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A Solemn Vow of Devotion

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Merlin grasped at Arthur's shoulder, sobbing hideously into his chest and Arthur, miraculously or perhaps it was just shock, let him do so. Arthur stood stiff and still, with the sorcerer crying into his chest begging without words for Arthur's forgiveness. Arthur was far too much in shock from the confession to reply. Everyone in the room who witnessed it as well held their breaths and just like that the tension in the room heightened to unbearable levels. They were all curious and anticipated with dread how their king would react, though Arthur did not yet make a move. The previous few moments were branded into their minds, echoing and repeating over and over.

 

The feast was grand and everyone was having a great deal of fun. Wine was being drunk, loosening tongues into carefree laughter as they ate and enjoyed themselves greatly. This sweet moment of freedom from worry or care was not liked, however and of course, by a woman and victim of Uther's previous rule, who saw not Arthur sitting on the throne and laughing merrily in delight at something his manservant said, but saw only a copy and feared a repeat of Uther who was laughing at her misfortune specifically.

Bravely and foolishly thus she decided she would not sit idly by and let this son of Uther repeat his father's mistakes, but she reasoned that the son of his father, raised on cruel beliefs and words, could not be reasoned with on the matter himself and only his death could bring what she desired for the kingdom. And so it was that she had chosen this celebration, the very moment Arthur stood to propose a toast for peace and prosperity for Camelot, that she would make her move. As a sorceress herself with no insignificant amount of power and skill, she made herself invisible, but would reveal herself moments before she would strike the king down. As she walked into the middle of the room, maybe ten feet from the king, she noticed a man, whom she knew to be the king's manservant, was staring at her.

Fear filled her. Did she not manage the spell right? Impossible, she felt her magic coursing through her and knew that it painted her eyes with yellow, and all would have been able to tell and would have called her out for it by now. But they hadn't. How then could this man, so close to the king, see her? No, she shook her head, he couldn't see her. He was simply staring in her general direction, but not at her and the adrenaline in her veins made her so paranoid and think he was staring at her.

She finally revealed herself and lo, all eyes were on her, startled and surprised and fearful. She proclaimed what she was here to do.

"To rid Camelot of the tyranny of the Pendragons!" She shouted.

The knights and guards and the king as well unsheathed their swords, but with a simple flick of her wrist and a single word for a spell, she sent their swords flying out of their grasps and onto the floor with a loud clatter. She yelled the spell that followed and a ball of fire manifested at her fingertips, the perfect way and filled with irony to kill the son of Uther Pendragon and avenge her kin. She hurled it at Arthur with a shout, but neither she nor any other within or without this room could have foreseen or foretold what followed her actions.

The man she knew to be the king's manservant stepped forwards with impressive speed and raised one hand, and he deflected her spell, so that it hit the stone wall to the side instead of the king, leaving a black scorch mark on the stone, and not on the king. She gasped and gaped, not alone in her utter surprise and the fear that struck her. She was alone in her fury, though, as everyone else in the room was far too busy being shocked to be angry or muster resentment in that moment.

Her kin had protected the king, the man that would see him dead at the closest convenience. A traitor of kin! She exclaimed this out loud for all to hear, but the manservant winced not and flinched not and did not express any guilt at her accusation whatsoever. In her fury, she yelled a spell to grab him and fling him across the room so that he may meet the wall most painfully, but she only managed, to her infinite shock and everyone's surprise, to move him by a mere inch. Even more did it shock her when she felt him grab her magic and turn it around against her and flung her back with a force several times greater than she had originally intended.

She gasped as her back hit the wall, robbing her of her breath for far too long a moment, and she fell to the ground. She yelled another spell that moved every weapon in the room to attack him and the king standing behind him. She realized her mistake too late as absolute fury, harsher than even her own, burned within the manservant's eyes with the vibrant gold of his magic. He raised his hands to the ceiling and dark clouds formed and thundered and the weapons were flung away. With a shout of pure rage, he let his hands swiftly point in her direction and lightning hit her with such fury and without any mercy, and she disintegrated entirely, leaving only a sad little heap of ashes behind.

