“Merlin, wine,” Arthur called, looking at him curiously.

“Oh, right,” Merlin poured the wine, giving the food a wary look.

“Is my lunch poisoned or something?” Arthur asked and poked a piece of bread like it would bite.

“No, of course not,” Merlin answered, “I just don’t—“

Before he could finish, he puked right into the wine pitcher he was holding.

“Merlin!” Arthur exclaimed, jumping out of his chair.

Merlin sat the pitcher on the table and slid down onto the floor. With a groan he leaded his head against the leg of the table. “Not again,” he mumbled.

“Again?” Arthur asked worriedly as he brushed his finger tips across Merlin’s forehead, “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, sorry,” Merlin mumbled and tried to stand back up. Arthur held him down with a hand on his shoulder. Giving him a light order to stay, he gathered the food and pitcher and handed them out to a guard outside his door.

“Get rid of these,” Arthur ordered.

“Are you alright, sire?” The guard asked as he tried to keep a straight face when he realized that there was more than just wine in the pitcher.

“Yes, it’s Merlin,” Arthur said, “Get some water and have Gaius come here.”

“Yes, sire,” The guard said as he hurried off.

“I’m fine, really,” Merlin assured as he got up, “My stomach is just a bit off.”

“All the more reason to talk to Gaius,” Arthur said and moved to sit Merlin down in a chair. “Will you sit still before you throw up again?”

It didn’t take long for a maid to come in with some fresh water. After she said that Gaius was on his way, Arthur shooed her from the room. He pulled a second chair up along side Merlin’s and brushed a damp cloth against his face.

Merlin looked at Arthur, surprised, and blushed softly. “Really, I’m fine,” Merlin tired again.

Arthur’s brows knotted, “You said ‘again.’ You’ve been doing this a lot lately, have you?”

“A couple times,” Merlin admitted.

Gaius came and explained that while he didn’t know what was wrong with Merlin, he would advise some rest for the boy. Arthur agreed at once, even while Merlin tired to assure the two that he was perfectly fine. Though, of course they would hear nothing of it and sent him straight off to bed.

***

Merlin sighed as he started up at the ceiling of his bedroom a couple days later. Arthur had been careful not to push him too much anymore. That included being sent off to bed early and Merlin wasn’t enjoying it one bit.

And now he couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t seem to bring himself to relax in the dark room.

Merlin wiggled anxiously on his bed then forced himself to stay still. He wanted to get up and pace the room, but that would wake up Gaius. He could go wake around the castle, but that would draw questions from the guards that he didn’t feel like dealing with. So, he continued to lie on his bed, fidgeting every now and then.

On top of the throwing up that had Arthur fretting, he had also been feeling incredibly tired and his body hurt. And that wasn’t even including the random want to cry, quickly followed by getting angry for no reason. Thus, he came to realize that something was wrong.

For the most part, Merlin was able to continue along with his daily chores. Gaius didn’t seem to have any idea of what was wrong with the young wizard—well, none that seemed possible. Though, Gaius wouldn’t admit it, Merlin had a pretty good idea of what was wrong with him. He didn’t understand how he knew, he just did.

This, of course, freaked him out, because it really wasn’t possible. Yet, here he was, lying in bed, trying to figure out how in the world he got pregnant.

A few days ago, Merlin has snuck a look at one of Gaius’ books about pregnancy. He didn’t know what gave him the idea and he was truthfully hoping the book would reassure him that he was insane for even thinking of the possibility. But the more he read, the more convinced he was that he really was.

He was pretty sure magic had to do with his current predicament, but he didn’t understand how. He only had sex once and he was pretty sure that time did this to him. But no matter how drunk he was, he was sure he would have realized if a spell was placed on him and he didn’t put the spell on himself.

He rested a hand protectively over the small bump on his stomach he noticed starting to grow a few days ago. He knew someone else didn’t do this to him, he could sense other people’s magic pretty well now. This felt like his magic—which frightened him in its own right, because that meant that his magic decided to do this itself.

It wouldn’t be the first time his magic acted on its own. There had been times when his magic flew from him before he had time to completely realize what was happening. Usually that only happened in emergencies to save his or Arthur’s life. Why would his magic do this to him, he didn’t know.

He couldn’t stay in Camelot now; there was no way Uther would accept a baby made with magic as his grandchild. He couldn’t even bring himself to guess how Arthur would react.

God, what if Arthur hated him. He was sure Uther would try to kill him, but if Arthur agreed with his father… Merlin wasn’t sure he could survive that. Part of him realized he should try to get rid of the creature growing inside of him—that would keep him alive and ensure that he could stay with Arthur. But even thinking of that filled him with guilt.

His thoughts filled with images of Arthur freaking out and yelling at him. It was worse though, to think of the prince standing quietly by the king’s side as his execution was declared. Or Arthur saving his father the trouble and just killing him with his own sword. He really wasn’t coming up with any way out of this without him or the bump getting killed.

Merlin closed his eyes tightly, trying to hold back the tears he felt pressing against the back of his eyes. He felt protective of the bump he was growing, but the thought of it terrified him. He wasn’t really made to carry a baby, there was so much that could go wrong. He couldn’t very well tell the father, in fear that his bump and himself would both end up dead.

‘Oh god, what am I going to do?’ Merlin thought, it now taking all his willpower not to start pacing or running out into the night. Though, he could feel his magic making a few things in his room float around to drain some of the energy building up in him.

Merlin continued to lie in his dark room, fearing what the future might hold. He was vaguely aware that it was nearly dawn and he was going to have a hard time getting though the next day. But he couldn’t relax enough to sleep. Did his heart always beat this loudly?

He was finally pushed out of his thoughts by a soft knock from his door. Checking out the window again to double check that it was still not quite morning yet, he knotted his brows in confusion. Who could want something from him at this time of night.

He pushed himself out of bed and carefully opened the door only to find a grinning Morgana. Hushing him, she quickly brushed into his room, shutting the door behind her. She seemed happy about something and that just confused Merlin further. In his confused and tired state, it didn’t take much for Morgana to pull him to sit next to her on his bed.

“I had a dream,” She finally said, smiling widely like that would totally explain while she was here before dawn. In her night clothes, Merlin finally noticed.

“.. About?” Merlin finally encouraged, realizing that she wasn’t going to elaborate on her own. If she had a dream, did that mean she saw something? He started to worry about what she could have seen, but with how excited she seemed, he figured it couldn’t be that bad. He hoped.

Morgana started to bounce a bit on the bed and Merlin realized he had never seen the King’s ward so happy.

“I’m going to be an aunt!” She said, in a hushed cheer. “Well, I mean I grew up with Arthur, I expect to be an aunt. I saw it though, the most beautiful little girl.”

Merlin’s jaw dropped as he stared at her. She saw the bump; she had a vision about his baby. “What-but-“ He really didn’t know how to react. He knew, in a back corner of his mind that he should be worried—Morgana must have figured out his magic with this.

Yet, he found himself grinning back at her. “You saw it.” He sighed with relief. If Morgana had seen it, that meant he figured out how to get the bump out, right?

