Title:In the shadows
Character/s:Merlin, Lancelot, Arthur, Gwaine
Summary:Lancelot had been a steady presence in Merlin’s life since they met on their first day of high school.
Word Count:1491 (oops)
Prompt:152. Sir Lancelot
Author's Notes:Not betaed, sorry.
Lancelot had been a steady presence in Merlin’s life since they met on their first day of high school.
It was Lancelot who first discovered about Merlin’s secret passion for astrophysics and his extraordinary gift with numbers.
It was also Lancelot who held Merlin when his mother brought the new of the death of Merlin’s father. Merlin had barely knew his father as he had left him and his mother when he was just a baby but they had kept contact by letters and mails. It had always been a touchy subject for Merlin and Lancelot had been the only one to know the whole story.
When they went to university, Lancelot became Merlin’s roommate and as a result was the first to discover than Merlin preferred boys. The dreams and moaned guys’ names were self-explanatory. Thus, Lancelot was also the first to know about Merlin’s crush for Gwaine, the history student that was flirting with everything standing on two legs. Predictably, it was also Lancelot that brought ice cream and tissues when Merlin saw Gwaine snog with Percival behind the library.
During all these years, Lancelot had stayed with Merlin like a loyal friend. Never had it let his own feelings interfere with his friendship with Merlin. He knew he stood no chance, he knew he wasn’t meant to be the one making Merlin happy and he accepted it.
Though, when Merlin met Arthur, it suddenly become too hard for Lancelot to witness. Merlin and Arthur were perfect for each other. They were as different as night and day but complemented each other like two puzzle pieces. For everyone that saw them, it was obvious they were meant to be together.
Lancelot never showed any jealousy or resentment. How could he be mad at someone who was clearly making Merlin happier than ever?
A year after the end of University, Merlin and Arthur moved together. A few months later, they adopted a dog. For Lance, it became just too hard so, for once, he took a selfish decision.
With his degree in International trade it wasn’t hard to find a job opportunity abroad and Australia was as far away as possible from England.
Of course, Merlin was sad to learn that his best friend was leaving but he kept telling Lancelot how such a great opportunity it was, how he couldn’t miss it. When they said goodbye at the airport, Merlin cried but Lancelot took it for what it was. Two best friends parting, nothing more. Lancelot looked back one last time and he saw Arthur hugging Merlin, comforting him and he didn’t regret his decision.
Months passed by. Lancelot met new people, new friends. Merlin kept sending him emails. Lancelot always answered. Distance didn’t make forgetting easier but, at least, the pain was bearable.
Lancelot even started to love his life in Australia. The country was beautiful, the people friendly, his job was interesting.
He was there for seven months and three days when Gwaine called. After the debacle of their first year, Gwaine and Merlin had become friends. Gwaine had brought Percival along even if the kiss behind the library had remained a one-shot. Since then, they had remained close though Gwaine had mostly send emails and a tacky Christmas cards.
Gwaine’s tone was strangely serious.
“Gwaine? What happened?’
“He needs you.”
Lancelot immediately knew they were talking about Merlin.
“What happened?” Lancelot repeated, horrible scenarios playing in his mind.
“Arthur had left him… For Gwen.”
Gwen was another common friend, a gentle girl they had met when she was a barista at the coffee shop near their dormitory.
Lancelot couldn’t hide his surprise. Though, as Gwaine explained the situation, he was already checking the first fly to London.
As Gwaine had told him, Merlin was currently back living with his mother in the countryside as the flat he shared with Arthur belonged to the latter.
Staying in the alleyway of the small semidetached house where he had spent so much time in his teen years was strange. He hadn’t been there for years but the place remained full of great memories.
It was Hunith, Merlin’s mother, who opened the door. She looked glum but a small smile appeared on his lips when she saw Lancelot.
“Lance… I’m so glad you’re here.”
