When they arrived in Camelot, the place was bursting with bright colour. Everything looked, and felt, so different. He still carried the self-inflicted scars on his wrists, but he also carried the scar in his chest, where the shard of stone had taken his life, but not ended it. He carried the scars on his arms proudly, now, because they reminded him of what he had overcame, what he had lived through. They were strength to keep going, even when he had been at his weakest.
And Arthur, his High King Arthur, held his head high as they rode into Camelot. The people cheered, the knights abandoned their horses to run towards their loved ones. Arthur and Merlin abandoned theirs too, as Merlin was embraced by both Hunith and Gaius at once, Hunith kissing her son's cheeks before she was embracing Arthur too, kissing his cheeks and looking relieved, her boys returning well and whole from the war.
Guinevere was in Lancelot's arms, Morgana was hugging Hunith too. Merlin stayed with his arm around Gaius, Gaius' arm around him, beaming at the lot of them. So much had changed, Merlin had changed. All around him, the world was filled with energy. Each person was a bright spot in his mind, each tree and leaf and insect vibrated with life.
He reached out to Arthur, then, and sank into his arms. He never had a chance to properly hug him, they had journeyed home quickly, Merlin had still been recovering, half asleep through most of it. Something about Camelot, about returning home had sparked something in him, spurred on the healing process. He felt like himself again.
Arthur was warm, he smelled like sweat and dirt and horses and he clung to him so tightly, for just a moment, before he pulled away and stared into his king's face. His high king, his Arthur, so when Arthur kissed him he couldn't help but laugh and place his hands on Arthur's cheeks, pulling him in and keeping him there.