"We don’t meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our paths for a reason.” ~ Zig Ziglar
The whole last week in Camelot was perfect. There were no thefts, no sorcerers that Uther could send a patrol after, Arthur wasn’t in any danger and even the weather was unusually nice. That’s why nor Merlin nor Arthur were surprised when the horses ran away, leaving them alone in the Darkling woods.
“I knew it!” Merlin proclaimed as he stood up. He had fallen off his horse, whereas Arthur was luckier – he had already dismounted when the horses ran away. They didn’t even know what had scared them so suddenly and quickly. “I knew something was about to happen, this whole week was too good to be true.” Merlin continued.
Arthur was just laughing when Merlin started dusting off his butt that was covered in dry leaves. “You’re not a sorcerer Merlin, you couldn’t have known anything was going to happen.” He rolled his eyes then. “And hurry up, we need to find the horses.”
“Says the one who’s just standing there like a sack of potatoes and laughing at me.” Merlin mumbled under his breath. Unfortunately, Arthur heard him.
“Said someone is waiting for your butt to get cleaned up, and hurry up!” Said someone exclaimed.
Merlin rolled his eyes and finished dusting his butt off. “There, happy?” He turned to Arthur, who simply nodded and began walking away. Merlin had to roll his eyes again because sometimes he just couldn’t stand that dollophead (and sometimes he couldn’t believe how handsome he was).
But that was his life in Camelot after all. Worrying about his clotpole while checking his clotpole out whenever he could. Not that he would tell anyone of course. No one could know this, it was a secret he guarded with his life. Just like his magic.
“Come on, Merlin! The horses won’t return on their own!” Arthur bellowed and Merlin sped up. Arthur was on top of a little hill in the forest and Merlin had to run all the way up, trying not to run into the trees all around him. Arthur was already looking around, trying to spot the horses, but judging by his expression he couldn’t see them.
“Any luck?” Merlin asked, breathing heavily when he reached the top of the hill. Arthur shook his head.
“They could be anywhere, we need to split-”
“Arthie Pendragon!” Someone said from behind them. They both immediately turned around and Arthur unsheathed his sword, pointing it at the man in front of them. He was dressed in long white robe with a belt around his waist and long sleeves. He had no weapons.
“Who are you?” Arthur asked, using his best dangerous I am royal and you must abide by my rules voice.
“I simply want to help.” The man said and smiled. “You can call me Fate.” He added. “I wish you no harm.” He looked at Arthur’s sword and raised his eyebrows. Arthur hesitated for a few seconds, but seeing that the man was unarmed, he eventually lowered his sword. He didn’t sheathe it yet though.
“How do you know my name?” Arthur asked and the man – Fate – shrugged.
“I’m Fate. I know everything and I know what’s best for you.”
“Are you a sorcerer?” Was Arthur’s next question. The man looked suspicious and he had a long white staff in his hand with a little stone at the top. It looked like a little crystal.
“You could say so.” The man smiled and shrugged again. “But please, I’m here to help you because you obviously need help. I’d been waiting for you to be born and I’ve also been watching you for a while, but I didn’t know I’d have to help you. I thought your problem was obvious and that you would solve it yourselves, but from what I’ve seen during the last few weeks, you two are a hopeless case.”
“What are you talking about?” Merlin asked, frowning. He didn’t understand anything the man said. The only possible explanation was that he knew he was Emrys and that Arthur was the Once and Future King, but that didn’t explain what their problem was.
“What problem?” Arthur added to complete Merlin’s question.
The man just started laughing. “You’ll see.” He smiled. “I’ll give you a vision of the future, just because I’m that nice and because I think it’ll be funny and then we’ll see if you can figure out what problem you have.”
“Wait, you can’t just-”
Before Arthur had the chance to finish his sentence, the man’s eyes flashed gold as he reached both his hands and touched Merlin’s and Arthur’s forehead with his two fingers, leaving the staff floating behind him. Suddenly everything was white and they couldn’t move. It felt as if they’ve left the Earth and were somewhere else…
Arthur’s arms were around him and even though he wasn’t sure what was going on, something was telling him it was a good thing. It was a very very good thing, even though he wasn’t sure what that it was yet. He slowly opened his eyes and what he saw panicked him for a few seconds. But as he soon realized, there was nothing he could do. He couldn’t move, his body was being controlled by someone else... Merlin from the future possibly.
His arms were around Arthur’s neck and Arthur’s lips were on his cheek. “So this was our problem, wasn’t it?” He heard Arthur whisper and he felt himself nod and chuckle.
"I’m glad he helped us.” Merlin from the future smiled and kissed Arthur on the lips. Arthur kissed him back and pulled him closer, trying to get as much of Merlin as he could. And Merlin didn’t hesitate to move his hands from Arthur’s neck to his blonde hair.
Arthur moaned and Merlin laughed, still kissing him.
The white light returned and suddenly he was lying on the ground in the forest, feeling dizzy. His breathing was erratic from the... dream he had. Or was it really a vision from the future? It must have been... he remembered it so vividly.
"What on Earth was that?” He heard Arthur’s grumpy voice beside him. He turned his head and saw his prince, lying on the ground with his hands on his head. “My head hurts.” He complained.
“What did you see?” Merlin asked before he could stop himself. He had no idea what Arthur saw in his vision and even if Arthur told him, Merlin would never tell Arthur. It was all too embarrassing, and who knew if it wasn’t just a dream or a curse that man put them under?
Arthur was quiet for a few seconds, his cheeks a bit red. “Nothing important,” he mumbled. Then he quickly stood up and dusted himself off. “Now come on, we need to find the horses and get back home.”
“Sure,” Merlin rolled his eyes and stood up. Of course Arthur wouldn’t tell him. He looked around and noticed that the man was gone. “Hey!” He called Arthur. “Where is he?”
“How would I know? I was unconscious just like you.” Arthur answered as he turned around. “He’s probably watching us anyway, so we should stick together, come on!”
