elfflame

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Finding King Arthur - Part 9

Title: Finding King Arthur (temporary until I find something better)
Author: [info]elfflame
Fandom: Merlin (BBC)
Rating: PG for mention of death (for now)
Summary: Things have gone bad in Camelot.  Arthur has been missing for a year, and Uther and Gaius have been poisoned.  Merlin and the knights of Camelot set out to find their Prince before the kingdom can be claimed by Morgana.
Warnings: Death (not Merlin or Arthur), minor spoilers for season 3.
A/N: Two very long bits to make up for only posting once yesterday.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8


Twelve
The Dragon and the Witch

It was a disaster. They'd tried Arthur with a sword, a bow, a mace, and even a staff. None of which he'd managed to handle with anything like the grace Merlin remembered him having. Nothing Lancelot or Gwaine, who had joined them shortly after they'd started, had been able to suggest had helped. It was like something was blocking Arthur's skill. Merlin could see it there, simmering beneath the surface, but somehow, Arthur just couldn't access it. Couldn't believe it was there.

They had a week. If Arthur couldn't remember…if he stayed just like this, with no way of showing his skill with a sword, and no memory of being Prince Arthur… The ministers would hand the kingdom to Morgana without a second thought.

All Merlin could do was hope that he could retrieve the Dragon's sword, and that it would help Arthur to remember.

But first, that meant that he had to go talk to the Dragon. If he could.

He left Arthur training with Lancelot and Gwaine, though Arthur shot him a horrified glance that obviously meant, 'Please don't leave me with them…'

It took time to find an empty field. Camelot was brimming with visitors, hucksters, hopefuls, and nobles, all who wanted to be here for whatever happened.

Merlin called the dragon, then waited. It seemed forever before he heard the flap of wings, and sagged with relief. For a few minutes, he'd been certain the dragon wouldn't come at all.

"You called?" the dragon asked once it had settled.

"Yes. I…need to know…the sword we made…"

The dragon made a half growling sound which made Merlin uncomfortable, but he pushed on. "Uther is dead. And…Arthur has no memory of being Prince. If I'm to help him…I thought maybe…"

"You thought my magic might restore that which is lost?" the dragon said, its voice a rumble.

"Yes," Merlin answered simply again.

The dragon was silent for a time, and then seemed to smile. "Clever indeed. Take the Prince to the lake. If he deserves the sword, he shall receive it. If not…" The dragon's eyes flashed, and Merlin had the uncomfortable feeling he wouldn't like what happened if it turned out he were wrong about Arthur.

"Right…thank you."

"Do not thank me. If it is his destiny, he will earn it whether I agree or not."

Merlin frowned. He'd always assumed the dragon wanted Arthur to be king. "Are you saying you don't think he does?" he asked, worried. The dragon had always been capricious, but Merlin didn't want to think about what it would do if it decided to oppose Arthur.

"Not at all. I am merely saying that the young kingling will need to prove himself. And not just to me. Even if he should regain his memories." The dragon leapt into the air once more, and for a moment, all Merlin could hear was the beating of it's huge wings. Then it called out, "Good luck, young warlock!" And it was gone once more.

Merlin shook his head, then set off for the castle once more.

He made it as far as the courtyard before he was flanked by two guards, which made his heart stop. Not now. Not just when he was feeling more confident that he might be able to help Arthur…

The two guards escorted him up to what he recognized as Uther's private study, where Morgana seemed to have ensconced herself behind the large oak desk there. She waved the guards off, and they backed up out the door, closing it behind them.

"Making yourself comfortable?" Merlin asked her.

"I'd watch your tongue, Merlin. You're speaking to the next ruler of Camelot. And anyone who gets in my way is likely to regret that…"

"I think Arthur might have something to say about that," he said.

She leaned forward. "I don't think he'll be in any shape to challenge my claim…do you?"

"You always did underestimate him," Merlin told her. When she'd been a friend, her goading had been a good thing. Something that had often pushed Arthur into doing the right thing. But now…

"Perhaps it's you that I underestimated? I have my theories about you, Merlin. You know it's only a matter of time. You will be found out."

"And what…you'll keep that law just long enough to have me executed?" he asked her.

"And if I do?"

"Might be longer than you're willing to wait," he told her.

Her eyes narrowed, and she stood, raising her chin. "You have always underestimated me, Merlin. And if I were queen…"

"You'll be saying that for a long time to come," Merlin told her, standing as well. "Was there anything else?"

