“Merlin, that’s not how the hand motion goes,” Arthur says, because he’d watched the visiting sorceress making her demonstration and (much as he enjoys watching Merlin make a fool of himself) there had been no flailing involved. Also, Merlin’s grasp of the Old Tongue is truly disgraceful—he’ll have to take care of that. Sooner or later, after the novelty has worn off, someone is going to ask how such an idiot could have possibly snagged the position of Court Sorcerer. “You’re also placing emphasis on the wrong syllables. Why don’t you try—?”
“If you think you’re so clever, why don’t you show me how it’s done and levitate the damn feather yourself? Honestly, could you be any more of a presumptuous prat? First demanding that I waste my time learning stupid parlour tricks and then daring to critique my technique when you haven’t a magical bone in your body—”
With skill born of long years of practice, Arthur tunes out Merlin’s sullen griping, holds out his right hand in Merlin’s direction just as the sorceress had the night before, and intones the words with perfect pitch and clarity: “Oferflíeh burgþele!”
Arthur doesn’t actually expect anything to happen, not really. He’s only fooling around—so he’s caught utterly off guard when a strange warmth washes over him, floods through his veins, and flows from his open palm in a rush that leaves him gasping. Gods, the power. The sensation only lasts for a few seconds, but in that time he comes to understand why Merlin (why all those poor souls his father had executed over the years) could not bear to give up magic even with the threat of execution looming near: it was freedom.
When the flow of magic tapers off, Arthur blinks through his rapturous haze to see Merlin hovering a foot off the castle floor, blue eyes wide and amazed. “Arthur, you...”
“I... I didn’t mean to... I...”
“Niðerásette,” Merlin murmurs, eyes flashing gold and then his feet are firmly on the ground and he’s launching himself across the room, wrapping around Arthur, and he’s pressing laughing kisses to Arthur’s face. “Oh, Arthur, you did it! You did it! How did you—? Gods, you're wonderful, so wonderful—”
Slowly the shock eases and Arthur melts into the arms of his lover, content to bask in Merlin’s joy and in his own quiet pleasure.
“I’ll teach you,” Merlin whispers against Arthur’s lips. “There’s so much I want to teach you... We’ll be so good together, so good, you’ll see.”
Yes, Arthur thinks, yes, yes.