Merlin ran after Arthur who’d already started walking away. There was no sign of the horses. Who knew if the man wasn’t the one who scared them away? Or made them run away with magic so he could ‘help’ them?
Just when Merlin was about to think about the vision he had again, he stepped into a hole and fell down, deep under the ground. “Ahh!”
“Merlin?” Arthur turned around and saw nothing but trees. Where the hell was his useless servant? One minute he spent thinking about the vision he had – which was by the way, exactly the same as Merlin’s – and Merlin was gone. “Merlin!”
“Arthur?” He heard a distant call. It was Merlin, he was sure of it. He went back a few steps and eventually found the hole. It wasn’t there just a few minutes ago!
“Merlin, are you alright?” Arthur called down. He had to lie down on the ground so he could hear Merlin better. The hole had to be very deep, and probably connected to some cave tunnels under the Darkling woods.
“Yeah! Just a little bit wet!” He heard Merlin’s reply. “Can you help me back up? I’m stuck here!”
Arthur rolled his eyes. He couldn’t believe how clumsy Merlin was sometimes, but on the other hand – of course he was going to help him. He didn’t know if the vision he had was really the future, but if he lost Merlin now, he would never find out. And he really wanted to know if that kissing was about to happen. He’s been longing for him ever since Merlin started to work as his servant. Well, he didn’t like him in the beginning, but soon Merlin became his friend. Possibly the first true friend he’s ever had.
He sighed and looked around. He had no idea how to rescue him, but he would find something. “Just wait!” He called down. “I’ll figure something out!”
Meanwhile, Merlin was sitting down there and waiting. He fell through the hole but by some miracle, there was a little pond right on the bottom of it so he didn’t injure himself. Not seriously.
The only source of light was the sun from the hole above, but the space around him looked rather small. There was stone ground next to the pond, which was about two meters deep. He swam to the stone ground and sat on it, waiting for Arthur to ‘figure something out’.
Then something very strange happened. The surface of the water started to glow and Merlin had to squint his eyes. The light was soon gone though, replaced by an image. Merlin gasped.
It was an image of Arthur, holding Merlin’s hands and looking at him with such love in his eyes that it almost made Merlin dizzy again. He had his crown on his head and he was smiling. Merlin wondered what was happening in the vision – if it was the future again or if he just hurt his head when he fell down. But then the image changed and he saw himself. He looked a bit older. His hair looked very good and he had a little black scruff on his chin, cheeks and around his mouth. He didn’t look like a boy, he looked like a man. And the look in his eyes... it screamed love. Merlin knew the picture of him was looking at Arthur.
“Merlin? You down there?”
The image in the water vanished and the water was normal again. Merlin blinked a few times, unable to believe what he just saw. Was it the future? Was it only his imagination? The result of some head injury he hasn’t noticed he had?
Merlin looked up and realized Arthur was yelling at him. “I’m still here!” He called back and closed his eyes. “I’m waiting!”
“Don’t worry, I’m going down!” Arthur answered.
Merlin opened his eyes. “Wait what? Why don’t you just throw some rope down here and help me up?”
But it was already too late. The light in the water from outside disappeared and got replaced by Arthur’s shadow, climbing down. “Arthur?”
“It’s alright, Merlin!” Arthur called down. “I’m going to be there in a minute-” the rope suddenly broke and Arthur’s butt landed in the cold water, right next to Merlin.
“More like in a second, that’s more accurate.” Merlin rolled his eyes, but chuckled. Arthur was swimming in the water and when he stopped moving and took a deep breath, he was floating on the water surface.
“Shut up.” He mumbled with water flowing down from the corners of his mouth. After a while he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Okay, let’s go.” He proclaimed and started moving towards Merlin on the shore.
“Go where? The only way back is up there,” Merlin pointed up at the hole in the ground.
“Not necessarily, there must be tunnels around here somewhere.” After Arthur reached the shore, he stood up and helped Merlin stand up too. They looked around, but they saw nothing. Just darkness.
“You really want to go there?” Merlin asked hesitantly. “There might be those giant baby rats, remember?”
Arthur laughed. “The Wildren? They don’t live in Camelot. And even if they did, don’t you think we would already know about them?”
“Well, we didn’t know about the cave.”
“The cave isn’t even supposed to be here, not this close to Camelot.” Arthur mumbled as he looked back to the pond and then up, where the only source of light was. Merlin followed his gaze and then they looked at each other. “We’ll have to try it.” Arthur said and after Merlin nodded, they slowly made their way into the darkness ahead of them.
Merlin wished he could use his magic, but he didn’t want to reveal himself. He just hoped the tunnels weren’t too long and that they would find their way out as soon as possible. He was hungry. And wet. And cold.
They were moving through the first tunnel, but after a while, it was becoming too narrow for two people walking next to each other. So Arthur walked in front of Merlin and unsheathed his sword (just in case) and they started moving again.
They were moving very slowly. The darkness was very unsettling and they had to walk closer to each other by every passing minute because the tunnel was too narrow and because they didn’t want to lose each other in the cave.
After a while, Merlin subtly grabbed Arthur’s arm. “Merlin?” Arthur whispered.
“Hm?” Merlin mumbled just to let Arthur know he heard. Then Arthur stopped walking.
“What are you doing?”
“I just don’t want to get lost, we both know you’re a terrible leader.” Merlin answered and heard Arthur turning around to face him.
“Very funny, Merlin.” He hissed. “It’s your fault we’re down here anyway, so what about you shut up for the rest of the way out?”
"How it’s my fault?” Merlin ignored Arthur. “You’re the one who had to get up and go looking after the horses as soon as you could and that’s why I had to run to catch up with you.”
“You didn’t have to fall down though.”
“That wasn’t my fault.”
“That’s true, I always forget you were just born that way, my apologies.” Arthur rolled his eyes and turned around so they could start moving again.
“But I can’t forget you were born a royal prat, you make it way too obvious every day.” Merlin replied and he could hear Arthur growl. That made him chuckle.
“Shut up, Merlin!”
