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A Time of Joy

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It wasn’t often that both the Queen and Court Sorcerer of Camelot could find a break in their duties on the same day, to be able sneak away to spend some time together, just the two of them; two old friends who simply needed a chance to talk and breathe without the pressures of the Court.

But when they did, it was a moment well-savored, and they both found themselves relaxing and simply enjoying the rare opportunity.

And after being cooped up in the castle all winter, neither of them could refuse to go outside and enjoy the warmth that came with the newly arrived spring.

They were lying on a blanket, side-by-side, and staring up at the sky and the occasional white cloud that would drift into sight above the trees.

Merlin pointed at one. “That one’s a duck.”

Gwen scoffed. “That looks nothing like a duck.”

“Oh, doesn’t it?” Merlin protested. There was silence for a beat, and Gwen’s eyes began to scan the rest of the clouds once more, searching for shapes. But then Merlin asked, “What about now?”

Gwen looked again.

The cloud was now the perfect image of a flying duck, its wings outstretched and even the shadows forming the details of feathers along it’s body.

“Cheater,” Gwen said as she lightly smacked Merlin with the back of a hand, Merlin laughing all the while. “We’re supposed to be finding the shapes, not making them with magic.”

“Says who?”

“Says me.”

“Oh, of course, your majesty,” Merlin responded, still laughing. “How callous of me. The Queen is always right, after all!”

“You stop that!” Gwen protested, but she was laughing too. “I thought the point of this was to forget that we’re queen and sorcerer for an afternoon.”

“You’re right, you’re right,” Merlin conceded. He paused for a moment, before asking “… but does that mean I can sculpt the clouds?”

And Gwen only sighed while rolling her eyes. “Alright, fine, I see no reason why you can’t.”

Merlin let out a victory cheer, and he fell into silence. “… now that I have permission I can’t think of anything to make.”

Gwen laughed. But then she pointed upwards. “That one’s a horse.”

“Oh, good eye,” Merlin said. “If you combine it with the cloud above it it kind of looks like a pegasus.”

“Have you ever seen a pegasus?”

“No,” Merlin said through a disappointed sigh. “They live in Greece.”

Gwen blinked – she hadn’t expected that answer. “So they do exist?”

“Truth be told I’m not entirely sure. Camelot’s records on magical creatures beyond Albion are scarce – Uther deemed them unnecessary and had them all burned – if I want to find out, I’ll have to go somewhere outside Camelot.”

“Maybe to Greece?”

“Maybe to Greece,” Merlin said with a light laugh.

Gwen let out her own laugh, before shaking her head. “I still find it strange to think that you had magic in Camelot during Uther’s reign – the entire time I’ve known you.”

“Eh, well, I did admit to it in that first month, if you remember.”

“That you did!” Gwen exclaimed. She lifted her head to fix Merlin with a narrow-eyed look. “What were you thinking?!”

“That I wanted to keep you safe,” Merlin said, craning his neck to meet Gwen’s eyes, and falling into a seriousness that didn’t match the prior conversation. “You’re my closest friend, Gwen. I didn’t want you to get hurt because of something I did.” But then he grinned. “Besides, I think it all turned out well in the end, your majesty.”

Gwen only let out another exasperated sigh as she dropped her head back. “Now I’m queen.”

“And I’m Court Sorcerer. Neither of us ever thought we’d end up here, did we?”

Gwen let out a small breath, once more watching the clouds. “No, I can’t say I ever thought we would.”

They fell into a silence then, each just again staring at the clouds as they drifted past in the breeze, and listening to the leaves as they rustled in the same wind.

“I’m glad we did this then, Gwen,” Merlin said eventually, “We don’t do it nearly often enough.”

“That I agree with.”

Merlin let out a small laugh. “You were so nervous when we first set out this morning, I thought there was something you needed to tell me.”

Gwen then bit her lip, and she pushed herself up. “Merlin,” she started. She turned to face him. “There is actually something I want to talk to you about.”

Merlin blinked, but then he sat up, expression revealing his concern. “What is it?”

“Oh, it’s nothing bad,” Gwen assured him. “But… it does change things. Quite a bit.”

She took in a breath, and let it out.

