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The Shadows of Us

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It was a stormy day in Camelot, the icy wind brutal, the cold rain unrelenting. It was the type of day that would be best spent inside of the castle, cozying up next to a fire. But, Merlin did not get to experience such luxuries, much to his annoyance. His only silver lining was that, if he was suffering outside in the storm, at least he wasn’t the only one. For, though he had to stand out in the freezing rain getting weapons and shields ready and putting them away, so too did the knights have to be out in the rain, training with swords, maces, and axes. Arthur had told them all that it was good for them to train in a storm; battles could be fought in all sorts of weather and they needed to practice — rain, shine, or snow — to be prepared.

Merlin kept his head down as the cold wind whipped around him, nipping at his skin, rain pelting him from all sides. He bent over and grabbed the last of the axes that had been at his feet, placing it in the wooden weapons cart before him. When he’d put it safely away, he turned around to observe the rest of the training session. Currently, the knights were paired off; Elyan with Percival, Leon with Gwaine, Mordred with Arthur. 

As the newest knight, and the one with the least amount of experience, Mordred had the honor of training with the greatest warrior of them all; the King himself. Merlin followed their movements in particular, watching their swords clash, their shields raised in defense, parrying and blocking any blows that came their way. As he watched their dance, he was acutely aware that he was supposed to be gathering the other weapons to be taken to the armory where he was to sharpen and polish them. But he couldn’t move; rooted to the spot as he watched Mordred try to land a blow to Arthur’s side — a blow easily blocked by the King who’d had far more experience in combat and had seen it coming. 

Merlin kept his eyes on Mordred, scanning, alert for any sign of true hostility from him. And while Merlin was glad to find none there at the moment, he wasn’t sure that he wouldn’t someday find it there. 

Because prophecies were never wrong. At least not in Merlin’s experience. Prophecies could be fought, but in the end, they always came true. Every time. Without fail. 

And Merlin was very much afraid that the prophecy concerning Arthur’s death at Mordred’s hand would indeed come to pass. He was even more afraid for knowing Mordred was now a trusted knight of Camelot, part of the King’s inner circle. 

And yet, while he knew of the druid boy’s destiny, he could see no sign of the hatred he’d seen in Mordred’s eyes during his vision of the battle; a vision he’d been shown by a druid seer on his and Arthur’s journey to Ismere. The vision itself terrified him; a great battle, watching Arthur fall to his knees after Mordred’s fatal blow, Mordred looking down at the mortally wounded King with satisfaction. But as Merlin watched them training now, he couldn’t see how the vision could be possible. And yet he knew it was; knew without a shadow of a doubt. After several more minutes of sword fighting, Arthur paused, shouting to the knights who all stopped what they’d been doing. They walked over to Merlin, dropping their swords at his feet, huffing tiredly as they headed for the red and orange tent pitched nearby to dry off, Arthur following them. 

Merlin began to pick up their swords, placing them in the weapons cart, when he felt eyes on him. He turned around and saw Mordred standing a few paces behind him, looking at him curiously. “You were watching,” he said. 

Merlin frowned. “I was watching everyone,” he said nonchalantly. It wasn’t a total lie; he had been watching everyone, he had just focused on Mordred and Arthur the most. 

Mordred shook his head, the ghost of a smile on his face, a smile that said you can’t fool me. “No. You were watching me. You don’t trust me, Emrys, do you?” 

Merlin stared at Mordred, unsure of how to answer. But, his silence was answer enough for the druid. “Have I done something to deserve your suspicion?” 

Merlin let out a breath, wanting to say it’s not what you’ve done but what you’re destined to do. But he didn’t. Instead he said, “You were working for Morgana before.” 

Mordred nodded. “I was. But only because I wished to serve her; in the spirit of the bond we’d shared since I was a child. But then I saw Arthur; how he fought for his knights, how he fought for you. And I realized that Morgana could never show that kind of loyalty to anyone, even if she claimed she would. The only thing she is loyal to is her plan to take Camelot’s throne. And that was what I wanted most from her, loyalty… friendship. But, I realized she could not truly give those to me.” 

Merlin narrowed his eyes. “And have you found those here?” 

Mordred did smile this time. “I believe I have. But the friendship I crave most, Merlin, is yours. I… I had hoped we could be friends, especially because of the secret we share.” 

Merlin sighed, the burden of not only his destiny, but Mordred’s too, weighing heavily on his heart. “I want that more than anything, Mordred.” 