He started to panic again at that thought, ‘No, don’t get in that right now.’

“Oh, she will be adorable, Merlin!” Morgana gushed, “My visions are usually so dark, but this one, oh! You should have seen her. Well, I guess you will soon enough. But she’s the prefect mix of you and Arthur.”

Merlin just listened to her as she told him of the blue eyed, blonde girl that was in her dream. With a huge, beautiful smile (which she apparently got from Merlin, not that he understand how that made it ‘beautiful’) and eyes that flashed with gold. She sounded perfect.

Suddenly, it seemed so much more real now. Someone else knew about the bump—his daughter. His bump was going to be a girl.

The fear that had kept him up all night was replaced with giddiness. He knew there was so much that could still go wrong. But celebrating with Morgana right now, somehow that gave him the courage to face this.

“I knew you had magic,” Morgana stated, still grinning, but Merlin could see the hurt in her eyes. Guilt flooded him.

Since Morgana had realized that her nightmares where so much more than just normal dreams, he had wanted to tell her. But how could he? His mother had made him leave Ealdor when she realized that Will knew of his magic.

“I’m sorry, Morgana,” He said, “I wanted to tell you, but… to admit to being a sorcerer in the middle of Camelot—while acting as the Prince’s manservant—..”

Morgana placed a hand over his, “I know. I will get you back from hiding it from me,” she teased, “But I can understand. It’s …. Nerve racking to have magic while living here—the king could find out at any moment. But I wouldn’t have told.” She assured and Merlin wrapped an arm around her.

“I know,” Merlin said, “I’ve just been raised to keep my magic a secret with my life, to tell someone isn’t easy.” He grinned at her, “But you know now and we can help each other.”

Merlin realized just how badly he had wanted Morgana to know about his magic. He loved Morgana, she was one of his best friends. And to know someone else with magic—he had someone else to talk to about this.

Gaius was helpful, but the old physician wasn’t born with it like they were. Even though Morgana didn’t realize she had magic until recently, it was something she was born with. Morgana suddenly knew all his secrets—his magic, his bump and likely his feelings for Arthur—but instead of the fear he knew he should feel, he only felt as though a weight had be lifted. Keeping everything that made him, well him, a secret was hard to live with.

“How long,” Morgana asked carefully, “have you been able to use your magic?”

“Always,” Merlin answered, surprised by how easy it was to answer her truthfully despite everything the dragon had said. “My mum said I was moving things with magic before I could even walk.”

Morgana placed a hand on his bump, “And this?” She asked, “Did you use magic to do this?”

“I didn’t mean to,” Merlin admitted, “My magic can have a mind of its own sometimes.”

Morgana laughed softly and stood up, “I should get back upstairs before the castle wakes up. We can talk more later?” She asked, hopefully.

“Of course,” Merlin grinned and he fully meant it.

“You need to eat properly for my niece,” She continued, “I’ll send Gwen down with some food in a bit.” Before Merlin could protest, she had already pressed a kiss to his forehead and sneaked back out of his room.

***

Merlin yawned as he made his way down the castle halls nearly a week later. He had been feeling so tired lately.

He had been able to sleep better since Morgana had told him about her dream, but that didn’t seem to help his tiredness. Apparently, making a baby took a lot out of you.

Merlin couldn’t help but grin at the thought of his bump. He still had no idea what he was going to do, but the thought of his daughter made him happier every time.

“Merlin!” He heard a familiar voice and turned to greet Gwen as she came up next to him with a basket of clothes.

“How are you feeling?” She asked with a smile as she gave him a once over as to make sure he was still in one piece.

“I’m fine, Gwen,” He assured, “Just a bit tired. How are you?”

Gwen didn’t know about his magic, but he was betting that Morgana had told the maid to look after him. Gwen always seemed to be bringing him some healthy food (much to Gaius’ confusion) and checking that he was in good health every time she saw him.

“Oh, I’m fine,” Gwen answered and fell into telling him the highlights of her day. Merlin laughed and talked with his friend until they had to part ways. Giving Gwen a farewell, Merlin turned down the hall that would lead him to Arthur’s room.

Merlin tried to shuffle another yawn as he pushed open the door into Arthur’s—without knocking, of course, because what would be the fun in that.

“Merlin, will you ever learn to knock?” Arthur asked from his place at the table. Not bothering to look up from the parchment in front of him and his tone sounded bored.

“Nope,” Merlin answered simply as he went about tiding up the room.

After awhile, he realized he was being watched and turned to give Arthur a curious look.

“You keep yawning,” Arthur replied to the silent question. Arthur stood up and moved to stand in front of his manservant. “You’ve been yawning a lot lately, in fact. Have you been spending your nights in the tavern or something?”

“No, I just have had a hard time sleeping lately,” Merlin answered as truthfully as he could and turned back to his work.

“Merlin,” Arthur warned, “What’s wrong?”

Merlin was a bit surprised by the sincerity of the question. He knew they had a secret friendship, but the two were still not completely talking to each other properly.

“I’m fine, Arthur,” Merlin insisted with a sigh. He really didn’t feel like starting with this. He couldn’t tell Arthur about the bump.

Merlin tried to focus on tiding—he wasn’t even totally sure what he was cleaning—and tried to ignore Arthur’s eyes boring into his back.

He worried that the prince was going to press the matter more, but sighed in relief when Arthur moved back towards the table.

“Go rest, Merlin,” Arthur ordered, “You’re not use to me half a sleep.”

“What?” Merlin turned to Arthur puzzled (and maybe a bit hurt), “I’m fine, really, Arthur.” He insisted.

Arthur had already been spending him to bed early almost every night. He kept ending up not being around Arthur as much as he used to be. He tried to think of a way to assure Arthur that he was fine.

‘I don’t want to be away from him,’ Merlin realized. He didn’t know how much longer he could be near the prince. Merlin was pretty sure he would have to flee Camelot before it became obvious that he was pregnant. He only had a couple months left with the prince, at best.

Arthur turned to face his manservant to order him to leave again. The prince’s eyes widened as he stared at Merlin then move back in front of the younger man.

“Merlin, what’s wrong?” Arthur nearly panicked, gripping Merlin’s shoulders.

“What?” Merlin asked, staring back at the worried prince. He looked around a bit to see if he missed an intruder or something.

“Merlin,” Arthur scolded, “You’re crying.”

Merlin touched his, now damp, cheek to test Arthur’s words. Oh, Merlin tried to whip the tears from his face. ‘Damnit, I swear these mood swings are getting worse.’ He grumbled to himself, getting annoyed that this wasn’t the first time he has over reacted to something lately.

Just the other day he started crying because Gaius put a rabbit into their dinner stew. He never really enjoyed hunting, but he had never worried about the cute bunnies once they were cut up and on the table either.

“Merlin,” Arthur stressed, still gripping his shoulders, “What is wrong?”

“Oh, nothing,” Merlin assured and tried to put some space between them, “Sorry about that, maybe I am more tired than I thought.”

Arthur didn’t let go of him, though, so Merlin looked at him properly in the eyes for the first time since he had entered the room. Arthur was worried about him, that much was clear, but Merlin’s heart clenched as he saw the hurt in his eyes.

