Work Header

The Brothers Pendragon

Chapter Text

It was a normal day in Camelot. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened, nor was there any reason to suspect that anything out of the ordinary would happen. There had been no threats, no attacks, and nothing even slightly upsetting had happened for weeks upon end. Still, there was something in the air that particular day. Merlin likened it to the feeling he often felt when something disastrous was about to happen. Indeed, Merlin could tell that something was off, and it worried him. However, as nothing had happened yet, Merlin had gone to work to do his chores just like every other day, leaving Arther to go about his own business.

While Merlin was cleaning, King Uther and his son, Arthur, were holding court in the castle's throne room. Gaius, and Arthur's most trusted knights, Gwaine, Elyan, Percival, Leon, and Lancelot, were all present, amongst other important nobles. They were all gathered around the large, wooden table and had just begun to wrap up a discussion on training initiatives for the knights, when, suddenly. two unknown women were escorted into the room by a few guards.

"Sire." One of the guards acknowledged, bowing in the king's direction. "I apologize for interrupting, but these two women insisted they had to speak to you. They claim that they know the court physician."

As the guard finished speaking, the women stepped forward. Gaius, recognizing the women, stood, and walked forward to greet them.

"Gaius," King Uther questioned, "who are these women?"

"My Lord, these women are the midwives who took care of your late wife, Queen Ygraine, when she gave birth. Their names are Mary and Martha." Gaius replied.

Both women were plain, but motherly in stature, and their clothing was well worn. They both curtsied politely to the King.

"What brings you here?" inquired the King dryly.

"My Lord, we live in a small village just outside of Camelot. Our village is going through a drought. We've supported ourselves for as long as we could, but we are running dangerously low on supplies. We thought we might be able to find assistance here." said Mary.

"Oh, yes! We've heard such wonderful things about your majesty. And we've heard wonderful things about the Prince Arthur!" Martha added happily. "We were hoping we might get to meet the Princes, as we had to leave so suddenly after the Queen passed. God rest her lovely soul."

"Camelot would be pleased to help your village." Uther replied quickly. "I will see to it that a few knights are dispatched with supplies, and they can escort you back to your village and see that your needs are met." Both women began to thank the King profusely. He smiled slightly before waving a hand to silence them. "As for your second request, as you were both there when my son was born, you may indeed meet the Prince." Uther gestured for Arthur to come forward. Arthur stood, and moved to his father's side. "This is my son, Arthur Pendragon." Arthur responded with a slight smile and a nod of his head to both women.

Mary and Martha both curtsied to him with smiles on their faces, looking genuinely pleased to meet him. However, both women looked a bit confused. Martha quickly spoke up, asking "My Lord, where is the second prince?"

Everyone in the throne room was silent, turning to Uther with confused looks on their faces. Arthur especially was confused by the woman's remark and gave his Father a quick glance. His father looked just as confused, but quickly regained his composure and asked "The second prince? You must be mistaken. I only have one son. Which you should know, as you say you were both present at Arthur's birth."

"Yes, my Lord, we were both present when your sons were born." Martha pressed, putting emphasis on the word sons.

"The Queen gave birth to two sons, not one. I was there. I saw it." Added Mary. "After the first son was born and Martha removed him from the room, the Court Physician and I remained with the Queen. Within a few moments, the Queen began to have contractions again and Gaius realized that she was giving birth to another child. She gave birth to another son, sire. He was a healthy child, and I remember looking into his eyes. They were a brilliant shade of blue, just like Prince Arthur's, but with specks of gold in them. And his hair was black." She then turned to look at the court physician, her eyes pleading with him to back up her story. "The Court Physician was there, sire." She added, "He knows there is a second son."

Everyone was shocked by the women's story, and the whole court had turned to look at Gaius, who was looking very uncomfortable and was fidgeting in his chair while refusing to make eye contact with anyone.

"Gaius?" Uther spoke in as calm of a voice as he could manage. "Have you anything to say on this matter? Is it true, what these women are saying? Do I have another son?"