Mordred shook his head in confusion. “Then why do you keep me at arm’s length? Why do you look upon me as if I am your enemy?” 

Merlin let out a breath. He couldn’t tell Mordred why. He couldn’t explain the prophecy. And yet, Mordred seemed desperate to try to understand. Merlin stared at him, trying to come up with something to say. “I need to get these to the armory,” he said finally, avoiding the questions entirely. 

He turned away from Mordred before the man could say anything more, and began to wheel the weapons cart towards the armory, unnerved by the feeling of Mordred’s eyes following him. 

After spending nearly two hours drying, polishing, and sharpening the weapons from the practice, Merlin made his way back inside of the castle, looking forward to drying off and eating some supper. He’d been about to turn the corner to Gaius’s chambers when he heard voices at the other end of the corridor. 

Curious, he slowly walked towards the voices, recognizing one as Arthur’s. As he got closer, he recognized the other voice as Mordred’s. He held his breath and hid behind a pillar, straining to hear their conversation. 

“You did well today, Mordred,” Arthur said. “I was impressed.” 

“Thank you, sire,” Mordred replied, and Merlin could hear the smile in his voice. 

“Keep this up and you will be a fine knight.” 

“I hope so, my lord. If we are to defeat Morgana, I want to be strong enough to help,” Mordred said firmly. 

There was a moment of silence. And then Arthur spoke quietly. “Mordred, can I ask you something?” 

“Of course, my lord.” 

“Why were you helping Morgana? In Ismere. And why did you betray her, in the end?” 

Merlin heard Mordred sigh. “She used to be my friend.” 

“Used to be?” Arthur asked, surprised. 

“You do not remember, sire?” 

“Remember?” Arthur asked, seemingly lost. 

“Years ago you helped smuggle a small druid boy out of Camelot on Morgana’s wishes.” 

“I don’t understand. What does that have to do with-“ Merlin heard Arthur’s sharp intake of breath as he realized. “That was you?” 

“It was. I was wounded and she cared for me until you were able to get me back to my people. Morgana and I… we formed a bond in that time.” 

“You have magic,” Arthur said, tone wary. 

“No. Not all druids have magic,” Mordred said quickly. “Some are just normal people raised in the beliefs of the druids without actually being sorcerers themselves.” Merlin clenched his jaw. Hearing Mordred lie so blatantly to Arthur made him angry. And yet, would he not do the same to protect himself and his secret? Hadn’t he already? 

“And you were one such person?” Arthur asked cautiously, and Merlin refocused his attention back to the conversation. 

“I was. And because I didn’t have magic, I felt like an outsider amongst the druids, especially after my father died. So I left. I wandered from place to place for a long time before I found Morgana again.” 

Merlin listened to these lies, seething. What was Mordred playing at? 

“And you came to work for her?” Arthur asked. 

“I thought she was the same Morgana I had met all those years ago. So I wanted to help her, yes. But, slowly I realized she was not the same kind and caring woman I’d known. And when I saw how much she hated you, how much her hatred had corrupted her, I knew I couldn’t keep working with her.” 

There was a silence that stretched for some time before Arthur finally spoke again. “I am sorry that you lost someone you hoped would be a friend. But I stand before you now, and offer my friendship in payment for the great risk you took in defying Morgana’s orders and saving my life. I know it cannot replace yours with Morgana, but I hope we can forge a close bond all the same.” 

Merlin bit his lip hearing this personal exchange, his stomach twisting in knots. 

“I would like nothing more, sire,” Mordred said. 

Nothing more was said as each man parted and went their separate ways. But, Merlin stood there long after they’d left, breathing heavily, trying to calm his racing heart. Mordred was getting closer and closer to the King, and Merlin didn’t like it one bit. Mordred might not know about the destiny he was fated to fulfill, but Merlin did. And he would not allow it to happen. No matter what it took, he would do everything in his power to stop Mordred. 

He shook his head and finally began to make his way back to his chambers. He opened the door and closed it behind him, closing his eyes as the smell of stew reached his nostrils. 

“How was practice?” Gaius asked as he scooped some stew into a bowl for Merlin. 

Merlin opened his eyes, walking over to Gaius. He sat down at the table, stomach grumbling. “Wet. Cold,” Merlin said, taking a big spoonful of the stew Gaius had made. He sighed in relief as the stew both warmed him and satiated his appetite. 

Gaius chuckled as he sat down at the table and began eating himself. “And how is our young Mordred faring?” Gaius asked.

Merlin’s expression darkened. “He did fine,” he said shortly. 

