Love and Lakes

Comfort

Merlin was fuming. He had given so much to Arthur, lost so much for him, done so much for him, and yet he was still being punished for how he had protected him. Arthur would never understand. Never.

As he lowered his eyes to the ground, he started to think. Arthur had never been his friend; he was just a servant to him now, if their friendship mattered so little to Arthur. If Arthur wouldn’t believe that Merlin only wanted to do good, after knowing him all these years, then perhaps Arthur didn’t really know him at all.

Merlin trooped through the forest until his legs could not go any further, where he rested against a tree (he had a thing for trees), but not before putting out a small force field around himself. It made him feel a little bit safer.

A few hours later, he jolted awake. He hadn’t realized he had fallen asleep, and it was now dark. Looking around, force field still intact, he realized that there were no people around him. He was alone: Arthur was not with him.

He figured that there was no point in not using magic, because he had already used it and Arthur knew that he was a sorcerer. He was a fugitive now, and if he couldn’t use magic, he had was nothing left. Without even thinking about it, he whispered, “Forbearn.” A small fire erupted in the leaves, but Merlin kept it from spreading with such ease it was as if it costed him no effort at all.

Catching some prey with his skills of being able to see far distances, he quickly killed a rabbit. He was very reluctant, but the rabbit had seemed old and he did need something to eat, after all.

His quick breakfast meant he could depart without delay. He extinguished the flames, which left no mark upon the forest floor, and soon started walking again. He decided that being able to use magic for everything was a hell of a lot easier than not. It was going to be a long journey: he wandered around for two weeks looking for a place to stay.


Trooping through the forest, many nights later, he soon came upon a small clearing guarded by trees. If you hadn’t gone looking for it, you would never had seen it. It was close to a small brook, so Merlin could go fishing if he wanted. He decided, rather quickly, that this was going to be his new home. He had nowhere else to go, after all - if he went to Ealdor, his mother would send him straight back to Camelot.

With a flash of his eyes, a tree fell down, and he levitated it into the clearing where he started to make a little hut with the pieces of wood. He made quick work of it, and soon enough, he had a small shelter with enough room for a bed, a fireplace, and a table. It wasn’t much, but Merlin figured the life he was going to have wouldn’t be too grand.

In a flash of guilt, he thought of his destiny with Arthur as the Once and Future King. How was he going to help him? But he began to think that maybe he had already fulfilled his destiny, and that if Arthur still needed him, he would be seeking him out.

Little did he know, Arthur was in fact sending out search parties. He himself had personally come along with Sir Gwaine and Sir Leon, and they were riding through the forest near the path to Avalon.

Leon approached Arthur. “Sire,” he said kindly, “May I ask why you and Merlin were out in the woods? And why Merlin has suddenly left?” Grimacing, Arthur grit his teeth and began to think of an acceptable answer. He realized that perhaps the truth was alright to hear: well, maybe not all of it, though.

“Merlin wanted to go see that Freya girl, the Lady of the Lake.” He sighed. “I felt bad for him, and joined him on the way there. However, afterwards, we had a bit of a... falling out, and I may have done and said some rash and unfair things. I don’t blame him.” Leon, seeing the guilt and sadness flooding in Arthur’s clear blue eyes, put a hand on his shoulder.

Leon, who was three years senior to the young King, had always been like an older brother to Arthur. He looked kindly into Arthur’s eyes. “Sire, it is not your fault. You should not blame yourself like this... Merlin will come round soon enough.”

Arthur, though touched at Leon’s nice words, felt no better. “You don’t understand, Leon.” He murmured. “It is completely my fault, and I don’t think Merlin will ever accept any apology that I have. What I have done is unforgivable, and now I have lost my best friend.”

Leon saw the true despair in Arthur’s voice, a resigned and miserable tone that only encouraged the surrogate brother to the King.

He clapped Arthur’s shoulder. “Perhaps you are right, but you could also be wrong. We must find Merlin and bring him back to Camelot.”

