Title: And tomorrow came
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Sir Leon
Summary: Visions of the future can be deceptive.
Word Count: 546
Prompt: #26 Assumption
Author's Notes: Sequel to “I dreamt of tomorrow”.
Merlin was kneeling on the beaten floor of the King’s tent, between Sir Leon and Sir Bedivere. He had been waiting for a long time, but the pains and aches of his body seemed distant. When he thought about the past month; how he had smiled to hide his fear and sorrow, and met every day as if it would be his last, he was almost relieved that it was over. Now he was free of the lies, Arthur was alive, and the united Albion would prosper. It would be worth the sacrifice.
But nothing could stop the trembling that seized his limbs when the door to the tent was swept aside and the King entered. Merlin didn’t look up, keeping his head bowed, but he knew Arthur too well not to recognise his footsteps.
Merlin startled, and it was on the tip of his tongue to protest that the knights should stay, as guards and witnesses. He was, he realised, thinking of himself in the terms that Arthur had to think of him, as a traitor, corrupt and unreliable.
The knights had not spoken a word since being ordered to take Merlin here. Not until now.
“Go, Sir Leon.”
“... Yes, Sire.”
Merlin dared to imagine that the knight had been about to lay a plea of mercy at the King’s feet. Saving Arthur’s life could not but have made Leon love Merlin a little, since Leon loved Arthur with all his heart.
The door was closed again, leaving Merlin and Arthur alone. The King came forward to stand in front of his manservant.
Merlin didn’t respond. He looked at Arthur’s boots, stained by blood and mud, and wondered who would clean them.
“Look at me, Merlin.”
Merlin breathed in deeply to steel himself, and raised his head.
Arthur didn’t look angry. He just looked a little sad.
“Your eyes were golden. I thought someone had cast a spell on you, until the arrow fell and you didn’t look even a little bit startled. In fact you looked more like a guilty puppy.”
Merlin was confused. “You’re not ... mad?” He made it half a question, feeling like a window had been opened and let in a single ray of light.
Arthur knelt down and placed a hand on Merlin’s shoulder. “We’ve won battle after battle the last month, and today we fought the last. There will be peace and happiness across Albion, and I am only alive to enjoy this day because of you.”
Merlin ducked his head. “I wouldn’t let anything harm you, Sire.”
“I know. And for that, what promise can I give you in return?”
Merlin met Arthur’s eyes, bit his lip and considered it. “How about you promise not to sack me for having been magic all along?”
Arthur pursed his lips like he was considering it. “Oh, I don’t think I’ll sack you, but I might have to hire an additional manservant, because you’ll be spending the next year or so in the stocks.” He smiled the way he liked to do when he knew Merlin was going to be displeased with him.
But all Merlin felt was elation. The future was undecided, but from what he could see of it, it would be bright.