Gaius’s brow furrowed. “You don’t seem too happy for him.” 

Merlin sighed. “I want to be. But…” Merlin trailed off. 

“The prophecy,” Gaius surmised. Merlin had told Gaius about the prophecy, about Arthur’s bane, and about the vision the druid seer had shown him, as soon as they’d come back from Ismere. 

Merlin nodded. “I don’t know if I can trust someone who is meant to kill Arthur, let alone be friends with him.” 

“Merlin,” Gaius said softly, “perhaps this prophecy is wrong.” 

Merlin shook his head. “No. I know it’s not, Gaius. It’s going to happen.” 

“Have you seen anything to suggest that it will?” Gaius asked. 

Merlin slowly shook his head. “No. Not yet anyway.” 

“Then you should not worry. As long as Mordred’s intentions are pure, you have nothing to fear.” 

Merlin sighed. Gaius was right of course. There was no sign yet of Mordred’s loyalties changing. But that didn’t mean that they never would. Until that time came, Merlin would watch the young knight carefully. And if he ever saw anything to make him suspicious, he would do what he had to. To protect Arthur. 

*** 

Arthur yawned as he shuffled through the papers on his desk. His eyes had begun to blur, sleep beckoning him to his bed. He sighed and looked over at Guinevere who was standing at the window, looking out, absentmindedly braiding her hair. He smiled as he watched her, marveling at her beauty, thanking his lucky stars to have her beside him. 

As if sensing she was being watched, she turned to look at Arthur, and tilted her head with a small smile. “What? What is it?” she asked. 

Arthur chuckled and stood up, joining her at the window. He took her into his arms and smiled down at her. “You are beautiful,” he said. 

She scoffed, rolling her eyes. 

“No, really,” Arthur said, “you are beautiful. I love you,” he said, leaning down to kiss her. 

Her eyes sparkled when they pulled away. “I love you too,” she said softly. Arthur smiled and turned back to organize the papers on the desk before going to sleep. As Guinevere was getting into bed Arthur heard a knock at the door. “Enter,” he called, knowing it to be only Merlin. 

A few seconds later the door opened and his servant walked in, face grave and serious. Arthur furrowed his brow as he saw the expression on Merlin’s face. “What is it?” he asked uneasily. 

Merlin looked over at Guinevere who was staring at him in concern and then turned back to Arthur. “I wish to speak with you my lord. It’s a delicate matter,” he said, looking over at Guinevere again. 

Arthur followed his gaze over to his wife who looked confused and more than a little nervous, but she nodded at Arthur. Arthur turned back to Merlin and gave him a short nod, walking past him and out of the door. He made his way down the corridor a little ways away from his chambers and turned to face Merlin. “Alright. Out with it,” he said, wondering what on earth Merlin could have to say to him in the middle of the night that required complete privacy. 

Merlin opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Arthur could see him floundering for words and usually he was prepared to deal with Merlin’s slow ineptitude, but he was already tired and wanted to join his wife in sleep. “Merlin,” Arthur said impatiently, raising his eyebrows. 

Merlin sighed loudly and then wrapped his arms around his body. “You should be careful around Mordred,” he said finally. 

Arthur’s eyebrows shot up even more. “What? That’s ridiculous. Why would I need to be careful around him?” 

Merlin frowned. “He’s dangerous.” 

Arthur crossed his arms, sighing. He really didn’t have time for this. “How so?” He asked. 

Merlin shook his head. “I just think we don’t know all there is to know about him, that’s all.” 

Arthur scoffed. “I know all that I need to know about him. He saved my life in Ismere. I won’t listen to your foolish prattle, Merlin, now to go to bed.” Arthur began to walk past Merlin, intending to do the same, when Merlin reached out and grabbed his arm. 

Arthur looked at his servant, eyes narrowed dangerously. But, Merlin didn’t back down and Arthur shook his head. “Mordred is a knight of Camelot. I trust him with my life. Now I will not hear any more of this, Merlin, is that understood?” he asked through clenched teeth. 

Merlin slowly loosened his grip on Arthur’s arm, glaring at him, but nodded once. Arthur glared right back before pulling his arm away and walking back towards his chambers. He couldn’t fathom what Merlin would have against a knight of Camelot, and he didn’t much care. Whatever reason Merlin had to be suspicious of him, Arthur sure wasn’t. The young man had saved his life. How could he be anything other than trustworthy? 

He made his way back inside of his chambers where Guinevere had been waiting for him. “Is everything alright?” She asked when he closed the door behind him and walked over to their bed. 

