Disclaimer: Not mine, boo sob, otherwise the reveal would have been 800 years ago by now.
A/N: Hey everyone! Another reveal fic from yours truly, got very sidetracked during some uni reading and a while later, I produced this baby. . . woopsie. Hope you like it, please review if you have a mo. it means a lot, and I always love to hear people's opinions on the show too. :P (This fic can be read as A/M- I just try and keep them fairly in character!)
As If Everything
"Everything here. . . is so full of life. Every tree, every leaf, every insect. It's as if the world is. . . vibrating. As if everything is much more than itself."
Arthur watched him, hands clasped. Almost not believing the words coming out of his friend's mouth. This Merlin confused him, entirely unfathomable, the one so impossibly far from his ordinary self: "You feel all that?"
Merlin's face was half bathed in the firelight, "Don't you?"
Arthur raised his eyebrows, shaking his head although his eyes were light. Merlin smiled, but it quickly fell from his face. He looked worried; as if he'd said too much.
The manservant stalked back to his spot, the King propping himself up further.
The fire crackled in the depth of the green, Arthur staring at his hands until Merlin spoke, "What will you do?"
Arthur shifted, uneasy, "I don't know. . . My heart says do anything I can to save Mordred. But I've seen. . . what misery unfettered sorcery brings. Before my father outlawed magic, Camelot was almost destroyed by socery. In my own time Morgana's used it for nothing but evil. . . What would you do. . . in my place?"
Arthur nodded towards him, and Merlin nearly flinched. He was tetchy, quaking.
"Me? I'm just a lackey. . . maker of beds."
"Lackeys can be wise."
Merlin's half hearted shake made Arthur pull a face, "It's not like you to be silent."
"The Kingdom's future is at stake." Merlin said quietly.
"And a man's life."
"You must protect Camelot and you must protect the world you've spent your life building. A just and fair kingdom for all." His voice was harder, housed in stone.
Arthur nearly grimaced, "You'd have me sacrifice a friend."
The King watched as Merlin's eyes darted restlessly, a muscle jumping in his jaw as he avoided the question, "I would have you become the King you're destined to be."
Arthur leant forward abruptly, "If I do save Mordred, all my father's work will be for nothing; sorcery will reign once more in Camelot. Is that what you'd want?"
Merlin's spindly shoulder rose and fell in juddery shakes. His heart rattling in his rib cage.
"Perhaps my father was wrong, perhaps the old ways aren't as evil as we thought."
The younger man bit down on his lip, his eyes clouding as he tried to suppress his tears- the secrets bursting at the seams.
"So what should we do? Accept magic. . . or let Mordred die?"
Merlin sighed, shaking his head stiffly, the panic playing on his lips and tears forming in his eyes. Arthur squinted at him, processing the battle that was displayed on the other man's face.
"There can be no place for magic in Camelot."
Arthur stared at him, and the seconds thumped past as Merlin's whole expression nearly crumbled.
Merlin visibly quaked in front of him, as if trying to stop something burst free.
"I. . . I. . ." He paused, a tear balancing, and he met Arthur's eyes with such a pained expression the King felt as if someone had thrown a rock at his stomach, "I don't know what you want me to say."
His gaze was unswerving, the fire cracking like a whip, he spoke firmly,
"Tell me what you're thinking right now."
Merlin's lips were parted, a jolty breath leaving them; his eyes slid shut briefly. He sat there for a beat, as if trying to remember the moment.
His voice was so quiet when he finally spoke that the King wondered if he'd imagined it.
"I want to be free."
Arthur's brow crinkled in confusion, his brain processing the line piece by piece; the pieces of his friend in front of him. Merlin's tear-filled eyes slowly opened and met his own; a sorrow in them taking Arthur aback. . . but then he saw it. . . the gold glistening beneath their surfaces, so raw, so unbridled.
Arthur's eyes dawned in realisation, all air escaping his body.
"Please don't send me away. . ."
Arthur's head barely shook in disbelief, trying to imagine how it had taken him so long draw the dots together. His mouth turned to dust, a fear slowly creeping up inside of him that would normally have him reaching for his sword. But this was Merlin. Merlin.
"Please. I'm sorry. . ." Bony fingers were gripping at his worn trousers, his legs drawn up around him. He looked like a child, desperate and alone, "Please don't send me away, please. . . I have to to protect you."
