Title: Tolerance and Love
Timeline: A month or so after A Second Chance, AU.
Synopsis: Uther has a talk with Arthur…and more than one thing is revealed.
Author’s Note: A special thank you goes out to fairygothmum, who took the time to beta this for me.
Morgana walked through the halls of the castle, pausing at a specific room and smiling as she heard Uther’s voice. Her smile broadened when she heard the tell-tale sound of her husband pacing in the room...the hard leather soles of his boots clicking against the highly polished stone floor.
She gently caressed her abdomen. There was a slight swell now, but her gown hid it remarkably well. In fact, it was barely noticeable even when she was unclothed.
But, that wouldn’t remain the case for very long. Just that morning, Uther had stated that he could see a difference...and that they’d need to make an announcement soon. Morgana had agreed, but insisted that Uther tell his son first.
Arthur deserved to be the first to know.
And that was why Uther was now pacing in his son’s room. Morgana could only imagine the look of confusion in Arthur’s eyes, but she was sure it shone brightly.
She considered staying to listen, but Uther would not be happy should he find out. And so, with a soft sigh, she continued on...grinning when she saw Gwen turn into the hallway.
Gwen could keep a secret, Morgana was sure of it.
* * *
Arthur leaned against the heavy wooden table, ankles crossed as he followed his pacing father with confused eyes. “Sire...”
“There’s something I need to tell you, Arthur. Something that I hadn’t expected I’d ever have to tell you. However, I find that I was wrong once more.”
Arthur tilted his head slightly. “Father?”
Uther glanced at his son and then walked over to the window. Lifting his hand to the stone wall, he sighed heavily. “Sometimes, love surprises us all. It seems to come from nowhere, cloaking its existence until it has invaded your heart and there’s nothing that can be done about it.”
Arthur’s eyes widened as he uncrossed his ankles and stood straight. Uther continued to stare out the window, enjoying the image of the sun shining brightly across his kingdom.
“And then it culminates into something larger than you ever dreamt possible...and you wonder if your happiness would cause harm to those you have loved for as long as you can remember.”
There was something about his father’s tone that caused a panic to well within Arthur. He opened his mouth and the words tumbled from his lips before he could stop them.
“Is this about Merlin?”
Uther turned slowly and fixed his gaze on his son. “Merlin? What of this conversation would make you think I’m contemplating Merlin?”
“I...well, I already know that you love Morgana and this seems to be more of a conversation of revelation...” Arthur responded nervously.
“It is.” Uther confirmed, his gloves held loosely in his right hand. “But I have nothing to reveal that concerns your servant.”
Arthur thought that he saw a flash of amusement in his father’s eyes, but it was just that...a flash. Instead of commenting on it, Arthur shook his head as if to clear it.
“But, you have a revelation that you wish to share? With me?”
“That I do.” Uther stated, taking a deep breath and
allowing the turn in the discussion to shift from Merlin to its true
purpose. “There was a suspicion
regarding Morgana’s health...and that suspicion has recently been confirmed.”
“Morgana’s health?” Arthur asked, suddenly concerned. “Has she been stricken ill once more?”
Uther smiled warmly as he tucked his gloves into his belt before answering. “Not as such, but it is something that threatens to alter our lives a great deal. Yours included.”
Arthur stared at him in silence, waiting for him to continue. After a long moment, Arthur gave a huff of impatience.
“Well? What is it?”
Uther cleared his throat and stared into his son’s eyes. “You are to have a brother or sister in a few months time.”
Arthur’s mouth dropped open in shock and for a moment he forgot that he had basically admitted a relationship that he had wanted to keep quiet.
* * *
“Your Majesty...” Gwen stated as she bowed gracefully in front of Morgana.
Morgana rolled her eyes and laughed. “Guinevere, we’ve discussed this.”
Gwen smiled and set to the task of replacing the flowers in the vase with a freshly cut bouquet. “You are the Queen, you should be addressed as such. So says the King.”
“And it was difficult enough being referred to as ‘my lady’. Do you truly think that I’ll stand for ‘your majesty’?”
Gwen chuckled and turned to face the Queen. “Very well, Morgana. What are your plans for the day?”
