Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: walking, what can be discovered unexpectedly around a corner.
Word Count: 730
Prompt: come and see
It's a clear sky, the wisps of English-cloud inching across the sky at the weak behest of the breeze. Everything else is still, save for the slight change across the leaves as the breeze passes. The trees and grass and earth are sun-drenched, the light thick and warm. Merlin crouches to get a better look at the purple flowers they've been passing, heather and foxgloves.
“Come on Merlin, buck up!” Arthur calls from up ahead.
Merlin gets to his feet and jogs to catch up, panting. Arthur grips his shoulder and puts some pressure to keep him moving, marching at a pace. The grass is long and prickles them above their socks, below their shorts. The sun beats down on them, no cloud or wind to give them relief. The wall affords some shadow but it's not much. They're climbing another hill and the sweat breaks out across Merlin's neck, forehead, under his shirt.
“It's too hot for England,” Merlin says, “I'm dying.”
Arthur ignores him, striding ahead again. A water bottle flies over his shoulder and hits Merlin in the chest.
“Merlin,” Arthur says, “can't you do anything?”
“Put up with you,” Merlin mutters, picking the bottle and swallowing the last of the water inside quickly before trotting after Arthur.
The light on the patchwork of farm-worked fields is thick with the bright yellow and green of them, the quality of it something Merlin's never seen anywhere but England- once the promise of rain has past, the clouds scattered, the wind gone. Just the sun and the landscape left. The strong line of the wall on Merlin's right climbs the hill ahead of him, Arthur already far ahead.
“Bloody great prat,” Merlin says, stowing the empty bottle in his coat pocket, getting his hands under the straps of his bag.
Merlin lowers his head and powers on up the hill, leg muscles straining, back hot under his bag, neck burning under the sun. Arthur slows a little, allowing Merlin to get closer, then bounds on ahead again, founding the bend, the wall hiding him.
“Merlin!” Arthur calls.
Merlin looks up, pausing, smiling. Arthur sounds enthusiastic and awe struck.
“Merlin, come and look!” Arthur yells, bumping down the hill at a jog and grabbing Merlin's shoulder again.
“Don't push, I'll take my own sweet time,” Merlin says.
Arthur ignores that and propels Merlin up at a faster pace than he wants, the strength of a stubborn bull in his shoulders. He doesn't release Merlin until they round the corner. Merlin comes to a stop and looks out, away from the wall. The lake he had caught a glimpse of previously is spread below him in a panorama of sun and water, light reflected, green and yellow and gold to the horizon of dusk-blue.
“Look at this,” Arthur says, “this is what I remember.”
Merlin leans into Arthur's sweaty body, happy to stand and look. The only sounds are birds, no roads to be seen, no people. Just them. Just the land.
“This is amazing,” Merlin says.
“The beat of Roman feet beneath our own, England before, Scotland at their backs. Wild land, wild people, nothing but a wall. Nothing but bricks between them and the elements, them and the Celts. The majesty of England may be small, but you can see why Rome feared and wanted this, hmm?”
Merlin twists his head so he can look up at Arthur's face, see the English nose and proud profile, catch a glimpse of the patriotic fervour.
“I don't mind this kind of patriotism,” Merlin says, bringing up an old argument.
“It isn't patriotism. It's love for the land,” Arthur says, “My father brought me here to show me the might of an empire and teach me history and politics, but all I saw was land. The sublime.”
“How Romantic. Did you write poetry about your moment of sublimation?”
Arthur's blush is fierce. Merlin shifts so he can wrap an arm around Arthur's waist and starts them moving slowly forwards again, leaning into Arthur, listening to him defend his youthful poetics. He moves back to Romans and touches the stone, makes Merlin pause to touch the stone himself. Merlin feels the movement of stories, told and untold, beneath his fingers and reaches for Arthur's hand, to be lead onwards.