Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur, mention of Gwen/Lancelot
Summary: Written for this prompt: Merlin puts a spell of some kind on some mistletoe to try & get Lance & Gwen together, but somehow he & Arthur get trapped underneath. Druidic AU with a blink and you miss it dash of Sword in the Stone plot. Merlin and Arthur have long known each other but things change for them when, of all things, Merlin tries to get two of his friends together.
Word Count: 1,714
Author's Notes: Very kindly beta'd by teprometo. Thank you so much for the help.
Disclaimer:Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
The big oak stood majestically on the sacred knoll. As soon as Merlin cleared the rise leading to it, his magic zapped under his skin and lit up his being. Merlin smiled and walked up to the big tree.
“Hello,” he said to it, knowing full well that nature was sentient and this tree with it. “I've come to ask something of you. A little ... contribution. To make my friends happy.” Merlin knew that his magic needed nature's own magic to work effectively. Stealing from it was never an option. It portended great ills. “I need to cut off this branch of mistletoe to do what I'm planning.”
A wind rose and with it nature's benediction.
“Thank you,” Merlin said to the tree and cut off his branch of mistletoe, a rich and showy one that was imbued with all the powers of the plant.
“Merlin,” Gaius said. “You know that the mistletoe of the great oak is especially sacred. I can't think Aglain would want you to go and pick a branch of it without you telling him. You didn't even follow the ritual.”
“I used my magic,” Merlin said. “And the tree was happy.”
“I know you can feel nature's magic, but the Yule rituals are usually conducted by the high priests, my boy.”
“I just want to enchant it to bless a certain couple of my acquaintance,” Merlin said with a wink and nod as he started trimming the leaves. “I'll put a spell on it so it'll show them their true feelings for each other.”
Gaius' eyebrow climbed further towards his scalp. “Merlin, Druidic customs are there for a reason. For millennia, druids have learnt how to work with nature and have done that by virtue of trial and error.”
“I know, Gaius.” Merlin's felt his magic crackle up and down his spine.
“That's why the golden sickle ritual is in place,” Gaius said. “You didn't observe that ritual. You just used a knife.”
“The tree didn't care,” Merlin said, remembering its ancient voice.
“And you shouldn't be interfering with love, Merlin,” Gaius said, arms folded severely. “You know that.”
“But I won't be interfering,” Merlin said, holding up the branch of mistletoe for his own inspection. “I won't be putting any feelings there. I won't be creating them. My spell will just show my couple what they feel for each other. Their own genuine feelings.”
“Those fugitives from Camelot, you mean.”
Merlin didn't confirm that; he just continued studying his sprig with utter nonchalance. “The couple I intend the spell for, yep. All they have to do is walk under the mistletoe and then they'll see. No need to be shy anymore. They'll get together and live happily ever after.”
Merlin was quite proud of that idea.
Gaius, apparently, was not.
Merlin was attaching the sprig of mistletoe to the barn door when Arthur surprised him with a clap on the back. Merlin stumbled forwards and let go of the mistletoe, which fell on top of a mound of muddy hay. Merlin cursed under his breath. After talking with Gaius the day before, Merlin had spent the entire afternoon trimming that ball of mistletoe with evergreens, ribbons, and ornaments. And now it was all muddy and dirty and drooping.
“You prat!” Merlin said. “Look what you've done!”
Arthur was unfazed by Merlin's name-calling. He merely laughed and blew at his nails. “And what have I done?”
“You ruined my hard work!”
“Hardly,” Arthur said. “You were only barn-decorating.”
“I wasn't doing any such thing,” Merlin said indignantly, trying to prevent Arthur from stomping all over what was left of his mistletoe. “I was bespelling this branch so Gwen and Lance would finally get together.”
Arthur frowned much like Gaius had. “Shouldn't you leave it to them?”
“I am,” said Merlin, picking up the plant. “This will just show them their true feelings for each other so they can no longer lie about them. What they do with that is up to them.”
Arthur smiled. “Oh, all right. Now I want to see what happens. Those two are hopeless. And I want to see you do magic.”
“It's not going to be any different, you know. It's just going to be like the other hundred times you saw me do it.”
Arthur's eyes went wide and he ducked his head. “I like seeing you do magic.”
“Oh, all right,” said Merlin, affixing the battered but thankfully not trampled-upon branch to the door. He incanted, using the tongue he’d learned years ago from the errant Dragonlord that had visited their encampment.
“Is it done?” Arthur asked when Merlin stopped making use of the old tongue.
