Title: Late reveal
Summary: Merlin is not here and Arthur worries
Word Count: 809
Author's Notes: No time to pester my sweet beta and OMG! Who thought I’d be able to write canon era! :D
"Merlin?“ Arthur called without even looking up from where he was trying to take notes for the speech he had to give the next day. He was kind of stuck in his train of thought – he was a warrior, having to congratulate the winner of the pie baking contest that took place in celebrations of the tenth anniversary of the peace contract with Mercia just wasn’t his thing – and needed Merlin to help him out. But his manservant was nowhere to be seen and when he called again, his chambers stayed quiet.
Sighing, Arthur got up and opened the door to immediately be greeted by the face of a nervous young knight. “Have you seen Merlin?”
If the man had a stutter or only did so because he had been addressed by the king, Arthur didn’t know or care. It was odd that Merlin wasn’t around at this time of day. It was already getting dark and almost time for dinner, which meant that they would spend some time talking by the fireplace and later go to bed. Arthur didn’t like it when Merlin wasn’t back from whatever he was up to at that time.
Arthur stomped down the corridor, frowning harder with each step he took. He just asked “Merlin?” when he passed someone but nobody seemed to know where he was. He checked in the kitchens, in the stables, he even went down to the tavern after checking with old Gaius. But Merlin was nowhere to be seen.
Sighing, Arthur went back to his chambers, trying to convince himself that Merlin was alright and that nothing had happened, but in the back of his mind, he already picked out knights for a search party as soon as he had finished writing his speech.
Just as he tried to read through the part of the speech he already had, Merlin stumbled in through the door.
“If it isn’t the elusive sorcerer…” Arthur put the quill down and pretended to be unaffected.
“I was out collecting herbs for Gaius.” Merlin looked hopeful and wiped at his cheek that bore dirt marks.
Arthur shook his head.
“On an errand for Gwen?” The smile on Merlin’s face got a bit more forced.
Once again, Arthur shook his head and crossed his arms in front of his chest.
“At the tavern?”
Arthur had gotten up, walked around his desk and leaned against it, waiting. Merlin looked horrible, his face dirty, his hair even more a mess than usual and his clothes ripped.
“W…wait a minute...what did you just call me?” The forced smile slid off Merlin’s face and he stared at Arthur.
“Sorcerer. Or do you prefer wizard? Warlock? Witch?”
“I’ve never been a witch!” Merlin stopped and then made a face, obviously remembering the Dolma just as vividly as Arthur did. “I…I can explain!”
Arthur shook his head. “No need to explain.”
“How did you…”
“If you ask now how I knew, I’m going to banish you for it.”
Merlin’s shoulders slumped and he swallowed nervously. “I’m…I’m sorry.”
Arthur looked down for a moment. “You better be. Thinking I was so dumb to not notice all the miraculous escapes we’ve had, all the moments that I can’t recall where our opponents were beaten, all the bad magic things that suddenly turned out to be fine…” He looked up and grinned. “All the times I made you scream my name and you had that golden glow in your eyes? The butterflies and other light creatures floating around us when you’re coming really hard? That’s difficult to miss.”
“You…” Merlin swallowed again. “You don’t mind?”
Stepping close to him, Arthur looked him in the eye. “Would I call you friend, partner, lover if I minded? A bit hurt that you thought you had to keep it a secret for so long, yes. I thought you’d show your true nature openly when I made magic legal again.”
“I…” Merlin peeked at him and then avoided his gaze. “I feared I’d lose you if I did that. Thought it was better not to reveal…” He sighed and his shoulders slumped even more, if possible.
Arthur reached out and pulled Merlin closer by his hand in his neck. “Merlin.”
Merlin’s eyes snapped up and Arthur smiled. “You’ve saved my sorry arse countless times...” The smile turned into a smirk. “And did other great things with my arse…Just…”
A grin flickered over Merlin’s face. “I’m…I promise…”
“No more secrets from now on, alright?” Arthur leaned in to kiss him.
Relieved, Merlin let himself be kissed and leaned against Arthur.
Arthur pulled back. “And now you better take a bath, I’ll send for something to eat and then you’re going to tell me where you wandered off to and why you came back in this state.”
Merlin just nodded.
“And then you can finish writing my speech.”