Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin
Summary: AU. When Merlin's father returns suddenly Merlin realizes that his destiny isn't exactly what he thought it would be. Separated from Arthur, Merlin's life is turned upside down, never once suspecting that Arthur might miss him with the same intensity.
A/N: There's controversy as to who Merlin's father really was, though mostly all of them have him supernatural in nature. I'm using that for this story.
Note: Icon that inspired story was created by jade_dragoness
“Are you telling me that he speaks the truth?” Merlin asked, voice soft in shock, looking up at the golden eyes watching him seriously. The moment those words had been uttered by the man Merlin had torn away and rushed here, knowing somehow that if anyone knew the truth it would be the Dragon, for while he was cryptic as hell whenever his words made sense, they always proved right.
“Aye, young Warlock, he spoke the truth.” The Great Dragon nodded solemnly.
Merlin staggered back at the weight of those words, lowering his eyes, lips falling open slightly. “But—but how? Why--?” His face turned hard as he looked up at the dragon once more, determined. “How could he think that I would just---? My mother! How could he do that to my mother?”
The dragon sighed, peering down sympathetically at the young human. “There are things that you do not understand, young warlock, do not judge too harshly. Your mother knew and she agreed.”
“She…she knew?” Merlin whispered, all the information swirling dizzyingly in his head. “She knows? She knows?”
The dragon nodded. “It is one of the reasons you were sent to Camelot, he asked it of her and she agreed.”
“He asked? He---they’re---they still talk?” Merlin sank to his knees, exhausted and confused and surprisingly hurt. “She would never talk about my father.”
Merlin closed his eyes and took in a deep breath.
He’d never guessed, when news of Uther’s old friend and ally, king of a kingdom even greater than Albion, that it would change his life so drastically.
Merlin had noticed King Wyborn the moment he rode into the gates of Camelot, had sensed him, and he’d been surprised when the king’s blue eyes had zeroed in on him as well, as if he too had sensed his presence.
The smile on the king’s face had been genuine and fixed on him, and Merlin had been confused and wary, wondering if this was yet another sorcerer trying to kill Uther and Arthur----God knew that everyone who visited Camelot ended up that way and Merlin ended up having to risk his neck to save the royal pains in the buttocks.
But then that night the visiting king had slipped away from his own welcome banquet, not having savored the wine that had left the others inebriated and had motioned for Merlin to abandon his position behind a drunk Arthur as his server and follow him.
Merlin had been cautious and wary, and yet the hug he’d been swept in the moment they were alone had left him stunned, as had the way the king looked at him with pride as he pulled away.
Admittedly Merlin had taken it the wrong way, thinking the king thought to have his naughty way with him---and he’d been about to scream rape, when those words left the king’s lips.
“I know of your magic, I know all about you, I have watched you and you have made me proud, Emrys my son.”
Merlin’s eyes had widened, shocked, silent.
“You are my son, my flesh and bone, the sole heir.” King Wyborn had smiled. “And now that the danger is past and you are of age, you will return to claim your rightful place as future king.”
The young warlock wasn’t proud of himself, but he’d been in shock and he hadn’t truly known what he was doing until he’d torn out of the room and hurried towards where the Great Dragon was in his prison.
“I don’t understand.” He whispered, running his hand through his hair, heart racing in his throat, frantically. “Why now? How did he know---? What---?” He tried to calm down but found that he couldn’t. “He wants me to leave Camelot, wants me to return to his kingdom.”
“Your kingdom,” the dragon corrected.
Merlin winced. “No. It’s not—I’m not---I’m not even a decent manservant! How can I be a prince?”
“Crown Prince, sole heir.” The dragon corrected helpfully.
Merlin groaned, his stomach a mixture of feelings, mostly terror and disbelief. “I can’t—I can’t go, obviously. How---how do I tell him I’m not going?”
“You do not.” His advisor announced. “You go.”
Merlin’s eyes widened in surprise, trained on the dragon. “What do you mean I go?” He quickly stood up. “What about this destiny nonsense you’ve been feeding me ever since I arrived? The two sides of the same coin? The whole me and Arthur being joined or something? How can we have a shared destiny and how can I protect him so he can survive to become a great king if I’m in a different kingdom?”
He began to pace, growing frantic. “How will he survive if I leave?” He asked himself, breathing growing frantic. “He can’t go a week without some witch cursing him or without something trying to kill him or---!”
“Calm down young warlock,” the dragon sighed. “You will do your prince no good if you die of a heart attack.”
Merlin tried to calm down but he couldn’t.
He was growing frantic. “How can you tell me to go?”