Morgana laughed gently. “I’m the Queen Consort, Gwen. My plans are merely to make my husband happy.”
“And that, you do.” Gwen offered softly, sitting down in the chair at the table when Morgana gestured for her to do so. “I’ve never seen the King so...relaxed. In fact, it’s been wondered if this is the same Uther Pendragon. And if it is, what you’ve done to turn his way of thinking.”
Morgana sat down and sighed, stopping herself from touching her abdomen. “He is definitely the same Uther Pendragon. He’s still hot-tempered and he’s still stubborn...”
Gwen arched an eyebrow at her. “And yet, a few days ago he merely ordered that young sorcerer to leave Camelot instead of sentencing him to a swift execution.”
“Tolerance is a new concept to him.” Morgana said, her affection for him clear in her tone. “But, he’s doing his best.”
“I can see that. So can the people of Camelot. The changes that we’re seeing in him are for the good. Especially in the past month or so...” Gwen said, smiling as she stood up and walked over to the wardrobe. “So, what exactly does the Queen Consort do? We haven’t really had a chance to talk about it...”
“The Queen Consort...” Morgana started, watching Gwen as she carefully placed the freshly laundered clothing into the wardrobe. “I have no true power, Gwen. It’s merely a title that I hold because I married the King.”
Gwen snorted softly. “You have so much power, my lady. More than you realize.”
Morgana furrowed her brow in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“Do you think any other person could have convinced Uther Pendragon that not all sorcerers are evil?” Gwen looked over her shoulder at Morgana and smiled. “Not even his own son could accomplish that feat. You have power...true power deep within you.”
Morgana took a deep breath and spoke softly, but hurriedly. “In the past, the Queen Consort has had one role...and that is to give her husband an heir. Traditionally, it is hoped that the heir is a son...”
Gwen turned to face Morgana, her eyes widening as Morgana gently placed her hand over her abdomen.
“However, Uther has expressed hope that his next heir is a daughter.”
Gwen rushed over to Morgana, her dark eyes glistening brightly. “Oh, my lady!”
Morgana accepted the hug that Gwen gave her without thought. She returned the embrace and swallowed thickly.
“Uther’s tolerance is more important now than ever before.”
Gwen pulled back slightly and looked into Morgana’s eyes. “What do you mean?”
Morgana glanced at the still open door and bit her bottom lip nervously. “Could you close the door?”
Gwen nodded, concern showing in her eyes. “Of course, my lady.”
When the heavy door was shut and Gwen was again standing in front of her, Morgana ran her fingers through her long, dark hair and exhaled deeply.
“There’s something I need to tell you, Guinevere. I trust that you’ll hold my words in your strictest confidence.”
“Without question.” Gwen agreed, her own nervousness surfacing as she watched Morgana make her way to the window. “You have my word, my lady.”
Morgana gazed out the window, her hands covering her abdomen in a protective manner. The sun warmed the kingdom and a small smile played at Morgana’s lips as she watched the children play happily in the fields.
“As much as Uther would disagree with the description, Camelot is a magical kingdom. And it will remain so for many years to come.” She turned slowly and met Gwen’s eyes. “I think that my dreams are much more than dreams.”
Gwen’s eyes widened as she realized what Morgana was insinuating.
* * *
“A baby?” Arthur spluttered. “You’re having a baby?”
Uther chuckled. “Ana is having a baby.”
Uther’s chuckle died as suddenly as it had started and he straightened as he stared at his son. “You have cause to think I have not fathered this child?”
“What?” Arthur asked before quickly shaking his head. “No, Father…I’m just…well, this is more than a bit of a shock.”
Uther nodded slowly, carefully regarding Arthur. “You’ve nothing to worry about. Camelot will still fall to you after my death.”
Arthur narrowed his eyes. “You think I’m worried about that?”
“You’re not?” Uther asked. “Apparently, my brother was rather worried when I was born.”
Arthur snorted softly. “I’m not your brother. My concerns have nothing to do with the realm, Father.”
“But, you have concerns.” Uther stated.
Arthur shook his head and sighed. “ ‘Concerns’ was the wrong word to use. I simply mean that becoming King of Camelot is one of the last things on my mind right now. Since your wedding, Camelot has thrived as it never had before. You’ve changed, Sire…for the better. And I can only imagine that the new Prince or Princess will be a most welcome addition to the Pendragon family.”
