Once and Future Kings
HAS BRADLEY AGED AT ALL?! Colin went from 'aww so adorable' to ' HOLY FUCK TAKE ME NOW' but Bradley? No, he just stayed pretty much exactly the same... I'm wondering if he hadn't died at Camlan would Arthur have just not aged at all.
Both he and Merlin were born Immortal.
Gwen was the first to notice. You would expect her to, what with Arthur being her husband. Ten years had passed since the battle of Camlan where Arthur had almost died but was saved by Merlin. She was beginning to get wrinkles on her face and on her hands but Arthur... he looked as if he hadn't aged a day.
Neither did Merlin now that she thought about it but his lack of aging was more subtle. He changed his haircut to make him appear older and grew a beard but... underneath the slight changes was the same Merlin who had walked back to Camalot with Arthur by his side when Gwen had almost given up hope that Arthur would return alive.
They were together now, in Arthur's study, going through official documents and bantering like they always had but ever since the battle of Camlan... there had been a strange... how did one put it? Fondness... No, that's not right. They have always been strangely fond of each other. This seemed more like... Love.
They were always aware of each other's presence. Well... more like hyper-aware. For example, last week during the council meeting, Merlin had been late, (probably attending to some magical affair), so Arthur had started the meeting without him, claiming he would fill Merlin in later. Leon had been in the middle of an explanation of how the harvest was going when Arthur had inexplicably held up a hand to silence the man. Everyone had stared at Arthur, waiting for him so speak. For that could be the only reason why he would interrupt someone in such a manner. But Arthur paid none of them any mind. His eyes where facing a wall with a strange intensity. Just staring and then his eyes shifted to the door. Everyone watched this strange behaviour from their king and Gwen had been just about to ask her husband what the matter was when Merlin had come flying through the doors apologising for his absence the whole time it took him to get to his seat. Arthur now was leaning back against his chair with a smirk in his friend's direction and a raised eyebrow.
"Nice of you to join us," Arthur drawled as Merlin sat down in his normal seat on Arthur's right hand side.
Merlin rolled his eyes at his friend and then proceeded to ignore Arthur as he apologised once more to the entire council for his absence. Instead of being angry at being dismissed, Arthur just let out a carefree bark of laughter and clapped an arm around Merlin's shoulders.
"Well now that you're finally here... Leon, please do continue."
And the council meeting continued as planned. This was not the first time it had happened in the last ten years but it had been the most obvious well other than the weeks after Gaius' death.
The elderly physician had told her and Arthur in a private meeting that his time on this earth was almost up and then he had turned to Arthur and said "Take care of him."
It was obvious who the two were talking about as Arthur gave a solemn nod back to Gaius and promised that he would with a "You know I will"
That night Gaius had passed away in his sleep from old age. Merlin had been distraught for Gaius hadn't said anything to Merlin. He had acted exactly the same as he always had around his adoptive son, not letting anything show. Gwen suspected that it was because he knew that Merlin would try to find some way to prevent him from dying.
It had been the middle of the night after Gaius had told them of his upcoming death when Arthur had sat bolt upright and leaped out of the bed yelling, "MERLIN" in a very worried tone. Gwen could not understand what could possibly have made Arthur leap from their bed in such a matter calling Merlin's name. He had done it many times over the years, the first being the night of the battle of Camlan.
Arthur was now rushing around the room pulling on breeches and a clean shirt. Once his clothes were on Arthur frantically pulled on his boots, clasped his belt and flew out the door.
Staring wide-eyed after her husband who had all just fled her bed, Gwen clambered out of the bed at a much more sedate pace and made to get dressed herself. When she finally emerged from their chambers she saw Leon approaching her with a sad look on his face, "Gaius, the physician, is dead, milady."
"And Arthur? Where is he?" she asked.
"Perhaps you should come with me, milady?" Leon had replied.
Leon led her down to Gaius' chambers where she could hear wailing and sobbing. Of course... Merlin.
