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Private A Measure of Peace

Discussion in 'Cascade Bay' started by Arthur Pendragon, Sep 29, 2018.

  1. Arthur Pendragon

    Arthur Pendragon BBC Merlin

    Posts:
    35
    Occupation:
    ... former King of Camelot
    Location:
    Cascade Bay
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    28
    Alignment:
    Lawful Good
    [​IMG]



    Pain thumped through Arthur’s head and stomach as he warily walked through Cascade Bay, not entirely sure where he was going but knowing exactly who he was looking for. He’d heard his old friend’s name murmured here and there, but whether people meant his Merlin was something Arthur was still very uncertain of. Still, that didn’t mean he wouldn’t try. If anyone could explain this strange place to him it would be the warlock, if the man was here of course.

    Taking a second to catch a breath, the King leaned against a boalder nearby, blue eyes scanning the area around him, trying to figure it all out.

    The world had changed so much, and Arthur wasn’t even entirely sure how long it had been. He could still remember the feel of Mordred’s blade slicing through his stomach, and though to him it only felt like moments ago, clearly the world had moved on. He shook his head, taking a breath before straightening up, trying to decide where exactly to go next when his eyes, quite by chance, landed on the most unlikely and welcomed sight in Pandora.

    “By all the gods,” he muttered, hopefulness blossoming on his face as Arthur, with newfound strength, made his way over, pausing briefly. Would Merlin be happy to see him? Would he even want him there? Arthur wasn’t sure, but he did know that his own life would be a lot more bearable with his oldest friend by his side… if that was something Merlin wanted. “… Merlin?” He enquired, softly, not wanting to startle the man or make him do some … magic… spell by accident. Merlin might be all-powerful, but the liklihood was that his oldest friend was still a clotpole.



    @Merlin Ambrosius |1st October
     
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  2. Merlin Ambrosius

    Merlin Ambrosius BBC Merlin

    Posts:
    2,766
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Headmaster at Schola Praeditos
    Location:
    Misty Hollow
    Race:
    Creature of Magic
    Age:
    1000+
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good

    A month. It had been a month since the world had torn itself apart, bringing about a new land entirely, and Merlin didn’t think he would ever be used to it all. He didn’t think he would ever be used to this strange new Cascade Bay, so much larger and so much taller than the last. Not that it wasn’t nice. Dare he say it, he was starting to like it more than he had before, though the absence of Loki’s authority certainly did do wonders to his feelings toward this place.

    Home, though? He hadn’t quite found it in him to use that word yet.

    Familiar faces were a rare sight. He had seen few of them since everything had happened, few outside of the school at least. It wasn’t surprising. Everybody he had ever grown close to had left. Died or been pulled away by those dark tendrils, never to be seen again. Maybe it was the same thing, maybe it was all death. Nobody really knew, not for certain. Some came back. Most didn’t.

    But the face he saw on the streets of Cascade Bay today, that was a face that had come back a number of times, and each time, it was no less shocking, no less emotional. Arthur Pendragon, his closest friend from all those years ago. Merlin felt himself freeze on the street, and despite the fact that he looked different, older, seasoned by hundreds upon hundreds of years walking the earth on his own, the warlock knew Arthur recognized him immediately.

    “... Are you really here?” came his whisper, never once letting his blue eyes leave Arthur’s. It felt different this time. Arthur hadn’t just disappeared, he was sure of it. The timing had been too convenient, Arthur’s injury dealt by the facade of a man innocent all along, his disappearance, Loki’s sudden rise to a position of power. Merlin had convinced himself that Loki had taken the life of his friend.

    This felt different.

     
  3. Arthur Pendragon

    Arthur Pendragon BBC Merlin

    Posts:
    35
    Occupation:
    ... former King of Camelot
    Location:
    Cascade Bay
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    28
    Alignment:
    Lawful Good


    He wanted to make a joke, wanted to somehow seem as he had been before - younger, perhaps a little arrogant even (though Arthur would never admit it aloud), but something in Merlin’s face stopped the automatic response that sprang into the Pendragon’s mind. Instead, Arthur let himself take in Merlin, take in all the differences and the similarities to the man he’d known.