Uther smiled warmly. “You are so much like your mother. So caring, so…accepting. She’d be very proud of you, Arthur.”
Arthur gave his father a crooked smile, his blue eyes shining brightly. Before he could say anything else, Uther reached out and placed his hand on Arthur’s shoulder.
“I’m very proud of you as well, son. And when the time arises, I believe that Camelot will be grateful for a King such as you.”
Uther lowered his hand and walked towards the door. He paused with his hand on the doorknob and turned his head to meet his son’s eyes.
“Love surprises us all, Arthur. Don’t worry about what others will think…what I will think. Allow yourself to love and to be loved. Love can be your salvation, if you allow it.”
Arthur swallowed hard, understanding that his father now knew the truth. “How long have you known?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
Arthur stared at his father in disbelief. “You have no issues with this? With me being with a servant? A…male servant?”
“At one time, yes…I would have had issues.” Uther admitted, releasing the doorknob and turning his body to face Arthur. “The relationship would have been forbidden and more than likely I would have condemned Merlin to death.”
When he saw the flash in Arthur’s eyes, Uther continued.
“But, who am I to impose such punishment?”
“You are the King.” Arthur stated.
Uther gave his son a half-smile. “I am the King who fell in love with his ward, who gave his heart to the one person who has fought me at every step since walking into this palace. I shouldn’t have allowed it, but she fought me at that, as well.”
“Love surprises us all.” Arthur whispered softly.
“That it does, my son. You have accepted my love for Morgana. You have accepted our unborn child. What kind of father would I be if I did not do the same for my son?”
With that, he smiled and pulled the door open. “I shall expect a formal introduction, of course.”
Arthur gave a smile of relief as his father left the room. He shook his head slowly, still not believing what had just occurred, and sat down at the heavy wooden table.
“A formal introduction. Merlin will just love that.” He muttered to himself.
* * *
“I’ll have to tell him before the child is born.” Morgana whispered, wiping the tears from her eyes.
“It could be coincidence.” Gwen argued, taking Morgana’s free hand into hers.
“It could be passed onto our child.”
“You should make sure before you tell him anything.”
Morgana’s eyes widened. “You think he would hurt me? Or the baby?”
Gwen shook her head quickly. “No, I don’t think he’d be able. Even before…he’s never been able to punish you. I just think that there’s no need to worry him. Be sure.”
“How am I supposed to be sure?”
Gwen gently bit her lip. “I think I know someone who can help, but I’ll need to talk to him first.”
“There you are.”
They both turned towards the door at the sound of the King’s deep voice, neither of them having heard the door open. Uther immediately noticed the redness in Morgana’s eyes, the drying tears on her cheeks. He rushed over to her and knelt at her side.
“Ana…what is it?” He asked, concern dripping from his words as he reached up and tenderly cupped her cheek.
Morgana glanced at Guinevere and, seeing that her secret was indeed safe, spoke softly. “I told Gwen about the baby…and – ”
Uther smiled and pressed a kiss to her cheek. “Arthur knows…there’s no need to keep it secret any longer. It won’t be long before it’s obvious to all that you’re with child.”
Gwen smiled and stood up. “I should go see to the rest of my chores.”
“Thank you, Gwen.” Morgana stated sincerely, thanking her for more than what her husband was aware of.
Uther turned and gave the servant a gentle nod. “Yes, thank you, Guinevere.”
Gwen nodded in return and quickly backed out of the room.
“Yes?” He returned his attention to his wife, shifting his weight as his knee started to ache.
“I love you. I love our child and I love you…so very much.”
He gazed into her eyes for a moment and then moved forward, covering her mouth with his. As his tongue slipped between her lips, Morgana draped her arms over his shoulders and forgot all about the concerns she had expressed to Gwen.
He groaned softly, half from desire and half from the pain of kneeling on a stone floor, and gently pulled from the kiss. Running his fingers through her hair, he sighed and cleared his throat.
“I’m to meet with King Paldriot…else I would insist you accompany me to our chambers.”
