Holding Back The Tide
"Time and tide wait for no man" - Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 – 1400)
Spoilers: Season 1-4
Written for: Merlin reveal comment meme on livejournal
When Uther lay dying and Arthur was willing to try even magic in an attempt to save his father's life, Merlin decided that he had wasted one too many opportunities to tell Arthur about his magic, and he wasn't going to waste this one.
Gaius would try to dissuade him, which was why he didn't tell the old man that he had come to think of as a father what he was about to do.
With slow and even steps, Merlin made his way through the castle that had become his home and towards Arthur's chambers. The young warlock came to a stop just outside the heavy wooden doors and took a moment to breath and realize the depth of what he was about to do.
When he had first come to Camelot and had been enlisted as Arthur's manservant, Arthur was nothing more than an annoying prat to him. After a few weeks, as he got to know the Crown Prince of Camelot, Merlin's opinion of Arthur slowly began to change. The more he came to care about the blonde, the more, increasingly dangerous, risks he took to ensure that Arthur survived whatever it was that was thrown at them.
Something had happened though along the way as he and Arthur grew closer. Somewhere between drinking poison for the royal prat; and going to the Isle of the Blessed intending to sacrifice himself in Arthur's place to heal the rift in the veil, he fell in love. He fell in love with the arrogant, annoying, generous, kind, amazing man that he was happy to have as his King.
It was his love for Arthur that made what he was about to do all that more difficult. Arthur wasn't merely a friend or his destiny. Arthur was everything.
Merlin didn't know how long he stood outside Arthur's chambers attempting to gather the courage to go in. And wasn't that ironic? He could face down all manner of dangers without a second thought, magical and/or human, but he couldn't quite gather the courage to tell his closest friend the truth.
Eventually, a maid that was walking down the hallway and giving him a weird, questioning look made the decision for him.
Taking a deep breath; that did nothing at all to steady him; Merlin pushed open the wooden door and slipped inside the room, making sure to close and lock the door once he was inside. He didn't need anyone bursting in and interrupting.
"Merlin," Arthur greeted him without even turning around to look at him.
The blonde was standing before the fire place with his hands braced against the stone. His shoulders were bunched tightly, a sign to Merlin, who knew him so well, that the young man was worried and conflicted.
"Arth…," Merlin cleared his throat nervously, "Arthur, there's something that I need to tell you."
He didn't wait for Arthur to respond or turn around. He just started talking, and once he started he didn't seem able to stop. It was almost as if he was trying to purge himself of all the lies and secrets in one go, so that nothing stood between him and the blonde anymore.
"I'm sorry. I am so sorry. I should have told you a long time ago. I wanted to tell you. I tried to tell you so many times. I was just... I suppose I was afraid. Afraid that you would hate me. Afraid that you wouldn't. Arthur, I have... I'm...," Merlin's rambling came to a halt.
Despite everything, now that the time had come he couldn't seem to actually get the most important words out. Three simple little words but when he put them together they would determine the rest of his life. Three measly, little words.
"I have magic," he blurted out.
Okay, so perhaps it was not the most elegant way in which to announce that one had magic and in doing so had been committing treason on a fairly regular basis. The point though, was that he'd done it. He'd finally told Arthur.
Merlin watched Arthur, full of trepidation, as the blonde slowly turned around to look at him for the first time since he had entered the room. What made him even more nervous was that it was extremely rare these days for him to not be able to read the emotions on Arthur's face when he looked hard enough. Unfortunately, this was one such incident. He had absolutely no a clue as to what the Prince was thinking.
Arthur folded his arms and gave Merlin a long, hard look.
The dark haired young man couldn't help fidgeting, playing with the end of his shirt and shifting from foot to foot as the silence grew between them. He bit his lower lip in indecision before speaking.
"I always suspected as much," the blonde finally spoke.
Merlin's head snapped up from where he had been gazing intently at the ground to look at his future King and hopefully not his executioner.