    “Bloody hell, Merlin,” he eventually said, a teasing note to his voice though there might have been a strain to it, “I know you’re a bit older than you were in Camelot but your memory can’t really be so bad, can it?” He’d never really been the hugging sort… but now seemed like the right moment, and part of him really, really wanted to check that Merlin was here, too. So Arthur did something uncharacteristic for him, and stepped forward, pulling the slight figure into his arms roughly, offering a light hug before stepping back. “I’m here, clotpole.”

    He pulled back after a moment and studied the man before him, shaking his head. “… how long have you been here?” he paused, before asking, quietly, “Is this… is this why you couldn’t be at Camlann? Because you were brought here instead?” If that were the case perhaps Arthur could forgive the desertion… perhaps he could at least start to understand.

     
    #3 Arthur Pendragon, Oct 3, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
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  4. Merlin Ambrosius

    Merlin Ambrosius BBC Merlin

    Posts:
    2,766
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Headmaster at Schola Praeditos
    Location:
    Misty Hollow
    Race:
    Creature of Magic
    Age:
    1000+
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good

    The moment the blonde opened his mouth, it should have been confirmation. Gods, everything he said was so incredibly Arthur-like, but it had been so long and Merlin hadn't just feared the worst. He had become certain of the worst. There may not have been proof of his friend's murder, but he had been plagued with those 'funny feelings' as Arthur had once called them all those hundreds upon hundreds of years ago. Those feelings were usually right. Or maybe it was paranoia. Maybe it was hatred, maybe it was Merlin desperate to find somebody to blame, but he didn't think so. The timing was too convenient, everything about what had happened was too convenient.

    This, though? This was him. This was Arthur, and as he spoke, Merlin felt a faint huff escape his lips almost akin to laughter. Something in his expression, in the small smile on his face was genuine even as in a moment almost uncharacteristic of Arthur, he pulled his former servant into a light embrace. Merlin didn't want it to be light. He wanted it to be fierce, he wanted to know what he was really there, that he was okay, and that if he squeezed him, he wouldn't just crumble then and there.

    He was tired. He was tired of watching Arthur Pendragon die.

    As Arthur pulled away, though, his words affected Merlin in a way he hadn't anticipated. Camlann wasn't a name he had heard for a very long time if not because he had tried to block out the memory of it all. He remembered the depression that had spiraled after it all, he remembered the blame he had placed, on others. Mostly on himself, and Arthur's words now-- gods, they felt so familiar to him even all this time later. For a moment, Merlin was silent, his blue eyes widening a small fraction before he blinked them away, trying to find his thoughts. He was struggling. For all the wisdom he had gained, he couldn't even seem to explain to his friend something that had happened a thousand years ago. But then, to Arthur, it hadn't been so long ago at all.

    "I wanted to be there," came his quiet murmur, and those words were harder to utter than he had anticipated. It should have been easy. He had told Arthur time and time again about his magic. It should have been easy. But it was never easy. Every time it happened, it felt like a punch to the gut and for some reason, Merlin felt himself suddenly reverting back to vagueness, to not wanting to tell him the truth, to not wanting to feel like punch to the gut for the dozenth time.

     
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  5. Arthur Pendragon

    Arthur Pendragon BBC Merlin

    Posts:
    35
    Occupation:
    ... former King of Camelot
    Location:
    Cascade Bay
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    28
    Alignment:
    Lawful Good


    Gone was the lighthearted boy that Arthur had known in their childhood. Even the man he had started to know before Camlann - quiet and sometimes withdrawn but still gentle spirited seemed a distant memory. Had Arthur truly been such a bad friend that his closest people hadn’t trusted him?

    “Merlin…” he paused, unsure how to ask the question without seeming uncaring. Of course he cared about what Merlin had been through since their parting - but… but Camlann wouldn’t leave Arthur’s mind. Hadn’t Merlin warned him about Mordred? He’d always seemed against the druid, at least from what Arthur had seen. And Arthur, apparently ridiculously, had trusted his own instincts instead of his friend’s.

