February 2009

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Sunday, February 22nd, 2009 03:10 pm

Title: Everything the Same
Author: cplberen
Fandom: Merlin
Pairing: Merlin/Arthur
Spoilers: None
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1139
Disclaimer:  Merlin's not mine, yadda yadda
Summary:  A prince is always on duty, always unflappable.  Always.

 

Everything the Same

By cplberen

 

Excerpt from “The Official Record of the Reign of His Royal Highness King Uther Pendragon”:

On the 25th of February of his 21st year, Crown Prince Arthur tracked and killed a Beast which was menacing farms near the village of Kingsbridge. Before his arrival, the Beast had killed 6 dogs and 4 men. The hunt was accomplished with little difficulty.

 

 

After the fighting and the confusion and the bleeding and the regrouping.  And after Merlin had determined the nature of the beast and had had Arthur use wax plugs in his ears that he would not fall prey to its deceptive cries.  And after Arthur had wounded the beast sufficiently enough that Merlin magically highlighting the spot on its flank which legend spoke of as vulnerable to a killing blow would make a difference. 

 

After retrieving the rest of his hunting party from the other half of a pincer maneuver that had placed them in exactly the wrong place to see anything that happened during the fight.  And after Arthur spent three hours smiling and declining gifts without causing offense and pretending the place on his arm where the beast’s bite hadn’t quite been able to penetrate his vambrace wasn’t killing him.  And after the ride back to Camelot with his jubilant hunting party, and his report to the King, and an inconveniently timed messenger which kept him in the audience room for yet another hour.

 

And after trudging up the stairs to his chambers without looking like he was trudging…

 

 

Arthur stands in the center of the room while Merlin silently unbuckles and unfastens, not meeting his eyes. Arthur’s gaze drifts to the door where it stands just slightly ajar. He’s expecting word from his father about the time of the celebratory feast, so privacy and space to put the prince aside for a moment must be deferred. Again. His jaw clenches.

 

Merlin’s shoulders tense but he still doesn’t look up. He works Arthur’s chainmail up and over his head, then off his arms, mindful of the bite Arthur still hasn’t mentioned.

 

 Arthur closes his eyes. His mind helpfully supplies images of the beast flanking his group, and one of his knights being gutted so quickly Arthur hadn’t even had time to shout a warning. The beast had opened him up, cut through his chainmail like it wasn’t even there, and taken an enormous bite of his insides. Had given a horrifyingly negligent shake of its head to tear its mouthful free, and then was gone so fast no one had had time to react. 

 

Arthur abruptly opens his eyes and forces the images away. He can’t afford this. 

 

A prince is unflappable. Always. 

 

A prince is calmly competent. Always. 

 

A prince is on duty. Always.

 

Bands of iron seem to be cinching tighter and tighter around his ribs, and he clenches his jaw and forces himself to breathe in slowly through his nose. Forces his lungs to expand. Forces the knots in his stomach to unclench. 

 

He finds that he’s balled his hands into fists and the muscles of his shoulders and neck are now reforming into a complex knot. 

 

Merlin silently urges him to sit on a stool and dips a cloth into a basin of steaming water. Arthur sees that Merlin’s hand is trembling the tiniest bit as he reaches to wash Arthur’s face. 

 

Finally, Arthur allows himself to really look at Merlin for the first time in hours. His face is dirty, there is even a bit of dried blood smeared across one cheekbone, but what draws Arthur’s gaze are his eyes. In them he can see a ghost of the terror of the day, see how frightened Merlin had been. Not for himself. For Arthur. He can see all the words he’s keeping inside because he knows Arthur desperately needs some peace.  Abruptly Arthur is just… done.

 

“Lock the door,” Arthur says quietly.

 

Merlin eyes the door. “But Sire, the King will be sending word of—“

 

Arthur surges to his feet and the stool crashes to the floor behind him. “Lock. The door.” 

 

A flash of gold, the door swings shut, the bolt shoots of its own accord, and he is in his arms. He presses his face against Merlin’s neck and just holds on. There’s a roaring in his ears and he closes his eyes and concentrates on the warmth of Merlin, his scent, the wiry strength of him. Something inside of him finally begins to relax and for the first time since the village he can breathe – really breathe – and the noise inside his head gradually subsides.

 

Eventually he realizes Merlin is whispering into his hair. “Too close, Arthur. Too close.” Over and over.

 

Arthur pulls back far enough to take Merlin’s lips with his own, to kiss him quiet. Merlin fights it momentarily, still talking, but soon enough he melts into Arthur like always, hums into the kiss like always, and Arthur is able to gentle his kiss. Soft, familiar kisses. The dance of their tongues, the hint of teeth, the play of their lips, everything wonderfully known and amazingly comfortable. It settles them both.

 

Arthur eases back and rests his forehead against Merlin’s, keeping his eyes closed.

 

“Too close, Arthur,” Merlin whispers again, but the frantic desperation no longer colors his tone.

 

“I know.”

 

“I can’t lose you.”

 

“You didn’t. I’m here.”

 

“But –“

 

Arthur pulls back and silences him with a little shake. “We won. You and I. Together. And we’re here. Together.”

 

Merlin searches his eyes for a moment, and then relaxes fractionally. “Right.”

 

Arthur gives him a slight smile. “My father’s going to call for me soon and I need to breathe for a minute.”

 

Merlin’s eyes become shuttered and he flashes a smile that screams ‘false’. “Right. I’ll just –“ He moves to step away.

 

Arthur hauls him back in and presses his face back into Merlin’s neck. “I breathe best right here.”

 

All the tension goes out of Merlin then, and Arthur can feel his breath in his hair. “Right.”

 

Arthur closes his eyes and lets Merlin take his weight. Lets himself simply be Arthur for a few moments more.

 

 

Excerpt from “The Official Record of the Reign of His Royal Highness King Uther Pendragon”:

Crown Prince Arthur bestowed a Spring Festival gift on the village of Kingsbridge: a dog and two bitches due to whelp.  Kingsbridge was also the site of the annual competition for the right to dine at the King’s table on the final night of the Festival.  The Knights of Camelot were assigned menial tasks to complete with points awarded based on the quality of their work. Crown Prince Arthur decreed that the tasks for the competition would be assigned by the Kingsbridge village headman. Tasks ranged from fence repair to seeding. The winner was Sir Thomas of…

 

End


Tags:
Monday, February 23rd, 2009 01:02 am (UTC)
Thanks! I wanted to try to show how much effort Arthur's seemingly effortless job takes. I'm glad you liked it!