"You... Arthur... what?" The young warlock was unable to form the multitude of questions that suddenly popped into his head with Arthur's statement.
A tiny, familiar smile graced Arthur's lips at Merlin's stumbling words.
"Despite what you might think, I am not a complete idiot, Merlin. There were far too many times that we survived when we shouldn't have. Tree branches don't usually have a habit of falling on one's enemies. There were times when I doubted myself, that I thought there was no way you could be a sorcerer and then something would happen and you would be there, helping with the solution and I would have my suspicions again."
Merlin stared at Arthur. This was something he hadn't expected, although he should have. He knew Arthur wasn't stupid, the blonde was actually highly intelligent when he wanted to be.
The tense and blank mask that Arthur was wearing faded into a more open expression.
"I'm still furious with you for lying to me all these years and we'll fight about it later. Right now though, can you heal my father?" Arthur asked, it came out as more of a plea though.
Merlin took several small steps forward towards the blonde until he was standing in front of Arthur. Gently and cautiously, he reached up with hand and lay it comforting on his arm.
"I can heal his physical injuries but Arthur, you know he's dying. I'm so sorry. There's only so much that I can do for him," Merlin told him softly, his heart aching for the pain which he knew Arthur would be feeling.
Arthur covered Merlin's hand with his own and gave it a tiny squeeze.
"I know, Merlin. I know but he's my father," Arthur sighed sadly.
"I'll get Gauis and see what we can do," Merlin gave Arthur's arm one last squeeze before he started moving away.
He was startled when a hand pulled him back and he was enveloped in a tight, desperate embrace. Arthur's solid arms were wrapped tightly around him, and he seemed to be drawing strength from Merlin. Merlin buried his nose in Arthur’s neck and inhaled the smell that was uniquely Arthur and that Merlin had come to associate with a feeling of home.
Arthur let out a deep sigh and reluctantly released Merlin. The dark haired man gave him a tiny smile, rubbed the back of his neck and gestured to the door as he spoke.
"Right…I'll just…go find Gaius."
As Merlin fled and went in search of Gaius, he had to take several calming breaths to help settle the butterflies that had decided to dance around in his stomach.
"Gauis?" he shouted as he entered the room.
The old physician didn't even twitch at the abrupt and loud entrance which should have given people an idea of just how often it was that Merlin burst into the rooms without announcing his presence.
"What have you done now, Merlin?" he asked, exasperated and slightly amused at the expression on the young man's face.
"I told Arthur."
Another three simple words but when put together they meant a hell of a lot. Gaius was stunned and utterly speechless. Although he had known that this day would eventually come, now that it had, he wasn't sure what to say or what would happen.
Merlin grinned at the older man reassuringly.
"It's okay, Gaius. Arthur asked if I could try and heal Uther. I told him that I could try but that he had to remember that his father was old and is going to die soon no matter what I do."
"I know Gaius but its Arthur. If I can do something to help him, then I will. I fully expect that we are going to have a spectacular fight about all the secrets that I've kept once I've done what I can for Uther."
The entire time he was speaking, Merlin continued smiling in happiness. Arthur finally knew. Arthur knew and hadn't run him through with his sword. They still had a lot of ground to cover but Arthur was giving him a chance to help and tell him everything. It was more than he had expected on some days.
Quickly and efficiently, Merlin and Gaius collected everything that they could think that they would possible need to heal Uther and set off for the King's chambers.
Merlin detoured past Arthur's chambers but like he had expected, the blonde Regent wasn't there.
The young warlock arrived at the King's chambers, entered the room and then looked the door behind him. He bit his lower lip in a sudden fit of nerves when he realised exactly what it was that he was about to do.
Arthur, who had been sitting beside his father's bedside, was now looking up at him. Gaius was standing slightly behind the blonde and he too, was watching Merlin expectantly.
The dark haired young man took a deep breath before stepping forward.