Pairing/s: Arthur/Merlin (pre-slash)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary:I could try to fix it… If you want…
Prompt: 61. Broken
Author's Notes: Thanks to derenai for the beta!
When Merlin entered the Prince's rooms to do his daily chores, he found Arthur sitting at his table, shoulders slumped, head in his hands.
"Arthur? Are you okay?" he worried, getting closer to his master.
"Go away, Merlin!"
Arthur's tone was harsh. It only worried Merlin more.
"Are you sure? Can I do something to you?"
"Yes, you can leave me alone!"
"But… Your laundry? And your bath?" Merlin insisted.
"LEAVE ME ALONE!" Arthur groaned.
Merlin knew something was really bad. Arthur had never addressed him like that!
He decided to stay and find what was going on. He wasn't afraid of Arthur. He came even closer, and put his hand on Arthur shoulder, feeling him tense.
This time, Arthur sounded tired and sad.
"I want to be alone."
"I'll not leave before you've told me what's bothering you."
And then, Merlin saw what Arthur was hiding. On the table were laying terra cotta's fragments.
"Oh? You've broken something?" Merlin asked, trying to reach the pieces. But Arthur batted his hand away.
"It's not important."
And for the first time, Arthur looked at Merlin and the manservant could see his red and puffy eyes. The Prince had cried.
Merlin gently touched his shoulder again, stroking his neck.
"It was something precious, wasn't it?"
His tone was soft and caring. Seeing his master sad was unbearable for him. At the start of their relationship, he had thought Arthur was just an arrogant prat. Now, he knew better. He had discovered the man behind the Prince, behind the spoilt son. And had learned to like him. To love him, even but that was a thought he didn't want to linger on.
Merlin looked at the fragments better. He distinguished what should have been a horse head… And a horse leg.
"It was a figurine?" he asked gently. Arthur nodded.
Merlin noted how the Prince's breathing was getting shorter as if he was trying to hold his tears.
"It was… It was the only memory I had from my mother," he said, his voice tight with emotion.
Merlin kept stroking his back and neck, thinking about the wooden dragon he was keeping preciously in his own room and how he would feel if he lost it.
"She… She had bought it when she was pregnant… She loved horses and… "
A sob interrupted Arthur's story. He tried to continue nonetheless.
"My nurse gave it to me… My father had burnt all of my mother belongings after her death. It was the only thing she was able to save… And now…"
This time, the Prince wasn't able to fight back the tears. He slumped against the table, his body shuddering under the sobs.
Merlin kneeled and put his arm around Arthur's shoulders.
"I… I could try to fix it… If you want…"
Merlin was planning to take the pieces and fix it with his magic then lie to Arthur and telling him he had used some sort of glue to put the fragments back together.
He felt Arthur move to look at him.
"With your magic?"
The Prince's words took some time to be registered in Merlin's mind.
"Could you fix it with your magic?" Arthur repeated, calmly.
"My…My… You know?"
"Merlin… You really think I'm an idiot? Or that you were being discreet?"
Merlin was so stunned he didn't know how to answer… But Arthur seemed strangely calm with the fact that his manservant was a magician. It didn't make sense.
"But… You… Your father…"
"I'm not my father, Merlin. And I know you have only used magic for the best reason… Apart when you try to escape some of your chores…"
"So… You're not going to behead or burn me?"
"You're the idiot!"
A faint smile appeared on the Prince's lips and Merlin finally relaxed. They would probably talk more about his magic later. But for now, he was reassured. And he felt freer than he never had.
"So? You want me to fix it?" Merlin asked, looking at the figurine's fragments.
"I cherished it. But I know I can't live in the memories of the past. I need to move forward."
"Are you sure?"
Arthur nodded and stood up.
"Can you draw me a bath?"
Merlin stood up, too and went to fetch the tub to settle it in Arthur's room.
Later that day, when Merlin came back in Arthur's rooms as the Prince was supervising the Knight's training, he found the terra cotta's pieces still on the table.
Arthur had asked him to throw it away.
Merlin thought about Arthur's words but he didn't understand them. Keeping memories wasn't living in the past. It was remembering what made us what we are. It was keeping track of our own history.
Merlin sat in Arthur's chair and murmured some strange words. As his eyes turned gold, the little terra cotta horse was taking his initial shape back.
Arthur saw the little horse as soon as he entered his room.
"Merlin…" he murmured fondly.
He sat at the table and gently stroked the figurine.
He should thank his manservant… His magical manservant.
He was relieved that this secret was not hanging between them anymore. And, who knows, perhaps he would be able to talk about his other secret. The one he was keeping in the depth of his heart, nestled with all his most cherished memories of his loved ones.