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Fic:true colours (fem!Merlin/Arthur) Part 1

Title: true colours
Summery: Merlin makes a confession for Arthur's declaration of love-it goes as well as she suspected
disclaimer: characters belong to the BBC
Rating: PG13
Part 1

Merlin waits for the metaphorical axe to fall. There's still a chance that a physical one may fall as well but that fear is a dull ache in her mind.
She stares at Arthur waiting, she doesn't dare to hope. She knows the rules of Camelot, better than most and she doesn't have an excuse. She doubts Arthur will be impressed if she tells him she has been charged to protect him.
Not only is it magic she feels his male pride would be damaged to know that his life and kingdom had been saved by a servant- and a female one at that.
She knows the rumours that circulate, that there's another reason Arthur keeps her around, that she is his mistress. Uther had made such an allegation, finding it humorous as long as Arthur remembered his duty.
Sleeping with servants wasn't an issue loving them was.
She shifts on her knees where she kneels, she should bend her head and await her fate but merlin has never been very good at doing what she should be doing. She looks straight at Arthur, watches his strong jaw twitch. His face is pale, blue eyes burning and merlin's eyes burn in turn.
She wants him to shout at her, she knows how to deal with anger but this, this betrayal in the kings eyes almost undos her.
If she is going to die she wants to explain.
"How could I not have known what you are?" The disgust in his tone rankles but merlin keeps her cool for once.
"I am as I have ever been, you're loyal servant"
Because she has. She may be the worst servant in Camelot, she may talk back and tease but she believes in Arthur, believes in his vision for Camelot. She has carved a life here and she has loved watching Arthur grow into a king.
She loves him.
She can deal with it if she knows Camelot and Arthur are safe. She is not ashamed f who she is-not anymore she had spent her life apologising and feeling somehow wrong but in Camelot she has purpose-to keep Arthur safe.
She never thought he would ever love her back. She had never felt so elated and it had made her bold-or stupid and she had told Arthur the truth knowing that it could mean death
But now Arthur is king and perhaps this is destiny. Arthur is king now he can create a kingdom that is safe and whole. Perhaps her job is done.
"You are--" He can't seem to find the words to describe her betrayal.
"I am Merlin," she says, she spreads her hands trying to keep her balance.
"Just Merlin. The same person who brought your breakfast this morning, who rode with you into the woods yesterday who will protect you from harm tomorrow."
Arthur looks away.
She has lost. He doesn't hear her.
The dungeon hasn't changed since the last time she was here. The guards watch her warily, holding a sorceress is dangerous and they most likely fear some magic on her part but that is the last though in Merlin's head.
She's had visited, all the knights have come to sneak her out, it would be amusing if death in the morning wasn't a very real possibility.
Gwen is with Arthur now, according to Lancelot, begging for her life. Merlin snorts at the thought. Gwen is probably giving Arthur a piece of her mind on her behalf.
She almost feels sorry for Arthur. No one likes facing the wrath of Gwen when she gets going.
It's all fruitless.
The hardest part was seeing Gaius. She loved him more than anyone else, except perhaps her mother. Gaius who had loved her and stood by her as if she had been his own daughter. She loved him like a daughter and she's sorry-so sorry for the trouble she had brought to his door.
Losing Gaius is almost as painful as losing Arthur.
Lancelot stands guard outside her cell, standing battle ready and she knows that he is ready to fight should Arthur send someone to take Merlin to her likely unpleasant end.
"Arthur confessed his love for you," Lancelot said on his hundredth turn about the small area, he's grading at straws now.
"He took it back quick enough," Merlin countered. "I suppose I should be greatful
I heard it before--"
She wrings her hands. The fear comes crashing over her. She doesn't want to die, in truth she is terrified of the fire. Gaius had been forced to bind her magic and knowing she could face the flames without protection terrified her.
"You must keep the faith Merlin," Lancelot says with conviction. "The king will change his mind. It is just the shock talking. But I believe in him, in his soul and I believe he will do the right thing"
Arthur is lucky, Merlin thinks to have a man like Lancelot at his side. A man who had been badly treated and yet believes in the good of everyone. Merlin doesn't have the heart to argue.
Lancelot turns abruptly drawing his sword, it does not waver when the king emerges from the gloom. The blonde eyes his knight.