The physician was quiet for a moment, perpetuating the awkward silence in the room. After a moment, Gaius opened his mouth to speak. The intent to deny what was being said was written on his face, but before he could say anything, Uther interjected.

"I can see by your expression that you are planning to lie to me. Tell me the truth, Gaius. Do I have another son? Tell me now, and don't you dare lie to me about this." Uther voice wavered slightly as he spoke, something that shocked Arthur who had rarely ever seen his father so emotional.

Gaius was silent for a moment more, before he sighed, and finally spoke.

"Yes, my Lord." He admitted with a nod of his head. "The Queen gave birth to two sons. Not just one."

Uther quickly stood, rage clearly present on his face. He slammed his fists on the table with a bang. "Where is my son then? What could possibly possess you to think that deceiving me about my own child's existence was a good idea? And how could you have not said anything about this for all these years? Answer me, Gaius! Give me a reason not to banish you from this kingdom right this second. Where is my son?"

Gaius was quiet yet again. Another long period of silence gripped the room. Eventually, Arthur grew impatient with not receiving an answer. He walked over to where Gaius stood and looked him straight in his eyes.

"Gaius, where is he?" Arthur pleaded, his voice filled with the anger, frustration, and sorrow he felt at the new knowledge he had received. "Where is my brother?"

It felt incredibly strange for Arthur to say those words. He had always wanted a brother. It had been a secret desire of his since he was a small child. He would see other children playing with their siblings, and he would wish that he had the same sort of companionship. Someone whom he could share his burdens and secrets with. He'd had Morgana in recent years, of course, but that hadn't been the same as having a sibling of his own flesh and blood. He'd eventually accepted the fact that he would never have a brother, but the loneliness he'd felt hadn't truly alleviated until he'd met Merlin. At least then he'd had a friend, although he would never admit that out loud to Merlin. Now, Gaius had broken down Arthur's carefully placed walls, and Arthur was desperate to meet this brother whom he had always yearned for.

Gaius looked at Arthur quietly for only a short moment, but it seemed like an eternity to Arthur as he waited for him to speak. Finally, he sighed and placed a hand lightly on Arthur's shoulder as he began to speak.

"He is alive, safe, and very happy. That, I can promise you. However, I will not tell you where he is, nor will I tell you what his name is, or any detailed information about him." He looked seriously into Arthur's eyes. "It is for his safety that I don't tell you, Arthur."

Gaius removed his hand from Arthur's shoulder and sat back in his chair. Both Pendragons stiffened at his response, but before either could raise any objections, Gaius spoke once again.

"There was a good reason we took your brother out of Camelot. He is better off now than he would ever have been had he remained here."

"Who is we?" Uther growled. "What person would dare to commit such treason against the crown, by taking my own son from me?" The rest of the throne room was apparently of a similar mindset, as they all began to mutter their agreement.

"By we, I mean myself, and Balinor." Gaius adds reluctantly.

"Balinor?" Arthur asked in shock. "Do you mean the Dragonlord? The man we sought out to stop the dragon that was attacking Camelot?"

"Yes." Gaius replied. "What your father hasn't told you, Arthur, is that Balinor was no stranger; he was your uncle. He was Ygraine's brother, and after her death, Uther hunted him for his Dragonlord powers. He considered them too close to magic. He drove Balinor to flee Camelot, in order to escape execution."

Arthur couldn't believe what he was hearing. His Uncle had died in front of his eyes, and he'd had no idea who the man was. It made him sad to think about, but more so, it made him angry. He whipped around to stare accusingly at his father.

"How could you have kept this from me?" Arthur demanded. "How could you not tell me that the man I was searching for was my own Uncle?"

"Do not speak to me that way." Uther warned, his voice low and dangerous, leaving no room for Arthur to argue anymore. "I found the information to be irrelevant at the time. Stopping the dragon was more important." Uther turned his furious gaze away from Arthur, and towards Gaius, leveling him with an intense stare. "However, Balinor's relationship to my son is the least of my concerns at this moment. More importantly, physician, I want to know why you and that traitor, Balinor, would take my son away from me? How dare he take my son!" Uther's voice rose to a shout.

