Summary:Merlin is a constellation. Arthur goes stargazing, in a way.
Author's Notes:Not beta'd. Sorry it's late; one of my roommates got our internet temporarily suspended, so I had to come to a public coffee shop for wifi, then I temporarily got locked out of my livejournal account.
Merlin has spent many centuries as a constellation. It was fun at first, but after so long, he has grown weary of the loneliness of it. He knows he should be honored that the gods granted him this gift instead of leaving him to die pathetically on one of earth’s many battlefields. And at first, he was grateful! But centuries with no one to talk to feel a lot longer than centuries.
He does still appreciate when people get out their telescopes to stare up at him. It’s nice to be admired. Those are the times when he shines his brightest. As time went on, though, moving farther and farther away from the ancient times Merlin so loved and in which he was so revered, people look up less and less. So much so that on the day of his anniversary as a constellation, a day when the whole of Athens would come out into the night air to gaze up at him and celebrate, no one comes out anymore. For a very, very long time.
As Merlin watches, looking down at Earth as he always does, a young man strides out of his white brick home in the darkness. He wears the traditional clothing of his village, which sits on the outskirts of the larger city. Dressed all in white, hair as sandy as the dirt road beneath his bare feet—he is beautiful. He captures Merlin’s whole attention, making Merlin zoom in on the lone figure that makes his way through the dimly lit town square, which is occupied only by children playing past their curfews, past all the white homes and all the tan homes with their soft orange lights, through the honeysuckle-smelling nighttime air out to a clearing on the edge of the woods beyond the town.
The man stands alone in the grass, wriggling his toes in the lush green. He looks around for a moment and, seeing no one, calls up to Merlin, “Hello there.”
Merlin says nothing. The man has to earn his speech, but Merlin’s pretty sure he already knows that.
“I know this is an important day for you. Um…I’m sorry I’m the only one.” The man looks down at his feet. “I know I’m not really much of an audience.”
Merlin couldn’t disagree more.
“I’m Arthur, by the way,” the man introduces himself. “I would shake your hand, but. You know.”
Yes, Merlin does know.
“I read about you,” Arthur informs him. “All about what happened to you and how people would celebrate your anniversary. I don’t think I can recreate it all on my own, but—I did bring some of the flowers.” Out of the sack he produces an overwhelming amount of pink Bouganvilla, the flowers that grow on all the homes in the village and once in the city, starkly beautiful against the white homes, a different kind of beautiful against the tan. “I know it’s not nearly the amount you’re used to, but I did what I could.”
Sparks fall from Merlin’s eyes, the closest he can come to tears. Arthur blinks, but apparently writes off the sparks as an illusion. Humans are quite good at doing that with magic today.
“I wanted to do this because it didn’t seem right to me that no one should celebrate you anymore,” Arthur explains, pulling out a white candle and a box of matches. As he crouches down to light the candle, he says, “I think your story’s rather incredible. Granted, I’m not really sure if it’s true, but. I don’t know. I’d like to think so. I don’t really have anything to believe in, so I’d like to believe in this. You, I mean. The myth and all.”
The candle finally lit, the man rises and returns his gaze to Merlin. “I don’t really fit in anywhere, you see. I don’t know why I don’t fit in, but. I don’t. So it’s hard to believe in stuff. The things that everyone else believes in. Or maybe I don’t fit in because I don’t believe in what they believe in. Sort of a chicken and egg thing. I don’t know. All I know is no one else would want to do this with me.”
Merlin wants to tell him that he didn’t fit in either.
“I don’t really know why I’m telling you all this,” Arthur remarks. “I mean, you’re a constellation. I’m not actually expecting you to speak back to me. I don’t even really believe you’re listening.”
But didn’t you say you believe in me?
“I know, I just said I believe in you,” he says, rolling his eyes at himself. “But—I don’t know, I mean. It’s not really realistic, even if I want it to be true. I mean, it sounds nice, the option of existing among the stars. Sometimes I’d like to.” Softly, looking down, almost to himself, he says, “Sometimes I’d really like to.”
“You can,” Merlin says, smiling down at Arthur, whose head snaps up.
“What—did you just—”
“Yes,” Merlin confirms, smiling more broadly now. “Hello there.”
Arthur gawks up at him. “You’re real.”
Merlin nods. He gives Arthur a moment, knowing it must be a challenge to face the truth of a magical myth in today’s world. Arthur continues staring, mouth opening and closing until he finally asks, “How can I?”
“How can you what?” Merlin asks gently, noticing the wonderful blue of his eyes.
“Join you up there.”
Merlin smiles kindly and reaches down a hand until it is merely inches away from Arthur. “Just take my hand.”
“But I thought only the gods—”
“Constellations can too. If they want to.”
Arthur looks at the hand before him, into Merlin’s smiling face, and back at the lights of his tiny village before firmly grasping Merlin’s hand. Merlin pulls Arthur up and Arthur bursts into starlight. The explosion lasts only a moment and then Arthur is starlight, twinkling just like Merlin.
His eyes still shine blue.