Title: If You Love Him (Let Him Go)
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur, one-sided Merlin/Gwaine
Character/s: Gwaine, Merlin, Arthur
Summary: His heart has always belonged to Merlin, Gwaine realized soon after meeting him. But Merlin's heart is owned by another.
Warnings: Allusions to spoilers for 3x04, 3x08, 3x12 and 3x13.
Word Count: 994
Prompt: #71 - Despair
Author's Notes: Oh gosh I love Gwaine so much but Merwaine makes me so sad because I know that if he had to choose, Merlin would always choose Arthur. So yeah, this is sad. With a prompt like that, it's kind of hard not to angst it up a bit. But please enjoy!
Gwaine should have known falling for Merlin was a terrible idea.
He'd never thought much about it before, not really, at least. When he'd met Merlin and Arthur all that time ago in the tavern, just seeing two young men sharing a drink together—he should've seen it. He should've seen the gazes they shared when they thought no one was looking, the teasing smiles and the witty banter that seemed so private, but so freely given. But no, Gwaine's traitorous eyes refused to see, and his blind heart refused to sponge away the feelings that slowly bloomed.
Of course, Gwaine didn't fall for Merlin right away. How could he? He didn't know him, at first. Gwaine had never offered his heart out to someone he didn't know and trust. But Merlin's quirky smiles and clumsy feet soon did a number on him. He spoke out for him, stood up for him, changed his opinions, and Gwaine had half a mind to believe that Merlin could change the world if he felt so inclined to do so.
“Just another part of my charm,” Merlin would say, and Gwaine would always be lost after that.
Gwaine had always known where Merlin's affections lie. You would've had to be a fool not to know. If you didn't see it in the unwavering loyalty, or the dedication to the crown, or the way he threw himself into every battle just to protect him, then you would've seen it in the gentle blue eyes whenever they found him, whenever his eyes strayed for a little too long on a certain blond prince.
Gwaine had always known that Merlin was in love with Arthur. Ever since begging for his help when Arthur went on the quest for the Golden Trident, located in the Perilous Lands.
He could remember that day like it was yesterday—how Merlin had just sporadically appeared, giving him a winning smile and dragging him along. He'd never felt so free in his entire life as he had when he was running out of the tavern with Merlin, jumping over ledges and riding off into the sunset on horseback with Merlin at his heels.
Then came Morgana, and her taking over the castle. He was knighted, and Merlin looked more proud than he ever had. He'd always thought Gwaine deserved to be a knight, ever since he'd trusted Merlin enough to tell him he was of noble blood, and maybe even before that. He should have left after he helped retake Camelot, should've gone south, or east, or west, just away from Merlin, because the longer he stayed, the more trouble he was in.
But at being newly knighted, being accepted by all, he wanted to stay. His vagabond heart waned, and his need to find solid ground, to find home grew within him.
He soon found out it wasn't the life of a Camelot Knight that was home—but instead, it was Merlin.
It had always been Merlin.
Gwaine thought perhaps he'd try his luck at him. He knew that Merlin liked him well enough, and while he cherished their friendship and the loyalty they showed to one another, he thought maybe there could be something more. Not that he wanted to be greedy, but because of the fleeting hope that maybe, just maybe, Merlin could set aside his affections for a Prince who would never love him, to settle for a Knight instead.
That's where he went wrong.
Gwaine decided that on the eve of Beltane, he'd talk it over with the man. As friends, he thought, as equals. There was nothing Merlin prized more than being on equal footing with someone, and Gwaine knew that if he propositioned him as a knight, and not as Gwaine, he would be in for a little more than a bit of trouble with his special someone.
The festivities were wide and grand, food and drink as far as the eye could see. Gwaine caught a glance of Arthur leaving the table early, and some ten minutes later, Merlin followed after. Thinking Merlin would be well on his way to seeing Arthur to bed, he thought maybe he could intercept him before he retreated back to his own rooms. Yes, that would work well, he reasoned.
He stepped out into the hall, and began to walk down the corridor, towards the direction of Arthur's chambers. He stopped when he heard the murmur of voices, and he peered around the corner, catching the glimpse of blond and black hair, before he looked away, hidden behind the wall.
Gwaine listened closely.
“...so frustrating...seeing you there, never being able to touch you...” Arthur.
“I know...it's a small price to pay, isn't it? For moments like these...” Merlin.
But what were they talking about?
He chanced his luck again, and glanced around the corner, a sharp intake of breath catching in his throat. He watched as Arthur pressed Merlin to the wall, their lips melded together, hands grasping everywhere they could feel, could touch, as if they couldn't live without it. Arthur pulled back and rested their foreheads together, and Gwaine heard, just faintly,
“I love you, so much...so much I feel like I'm going to burn up inside.”
Now that was a bit of a shocker. He had always been under the impression the prince's affections lay with the lovely Guinevere. Apparently not.
Merlin shushed him. “I know, I know...I love you too. I will always love you. Every day, I'll love you for the rest of my life, and the stars beside.”
They brought their lips together again, and Gwaine felt as though the life had just been punched out of him. Then he felt like laughing, despite the breathless feeling. Arthur loved Merlin and Merlin loved Arthur—a match made perfect, who would need Gwaine, anyway?
He clenched his fists, bit his tongue, and left them to their business, ignoring the sickening feeling of the despair that slowly crawled up his throat.