A horde of people marched through Camelot. Some robed, some riding horses, men, women, children. They assured villagers they passed that they were not there to cause harm, they were there to speak with the king. They reached the citadel and were confronted by knights clad in red cloaks and King Arthur himself. The knights were notably uneasy as they glanced at the number of druid marks on the arms of most of the people.
The crowd of at least a hundred was surrounded by villagers, merchants, and nobles. All wondering who these people were and why they were here. One man in earth brown robes stepped forward towards the King and inclined his head respectfully. King Arthur held his hand out to his knights to assuage their antsy movements and the mutterings of the people hushed. "What is this? Why should I halt my knights? Are you a danger to people?" King Arthur asked.
"Your Highness, although we are a mixture of people, most of us are druids. We come in peace." Whispers broke out among the people. Again Arthur lifted his hand to quiet the titters of his people and address them before people could panic. "As you know, I have proclaimed peace with the druids." He then addressed the robed man. "However, this does not explain your presence here today. Are you in danger?" He asked, sounding ready to give help were it needed.
"Sire, the problem is here in Camelot." The man proceeded, his voice carrying over the now frantic whispers. "We hear a young man is being put to trial. A man who is innocent."
Arthur cleared his throat. "You mean my manservant? I saw him use magic myself. I know he is a sorcerer. He is being put to trial for-"
"No Sire." The man interrupted. "You are correct of his ability to use magic but he is not a sorcerer. Most sorcerers have to learn to use magic. Some have natural talent that comes in later in life but most have to study at it for years. It is different for this man. He does not use magic. He is magic."
"I do not understand. What do you mean?"
"Perhaps I could clarify." A small woman stepped forward. Arthur recognized her graying brown hair and kind eyes immediately.
"Hunith?" He heard from behind him. Queen Guinevere a vision in a dusk pink gown. "Hullo, Gwen. Your Highness." She curtsied politely.
"For those who do not know, I am Merlin's mother. My son's story begins with the purge." A hush fell on the people at the command in this gentle woman's voice. They all looked to the king.
"If I may, your highness?"
The King nodded and sheathed his sword, gesturing that his knights do the same.
"Thank you, sire. In the purge, the late King Uther sentenced all those who practiced magic to death. From the witches who specialized in hexes to the ones who were learned in healing magic. From the druid children to the priestesses. From the Nymphs to the dragons. They all deserved death for what they could do. That is what he built his kingdom on." Arthur grimaced at the pain in her voice and the truth in her words. Gwen laid a hand on his arm.
"There was a man, a dragonlord who was tricked by this King." Scorn tainted her voice and she took a deep breath to stabilize herself. "Balinor... He was told that Uther wanted peace and he called to his kin, dragon and dragonlord alike, and was forced to watch them be slaughtered and captured due to his naivety and hope. He was due to die when my uncle saved him. A man who you all know and love. My Uncle Gaius, Merlin's Great Uncle, former sorcerer."
Those younger villagers and newer knights began their whispers again as that very man stepped forward from the crowd and nodded to Hunith and then His King.
"Balinor made his way to Ealdor, to me. Where I sheltered him... And soon came to love him." A look of dawning horror showed on Arthur's face- no man is worth your tears- reverberating through his head.
"But Uther could not leave well enough alone. He continued his pursuit. Breaking laws and crossing borders he had no right to cross. And Balinor had to run, he had to run without the knowledge that he had a son."
Guinevere felt a stab of pain in her heart for Hunith, knowing she lost her Arthur, and for Merlin for never knowing his father. The people shifted as the woman wiped her tears. Gaius put an arm around his niece's shoulders and she rallied herself.
"Months later my baby was born when the moon was highest in the sky. Within an hour he laughed for the first time, lighting all the candles in the hut." A gasp traveled through the crowd.
Arthur stepped forward. "That... Can't be possible-"
"It very much is, young man. Do you know what its like, for the lesson you teach your son is to fear, to hide his very being?" Hunith reprimanded.
"We cannot allow you to put Emrys on trial, your highness." Interjected the man from earlier.
"He is the very magic of the Earth. His powers instinctual and strong and pure. If he dies, magic dies with him and the Earth falls to doom. He is the last dragonlord"- People began to argue and whisper angrily.-" He is High King of the Druids.-" This time the druids began to kneel.-" He is-"
The whole courtyard went silent. They all turned to the very man in question. His chest bandaged and hair mussed.
The King approached him quickly as the crowd started forward.
"You should be resting Merlin. How else will you help me rebuild?" He said, his arm going around his waist to support him as he descended the stairs.
"What's going on?"
"These er, friends of yours heard of your trial and came to speak in your defense."
He looked out at the people and smiled brilliantly. "That's very kind of you but it is unnecessary. Arthur is the Once and Future King, you should have more faith." He admonished lightly.
"Er, My lord we apologize deeply, w-we thought-"
"Its fine but could you um stop bowing? You really don't need to do that." He shifted uncomfortably, his face flushed.
"Oh, Merlin" Hunith rushed forward, embracing her son, tears running down her face.
Arthur stepped back a moment as Merlin held his mother.
"Mum? I'm alright. Really, Arthur lifted that ban this morning and the trial was mostly just to hear all that I've done. I don't have to be afraid anymore."
"Well then, now that that's over, I say we go get some ale from the tavern. What do you say, Merlin?" Gwaine said, slapping Merlin on the back. Merlin winced and imitated Gaius' eyebrow as the man backed away sheepishly.
"As King of Camelot, I welcome you all to a feast tonight, celebrating the appointment of the first Court Sorcerer in 25 years. You may stay at the inn or wherever you would like." He turned to Merlin. "You and I will be revisiting the High King of the Druids business later." Merlin flushed spectacularly. "For now though, I have a room set aside for Hunith in the castle, we can get her settled in... I er hope that's alright."
"That's brilliant you prat, it's more than I ever hoped for."
The two looked out on their people, ready to embrace the future of Albion.