“You must.” That voice was insistent. “You have already fulfilled part of your destiny, and now, to continue down the road to completely fulfilling it, you must go to your own kingdom.” There was a sigh, understanding, encouraging. “You will have to trust your young prince to be strong enough to defend himself and protect you as well when the time comes, young warlock.”
Merlin frowned, never understanding why the dragon spoke like that. He knew that his duty was to protect Arthur and make him a great king, but sometimes the dragon said things that left him confused and feeling like he’d just heard a huge contradiction.
“I don’t need Arthur to protect me. I’m not a damsel in need of her knight in shining armor.”
For some reason that seemed to amuse the dragon.
Merlin pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes at the dragon, wondering what was so amusing. “You know something you are not telling me.” It was a statement, not a question.
“In time you shall find the answers to your questions.” The Great Dragon replied, his wings outstretching. “Our ways must part for now. You leave Camelot a young warlock, but when you return you’ll be King Consort.”
Merlin snorted. “You mean, if this isn’t just some evil trick and I really am the crown prince, when I return I’ll be doing so as a king and, hopefully, ally of Camelot.”
He frowned though, looking away.
If he was king he wouldn’t hide his magic, and that would mean that Uther would sever all friendly ties with King Wyborn’s kingdom.
Merlin’s face fell.
He’d never be able to see Arthur again.
Why did it hurt him so much to realize it?
Sure, he and Arthur had been getting along better, but the prince was still a royal prat, and he’d been acting oddly around Merlin of late. He’d been watching him, closely, and while at first Merlin had been terrified that maybe he realized that he was a warlock that fear had subsided.
Arthur would have turned him in if he’d seen him use magic, and he’d act differently, hostile-like, if he suspected…
So why was Arthur acting so strange?
I’ll never know.
Merlin once more sank down to the ground and took in a deep breath, hands on his head.
“Young warlock, young prince…”
Merlin winced at the title but looked up at the dragon instead, eyes begging for some words of wisdom, for some comforting.
“Your prince searches for you.” The dragon whispered instead. “You should find him, he is deeply troubled.”
Merlin nodded, turning to leave before whispering: “He’s not my prince.” And he wondered why it hurt him so much to say that.
He made his way past the guards, distracting them so he could hurry away unnoticed, and fled to Arthur’s room. He somehow knew that he’d find the drunk prince there, and he had to admit he was somewhat proud and surprised at the fact that the blonde had made it all the way there on his own without any help.
Usually during these banquets Arthur was so drunk he couldn’t stand on his own, and Merlin was forced to nearly drag him to bed, but Arthur was now standing on his own, looking out of his window, face stormy.
He didn’t look half as drunk as he should have been.
Merlin wondered what’d made him stop drinking after he’d left.
“I don’t remember giving you permission to leave me during the feast, Merlin.” Arthur’s voice was low and accusing as he continued to glare out of the window. “Honestly, you are the worst manservant ever!”
“I’m sorry sire,” Merlin bowed his head and said no more, because honestly, what could he say? ‘Sorry I left you but the king wanted to tell me I was his son’?
Well, he probably should have said it, but Merlin was in denial.
Or, well, he didn’t want to think about it, about the change this would mean in Arthur’s and his relationship.
Not that they had a relationship---other than prince and horrible inadequate manservant, of course…
“I asked one of the other servant boys and he said that you left shortly after King Wyborn disappeared.” Arthur kept his back to Merlin. “He said that the king motioned for you to join him privately. Is this true?”
Merlin’s heart raced.
He wasn’t ready to accept this---much less talk about it---with Arthur of all people!
“Answer me, Merlin.” Arthur’s voice was a growl, a feral, angry growl. “Did you leave to join the king? Did he beckon you to him?”
“Yes.” Merlin whispered, head still bowed, probably meeker tonight than he’d ever been.
And instead of it placating Arthur the prince seemed even more irritated. “What did he want?” Arthur turned to him finally, eyes flashing angrily. “What did he want with you in private? That he had to take you away from the others and isolate you?” His lips were pulled back, showing teeth. “Did he touch you, Merlin? Did you let him?”
Merlin’s eyes went wide and his gaze shot up at Arthur’s at that. He opened his mouth and closed it and opened it again before he found himself too horrified to speak, and for the second time that night he bolted out of a room in terror.
Thankfully Arthur didn’t come after him.
He was probably just too disgusted thinking Merlin was a sodomite or whatever they were calling it in Camelot.
Merlin raced to his room, glad that Gaius still wasn’t in his, and locked himself in.
His dreams were of Arthur scorning him.
Merlin looked from King Wyborn to his uncle Gaius the next morning, both sitting in Gaius’ workroom, both watching him intently for his reaction.
The young warlock---for he still could not bring himself to think of himself as a prince---was dumbstruck.
The tale that’d been told was like something from legend.