“I’m pregnant.”

Merlin blinked.

But then a surprised and awed and elated expression came over his face. “Really?”

Gwen smiled and nodded. “Yes, really.”

“How far along?”

“Two months or so. The baby should be arriving this autumn.”

Merlin blinked again, still for a moment – his face still one of absolute happy surprise – but then he lurched forward and embraced Gwen tight in a hug, laughing in elation. “Oh, Gwen! That’s – that’s fantastic! I’m so happy for you! Wait, wait,” Merlin leaned back then, looking over Gwen with an amused and scrutinizing expression. “Does Arthur know?”

Gwen smiled, a mischievous glint in her eye while shaking her head. “You’re the first person I’ve told.”

Merlin’s grin turned victorious – as if he’d won a tournament – and he let out a bright laugh. “I don’t believe it! You’re pregnant!” But then Merlin’s expression fell to shock as he finally took in what it meant. “Oh gods – you’re pregnant.”

Gwen only laughed again. “Give it a minute to set in, I suppose.”

“You’re going to have a baby – an actual baby – you and Arthur are going to be parents!”

Gwen only continued to smile. “I suppose you’ll be an uncle, in a way.”

“I’m going to be an uncle!”

When Merlin exclaimed this last statement, his eyes flashed gold.

And wildflowers, multicolored and joyful, started blooming all across the clearing.

Gwen tapped Merlin’s shoulder. “Merlin, Merlin, your magic -”

Merlin glanced around, before grimacing in embarrassment. “Oh. Sorry. Um, I’ll just -” he waved a hand, and the flowers started to recede back to how they were. But Merlin turned back to Gwen, his expression now back to that of the pure joy it had been before. “I’m so happy for you, Gwen.

“When are you going to tell Arthur?”

“Soon. Very soon. Actually,” Gwen started, and she gave Merlin a smile, “I was hoping you could help me with that.”

~

“What do you think Audrey prepared for us tonight?”

Gwen hummed in thought, shifting closer to Arthur’s side as the two of them walked down the hallway, her hand hooked around his elbow, and wearing her crimson dress that matched the cape around Arthur’s shoulders. “I’m not sure. I didn’t request anything.”

“I didn’t either.”

“I don’t think it’s anything with fish though,” Gwen said, a small smile coming to her lips. “I remember she would yell for days if someone left some out on accident – there was nothing she hated more than a kitchen that smelled bad.”

Arthur laughed. “I’ve never heard that.”

Gwen laughed as well. “Well, there are some things the servants keep to themselves, aren’t there?”

Arthur smirked and he nodded. They had reached their door, and Arthur reached out the arm Gwen wasn’t holding to grasp the handle. “Let’s find out what she’s made, shall we?”

He opened the door.

Gwen’s maidservant, Arabelle, had already been dismissed for the night, and Arthur expected to find George being the one puttering about his and Gwen’s chambers, setting the table and organizing their things.

But to his surprise, it wasn’t George who was in their room.

“Merlin? What are you doing here?”

“Gwen wanted me to help her with something,” Merlin answered easily, not slowing as he set a tablecloth on the table. He pressed out a crease before straightening with a satisfied expression. “And it’s not like I don’t know how to do this.”

“But it’s not your job to set our table anymore. Where’s George? Shouldn’t he be the one doing this?”

“I gave him the night off.”

“And who are you to give my servants nights off?”

Merlin straightened, lifting his chin. “Your head advisor, if you recall. And do you really want me to call him back here after I told him he could go home?”

Arthur scoffed, before rolling his eyes. “Fine, fine. But if you notice, you forgot the actual food -”

Merlin only lifted a hand and snapped his fingers as his eyes flashed gold.

And fresh herb-infused pheasant appeared on the table, alongside lavish side dishes of roasted vegetables, lit candles, and places set for – three?

Gwen smiled. “I see you’re joining us.”

Merlin grinned. “But of course – I had to lug your dinner all the way up here, didn’t I?”

Gwen laughed. Arthur rolled his eyes again as he took a seat, holding Gwen’s hand and she taking the seat next to him, but he was laughing as well. “Yes, clearly you went through a lot of trouble to make sure it got here in one piece.”

