I’LL POST THIS AGAIN LATER BUT REBLOG IT AND STUFF SO EVERYONE KNOWS COS WE DON’T WANT PEOPLE MISSING THE START OF THE FINALE NOPE NOT AT ALL
Merlin/Arthur. Arthur tells Merlin that he’s marrying Guinevere.Merlin was making the bed at dusk when Arthur finally found him. He looked up at the click of the door opening, and tried his best to smile and nod in greeting. It wasn’t easy; Merlin felt an odd weight in his heart at seeing Arthur so clean and fresh and ready for the future—everything he hadn’t been in the forest. Merlin might have been happy to be a part of that change, but the truth was that he couldn’t see any of himself in Arthur’s eyes; he could only see Gwen.
“Merlin,” Arthur said, his voice thick as it cut through the silent air between them. “I need to tell you something.”
A wry smile twisted Merlin’s lips, and for a moment he thought he might laugh at himself for being so stupid. He’d endeavoured to make this happen, so what right did he have to resent it now?
“Guinevere and I—” Arthur began, but Merlin couldn’t hear it again. He couldn’t listen to it fall from Arthur’s lips, knowing it would be awkward and fumbling and apologetic, but still somehow defiant, as if to say you wanted this, you told me to do this.
“I know,” Merlin cut in, fixing his eyes on the bedclothes. “Gwen was here when I arrived. She said you’d gone to find me but she couldn’t wait to tell me so—so I know.”
A still, quiet minute followed these words. Merlin saw Arthur nod out of the corner of his eye, and then pace towards his table, tugging off his belt. Merlin focused on folding back the blankets and plumping the pillows of the bed, until he found there was nothing else left to do. Then, he straightened up and turned until he was facing Arthur.
“Merlin,” Arthur said again, and if Merlin didn’t know better, he might have thought he could see the faint glisten of a tear in Arthur’s eyes. “Merlin, I’m still the same man.”
Merlin nodded. “I’m sure you are.”
“Please don’t be—”
“Arthur, you’re my friends. Both of you. I’ve—” Merlin stopped for a moment and took a deep, shuddering breath. “I just want you to be happy.”
“And I want you to be happy,” Arthur said quickly, almost as though it was a reflex. Then, quieter, “but I love her. I can’t do this without her.”
Merlin bit his lip, only just managing to hold back a whisper of could you do it without me?, and nodded again. He pulled at the hem of his jacket, trying to shake the image of Arthur, sad and betrayed and needing no one but Merlin, out of his head; trying to wipe away the muscle memory of Arthur’s soft hair in Merlin’s hands as he lay trapped in a burning Camelot.
“I know,” Merlin managed at last, his voice cracking. “I saw you looking at her when Isolde died. I knew in that moment.”
There was another uncomfortably quiet pause, before Arthur tried, “You’re still… Merlin, nothing’s changed.”
All Merlin could do was stare at Arthur after that. He tried not to look as though his boots were sinking through the stone, or like his heart was sitting, bruised and battered and sewn back together one time too many, in the palm of Arthur’s hand. It worked for a whole of thirty seconds, and then Merlin was crumpling, his face twisting into an ugly shape as he brought his hand up to catch the tears running down his cheeks.
Arthur rushed forward at once, grabbing Merlin by the shoulders and pulling him into a hug. He put his hand on the back of Merlin’s head and rubbed there gently while Merlin pressed his face into Arthur’s shoulder, gasping in deep, desperate breaths. As he slowly calmed down again, Merlin felt his cheeks flushing, because he’d sworn he wouldn’t cry. Merlin hated how awkward it always made things between them, when he didn’t quite manage to hide how he was feeling, and Arthur had to deal with it. It wasn’t fair for Merlin to be sad every time Arthur was happy, just because it wasn’t Merlin who’d put that smile on Arthur’s face.
Merlin would gladly have stayed there, with his nose digging into Arthur’s warm skin, forever. He’d gladly have never opened his eyes again; not seen his mother, or Gaius, or Gwen one more time, but then Arthur was pulling back. He wiped at the tears on Merlin’s cheeks with the sleeve of his tunic and gave a weak smile as he rubbed Merlin’s shoulders.
“Come on, Merlin,” he said softly, almost touching their foreheads together. “We’re still us. You know I’ll drag you out riding once a week until your knees are wrinkled and your hip won’t stop locking.”
Merlin laughed, soggy and earnest and so very fragile. “Yeah, I know,” he said. “And I’ll wash your back in the bath every day until you lose your hair and grow a pot belly.”
Arthur grinned, then frowned and flicked a cheeky finger under Merlin’s chin, before straightening up and smiling again. They looked at each other, eyes searching, and Merlin knew what he was looking for—he wanted to see a hint that, perhaps, he meant something different from Gwen. He wanted to know that the spaces they filled in Arthur’s heart were separate. He couldn’t see anything. Arthur was closing off to him again, but Merlin knew that, although he wished he was enough for Arthur, he could never hate Gwen for pushing him out. Merlin blamed himself for missing something, or not acting fast enough.
It was impossible to tell what Arthur was looking for as his eyes raked back and forth over Merlin’s red, tear-stung face. His lips shaped into a tiny ‘o’ as his gaze lingered on the way Merlin’s eyes had puffed from crying, and the way his nose ran ever so slightly. Not until Merlin was convinced that Arthur was about to say something—something like, I’m sorry you’re in love with me, or I shouldn’t have acted like you’d never told me, but I didn’t know what else to do—did Arthur clear his throat and look away.
He reached for a fresh shirt and quickly changed, then rebuckled his belt and glanced towards the door.
“I’ll be making the announcement at Court tomorrow. I’ll need my armour ready,” he told Merlin, giving him a curt nod and a pat on the shoulder as he strode passed.
Merlin didn’t turn to watch Arthur leave, but he heard every footstep, all the same.
THERE WILL BE A PART TWO WHICH ISN’T SO HEARTBREAKING. I PROMISE.
yeah but those two gifs of colin and bradley cartwheeling
they’re so flexible and and and so agile and and and and and