Merlin couldn’t help but reach up to cup Arthur’s face. He was relived when the prince didn’t pull away from the intimate touch.

“I’m sorry,” Merlin apologized, but didn’t know what else to say other than that.

He couldn’t really reassure his prince of anything and couldn’t tell him the truth. So, he stood there, brushing his thumb against Arthur’s cheek and hoped the prince could see and would understand the remorse in his eyes.

“Go rest,” Arthur finally said after a few moments of silence between the two. His voice was soft and comforting and it made Merlin want to melt into his arms.

“I want to stay here,” Merlin replied softly then became nervous when he realized he had said it out loud. He blushed and couldn’t bring himself to look back up at Arthur.

The prince was surprised at first, but squeezed Merlin’s shoulders.

“Then lie down and get some sleep.” Arthur said and went to sit down again.

Merlin stood there in shock for a moment. Did Arthur just offer me his bed?

But he really didn’t want to turn down the opportunity to sleep in a bed fit for a prince—more so one that smelt like his prince. So, he quickly went to curl up in the large, fluffy bed before Arthur could change his mind.

***

Sighing tiredly, Arthur used his key to reenter his room. He had locked it behind him earlier when his father called for him so no one would bother the manservant sleeping in his bed.

Arthur was surprised to find Merlin still curled up, fast asleep. He had been gone for a few hours.

The prince really wasn’t sure how the king could go on for so long about the kingdom’s budget. He knew it was important, but wasn’t that the type of job you would want to get through as fast as possible?

The prince walked over to his occupied bed and crossed his arms over his chest as he wondered if he should wake up the sleeping boy. That thought was quickly lost as he watched Merlin sleep.

Arthur grinned lightly as he took in Merlin’s face smashed into his pillow and his mouth slightly open. He really had been exhausted lately and had bags under his eyes. It pained him that Merlin refused to tell him what was wrong, but Arthur liked how relaxed he was able to sleep in his room.

Arthur realized he had been standing there for quite awhile watching the younger man sleep. With blushed cheeks, he turned to get some work done. Well, he tried to anyway. His thoughts kept being drawn back to his manservant.

Chewing his lip worriedly, he thought about how Merlin had been acting for the last couple months. Sure, it had been awkward been the two since… God, he couldn’t even think about it without blushing nervously. Arthur nearly swore off drinking after that night, even though he couldn’t have been that drunk with how much of the night he remembered.

The memories where hazy and bit jumbled up, but he could remember the taste of Merlin. In their drunken state, the pair fumbled over themselves and their limbs kept getting knotted up together. But when the memory replayed in the blonde’s dreams over the last couple months, he would often wake up with his pants feeling extra tight.

Everyone in the castle seemed to be able to tell that the two were at odds at first. Although, they have been acting normally enough to fool the rest of the castle into thinking they have rekindled, Arthur knew Morgana and Gwen knew them well enough to see past their act. With the looks Morgana was giving him, he was a bit worried that Merlin had told her what happened.

A few days ago, Morgana had appeared next to him in the halls.

“Whatever happened between the two of you,” She had said, “You need to talk to him properly.”

It sounded more like she said “I know what happened and you better fix it.”

Arthur hadn’t answered her, how could he. Morgana had made it sound like he regretted what happened. He knew he should, that’s not how a prince should act, but he couldn’t bring him to regret having that memory.

No, regret wasn’t the problem. The problem was that he was scared if he gave himself the chance, he would do it again. And that could not happen again.

A future king couldn’t just do whatever he wanted.

He leaned back into his chair as he looked at the curled up blob under his blankets. What he wanted to do was curl up next to Merlin and take a nap with him. He wanted to be able to kiss and taste him again. But how could he when he wasn’t even allowed to openly refer to his manservant as even a friend.

With much effort, Arthur was able to focus on the papers in front of him. In fact, he got so into what he was reading that he didn’t notice that Merlin had finally woken up until he spoke.

“How long was I asleep?” Merlin mumbled sleepily. When Arthur looked up, Merlin was sat up in the bed. His clothes all tossed and his hair a bigger mess than normal.

“All afternoon,” Arthur said, glancing out his window to make sure he was right. “I think it’s nearly dinner time.”

Merlin looked out the window himself and saw the sky starting to turn orange as it did in the evenings. He blushed deeply, embarrassed by how long he had slept, and tried to untangle himself from the blankets.

He hadn’t even really planned on falling asleep; he was just going to rest for a while and try out Arthur’s big bed. The bed was so comfortable, though, and it smelt of Arthur. With how tired he had been lately, it had ended up taking him mere minutes to completely pass out.

Merlin was embarrassed and the blankets wouldn’t let him go, so in a very Merlin like moment, he felt right off the bed. There was a moment of silence as he sat in surprise on the floor, still tangled in a pile of blankets. He could feel his face burning now and his butt hurt.

It didn’t help when Arthur finally broke into a fit of laughter.

“Yes, yes. It’s hilarious.” Merlin sulked as he finally got out of the evil bedding and rubbed his sore behind.

Arthur just kept laughing, nearly rolling out of his chair. His manservant sulked over and glared at him. “It’s really not that funny,” Merlin corrected.

“You’re face,” Arthur gasped out and shot Merlin a huge grin. It had been a while since he had seen Arthur smile like that and with a sigh he realized he couldn’t stay mad at that smile.

Merlin rolled his eyes and went to fix the bed back up.

Chapter Text

A knock came to the door, throwing Arthur out of a daze. He wasn’t sure how long he had been sitting at his desk. He was supposed to be working on some paperwork, but ended up just staring out of the window.

“Come!” Arthur called and sat up straighter in his chair.

“Sire,” Leon greeted as he entered the room, “The patrol just returned.”

“And?” Arthur asked, trying not to sound eager. “Did they find anything?”

“No, sire,” Leon replied, regrettably. “There is still no sign of them.”

Arthur sighed and slouched back into his chair.

“Honestly, where could they have run off too,” Arthur wondered out loud.

Nearly two months ago, Arthur was summoned by his father, only to find out that Morgana had disappeared sometime in the night. Gwen and Merlin, along with her—though the disappearance of the two servants was only an after thought to Uther.

Arthur couldn’t understand why they would leave. Things between him and Merlin were tense lately. He had thought they were falling back in step with each other, and yet Arthur couldn’t help but think that that was the reason for the three leaving.

Uther was sure something happened to Morgana and somehow Gwen and Merlin ended up along for the ride. But Uther wasn’t aware how protective Morgana had suddenly gotten over Merlin not long before the three disappeared.

Arthur didn’t care to point it out, though. With Morgana being one of the missing, Uther was for a full out search. If Merlin had left alone, he knew his father wouldn’t stand for such searches to happen for a mere servant.

“Sire,” Leon started. Arthur had forgotten about him for a moment. “I’m not sure we have anywhere else to search for them, Arthur.”

“We can’t stop,” Arthur argued, standing up. “They’re out there somewhere.”

