Part 5: link
“Gaius, Merlin tells me this bracelet may hold some answers?” Arthur asks, handing the linen-wrapped jewelry to the physician.
“Yes, Sire, but unfortunately the only way to know for certain is to break the law ourselves,” he frowns. “Unless you’re just willing to take our word for it,” he indicates himself and Merlin.
Arthur contemplates this, conflicted. Out of the corner of his eye he sees Guinevere. She looks unsteady on her feet, so he pulls a bench over for her, offering his hand to assist her as she sits. She smiles at him, but it is a nervous smile beneath worried eyes.
“Arthur?” Merlin asks. Arthur is staring at the flame of a candle, watching it flicker and dance.
“Am I being selfish?” he finally asks, quietly. “Disregarding the law for my own gratification?” He turns, the conflict within him clear on his face. “I want nothing مزید than to know
that Guinevere was not responsible for her actions that night. My entire heart, my very soul
is screaming out for me to give consent to this, Gaius. But even though I am king, that doesn’t make me above the law.”
“Arthur,” Merlin steps toward him. “It is very likely that a grave injustice has been done. We need to right this wrong. Who it is
that was wronged is irrelevant.”
“What?” Arthur asks, thinking that Merlin may be insulting his wife.
“What I mean is whether this wrong was done to Guinevere, Gwaine, یا Jack the eight-fingered butcher in the lower town, I know آپ would demand that it be righted. It’s not a matter of the people involved; it’s a matter of injustice. And if that means allowing a rusty old ex-sorcerer to do a tiny
bit of magic – for good – to counteract a large bit of magic – done for evil – then so be it.”
“No one outside this room need know, Sire,” Gaius adds carefully.
Arthur ponders their words. Finally, he sighs. “I trust no one مزید than I trust the three of you. آپ know this. آپ know me.
” He looks down at Guinevere, and adds, “Better than I know myself, sometimes.” He closes his eyes. “Do it.”
Gwen reaches out and takes Arthur’s hand. Merlin crosses over to Gaius, appearing to assist him.
“Remember what to do?” he whispers, unfolding a completely unnecessary piece of red velvet on the table.
“Yes. I’ve been practicing,” Gaius gingerly places the bracelet in the center of the velvet square, taking care not to touch the silver. He winks at Merlin, then turns and tosses the linen handkerchief that had been holding the bracelet into the fire.
Merlin tries not to laugh as he clears the میز, جدول of everything except for one unnecessary candle. A black one. He lights it and places it behind the velvet.
“Ready?” he asks Gaius.
“Here we go.”
Gaius goes to a podium and retrieves the book he got from the archives.
“Where did آپ get that book?” Arthur asks.
“The archive, Sire. There are still a few questionable
کتابیں to be found down there. Rest assured that I’ll be returning it exactly where I found it, and then promptly forgetting where that was.”
Gaius carefully opens the book to a page he has marked (at random), peers at it, and nods. He stands over the table, places his palms flat on the wooden surface on either side of the velvet square, and closes his eyes.
Gwen pulls Arthur’s hand to her chest, gripping it hard between both of hers. Arthur can feel her دل beating as though it is ready to jump through her ribcage. His is behaving much the same.
Merlin watches them, confident that this will work. He’s been jumping out of his skin since he made the discovery. My دوستوں can finally have peace.
After what seems an eternity, Gaius opens his eyes and stares at the bracelet. He mutters a single word: “Líesing.” Release.
His eyes flash with the word, and a moment later, the bracelet takes on a strange, bluish light. The light lifts up from the bracelet in the shape of an orb the size of an apple, then disintegrates into a purplish smoke before it disappears completely.
“What was that?” Arthur whispers.
Gaius takes a deep breath, drooping as if the process has drained him, and Merlin brings him a chair. “The enchantment leaving the bracelet,” he says after he sits.
“So…?” Arthur prompts.
“Merlin, the book?” Gaius asks. Merlin obliges.
Gaius scans the page, looking for something that he knows is not there. He pretends to find it, tapping his crooked finger on the page, and looks up at Arthur. “The purple color of the smoke indicates that it was indeed a love charm, my lord.”
“So this means…” Gwen whispers.
“This means we all owe آپ quite a large apology, my dear,” Gaius tells her, smiling kindly.
Her hands fly to her face, emotions clamoring for attention within her. Shock. Relief. Confusion. Relief. Anger. Relief.
Her دل is racing, her head is swimming, and she vaguely feels the tears slip down her cheeks. I didn’t do it. It wasn’t me.
Arthur is struggling with his own torrent of emotions. Guilt. Relief. Rage. Relief. Regret. Relief.
He collapses to his knees at Guinevere’s feet, burying his face in her lap, his arms around her waist. His sudden action takes her quite سے طرف کی surprise and she jumps slightly before resting her hand on his head.
“Guinevere…” he says into her lap, his voice hovering somewhere between a plea and a prayer. “Can آپ ever forgive me?” He looks up at her, tears in his searching eyes.
“Arthur, there is nothing to forgive,” she says, wiping a tear from his cheek while hers still course down her own. “You didn’t know. I didn’t know.”
“But I should have known something wasn’t right. I should
have known that آپ would never, could
“Arthur, there was no way آپ could have. I couldn’t believe it myself, and yet there I was. Caught. And I
didn’t even suspect. None of us did.”
“You’re not angry?” he asks.
“Oh, I’m angry. Furious,
in fact.” Her eyes narrow, then soften again. “But not with you,” she says, stroking his cheek.
