The guest reviewer guessed my idea for the second chapter. Congratulations, Guest! Thanks to all who added this story to their favourites and alerts list, and thanks especially to those who left a review. It's inspired me to write this chapter. By the way, the song that I have Arthur playing in this is Scarborough Fair by Claude Debussy. I can't explain the magnificence of just the song, much less the magnificence of it while Arthur's playing it, so please do listen to it. Here's the title of it on YouTube.Relaxing Piano Music Consort - Scarborough Fair
Disclaimer: Guess what? I don't have any rights whatsoever to Scarborough Fair or Merlin. Or Arthur...or Gwaine or Lancelot.)':
Words Count: 1,533
It had been nearly two weeks since the night that Merlin had encountered Arthur and learnt of his secret passion. Since then, Merlin gone inside the music room every night and hid behind the window drapes, waiting for Arthur to come in. He never did though, leaving Merlin bitterly disappointed every time. This night though, Merlin felt sure that Arthur would come in. It had been a particularly trying day, and it made sense that Arthur would play to relieve himself of the stress that weighed down heavily upon him.
In fact, Merlin was on his way to the music room right then to await the hopefully coming Arthur. He had become too caught up in his thinking though, and passed it by a few corridors. He silently cursed when he realized his mistake and backtracked until the hall where the music room was was just around the corner. He was about to turn around that corner when he stopped abruptly at the sound of footsteps. He peeked forward cautiously and saw Arthur opening the doors the music room. Merlin couldn't suppress the grin that spread across his face when he saw that he was right.
Thankfully, Arthur had left the doors open again, so Merlin stood next to them and then slid down against the wall while adjusting his head so that he could see Arthur and the piano through the large cracks of the even larger doors. When the music started playing it spread an even better feeling through Merlin than it had the night before that was impossible to describe in full accuracy. It made his entire body feel numb and heavy, like his soul was being disconnected from it and floating about in the air with the echoes of the almost, almost, haunting tune.
Merlin watched Arthur dance his fingers around the piano in what could be called nothing less than awe and admiration. Not a whole two minutes had passed when Merlin leaned closer to the door in an attempt to see Arthur more clearly, but in doing so pushed the door causing it to creak loudly. Merlin froze in sheer panic and dread at the thought of being discovered as Arthur's flowing music abruptly came to a stop.
"Who's there?" Arthur called.
Merlin slowly stood up and started to walk away as quickly as could while still being silent, but somehow slipped and fell backwards, pushing the door closed even further along the way. At this point Arthur had stood up and was walking towards the commotion. Merlin hurriedly stood up again and made a move to dart away, but as he started to jolt off a strong hand firmly grasped the back of his shirt. It appears that Arthur was closer than he thought.
"What are you doing here?" Arthur inquired, still holding tightly onto Merlin's shirt and standing closely behind him.
"I was...I just...I," Merlin's mind was completely blank of a suitable excuse.
Arthur let go of Merlin's shirt with an exasperated sigh. "We should both get to bed. Tomorrow's a busy day." He turned and started to walk away.
"No, wait!" Merlin turned quickly and grabbed Arthur's arm before he had the chance to walk away completely.
"What are you doing?" Arthur asked while looking between Merlin's hold on his arm and his friend that was standing before him.
"Please keep playing."
Arthur gazed at Merlin, looking honestly perplexed and baffled at Merlin's statement, as if he didn't even begin to comprehend the power that his music held over its listeners.
"Please." Merlin repeated. He didn't know why it was so important to him, but he couldn't bear the thought of just ending the night there after such a brief experience of wonder and bliss.
"Go to bed, Merlin." Arthur said while removing Merlin's hand from his forearm. He turned to walk away again, but stopped again when Merlin spoke.
"Why won't you stay?"
Arthur stopped walking but didn't turn around. "You wouldn't understand."
Arthur was really starting to get agitated by his persistence. "It's stupid. You don't want to know." He replied with a wave of his hand.