Opening the door she was greeted with a sight. The room was a wreck. The only place not damaged was a small circle around Gaius' bed where she assumed the man lay dead. Merlin was beating his fists against Arthur's chest as he sobbed, wailed and screamed things in dragonese. All the while, Arthur held his friend close and hushed him as he combed his fingers through Merlin's hair.
"Hush," Arthur whispered as he continued to pet Merlin's hair, "Be calm, Merlin. Gaius wouldn't want you to be so distraught. He died of old age. It was his time to go..."
Merlin continued to sob into Arthur's chest but he had stopped beating his fists against Arthur's chest.
"Why didn't he say anything," Merlin whispered as he looked up at Arthur with a pleading expression, "I could have done something. I could have found a ways to save him!"
It seemed as if that was the magic word for Merlin's knees suddenly had crumpled beneath him and he would have fallen to the ground had Arthur not been holding him so close. Arthur sat down on the ground and pulled and prodded Merlin until he was cradled sideways in Arthur's lap still sobbing into his chest.
Leon and Gwen had been completely ignored. Understandably but... Arthur was aware or their presence but had chosen to ignore them once his senses had deemed them as safe. He had eyes only for Merlin.
Eventually, Merlin had stopped crying and had fallen asleep, cradled against Arthur's chest.
"Leon, send for Mrs. Melbry down in the lower town. She will prepare the body for burial," said Arthur as he rose from the ground, Merlin still cradled in his arms as if he weighed nothing at all.
At Arthur's age he shouldn't have been able to pick up Merlin without any form of struggle but as she had mentioned before, it was as if neither of them aged.
Without even another glance in their direction, Arthur strode past them, through the door and up the staircase in the direction of Merlin's chambers.
When she had gone there, after Gaius' body had been tended to, she had found another piece of evidence as to the strength of their bond. For Merlin was curled up in a ball in the centre of his bed with Arthur curled protectively around him.
At her entry, Arthur's head had popped up from it's place above Merlin's head and he had glanced in her direction before blinking and putting his head back down where it had been. He then pulled Merlin closer and fell back to sleep.
If she hadn't known better she would have said Arthur's eyes had glowed the molten gold of Merlin's when he was performing magic when they had glanced briefly in his direction.
But that was impossible. Arthur didn't have magic. Merlin, yes. But Arthur?
Arthur's behaviour that evening had been strange... but also not so. In a way that she couldn't understand, this hyper-aware and protective Arthur that seemingly didn't age... seemed natural, even though she knew it wasn't.
For the next few weeks Merlin had seemed like a hollow shell of his former self and Arthur was almost constantly by his side. They went for riding trips and Arthur even went down to the archives with Merlin to help him with his research.
Everyone tiptoed around Arthur and Merlin for those weeks afraid that Arthur might bite their heads off with a snappish remark if they in any way bothered Merlin or reminded the other man of Gaius. One maid had said that she could have sworn that she had heard the King growl at her when she had gotten too close to Merlin.
It was only after Arthur had dragged Merlin off to visit Hunith that Merlin had started to smile again.
But that was no matter now. It has been twenty years since the battle of Camlan and Merlin and Arthur look as if they have not aged a day. Sure, they had both grown small beards but that only made them look slightly older. She wasn't the only one to notice their lack of aging now. Rumours were going around that Merlin had performed a spell so that the King would never die but that was preposterous.
However, it was not something she could simply ignore anymore. She was now becoming old. Yet her husband had not aged a day... She only hoped that Merlin would be around to take care of Arthur when she died as Arthur took care of Merlin when Gaius had died. Yes, it may be a long while off but one thing was for certain... Merlin and Arthur would probably be together until the end of time.
She may be Arthur's wife and she knows that Arthur loves her very much but... It has been obvious for years that he loves another just as much if not more than she. She hopes that when she is gone Merlin will continue to take care of Arthur. She hopes that one day they will be able to love one another publicly without the threat of scorn and ridicule.
But she's not worried because from the looks of it ~ They'll Have Forever Together.
A/N: I hope you all like this little Merlin ficlet. It popped into my head this morning when I saw pictures of Bradley as Arthur every season next to pictures of Merlin every season. I would love to hear what you think so I can improve my writing style etc.