Title: Scorches Like a Brand
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: The tattoo tells him when Arthur will return.
Warnings: Shamelessly romantic.
Word Count: 309
Author's Notes: I hope this makes sense. Reincarnation fic.
The tattoo on his shoulder aches. That’s how he knows. The tingle under his skin, the sparking in his brain, like embers flaming to life: they’re all signs. He’ll see Arthur soon.
He’s waited for twenty years, watching and wondering. He never knows how long it’s going to be. He tries to lead a semblance of normal life, but of course, it’s a lie; his real life won’t begin until Arthur comes.
At first the tattoo is invisible. Only he knows it’s there, under the surface. Then, as the time to reunite with Arthur draws closer, it appears as a faint image on his upper arm, becomes darker and more clear. Merlin touches it at night, fingers tracing the ancient symbol. He remembers a time of woodsmoke and dark endless winters, fear and superstition, when the threat of evil magic was real and constant, and mysterious creatures haunted the forests.
One night, the ache becomes a burn. He walks the streets, restless and yearning. At a club, he throws himself into the dancing throng, anonymous and intimate at once. A broad, warm chest presses into his back, an arm snakes around his waist; their hips join in rhythm and the tattoo scorches like a brand.
Merlin turns, breathless. He barely has time to take in the sweep of blond hair and strong jaw, the blue eyes, before Arthur's kissing him passionately. The crowd falls away and all Merlin can do is think Arthur, Arthur, wrapped in Arthur’s arms and inhaling his familiar, comforting scent. His hand gravitates to the tattoo on Arthur’s shoulder, equally hot, and he whispers into Arthur’s ear, “You’re here. Finally.”
Later, Arthur traces the tattoo with his tongue, soothing the burn, and presses Merlin into the sheets. “Mine,” he murmurs, fusing Merlin’s body with his own.
“Yours,” Merlin sighs, as his heart melts.