Merlin said, “Now we only need to wait for Lancelot and Gwen to come by—and they will, since they have to finish their chores—and let it all happen.”
Arthur looked stunned and a little awed at the prospect of Merlin's magic working towards that end. It made Merlin flush and smile and feel special even as he reminded himself he should stay humble about it. Magic was a gift and not something to brag about. Gaius was right about that.
Merlin was lost in thoughts regarding the ethics of magic, when Arthur reached out to touch the mistletoe Merlin had bespelled. “Stop!” Merlin yelled loud enough to hurt even his own eardrums. “If you touch it, you'll set the spell off.”
To stop Arthur, Merlin grabbed him by the sleeve of his tunic. Yet Arthur moved, and Merlin was shoved forwards by virtue of Arthur's momentum. This meant that they both ended up tumbling down in a tangle of limbs, landing directly beneath the branch of mistletoe.
The moment they fell under the sprig, Merlin saw. He saw their first meeting, all those years ago, but he wasn't seeing it with his own eyes; he was experiencing it through Arthur's. These weren't his memories. Most decidedly. He was feeling Arthur's feelings: hunted, a fugitive, a secret he mustn’t reveal. Not at all costs, Sire. My Prince. One day, you'll come back, wield the sword, take the throne. Merlin saw Arthur notice him—that boy, the lanky boy grinning at him from across the Druid camp. That grin was stupid but altogether lovely. But the boy didn't like him. A stuck-up cock, he'd called him.
Arthur would not like the boy. He'd make a point of it.
The Beltane feast. Seasons later, Camelot still waiting for him. Arthur looking lost at the campfire, experiencing the guilt of it all. Having made no comeback. Biding his time. And all for what? No Camelot. No kingship. No way to prove the throne was his. And then Merlin. A smile, an offered cup of mulled wine, spicy and odorous like resin on a tree.
“Don't frown so.”
“Why shouldn't I?”
“Because we're celebrating.”
“I'm not. It's your ritual. Your feast. I'm—”
“You're one of us.”
Arthur hunting together with Merlin. Merlin saving him from a boar.
“You have magic.”
“Some druids have.”
“Not like you.”
Merlin saw Arthur watching him go about his chores, his life. Merlin saw Arthur be there for him, thinking Merlin a conundrum. A beautiful conundrum. Days. Months. Years. My beautiful conundrum.
Merlin's eyes blinked open, the swirl of images stopping.
“You dollop-head,” Merlin said with tears in his eyes. “You love me, and you never said a word.”
Arthur put his hands on his hips, glaring at Merlin. “Well, neither did you! And your magic showed me....” Arthur's anger seemed to fizzle out with a splutter. His eyes rounded once more, and he took a step back before taking one forwards. It seemed as though he was looking at Merlin with new eyes. And perhaps there was a chance he was.
And then Merlin could no longer think because Arthur had moved, rapid as fire, rapid as only he could be when he was training for that aim of his he'd only spoken of when they were alone in the dead of night. He'd moved to fit his lips to Merlin’s, to open them slowly with his. To press and join, softly at first, lips barely touching.
Sighing, Merlin opened his mouth to Arthur’s, taking his lower lip between his teeth and tugging at it gently, running his tongue along the softness he found inside. In response Arthur stretched his tongue out into Merlin's mouth, searching and hungry, pressing and passionate.
Merlin had never thought this would happen—not to him, simple druid boy that he was—but he knew this was good. The best. The best thing ever. Arthur, brave, honourable, fair. A prat and a friend and all that he'd been in the years they’d spent side by side.
Merlin thanked the fates that had brought Arthur to him, on a day like any other, one day that hadn't meant much back then, but one that Merlin had always looked back on with a fondness that now seemed all the more obvious and clear.
He grew excited, elated, as if he could take flight, heart rabbiting in his chest as he felt Arthur's tongue. This kiss lasted a bit longer than the one before it, then Arthur's teeth dragged along the expanse of Merlin's lower lip, and Arthur pulled back.
It was just for a moment, though, because their heads realigned and their mouths met once more.
When they had no more breath between them for all the kissing, Merlin started nosing Arthur's face—his beloved, stupid face that would not have been his but for the spell. And then Merlin was kissing that face, then his eyelids, his nose, his jaw, expressing his devotion, his allegiance, and, yes, his love.
“You know, Merlin,” Arthur said. “I've always quite liked your magic, and I owe it my life, but this is the first time it's made me really, really horny.”
“Liar,” Merlin said. “I saw your thoughts, remember?”
So saying, he kissed Arthur again.