Dinner went by smoothly, the three of them falling into easy conversation that ranged from plans for the future, to simply which plants they thought looked the most pleasing (Merlin staunchly refusing to budge on his opinion that ivy looked wonderful when covering the walls, Arthur arguing that it was terrible for tactical advantage, and Gwen just rolling her eyes at the two of them but laughing all the same).

They stayed talking for a while after the food had been eaten, the sky turning from blue to orange to deep indigo and the room becoming only lit by the fire in the hearth.

But at some point, when the conversation had reached a natural lull, Merlin and Gwen shared a glance, and Gwen gave Merlin a small nod.

Merlin returned it, and without a word, he began to clear the table and set aside the dirtied dishes.

Arthur noticed the nods, and he glanced between the two of them, his eyes watching Merlin with suspicion; he had said that Gwen had asked for his help with something, after all.

“Arthur,” Gwen started, pulling Arthur’s attention back to her. She took in a breath, before leaning forward and putting her hands on his. “I have something I need to tell you.”

Arthur’s stomach twisted. She sounded so serious - “Is everything alright? You’re not hurt, are you?”

“No, no, nothing like that,” Gwen assured him. She smiled a bit. “It’s a good thing, I promise.”

Arthur looked Gwen over, and slowly he relaxed back into his chair. “Alright, what is it?”

Gwen took her hands back and began to wring them. “I’ve been thinking about how to tell you for a while, and I considered just blurting it out one day, but I wanted it to be special and, well… I decided it would be better if I showed you, instead.”

Arthur’s brow furled. “‘Showed me?’”

Gwen nodded, and she turned to Merlin. “Merlin, could you-?”

And Merlin set a goblet down on the table in front of Arthur.

It was filled with a dark liquid, almost black, and when Arthur picked up the goblet and swirled the contents, he could see that it was thick and viscous.

“What’s this then? Some kind of potion?”

Merlin nodded. “Made it myself.”

“And you expect me to drink it?”

“I mean that would be the point, wouldn’t it?”

Arthur glanced down into the murky liquid once more. “Well, what does it do?”

Gwen was the one who answered. “It allows you to see auras.”

“Auras?”

Gwen nodded. “Life energy, essentially. A person’s innate magic.”

“Not everyone has magic though.”

“Not everyone can wield it,” Merlin corrected. “But everyone has a little. And this potion allows you to see theirs.”

Arthur’s brow furled in confusion, but he still lifted the goblet to his mouth and took a drink.

Only to gag a moment later.

Merlin openly chuckled. “I didn’t say it tasted good, though.”

Arthur screwed his eyes shut and swallowed, and he shuddered as the vile liquid traveled down his throat and settled into his stomach. “That is… foul.”

“Can’t be the worst thing you’ve had, though, can it?” Merlin asked.

Arthur opened his eyes to find Gwen holding a second goblet out to him – but this one mercifully filled with clear water.

“Whatever it is you want to tell me, Guinevere -” Arthur said as he took it. He hastily took a couple gulps to rid his mouth of the other potion. “It better be worth drinking that.”

Gwen only gave him a knowing smile. “It will be.”

Arthur returned the smile.

Merlin waved his hand and murmured a word, and the fire in the fireplace dimmed – the flames dying down to a flicker and sending the room into darkness.

“Give it a minute to take effect,” Merlin said. “The dark will help.”

For a couple moments, nothing seemed different.

But then there was a shift.

Arthur screwed his eyes shut as they began to tingle, and he let out a short breath and a groan at the odd sensation.

“That’s normal,” Gwen said, and Arthur felt her place her hands on his. “Just give it a moment.”

Arthur did.

The feeling passed.

Arthur opened his eyes to meet Gwen’s, and he was taken aback.

She was surrounded by a brilliant royal violet (which immediately became Arthur’s new favorite color) sitting calmly and holding Arthur’s hands.

He glanced behind himself to look at Merlin, and his eyes widened further.

Merlin was glowing a radiant gold, bright and powerful (which was unsurprising, considering the overwhelming amount of magic he had), lighting nearly everything around him.

Merlin smirked. “I can see it worked.”

Arthur only blinked. “So it has.”

