Title: On The Lagoon
Sequel to: On The Isle Of Apples
Disclaimer: I don't own Merlin---it'd be TEXT and not SUBTEXT if I did.
Summary: Something has changed in Merlin and Arthur's relationship since they turned teenagers, and Nimueh just can't put her finger on WHAT it could be. Then, after a visit to Northumbria ends badly, and Arthur tries to apologize to Merlin on the lagoon, her eyes are suddenly opened...wide
Taking a stroll down towards the lagoon, Nimueh sighed, trying to soak in the nature and let it calm her. It’d been a hectic day, the priests who inhabited the isle with them all unusually incompetent today.
She needed a distraction, so she’d gone in search of her two charges, the youngest (by far) on the Blessed Isle.
“You’re going to have to talk to me some day
you know.” Arthur sounded both worried and petulant, proving that Merlin was still angry with him.
Nimueh watched, hidden by the dense foliage, as Merlin sat on top of the water in the middle of the lagoon, completely dry, reading a book on sorcery, while Arthur stood at the water’s edge, sword glistening on his belt.
The seventeen year olds were usually unusually close, but ever since they’d hit their teens something had changed between them. Nimueh wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but Arthur was more possessive than usual and Merlin looked quite annoyed most of the time.
It had culminated when she’d decided that it was time to take them from the Isle for the first time since they’d been brought as babes, and she’d spirited them to Northumbria. King Cadmus was a good friend of hers, an enemy of Camelot, and allowed magic. He’d been more than happy to entertain her and her charges in his kingdom.
Everything had started out so well
The boys were excited and nervous (Merlin showing it more than Arthur) and had enjoyed being amongst so many people. They were used to being the only ones their age on the Blessed Isle, the only other occupants other than Nimueh being the few, much older priests.
But in Northumbria there were many young men and women their age, and while at first things had gone marvelously with Merlin and Arthur making friends with the others, things had started to disintegrate quickly.
Arthur was handsome.
He was ridiculously so, and up till that moment he hadn’t seemed to realize it.
The knowledge had gone to his head.Rapidly
The girls of Northumbria had fawned all over him, even some of the boys had done the same, and Arthur had gotten used to it all too rapidly. He came to expect it, and enjoy it.
It didn’t mean that he’d cast Merlin aside.
It would take much more than a court full of people fawning all over him to do that, but Arthur became engrossed in hunting and other things Merlin had no taste for, and they began to spend more time apart.
Merlin had devoted himself to learning of the many acclaimed wizards in Northumbria, listening to their wisdom, and growing both in power and knowledge. He’d also made friends and had admirers in the magical circles, many revering him like a god.
Unlike Arthur, though, the attention and such seemed to make Merlin uncomfortable.
He hadn’t been uncomfortable with the attention of a certain young wizard by the name of Lionel though, and a young peasant boy named Lancelot.
Apparently Merlin had a fondness for names that began with L.
Arthur hadn’t appreciated Merlin’s friendship with them, but had tolerated it as best as he could. Nimueh had seen the way he’d tried controlling himself, to give Merlin his time with these two boys.
But it was obvious to Nimueh, and to anyone paying attention, that Arthur wasn’t going to hold on much further.
He’d pulled away from his many admirers, going surly and becoming more of a prat than usual. He’d even sent a girl away in tears
when she’d tried distracting him as he watched Merlin laughing with Lancelot.“Do you think Merlin likes him better than me?” Arthur had asked her one night, as Merlin and Lionel practiced outside together, laughing and enjoying their magic.
“Who?” Nimueh had joined him at the window, where he was watching the two boys, the moon shining on his displeased face, arms folded over his chest. She raised an eye at him and looked down at the others, realizing what he was talking about. “Why would Merlin like that boy more than you?”
“Because he can do magic and I can’t.” Arthur replied in a dark tone. “He can connect with Merlin on a level I never will be able to because I’m not magic.”
Nimueh sent a sideways glance at Arthur, curious at the resentment in his voice. “Has he told you this?”
“Merlin?” Arthur turned slightly to look at her.
“No, Lionel.” The High Priestess shook her head.
A muscle jumped in Arthur’s cheek. “He might have mentioned something like that when we exchanged words yesterday.”
Now Arthur’s foul mood made more sense.
Nimueh placed her hand on the youth’s shoulder and turned to watch as Merlin and Lionel laughed below, unaware of being spied upon. “Arthur, Merlin is free to make his own choice in that matter…”
“I know.” Arthur spoke softly, ducking his gaze.
“But I seriously doubt that that boy would choose anyone who wasn’t you.” She felt Arthur jerk his head towards her. “You’ve been the most important person in his life since he could remember, you two share a destiny, you share everything. Merlin just needs this time to have some freedom, but if he had to choose between Lionel and magic, or you and a life without magic…he would choose life with you.”
Arthur’s face was surprisingly vulnerable. “You think so? Magic---it means everything to him.”
“Not everything, Arthur.” Nimueh pressed. “You are his best friend. You always will be.”
For some reason, Arthur’s face fell at that and he looked away, gaze falling down back to Merlin and Lionel. “Best friend.”