“But I could have… I could have had you… killed,” he can barely say the word.
“But آپ didn’t.”
She puts her fingers to his lips, stilling them. “I thought آپ کہا آپ didn’t care about what happened.”
“That was before I knew that someone else
was responsible. It is one thing to forgive a mistake made سے طرف کی someone آپ love; it is quite another to turn a blind eye to a malicious act committed سے طرف کی a person who clearly has let her quest for power بادل any good judgment she ever had.” His sadness and guilt are turning to anger now. He rises from the floor and sits beside his queen on the bench, holding her hands in his. “If I ever
see that wretched
sister of mine again…”
“Not if I get to her first,” Gwen interrupts, her own voice chilling. Arthur looks at her, now only mildly surprised after witnessing her confrontation with her brother in the hallway.
“Gaius,” he turns to ask the man a سوال and finds that both he and Merlin have disappeared.
“They must have wanted to give us some privacy,” Gwen says, squeezing his hand.
“Thoughtful,” he says, leaning towards her, snaking his hand around her waist, pulling her to him.
Arthur leans in to kiss her, but hesitates. His eyes look pained for a moment, and instead he buries his face in her neck, practically crushing her in his embrace.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispers against her neck. “I’m sorry that she did this to you. To us. I’m sorry that no one questioned the logic of your actions. I’m sorry that I sent آپ off alone, with no one to protect you. Without me to protect you. I’m sorry that Isolde had to die for me to realize that I was a fool to let آپ go, that I couldn’t live without you. If I could go back…” he trails off.
“Oh, Arthur, I know. I’m sorry, too. For everything,” she says, her hand caressing his cheek, his hair. “There’s nothing I want مزید than to find Morgana and help آپ flay her six ways from Sunday. But that will have to wait.” She kisses his temple. “Arthur,” she says, gently lifting his head, her hand under his chin the way he has done so many times to her. “You were able to اقدام past this before we knew I was enchanted. آپ forgave me, thinking that I had betrayed you. I never blamed آپ for your actions, Arthur. آپ acted based on the information آپ had, and آپ were merciful. As آپ said, آپ could have had me killed.”
Arthur looks into her eyes, amazed at his wife’s wisdom and unbelievably gentle heart. He sighs and leans his forehead against her. “Don’t remind me,” he says, squeezing his eyes shut, willing تصاویر of Gwen being executed out of his brain. “And you? Can آپ forgive yourself now?” he asks quietly, remembering her words the دن he proposed the سیکنڈ time.
“I thought I had done when آپ forgave me. But until today, until I saw that puff of smoke, I realized that I had not, in fact, forgiven myself. I feel as though a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders.”
He smiles warmly at her, his eyes full of love and wonder. Finally he kisses her, lovingly and passionately, holding her close.
Gwen pulls away gently, resting her forehead against Arthur’s. A few tears slip from her eyes again, and he wipes them away with his thumbs before kissing the corner of one eye.
“Merlin?” he calls. “You can stop hiding now.”
“Elyan’s outside the door, Arthur. آپ may as well let him come in, too,” Gwen says.
She nods. “He heard everything
, I’m sure,” she shouts key words, angling her head towards the door. “So he’d better come in so he knows to keep his fool mouth closed about this.
The door opens slowly, and a sheepish-looking Elyan sidles in just as Merlin and Gaius emerge from Merlin’s room.
“Elyan,” Arthur says.
“Sire?” Elyan asks. He’s not sure what to say یا where to look.
“How much did آپ hear?”
Gwen gives him a look.
“Everything. I followed آپ here immediately. Sorry, Sire.”
Arthur stands and walks over to him. “Not. A. Word. آپ must not breathe a word to anyone about what happened here.”
“But Sire, how are we to clear Gwen’s name otherwise?” Elyan asks. Gwen sighs at his transparent attempt to regain her good graces.
“We got a confession,” Merlin suggests.
Arthur turns. “What’s that?”
“One of Agravaine’s…” he waves his hand, searching for the right word, “…minions. He came آگے last night under cover of darkness, unable to deal with the guilt of the things he’d done and had knowledge of. Found religion, یا something.”
“Go on,” Arthur prompts, angling his head.
“Yes. So this morning آپ heard what he had to say, he told آپ of the bracelet, which Gaius had conveniently just recovered from some guards,” Merlin pauses, knowing he had to keep that part true, “and there we are. Problem solved.”
“And what of this ‘minion’ that suddenly found a conscience?”
The room is silent. Everyone is thinking the same thing, but no one wants to say it; it is too close to the fate Gwen once dealt with.
“You, in your infinite mercy, rewarded him for his candor سے طرف کی not having him executed for his wrongdoing. Then آپ exiled him,” Guinevere is finally the one that speaks.
Arthur nods slowly. He is unhappy at the web of lies, but the truth is far مزید fragile at this time. He looks around at his companions. “All right then. Are we all understood?”
They all nod. Elyan nods emphatically, glancing at his sister.
“So what do we do with this now?” Arthur leans over the table, looking down at the bracelet.
“Destroy it,” Gwen says coldly.
“It is perfectly harmless now,” Gaius says, picking it up and looking at it. He holds back a gasp and looks sideways at Merlin.
The bracelet is now completely smooth; all the markings have been erased.
Merlin bites back a smirk.
“I don’t care. I want it gone.”
“I’ll do it,” Elyan says, reaching for it.
“How will آپ do this?” Gaius asks, handing it over.
“I was a blacksmith, Gaius. I think I can manage a tiny hunk کے, hunk of silver.”
Part 7: link