“I’m sure they are,” Leon agreed, surprising Arthur. “For some reason, I can’t help but feel like those three can hold their own just fine. I’m not sure if others would agree, and the king is holding out for Lady Morgana on hope alone—but Lady Morgana and Guinevere know their way around a sword better than any women I know.”

Arthur nodded, relieved that Leon seemed to agree with him. “Two months is a long time without a sign, but even so…”

Arthur wasn’t sure how to explain it. Morgana had to be the feistiest woman in the whole castle. When they were younger, he used to practice his sword fighting with Morgana. Until Uther decided it wasn’t very lady like to continue such things—but he knew that didn’t stop Morgana from practicing in private.

And Merlin, he always rode out with Arthur. He was stupidly brave, but Arthur knew he could surprisingly hold his own.

“I’m riding out as well, next time,” Arthur said, Leon easily agreeing.

***

Merlin smiled and rubbed his baby bump as he watched the others laugh together around the fire.

When Merlin started to feel little flutters in his stomach from his baby, he got scared. He ended up rushing to Morgana, asking her what he should do. They had talked a couple times about magic and the baby after that first night she came to him about her vision. He didn’t think she would hand him over to Uther, but with what the dragon had told him before, he wasn’t sure if he could trust her.

But he soon realized how important having a happy vision was for her. She finally saw something good and had someone to talk to.

Merlin had talked to Kilgharrah about the baby, but even the old dragon had only heard whispers about such a thing has a male giving birth in all his years. He had also asked about Morgana again. Kilgharrah seemed to hate something about the sorceress, but he had to agree that fate seemed to have shifted slightly.

Apparently, none of the old Seers had ever thought the Great Emrys would get pissed one night and end up pregnant.

All three had agreed—unsurprisingly—that Uther couldn’t see Merlin pregnant, for the king would surely kill the both of them. Merlin tried to argue, but Morgana didn’t want to stay with Uther alone—not with Merlin and the baby leaving.

Gwen wasn’t going to allow them to run off on their own when she realized something was happening. So in the end, the three of them fled from the castle in the middle of the night.

It was hard to leave Arthur. It’s the last thing Merlin wanted. But he couldn’t risk Uther hurting their baby.

It was quickly decided that Ealdor was out of the question, seeing as Arthur would probably think of looking there first.

Gwen pointed out that they could probably use some help if they were going to be two women traveling with a pregnant man. Even if the three could hold their own for the most part, people were still likely to see them as easy prey—which would just lead to more attacks. Besides, they shouldn’t rely on Merlin’s magic to save them in his condition.

Merlin suggested that they look for Lancelot, since he already knew about Merlin’s magic. On the way, they ran into Gwaine. And traveling with Lancelot, was his friend Percival, who agreed to help as well.

Their group moved around, not wanting to be found out, until it was decided that Merlin was too far along to travel anymore.

They found a small cottage that just barely fit all of them, but it was far enough out of the way that no one should happen across them. And, luckily, it didn’t take much more than a horse ride to get to the nearest village for supplies.

**

It was nearly another month before Arthur finally found a whisper that could be about the missing group, up in the northern part of Camelot.

Arthur was glad his father was too stubborn to give up on the search for Morgana, because he was even more determent to find Merlin.

He rode out right away, with Leon and a couple other knights.

In the village, Arthur ordered the knights to ask around as he walked with Leon.

They didn’t get far before someone was thrown out a door in front of them, making them pull to a stop.

“God damnit, Gwaine,” A large man exited after the thrown body with a sigh, “They’re not going to keep letting us in this village if you keep it up.”

Gwaine laughed, “I didn’t even do anything wrong this time!”

“Gwaine?” Arthur broke in, stepping closer to the man whom didn’t rush to stand up.

“Oh, shit,” Gwaine gasped. “Hey there, Arthur!”

“You know him, sire?” Leon asked as Gwaine stood up and brushed the dust off of himself.

“He’s a friend of mine and Merlin’s,” Arthur answered.

“Been awhile, Princess,” Gwaine grinned. “This is my friend Percival.”

“My knight, Leon,” Arthur introduced and gave a polite nod to Percival. “We’re looking for Merlin.”

“Merlin you say?” Gwaine questioned, “What, did you loose him in that big castle of yours?”

Gwaine was still grinning but it wasn’t as carefree as normal and Percival looked slightly worried.

Arthur crossed his arms and stared Gwaine down, “Where is he, Gwaine.”

“Haven’t seen him, sorry, Princess,” Gwaine patted Arthur’s shoulder and started to leave. “Well, Perce and I have places to be, so—catch you next time, eh?”

Arthur rolled his eyes as he grabbed Gwaine’s arm and twisted it behind his back.

“Gwaine,” Arthur growled, “Where is Merlin?”

“Can’t tell you that, mate.”

“I need to find him; Morgana and Gwen too. Or would you rather Uther coming here to search for his ward?”

“Come on, Arthur,” Gwaine tried, “The king wouldn’t be very happy when he finds Merlin.”

“Then tell me!”

“Gwaine, perhaps—“ Percival tried, but was quickly cut off from Gwaine.

“No,” Gwaine said, finally pulling way from Arthur to glare at him. “Merlin told us what happened, you know. You don’t have the right after what you did.”

“I’m the prince, I have every right!” Arthur glared right back.

“Sire, may we should talk else where?” Leon suggested.

It wasn’t easy to get Gwaine to agree that Merlin should be able to at least choose if he wanted to talk to Arthur. Besides, the king was really going to go mental if he didn’t get word of Morgana soon.

Arthur ordered the other knights to stay in the village while he and Leon rode out with Gwaine and Percival.

***

Arthur stepped inside the small house, giving a curious and a bit insulted look at this group of people who should know better than to think he would hurt Merlin. He was curious as to why Lancelot and Gwaine were attacking like personal guards to Merlin.

He knew they were good friends with Merlin, but he didn’t understand why they kept giving Arthur wary glances. He really wanted to know what was going on around here, but he thought the two were his friends as well.

Merlin was lying in a bed, propped up a bit against a pile of pillows, and had blankets pulled up over him.

“Merlin,” Arthur said, moving quickly over to the bed side, “What’s wrong? Did something happen? You shouldn’t have left. You’ll be put into the stocks as soon as we’re home—leaving without saying anything to your prince! And now look at you, bed ridden!”

Merlin couldn’t help but smile a bit at the mini rant, “How did you find us?”

“I’ve had all of Camelot searched, it was only a matter of time,” Arthur admitted. He tried to keep sounding crossed, but the relief of finding Merlin in one piece was taking away the strength of his anger. “It made it quiet a bit easier since you took Morgana with. Uther encouraged a full search party.”

“I suppose I should have left Camelot,” Merlin mused. He knew it wasn’t smart to stay, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave the kingdom completely.

“No, you shouldn’t have even left the castle,” Arthur said, “Why did you leave?”

Arthur wanted to talk to Merlin alone, but it seemed like Morgana and Gwaine were determined to watch them. At least everyone else stayed outside.

“I had to,” Merlin said.

“Why would you think that? Did something happen?” Arthur asked, getting frustrated again. “Was this Morgana’s idea? I know she hasn’t been getting along with Uther lately, but you didn’t have to go with her.”