Merlin smiled, before nodding his head. “Look at Gwen, Arthur.”

Arthur turned back to his wife, and he looked her over, carefully examining what he could see among the rays of violet light.

And centered around her stomach, Arthur could see a second color poking through: a light blue that matched that of the summer sky.

He met her eyes in confusion. “You have two auras? Is that what you wanted to tell me?”

(He didn’t notice Merlin turn around and slam his forehead into the wall – then several more times for good measure.)

Gwen’s lip quirked – ever patient even when her husband was being dense. “I suppose for now. And for the next few months. And maybe again in the future, if we’re lucky.”

Arthur still looked confused.

But then his eyes widened in sudden understanding, and he glanced between her face and her stomach multiple times. “You mean – you’re-?”

Gwen nodded, and she laughed. “I’m pregnant, Arthur.”

For a moment Arthur didn’t move.

But then he let out a soft laugh, a smile breaking through his surprised expression. He stuttered for a moment, trying to formulate a response as he glanced between Gwen’s face and the blue light from her abdomen – the aura of their child – but then he reached towards her.

He took her hands in his, holding them and shifting their positions, before lifting them to his chest and pressing them there over his heart.

“You’re pregnant,” he whispered, eyes beginning to burn with tears of elation.

Gwen nodded, her own eyes beginning to brim, and she gave Arthur a watery laugh. “I am.”

Arthur smiled, open-mouthed and the revelation still setting in, and he let out another disbelieving laugh before reaching one hand out towards her, the other still holding both of hers to his heart.

He didn’t seem to know where to put his hand, touching her arm, her shoulder, her chin, before placing it to her cheek.

“You’re right, Guinevere. This was very much worth drinking Merlin’s potion.”

Gwen only laughed again.

Arthur gave her that loving smile for a moment longer, before he leaned forward and embraced her tight in a hug, his face to her hair and wrapping his arms around her – holding her as if she was the most precious thing in the world.

Gwen returned the hug, eyes shut and smiling.

She heard a quiet noise from the doorway, and she glanced over to see Merlin delicately opening the door, ready to leave without fanfare. But he noticed her gaze and gave her a quick smile.

Thank you, she mouthed, eyes shining in gratitude.

Merlin gave her another smile and a nod, before he slipped out into the hallway with a last wave, leaving the two monarchs to celebrate alone.

Arthur leaned back after several moments, and he looked over Gwen, looking over the beautiful violet she was still radiating, and once more taking the blue that she had as well.

Arthur looked up to meet her eyes again.He took in a shaky gasp, tears of joy running down his cheeks. “I was starting to think it wasn’t possible. That… there was something wrong with me and we would never have children. I thought – I thought I was like my mother -”

Gwen gave Arthur a smile, albeit one tinged with ruefulness, and she lifted her palms to cup Arthur’s face as well. “It just took some time. That’s all.”

A joy-filled sob broke through Arthur’s chest, before he moved back in, pulling Gwen into a hug once more and pressing his face to her hair.

And he let out another laugh, unable to contain his joy. “We’re going to have a child, Guinevere.”

~ Seven Months Later ~

When Arthur had been informed that Gwen had gone into labor, his legs had collapsed from under him.

Luckily for him, Percival had been right there, immediately stepping forward to save his king from falling on his face. But as soon as Arthur found his legs, he was rushing off the training field to the castle, barking orders over his shoulder that Leon was to take over training, and yelling at George to find Merlin.

But when Arthur reached his and Gwen’s chambers, Merlin was already there, pulling the table closer to the bed alongside flashes of gold that stacked the chairs, and Arabelle and Gwen walking back and forth across the room, Gwen gripping Arabelle’s hand tight.

Gwen’s head snapped up at the sound of the door, and her scared eyes met Arthur’s. “Arthur -”

Arthur was to her in a moment, pulling her into a hug and holding her tight. Her hands moved to grip his shirt, and Arthur could feel her shaking.

“Just breathe, Guinevere. Just breathe.”

“I’m scared, Arthur.”

“And you have every right to be,” Arthur consoled. “This is a big deal. But that’s why Merlin is here, and that’s why I’m here. And why I’m not going anywhere.”