Morgana smiled and lightly ran her nails over the side of his neck. “How did Arthur receive the news that he’s to become a brother?”
“He was very welcoming.” Uther replied, carefully rising and grimacing as his knee popped loudly. “My pride in Arthur increases daily. He’ll make a wonderful King one day.”
“One day, many years from now, I hope.” Morgana added, standing up and wrapping her arms around his waist as she rested her cheek against his chest.
“Mm…” Uther murmured, lovingly rubbing her back.
He would’ve been content to stand there and hold her for the rest of the day. But, the neighbouring King would be waiting. And so, he sighed heavily and took a reluctant step away from her.
“I’ll come to collect you after the meeting.” He smiled as Morgana nodded. “Arthur will be bringing a guest to dinner this evening.”
“Oh?” She asked, her grin showing in her eyes. “Are we to have an announcement tonight?”
He gave her a wink and straightened his tunic. “Might I suggest the emerald gown?”
She chuckled as he walked to the door. She tilted her head curiously as he paused and looked back at her.
“I love you, Ana. Apparently, I’m changing…and I’ve been told that it’s for the better. I only have you to blame…and I find that I only love you more.”
As was his custom, he didn’t wait for a reply. He simply turned and left the room, but left knowing that he had warmed her heart with his words.
Morgana smiled brightly, gently caressing her abdomen as she spoke softly. “I’ve always known that your father is a good man. But, it’s beautiful to watch him realize how good he truly is.”
Her eyes sparkled as she saw Merlin run past the door. She didn’t have to ask where he was going. Her smile faded as she thought over the conversation she’d had with Gwen earlier. She wondered who Gwen was going to talk to…and wondered whether that person would be able to help her…and her child.
She shook her head to clear the thoughts, not willing to think negatively. Gwen would come through…Morgana had no doubt.
* * *
Merlin slipped into Arthur’s room, a grin on his lips as he watched Arthur rummage through his wardrobe. “What are you doing?”
Arthur pulled out a simple blue tunic and gave a nod. “That should do nicely.”
He turned and tossed the garment to Merlin. “Try that on, I’ll see what I can do about pants and boots…”
Merlin gave a half-chuckle. “What?”
“We’re having dinner with my father and Morgana tonight.” He gestured at Merlin’s common clothing. “What you’re wearing is unacceptable for dining with the King.”
Merlin dropped the tunic as his eyes widened. “Dinner? With the King? What’s going on, Arthur?”
Arthur paused and looked into Merlin’s eyes. “Love surprises us all…as does my father.”
Arthur nodded, moving quickly when he saw the panic in Merlin’s eyes. He lifted his hand to Merlin’s cheek and smiled warmly.
“It’s alright, Merlin. Though I do believe that we owe Morgana for the change in the King.”
Merlin licked his lips and exhaled a nervous breath. “There’s something I need to tell you, Arthur.”
“Later.” Arthur whispered, leaning forward and brushing Merlin’s lips with his own.
Arthur shook his head and kissed him again, quickly deepening the union. It only took a few seconds for Merlin to respond, sliding his hand into Arthur’s hair as he allowed Arthur to maneuver him towards the bed.
Arthur obviously had other things on his mind and Merlin decided he could talk to the Prince later.
* * *
Morgana made a detour on her way to her chambers, pausing in the doorway of the room where two Kings were having an animated discussion. She had no idea what they were discussing and it didn’t really matter.
Uther would win whatever debate they were having. He always did…and Camelot was always the better for it.
Though, she had to admit that she enjoyed listening to his arguments.
She smiled as Uther suddenly looked in her direction, meeting her eyes for just a moment. With a subtle nod and a peek of his tongue wetting his lips, she knew that he’d cut his meeting short if it were at all possible.
She felt her arousal build as Uther turned his attention back to Paldriot.
A few moments later, Uther glanced at the now empty doorway and smiled to himself. The good news was that Paldriot was acquiescing to Uther’s demands…the even better news was that Uther was convinced that the meeting was nearing its end.
He knew that Morgana would be waiting for him in their bedroom.
His smile grew as Paldriot sighed heavily and reached for the quill to sign his name to the bottom of the treaty.
Uther’s plans for the afternoon suddenly seemed a lot brighter.