Title:A new dawn
Summary:Percival is an enigma for Merlin
Warnings:very slight mention of past violence
Author's Notes: Thanks to dreaminglypeach for the beta
When Merlin returned to the camp with more firewood, he noticed that Percival was nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t unusual for the knight to disappear like this when they were setting camp during a patrol or a hunt trip.
At first, Merlin hadn’t really paid attention to it. Percival was sometimes withdrawn, so it wasn’t surprising for him to want some time alone; what had finally intrigued Merlin was how Percival seemed to disappear always at the same moment, just when the sun was setting.
“Gwaine? Have you seen Percival?” Merlin asked as he tended the fire.
“Not since you left. I thought he went with you.”
Merlin finished with the fire and looked at Arthur. He was discussing something with Leon at the border of the clearing, probably about the route they would take on the next day. It didn’t seem like he would need Merlin soon.
Merlin had to know where Percival was. The knight had always been an enigma. Silent and withdrawn one moment, and then joyful and cheeky the next.
Merlin went in to the forest and started to search for Percival, finally finding him near the cliff they had travelled along earlier.
The knight was sitting on a rock, looking at the setting in front of him. On the horizon, the sun was already low, casting an orange glow on the fields and woods.
Merlin hesitated, not sure he had the right to disturb Percival. In the end, it was the hunched shoulders of the knight and the shivers running along his back that decided Merlin to go talk to his friend.
“Percival?” he called softly.
The knight turned to face Merlin. He looked so sad.
“I… I can go back…”
Merlin wasn’t sure he had made the right choice by coming here.
“No, no… Stay.”
A faint smile appeared on Percival’s lips and he moved to leave some room on the rock for Merlin to sit next to him.
They remained silent for a long time, until the sun disappeared behind the hill, leaving them in the darkness.
Merlin didn’t know what to say so he waited for Percival to talk.
“The last time I saw my village, the sun was setting.” The Knight said, barely louder than a whisper, making Merlin come closer. “I looked behind me. I was breathless, my arm was hurting. I had blood and dirt all over me and I knew Cenred’s men would be searching for survivors but I had to stop and look behind me one last time.”
Merlin held his breath. He knew about the fate of Percival’s village but the knight had never really talked about it.
“Half the houses were on fire… I still can see it every time I look at a sunset.”
“That’s why you’re always leaving us?”
“Yes… I’m sorry, but I need to look at it… It reminds me of my village, of my family, but that’s not it. You know, seeing the sun set is like the end of something. It hurts, but you know that the sun will rise soon, that another day will come. It gives me hope.”
Merlin looked at Percival. In the darkness he was just able to see his broad figure.
“I think that’s a beautiful way to see things.”
“It’s the only way I’ve found to keep going.”
“Percy… You know we’re all here if you need to talk or… anything.”
Percival faced Merlin and gently took his hand in his. Merlin’s hand looked small in Percival’s, but the gesture was full of tenderness.
“I know Merlin. I’m grateful for all the friends I’ve met in Camelot… I’m grateful that I met you.”
Merlin gently squeezed Percival’s hand.
When they got back to the camp, everybody was already asleep. They ate what was left of Elyan’s rabbit stew and took their bedrolls closer to the fire. Merlin went to lie next to Arthur, as he always did, but Percival detained him.
“Can… Can you stay with me tonight?”
Merlin didn’t know why Percival asked him that, what was hidden behind the request but he didn’t care. He nodded and unrolled his bed next to the knight’s.
And when, during the night, they came closer to each other and held each other hands, Merlin decided not to care either. Percival was still an enigma, just a different one. One Merlin was eager to investigate when the dawn arrived.