Harlequin's Slash Fic

no one but the pure of heart

Title: no one but the pure of heart
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Merlin
Characters featured: Elyan/Percival
Category, Word count: Short story; 1840 words
Rating: PG13
Summary: Elyan is forced to face the fact that he loves Percival for who he is, no more and no less.
Notes: Set perhaps two or three months after the double episode 312-13 The Coming of Arthur.
Warnings: Unrequited (or unfulfilled?) love

 

 

no one but the pure of heart

The trouble with camp fires, Elyan thought as he lay there shivering on his thin bedroll, was that they only warmed one side of you ­– and not even all of that, when it wasn’t a huge blaze. But when there was only two of you on the quest, then there was no excuse or reason for lighting more than one moderately–sized fire, and curling up around it as best you may. No matter how sharply the cold bit. Elyan shivered again, and tried to wriggle himself further into the inadequate cocoon of his blanket.

‘Elyan,’ Percival murmured.

‘Thought you were asleep!’ Elyan managed to stutter out.

‘How could I be…?’

‘My teeth are chattering. Right? Keeping you awake.’

‘Nah, it’s the ground quaking under me like an entire army’s marching past.’

‘Sorry.’

‘Never mind.’

A moment’s quiet in the frostily still night – in which Elyan endeavoured to mute his tremblings.

The man–mountain that was Percival suddenly heaved up from beyond the fire, the flames gilding him against the charcoal of the surrounding trees. ‘I’m coming over there,’ he advised, with the caution that any person might use around an armed Knight of Camelot – though any such warning would be rather overestimating Elyan’s abilities that night.

‘Perce…’ Elyan murmured, half in protest, half in confusion as the man stepped purposefully behind him, flung out his own bedroll to lie alongside Elyan’s. There was a brief flash of Percival’s wide warm easy smile before the man lay himself down – and then Elyan was wrapped in Percival’s strong arms as well as Percival’s blanket, and that tall frame was fitting itself to Elyan’s, Percival’s hands hauling briefly to fit Elyan better against him, and those thighs… those massive thighs tucking up under Elyan’s slimmer limbs, feeling secure and provocative and divine. ‘Perce…’

‘Better?’

‘Oh yes. Oh hell yes.’

Percival chuckled, and relaxed in close, settling heavily. Readying himself for sleep.

Elyan was in danger of being crushed, but he didn’t mind. Not at all. He lay there, too caught up to worry any more about the cold. Too caught up in memories of how warmly Percival would greet him whenever they’d been apart, how his smile was never less than a beam of sunshine, how his simple faith in Elyan’s good intentions had thawed whatever ice still remained around Elyan’s heart. And Percival was like that with everyone, of course, and especially with Arthur and Merlin, Gaius and Gwen, and the Knights. But Elyan had long dared to think that maybe, just maybe there was a little more fondness in Percival’s smiles for Elyan than for anyone else.

‘I wish it were warmer!’ Elyan burst out, thinking of all the things that could happen when they weren’t encumbered by the oh–so–necessary layers of clothes and blankets. ‘You’d still hold me like this if it were warmer, wouldn’t you?’

Another chuckle rumbled through Percival. ‘If you asked it,’ he equably agreed – though he sounded a little puzzled as to why.

Elyan pressed back into his friend’s close embrace. ‘Oh, kiss me, would you? Just kiss me for now.’

A moment’s quiet.

And then Percival shifted up onto an elbow – letting a slice of cold back in between them, but Elyan didn’t even care – and Percival leaned in closer to press a light feather of a kiss to Elyan’s nearest cheekbone.

Then he waited for a heartbeat as if making sure that was satisfactory. Just as he was about to lie back down again, Elyan voiced a wordless protest, and turned his head – captured that mouth, and gently caressed those lips with his own.

Percival didn’t respond much at all, but when Elyan considered him afterwards, he seemed pleased.

‘All right?’ Elyan asked, just to be sure.

‘That was sweet,’ Percival said, with one of his uncomplicated smiles.

‘I’m glad.’

‘Thank you, Elyan. No one’s kissed me for years. So many years. Not since my mother last wished me goodnight.’

Elyan stared at the man, dismayed, but mostly concerned about renewing Percival’s grief. ‘Oh god, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to make you remember –’

‘Don’t be sorry. There are nice memories, too. That’s what you made me think of.’ Percival finally settled again, relaxing into whatever comfort could be found on the hard forest floor. ‘Sleep well, Elyan.’

‘Sweet dreams, my friend.’

Percival drifted away. And Elyan lay there for a long while, warm now, but with his thoughts too stirred for rest.

They found the druid Iseldir – or perhaps it was truer to say that the druid Iseldir allowed Elyan and Percival to find him – deep in the Darkling Woods. Elyan handed over the letter from Arthur, and Iseldir waited until the knights were seated on a fallen log before he sat, too, and broke the seal. Other druids brought the three of them goblets of honey–and–apple cider while Iseldir carefully read the letter and pondered its contents. Elyan and Percival remained silent, and watchful, sipping cautiously at the suspiciously delicious drink even while Iseldir quaffed his.

Eventually Iseldir looked up and considered them just as thoughtfully. He asked, ‘The prince speaks for the king in this matter?’

