A/N: Hope you like it! I've never properly shipped Merlin/Freya before... But I really enjoyed writing this. If people like it, I could be persuaded to do it more often! ;) If this oneshot looks familiar to you, than that might be because it's an extension of a drabble I wrote. Or... I don't know. You might just be having deja vu.
Merlin strolled happily - and slightly haphazardly - through the trees, humming a tuneless tune and very nearly tripping over every third tree root.
He was staring dreamily out in front of him, vaguely in the direction of the shockingly blue blue sky, but his eyes looked slightly glazed over, suggesting that either he wasn't particularly aware of where he was going, or he knew the way so well he didn't need to look. It was a little bit of both.
Then he reached the lake.
He beamed. A smile broke out on his face unlike any expression ever seen on him before, because it was completely and utterly genuine. He didn't have to pretend to be happy; he was.
In the distance he could see her.
He could see her beautiful, ethereal figure emerging, dripping, from the water, the sunlight gleaming off her silken, white robes and…
"Oi!" Merlin bellowed, wading out into the water and suddenly feeling a lot like Arthur as he waved his arms around in what he thought might have been a threatening manner and his testosterone levels shot through the roof. "Just who do you think you are?"
The handsome young man in the boat addressing his Lady of his Lake turned towards the crazy, wet fellow, flinging his arms around and looking like he was about to drown. He frowned. Was that Merlin?
"Um… I suppose I'll be off then. Same time next week, my lady?"
Freya smiled prettily at this man, she even blushed a little!
Merlin was incensed and waded further out, getting stuck in the thick, slippy sands of the lake floor.
And then this audacious fellow, who Merlin was beginning to think he ought to magic into a toad, just to teach him a lesson, reached out and kissed Freya's hand, before rowing off!
Merlin, panting and gasping, eventually reached his lady love. "Who was that?" he managed, pointing at the retreating figure of the dandy chap.
"Oh? That was Sir Lancelot du Lac, Sir Lancelot of the Lake? We have quite a lot in common, it seems… I thought you knew him?"
Merlin frowned after the man in the boat, who was rowing away as if his life depended on it, but turned around once he was at a safe distance, and offered his friend a nervous wave. So it was Lancelot.
"Why are you talking to Lancelot?"
Freya giggled. "Why shouldn't I be talking to Lancelot?" she teased him, disappearing down mostly in to the water, until only her head was bobbing along the surface with his, gliding around effortlessly as he struggled to remain afloat in his irritation.
"I don't understand…" Merlin muttered, rubbing the wet strands of his hair off his forehead and frowning. "How long has he been coming here?"
Freya shrugged and shimmied under the water. Merlin was distracted by the way she caught the light and the way little bubbles seemed to drift around her like diamonds; the woman was unhelpfully beautiful. She appeared to be aware of the affect she was having on his ability to stay suspicious, because she began to stroke water lilies resting on the surface on the lake with such a tender touch that he couldn't help but imagine what it would be like to have it transferred to his cheek…
But Merlin would not be deterred quite so easily from the path of his questioning. "What do you two talk about?"
Freya giggled again and shook her wet hair, refusing to meet his eyes as she blushed again. "None of your business, Merlin."
She stretched his name out in that way that he found absolutely adorable and then popped down under the water, trying to hide from him. Of course, that was completely impossible for her to do, because everywhere she went she emitted a bright, golden glow, but it was an endearing attempt nonetheless.
"Freya," he tried to warn, but it sounded more like pleading as she exploded back up to the top again playfully, pretending to gasp for air as if it was the funniest joke she'd ever thought of, as if it didn't break Merlin's heart to know she didn't need to, that it was his fault she didn't needn't to.
She sighed, swimming in speedy, delicate circles around him and making ever-rippling patterns in the water with her feet as he rolled his eyes. "We talk about… about his destiny," she offered, eventually, looking seriously at him, but with a glimmer of a giggle wiggling around her pink little lips.
"About his destiny?" Merlin probed, splashing like a clumsy dog towards her.
"Yes! You're not the only one with a destiny, Emrys!" she teased, poking her tongue out.
Eventually he cracked a smile, and reached out for her hand, pulling her into his chest as he grinned. "So… what's Lancelot's destiny then?"
Freya tapped her nose conspiratorially and winked at him. "I can't tell you, Merlin!"
"But you can tell Lancelot?" he asked, frowning.
"Of course. It's his destiny."
He sighed, burying his head into the flowing strands of her dark hair, which had dried remarkably quickly considering how low the sun was now in the sky. "I wish I'd had you to tell me about my destiny, and not that stupid dragon."
She snorted, burying her head into his extremely damp neckerchief.
"Then I think I'd have been a lot more receptive."
"Pssh…" she muttered and he felt her giggling into him again, so he pulled her back from him to observe the laughter playing itself out across her face.
He grinned down at her, feeling pride swelling in his chest that he had been able to make her happy. Of all the things he could do in a day, this was the thing that would always make him proudest. It went without saying that it made him happier than anything else to be with Freya, she was the light - quite literally - in his darkness, she was the laughter in his unhappiness, she was the one true smile in a day of pretending; she was his salvation. He just wished she didn't have to be a part of his secret.
Merlin's thoughts drifted back to Lancelot and he frowned.
"When did you first meet Lancelot, Freya? Hm? How did you even come across him? Is there anyone else visiting you here that I should know about?" his skinny arms tightened around her protectively, and his face fixed determinedly into a man prepared to fight for what he loves.
Freya shook herself out of his grasp and looked quite seriously at him for the first time in his visit, rising up out of the water so they were no longer level, but so that she was drifting above him, her slim waist meeting his head disapprovingly.
