Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, (Uther)
Summary: Merlin follows Arthur as he slams out of Uther's office and takes off at a run.
Word Count: 500
Author's Notes: This is one of the first things I wrote, shortly after finishing the series a couple of years ago. It seemed to fit this topic. It's very near and dear to my heart, and I really hope you like it! Thanks to Emrys_MK for helping me to fine tune this!
Merlin had been chatting with Arthur's assistant when he heard a door crash shut. He looked towards the massive, ostentatious doors into Uther Pendragon's office suite and caught sight of Arthur's face as he dashed from his father's office. Merlin called to him, but Arthur didn't stop. Merlin ran after him, cursing under his breath as the lift doors closed behind Arthur. He jabbed at the call button a few times and then headed for the stairwell. He ran down the stairs at full tilt, and looked wildly around the lobby, unsure of which of the two main entrances Arthur might have chosen.
"Adam, did you see Arthur Pendragon leave the building? I'm trying to catch up with him, but I'm not sure which way he went!" The security guard indicated the doors facing the park, and Merlin took off, shouting his thanks over his shoulder.
He fared no better spotting Arthur outside, and for a few moments he stood bewildered, unsure which way to turn. He pulled out his mobile and dialed Arthur, but, as he expected, the call went to voicemail. "Arthur, call me back. NOW! I'm looking all over for you, and I'm worried sick."
On a hunch, Merlin crossed over to the park, scanning the area, and headed towards a small copse of trees Arthur had shown him some months earlier.
It was hard to find privacy in a city park, but Merlin knew that as a boy, Arthur had spent many lonely weekends wandering the park while Uther worked. Arthur would play with other children until they were dragged home by their parents or nannies, and he was left alone to his own devices. When the park closed at dark, Arthur would head back to ghost around Uther’s office until Uther was ready to head home. Sometimes he thought that if he had a mum to belong to, who would sit in the park and watch him play and drag him home for supper, he’d never ever beg for even one extra minute.
Some months ago, as they walked together across the park, Arthur had become nostalgic and showed Merlin a small space—a little swath of woods between a brick wall and the back of a row of unobtrusive utility sheds where the park housed maintenance equipment. Merlin made his way past the deserted sheds, and through a small thicket. Suddenly he was in the quiet, magical place Arthur had shown him. A grove of tall pines towered overhead filtering the late afternoon sun. Merlin’s footsteps were muted by the thick covering of pine needles beneath his feet. He heard Arthur before he saw him. The nearly, but not-quite-silent, choking, heartbreaking sobs came from behind a nearby tree. Arthur sat on the ground, his head rested on the bent knees he hugged to his chest. Merlin approached quietly, whispered Arthur's name softly, and slid to the ground next to Arthur, placing his arm around his shoulders.
"Arthur. I'm here, Arthur. I'm here for you. Always." he murmured.