    Instead of asking such a loaded question, he broached a perhaps safer topic, watching Merlin’s face to see his reaction, to see if there was any part of his old friend still inside this man. “… I was planning on knighting you, you know. I’d spoken to Guinevere,” he swallowed, ignoring the pain the sound of his wife’s name brought with it, even from his own lips. Gods, he hoped she was safe, and alive. “And then you announced that you wouldn’t be there, and you were so certain, so…” cold. He didn’t dare say the word aloud and risk hurting Merlin’s feelings, but it was the truth. Arthur still remembered the distant look in his friend’s eyes. Shaking the thought away, Arthur swallowed again. “I still should have knighted you... I'm sorry. I..."

    It seemed he was doing it once again, though. He was thinking about himself, talking about himself, his feelings and thoughts instead of his friend's. How long had Merlin even been here? “How…. how many years has it been for you?” he asked, hesitantly. “… since you were in Camelot, I mean?” He wanted desperately to prove to Merlin, above anyone, especially here, that he had been worthy of the trust his manservant had put in him... that he had tried to be a better man than his father, tried to think of those in the kingdom instead of his own throne... and yes, that very much included the young man in front of him.



     
    #5 Arthur Pendragon, Oct 5, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
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  6. Merlin Ambrosius

    Merlin Ambrosius BBC Merlin

    Posts:
    2,766
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Headmaster at Schola Praeditos
    Location:
    Misty Hollow
    Race:
    Creature of Magic
    Age:
    1000+
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good

    However many times he'd had some variation of this conversation with some variation of the man standing before him, it never got easier. The differences didn't even manage to make it more interesting, it just hurt. All around, it just hurt so incredibly much, seeing his face again and again only for Pandora to tear it away from the world once more as though it had decided to punish him. After all, for all the times that others had left, Merlin's existence here in this land seemed to be woefully eternal thus far. Some days, he wished it would end, but the others, he thought about the school, he thought about the students, he thought about the people who relied on his existence. But then, his staff were so incredibly capable. Did they really need him?

    Focusing was a difficult task, his mind going in every which direction while he tried to concentrate on something, on anything. On Arthur's face. On Arthur's words, though as he listened, he wished he could have pretended he didn't remember that fateful day. Such a long time had passed, hundreds and hundreds of years, and yet it was all crystal clear in his mind as though it had happened yesterday, and the guilt-- gods, the guilt for having walked away, for having told him he wouldn't be there. For not being able to tell him why.

    Merlin could feel the emotion seeping its way to the surface as he blinked his eyes rapidly to the side, the whites of which had taken on a pink tinge. Making eye contact felt like some sort of taboo in that moment as he swallowed thickly and although he was silent, that guilt he felt was clear as day in the way he carried himself then. A knighting, for as much as Merlin had done, for as much as he had done that Arthur still didn't even know about, it was difficult for the warlock to feel as though he deserved such a thing. That last question gave him pause, though, as though anything else could. It should have been obvious to Arthur by appearance alone that Merlin was different. Older even if the only thing that necessarily pointed to that was his facial hair and the way he had adapted to a world long in Arthur's future.

    "... A long time," he murmured, blinking his gaze back, and he hesitated. An answer vague as that brought him right back to Camelot, to the days he avoided discovery at all costs. Arthur didn't deserve that, but then, would Arthur even believe him? "A thousand years ... at least. I stopped counting awhile ago." It was a terrible admission as though he were vocalizing the fact that he had given up on Arthur's return for some time. Merlin had given up on quite a lot of things over the years.

     
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  7. Arthur Pendragon

    Arthur Pendragon BBC Merlin

    Posts:
    35
    Occupation:
    ... former King of Camelot
    Location:
    Cascade Bay
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    28
    Alignment:
    Lawful Good



    There were so many things he wanted to say - so many questions… but Merlin seemed so much older, and so weighted down with… well, Arthur wasn’t even sure with what. The man before him wasn’t the man Arthur had grown into kinghood with - he was someone who had been through so much more than the blond could have guessed. He watched Merlin’s face, wishing he could decipher the way the man seemed determined not to link eyes… wishing he could understand what was going through his old friend’s mind.