Morgana made a sound of protest, but stayed out of it otherwise.

“It wasn’t because of Morgana,” Merlin answered, looking down at hands. “It was me. She just insisted that I shouldn’t go off alone.”

“Something’s obviously going on, will you just tell me?” Arthur said, “I have been riding for days trying to find you and I don’t have the energy for all this dancing around the subject.”

Merlin was silence for a moment, seeming to debate the idea. Finally, he moved to sit up properly with some difficultly. Morgana rushed over to help him.

“Are you sure, Merlin?” She asked him softly.

“It’s Uther I was really worried about,” he replied, easily letting her help.

Before Arthur could question about why Merlin was worried about Uther, Merlin pushed his blankets down to his legs.

What Arthur thought was the fluff of the blankets or a pillow, turned out to be Merlin’s stomach. It was large and round, despite the rest of him being just as long limbed and skinny as always.

“What…” Arthur wasn’t sure where to start with this. It’s only been a few months; Merlin couldn’t have gained that much weight, and surely not only in one area.

Arthur crossed his arms and gave him a ‘you have some explaining to do. Get started,’ look.

“It might take awhile to explain everything, but first off, I’m pregnant,” Merlin said, a bit rushed as if he was trying to get the words out before he changed his mind.

“Merlin, don’t be ridiculous,” Arthur sighed, “Boys can’t get pregnant.”

“They can when their magic has a mind of its own,” Merlin countered.

Arthur opened his mouth to make a smart reply, but then paused as he realized what Merlin had said. “Magic?” was all he could say.

“I’m sorry I never told you, Arthur, but—“

Merlin snapped his mouth shut when Arthur held up a hand.

“Just—Just explain from the beginning,” Arthur nearly begged. His head was starting to hurt already.

“I have magic,” Merlin started. “I always have, ever since I was a babe. My mum sent me to Camelot to learn control from Gaius. He warned me not to cross paths with you or Uther, but that didn’t work very well, as you know.

“My magic is powerful—more powerful than I thought apparently. I didn’t try to do this, I swear. I just—I only wanted to use my magic for you—to protect you and Camelot. And maybe do an odd chore.”

It was hard, but Arthur kept his mouth shut while Merlin talked. He wanted to lash out, but he was too shocked to even know where to begin. This wasn’t what he was expecting when he set off to find his runaway manservant.

“That night,” Merlin continued, a blush rising to his cheeks. “I don’t know how my magic did it. It took me awhile to realize that my magic got me pregnant from it. I didn’t know what to do, but I couldn’t let Uther find out about her.”

Merlin finally looked Arthur in the eyes, pleadingly, “She is being made with magic and will have it herself. I couldn’t risk Uther finding out and hurting her—he would kill both of us on the spot.”

Arthur knew Merlin was right. A baby born of magic—by a male, no less—Uther would never let them live.

But that thought was pushed back by the thought of this—child, assumed to be a girl by the sounds of it. Merlin said ‘that night’ like he was supposed to know what in the world he was talking about. Arthur didn’t have any idea how this happened or—

“It—the baby,” Arthur gasped out as he sunk down to sit on the edge of the bed, “It—she’s…?”

“She’s yours,” Merlin whispered, like it was a great secret, as he rubbed his swollen stomach. “She’s our daughter.”

He was going to have a daughter? A daughter made with the help of magic. Like he was.

Arthur was almost excited for a moment, before fear gripped him.

“No,” Arthur breathed, and then louder, “No, get it out.”

“What? Arthur—“ Merlin cried. Morgana started to angrily say something as well.

Arthur grabbed Merlin’s shoulders and ordered, “Take it out, Merlin. You can’t do this.”

“Our daughter,” Tears were starting to stream out of Merlin’s eyes. “I’m not going to hurt our daughter, Arthur!”

Merlin had been foolishly holding on to the hope, that if he could just explain, just maybe Arthur would understand.

“It will kill you!” Arthur yelled back. “You can’t have a baby with magic, Merlin! If you want one, I will find you a woman and you can make another one. But I won’t let you die like my mother did!”

Once the yelling had started, Lancelot had peeked in to check in on them, but he waited by the door. While Gwaine, on the other hand, was paused half way over to them, likely on his way to tear Arthur away from Merlin. Morgana was in a similar position, paused with her hand hovering over Arthur’s.

“I can’t lose you like that, Merlin,” Arthur breathed, admitting his new found fear.

“Arthur, it’s not—,” Merlin started carefully, moving to grip Arthur’s hands with his own. “I know the life for a life spell that Nimueh used on your mother, but I don’t think this is like that. My own magic wouldn’t try to kill me. I have been thinking about that over and over since I realized. If I thought this would hurt me, I would have stopped it by now.”

Merlin cupped Arthur’s cheek with one hand, smoothing it, like he had a few months ago.

“I’m too selfish to leave you, Arthur,” Merlin confessed, “I couldn’t even fully leave Camelot to protect myself, because that would bring me too far away from you.”

***

Arthur had ordered a full explanation. But being so heavy with child, Merlin couldn’t get too stressed. Morgana insisted that Merlin explained a bit at a time. Merlin rolled his eyes at Morgana, but agreed to not just explain everything in one go.

First Merlin told Arthur about all that had happened in Camelot. About all that magic that only a few realized was happening around them. He fit as much about how magic itself worked in between explaining events. And he explained his theories behind his pregnancy.

When Merlin wasn’t talking, Morgana was explaining her own magic or Lancelot was telling him how he wouldn’t have killed the griffon without Merlin’s help.

All the story telling ended up taking a few days to get through, mainly when it seemed like everyone had something to add. Arthur only left long enough to go tell his knights to take up rooms at the inn in town while he looked into a couple things. After that, he just sent Leon down to check on them.

Arthur was amazed how many magical things happened in Camelot without him ever realizing it. He had to admit that a few things made a lot more sense now, though. He didn’t even want to know what Uther would do if he ever found out just how much magic was hiding in his own castle.

Though, Merlin tried to explain how he was sure this wasn’t like the spell Nimueh used on Ygraine, Arthur still feared the out come of the pregnancy. He had to trust that Merlin knew more about magic than himself. And Morgana explaining her vision of the little magical, blonde haired girl helped ease him a bit.

“The spell Nimueh used was a straight life for a life spell,” Merlin tried to explain, “I know how it works, I have used it before—“ Merlin had explained that event the day before and Arthur still wasn’t happy that he was going to do such a stupid thing. And he told Merlin that, many times. He was about to say it again, but stopped when Merlin glared at him. “But that spell is one used to bring back someone who’s dead. I don’t think it was meant for creating life.

“It’s possible to use magic to encourage a seed to grow into a tree before your eyes. If you ask nicely and have something to start with—it takes a lot of magical power, but it’s possible. My magic used this type of spell to make the baby. It took… your seed—“ Merlin blushed as Morgana laughed at him, “and is growing it. It’s not making something out of nothing.”

Arthur still didn’t fully get it, but Merlin and Morgana were so sure everything would be fine. For both Merlin and the baby. Arthur was sure he wouldn’t be able to rest easy until the birth.

