Merlin remembers that first day out of his village. He keeps it in the back of his mind always, just for those days when he feels powerless and desperate and weak. He needs to remember, sometimes, that he does have control, he does have power, he is more than just a servant.
Even back when he was a child, he knew to keep his anger in check. He didn’t know exactly what would happen, but he could feel the potential for chaos and destruction sizzle behind his eyes, flecks of gold and blue slamming into the walls of his veins.
When he was asked to leave Ealdor (asked, not exiled, he didn’t deserve that, Hunith had said, deep bags under her eyes and defeat in her bones, he didn’t deserve anything he ever got) he counted exactly two-hundred steps before letting it push through his body, through every pore of his skin. He closed his eyes and tasted the air change from heavy with dew and moss to bright and prickly, zapping his tongue and eyelids. Then he felt the color, the blue and gold he always knew but never had seen, slide over his skin, sharp and smooth at the same time, like the sword tucked in the corner of Will’s home. It covered him, taking the air away, the woods away, his home away. He let the magic envelop him and take shape. It became a swirling mass of grey and black, tumbling around him but holding him steady. It was thick and heavy and he screamed into its inky depths. It filled his lungs, drowning him on land, in the air.
He wasn’t surprised that the dense dark cloud followed him till nightfall before dissipating back into the moist forest atmosphere, leaving him angry but ready to move on.
Merlin remembers that day, remembers that rolling black smudge in the air, they way it looked and smelled, tasted and felt.
He can see the same murky shade in Arthur’s eyes when something’s wrong, when he’s discouraged and frightened and angry, always so angry.
He wants to coax it out of Arthur, take those feelings and make them tangible because if he can touch it, he can change it. He could make it evaporate so Arthur’s eyes would be clear again.
But sometimes, Arthur looks up from his meal or his chair or from the dead bodies on the ground and they look each other in the eye and the clouds disappear by themselves.
Sometimes that’s all it takes.