This story has a life of its own. It was only meant to be a one shot! Thanks for all your encouragement - that's why I'm still writing!
On an unrelated note - bless Merlin! Did anyone watch the last episode?! Won't say anything else in case of spoilers but eeee!
I jump away from Arthur as if he were red hot.
Arthur raises his eyebrows in surprise as I try to get a grip. "You heard me."
Eeep. "Well how should I know why you fell asleep?"
He looks mildly amused, "Oh I don't know... how about dormio for once thing?"
My world sways and I suddenly feel as though all of the slowly returned strength has drained from my body.
"Don't know what you mean." I whisper. But I don't even sound convincing to myself, let alone Arthur. I stare at my feet.
"Oh come on now Merlin." He doesn't sound mad. Then again, he didn't before and then he hit me.
"Maybe you were just over stressed?" I try feebly, risking a glance.
He's leaning on one of Gaius's benches, looking completely at ease now. In fact, he looks like he's rather enjoying this.
Wait a minute! Does he...? Does he not mind that I'm a Sorcerer or something? No way.
"I was not over stressed!" he sounds indignant. "Okay well I obviously was, with the pending burning and likely disowning I was going to face with my Father..."
I nod understandingly, feeling hopeful. "Hmm, see it makes sense now - doesn't it?" He nods as well though it looks far too sarcastic for my liking, "You were exhausted from hunting and stress so you-"
"-Put a spell on me?"
I blanch, "I-I didn't!"
He's laughing. I should really be worried for his mental health, if I weren't so scared for myself that is.
"Why are you laughing you ass?!" I cry, "If it's a joke then it's not funny. It may have escaped your attention but the last time someone accused me of that I nearly died."
His laughter stops abruptly and I suddenly feel like hitting myself. Shouldn't have said that. I know how much it hurt him to see me go through that. Seeing me chained to the stake then thinking I was dead... He coped worse than I did, and I'm this close to a nervous breakdown.
I am an idiot.
"I'm sorry." I say quietly, no longer afraid anymore. His reaction before was so full of pain, so overwhelming... Would he really care if I was a Sorcerer? The least I can do in return for such loyalty (and even... love?) is tell him the truth. I owe him that much. It doesn't quite add up to the scale of what he did for me but it's all I have. I keep telling myself that I'm hiding my powers to protect him. So I can continue to look out for him. How can I watch over him if I am sent away - or killed? But he wouldn't let that happen would he? Not after all that happened between us. All that has been said.
And I've been sacked anyway...
"Arthur?" He is now the one who stares at the floor. His response is so quiet that I almost miss it.
"You just keep lying."
So now we're back to fear and added dry mouth.
"No wait Arthur-"
"I don't understand why you keep lying to me." He sounds so forlorn; it's hard to hear it.
"I tried to save you so you know it doesn't matter to me Merlin." His voice cracks, as his eyes meet mine. "Don't you see? It doesn't matter."
Out of everything Arthur has done for me today in such a short period of time: fighting knights, comforting me, throwing himself on the pyre... It's funny that the smallest gesture has the biggest impact on me.
It doesn't matter to me Merlin...
It doesn't matter to me Merlin...
I sniff hard, trying my very best to not well up. There's been enough tears this afternoon - we're both emotionally drained for sure - so I choke out a "Really?"
"Really," he replies. "So just say it."
"Don't be an idiot."
I smile, "Because that's your job?" His look is outraged and impatient, "Just kidding! Kidding."
"Time to get serious then." He says, meaning it. "Say it Merlin." He sounds so commanding - so much... well, like a King - that I say do it. I can't not.
"Arthur Pendragon, I am a sorcerer."
He stares intently at me for the longest seconds of my life and all the while my mind is frantically racing:
I am dead now because he knows. But he said he didn't care! What if he was on about something else? What else could he possibly be referring to you clot pole? Don't call me a clot pole - and shut up will you? Why don't you make me?!
I am dead now because he knows.
But he said he didn't care!
What if he was on about something else?
What else could he possibly be referring to you clot pole?
Don't call me a clot pole - and shut up will you?
Why don't you make me?!
"Merlin, am I disturbing you?"
I actually missed what he said!
I shake my head, incapable of voicing my feelings.
"Good. Because what I said was, I've always known you could do magic."
"Really?!" I cry, slightly horrified. Am I that appalling at keeping secrets?
"Well, not in the sense of actually having the slightest clue..."
"But what I do know is... you're always there for me. Protecting me, aren't you?" He doesn't wait for a reply, avoiding eye contact. "And I know I should hate magic. But I don't hate you. I could never hate you. So maybe... magic isn't so bad after all."
I nod, though I feel like he's puzzling it out to himself more than for my benefit.
This is proven when he ignores my reply, cutting me off. "You are so right Arthur. Magic can be a force for good. In fact, I've saved your life more times than I can -"
"And I feel like maybe, we're connected or something? Like destiny." He laughs, trying to make it seem like he's not serious, in case I laugh at him.
Whoever thought he was insecure? Well, I did. Ever since he said "you left me all alone". I suddenly want to hug him, take his face in my hands and -
But I won't.
I am still lost for words once more. He's practically saying the Great Dragon's words right to my face.
"-Sounds stupid, I know."
"No! It makes more sense than you'll ever know."
We're close again now. Why does that always happen?
He picks up one of my wrists delicately and traces the chain induced bruises.
"Well you've got the rest of our lives to fill me in." He says, softly rubbing lightly with his thumb. "And don't you dare go magically erasing my memory Merlin. I already owe you pain for making me fall asleep like that, but I think you've endured enough for one day don't you?"
The idea had never even occurred to me but I nod, happy enough.
It is all wrong, but so right.
This isn't your traditional fairytale, your standard happy ending. Yes I'm a Prince, and there's a King and a Magician involved here somewhere too I think... And someone has been rescued though Merlin is hardly a fair maiden (ha!). And true, it wasn't the prince who did the rescuing. Not really (I owe Morgana and Gwen, so much). I don't certainly don't get to ride off into the sunset with the person I lo-
I couldn't ever. But maybe the fact that we are both alive, and we have a destiny to fulfil together is enough. It has to be.
I certainly don't kiss that person.
I certainly don't savour the moment, heart breaking but somehow more complete than ever.
I certainly don't ask that person to erase my memory of it the next day.
You have to believe me.
Princes don't lie.
Thanks so much for reading xx