Sorcerer by Emachinescat
A Merlin Fan-Fiction
SUMMARY: Originally anthologized in "Sesquipedelian." When Merlin's secret is revealed, not only to Arthur, but to Uther as well, Arthur must sift through his emotions, doubts, fears, and the lies of others in order to find the truth if he is going to save Merlin from a horrendous fate - and even that might not be enough.
Disclaimer: I don't own Merlin, which really stinks, because if I did, it would have ended WAY better than it did! (Or better yet, it wouldn't have ended at all!)
A/N: If some of you guys recognize this, it is because it was originally a five-part story from my short story collection, Sesquipedelian. The only stories from that collection that I have posted separately are my multi-parters from the collection. I wasn't going to post this separately for reasons that aren't really important right now, and I managed to stick with that decision for several years. But I was going through my stories today, and I realized that this was the only multi-part story from Sesquipedelian that I didn't post as its own story, and for some strange reason, my OCD kicked in - big time. So to make things right, here is Sorcerer, finally its own story! :) Even if you've read it before, please feel free to read again! You don't have to review again, but if you like it enough to want to do so, feel free! It'll be updated fairly quickly, considering that it's already written, and it will be posted in five parts. Enjoy, and please review if you feel so inclined! :)
Merlin was in the process of making Arthur's bed when the guards burst into the prince's room. There was no warning, no polite knock, not even an apology as six heavily armed guards barreled into the prince's chambers. Merlin stared before snorting softly and going back to his work – Arthur (who, at the moment, was looking more than a little annoyed as he stood up from where he had been seated at his table, eating his breakfast) – shouldn't ever get onto him for barging in without knocking ever again after this.
The prince stood, his eyes narrowed and took a step forward. "What," he said none-too-patiently to the small group of his father's loyal men, none of whom he knew by name, "are you doing?"
Merlin's eyes shifted from the bed, his hands absentmindedly smoothing out the bedcovers as a tingling feeling trickled down his spine. Something was not right.
"Stand back, sire," one of the guards said, "he's dangerous."
Arthur's face crinkled in a mixture of confusion and irritation. Merlin stiffened, noticing several pairs of the guards' eyes on him and silently praying to whoever was listening that this was not what he thought it was. "Who's dangerous?" Arthur snapped, clearly growing tired of this. "There's no one else in this rooms besides you, myself, and Merlin, and, well, it's obviously not Merlin, he's too much of a girl to be a threat to anyone."
He said this in Merlin's direction, his voice teasing to let Merlin know he wasn't serious – or not completely serious, anyway – but Merlin barely noticed. He was too busy watching the guards begin to circle around him. He noticed for the first time that that there was rope in one of their hands and he began to back away.
Arthur, too, saw this and he growled again, this time with more force, "What are you doing?"
"He's deceiving you, sire," the guard said, glaring at Merlin like he was nothing but a spot of dirt beneath his shoe. "He's a sorcerer!"
Merlin didn't even have a chance to see Arthur's response. The guards were on him. Merlin didn't fight back, didn't struggle as they yanked his lanky arms behind his back and bound his wrists with layer upon layer of rope. Someone grabbed the scruff of his jacket and pushed him forward. There were hands all over him, on his shoulders and arms, pushing him, holding him, preventing him from trying to escape despite the fact that Merlin wasn't trying to escape at all.
He was herded through the hallway by the guards. He could hear Arthur's voice from somewhere behind him but couldn't quite make out what the prince was saying over the din in his own mind. He didn't know if Arthur was trying to defend him or encouraging the guards to get on with the arrest. He found he didn't care at the moment. His mind was spinning and his stomach was twisted in knots. Uther had found out… How had Uther found out?
As he was pulled through the corridors toward the throne room, surrounded by guards and hands tied tightly behind his back, he felt the eyes of passing servants and even a few knights on him. He knew it must be strange, seeing Prince Arthur's idiotic manservant being dragged to through the castle like a common criminal. Almost as soon as the weight of their gazes landed on him, however, they looked away. Merlin wondered briefly why this was, but then they arrived at the throne room and all other thought was swept from his mind.
