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April Ficlet: Home (Merlin)

Did better on time with this one. Just a little under an hour.

(Merlin, post-finale, reunion, slash (merthur), G, 995 words)

Today's Prompt:

Don't you go,
Away, I know,
Without your love,
I'll never find my way back home

- Find My Way Back Home; Priscilla Ahn

Arthur stared up at the canopy of his four-poster bed – the red of Camelot sounding him. Merlin had tried to keep the bedroom in the small stone cottage as true to Arthur’s chambers in Camelot as possible. “To help with the transition,” he had said. The room had been already prepared when Arthur had returned. Arthur had expected to find a layer of dust coating everything, to match the layer of dust he felt covered him – but no, the room was clean. Perhaps a bit too clean, really, as it made Arthur feel like he was the one that was dusty.

He had only asked later, when he pulled his finger through a layer of dust on window sill in the kitchen. That was when Merlin told him that Arthur’s was the only room he cleaned every day... because he was Arthur’s manservant, after all, and it was his job.

“But I wasn’t here,” Arthur had said.

“I needed to remember that you would return,” Merlin had replied, and then fidgeted and left the room. No doubt to use that computer-device for research. They still didn’t know why Arthur had returned now, of all times.

Merlin moved beside him on the bed, turning onto his side facing Arthur and burrowing further under the covers. Merlin had his own room, of course, and until Arthur had returned, Arthur knew that Merlin had actually slept in it... but that too had changed.

It started almost immediately. Arthur would wake sometimes during the night to find Merlin standing in the doorway. “Sorry, just checking, go back to sleep,” Merlin would say, and Arthur would obey. In the mornings, Merlin would look tired, yet strangely manic... in the evenings, before bed, Merlin would grow nervous and reluctant to sleep.

When Arthur cornered him about it, Merlin admitted that at night he lay awake in bed, worried that if he slept, he’d wake to find that Arthur’s return had been only a dream. “I assure you, I am not. I know what dreams feel like Merlin and we are not in one.”

“That’s just what a dream would say,” Merlin replied, smiling.

So, Arthur let him sleep on the floor beside his bed.

Of course, that meant that several times during the night, Merlin’s head would pop up over the side of his bed like groundhog... and Arthur wasn’t too sure that was an improvement. So, he’d talk to Merlin until Merlin fell asleep to the sound of his voice. He’d talk about his sorry at the news of Gwen’s passing – even though it had happened centuries before, to Arthur, it was a fresh wound. He recited proper eulogies for his fallen friends, as he would have done as their King had he lived to see their deaths. He talked about his hopes for this second life, as well as the confusion that came with it – the new technology, the progression of knowledge that he needed to catch up on if he was meant to be king again.

And sometimes Merlin would talk, like he had tonight – and he’d tell Arthur about the years of waiting, the lives he had lived start to finish, only to change his name and begin again. He spoke of the different rulers, of the changes within the people, the system of government. He spoke of greater world events, some fantastic, some more horrible than Arthur could imagine.

Merlin spoke of the time in the 20th century when he had lost hope and tried to take his own life, only, at the last moment, to stay his own hand. It was this, not the wars, not the deaths of millions, not the suffering of the people, that horrified Arthur most of all.

Arthur had asked Merlin to lie beside him on the bed, instead of the bedroll on the floor. Suddenly, it was Arthur who felt as though Merlin might disappear if he did not have eyes on him, could not hear him breathing steadily, could not feel the warmth from his body.

He thought of rising from the lake, suddenly finding himself in the shallow water, like a sleepwalker awakened mid-stride. The warm glow of the rising sun was at his back, and he did not recognise his surroundings. A hard stone road ran along the edge of the water. Strange buildings scattered along it, odd carriages sat still in front of them. And yet, in this new unrecognizable world, Arthur had felt a pull deep in his gut... a yearning that let him down the road... as though someone had split him in two and the other half was calling to him from where it had been secreted away.

His walk turned to a run as the call only seemed to grow more intense inside him – and then he saw a figure appear from the morning mist ahead... a figure buried in an oversize jacket, long silver hair and beard blending into the fog around him. Neither broke stride, as Arthur approached he could see that the silver beard was not blending into the fog, but disappearing into the fog – and as it left, it revealed the face of Merlin - His eyes as blue as Arthur remembered, his hair as midnight black, and as they embraced, Arthur found familiar strength and safety in his arms. The desperate yearning inside him vanished and he felt whole.

