Genres: romance, drama, magic reveal
Word length: 6,000 +
Summary: Merlin has just saved Arthur yet again with magic, and this time King Uther saw. Merlin is sentenced to death. Will he get a chance confess his true feelings for Arthur? Work in progress.
Disclaimer: Merlin belongs to the BBC, not me.
A/N: I will update this quite regularly.
Disclaimer: Merlin belongs to the BBC and the four J's - Julian Jones, Jake Michie, Johnny Capps
and Julian Murphy. It's not mine. If it were, I'd make Merthur canon!
A/N: Thanks to everyone who reviewed the first chapter! I was so excited to get any response. I'm mainly writing this for myself. I wanted to read a fic where Merlin and Arthur are already together, where that isn't the focal point of the story. I hope to write another story, where Merthur are already in an established relationship and then outline what struggles they have to face ruling the kingdom as King and Sorcerer. That's my plan, anyway. Warning – Arthur uses the F word.
Chapter 2: Destinies Intertwined
It took all of Merlin's skill with magical distractions to leave the dungeons and avoid being caught by the guards. Luckily, Arthur had his horse tied up near the castle entrance. It didn't take long for them to reach their ride. Arthur quickly untied it and helped Merlin settle on behind him. Merlin noticed that the horse was carrying provisions – food, water, blankets, a bow and arrows for hunting, and of course, Arthur's sword. Apparently Arthur had planned ahead. The idea of Arthur planning their escape and remembering to bring supplies warmed Merlin to the core. Suddenly, the warning bell began to clang.
"Dammit," Arthur swore. He'd hoped to leave the citadel without alerting the entire kingdom that Merlin had escaped, but someone must have seen them and sounded the alarm. The prince urged his horse with his heels to go faster. He couldn't let them be caught now, or Merlin would die! Arthur wouldn't let that happen to the boy that he…cared about.
Merlin held on to Arthur's waist for dear life as they fled the guards, their horse's footsteps ringing out along the cobblestones as they rode away. With Arthur's fiery red cape billowing out behind him, they flew under the iron drawbridge, which closed just after they'd cleared it. Whew, that had been a close one! Merlin mused. He supposed he could have saved them from the drawbridge using magic, but he was feeling depleted of most of his magical energy at the moment due to what had happened the day before.
Eventually, they made it out of Camelot. They were able to put some distance between them and the guards, who continued to chase them. Before long, they came to the edge of the forest, which swallowed them whole. Arthur's horse seemed to enjoy traipsing through the thick foliage as they rode along one of the lesser known dirt trails. Merlin enjoyed the sounds of the birds singing and the lingering scent of rain. He couldn't believe he'd made it out of Camelot alive. Merlin's stomach began doing little flips as he realized that Arthur had risked his own life and his future to save him. That had to mean something, right? At the very least, it meant that Arthur saw Merlin as being more than just a servant.
"Did we lose them?" Arthur asked, interrupting Merlin's train of thought.
"Not for long," said Merlin. "You know Uther – he'll never give up until he finds us and brings us back to Camelot. We shall have to be extra careful that we're not seen."
They stopped to rest the horse, letting her drink at a nearby stream. Arthur and Merlin filled their water skins after they drank their fill. They ate some of the bread and cheese that Arthur had packed. Merlin had been rather hungry, as Uther didn't believe in feeding prisoners who were set to be executed the next day.
"Hmm?" Merlin answered.
Arthur swallowed hard. "Can you use magic to conceal us?"
Merlin gaped at the prince.
"You actually want me to use magic? After how you acted yesterday?"
Arthur glared at Merlin. "Goddammit, you idiot! I was pretending! I had to, my father was right there."
"Yes, but why didn't you try to help me?" Merlin asked, still hurt by Arthur's lack of interference.
"My father would've just thrown me in jail, like he did with Morgana. Then…"
"…You wouldn't have been able to break me out," Merlin breathed.
"Right," said Arthur. "I thought it was an impressive acting job by me if I do say so myself."
"Yes, you're a prat, I know," said Merlin, trying to bring things between them back to normal. "But you were afraid of me," Merlin shivered, remembering Arthur's cold indifference. "Afraid of what I'd do to you with magic. I saw the fear in your own eyes."
"I was afraid about your death, Merlin!" Arthur rolled his eyes. Just how dense was his servant? "I could never be afraid of you."
"Yes, but I killed that sorcerer," Merlin reminded him. "I'm dangerous."
"You did what you had to do to keep Camelot safe, to keep me safe. God, Merlin." Arthur started trembling. "I was afraid that I was going to lose you. Do you know what that feels like? Like the most precious thing you own is about to be taken from you and there is nothing you can do to keep it."
"I know exactly what that feels like," Merlin shot back. He'd felt that way about Arthur for years – he'd just never felt brave enough to tell Arthur how he felt, much less reveal his magical secret.
Arthur let out a sigh. "Aw, fuck it. I know that the way I feel for you is against the law. But that doesn't matter to me – not anymore. I love you, Merlin. I couldn't let my father take you from me. Especially when you didn't know the truth about my feelings for you. I don't want anyone else but you. You're the only one I can trust with my heart." Arthur prayed that Merlin felt the same. He hoped so, but he wasn't sure. The prince's heart thudded erratically in his chest as he waited for Merlin's response. He shouldn't have worried.
"God, Arthur!" Merlin's eyes grew cloudy with tears. "I've loved you for so long! I didn't know how to tell you. I would have mentioned it before but I was sure you'd reject me." He ambushed Arthur, who enveloped him in a fierce hug. Then Arthur kissed Merlin's soft lips. The kiss grew heated, then tapered off slowly.
Their eyes both flew open after they ended the kiss. They kept staring into each other's eyes, gazing deep into each other's souls, both knowing that he had found their other half. It was as the dragon said – they really were two sides of the same coin.
"Never leave me, Arthur," Merlin pleaded.
"Never," Arthur promised. He brought their foreheads together and they just rested like that awhile. "Although I warn you, I'm still going to take a while to understand the whole 'magic' thing."
Merlin reluctantly pulled away. This was something they had to discuss. "You mean how I'm the last dragon lord or my regular everyday magic?"
Arthur was stunned. Merlin's powers amazed him. Not only could he apparently speak to dragons (and exercise control over them somewhat) but he could cast all sorts of spells and enchantments, usually for Arthur's benefit. How had he not noticed after all this time? There had been a suspicious number of happy accidents that led to Arthur emerging victorious over a magical creature or emerging unscathed from a battle with a superior opponent. It had been Merlin protecting him the whole time and he'd been stupid enough to believe that he'd won those fights on his own.
"Just how powerful are you?"
"Very," said Merlin. "Well, not yet. But Gaius said I have the potential to be the most powerful sorcerer he's ever known."
"I don't understand – how'd you get to be that way?" Arthur wondered.
"I'll do my best to explain it to you. I do know I was born with magic; that the gift is often passed down in families. I'm not sure I understand it all myself," Merlin admitted.
"We have time," Arthur said wryly. "I don't have to be anywhere."
Merlin frowned at the flippant remark. Arthur would have to return to his kingdom eventually and they both knew it. "Right. So, where exactly are we going?"
"I hadn't really thought that far," Arthur blushed. "Maybe we could meet up with the Druids. I could leave you there with them and you'd be safe."
"And then you can go back home."
Arthur sighed. "I don't want to go back. There's nothing for me there without you."
"But you have to go back - you're the future king!" Merlin insisted.
"I'm aware of my responsibilities," Arthur grounded out. Then he gave Merlin a true smile. "But I don't want to leave you. I don't know if I'm strong enough to return alone."
"I don't want you to leave, but you must return to Camelot," Merlin insisted. "Your destiny is to rule and-"
"I bloody know, alright?" Arthur yelled. "And what about your destiny, huh? Aren't you supposed to be at my side?"