His father, King Wyborn, was a Banished One, a god thrown down from the heavens for reasons he preferred not to disclose. He was the reason why magic was so natural and so strong in Merlin, he was filled of magic himself, he was magic, and his kingdom was made up of those who’d fled Albion after Uther’s decree.
Merlin didn’t understand why his father would remain friends with Uther despite the fact that he persecuted and killed their kind, but maybe---maybe this meant that he didn’t have to be an enemy of Arthur’s.
Maybe he could learn to do things as his father had, without denying himself of his magic and who he was and yet keep it hidden from the outside world.
“I have already spoken with Hunith.” Wyborn’s face went tender as he spoke Merlin’s mother’s name. “She is preparing herself for our arrival. We shall find her and bring her with us to our land where she can reign as Queen, as she always should have.”
Merlin couldn’t help but smile as he heard the crack of thick emotion in the man’s voice.
Apparently the reason why Hunith and Merlin had had to leave and live like serfs was due to an uprising of powers in the kingdom, in which the baby Merlin was being constantly attacked, his life in jeopardy. The only way to make sure he was safe was for his mother to disappear with him until he was old enough and had come into his powers.
Wyborn had waited until such a time, and now he was here for his family.
The rebellion had been cut down, although there was doubt that all the traitors had been done away with, and Merlin was to return with him to claim his rightful place as Prince Regent.
“We have all tried to train you, to prepare you, Merlin.” Gaius reached over across the table and placed his hand on Merlin’s. “Your mother raised you to be just and merciful and to have the heart of a king, I have done my best to try and tutor you in your magic, and this experience in the house of King Uther has taught you firsthand about the dangers of being heir, and of the intrigue of court life.”
Merlin’s eyes widened as he realized that was true.
“You have learnt all you can on your own, my son.” Wyborn announced. “Now it’s time you begin your destiny, and come home.”
That seemed like a word that followed him around a lot.
He sighed and nodded. “I’ll do it…father.”
Wyborn smiled and stood, in seconds he’d circled around the table and grabbed his son, hauling him off of his seat and into his arms in a bear hug.
Merlin could feel the emotion in his father and he smiled, finally relaxing in his hold and hugging back, unable to believe that his father was holding him.
He’d wanted this from the first moment he realized he didn’t have a father like the rest of the children in the village did, and finally he had it.
He didn’t hear the door opening or realize that there was someone else in the room until he heard the zing of a sword being pulled out of its sheath. “Let go of my manservant!”
Merlin’s eyes widened as he recognized the voice of his prince---of the prince he should have been serving since morning but had been unable to due to the conversation he, Gaius, and his father had been having.
Wyborn pulled away from Merlin and turned to Arthur, seeming confused and wary at the sword pointed at him. “Is this how Uther’s son treats his father’s honored guest?”
Arthur’s eyes were narrowed slits. “I do not know how things are conducted in your kingdom, King Wyborn, but here we do not condone men using their rank to force their attentions on innocents.”
Merlin wanted to die.
Arthur had just accused his father of trying to---of wanting to---!
Wyborn watched Arthur in silence, his gaze going from the prince to his son and back before he smiled softly. “I see my son has had a fierce and loyal protector while here in your court. For that I offer you my sincerest gratitude, Arthur Pendragon, prince of Camelot.”
“Son?” Shock raced across Arthur’s features, his hold on his weapon loosening, before his blue eyes turned on Merlin. “What---what is he saying? Merlin?”
“I---I only found out last night,” Merlin felt guilty for not telling Arthur about it as soon as he’d known, but, but, but he hadn’t been able to deal with it. Not then. Not now either, but he didn’t have a choice anymore, did he? “I was still in denial until this morning.”
Arthur was silent, his face still shocked, as he slowly put his weapon away. “Son.” His gaze went to Gaius. “Son?”
Gaius nodded solemnly. “Yes my lord. King Wyborn is indeed Merlin’s father.”
“I---I guess it makes sense that you’re such a horrible manservant, Merlin.” Arthur whispered, his gaze turning to him before unreadable expressions crossed over his face and he was out of the room, door slamming behind him.
Merlin bit his bottom lip, fighting the desire to run out after Arthur, to talk to him. But he knew Arthur’s moods by now, knew Arthur, probably better than anyone else, and he knew that right now Arthur was processing the information and needed to be alone.
“I shall have to inform Uther before his son does.” Wyborn sighed. “He will be most peeved otherwise.” He then turned to his son and smiled. “It is good to have you back, Emrys.” And with that he left, heading towards the King’s throne room.
“I am sorry for not telling you sooner, my boy.” Gaius spoke, looking at Merlin earnestly. “But I’d sworn to secrecy, and it was for your own protection.”