That was the end of their conversation. They moved forward, quietly and carefully, trying not to fall down some unexpected hole or not to hit some wall they couldn’t see. Merlin kept his hand on Arthur’s arm though and Arthur let him. They didn’t talk about it anymore.
After half an hour of slowly moving through the tunnel in the dark, Merlin suddenly squeezed Arthur’s arm. “Wait, Arthur stop.” He whispered.
“I... I need to pee.” The young warlock confessed and even though he couldn’t see Arthur’s face in the dark, he was pretty sure Arthur rolled his eyes.
“Okay, but hurry up.” Arthur answered and turned around. Merlin let go of his arm and went back a few paces. “Wait, I think I can see light!” Arthur suddenly whispered. “I’m going to go look ahead to see what it is, stay here and... do your thing.”
“Don’t go too far!” Merlin called after him.
“Don’t tell me what to do, Merlin.” Arthur told him but stopped and looked back at where his friend probably was. “And don’t worry, I won’t.” He added softly and continued through the tunnel without Merlin.
The tunnel was still very narrow, but the light was closer and it kept Arthur going. If it was their way out of the cave, they’d finally be able to look for the horses and get back to Camelot. He was getting a bit hungry. And very cold.
The light was very close now and Arthur could see his arms and the tunnel around. When he looked back, he couldn’t see Merlin though. He continued and then the tunnel suddenly ended and he entered a little room in the cave with another tunnel on the other side. It was the only way out he could see.
He looked up and saw a little hole in the ceiling of the cave. The sun was shining through it and Arthur realized that that was the light he saw from the tunnel. It wasn’t a way out of the cave though.
He wanted to call Merlin, but then something stopped him. There was a mirror on the wall of the cave. It looked old, but when he stepped closer to it, he could see himself clearly. It wasn’t even cracked anywhere. What was a mirror doing down there? Someone must have been there already. Maybe someone lived there? But that didn’t make any sense, apart from the mirror, the room was empty and poorly lit.
And then he heard a noise. He looked around, but Merlin wasn’t there yet and the room was still empty. He looked back at the mirror and then he saw it. There was an... image in the mirror.
He stepped closer and gasped. He could see himself in the mirror (and normally there wouldn’t be anything wrong with it, but this wasn’t normal). He could see himself and Merlin in his own chambers and they were... were they dancing? It certainly looked like they were.
Arthur’s arms were around Merlin’s waist and Merlin’s arms were wrapped around Arthur’s neck. Their foreheads were touching and their eyes were closed and he couldn’t hear the music, but their bodies were moving in sync. And then Arthur in the mirror opened his eyes and smiled and kissed Merlin’s nose and when Merlin opened his eyes and smiled up at him, they kissed.
What sorcery was that? Was that another vision of the future? Was that about to happen? He already saw himself with Merlin in the first vision he had, was this another one?
Arthur quickly turned around and saw Merlin, entering the room. Merlin looked up at the hole in the ceiling and then down at Arthur. “Guess you haven’t found a way out, have you?”
“No, I haven’t.” Arthur cleared his throat and pointed at the other tunnel. “We should continue then.” He quickly went to the tunnel and as soon as he got out of the way, Merlin noticed the mirror that was behind Arthur.
“Look! A mirror!” Merlin smiled, but Arthur grabbed his hand (giving Merlin a little heart attack because oh my god he touched his hand) and dragged him out of the room, far away from the enchanted mirror on the wall.
As soon as they were in the second tunnel, Arthur relaxed a bit. He hoped Merlin didn’t see anything in the mirror. And if he did, well, then he wasn’t talking about it. And that was good. Arthur preferred silence. But after another hour of moving through the tunnel, Merlin’s usual rambling started and didn’t stop.
It might have been minutes or it might have been hours when Arthur saw light again. In front of them in the distance was something shining and both Merlin and Arthur hoped it was their way out of the bloody cave.
Their wish has been granted when Arthur put his arms through the crack in the wall and then the rest of his body and found himself in the forest again. Merlin followed soon after and a huge smile appeared on his face.
“Finally!” He exclaimed and Arthur couldn’t help but smile too. When he looked around, he realized he had no idea where they were though. He didn’t know that part of the forest. “Wait, where are we?” Merlin asked the question instead of him as if he could read his mind.
“I don’t... I don’t know.” Arthur admitted and looked around one more time. There was a huge rock with a big crack in it – their tunnel. There were trees on top of that rock – it looked more like some kind of a cliff. And there were trees all around them. The ground was covered in dry yellow, orange and brown leaves that fell off the trees.
“Lost?” Someone asked them from behind. Such a deja vu, even the one who spoke was the same – that sorcerer again, which Merlin and Arthur found out when they turned around to face him.
Of course now that they already knew who he was and that what he did to them was magic, Arthur immediately pointed his sword at him. The sorcerer – or Fate as he called himself – raised his arm and his eyes flashed gold. Arthur’s sword turned into a harmless bunch of flowers and Merlin snickered quietly. Arthur ignored him.
“So... did it help?” Fate asked. For some reason he started grinning like an idiot and looking at them strangely. “I wish I could watch everything, but it was so dark in there!”
After a beat of silence, Merlin cleared his throat. “Did what help?”
Fate rolled his eyes and groaned loudly. “Are you fucking kidding me?” He glared at Merlin and Arthur again and sighed.
“After all the work I’ve put into this and you were just too dumb to even notice anything? The mirror?” He looked at Arthur who swallowed nervously while Merlin looked confused. “The water in the cave?” Now everyone looked at Merlin instead. “I didn’t make Merlin fall down the hole by the way, he’s just that clumsy.”
“Hey!” Merlin defended himself. “That’s not true!”
“Shut up, Merlin.” Arthur mumbled. “You know, it is.”
“I’m not clumsy!” Merlin pouted and folded his arms on his chest. “When was the last time I was clumsy?”
“When you tripped over nothing inside the tunnel we just had to go through?” Arthur put his hands on his hips and smirked, enjoying Merlin’s pout.
“But there was a rock! I told you!”
“There wasn’t, I was there too and I didn’t trip!” Arthur said. “I’m not clumsy idiot like you are.”
