Hi there! This is my first ever fanfiction. I wasn't planning on posting anything for at least a few more months but this plotbunny hopped into my head in the middle of the night, so I'm writing and posting it before I change my mind.
Reviews would be very much appreciated especially if it's constructive criticism. I love compliments but I'm aware that I have a lot to work on as a writer. That being said I'll take a simple 'Love it' or 'Hate it'.
So the story is not slash and has no particular pairings involved. It's a one-shot and will most likely stay that way. It could be set at any time, really but I imagine it being mid or shortly after season 3.
Disclaimer: *Insert witty disclaimer here*. Yeah, I don't own Merlin.
Anyway, I'll stop rambling and let you (hopefully) enjoy the story
Arthur watched as Merlin's breathing quickened into irregular panicked gasps. His body seemed to tremble slightly as he lay on the forest floor with his brow crinkled in anxiety. Although he made no sound, his terror was as clear as if he had been screaming.
Arthur stood there conflicted. The young prince would hate it if he knew someone had seen him have a nightmare as would most of the people he knew. But he had learned long ago that Merlin was not most people. In fact, Merlin had gone so far outside of the behaviour of most commoners that comparing the two was about as useful as comparing chalk and cheese. He snapped out of his reverie as Merlin's chest convulsed in fear.
Feeling his concern mount Arthur pushed away his thoughts (what would Merlin be having nightmares about?) and bent over his servants prone form. He gripped his quaking shoulder and muttered his name in a more worried tone than he would have ever uttered had anyone been around to hear it. When Merlin didn't react Arthur tried again a little louder. This time the reaction was immediate; Merlin sucked in a hysterical breath and scrambled away from Arthur his eyes wide with terror as they focused on his master.
Let this serve as a lesson to all…
Merlin kept his head down as he was marched through the courtyard but he could still feel the looks of loathing as painfully as if he were already burning.
This man, Merlin, is adjudged guilty of conspiring to use enchantments and magic…
He looked up and the first thing he saw was the pyre looming over him, waiting.
And pursuant to the laws of Camelot…
Glancing around, he was met with the accusatory stares of the citizens of Camelot. People he had smiled at as he passed them in corridors. People who had offered him a hand when he was carrying a heavy loud. Good people, with kind faces which were now set like stone.
… I, Uther Pendragon have decreed that such practices are banned…
Some faces stood out from the crowd. Gwen's warm face was contorted in anger and betrayal. Her tears were not from sadness, but from disgust and loathing.
…On penalty of death. I pride myself as a fair and just King…
He knew that this loathing would be second only to one person. The one person he would not look at. He would not do that to himself. He wouldn't.
…but for the crime of sorcery…
But he did. As he was shoved roughly onto the pyre he looked up at the balcony and felt his heart turn to ice, as if trying to counteract the imminent heat.
…there is but one sentence I can pass.
Arthur's face was a mask of cold indifference. Every hint of their friendship had vanished. It was as if all the teasing and bickering and laughing had never taken place. It was as if all the quests and adventures and mutual saving of each others' lives had never happened.
Looking up through the rising flames he saw that anything that had passed between them was irrelevant in Arthur's eyes. Merlin was to be condemned, murdered and forgotten because of one thing about him. The one thing he could not change. And Arthur could not accept.
Merlin felt cold night air enter his lungs and Arthur's face was once again in his eye line. He moved away without conscious thought, fear overtaking him as he scrambled across the ground.
"Merlin, it's alright" Arthur's voice was soothing and full of concern that he so rarely expressed.
Merlin exhaled in relief as he recognised that tone. There was no hatred, no indifference. They were on a hunting trip. Another stupid hunting trip, this one three days long because apparently the cute, fluffy animals near to Camelot weren't good enough for Arthur anymore. Merlin had been dreaming. Affectionate irritation flooded in place of the fear and Merlin had never been so glad of it. Realising that Arthur was still peering at him, looking uncharacteristically nervous Merlin offered him a weak smile.
Arthur paced over the fire in the centre of the clearing and began stoking it rather unnecessarily. Merlin took another breath to calm himself and moved to sit next to Arthur.
For a few poignant minutes the only sound was the crackling fire and night time noises of the forest. Then, Arthur spoke:
"You know, your life's not nearly interesting enough for you to be having nightmares"
Merlin sighed; Arthur was back to being Arthur. Never quite saying what he meant, always dancing around it with insults to cover up the unsaid things. But that was okay, this Merlin knew how to do. He was used to their dysfunctional style of communication. Except he couldn't quite get the indifferent, closed off Arthur of his dreams out of his head which was what he blamed his next unwise statement on.
"I dreamed that I was being executed for having magic"
Merlin swore sometimes his mouth just said things that his brain had no say in whatsoever.
"I've also dreamed that I'm a bird but I don't see any wings"
Luckily, his mouth occasionally came out with something half way to clever.
Arthur chuckled and shook his head.
"You're a riddle, Merlin"
"How's that?" Merlin asked. He couldn't help probing sometimes. Testing the water to see how much Arthur really knew. There were times when Arthur said things and Merlin was almost sure that the Prince knew all about his magic, and he was just playing a game to see how long Merlin could keep the secret. But there were other times when the young warlock was equally sure that Arthur was completely clueless.
"Well half the time you act like you're a complete idiot, which of course you are. But sometimes, I don't know." Arthur leaned back, resting his head on his pack "Then I find out that you think about this kind of thing-"
"Dream, not think" Merlin cut in.
Arthur paused to glare at him.
"Do you remember the second time we met?" Merlin asked, cautiously "You said that there was something about me…something you couldn't quite put your finger on"
"You remember that?" Arthur asked sleepily, his eyes drifting shut.
"Apparently so do you." Merlin said, watching Arthur with trepidation. Do it. A voice in his head said. Just tell him you have magic and get it over with.
"Mmmm" Arthur murmured and just like that his breathing evened out into that of someone completely asleep.
Bloody typical Merlin thought. He didn't know whether to be relieved or disappointed. He had no idea how Arthur would react to the truth. But then, he reasoned, he had had no idea about that yesterday and odds are he would have no more idea tomorrow or even a year from now. Arthur had come along way in his views about magic but he had a way to go yet. A way which could be considerably helped by the concrete knowledge that sorcerers could be good.
Merlin sighed and leaned back onto the rough ground. He was sick of arguing with himself over this. He should just do it and get it over with. Or not. Merlin rolled over trying to cut off his cyclical thought patterns. Tomorrow would be a long day. There would be prey to catch, prats to argue with and quite possibly magic to reveal. Who knew, but he was sure of one thing; when they woke up they would still be Merlin and Arthur. That bond would still be there and he would fight to keep it that way for as long as possible. Even if it meant a lot of arguing with his own thoughts. The young warlock lay down next to the young prince and drifted off to sleep.