"As if I've always been there and always will be," Merlin whispered.
"What?" Arthur stared at the young warlock. "Merlin? Did you really just spout romantic drivel at me?"
"No, sorry. Of course not." Merlin blushed.
"Merlin." Arthur smirked at the brunette. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you were trying to sweet talk your way into my bed."
"I-I well, I didn't mean…" Merlin stammered.
Arthur laughed, amused by Merlin's clumsy response. "There will be plenty of time for that later. No need to rush things."
Merlin looked relieved.
"Come on, then," said Arthur, patting Merlin's shoulder. "We need to keep moving."
"Just a moment." Merlin reached out with his magic, feeling his way through the forest as he searched for the Druids. "It's this way."
"Just a few hours," Merlin reassured him.
"What if the Druids won't let me stay? Or worse? What if they want to kill me?" Arthur worried. "They aren't the friendliest to Pendragons."
"You'll just have to trust me to convince them otherwise," said Merlin.
"There is no one I trust more," Arthur said seriously.
Merlin glowed at that.
Three hours later
Merlin's magic had led them straight to the Druids' camp. Two scouts dressed in brown came out to meet them. Merlin hoped that he wouldn't have to use magic against those of his kind. He wasn't sure how to talk them into quartering the son of Uther, the man who persecuted all who had magic. He had to try. The Druids had protective enchantment on their camp that would prevent any of Uther's men from finding them. It was their only hope of evading capture.
"Who goes there?" One of the scouts asked.
"My name is Merlin, but your kind know me as Emrys." The young warlock looked at them hopefully, giving them a toothy smile.
"I am called Daegal," said the scout, "and this, is Lochru." The scouts circled Merlin and Arthur like wolves on a hunt. "What is your business here, Emrys?"
"My friend and I would like to make camp here for a few days," said Merlin.
"We know of your legend. You are welcome here, Emrys," Lochru said with a nod. "But who is your friend?"
Arthur stepped into the light so that the Druids could see his face. Immediately, they both began to scowl once they recognized him. Merlin noticed that Arthur's face fell slightly at their reaction.
"I know who he is. How far the great Pendragon has fallen to ask us for safe harbor." Daegal mocked Arthur, who bravely stood his ground and didn't take the bait.
"I know you are not fond of my father," said Arthur. "You have every right to hate him. But I am not him. I don't support his campaign of terror towards those with magic." His words didn't seem to make any difference. Merlin expected this, but was proud of Arthur for trying.
"Why are you helping him?" Lochru accused Merlin.
"Because… because…" Merlin trailed off. He and Arthur shared a worried look. Merlin didn't know what to do. He doubted anything he would say would make any difference. So, on a whim, he took Arthur's hand in his and interlocked their fingers, holding their hands up for the men to see.
"Merlin," Arthur groaned, rubbing his temple with his free hand as if he had a headache. "Really? That's your grand plan to convince them?"
"You and the prince are…" The Druids exchanged a look of surprise, but not disgust. This practice was rare, but not unheard of among them.
"Together," Merlin supplied helpfully. "Yes. We will not be separated. Please, we need a safe place to stay. Uther's men are after us and they mean to kill us."
"Do you swear that he will not give the location of our home to those who wish to harm us?" Lochru asked, glaring at Arthur, who coolly returned his gaze.
"With my life," Merlin pledged.
The two Druids looked at each other, and both slowly nodded.
"Very well, Emrys," said Daegal. "We will grant your request. But you may only stay for a night."
"That's fair," said Merlin, beaming from ear to ear. "Thank you. We won't forget this."
"When I am king, I will find a way to repay you," Arthur promised.
"This way," the scouts beckoned.