He was so worried about Merlin. He couldn’t lose him. He has seen Merlin hurt and on the edge of death before, and though he never admitted it to even himself before, he knew it would always be his greatest fear.

He didn’t think he could handle it if he lost Merlin the same way he had lost his own mother. There was a new understanding of why Uther started the magic purge.

Princes didn’t have friends and weren’t friends with their manservants. And they defiantly didn’t fall in love with them.

Arthur had tried to ignore his feelings for Merlin for a long time now. He forced himself to be fine as long as Merlin was always with him—He could live with that. He slipped a bit from time to time, letting his care shine through a bit more than it should. But other than that one night with too much ale, he thought he had been doing pretty well.

But now, whatever wall the two of them had been hiding their feelings for each other behind was broken down.

They hadn’t talked about it, but suddenly they were always touching. Merlin would hold his hand while he told his stories, or Arthur would brush his fingers through Merlin’s hair.

Though, he tried not to think about, Arthur was aware what it could mean if this baby was born healthy.

The baby was apparently a girl, but Arthur could work with that. His father wouldn’t be pleased, but Arthur was sure his daughter could be his heir just as well as a son. Especially if those prophesies about him ruling all of Albion were true. There was sure to be a second or third son in a kingdom willing to rule Camelot.

Though, he didn’t really care about all that, he knew having that argument ready for facing his father would help.

Most of his focus right now was getting Merlin through this. But there was a part of him that kept thinking about the fact that he’s going to have a daughter. He was going to be a father. He tried not to think about it. At least until she was born, but he was having a child with the person he loved the most—something that should be impossible when your lover was another man.

Chapter Text

Arthur was worried as they neared Camelot. He had sent most of his knights ahead a couple days before Ygraine’s birth, so they could deliver a cover story to the king.

It was an unspoken agreement that under no circumstances was anyone to know that Merlin was Ygraine’s other father. Gaius would know, of course, but outside of group that was now riding into Camelot, it was to be kept secret.

Arthur hated taking that away from Merlin and was determined to make it clear as soon as he wore the crown. Merlin didn’t seem to mind as much as Arthur did, surprisingly enough. Merlin would be appointed to the care of Ygraine and no one should find it surprisingly that Arthur’s manservant would take such care of his daughter.

Before they had set out, Merlin had reassured Arthur that he understood. He was willing to hide that he was Ygraine’s ‘mother’ as long as it meant she was safe and had both of them in her life.

“She will have a good life as a princess,” Merlin had said, “I will be with both of you. I know you will keep us safe and that it’s only until you become king.”

Merlin’s faith that Arthur would never cut him out of their daughter’s life was reassuring. He knew the power of a father’s love now and it swelled his chest as soon as he held her for the first time. He knew it was even stronger for Merlin, who had carried her inside him for months.

As he looked over at Merlin, riding besides him while carefully cradling Ygraine to his chest, Arthur was overwhelmed with the determination to become a great king. He wanted to be that Golden King that Merlin told him about and said that he was supposed to be someday. He wanted to become that for his family. He wanted to make Merlin proud and protect them both.

He knew there were two things he would be doing the day the crown sat on his head. First, he would lift the ban on magic then he would marry Merlin.

***

As was expected, Uther wasn’t overly happy that some peasant birthed his grandchild, but he didn’t put up an argument over Arthur keeping her as his ward. It was just a technicality for now. She would be a princess in the end.

As Arthur told the story they had come up with to explain Ygraine, Merlin took the infant to Gaius to have them both checked out by the physician.

Morgana, ever the dotting aunt, wasn’t pleased when she could follow Merlin. She was to wait for Arthur to finish so Uther could reprimand her for running off.

Arthur had a bit of trouble holding back his laugh at her as she glared at the king throughout the whole explanation. Somehow it was funnier when he knew she had a spell to light the king aflame on the tip of her tongue. Though, a part of him was a bit worried she would start at least a little fire just for the fun of it.

Arthur was tired by the time he got back to his chambers that night. It was midday by the time they had rode into Camelot. He, then Morgana, had to explain things to Uther, who gave them both warnings about doing such a thing again.

It was easy to agree when what Uther thought happened didn’t really happen at all. He hadn’t gotten a girl pregnant and Morgana didn’t leave just because she was mad at Uther and was pouting.

Morgana easily told Uther that she left to get away and lovely Gwen and dear Merlin were worried about her and wouldn’t dare let her leave on her own. The story that Uther was that it was really only suppose to be an afternoon ride, but they had ran into some problems.

Those problems included a heavily pregnant woman who had recognized Merlin has Arthur’s servant and insisted that he took the baby to the prince. Since the woman was so far along and alone, the trio stayed to wait for the birth. They were worried what would become of the child otherwise.

That’s apparently where Arthur had found them, a few days before the child’s birth. Arthur had remembered the coupling with the woman and agreed to take the child.

Arthur tried not to be angered when Uther said that they should have just left the infant with the mother and be done with it. Morgana just about truly did set fire to the king for that.

After Arthur was free of the king, he still had to run around the castle, checking on things form when he was gone. It seemed to take twice as long because he refused to ask for Merlin and somehow the other servants of the castle were so good at their jobs that they were never where Arthur expected.

The tension in his shoulders seemed to disappear as soon as he walked into his room and saw Merlin sat on his bed while nursing Ygraine.

That was going to be a hard thing to explain; he couldn’t very well say that he didn’t need a wet nurse because Merlin was magically producing his own milk.

He didn’t want to think about that right now, not when Merlin looked up to greet him and added, “I thought you would want to see her as soon as you got done.”

“The work of a prince is never done,” Arthur said and walked cross the room. “But yes, thank you.”

He sat down next to Merlin on the bed and rubbed Ygraine’s hand as he watched the infant feed.

“And you,” Arthur added softly, kissing Merlin’s forehead.

“What?” Merlin asked, eyes wide in surprise.

“I wanted to see you too,” Arthur admitted.

Merlin broke into a huge smile and kissed Arthur’s cheek.

“How was your day?” Merlin asked as he leaned his head on Arthur’s shoulder.

“Tiring,” He said, “Father went on and on, scolding Morgana and I. And I swear no one knows how to do their job when I’m gone. I had to tell three different people to redo something that should have been finished before my return.”

Merlin laughed, “You have been taking on more duties. You should be happy, as the future king, that your kingdom needs you.”

“There’s a difference between being needed and people not knowing how to do their job, Merlin.”

“I think it means they rely on you,” Merlin said, “They must be eager for you to become king.”

“That is treason talk,” Arthur said out of impulse as he pulled Merlin closer to him. He still asked, though, “Does that mean they think I’m ready to take over?”

“I know you are,” Merlin said, “I know you’re not in a hurry for your father’s sake, but you are ready to be king. And everyone knows it.”

They were quiet for a while as Ygraine was feed then burped. Arthur held her as she drifted back off to sleep. He wasn’t sure how something that only slept, ate, and pooped could be so much work already.

“You should move into the arch chambers,” Arthur said, not looking up from his daughter as Merlin tsked about how whoever looked after Arthur’s rooms in his absent put everything in the wrong place.

