Title: Deja vu
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Sometimes it felt as if there were something missing, as if something had been stolen from him.
Warnings: Probably should be something for what Merlin is doing. It's not exactly mind control but close enough.
Word Count: 998
Prompt: 131 - Enchant
Author's Notes: This also fills my hc_bingo square 'scars' - that's 13/25 done. Very rushed, no time for a beta, sorry. If you spot a mistake do say!
Sometimes it felt as if there were something missing, as if something had been stolen from him.
Arthur paused, his hand about to push the door to his chambers open when he heard a sound from within. And there it was, that certain something, a feeling that he had been there before, as if there were something nasty within waiting to attack him.
Well, that was ridiculous. Of course he’d been there before, it was his private room, and he slept there every night safely enough. He shook his head, trying to clear the foolish thought, and went inside. Merlin was there, making some hopeless attempt at tidying up. Arthur knew he must have heard the clumsy oaf dropping things, that was all it would have been.
A week or so later, it happened again. This time it was whilst he was out riding, heading through the forest in driving rain, his horse shying at the loud crack of thunder overhead. He tensed, expecting the horse to rear up and throw him like it had before. But it just shuddered, and trotted on, strong and reliable.
The rain was cold and harsh, and they battled on through it. It was only later when he was warm and dry, lying in his bed that he realised that he couldn’t actually recall being thrown from his horse as an adult. It had happened once, when he was a small boy and hadn’t learned that some horses don’t appreciate being kicked as a way to urge them faster. The instinct he had felt earlier, the cause of that instinct… it had seemed to be from a more recent event.
“Merlin,” he asked. “Do you ever recall riding in a thunderstorm before?”
Because Merlin would have been there, he always was. He had his back to Arthur now, stoking the fire.
“You have me go out in all weathers, Sire,” he answered. Arthur wished Merlin wouldn’t make Sire sound so disrespectful.
“One where I was thrown from my horse. Do you recall that?”
For a moment he thought Merlin’s shoulders stiffened, that he froze there beside the fire. But then Merlin turned, smiling.
“No, but if you do it again make sure I’m there to watch! Did you land on your head? Your least vulnerable part!”
Sometimes, obviously, Merlin needed reminding who was king. Arthur beckoned him closer to the bed, intending to do just that.
Weeks later out on the hillside, miles from Camelot, there was a genuine threat. Arthur was riding, two knights at his side and Merlin trotting along dutifully behind on his dumpy little horse that always struggled to keep up.
The winged beast swept down out of nowhere, ripping Sir Bors from his saddle with one hooked talon, cutting off Bedivere’s cry with another. Arthur was only saved because his saddle slipped from under him, twisting and sending him spinning to the floor.
“Merlin! Run!” he yelled, scrambling to his feet as the creature wheeled around, preparing to dive for them again. They stood no chance.
But Merlin wasn’t running. He was off his horse, standing firm on the ground. His hands were outstretched, and he was chanting something in a language Arthur couldn’t understand. It sounded like a spell, but it couldn’t be… not Merlin. And his eyes, they glowed like fire as he spoke.
There was something flying from Merlin’s hands, up at the beast. When it hit, the creature screamed and writhed, and then was gone, as if it had never been there.
Arthur stared at Merlin in horror, watching the gold fade and his eyes turn back to their normal, reassuring blue.
“What… you’re a sorcerer!”
Merlin nodded. He was watching Arthur’s face carefully. Merlin, that clumsy, foolish man with whom he shared so much. Too much. How could he possibly be something so wrong, so evil? Merlin was holding out a hand, and again Arthur got that feeling of déjà vu, that they’d done this before. Of course they had, Merlin often held his hand out in welcome at night, when they were alone. Never like this… Gods, he’d been sleeping with a sorcerer… trusted him with so much…
“A sorcerer. Yes Arthur. Are you ready? Can you accept it yet?” Merlin’s voice was calm, reassuring, familiar. “I’d never harm you. I’d always protect you.” He held out his hands, those same hands that had just obliterated the… whatever it was.
Arthur backed away. “Magic is evil. You… you’ve been lying to me…”
“Please, Arthur, you know me, you know I’m not evil. Can’t you accept that? But you have to decide quickly.”
“Decide?” That was strangely familiar too, but Arthur pushed the thought away. Probably something from this trickster. The sooner Arthur got on his horse and escaped, the better. He wouldn’t hunt him down, not Merlin, never Merlin. But he couldn’t accept this. “Don’t return to Camelot, Merlin.”
Merlin gave a sad little half-smile. “Well, you’re getting better. Years ago you’d threaten me with burning.”
He reached out again, and Arthur stared at his eyes, his mesmerizingly beautiful, golden eyes…
Many months later, Arthur rode on that same hillside. A cloud moved across the sun, casting the land briefly into shadow and Arthur looked up, fearing another winged monster come to tear them to pieces.
He shook his head, glancing at Merlin to make sure he hadn’t noticed. He didn’t know why he had thought of a winged monster. This was the place where two of his best knights had died, he and Merlin had found the bodies when riding after them later. Savages had done it. Sorcerers, probably, given the brutality of the killings. No monster. Sorcerers were monstrous enough, his father had taught him that.
He caught Merlin watching him.
Sometimes, and he knew this was definitely just a trick of the light, he thought he saw Merlin’s eyes glow. But when he looked again, they were always a guileless blue.