"What is the problem with Lancelot visiting me, Merlin?"
He opened his mouth to answer her but didn't know what to say.
"I have found other friends, Merlin. I have found someone else to talk to, someone other than you. You might not like that, you might like to have me all to yourself all the time, but have you ever thought about what I do when you're not here?"
Merlin shut his jaw sharply and winced, knowing she was right.
Freya slid back down into the water and looked at him imploringly, not anger but pain evident in her voice.
"You have all your friends in Camelot, and your duties, I don't begrudge you that, Merlin, I never would," she took his hands and smiled. He held her tightly. "But you, being so busy, cannot imagine what it is like to be alone."
"I know what it's like to be alone," he answered. "The only time I don't feel alone is when I'm with you. You know everything about me and I can just be myself," he laughed suddenly, and sent up a hand, shooting sparks of fire into the sky, not caring what any passers-by might make of it.
She shook her head. "No you don't, Merlin. All day I am by myself, with absolutely nobody to talk to. Your friends might not understand you, but they love you. That matters Merlin, do not pretend that it doesn't."
He shook his head vehemently. "I would rather be here with you," he whispered and a few stray tears trickled down his cheeks, plopping into the lake beneath his pointed chin. Freya snickered and kissed them away.
"Honestly Merlin," she told him, doing her best Arthur impression from the stories he had told her, not holding anything against the man in spite of him having killed her. "You're more of a girl than I am."
He cackled then, grabbing hold of her hand and pulling her suddenly under the water, trying to swim down as far as they could. She swished around him and chuckled at his futile attempts to reach the bottom as he thrashed about, but not once did she let go of his hand. When his face began to grow a very strange colour indeed she wrapped her arms around his middle and tugged him up sharply with a strength and a swiftness he would not have believed capable of her and they both burst out onto the surface of the water with laughter rolling uncontrollably off their faces, and Freya sparkled with the most dazzling, blinding glow.
"So… Has Lancelot told you all about Gwen?" asked Merlin, some of her mischievousness rubbing off on him as he smirked at her.
Freya tossed her mane of hair forwards and hid behind it, blushing. "No…" she mumbled.
"He has!" Merlin declared, trying to stick his face in front of hers as she stubbornly averted it.
"No he hasn't…" Freya insisted, wanting to get away from him, but not being able to see where she was going since she had clamped her hands over face to stop Merlin from peering into it.
"Tell me what he said!" Merlin commanded, peeling her hands away and sticking his face right in hers, so their noses were almost touching.
"No," Freya insisted, shaking her head but smiling, looking about ready to start chortling.
"I think I can find some way of weaselling it out of you," Merlin decided, breathing his words all over her face as he tapped his chin with his finger.
"Really?" asked Freya, raising a disbelieving eyebrow.
"Yep." Merlin leaned in to plant a light peck on her lips, then back again to observe the effects of his kiss; Freya's eyes were still closed and the corners of her mouth were curved slightly upwards. "Well?" he inquired. "Will you tell me now?"
"No," she answered, opening her eyes and grinning at him.
That was the answer he had been expecting. He jumped at her this time and knocked them both under the surface of the lake, wrapping his arms around her and letting her watery aura envelope him with a shimmering, glittering warmth that kept him breathing. They drifted effortlessly down towards the lake floor, with neither of them taking any notice whatsoever of their surroundings, simply coiling around each other happily and holding one another as if it was their last time together.
Freya's glow grew even brighter than before now, so bright it was almost white, and it set the deep, black abyss of the lake practically aflame.
Neither of the lovers noticed this though; they were too caught up in clinging on to one another for dear life.
And then, suddenly, Merlin's body went limp. Freya jumped away from his mouth as if she'd been electrocuted and the childish pleasure fell smack of her face like she'd been slapped. She propelled him up to the edge of the lake with speed that put her former effort to shame, moving like a blur, as the brightness in her dulled to a sad amber.
The lake spat Merlin out onto its shores, and its mistress watched him with terrified eyes, creeping up as far as she could with the lapping of the water against the banks.
"Merlin!" she whispered, reaching out to slap his face and shake him. "Merlin!"
Eventually, his body unfroze in a fit of giggles, and Freya stood stock still.
"I really had you going there…" he said to himself, sitting up and shaking the water out of his hair, with a twinkle in his eye that really meant no good whatsoever.
She gawked at him. "Merlin! How could you? I thought you'd died!"
"What? Me? Emrys? The great and powerful warlock? I can't die yet," he laughed, strangely sounding resentful of it.
Freya huffed and shuddered away from him, back into her lake. She scowled. "That was an awful joke."
He shuffled towards her and tried to look apologetic, although he blatantly didn't mean it. "I'm sorry."
She sniggered at him. "No you're not."
He shook his head. "No I'm not."
She crept back towards him and he towards her. "You have an awful sense of humour," she informed him.
He laughed. "Yes… well… I spend too much time with you."
She wrapped her arms around him. "Not enough time."
His smile became sort of pained and he nodded, agreeing with this. "No. Not enough time."
She pulled him back into the lake with her and they landed in the shallow water, laughing with relief at nothing in particular as night, which had crept up on them out of nowhere in that sneaky way that it does, cloaked them in its sultry darkness. Freya began to shimmer duskily again.
They lay, with the water splashing around them, in silence, for a while, smiling at the stars.
"I have to go," he said.
"I know," she replied.
He left it longer than he ought to, but eventually he got up and went away, looking back over his shoulder more times than he could count, making him trip up more times than he could count, at the girl floating at the edge of the lake and waving to him, who seemed to darken more and more the further away he traipsed.