    A thousand years? It wasn’t possible… was it? Merlin wasn’t an immortal - unless he’d been hiding something huge from Arthur all these years. It would explain why his best friend had been so resilient against all they’d faced, and yet… Arthur refused to believe it. “That can’t be,” he argued, softly, gently. “A thousand years? Merlin, you only look like you’re a few years older, if you don’t mind me saying.” He paused and gave an uncertain chuckle. “You’re trying to lighten the mood, aren’t you? This is some weird joke.” He gave that uncertain chuckle again, blue eyes searching his friend’s.

    “How long have you really been here, Merlin?” Arthur paused, gently squeezing Merlin’s shoulder. “… it probably feels like a thousand years. I mean, I know I’m hard to replace… “

     
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  8. Merlin Ambrosius

    Merlin Ambrosius BBC Merlin

    Posts:
    2,766
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Headmaster at Schola Praeditos
    Location:
    Misty Hollow
    Race:
    Creature of Magic
    Age:
    1000+
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good

    There was this distinct tightening in his chest almost like he couldn't breathe. Arthur didn't believe him, and it didn't exactly surprise Merlin, all things considered. So much time had passed, but this was still Arthur. The same Arthur who hadn't believed him the last time they'd had this conversation, but so many things were possible in the world. In the world they had called home and this world they were in now. Pandora was a new place for Arthur but for Merlin, he supposed it had become something akin to a sort of home. Time had passed and he had settled into the idea that there was no leaving, no going back. At this point in his very long life, what was there to go back to? Everybody was dead and he was nothing more than a lonely soul walking and walking and walking, watching magic fade from the world and become nothing but myth, but legend, something to be questioned in existence entirely.

    Life in Pandora was different. Magic was accepted, the world and its people were more open, and whatever heartbreak he had been through here, there was a level of acceptance that he couldn't deny enjoying. Would Arthur adapt so well?

    A scoff, quiet and dry and unintentional, left his lips. "Arthur, do you have any concept of where you are? Of what is possible here? Of what was possible in our own world?" Merlin stopped himself. He could feel frustration bubbling up even as a smile lingered then at the corners of his lips, strained like he was willing it to be there, like he was begging it. Because a part of him was trying to lighten the mood, to remember that they were friends, that Arthur wasn't a ghost come back to torment him for the hundredth time, though it was easy then to question. Still, that expression faltered. "... Sorry. I'm sorry," he murmured, clenching his jaw tight. He didn't realize how tightly he was clenching his fist at his side either.

     
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  9. Arthur Pendragon

    Arthur Pendragon BBC Merlin

    Posts:
    35
    Occupation:
    ... former King of Camelot
    Location:
    Cascade Bay
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    28
    Alignment:
    Lawful Good


    The world felt like it was tilting, suffocating him beneath the truth of Merlin's words, desperate to snuff Arthur Pendragon once and for all. In Merlin’s eyes, Arthur could see the same anguish he felt, but that wasn’t the comfort it probably should have been. There was a sort of… resignation… in his old friend’s eyes that haunted the once king, and he suddenly found he wasn’t so sure of anything anymore.

    Of course he knew what Camelot was capable of. How many times had he nearly died thanks to magic? How many times had those he loved been put in peril because of it? Gods, even up until his last day in Camlann, magic had writhed like a dark snake in the ground. But Arthur had never been his father - he knew there were two sides to a coin; it had been partially why he had knighted Mordred, though at the time he hadn’t thought about it. Magic did not evil make… it was the user and the user alone who was the true evil.