“I know that, Gaius.” Merlin smiled at the man he’d seen as a father and confidant ever since he’d come to Camelot. “And I am always going to be grateful for your help.” He paused for a moment. “And I wish to see you again.”
Gaius smiled. “I do believe I could find reasons to visit my nephew the prince.”
Merlin chuckled softly, smile bright.
He couldn’t believe the situation as yet, but at least he wasn’t losing Gaius.
Like I’m losing Arthur…
His smile disappeared.
But Gaius didn’t have time to question the change in mood as the door flew open wide, and Morgana entered, paler than usual, worry on her face. “Merlin!” The normally icy beauty seemed relieved as she came to him and hugged him. “I was so worried.”
If this had happened months before Merlin might have fainted in shock, but time had passed in Uther’s Court, time in which Merlin and Morgana had realized each other’s secrets, and those secrets were what had forged a deep bond of friendship and companionship between them.
They worked like a team, with Morgana dreaming of the dangers and warning Merlin beforehand so he could be ready for them when they did occur.
“I dreamt about Camelot and you weren’t here.” Morgana whispered, letting go of Merlin and taking a step back, obviously a little uncomfortable with how she’d thrown her arms around him and held him tight. “Merlin, I don’t know what happened to you but you weren’t here and Arthur had another manservant and being as snobbish and standoffish as ever and Gwen was crying and I missed you.” Morgana’s eyes searched his. “Something’s going to happen, Merlin, and you’re not going to be here.”
Merlin shared a look with his uncle before he placed his hands on Morgana’s shoulders and sat her down, telling her of all that’d happened since the banquet last night.
When he was finished, the king’s ward was silent, obviously troubled.
“Are you sure he’s not some sorcerer with a spell on you, Merlin?” She looked up at him. “Are you sure he’s your father?”
“He is his father.” Gaius answered for the boy. “It is his rightful place at his father’s side. Merlin now has his own kingdom, my lady.”
Morgana was silent, biting her bottom lip, before looking at Merlin. “But what about Arthur?”
Merlin looked away, expression neutral despite his conflicting feelings. “He will find a more adequate manservant, you said so yourself milady, you saw it.”
“Oh Merlin…that’s not what I meant…” Morgana sighed, shaking her head. “Never mind.” The regal beauty stood, resigned. “I must tell Gwen. She will, she will cry.” Those blue eyes met Merlin’s, trying to convey something to him he just didn’t understand, before she strolled out of the room, pace determined.
Merlin sat down once more and looked at the door. “I’m doing the right thing, am I not, uncle?”
Gaius placed his hand on the youth’s shoulder. “Yes, you are. It might hurt now, Merlin, but know that you are doing what you were meant to do.”
Merlin hung his head, hoping to all holy that Gaius was right, and that he wasn’t committing the gravest mistake in his life.
Merlin had never been as depressed as he was when the walls of Camelot faded from view.
Uther had been shocked to learn that his son’s manservant was his ally’s heir, but he’d somehow turned it around to benefit himself and Camelot of course, painting it to seem as if they’d taken Merlin in and treated him as family, forgetting of course that if it had been for him Merlin would have died when he’d drunk from the poisoned chalice, or that Merlin had been sent to the stocks more than once on his decree.
Merlin tried to forget it as well as Uther had acknowledge him as a human being and declared that this was only another sign that the peace between the two kingdoms would remain, since ‘Arthur and Merlin are such good friends’.
Uther had then confused and worried Merlin by telling his father in this completely faux innocent way about how close he’d noticed Merlin and his own ward were.
Merlin was royalty for less than an hour and Uther already seemed ready to marry him off to Morgana.
It was ridiculous.
The man had no shame.
Arthur had seemed to think so as well because the moment his father said that his face had shut off all emotion completely, though the stiffness of his shoulders screamed to Merlin of his tension and disapproval.
Then again, Merlin had always suspected that Arthur’s feelings for Morgana might be more than platonic and brotherly, so he could understand the reaction.
It also explained how oddly detached Arthur had acted towards him afterwards, and Merlin tried to tell himself that he wasn’t hurt at how uncaring Arthur was to see him leave but Merlin had never been a good liar.
It really hurt to see how this wasn’t affecting Arthur at all when it was tearing him apart.
“I know you will miss him,” Wyborn spoke, breaking the silence as he and his entourage rode on. “But you will not be alone, you will have your mother, myself, and an old friend in your new home.”
Merlin sent his father a curious look. “An old friend?”
Wyborn smiled and nodded his head. “How could I not reward the man who not only kept your secret, but worked alongside you, magic and weapon, so perfectly?”
Merlin’s eyes suddenly widened and his face was enveloped with a smile as he realized whom he father was referring to.
Read Chapter Two