Storm clouds may gather, and stars may collide,
but I'll love you,
until the end of time
Come What May, Ewan McGregor & Nicole Kidman
AN; This pairing and story was inspired by a beautiful fanvid on Youtube for Gwaine/Merlin called "But, my heart's already decided" by doyoucare333. I know I usually write Merlin/Arthur, but... damn those two are shippable. This was meant to be up for Valentine's Day, but considering it's finished now, I thought I'd put this up for you nice people to enjoy. =]
Come What May
It's during one of those official meetings that Gwaine hates so much. The boring ones he has to attend as a knight of Camelot, although Gwaine is sure that there was nothing in any contract that forewarned him of these before he was in no position to refuse to attend. The ones when everyone's voices bead into a singularly familiar uninterested monotone about taxes and land and borders, and no one even tries to make the whole awful experience sound even the littlest bit absorbing. So, in short, he's bored. Very bored. Studying in detail the shape of his nails kind of bored, the bored that has him switching the arm he's leaning on every couple of minutes to break the monotony and to loosen his cramping muscles. Bored enough to be trying to think up excuses as to why he might have to leave this meeting early. He rifles through a few in his head; deaths of obscure relatives, and urgent appointment with Gaius, before realising with a depressing certainty that he's used them all before, therefore they wont work again.
He's orchestrating percussion with his fingers on the wooden table he is being forced to sit at, his posture slouched and not even attempting to camouflage his tedium, when Merlin comes up behind him. Creeping in slowly, suddenly from the shadows as though the dark haired youth has been birthed from the black, yet his presence is a welcome sight. Gwaine breaks into a smile for the first time since this whole ordeal began; and he has no problem admitting that it's because Merlin's walked in. He's wearing the blue neckerchief today, Gwaine's favourite, the one that goes nicely with his eyes.
As Gwaine is a proper manly knight however, he isn't going to admit to thinking that. Instead, he wonders what the Prince's manservant is doing here, at the type of official meeting that Gwaine is pretty sure he hates as much as the knights do. Merlin takes any excuse not to be present at anything drawn-out and formal, and Gwaine cannot imagine him to be able to restrain his kinetic character for such periods of time. And as a servant he often has ready-made genuine reasons for not attending in the fact that he has chores to do, and doesn't even have to make excuses up like Gwaine does – or tries to.
"I need to talk to you" Merlin has walked behind Gwaine's chair, and although the other knights have noticed him and are paying most likely more attention to him than the legislation that is being read out, the meeting doesn't falter. Carries on stubbornly, clinging onto life with elderly tenacity. The manservant leans down and whispers the words into his ear on fibrils of breath, and although when Merlin does that Gwaine usually gets a reaction that goes straight to the most obviously uncomfortable and socially awkward areas, he has never heard Merlin sound so serious, muffling any adverse stimuli somewhat. Gwaine glances up at that sound and catches the manservant's expression. No laughter in his eyes, his manner foreboding and dark. He wonders for a moment whether someone has died.
He gives an imperceptible nod – because if Merlin needs him, he is going to be there whatever it is – and rises up from his seat, pushing it back and wincing as – despite trying to do it quietly – the legs of the chair scrap on the flagstones. The other knights glance up at him, taking an open unbridled interest (Percival having been in a world of his own, bored as well; Lancelot examining his chain mail, his eyes having been fixed on a particular chink for some time, maybe just daydreaming; Elyan staring at the ceiling and Arthur trying to hold the whole thing together with as much enthusiasm he can muster when the topic is cuts and accounts).
"Sorry, you'll have to excuse me," Gwaine gives a small bow, which, along with the apology, none take seriously. What they do seem to infer is the countenance on Merlin's face, no habitual smirk, no jesting laugh at how they're stuck in this meeting while he's free to go as he pleases. "Something important has arisen, and I need to attend to it" He doesn't comment that something anatomically in his body is arising quite strongly (Merlin did do that voice in that way), but they don't notice and Arthur furnishes a wave granting leave, only looking a tiny bit jealous that Gwaine has an excuse to get out of this. The meeting will probably be continuing on for some time, from the stack of parchment that they haven't yet got through.
Gwaine follows Merlin out of the room, leaving the voices to continue on behind them, but instead of actually telling him what the matter is, Merlin simply beckons him onward, and leads him into one of the abandoned rooms further into the castle. There is no talk while they make their way past guards and fellow servants carrying trays of food or laundry to be cleaned, and as soon as they've got to the certain areas of the castle where few venture, Merlin grasps Gwaine's hand in order to hurry him along. Which leaves Gwaine wondering, at the sensation of the warm skin against his palm, whether he imagined the whole thing about Merlin looking miserable. It can't be all bad if Merlin is going so far as to initiate contact outside the privacy of their rooms.
At least he hopes not.
Once inside a smaller room off to the right of one of the many corridors, once used Gwaine imagines for storing grain surplus, Merlin locks the door. Taking the opportunity, Gwaine slides up closer to the slight man and enfolds his arms around his waist, murmuring in his ear. Partly because he just can't resist it when the chance presents itself, but also because if he wasn't envisaging that look he wants such an unnatural expression banished from Merlin's face; he wants to do something to fix whatever it is that is preying on the man.
