Title: Memories Are What We Make
Characters/pairings: Merlin/Arthur, Uther
Summary: Arthur has doubts and Merlin has a present as they visit Arthur's mother's grave.
Warnings: angst, reference to a past character death
Prompt 193: Remembrance
A/N: Part fourteen of my reincarnation series Merlin and Arthur Live Again.
Arthur traced the recently engraved characters with his finger. Forty-nine of them that told the only story of his mother’s life that most people would ever know, but to Arthur they were a portal. When he looked beyond the man-made letters and numbers his mind’s eye replayed memories that he hoped would live within him forever.
He attempted to grin through his tears as he set the flowers down in front of the granite headstone. Ten months it had been. Ten excruciating months. He lifted a hand and roughly wiped away the tears, but another hand pulled it away and wiped his tears away with gentle, warm thumbs and he was pulled into a hug. He held on tightly as he allowed the warmth to penetrate the chill that had settled within his body. “I miss her so much, Merlin.”
“I know,” Merlin whispered as he kissed Arthur’s hair.
Merlin holding him and rubbing his back made Arthur feel safe and loved. “Thank you for making the trip to be here. I couldn’t do this without you,” and Arthur allowed himself to imagine just what the previous ten months would have been like without having the man he loved with him every step of the way. It was unthinkable and the thought of ever losing Merlin caused him to tighten his hold on him.
Merlin would celebrate his seventeenth birthday in less than a month and, just as Arthur was, he was young. Were they too young for such a commitment? Arthur’s father had warned his son that as much as he thought Merlin was the one for Arthur, they were both young and that he should be careful because it wouldn’t do for him to give his heart away only for it to be thrown away if Merlin decided Arthur wasn’t the one for him.
“I love you, Merlin,” Arthur said through his tears, but then he cleared his throat and when he thought he could speak again, he pulled back, but only enough to look into Merlin’s eyes. He searched them and saw love and security and warmth and years of comfort. “Are we being foolish? Thinking that this, that us will be forever?”
A vigorous shaking of the head was Merlin’s response. He didn’t speak for a minute or more as his eyes searched Arthur’s face and looked into his eyes. “Do you think we’re being foolish?” he asked, trembling, the immense emotion behind his words undeniable. “Arthur?”
“No,” Arthur said, smiling as he traced Merlin’s face with his fingers. How could loving Merlin ever be foolish? He leant in and brushed his lips across Merlin’s, then pulled back and turned to look down at his mother’s final resting place. “She knew that you were the one for me and even Father knows how good you are for me. It scares me to think what the future could bring, but I have to trust that our love will get us through anything.”
Merlin nodded and took a deep breath. “Yeah, me, too,” then he knelt and picked up something from the ground and handed it to Arthur. “I know it’s a week early, but I think today is the proper time to give your birthday present to you.”
Carefully unwrapping the gift, Arthur grinned as he looked at Merlin. “Your mother wrapped this, yeah?”
“You surely don’t think I did, do you?” Merlin asked with a laugh. “I planned to hand the box to you as is. Mum was having none of it; she took it away last night and this morning it was on the kitchen table when I went in for breakfast.”
Once the paper was removed, Arthur saw the box and looked up at Merlin. “The glasses,” he mouthed. He didn’t know what else to say as he carefully opened the familiar box he hadn’t seen in ten years. He withdrew one of the glasses, handed it to Merlin, and then took out the other. He swallowed. “Why both of them?” he asked, thinking that Merlin should keep one.
“I’ve kept them for ten years. Now it’s your turn to keep them, Arthur. You can give them back to me in another ten years. I plan on us being together for many exchanges,” Merlin said as he took the glass Arthur held and set it, along with his, in the box and placed it beside the flowers. He then sat on the ground and motioned for Arthur to do the same. “Do you remember how upset your mother was when she saw that we had real glasses in my room? I thought we were going to be grounded for life, but my mother told her not to worry, that we hadn’t spilled anything and that the glasses had been her mothers and that they hadn’t been used for years. Then she told me that if I wanted them, I could have them.” Merlin had a goofy, dreamy look on his face.
“Yeah, I remember. I guess Mum was worried because Father was so strict about me not having food or drink in my room. I remember your mum setting them on the top shelf of your cupboard and telling you and me that they were not to be used and that they were not toys to be played with. It’s a wonder we didn’t break them that night with how hard we clinked them together.” Arthur let out a hearty laugh.
“Yeah, I think that’s why Mum told me they were off limits; she knew how clumsy I was.”
“It’s just one of your many charms that makes you so lovable, Merlin,” Arthur said, reaching out and taking Merlin’s hands in his. “Thank you. I needed something to smile about today. You always know what I need and when I need it.”
“And I always will, Arthur.”
“Always will what?” asked Arthur's father as he walked over to them, a bouquet of flowers in his hand.
“Love your son,” Merlin said without hesitation.