IT'S FINALLY DONE! *blows party blowers*
Oh my goodness. You have NO IDEA how long this took. But it is done! Finally! And now, after weeks of editing and grumbling and editing and mostly procrastinating, I can finally share the final product with you lovely readers ;) All that I ask in return is just a little feedback, because this did take forever.
All credit for the Will Grayson, Will Grayson quote goes to John Green and David Leviathan (although I think that John wrote the actual quote) and I certainly don't own Merlin.
'"NO. No no no. I don't want to screw you. I just love you. When did who you want to screw become the whole game? Since when is the person you want to screw the only person you get to love? It's so stupid, Tiny! I mean, Jesus, who even gives a f**k about sex?! People act like it's the most important thing humans do, but come on. How can our sentient f**king lives revolve around something slugs can do. I mean, who you want to screw and whether you screw them? Those are important questions, I guess. But they're not that important. You know what's important? Who would you die for? Who do you wake up at five forty-five in the morning for even though you don't even know why he needs you? Whose drunken nose would you pick?!"'
-Upper Case Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Will Grayson (By John Green and David Leviathan)
The realization had come to him, without prompt or reason, on a perfectly non-apocalyptic day. He had been lying in some hostile-Lord's dungeon, bruised and bloody, trying to come up with a plan and listening to his men groan in their unconscious and beaten state when something finally clicked. Arthur had an epiphany, beautiful and shining, one that would change his life forever. Then Merlin had blown the door down.
One of the reasons is that Merlin is not there. Had the situation been less dire, Arthur is sure that he would have laughed at the expression on his manservant's face. He can only assume that the man would be furious that Arthur had taken some knights on a patrol, and left him behind in Camelot. It wasn't exactly Arthur's fault—he had given the servant a day off, given his participation in recent events involving the salvation of Camelot, the man certainly deserved it—but Arthur doubts that Merlin would see it that way. He is probably raging to Gaius right now, using long, angry, complicated sentences with plenty of 'prat's and 'clotpole's, although if Arthur knows Merlin at all, the stubborn dunce is coming after them at this very moment. Arthur doubts that he himself has much to worry about—just as often as he stumbles into traps, he seems to miraculously free himself of them—but that doesn't stop him from desperately praying that his idiot manservant isn't pursuing them.
He prays for this, blood dripping down his forehead, and he realizes something.
He loves Merlin. It seems strange to think, to understand, but even as he thinks of this, Arthur knows that it is true. This bumbling, strangely wise, stubbornly loyal servant—he has somehow wriggled his way into Arthur's heart, changing the prince and now king in the process, and Arthur loves him, more than anything. He loves Gwen too; indeed, there is a strength that only she can give him, a strength that comes from being safe in her arms, from the warmth of her lips on his, from her unwavering love. He loves Gwen with a passion so deep, so bright, that it shines over all of Camelot, and the people rejoice in their happiness.
But he loves Merlin also, he realizes, he loves him so dearly, with a burning, brotherly love that transcends even his own understanding. For indeed, Merlin himself is a mystery. The man is an enigma—embarrassingly foolish one moment, impossibly wise the next. It gives Arthur a headache. And yet... he is so grateful, for everything Merlin has ever done for him, and Arthur can just see his father's face sneering at this and for once in his life, he doesn't care. Merlin has given everything for him, he can see this now, and he can see it every time he calls the servant a coward, every time he teases the man he has come to regard as a brother, every time he ruffles Merlin's hair, to yelps of pain and protest. And, behind the indignation in those bright blue eyes, Merlin can see it too, for there is a fondness in every 'prat', and a warmth in every gesture that Arthur is not sure he has ever, or will ever deserve. He does not deserve that unwavering loyalty, does not deserve the sacrifices, does not deserve the tears that only come out when Merlin is sure that Arthur is not looking. But Arthur gets them anyway, and he knows that he will always have them, so even if Merlin were to pronounce his existence as the greatest sorcerer in all of Camelot, Arthur is sure that it would not make a shred of difference to him.
So when Arthur looks into Merlin's eyes, now fading from gold to blue, noting a trickle of blood running down his forehead and dead guards in his wake, and sees the horror and fear there, Arthur does something so insane, so wholly unexpected, that even Merlin blinks in astonishment.
I can't stress how much a response would mean to me. This is the best Merlin fanfiction that I've ever written. Please review!