Title: Funeral Day
Summary: Arthur prepares for his mother's funeral, but he needs help.
Warnings: Past character death, grief, strong language, and mentions of cancer
Prompt 182: Funeral
A/N: Part six of my reincarnation series Merlin and Arthur Live Again.
Arthur should have realized by his eighteenth year that all good things in his life came with a price. As a lonely toddler, he'd wished for a friend. Merlin had entered his life, but only for seven years. Then, at the age of fourteen his mother, whom had always been of a sickly nature, was diagnosed with cancer and nearly died. Arthur had begged everyone he knew to make her better. It seemed to work--she recovered, for the most part, but her cancer had returned and the cost had been paid in full.
Stoic and steely-eyed, Arthur stood at his mirror and stared into it as he attempted to put on his tie. It was as if he were in a dream. Was this day really here? Four years previously, his mother and father had sat him down and prepared him for the possibility that his mother mightn't make it. That had been traumatic, but then his mother had improved and his trauma had been minimized by the fact that his mother was very much alive and seemed to not be in a hurry to go anywhere.
But now she'd gone and wasn't coming back. And shit, Arthur couldn't get his damned tie to do what he needed it to do. His mother had always been the one to do it for him. Aggravated, distraught, and livid at the world, he yanked it off and threw it to the floor as he felt a tear beginning to fall down his face. Why did he have to wear a stupid old tie anyway? He'd never liked them and had only worn them to please his mother, who'd said he looked smart in a tie. He roughly wiped away the tear as he reached down and picked the discarded tie off the floor.
For her, he would do anything.
But, not even for his mother could Arthur make his hands do what they needed to do. It was hopeless. Nothing for it, he resigned himself to going to get his father to do his tie for him. He was about to turn towards his door when there was a knock. Arthur let out a shaky breath. "Come in," he said, reeling in his visible grief, knowing his father didn't like his son to show any emotion. He stood up straight and took in a deep breath, but when the door opened, it wasn't his father who stood there.
It was Merlin.
Arthur couldn't move. He stared at Merlin through the mirror. A tear fell. He wiped it away. "I can't get this bloody tie to tie," he said, his voice cracking, and he knew there was no way he'd escape the meltdown he was about to have. For three days he'd been the perfect Pendragon: he had done what he needed to do and he'd done it emotionless, because that was what his father needed from him, but now Arthur needed Merlin, and he needed to let his emotions out.
"I never cared for the bloody things either," Merlin said as he approached Arthur. He looked into the mirror, directly into deep blue eyes before redirecting his attention to Arthur's pale green tie. He reached his hands around Arthur's neck and carefully arranged the tie and tied it as it should be. He then lowered the starched white collar and smoothed out the front of Arthur's shirt before looking into the mirror again, where he met Arthur's tear-filled eyes. "I didn't know if it was okay for me to see you before the funeral, but I just couldn't sit in there and wait. I had to come see you, Arthur."
Arthur's chin quivered. "You always knew when I needed you. There'll never be another like you, Merlin." Then Arthur turned around, still in Merlin's arms, and hugged his best friend. It took less than a second for him to break down. He cried as he'd never cried before for the loss of his mother. He missed her so and couldn't imagine a future without her in it. He was crying so uncontrollably that he wasn't sure he'd be able to stop, and the normally composed and emotionless Pendragon heir didn't care.
They remained in that position until they heard a knock on the door several minutes later. Arthur pulled away hurriedly and wiped his eyes as he walked into his bathroom and closed the door. He couldn't face his father. He heard his bedroom door open and heard his father and Merlin speaking, but he couldn't decipher what they were saying. When he heard the door close, he slowly opened the bathroom door and walked back into his room. "What did he say?"
"Be ready to leave in fifteen minutes," was all Merlin said before he wiped away his own tears that were now falling one after another down his cheeks. "Arthur, your dad's eyes were swollen. He'd been crying."
Arthur shrugged his shoulders and sneered. "It's not okay for me to cry but it is for him. That's rich," he said bitterly.
"Arthur, I think if you just--"
"Merlin, I think you should mind your own business. You don't know what--" but he stopped and looked completely shattered. "Oh, Merlin, I didn't mean that." Arthur then walked to his bed, sat down, put his head in his hands, and began shaking. When he felt Merlin sit beside him, he leant into Merlin and put his head in his lap, the same as they'd done as children, and when he felt those familiar fingers running through his hair, all Arthur wanted was to fall asleep and forget about everything, but he couldn't. There was a funeral to go to. His mother's. He sat up, wiped his eyes, stood up, and found his jacket.
Merlin joined him and smoothed out his shirt, then helped him into the jacket and straightened the now askew tie. "I won't leave your side, Arthur. I promise."