“No, not a sorcerer,” Merlin said brazenly, although his eyes were wide with his own impunity. “Warlock. There is a difference.” He waited, expecting the prince to laugh at the thought of Merlin having any kind of magical ability—or any ability at all.
Arthur’s expression didn’t change. “Really. Tell me, Merlin, what exactly is the difference between a sorcerer and a warlock?”
Merlin swallowed hard. The air had gone still around them, taut with tension, waiting, watching…
“A sorcerer is someone who has a magical talent, but has to learn and develop it, like with sword play or healing. A warlock, on the other hand, is born with magic, so that it is inherently a part of him—or her. It is instinctive, like breathing.”
“Mm.” Arthur kept his gaze stern and unreadable as he let the silence stretch out to an almost unbreakable point between them. Then– “Do all warlocks also have a relationship with giant bloody dragons and have an active death wish, or is that just you, Merlin?”
“WHAT?” Merlin yelped, sawing back on his horse’s reins as he frantically attempted to flee.
Arthur swore and was around him in a flash once again, blocking his path as faithful Amira reacted instantly. “Dammit, Merlin, will you stop? MERLIN!”
Horses and men both stared at each other, wide eyed and panting with their excursions.
Merlin was the first to blink. Arthur watched his lashes sweep down, hiding those impossibly blue eyes, so much like his own, and all the thoughts and fears and hopes behind them. When they opened again, they were shadowed and resolute. “You know.”
Arthur nodded silently, still watching his every move like a hawk.
The prince snorted loudly, making the nervous warlock jump slightly. “Less than forty eight hours ago, I tried to kill my own father, Merlin. Yet somehow, you managed to talk me down. A bit of advice—the next time you take someone’s emotions, be sure to give them back when you’re done.”
It was almost comical, how wide Merlin’s eyes got. He had thought it was just residue of the emotion draining spell he had used, had thought that constant sense, the awareness of Arthur in the back of his mind that night was just a result of spending nearly every waking moment with the prince for the past two years.
“So.” Relaxing in the saddle, Arthur rested his arms easily on the pommel, fingers hanging loosely just beyond reach of his sword. “Oh, relax, Merlin! If I was going to kill you, I’d have done it a dozen times over for your sheer idiocy and incompetence before we ever got around to this whole magic thing.”
The tension didn’t leave Merlin’s body. “You’re taking all of this awfully well…”
Arthur shrugged. “You gave me back most of my emotions, but there was still a feeling of disconnect. I don’t know if it was shock, or I was already drained from the experience with Morgause, or the confrontation with my father…” he trailed off. “Either way, going down to visit the dragon—Kilgarrah—felt like a battle situation. I was forced to think beyond the emotions. You can’t emote when you’re fighting for your life; if you feel anything-anger, frustration, betrayal-then you’re dead.” He shot the warlock a level look. “And that may have been what saved your life.”