Harlequin's Slash Fic

Spring Came Early

Title: Spring Came Early
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Merlin
Characters featured: Uther/Arthur, and some unresolved Merlin/Arthur
Category, Word count: Short story; 5040 words
Rating: R
Summary: An alternate universe story, which suggests that after Igraine’s death, Uther could not bear to raise his son himself. Instead, he has given him to Gorlois, to raise as his ward. Eventually, twenty-one years later, a golden-haired knight rides into Camelot for the spring tournament. Uther doesn’t recognise him, but is nevertheless strongly drawn to him.
Notes: This was written for my friend dark_angelis, who generously provides me with her good ideas.
Warnings: Please be warned, this features father/son incest, and the death of a main character. Um… Happy Valentine’s Day…???

 

Spring Came Early

The king sat alone, brooding on his throne, the hall dark around him. The hours passed unmarked.

Until the door creaked open, and the court physician walked in, his hands full with lit candles and a bottle of wine and two goblets.

‘I don’t want company, Gaius.’

‘Yet you shall have it, your majesty,’ Gaius replied. ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t come sooner, but my young apprentice got himself into another scrape.’

Uther gusted a sigh, and shook his head. ‘That boy of yours…’ He took the goblet that Gaius handed him, and lifted it in a silent toast before drinking. ‘How do you like being a surrogate father?’

Gaius settled himself on the stool nearest the dais, and opened his mouth for what would no doubt be a bantering reply. But then he considered the king for a moment, and instead said, ‘Don’t tell Merlin, but actually I like it very well.’

‘I am glad, my friend. It has suited you, though it came to you so late.’

A silence passed, and then Gaius quietly offered, ‘You would have made a good father, sire.’

Uther could hardly bear the subject, but of course they would talk about it. Gaius was the only one who knew the whole truth. ‘Twenty–one years.’

‘Yes.’

‘Twenty–one years today since –’ Since Igraine had died, and Uther’s heart and soul had died along with her. Since his son had been born, in the cruel barter of one life for another. ‘Should I have sent for him, do you think?’

‘It is not for me to say, sire.’

That almost brought a smile to his lips. ‘Ever the cautious one, Gaius.’

‘Yes, sire. But it was a decision only you could make.’

Uther pondered yet again. ‘One day he will be King of Camelot, that much is certain – though he still knows it not. Today, as he came of age, he would have been made Crown Prince. Perhaps I should have given him that. Perhaps I owed him that acknowledgement. And if he were here now, he would have time to prepare for when he must take the throne. Perhaps that would be the fairest thing to do for him.’

‘Perhaps, sire,’ is all that Gaius would say.

‘And yet, even now, I do not know if I could bear to look at him. I do not want a reminder of the price I was required to pay for an heir.’ Uther sighed, remembering that awful night. He had held the child cupped in his gloved hands for a moment, acknowledged it as his. Ensured that Geoffrey had the necessary records authenticated. And then Uther had thrust the child at Gorlois, and told him to take it away. ‘I lost everything that night,’ Uther muttered. ‘Even my dearest friend, for I have never once seen him since.’

Gaius suggested, very sensibly, ‘Why don’t you ask the Duke to visit Camelot? Or you could arrange to meet elsewhere. Perhaps it would help to talk with Gorlois about the prince, and you could decide what to do for the best.’

Uther shrugged. Even that was too painful an idea. ‘Gorlois writes to me faithfully every year. He says the boy would make me proud.’

‘I am sure of it, sire.’

‘And you?’ Uther asked awkwardly, wanting to change the subject. ‘Are you proud of your apprentice?’

It was Gaius’s turn to gust a sigh. ‘Yes. Yes, I am. Though he is not as interested in anatomy as I could wish. And he is certainly one for getting into mischief.’

‘He has made the wrong friends.’

‘No, it’s not that, sire. His one true friend is Gwen, the blacksmith’s daughter. She is the best sort of young woman, and she cares for him a great deal. But Merlin is all energy and high spirits.’

‘He has too much time on his hands.’

‘Perhaps. I try to keep him busy, but of course I am too slow for him.’

‘It comes to us all in time, my friend. It comes to us all.’

