Harlequin's Slash Fic

Season 5: 13 The Once and Future King’s Warlock

Title: Season 5: 13 The Once and Future King’s Warlock
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Merlin
Characters featured: Merlin/Arthur
Category, Word count: PWP; 1214 words
Rating: PG13
Summary: Merlin waits for Arthur to return from Avalon.
Notes: The last in this series of episode codas!
I want to start by thanking Alexander Vlahos for saying that the finale ‘becomes a brilliant love story between Arthur and Merlin’.
Thank you, Alex. Thank you, Colin and Bradley and everyone at BBC and Shine. That proved so beautifully true!
Warnings: Spoilers for episode 513!



The Once and Future King’s Warlock

It was a long road he’d travelled. Over the centuries, he’d become Emrys the slow way, he’d grown into the wrinkles and the long white hair that Balinor had said was his true form. It gave him hope, actually. That once he was finally more perfectly himself, then it would be time again for his destiny to call him. It would be time again for Arthur to rise, and fulfil the prophecies they shared.

In the meantime, he waited. He watched, and listened, and he learned the ways and the powers of each age, just in case. Just in case this was the time, and Arthur would need to know he could rely on Merlin’s advice. He walked a lot. You could get a long way, walking, if you had centuries in which to make your way. He always returned, however. His paths always circled around and brought him back here. Not just to Avalon, but to Britain. Arthur belonged to Britain. Merlin knew that in his bones, and the land knew it in its bones, too. The land knew that one day, in some unknown future, Arthur Pendragon would come again.

It would have been too obvious, of course, it would have been far too straightforward a magical happenstance, for Arthur to actually reappear while Merlin was revisiting Avalon. The Old Religion was way twistier than that. Merlin returned more as a matter of comfort. Of reassurance. In this ever–changing world, the sight of an untouched Avalon was almost his one remaining touchstone. There had been times in the past when he’d felt on the verge of madness, and all it had taken was the sight of eternal Avalon to recall him to a sense of himself. Sometimes he had camped there on the shore for weeks, despite knowing it was almost the last place he needed to be, simply for the sake of drinking in the peace and the certainty.

He walked along the edge of the narrow road that day, as the traffic tore past him more unruly than dragons. He felt good, and strong, and true, and so he barely gave the Isle of Avalon a glance. It was enough to know that it was there, to feel its slumbering power. He walked on steadily, until he reached a meeting of paths that had become a crossroads, and an inn which had become a settlement and was now a town. The inn had changed of course, and yet remained the same in essentials. These days there were shining cars parked outside instead of tethered horses. Inside, the barrel of apple cider still provided a welcome answer to his thirst.

He downed half his pint glass while the cider was at its crispest, while standing at the bar, and then he put down the glass and looked around, forever curious. Forever engaged.

And that’s when he saw him.

He was sitting with a few other young men around a table, lounging back in his chair with his warrior’s body more relaxed than it had ever been in Camelot, more at ease, and yet still ready. The familiar tousled gold hair was arranged in a more modern shape. The perfectly handsome face was exactly the same, though with the marks of heavy responsibilities smoothed away. The sky–blue eyes were so heartbreakingly clear. He was perhaps twenty; about the same age as when Merlin had met him the first time. And he looked happy, sharing a laugh with his friends, and following up with a remark that they all turned to listen to. He carried the same effortless charisma that had created hope in people even in those early days when he’d been the princely prat. Even then, people had glimpsed the potential for greatness in him. Now, now the noble king was all that Merlin could see.

‘Arthur,’ he whispered, not knowing if he would hear, or if he would even recognise the name.

And for a long moment, nothing changed. But then Arthur frowned, that familiar knot appeared between his brows. He sat up straighter, and leant forward, bent his head, lifted his hand to his face in the old gesture – Merlin knew it so well that he could feel it in his sinews.

Another long moment passed, and Arthur finally looked up, glanced around as if recalling where he was. Something had shifted within him, something that would never now shift back. He had regained the knowledge, perhaps, of who he was, or at last acknowledged it as true. Arthur rolled his shoulders back, and the kingly bearing returned, like a cloak settling around him.

And Arthur looked up, and saw Merlin – and he knew him. He knew him.

They stared at each other, quite solemn for a while. Until Merlin felt his mouth quiver, and he wasn’t sure whether it was with laughter or tears. He tried to contain it, but then he saw that Arthur’s mouth was curving into a smile, and his eyes also appeared somewhat damp. Abruptly Arthur stood, and without saying anything to his friends, strode over to stand by Merlin. They looked at each other, took each other in, and they were both trembling there on the edge of far too much emotion.

‘This will never do,’ Merlin murmured, quirking a smile.

But Arthur said with beautiful sincerity, ‘My friend.’ His gaze taking in Merlin’s appearance and all that it meant. ‘My friend, have you been waiting here this whole time?’

‘Yes,’ said Merlin. ‘Well, you know. I went for a walk every now and then.’

‘But you always came back.’

‘Yes. I always came back to you, Arthur.’

Now Arthur quirked a smile. Watching each other, it was as if they were each remembering their own selves. ‘Actually, that’s my second name this time. I always wondered why.’

‘And now you know.’

‘Yes. Now I know.’

Merlin took a breath and dared to ask, ‘Do you remember… everything?’

In answer, Arthur shifted his hand to take Merlin’s hand in his. They held on tight, and let the torrent of feeling run through them, leaving them feeling spent, and ready for more. ‘Well,’ said Arthur, his glance flicking towards his friends to indicate them, though not actually leaving Merlin’s face. ‘This is going to be awkward.’

Merlin grinned. ‘Oh, Arthur,’ he said in that fondly admonishing way Gaius had used to use on him.

‘That’s if –?’ Arthur thought to ask.

‘Ah, don’t worry about that. I’m pretty spry for an old guy,’ Merlin replied with a wink.

‘Good,’ said Arthur. They were wearing matching grins now. ‘Well, I’d better say goodbye to this lot. You and I have some catching up to do.’

‘We do.’

Arthur had yet to move, though. ‘To start with, is it Merlin or Emrys?’

‘Whichever you prefer, my liege.’

‘Merlin, then. You were always Merlin to me.’

He was so happy that his eyes were brimming with tears. Arthur’s friends must have really wondered at Arthur suddenly hooking up with this sentimental old fool. But that’s what Arthur did – briefly introducing Merlin to them, and farewelling them, but not deigning to explain or excuse himself.

Moments later Arthur and Merlin were walking out together into the bright clear day and a brand new destiny.

Posted in: Merlin, Slash fic

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