Changes in the snow
A chestnut brown head stuck out a small, narrow window that was built into one of the many towers. Chap winds blew the messy brown hair into a catastrophic nature before settling to kiss cold, pale checks. The person didn't pay any mind to it though as a hand suddenly joined with the air and snowflakes, big and small tiny puffs, collected in his hand. Merlin smiled at this once a season pleasure.
He loved winter. He loved the cold, the cheer that admitted from the season, the friendship it seemed to bring out, the snow, and Christmas, especially Christmas. He didn't love it for the gifts-though they were lovely- he loved it because it was that one time when everyone, the knights, Gwen, Morgana, Gauis, Arthur, and himself could be together and celebrate. He liked it too because it was that once time he and Arthur could be out and opened about their friendship which they usual put a wall around them because of their master and servant statues. Oh, and the fact the untimely doom thing seemed to be put on hold.
Merlin bunched up his cloak and stepped away from the window. He re-laced his pale, green curtains on the wooden bar and re-shielded the window. He stood in the middle of his small but cozy room and looked around. It was, since he first graced the room many years ago, clean. The books were stacked neatly on the shelf by his bed, the bed was made and folded down ready to greet him when he went to bed, and his cloths were folded and put away in the cupboard. In all honesty, he blamed Arthur. The thought of his friend made him cross the room and duck under the bed and bring out a wooden box. He slid the metal pin out of the lock and opened it. He smiled at the thing inside and checked over it before putting it away. He had worked on the new king's present until his fingers were but bone and threatened to bleed.
A frown tugged at him as he again thought of the king. He was only able to produce the gift because he had so much time on his hands. Arthur , two weeks ago, had called him into his chambers, flung a list at him, ordered him to get the chores done, and then let without so much as a hello, Merlin. He had gotten the list done of course-in three days times. He hadn't seen Arthur since then and when he did see him Arthur acted like he wasn't even there-like he was just another servant. He shook his head at his rambling thoughts and sighed, he knew Arthur was busy so there, he thought, is the reason.
"Merlin. Merlin!" Gauis voice yelled at him. Merlin rolled his eyes at the way his uncle's voice was shrewd and grisly. He was not a morning person. He followed his nose and was in front of a hot, steaming bowel of oats.
"Morning, Gauis," he greeted the physician with a lopsided grin. He shoved the spoon into his meal and took a bite.
Gauis harrumphed in answer. He watched Merlin ravish another spoonful before saying,
"Merlin, the castle is at its busiest time of the year. I don't wish to hear how you got sidetracked again from Arthur like I do every year. Winter, as I said, is busy and more work means-"
"More hands," finished Merlin through his last bite of oats. He stood up and grabbed his bowel. He dumped it in a worn tub of water. "I doubt I will even be caught "slacking off" seeing as lord prat as not been around lately."
He looked around to find his winter cloak but couldn't find it. He looked under the many misplaced objects in the room and stared to grumble. A cough made him turn and Gauis was in front of him holding it out to him. He nodded and clasped the emblem around his neck. He went to the door but stopped upon seeing his uncle's amused stare and raised brow.
"Are you forgetting what today is?" he asked him.
Merlin opened the door and looked down to the snow dusted titles. He shivered at the crisp cold streaming in through the windows. "Nope, Merry Christmas, Gauis. I'll see you tonight at the party."
With that, he was out the door. Gauis shook his head letting a small sigh escape his mouth. And wondered why he had an ominous felling about the king and his servant.
Merlin was the only one in the hall so his footsteps echoed vociferously. Those that were in the hall for a few seconds were too busy with Yuletide manners to speak. He tugged on his neckerchief and winched as a thread snagged lose and fell off. He hoped to get some new one for Christmas. Something purple swayed in his vision and he looked up to see the lady Morgana exit her chambers.
The lady Morgana was, at it seemed with most things, not all she seemed. She was a witch, yes. A powerful one, yes. An enemy, no. It seemed she only went against Camelot because of her sister's control over her. With the help of her friends, she had been able to break the hold and become her natural self. Magic itself was a tricky subject or it was until Uther died, but even know magic was still feared. Only those closest knew of
Morgana's power everyone else thought the powers went away with her sister's death.