Spring came early that year, and as the apple blossoms arrived unexpectedly in Camelot so too did a fine new knight.

One afternoon, Uther heard a rising hubbub from the forecourt, and went out onto the battlements to see what was happening. People were gathering to watch and cheer a knight as he rode across the paving. All Uther could make out from above was that he had golden hair, and a plain white surcoat with his silver chain mail and armour, and a perfect white horse. The darker figure sitting behind the knight, straddling the horses’ rump, was soon revealed to be Gaius’s young apprentice.

‘He saved me!’ the boy cried out once he was let down. ‘He saved me from a bear!’

There was a general buzz of excitement as people surrounded the new arrival. Everyone loved a hero.

Uther watched for a moment, though he could make out little more. Then, just as the king was about to turn away, the knight looked up – looked directly up at Uther. Seemed to see right into him with eyes the colour of a deep summer sky. A long still moment passed, and then the knight bowed his head in respect – and the connection broke as the people started hustling the knight towards the steps leading up to the main entrance of the castle.

‘Have him brought to the throne room,’ Uther said to one of the guards. ‘Immediately.’

The knight was ushered in, with the court and apparently half the town trailing in after him despite the best efforts of the guards to keep them out. He walked steadily down the hall towards Uther, those summer blue eyes on him the whole way. And Uther could certainly understand why his people were so impressed. Everything from the knight’s tousled gold hair to his handsome features to the pure cleanliness of his surcoat and armour to his easy, approachable confidence spoke eloquently of both grace and strength. Uther had never seen such a beautiful man in all his long life.

Eventually the knight was on both knees before him, humbly laying his sword at Uther’s feet. ‘Your majesty,’ he murmured with the utmost respect.

Uther inadvertently let a moment go by, but finally managed to say, ‘Welcome to Camelot.’

‘Thank you, sire.’

‘You are a mystery! That must explain the entourage you have collected along the way.’ Uther indicated the plain surcoat. ‘You bear no arms.’

‘I am as you see me, sire. I have no family, no lands. I must make my own way in the world. I must make my own name.’

‘You do have a name at least.’

‘Yes, sire. My name is Lucius.’

‘Do you seek to become a knight of Camelot?’ Uther’s heart beat strong in his chest. ‘We always have need of fine knights.’

‘Alas, sire, I am of very humble origins. I am not eligible to become a knight at your court.’

An audible sigh of disappointment ran around the room, and echoed within the king. That’s a damnable shame… He managed not to say it. A mad scheme floated through Uther’s head of finding Lucius’s family and ennobling them. Or perhaps Geoffrey could be relied upon to find some obscure old lineage that… No, stop it. That’s madness. Instead Uther asked, ‘Then how can we help you, Lucius?’

‘I wish to compete in the spring tournament, sire. I believe I am eligible for that.’

‘Yes. Yes, of course. But the tournament is not for two – almost three weeks yet. You are the first competitor to arrive!’

‘Forgive me, sire. I grew up hearing that Camelot holds the finest tournaments in Albion, and no doubt I became too eager.’

‘Your enthusiasm becomes you.’ Uther smiled, and indicated that Lucius should stand. He watched as the knight smoothly picked up his sword and sheathed it even as he rose. ‘My steward will take you to your quarters, and Sir Bedivere will show you around. You can train with the knights while you are waiting.’

‘Thank you, sire. You are indeed as generous as they say.’ And as Lucius bowed his farewell, he cast a lingering glance over Uther with those vivid blue eyes.

Uther’s breathing hitched, and he had trouble restarting it. But no one noticed, for they were all following Lucius out of the hall, gazing admiringly, while young Merlin was bouncing around crying to anyone who’d listen, ‘He saved me! From a bear! It must have been twelve foot tall! He just ran it through! A bear!’

Uther attended the knights’ training grounds the next day. He was amused to find that he was not the only one. Lucius seemed oblivious to his audience, perhaps assuming that the people of Camelot were always this interested in their fighting elite. The knight in the white surcoat worked alongside those in Camelot’s red and gold, following each routine, quickly picking up and mastering each move. When Bedivere came over to acknowledge the king, Uther murmured, ‘It seems you may be hard pressed to remain champion this year.’

