It Gets Real
The sun was beginning to set on the perfect day. They had started a fire to keep warm, as it had started to cool down, and both couples were sitting together, holding hands. At first, Arthur was hesitant to relax and be comfortable around them, especially Merlin, but he had soon warmed up to them and was amazed at how in love Merlin and Freya were.
The stories of their childhood, their adventures, and their friends were flowing easily around the four and it was the best time of their life. They laughed, joked, told stories, opened up, and talked about everything. The four were really, truly bonded, and for Freya, it was the first time in her life that so many people accepted her like that.
But soon, it was time to ride back to Camelot. Freya was getting a little edgy, because it was getting late, and so was Merlin. It would be really, really, really bad if she transformed into the Bastet that Arthur had killed all those years ago right in front of Arthur himself, so they started to pack up and got on the horses.
Arthur was giving Gwen a hand up onto the horse, himself on the ground and her getting up when her hand slid out of his grasp. She gave a small gasp before toppling backwards and landing heavily on her ankle. Gwen gave a small whimper of pain as the other two rushed to her side, Arthur already there.
“Ouch... that really hurts.” Merlin looked over her ankle with a grimace.
“Don’t move it, I think it’s broken.” Gwen gave a groan and leaned back into Arthur’s arms.
Arthur looked up. “We probably shouldn’t ride back to Camelot tonight, the horse ride will jostle her ankle around even more. Merlin, you look over her foot and see if there is anything you can do for now, Freya and I will go and get firewood.” Freya looked very uncomfortable at that, but she nodded.
Arthur and Freya went off into the woods, looking for extra twigs and branches. There was silence for a second, and then: “What do you see in Merlin, anyway?”
Freya smiled and looked up at Arthur. “He’s the kindest man I know. He’s selfless and brave and cared for me when there was nobody else there. Merlin is compassionate, loving, and sees me for who I am. You may not think that it’s true, but it is.”
Arthur seemed a bit shocked at how much she had said, and the astounding amount of love that filled her voice whenever she spoke of him. He thought of saying something insulting, but it wasn’t... right.
“You know, I barely ever see that, but I guess it is there. Merlin is kind and brave and loyal to me, and he loves you. I know he does: he has never felt that way about any girl, ever.” Freya was also amazed at his show of compassion: he would never speak that way about Merlin if he were there, Freya knew that much.
They smiled and made a little small talk as they collected wood until both had a good armful of branches, and headed back to their now overnight camp spot. Freya was nicely calmed down from her and Arthur’s nice, friendly conversation, and she had come up with a plan should they return to Camelot tomorrow.
Once they returned, they put the branches down by the fire and came to Guinevere’s side, where Merlin was wrapping a bandage slowly around her foot. He looked up at them and said, “It’s definitely broken: she landed very hard on it. We are going to go back tomorrow, once the swelling goes down a bit. Then she can visit Gaius.”
Arthur nodded and sat by Guinevere’s side, where he immediately made her more comfortable and laid her head on his stomach. Meanwhile, Merlin and Freya went to the other side of the camp where they began to discuss what would become of her transformation, because it was getting closer and closer to midnight and Freya was getting jumpy again.
Arthur watched in amusement as Merlin and Freya got up, hand in hand, and walked off into the woods. He gave an all-knowing smirk and pointed out the retreating figures to Gwen, who giggled a bit.
As soon as Merlin and Freya were far away, and positive that they were out of earshot, they sat down and Merlin held Freya, who was starting to shake violently again. He stroked her hair and whispered to her quietly. “Shh, it’s okay, Freya, I’m here..” he kissed her forehead and hugged her closer.
She shook her head and pulled away so that she could see his face fully. “No, Melin, it’s not okay. What if - what if I go on a rampage and end up k-killing Arthur or Gwen? Or even if they just see me?! They’re my new friends, Merlin, and I couldn’t bare to show them who I am or what’s happened to me. I just couldn’t!” She started to cry quietly, tucking her head back in Merlin’s chest.
Merlin whispered to her again. “No, I’m here, Freya. Remember, you’re - you’re calm around me, and if worst comes to worst, I can always use my magic to keep you in this little part of the woods. It’ll be fine, Freya, I promise, I swe-” And she suddenly let out a scream and threw herself away from him.
Her shaking became more violent and soon she started to whimper, and the whimper turned deeper and louder until it became a roar. Her wings stretched out once again, and her eyes became a greenish-yellow. She bared her teeth and prepared to leap, her wings spreading. The Bastet could smell humans, somewhere through the forest, and she began to run back to where Arthur and Guinevere lay, surely asleep and defenseless now.
But she caught sight of Merlin, and came to a gradual stop.
He put a hand out to her, and started stroking her as he always did, and this time she calmed down quickly and started purring contentedly. He gave a small laugh, and soon her eyes drooped and she began to walk back to where she had transformed and lay down to sleep. Merlin kept stroking her until he fell asleep as well, and that was how they woke up in the morning.
Returning to the campsite, the two were obviously tired from staying up until midnight but holding hands, glad that they had each other. They were walking closely pressed together, playing around and teasing each other a bit until they got back to the campsite, looking into each other’s eyes and absolutely, positively, dripping with love and affection towards each other.
Already awake, Arthur and Gwen were warming themselves up by the fire and eating some leftover bread and apples from the picnic yesterday. Without saying anything, they gave each other a look, the lovers are back sort of extremely embarrassing look. Seeing this, Merlin and Freya’s eyes widened and they looked at each other, horrified.
“Do - do you think we -”
“No, we weren’t -”
“Nothing happened -”
“We didn’t do anything I swear -”
“You don’t seriously think we were, uh, doing things last night, right?” Both Merlin and Freya’s faces looked urgent and eyes the size of dinner plates.
Arthur and Gwen smirked and exchanged another look. Arthur spoke up, his voice totally unbelieving. “Oh no, we believe you. We know that ‘nothing happened’ last night, right Guinevere?” She nodded and smirked at them again.
A minute or so later, Gwen stalked up (slowly due to her ankle) to Merlin. “Look here, mister. I will not have you knocking up my friend -” Merlin was once again horrified.
“Gwen, I swear, nothing happened last night we were just -” But before Merlin could come up with a sufficient lie, Gwen cut him off.
“Of course not Merlin. Right.” She slapped him in the arm playfully and limped over to Arthur, who helped her on the horse. Merlin helped Freya onto their horse, and they looked at each other and giggled. If their only problem right now was that their friends thought that they had done it, then could life get any better?