Title: Head and Heart
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Nimueh, Mordred
Summary: They had no reason to doubt he hadn't gone ahead with the plan.
Word Count: 997
Author's Notes: I need sleep so badly, so this is kind of awful.
Merlin held his breath as he slipped from the bed, trying to make sure Arthur wasn’t disturbed. As soon as he was free from both the covers and Arthur’s grip, he breathed a sigh of relief, only to instantly hold the next breath as Arthur snuffled slightly, pulling Merlin’s pillow closer. Allowing his eyes to flash gold in the darkness of the room, Merlin smiled fondly. Arthur wouldn’t wake now, he would sleep peacefully until morning and wake up more refreshed than he had been for days.
Knowing his lover was comfortable, Merlin quickly dressed and slipped from the room. He hated how easy it was to steal away from the castle in the dead of night, then he hated that he even thought that. He should be glad; it would mean fewer people would suffer. He stopped himself there. Things were changing for him, he wasn’t sure he could go through with the plan.
Breaking into a run as soon as he was out of sight, Merlin made his way swiftly through the woods. He knew exactly where he was going and the lingering voice in his mind guided him towards his destination. They better have a good reason for calling him out in the middle of the night, they knew how dangerous it was. For them all, not just Merlin.
Finally, however, he came to a stop in a small clearing and let a whistle slide through his teeth. His eyes flashed at the same time, putting his own magical signature on the whistle. Any druid in the nearby area would know it was him and they didn’t have to waste time pretending to be on guard. Merlin was not impressed with how long he had to wait until Nimueh came into view. His hands rested on his hips as he watched the witch approach. Despite it being the middle of the night, he wasn’t surprised to see Mordred shadowing her every move. He idolised her in a way that worried Merlin.
“You called me?”
“Our people wanted to know how the plan was coming along,” she said smoothly. Merlin wasn’t fooled though. She had called him because she wanted him to have to slip away and come. It was her way of pretending she had some sort of power over him and Merlin hated it. He didn’t even try to hide the annoyance on his expression.
“The plan is you wait for my signal,” he responded shortly, already beginning to turn to leave. This was a waste of time; he would be much better spending it in Arthur’s bed than standing out here.
“But our spies have already reported the first stage is complete.” Nimueh’s voice was silky and Merlin knew she had been waiting for the moment to say this. He stopped but didn’t turn.
“You’ve been spying on me?”
“Only to ensure your safety, I promise you…”
Merlin turned, his eyes already beginning to glow threateningly. He couldn’t believe he had been so stupid. Nimueh had been after his position as Druid leader for as long as he had known her. Their people would be asking because she would be sowing seeds of doubt into their minds.
“But you have his heart and mind, do you not? The enchantment worked?”
“About that…” Merlin rubbed the back of his neck a little sheepishly. “Things haven’t exactly gone to plan.”
“You assured us your magic was strong enough to capture him.”
“My magic is. I just didn’t do the spell.” He knew the whole point of him risking his life in Camelot was that when the Druids rose up, the prince would be on their side. But something had stopped him that first time he had met Arthur, and before he knew what was happening they had somehow fallen for each other. Merlin kept telling himself he would do the spell, but he couldn’t. Not now. He couldn’t enchant Arthur to support him. Not when deep down he believed Arthur would accept him anyway.
“You’ve betrayed us!” Merlin looked back at the right moment, seeing gold begin to infiltrate Nimueh’s eyes. Throwing out his hand, he forced the witch back against a tree, nullifying her magic as he did so.
“I promised the people I would bring them peace. That is what I am going to do. Just because I am not using magic in order to do it does not mean that I betrayed you.”
“You’re weak,” Nimueh was struggling against him. But her struggles just undermined her own words – there was no one as strong as Merlin and they both knew it. He looked at her coolly, not reducing the pressure. Making sure his voice carried (convinced that there were others lurking nearby), he took a step closer.
“If anyone decides to try and take my place in Camelot, if Arthur’s behaviour changes in any way in the future, rest assured I will remind you precisely why I was able to take control from Alvarr. I will not break my promise but I will not enchant the prince. We will have peace in an honest manner and it will be more fruitful because of it.”
Releasing Nimueh, Merlin turned and walked out of the clearing. He was trying to make it seem as if he wasn’t worried by anything they might do, but the opposite was true. There was a look of hatred on Mordred’s face that unnerved him and Merlin found that he wanted to get back to the safety of Camelot.
It was only when he was carefully wriggling his way back into Arthur’s arms did he see the irony in the situation. He was seeking safety with the man who would have had him killed if he found out who he was when they met. Now, however… Leaning up and brushing his lips across Arthur’s forehead, Merlin knew Arthur would give him a chance to explain.
He had never been so relieved to have hesitated on a spell before.