‘Yes, your majesty,’ the knight agreed. There was a spark in his eye, though, betraying amusement as well as a competitive urge. ‘But that’s good, sire. It wouldn’t mean anything if I didn’t have to fight for it.’

Uther clapped him on the shoulder, pleased with such an attitude. The two of them watched as Lucius beat Sir Owain in a one–to–one match with swords. A polite burst of applause was heightened by an excited whoop; Uther was hardly surprised to see that it was Merlin cheering Lucius on. A little more unexpectedly, though, Uther saw Lucius himself break his concentration long enough to shoot a wryly fond look at the boy.

‘Has he told you anything of his background?’ Uther asked Bedivere as Lucius was challenged by Sir Pellam, one of Camelot’s older and more battle–hardened warriors.

‘No, sire. Only that he was trained by a worthy knight, who raised him after his parents died. He wouldn’t say who the knight was.’

‘Well,’ said Uther, ‘apparently he knew his stuff.’ Pellam was dealt with in short order. After watching a third match with the same result, Uther shook his head in bemusement and returned to the throne room. Unfortunately he had pressing business to attend to.

Which didn’t prevent him from seeking out Lucius later that afternoon. But the knight was not to be found in the guest quarters, and the guards hadn’t seen him since morning. Owain, just returning from the training grounds, said that Lucius wasn’t down there. Uther sent a boy running off to the stables, but he came back with nothing. Eventually the obvious answer occurred to Uther, and he set off alone across the forecourt.

The door to Gaius’s rooms was hanging open. Uther waited outside for a moment, remaining in the shadows, while he took in the scene before him.

Lucius was there, of course, polishing his own armour while regaling his latest audience with tales. Gaius was pottering around with herbs in the background, but really paying far more attention to the knight than to his mortar and pestle. Merlin was sprawled ungainly near Lucius, doing nothing but hanging on his every word. Completing the party, a young woman sat upright near Gaius, apparently helping him by stripping the leaves from a bunch of dried plants.

A story was reaching its dramatic conclusion, which seemed to involve a fountain, a damsel, a serpent, three figs and a chamber pot. Perhaps Uther had misunderstood some element of that.

The young woman and Gaius laughed once Lucius was done, though they appeared sceptical of the tale’s veracity – while Merlin was simply fascinated. ‘Tell us another one!’ he demanded.

‘I am young yet,’ Lucius demurred, ‘and I left my home for the first time barely a month ago. I haven’t had the chance for many adventures.’

‘Well, tell us how many bears you’ve killed now. It must be loads.

‘Not so many as you might suppose, my friend.’

‘Why? Don’t they have bears where you’re from?’

‘Yes, but… perhaps we have fewer tasty boys who go out recklessly picking mushrooms, to lure the bears from the woods.’ And Lucius winked at him.

Merlin snorted and Gaius chuckled, and even the young woman looked wryly amused.

‘Tell us about your home, then,’ Gaius suggested. ‘You said you never knew your parents…?’

‘No, they died when I was just a few months old.’

‘Then who raised you?’

Lucius shook his head. ‘A fine knight – that is all I can say. But I owe him everything. He raised me to believe that if I worked hard, I could become almost anything I wanted to be, no matter how lowly I was born.’

‘Now, there’s a curious notion,’ Uther commented, as he finally stepped into the room.

‘Your majesty,’ Lucius murmured, sinking to his knees. The young woman sprang to her feet and bowed her head respectfully. Merlin stirred himself to rather belatedly follow her example. Gaius glanced startled at Lucius, and began stiffly getting down on his knees as well, which was in fact the required etiquette.

‘My dear old friend,’ Uther said, walking over to prevent him going to the trouble. ‘That’s really not necessary.’ He looked around at the knight. ‘You, too, Lucius. As you were!’

‘Yes, sire. Thank you.’ Yet he was well schooled enough to wait until Uther took a seat to sit down again himself.

‘You were saying…?’ Uther prompted.

Lucius bowed his head respectfully. ‘Unfortunately, sire, what I would like most is denied me. The pinnacle of achievement is to be a knight of Camelot.’

‘But why can’t you?’ Merlin blurted. Gaius patiently explained about the First Code of Camelot. ‘Well, that’s not fair!’ Merlin cried with more feeling than tact.

