Title: Smiles we left behind
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur, Arthur/Gwen
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gwen
Summary: Sometimes smiles were the most painful things of all. As Merlin watched Arthur laugh with Gwen, his own heart was breaking.
Word Count: 600
Camelot_drabble Prompt: 388 – The way we are
Author's Notes: From lyrics of The Way We were, written by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, Marvin Hamlisch
Memories light the corners of my mind, Misty water-colored memories of the way we were, Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind, Smiles we gave to one another for the way we were
Disclaimer: Merlin characters are the property of Shine and BBC. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Laughter, loud whispers, two heads together as they shared intimate smiles. It was all Merlin could do not to dump wine on them both or stomp out of the room in fury. Instead, he stood there, the always ignored servant, holding a wine pitcher, waiting for a signal to fill their glasses. He couldn’t even snarl in distaste or let the tears clogging his throat mar that perfect scene.
Standing there, he kept telling himself he had no reason to complain. Arthur had been very clear that while he might care for a servant, he could never marry one.
Until he did.
Merlin couldn’t fault Gwen. He loved her like a sister and while she’d stolen the heart of the only man he’d ever love, she hadn’t known that he and Arthur had once shared more than friendship or whatever the hell it was.
Arthur hadn’t promised that he’d be true, that they’d be together for all their lives. He hadn’t promised anything.
Even though with every breath, every kiss, every thrust of his body into Merlin’s, there had been love there. Merlin was sure of it.
But a male servant as consort was beyond what was acceptable at court. There was the matter of bloodlines and dynasties and heirs. Merlin knew that, Merlin accepted it, even though in his heart of hearts, broken as it was, he wanted to pull Gwen away, wanted to claim Arthur for his own, wanted to let the whole court know that Merlin was Arthur’s and Arthur was his.
Standing there, he remembered the smiles Arthur had sent him, the times they’d made love, Merlin refused to call it fucking, that was too crude for what they had shared. How Arthur would take him rough and fast in the forest, would bend him over the table in his chambers and pump into him until he could barely move when they were done, how he would tie Merlin up on Arthur’s soft bed and draw out the pleasure for what seemed like an eternity. Mouths and cocks and hands, gentle or hard, sweet or rough, in storerooms and armories and on the fur rug in Arthur’s chambers, it didn’t matter. Merlin would always be Arthur’s.
Blinking back the tears that even now threatened to fall, Merlin almost didn’t notice that Gwen had withdrawn, that the court was going off to celebrate the joyous occasion and Arthur was lingering by the door.
He was staring at Merlin, almost as if he could hear the despair pounding Merlin’s heart into dust. For a moment, Merlin thought Arthur was going to say something, do something, beg forgiveness perhaps or declare that he’d married the wrong person. For a moment, he thought Arthur would rush to him, fold Merlin in his arms, kiss away the pain and never let go.
But Arthur just stood there, silent, watching Merlin. Then as a door opened and closed somewhere nearby, the sound of laughter and music jarring in the moment, Arthur nodded once, and turned away.
Merlin watched him go.
When he was alone again, his fingers cramping from holding onto the fucking wine pitcher, some of the liquid sloshed onto his fingers and soaked the tunic, Arthur’s old tunic, that Gaius had insisted he wear to the wedding. Merlin looked down into the wine’s dark depths, then bringing the pitcher up to his mouth, began to drink.
In the morning, he knew he’d have a spectacular hangover, but he didn’t care. His heart was dead anyway and what was a little more pain.
And tomorrow, he’d have some choices to make.