The manservant ("Merlin," Arthur whispered under his breath.) began breathing heavily, shoulders hunched, as he glared at the pile of dust and ash where before had stood a sorceress bent on killing his king. He had heard Arthur whisper his name, though no other did, and he whirled around, his features showing the journey of emotions he went through, one by one.

First, there was confusion, like he didn't expect Arthur to be there and like he didn't know why Arthur looked so shocked; then there was surprise, whether at his own actions or again at Arthur's presence, no one could be sure; then realization dawned on him and widened his eyes; then a moment of shock with a glance down at his own hands and then at Arthur, like he couldn't believe what had just happened (and he was far from the only one who felt such); then fear, which struck those who knew and loved him like a newly sharpened blade; then resigned sadness, which made him look like he was burdened with the world on his shoulders several times over; and finally, and most horribly to one certain individual in particular, painful guilt and horrible despair that filled his eyes with tears.

"I'm sorry I never told you," Merlin gasped through his sobs as he approached Arthur, and his words seemed to break the tension entirely and create an even worse one in the same breath. His gaze, filled with tears to be shed, was trained solely on Arthur like he forgot anyone else was in the room at all. "I wanted to, all this time, I wanted to tell you. There was never a day, never a moment when I didn't think about telling you." The confession struck Arthur most of all. "I never used it against you, Arthur, I couldn't use it against you if I tried, if my life was on the line. Gods know I would give my life for you either way. It's for you, Arthur, all I ever did. I am yours, and so is my magic. It's yours to do with as you please, and so am I. I'm sorry I never told you." Merlin grasped at Arthur and put his head to his king's chest. "I'm sorry. I love you," he apologized, and the confession struck those in the room perhaps even more than the first one had.

 

Such had been the event that led to Merlin sobbing into Arthur's chest and Arthur standing there, stiff and unmoving. The expression on his face was such that no one could tell what he was thinking. Everyone was entirely in shock.

Merlin was a sorcerer!

This fact slowly dawned on those in the room, as did the fact that a sorcerer was hugging their king! The guards hurried to get their swords the moment it dawned on them, and they surrounded the pair, demanding for Merlin to let go of the king and step back. This was distinctly different from how a sorcerer anywhere near the king (or at all) was usually handled, for Merlin had been beloved by many in the castle, even the guards, and he had made friends with many of them, and this had the guards treating him differently. They were all so very confused and shocked.

Though he was still crying when he did, Merlin made to move away from Arthur, though he could not bear the pain of it. He took a step away from Arthur, the atmosphere was tense, and he knelt down before him, gaze firmly set to the ground, and he raised up his arms, stretching his hands at Arthur and presenting his wrists to him.

Do with me as you please, for I am yours and place myself at your mercy, and I will not object, whatever you demand of me, such was what this gesture meant, and everyone was painfully aware of it, how Merlin was entirely and irrevocably at Arthur's mercy, by his own choice. It was as much a display of trust and devotion as it was a display of subservience.

Merlin spoke then once more, his voice small and brittle, though unafraid, "My magic and my self is yours, entirely, and yours to command, whatever you wish of me, and I will do it. Ask for power, and I will lay the world at your feet to rule; ask for wealth, and I will lay all the world's riches into your hands; ask for Camelot to be prosperous, and I will make her lands fertile and rich; ask for victory in war, and I will slay and lay waste to your enemies; ask for the tide to change, and I will move it as you command. Ask for me to die..." there was a pregnant pause as everyone anticipated Merlin's next words, "and I will light the pyre myself."

His last words rang especially through the room, and finally, these words ripped Arthur out of his shocked daze. Because it was Merlin — always because it was Merlin, for who else could inspire such? — the guards waited for Arthur's command, but Arthur only stared at Merlin, wide-eyed in his lingering shock.