Elyan shifted uncomfortably, and Percival glanced at him; they had agreed that Elyan would do the talking, but Elyan was now remembering he was no diplomat. ‘Yes,’ Elyan asserted. ‘The king is content to have the crown prince taking a more active role in ruling the kingdom.’

‘And certainly I am content to deal with Prince Arthur,’ the druid immediately replied.

Elyan didn’t doubt the man’s sincerity, but felt that he himself might not have put the case strongly enough. ‘The king is proud of his son, and trusts him implicitly in all matters of state.’

‘And rightly so. Arthur Pendragon has a great future ahead of him; a future of which he is not unworthy.’

Well, they were in agreement on that point, though now Elyan felt the need to murmur a heartfelt, ‘Long live the king!’ while Percival quietly echoed him.

Iseldir chimed, ‘Indeed.’ The druid looked from one to the other of the knights. It was obvious he knew of Uther’s poor health, or rather his soul–malady, and perhaps Iseldir even knew the cause, but of course Elyan and Percival could not and would not talk of such matters. If the druid wanted to offer advice or counsel, then that must come from him, and perhaps be given directly to Arthur.

Instead, Iseldir indicated the letter. ‘Do you know what Arthur says here?’

‘I haven’t read the letter,’ Elyan replied, ‘but I know Arthur is concerned about the Cup of Life.’

‘He is concerned that the lady Morgana and Morgause still have it in their possession.’

‘If they survived.’ Elyan shook his head. ‘That massive hall collapsed on top of them. It took us days to dig down through the stones and the rubble. But there was no sign of them. Nothing at all. And the Cup was gone.’

Iseldir nodded. ‘Arthur wonders if it was destroyed, but you can assure him that it wasn’t.’

‘How do you know?’

‘It would take more than that to destroy such a thing.’

Elyan indulged himself in a sceptical shrug.

‘I think it safe for now,’ Iseldir continued. ‘When the Cup must be found again, it will be.’

‘Is that – pardon me, but is that blind faith talking?’

‘It is knowledge of a kind, Sir Elyan. Our people are occasionally granted glimpses of the future.’

‘Is that what I’m to tell Arthur?’ Elyan didn’t imagine Arthur being any more impressed than he himself was with such assurances.

Iseldir ignored this, and instead said, ‘When the Cup of Life is most needed then you, Percival, will find it.’

Percival sat up taller in surprise, and looked from the druid to Elyan and back again. ‘Me…? How can that be?’

Elyan was grinning at him. ‘Why not you, my friend? You’re already a hero.’

‘You are pure of heart, Sir Percival,’ Iseldir continued. ‘You are pure in thought, word, and deed. And so like calls to like.’ He added, in slightly heavier tones, ‘Those among us with flaws can see the purity, and can love it, but we can never possess it.’

The woods spun darkly about them for a moment, and even Percival’s bashful smile faded from view. When the light returned, Elyan was staring at the forest floor at his booted feet, ashamed of himself. Ashamed, not of his love but of his selfishness. His pettiness.

Iseldir was looking on him with compassion. ‘And you, Elyan,’ he said gently, ‘will be the cause of a newfound peace between my people and yours.’

‘Peace?’ He couldn’t believe it. He knew nothing of it. ‘My life has been… wildness. Turbulence. How can I help bring peace?’

‘Through your friendship,’ Percival said. ‘You are a good friend to me, Elyan. You will be a friend to our peoples, too. You will bring us together again, and make us whole.’

Elyan sat there, bathed in Percival’s delighted smile. ‘Well,’ he eventually said, ‘first I must try to be worthy of your friendship, Percival, and then – only then – we might see about the rest.’

Percival laughed, patently proud of him. In no doubt as to Elyan’s worthiness. And Elyan gazed upon the man’s sweet smile while the poignancy of it all broke his heart.

They were so caught up in each other that when they next looked about them, they discovered the druids had already disappeared back into the forest.

It was cold on the journey returning to Camelot as well, and when Percival lay down with him as if it were a matter of course, Elyan couldn’t bear to turn him away. But this time, when Percival leaned over to press a quiet kiss to his cheekbone, Elyan simply grasped the sturdy forearm that barred his chest, and rubbed at it for a moment. ‘Thank you, my friend. Now, sleep well.’

‘Sweet dreams, Elyan,’ Percival wished him. And was Elyan imagining it, or did Percival sound just the tiniest bit wistful for things of which he as yet knew nothing?

But never mind that for now, Elyan told himself sternly. Perhaps one day, when they had each fulfilled their destinies and even Iseldir would agree that the time had come, then Elyan could learn from Percival’s purity, and Percival could learn from Elyan’s wickedness.

For now, it was enough that Percival could lie there with no thought of not trusting Elyan, sleeping like a babe and contentedly snuffling into Elyan’s nape, those thighs tucked up close below Elyan’s with no consciousness of anything between them but a generous friendly love.

‘Love,’ Elyan whispered into the quiet night, knowing he could say it this once and then maybe not ever afterwards, or at least not for years. ‘I love you all the more, my dear friend, for the very things that make it impossible I should make you mine.’

Percival shifted in his sleep, somehow wrapping Elyan up even closer… and Elyan was crushed.

He wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Posted in: Merlin, Slash fic

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