Title: Living your life
Character/s:Arthur, Merlin, Hunith
Summary: Arthur get used to his life in Ealdor
Word Count: 1168
Prompt: 114. Hiraeth
Author's Notes: Thanks to derenai for the beta. Part of my "My special one" series.
When Merlin woke up, he was surprised to see the sun already high in the sky. He jumped out of his bed and hastily washed his face, got dressed and joined his mother in the kitchen.
“Mum! Why have you let me sleep so late? I promised Bron I’d help him stock the barley!”
“Merlin, you were knackered yesterday after having repaired Leonor’s barn so I thought you deserved some rest and Arthur offered to go help Bron.”
“Arthur?” Merlin repeated, still surprised by the way Arthur had gotten used to the life in Ealdor. The Prince had been living there for a week now and he had spent most of his time helping the villagers or Hunith with manual tasks. Against all odds he was even quite skilled and really seemed to enjoy himself.
The only downside of this was that Merlin and Arthur barely had had time to talk. When he had arrived in Ealdor, Arthur had just said that he was here to see Merlin and he had told Hunith he was just a friend Merlin had met in Camelot. Merlin hadn’t denied it, not wanting his mother to know the truth and not sure where he stood with Arthur. He had never imagined that the Prince would come to Ealdor just to see him… After his return to Ealdor, Merlin had spent countless nights fearing that Arthur would come, with his Knights to bring him back, breaking his promise.
Hunith had welcomed Arthur like a long lost son and it had made Merlin strangely happy. The Arthur he was discovering had nothing to do with the selfish prat that had kidnapped him months ago… Merlin couldn’t help but wonder if he had genuinely changed or if it was just a façade.
Merlin had wondered how long Arthur would stay but he hadn’t dared ask. He had just heard Arthur ask Hunith for a way to send a message to Camelot.
“So? You want to eat something?” Hunith asked, getting Merlin out of his daydream. He nodded and sat as his mother put some bread and ham in front of him.
As he walked towards Hunith’s house, Arthur felt his muscles aches like they never had after any training with the Knights. Working in the fields, fixing a roof, stocking the grains… That was way more tiring that just sword training. It was also more rewarding.
Arthur really enjoyed that life, in Ealdor, with Merlin and he had even started to envy his friends. Hunith often told him stories of Merlin’s childhood when he helped her cook supper and he found that he felt a little jealous of the happy and carefree life Merlin had lived. He would have wanted to run in the meadows in the summer, to enjoy some snow battles in winter, to gather with all the villagers during Samhain… He was craving for this life full of people, laughter, and joy. Though, if he was totally honest, what he envied the most, was the motherly love Merlin had enjoyed all his life when he had been raised by nannies and a distant father.
“Arthur? Are you okay?”
Arthur jumped hearing Merlin’s voice behind him and he realized he was standing in the middle of the way, looking at his feet.
“Oh… I… Yes.”
“You’re sure? You’ve worked hard in the past days, you should rest.
“I suppose you’re right… Let’s go back?” Arthur asked and Merlin followed him.
When they reached Hunith and Merlin’s house they were welcomed with two big tubs filled with steaming water.
“I thought you could enjoy a bath after all the hard work.” Hunith explained, “The neighbor helped me and lent me the tubs… They wanted to thank you, too.”
“It’s nothing but thank you,” Arthur answered.
A little later, Merlin and he were enjoying their baths. They were silent but Arthur saw Merlin looking at him from time to time like he wanted to say something but didn’t.
Arthur took a deep breath. It was perhaps the right time to talk with Merlin. Since his arrival in Ealdor he had never founnd the right moment to talk with the boy. Hunith was always there or they were busy doing some work or another or they were just too tired to talk.
“Merlin?” he asked softly, looking at the man.
“I… I’m sorry.”
“Hum? What for? It’s okay if you’ve eaten the last honey cake you know.”
“I’m not talking about this… It’s about you and… I’m sorry that I’ve kidnapped you and held you captive.”
“Oh… It’s okay you know… You’ve let me go and…”
Merlin didn’t finish his sentence and once again Arthur had the feeling he had wanted to say something else.
“Merlin… If you want to ask me something, please do. Here, I’m not the Prince of Camelot.”
Merlin looked away and Arthur gently touched his arm, to encourage him.
“Why… Why are you here?” Merlin finally breathed.
Arthur was waiting for that question and he was quite surprised Merlin hadn’t asked him on his first day in Ealdor. Though, even if he was ready to hear the question, he still wasn’t ready to give the answer. It was the moment of truth. Merlin’s reaction was going to change everything for Arthur, in a way or another.
“I… I missed you but… I couldn’t ask you to come back to Camelot so I decided to come here.”
“I missed you, too,” Merlin confessed, still not looking at Arthur but he let his arm fall from the edge of the tub and his hand brushed with Arthur’s.
Arthur who smiled and gently intertwined their fingers.
They stayed like this till the water run cold. They dried themselves and got dressed without looking at each other and when they went to the kitchen, they found a big fire roaring in the heart and their supper waiting on the table. Hunith was nowhere to be seen.
Arthur was grateful for this. She was truly a gentle heart, she cared for her son but she also had guessed Arthur intentions, it seemed and it looked like she wasn’t bothered by them.
Merlin and Arthur decided to sit in front of the fire and ate on the rug. When the plates were emptied, Arthur nudged Merlin who smiled and it was enough permission for Arthur to put his arm around Merlin’s shoulders. Merlin who leaned against Arthur’s body.
“Will you stay here?” Merlin asked then.
“I… I wish I could. I’ve sent a message to Camelot for my Knights to lie to my father but I’ll need to go back in a week.”
Merlin’s disappointment was audible and Arthur couldn’t stand making Merlin sad again.
“I’ll find a way, Merlin. I still don’t know how but… I don’t want to be away from you again.”
Arthur felt Merlin’s arm around his waist.
“I don’t want it neither.”
Arthur sighed and kissed the top of Merlin’s head.
“I’ll find a way. I promise.”