"Balinor was no traitor!" Gaius rose to his feet in anger, shouting right back at the king. "He was Yrgaine's brother! Her closest sibling! And you hunted him down simply because he possessed the powers of a Dragonlord. You knew very well that the power of a Dragonlord is passed at a father's death to the eldest son. No one can choose the gift, it is simply given to them. You hunted him for an ability that he had no choice in. Your hatred blinded you so much that not even your own family was safe."

"Enough!" screamed Uther, slamming his fists down on the table once again. "Tell me where my son is, or I will have you thrown in the dungeons!"

"Father!" Arthur interrupted before his father and Gaius, who was still rather enraged, could start fighting. "Please, Gaius. Finish your story. Why did you take my brother away from us?"

Gaius took a deep breath to calm himself and then continued. "Everyone expected that Ygraine would give birth to one son, but the second son came as quite a shock to all of us. There had been no signs that there was a second child. Her second set of contractions came so suddenly after you'd been carried out of the room that it took me off guard. I recovered from the shock quickly, and the midwife and I were able to deliver the second son without any complications. I knew this son was different though, I could feel it, and it was confirmed when his eyes flashed gold as he was handed to the Queen. Your second son had magic, Uther, he was born with it."

Gaius stared defiantly at the king, who was frozen in shock. His hands clutched the arms of his chair in a death grip, and his face had gone white. Everyone in the room was in shock, except one of the midwives, who was beginning to look uncomfortable at this knowledge.

"It is rare that a child should be born with magic, but it is not impossible. Your son was given a gift that he had no choice in. He was born a warlock." Gaius explained. "I knew this, I saw it, but the midwife did not. I had sent her out of the room by that point, and Balinor had arrived. Balinor felt the child's power too. He spoke to me, and told me that this was the most powerful magic he'd felt in quite some time. It was only moments after that, however, that Ygraine began to fade. Her breathing became harsh, and her skin grew pale, as out of nowhere she began to start bleeding. I handed the child to Balinor, and rushed to take care of the Queen, but it was no use. None of my efforts were doing any good. That was until the child's eyes flashed gold, seemingly sensing his mother's distress and trying to use his abilities to help her."

Everyone in the room let out an almost unanimous gasp at the mention of a newborn who could heal his mother with magic.

"Ygraine seemed to stabilize for a short time, and Balinor and I were shocked. Only someone with great power would be able to heal the Queen. It would have been remarkable for a trained sorcerer to do so, let alone a newborn child. We both knew then that this by would be very powerful."

"But my mother still died." Arthur clarified. "What went wrong?"

"Yes, Arthur. Even though M-" Gaius stumbled in his words, but quickly caught himself and continued. "Your brother was very powerful, Ygraine was simply too far gone. Not even magic could have saved her by that point."

Arthur caught on to the stumble, latching onto the letter M. He knew that had to be the beginning of his brother's name. However, Gaius continued though as if nothing happened.

"Ygraine began to fade once more, but before she was gone she asked to hold your brother. She was so pleased to see him, and her smile was so bright as she held him close to her chest. She kissed him once on his forehead, named him, and handed him back to Balinor before she lay back and breathed her last." Gaius was crying at this point, as the memory of the Queen's death overwhelmed him. He silently wiped a few tears from his eyes.

The physician wasn't alone in his sorrow. Arthur could see that his father was holding back tears as well, and Arthur himself felt close to crying at the thought of his mother's passing.

"Please, Gaius." Uther voice was choked with emotion. He rubbed his eyes tiredly. "Tell me the name of my son." Arthur nodded in agreement and shot a pleading look towards Gaius.

"I can't." Gaius said sadly. "I promised Balinor when we took your brother away from Camelot that I would never reveal his identity. It's not something I can say I am proud of, but it is the right choice." He took a shaky breath and continued his story.

"After the Queen had gone, Balinor and I were optimistic. We had no reason to believe the King would ever harm his children, after all. But as soon as I had delivered the news of the Queen's death, I knew that his second son was in danger. The king immediately began to blame the Court Sorceress, Nimueh, for the Queen's death, as she had helped the Queen to conceive with magic."

