Title: With Golden and Silver Light (2)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur's being plagued by nightmarish visions of his future, Morgana suggests Arthur to seek the professional advice of a Dreamer, giving him the card of Master Emrys. A man of great talent, who could be the answer to Arthur's terror filled nights.
Warnings: Fluff, I think.
Word Count: 1k
Prompt: #315: Art - Morning Light
Author's Notes: This is the second and last part of With Golden and Silver Light, which I wrote almost two years ago. Where does time go? 😱
Camelot is in ruins.
Arthur stands between smoke and ashes, between broken-down buildings. High fires burn around him, scorching the world. The skies are tinted red, and every star has disappeared. The roar of the flames gets louder, someone screams in the distance. Arthur wants to run and get his people to safety, but he can’t, the ground beneath him has liquified, trapping him in a viscous black fluid that’s gone up to his knees.
He can’t find his voice, he screams, asks the people to run from the trail destruction. His lungs burn, but no sound comes out. He’s sinking further down. It’s too late. He’s too late. Camelot has fallen. He’s failed. He closes his eyes, ready to meet his own fate.
“I’ve got you.”
Out of nowhere, someone holds onto him, a hand grabbing him by the arm, keeping him afloat. Arthur looks up. “Merlin,” he breathes. His voice comes out weak, strained, but it’s there.
He smiles down at Arthur, radiant and real. “Fight, Arthur. Fight against the darkness.”
Arthur’s hand closes around Merlin’s arm, his eyes fall shut, breathes deeply, Merlin’s strength bleeds into him, his magic alive around them. He pushes against the dark surrounding him, kicks at it, the ground shakes, Merlin says something that he can’t make out, the fires fade. It’s a dream, a dream, he thinks.
When he opens his eyes he’s standing on firm ground, chest heaving, the clouds in his head dissipate. Merlin hasn’t let go.
“I was sure you'd be able to break free,” he says, an enigmatic smile curves his lips.
Camelot has returned to its previous glory, tall buildings shine under a gleaming sun. Arthur laughs.
“Thank you, Merlin.”
Merlin shakes his head, steps closer, his breath caresses the side of his face when he leans in to whisper, “Sleep.”
Arthur wakes up in the morning, feeling rested for the first time in months. The palace’s staff gives him odd looks when he goes down to have breakfast, whistling a tune.
Morgana smiles knowingly.
Arthur is not about to give her the satisfaction of recognizing she was right.
The next night his nightmares come back with a vengeance, this time, he’s drowning. Invisible hands pushed him into the freezing waters of a lake. Arthur sputters, despite his efforts he can't reach the shore, the turbulent current keeps dragging him back. His vision blurs, water gets in his mouth.
He tries to hold on remembering this isn't real.
“It isn't.This is your battleground, choose what happens next.
Merlin has appeared again, he’s facing Arthur, his chest pressed against his, arms looped around his waist. He's keeping them above water.
Arthur's fears are momentarily eplaced by annoyance, Merlin keeps grinning, as if they're not facing a life or death situation.
“Think happy thoughts,” he says. Arthur scrunches up his face in disbelief, slips a fraction down, Merlin tightens his grip on him.
“A bit of help would be nice."
“Arthur, listen to me, think of a happy memory, focus on something positive. I’m serious. You need to fight the darkness.”
The darkness, there it is again, that thing that swallows him whole. He thinks about the time Morgana and him went to the planetarium, and spent the night looking up at the stars full on wonderm. He looks at Merlin, his eyes are so bright, his face open in an encouraging expression. Arthur can feel every part where their bodies are touching. The water around them morphs into a tranquil flow.
In a blink, they’re by the shore, lying on their backs, Arthur coughs invisible water, everything around him smells fresher. Merlin sits up, shakes his head like a dog, splashing drops of water everywhere.
Arthur scrunches his nose when some of the drops land on his face. “That’s gross.”
Unperturbed, Merlin gets on his feet, and magically he’s dry, from head to toe. Arthur narrows his eyes, he shouldn’t be surprised, yet, he is.
Merlin extends his hand, asks, “Do you want to go on a picnic?”
Arthur blinks, sure he’s heard wrong. “I’m sorry?”
“A picnic,” Merlin says, winks so charmingly, Arthur is disarmed. “Come on, join me.”
Arthur takes his hand, their fingers touch, and—
They’re on a hill covered in bright, verdant grass, that reminds Arthur of Morgana’s jade dragon, yellow daffodils paint a yellow path.
With a flick of his wrist, Merlin invokes a blanket. “This is a good spot, don’t you think?”