Yes, damn and blast that sodding code, Uther found himself thinking for the first time ever, though he trusted that he did not betray his reaction.

‘There is an excellent reason for it,’ Lucius asserted. ‘Why should you trust me with such an honour and such responsibilities, if I come from nowhere and owe allegiance to no man?’

‘Because you’re so bloody good, that’s why!’

Uther had to hide a smile at Merlin’s outrage, with which even he himself was in sympathy. Luckily for Merlin, Gaius spied the king’s amusement, or the young man would have received a stern rebuke.

‘Thank you, Merlin,’ Lucius said. ‘But I was taught to believe I could achieve a great deal, if only I would train hard and be brave, courteous and honest – and that must be enough.’

He was even starting to win the young woman over, despite the fact that until now she had seemed almost as besotted by her friend, as Merlin was by the stranger.

Uther asked, ‘Which knight trained you?’

‘I’m afraid I cannot say, sire. I’m sorry. My own merits are all I have to speak for me.’

‘Then how many tournaments have you won?’

‘None yet, sire. This will be my first tournament.’

Uther was impressed by the man’s ambition. ‘No matter where you came from, you could have tested yourself at any number of smaller competitions on your journey here.’

‘And, to tell the truth, I intended to, sire. But it soon came to seem like a waste of time, really. This is the place to be. You hold the finest tournaments in all Albion.’ Lucius grinned, and added as if confiding a great secret, ‘Perhaps you aren’t entirely aware of your own reputation, sire. Camelot is considered by all to be the very finest kingdom in the land.’

‘It is?!’ the young woman blurted in surprise. Uther looked at her with a wry smile as she lifted her hands to her mouth. ‘I mean, it is. Of course it is. The very finest indeed… Oh dear.’

As soon as Gaius was sure Uther had not taken this amiss, he started chuckling. ‘Sire, will you give me leave to present our young friend to you? This is Guinevere, daughter of Tom the blacksmith.’

‘Your majesty,’ she murmured, standing up to bob a curtsey with her hands still at her mouth. She was too self–conscious to be graceful about it, but there was an innocent charm about her.

‘I hear good things about you, Guinevere,’ Uther said.

‘You do?’ she squeaked in disbelief. ‘Sire,’ she added.

‘Yes. Gaius tells me you help him keep this one in line.’ He indicated Merlin, who spluttered a little.

‘Oh dear…’ she murmured, apparently realising that anything she said in response to Uther’s sortie could easily reflect rather poorly on Merlin or on Gaius, or both.

Well, no doubt the king had already outstayed his welcome. He stood, and everyone promptly rose to their feet. Before he took his leave, however, he gestured towards the pile of armour at Lucius’s feet. ‘Do you have no one to help you with this?’

‘No, sire. But I do not mind the work.’

‘Nonsense. Merlin here will act as your squire while you remain with us.’

‘Sire…’ Lucius looked from Uther to Merlin, who was spluttering again.

Of course Merlin’s infatuation with Lucius won out over any disinclination to perform such duties. The boy did, however, think to ask, ‘What about Gaius? He’ll need a new apprentice.’

‘I am sure that you can perform both roles quite adequately,’ Uther smoothly commanded.

‘But –’

Uther nodded farewell at Gaius, and at Lucius, and swept out. That neatly solved at least two problems at once. He didn’t know why he hadn’t thought of it before.

For the following three weeks, Uther kept his distance. He watched Lucius while he was training with the knights, and while he attended the court gatherings, always surrounded by a cloud of admirers. He watched as Lucius gave unstinting help to Bedivere in setting up the tournament, and also as he goofed around with Merlin. He watched Lucius grow content, as if the young man had found a place where he fitted and where he very much wanted to be – and he watched Lucius grow quiet whenever he realised that he did not and could not belong in Camelot.

Uther’s heart had died within him twenty–one bleak years ago. Yet now it had pounded back to life. He could tell because the blood coursed through him whenever he saw Lucius. He could tell because he knew his heart would break on the day after the tournament was done, when Lucius rode away.

For now… for now Uther watched.