Gwen only held him tight, taking in measured breaths to calm herself.

Arthur looked up to Merlin. “It’s for sure this time?”

“Her water broke,” Merlin answered, shoving the bedclothes aside, Arabelle helping, and another flash of gold from Merlin’s eyes launching supplies to the table he had brought to his side. “The baby’s coming now.”

“How soon?”

Merlin shook his head. “Hard to say. We have no way of knowing how long it’ll be. We just need to wait and see what happens.”

Arthur nodded, before turning back to Gwen and pressing his mandible to her head. He took in a shaky breath, and he felt his heart begin to race in his chest as he thought about what might happen.

He had expressed this fear numerous times over the last seven months, both to Gwen and Merlin and even the knights upon occasion, but now that the day had finally arrived, Arthur couldn’t help but revisit it with new ferocity.

His mother had died giving birth to him, leaving behind a kingdom without a queen and a child without a mother who only blamed himself for her death.

And now Gwen was having a child – his child – their child.

What if he had doomed Guinevere and their child to the same fate?

Merlin met his eyes briefly, and he seemed to realize exactly what Arthur was thinking.

He walked over to the two of them and gently placed his hand to Gwen’s arm to get her attention.

“I’m going to be right here,” Merlin said to her, meeting her gaze intently. He quickly glanced to Arthur before turning back to her. “You trust me, Gwen, don’t you?”

Gwen nodded. “You know I do.”

“And you know that I will do everything I can to make sure you both are okay. I’m not going to let anything happen to either of you.”

A brief nervous smile flickered over Gwen’s face, and she nodded. “I know you won’t.”

Arthur leaned back so he was no longer hugging her, but he put his hands to her arms and pressed his forehead to hers. “I’ll be here the whole time, Guinevere.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

~

Elyan had been leading a patrol when Gwen had gone into labor.

When he arrived back in the courtyard of the castle, a stable-hand immediately rushed over to him, quickly taking his horse and giving him the news about his sister.

He was to Arthur and Gwen’s rooms within a minute.

Upon arriving, he found three more caped figures outside: Gwaine, seated on a bench across the hallway with Leon next to him, and Percival pacing in front of them.

Elyan slowed his running footsteps, and they all turned to look at him.

Gwaine greeted him with a smirk. “We were wondering if you would show.”

“How long has it been?” Elyan asked. He sat by Gwaine, one leg already bouncing in apprehension.

“A couple of hours,” Gwaine responded through a sigh, his gaze fixed on the door. “Merlin enchanted the room – we can’t hear anything that goes on in there.”

“Who’s with her?”

“Arthur, Merlin, and Arabelle,” Gwaine answered. “Gwen’s in good hands. We couldn’t ask for anyone better.”

“So we just need to… wait?”

“So it would seem.”

Elyan let out a vocalized breath, staring at the door, before he dragged his hands down his face.

He had never been very good at waiting.

Elyan glanced to Gwaine, and it was then he noticed Gwaine’s position – bent forward, elbows on knees, his bouncing hands clasped in front of him, and his unwavering gaze fixed intently on the door.

Perhaps focusing on someone else’s nervousness could help distract Elyan from his own.

“This your first birth, Gwaine?”

Gwaine snorted, before shaking his head. “I had to help my mother deliver my brother when I was ten. First one since then, though. I don’t remember much of it, if I’m being honest. Is it yours?”

“No. My mother would often help the other families in the lower town, so Gwen and I were often with her when she helped deliver their children.”

“My mothers had to help my aunt when I was a teenager, once,” Percival spoke up. “My siblings were all out working in the fields, so I had to stay behind and make sure they had everything they needed.”

Leon spoke next. “I remember when my sister had her first. I wanted to assist more, but she insisted the best way to do that was to help keep her husband from barging into the room.”

Elyan let out a small laugh. “It looks like we all have experience then. But, even with all the times I helped my mother… I don’t recall ever being this nervous.”

Gwaine slapped him on the back. “Don’t worry – you’ll be an uncle before you know it.”

Elyan let out a small, nervous laugh. “You think you’re ready, but then the day comes and you find you aren’t.”