“And you’re a-”
The sorcerer started laughing and both Merlin and Arthur fell silent. “Don’t you see?” Fate asked and pointed at them. “You’re like an old married couple and yet you refuse to see what’s right in front of you. It’s been there the entire time!”
“What are you talking about?” Arthur asked loudly. His patience was wearing thin and they still haven’t found the horses. Instead of looking for them, they spent two hours inside a dark cave.
“Okay, you know what? Enough.” Fate said and raised both his arms in the air. Merlin and Arthur took a step back and Merlin wondered if he shouldn’t use magic because it looked like Fate was about to attack them with some spell, but then he looked at Merlin, as if he knew exactly what Merlin was thinking about and that was unsettling. “I don’t care how long will it take you to figure out how to play this game, but I don’t see any other option so I’m going to do this.”
“Wait, what are you-”
But it was too late. Fate started the enchantment and before Merlin could stop him, it was already done. Suddenly both Merlin and Arthur grabbed their stomach and groaned in pain.
Fate looked at them and smirked. “Here’s a clue. Unless you’re touching or at least one meter close to each other, it will hurt you just like this.”
When Merlin reached for Arthur’s hand and Arthur took it, the pain immediately stopped. They both sighed with relief as they tried to calm down. The pain wasn’t unbearable, but it was very unpleasant and just nasty. Nothing you’d want to experience for longer amount of time.
Fate smiled as he saw that Merlin and Arthur were holding hands and he nodded slightly. “See? That didn’t hurt, did it? Well, in fact it did, I know, I’m sorry.” Arthur opened his mouth to say something, but Fate stopped him again. “You probably won’t believe me, but you’re not the only ones I have to meet today and take care of. I am a very busy man.” He smiled and turned around. Then he whistled and the lost horses appeared out of nowhere. “Here are your horses and now go back to Camelot. It’s this way.” He pointed behind Merlin and Arthur, who were still holding hands. “Unfortunately, I have to go now. Good luck with the spell though! I’m sure you can figure it out!”
And with that he was gone, probably never to be seen again. Not by Merlin and Arthur at least, which was a slight problem because how the hell were they supposed to get rid of the enchantment? Merlin hoped Gaius would know something, anything, which would help them. They couldn’t stay like that forever.
In fact, they had to figure out how to get back to normal by the next day because Arthur had to attend a council meeting. Merlin couldn’t go there, the council members were supposed to discuss some secret matters of Camelot and the neighbour kingdoms and Uther would probably kill Merlin if he saw him there. For knowing information he wasn’t supposed to know.
The bunch of flowers in Arthur’s hand turned back into his sword and he smiled a bit. “We need to go, it’s almost evening.” He said as he stood up and hesitantly squeezed Merlin’s hand. Merlin noticed this and glanced at their hands too. It was weird.
“Yeah, but where did he go? Shouldn’t we try to find him?” He asked.
Arthur looked around, but Fate was gone. “He was a sorcerer Merlin, he could be anywhere. There’s very little chance we’ll find him.”
“And he probably wouldn’t help us anyway, he said we need to figure it out ourselves.” Merlin added. Arthur nodded and looked at their hands again. It was either touch or extreme proximity, right? How the-
“How the hell are we going to get back to Camelot with the enchantment?” Merlin voiced Arthur’s thoughts, which made Arthur smile slightly. The smile soon disappeared though, Merlin was right.
“We’ll ride back and get as close to Camelot as we can get while... holding hands.” He stuttered slightly and cleared his throat. Why was it so hard to talk about it? “And then we’ll walk the rest to the castle and go straight to Gaius.”
“Yeah, he might be able to help, I already thought about it.” Merlin confirmed and now it was his turn to slightly squeeze Arthur’s hand. Their hands have been in contact for a few minutes already and his palm felt hot. What if he was sweating? Oh god, was he sweating? He awkwardly adjusted his hand in Arthur’s grip and looked at the horses to look like he wasn’t thinking about their hands.
“Alright, let’s get back.” Arthur exclaimed after a few seconds of awkward silence.
First it was Arthur who mounted his horse while Merlin was touching his calf (yes, it was very awkward), and then Merlin took Arthur’s hand and rounded Arthur’s horse. They made the horses stand close to each other and only then Merlin managed to mount. As soon as they were both on their horses, Merlin reached out his hand and Arthur slowly took it. Then they started riding back to Camelot.
The journey took about two hours, but it seemed like at least eight. Neither of them was really talking, both lost in their thoughts about the whole day and their visions.
Actually, the only conversation they had, went something like this:
“Can I ask you something?”
“You just did.”
“You’re such a dollophead.”
“And you’re an idiot. Now shut up.”
And after Merlin was quiet for about a minute, he asked again:
“What did you see in the vision the sorcerer gave you?”
“What did you see in the vision the sorcerer gave you?”
“If you don’t want to answer either, then don’t ask me.”
And then about five minutes later, Merlin asked another question, remembering what Fate had said earlier:
“And what about that mirror? He mentioned something with a mirror, what was that?”
So after another hour of silence and an awkward hand-holding, they finally made it to Camelot. Before they reached the first houses though, they both dismounted and led their horses into the courtyard, side by side. And as soon as some stable boy took care of the horses, they both went to Gaius’ chambers – to find probably the only person who could help them out of this.
They were lucky and found Gaius crouched over his table that was filled with various potions and herbs and books. He raised his eyebrows when he saw Merlin and Arthur walk in.
“My lord,” he removed his glasses and nodded slightly towards Arthur. “Merlin, you’re back.” He smiled. “Did something happen? Are you injured?” He added when he saw their uneasy expressions.
Merlin stayed silent and blushed very hard. Arthur noticed this and sighed. He moved forward, looking back to know if Merlin moved too. They had to stay close. “Something... happened Gaius.” He told the old man.
“We need your help.” Merlin admitted.
“Alright.” Gaius nodded. “Tell me what happened.”