“He’s up there. Didn’t come out. He has barely eaten in the last week. I don’t know what to do.”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
Lancelot tried to appear confident in front of Hunith but he wasn’t. He didn’t know what to say to Merlin, didn’t know how he was going to react seeing his friend again after seven months, seeing him distraught.
Merlin was nestled under his duvet when Lancelot opened the door. The room was a true mess but Lancelot barely looked at it.
No answer, just a shudder under the covers. Lancelot came closer and sat on the edge of the bed.
“Merlin. I’m here if you want to talk.”
A sob and then Lancelot found himself with an armful of crying Merlin. Instinctively, Lancelot hugged his friend.
“Hey, it’s ok… No, I know it’s not now but it’s gonna be ok, I promise you.” Lancelot said, petting Merlin’s hair.
Of course, his friend didn’t calm down immediately and Lancelot didn’t know how long they stayed like that till Merlin’s sobs finally stopped and his breath slowed down.
“I’m glad you’re here” were Merlin’s first words and it made Lancelot heart hurt.
“I’m sorry I left… I shouldn’t have. I should have stayed with you.”
Merlin finally looked at Lancelot. His eyes were puffy and red, his hair was sticking in every directions but Lancelot had never found him more beautiful.
“No! It was a wonderful opportunity for you! You had to go and live your life!”
“No, Merlin. I didn’t go because I wanted that job… I went away because I was a coward.”
Merlin looked lost, not understanding what Lancelot was talking about. Though, it wasn’t the right time for Lancelot to tell the truth to Merlin. It would be taking advantage or risking upsetting him even more. It would have to wait.
“Later, Merlin. I’ll tell you everything but not now. Now I’m here and I’ll take care of you.”
Merlin nodded and took back his place in Lancelot’s arms.
Ten months later
Lancelot entered the flat he shared with Merlin to find his friend sitting on the couch, holding something in his hands, looking upset.
“Merlin? Are you alright?”
Merlin nodded and showed what he was holding to Lancelot.
“Morgana’s getting married.”
Morgana was Arthur’s sister. Merlin and she had always got along quite well.
“She called me. She said she would understand if I don’t go as Arthur will be there but she wanted to invite me nonetheless.”
“What do you want to do?” Lancelot asked, sitting next to Merlin.
“I think I’d like to go. Morgana will be pleased and…”
Merlin looked at Lancelot with a small smile.
“I think I’m ready to see him.”
Lancelot nodded. He wasn’t so sure it was a good idea but it was Merlin’s decision.
“Morgana has said I could bring someone so… I thought… Would you want to accompany me?” Merlin asked, not looking directly at Lancelot.
“Of course Merlin! You know I’ve promised to be there for you as long as you need me.”
Merlin smiled and finally looked back at Lancelot.
“I know but… I’d like if you come as my plus one.”
It took a few seconds for Lancelot to understand what Merlin meant. Lancelot had confessed his feelings a few weeks after his return to England when Merlin had asked why he wasn’t going back to Australia. Merlin hadn’t really reacted to the news and Lancelot had never talked about it since then.
“I… I’ve thought a lot about it in the past weeks.” Merlin continued as Lancelot hadn’t said anything. “And… You’ve always been there for me… You’ve been my best friend and…”
“Merlin, I don’t need any repayment for what I’ve done.” Lancelot interrupted his friend, certainly not wanting him to show any pity.
“No, no! It’s not that. It’s just that in the past week I realized how important you were for me, how well we know each other and how much I cared for you… More than I should for a friend.”
“Oh.” Lancelot didn’t know what else to say.
“So… Will you come to Morgana’s wedding with me?”
Lancelot looked at Merlin who was smiling at him, that small shy smile he always made when he wanted something, that smile Lancelot had never been able to resist.
“Of course I will.”
As Merlin kissed him, Lancelot remembered all this years spent in the shadows. They were worth it if it meant I had finally a chance to bathe in Merlin’s light. And he would do anything so that light would never fade again.