Title: The Love of the Lady of the Lake
Pairing/s: Freya/Merlin, Merlin/Arthur, Arthur/others
Character/s: Freya, Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Had I not given up on love as a young girl, you would have broken my heart.
Warnings: Canon character death(ish)
Word Count: 655
Prompt: #197: Unrequited Love
Had I not given up on love as a young girl, when I rushed with excitement to the the mad old seer’s house to ask after my future husband and was met with a gentle stroke of my hair and a promise of other things are more important, you’ll see; had I not known, deep in my misshapen bones, that love would never truly be mine the first time I grew into a murderous beast against my own will; had the Druids not looked away with their own shame as they told me it was too dangerous for anyone to care for me when they turned me out—you would have broken my heart.
It’s all right, love. I know you tried. You wanted to love me so badly; so very nearly as much as you wanted him to love you. You were sweet and kind and you would have given up everything to come with me: your friends, your destiny, your heart.
You see why I had to steal away without you. It was nice to pretend, even for so little a time, but I could not be so selfish as that. I’d long been prepared for my lot in life. I never told you that, just like I never told you the most important thing in my life.
Just like you never told me the most important thing in your life. I know why. I know you wanted to pretend that it could just be us, that we would make each other happy and complete. I wished, will always wish, for the same.
But it wasn't to be, darling. You need your golden prince. I knew it then, the way your eyes only ever lit up with magic and with his name; I knew it later, watching from afar how you smiled and joked and helped him woo his princesses and serving girls even as you yearned for him; and later still, you wept so long and achingly over him that I feared you would follow where he led one last time.
I see it now, as you wait and wait and wait, alive without living, alone no matter how long you tarry by the shores of Avalon. Finally, I understand what the oracle meant and just how cruel a fate it is. We were too alike to ever be good together, you and I, both cursed to love and not be loved.
I will always love you, but that doesn’t break my heart. It takes so much more than that; I told you, I was forewarned. I can be content with watching you, with guarding your heart, in a way I never would have been had you run away with me those centuries ago.
You will always love him, and I cannot begrudge him that; you were never made to love anyone else. I was glad to see you stop pretending otherwise as time went by. I know it made you lonelier, but you broke your own heart each time you tried and failed, and I could not bear it. Even that, bitter as it was, could not break my heart.
Yet still my heart is broken, dear one. The lake’s gentle tides rise and fall with my tears, for as he slumbers in my waters, I can see his truth as clearly as ours. He is a good man. He was and will ever be a good king to his people, a good friend to his peers, a good husband to his wife.
I wish I could hate him. I wish I could drown him through death, tear him apart, stop his destiny and never force you to trail after him, lovelorn and desperate, loyal and devoted, again. I wish.
I cannot hate that which you love. I cannot destroy that which you need.
So I will keep him for you, my love, until the day he returns to make you almost-whole.