He got under the covers and pulled Guinevere to him as they laid down together. “All is well,” he reassured, kissing the top of her head. “Merlin is just being paranoid. As usual. Get some rest, my love,” he said softly to her. He closed his own eyes, trying to ignore Merlin’s warnings and let sleep take him. 

***

Merlin watched Arthur leave, angry that, yet again, Arthur wasn’t taking him seriously. He knew he’d had a propensity to act the fool, but he also knew that there were times when Arthur listened to him, when Arthur heeded his advice and his warnings. And he hoped this would be such a time. But, Mordred was a trusted knight of Camelot, and in Arthur’s eyes, he could do no wrong. 

Merlin shook his head, wondering what to do next. While Gaius was right that he had no cause to be so suspicious of Mordred now — especially when Mordred had so far proved to everyone that he could be trusted — Merlin knew the truth: Mordred would kill Arthur. It was just a matter of when. Maybe not now, but sometime in the future. And Merlin couldn’t let that happen. 

But, how could he prevent it? Arthur had already taken Mordred in at his word, had already begun to trust him entirely. How could Merlin make him see the truth? 

He could speak of the prophecy. But, he knew Arthur didn’t believe in prophecies, believing them to be superstition or too close to magic to really take into account. And even if Arthur did believe him, how was Merlin to explain how he knew about such a prophecy? He couldn’t. So, he had to find another way then. Some other way to show Arthur that Mordred was dangerous. 

And then he got an idea. If he couldn’t think of a way by himself, he needed help. And there was only one person who could possibly understand; the one who’d first warned him about Mordred. Merlin began walking down the corridor, and down the griffin staircase before walking out into the courtyard. With Morgana still a threat, the guard had been doubled around the castle and in the lower town, but Merlin had been sneaking out of the castle for so long that he was no longer worried about the guards. He slowly and quietly made his way beyond the castle to the clearing at the edge of the Darkling Woods. 

As soon as he was there, and he was sure that he was alone, he lifted his head to the sky. “O drakon, e male so ftengometta tesd’hup’anankes!” He called. 

He waited, and several minutes later, he heard the flapping of wings. As he watched Kilgharrah lower himself to the ground and land before him, he took a deep breath. “Hello young warlock,” the dragon greeted with a small bow of respect towards him. 

Merlin smiled at him. “Thank you for coming,” he said, bowing back in a show of equal respect. 

“What is it you need from me?” Kilgharrah asked. 

“Arthur has made Mordred a knight of Camelot. He trusts him. But, I know what Mordred is destined to do. I tried to warn Arthur about him, but he won’t listen. I don’t what to do,” Merlin said helplessly. 

Kilgharrah was silent for a moment, studying him. He folded his wings against his body and sat back on his hind legs. “There is not much you can do, young warlock.” 

Merlin frowned. “What do you mean?” 

“The young druid has yet to stray down the path of this destiny. Until then, you must watch and wait.” 

“But you told me years ago that I should kill him. And now you tell me to do nothing?” Merlin asked in confusion. 

“I know it is hard to understand, Merlin,” Kilgharrah said, “but yes, you must wait. You will know when the time is to act. And that is not now. Mordred may still yet choose a different destiny.” 

“You once told me that destinies could not be escaped,” Merlin argued. 

“They cannot. But, Mordred has more than one destiny, Merlin. It is up to him which he chooses.” 

Merlin shook his head. “If that’s true, why did you want me to kill him all those years ago?” 

“At that time, his only destiny was to kill the young Pendragon. Now, fate has given him another. He will either be Arthur’s ally, or he will be Arthur’s doom in the fight against the witch Morgana. He has yet to choose which path he will take.” 

“And if he takes the path that leads to Arthur’s death?” Merlin asked. 

“Then you must kill him,” Kilgharrah said as innocently as if they were discussing the weather. 

Merlin let out a long sigh. “How will I know which path he chooses?” 

“You must trust in your own destiny for that answer, Merlin. You will know, when the time comes,” the dragon said. And before Merlin could ask any more questions, Kilgharrah leapt into the sky, unfolding his wings in a terrifyingly beautiful display of his power and strength. Merlin watched him as he flew away, wondering just how he was going to protect Arthur from an unknown destiny. 

