By My Love, I Summon Thee
Mordred had once believed he knew what it was to want. He had wanted to find Morgana. Before that he had wanted to master his magic. As a child he had wanted just to stay alive.
None of those things compared to his want for Emrys.
Emrys was not just a wonder, but wonder itself. He lived, learned, laughed and somehow loved in a place that most like him would consider god-forsaken. He devoted his life to a job that was by definition thankless, and did it with all appearance of perfect happiness. He fought day by day for a future he might never see, constantly rejected and abused by the very person who was meant to be his other half, however unintentional it was. He was strength from submission, hope from oppression, beauty from pain.
He wanted badly for Emrys to trust him, but that dream seemed farther off than ever. When first they met he'd marveled at the easy, unconditional way the older warlock gave his trust, but didn't understand why he did not receive it. As a child it had hurt him, but as an adult he could see that Emrys was damaged, now more than ever. Nowhere in the world was truly hospitable for those with magic, but Camelot was worse than anywhere. Emrys had been so long there, had lived so long beneath the dark cloud of Uther's hatred, and witnessed first hand its passing on to Arthur. He'd had no true friends, no one he could confide in or rely on, the only sorcerers he encountered having long since allowed their desire for revenge to consume them. He'd spent so much time and energy guarding his secret, sharing so little of himself, that anyone who knew too much about him immediately registered as a threat. Emrys had never truly trusted him, but the intervening years had robbed him of his ability to trust at all.
It made Mordred ache.
He wanted to comfort him. He wanted to reach out and gently caress the scars on his heart and mind, to help, to heal him. But the wounds were still too raw, were never given time to scab over before new lashes were delivered. Arthur Pendragon was a maddening contradiction. His heart was so pure, his ideals so right, and yet at the same time he managed to do such crippling damage without even noticing. He was willing to forgive Morgana her crimes, but still upheld the law against good men born with magic. Somehow cruel in his inability to be cruel, abusing his servant's mind in the very act of protecting his body. It killed Emrys, in the slowest and most painful way.
He hid it well, so well. So well that Mordred sometimes thought himself mad for seeing it at all. Then he would see something; a flash of pain in his eyes, a twitch away from someone's touch, a slip of his smile when he thought no one was looking, and Mordred would ache again.
His magic was something to behold.
Mordred had always been able to sense magic, almost see it, feel the way that it radiated off the people blessed with it. Feel it within them. Feel them within it. Emrys' though, that was like nothing else. It seeped off him, oozing from his skin, thick and bright and massive. It hung round him like the folds of a great cloak, ready to wrap someone up inside to offer comfort or warmth. When he was angry it spilled out, washing over a room to root out darkness in a cleansing wave, then he would breath deeply and call it back, folding it like a blanket and tucking it away back inside himself. A brush of it was like a tender caress, and standing too close one could be enveloped by it, held safe as though in loving arms by good, kind magic.
His own felt small and dark by comparison.
It called out to him, called out to his magic, pulling him close, reaching for him. But even as the magic drew him near Emrys pushed him away, his eyes suspicious, his voice cold.
Mordred wanted desperately to feel him up close. Feel the magic radiating off him, feel the warmth of his fond gaze, feel the love he gave so freely of himself, to everyone but Mordred. Emrys might not be able to trust, but he could love. Oh he could love, could love anyone who gave him the chance. He could give smiles, laughter, encouragement, support, praise, help, whatever they needed, whatever they would accept. And yet if someone tried to reciprocate he would close up, back away, refuse to believe it. It must be so lonely, Mordred thought, to give so much love, yet accept none in return.
Sometimes he wondered if that was the reason he, the one person who might be able to fully return that love, received nothing but suspicion.
Gods, he ached.