Merlin walked fasted to catch up with her. He reached an arm out and must have startled her because she whirled around. Only his quick luck mange to save him from being hit.
"Oh!" she said putting a hand to her chest. "Merlin, you startled me."
Merlin blushed at the girl. He was the one that had figured out the problem with Morgana first hand, and while she had forgave him and all, he felt bad about all he had done to her. She knew of Merlin's powers because he taught her, in secret, how to control hers. In the sessions, he never felt so relieved to have someone his age to talk to that was like him.
She had mentioned more than once how he should tell Arthur everything. "You should give him more credit, Merlin. He's your best friend. He was the only one that believed you about me and he accepts me doesn't he. I think he would understand." To that, he would shake his head and tell her to leave off the subject and resume teaching. To tell him would just be problematical, he would think about it and feel that maybe he should tell him but decided against it every time.
"Sorry, Morgana. Where's Gwen at?" he asked upon not seeing the chocolate skinned girl.
"I gave her the day off it is Christmas after all. Let me guess, Arthur as you working again."
He didn't answer as they walked down the hall way only having to stop a couple time to let servants pass. They stopped at the main entrance to the inside of the castle and got the guards attention. They pulled back the wooden slabs and the tumblers rolled out of place. One of the guards, a curly haired man, spun a pulley letting the gate open and the cold in.
Only when the pair was outside did Merlin answer, " I haven't seen Arthur that much to tell you. He's been busy with things and hasn't called on me so I have been using my time to get presents."
Morgana glanced at Merlin. She knew her half-brother was busy but he had always made time from the clumsy young man rather it be putting him in the stocks or just taking time to just be a normal young man hanging out with a friend. It didn't make since especially when she was sure she had seen Arthur with the knights and Gwen on occasions when he wasn't so busy. "Well those better be good presents, Merlin, or I am kicking his butt, king or no."
Merlin let out a soft laugh and watched the snow bound forest in front of them. Through the tangled branches, he could see an orange fox dart in and out of the snow like a pup after a hunt for the first time. He heard laughing and yelling up ahead and expected to see the village children playing in the snow. He was wrong though. He stopped sort and looked on with a knot in his stomach. The knights along with the king were lobbing snowballs at each other and laughing. Merlin blinked, wasn't Arthur busy? Wasn't that the excuse he fed himself for Arthur's avoidance?
Gwaine pulled up short and a snowball from Elyne sailed past him, hitting Leon in the head. Leon was about to snap at his teammate when he saw Merlin and Morgana in the road that was usual filled with peddlers during the summer market. He waved to them and called them over. It was only by Morgana's tug on his arm that made him move forward.
"Hello, Morgana. Merlin, how are you?" he said to them with a nod at each turn.
Morgana smiled at greeted the knights and the king as they came over. Greetings were exchange among the men, too. Merlin looked at Arthur who kept himself among the group and only looked at Morgana. Did I do something? Merlin thought. But no he hadn't done a thing besides his normal duties that went beyond a manservant. Could it be that Arthur knew of his secret? The thought sent Merlin cold.
"So this must be the new training I heard the king was issuing, boys." She said while twirling a piece of hair around her finger. "How's it working out?"
Gwaine put an arm around his love-yes; it's only fair to mention Gwaine had fondly found of women who kept him on his toes. "It attracted a beautiful lady didn't? As far as I can tell that's all that matters!"
Morgana dusted snow of his head and gave Gwaine a kiss on the lips. Percival rolled his eyes and nudged Merlin in the ribs, "if I have to listen to this tonight at the party…." He trailed of in a loud whisper.
"Oh, shove off, Perce. Gwen is going to be there too and we all know how our dear king gets around her. The man can't even stand!"
The others let out a laugh and Merlin saw Arthur looking at him. He meet those blue eyes and offered a small smile, but it was only meet with Arthur stiffing and looking away. He wanted to walk over and ask him what his deal was but was meet with a slap in the back.