"No," Arthur gasped and rushed to Merlin, gathering him up in his arms into a strong and tight embrace, hiding his face in the crook of Merlin's neck. He forced Merlin to put down his arms because he could not bear what it meant.

"I'm sorry, Arthur. I love you, I'm yours, always have been, always will be, all of me: my heart, my mind, my body, my soul, my magic, my very being, all of it is yours, and I will never leave you — no force but your own wish and word could ever make me leave. I'm yours, I'm yours, I'm yours." Merlin's sobs and voice, filled with such honest and earnest and endless devotion and love tugged at the hearts of everyone present.

Everyone knew Merlin and knew how devoted he was to his king, but this outstood every previous display of his devotion. No one could bring themselves to think that Merlin was a threat, except exactly ten, namely those of the council who had previously encouraged Uther in his fight against magic.

One of them, who had always hated Merlin for how close he was to Arthur and how Arthur often valued his counsel even above that of those who had been with him longer (especially on such matters as taxes), called out maliciously, "SORCERER! ARREST HIM BEFORE HE CAN KILL THE KING!"

Arthur then looked up and glared at the lord, daring him to do anything. "No," Arthur refused, pulling Merlin tight to his body, "He has saved my life, likely many times in the past as well. I will not have him die for it."

In an attempt to get more people onto his side and to make the king see reason, the lord gasped dramatically, "The king has already been enchanted! This is the sorcerer's doing, no doubt! Quick! Kill him ere it is too late!" But it was clear that Arthur, the only one who mattered to the guards despite the accusation, did not listen, and hardly anyone believed what he was saying.

Had it been anyone else, they would have been dead by now and the lord's words would have made sense to Arthur. But this was Merlin. Merlin, who was clumsy and tripped over his own feet. Merlin, who was kind to everyone. Merlin, who smiled at everyone who needed it. Merlin, who hated hunting for sport and watching animals die for no reason. Merlin, who had saved Arthur several times, who had drunk poison for him and had risked life and limb on several occasions for him. Merlin, who could be the wisest man in all of Camelot when Arthur needed him to be. Merlin, who had seen Arthur at his weakest and spoke to him of greatness and faith. Merlin, who believed in Arthur even when Arthur lost all faith in himself. Merlin, who was there when Arthur needed him.

Merlin, who Arthur loved. Merlin, who loved Arthur.

Arthur trusted Merlin with his life, and, though he never said so to anyone (not even Merlin who needed to hear it the most), everyone knew this.

At this moment, Arthur made a decision. He ordered for everyone to leave, no exception, leaving him and Merlin alone in the hall after a few minutes. Merlin was no longer crying, much to Arthur's relief, but softly hiccuping into Arthur's chest instead. Arthur feared that the ten lords would attempt to convince him to have Merlin executed, or perhaps they would attempt to kill Merlin themselves. He coaxed Merlin into getting up, whispering soothing words into his ear and cradling him. He led him out of the hall, through a mercifully empty corridor that led to his chambers, unguarded, but locked.

He brought Merlin inside and locked the door carefully behind himself. He turned around and Merlin sat on his bed, looking down at the ground intently, not daring to look up, for fear that he might see something terrifying in Arthur's eyes. Merlin wasn't afraid of Arthur, no, but he was afraid of Arthur's further reaction, afraid of seeing hurt and betrayal in those eyes. Arthur sat down beside Merlin on the bed, taking Merlin's left hand into his own. Merlin finally dared to look up, and Arthur smiled softly at him.

"Since when?" Arthur asked.

"My magic?" Merlin asked and Arthur nodded quietly, "I've had it all my life, since I was born."

Arthur blinked in surprise, "That's possible?"

Merlin nodded, smiling sheepishly, "Apparently."

"Show me," said Arthur, surprising himself as much as Merlin with the request.