***

The next morning, after Merlin had delivered breakfast to Arthur and Gwen, he had gone down to the stables to prepare the horses. He, Arthur, and the knights would be patrolling the White Mountains. It was the last place Morgana and her Saxons had been seen after Ismere, and where the previous patrol had last been seen. And though it was dangerous, they had to know where their enemies would be, and they had to know what had happened to the Camelot patrol before them. Gwen had argued for Arthur to send a different patrol instead of going himself, but Arthur had told her that he would be protected by his knights. Merlin had wished to tell her that he would protect Arthur too, but didn’t. The world believed him to be a servant incapable of fighting, and he needed to keep up appearances, even if it wasn’t true. 

By the time the knights had gotten ready and Merlin had met them in the courtyard with the horses, it was nearly midday and they were losing daylight quickly. Merlin mounted his horse, watching as Mordred mounted his own. Suddenly Mordred looked up at him and Merlin felt a cold dread line his stomach. Mordred may have had two destinies, but Merlin felt sure of which one he would fulfill. But, heeding Kilgharrah’s warning, he decided to do nothing. Not until he could see the path Mordred set out upon for himself. He would just watch and wait. 

As if divining his thoughts, Mordred gave Merlin a small smile. “You have nothing to fear from me, Emrys.” 

The words echoed in Merlin’s head, as if the druid had spoken them out loud. Merlin glanced around at the other knights who were preparing to mount their horses. Arthur was at the steps saying goodbye to Gwen. Merlin looked back at Mordred. He narrowed his eyes, sending out his own thoughts to the young man. “I heard you last night; you lied to Arthur. Why?” 

Mordred blinked. “Have you not also lied to Arthur about who you are? About what you are? I am merely protecting myself, as you have done.” 

Merlin shook his head. “You didn’t just lie to him about magic. You told him you left the druids of your own volition. What really happened, Mordred? How did you come to be with Morgana? The truth.”

Mordred pressed his lips into a thin line. “I do not owe you an explanation, Merlin.” 

Merlin clenched his jaw. “Maybe not. But can you see why I might not trust you? You worked for Morgana. How am I to know you aren’t still working with her?” 

Mordred lifted his chin in defiance. “I know you are protective of Arthur, and he is lucky to have you for it. But I am telling the truth Merlin; you have nothing to fear from me. I am loyal to Arthur and I am loyal to you.” 

Merlin narrowed his eyes, wanting to say more, but was interrupted by the sounds of horses hooves against the cobblestones. Merlin looked over and saw Arthur had already mounted his horse and was leaving, the knights beginning to follow. With one last look at Mordred, Merlin turned his horse, following after his King. 

***

The ride was uneventful as they made their way out of Camelot and the outlying regions to the direction of the White Mountains. The knights spoke to each other and joked around, but Merlin stayed silent, in no mood to join them. Two days ago they’d received word that all six of the knights from one of their patrols had been killed at the base of the White Mountains. There was nothing to suggest it had been Morgana or her Saxons, but everyone was certain that it was. Now, they needed to make sure their suspicions were correct. 

They were still several hours away from the White Mountains, but it was getting too dark to see so they’d found a little clearing in the woods and had set up camp. Merlin had been sent to gather firewood while the knights set out their bedrolls. When Merlin came back with the firewood, he made a fire, and went to his saddle pack, gathering the supplies he’d need to make them all supper. 

He was busy off to the side, finishing the stew he’d made, when he heard footsteps nearing him and turned to find Gwaine standing there. Gwaine gave him a small smile and sat next to him on the ground by the pot of stew, nudging him with his shoulder. “What’s got you down?” 

Merlin looked at his friend, somewhat touched that Gwaine could see something was bothering him. “It’s hard to explain,” he murmured, using a spoon to stir the stew. 

“Try,” Gwaine said with a small, reassuring smile.

Merlin sighed. “Have you ever had a feeling that something is wrong, but no one else seems to think so? And when you try to convince everyone that your feeling is right, they don’t believe you and think you a fool for believing it yourself?” 

Gwaine was silent for a moment, pondering Merlin’s question. Merlin used the silence to begin to scoop the stew into the bowls he had laid out on a rock before him. “I had that feeling when my father died,” Gwaine said finally, voice quiet. “Everyone wanted to believe he was alive. My mother held on the hardest to that hope. But, I knew in my heart that he was dead.” 

Merlin took a deep breath and looked over at the knight. “So what did you do?” 

“Well,” Gwaine said, standing up, brushing his trousers off. He held a hand out to Merlin who took it and let himself be pulled to his feet. “I said ‘to hell with them all’, and just ignored them, even though it hurt to do it. They would find out soon enough. And they did. It was harder for them, they had been in denial. But, I’d known he was dead. So when they told us that he was, I was better off for it. I had made my peace with it.” 