"Speaking of parties and Christmas, Merlin, happy birthday, mate!"
"And now you join the league of men!"
"Happy birthday, mate!"
As he said thanks, he found, as fate would have it, he was in front of Arthur. Arthur looked at Merlin. Usually he would clap Merlin on the back and make a joke with subtle hints of friendship splashed in but not this year. He cleared his throat, "Merlin."
"Hello, prat." He felt the tension in the air and hoped that whatever was edging the king would disappear with his idiotic behavior. "You must be busy, huh? Haven't even come to see that I haven't put a dent in your amour yet."
Arthur crossed his arms, his blonde air long enough now to cover his eyes. He shrugged,
" I have been busy. I suppose you got the list done or at least that's what Jeffery said."
"Who's Jeffery?" Merlin said to him.
"He's the servant I hired to make sure you get all the work done. I haven't had the time to look out after you, you know."
Merlin had to swallow something vile down has he heard Arthur speak. Arthur had a servant follow him around? He had been Arthur most loyal, only servant, and friend so what the hell was this about. Sure, it might not have seen a big deal but it made Merlin's ears turn red.
"Oh, right. I forgot. King Arthur is too busy to care about some lanky, idiotic servant boy while playing in the damn snow and all. Is this what you been doing all time after you gave me that list?"
Arthur looked down at Merlin and said to him, " even a king needs a break sometimes Merlin. I made sure you were looked after and paid-"
Merlin took a step back and his teeth gritted together, "if you call a servant following me around and dumping a list on my caring, then, yeah. What's the deal anyway, why have you been avoiding me?"
Arthur let out a slow even breath. He found the situation expanding to the fact the knights and Morgana was looking at them making him want to hide. "I am king now and as king I have responsibilities. A servant, which is what you're paid for, is meant to lessen the lesser task. I can't be seen hanging around you and not with people who might be a major part of the kingdom one day!"
"Arthur !" Morgana snapped. She knew only too well of Merlin's destiny and to have that said to him was- was not kind. She had no reason to rebuke his action or words, why, just last month Arthur had hung with Merlin and they were acting just like old times. It was their friendship that kept her from reviving the memories of what she did and could had done to her friends and kingdom. So what was the problem? What was hidden that she couldn't detect?
"It's fine, Morgana, let Arthur be a jackass. Eventually I knew all that power would go to his head and his must loyal friend-his words as I recall-is just a servant in the end."
Arthur pushed passed him, his push vigerlesly mean. "Just stay out of my way Merlin."
Stalking off in the other direction, Merlin stopped and looked over his shoulder through the new falling snow. "Why should I?"
"Merlin!" Lancelot urged him. "He the king, Merlin you can't talk to him like that. I don't know what's going on but you-"
"I can talk to him how I please. Truthfully, Arthur would never become king had Uther not have died. He's not ready for it."
Before he knew it, Arthur had cleared the distants and had his fist swinging for Merlin. However, unlike their first meeting Merlin was able to learn what he knew about fighting and snag Arthur's wrist. Merlin looked Arthur in the eyes and breathed deep. "I wouldn't do that again."
He pushed Arthur off him and walked away. Morgana watched him. She was mad at him for pointing out her father's death and Arthur's inability to rule, but also sadden because his actions were only to easy understandable. She looked at Arthur who had his fist shaking.
"Arthur that was uncalled for, yes." It wasn't a question.
"It wasn't anything Morgana and what about him? He has the authority to tell me I am only king by my father's death and I'm a uncaring bastard? He's just a servant-"
"Who's also your friend?" Gwaine spoke gruffly; mad at Arthur for talking to his friend like that. Merlin was the first friend he had in a long time and he felt protective towards him.
"You have never treated anyone so low before, so why Merlin? He's been ay your side more times than I could count putting up with you."
Arthur shook his head, looked up at his sister, and threw up his hands. "Merlin's a servant under my order so how I treat him is my own will and decision."
"You haven't answered my question."
Arthur licked his lips and walked away not answering. The knights shook their heads at their king. Gwaine shared a look at Morgana and she just frowned, "Arthur would never act like this to anyone especially Merlin. Unless there's something wrong."