“We met a sorcerer.” Arthur started and then gestured to Merlin. “He enchanted us and now we have to be either touching or very close because if we aren’t-”
“It hurts pretty badly.” Merlin finished and Arthur nodded.
Gaius was silent for a few seconds, trying to take that all in. It was an interesting and unfortunate situation. “That’s an unusual enchantment, I’ve never heard of it.” He admitted. He wanted to go and look inside a book of enchantments, but Arthur was still the prince and he didn’t know about Merlin’s magic and having a book about magic was considered a crime. He sighed. “Do you have any idea how to break the spell? Did the sorcerer say anything about it? It would seem strange to enchant you with such a specific spell without a reason.”
Merlin opened his mouth but then paused and closed it again. The only thing the sorcerer wanted them to do was... what was it? He gave those visions, then the image in the water and apparently something with that mirror Arthur didn’t want to tell him about, so maybe all that sorcerer wanted was to... get them to talk about it?
Merlin’s eyes widened slightly as he imagined how it would go. He saw Arthur and him together in the vision and then again in the water. He had no idea what Arthur saw, but it couldn’t have been the same, could it? There was no chance that Arthur was in love with him.
He risked a glance at Arthur and found out Arthur was already looking at him and he looked embarrassed for some reason. Merlin frowned slightly.
“Well?” Gaius asked again. The tension was becoming rather uncomfortable.
“It was like this.” Merlin started and sat down on the bench at the table. Arthur sat right next to him and Gaius on the opposite side. He nodded to encourage Merlin to continue. “We went hunting, you know that. And then our horses ran away and we went looking for them.”
“And then the sorcerer appeared.” Arthur said.
“He called himself Fate.” Merlin added and looked at Gaius. “Have you ever heard of someone like that? He told us he was literally the fate.”
Gaius looked down. “Yes.” He answered. “I’ve heard of him. I have never met him myself, but my mentor told me about him when I was young.” He looked at them and there was something in his face that meant their situation was serious. “He is immortal and possesses very strong magic. His power is almost unlimited. It is said that he’s here to take care of everyone who wants to escape their destiny or is taking too long to fulfil it.”
Merlin glanced at Arthur and Arthur looked at him. The sorcerer told them about destinies and that they were a hopeless case. What did he mean by that?
“He tends to feel bored all the time and sometimes he makes fun of people or tries to do his job more interesting by trying new things.” Gaius continued. “But... his enchantments are unbreakable, I’m sorry.”
“What?” Arthur asked, his eyes wide. “That can’t be true! I have a council meeting tomorrow with my father and Merlin can’t be there with me!” He glanced at Merlin to let him know he didn’t mean it to sound offensive, he was just worried.
“Then I’m afraid you’ll have to figure out how to break it by tomorrow morning.” Gaius sighed. “He must have given you a clue.”
“I think he did.” Merlin mused out loud. Arthur looked at him and immediately thought about the mirror and his vision. He couldn’t tell Merlin, he just couldn’t. “He gave us... some kind of a vision.”
“A vision?” Gaius raised his eyebrows in wonder.
“He said it was a vision of the future.” Arthur sighed as he put his hands on his face and rubbed his eyes.
“And what did you see?” Gaius asked. He had no idea that this was exactly the whole problem.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” Merlin admitted at last and Arthur nodded.
Gaius narrowed his eyes and looked at Merlin. His cheeks were pink. Then he looked at Arthur, who was trying to look around the room and not at Merlin. “Merlin,” Gaius said. “Do you know what Arthur saw in the vision?”
“No, he doesn’t want to tell me.” Merlin sighed and nudged Arthur with his elbow.
“You don’t want to tell me either!” Arthur rolled his eyes and if it wasn’t for Gaius to stop them, they might have started fighting again.
“I think I know how to break the enchantment.” He said and both Merlin and Arthur fell silent and started paying attention again.
“How?” They asked in unison and glanced at each other.
“I believe that what Fate wants you to do is to tell each other about the vision. I don’t see any other reason for the enchantment if it isn’t this.”
“Great.” Arthur sighed. “That’s great.”
They thanked Gaius and because Merlin and Gaius couldn’t talk in private about his magic (and because of that spell), Merlin left with Arthur. They went to the kitchen and brought some food into Arthur’s chambers – they haven’t eaten anything since breakfast and they were starving.
Before they could eat though, they had to change clothes. Seriously, their clothes might have dried off during their way to Camelot, but they were still dirty from when they fell into the pond and spent about two hours trying to get out of the cave with impossibly narrow tunnels.
They both went behind the changing screen after they picked what to wear. Merlin searched through Arthur’s closets and after he picked something for the prince, Arthur allowed him to borrow some of his clothes so he could change too. They couldn’t go all the way back to Merlin’s little room, and that would be just weird. And people would notice.
As soon as they found themselves behind the screen though, things got awkward.
After a few seconds of silence, Arthur finally started taking his clothes off. To make things easier, Merlin started changing at the same time so they were both busy at the same moment. But because they had to stay close to each other, they kept accidentally hitting the other with their elbows or butt or anything really. A few times there was even skin on skin contact, which made both of them shiver and blush. They didn’t say anything though and kept changing into the clean clothes.
After they were ready and threw their dirty clothes to the basket for laundry (for Merlin to take care of later), they finally sat down to the table.
“So...” Merlin started talking suddenly. He had to sit next to Arthur again and their thighs were touching. “We’re going to have to talk about it before the council meeting.”
“I know, but right now I’m eating and you should too.” Arthur answered and looked at Merlin, who was looking at the food. “Since we can’t move away from each other, you’re going to eat with me from the royal kitchen.”
“Not a problem at all.” Merlin grinned as he reached for the meat. He put it on his plate and used the extra fork and knife Arthur had asked for in the kitchen. He hoped it didn’t look weird.
They ate in silence, a little bit awkward silence again, but they didn’t really mind. They were both lost in their own heads – thinking about their visions and about what they had to do. Talk about it. It seemed so easy, but when it actually came to talking, it was impossible to start.