As Uther had predicted, Lucius would meet Bedivere in the tournament final that afternoon. The winner would be crowned champion.

Uther was expected to take his place in the stands within half an hour, but first he went to Bedivere’s rooms to wish him luck. He clapped him on the shoulder and said, ‘I will always be proud of you, no matter what the outcome today. You are Camelot’s finest knight.’

‘It is the greatest honour to serve you, my king,’ Bedivere responded.

Then Uther went down to the armoury. He was no longer content with merely watching. And yet there was a sense of hush about the place as he neared the open door. Uther trod carefully, and remained in the shadows of the hallway, looking in.

Lucius was standing still, with a stray shaft of sunlight from the high window spinning gold from his hair and righteousness from his surcoat. His arms were slightly raised as Merlin quietly moved around him, slipping his armour on piece by piece, and strapping it snug against that strong body. The young man worked with gentle efficiency, as if these tasks were all familiar to him now. As if these tasks had become a form of worship, or an expression of love.

Eventually Merlin was done, but for Lucius’s helm. He ran his long pale hands over the smooth silver curves, but left it waiting there on the bench. Instead he stepped closer to Lucius again, and they stood there facing each other. Watching each other carefully.

‘Lucius,’ Merlin murmured… and he tilted his head, and leaned in closely for a kiss. A considered, passionate kiss. Uther watched as the two young men honoured each other in this way. Merlin’s hands came up to cup Lucius’s beautiful face, while Lucius’s right hand settled in the middle of Merlin’s back, holding him steady, holding him near. And then they parted.

‘Thank you, my friend,’ Lucius whispered.

‘I’m glad I’m your friend. But I want to be your love.’

Lucius smiled gently. ‘Alas, I must leave Camelot tomorrow.’

‘We have tonight, then,’ Merlin said, full of hope.

The smile turned wistful, and Lucius shook his head. ‘No, my friend. If I could stay here for years, for decades, then I would love you. But I can’t.’

‘You can’t love me?’ He was being wilfully obtuse.

‘You know what I mean.’ Lucius leaned his forehead against Merlin’s for a moment. ‘And now, my friend, I must go and fight.’

Merlin brought him his helm. ‘I wish I could give you a favour to wear.’

Lucius tucked the helm under one arm, and smiled lovingly at his friend. ‘You think I don’t already bear your favour?’

Uther finally stepped into the doorway, and walked into the room. ‘Merlin. Wait outside for your master.’

‘Yes, sire,’ the young man mumbled. And though he was reluctant, he made himself scarce. Merlin had learned a great deal during these past three weeks.

Uther walked close to Lucius, who did not move, but only watched Uther with an almost complete lack of wariness. ‘You will do well today,’ Uther offered, ‘whether you win or you lose. You have already proved yourself.’

‘Thank you, your majesty. It has been wonderful to find that everything they say about Camelot, and about Camelot’s king, is true.’

‘Lucius,’ Uther murmured… and he tilted his head, and leaned in closely for a kiss. A considered, passionate kiss. Uther’s hand cupped Lucius’s nape, while Lucius’s hand clutched a fistful of surcoat and chain mail over Uther’s heart. And then they parted.

‘Thank you, sire,’ Lucius whispered.

‘We have tonight, you and I,’ said Uther.

‘Yes.’ Lucius smiled, though for the first time his beauty was tinged with an autumnal sadness. ‘Yes, sire. We do.’

Lucius walked into the main hall that night, crowned as champion – looking, if possible, more beautiful than ever with a gold band circling his brow. Bedivere was the first to step forward and congratulate him. Uther was the second. After that, there was a general melee, as everyone wanted to shake the hand of or curtsey to this most popular of knights.

Eventually Uther rescued the young man, and bade him sit at the king’s right hand during the feast. And every now and then those deep summer blue eyes met Uther’s gaze steadily.

We have tonight, you and I.

Yes. Yes, sire. We do.

A lovelorn Merlin loitered in the shadows of the most distant corner of the hall.

There were guests to humour, and speeches to be made, and the honour of all to be satisfied. There was his steward at his elbow, and then Geoffrey, and then Gaius wanted a word, though he usually knew better. There was even a pile of correspondence awaiting the king in his rooms that night.