Gwaine nodded. It was true, he thought, he cares about Merlin a lot. He didn't even whish him happy birthday. What was going on?
Gauis wasn't in the two small conjoined chambers when Merlin slammed the door open. He didn't pay mind to the objects his magic knocked off the table. It seemed as of late his magic related with his emotions and as powerful as it was reacting it only seemed to make sense. He picked up an unused glass jar and held it in his hands. He looked over it and his reflection stood out from it, glaring at him. He thought is comical how a simple thing such as light and smooth tone glass could show even the tiniest of un-doubtful blemish. Snorting, he crushed it in his hand and it shattered. He threw the pieces at the wall letting the hurt slam against the wall. He walked into his room and landed on his bed. He put his head in his hands.
He could have been sitting there for minutes or months and he wouldn't have been able to recall closing his door to his room. He only realized it was closed when a knock at the door forced him to bring his head up. He wiped his face with sweaty hands and sighed.
"I'm all right, Gauis. I just don't feel like talking right now."
He watched the door slowly open and it wasn't his uncle standing there but Gwen, the lady servant to Morgana and the love of Arthur's life. She locked eyes with Merlin and she closed the door behind her, Merlin stood up and studied the care etched in her face. She spoke before he could utter a word.
"I just came back from the market and I saw Morgana in the hall," she paused and a frown came and went as she was measuring her words," she told me what happened-with you and Arthur I mean."
Merlin made it looked as if he was busy by tittering with a lose floorboard hoping Gwen would take the hint. He wasn't surprise when she knelt in front of him and laid her small, thin hands on his own. The other hand was put under his chin and moved to raise it upwards. He met her eyes.
"You must understand, Merlin, Arthur is under a lot of pressure. He's king now and as king, he takes responsibility over everyone and everything. Which is something we can't' even begin to understand."
Merlin jerked his head away and his words were harsh as he spoke, "I know he's king, Gwen. Being king doesn't give him reason to treat anyone-even me-like he did. It's like he pushed us away for his own selfish reasons." To his self he added, I got him this far and this is how he repays me?
"No." Gwen nodded her head making her brown curls cling to her face. "It doesn't make it right. He hasn't been pushing us away, not really."
"Only me," Merlin interjected.
Gwen went on as if he didn't say a thing, "Though, Merlin, that didn't give you right to say what you did about his father nor does it justify your actions either."
Merlin gapped at the young women in front of him and his expression must have shown what he truly thought about the statement because her eyes went wide and she waved her hands in front of her. "I'm not saying it's your fault- no wait I am- no what I mean is…" she trailed off, "What I mean is that maybe something else is going on here. Your Arthur's best friend, Merlin-he might not admit it out right- but he cares about you. There just has to be another reason for this just as I can tell something is berthing you. Something that's been for a while now."
Merlin's lips twitched upwards and his face got all red. He squeezed his eyes shut but could not hold back the laugh. He laughed so hard he had tears streaming down his face and he gripped his side. Gwen just looked at Merlin in bewilderment and when he did speak, she had to listen carefully.
"Ev-everything…." He collected his breath and looked at her, " I can't help but feel everything is changing, Gwen. Arthur has not been how he used to be. He's not the king I know he is to become. He pushed me away subtly but now I know when I am not wanted; He too busy to deal with his idiotic servant who was thrust upon him."
"No. No-No, Merlin, that's not true. Is that what you think?" she only had to look at him to know it to be true. She pulled Merlin off the floor. "Go. Go talk to him, go talk to
He gave her hand a small squeeze, "he doesn't wish to see me. If I want to talk to him I might as well go track down the servant he had trailing me."
Gwen narrowed her brow at the statement. She then reached behind her and picked up the box Merlin had Arthur's gift enclosed in. Gwen knew what it held, but only her. "Take him his present, Merlin. Please for me. I care about the both of you and can't see you so broken. He needs you as much as you need him."
She gave him a kiss on the check and left. He looked down at the box and knew Gwen was without a doubt the once and future queen.