Merlin shook his head, looking down at the bowls of stew. 

“You can’t be convinced of something if you’re not ready to hear it,” Gwaine said, placing his hand on Merlin’s shoulder and giving it a comforting squeeze. “The hardest part is knowing that, no matter how bad you want to protect others from something, you can’t make their decisions for them. You can’t make them listen if they don’t want to.” 

And with that, Gwaine gave Merlin a grim smile and turned to go join the other knights. Merlin watched him go, a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. Gwaine was right. He could not convince Arthur of Mordred’s deception if he did not want to hear it. And yet, Merlin wasn’t even sure there was deception. Not now at least. He sighed, grabbing some of the bowls and walking them over to where the knights were gathered. He handed the first bowl to Arthur and then gave the rest to the other knights, ending with Mordred. “Thank you, Merlin,” Mordred said, staring directly at him. 

Merlin looked down at Mordred for a few seconds before nodding and turning away. Kilgharrah had said that Mordred could choose which destiny he was going to fulfill. But, as Merlin lived and breathed next to the young druid, he couldn’t help but feel that he knew which path Mordred would choose. There was nothing that the knight had done specifically that had convinced him of that, but it was just a feeling Merlin had. And he had learned over time to trust these feelings; they were what kept him alive, they were what kept Arthur alive. 

He sighed as he walked back over to the pot of stew and scooped some for himself. He heard the knights laughing with each other as he began to eat his own supper. He was in no mood to join them, no mood to joke around. He was too focused on what he was to do about Mordred. He wanted more than anything to be Mordred’s friend. Because Mordred had been right; they were both creatures of magic. If anything, they should be friends. But knowing what he might do… Merlin couldn’t allow himself to grow close to the young man. He just couldn’t. He ate in silence, staring out at the woods ahead of him, lost in thought. 

He was brought out of his thoughts by the heavy thunk of someone sitting down next to him and he turned to see Arthur. He looked back out at the woods, not really wishing to speak to the King just then. But, Arthur had other ideas. “You didn’t eat with us,” Arthur said. 

Merlin sighed. “Sorry.” 

There was silence between them for a moment before Arthur pulled his knees up, resting his arms on them as he turned his body to face Merlin, clasping his hands together in front of him. “What’s wrong?” Arthur asked finally. 

Merlin turned to look at him and forced a smile. “Nothing.” 

Arthur gave Merlin a disbelieving look, raising his eyebrows. “Come on, Merlin. I know you far too well to believe that. You’ve hardly spoken a word the whole time we’ve been on the road. Usually you don’t stop talking until we make camp for the night. So, what’s bothering you?”  

Merlin shook his head. “Nothing. I’m fine.” 

Arthur sighed. “Is this about Mordred?” He asked. 

Merlin took a deep breath and let it out slowly, not speaking. 

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Arthur said, shaking his head. “Listen, Merlin… I’m grateful you want to protect me from any danger you think I might be in. You’re a loyal friend for it. But, you have nothing to worry about with Mordred. He’s made it clear his loyalties lie with us; not Morgana.” 

“How can you be so sure?” Merlin asked, finally looking at the King. 

“He saved my life in Ismere. He could’ve helped Morgana kill me then. I was at her mercy. And his. But, he turned on Morgana and saved me. I cannot believe that a man who would risk his life to betray a powerful sorceress could ever do anything to hurt me or my kingdom.” 

“What if it’s all part of some plan he and Morgana made? To get you to trust him and then he’ll betray you further on down the road?” Merlin asked. 

“Why?” Arthur asked. “Why go through all the trouble of saving me just to kill me later? It makes no sense, Merlin. If Morgana had the chance to kill me in Ismere, she would’ve. She tried to, until Mordred stopped her. There is no grand scheme. Mordred betrayed Morgana. I owe him my life and my trust. And that is the end of it.” 

Merlin sighed heavily, but nodded. He knew Arthur was not going to listen. And why should he? He knew how it looked to Arthur; he had no reason not to trust Mordred, so why would he listen to Merlin and his concerns when he saw none himself? But, it didn’t mean Merlin liked it at all, even if he could understand. 

Arthur stood up and looked down at Merlin. “We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow. Get some rest.” 

Merlin sighed and finished eating his supper slowly, trying not to think any more about his predicament. When all the knights had finished their food, and Merlin had cleaned the dishes, they all settled in for the night.