Title: A Letter
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur, Uther/Igraine
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, the people of Camelot
Summary: A letter from child to parent, and love.
Word Count: 980
Prompt: #255 It's Quiet Uptown
Author's Notes: The first part is very early season 1 Arthur. The second part is several years later.
This story closely mirrors the structure of the song. If you were to pop open 2 windows next to each other, reading one would be like ticking off a checklist of the other. With that in mind, you may find more rhyming in this than you'd usually expect in a story that isn't written in verse.
I'm still not sure if these words will reach you.
I hope these words reach you.
I wish you were here for me to talk to; father never invited this kind of confidence. He isn't the hugging sort. I guess he probably was that way with you, although I can't imagine it. I hope you don't feel too heartbroken on my behalf over that, because we have a good enough relationship. I know he loves me.
There is something specific I want to talk to you about right now. I have some feelings I can't explain. They're making me dizzy: one moment I'm feeling giddy, and the next I feel so low I might as well be upside-down.
Here's what it's like.
I spend hours with the knights on the training field, then I walk alone through the crowds in the lower town. I actually greet the people I'm passing; I never noticed them as individuals before.
I have midday meals with Morgana at least twice a week. She tells me about her new discoveries, and I actually listen. That never used to happen before.
Sometimes I'll be talking to one of the married women of the court, and she'll briefly look at me with pity. I haven't figured out what that look is for.
Other times, I'll go for a hunt outside of the city. It's not exactly quiet in the woods, but the sounds are different. The rhythm of life is different there, and I like to adapt to it for a while.
I wonder if you felt this way in the woods. Did you ever go there? There is so much I don't know about you. There's no replacing you in my life, and I don't even know what I'm missing.
You see? One moment up, and another down.
Father assigned me a new manservant recently. He is always walking by my side instead of behind me. He's always talking when he shouldn't, too.
His duties keep him on the field during training. I suppose I'm not really alone when I walk through the town, because he has to be with me. He serves alongside Gwen at lunches with Morgana. He even doubles as a pack-mule when I go on hunts, though he interrupts the rhythm of the woods when he bangs through the trees and bushes behind me. I have wondered if he does it on purpose to alert the game to the approaching danger, but if that were true then I'd have to punish him for disobedience even more frequently than I already have to. He wouldn't be able to perform his duties if he spent all of his time in the stocks.
Actually, I often find myself glancing at him to see if he is fitting in well. He's from a small farming village, apparently, and has never been to a castle or even a large town before now. I found him staring out of a tower window the other night. He was perfectly still, but I saw the excitement in his eyes before he noticed I was there. He said he was just taking in the sights.
I couldn't think of anything to say to that. I stayed there, though, but I spent more time looking at the stars than the lights of the town.
When I went back to my room afterward, I felt silly. It wasn't exactly a down moment. More like I felt I'd wasted valuable time on something completely trivial, and anyone I know would have thought I was addled for doing so. Father's voice was in my head going through the list of everything else I could have been doing.
I don't know what to think about that. I can't remember or even imagine myself ever before feeling the urge to stop at a window to stare at the town after dark, so I don't know why I did it then.
There are a lot of new things going on inside me that never happened before, and I wish I could ask you about them and actually hear your answer.
I'd never say this to anyone, but I do hope to see a message or sign from you. It's unrealistic. It's fanciful. It's childish. I know you're gone, but you're a part of me. You will never be gone from me, so I will always feel you here even if I know that is only my imagination.
Merlin's hand shakes slightly with the effort of holding back his reaction to this letter.
"Well?" Arthur asks him. "What do you think?"
Merlin looks away from the letter and up at Arthur. His eyes are too bright. "Oh, Arthur, it's..." Merlin trails off as he searches for the right word.
"It's what?" Arthur prompts. His arms are crossed as if to ward off a harsh judgment.
Merlin notices. He slowly and carefully puts the letter down on Arthur's desk, then turns and flings his arms around Arthur's neck.
Arthur catches Merlin around his middle. "That wasn't when I knew," Arthur says into Merlin's hair, "but I think that's the first time I really paid attention to all the changes that were happening."
Merlin sniffles into Arthur's shoulder.
"Are you crying, Merlin?" Arthur asks incredulously. He pulls away a few inches to see Merlin's face.
"No, just have an eyelash in my eye," Merlin protests, but his voice is wobbly.
"Well, it's not exactly unexpected from you, Merlin. You always did cry at weddings. Suppose now I know why," Arthur teases.
"Shut up, prat," Merlin shoots back.
"Or what, Merlin?" Arthur says with humor in his tone.
"Or I'll leave you in a year before the handfasting solidifies into a permanent marriage," Merlin replies.
Arthur stares into Merlin's eyes. "You never would," he says.
After a long moment, Merlin replies, "No, I wouldn't. Living without you is unimaginable."