Arthur knew what his vision was about. And what he saw in the mirror in the cave, but telling Merlin? What if Merlin’s visions were different? What if he lost his friendship? What if that sorcerer wanted them to talk because he knew it would ruin their relationship? What if their end was what destiny had chosen for them? What if their friendship was going to end, but Fate thought it was taking too long? Arthur didn’t know what he would do if he lost Merlin. It would ruin him and not even Gwen would be able to fix that. No one would.
He took a deep breath and that earned himself a look from Merlin.
“What’s wrong?” Merlin asked, sensing Arthur’s worries. Arthur just shook his head.
“Nothing.” He mumbled.
“You can tell me.” Merlin smiled. “We’re supposed to talk anyway, so we can start with anything.”
Arthur looked at Merlin suspiciously and at his easy little smile. He was honestly worried about Arthur. “I just...” Arthur started but stopped himself. “I was thinking about the council tomorrow.” He told Merlin instead.
“Where I can’t be with you.” Merlin added.
“So, we need to talk.” Merlin smiled and thought about taking Arthur’s hand. He hesitated though and then he didn’t do it. They were sitting close to each other so there was no need for hand-holding, it would just look strange. Merlin didn’t know what Arthur saw in his vision and in the mirror and if he didn’t see the same thing, it would just seem inappropriate.
Arthur sighed and bowed his head. “Alright, I’m not going to tell you what I saw... yet.” He started. He was glad that Merlin didn’t interrupt him. “But... I didn’t see only the vision. Later in the cave, when the first tunnel ended... I found that mirror. And there was another vision in it. Almost the same as my first vision.”
“I had another vision too.” Merlin admitted. “When I fell down into the pond... and it wasn’t my fault by the way, he must have made me trip over something.” He hurriedly added and Arthur laughed.
“Shut up, Merlin. Even if he did do that, it wouldn’t change the fact that you are clumsy.” He smiled fondly and ruffled Merlin’s hair. He realized too late that it might have looked odd. Everything he did close to Merlin looked weird ever since he had the vision.
“You’re such a prat.” Merlin smiled and adjusted his hair with his fingers. Arthur didn’t tell him it stayed tousled, he only chuckled and encouraged Merlin to continue talking about the pond. “Anyway... I saw the vision in the water before you fell down... See? You’re clumsy too!”
“That wasn’t my fault!” Arthur exclaimed. “That sorcerer made me fall down, I know that!” He laughed and Merlin laughed with him. “One minute I was holding the rope and climbing down and the next the rope broke and I was in the water.”
"Or you’re just too fat and heavy and won’t admit it.” Merlin mumbled. “Ow!” He gritted his teeth as Arthur cuffed him on the back of his head.
“Ever say I’m fat again and-”
“And what?” Merlin asked. Oh no. Oh no, he shouldn’t have said that because now Arthur was at loss for words and looking at him with such a strange expression that it made Merlin shudder. He glanced down at Arthur lips and then cleared his throat and looked down. “But what I wanted to tell you is that I saw another vision in the water until you literally fell into it.”
“Alright.” Arthur sighed. “So both of us had two visions and not just one. That’s too much talking for now, I have some paperwork to finish.” He stood up and reached out his hand for Merlin, who took it. “Want to help?”
“No, I don’t really fancy it.” Merlin chuckled as he stood up.
“You don’t have a choice, Merlin.”
“Alright.” He smiled at Arthur and Arthur smiled at him. Their eyes locked and they just kept smiling until both of them realized it was too long for only two friends. Arthur sighed and turned around, leading Merlin to his working table. Then he sat on his chair and took out a quill to start working, when Merlin cleared his throat, making Arthur look up.
“I don’t have a chair.” Merlin informed him awkwardly.
And so Arthur had to stand up and they both went back to the table with food to take another chair, which they put right next to Arthur’s chair at Arthur’s working table. Then they finally began.
They were working in silence, mostly. Only occasionally glancing at each other when one of them nudged the other one in the ribs by accident. They were really sitting too close, but they didn’t have a choice. And they were both right handed, which made writing even more difficult.
Reading was quite easy though. They talked only when there were some issues Merlin needed Arthur’s opinions on to continue writing. Arthur signed everything Merlin handed him.
Then there was a knock on the door. They both raised their heads and looked at each other with panic in their eyes. Even though they didn’t talk about it, they both silently agreed on spending the entire evening in Arthur’s chambers. They didn’t need any more people looking at them and wondering what was going on.
“Come in!” Arthur cut Merlin off and swallowed. Merlin hesitantly looked at the door that slowly opened and...
Morgana walked in. She was in her night dress with her long and wavy black hair on her shoulders. She looked a bit nervous and when she saw Merlin and Arthur sitting beside each other at the table (which was supposed to have only one chair), she pursed her lips and closed the door.
“Morgana.” Arthur and Merlin smiled at the same time. Arthur stood up, trying to distract her from the fact that they were sitting so close. Merlin ruined it of course, by standing up too and staying close to Arthur.
“Arthur,” Morgana smiled. Then she looked at Merlin. “And Merlin.”
Merlin returned the smile and nodded slightly.
“What brings you here so late in the night?” Arthur asked. Morgana looked down and took a deep breath.
“I couldn’t sleep because... because I felt guilty.” She admitted. “I had a nightmare two days ago and I haven’t told you, but the nightmare was about you both.” She said.
“Morgana,” Arthur smiled. “It’s alright, it was only a bad drea-”
“No, you don’t understand!” Morgana interrupted him and looked at Merlin, begging him to understand.
“What did you dream about?” Merlin asked.
Morgana pursed her lips again and her eyes wandered from Merlin to Arthur and back at the servant. “I saw a dark place. And cold. I... I think there was water.” She started, trying to remember how the dream made her feel. “It felt like you were trapped there, as if something had happened and you couldn’t talk about it.” She closed her eyes. “But when I woke up, I felt puzzled. There was something that seemed good about the situation, I just... I don’t know what. It also seemed bad and scary.”
