Love and Lakes

Campfire Talk

Arthur and Merlin were not asleep; they hadn’t been and they insisted that they wouldn’t for the rest of the night. Morgana had given them a scare, and both insisted on keeping watch in case she showed up again. Eventually, the just stayed up together.

Merlin was sitting, his back hunched, on top of a rock, while Arthur was laying against rock wall. Arthur was still in pain from his encounter with Morgana, and though he tried not to show it, Merlin was still worried for him.

Arthur was looking at Merlin, puzzled. How had he escaped Morgana’s wrath? It was a mystery. He was starting to wonder if Merlin had simply run away and come back when Morgana was gone, but then he looked closer.

On Merlin’s arms were angry red burns, reaching up and down. They looked painful, very painful, and Arthur immediately realized that these burns were not from natural causes.

“Merlin, what happened to you? Good god, look at your arm!”

Merlin glanced down at his arm, where he saw the burns and realized he’d have to come up with an explanation. He decided to stick close to the truth.

“Morgana,” he stated. “she sent a ball of fire at me. She thought she had killed me, and stopped, but I was alive. Fine now.”

Arthur still looked troubled, but he played it off. “Good,” he smiled. “Because when we get back you're going to have to polish my armor."

Merlin considered making his injury sound worse than it was, but he decided against it. “Dollophead.”

Arthur gave a chuckle, relieved that Merlin was joking with him again. It had been a while. He knew that Merlin was getting better, but suddenly it seemed as if he were pretending to recover from Freya simply to make Arthur happy.

“Look,” he said, Merlin suddenly looking up in confusion. “I know you’re only pretending to get over that girl, Freya, just for my sake.” Merlin looked as if he were going to refuse, but Arthur talked over him. “I know, Merlin. There’s nothing you could keep from me.”

Merlin thought that statement laughable, very laughable, and he fought to keep his face straight. To Arthur, his expression looked pained. Arthur continued on with his elaborate speech.

“Merlin, you are my best friend, despite the fact that you are clumsy, forgetful, idiotic, lazy, a bad listener, and seem to spend most of your time in the tavern.” Merlin just blinked, internally laughing because Arthur simply had no clue what Merlin did for him. “But I am worried for you. Maybe this sorceress girl means more to you than I know.”

Merlin nodded. Arthur finally understood, but he felt that Arthur just didn’t understand well enough.

“Well,” Merlin admitted, “she is beautiful. I... I love her, and she means everything to me. I just wish she and I were still able to be together.”

Arthur was not expecting such an answer, but he felt honored that Merlin trusted him so. “It’s like with me and Guinevere,” he whispered, surprised that his manservant could feel about something the same way he did. Then, he spoke up. “How did you come to know Freya?”

Merlin looked uncomfortable, but he decided to trust Arthur. They were best friends, after all.

“She... she was in a bounty hunter’s cage. I helped her escape, and hid her under the city. We... we fell in love, and planned to run away together. But she didn’t want me to abandon my life her just for her, so she ran away herself. But it went wrong, and the guards caught her. She... she was killed. I brought her to Lake Avalon and gave her the proper funeral. That’s what happened.” Merlin left out very important details, such as how Merlin used magic to help her, Freya was a Druid and a Bastet, and that it was Arthur who had killed her. It was better that way.

Arthur looked apologetic, but he didn’t recognize the story. He didn’t realize his manservant had been so brave, or so caring. He hadn’t known that Freya was dead, and that it was because of the knights of Camelot.

Merlin looked away, afraid he had said too much. He knew that Arthur wasn’t dumb, whatever he might say to that clotpole of a King, and he didn’t want him to put two and two together, but it was soon apparent that he wouldn’t.

“Is-is it wrong to want to go back and visit her?” Merlin asked tenderly, hoping Arthur wouldn’t say no.

Arthur, who was being sensitive for once, said: “If it were with me and Gwen, of course I would want to go back. In fact, I would go back even if my master said not to.” Arthur gave him a sly smile, letting him know it was okay if he were to go back and visit Freya.

Merlin, grateful for the understanding Arthur had shown, felt much better.

“Thank you, Arthur. You are a good friend, even though you’re a total and complete clotpole.”

Arthur was amused, and he made a pretend frown. “Thank you, complete and total idiot.”

Their jokes about just how stupid, ugly, fat, annoying, etc, the other person was continued until Arthur couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer.

“Good night, you forgetful toad.” Murmured Arthur.

“Good night, you fat dollophead.” Whispered back Merlin.

And once Merlin was sure that Arthur was asleep, he made the campfire flames dance. His stomach filled with a feeling of content, for the first time in months. He went to sleep happy.

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