Title: Time to settle in
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Merlin looks good in his new clothes.
Word Count: 753
Prompt: #13 Time
The series so far:
“Threshold” (#9 Tears)
“In Ruin” (#10 Tangled)
“Out of darkness into light” (#11 Temptation)
“Together through the coming storm” (#12 Tease)
It takes time to integrate the new laws, but time is something they have plenty of, because once the word spreads that Camelot is protected by the most powerful sorcerer in all of Albion, the neighbouring countries all become remarkably peaceable, the vengeful witches who used to visit twice a week stay at home instead, and even the magical beasts seem to think better of attacking people.
In the streets of Camelot, magic crawls out of the woodwork, squints in the unfamiliar sunlight and stretches its wings tentatively. Camelot’s law enforcement waits with bated breath for the first explosion, the eruption of chaos that must surely come, but days pass, and then weeks, without anything unmanageable or overly horrendous happening. Finally, Arthur begins to realise that all his laws cannot do half as much to govern the people, as can Merlin’s eyes swirling with gold because he’s making the roof of old Hubbard’s house patch itself up.
Arthur orders new clothes to be made for Merlin, clothes that will better suit his new position, and Merlin looks striking in dark blue, though his delighted grin is as ridiculous as ever, and having his thin, pale neck bared makes his ears stick out even more than usual. Slowly, Merlin changes. His back is straighter as he crosses the courtyard, he speaks with greater confidence knowing that his voice and opinion have value now, and he throws himself enthusiastically into his new job, running all over the city to help and teach and awe the citizens of Camelot.
Arthur misses him fiercely. His new manservant is competent to a fault, but does nothing to alleviate the emptiness of Arthur’s chambers. While Merlin becomes who he was supposed to be all along, Arthur feels himself fade away. Excalibur hangs in the armoury, untouched since Arthur realised his acquisition of her was based on a lie: Merlin’s talent, not Arthur’s. The needs of his people keep him focused, but every now and then the hurt digs its claws into his chest and he goes to the armoury to simply look, take in the magnificent sword and ache because he is not fit to wield her. She weeps for his touch, and he turns his back and walks away numb.
The moment when he saw the future stretching out before him full of love and greatness is gone. But he does not regret his decision.
More than a month after the ban on magic was lifted in Camelot, Arthur is disturbed in his chambers. He jumps as the door flies open and hits the wall so hard the hinges almost break.
Arthur would be intimidated, but he’s mostly turned on. Merlin makes for a surprisingly stunning menacing warlock. Arthur doesn’t get up from his chair, because he doesn’t trust his knees to support him.
“Something the matter, Merlin?” he asks as carelessly as he’s currently able.
Merlin stomps over to the table, slamming the door shut behind him with a wave of his hand and not so much as a glance over. It sends shivers down Arthur’s spine.
“You’re getting married?” Merlin asks furiously.
Arthur swallows. It had been a spur-of-the-moment decision, made only yesterday. He needs an heir, and will need a queen to give him one. There is no reason not to start looking for her in earnest. And ... and whatever he had thought was in Merlin’s heart the night the man knelt before Arthur has not manifested, so there is nothing to hold out for.
“Yes, Merlin,” he says simply. “I am.”
Merlin’s jaw clenches. He lifts a hand, and suddenly Arthur is pinned to the back of the chair.
Arthur is nervous now. “Merlin? Remember those laws I passed? You know, the ones you are currently violating?”
“Shut up, Sire,” Merlin answers, and comes around the table. He looks darkly down at Arthur for a moment before climbing onto the King’s lap.
Arthur finds himself in sudden dire need of a distraction, lest his body decides to rise to the not-actually-happening occasion. Although, Arthur can’t imagine what else Merlin thinks he’s doing. “You still haven’t told me what your problem is.”
“I said shut up,” Merlin says tightly, takes Arthur’s head in his hands and kisses him.
In a moment, Arthur is free from the spell and can wrap his arms around Merlin’s slender waist to pull him closer.
Merlin gets his way, as Arthur does not speak again for some time, and when he finally does, it’s barely even coherent.