Title: Anywhere but Here
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Leon, Mordred
Summary: Arthur can't find Merlin anywhere.
Word Count: 999
Author's Notes: Enjoy!
Arthur stalked into his room, his door banging violently behind him. There was a pause and he heard it open softly again.
“Get out, Leon.”
“I need to know what to tell the men.”
Arthur whirled around to face his second in command. He had to give credit where it was due though, Leon stared impassively back and didn’t look away at the glare on Arthur’s face. It was his defiance that got through to the king and Arthur sighed, running a hand through his hair and letting the tension slip from his shoulders.
“Tell them to take a well-earned break,” he murmured. “There’s no point in going back out there.”
“He’ll be alright, Arthur. You not finding him doesn’t mean anything.”
“I’ve always found him though.”
“Has it ever been you he has hidden from?”
Arthur had no answer and Leon dipped his head before leaving the room. Arthur ran a hand through his hair, stumbling back until his knees hit the bed and he collapsed down onto it. Leon had a point. Merlin had been forced to flee Camelot more than once in the past, but it had always been on Arthur’s orders to keep him safe. He had never left because of one of their arguments before. Then again, Arthur knew they had never argued like that. He had said some harsh words and now he wanted Merlin back in his arms so he could murmur apologies into his skin.
But it didn’t seem to matter how many teams he led through the forest, Arthur couldn’t find his lover anywhere.
“Damn magic,” he groaned. Sitting up, he glanced around his tidy room and sighed. It was too empty without Merlin in it. Arthur wasn’t even sure when Merlin had officially moved into his chambers; the man was just always there. Except for now. When Arthur needed him the most, he was nowhere to be seen.
“I’m not sure you can blame it on magic, M’lord.” The soft voice made Arthur spin around, his hand instantly going to his sword until he saw Mordred standing there. He relaxed. The young druid had been a trusted knight and a key player in helping Morgana see the error of her ways. There had been moments of doubt, but now Arthur had not only a court warlock but two powerful sorcerers serving him as well.
“Do you think you can track him down?” Arthur said bluntly. He had sent for Mordred as soon as they had arrived back. The young man was always so desperate to prove himself that Arthur wasn’t surprised he had arrived already. Judging by the flush to Mordred’s face, he had run.
But he shook his head. “I’m sorry. I’ve already tried.”
Arthur lifted his eyebrows and Mordred flushed. “When I realised you were riding out again, I scouted the forest with magic. Merlin taught me how. But I couldn’t pick up his presence anywhere. If he is out there, he’s hiding himself.”
Arthur deflated again. Merlin truly didn’t want to be found.
“Thank you, Mordred. Dismissed.”
Mordred dipped his head and turned to leave. Arthur half-turned back to the window, only caught Mordred’s reflection and realised he had stopped.
“What is it?”
“Who else knows that you always use your left hand when eating?”
Arthur stared at him. For a second, he didn’t realise what Mordred was getting at. Then he looked again at his room. His clean, tidy room.
“Get out,” he muttered. Mordred hurried to obey, shutting the door behind him. Arthur waited a moment.
He was certain his shout would be heard halfway across the kingdom. For a long second, nothing happened. But then the servant’s door creaked open and suddenly, Merlin was standing there. He had his arms folded across his chest and a small grin on his face.
“You-,” Arthur had no idea what he wanted to say. Instead, he crossed the room and pulled his warlock into his arms, breathing in Merlin’s scent and finally feeling the tension uncoil that had been building for days. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere.”
He felt Merlin’s arms encircle him and a hand stroke the back of his hair gently.
“You’ve looked everywhere apart from your own castle,” Merlin said. “Do you really think that I would have been able to leave you?”
“But… you weren’t here.” Arthur realised how feebly that sounded and he flushed as he pulled back from Merlin’s embrace. Merlin’s expression indicated he was trying not to laugh at Arthur’s whine.
“I’m always here,” he murmured fondly. The two stared at each other for a moment before Arthur reached for him again.
“I’m so sorry,” he said. Merlin smiled gently, cupping his face.
“I know. I heard all your practice apologies.”
Arthur felt himself flushing but he held Merlin’s gaze. At least that way Merlin had heard the sincerity in his voice. He twisted his fingers through Merlin’s and pulled him out of the doorframe and towards the bed.
“Then let me make it up to you properly.”
“Don’t you have a hunt to call off first?”
Arthur shook his head. Leon would have delivered his message and stopped any more men heading out. Those already out there would be returning soon. Right now, Arthur had no intention of leaving this room or letting Merlin leave his sight again. For all Arthur knew, he could vanish again and leave the king behind.
“Let them run, it will do them good.” His words were distracted as he nudged Merlin into sitting down before slowly lying him back on the bed and slipping his hand under the warlock’s shirt. Merlin’s breathing hitched and Arthur smirked in satisfaction.
“Never make me search for you like that again,” he said. His voice was halfway between an order and a plea and Merlin stroked his fingers through Arthur’s hair, nodding and silently promising. Satisfied that he had his lover back where he wanted him, Arthur surged forward and kissed him.