By the time Merlin made it to the throne room, almost everyone was dead or unconscious.
Everyone but Arthur who was on the floor at Morgana’s feet, a sword to his throat.
Merlin didn’t think, he just reacted. He screamed out, his magic forcing Morgana to fly back and drop the sword.
She had tried to conquer Camelot again. She would fail again, Merlin would make sure of it. But as he stood there, Arthur’s fearful eyes trained on him like he was a threat and not his friend, like he hadn’t just saved his life, Merlin was starting to realize what the consequences of his actions might be.
“Merlin…” Arthur whispered, scrambling to his feet, but not coming closer. “Merlin, what the hell is going on?”
They were so focused on eachother, both terrified of the other, they failed to notice Morgana picking herself up until she was cackling loudly at them.
“You have magic?” She was disgusted, disappointed. How could Merlin have magic? “See Arthur, no matter what you and Uther do, magic will always be at the heart of Camelot.”
Arthur’s eyes flicked between his sister and his friend, the betrayal settling in his uneasy stomach.
Morgana opened her mouth to say a spell, ready to attempt to kill Arthur yet again, falsely thinking that Merlin having magic meant he was suddenly on her side.
“Stop!” Merlin roared in a voice neither Pendragon had ever heard out of his lanky body. “Morgana, just stop! You are better than this! If you kill Arthur then you are just as bad as your father.”
“How can you say that? How can you protect a man who would have you executed? I am doing this for magic!”
“You are doing this for revenge and nothing more!”
Arthur was still caught in the middle, more confused and hurt than he’s ever been.
“Morgana, please! I beg of you!” Merlin’s voice was soft again. Pleading for the friend he once held so dear to return. “I’m so sorry for all that Uther did to you. I am sorry you were raised by that awful man. And I am so sorry I wasn’t a better friend to you. I always thought that maybe if I had told you about my magic, you wouldn’t have had to feel so alone, but I was afraid, you have to understand.”
Merlin’s eyes flicked to Arthur. Silently begging him to listen as well, but Arthur looked so lost, part of Merlin was sure he would never get his friend back.
“Arthur is destined to do so much, he will be the best king this land has ever known, and he can do it with you by his side if you would just come home.”
“It’s you isn’t it.” Morgana was shaking. Her face twisted in anguish. “You’re Emrys. You’ve been defending Arthur for years, pretending to be nothing more than a serving boy. You poisoned me! You’re meant to kill me!”
“I don’t want to kill you! I never did! We were friends!” Merlin watched Morgana spiral into a pit of paranoia right before his eyes. “Morgana, I just want to protect Arthur.”
“Why? Why do you choose him over magic? He is a murderer!”
“He is everything!” The whole castle shook, like magic chose to emphasise the importance of Merlin’s words. The windows shattered revealing a raging storm outside.
Morgana’s face, normally distorted with hatred, softened with understanding. She looked at Arthur, his knuckles were white around the sword he had grabbed out of a nearby body, his whole being tensed and ready for a fight. She laughed breathily, shaking her head and turning back to Merlin with a sickening smile.
“He’s never going to love you back, you know.”
Now it was Merlin’s turn to regard his friend. Morgana’s statement seemed to shock Arthur, his shoulders fell slightly and he lifted out of his crouched fighting stance. Merlin cocked his head to the side, his eyes showing pure defeat despite the comforting grin he tried to flash Arthur.
“That’s okay… All I want is for him to be happy.”
“Wha–?” Arthur tried to cut into the conversation, but Morgana had had enough.
“Then you’re stupider than I thought.” Before she could get her next incantation out, a bolt of lightning came sideways through the gaping window, striking her and she collapsed to the floor.
Arthur’s mind was racing, but he calmed enough to spot the little sparks of static dancing across Merlin’s fingers.
“Merlin?” Arthur nearly whimpered. His world had just turned upside-down, if he couldn’t trust Merlin then he had nothing. “Merlin, what’s going on?”
Merlin’s focus fell to the floor, unsure of what would happen next. He would face Morgana one-hundred times over if it meant not having this talk with Arthur.
“Merlin, please tell me what’s happening?” His voice broke. The king of Camelot was desperate and afraid, and begging his manservant for answers.
“I’m so sorry, Arthur.” Merlin fell apart. Sobs racked through his body violently and his knees gave out. He’d spent years dreading this moment, petrified of the day Arthur would grow to hate him.
“It’s okay, it’ll be okay, just– I need you to explain.” A soothing hand warmly stroked his back. Merlin didn’t know when Arthur approached him, but his head was still on his shoulders so that had to be a good sign.
“I have magic, Arthur. I was born with it. I’m a warlock.” Merlin sobbed harder, still not looking at his king.
“Well, I deduced that much, Merlin. Give me some credit, please.”
Merlin gave a wet chuckle. How was Arthur acting so calm? Why hadn’t he killed him yet? His face earlier, Merlin could see in his eyes that he hated him. He’d looked so betrayed, so hurt, Merlin was sure he would never trust him again. Yet, here he was joking like they were still friends.
“It’s for you.” Merlin finally whipped around to look at Arthur. Wanting to see if he could read him the way he knew how. “My magic, it’s yours. I’m meant to protect you. It’s my destiny to help you be the greatest king Camelot will ever know.”
“So, you’ve followed me around for years; done my laundry, dumping my chamberpot, following me into hopeless battles, because you have some duty to help me rule?” He was pulling back, Merlin could feel him slipping away.
“No– I mean, kind of– you’re a prat!” Arthur raised his eyebrows, ready to tell Merlin he couldn’t talk to him like that. “I mean, at first– well, still really, but especially at first– you were a massive prat. And the dragon told me to protect you because of coins with two sides and prophecies and I thought it was a load of horse dung, but then my magic kept saving you. I kept saving you. I didn’t think you were worth shite, but the more time I spent with you the more I realised– well I thought you could use a friend.”
“So, now you protect me... with magic… because I seem like I could use a friend?”
“What? No! You’re not listening!”
“Oh good, because I thought Morgana said something about you being in love with me.” Now it was Merlin’s turn to pull back. His eyes wide, he tensed and pushed himself up a bit. “Because you came in here using magic and I thought I had been stupid enough to have trusted another person who had betray me. But instead you defended me, begged my sister to see reason, and admitted to loving me.”
“Arthur, you can hate me for my magic, but please don’t hate me for this.”
“Now who’s not listening.” Arthur huffed, lurching forward and grabbing the warlock’s face, colliding it with his own.
The kiss was hard and rough, the taste of blood on both their lips.
“I bloody love you too, you absolute idiot.” Their foreheads pushed together, frantically pulling each other closer.
By the time they separated, the surviving knights had begun regaining consciousness. Arthur made it known that Merlin had defeated Morgana and saved Camelot. Gwaine, who mysteriously knew every detail of Arthur and Merlin’s conversation despite being knocked out in the hallway, made it known that the king and Camelot’s favorite servant were finally done pining over each other.