"I know I'm irresistible Merlin," he laughs lightly, "but I thought you were the one who wanted to be discrete about this. Not that I'm complaining," he nibbles at the upper edges of Merlin's ear (and he does so love Merlin's ears) and elicits that small groan from the back of Merlin's throat, a restrained sound the man's tried to hold back that Gwaine always strives for "but I didn't think you'd get so desperate as to bust me out of a meeting for it"
"There's... god Gwaine stop it," Merlin gives a sound quite like a squeak, body relaxing somewhat against the knight. Gwaine smirks satisfied, finding the blushing reaction he's getting quite adorable. It's one of the many things he likes about Merlin. A rosy colouring is following along the line of Merlin's jaw as it diffuses up his cheek, and his eyelashes drop low, not looking directly at Gwaine, playfully holding back a connection between them regardless of whatever solemnity he had in his thoughts before.
"You didn't say that last night," the knight murmurs, voice low and husky. He enjoys performing this game, as teasing as it is, tearing Merlin between his natural polite sensibilities, and his actions around Gwaine; bold and testing and golden in the wealth of their shades. "I think the evidence is hidden under that neckerchief of yours..." Merlin is going steadily pinker, the colour pervading further across the planes of his skin, but nonetheless he tries to speak again.
"No – I mean, I need... will you stop it!... you're insatiable – Gwaine, Gwaine... Gwaine, I need... god – I need to tell you something!" He finally succeeds in extricating himself from the knight's roaming lips, forcing him away with hands planted heavily on each of the man's shoulders, holding him at arms length. There is no joking in his voice now. That expression has returned, malignant spirit to haunt him, shrouding his visage with uncharacteristic severity.
When he spoke again, it was in a way that Gwaine rarely had heard before. From others, certainly, but never from Merlin, never with the concentration with which he spoke it now.
He sounded frightened.
"I need to tell you something"
Gwaine cocks his head, outwardly remaining calm for the moment while on the inside affection and worry for Merlin war between each other for the dominant emotion. He wants to comfort the man, wants to let him know he will never have anything to fear from Gwaine, while his rational side chides that this was always too good to last, that the truth is coming out and he'd better hear it before he sinks any deeper into this relationship then he already has.
"You aren't going to tell me you're married are you?" he asks, and it's comforting to make light of it. That's what he would say always, how he perpetually responds to things he can't handle on a serious head. Yet Gwaine is barely still there in his own thoughts, the majority of him focused on Merlin.
He can't explain the relief he feels in words when Merlin vehemently shakes his head.
"No – No! It's nothing like that. It's just – " Merlin sighs, irritated with his own inability to get across what he wants spoken aloud "Look, do you want to sit down?"
Gwaine shakes his head, frowning, sincerity and concern filtering through from the internal to the external. "If it's that bad, I'd rather stand." Merlin's never looked this on edge, and everything about his usual mobile self is magnified to an extent that is almost madness; wringing his hands against each other, cracking the bones of each slender finger individually, one of his bad habits picked up during times of tension, pacing the few steps of floor in each direction he seems to have marked out as his stage in the theatre this seems to be turning into, blue eyes flicking frantically, like he's calculating how much of a mistake this is going to be.
Gwaine wants him to just stand still. To steady him with an action, to say something to calm the slight man who pales before him like the Day of Judgement has arrived and Merlin is not ready for it.
"OK," Merlin takes a deep breath, trying to compose himself. "er ... em, well... You see, the thing is..."
"Just tell me Merlin" Gwaine states, resting a hand on the man's shoulder, halting his motion momentarily. He just wants to know now. He can deal with what it is Merlin is so scared of admitting to him as and when the issues crop up. "Whatever it is, I'll still love you"
The younger man looks up at him with those big blue eyes, surprised at the admission. As though he hadn't hoped to expect such a statement, knowing what he was about to admit to; a sin it appeared of the highest moral order. "You might want to change those words after you find out"
Another deep breath, and Merlin cups his hands together, crossing the tight line of four fingers he's made and placing it over the other four fingers as the two sides of each palm touch, tucking his extraneous thumbs against the sides. A picture of a man beseeching for some sort of acceptance, craving forgiveness, something Gwaine wants to give intrinsically even before he truly knows what he's forgiving.