Arthur nods. The wind is a soft caress on his face.
The fifth time Merlin walks in his dreams, he takes him on a hot air balloon ride, right after they vanquish a giant. Arthur feels stronger, the terror that once filled him is slowly dissolving. He looks down at Camelot. The metropolis looks even more beautiful from way up.
“How do you do it?”
Merlin tilts his head to the side, gives him one of those smiles which never fail to rail him up, because he’s treating Arthur like a simpleton. He might not be versed in magic, but he’s smart.
Arthur scowls. “This is no way to treat your sovereign.”
Merlin lets out a full bodied laugh, Arthur’s patience is being tested.
“I don’t know what you mean, my lord,” Merlin says, mirth clear in his tone.
“Are you ever going to answer my question?”
Merlin runs a hand through his wild curls, stares at the sky, infinite before them. “Dreams can bend at your will, but you had been weakened, the magic poisoning your dreams was quiet, and strong. By letting me in, you gave me permission to help you turn your nightmares into regular dreams, into whatever you want them to be.”
“Thank you again, for helping me,” Arthur says, he covers Merlin’s hand with his own. Something seizes up in Arthur’s chest when Merlin turns his palm, and entwines their fingers, squeezing lightly.
“Don’t thank me. There is a bigger threat out there, bigger than giants and fire. A beast hidden deep in your subconscious.”
They don’t talk for the rest of the ride.
His uncle Agravaine is bristling by the time the council meeting is adjourned. Arthur was reelected. He pushes past the members, giving Arthur a look of hate, so deep it raises goosebumps on his skin.
“Nevermind him.” Morgana says. “You were brilliant today.”
That night, his dreams are once again full of darkness, so bleak, he can find no way out. Arthur runs, and runs, only to return to the same spot. A growl makes him stop. His hands are shaking.
“You aren’t real,” he says into the void. He thinks of stars, the sunsets over Camelot, Merlin’s smiles and his warmth. The beast leaps from the shadows, a half snake, half leopard abomination. "You aren't real, you can't get me!"
Merlin jumps in front of him, a burst of white light appears from his hands. Arthur’s vision goes blurry, the world goes sideways, quakes under him, Merlin's eyes shine gold.
There is blood-curling cry, an acrid smell invades his nose making him gag. Merlin's slain the beast. Its dead, serpentine eyes lock on Arthur. He falls to his knees, his body convulses, his heartbeat slows down.
“Breathe, Arthur,” Merlin says, kneeling in front of him, holding him by the shoulders. “Breathe.”
He tries to focus on Merlin, ignore the crushing headache. He shivers, the poison leaves Arthur's heart, his mind, his dreams. He falls forward, his whole weight crashing into Merlin. “I’ve got you.”
Merlin kisses the top of his head. “It’s over. I knew you could do it. You’re safe.”
Arthur is exhausted, he crawls into Merlin’s arms, buries his nose in his neck. Merlin’s fingers run up and down his spine. Arthur closes his eyes, sleep taking over him. The last thing he hears is Merlin’s voice.
“Come find me outside your dreams."
In the morning light, Merlin looks different, homely, soft. His clothes are simple, he’s relaxed in his own environment, surrounded by ancient magic, his herbs and peculiar looking plants. He’s got those stupid goggles on though, and he’s mixing something orange, happily. He consults a book Arthur noticed was written in another language, from time to time. When he’s satisfied with the results he fills a vial, and leaves it by the window where the sunlight causes the liquid to turn bright red gradually.
Merlin joins him on the couch, their knees touch purposefully. Merlin’s body is a long line of heat against his. Arthur closes the book he was pretending to read, he isn’t that interested in abjuration anyway.
“So, I’m here,” Arthur says, he wets his lips. His throat is dry.
“So, you are.” Merlin plays with of the buttons on Arthur's vest, looks up at him through his lashes. “What can I do for you, my lord?"
Arthur drops his head back on the cushions, rolling his eyes. “You’re impossible.”
Merlin chuckles. “Am I?”
Whatever retort Arthur may have, is silenced by Merlin’s lips on his. Arthur opens his mouth without hesitation, his hand goes to the back of Merlin’s neck, while Merlin’s palm settles on his chest. Right above his beating heart. They kiss with no rush, getting acquainted. Enjoying the heat, savouring the moment. Somehow, they end up sprawled on the couch, trading slow kisses.
“Is this another business transaction?” Arthur asks breathless.
The smile Merlin gives him is dazzling. "No, this is a real kiss."
Arthur bumps their noses together, nips at Merlin’s mouth, reveling in the way he shudders above him. This reality, is better than any dream he could have.