Merlin looked at him intently, as if looking for clues that told him Arthur wasn't serious. Then, his eyes began to fill with a swirling gold that had Arthur mesmerized, and Merlin lifted his right hand to his mouth, whispering something into the fist he made with it. Then, when he opened it, butterflies with shining blue wings fluttered out of his hand, fluttering around them. One of them landed on Arthur's hand that was still holding Merlin's. Arthur's eyes widened with utter awe. Merlin blushed fiercely under Arthur's gaze. Unconsciously, Merlin's magic, in response to his utter joy, surrounded Arthur with a pleasant hum that drove a pleasurable shiver down his spine.

The butterfly fluttered away, but Arthur's gaze was now fixed on Merlin's eyes. There was a blush on his cheeks, much like the blush that coated Merlin's cheeks, as Merlin's magic continued to surround Arthur and even began to caress him, or such was what it felt like and it wasn't unpleasant. It was filled with what Arthur could, somehow, distinctly tell was Merlin. It was filled with joy and elation and relief and devotion and trust. That had Arthur gasp. Merlin was completely at Arthur's mercy, despite his own power, his life laid in Arthur's hands, and this trust was absolutely intoxicating.

Merlin was intoxicating.

The magic's touch on Arthur became heavier, humming intensely and Arthur began to tremble at the feeling of it. He was mesmerized and hypnotized by Merlin's eyes, which were glinting with gold and blue. His breath was caught in his throat as he lifted his free hand and brought it up to Merlin's cheek, caressing it like Merlin's magic insisted on caressing him. Merlin looked entirely hypnotized himself and leant into the touch. They moved closer, and neither knew who initiated it (though neither cared) when their lips met in the middle. It was soft and warm and both were caught in soaring bliss, feeling suddenly fulfilled. When they parted, their eyes clouded with love, Merlin's magic thrummed against Arthur with such intensity, he couldn't help the moan that escaped him and surprised them both. They chuckled and pressed their foreheads together, both wearing ridiculously goofy smiles in their joy.

"I forgive you," Arthur whispered, "for lying, for... whatever else you want me to forgive you. I won't let them get to you. Henceforth, you are officially under my protection. No one would dare to touch you."

Arthur was quiet then and stared deeply into Merlin's eyes, his own eyes losing focus like he was getting lost in Merlin's, and he was. Merlin could practically see the thoughts swirling in Arthur's eyes.

"Arthur?" Merlin murmured, pulling Arthur into an embrace. He was tired, both of them were, the evening's events and revelations had stressed them both out terribly.

Arthur's eyes regained their focus, and he smiled at Merlin, pushing him onto his back on the bed and crawling on top of him, and he began to kiss him senseless. His hands started exploring Merlin's body, some of his touches had Merlin gasp, or writhe, or moan and Arthur made sure his hands lingered on those spots to elicit more of the same such reactions from Merlin, drinking up his gasps and moans hungrily in their kisses. Their eyes clouded with lust, and both Merlin's hands and his magic reciprocated the exploration.

It was slow, yet intensely passionate, they each took their time to study each other's body intently, thoroughly, building up each other's pleasures to their absolute heights, driving each other mad with all-encompassing bliss.

Afterwards, Merlin lay on Arthur's chest, relishing in the afterglow of their pleasure and listening to the rhythm of Arthur's heart, with every intent to memorize it and commit this moment to memory, so he may call upon it in less fortunate times to gain optimism for a better future. Arthur was thinking, Merlin could practically feel it, but he made no comment, at least not until Arthur voiced his thoughts.

"I'm going to lift the ban on magic," Arthur said decisively.

Merlin's head shot up from Arthur's chest to stare at him in disbelief.

"Wh-what?" Merlin stuttered.

Arthur smiled softly at him. "People will try to pressure me into executing you. Of course, I won't let them, but I know they won't stop trying if I don't stop them entirely and lift the ban, removing the ground upon which their arguments stand on. I'll make sure you're safe," Arthur explained and pulled Merlin in for a kiss. When they parted, Merlin's eyes became watery, but the smile on his lips revealed the true nature of his tears, namely unbridled joy and carefree pride.