They followed the Druids to their camp, where they were introduced to all. Merlin was treated with the utmost respect, while Arthur received many looks of distrust. To Merlin's delight, they were provided with food, water, and a hut to rest for the night. The Druids left them to their own devices, for which Merlin was grateful. He wanted to spend time alone with Arthur now that they had admitted their feelings for one another.
They spent quite a bit of time kissing and exploring each other's bodies. A permanent blush had fixed itself on Merlin's face, which delighted Arthur to no end. He teased Merlin mercilessly about it, who retorted with the usual insults. They took a break when Arthur's stomach declared that it was time for them to eat.
"Uther's death must be years away – until then, I just want to spend my life with you," Arthur declared between bites of chicken.
"You really mean that," Merlin said, stunned.
"Would I lie about something like that?" Arthur looked hurt.
"No! I mean, no you wouldn't. I'm just… happy." Merlin beamed at the man that he loved. "I wasn't sure if this was a long term thing. I thought – I hoped it was."
Arthur rolled his eyes. "What do I have to do to convince you? Issue a royal proclamation?"
"No, that's not necessary," Merlin primly replied. They caught each other's eyes and laughed. Then Merlin's smile disappeared as he confessed, "I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have you, Arthur."
"I hope you never have to find out." Arthur reached for Merlin's hand and Merlin squeezed it in reassurance. At least they were together now. After months of hoping, Merlin's wish had finally come true. It seemed it was that way for Arthur as well.
They cleaned up after the meal, then they sat in companionable silence. But Arthur couldn't keep quiet for long.
"You know, I've thought a lot about what I'll do when I eventually become king. I'll be able to overturn the laws that forbid magic," the prince
said with confidence. "It may take a few weeks, but once the new laws pass, I will appoint you as Court Sorcerer of Camelot. That is, if you want."
Merlin beamed. "You'd do that for me?"
"Obviously, since I suggested it," Arthur snorted. "I believe that your powers should be recognized and celebrated, especially by your king."
"We wouldn't quite be considered equals in public but I suppose it's an improvement on the whole master/servant thing," Merlin considered.
"I'm afraid we could never be together - officially, I mean," Arthur said quietly.
Merlin gave him an odd look. "What'd you mean?"
Arthur explained. "When I'm king, I'll have to marry a noblewoman and have an heir, preferably a male one."
"And?" Merlin knew all of this.
Arthur cleared his throat. "You're not upset that I'd be cheating on you?"
"Cheating?" Merlin couldn't believe it. "Camelot's future depends on you having children, to continue the royal bloodline. You have to marry and produce and heir. It's part of your duty. How could I hold that against you?"
Arthur sighed. "I know, I know, but it just sounds strange being with someone who isn't, well, you. I suppose a marriage of convenience would be in order. Someone with whom I could unite our lands."
"Would the woman in question know about us before you married her?" Merlin worried. "Because I wouldn't want you to give her the wrong idea about being faithful-"
That earned him a withering look. "Merlin. The whole castle is going to know about us as soon as we return and you move into my royal chambers."
"Arthur, are you mad?" Merlin yelped. "I can't do that! I'd sleep somewhere else; if I'm seen with you in bed people will talk…"
"I'm sure people talk already," Arthur said offhandedly. "Merlin, it will work itself out."
"What if people think I've cast a spell on you, that as the Court Sorcerer I could use my position as a means to gain power over the great King Arthur?" Merlin worried.
"They'd be half right. You certainly have cast a spell on me," said Arthur.
"Very funny," said Merlin, punching him in the arm. "We should get some sleep. We'll need it if we're to be on our way tomorrow."
"You're probably right," said Arthur. They curled up together on the single crude bed.
"This is cozy," Merlin yawned. "Goodnight, then."
That lasted for about five minutes.
"I can't sleep," Arthur whined, just when Merlin was about to drift off. "Talk to me, Merlin."
"Arthur," Merlin groaned. "You wore me out earlier. I'm tired."
Merlin gave in. "Fine. What do you want to talk about?"
Arthur sighed. "I dunno. Let's see. When I'm king, are there any other things you think I should change besides the whole magic thing?"