Wondering why that failed to cheer him up, Nimueh had stayed by his side until Merlin and Lionel went back in.
Arthur had tried being patient and understandable, but Nimueh didn’t know what had happened to make him snap, but he had.
He’d attacked Lionel and despite the fact that Arthur was unbeatable when it came to combat with weapons, he was no match for magic, and Merlin had known that. He’d been there in seconds, eyes molten gold, chanting words and sending the attack Lionel had sent on Arthur right back at the caster.
Lionel’s ego, more than anything, had been hurt, and he’d demanded that Merlin choose between him and Arthur.
Merlin hadn’t hesitated.
He’d turned to Nimueh, who’d been watching, and told her it was time to go back home. They’d left that evening, and even though that had been two weeks ago the young sorcerer had yet to break breath to Arthur, whom he obviously blamed for the falling out between him and his friend.
“Dammit Merlin! How many times do you want me to say I’m sorry?!?”
Arthur was known to never apologize.
Then again, Arthur would do anything for Merlin.
Merlin just flipped the page and continued reading.
“Fine.” Arthur snapped, undoing his belt and dropping his sword to the ground as he pulling off his shirt. He hesitated at the waistband of his pants, looking up to Merlin back down at his pants, and then blushed slightly.
As if annoyed with himself, Arthur left the pants on and began to trudge into the water. He walked until the water was passed his waist and then began to swim towards where Merlin was reading.
The warlock sent him a quick look, eyebrow raised, before continuing his reading.
Arthur swam the distance to the middle of the lake, pausing once he reached beneath Merlin’s invisible platform, kicking his feet to keep himself afloat.
Merlin didn’t even look at him.
“Let me up, Merlin.” Arthur looked up at him. “Please.”
“No.” Merlin turned the page again.
“You’re talking to me again.” Arthur grinned.
“No I’m not.” Merlin corrected.
Arthur smirked. “Yes, you are.”
Merlin finally turned his attention to the blonde in the water beneath him, glaring at him. “No
“Then what are you doing now?” Arthur chuckled.
Merlin opened his mouth, and then closed it, frowning, turning his back on Arthur.
Arthur, known for his bullheadedness, swam so that he was facing the sorcerer once more. “C’mon Mer. I’m not going anywhere. It’s either let me up or watch me drown.”
“Can you live with my death on your conscience?” Arthur asked.
“Oh for heavens sake!” Merlin exclaimed, annoyed, eyes flashing gold as Arthur raised up into the air and dropped, abruptly, onto the invisible platform.
.” Arthur complained, rubbing his backside.
“I would have thought that your ego was big enough to soften your landing.” Merlin replied, returning his attention to his book.
Usually Merlin would always let Arthur get away with murder (well, not literally) so she was somewhat happy to see him finally putting his foot down---though at the same time she felt horribly for Arthur and wanted them to make up and return to being the best friends they’d been since babies.
“Mer…” Arthur, soaking wet, went to his knees next to him, shuffling closer. “I’m sorry. I am. I---I was stupid to react to what that idiot said. I---I should have trusted you.”
Merlin snorted, but finally closed the book and looked up at Arthur from where he was laying down on his side.
And then Arthur did something that shocked Nimueh speechless.
He went down on all fours and crawled over Merlin.
Merlin turned so that he was laying on his back, propped up on his elbows, looking into Arthur’s face as the young prince straddled his hips, leaning his face down close to Merlin’s.
“I’m sorry.” Arthur whispered, nibbling softly on Merlin’s jaw, his voice being brought to Nimueh on the wind. “I’m sorry.”
“You should have known that I wouldn’t do that to you.” Merlin whispered, closing his eyes and tilting his neck, granting Arthur better access. “You should have known he was lying, just trying to get you angry so you would attack him and he would have an excuse to hurt you.”
“I couldn’t take it anymore, Merlin.” Arthur pressed his forehead to Merlin’s. “He was magic, he could share things with you that I couldn’t, and he kept throwing it into my face!”
“Only because he knew that you and I
shared things he
Arthur paused, shocked.
Merlin suddenly shook his head, smiling at Arthur as if he were a beloved idiot. “You’re just too much of a prat to have realized what was so obvious
Arthur opened his mouth to protest.
Merlin reached up and cupped the back of Arthur’s head, pulling him close, lips capturing his in a hungry kiss.
Arthur responded like a starved animal, grabbing Merlin’s shirt and clenching his fists in the material as Merlin leaned back on the platform, dragging Arthur flat onto him.
Merlin kept one hand behind Arthur’s head, and the other traveled up Arthur’s thigh to his hip and pulled him down harder, causing a whimper of need to escape Arthur’s mouth.
Red, burning with embarrassment, Nimueh turned and walked away as quietly as she could. She---she'd known that they were close, but she'd never realized just how
close they were. Now...now the whole Northumbria situation made so much sense
Bringing a hand to her heated cheek, the priestess cleared her dry throat and hurried her pace, deciding to inform the priests they were not to go near the lagoon.
The boys didn't need some old men walking in on them...or spying on them.
The High Priestess of the Old Religion stopped, looked back the direction she’d come from, and then shook her head and hurried back to the courtyard, wondering if this was what the Great Dragon had meant all along.