Uther was in the mood for none of it, and he decided to completely ignore the letters.

But eventually his duties could be put aside, and Uther could be a man again instead of the king.

Lucius’s hand trembled when Uther gave him a goblet of wine in the privacy of the king’s rooms. ‘Forgive me, sire,’ Lucius murmured. ‘I have only been kissed three times in my life.’

Uther thought about that. ‘Who was the first?’

Another of those new sad autumnal smiles. ‘I cannot say.’

‘And what of… anything beyond kisses?’

Those pale cheeks flushed a little, but Lucius held Uther’s gaze. ‘Never before, sire.’

Ah. ‘Then, perhaps –’ God, it would break Uther to let the man go. But perhaps he must. ‘If this – If this is not what you wish, then –’

‘But it is, sire,’ Lucius said fervently. ‘It is what I wish.’

And he was kissed for the fourth time in his life. The most ardent and passionate kiss of which Uther was capable.

A king’s crown and a champion’s crown were placed together on the table.

All that perfect beauty lying there in his bed. The golden hair, and the pale skin marked with dark bruises of all colours, the perfect grace and strength of a knight’s body, and those deep blue eyes looking at Uther, as open to him as the vaulting summer sky.

Uther was as careful with him as he’d been with Igraine, and yet there was pain. Lucius bore it. Even seemed to welcome it. Eventually, after much care, there was pleasure again. And beyond that, further still, there was passion.

‘My lord…’ Lucius breathed in the throes of it. ‘My liege… I am yours…’

‘Say my name.’

‘Uther… Uther…’ And he came.

‘Lucius!’ he cried.

And it wasn’t only Uther’s dead heart that had been restored to life. It was his soul, too.

They had made love twice during the dark night, and then the young man slept soundly: the privilege of youth and an untroubled conscience. Uther woke early, as he always did.

After lying there a while watching his love, his beautiful love, Uther got up and got on with the day’s business. There was that correspondence to read, for a start. He threw on a robe, poured himself a goblet of water, and made a start.

The third letter in the pile was from Gorlois.

Your Majesty – my dear friend Uther –
     Your son Arthur has now come of age, and we could no longer keep him here. It broke us to let him go, but it would have broken him for us to confine him any longer. He is riding out to test himself. I believe that his skills as a knight are such that he will soon prove himself, and win himself honour in his own right. Eventually, I am sure, he will arrive in Camelot. We have taught him to consider it the finest kingdom in the land, and so that must be his goal. Arthur and I spoke of him fighting in the summer tournament. You will know him at first sight, for he has all his mother’s beauty and honour, and all his father’s strength and courage. I have never told him his true name. We thought it best if no connection could be made at all between the prince of Camelot and my ward – whom we have raised as Lucius, which means ‘light’ or ‘king’, as you will. You have trusted us with this most precious charge. We pray that we have fulfilled your hopes. We know that you will be proud of him.
     Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall

Uther sat there for a long while, too shocked to think.

At last he carefully put the letter back on the table. Geoffrey would add it to the previous twenty letters from Gorlois, which he kept safely with other records, so that all could be used to authenticate Arthur’s right to the throne.

Uther couldn’t envisage living with the truth. He stood up after a while, and walked over to the bed. Gazed upon his love, his son, his beautiful son. You will know him at first sight – with his mother’s beauty and her golden hair and her deep blue eyes as open to him as a summer day. There was no resisting this. There was no living with it.

Uther climbed back into the bed, and Lucius stirred, turned into his arms, snuggled himself close. And then he was kissing Uther while barely even half awake, just instinctively pushing himself further into Uther’s embrace, and kissing him, encircling him in his arms. There was no excuse for it, now that Uther knew. But there was no resisting it, for this beautiful man had already become the whole world to him.

Uther made love to him one last time, and Lucius responded to him with the uncomplicated delight and the utter trust of the truly innocent. And then Uther let Lucius sleep.

He marked Gorlois’s letter for Geoffrey, and then wrote a note addressed to his dearest friend at court.

