Merlin knew Arthur would return in Albion’s hour of need; so wherever he saw his land in need, Merlin went where the action was. When the Normans invaded, he was sure it was time, sure that Arthur would be there, sword flashing to turn back the tide. The tide did not turn.
By 1941, Merlin had nearly given up hope. He’d fought on open English fields and muddy Belgian trenches, he’d seen probably thousands of British soldiers bleed out in front of him. He’d shot arrows , fired rifles, flown bomber planes. He was so tired of war. This time, surely, Arthur would come.
Merlin watched his island nation grow and shrink, watched its languages evolve and its people grow by multiplication and addition. He watched its leaders, in turns shining and monstrous, stumble through 1400 years of disruption and destruction and the crawling progress that comes with reaching the future the slow way. He watched as Arthur did not come. He ceased to hope, and tried to live.
So it was a complete surprise, as Merlin was on his way to the theatre to catch a Saturday matinee, to find a familiar voice carried from inside a North London pub, in the middle of a headed discussion about the Common Fisheries Policy.
“This is so stupid,” he said, smiling wider than he had in decades.