Title: Starting Anew
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin,
Summary: Arthur's return gave them a new start.
Word Count: 1000
Prompt: New Beginning
Author's Notes: This is a bit random, sorry.
“We should move.” Merlin’s words were nothing more than a mumble and he had no intention of repeating them any louder. Arthur drew back to look at him before glancing around.
“Where to?” There was a nervousness to his voice that Merlin had never heard before. He didn’t blame him. While they had finally moved out of the waist-deep water and onto dry land, they had yet to leave the lake. Merlin was reluctant: what if Arthur vanished as soon as they left the magic of this place? He had been alone for so long, if Arthur left, if this was a dream again…
“Hey.” Arthur caught his chin and turned Merlin’s head. He didn’t let go even when Merlin was looking directly at his king. “I’m here.”
“But why?” Merlin whispered. His hands took hold of the wet tunic, gripping onto Arthur. Arthur looked down at his hands, then at the modern clothes Merlin was wearing. His hands folded neatly into his lap and Merlin laughed gently. He reached forward, picking up Arthur’s hand and resting it on his chest, directly over his heart.
“I might be wearing different things but it’s still me, Sire,” he murmured. But then he thought about to his earlier question and sighed, looking out over the lake. “It is said you would return when the world needed you. What if you’re back and I’ll have to lose you all over again.”
“No,” Arthur said firmly. “You can’t think like that.”
The nerves had vanished from his voice and Arthur climbed to his feet. He grabbed Merlin’s wrist and hauled him up as well. But the roughness of his actions was lost when he snaked an arm around Merlin’s waist.
“Where do we go?”
Merlin swallowed hard. Arthur needed him to pull himself together. This was a foreign world to the king and he was holding it together better than Merlin was. Merlin nodded, smiling at Arthur and leaning into the hold.
“You have a house?”
“Everyone has houses here, Arthur. It’s not just rooms in a castle. It’s… Well, you’ll see.”
Merlin gently drew away and slipped his fingers through Arthur’s. He led the way down the path, refusing to look back. Arthur was right; he couldn’t think like that. All he had to focus on right now was the feel of Arthur’s hand in his. His king was back. Merlin refused to dwell on losing him again. He took hold of the thought and shoved it firmly to the back of his mind, locking it there with the accumulation of forbidden thoughts.
“What is that?!”
Merlin glanced at Arthur. His hand had shot to his waist, but his fingers closed over thing air. He didn’t have a sword anymore. He didn’t have armour. He was dressed in a lose tunic and breeches of their time, but Merlin knew it wasn’t obvious at a passing glance. As long as they kept moving, they would escape notice.
But not if Arthur freaked out at everything.
“It’s just a car, Arthur.”
“A what? What sort of vile enchantment is this?”
“It’s not, it’s…technology. Science,” Merlin added. He sighed, turning to face Arthur. The king’s eyes were still locked on the road. It was a quiet one, but Merlin had forgotten that anything from the 21st Century would scare Arthur. This time, it was him who took Arthur’s chin and forced him to focus.
“Arthur. Look at me.” He waited until the king had done so. “Things have changed. A lot. But you have to trust me. I’ll explain more when we get home but just…try not to freak out too much until we get there.”
“I’m not scared.” Arthur scoffed. But his eyes were darting everywhere and his grip on Merlin’s hand was tight. Merlin knew he had to keep moving. Arthur had reassured him by the lake, now it was his turn to repay the favour. He set off, walking fast. Arthur tripped after him, not looking where he was going as he tried to take in all of the sights.
Merlin had never been so grateful that he lived close to the lake. It had never left his heart and every time he needed a break from society, he returned here. Did up his little house and lived in seclusion until another generation had passed and forgotten him.
He unlocked the door with a wave of his hand and led Arthur inside.
“Still using magic then?”
“I couldn’t not even if I tried. It’s part of me.” Merlin wasn’t going to lie, not after everything the years had thrown at him. “I’m going to put the kettle on.”
“You have no fireplace.”
“How can you put the kettle on with no fire? What will heat the water?”
“Um… Just make yourself comfortable.” Merlin had no idea how to explain these things to Arthur. He made some tea and watched as Arthur stared at it suspiciously. Then the king took a sip and Merlin smiled at the delight that shot over Arthur’s face. Naturally, Arthur didn’t say anything about it.
“What happens now?”
“Now?” Merlin stretched out his legs. “Now we find out why you’re back.”
“And if we can’t?”
“Then it doesn’t matter.” Merlin wasn’t sure if he was telling Arthur or himself this. “What matters is that you are here. Now. With me.”
His attempts to be strong crumbled when the enormity of what he was saying crashed over him. He didn’t have to be alone anymore. His grip on the cup tightened until Arthur took it off him. Arthur pulled him into his arms.
“I’m going to leave you again,” Arthur vowed, holding him closer. “This is a new beginning for us. One I intend to make the most of.”
Merlin hiccupped through a sob and his fingers brushed over Arthur’s wrist. His steady pulse was more reassuring than words. Arthur was right. This was their new beginning, their second chance. And Merlin wasn’t letting go this time.