"Thank you," Merlin gasped breathlessly, and he buried his face into the crook of Arthur's neck, chanting, "Thank you, thank you, thank you," over and over.

Arthur couldn't help but grin at Merlin's happiness. Oh, it was contagious! Merlin was so happy, and seeing this and feeling this, merely knowing this filled Arthur with joy. It almost made him forget about the difficult weeks he had ahead of himself in order to finally lift the ban. He would have to convince more than half of the council, but he feared that the ten lords might be able, or might have already begun to convince the others to disagree with lifting the ban. But even if that became the case, if worse came to worst, and they wouldn't let him lift the ban, they wouldn't be able to stop Arthur from granting Merlin a permanent pardon for all his 'crimes' concerning magic, and all that would follow.

The morning after, Arthur woke before Merlin did, and he immediately went to work, writing an official pardon for Merlin, placing both his signature and his wax seal onto the bottom of the parchment. Merlin woke just after Arthur had pressed his seal onto the wax. Merlin blinked sleepily, looking for the warmth of Arthur's body, which was missing from the bed, but looking confused when he couldn't find him. With a soft chuckle, Arthur left his desk and joined Merlin on the bed, kneeling over him, and Merlin was quick to pull him into a tight embrace.

"Arthur," Merlin mewled, still drunk on sleep, and Arthur could feel Merlin's naked erection rubbing against his clothed thigh. Heat pooled to Arthur's groin and his cheeks flushed as he became aroused himself, but he shook his head no, at which Merlin whined lewdly, but Arthur couldn't get distracted, not now, for Merlin's sake, as much as it pained him to restrain himself and ignore both Merlin's erection and his own growing one.

"Merlin," Arthur said hoarsely, "Listen. I wrote you a pardon for using magic, a permanent one. I'll also write you an official permission to use your magic 'in the name of Camelot', meaning for non-malicious and non-harmful purposes. I want you to carry both of them with you at all times. I'd rather you stay in here until everything is taken care of, but we both know you won't," Arthur kissed Merlin's forehead affectionately, "Use your magic to defend yourself if anyone attacks you, but don't fight back if you can help it. Stay safe."

Merlin nodded, finally fully awake, and amazed by Arthur's words, to what lengths he went to, to protect him. His stomach twisted pleasantly and his heart fluttered with joy at the thought. Arthur kissed him one last time before he stood up and sat down at his desk again, grabbing another parchment and dipping the quill into the ink well and scratching it across the parchment to write the permission.

Meanwhile, Merlin finally found it in himself to get up and dress himself, his hands running absent-mindedly over the marks Arthur had left on him the night before, blushing furiously at the memory of it, how it had felt, and smiling like the lovestruck fool that he was. I am yours, he remembered saying, chanting, whispering into Arthur's ear like a sacred promise, a vow. Arthur finished the letter of permission with Merlin, now fully dressed, standing behind him and massaging his shoulders. Arthur melted into Merlin's touch like the wax melting onto the parchment before he pressed his seal onto it. He blew on the ink so it would dry quicker, but Merlin moved one of his hands just above the parchments and the ink was suddenly dry. A fond smile crossed Arthur's lips.

"Very convenient. Perhaps we found one thing you're good at yet," Arthur commented teasingly, reaching up and bringing Merlin's head down to kiss him. Merlin grinned into the kiss, opening his mouth invitingly to deepen their kiss and tugging at Arthur's shirt. Arthur chuckled and pulled away, knowing exactly what this would lead to if he didn't. "Insatiable little thing," he chuckled against Merlin's lips when he pulled away. Merlin's lips chased after his, but Arthur always pulled away just before their lips met again. Merlin whined in frustration. "I need to go and call in a council meeting. I'm sure you have your own duties to attend to," Arthur smiled and got up from the chair, Merlin moving out of his way.

