I don't own Merlin.
Here's the happy epilog, though I like the ending of that last chapter best.
Take Your Time (Coming Home) is by fun. and the second song by them used for a title but I thought this was best.
Paris, 6 months later
"Geraint, if you don't get your ass moving we're going to be late! Again!"
Geraint straightened from where he was finishing the last few brush strokes of his painting and stretched wide. The airy Parisian apartment was full of light in the afternoon, and beyond the window, the view of the Eifel tower was unparalleled. The painting wasn't his best, but it was one that he thought would look nice on their crisp white walls, full of deep blues and rich browns.
"I'm coming, I'm coming," he called, straightening and wiping his hands on a rag before walking into the main room. Will stood impatiently by the door, tapping his foot. He had the ugly jacket on again, the hideous fake fur and leather a terrible clash with the smooth suit underneath. As a going away gift, Arthur had had him fitted for three gorgeous Armani suits. He was stunning.
"What is this?" Will demanded, waving a hand at him. "C'mon, Ger, we have to be going! Plane leaves in two hours, they won't let you through customs like that."
He simply smiled, cupping Will's face with his hands and turning it up to kiss him, using every dirty trick he could think of to get Will weak-kneed and clinging to him. It worked like a charm, and when they pulled back Will looked a little dazed.
"We've got all the time in the world," he murmured. "Call Arthur, say that something's come up and we can't leave for another few hours."
Will was clearly torn, worrying at his lip as he looked up at Geraint. The taller man smiled broadly, leaning down to murmur against his lips, "Please, Will? Just two more hours here. Please."
Will groaned, wrapping his fingers in the paint covered shirt. "You will be the death of me, Geraint Chase. The absolute death, I tell you. I try to be a responsible businessman and this is what happens, I'm canoodling with my boyfriend in Paris."
"I know," Geraint grinned, sweeping him up. "Isn't it perfect?"
The City, Two Days Later
The park was almost deserted before the picnic descended on it.
A few miles of blankets, a banquet of food, laughing people, and one small baby descended into it, and it was with a great deal of excitement that Merlin found himself hand in hand with Gwaine, leading him over to the festivities.
There was a cheer as they made it to the blankets, Morgana and Morgause loudest of all, while Freya and Nimueh stood to go and hug them. Merlin held Freya particularly tight, and when they finally let go it was just for a round of more hugs with Will and Geraint, followed by Kieran, Mordred, Gwen, and finally Arthur, who hugged like he hadn't seen him in the office just a few hours before. The baby was napping in his carrier, and Gwaine was cooing over him when Merlin finally sat down beside him.
"What's his name?" He asked Freya. "Have you decided yet?"
Freya smiled at her son, whose tiny feet kicked in his sleep. "Yes, we have. His name is Sheehan. It means peaceful, in the hopes that our lives will be with him in it."
"That's very sweet," Merlin said, smiling down at the tiny boy.
"He has your hair," Gwaine said, nodding at the wild tufts of black hair peeking out from under a little dark blue hat.
"Or Merlin's," Nimueh said with a smile. "He contributed some good genetics."
That got a laugh out of everybody, and the dinner began in earnest. Arthur and Gwen announced their official engagement, not that anyone was surprised, Geraint proudly announced he'd gotten into an art school in Paris, Kilgarrah had decided to open a bigger shop to keep up with demand with Christian officially listed as his partner, Marcella and Lance were getting engaged in spite of his two years that he was expected to remain in jail, Morgana was putting out a new jazz CD of all things, and life, generally, was good. Everyone laughed and joked around, cooed over the new baby and his tiny hands and feet. The food was good, the party was happy, and when people finally started drifting away, it was with full stomachs and big smiles.
The afternoon was just starting to cool down when Christian quietly went and tugged on Merlin's sleeve, indicating that he wanted to walk with him towards the small pond. Gwaine raised an eyebrow, but shrugged and waved Merlin off so he could go back to his chat with a very enthusiastic Kieran, who'd just gotten his first large job.
It was a nice evening, and the setting sun glittered on the water as they started a slow, easy pace around the pond. Christian was silent for a while, and Merlin was content to let him be. They were about halfway around when Christian stopped and turned to look at him with serious eyes.
"The Boss is dead," he said slowly, fingering the tattoo on his forearm. "I am f-free. I can… I can choose. To be who I want."
"Yes, you can," Merlin said quietly, watching curiously.
"I have made a choice." Christian was deadly serious, eyes wide and somber. "I have chose to be th-the next."
"The next what?"
Christian took a deep, steadying breath and lifted his head, squaring his shoulders. He suddenly looked nothing like the man he'd been when Merlin first captured him, strong and sure of his purpose. "I was a thief, a petty crook. But now, I am free, and so I chose to follow in the footsteps of the one who saved me." He looked directly into Merlin's eyes. "I will be the next Dragon."
Merlin's eyes widened. "You're sure?"
"I am sure." Christian nodded firmly. "I…I feel it is right."
"Well. Wow. Okay." Merlin ran a hand through his hair. "That's…that's quite some news, there."
"I know," Christian said, softening again. "But… Kilgarrah, he s-said that the Dragonlords gi-give names. To the Dragons."
Merlin eyed him for a moment, thoughtful. "D'you want me to name you?"
Merlin stared at him for a long moment, taking in the way the light hit him, how strong he seemed at that moment, even now as he stared up at him, eyes wide and so innocent.
"Aithusa," he said at last. "I think that your name is Aithusa."
"You gonna tell me what went down with you and Chris tonight?" Gwaine murmured as he kissed up and down Merlin's neck.
"You're stripping me down so we can have lazy married people sex and you want to know what happened with Christian," Merlin grumbled, pinching him to hear him yelp. "Unbelievable."
"I am stripping you down so we can have incredible married people sex, and this is what you do to me," Gwaine teased, sinking to his knees to lavish attention over the bared stomach, where he was thrilled to see just a bit of the muscle was sliding away to comfortable softness. "Look at us. We're domestic. We have an apartment, we have great jobs, we're married, and things are good."
Merlin squeaked when Gwaine hooked his arms behind his knees and neatly tossed him onto the bed, only to laugh when he climbed on as well. "I'm still stuck slaving for a prat, so I don't know about great jobs."
"But we're free from the past," he said firmly, straddling Merlin's thighs. His face grew more serious, and his eyes were tender as he said, "I love you."
Merlin smiled up at him, heart swelling at the way the lights from the city spilled across the face of his husband. "Yeah… I love you too."
Not all endings are perfect.
But all was well.
I love you all, and I thank you so much for reading this to the end. I'm sorry it took so long, but on the other hand, I'm finally happy with the ending. This is my "coming home", I suppose, and three years later, here we are.
Thank you, and good-bye for now.
This work is, and always will be, dedicated to the beautiful, amazing, most perfect beta, nay, alpha that I know, EachPeachPearPlum.
Thank you, dove, and I am forever grateful for all you have done and continue to do for me. You are, and always will be, loved.