Title: A Sacred Union.
Summary: When Arthur becomes King, he decides to re-establish an ancient ritual his father abolished more than two decades ago.
Word Count: 1000. (yay)
Prompt: #260. Artist appreciation. Harvest Festival.
Author's Notes: The art is sooooo beautiful ♥ Like WOAH. Also... drabble/fic-let writing is hard. Also, unbeta'd, so all mistakes are my own. Sorry.
Merlin is trying not to fidget. It’s not an easy feat, as three different set of hands work on dressing him up. Well, dressing is a relative term. He isn’t naked, but there isn’t a whole lot of cloth covering him- just a loincloth giving him a mere illusion of privacy.
“This necklace signifies your connection to nature Emrys, right next to your heart.” The druid lady ties a string, with leaves and berries woven together, around his neck, letting it rest against his bare chest.
“You don’t need any crown, for you were born with one. But you wear a circlet made from the harvest, to show your true heritage.” The wise old man, their village elder, whispers. There is reverence in everyone’s touch, a certain awe.
They have been waiting for this day, long denied of the ritual that used to be a tradition of the land. But things are changing now.
“And this one, above your hips…”
Merlin closes his eyes tightly, not wanting to hear yet another comment about his purity. Thankfully, someone clears their throat from outside the tent, before pulling away the flap and stepping inside.
“Can I have a few minutes alone with my son?” Hunith asks. They all nod, and finish tying the strings hurriedly before moving away.
“Look at you,” Hunith comes closer, her eyes twinkling with pride. “Beautiful.” Merlin looks down, flush rising up on his cheeks at the scrutiny. “The King won’t be able to look away.”
Merlin bites his lip, embarrassed. “Mother!”
Hunith laughs, ghosting her hand over his woven crown, then touching his antlers delicately. “My son. All grown up now. A Dragon Lord.” There’s a lilt of nostalgia in her voice. After all change- no matter how good- always implies leaving something behind.
“Ma’am. I need to paint the-” An elder starts speaking but Hunith stops him by extending her hand.
“I’ll do it.”
He hands her a bowl of blue paste, made from crushed berries, before bowing and leaving. Merlin looks away, overwhelmed, as Hunith dips her finger in the bowl and starts painting the rune. Two lines, bisecting each other: a Gebo. As children, all druids learn the true meanings of the runes. Merlin remembers.
‘Gebo’- A Gift. Fair Exchange. Sacrifice. Sacred Union.
Funny how today feels like all of those things together.
Hunith pulls him down to kiss his forehead as she murmurs, “Go Emrys. Your destiny awaits you.”
Merlin closes his eyes when he steps outside, and lets his senses expand. Magic has suffused into the air, potent enough that he can breathe it in. It’s the union of Magic and Land, and they are both singing, until every pore of Merlin’s body is alight with their joy. The druids had asked him if he resented his destiny. Merlin wants to ask them… how can someone resent this?
Impatient tendrils of his magic zero in on the King, aching to be closer. He wants to scold it, tell it to be patient, but his heart is racing, his feet moving without conscious thought. As if sensing his presence- and he must, he must, when Merlin can almost taste the unfinished bond, feel it throb - the King stands up. Merlin’s strides quicken, his impatience growing.
Will intersecting his path breaks his trance. Merlin glances at his best friend as he moves closer and whispers conspiratorially, “Don’t you think all this looks a lot like a Virgin Sacrifice to the Gods?” Merlin grinds his teeth, knowing the punchline already. Will grins, “Oh wait a minute. It is!”
Shoving him away- and pointedly ignoring his guffaws - he turns his focus back on his destiny. On Arthur. The King of Camelot.
Arthur is facing him now. Their gaze locks, and after that everything is easy. Merlin just has to let his feet carry him closer, until he is standing face to face with the King. There are red stripes on his face, the dancing firelight making him look ethereal.
“My Lord,” Merlin can’t stop staring, but he is consoled by the fact that Arthur seems just as captivated.
“Wow,” he whispers. Merlin ducks his head a little, pleased.
Someone hands him a bowl of red cherry dye, and he looks into his King’s eyes. “Last chance to back out?”
The blue eyes are warm, smiling, as Arthur shakes his head. “Do it.”
Merlin’s fingers tremble as he paints the stripes of Geko on the broad chest in front of him, reminding himself of what it means. A gift.
A sacrifice. A sacred union. When he looks back up, there’s nervousness evident on the Arthur’s face, but it is overshadowed by the hope.
Arthur nods jerkily. Merlin lets his hand crawl up into the golden hair, streaking them red.
“Repeat after me,” taking a deep breath, he reaches into his core, and let his magic speak from his lips, “ic ásæle mín sáwol æt ðu.”
His lips hover above Arthur’s, waiting. Arthur’s fingers caress his antlers, and then entangle in his hair. Hoarsely, he repeats the words of the ancient promise, re-establishing the bond his father had broken two decades ago, before pressing his lips to Merlin’s.
The magic dances. There’s no other way to describe what happens. It reaches out, twining with the essence that is Arthur, wrapping around it until it fuses with his core, and suddenly Merlin can feel two hearts beating instead of one. Arthur gasps into the kiss, and Merlin can sympathize. If Merlin feels like he will burst any moment, he cannot even imagine what perceiving magic for the first time must be like.
After a while, Merlin starts laughing, joy bubbling inside his chest. Arthur presses their foreheads together, smiling, as tears slip through their eyelashes unaware.
Behind them, the druids sing and dance around the fire, celebrating the harvest. If someone was to pay attention, they would see the flames take on distinct form of a dragon, heralding the start of a new age… of Albion.