And then Merlin whispers words so low that Gwaine can't hear, in a tongue not his own or of any language Gwaine has ever heard. But he's not really focusing on that, because then Merlin's beautiful blue eyes shine gold; chatoyant and glorious, like the capturing of a most precious metal in a liquid gleam. It's not Merlin standing before him, not the gawky clumsy servant he is used to, but at the same time it is. It's Merlin, but a Merlin that Gwaine has never been privy to, and for a moment it is as though the two separate incarnations of the man he loves; blue eyed servant and golden eyed sorcerer – because that's what Merlin is, there can be no doubt of that any more – have come together as one whole complete man. Before there is suddenly fire alive and blazing in the cup of Merlin's trembling hands, a final testament to the knowledge that this is magic Gwaine is dealing with, not negligible acknowledgements of issues of their relationship (because the knight had been expecting Merlin to tell him something relating to them, like Merlin cheating on him or something else that now sounds completely ridiculous thinking about it compared what this whole thing has really turned out to be). Russet orange tongues lick up the sides of his flesh but do not burn him, the red of a phoenix's plumage tamed and controlled in the hold of a raven haired awkward manservant, who stands before Gwaine expecting the worse, eyes already searching for a negative reaction.
"I'm sorry." Such normal words are strange after the beauty that Gwaine has just witnessed, and they jar in their pessimism. For what has Merlin to be apologising for, having just shown Gwaine something amazing. Something he can't describe the beauty of, but knows from some deep-seated part of himself. "I really am. I – I wanted to tell you, I truly did, it was just... it's hard and I can't help it. It's just who I am – And if you don't want me any more, I'll accept that, just don't tell the King, or Arthur. Please... just don't tell them, and I'm sorry. I'm just sorry..."
Merlin's words are cut short by Gwaine stepping closer, taking a stride to bridge the gap between them, standing so close now he can see the dilation of Merlin's pupils, his hands still held out as a barrier separating them. Maybe he's expecting anger or disbelief or even violence, but from the small start his action induces, he isn't expecting the knight to put out his hands and close Merlin's softly by covering them with his own, the flame fading back into nothing.
"Merlin," he says, but the young man – magical young man it turns out, warlock or sorcerer or whatever the terminology is – doesn't meet his eye. Stubbornly looking down, fixing his gaze away, anywhere but on Gwaine. "Merlin" he has to repeat his call, his tone softer, before the manservant peers up at him, eyes full of fear diluting the hope that lingers there. "Merlin, it's beautiful"
He prises apart Merlin's hands again, back into the cup they were before, only this time with his own palms lining the bottom, the shape formed from another layer. He doesn't wait for permission, just presses his lips to Merlin's because he knows it is the action needed, pouring in acceptance and love and an eternal promise that this doesn't change anything, not what Merlin means to him, not how Gwaine feels, nothing. And maybe Merlin understands, takes in a significant part of what Gwaine is trying to tell him, as without words this time, the fire flickers back into life, and Merlin smiles.
"You really mean that?"
"Would I lie?" The trademark smirk flits across his face, and then transforms back to something more serious "Merlin, you have nothing to be sorry for. This – " he gestures at the flame, which at the tips is moulting from red into tinges of cobalt blue " – it's a gift." He gives a short wry smile "I bet you've been using your powers for good for so long, but no one knows about it. I knew there was something... All those times when weird things happened just in time to save us, like the fire when me and Arthur were fighting... No one ever knew, so no one has ever thanked you, have they?" Merlin held his gaze, then fractionally shook his head " and I bet that no-one has ever told you how special your magicmakes you"
Merlin grins wide and joyous and the sort of smile that Gwaine wants to invoke every day for as long as he lives. He winks, and presses another, more languid kiss against Merlin's cheek, separating the cup of their hands and allowing the fire to dissolve.
Then Gwaine glances at Merlin curiously, curiosity getting the better of him. "So what else can you do? I mean apart from just doing fire tricks?"
"Just fire tricks?" Merlin catches the humour in Gwaine's question, the deliberate goading, and plays along, feigning haughtiness "I'll have you know that magic is a very serious and noble craft. There is no... frivolous tricks"
"No juggling balls of light, nothing like that?" Gwaine smirks "You never been tempted just to...you know, play around? No one's here but the two of us."
Merlin rolls his eyes, but like he just can't help himself, three circular globules are conjured up from thin air, shimmering and incandescent, appearing when he stretches out both hands, palms semi closed in a bowl again but separate from each other. With a fumbled start when he suddenly wonders whether he locked the door – it saddens Gwaine that he can see flashes of Merlin's fear, scared of being caught engaging in something so beautiful – , nearly dropping one (and even thought they are immaterial, formed from light and magic, Gwaine can imagine them smashing into fragile petals of broken glass should they touch the ground) he juggles the three with growing confidence, tension falling away from his shoulders and a laugh breaking forth as he struggles to find a pattern of throwing and moving them upwards. Enjoying the glee that Gwaine shows at something so simple and childish, revelling in the freedom to share this with someone. He isn't alone in this any more, doesn't have to hide this.
That is what matters to Gwaine.
He loses all power of the lights when Gwaine interrupts the show with a sudden kiss, finding it hard to not react to Merlin's laughter and the control he is showing, emboldened by freedom and his magic, running through brown near-black hair with his fingers as he murmurs that there is something else he'd much rather do when it comes to Merlin and balls. And Merlin calls him crass, and slaps his shoulder lightly, but really he doesn't mind as the lights flutter out of existence as his attention wanders to other areas.
Merlin's definitely not complaining.