Arthur followed right behind the guards, his mind reeling. He saw the way that passing people would gawk at the prisoner being marched to the king, and made sure to glare ferociously at every busybody that dared to make a spectacle out of the "sorcerer." But that was ridiculous, anyway. There was no way that Merlin was a sorcerer!
Why on earth his father would think such a thing was beyond him, but considering the number of guards that had been sent to arrest him and the fact that Merlin's hands were tied so tightly that his hands were already white from the constriction to blood flow to them meant that these men were serious – which meant that his father was dead serious. They really thought that Merlin was a sorcerer. Arthur's throat was dry. He knew what that meant. It meant that Merlin was going to be sentenced to death.
But what if he really is a sorcerer?
The idea caught Arthur off-guard. He supposed it was a valid question that his subconscious had formulated, but it was not one he particularly wanted to entertain. The idea of Merlin with magic seemed absolutely ludicrous – but then again there always hadbeen something odd about Merlin, something that Arthur hadn't quite been able to figure out even after three years of the young man as his servant. His own words from the first day they had met sprang into his mind.
"There's something about you, Merlin… I can't quite put my finger on it."
Could it be that Merlin really did have magic? Arthur forced the idea out of his mind. If Merlin was really a sorcerer, Arthur honestly still couldn't see himself standing by as Merlin was burned at the stake or beheaded. The images made Arthur shudder.
Surely this was all a mistake. But there was one thing he knew for sure – he had been Merlin's master for three years; the boy was loyal to a fault, always ready and willing to put others in front of his own life. If Merlin was evil, then the world just wouldn't make sense anymore. Why would someone evil, someone with magic, be so self-sacrificing, so true, so intensely loyal to his prince and friends? No, if magic was evil, then Merlin surely wasn't a sorcerer. His father was wrong – hopefully he would be able to persuade the king to see reason.
He didn't have further time to contemplate this any further, however, as they had reached the throne room. Arthur's stomach tightened in anticipation and fear for his frie—servant as the doors to the throne room were opened and the guards shoved Merlin inside none-too-gently. Arthur's face was stoic even as he was internally panicking, trying desperately to think of any way to get Merlin out of this situation. He was also seething at the callous way his servant was manhandled, shoved to the floor so hard that his knees made a resounding 'crack!' as they hit the stone floor.
Merlin was kneeling in front of the king, hands bound, eyes terrified, and Arthur could barely stand the sight. Merlin looked so vulnerable, so scared – there was no way he was a sorcerer. Surely, if he had magic, he would be using it to attempt to escape right now; he wouldn't just be on the floor looking defeated.
Arthur's fists clenched at his sides as he saw the slumped position of Merlin's back, the fear and resignation in his face. He stood to the side, his eyes roving over the council, noting that most of them looked fierce and angry. A few looked skeptical. Gaius's eyes were full of worry and sadness. Arthur couldn't bring himself to meet the old man's eyes. Gwen stood with the servants, her eyes wide and terrified, filled with tears. Arthur couldn't bear to see her so upset. He swallowed thickly and looked away.
He moved his gaze to Morgana, who sat by Uther's side, and thought that he saw the tug of a triumphant smirk on her lips, a bitter, exultant look at Merlin's arrest… but then it was gone and her face was a mask again and Arthur couldn't help but wonder if he had imagined the whole thing. He forgot about the dark gleam in Morgana's eyes a second later, though, as he caught sight of the pure hatred and anger on his father's face as the king glowered at the prisoner kneeling before him. The king looked positively murderous.
Before Uther could speak, Arthur spoke, "Father, there has been a mistake."
"Silence, Arthur," the king spat in a tone that was usually saved for criminals. Arthur almost took a step back at the harshness in his father's tone and words. "Do not defend this sorcerer, I have learned from a very reliable source that Merlin," he spat the name like it was a Questing Beast's venom, "is plotting to kill you with his dark, corrupted magic."