The first time the pattern broke they were on a hunt. They had strayed too close to the home of a mother bear and her cubs, and without any warning she came charging though the undergrowth towards the company. Emrys had had many years to perfect that art of using magic on his surroundings to make them fight for him, but Mordred's magic had always been far more direct. He'd flashed a spark of lightning in his hand, making is crackle along the length of his sword, frightening the creature into retreating. Thankfully no one saw, and instead Arthur applauded his courage in jumping between the King and beast, but catching Emrys' eye in the hope that his victory would impress he met only a livid gaze which said without any use of magic, I must speak with you, now!
He followed Emrys a ways from camp as soon as they could break away. No sooner were they out of earshot than Emrys rounded on Mordred.
"Are you out of your damn mind!?" he hissed, eyes flashing rage. "You could have been seen! You almost were! I told you, you little idiot, things would be different if Arthur knew you had magic! Are you trying to get yourself killed?!"
Mordred's pulse pounded in his ears. He wanted to cower in the face of the stronger wizard's anger, but the implication of the words made his head spin. "You care?"
Emrys breathed an angry sigh, then leaned against a nearby tree and closed his eyes as though his head was paining him. "Against my better judgement."
"Would it pain you if Arthur executed me?" Mordred asked desperately. This was the first time Emrys had revealed anything too him, the first time he'd been willing to open up.
"I would," he choked, squeezing his eyes shut tightly, perhaps against tears. "Gods help me, but it would."
The tears spilled then, wrung out by fear and desperation. Mordred ached again, heart so full of hope and pain and sympathy and longing that it drew him toward Emrys like a chain running through his chest. Emrys didn't move when Mordred stood before him, his body one long, taut line of tensed muscle. Mordred reached out a hand to brushed his knuckles against older man's cheek, reveling in the way Emrys leaned into his touch.
"Why won't you trust me, Emrys?" he begged, his voice shaking.
Mordred pressed his forehead against Emrys', feelings the warmth of his magic flowing from a place deep inside him. He breathed in the smell of it, equally earthy and sweet, sucking in air as though he could swallow it, taste it like warm honey on his tongue. There was just so much of it, rolling off him in thick waves that Mordred wanted to drown in. It made sense; magic was life, and the meaning of Emrys' name was "immortal." Of course his magic was endless.
Mordred wanted to get closer to it, get inside it, wrap it around him like a blanket. He wanted to feel it at it's source, burrow his way into Emrys' chest and stay there. He wanted to get as close as he could, be inside. But he also wanted Emrys inside him, spread over him like a protective shield, taking him apart with skilled fingers, pushing inside him until he couldn't tell where he ended and Emrys began. He pushed his head closer, concentrating on the bond between their minds, willing Emrys to understand his desperation for closeness.
He could feel Emrys' heart aching. He wished he could know how this love he felt could break Emrys' heart, wished he could repair it, but he could only beg Emrys to show him. At long last he felt a shaky sigh above him, and long fingers bury in his curly hair.
"You will be the death of me," Emrys croaked, but to Mordred's relief and delight pulled back on the raven hair and tilted the shorter man's head backwards, exposing his mouth to take it in a desperate kiss.
Mordred was unfazed by the harsh words, soothed as they were by the soft, tender mouth from which they fell. He took Emrys' full bottom lip between his own, mouthing it reverently, trying to show Emrys how gentle he could be. He licked at the tears on the older warlock's face, then tilted his head back to accept a trail of butterfly kisses down his throat. He could feel the dam breaking, could feel Emrys beginning to open, his magic flowing more easily, acknowledging its draw to Mordred's. It twined around him, holding him, caressing him, teasing his magic beyond the boundaries of his control until he could no longer feel any distinction between them.
Suddenly a shout emanated from somewhere behind him, and just like that the spell was broken. Emrys shoved him hard in the chest, the magic fleeing from around him back into it's master's body, leaving him cold and bereft. Mordred reached for him again, desperate to return to their former state of entwined bliss, but the servant fled, leaving him alone in the woods with an empty heart. Mordred walked back to camp in a daze, not sure of what had happened but sure he wanted it to happen again.
