Title: Of Pink Bunnies And Glass Unicorns
Character/s:Merlin, Gaius, Arthur
Summary:Someone knows about Merlin's magic and seems to be looking out for him.
Author's Notes:Thanks to Pelydryn for last minute quick beta and help with the title, and to Liafail for getting me over a hump that seemed insurmountable! Mods, so sorry for the lateness!
Of Pink Bunnies And Glass Unicorns
Merlin approached the box on his bed warily, brow wrinkled with concern. The box was unremarkable except for the vague rattlings from within. “Gaius,” he called into the adjacent room, “are you really sure you didn’t see anyone enter my room?”
Gaius ascended the short flight of stairs to stand by Merlin’s side. “Do you have something you need to tell me, Merlin?”
Merlin shook his head, stepped towards the bed, opened the box, and gasped. A small pink bunny hopped out onto the bed. Merlin rounded up the bunny while Gaius removed the other objects in the box: a glass unicorn which bowed its head and touched its single horn to the palm of his hand, a deck of cards which seemed to be shuffling itself, and a polishing cloth that immediately headed off to buff Gaius’ boots.
“Is there no note?” asked Merlin, sinking onto his bed.
Gaius reached into the box again and found the note. The handwriting was not familiar to either man, but as it was obviously a disguised hand, that was not a surprise.
It was quite similar to the previous notes:
I believe these items belong to you. I hope you will find discreet homes for them. I like your pretty head just where it is. More caution is strongly advised.
After reading the note, Gaius sank down beside Merlin. “Someone knows.”
Merlin nodded somberly. “It’s been driving me crazy.”
“How long has this been going on, Merlin?”
“Umm—a few weeks, I guess.”
“And it didn’t occur to you to stop using your magic?”
Merlin flinched at Gaius’ exasperation. “I’ve really tried. Sometimes I just miss it so much, and it happens before I realize what I’m doing. I have so much work to do that I need help.”
“Really, Merlin?” said Gaius, raising his right eyebrow severely, “Pray tell, how does a pink bunny or a glass unicorn help you with your work?”
Carefully studying his own feet, Merlin said, “Well, sometimes I just get bored, but I’m always careful!”
“Obviously not careful enough!” Gaius snapped. “We need to figure out who knows your secret. It seems they have no desire to hurt you, but I really don’t like not knowing who has this power over you. Meanwhile, no more magic. None!”
The next several weeks were stressful. Merlin tried his best to avoid using his magic, but circumstances arose. There never seemed to be anyone around who had noticed, but at least a few times, when he might have been caught, he had been suddenly called away to attend to a matter elsewhere in the castle. There was no question in his mind that someone was watching. Someone knew every time he used his magic, and someone was trying to protect him. Merlin was completely flummoxed, until one day, he ran back to his room for something he forgot and opened his door to find Arthur within. A telltale box was on his bed.
“Arthur,” said Merlin, eyes wide, “it’s you! But, why?” He searched Arthur’s eyes for all the reactions he had most feared—anger, betrayal, pain. But instead, he found nothing but compassion and—could it be—fondness?
“Haven’t you read my notes?” asked Arthur, nonchalantly.
“You want to keep me safe—even though you know about my ma...my magic.”
“Well, yes. Perhaps I should appoint you Captain of the Obvious?”
“You’re not mad at me?”
“I was. For a long time. You may recall the throwing of heavy items at your head? The insults? Cleaning out the stables?”
“But—well—I confided in Lancelot--long ago. It was he who helped me understand why you might be afraid to trust anyone, even me, with your secret.”
“I knew he would never betray you.”
“No, of course not,” said Merlin. “But why didn’t you tell me?”
“Well, that was Gwaine’s idea.”
Merlin went a bit paler and started flailing. “Gwaine knows too? Do all the knights know? Are you all keeping secrets from me? And why on earth would Gwaine suggest keeping me in the dark?”
Arthur sat down on the bed, and pulled Merlin down next to him. “Gwaine felt you would be safer not knowing that we knew. He thought that you might get careless, and that it would be more difficult for us to protect you from my father.”
“So, all the knights know?”
“Don’t be silly, Merlin!”
“So, just you, Gwaine, and Lance? And somehow the three of you have been keeping watch and protecting me from getting caught. I don’t understand how you have managed that. I could swear there was no one around.”
Arthur shifted uncomfortably. “There really wasn’t any other way...and my sister is a seer, so she probably would have…”
“Um, yeah, I guess so. To be honest, she was really relieved to know she wasn’t alone here with her magic. She has been dying to talk with you about it, but agreed it was best if you didn’t know that we know.”
Merlin hid his face in his hands. “But why, Arthur? Why would you do all this for me?”
Arthur looked confused. “Did you not read my notes? About your pretty head, and your silly face, and your goofy smile?” He ran his hand through Merlin’s dark hair, and pulled him up so that they were face to face. “Have I kept my own secret too well? Do you not know that I am yours—heart and soul? Is this really such a revelation to you? Was I wrong to think you might return my feelings?”
Merlin felt drunk. One revelation after another had rocked his world. He held up his hand to let Arthur know he needed a moment as the pieces began to settle. He finally looked up with a tremendous grin on his face.
When Arthur returned Merlin’s grin, Merlin tackled him into an embrace, and pushed him back on the bed. He hovered over Arthur and said, “I loved you when you were a total prat to me, when I only just dreamed you could one day accept me. How could I not love you even more knowing all that you have done for me, and that you accept me as I am?”
Arthur pulled Merlin down into a kiss.
Some time later, Arthur’s head rested on Merlin’s bare chest. He ran his fingers up and down Merlin’s flank, and mused, “Midnight blue velvet with silver embroidery. When I am king, no one will be able to take their eyes off my consort and court sorcerer.” He raised himself on an elbow and looked down at Merlin, who reached up and caressed his face. “I love you, and I can’t imagine my future without you.”
Merlin grinned smugly. “That damned dragon was right. We are two sides of the same coin--inseparable.”
“Dragon?” asked Arthur.
“Shh...we’ll talk about it tomorrow. I love you too, you know.”