"Gaius," Uther spoke lowly. "You promised to never speak of this matter ever again."

"Father, I want to know the truth." Arthur protested. "I have been left in the dark about these matters for long enough!"

Uther was quiet for a moment, before conceding. "Very well. But I want all to leave this room, except my son, Gaius, and myself. This is a personal matter."

The occupants stood and began to slowly shuffle out of the room. Once everyone was gone, and only the three men were left seated at the table, Gaius continued his tale once again.

"Like I said, Nimueh had helped the Queen to conceive with the use of magic. You see, Arthur, your mother was barren, and without the use of magic, she would have never been able to conceive. But magic demands a price. A life cannot be created without another life being taken. Nimueh warned both of your parents of this, but they didn't listen. They desperately wanted a child. After your mother was gone, your father blamed all magic for her death, and even as I told him of his wife's death he swore to eradicate it.

"I quickly returned to Balinor, who was still holding the child and sitting by Ygraine's side, and we made our plan. We had no idea how Uther would react to hearing that his son had strong magical abilities, so we made the choice to take the child out of Camelot, in order to protect him from his own father's rage. It may not have been the best decision, but it was the only decision we could think of at the time."

Gaius shifted his eyes toward Uther and spoke confidently. "Seeing the results of the great purge, I do not think we were wrong to fear what would happen to the child."

"How could you think I would kill my own son?" Uther asked with a sob, looking more distraught than Arthur had ever seen him.

"You hunted down your brother in law! You killed friends, family, and strangers alike, all for simply possessing magical abilities! Magic runs through your son's veins, Uther. He would have never been able to stop his abilities, without pain and eventually death. He has to practice magic, he has no choice. How was I to know that you would not turn on him too?" Gaius sighed, and his shoulder slumped. "Even if you hadn't killed him, what's to say he wouldn't have felt like a monster for having such abilities? Or what would he have thought, seeing people like himself killed left and right with no remorse? I can't imagine the harm that would do to a child, growing up seeing his own father kill his kind."

Arthur's eyes had filled with tears at this point when suddenly a thought struck him.

"The vision of my mother that Morgause conjured: that wasn't all lies, was it?" He asked quietly.

"No, but it was a manipulated version of the truth." Gaius replied. "Your mother would never have blamed your father for her death. It wasn't in her nature."

Arthur gave a shaky nod, wiping his eyes tiredly.

"I know that you probably still wish to know his name, and where Balinor took him, but I can't tell you that." Gaius added sadly. "Do what you wish with me, sire, but my topmost concern is keeping him safe, even if it's from his own family. I can tell you that he is safe and happy and that he grew up with a family that cherished him and still care for him deeply. He also has many friends and a good life, and I won't let you take that from him."

Arthur could tell that they weren't going to get anymore information out of Gaius, no matter what they tried, but that didn't quench his desire to find his brother. He would simply have to do his own investigating. He looked nervously towards his father, wondering what his father would do to Gaius with all he knew now.

Surprisingly, his Father didn't seem to be angry anymore, just tired and very sad.

"You were wrong, Gaius. I would never hurt my son. But I cannot find it in myself to blame you for desiring to keep my son safe. That does not mean I forgive you, or that I can trust you." Gaius nodded in understanding at Uther's statement.

"I think we're all tired now, father. If you're finished with your story, Gaius, then I will retire to my chambers, and leave you two to talk more if you wish."

"Yes, you may go." Uther dismissed him with a brief wave of his hand. Arther stood, nodded to his father, and turned to address Gaius once more.

"I understand that you were trying to protect my brother, but I won't give up looking for him now that I know he exists." Arthur said firmly. He may understand Gaius' motives, but that didn't mean he had to like them.

Arthur left before Gaius could reply, turning and walking out of the room with a mission on his mind. He needed to return to his chambers, gather his knights and Merlin, possibly Gwen as well, and decide their next course of action. Arthur was going to find his brother.