"That's ridiculous," Arthur growled. "This is Merlin we're talking about here, father – the same man, if you remember, who has stood by me loyally for three years, gone to fight a dragon with me, and who drank poison for me! If he has been trying to kill me, he's even more incompetent than I already thought!"
From where he was standing across from Merlin and near his father, Arthur could see a small grin tug at Merlin's lips despite the circumstances.
A few in the court looked at bit unsettled by the reminder of Merlin's loyalty as they glanced at the boy who knelt there docilely as his fate was determined. Could there be some truth in what the prince said? Why would an evil sorcerer willingly drink poison for the person they were supposed to be out to murder?
Uther noticed and his expression was harder as he ground out, "It is not my job to try and decipher the twisted workings of the minds of sorcerers. He was probably trying to gain your trust to get close to you."
Arthur gaped. "He's been 'close' to me for three years, Father – he's my servant, he's near me almost all the time! Why would—"
"That's enough!" Uther raged as he turned on Merlin, who was still kneeling there, face pale as he watched father and son. "A person of great trust has informed me that she caught wind of his plot and witnessed him trying to enchant you. For that, he will pay."
"Who?" Arthur demanded, his eyes roving around the room. For some reason, Morgana avoided his gaze. "And Merlin has nevertried to enchant me!"
"And you would know if you had been enchanted, would you?" Uther glowered. "The bearer of this information has requested to remain anonymous as they expected such a ridiculous reaction from you, although I hoped they were wrong."
"Father, you've got this all wrong; there's no way that Merlin is a sorcerer."
Uther ignored the prince and turned to Merlin, who gazed back at him, obviously trying his hardest not to appear terrified. "You have been caught using magic in Camelot, in an attempt to murder the heir to the throne."
For the first time since being taken to the king, Merlin spoke, his voice low and respectful. "Sire, I have never—"
Arthur felt his blood run cold as Uther brought his hand across Merlin's thin face, striking the boy so hard that his head whipped violently to the side and he toppled sideways to the ground, dazed, unable to break his fall because of his bound hands. From somewhere nearby Arthur heard Gaius protest, his voice shaking. Gwen let out a small sob, tears running down her face. Merlin lay where he had landed, a bruise already developing on the side of his face. Arthur started to take a step forward but restrained himself, knowing that if he intervened now, he would only make things worse for Merlin.
"Do not lie to me, sorcerer!" Uther fumed. "You have been a traitor, trying to get close to my son, pretending to be loyal while all the while you were plotting his death! For that, you will be severely punished." Arthur swallowed back a protest, heart pounding, knowing what his father's next words were going to be. "You, sorcerer, have broken the laws of Camelot by practicing magic and using it for high treason – you are sentenced to death. You will be burned at the stake tomorrow at noon. Take him away!"
Merlin was yanked to his feet and dragged out of the room. Arthur stood still, waiting until everyone had filed out before turning to face his father.
Merlin was not going to die because of his father's blind hatred and refusal to see reason. Merlin wasn't a sorcerer; he couldn't be! Even if he was, Arthur still couldn't imagine him being evil. He opened his mouth to speak to his father, to try and prove Merlin's innocence, but he realized he didn't know much at all. He needed more information if he was going to plead Merlin's case.
And plead it he would, he thought resolutely as he closed his mouth, on the verge of yelling at his father, and turned on his heel, striding angrily out of the throne room. He was going to prove Merlin's innocence, save his servant from the pyre, despite the consequences.
Merlin was not going to die tomorrow, Arthur decided, whether it meant Arthur convincing his father to let him go or Merlin mysteriously "escaping" into the night.
Merlin had been loyal to Arthur for three years – the time had come for Arthur to return the gesture and he would be damned if he let anyone, especially his blinded father, keep him from doing what was right. With resolve bubbling inside of him, he headed for the physician's chambers. He wanted to talk to Gaius and then Morgana… something about the look in her eyes when Merlin was brought in, although it could have just been a trick of the light…
And then he was going to go to the dungeons and speak to Merlin. He didn't know what was going on, but he did know that Merlin did not deserve to die. He also knew without a shadow of a doubt that he was going to set this right – no matter what.