Harlequin's Slash Fic

Season 5: 05 A Maker of Beds

Title: Season 5: 05 A Maker of Beds
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Merlin
Characters featured: Merlin/Arthur
Category, Word count: PWP; 866 words
Rating: PG13
Summary: Merlin is haunted by his conversation with Arthur in which he yet again had to deny magic.
Notes: Part of a series of episode codas that I hope will continue through the fifth season.
Warnings: Spoilers for episode 505! Infidelity! A lamentable lack of sex!

 

 

A Maker of Beds

There can be no place for magic in Camelot.

The words haunted Merlin as he prepared their bedrolls for the night: the words he’d spoken, and all the words that remained unspoken. The until… he might have added. The unless

He had to trust in his destiny, that was what it came down to. He had to trust that in time Arthur would come to see that not all magic was evil, that he would come to tolerate and eventually welcome magic as a power for good. Until then, Merlin had to protect Arthur. That was all. And for now that meant letting Mordred die.

Merlin was conscious of Arthur’s quiet gaze upon him as Merlin set his own bedroll beside Arthur’s, as he unfolded their blankets and arranged both together over the makeshift double bed. It was unusual, to say the least. Even when it was just the two of them on a journey, they usually slept on either side of the fire. Not together. But Arthur didn’t comment on this, let alone protest.

When he was done, Merlin headed towards Arthur, who stood and waited for him but made no other move. ‘Let’s get that chainmail off you,’ Merlin murmured, as if this were quite normal. It wasn’t, though. Merlin had no idea how he managed it, but Arthur would usually sleep the night in the chainmail, despite Arthur himself admitting that it was uncomfortable and actually intensified the cold. ‘You’ll be safe here,’ Merlin added.

‘Because it’s a sacred place…’

‘Yes.’

‘Sacred to sorcerers,’ Arthur pointed out, though there was no heat to the argument. Indeed, he stood there cooperatively while Merlin unbuckled his sword–belt. And Arthur continued watching him quietly, when he could, as Merlin helped him off with the coif and then the chainmail shirt.

When Arthur seemed to be expecting more, Merlin shook his head, just once, and said, ‘I don’t want anything. Well, you know, I just want to –’

Arthur didn’t make him say it, but simply nodded, and then led the way to the bed that Merlin had prepared. Just as they’d done on the night they vanquished Uther’s ghost, Arthur lay on his side facing the fire, and Merlin lay behind him to wrap the man up in his arms, in the blankets, in all of himself.

After a while though, as they lay awake together, Arthur rolled back a little, and turned his head to consider Merlin from this close vantage point. He lifted a hand, and gently ran a thumbpad up Merlin’s cheekbone, and past the edge of his eye, where it caught a welling tear. And Merlin had thought he was hiding that pretty well. Arthur brought his thumb and the trembling teardrop to his own mouth, and pressed it to his lips. It wasn’t done with any sentimentality at all, but it was a profoundly moving gesture.

A moment later, Arthur asked, ‘What’s wrong?’ He was making a bit of a show of frustration and annoyance now, purposefully returning to their usual tones. ‘Are you never going to smile again?’

‘Maybe not!’ Though even as he said it, Merlin sketched a shaky smile. The brave kind that was also mostly show.

‘What’s bothering you? Something to do with the Disir and the Old Religion…’

Merlin didn’t answer.

‘Magic was banned in Cenred’s kingdom, too. You must have been brought up with all the same tales of chaos as I was. There’s no denying the harm that’s been done.’

‘I’m not denying that,’ Merlin agreed. He wanted to say how glad he was that at least Arthur had been questioning his long–held certainties. At least he was allowing for the fact that his father might have been over–zealous or even wrong in his fight against magic. At least Arthur was thinking about it – which is more than Uther had done for many a long year. Merlin wanted to say so much, but he was caught. Protecting Arthur must be his priority.

There can be no place for magic in Camelot.

‘There’s been much harm done and very little good, from what I’ve seen,’ Arthur was grumbling, almost as if to himself. ‘And they don’t exactly make it easy. I go to them and humble myself to beg for a man’s life – a young man who’s done them no wrong – and all they do is threaten and demand.’

Merlin huffed a breath. ‘They weren’t very… diplomatic,’ he agreed, wondering how he dared speak of the Disir so lightly. But it was true. Now that Arthur was starting to think it through again, the thing to do would be to offer some cogent arguments, some examples of good achieved, lives saved. Now that Arthur was starting to listen, much could be done indeed.

Not yet, though. Not yet. Arthur had to survive long enough to make that conversation a possibility, and it was still a long way off.

For now, all Merlin could do was wrap Arthur up tighter, and share his warmth and his love and his strength with the man. All he could do was protect Arthur.

And let Mordred die.

There can be no place for magic in Camelot until…

Posted in: Merlin, Slash fic

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