Summary: Arthur, worried about Merlin, finds him sitting all alone in near darkness.
Prompt #204 5X10
Merlin sat on the floor, his back against the wall, his hands wrapped around his knees as he stared ahead into what would be complete darkness if not for the lone flickering flame in the throne room.
As he watched the candle fighting to stay alive, he took a shaky breath. The prophecy Finna had given him had to be wrong. It just had to be. He had worked tirelessly to keep Arthur safe for almost ten years and the thought of anything bad happening to him now, well, there was no way Merlin would allow anyone to take Arthur from him. Not now. Not when he and Arthur were finally making progress with their odd relationship that almost no one understood, least of all, them.
They were more than friends, but less than lovers. They were each others most trusted confidante, but not the one the other held at night. They both wanted their circumstances to be different, yet they weren’t and never would be. Gwen was Arthur’s wife, even if she wasn’t the one the King of Camelot loved.
“Merlin?” called out Arthur’s familiar voice as light from the fire the king held in his hand framed his face as he stood in the now open doorway. “Are you in here?” he asked in a worried tone.
Merlin looked up through his eyelashes and studied Arthur’s face for a few seconds before he whispered a few words beneath his breath and watched as the fire disappeared. It was foolish to do magic in front of Arthur, but Merlin couldn’t face seeing him now, and, more importantly, he didn’t wish for Arthur to see him. Merlin’s mind was too consumed with fear and worry and he knew it was written all over his face. Arthur had enough to worry about without having to be concerned about his servant. “I’m here, Sire, by the throne,” Merlin said in a fake voice that sounded nothing like him as he listened and watched as Arthur made his way over to the throne and sat across from him.
The shadows from the waning flame gave the king an ethereal glow that made him look otherworldly, as if his face were on the verge of being extinguished, much like the flame. It unsettled Merlin. “I thought you had gone to bed. I came in here to think. Do you or Gwen require my presence?” Merlin asked in a somewhat panicked voice. He was in no condition to attend the king and Gwen. To be honest, he was in no condition to do anything at the moment. His every second was consumed with what the prophecy meant.
“No, Merlin, I do not require your presence. Gwen is asleep and, as you can see, I have come to find you. I’ve been worried about you. Now, do you want to continue avoiding me or do you want to talk about it?” Arthur asked as he scooted over to sit beside Merlin. “And don’t tell me nothing’s wrong. I know something is bothering you.”
“Can’t talk about it,” was all Merlin could say. His voice was about to crack and he couldn’t let Arthur know that he was close to losing control. But if those side glances were any indication, Arthur was on to him. Merlin wanted so very badly to tell Arthur of his worries and fears, but he’d never do that.
“Well, if you won’t talk, I’ll have to guess what is wrong. You seemed upset when I was talking to Mordred about him leading the patrol to find the sorcerer. You’re not still jealous of him are you?” Arthur asked, a sprinkle of disappointment present. He never had understood Merlin’s jealousy where Mordred was concerned, but how could he? He didn’t know what Merlin did.
Merlin let out a laugh. Had he ever been jealous of Mordred where Arthur was concerned? Of course he had, and perhaps he still was, but that wasn’t what bothered him now. “Erm, no, Arthur, I’m not jealous. I wish that was what it was. That, I could deal with.”
“Then what is it? Come on, Merlin, talk to me. I thought we had made progress in this trust thing. If we’re going to be friends, then we both have to be honest with one another.”
Merlin opened his mouth and stared at Arthur, not believing what he’d just heard. He shook his head as he raised a brow as he continued to glare, and when Arthur finally sighed and nodded in understanding, Merlin frowned. Sometimes honesty was not at all the best policy. He turned away and stared at the wall opposite. Why had he had to go and fall in love with the idiot King of Camelot?
A few seconds later Merlin felt soft fingers on his chin and felt as his face was turned. He didn’t fight it. He had stopped fighting it long ago. He found himself looking into mostly shadow, but he could see two blue eyes clearly, and they were focused on him. Merlin swallowed. “I’m afraid of losing you, Arthur. This war that Morgana has waged. You know she’s not going to stop until she sees you killed, and that is not anything I can accept. I can’t. I won’t,” and Merlin heard his voice break. He took a few deep breaths in an attempt to keep the tears at bay, but when Arthur put an arm around him and pulled him closer, that was all it took and a lone tear made its way down Merlin’s cheek.
“I’m the king of Camelot, Merlin,” Arthur sad as he wiped away the tear with his thumb. “I think you and I know that there are inherent risks with that title. You’ve always known that. Unlike you, I won’t make promises I can’t keep, but what I will do is tell you that worrying about what might or might not happen in the future does nothing but take away the time we have in the present. I will be here for you as much as I can, Merlin. Do not ask me to do more than I’m able. Please.”
Merlin wasn’t sure if he’d ever heard Arthur say please to him, but he had done so now, and that was important. Merlin nodded. “Yeah, okay.”