Title: Purpose and Intent
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin,
Summary: Merlin would always protect Arthur. Even if Arthur didn't remember.
Warnings: Mild attempted non-con
Word Count: 1000
Author's Notes: Enjoy!
Merlin stared. Then he blinked, pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes and blinked again through the lights now flickering in his vision. But there was no denying that blond hair, physique and laugh. After all this time waiting for him, after the loneliness, the pain and the fear he would walk this earth forever doomed to be on his own… After everything… Arthur was now across a crowded pub from him.
He looked to be around eighteen years old. He was surrounded by friends and Merlin felt a reluctant smile twitch his lips as Arthur threw his head back and laughed at something one of them had said. It was the same as before. Exactly the same. Merlin’s heart stuttered and his hand on his drink tightened fractionally. He watched, transfixed.
But when someone stepped in his line of vision, Merlin started. If Arthur had returned, then it could mean danger was also present. After all, he was only due to return when Albion needed him the most. Merlin had spent both of the great wars crouched by Avalon’s lake when he wasn’t fighting, praying that this was the time Arthur would return and ease the suffering. But he hadn’t. Right now, Merlin had no idea what was wrong in order to be able to protect his destiny.
Finishing his drink, he made to leave. Now Arthur was back, he would always be able to find him. Magic that he been lying dormant for centuries was already flickering back into existence and Merlin wanted some space on his own so he could master his power once again. But it would lock onto Arthur, that much he knew. He wouldn’t be able to lose his king again. As he turned, the hairs on the back of his neck prickled and Merlin whipped back again. He had lived for too long to ignore the feeling of danger.
For a moment, he couldn’t locate any source of trouble. Arthur was still surrounded by his friends. Then Merlin saw him. The tall dark stranger that had infiltrated that group and was saying something softly in Arthur’s ear. The blond had turned his head to listen and the stranger took the chance to drop something into Arthur’s drink. Merlin didn’t have the chance to take a step or even call a warning as Arthur drained the drink, nodded and let the stranger lead him out of the back entrance.
Gritting his teeth, Merlin shoved through the pub. Not even an hour had passed since he had been aware of Arthur’s return and he was already having to save him. Was Arthur as naïve as he had been back then? Did he not realise the stranger’s intent? Using his elbows and a trickle of his newly awakened magic, it didn’t take long for Merlin to barge outside.
The stranger had Arthur pressed against the wall, sucking marks into his neck while his hand drifted lower. Arthur was barely able to stand and Merlin knew whatever that drug had been, it was acting fast. The teenager was shaking as he tried to push the man away and Merlin thought he heard Arthur crying. Although this was his king, Merlin knew that Arthur had no idea who he was and was just a scared young man being hurt.
“Hey,” Merlin called. He strode towards them. The stranger stiffened but turned to face them. A hand on Arthur’s chest kept him where he was.
“Walk on by, friend, this is none of your business.”
“You’ve made it my business,” Merlin muttered. He could feel his magic rising up. It had always been destined to protect Arthur, that was the reason why he had been blessed – or cursed – with such power.
“I’ll give you one last ch-.” The man never finished his threat. Merlin’s eyes flared gold and the stranger flew backwards. His head hit the same wall he had been holding Arthur against and he slumped to the floor. Merlin stalked forward, resting his finger against the man’s neck and ensuring there was a pulse before turning to Arthur.
“I… What did you do?” Arthur gasped, staring at Merlin.
“It’s okay,” Merlin said softly. “I won’t hurt you. It was never my intent to scare you.”
“Scare me?” Arthur let out a short laugh and Merlin could see him pulling himself together, wiping his eyes. “You saved me.”
Arthur stepped forward, holding out his hand. “Arthur Pendragon.”
“I know.” Merlin took Arthur’s hand in both of his own, ducking his head to hide the grin on his face. Even in this life, Arthur’s hands were rough and calloused. It seemed they couldn’t forget a sword any more than Merlin could forget about his magic.
“Do I know you?” Arthur asked, confusion lacing his tone. Merlin lifted his head and Arthur frowned when he saw the smile on his face.
“Yes,” Merlin said. “You did. Once upon a time. But for now… I’m Merlin.”
“Well, Merlin, you sound like a bit of a weirdo but you did just save me so let me buy you a drink.”
Merlin bit back the retort about whether he should be buying drinks for his servant. Now was not the time. Arthur needed to remember first. Merlin nodded and helped Arthur back inside. He reminded himself that Arthur was a child in comparison, a child who didn’t know who he was. Arthur went to the bar, gesturing for Merlin to take the only free small table. Merlin did so, his leg jiggling impatiently. At least he had Arthur to himself now rather than the man insisting Merlin joined his friends. Merlin wasn’t brave enough for a group of teenagers after all this time.
He needed Arthur to himself, even if Arthur didn’t remember. But Merlin fully intended to stay by his side until the memories returned to his king and Arthur realised. Realised what he was destined to do, realised who Merlin was and realised what they meant to each other.