I can see you’ve changed. You're not the boy who used to play hide and seek in the palace gardens. Or the youth who looked up to the knights teaching him fighting skills. Not even the young man who listened to my every word, obeyed every single command without questioning.
You're adult now, not because of your age, but because of your actions.
How could I ignore the fact? Why it had to be Morgana's betrayal to finally open my eyes?
To understand that I was the one who held you back the whole time?
You make your own choices, different from mine, but always for the good of people. And they love you for it. You don't need my advice and you're not even looking for it anymore. You have Merlin.
You probably think I haven't noticed. He helped you to change. He pushed you in the right direction and held you back when needed. He is what Gaius is for me, or maybe even more than that. I force myself to ignore the intimate touches and lingering looks. You deserve whatever comfort you can get.
* * *
But kingdom can't have two kings.
The ruler in me is telling me to retire, to give you the reigns. But the father in me doesn't want to lay the weight of the crown on your head.
I remember the tiredness on your face from not long ago, the protectiveness that washed over me at the sight. You were in charge for only a few weeks and still I could see the same look as the one I see in the mirror every day.
And it's the reason why I can't let you take my place. Not before I die. Even though I know the kingdom deserves better than me. It deserves someone who's not haunted by the past, clinging to all the wrong things, destroying everyone around himself.
I hope you'll understand one day. That I pushed you from power out of love, not distrust.
And then, maybe, you'll forgive me.