If Merlin hadn’t been there...

Arthur turned to his side and looked at Merlin, who was lying with eyes closed, on the verge of sleep. Carefully, Arthur wrapped an arm around him, and pulled him into an embrace, putting his lips to Merlin’s ear.

“Don’t ever go where I can’t find you,” Arthur whispered. “You are more important to me than Camelot, than Albion, than anything in this world or the next.”

Merlin’s breath hitched, and embraced Arthur in return, hiding his face against Arthur’s chest... and Arthur knew, that neither of them would sleep alone again.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 3rd, 2013 09:01 pm (UTC)
OK so this made me think two things: 1) newly reawakened Arthur should meet defrosted Steve Rogers and they can be confused about the future together (though Arthur would be more confused) and 2) Arthur rising up out of the water like Mushu from Mulan. Ha! :P

I like that the lake changed though. Cos I somehow get this impression that people don't change the lake that much, that he wakes up in the green countryside, rather than some shitty little concreted in pond in suburban Bristol or something... anyway.

Edited at 2013-04-03 09:02 pm (UTC)
Apr. 3rd, 2013 09:18 pm (UTC)
Definitely Arthur and Steve have more in common than you'd think. :P

ETA: And YES! Rising up like Mushu is hilarious!

I generally don't like fics that play up Arthur's confusion about the future for laughs though - mainly because they make him an unrealistic idiot.

Another thing I notice about post-finale reunion fics is that people have them in OUR universe... this sort of plays into what you're saying about the lake. There's this idea that Merlin took place in our past, and that magic has just died out since then... but in reality, we're talking about a "land of myth" - magic never existed and Merlin is a myth in our world. So, to me, the modern-world that Merlin is walking in at the end of the finale is a modern-world that has magic integrated into it somehow. Maybe it's still rare, but it's there - and there are still places that are sacred. I mean, how else do you explain the fact that the island in lake Avalon looks exactly the same? There's no way that wouldn't be developed, unless everyone knew perfectly well it was magic and they couldn't touch it.

Anyway...um... yeah, I have way too many Merlin opinions to be healthy. :P

Edited at 2013-04-03 09:19 pm (UTC)
Apr. 3rd, 2013 09:28 pm (UTC)
Well yeah, stories that make Steve out to be in idiot really annoy me too, though not at much as ones that make Thor out to be an idiot. [/offtopic]

Hmm... you have a point. I always forget that. I'd sort of piture it like... did you ever read... dammit I've forgotten what it was called. I think it was by paperclipbitch but it's been taken down now. I have... almost all of it on my computer. But that was fantstic, and had a very good fusion of modern day and magic.

But at the same time, it could be like Glastonbury Tor, or Stonehenge, or places like that. They put a stone there and we all sort of knew, but not really.
Apr. 3rd, 2013 09:31 pm (UTC)
True, I suppose... maybe it's down to opinion, and I just like my Merlin in a different universe than the one that I live in. :P

I probably haven't read the story that you're talking about - I haven't read that many modern day magic fusions. Ah well!

And yeah, off topic, but I hate it when people make Thor out to be an idiot too. :P
Apr. 3rd, 2013 09:41 pm (UTC)
Well, if you're interested, I found that the whole thing seems to be back up. It's very good, but a modern AU where Morgana is awesome. It's called We're A Storm in Somebody Else's Teacup, and is in her Merlin Masterlist, though you have to remove the + from the link. And then the chapter links don't work, you have to use the lj cuts on each post. It's really good though.

I like stuff dropped into this world, because then you have to be really clever to get things to work properly. Or at least, that's how I like my Avengers fanfic. *shrugs* And I read a good Thor one... once. :P
Apr. 3rd, 2013 09:47 pm (UTC)
I suppose! I mean, that's why I like crossovers - combining sometimes conflicting universes is a challenge, but also sometimes gives me a structure that opens up some very neat possibilities.

Thanks for the rec, I'll keep it in mind the next time I find myself with time to read fanfic. :)

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )