Title: You are
Word count: 716
Prompt: 356: You are
Summary: Arthur sees Merlin coming to the lake and knows he has to come back
Author’s notes: Not beta’d.
Arthur's heart clenched when he saw Merlin like this. Sitting by the lake, in the pouring rain, his old battered jacket wet, the water running down his face.
"I'm sorry I was too late. I should have prevented this. I failed my destiny." Merlin sobbed and hugged his knees tighter.
Coming a bit closer, Arthur put his hand on Merlin's shoulder but he couldn't touch him, it was as if Merlin slipped right through him.
With red, puffy eyes, Merlin looked over to the little island with the tower. "Where are you, Arthur?"
Arthur felt himself being pulled towards the island. "I'm here."
But Merlin didn't seem to hear him.
It had been a while, even though Arthur couldn't tell how much time had passed. This thing about time moving faster outside of Avalon was still new and confusing. But he grinned widely when he saw Merlin again. He was sitting on a big rock, a lot older now, sporting a long, white beard and wearing clothes that definitely weren't suitable for a servant of Camelot, but it was unmistakeably Merlin.
"It's been so long, Arthur. How much longer do will you make me wait?" Merlin swallowed.
Arthur shook his head. It was not right that Merlin was still so sad after all these years. He needed to get through to him to let him know that he was fine.
"You know that I'll wait for you forever. Just...are you still over there?" Merlin looked longingly at the island.
"I'm here!" Once again, Arthur tried to make his presence known, but he was too much a creature of Avalon now to be able to talk to Merlin or even touch him.
Merlin got up with a sigh and wandered on.
There had been other occasions like this where Merlin had come to the lake and sat there quietly and Arthur tried to make him notice him, but even though he had undergone a rigid training on the island, he still wasn't able to make anyone outside of Avalon notice him when he was there.
Not that he had tried with many and he didn't care about any of them, Merlin was the only one that counted and with each day and each lecture, Arthur hoped that Merlin's magic would at least notice that he was around.
It was difficult to see Merlin suffer like this. How much time had passed? Arthur couldn't tell. He just knew that it must have been more than a lifetime, judging by the way things around the lake had changed. There were days where he feared that Merlin had passed away and his heart jumped each time he saw him by the shore again.
He needed to work harder and talk to the priestresses again.
"I can't do this anymore, Arthur." Merlin had wrapped his arms around himself and sighed deeply. "It just hurts too much."
Arthur shook his head. He couldn't bear the thought of Merlin not coming back.
Merlin looked different these days. He had shaved the long beard off and his hair was short again, even though some silver strands laced with his usually black hair.
"I need you, but you don't seem to come back."
Arthur thought of the discussion, no, it had been arguments with the priestresses. They didn't want to let him go and even though he worked hard, insisted he wasn't ready, but here he was, trying to concentrate on everything he had learned. It felt odd, but the floating feeling he usually had when he was on this side of the lake vanished and it felt as if he was standing on solid ground for the first time in centuries.
"They said you would come back when..." Merlin sniffed. "Arthur, where are you?"
Reaching out, not daring to touch Merlin, Arthur swallowed and said "I'm here."
A wonderous look in his eyes, Merlin turned around and stared open-mouthed.
"I'm right here, Merlin..."
He didn't know what he had expected, but instead of flinging himself at him, Merlin still just stood there, looking at him. Maybe his hard work still didn't pay off and Merlin couldn't see him?
But then the wide smile that Arthur hadn't seen in ages showed on Merlin's face and finally, he threw his arms around Arthur's neck.