Title: Promising Smile
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin,
Summary: Arthur said he needed time. But Merlin wanted him to see the beauty in magic.
Word Count: 1000
Prompt: Come and See
Author's Notes: Not a lot to say other than enjoy.
Merlin stared despondently at his wall. He wasn’t sure what he had expected to happen when they made it back to Camelot. Arthur knew who he was. He knew everything Merlin had done over the years and had thanked him for it. But when it became clear they had reached the lake in time and he would survive, he had grown quiet. Merlin had given him time, knowing Arthur needed to process everything. His sister was dead. Camelot was weak but the war had ended. He could now lead his kingdom into the golden days that had been prophesied about.
But he still needed Merlin by his side. Merlin wasn’t sure where he stood now. He had been told Arthur no longer required his services as a servant. Arthur had talked about giving him an official position as soon as he lifted the ban. Merlin didn’t care what his official status was. His position was by Arthur’s side and his bed and he had barely set foot in the king’s chambers since they had returned. Arthur hadn’t called for him.
Merlin suddenly stood up. He had fought too hard to get to this point. He was not going to give it up because Arthur wasn’t telling him what he was thinking. If he was no longer a servant, it meant he no longer had to sit here waiting to be told what to do. Merlin grabbed his jacket and stalked out of Gaius’ chambers. The old man was out on his rounds, again. Many of the injured still required constant care and Merlin had helped out the best he could. But his troubled mind meant he wasn’t sleeping and Gaius had forbidden him from accompanying him that morning.
The corridors were quiet. The whole kingdom seemed to be holding its breath to see what happened next. Arthur had only told their closest friends – with Merlin’s permission – about his magic. Merlin knew he would lift the ban, Arthur had promised. But it had to be handled with caution. The people had been taught to fear magic as much as Arthur had and recent events won’t have softened them towards it. Merlin knew he couldn’t convince a kingdom; only Arthur could do that. But he could convince his king.
He knocked lightly and entered as soon as Arthur’s voice bade him too. His king was sitting at his desk, but Merlin felt as if he drew back as soon as he was standing there.
“Merlin.” Gwen’s attitude towards him hadn’t changed. If anything, she was warmer and more welcoming than ever and Merlin could see genuine respect in her eyes. He wasn’t surprised she had worked out who he was before they had made it back. She had figured out the love between him and Arthur before either of them had and had given them her blessing.
“Can I talk to him?”
“That’s hardly anyway to address your king,” Arthur snapped. Gwen smiled, touching Merlin on the arm and left. The door shut behind her and Arthur stood up.
“I’m busy. What do you want?”
“To show you something,” Merlin said. “Come and see.”
He beckoned Arthur to the other side of his room. Away from his desk and the formalities that made him a king. He gestured for Arthur to sit on the bed and the king did, albeit reluctantly.
“I’m the one who gives the orders,” Arthur grumbled. Merlin ignored him. Arthur made himself comfortable and the years stripped away. He wasn’t a king or a knight sprawled across his bed like that. He was Merlin’s friend and lover. It gave Merlin the strength to cup his hands. He brought them to his mouth and breathed a spell into his cupped palms, his eyes flashing gold as he did so. Arthur jerked but didn’t flinch back.
“Gewyrc an lif.” Merlin felt the soft beat of wings against his hands and knew the spell had worked. He opened his hands and watched Arthur’s face carefully. There was genuine delight in his eyes and a smile on his face as Arthur watched the butterfly flit towards the window. Merlin waved his hand and the window opened, allowing it to escape to the freedom of outside. Arthur swallowed and Merlin could see he was drawing the mask back into place. He knelt, taking Arthur’s hands in his own.
“There are so many things I can show you,” he said. There was only sincerity in his voice. “If you’ll let me.”
“I know you don’t trust magic. I know I’m partly to blame, I steered you away from it myself more than once. I was afraid. Afraid that I was going to lose you to the prophecy if I let you welcome magic back to Camelot. But I was wrong, Arthur. Magic does belong here. It can be used for good: it can heal, be beautiful, be inspiring… It can do so much, Arthur. If you let it. Let me.”
A blush rose on Merlin’s cheeks when he fell quiet. He wasn’t one for speeches. But Arthur hadn’t pulled away. Carefully, the king withdrew one of his hands and cupped Merlin’s cheek. He was searching his face intently, looking for something. Merlin didn’t know what. Arthur sighed and his small smile returned. It was their private one, one that Arthur only allowed Merlin to see. The warlock felt his heart break at the promise in that smile.
“You need to give me time, Merlin,” he said. Merlin opened his mouth to argue. Arthur had had time. Merlin needed a sign of what his future would be. But Arthur’s finger against his lip silenced him. Merlin felt his heart thudding hard as Arthur traced his lip before the king smiled again.
“But I think I would like you to show me more.” His words were soft, as if Arthur wasn’t sure he should be saying them. But Merlin kissed his palm with a promise of his own. A promise of the wonders to come.