Title: Sharp as Steel
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin,
Summary: It would take more than an apology for Merlin to forgive Arthur.
Word Count: 1000
Prompt: The Secret Sharer
Author's Notes: These prompts are fun!
Merlin stalked into the armoury, took one look at who was already there and turned to leave.
“Don’t.” Arthur sounded hesitant. He rose from where he had been sitting, moving towards Merlin with a hand outstretched. “Don’t go.”
“What are you doing here, Sire?”
Arthur flinched at the formality but continued to advance. “You always come here when you are upset.”
Merlin blinked. He had never realised that. “Maybe because I know no one else will be here.”
This time, Arthur smiled softly. He reached out, the back of his fingers brushing Merlin’s cheek lightly. “I’ve missed you.”
Merlin slapped his hand away. “And whose fault is that?”
He barged past the king, moving towards Arthur’s own weapon collection. Maybe he did come here when he was angry, for the monotonous action of sharpening a blade allowed his thoughts to swirl until he had an answer. But there was no answer this time. Gaius was back and safe, slowly recovering. Merlin knew it was going to take more than a sharp sword to forget his anger. If only Arthur had believed him…
“Don’t be like that.” Arthur shadowed him to the far corner and Merlin was acutely aware that he had trapped himself. “I said sorry, didn’t I? I haven’t come here to fight, I’ve come to make amends. Come on, Merlin. Come to bed.”
“No.” Merlin snatched up a rag but made no move towards the weapons. He wasn’t entirely sure he wouldn’t just throw it at the king considering the anger and frustrating he was feeling.
“Merlin…” Arthur’s voice was a whine. “I was only joking about the day off. Take as much time as you need.”
Merlin turned to face his master, lover and king. Anger blazed hot and it took a great deal of effort not to release his magic.
“You didn’t believe me, Arthur.” His voice quivered with his pent-up emotion and the depth of his feelings must have shown on his face. Arthur’s own expression lost his amused and playful smirk and he looked serious. “After everything…You didn’t believe me.”
“I made a mistake,” Arthur said.
“Yes. And it could have cost Gaius his life!” A tear splashed down his cheek and Merlin angrily dashed it away before Arthur could make any move to do so. He wasn’t angry. Not really, and not at Arthur. He was scared. He had come so close to losing Gaius over the last few days and it made Merlin realise he had no idea what to do if something happened to the old man. He had friends and he had Arthur. But no one else knew his secret, no one knew what he faced daily in order to survive and keep Arthur alive. If he lost that, if he lost Gaius’ trust and love, Merlin wasn’t sure who that would make him.
“What was I supposed to think?” Arthur sounded angry now and Merlin inwardly cursed. He didn’t want to fight, but he had no idea how to admit what was truly running through his mind. “I’ve had too many people betray me.”
“Not Gaius! Never Gaius.” Merlin took a deep breath, trying to control himself. “Besides, I thought you trusted me. You could have believed me at the very least.”
“I wanted to,” Arthur said quietly. “I just… He admitted to using magic, Merlin.”
“So? Is that such a crime?”
Merlin turned away, suddenly afraid that his emotions were making him careless. Arthur’s hand touched him between the shoulder blades. This time, Merlin didn’t pull away.
“I know I made a mistake,” Arthur continued. “And I’ve spoken to Gaius. He’s forgiven me. Can’t you, Merlin?”
Merlin didn’t answer. He was worried his voice would crack and Arthur would see the extent of his distress. But the king’s hands were gently as he spun the warlock around, tugged the cloth from Merlin’s unresisting hand and pulled him close, wrapping a strong arm around his shoulders.
“Say you forgive me?” Arthur whispered, pressing a kiss into Merlin’s hair. “Please?”
Involuntarily, Merlin’s hand closed around Arthur’s tunic as he used the man to anchor himself, taking a few deep breaths. Gaius might know his secret, but Arthur was the only one with the power to make him feel this safe. It was ironic really: Arthur was also the only one with the power to take his life from him.
“I thought I had lost him,” Merlin whispered, his voice lost in Arthur’s chest. The man heard him though, for his arms tightened.
“I’m truly sorry for any part I played in putting you through that,” Arthur said. Merlin knew Arthur was telling the truth; his own grief over losing his father was still fresh and he knew Merlin looked to Gaius like a father.
Merlin tried to breath, but a hitching sob tore from him instead. Arthur didn’t push him away though, didn’t make a scathing comment. He just held him closer and Merlin finally allowed himself to let go of the fear and terror that had been plaguing him for days. Gaius was safe and Morgana hadn’t got what she wanted. They were still safe. For now, at least.
Arthur let him cry for a while before gently drawing back. His thumbs brushed Merlin’s tears away and he kissed each eye gently.
Merlin nodded, knowing he had as soon as Arthur had arrived in Gaius’ chambers earlier that evening. Arthur smiled even as he cupped his cheek, his thumb brushing across the skin gently.
“I am sorry.”
“I know,” Merlin muttered, his voice hoarse. Arthur exerted a touch of pressure and Merlin obediently tilted his head back, kissing Arthur back when the king’s lips pressed against his own.
“Say you’ll come to bed?” Arthur murmured as he pulled back. Merlin nodded tiredly, taking a moment to lean against Arthur again and just listen to the man’s heart beating.
He was alive. Merlin himself was alive. Gaius was alive. Their friends were alive. That was all that mattered.