    Blue eyes blinked at the man in front of him, and Arthur refused the urge to step back. He didn’t want to be afraid of Merlin. Merlin had always been there, been his friend and ally. But either Arthur was making a huge leap in assumptions… or it was true. Merlin was immortal, which meant that his friend also likely had magic. He swallowed hard, summoning his courage. “How long?” He asked softly, meeting Merlin’s eyes, not quite challenging him but not quite relaxed, either

     
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  10. Merlin Ambrosius

    Merlin Ambrosius BBC Merlin

    Posts:
    2,766
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Headmaster at Schola Praeditos
    Location:
    Misty Hollow
    Race:
    Creature of Magic
    Age:
    1000+
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good

    It was a confession. Indirect, and the kind that Merlin only hoped Arthur wouldn't catch up on. But he had to if not for the warlock's sanity. If he didn't find out now, he would find out eventually and gods knew it would have been worse for Arthur to find out from somebody other than other. As though the betrayal coming from his own friend's lips weren't terrible enough. Plenty of things escaped the young King, things that Merlin had even confessed directly in his first couple of years in Camelot. But Arthur was far from a fool and after everything, he of all people could put the pieces together. The oddities that only seemed to happen with his servant was around, the disappearances, the secrecy.

    Now, it seemed, was exactly the time he would put the pieces together and although the question that Arthur uttered was a vague one, Merlin knew exactly what he meant. How long? How long had he had it for? How long had Arthur been so oblivious to the facts?

    How long had he been lying to him?

    Silence stretched between them, silence that didn't last long but felt endless as Merlin tried to find his words. For something he had said before, something he had experienced before, it didn't get easier. It refused to get easier. Dare he think it, he may have even claimed that it had only gotten more and more difficult as though he were trying to decide which time he would be okay with it and which time he would leave his life forever. "... I was born with it, Arthur. It's always been there."

     
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  11. Arthur Pendragon

    Arthur Pendragon BBC Merlin

    Posts:
    35
    Occupation:
    ... former King of Camelot
    Location:
    Cascade Bay
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    28
    Alignment:
    Lawful Good


    I was born with it… that meant that Merlin had been hiding his magic throughout their years in Camelot, right under his nose. Had he been using magic in Camelot? It would certainly explain some things if he had, like that supposed juggling act for Annis…

    Gods, Merlin had been there through everything. How on earth had he borne it? How had he managed to look Arthur in the eyes, knowing what Arthur was, who his father was and what he stood for? Everyone had blamed the son for his father’s sins - apparently the exception to the rule was Merlin, incredibly.

    Arthur shook his head and took a breath. Merlin was still waiting for a response - any response, likely, would do, but the King’s mind was blank. All he kept thinking was the struggle his friend must have gone through, especially with Morgana’s deceit and her consequential reveal of having magic. “I’m sorry,” were the words that came from his mouth, blue eyes meeting Merlin’s own. “I…” he shook his head. “… Gods Merlin. You were my servant for years… you must have had to be so careful…” he swallowed hard, and frowned. “Why? Why risk being discovered just to be my servant? I hardly treated you correctly all the time…



     
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  12. Merlin Ambrosius

    Merlin Ambrosius BBC Merlin

    Posts:
    2,766
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Headmaster at Schola Praeditos
    Location:
    Misty Hollow
    Race:
    Creature of Magic
    Age:
    1000+
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good

    No answer. Not at first, and while realistically, Merlin knew that he would need time, it was difficult to be patient when you were waiting to hear a verdict such as this one. What would it be this time? Would Arthur declare him a monster the way that the young warlock had declared himself so many times before? Would he understand in a way he had yet to understand? He always seemed to need time to process, to try to understand, to get past that initial sense of betrayal for the years upon years of lies that Merlin had told.

    "I'm sorry."

    Feeling his eyes snap back toward Arthur again, Merlin's eyes widened a fraction. He looked surprised and, once again, there was silence as he attempted to process his answer and how incredibly well he was taking this. But then, perhaps a run-in with what should have been more than a simple, or simple for somebody like Arthur Pendragon, near-death experience would put things into perspective. It didn't manage to lessen the surprise or the hesitation he felt.

