I am no enemy of the sunlight

Date: 2011-07-29 06:15 pm (UTC)
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He can feel Arthur's eyes on him.

"So, Emrys?" Arthur asks finally, as the steer their mounts home from the druid encampment.

Merlin jerks to hear that name from that voice. He knows he need not fear, not any more, but the instinct is still there - to flee, to hide. Habits die hard, harder when it was his life in question for so long.

He ducks his head and shrugs, draws the cloak tighter. He lets his horse pick its way along in the predawn light.

"There's a prophecy," he explains. He knows his destiny, has made his peace with it, but it still feels awkward to try to explain, about fate and the certainty of greatness, the inevitability.

Arthur snorts, loud in the quiet air, and it makes Merlin's mouth curl. "What?" he asks.

Arthur shakes his head, half-smiling. "Just. A prophecy about you, of all people."

Merlin rolls his eyes. "It's not a prophecy about me, my lord."

Arthur gets it immediately, and Merlin watches him shift uncomfortably on his mount. No matter how well his king shoulders grand destiny in front of the crowd, he knows it settles uncomfortably on his shoulders. Merlin can relate.

"Were you ever going to tell me?" Arthur asks. His voice is quiet, and Merlin frowns. He glances sideways.

"Tell you what?" he asks.

"Emrys," Arthur says, as if it's significant. Merlin watches him blankly. "Don't you know what it means."

"I didn't know it meant something," Merlin answers honestly.

Arthur shakes his head. "Always the peasant," he chides, but it's half-hearted at best, clearly distracted.

Merlin grips the reigns tighter, unsettled. He knows his role, but it doesn't sit well that there's something else destiny hasn't yet revealed. "What, Arthur?" he demands.

Arthur sighs. "It means prince of the light. Immortal," he clarifies, when it's clear Merlin doesn't understand.

And "Oh," Merlin says, mind racing, adding up lose ends to fit this last piece into place. "I didn't know."

"But you're not surprised." It's not a question, and it makes Merlin glance at him sideways. Arthur's eyes are fixed on the horizon, back straight, and for some reason it makes Merlin feels shy, tentative almost.

"I...no," he admits. "I saw my end, once. It didn't make sense really, at the time, but. When all else fades, I will endure." He says it softly, the vision reflected in the crystals clear in his mind. Rock and stone and dark, and so, so alone. “I was waiting, a very long time. I don’t think I’d wait that long for anyone but you.”

He looks up with his reigns to find Arthur watching him. For once, he’s not sure what to read in his face. They’ve known each other a long time now, but he doesn’t know what to think. Immortality, for him, is just a means to an end, another burden fate or the gods or whatever has given him. But for Arthur…

He watches Arthur swallow, tracks the bob of his Adam’s apple, and wonders.

And then, shockingly, it’s like the sun emerges as Arthur laughs, his real laugh that is almost heartbreakingly honest. He’s smiling and Merlin stares in confusion and maybe a touch of awe.

“Damn. I’m stuck with you forever,” Arthur says, but he’s smiling so hard, his eyes so bright.

“Bad luck, that one,” Merlin manages to retort after a minute, but he can’t tear his gaze away. He hasn’t seen Arthur this happy since, well. Before.

Arthur reigns in his horse and pulls Merlin’s in alongside him. The sun is starting to peek through the trees, and up this close, Merlin can see how the light falls across his face, catching on his eyelashes. He feels strangely breathless as Arthur reaches a hand out to bring their foreheads to rest together.

“Merlin,” Arthur says, so, so softly, “I wouldn’t want to spend eternity with anyone else.”

It’s silly, but Merlin’s heart feels so full it hurts. He feels the smile stretch wide across his face. “Me either,” he affirms. “Me either.”

Arthur takes a deep breath and pulls away, grin turning wicked. “Last one to the gate does all the records,” he yells, last words called over his shoulder as he takes.

Merlin splutters, yelling at Arthur to wait, the cheat, and spurs his horse on.
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