My stalwart friend – Gaius –
     Lucius fell asleep last night as a knight with a blank surcoat, and he will wake later this morning as Arthur Pendragon, a king with a long and proud heritage. I saw at once that he was the finest knight in the land, and he has since proved himself to be the most excellent of men. As a man and as a king, I am only fit to see that he already far surpasses me. It is as well that Gorlois raised him, for I could not have created Lucius. I trust Arthur with my kingdom, with all that is mine to bequeath. Trust Gorlois – he has not failed me. Trust Merlin with Arthur’s care – he will not fail, either, for he already loves the prince and he will love the king. I trust you to make all right again, after I have done much wrong. Take care of yourself, my friend. And take care of the only thing that has proved precious to me in twenty–one years.
     Uther Pendragon, King of Camelot

He left the letters on the table where they could be clearly seen.

Then he stood by the bed, and he gently cupped his son’s golden head in one hand, and acknowledged him as his own. ‘Arthur,’ he murmured.

The young man stirred a little.

‘No man could be prouder,’ Uther whispered. ‘Remember I said that.’ He sighed. ‘Now, sleep, my love. Go back to sleep.’

Uther picked up his sword, and he went down to the throne room. Wedged the hilt in the corner at the back of the throne, and placed the tip just under his breastbone. ‘Arthur…’ he whispered.

And he let himself fall. The sword pierced his heart, and severed his soul.

Posted in: Merlin, Slash fic

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11 responses to “Spring Came Early”

  1. avatar Lara says:

    Oh Harley, what a potent story.

    I always love your Uthur, you always make the character so real. I was very surprised by the ending. I love those twists and how your stories completely suck me in.

    I also like Lucius and how you made him so humble and chivalrous. He reminded me a great deal of Lancelot from the series that I almost expected him to show up.

    Great fic as always. Have some virtual warm and gooey chocolate as a reward for being such a good minion :)

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you as well!!!

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Lara – Thank you so much for your comment! I’m delighted that you found this one ‘potent’ – that’s of course what I hope for. It’s great that Lucius worked for you – I realised while writing him that my Arthur seems defined by his humour, sarcasm and arrogance, so I felt a bit adrift writing a version of him that was humble and rather more earnest. Indeed, as you say, an Arthur more like Lancelot.

      Thank you for the chocolate, my master and my valentine. Do you have any fic requests for your grovelling minion…?

  2. avatar amory_vain says:

    Oh, this is heartbreaking yet beautiful.

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      amory_vain – Thank you so much for commenting! I’m delighted that this worked for you as the humble author intended… :-)

  3. avatar Lara says:

    Do you have any fic requests for your grovelling minion…?

    SQUEE!!! *makes an high incoherent noise* Oh Harley, you are my favorite minion!

    hmm…*ponders a little*…hmmm…*tries to think of something good and worthy of my minion*…I got it!

    I would like more of your Arthur: 03 Winter Solstice universe. I want to see Arthur and Merlin traveling the world doing quests. I want to see them work as a team to defeat monsters. I want to see them in 5-10 years more rugged and wise. I want to see them dealing with the fallout of Uthur and Arthur’s deal.

    Mostly, I just want to see them Merlin and Arthur growing to their potential.

    Please! *makes puppy-dog/puzz-in-boots eyes*

    Don’t make me get out the riding crop (that’s for special occasions).

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Lara, my darling, I can so totally do that for you… I think. I was mulling over a sequel, so now I shall take your requests into account. If I have any queries, shall I ask you for guidance, or do you want to risk being surprised…? ;-)

  4. avatar Lara says:

    asdlfkjljdf *incoherent noise* OMG! YES!!!

    I will be more than happy to help out!

    You spoil me so :) what a good minion!

  5. avatar flwrpwr_vampyre says:

    God this is absolutely fantastic. Your heart breaks for Uther and for Arthur to. I can’t imagine waking up to find my lover is my father and that he’s killed himself for loving me. Poor, poor baby.

    (You should write a sequel about that.)

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      flwrpwr_vampyre – Thank you so much! I’m very happy that this worked so well for you. It was a bit of a detour from canon, but it must have worked all right if your heart broke… :-)

      (I think I can safely promise you that I’ll be writing a sequel, from Merlin’s POV.)

  6. avatar laurapetri says:

    OMG!!!Uther kills himself!!!NNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

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