Arthur's eyes were fixed on him, unblinking as if he would disappear like some distorted figment. That it wasn't real. That he wasn't real.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Arthur's voice nearly breaking, his eyes glimmering from the embers.
"I wanted to. . ." Merlin whispered, strangled by emotion, "You have to believe that I wanted to so badly. . . to show you the gifts I was born with. . . there are so many things I wanted you to know. . . wanted to share with you. . ."
Arthur stood up abruptly, breaking Merlin's words in two, his face was hard, stoic. He turned and started walking away; Merlin scrambled up after him, "Arthur. . . Arthur. . ."
The King didn't turn back, accusation hanging in the air as Merlin struggled to follow him; he was shutting down.
"Arthur please just listen to me-"
The King didn't even look back, striding through the trees, his tone cast in steel, "Give me one good reason why I should believe anything you say."
"It's still me, Arthur. It's still me. Merlin, clotpole, your friend-"
"You lied to me." Arthur shoved a low branch out of the way, Merlin barely missing it fling back towards him.
"I've only ever used magic to help you, Arthur-" Merlin's words were disjointed, gasping.
"You betrayed me."
Merlin swiped a tear from his cheek, "I thought it was for the best, ok?! Maybe I should have told you, but I was a fool. I thought everything we'd built would be destroyed in one swoop."
The King swung round suddenly, Merlin barely having time to stop a few steps from him, the manservant's wet eyes widened when he saw the same mirrored in his friend's. The King's voice was dangerously low despite the heartbreak in his eyes, "And you believed me capable of that? Believe that I'd dismiss you without one reference to the past ten years?"
"No. . . no-"
"Then WHY?!" Arthur shouted, the violent echo setting off a beat of wings.
Merlin's throat bobbed, his eyes settling on a patch of grass, a hoarse whisper drawn from his throat, "Sometimes I have so little faith in myself. . . that I reflect it onto you too. I think about. . . destiny, the trouble and pain to come and I think that it's. . . all so wrong, so unfair."
Merlin paused for a second as he raised his head, and Arthur held his gaze, blue on blue in the vast emerald forest.
"I keep thinking that I'm not ready for what we're meant to face, and I paint you with that brush too. . . although you've grown so much more than I have."
Arthur sighed, running a hand through his grubby blonde hair. He looked forlorn, exhausted.
"I don't care about destiny or whatever, Merlin." Arthur said softly, "I just want to know that. . . here and now, we're honest and true. If we don't have that, we don't have anything."
Arthur stood still for a moment, blinking his red rimmed eyes, his facade cracking more aggressively with every moment that passed.
Merlin visibly winced as he shifted on his feet, their eyes locked. The dark haired man understood him wholly, and it shook him to the core.
It wasn't about the magic. It was about the heart.
"I trusted you."
Merlin gulped back the next wave of tears, sniffing, "I know. I'm sorry."
Arthur started to move again, slowly back towards their camp.
Merlin trailed behind him, feeling as if he'd been physically beaten.
Arthur couldn't sleep, the heavy silence of the forest making him feel as if he were being judged. He was sat, slouched up against a rock as he listened to his own breathing. He could see Merlin's eyebrows knitted tightly together, lips moving wordlessly, wound up and drowning in some sleep state.
He looked like a child in the throws of a nightmare. Maybe this was what it all was, some trick fabricated by the Disir.
He wondered how, this clumsy mess of a servant had become such an intrinsic part of his life. It was ironic, really, that he would become best friends with a sorceror. The perfect bitter laugh directed at his father, he thought. The man would be dizzy from turning in his grave.
Arthur recalled his words. . . to show you the gifts I was born with. . . . I have to to protect you. . . all those times Arthur had spat on magic, declaring it evil. It was akin to kicking a small animal and tossing it by Merlin's feet. How had he not been driven away?
But all that stuff about destiny, the king he was meant to be- it made his head hurt. Knowing too much of your future would be enough to drive anyone mad. Since when had Merlin been the one to author his life?
Arthur's eyes wandered into the darkness, and he felt consumed by it. The impenetrable mass surrounding the two young men like a cloak; the final ashes of their flames like fallen fireflies.
He hated this vulnerability. Tried to battle against the weakness. But right now all he could think of was his unrequited trust.