Arthur handed Merlin the parchments, and Merlin took them with a quiet but emotional 'thank you', and then left the room. Arthur sighed and prepared all he needed for the council meeting. He dreaded it like nothing else, but he would do it, and he would stand his ground and make sure Merlin could live in Camelot and be himself without the threat of execution dangling over his head. It was then that he realized what Merlin must have been through, emotionally and mentally, all these years. He couldn't imagine what it must have felt like, the threat of execution looming just above you, and it would have taken only one wrong step, one wrong word to the wrong person at the wrong time, and that would have been the end of it. He recounted what he had gone through, emotionally and in his mind, and what had gone through his head at the time Merlin's magic was revealed to him and the whole of Camelot.

He had only seen Merlin's tears, had only heard his sobs and the words, 'I am yours and so is my magic', 'Ask for me to die and I will light the pyre myself', 'I love you' and, 'I am yours'. Arthur shuddered as he remembered the tone, how desperately Merlin had begged him for his forgiveness, but he knew Merlin would not have needed to do that, for Arthur had already forgiven him for everything the moment the first tear had left Merlin's eyes. He had only wanted to brush away his tears and embrace him and protect him from everyone and declare his own love for Merlin for all of Camelot to hear, to keep him close and never let go.

Merlin had magic. The realization of it had hit him hard, and yet it had been overwhelmingly underwhelming, if that made any sense to anyone but him. Merlin had had magic all this time. He should feel glad more than anything, because, well, it was Merlin. Out of all the people he was close to in his life, he was glad that it was Merlin who had magic. He knew, somewhere deep within the confines of his heart, that Merlin would never dream of betraying him or hurting him, or anyone for that matter, but he also knew that Merlin would do literally anything for him. Merlin was the most loyal and devoted soul in all of Camelot. Any of Arthur's knights could only aspire to be as loyal and as devoted to their king, as willing to sacrifice themselves, to sacrifice everything if necessary, as Merlin was. Merlin had magic. A voice in the back of his mind informed Arthur that all magic was evil and that it corrupted the souls of those who had and used it.

But he only had to think of Merlin's smile, goofy and bright, and the notion that magic, all of it, was evil was expelled. For how could the notion be true and apply to Merlin at the same time? It would be a paradox, and thus it couldn't be true, and thus not all magic could be evil or corrupting, because Merlin's loyalty and good heart was an undeniable truth.

He wouldn't be able to use this as a particularly compelling argument, at least not to the council, which was why he had to get support. That wouldn't be too difficult, he knew. The Knights loved Merlin like a little brother, their support was guaranteed, and the servants, too, viewed Merlin similarly, for Merlin was always kind to them, always helped when he saw someone struggle with their chores, even though his own chores were plenty to keep him busy. Even Cook liked Merlin, to the infinite shock of everyone and no one, because it surprised no one because Merlin was just so lovable, but it was a well-known fact that Cook didn't like anyone, anyone but Merlin.

Arthur realised that it wouldn't be a challenge at all to rally the support of most of the castle, even most of the town, because Merlin is so beloved. No, the real challenge would be the council. Ten of the councilmen disliked Merlin and had often expressed to Arthur their doubt of Merlin as a suitable servant, but each time Arthur had dismissed their doubts. They would then continue to gossip amongst themselves that they suspected Merlin held too much sway over Arthur and based on whether Merlin agreed with the arguments of the council or not, Arthur would do the same. They simply viewed Merlin as an enemy, not to the king, but to them and their way. He was simply in the way.

Now they would undoubtedly use the most recent revelations against him. They would attempt to rally people against Merlin, to kill him, and Arthur could simply not allow that, for his own sake as well as Merlin's.

He swore then, solemnly to himself, that Merlin would not die in Camelot, not by his hands, not by his flames, not by his people, not by his laws.

———

It took three months. The rumour of him wanting to lift the ban on magic travelled through the kingdom and was met with wildly differing reactions, but the majority showed their support of their king openly and boldly. In the meantime, all those 'convicted' of magic were not executed, for their trials were constantly pushed back. Arthur made sure that they were treated well, despite being held in the dungeon, for there was only so much he could do for them while the ban still remained.

