Title: The Cost of Loving Merlin
Characters/pairings: Merlin/Arthur (kind of)
Summary: Arthur laments the possible loss of the man he loves
Prompt 202: 4X7
Disclaimer: I do not own anything Merlin. BBC and Shine are the lucky ones. All I seek from writing this is my own happiness.
A/N: I watched 4X7 five times trying to find something to write about, but nothing came to me until this afternoon, when I had no time to write, but I got it done! Quickest writing project ever.
Arthur stood atop the castle and looked out over his kingdom, wishing he knew what his subjects thought of him. Did they respect him as they had his father? Arthur couldn’t imagine how they could. He wasn’t even thirty. Much too young to be king.
His subjects depended on him and he was trying his best to make good decisions, but he’d made grievous mistakes since his father’s untimely death, one that had cost a neighboring king his life. That failure would forever haunt him, as it should.
Each morning as he awoke, Arthur worried that he’d let down everyone again. He didn’t think he was ready to be king. Truth be told, he knew he’d never be ready. His father had conquered Camelot to become king—he had wanted it and he had claimed it.
Arthur had quite enjoyed his role as Prince of Camelot. Yes, he had taken on more responsibilities after Morgana’s most unfortunate defection, but even then he'd had his father there to back him up if need be.
Now his father was gone and Arthur feared he wasn’t up to the task. He felt like a disappointment every second of each day. His knights told him he was doing an admirable job, but they had to say that, didn’t they? They wouldn’t tell him if he was an embarrassment, would they? Arthur despaired that almost everyone treated him special.
All except one.
Merlin. His most faithful manservant whose devotion to the King of Camelot was complete. Arthur didn’t know what he’d do without him. Merlin had always been there for him when he needed someone to calm him or lift his spirits or tell him to cease behaving in a way that wasn’t at all befitting a king. Arthur despaired of ever finding out what his life would be like without his most trusted servant by his side.
Unfortunately, he was most likely about to find out.
Gaius had gone missing and Merlin was certain that he’d been abducted. Arthur wished fervently for that to be the truth, but the evidence pointed to Gaius having left on his own accord. Many of his possessions were missing, as was a horse. Arthur had tried to make Merlin understand, but there was no one else who meant as much to Merlin as the physician. Arthur had little doubt that Merlin would never forgive him for not going out to search for him.
Arthur didn’t know what to do. He was positive Gaius had left because he wanted to, but if he persisted in that thought, he was going to lose Merlin, and that thought sent Arthur into near panic.
He depended on Merlin in so many ways. They knew each other almost as well as they knew themselves, and the thought of having to get to know and learn another manservant was not anything Arthur wanted to go through. No one would ever be like Merlin and no one else would be able to make Arthur feel like Merlin did. Merlin made Arthur feel good about himself, and he made Arthur think that there was nothing he couldn’t do… or that the two of them couldn’t do together.
And Arthur wanted to do everything with Merlin. Forever. Which, unfortunately, would never be possible, but it was the one thought that had consumed Arthur’s thoughts for the past month, ever since he’d broken things off with Gwen. Yes, they’d gotten back together, but in that short time they'd spent apart, Arthur had time to think and his thoughts had always gone back to Merlin, whom from almost the first time they met, Arthur had known that he was attracted to. He’d never allowed those feelings to surface or grow, however, and despite all odds, they had become friends, something that Arthur had been fine with until his uncle had convinced him to end things with Gwen.
The thought of leaving Gwen had truly broken his heart; he had and would always love her, but he’d made a difficult decision soon after that if he couldn't be with her, at least he could probably have Merlin. He’d been terrified of Merlin saying no, but after a week he'd finally plucked up the nerve to ask Merlin to be his bedmate. For whatever reason he hadn’t.
It ended up working out. Things always did, or so the saying went. Arthur and Gwen got back together and Arthur wasn't upset about that, but the thought of Merlin not being a part of his life in future was more painful than he could have ever imagined.
He had already almost lost Merlin a few months previously and that had been a trial like none other. The fear and terror Arthur had felt when those rocks had fallen between them had cemented any doubts Arthur might have had about how deep his feelings ran. He loved Merlin and nothing would ever change that. He would marry Gwen, but he would love Merlin until the day he died, and perhaps beyond.
But now Merlin was about to walk out of his life, and it was physically painful. How was Arthur to continue without him?
“Sire? You are needed in the Physician's chambers immediately. Gwaine and Merlin found Gaius.”
Arthur gave a curt nod to the knight and found himself running down the circular staircase as quickly as he could. A huge grin spread across his face. He had no idea how Gaius was and he fervently hoped he would be okay—the physician had meant so much to him and his family—but Merlin was the face and the thought that Arthur had at the forefront of his mind.
Merlin had been right. No, Arthur didn’t know that for sure, but… yes, he did. Why hadn’t he believed in Merlin enough to know he was telling the truth? Perhaps Merlin was too good for him. Well, of course he was too good for him. Arthur knew that like he knew he missed his father. But that was okay.
Arthur knew that he and Merlin would more than likely never be anything other than friends—they would never kiss or declare their love for one another—but as long as Merlin was in his life, that was all that mattered. Arthur could live with that.
He would live with that.