Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur (if you want)
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: He had to be going mad. What other explanation was there for constantly hearing Arthur's voice?
Word Count: 1000
Author's Notes: I really don't seem to be any good at titles recently...
Merlin was convinced that he was going mad.
Everywhere he turned, Arthur seemed to be there. Sometimes it was almost a fleeting glimpse of him as he left the room. Other times, the sound of his laughter sometimes seem to linger in the air long after Merlin’s had died away.
But it wasn’t possible.
Merlin laughed alone now. When he did laugh, that was. It was getting harder with each year that passed to remember why he had to keep going on. But he knew that he had to be there when Arthur came back. There was no if about it, his king would return to him. Until then, it was as if Arthur was just making sure that his servant didn’t forget about him and instead kept leaving hints that he would return.
Merlin was sure he made the bed, then would return to it looking as if someone had been sprawled across it. He would dry down the shower, and then find it steamed up again. There would be a smell in the air that reminded him so strongly of Arthur that tears would rush to his eyes and he would have to scrub everything until it went away.
He hated it.
And yet he loved it.
Then he hated that he loved it.
How was he supposed to move on with his life if the prat wasn’t going to let him? But Merlin knew he was just telling himself that. He didn’t want to move on. What was there to move on to? Magic had died out, the world had changed and Merlin was stuck on the outskirts waiting for a king that he knew may never return.
Shaking himself, Merlin banished the thought as he once again placed a cushion back on the bed. If he didn’t know better, he would say that his magic was messing with him, making him paranoid that someone was there. But Merlin had control of his powers in ways that he could have scarcely imagine back in Camelot. Whatever this was, it wasn’t him.
For a while, Merlin managed to push it from his mind. He was grieving. Still. Even after all of these years, he was never going to simply get over Arthur’s death when that action had resulted in his destiny being destroyed. A man without a destiny was a hollow shell, a life barely worth living. Who cared if he was seeing things? There was no one left to care.
But that was when he started to hear his name. Sometimes, it was just a whisper on the wind, barely audible. Those days were easy, Merlin could tell himself that he was imagining it. But on other days… it was as if Arthur was standing right next to him, yelling for his servant with that sarcastic twist to Merlin’s name that made the servant know that he was truly in trouble.
Those were the hard days. Those were the days he just wanted to fall to the ground and beg his master to give him something to do, some sort of sign that it wasn’t all in his head. How he managed to prevent himself from doing so, Merlin had no idea. But it was getting harder and harder each time he heard it.
Then things changed completely.
He started seeing Arthur. Not just as glimpses as if Arthur was leaving the room, but as if the man was standing right next to him. Merlin would just squeeze his eyes shut and pretend that nothing was happening, allowing his magic to conquer up a picture of Camelot until his nerves settled and he could breathe easy again.
Merlin jumped. He had had a bad night anyway, he had really hoped that nothing would happen today.
“As if I would do what you thought, Merlin, you’re my servant.”
“A-Arthur?” Merlin knew he was being foolish talking back. There was no one there. Arthur was dead and gone, and he would know if he was back. There was a long suffering sigh and, just like that, Merlin suddenly found himself looking at Arthur.
He was standing in front of him. Only, it wasn’t quite the king. For Merlin was almost certain that he had never been able to see through Arthur before. Unable to stop himself, his hand raised and brushed through the apparition. If that was what it was.
Although his hand passed through Arthur’s body, he shivered as he felt something cold. Arthur might not have been there, but something was.
“Are you a ghost?”
“For someone that can do magic, you look surprised. I suppose so. You didn’t honestly think I would let you off for all these years and leave you to bumble through without me, did you?” Despite the teasing in Arthur’s voice, Merlin could hear the fondness underlying the tone and before he knew what was happening, tears were flooding down his cheeks.
“You’re gone. Yet you’re here. How are you here, how…”
“Don’t cry,” the vision of Arthur murmured, looking uncomfortable. “I can’t do anything to help you like this.”
“You can stop haunting me,” Merlin mumbled, wiping the tears away but not stopping the fresh set from spilling down his face. “I thought I was going mad.”
To Merlin’s utter delight, Arthur seemed to roll his eyes even as he settled back on Merlin’s bed. For a moment, he had an expression of discomfort on his face before he shoved the cushion of the bed and sighed, stretching out.
“You already were mad. Sorcerer living in Camelot, what sort of man does that?”
Unable to think of a comeback, Merlin carefully settled himself next to Arthur. He might not be able to touch him, but his magic could. Gold swirled happily around the two of them and for a split-second, Merlin thought he felt the comforting pressure of Arthur’s hand in his. His fingers flexed, but there was nothing to grip onto.
It didn’t matter though. Arthur was here. Somehow.