“You want me to?”

“Of course,” He said, “It would be easier with Ygraine and…”

Arthur sighed and stood up, walking over to him. They stood for a moment before Arthur tucked his head to kiss Merlin fully on his lips.

“I want you to stay here, to be near by,” He said, “Not just for Ygraine. I have wanted you to for awhile, but it would have been too tempting.”

“Too tempting?” Merlin asked, “To what? Order me around in the middle of the night?”

Arthur grinned, raising a brow at the sorcerer, “Well, I mean, if you like it that way.”

Merlin glared playfully and hit his arm, careful at the baby still in his arms. Arthur laughed.

“Two men having a baby seems like a pretty good sign from the gods that we should just say to hell with the judgments,” Arthur said. “It seems like everything is telling us to just be together, and if you want it, Merlin, I do. I want you by my side always, in every way.”

“Really?” Merlin breathed.

Arthur kissed him again, soft and slow. They couldn’t get close enough with the baby between them, but there were worse things than having your daughter pressed between you and your love. Besides, once he had her settles in bed, he was fully intending to kiss as much as Merlin as he could through out the night.

The kiss heated up a bit as Arthur’s thoughts wondered.

Merlin pulled back, though his hands stayed on Arthur’s arms, and laughed softly.

“What is it?” Arthur asked.

“I just—This is never where I thought this would end up,” Merlin smiled brightly.

“It’s not the end yet,” Arthur said as he moved for another kiss.

Chapter Text

Arthur loved returning to his chambers to find Merlin and Ygraine playing on the floor or curled up in his bed for a nap. It’s happened many times over the past couple years and every time, Arthur felt warmth swell in his chest.

This time, Ygraine was sitting on the floor near Merlin as he put some clothes away. She was rambling on about nothing (Arthur always laughed about how she definitely got that from her ‘daddy’) while playing with the doll Morgana gave her for her last birthday.

Merlin nodded along seriously as he worked. He hummed to encourage her to continue, even adding in a few ‘really?’s and ‘then what?’s, even though he probably didn’t have any idea what the toddler was talking about either.

Though, with Merlin, Arthur wouldn’t be too surprised if he knew exactly what she was saying.

The prince stood at his bedroom door for a moment, taking in the scene with a smile.

When he finally announced his return, Ygraine beamed at him and jumped up yelling, “Papa!”

He obediently lifted the girl into his arms and hugged her tightly.

“Hello, baby,” He said, “What were you telling your daddy?”

Ygraine happily started right back off on her rambles. Arthur still had no idea what she was talking about, but he hummed along as Merlin had.

Merlin greeted him with a quick kiss as he laughed and reminded Ygraine to tell her papa something about sock loving fairies. Well, now he was even more confused. He had been thinking the story was about unicorns up until that point.

Ygraine finally finished her story and settled down on Arthur’s lap with her doll as they watched Merlin do his chores.

“My father just told me some interesting news,” Arthur started. “I’m not supposed to speak of it yet, but I figure you two would keep the secret for the time being.”

Merlin stopped his cleaning when he realized the seriousness in Arthur’s tone. It was normal for Merlin to take advantage of Arthur being in his chambers to get some cleaning done.

George had taken over some things, such as fetching food and things that took wondering around the castle, since Ygraine was born. But Merlin still liked looking after Arthur’s room on his own.

Merlin spent most of the day in the rooms anyhow. He felt like he was going to get cabin fever some days, but Ygraine had definitely gotten her father’s knack for magic. She was too young still to control her powers. Though, she seemed to now understand that she was only allowed to use magic around certain people, her magic would still lash out when she was surprised or upset. That meant keeping her in the rooms as much as possible for the time being.

Merlin hated it, of course. But until she had better control, there was nothing else to be done.

Merlin pulled a chair to sit in front of Arthur, figuring this was a full attention type of conversation. Well, at least as much as a pair could when they had a toddler.

“What was so interesting?” Merlin asked, watching his lover closely for his reaction.

“He’s stepping down,” Arthur said. He still looked a bit worried but he was smiling.

“Stepping down?” Merlin gasped, sitting up straight from being bent over to Ygraine.

“Yes,” Arthur said, “This wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I always assumed he would rule until he died.”

“I think that’s what most of the castle had been expecting as well.”

“He said this whole thing, explaining why he was doing so, but I admit that I don’t remember most of it,” Arthur said, his smile slowly growing as what he was saying finally started to sink in.

“Not even able to listen to his father give a speech,” Merlin teased, “Maybe he should rethink it.”

“You can’t blame me for my thoughts running off, Merlin,” Arthur said.

Before Merlin could argue that he could, in fact, do so, Arthur swept down to grab his lips in a kiss.

It didn’t last long, because Ygraine started cheering and asking for her own kisses. The two broke apart laughing and did as their daughter asked.

“You know what this means, don’t you, Merlin?” Arthur asked, looking down at Ygraine still.

“That we don’t have to hide her away in your rooms anymore?” Merlin asked, hopeful and relived.

“That,” Arthur agreed, “As soon as the crown is on my head. But also,” Arthur grabbed Merlin’s hand and kissed his knuckles, “I wish to marry you, Merlin.”

“Arthur…” Merlin breathed.

Anything beyond a master/servant has been kept secret for so long. Even before Ygraine, Uther already disagreed with how good of friends Arthur was with his manservant. And even among their friends, nothing farther than lingering touches seemed to happen.

That wasn’t to say they weren’t lovers now. A week after they had returned to Camelot with a new born Ygraine, Merlin gave in during a fit of rage and kissed Arthur silly.

That quickly led to not getting any sleep that night—even without the baby crying through the night. Between an infant and sex, they were dead on their feet the following day. Their friends didn’t help at all, just making fun at them all day. A couple times uncomfortably close to Uther.

“I have been waiting to make an honest man of you for too long,” Arthur said, bring Merlin back from his thoughts. “If you will have me, I want to start the preparations as soon as I can.”

“Prat,” Merlin said, pulling the hand Arthur never let go of towards him. He kissed Arthur’s fingers, one by one. “Of course I will have you.”

***

There ended up being a big to-do for Camelot switching hands. It was a rare thing for a king to step down, especially while still in good health. The shock was felt through out the five kingdoms—more so when the man was one such as Uther Pendragon.

Merlin wanted to question why Uther would do something so out of character, but it was hard to focus with the thought of Arthur soon being king. Not to mention all the running around in the castle.

The castle was hectic leading up to the crowning. There was much to prepare for the day and servants were constantly running around the castle.

The only moment of quiet was during the actual procession. Merlin’s cheeks hurt and his chest swelled as he watched, holding Ygraine, as Arthur was crowned.

Then it was chaotic again as the celebration feast started.

***

A couple weeks after Arthur became king, Uther insisted that they have a proper family dinner. Arthur had been too busy to barely even eat. Merlin kept having to remind Arthur to eat, sometimes forcing him to sit down to do so. He was thankful that things were finally slowing down.

Arthur had already knighted Lancelot, Percival, and Gwaine. Uther had become a bit red faced at that, but seemed to except that he had handed things over.