Arthur, confused for a moment at Leon’s eagerness to bring Merlin back to Camelot despite the fact that he had broken the law and lied for years, remembered that Leon did not know that Merlin was a sorcerer. And though Arthur wanted to have Merlin back at his side once again, he knew that it was not possible.

However, to please Leon, and to convince himself that Merlin could not be found, they searched for a few more hours until they gave up and returned to Camelot. Arthur was in low spirits, which was only worsened by the fact that the bootlicker George was his temporary (or permanent, now, a thought that terrified Arthur) servant. He retired to bed early, where Guinevere soon joined him.

During all of this, Merlin had constructed a bed frame of sorts and searched for some sort of cloth or something to sleep on. He was wandering through the woods, looking for maybe some cloth or maybe just a soft thing that he have for his bed. Some time after midnight, he was considering using moss when he heard a crunching leaf sort of sound coming from across the brook. He looked up, alert and ready to use his magic against whatever bandits or horrible thing had come his way until he saw the silhouette of a girl.


As she moved closer into view, he recognized the girl. Freya!


She smiled as soon as she saw him, and he ran across the brook and embraced her fully, grateful she was alive and relieved that he had found her and so, so, so in love.


He soon drew himself out of the hug and kissed her, a happy, celebrating kiss that would be the true beginning of their relationship. Merlin could not believe his luck. He might have been stuck out in the middle of the woods, shunned by his friends, but he did have the girl he loved, who he had managed to bring back from the dead, and that was what mattered.


He soon led her to his little hut and showed her around. It took a total of 5 seconds to do so, but he felt it was his duty.


Soon enough, the two had found some nice moss to pile on the bed, and Merlin had magicked two small blankets from a cottage he had found after a long time of searching. It was definitely empty: there were no personal objects there and it appeared as if the building was old and uncared for.


They fell asleep on the bed together, Merlin’s arm draped over Freya’s waist protectively, and his other hand stroking her hair, but he had fallen asleep in the middle so his hand was supporting her head. Her hand was on top of the one draped across hers, and it was very comfortable.


Once they woke up, Merlin was happier and more content than he had been in ages. He started combing through her hair again. She roused slowly, smiling at first and then opening her eyes. She rolled over and looked at him, both of them giggling.


Soon, though, the woke up enough to ask the question that she had been to elated last night to ask. “Merlin?” she asked cautiously. “Why- why are you here? Why aren’t you in Camelot?”


He took a deep breath, and took a long time to reply.


“Arthur - he found out I had magic. And he looked as if he was going to see sense, but then he got really angry because he thought I killed his father when I was actually trying to save him. This happened a while ago... anyway, he got really mad, and uh, things went downhill...” His eyes looked cold and broken, and without realizing it he brought his fingers up to his temple, where Freya could see a large, painful looking bruise that she hadn’t noticed before. She gasped and raised her hand to her mouth, realizing what had happened.


She held him in her arms as he dug his head into her shoulders, not crying or whimpering or anything, but she could feel just how much this had hurt him: not physically, but emotionally.


“You should go back to Camelot,” she whispered. “You should make up with him. The Arthur that you speak of would never want to do such a thing, and I have a feeling he is very sorry for what he has done. He might take you back, you know, and a life there is better for you. I know it.”


Merlin looked up at her, eyes shocked. “But what about you?” he whispered fearfully. She shook her head.


“I will stay outside the city, but close to it. It’s too dangerous for others with me there.”


Merlin furrowed his eyebrows and said: “No, I want to be with you -” but Freya shushed him.


“It’s what I want, Merlin. And, you never know, perhaps the curse hasn’t come back with me. I will accompany you to the outskirts of Camelot, but please come check on me in the night. If I do turn, you are the only one who may calm me.” Merlin smiled at his ability to do that.


She dragged him up. “Come, Merlin. It’s what’s best.” And they set off for Camelot.
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