Title: Blinding Gold
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Merlin thought it was just Arthur being himself, that he was all you could see and Merlin loved all that he saw
Word Count: 474
Prompt: prompt #5 - Crown
Author's Notes: I just want to thank yllimilly for corrupting me and making want to write fanfiction. She's to blame for everything. Everything.
It took a long time for Merlin to figure it out, to see it. It was there, though, in the way Arthur held his shoulders, in the lines around his mouth, the way he clenched and unclenched his fingers, the tone of his voice, the alertness of his eyes. It was there in the silences between his words, and the breaths he took. It was painted all over his skin, in the gold-ness of his body.
Merlin thought it was just Arthur being himself, that he was all you could see and Merlin loved all that he saw and his lungs trembled under the strain of his breathing when he looked at him too long, dazzling.
He didn’t know, couldn’t know that it was there: a weight, a cloak, a whole armour so carefully polished it was mirror-like in its invisibility.
Until Arthur shed it, let it fall away from him. Involuntarily though it might have been, Merlin did not miss to see the change. One moment he was the Arthur Merlin thought he knew everything about, the blinding golden dragon. And then Arthur was kissing him and Merlin was kissing back and when he looked at him again it was gone and Merlin felt like the biggest idiot in the world to not have seen that it was there in the first place.
In that moment, in front of him, was the truth of Arthur. Less blinding in his armour-less self, but made infinitely more beautiful by the stark honesty of him. And Merlin loved him even more for it now that his lungs didn’t tremble and that he didn’t have to look away from all the shining glory. He didn’t think it could be possible, but then Arthur always said he was a fool. Merlin could breathe more freely and slow his breath to stretch time and look and look and look without ever having to turn away. He could touch without being burned.
Of course Arthur had to put it back on eventually and Merlin understood why that was. They were prince and servant. But Merlin always waited for the moment when it would come off again, catching the light of it out of the corner of his eyes, until the dimness of it was bearable. Sometimes he could see Arthur struggle to shed it, the heaviness of it sinking into his bones as if it wanted to etch itself there, a golden tattoo forever plated on his skin. So Merlin would be the one to take it off, make it lighter and lighter by running the pads of his fingers on cheekbones and lips, digging in muscles and flesh, extricating every filament of it clinging to Arthur’s veins until it fell at their feet in silent defeat.
They didn’t need it anyway. Not between them. They created their own light.