Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur (if you want)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin,
Summary: Arthur hadn't yet spoken about Merlin's magic.
Word Count: 1000
Author's Notes: 2 weeks in a row!! WHOO!!
Merlin knocked tentatively on the door, not barging straight in. He didn’t want to go in at all, not when he knew the conversation that would happen once he entered would change his life. As of yet, he still didn’t know whether it would be for better… or whether he would be killed.
He thought he had always been good at reading Arthur’s emotions. But their journey back to Camelot - having just reached the lake in time and the king’s life being forced back into his dying body – was the longest of Merlin’s life. Arthur hadn’t spoken to him, but he didn’t seem to be angry either. There would have been many occasion where Merlin would have made some quip about the king hurting himself thinking so deeply, but he knew now was not the time.
For if Arthur was thinking, it meant there was still hope for him. It was one thing for Arthur to seem to accept Merlin’s magic when he believed he was on a one-way journey and would never have to deal with the consequences of that acceptance. But Merlin knew things had changed between them the second Arthur had been saved. The king couldn’t deny he had accepted the magic. He couldn’t go back on it, not when he had come so far. But after everything that had been thrown his way, it wasn’t as simple to accept it once he knew that he was going to live.
Despite knowing he could be riding back to his death, Merlin had still followed Arthur home. The king had still been weak, there was no way the warlock was about to go through all of that just to let Arthur die then. It was a good job he was there, for on more than one occasion his magic was needed to protect them both from roaming Saxons. Arthur didn’t even make a jibe about him not needing any help, and that just made Merlin all the more certain that Arthur was too weak to have made it back alone.
But made it back they did, and there had been so much to do and so many people to help Gaius tend that Merlin had kept himself busy. He told himself that he was giving Arthur time to come to terms with what he had found out without his servant constantly in his eye-line and being a permanent reminder of the decision that he now had to make. But in all reality, Merlin just knew that he had been too scared to face Arthur. If Arthur decided to put him to death, Merlin knew he wouldn’t run. What would be the point? He wouldn’t be able to live again if Arthur turned on him in such a way. But he wasn’t ready to hear of his fate just yet and so he had hid.
It seemed that Arthur knew him better than Merlin gave the king credit for, however. Not even a week had passed when Leon had turned up, looking grave. Merlin had been unable to tell whether the knight had been told anything, Leon’s face gave nothing away as he quietly told the servant that the king wanted to see him.
And that Leon himself was expected to escort Merlin there.
It seemed Arthur really thought he was going to run.
So when Arthur’s voice bid him to enter, Merlin knew he had no choice, not with Leon standing right behind him. But luckily the knight didn’t enter and Arthur was alone. This was going to be hard enough as it was, let alone with anyone else present.
“Have you been hiding from me?”
“No?” Merlin forced himself to breathe. Arthur hadn’t thrown a sword at him the second that he had entered, surely that he had to be a good thing? Did it mean that there was a chance? Or that he just wanted to make Merlin wait even longer. Arthur looked as if he was trying not to smile and Merlin found himself relaxing.
“How are you feeling?” Moving across the room, he sank into a chair, one knee folded up to his chest as he stared at his king. Arthur was watching him closely.
“Like I have a liar as a best friend and I don’t know what to do.”
Merlin flinched, and he knew that it was visible. But then he slowly started to turn over what Arthur had just said. He didn’t say a sorcerer, he said a liar. Meaning it was the lies that were the issue, not the magic.
He had also said Merlin was his best friend. In the present tense.
Hardly daring to breathe, Merlin slowly looked up, meeting Arthur’s eyes. They held gazes for a moment before Arthur blew out a long breath and ran his hands through his hair.
“I don’t know what to do, Merlin. If it was anyone else… but it’s you. Clumsy, idiotic you who has never left my side. I’ve been thinking about lifting the ban for years now, you know that. But you were always the one to tell me not to.”
“Sorry,” Merlin mumbled. He had hated those moments, but he didn’t have a choice. “I was just trying to protect you.”
“Which is why I have such a problem. Look, I don’t know if I’m alright with it yet. I don’t know if I still want you as a servant, or even in Camelot, not when I’m not sure whether I can trust you.”
Merlin nodded glumly. Banishment was better than execution, but it still hurt. He wouldn’t be there for his destiny if he wasn’t in Camelot. But it seemed that Arthur wasn’t finished.
“But I’m willing to give it a try. If you promise no more lies?”
Merlin had never sincerely bowed to Arthur before. But if there was ever a moment, it was that one. His life was his own – and maybe even their friendship would be able to survive?