In the end, even those ten councilmen could not ignore the will of the people who shouted their support of their king's idea to lift the ban, and they were forced to agree to it. Dismantling the law proved difficult, still, for Uther had made sure the law would be difficult to change, but, after three months of it all, it was finally done.

It was celebrated by all, a new holiday was declared to celebrate the end of the persecution of magic.

On that day, Arthur stood on the balcony, leaning on the railing and watching the celebrations in the courtyard. The music, the lights, the dancing and singing and merry drinking, all under the light of a full moon who seemed to be smiling down kindly upon them all, a promise for the future, a better future.

Merlin snuck up behind him, but Arthur felt his presence long before he opened his mouth.

"It's a beautiful night, is it not?" Merlin whispered and stood beside Arthur and looked up at the moon as well.

"A wonderful night, indeed."

"And many more to come..."

Arthur looked back down to the courtyard. He could spot a few druids down there who looked hopeful and mesmerized by what had happened. Arthur couldn't help but share in their hope. He let out a sigh, a heavy sigh, with which he hoped to expel all the stress that had befallen him in the process of lifting the ban on magic. It was done. His people were all free. All of them.

Merlin was free.

"I think I'll start to reintegrate the druids into Camelot, if they want it. I'll need people on the council who know magic and the traditions and customs that come with it." Arthur mused out loud.

Merlin sighed, "I wish I could help with that, but I don't know anything about the druid's traditions and customs."

Arthur nodded. Merlin had told him about their destinies. It felt heavy, still now, but this, he thought, this was another step towards that destiny, towards fulfilling it.

"I had something else in mind for you anyway," he said and smiled and turned to Merlin, who looked at him curiously.

"Really? Well, what did you have in mind?" Merlin asked, tilting his head to the side like a confused puppy, which made Arthur's heart melt and his resolve harden. Any worry or doubt he had before dissolved with that one look and he smiled kindly at Merlin.

"You would do anything for me, Merlin, anything. I know that, and to this day I don't believe I deserve that devotion. I don't know what I've done to deserve you, but I thank the fates for giving you to me and allowing us to love each other. I look back on our lives and wonder how it all came to this, to us, but then I look at you and I know, whatever drove us here, whatever drove us to meet, to love, it doesn't matter that I don't know why. It doesn't matter that I don't deserve you, all that matters is that you and I face this world as one. And..." Slowly, Arthur pulled off the ring he wore daily, his mother's ring, and he grasped Merlin's hand. He looked unsure for a moment, insecure, but he continued, "And I would like for us to face this world as one for all time to come."

"Arthur?" Merlin asked, eyes wide in awe and disbelief. "Are you..."

"Merlin, though with your power you could easily become Court Sorcerer, despite your lack of training, you deserve more. I can't give you much in comparison to what you give me, but... I cannot see anyone else by my side, ruling this kingdom, but you. Will you-"

"YES!" Merlin exclaimed and dove in to embrace Arthur, a grin and joyful tears in his eyes. Arthur laughed and pulled away just enough to meet Merlin's eyes.

"Merlin," he chided playfully and Merlin grinned sheepishly back at him and blushed.

"Sorry. Go ahead."

Arthur smiled and shook his head affectionately. "Will you marry me?"

"Yes," Merlin grinned and dove in to kiss Arthur on the lips while Arthur slipped his mother's ring onto Merlin left ring finger and then pulled him closer.

The crowd below cheered, for unbeknownst to the pair on the balcony, the people had heard it all and they were happy for their king. Somewhere, ten councilmen grumbled about the kingdom needing an heir and Merlin's inability to provide one, but no one else cared much at the moment. Their king's happiness was more important to the people, and the matter of an heir was a problem that the future would make them face, but not tonight.

And anyway, it seems that many people forget that Merlin is magic, and nature bends to his will. Alas, that is a story for another time. For now, let us bask in their happiness and make it our own.