Her nostrils flared. "You will regret everything, Merlin. I'll make sure of that."

"Yes," Merlin told her, more confident now that no threats of being thrown in the dungeons had emerged. "I'm sure you'll try. I need to get back now…I want to see how Arthur's sparring is going."

"Don't think that you've won, Merlin. You might have found him and brought him back, but I doubt helping him regain his memory will be quite as easy." She smirked again, obviously certain that she had the upper hand now.

"Was that a confession?" he asked her calmly.

Her cheeks went pink. "This isn't a game, Merlin. But if it was…I can assure you, you will lose."

"If you say so," he told her. "I suppose we'll just have to see, won't we?"

She scowled, but said nothing further, so Merlin turned and reached for the door handle, waiting to see if she would stop him. When she didn't, he pulled it open and ignored the guards who still stood there as he walked past, trying to look as if he were in no hurry. He only sped up once he was out of their sight, hurrying down to the sparring room he'd left his friends in.

He didn't know what she'd done, or how, but Morgana had caused this. He was sure of that, now. It had been a suspicion for some time, but now she'd practically confirmed it. It didn't help him to fix it, but if he could…

Seeing Arthur still fighting with Lancelot, trying unsuccessfully to parry a blow aimed at his leg, Merlin felt both relieved and saddened. He wanted his prince back. Even if it meant losing the friend he'd gained in the man Arthur had become without his memories.

Whatever it took, they'd do it. They had to. They couldn't let Morgana win.


Thirteen
Excalibur

They took a break for lunch, and then Merlin took Arthur for a walk.

"None of it seems familiar at all," Arthur said softly as they walked through the quite crowded streets.

Merlin was beginning to think that the spell Morgana had used, for there had to be a spell involved given the depth of Arthur's memory loss, made certain to mask anything that might even be slightly familiar. The more the three friends had tried to remind him of things, the less Arthur seemed certain that they were right. As though something were somehow convincing him of it.

But at least there seemed to be something deep inside Arthur—Merlin thought it might be his sense of duty—that was pushing back now. Something that had started the moment he learned who he was. Something that seemed to have him trying to be who they thought he was, even despite his doubts.

"It should…but whatever did this…obviously it's not going to be something easily fixed." Though Merlin hoped he was wrong. "But we'll keep trying. Maybe something will spark a memory."

Arthur smiled at him. "Thank you, Merlin. I only hope I live up to your expectations."

"I know you will. I know you, Arthur. Even if that's hard to believe right now."

"Yeah," Arthur agreed softly. "A bit." He was silent for a while as they made their way down to the river, only speaking again once they're veered off the path and toward the lake. "It's just…every time you tell me something…all I can think is that it doesn't sound at all familiar. But…once I start doing and not thinking…"

"It comes back?"

"Well…it feels natural, at least…"

Merlin smiled. They had a good chance, then. So long as this worked. "Then we're on the right track." He looked up as the lake came into view, and Arthur did the same.

"This is nice. Good fishing hole?"

"No…not so much. The sidhe use it as a gateway to their world. They don't take kindly to trespassers."

Arthur turned to him. "Sidhe? Are you mad? Why did you bring me here?"

"Do you trust me, Arthur?" Merlin asked, meeting his eyes. He had an idea, but if it was to work, Arthur had to be able to have faith in him.

After a long pause, Arthur nodded. "I do. Or I wouldn't be here now."

Merlin smiled. "Good. Now…turn toward the lake, but close your eyes." Arthur hesitated, then did so, looking a bit more nervous than was strictly necessary. "Now…imagine…" Merlin searched for an image to use, finally settling on the kingdom itself, and the castle. "Imagine Camelot. That beautiful castle. How it makes you feel when you look at it. How much you want to protect it."

Arthur kept his eyes firmly shut, frowning for a few long moments before his expression relaxed, and he nodded.

"Good," Merlin said. "Now…just…hold onto that feeling. And…push it…towards the lake, if you can." He had no clue if this would actually work, but if anything did…

Even as he had the thought, he heard a soft splash and looked out at the lake, his eyes widening at what he saw there. "Good god…it worked…"

From Arthur's gasp, he'd obviously opened his eyes as well. "Is that…a sidhe?" he asked, his voice soft with awe.

"No," Merlin answered. "I don't think it is."