"Yes, I do." Merlin said while walking towards him.
Arthur turned fully around and studied Merlin carefully, as if he was something truly mysterious and incomprehensible from a completely other world. He walked closer to him until they were just barely apart and after a few seconds hesitation, Arthur began his explanation. "People say that my mother used to play the piano beautifully. I first heard this when I was just a boy, and I secretly taught myself to play soon afterwards. I felt...I felt like when I played, she could hear me. I used to imagine her somewhere else, someplace nice, playing along with me." Arthur broke eye contact with Merlin and smiled as his face and entire demeanor seemed to soften with those memories. He broke away from his reverie after a few seconds and looked back to Merlin. "I've never shown or told anyone of this before."
Merlin looked at Arthur in astonishment and a new sense of understanding as tears began to prickle and sting his eyes. So his music was a way of communication after all. That's why it was so heartfelt, so true and pure. It was a language he used to speak with his mother.
"I told you it was stupid." Excused Arthur as he looked down in embarrassment and started to walk away again.
"No, it's not." Merlin said as a single tear silently slid down his cheek. "It's beautiful." He said with a slight laugh. There was a new bond between Merlin and Arthur now. They had something very large in common. Arthur's music was the equivalent of Merlin's magic. Both powerful and soft, both beautiful and terrifying, both sad and happy, both haunting and comforting. Merlin and Arthur really weren't as different as they had thought. They both had important pieces of themselves locked away deep inside in secret.
Arthur turned around once more and looked to Merlin, a few tears also cascading down his pale cheeks. "You really think so?"
Merlin nodded. "Yes." Arthur smiled ever so softly and again closed the distance between himself and his servant. He held is arm out to him and Merlin took it, shaking it for a second before they broke the connection.
"Come on, then." Arthur said while sniffing and walking back towards the music room.
"Where are we going?" Merlin said while following.
"You said you wanted to hear me play."
"Well yes, but you've never played for anyone but your mother before."
"I can't think of anyone who I would rather show this to." He said while looking back at Merlin with a smile of pure fondness. Merlin replied with an equally fond smile as they walked into the music room. Arthur seated himself on the bench that was placed in front of the piano and Merlin stood behind him. Arthur began the song that he had started before Merlin had interrupted it, but this time, there was a difference. It was even more passionate than before, which seems nigh impossible. But nonetheless, there was a new fire in it that definitely wasn't there before. It was because Arthur had confided in someone. He had shared his deepest secret and learnt to open up. He knew now even more than he had before, that Merlin would always be there for him, no matter what. It was moments like these that they shared that proved that to him. Their relationship was unbreakable.
Once the song had ended they stayed in silence together for a few minutes.
"Thank you." Arthur said.
"For what? I didn't do anything."
Arthur laughed quietly at this. "You've done so much. Not just now by helping me to let go and share those memories of my mother. By being there for me every time I've needed you for the past eight years. By never changing and always being so unpredictable. Thank you."
Merlin stood there in silence as more tears cascaded from his eyes. He was well past the stage of shock. Now there was nothing left but affection. After composing himself and drying his tears, he grinned. "You could return the favour, you know."
Arthur chuckled softly and turned around to look at Merlin. "I'm not going to suffer through George just so you can spend a whole day in the tavern. Not that your job seems to stop you from doing that anyway."
Merlin smiled. "No, not that." He walked over and sat on the bench next to Arthur. "Teach me."
"Teach me how to play."
"Are you sure you brain is capable of learning anything?" Arthur joked as he knocked his knuckles against Merlin's head.
"I'm serious, Arthur."
The two stared at each other for a short while before Arthur stood up and walked directly behind Merlin. Merlin centered himself on the bench and let his hands be picked up by Arthur's. Arthur was leaning forward holding Merlin's hands with his arms stretched out on either side of him. He placed Merlin's hands on the keyboard and began teaching him the basic notes.
I hope you enjoyed the last chapter! Thanks for sticking with me through the duration of this short story.