Title: Crash Landing
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: He had spent centuries grieving. He didn't think something crashing through his roof would make him feel any better.
Word Count: 999
Author's Notes: Completely rubbish title and yep, I'm going off Sword in the Stone here :)
Merlin no longer knew how many years it had been.
For centuries he had walked alone; grieving. Not just for Arthur, but for all of his friends. Eventually, as the world began to change around him, he grieved for Albion as well. Magic had been accepted, but it was as if that didn’t matter anymore. Merlin knew that he was one of the last of his kind. People found solutions through other methods and stop practicing. No more were born with magic. The world had changed, and magic no longer had a place in it.
Merlin had kept hold of his, but he didn’t know why. He would have lost it in a heartbeat if that would mean he could have a mortal life. But fate was working against him once more and seemed to curse him. Destined to walk the earth alone until Arthur returned, Merlin hid himself away. If the world didn’t care about him, then he didn’t care about the world. Not when it felt like his heart had died back with his king.
He stopped trying to look young as well. Now and again, he would revert back to the age that fate had preserved him as, move on to a new destination and allow himself to grow old again. He wasn’t allowed to end it, so he may as well make life as easy for himself as he could.
He was in his Emrys disguise now, living in a small hut in the depths of a wood. A town had sprung up on the outskirts of the forest, but Merlin was allowed to grieve in private. Children were warned to stay away from him and the adults themselves always gave the hut a wide berth if they ever ventured into the forest. Merlin didn’t mind. He had learnt that growing attached only ended in pain and he wasn’t sure he could handle it again.
It was a summer’s afternoon, the sun shining brightly and the birds chirping outside of his window. Merlin was sitting at an old table he had carved a while back. There weren’t many professions that he didn’t have some sort of knowledge in now – he had needed to find something as the years spanned into decades and eventually stretched into centuries. But Merlin was in a foul mood that morning, scratching away at the edge with the tip of an old knife. He knew his magic would repair any damage once he was done.
But he had been awoken again that night by the nightmares that never seemed to fade even as time stretched on. How many times did he need reminding that he had failed Arthur? That he had failed in his destiny and magic had died out because he wasn’t strong enough to save his king? They didn’t occur as often as they used to, but it was still enough for Merlin to awaken with tears streaming from his eyes and Arthur’s name on his lips.
He knew that as the day passed, he would eventually lose the mood. But for now, Merlin was fine with staying like this. It wasn’t as if anyone else was infected by his foul temper while he was out here on his own.
A sudden thud on the roof made Merlin start, the knife slipping and grazing his palm. Spitting out a healing spell, Merlin watched as the skin knitted back together again before turning his eyes upwards. It had only been a small thud, as if something had fallen onto the roof. Deciding it had to be a bird or something else insignificant, Merlin dropped his eyes again.
“I’ll get it!”
The high voice had been close, closer to the house than anyone normally dared to venture. Merlin found that he was frozen as he listened. The old oak next to his house creaked in protest and Merlin was certain that it was because someone was climbing it. There was a pause, and then the unmistakeable sound of someone trying to crawl across the roof. Merlin found himself standing, words of power on his tongue. He knew the roof couldn’t take any weight, not even that of a child. Despite the voice indicating his trespasser was young, Merlin knew not to take the chance.
But before he could lift his hands, the roof shrieked. Merlin only had time to duck out of the way as the whole thing caved in and fell with a mass of dust and bricks. A spell escaped Merlin before he could stop it, ensuring that whoever was up there wouldn’t be hurt by the fall. When the dust cleared, Merlin turned his glare onto the table.
The glare, however, melted away as soon as he saw the boy on it. He must have only been about seven, wearing a red jumper that was far too big for him and fell down past his knees. He scrambled upright even as Merlin stared and the warlock felt his heart thud uncomfortably hard at the mop of blond hair. It was exactly the same shade that…
“Hi,” the child said brightly, excitement shining in his eyes at the adventure that he was having. “I lost my ball on your roof and I tried to get it, only now it looks like you’ve lost your roof and I still can’t find my ball…”
“Wart! Hurry up, damn you!”
“That’s my big brother. He’s all moody. But he’s not really my brother, but my adopted one. And my name isn’t really Wart. I’m Arthur. Sorry for falling through your roof.”
Despite the chatter being nothing like the Arthur that Merlin used to know, the warlock couldn’t help himself. For the first time in what felt like centuries, a smile forced its way onto his face and the years seemed to strip away. He stopped it before he physically changed appearance, not wanting to startle Arthur. But he smiled warmly.
“I’m Merlin,” he said cautiously and Arthur frowned.
“Do I know you?”