Merlin stirred in his sleep again, murmuring in discontent. It stung when Arthur realised quite how much he wanted to wake him, give him a second chance at a decent night's sleep. He could never send him away. It was Merlin and Arthur, Arthur and Merlin- they came as a pair. He just hadn't struck their balance right.
Arthur quietly pulled his mat towards the wilted fire, lying down and pretending to sleep. He nudged Merlin with his foot, who he felt jolt awake with a sharp intake of breath. Arthur heard him scuffle back down and accept sleep again.
Merlin woke up to find Arthur already awake, stood by the ashy remnants of the fire, arms folded as he stared out into the clearing.
"Pack up, we're going to the Disir within the hour."
The King started to walk off before he could even finish, and Merlin felt another piece of himself chip away. The manservant shoved himself to his feet, determined, reaching out and touching Arthur's arm as gently as he could.
The blonde haired man turned and shrugged him off, but his expression was half-hearted, as if he didn't actually have it in him to hurt him, to fight him.
"Arthur. . ."
"What Merlin?" Arthur said.
Arthur sighed, his eyes still tinged with melancholy, "Is that it?"
Merlin shook his head, biting his lip anxiously.
"I want you to feel it. . . To feel what I feel."
"The trees. . . the leaves. . . the insects. . . the world vibrating."
Arthur's eyes glittered with fear; a breach into the unknown. All in the form of this one man. This one ridiculous, bumbling boy.
Merlin's lips flickered, his eyes brightening, "With magic."
The King breathed out slowly, his eyes fixed to the hopeful expression on Merlin's face- his fingers itching by his side.
He barely nodded, his eyebrows furrowing as he braced himself for something he had no idea of.
"Close your eyes."
Merlin held his gaze, the brilliant blue begging him to trust him. Arthur gruffed a sigh out.
He felt Merlin steadily press a hand to his chest, and he stiffened for second, Merlin's voice wrapping around the enchantment like a wisp of smoke slithering through the air. It was deeper, huskier. . . historic. As if his soul had lived a hundred lives already.
The words danced around him, as if swirling with something intangible in the air. Connecting and breathing with the world. . . like two old friends reunited after decades apart.
Arthur felt as if his whole being was being hypnotised, a heavy warmth pulsating from Merlin's hand like a ray from the sun. The hairs on his body bristled, his muscles tingled, seeping through his veins until he felt as if his soul had sighed.
He felt the slender hand move away, the heavy weight of his power gone with him.
"Open your eyes."
He felt impossibly light, taking a deep breath as he slowly opened himself to the world.
Arthur's heart caught in his throat, his eyes glittering as he tried to absorb what he saw.
Everything was so impossibly green. So vibrant and utterly alive that it almost glowed. The air glittered brightly, as if tiny drops of sunshine were floating like golden snowflakes. Every creature, every spirit whispered to the other and he knew something deep inside him whispered back. It felt as if the world turned towards him, smiling softly, the pale wind whisking round his chest like a fleeting embrace . He was enraptured by it, as if he were part of it himself.
He moved slowly across the forest floor, treading only onto the tender earth, a flurry of butterflies flitting their wings free of the morning dew. Flowers at his feet opened up as the sun slowly leaked across the ground, the lustrous sun breaking through the canopy.
Arthur stopped still in front of an oak tree, drawn to it, the surface worn and gnarled as he closed his eyes and slowly placed his palm on the trunk of a tree. It felt like it was humming contently to itself. . . vibrating.
He felt Merlin's presence at his side, his magic beating like a heart. He unfolded his hand next to his own.
Emrys. . . It is you, Emrys.
I am here. . . this is Arthur.
Arthur Pendragon. . . the once and future king. . .
He can feel you.
We can feel him.
Arthur felt himself breathe a smile as the heat from the sun seemed to intensify that little more.
He gently pulled his hand away, stepping back a little and opening his eyes. His gaze immediately fell to Merlin's face, his palm still touching the tree. He'd never seen his face so relaxed, so open, his lips breathing words that may not have been spoken for an age.
When the younger man finally stood back, by Arthur's side, Merlin let the world fade back around them; the sun fully breaking into day.
Merlin spoke quietly, barely daring to break the silence, "What did it feel like?"
Arthur smiled, wistful, "As if everything was becoming right again."
A/N: Thanks everyone. Hope you liked it. As I said please let me know what you thought if you have a second, muchos love. Minx x