Summary: A look at Merlin’s life through his prayers every year during Yuletide.
Word Count: 1210
Author's Notes: Happy Holidays, dreammaidenn! Hope you like it. Thank you modly mods for holding my hand during this thing and my beta for the superswift job.
Disclaimer:Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
The first time Merlin remembered having requested something for Christmas, he was 6 years old. His friend Will had told him about how Santa grants wishes to children and, even though they never had a tree or did traditional Christmas things at their home that the other kids seemed used to, he was willing to try asking Santa to bring Daddy back. It didn’t work for him. Not that year, not the next three until he gave up and declared it a stupid figment of people’s imaginations.
By then of course, he was more knowledgeable and he learnt that his family were Wiccan, and maybe he should have been praying to the Horned God instead of Santa. He tried that for the next two years. His father did not come back even after that, but for his third Yuletide prayer, he forgot to wish his father back.
He had been so mad at that boy at school, Arthur Pendragon. Merlin and his mother had just moved into the tiny town of Camelot with his Uncle Gaius. It had been his first day at school. And not only had Pendragon bumped into him and caused him to trip over and fall, he had then proceeded to point and laugh loudly at Merlin who was flat on his bottom on the floor, causing other people to stop and laugh at him too. That year, he had wanted to pray that Pendragon turns into a ferret in front of the whole school, but he didn’t want to do that out loud in front of his mother so he settled for wishing for Pendragon to not make any more fun of him.
A memorable schoolyard fight against the bully Valiant later, Merlin liked to think that the prayer worked for him that year. Over the course of the next couple of years, Arthur and he became what Gwen liked to call “frenemies”. They bickered over everything amongst themselves, but always had each other’s back against anybody else. The year after that, Merlin included Arthur into his Yule prayers as well. It was something small, almost like an afterthought, but he did.
The next few years though, Arthur featured heavily in his Yule prayers. At first it was about Arthur’s feud with his father. Arthur had come out to his father and had promptly been tossed out on his butt in the cold. After that Arthur had turned up on Merlin’s doorstep, around dinner time, looking lost and very unlike his usual self. Hunith had taken him in immediately, and included him warmly into all of their Yuletide traditions until his half-sister Morgana had arrived a few days later to pick him up.
The following year, it turned into pleas to make Merlin to stop having inappropriate feelings for his best friend. That became an appeal for Arthur to return said inappropriate feelings. Merlin had had one serious girlfriend in his life until then, and even though Freya and he had enjoyed some good times, his feelings for Arthur were much, much stronger. He had not even known that his feelings were romantic until he saw Arthur making out with Gwaine at Morgana’s Christmas party. He had felt a rage and sadness he couldn’t understand when he walked in on them in the bathroom, and he had walked blindly out of the house, not heeding Arthur, Gwaine or any of their friends. He had walked around in the cold for an hour before he calmed down enough to go home.
When he got home, Arthur had been waiting at his doorstep, looking worried. And Merlin couldn’t help but pray that it was because Arthur cared about him in the same way that he cared about Arthur.
The next two years though, Merlin only had thoughts for one person in his prayers – his mother. Hunith’s health had been failing her and just before Yule she got so sick, she could not even gather enough strength to cook anything else for Yule apart from Merlin’s favorite pie. Merlin had just got his first job in London, and he and Arthur had rented an apartment together. He had been happy that year until he got home and saw his mother struggling with the simplest of daily chores. He spent all holiday season with her that year, helping wherever he could and entertaining his mother with tales from his job and from his and Arthur’s adventures in London. But although Hunith seemed cheered to have Merlin with her again, they both knew that it was the beginning of the end.
The following year, Hunith passed away a week before Yule. Merlin had been inconsolable and he had no memory of how he got through Yule that year. All he had been capable of was following Arthur or Uncle Gaius, whoever it had been to take his hand and lead him. At the end of the week, the only thought that cheered him a bit was that his mother was probably with his father again, and he sent up a prayer for them.
At his next Yule, he was finally together with Arthur. Arthur had been so sweet to him since his mother’s passing, talking about everything Hunith had done for Arthur since his father had disowned him, and taking care of Merlin when he was too depressed to do so on his own. One night they had been sitting in front of the fire, not doing anything, not even talking, just sharing body heat. It had been so natural for Merlin then to lean over and kiss his best friend, and just as natural for Arthur to return it. The talking had come later, because Arthur couldn’t let anything go without analyzing it down to bits, but for that night, they had just sat together in utter tranquility wrapped in blankets and each other, occasionally sharing lazy kisses.
Yule since then has changed for Merlin. Gaius takes care of most of the traditions now, and Merlin also doesn’t have too many demands anymore. His prayers have morphed into generic ones, he asks only for good health and prosperity for all his loved ones. The only thing that has changed over the years is the length of his list of loved ones, which keeps increasing every year. The first year it had just been Uncle Gaius and Arthur. The next year there had been Morgana as well. Then it was Morgana’s sister Morgause and her husband and daughter. Uther realized how much Merlin meant to Arthur and grudgingly welcomed himself back into their life. The year after that they adopted Aithusa, and everybody else suddenly turned into afterthought for Merlin.
These days Aithusa leads their Yule traditions. They visit Hunith’s grave every year in the mornings. Then along with uncle Gaius, they cook a big meal. They burn the Yule log and give thanks to the Gods together as a family. Merlin listens to Aithusa praying about some boy in her class to stop picking on her, and he shares a secret smile with Arthur. Merlin prays for the well-being of their loved ones, and also for whatever Aithusa had prayed for.
And later, after Aithusa has gone to bed, Merlin and Arthur follow some traditions of their own.