"Can I help you, Sire?"
Arthur tightened his grip on the cloth so he wouldn 't drop it back down over the dragon guiltily. He took a breath and waited a beat for his heart to settle after being startled by the physician. "How long have you known, Gaius?" He heard the old man sigh and waited.
"You 'll have to be more specific, sire."
Teeth clenched tightly. The last thing Arthur wanted to do was to lose his temper, as he had done with Merlin. "This." He pointed to the toy creature. "How long had you known that Merlin was a Dragon Lord?"
"I knew he had the potential all his life. I 'd met Balinor a few times in Nemeth before the Purge. When I first received word that Hunith had given birth, I understood the implications."
"Is that why he came here in the first place? Because you knew about his potential and his magic."
"No. I didn 't know about his magic until he arrived. He saved my life with his powers the moment he walked into my chambers. His mother sent him here. I thought it was to find work at first, but later learned that Cenred was scouring the villages in his kingdom, looking to conscript anyone with the potential for magic. It seemed that Merlin had drawn some attention when he 'd used his magic to try and get firewood. Hunith feared for his safety."
Arthur finally let the cloth drop back next the wooden dragon. In his mind, he saw the v...
... middle of paper ...
...organa 's attempts. "You helped his father escape," Arthur stated. He 'd already figured that much earlier on, but now he stared at Gaius, waiting for the old man to confirm it.
The wrinkled, weathered chin lifted proudly. "Yes, and as many other innocent men and women as I could during your father 's Purge. Most of the first to fall had been Uther 's advisers in the war against the dragons to retake Camelot after his brother died. He never lied when he said the kingdom had been in the depths of chaos when he came, but he never explained to you why. I was as loyal as I could be to him and I owed Uther a great deal."
"Yet, you still committed treason."
Gaius sat forward and stared meaningfully at his king. "As did you, My Lord, when you helped young Mordred to escape. As did we all in some form or another to keep those we cared about safe from your father."
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