i have this merlin fic that i really want to write that's been playing through my mind.
to start off, i have this perfect fanfic camelot in my head where everything's basically the same as it is in the gap between season four and five except that arthur's king (aka lancelot's alive lol). in this camelot where my fic takes place, arthur learns that merlin has magic and banishes him.
now, arthur doesn't know that merlin's magic is super fucking good. he thinks merlin's, like, a mid-grade sorcerer. good for party tricks, really. but he's upset about it, and he's a fucked up little man, and he banishes merlin.
now it's something like five to seven years later. camelot has a name for itself. the knights are doing great things. arthur's a, you know, he's a solid king. he's doing pretty okay. but something is missing.
first of all, his wife gwen is in love with lancelot. they have this thing going on where arthur knows that gwen's in love with lancelot and gwen knows that arthur knows that she's in love with lancelot, but neither of them say anything about it. they just exist in this complicated silence that eats them up alive.
secondly, he's missing merlin. god, how could he not miss merlin? he misses merlin so much. he's pining. he's pining for the man he exiled. and he feels so much shame for that, and he wonders if he made the wrong choice. if maybe magic isn't that bad after all.
he talks with gwen and gaius and decides that he's going to invite three sorcerers to the castle as ambassadors. two of the sorcerers are where i get to have fun writing OCs. the third sorcerer is this super annoying guy called dragoon that arthur's had to deal with before.
now, all three of these sorcerers have heard of this really powerful warlock named emrys who leads the druids, but emrys apparently declined arthur's invitation. so this ragtag team is what he's got.
he invites each of the sorcerers to make their case for magic. this is where i get to be super angry and have my characters make good points like: your dad was a genocidal dictator! he tried to destroy something natural to this world! but also, since they're sorcerers trying to show off for the king, they try to do insane magics. maybe one of them stops time, another one makes a fountain of youth, things like that.
then it comes to dragoon.
and this is his case for magic.
he tells arthur that he can take him to his most treasured memory. that he can relive it again. and arthur can't help it. he needs this more than he's ever needed anything.
he says yes.
and then he's back with merlin. he's back with the only person who's ever made him entirely whole. and i don't know what the memory is. maybe it's the first time they met, arthur smirking at merlin, who's all long lines and insouciance, who refuses to show any—any!—respect. or maybe it's the time they almost kissed on a quest late at night, both of them sleepy and warm from the fire. or maybe it's just an ordinary day, merlin yanking away the bedclothes with a cheery up and at 'em, and arthur groaning and throwing everything in sight at his manservant because it's the only way he knows to express his love. maybe that's what arthur sees.
and it lays him bare. in front of the whole court. he's brought to his knees.
he's furious. he screams at dragoon. tells him that this only proves his point that magic is wrong. after all, what dragoon just showed him isn't real. it's the past. and it's dangerous to give a man the past, because it might be all he ever wants.
of course, this ends the day's festivities. arthur goes to his room, alone. gwen's with lancelot. he stands, bracing himself against his bedpost, and sobs. heaving sobs. he can't catch his breath. all he can think of is merlin, the way merlin smelled, the way he sounded, the way he might have tasted.
he calls for dragoon to be brought to him. he demands that dragoon explain himself.
it wasn't— i wasn't— the old man seems to be at a loss for words. i was trying to show you a time when you felt magic.
arthur doesn't understand, and dragoon continues.
i wanted you to remember a time when you'd felt the way that magic feels.
arthur doesn't understand. what does magic feel like?
like possibility. like anything.
and then dragoon shows him. and he shows him a vision of such immense power. he sees the mass graves his father created. he sees the druids working magics deep into the earth to settle the ghosts that haunt those places. he sees a man leading them, a man helping them sow peace, a man whose face he can't quite make out.
by then arthur thinks he knows him. he thinks he must know him, because he's trembling, he's trembling and his teeth are nearly chattering, because how could dragoon know?
but he also doesn't know, he doesn't know, and he thinks he's being foolish, that he's seeing what he wants to see, and he turns away and says, i'm going to wait a minute. if you're still here, i'll execute you.
it's not true. of course it's not true. but it's the only way he knows to ask. it's the only way to say, please still be here.
and when he turns back, he knows what he will find.