Merlin swallowed and nervously looked at Arthur, who was still looking at Morgana. He must have realized Morgana had some powers because seeing something in a dream before it actually happened – that had to be magic, and Uther wouldn’t allow it. Arthur didn’t say anything though.
“I just came to tell you to take care of yourselves.” Morgana admitted yet again. “If something like that is going to happen, be careful.”
“Thanks.” Merlin said at the same time as Arthur said, “We can take care of yourselves, but thanks.”
Morgana looked at Arthur and frowned slightly. He could be such a prat sometimes, Merlin was right. “I hope it helps.” Morgana mumbled and quickly turned around, heading for the doors.
“Morgana?” Arthur said and she stopped. She didn’t turn around. “I meant it. Thank you.”
She glanced back and smiled at Arthur. And after she nodded, she opened the door and left the chambers.
Neither of them sat back down to the table and they both looked down.
“Well,” Merlin started. “Guess her dream came true.”
“Yeah, but I don’t get what’s so good about it. She said it felt both good and bad.” Arthur mused as he sat back down. Merlin followed his example.
“Maybe it’s time to find out...” Merlin suggested quietly. “It’s almost midnight and we still haven’t talked about it, Arthur. At some point in the next few hours, we’ll have to talk about it.”
“I know.” Arthur acknowledged, but his eyes were closed as he rubbed them with his fingers. “I just... I think we should go to sleep first and then talk, I’m tired.”
“No buts Merlin.” Arthur rolled his eyes as he grabbed Merlin’s hand, looking at him. “First we sleep, then we talk. In that order. Understood?”
“You can’t keep postponing the conversation, you know?” Merlin frowned. Arthur just rolled his eyes again.
“For god’s sake, Merlin, I just want to sleep, okay? No more talking for today.” He turned to his bed.
“I hope you do realize we’ll have to share that bed.” Merlin said instead as he looked at Arthur’s bed too. To be fair, it was enormous for only one person, so it wasn’t a problem. The real problem was that they had to keep touching during the night (which sounded horribly wrong) or they had to sleep very close to each other and end up touching anyway. Merlin wasn’t sure which one of the options he preferred.
Arthur sighed. “But since we’re going to get rid of the spell tomorrow, this is the first and last time we’re doing this, okay?”
“And don’t you dare tell about this to anyone.” Arthur added and pointed his finger at Merlin’s face. Merlin nodded and smirked. Arthur couldn’t help but roll his eyes again. (As soon as he turned away from Merlin though, he felt nervous because he was about to sleep in the same bed as Merlin, and if what his heart and the visions were telling him was true, he might have had a little crush on his servant.)
“Sure.” Merlin chuckled. “Not even Gaius. Or Gwen. Or Morgana.” He confirmed with that stupid smile still on his face. He tried to hide it though, he didn’t want Arthur to know he enjoyed it.
Arthur looked at their joined hands and then at the bed. He was thinking about what to do and how to do what they were about to do. Because it was about to happen, and something was telling him that Fate was watching them from afar, laughing his ass off.
“We don’t have to change clothes for the night.” Arthur decided after a while. “We’re just... we’re just going to... um...”
“Get in your bed and fall asleep.” Merlin finished for him and removed the blanket with his free hand.
“Right.” Arthur mumbled and climbed across the bed to get to his favourite side of the bed.
Every movement seemed awkward and nervous and it got both Merlin and Arthur thinking. If Arthur was feeling nervous about this, was there a chance he felt the same? And if Merlin was being so awkward (as usual, but more this time), did it mean he might have had the same vision?
After five minutes of awkward moving and fidgeting with the blankets, they both finally ended up under them. Arthur lay with his head on the pillow and Merlin laid down right next to Arthur – his head on the same pillow and every muscle in his body tensed. And they were holding hands again.
“Um, good night.” Merlin mumbled and tried to close his eyes. He found out he couldn’t.
“Good night.” Arthur repeated after him and managed to close his eyes. His mind was too busy though and he couldn’t stop thinking about whose hand he was holding. And about whose body was there next to him in his own bed.
They weren’t moving, they were just lying there, pretending to be asleep. They both knew that the other one wasn’t asleep of course, but they tried to ignore that fact.
Half an hour later, they still weren’t asleep.
“Arthur?” Merlin whispered carefully and Arthur hummed in response. “I need to pee.”
After Merlin went to pee and Arthur awkwardly stood there, holding his hand and trying to be as far away from him as possible, they got back to bed and managed to fall asleep. They were lying on their backs, next to each other and only holding hands when they fell asleep, Arthur was sure of it. When he woke up though, they were definitely not in the same position.
Merlin’s job was to wake him up, but because they were both sleeping in the same bed (and as Arthur assumed there was no Gaius around to wake his lazy servant), it was Arthur who woke up first.
He stirred and took a deep breath, noticing a strange weight on his chest. The weight was pressing down against him and relieving him of some of the pressure, in a slow, gentle and somehow relaxing rhythm as it breathed in and out. Who the hell was sleeping on his chest?
And then Arthur remembered. His eyes widened, but he didn’t move. His breath hitched in his throat as he looked down at his sleeping servant. This was way more body contact than the spell required to stop the pain. But... Arthur didn’t really want to stop it. Why would he? He’d said it was the first and last time they were doing this after all and he wanted to make the best of it – in secret of course.
He looked down and wanted to see Merlin’s face, but all he could see was his tousled black hair. Merlin’s cheek was under Arthur’s neck, on his broad chest and his arm was wrapped around Arthur’s waist. What was kind of unexpected was that Arthur’s arm was wrapped around Merlin’s shoulders.
Oh and their legs were tangled together under the sheets.
Oh god. What had he got himself into? One simple hunting trip and there was a disaster involving magic. Which reminded him that his father could absolutely not find out about that enchantment. Which meant they had to talk about the visions and hope that it worked.
Arthur stopped breathing for a few seconds and then smelled Merlin’s hair. It didn’t smell bad (as he expected about a year ago). So many things have changed since then.
For example – his feelings for Merlin. Which was going to stop being a secret right that morning. Arthur dreaded that moment. But it had to be done.