    "Are you sure that's not an understatement?" he pointed out, a faint smile tugging at the corners of his lips as he tried to lighten the mood. Or maybe he was just trying to avoid having to speak of it anymore. Arthur deserved better than that, after everyone, and so the smile faded away and he shifted for a moment, his eyes glancing off toward the distant water he could see past buildings surrounding them. "At first it was just for my people. For their ... freedom, for a future where we no longer had to hide. But it grew into so much more than that. You're my friend, Arthur. I told you once that I would serve you until the day that I die." How long ago had that been? At least a thousand years. "I'd always meant it."

     
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  13. Arthur Pendragon

    Arthur Pendragon BBC Merlin

    Posts:
    35
    Occupation:
    ... former King of Camelot
    Location:
    Cascade Bay
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    28
    Alignment:
    Lawful Good


    A small smile echoed the one on Merlin’s face, gladdened at the chance to lighten the mood, even just a little. Arthur didn’t quite roll his eyes - there was still so much else he was trying to get through in his head. Had Merlin been using magic in Camelot, whilst Arthur had been King? The man couldn’t believe his friend would ever use it evilly - after all, Arthur was still alive, wasn’t he? “I suppose with you being useless at so many things, there had to be something you were half decent at,” he quipped, though the effort was halfhearted at best.

    Turning more serious now, the King studied his friend, unsure which question to ask first, where to start and what would insult Merlin less. “… I never doubted your loyalty, Merlin,” That much at least had always been true. “Even when you irritated me beyond belief, I knew you were loyal to me. Sometimes to a fault…” he acknowledged. “Thats why I couldn’t understand… at Camlann…” he shook his head. “I’m sorry. I should have had more faith that there was reason for it.” Although Merlin still hadn’t told him yet why he hadn’t been there. Perhaps though, he simply didn’t have an answer. Arthur wasn’t sure how he’d respond, if that were true. He needed at least something from his friend, even if it was a lame answer, it had to be something.

    “I told you once that you were the bravest man I’d ever met.” He paused, offering the slightest smiles. “That’s still true. Even if you do have magic.” A thought popped into Arthur’s head and he eyed Merlin suspiciously for a moment. “Is that how you always got my armour so clean so quickly?”

     
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  14. Merlin Ambrosius

    Merlin Ambrosius BBC Merlin

    Posts:
    2,766
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Headmaster at Schola Praeditos
    Location:
    Misty Hollow
    Race:
    Creature of Magic
    Age:
    1000+
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good

    It was going better than he could have anticipated, but after everything, Merlin had a tendency to assume the worst. It was the easiest thing to do, the easiest way to prepare himself for something that couldn't really be prepared for. Really, it was an impossible task. An impossible task that he didn't have to worry about now that they had managed to move past the issue at hand. It was clear that Arthur was still registering it, but he had moved on past that and-- well, he didn't know that he had accepted it fully. It wasn't so easy, it wasn't easy to hear that you had been lied to by your closest friend, but the other man had a clear interest in knowing more and there wasn't malice there behind those questions.

    Maybe that was why Merlin felt his shoulders relax the way that they did. And to hear Arthur call him brave after everything. To hear him apologize, to hear him--

    The warlock swallowed thickly, feeling the emotion rising thick in his chest, in his throat, in his eyes. "It's good for a lot more than just cleaning armor," Merlin admitted with a laugh that felt a little bit dry as though he were still forcing it, but there was a playful edge, something like the older Merlin, the younger Merlin that Arthur was so familiar. A Merlin that the warlock himself didn't feel as though he had seen for quite a lot of time now. So much had changed over the course of so many years.

    "But Arthur, don't apologize," he told him after a moment, sobering slightly as he took in a deep breath. "It was an impossible situation. For everybody." An impossible victory. Camalot had prospered under Guinevere's rule, but they had lost Arthur and that-- that didn't feel like a victory at all. There was a moment of hesitation as Merlin stared at the other man and then he found himself taking a step forward and then another, lifting his arms with every intention of pulling his King into an embrace that wasn't nearly as light as the previous. It was tight, it was filled with a desperate sort of relief, the relief of a man who had seen this man's death before.