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TWT Part 2-4: In the valley we walk by Matthew72

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This is an omnibus of the formerly published three separate stories: "In these stones horizons sing", "Hidden paths of magic" and "Cold as ice". All published on the Heart of Camelot from May 2013 to March 2014. Edited in 2016 and re-published here. Set post 5x13 of Merlin. Torchwood: Children of Earth didn't happen, which means Ianto still lives and Toshiko and Owen are sadly gone…




PART 2: IN THESE STONES HORIZONS SING





PROLOGUE

The town of Keswick in Cumbria was shrouded in a thick fog. It was quiet and tranquil, despite the fact four and a half thousand people lived there. On Sundays like this one most families were enjoying their roast or they were visiting their relatives. Only a few walkers were out and about, some with their dogs. Every now and then a car turned the corner before it headed for one of the two main roads out of the sleepy town.

In the summer months Keswick thrived on the many tourists visiting the Lake District. Despite the fact the county and the national park were known as one of the wettest parts of England many walkers, cyclists and other tourists enjoyed spending some time there. They were attracted to the high hills, the beautiful scenery, picturesque towns and the many historical sites. On days like today though when it was too early in the season nothing much happened�

That was until in the fog three men appeared from out of nowhere. One second earlier Merlin had grabbed Arthur's right hand and Gwaine's left while the three of them walked away from Glastonbury Tor. Now they were many leagues up north, far away from the three pairs of curious eyes belonging to the Torchwood three. While Merlin let go of the hands of his friends his eyes returned to dark blue.

"What was that!?" He heard Arthur say in a stunned voice while Gwaine barked out a laugh filled with shock and a touch of amusement. Looking between both men Merlin didn't know where to begin explaining how he took them so many leagues up north within a split second.

*****

"That was magic! No, that was powerful magic even. You didn't even put a spell on us. I knew there was something to you, Merlin, but that was just�"

Gwaine was stunned and impressed by the realisation. All those things he'd seen and felt about Merlin at last added up. The truth behind the secret he always sensed was there and yet couldn't name all came down to one thing; Merlin had magic. His friend did not have just a little touch of it, but his earlier action suggested Merlin embraced all that it entailed. His eyes had burned with magic so powerful it could scare away the world and yet all Gwaine felt was safe.

Memories of the past came back to Gwaine. All the times when the impossible became possible just because Merlin was there�. and all the times the King and his knights walked away from dangerous quests when really they shouldn't. The wyverns in the Perilous Lands, the Cailleach and her Dorocha, Merlin winning a fight when he could barely hold a sword and all the times Arthur defied death against the odds. How much of those moments were won due to magic? In short; how blind had he really been? Gwaine felt kind of foolish now that he hadn't noticed it earlier when it was this obvious all along and so he didn't ask. Instead he just accepted the irony of it and saw his friend for what he was for a first time; an even more brave and still kind hearted soul.

"That was a transportation spell", Merlin said after a while. To Gwaine's amazement Arthur merely nodded before he took in their new surroundings and asked. "Where are we now?" The practical question made no sense to Gwaine. Did Arthur already know, or was he still blind?

"This town is called Keswick. I took us north and miles away from Glastonbury", came Merlin's answer.

"That is it? You are not angry or shocked?" Gwaine looked between his two friends and saw there was nothing but understanding there.

Arthur nodded, "Oh, I was all that and more a few days ago when I found out Merlin had magic. Not anymore though. We have talked about it and I came to accept it before�" Arthur trailed off.

Gwaine couldn't help but wince at the words, knowing all too well how the sentence would end and as unwilling as Arthur seemed to revisit their deaths. No, he realised, it still did not make sense to him how they ended up where and when they did. For now though he would just take each breath as it came to see where it would lead him to.

*****

Arthur remembered how badly he had reacted at first when he found out about the fact Merlin had magic. It was just so hard for him to accept that the man he deemed closest to him had lied for so many years. The man he came to for advice had not been truthful about who he was. That had hurt the most. But as he was forced to spend the next two days with only Merlin at his side he was forced to think and see magic for what it was.

Magic came as easy to Merlin as breathing. Arthur saw with his own eyes how his friend barely even blinked when he used it to hide their trail or when he needed to light a fire. There were no spells, just a flash of gold in the eyes he trusted. Each time Merlin did use magic he was honestly scared of how Arthur reacted. It was in every single hesitant move he made, from the shaking of gracious hands to the nervous look from the corner of his eyes. It pained Arthur when he realised that he put the fear in a man who was probably more powerful than anyone else.

What if Merlin hadn't been a good man? Would he have turned against Arthur rather then spend his whole life protecting him? From the moment the question flashed through his mind Arthur rejected it. Deep down he knew that nothing had changed. Merlin was still the same man he was before. The bumbling fool of a servant and the man who often was too kind for the world had still stood before him when he left the world.

Dying in Merlin's arms had somehow felt right. They were brothers, bound by destiny and their fight for Camelot. In the end they were fated to be on the shores of Avalon. Arthur had known he would die from the moment he fell in the battle of Camlann. In his final moments he made his peace with Merlin. When it came down to it Arthur was a man of his word and he would accept Merlin in this century too, even if his friend just took his breath away with his latest trick.

"I asked Merlin never to change and it seems that for once he actually listened to me." Arthur couldn't resist the joke to lighten his mood. He was rewarded with laughter from his two friends. Merlin only shrugged before he said, "Let's get out of this fog first, then a warm meal and some rest."

Arthur nodded at the excellent idea. He felt rather exhausted after all the excitement of waking up in a place he didn't recognize. All the running through the fields and crops near Glastonbury together with Gwaine didn't help much either. For once he was actually glad someone else took charge. "Lead the way."
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