So, my first fanfic. I had such fun writing this. It's a multific, so please read and review - any constructive crit or ideas are appreciated! If the first couple of chapters are recieved well, I'll continue onwards with the plot I've planned.
Title: Magic Once Lost
Themes - H/C, Reveal!Fic, Angst
Disclaimer – No, I don't own Merlin. I just love obsessing over it instead.
"Gaius, I can't do magic."
Gaius looked up momentarily from his porridge, his eyes flickering to Merlin's face, astonished by this sudden announcement.
It was too early for such humour, he thought with a sigh, and the boy had too much energy for this time of the morning.
"What do you mean, you can't do magic?" He asked, taking another spoonful and glancing away again. "What do you call all the things you've been doing for the past few years?"
He snorted. "Luck?"
Merlin put down his spoon. An uneasy pause filled the room, borne from the absence of Merlin's usual witty reply.
This silence caused Gaius to look up again, alerting him that something was amiss. Perhaps Merlin was being serious? He peered into the boy's face, noticing how the usual carefree expression had been replaced by one of poorly disguised worry, and how his blue eyes were slightly ringed, as if he hadn't had much sleep.
Merlin, noticing he was being scrutinised, gave Gaius a quick smile, one that didn't quite reach his eyes, and shovelled another spoonful of porridge into his mouth. He kept his gaze fixed on the lumpy mess in his bowl as if it was the most interesting thing in the world.
"I've tried, Gaius. I've tried everything. But it's gone, and I – I don't know what to do."
His tone was even, bordering on indifference, but Gaius could tell how hard to he was trying to stop his voice from breaking – he could see the tiny shaking of his hand. He was doing that thing he did when he felt awkward or worried and was trying to hide it – he kept glancing around, his limbs constantly moving in small jerky movements, as if he couldn't keep still.
Gaius took a breath. Merlin was being utterly serious.
Gaius didn't react, but mind whirled around as he studied the raven-haired boy in front of him – there was no denying it, Merlin's words had shocked him. Magic couldn't just 'disappear', especially from someone as talented and crucial as Merlin. Merlin was practically made of magic.
Dark magic? But, surely they would have noticed something, a sign from somewhere, from the dragon. An illness? But Merlin had seemed completely healthy, as bright and cheerful and annoying as ever. A phase he was going through? What then?
"Merlin – " he began, leaning forward over the bowls to lay a comforting hand on the boy's arm. Merlin was reluctant to look at him, his eyes still glued to the porridge.
How long had Merlin known this? For how long had he done exactly what Gaius had just then, trawling through the possibilities and worrying to himself, driving himself crazy? He was scared, and Gaius knew it, but when it came to magic Merlin was a rule unto himself. There was nothing in any of his books about a being like him.
"How long has it been this way?" he asked, the physician in him taking control and asking the questions that needed to be asked in that ridiculously calm, even voice of his. Yet even he could hear the chiding tone had crept into his question, and he silently tried to rein it back in as he repeated the question again.
"Why didn't you tell me when this first happened?"
"Why didn't you let me know that something was wrong?"
"You know as well as I that sometimes you have to do things sooner rather than later, or the consequences can be dire."
The two words shook slightly, edged with frustration and sorrow, and Merlin's hand clenched into a fist as he struggled to keep his face blank, his normally blue eyes stormy.
A loud knock on the door jerked them both back to reality.
"Merlin!" a particularly angry voice called.
Gaius sighed again, retracting his hand, and Merlin hastily reached out to retrieve his spoon, knocking his cup over in the process and creating the trademark loud clatter that generally preceded him wherever he went. The familiar blonde hair of the Prince could be seen through the crack in the door, and Merlin could tell by the way he was moving that he seemed to be pretty annoyed by something. Or someone.
"Juss commnnnn!" he called, his mouth suddenly full of stodgy porridge. He chuckled, nearly choking on his food as he watched the door nearly slammed off its hinges in front of him, as Arthur stomped into the room, anger radiating off him like heat.
"Merlin," the prince said surprisingly calmly, walking over to where his manservant was filling his mouth with as much of the remaining porridge as possible and taking up a firm stance next to the table. "What time do you call this?"
There was a pause as Merlin slowly swallowed the lumpy mess. His trademark cheeky grin spread slowly across his face as he looked up innocently into the Prince's face.
Arthur crossed his arms.
"You're meant to be my servant, Merlin, not the other way round. You're meant to give me breakfast. But when I wake up and need some breakfast, what do I find?"
He stared angrily into the boy's eyes, his voice laced with sarcasm and annoyance.
"You're here. Stuffing your face."
Merlin smiled sheepishly.
"I'm sorry sire," he said seriously, before brandishing the porridge-covered spoon in front of Arthur's face. "Did you want some?"
Merlin flashed Gaius a grin that lit up his pale face as he was dragged by the ear out of the door by a fuming Arthur, their bickering echoing along the corridors.
If Gaius had not just witnessed Merlin's breakdown moments before, that smile could have easily tricked him into believing that Merlin was the most carefree person in the world. It had power, that smile, the power to wipe the bad moments away and let you forget for a few precious moments. And Merlin knew exactly how to use it.
Once silence had been restored, Gaius slowly cleared away the mess and walked over to his collection of books, selecting a particularly large dusty one from the shelf. He sneezed as a cloud of dust flew up from the ancient pages, the text in an old language and hard to decipher.
Why hadn't Merlin just told him as soon as he'd known about his absence of magic? Then he could've helped him right from the start, and maybe they would have a lead by now, some sort of answer. He shook his head. These young people always thought they knew all the answers, that they could do everything on their own, and when they couldn't it was only then that they came and demanded help.
But, Gaius smiled ruefully to himself, Merlin wouldn't often admit that anything was wrong with him, not when there were other people around him that he thought were more deserving of care.
There was no denying it though – despite all his positive attributes and his nonchalant personality, Merlin was still just a boy. A boy who needed support, just as he gave it to others around him.
Gaius found himself thinking of Arthur, and how Merlin's face had lit up when he'd walked into the room. If only Arthur could know everything, he found himself imagining, maybe then Merlin's life would be a little easier.
Then he wouldn't have to feel so alone.