Merlin, Gwen, and Uther’s servant served the family over dinner. Merlin had to admit, it was a bit difficult to serve when he wanted to sit down next to his daughter. She kept looked up at him with a frown. She knew not to call Merlin daddy around Uther. But she seemed to get more annoyed by the rule as she got older.

Uther was a dotting grandfather, not really to anyone’s surprise. But Ygraine didn’t really enjoy having dinner with him. It meant Merlin couldn’t sit with them and she couldn’t use magic. That was two out of her three favorite things (the third being Arthur).

“Father, there is something I wanted to tell you,” Arthur suddenly said, “Before I announce it publicly.”

Merlin looked over in surprise and Arthur caught his eye.

“Oh?” Uther questioned, “And what is that?”

Merlin went stiff when Arthur answered, “I have decided whom I shall marry.”

Arthur had been planning on lifting the magic ban next week. He had been talking about it with Leon, Merlin, and Morgana often as they worked on figuring out the best way to go about it. He didn’t want to throw this on people the day he got crowned—though he had been considering it. Best to let the people get used to the change of leadership before announcing an alteration that large.

Merlin knew Arthur was going to publicly ask Merlin to marry him soon after. And that Arthur wanted to at least mention the magic ban being lifted to Uther before hand, in hopes of not creating a scene nor giving the past king a heart attack not even a month after he retired.

Merlin didn’t know, though, that Arthur apparently decided to start that conversation with their marriage plans.

Gwen and Morgana looked between Merlin and Arthur, surprised. Gwen squeezed his arm, realizing that he hadn’t known about this plan.

Uther sat back in his set, giving Arthur his attention. “Have you? I wasn’t aware you had been thinking about such things. You have always been so hard pressed to marry for love.”

“I intend to marry for love, Father,” Arthur answered. “I have known whom I intend to marry for some time, actually.”

Uther looked surprised at first, before worry seemed to grow.

“No, you can’t possibly…” Uther mumbled. “You can not be planning on actually marrying the boy.”

Everyone was surprised by that.

“What?” Arthur gasped, his eyes flashing towards Merlin. “You—You knew!”

“Oh, honestly, son,” Uther sighed. “Anyone can see there are feelings between you two. But that doesn’t mean you should marry him. You need to marry someone that can give you children and—“

“Actually, father,” Arthur cut off. He looked down to Ygraine, saying, “Baby, I think your daddy needs a kiss.”

Merlin snapped back to attention at that. He had been busy being in shock that his dollophead of a lover would start having this conversation with Uther without warning him.

Ygraine beamed in immediately and started claiming out of her chair. Uther seemed confused by that, apparently assuming that Arthur suddenly wanted a kiss or something. He didn’t realize that there was a great difference between ‘daddy’ and ‘papa’ for the girl.

Merlin handed Gwen the wine jug he had been holding and picked up Ygraine to let her give him his kisses.

“Arthur,” Uther warned. “Don’t you think having her refer to him as if he was a parent is a bit much?”

“Merlin is her parent,” Arthur explained. “He is the one that carried her for nine months.”

Merlin wasn’t really sure if Uther’s heart or his own would give out first.

“Arthur,” Merlin hissed in warning.

The new king held his hand out for his sorcerer, asking him to come over to him. Merlin just glared back.

“How did he…?” Uther asked.

“Magic,” Arthur replied simply.

Uther shock his head, “Not that. I know that.” That made everyone’s head snap to Uther, none more so than Merlin and Morgana’s. “Magic had to have been used—“

“You knew of that as well?” Arthur looked offended now as he gasped at his father.

“Oh, come now, Arthur,” Uther said. “You two stopped being able to keep your eyes off of each other since you brought Ygraine home. The boy more so, staring at you when he thinks no one can see. The entire castle knows you are in love. I started paying more attention to him after that and it didn’t take much to notice his magic.”

Merlin blushed couldn’t help blushing when Uther stated how obvious he was being about his feelings for Arthur.

Arthur seemed to not be able to grasp that his father noticed all this.

“How?” Uther asked again, facing Merlin this time. “How did you use magic to conceive without …?”

Uther couldn’t finish the question, but it was obvious what he was asking. It was the first thing Arthur thought of as well. How did he use magic to conceive without dying as Arthur’s mother did?

“It was a different type of spell than what Nimueh used,” Merlin explained breathlessly. “It’s more like I changed my own body and asked nicely… while having all the ingredients needed. I wasn’t trying to make something out of nothing.”

Uther took a moment to think this over, before adding, “So Ygraine—my Ygraine,” He corrected when his granddaughter looked up curiously, “she didn’t have to…?”

Merlin shook his head, “I don’t believe so. But I think Nimueh may have been trying to do it that way.”

“If you know about Merlin’s magic and Arthur’s feelings for him,” Morgana said, joining in for the first time since Arthur started his announcement. “You have had to realize Arthur would work to left the magic ban as soon as he was able.”

“Yes, my dear,” Uther said.

“Then why?” Morgana snapped. “Why would you step down when you hate magic and know Arthur would unban it?”

Merlin knew she was frustrated. It always was hard for her to know that the man that took her in would surely kill her if he found out about her magic.

“Because I knew he would,” Uther confessed. “I have hated magic, and I still do in many ways. But Merlin’s magic isn’t the only one I noticed during the last couple years.”

Morgana’s jaw dropped and Uther’s ability to shock everyone tonight was the reason he could continue without protest.

“I was about to order Merlin’s death when I found out,” Uther admitted easily (Merlin was a bit worried about that). “But then I saw you use yours and I would not allow you to die, even by my own laws. After all I have done against magic, people are sure to assume me mad to change my stance on it—even to protect you. But no one would think it too odd if Arthur has different views about the world than I do. More so when he… marries the boy.”

***

The realization that there was a possibility that the late Queen Ygraine didn’t have to die to have Arthur was a bit for Uther to handle. He seemed to fully take advantage of his retirement after that. He only spoke to Merlin once more about it, asking the sorcerer for details of how he conceived and what he knew of the magic Nimueh used.

Uther ended that conversation with a straight out order that Merlin best look after Arthur properly. Merlin had merely nodded and ran out of the room. He admitted that he was a bit terrified of his soon-to-be father-in-law; even if the man could no longer order his hanging.

Morgana hadn’t been eager to speak to Uther again at first, but in the end she ended up sitting in the retired king’s rooms often to talk to him. Uther’s favorite visitors were always Ygraine and Morgana.

Predictably, Arthur’s announcements the week after that shocking dinner created uproar. It was difficult to discern if it was in the positive or negative, in truth. Mostly it seemed out of bewilderment though.

Merlin forgot about all that, though, as he stood in front of Arthur the day they were wed. He tried to listen to Geoffrey—he was fairly certain he replied probably to all his cues. But he was sure he was only smiling stupidly at Arthur.

Arthur was staring back at him, looking beautiful, with love shining so brightly in his eyes that Merlin found it hard to breathe.

Merlin nearly sighed in relief when Geoffrey finished and Arthur could finally kiss him. They broke about laughing as Ygraine cheered ‘Kiss! Kiss!’ from her place in the crowd.