“If this is how worried you are when your sister is having a baby, I look forward to seeing how distraught you’ll be when you have one of your own.”

“Oh gods.”

~

Hours passed. Night fell.

No one came in or out of the room, and, thanks to Merlin’s enchantment, they had no way of hearing what was happening inside either.

All in all, they were some of the most stressful hours of Elyan’s life.

“I can’t stand this,” he said.

“She’s got Merlin and Arthur with her,” Gwaine said quickly, before setting down cards on the floor for his turn (Percival having been kind enough to go fetch a deck when the wait had stretched on and on, and the four of them now seated in a circle on the floor just outside the room). “If anyone can take care of her, it’s them.”

Leon looked over Gwaine’s cards, grimaced, before drawing two from his hand and setting them down. “He’s right; I wouldn’t trust anyone more.”

Elyan let out a breath. “I know – I know. But I can’t help but worry.”

He felt Percival’s hand on his back a moment later. He looked up to find Percival giving him a sincere look. “We’ll be here for as long as it takes – no matter what happens.”

Gwaine smirked. “Same here.”

Leon nodded. “I will be as well.”

A grateful smile came to Elyan’s face.

The door suddenly clicked – the first thing it had done since they arrived – and all four knights straightened with their eyes fixed on it.

It opened. Arabelle’s head poked out.

“The queen’s asking for you, Sir Elyan.”

Elyan took in a breath. He stood and crossed the hallway before slipping inside.

And he let out a relieved breath as a smile crossed his face.

Gwen was propped up in the bed, looking exhausted but overwhelmingly happy at the same time as she smiled at something wrapped in a blanket in her arms. Arthur was lounging on the bed next to her with one arm around her shoulders and her head resting on his shoulder as he too smiled at the baby. Merlin was there as well, making small adjustments to the bedspread but smiling at the bundle every chance he got.

Merlin looked over at Elyan’s entrance, before smiling more widely and walking over, stepping past Arabelle as she went back to Gwen’s side.

“Go meet your niece,” Merlin said to him, eyes bright, before stepping past. “I’ll go tell the others.”

Elyan smiled again, and he gave Merlin’s shoulder a squeeze. “Thank you for taking care of them, Merlin.”

Merlin only smiled and nodded, before tipping his head back towards Arthur and Gwen.

He heard Arabelle say as Merlin moved to leave the room, “Congratulations, my lady. I’ll be back in a bit.”

And with that, Arabelle swept past him – Elyan giving her a nod in thanks as she passed and giving him a small nod and a smile in return, a basket of dirty linens in hand – leaving the space next to the bed vacant.

Elyan didn’t need another invitation.

Gwen looked up at his approach, and she smiled and held out a hand to him. “Elyan.”

Elyan gave her a smile, and he took her hand and gave her head a quick kiss.

Gwen glanced behind him at the sound of Arabelle’s exit, but then her brow furled as she glanced around. “Where’d Merlin go?”

“He’s telling the others -”

As if on cue, they heard a loud, excited cheer from the hallway, followed by an equally loud and excited shout of, “We got a princess!” from Gwaine.

They then heard the sound of frantic shushing, and Arthur snorted while Gwen and Elyan laughed under their breath.

Gwen let out a small breath while giving her head an exasperated shake. But then she shifted closer to Elyan. “Here she is.”

And Elyan got his first look at his niece.

Her skin was lighter than Gwen’s, but only just, and a small amount of deep brown curls crowned her head. She was asleep, her clenched fists resting on her chest and her mouth slightly ajar, and her head resting against Gwen’s chest.

“What’s her name?” Elyan asked, voice laced with awe.

“Claire,” Gwen answered, her eyes shining. “Her name’s Claire Ygraine.”

Elyan’s head jerked up as he took in a small gasp, and he felt his eyes begin to burn. “After mum?”

Gwen nodded, and she gave him a watery smile. “After mum.”

Elyan matched the smile Gwen was giving him, and he turned to look over his niece again.

Gwen asked, “Do you want to hold her?”

Elyan blinked – so soon? – but then he nodded. “I would, yeah.”

He sat on the chair next to the bed, and Gwen gently passed over the baby.