"Are you asking for my suggestions?" Merlin asked, just to be sure. Arthur had never done that before. It made Merlin feel appreciated, like his opinion actually mattered. It was worth staying up for.
"You should change the knights' uniforms," Merlin blurted out.
This had been something that had been bothering Merlin for a while, but he hadn't been sure how to address it. Several of the knights of Camelot had been killed on patrol in the past few weeks and Merlin had tried to think of a way to prevent such needless deaths in the future. This was one of the ideas he'd come up with, but he'd been hesitant to share it with Arthur. He was afraid Arthur would laugh at it and Merlin would feel the sting of disappointment that Arthur wasn't taking what he said seriously.
"What?" Arthur yelped. "Why? What's wrong with them?"
"The capes have got to go – they're impractical for fighting and too easy to trip over." Merlin explained. "And the red and gold – ye Gods! It's like painting a target on your back that says 'shoot here'. You should wear green, or perhaps brown to blend in with your surroundings when you're patrolling in the woods."
"I never would have thought of that," Arthur admitted. In an afterthought, he added, "You're so smart, Merlin."
"What do you want, Arthur?" Merlin sighed.
"No, I mean it," Arthur insisted. "Do you really think I'd be attracted to you if you weren't intelligent?"
"You think I'm an idiot," Merlin reminded him.
"Very true," said Arthur. "You're an intelligent idiot."
"That doesn't even make sense," said Merlin, exasperated.
"To most people the idea of this… of us doesn't make sense," Arthur said quietly.
"But it makes sense to us," said Merlin. "And that's all that counts."
"Mmm," Arthur agreed. They were silent for a few minutes. "You know, I wish I could talk like this to you all the time. Not as the future king, not as a knight, but just as Arthur – without having to worry about what other people think if they overheard me."
"Me too. Then I'd probably get more compliments out of you," Merlin teased.
"In your dreams," Arthur muttered, but they both knew he didn't mean it.
"So you'll consider changing the uniforms?"
"Yes. I'll do it. Although I'm still partial to the red and gold."
"You could still wear the old uniforms for ceremonial purposes," said Merlin. "I wouldn't want you to lose the look completely."
Arthur read between the lines. "You like looking at me in uniform."
Merlin blushed for the twentieth time that day. Thankfully it was too dark for Arthur to notice – no need to inflate his already overlarge ego.
"You're blushing," Arthur deduced.
"Am not," Merlin protested.
"You are! Your face is hot," Arthur said triumphantly.
"Oh shut up," Merlin muttered as Arthur patted his warm cheeks. "As much as I love where this conversation is headed, we need to sleep."
"Alright," Arthur agreed. "I wonder what you would look like in the knights' uniform?"
"Goodnight, Arthur," Merlin said firmly, secretly pleased that Arthur was thinking of him in that way.
They fell asleep with Arthur's arm curled protectively around Merlin's chest.
The next morning, Arthur and Merlin were rudely awakened by a loud knocking at their door.
"Who is it?" Arthur called, his eyes still tightly shut. He had a sleepy Merlin in his arms – he did not want to get up just yet.
"It's Lancelot," the voice called. "Open up."
Merlin and Arthur bolted out of bed at that, pulling on their clothes before they opened the door. What was one of their knights doing there?
"How did you find us?" Merlin asked as Lancelot came in.
"Never mind that," Lancelot said impatiently. He turned to Arthur. "Sire, I bring urgent news. King Uther has taken ill. He's not expected to live for more than a few days."
Merlin's heart sank. There went his time alone with Arthur.
A determined glint surfaced in Arthur's blue eyes. "I'm sorry, Merlin. I know what I said about us building a life together, but that was before I knew my father was ill. I have to go back."
"Then I'm going with you," Merlin vowed.
End Chapter 2
A/N: This chapter is twice the size of what it was meant to be, which that's why it late being posted. Reviews are great!