From there on it became a habit. He would find an excuse to be alone with Emrys, corner him in the armory, or some darkened corridor, drawn away from prying eyes by any means necessary. Mordred had only to back Emrys against a wall and suddenly no time had passed since their last kiss, mouths hungry, hands grasping at clothes and skin, desperate to remove any distance between them. In the cold light of day Emrys still regarded him with fear and suspicion, but day by day it lessened, and in these moments there were no secrets between them, only what they felt, only how they could show each other love.
It wasn't just him either; Emrys began to find excuses to see Mordred, seeking him out when he was alone, touching him softly and secretly when in the company of the others so the younger sorcerer was desperate for him by the time they were alone. It was always easy to find each other, their magics drew them instinctively together.
It was the joining of their magics that left Mordred breathless.
They were one when their magics mingled. He was encased in the golden light of Emrys' power, breaking down the walls of his control until he was formless, a flowing mess of magic and pleasure. Emrys was inside him in the most glorious possible way. Their souls embraced, melted into each other, making Mordred feel warm and safe and truly whole for the first time in his life.
One balmy summer evening found them in Mordred's chambers, the fire low, an intimate darkness closing around them in the fading light. They lay stretched out on the bed, exchanging lazy kisses, reveling in each other's magics.
"You told me once that you would never forgive me," Emrys whispered against Mordred's mouth.
Mordred could only smile, pleased that Emrys was talking to him, confident in their oneness. "I was a child then," he explained, "I've changed."
He brushed a piece of the older warlock's hair off his forehead. "I've learned how hard it's been for you."
"You don't know the half of it, bloody Brat," Emrys snorted, but the bite was gone from his voice. "You could yet change your mind again."
"I won't," he declared. He'd never been more sure of anything in his life. "It's made up. I love you."
"Don't ever say that again," Emrys snapped, glowering.
"I love you," Mordred laughed, leaning in for a kiss, heedless of any former inhibitions. "I love you, I love you, I love you."
"And you say you've grown up," Emrys chuckled.
"Adults can be petulant."
"You are no adult, my Brat."
"That's just it though," Mordred pushing his forehead against his lover's. "I'm yours."
Emrys' face grew dark. "Don't say that."
"It's true," Mordred insisted, stroking one hand along his face and neck as though to soothe a frightened animal. "Morgana loves me, but I don't belong to her. Just like you love Arthur even though he doesn't belong to you. He doesn't know how lucky he is. I want to belong to you."
"You don't know what you're asking," Emrys breathed, voice weak.
"I know what I want," Mordred told him firmly.
"You don't know what you're asking of me." Emrys pleaded, shying away.
"Tell me then," Mordred demanded, holding Emrys' gaze, refusing to let it go. "If I'm a child explain it to me."
Emrys looked away, eyes clouded with some distant, incomprehensible pain. "There are some things children aren't meant to know," he said at length.
"If it means that I can taste your love, real love, I'll find out," Mordred declared. "I'll return to Ismere and find the Key if I must. Then you and I will make Arthur High King together."
"You'll be the death of me first," Emrys snorted, but when Mordred brushed their lips together to beg a kiss he responded in kind. They lay there a few moments more, leisurely exploring each other's bodies.
"I am lying to keep you here," Emrys said suddenly.
Mordred glanced up from marking his inner thigh and snorted. "You lie to keep yourself here. I tell my own lies."
"Not to Arthur," Emrys insisted, frustrated. "There are people in this world who would see you out of it Mordred. They believe you the worst wickedness that exists."
"If you're not one of them I don't care," Mordred replied easily, kissing his way back up his lover's body. "Are you one of them?"
There was a pregnant silence. Everything they were, everything they could be, seemed suspended in the air between them.
"No," Emrys whispered, "and perhaps I am the weaker for it."
"Then love me," Mordred replied, "and weakness will no longer matter. With your love to sustain me I will never be wicked."
"Do you promise?" Emrys breathed, searching Mordred's eyes for something.
Mordred kissed his answer into Emrys' skin, spoke it into his mind, carved it into his soul.
On my love for you, I swear.