There, in what seemed to be the centre of the lake, was a hand. A hand that was holding the sword he'd had made for Arthur straight up, its tip pointing at the sky.

"Now what?" Arthur asked him after another minute.

Merlin glanced from him to the sword. It had come when Arthur had called for it. Surely he would be able to reach it, despite its position, wouldn't he? "Wade in. See if you can reach it."

Arthur looked at him, horrified. "Wade in…? Merlin…"

"Trust me. It appeared for you. If you try to reach it, I think it will come to you. Just…try. If it doesn't…well…we'll try something else."

Arthur frowned, then nodded. "Fine." He glanced at the hand and the sword it held, then pulled off his jacket and handed it to Merlin. "Hold that for me." Then he waded out into the water.

Even as he watched, it seemed the sword moved closer to Arthur. By the time he reached it, it had traveled halfway to where he stood. He glanced at the sword, then back at Merlin who nodded, trying to look more confident than he felt. What if this was as much of a test as calling it had been? What if Arthur failed? What would they do then?

But Merlin needn't have worried. Arthur reached out, his fingers closing around the handle, the hand holding the sword sliding away as he did. If he'd expected a jolt of magic as Arthur took up the sword, he would have been sadly disappointed. As it was, he watched, breathless, as Arthur returned to the shore, enraptured by the sword in his own hand, barely watching where he was going until Merlin offered a hand to help him out of the lake.

He met Merlin's eyes as he climbed out of the lake, looking dazed. "It's…mine," he said in an awestruck voice.

Merlin smiled and nodded. "Yes. Here. Let me dry your clothes. They you should give it a try."

Arthur frowned, and Merlin knew the doubt was creeping back in now that he'd spoken. "What if…"

Merlin shook his head, then cast a quick drying spell. "No…Arthur…you called it. No one else could have."

"But how do you know that? Maybe anyone…"

"No. It was made for you. Just you. No one else was ever to touch it. As you said…it's yours."

"But…"

"Just try, Arthur." He led him to a tree. "Close your eyes again."

"What? But I can't even hit things with them open!"

"Exactly. Because you're doubting yourself. Close them." He watched as Arthur scowled, then nodded.

"Fine." He closed his eyes and faced the tree, taking a swing which missed the trunk by a good few feet. He opened his eyes and glowered at Merlin. "See?"

"That's because you're not focusing. Now. Close your eyes and do it properly." Arthur sighed, then turned back to the tree, closing his eyes once more and raising the sword. "Now…just…remember what it felt like before. When you called the sword. That core…deep inside you. Believe in it," Merlin told him softly. "And when you're ready…swing."

Arthur frowned. "I don't know, Merlin…"

"Just try it, Arthur. Please?"

"All right…" Arthur sighed, then visibly shook himself, trying to relax. After a moment, he drew back the sword, then swung for the tree—and hit it dead-centre.

Merlin grinned. "Arthur! You did it!"

Arthur opened his eyes, then looked astonished at the mark on the tree. "I did…" He turned to Merlin, grinning. "I did it!"

"Yes. I knew you could. It's inside you, Arthur. You can't forget something like that."

"Yeah…I guess so."


Next Part

And off to supper shortly, so that's it for the day.


13094 / 50000 words. 26% done!

Comments

Nov. 8th, 2010 04:43 pm (UTC)
I like it. Even if some watery tart handing out swords is no basis for proper government. :p
Nov. 8th, 2010 04:56 pm (UTC)
LOL You officially made me wake up this morning... :DD
Nov. 8th, 2010 05:00 pm (UTC)
Sorry for waking you. :D

My manager texted me at 8am. That is my wake up every. single. monday. LMAO She always does that to let me know if she needs help with trainings or if there is something else avon related I can do.

I had one of those weekends where Monty Python and the Holy Grail keeps coming to mind. Dennis and his "government comes from a mandate of the people" is one of the best parts of that movie...well him, the knights of Ni, castle Anthrax, killer rabbits...ok, the whole movie is great.

I'm getting ready to head out to work for the day. I hope to finish my kk fic tonight and do more on my nano tomorrow during the day.
Nov. 8th, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
Nonsense. :D It was a great way to wake.

Hee.

That is possibly *the* most quotable movie in existence. :D

Good luck, hon!
Nov. 26th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
Yay! Sword! :-D
Nov. 26th, 2010 08:48 pm (UTC)
Yes. Too bad this is all about to be Jossed. *sighs*