And then Merlin slowly stirred and moaned silently. Arthur stilled, but didn’t close his eyes. He could hear Merlin’s lips as he clicked his tongue and then yawned. It was adorable. And then Merlin suddenly stilled and stayed silent. After a few seconds of complete silence, he slowly raised his head and his eyes met Arthur’s. They stared at each other for good ten seconds before Merlin cleared his throat and disentangled his legs from Arthur’s.
“Arthur, I’m so so so sorry!” He said. “I had no idea, I swear!” He started moving away from Arthur, completely forgetting about the spell.
“Arghh!” Merlin cried out and fell off the bed, making the distance between them even bigger. He grabbed his stomach and closed his eyes tightly.
“Merlin!” Arthur exclaimed, ignoring his own pain. He was at Merlin’s side in seconds and the pain immediately stopped as he grabbed his servant’s hand. He entwined their fingers unconsciously, but Merlin didn’t comment on it.
He took a few deep breaths, looking up at Arthur from the floor. “We need to stop this.” He said after a while and Arthur nodded.
“We will. But we should get breakfast first.” Before he even finished the sentence, Merlin was already shaking his head.
“No, Arthur.” He said. “It has to be now. Who knows what time it is and your council meeting might be starting right now for all we know.”
“Who cares about them?” Arthur smiled slightly, but stopped himself before he could say more (like for example I only care about you). Merlin frowned at his silence, but he understood. With Arthur’s help, he slowly stood up and took a deep breath, looking away from Arthur. He knew Arthur wasn’t much of a talker when it came to feelings, so he knew it would have to be him who’d start the conversation.
“Arthur,” he said silently. The prince looked at him and Merlin looked back. Their eyes locked again. Merlin took a deep breath and prepared himself. “We both know what we saw in the visions and... we probably know what the vision was trying to tell us. And what Fate was trying to tell us.”
Arthur looked down and nodded slightly. He squeezed Merlin’s hand, making Merlin look down at their hands. They were so close together. But he assumed Arthur wouldn’t do anything – such a clotpole – so he had to start.
“What I saw in the vision was-”
Arthur’s lips on his own stopped him from finishing the sentence. He moaned with surprise but soon melted under Arthur’s touch and leaned closer, letting himself be enveloped in Arthur’s arms. Arthur squeezed his arms, pulling Merlin closer and Merlin didn’t complain. He moaned silently and slowly sneaked his arms around Arthur’s neck.
Then the kiss ended. Merlin couldn’t help but keep his eyes closed even when their lips weren’t touching anymore. He could still feel Arthur’s hot breath on his lips.
He slowly opened his eyes and found out Arthur was already staring at him. Their eyes locked and even though they were quiet for the first few seconds, everything they wanted to say was already written in their eyes. Their own secret language.
Merlin smiled slightly and his deep breaths turned into a silent laugh. Arthur smiled too and leaned closer until their foreheads touched. Then they closed their eyes.
“I think you know now what I saw in my vision.” Merlin chuckled as he held Arthur close.
“It feels like one big deja vu." Arthur answered and laughed. Merlin laughed with him. Then Arthur pulled away and kissed Merlin’s cheek. “So this was our problem, wasn’t it?” He whispered, not even realizing that this was the exact sentence he heard himself say in the vision.
Merlin nodded and chuckled. “I’m glad he helped us.” He kissed Arthur’s lips again and smiled into the kiss as Arthur pulled him closer. Merlin moved his hands from Arthur’s neck to his blonde hair and Arthur moaned slightly. Merlin laughed and kissed him again.
After a while they pulled away. “Still, he didn’t have to use a spell.” Arthur continued in their conversation and Merlin shrugged.
“He didn’t try only that.” He smiled. “The narrow tunnel, the mirror, the wat-”
“Okay, okay,” Arthur laughed. “Maybe we are idiots.” He smiled and Merlin smiled too. “But that spell was a little too much. Even though it worked.”
“Speaking of which, do you think the enchantment is gone?” Merlin asked, suddenly becoming serious again.
Arthur frowned slightly. “We can try.” He suggested. Merlin nodded and slowly they stepped away from each other. At first they were only a few centimetres apart and they were still holding hands. With a deep and hopeful breath, Merlin took another step back and let go of Arthur’s fingers. He longed for the contact immediately, but...
Merlin smiled and when he looked up, Arthur was already smiling. “It worked!” He exclaimed and ran back to Arthur to jump into his arms. Arthur fell down on the bed, with Merlin on top of him and he kept laughing.
“It worked!” Arthur smiled as he looked up into Merlin’s eyes. When Merlin’s eyes wandered down to his lips, he smirked and captured his lips in another kiss.
So yeah. Even though it was very uncomfortable and the council meeting was probably already starting, he was glad they met Fate.
They both were.
“Aww, look at them,” Fate smirked as he was watching the image on the surface of a little pond inside the cave he created. “They’re all glad in the end, told you.” He smiled and glanced at a little bird that was watching him curiously.
Then suddenly his wristwatch beeped. He looked down at his wrist, pulling back the sleeve of his old white robe and rolled his eyes. “Oh, not those two again.” He sighed and looked at the little bird. “Being able to travel through time is exhausting, let me tell you.”
The bird stayed silent.
“I guess I’ll have to go back to the 60s then.” He smiled and wanted to cast a spell, when suddenly something else caught his attention. He looked at the image in the water and saw Merlin and Arthur, testing the spell. They moved away from each other and then started smiling when they realized the spell was gone.
Fate started laughing. “They really think it’s gone.” He laughed. Merlin and Arthur were hugging now as he saw. Fate turned back to the little bird. “I can’t wait to see their faces when they find out I merely expanded the spell to four meters.” He laughed. Then he looked at the bird again and winked playfully. “I hope they can figure out how to break that one... if you know what I mean.”
He laughed and sighed as he looked at his wristwatch again. “Anyway, time to go!” He announced to no one in particular and disappeared to help someone else fulfil their destiny.
His job here was done after all.
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