Claire fussed at the transfer, letting out small whimpers and her arms moving in protest. Elyan gently shushed her, and as soon as her small weight settled into his arms, she fell back into a deep sleep.

“She’s beautiful, Gwen,” Elyan whispered while looking over the newborn, his heart swelling as he took in her features – her nose, her tiny fists.

“She looks just like her mother,” Arthur agreed, before leaning over to peck Gwen’s head.

Gwen gave Arthur a small smile, before she turned back to Elyan. “She has Arthur’s eyes,” Gwen whispered, reaching out a hand to run her fingers along Claire’s head. “She fell asleep before you came in but when she was awake earlier we could see them. Bright blue.”

And Elyan could only continue to look the baby over in awe.

They heard the click of the door, and everyone looked over as it opened.

“I told them they could meet her tomorrow,” Merlin said, stepping inside and shutting the door, After you’ve all gotten some rest.”

“We have a baby now, Merlin,” Gwen said with a tired smile, already leaning further into Arthur’s side. “Rest isn’t going to be in our vocabulary for the next few months.”

“Which is exactly why you should get it when you can, and why I’m not going to let Gwaine in here until you do,” Merlin said, pulling up a second chair from the table and setting it next to Elyan. He sat down, and he looked to Claire. “This one’s going to be a troublemaker, I can tell you that much already.”

Elyan felt movement by his chest, and he looked down to see Claire stirring. Her face scrunched up in a clear expression of displeasure, and she shifted around, her mouth open wide and beginning to cry.

Arthur was up in a moment, rounding the bed and arms out. “I’ve got her, I’ve got her. Oh, come here, there you go,” Arthur said as Elyan handed her over. He immediately placed her to his shoulder, holding her close and saying in soothing tones, “What’s wrong? Oh, come here, I’ve got you. I’ve got you.”

Elyan watched Arthur begin to pace the room, gently bouncing her and still murmuring to Claire, but then Elyan turned back to Gwen, who was also watching with a soft and fond and loving expression.

“Everything seems to have gone well,” Elyan commented. “We couldn’t hear anything out there.”

“Oh,” Gwen said. She gave Elyan another smile. “I suppose you have Merlin to thank for that.”

Elyan turned to him. “Thank you.”

Merlin only smiled. “I wasn’t going to let anything happen to her.”

It was then that Arthur came back from his pacing, a much calmer newborn in the crook of his arm. “There now, I think she’s calmed down,” he said, smiling at the baby. “Yeah? Yeah, there you go. Much calmer.”

Arthur came back to Gwen’s side, placing one hand to her cheek. He bent to give Gwen a kiss.

Gwen’s eyes were bright as she smiled at Arthur again, before she lifted a hand to Claire to pull the blanket down from her chin. “Ah! You’re awake again!”

Arthur shifted towards Gwen. “Do you want her back-?”

“Excuse you, I want a turn,” Merlin said, holding his arms out expectantly.

Gwen laughed while Arthur rolled his eyes. “Alright, fine,” Arthur said. He stepped around the bed to Merlin’s side, before gently lowering the baby to Merlin’s arms. Claire fidgeted, but as soon as she settled she only stared up at Merlin’s face in fascination.

“Hello, Claire,” he greeted.

Elyan leaned closer. Sure enough, he could see bright blue eyes set into her face that exactly matched the color of Arthur’s.

“You and I are going to get up to all sorts of mischief,” Merlin said with a grin. “And no one can stop you, because you’re the princess, that’s right.”

“And I’ll help,” Elyan said, leaning over Merlin’s shoulder so Claire could see his face too. “Your uncles are going to make sure you know the best ways to snag treats from the kitchens.”

“Oh for the love of -” Arthur started. But then he let out a sigh, and sat himself on the bed next to Gwen, legs up and leaning close to her side. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “Just make sure you teach her good things as well, while you’re at it.”

“I’m sure they will,” Gwen said with a laugh. “I mean, just look at Merlin.”

The man in question was only grinning widely at Claire, talking about how cute she was and telling her about the other knights and the kingdom who all were going to love her.

And one knight who already did.

Elyan smiled and he put a hand to Claire’s head.

“Welcome to the world, Princess Claire Ygraine Pendragon.”