Title: Lessons, You & Tea
Character/s: Merlin, Gaius
Summary: Merlin is given time alone to learn a lesson.
Warnings: Mismatch of Merlin canon, folklore, and whatever popped in my head.
Word Count: 846
Prompt: #206 Time Out
Author's Notes: Follows A Quiet Place
Albion is a maze of halls, long corridors which at night stretch beyond what the eye can see, rooms where students sleep peacefully or remain awake tossing and turning, waiting for the dawn. Rooms full of history and memories, full with the presence of those who came before them and left clues for them to find. And sometimes, when everything is still and you hone in on your senses you can smell and almost taste the waters of the ocean, salty and cold.
Merlin has begun to like his new home, but his heart will always belong in Ealdor. In the warm embrace of his mum and the smell of wood. He’s never going to stop missing her. He keeps a count of the days that have passed since he arrived knowing it’s a small comfort because he’s got years left before he can even think of going back to the village.
He huffs, closing the book he wasn’t really reading, it was all a blurry mess once he reached the part about a dragon’s breath. Every little corner in the room is filled with paper and books, big tomes with sturdy spines, some bound in leather ominous enough to want to keep your hands away from them. It was just his luck he was sent to the second library in the third floor to learn his lesson. Which one, he’s still not sure.
Merlin is about to pick up another book, this time one with a bright red cover and gold lettering, the book too big in his small hands, when the door opens. He goes quiet, stops moving, expecting anything but Gaius carrying a tray with freshly brewed tea, flooding the room with the scent of herbs. He sits down, waiting for Gaius to acknowledge him, but he’s too busy placing one cup in front of Merlin and taking the other one for himself, before sitting down across from him.
Linden flowers, Merlin is sure he can taste them in Gaius concoction, he thinks one day he will be able to recognize every herb, magical or not. The cup feels good wrapped in his hands, hot against his numb fingers from the cold clinging to the castle’s wall. He’s reminded of the hot beverages his mother makes for him during winters, and he joyfully drank in front of the fire in their living room, while his mum would tell him tales of brave men and magical creatures until he fell asleep. This year it won’t happen. He’ll stay here with books and Gaius for company. He supposes it’s not that bad, Gaius is pretty much family, he can’t remember a time when he wasn't around.
“I’m bored,” he says, voice tiny.
Gaius regards him, drinks from his tea and sighs. “My dear boy, you know this wasn’t my idea, but I have to agree with the Elders this time. Everyone living inside this walls must obey the rules and you broke them.”
“It was Arthur’s fault!”
Gaius gives him this look and he shuts up instantly, but not without pouting deeply. It was his fault. He dared Merlin to a race all the way to the Edge and back, and he would’ve said no, but Arthur was in a good mood, laughing and calling his name like they had know each other for more than a few months. Merlin was excited. But before either of them could even reach half of their destination, they were discovered by the High Priestess and since Arthur decided on his own Merlin should help him in return for the one time Arthur used his princely charm to get him out of trouble, he ended up taking the blame. Merlin was sent to think in solitude about what he had done and the great risk he had put them both in. Merlin isn’t sure if he saw a bit of regret in Arthur’s face but it was too late as he was being dragged inside. Befriending a prince isn’t really as good as it sounds.
“Well, you shouldn't have listened to him. Both of you needed to realize what you did and how it could’ve ended. You were not safe.”
He gives Gaius his best 'are you serious?' face, because who has ever said no to the prince? Next time he sees him Merlin is going to get back at him, one way or another. Unless Arthur is being nice and cheerful. He likes that Arthur.
Merlin focuses on Gaius again, noticing he never stopped talking. His plans of revenge forgotten for the time being.
“When you grow up you’ll become a great warlock Merlin. You’re magic, the very essence of it.”
He nods, Merlin has heard about his magic before, about the destiny of every warlock and sorcerer. Each have a duty to fulfill. He might be a kid but he still knows what it means. If he closes his eyes he can see his father leaving home as if it were yesterday to meet his destiny, whatever he was meant to do he doesn't know, but people whisper about when he’s around. Grownups never tell you the whole story. He never came back.
Merlin wants to go back home, says, “I’ll try.”