"Are you willing to fight for the sorceress?"
It sounds dangerous, and Merlin knows that tone. Arthur is completely serious. But Lancelot is just as serious when he replies,
"Yes. I will defend Merlin with my life. Just as she had done a thousand times for you and you have never known it."
"She is a sorceress,"
"She is your best friend," Lancelot returns, the sword glistens in the dim light, it looks very deadly and sharp.
"Lancelot! Leave!"
The absolute worst thing about this is how it has divided their little circle, how the knights have felt compelled to take sides.
She's destroying their family.
Lancelot ignores her, apparently he has a death wish as well.
"You have spoken of your love for her many times and I have kept my silence, not because you were my king but because you were my friend, because you have given me a home and a life. But I will not let your fear kill Merlin.
Arthur turns back to the door and Merlin could only see his broad back, the fine shirt of his back stretching over muscles that were coiled steel.
She still loved him.
Arthur took a deep breath, let it out.
"You will be spared but I.."
Arthur spins around, and Merlin takes step back from the bars.
"I don't want to see you...I want...."
"I'll go home," Merlin promised, relief flooded her body but it was empty. It was clear that the love Arthur had for her was gone.
Arthur nods. Leaves.
It doesn't take long to pack, Merlin doesn't have much more than she originally did, a couple of more dresses from Gwen and Morgana but that was all.
Merlin sighs when she finishes. It hasn't taken up much time. Arthur hasn't given her a specific time to leave Camelot but Merlin can hear the clock ticking. She hasn't dared to step out of her rooms. She has been given a miraculous pardon and she doesn't want to push her luck by facing Arthur.
Gaius hadn't tried to talk, just hugged her tightly and Merlin had held the old man close and breathed. Gaius was her rock. She would miss him the most of all.
She looks up when the door jangled open.
Arthur's eyes fall on her meagre possessions and then to Merlin's face-or most appropriately the space next to her face. It feels like a punch.
She wants to speak but has nothing to say.
"Gwen has been filling me in on your exploits."
Merlin fiddles with the loops on her bags.
"It seems I am in your debt" the bitterness twists Merlin's heart. "I suppose I cannot banish the one person who has kept Camelot standing."
"You are the king, you can do as you please."
"Am I that kind of king? Who abuses power for his own ends?"
"No of course not."
"It is unfair to banish you after all you have done." Arthur continues. "I have promised to rule a fair and just Camelot." His eyes finally find hers.
"Despite my personal....views I will uphold the values of fairness, and Camelot needs a protector"
Merlin almost blurts out, "what about what you need?"
But she doesn't. Arthur has been generous, far more than someone like her has ever been awarded.
"Why did you lie to me?"
Merlin raises her hands to indicate the room. "Because I knew this would happen."
"Did you...did you charm....me?" He speaks slowly as of trying to find the right words. Merlin feels tears prickle behind her eyes. How could he ask that.
"I don't know how you feel," Merlin said carefully. Arthur snorts and Merlin breaks off.
"I think it's obvious how I felt," the king said scornfully.
"Well it wasn't to me! It's not like you ever treated me like those other girls you "loved"
"They were princesses and you're...."
"What? A servant? A sorceress? Yes! I am both of those things. But I am still a person. I may have magic but I can't read your mind."
"Sometimes I wonder."
The anger faded and all that remained was a bone deep tiredness. She was just tired.
"I didn't 'charm' you, I didn't know how you felt until you told me last night. Do you think I didn't know how dangerous it was to tell you the truth? I could have kept it hidden forever but I wanted to be honest with you the way you were honest with me."
"Why would I fall for someone like you if it wasn't a spell?"
Merlin reeled back, barely stopping herself from slapping him. This hurt more than anything up to this point. The fear that had always lurked deep within her. That despite all her gifts and accomplishments she would always be a servant.
"I don't know. I can't speak for you. But I'm sure whatever "spell" you are under is well and truly over!"
She grabs her bag and storms out, heading straight for the gates. She doesn't care that her mother is a few days away on foot, she is looking forward to the exercise. Maybe by the time she is home the desire to do something unpleasant to Arthur will have evaporated.
She wipes angrily at her eyes. Angry tears she tells herself. She's angry at Arthur. Anger is filling the numb ache inside her heart and she doesn't want to think about what it will be like when anger is not enough to fill it.