Arthur sat in his chambers and looked at the dancing flames. He counted each and every pop the chestnuts made as they busted form the heat. The others, Arthur knew, were crowded down stairs in an empty ale room setting up for the party. He now, as king, didn't like big events when others could be with family. He frowned at the thought of the party. He usually loved to go because it was the only time everyone could relax. Though, he thought as he brought a goblet to his lips, I have now wish to go if he's going to be there.
The wine burned his throat much like an image of Merlin burned in his mind.
"Stupid Merlin. Stupid me." he muttered to himself. He cursed and sat the goblet down, his taste for fine mead gone. He wondered why, after all his time fretting about it, his mind chose to pull this out a force it on him. It might have something to do with being king he decided.
Morgana had been into his room earlier to demand, in private, what his bloody deal was. His only answer had been they wouldn't understand. He in truth didn't understand it anymore then he could act upon it. Why has he been so distant and vicious -Morgana's words-to Merlin?
He rubbed the bridge of his nose and looked over to the pile of presents that had once adjourned to room but now only one remained. It was long and wrapped in blue dyed paper that had been imported a month ago. He picked up the package and looked at the parchment tied to it. His handwriting splashed on it.
He placed it on the table and looked over at the door that's when he noticed the shadow. It would stretch left then right then forward hesitantly. It was an inky black shadow with a skinny male form to it.
Lifting himself from his chair, he went over to the door and listened but it was silent. Seeing the shadow still there, he opened to door fast. In the door way was Merlin, fist raised, wide eyed for all about a couple seconds before he stilled a neutral expression. Arthur could not help notice the blue tinged skin and wonder how long he had stood in the hall.
"Gwen thought it would be a good idea to come here. I didn't want to but seeing how I hate to upset her," he motioned to the room.
Arthur glared but let Merlin in. as he past Arthur , Arthur couldn't put help that a cold shiver ran down his spine and he had flash back of when he found Merlin out side of the room were he had stayed long after his father's death. Merlin had not wanted him to be alone and in return, Arthur told he was a loyal friend. Now, now, Arthur just wanted Merlin to go.
"What are you doing here?" Arthur asked getting to the point.
Merlin just kept walking until he was to the shudder window. He opened the latched and looked out upon the door. The captivating lights were like will-o-wisp dancing in the wind. It was Christmas and people weren't supposed to fight on Christmas. He looked at the box he had in his hand and thought back to what Morgana and Gwen had told him time and time again.
He could feel the hatred coming off Arthur as he came near. "I asked what are you doing here and I demand an answer."
Keeping his view outside he said, "I told you, Gwen insisted I come and I can't tell her no. so I decided to humor her."
He saw Arthur look at something that wasn't there on the right in the corner of his eye. His stomach went in knots and his fear rose to the top.
"Well tell Gwen thank you but I don't feel like seeing you. At all." He drawled.
Merlin slowly turned from the window and said slowly, "what if-what if I decided to come here on my own free will and Gwen or Morgana had nothing to do with it? What If I always planned to come here? What if I am here on my own to tell you something, Arthur?"
"You said you had no wished being here."
Merlin licked his lips, "I lied."
Arthur swallowed and looked at the gangly man in front of him. He could feel the intensity rolling of him waves. He tapped his fingers on his arm, "what did you want to say?"
Merlin opened his mouth and closed it. His heart beating in his chest loudly and he felt as if he was looking in black and white. He let his magic smooth his fear away.
"I- I- wanted to tell you….I wanted to tell you that you have no reason in the world to be treating me like you have. It's mean and cruel. I have been nothing but a friend to you, Arthur and now you just treat me like another man being thrustded into servitude. I can't help but feel that everything I know is changing and I don't know if it's for the good. I got- I've watched you become king, Arthur, and you are a great king. It's just, in the end, I feel like I am not needed anymore, like before was a lie. I don't want that, Arthur; I want to be by your side like before not as a servant but as some one you can trust. A friend, Arthur."
Only a straggled sound emerged from Arthur's lips and he shifted his eyes away, but Merlin wasn't done.
"I also want you to know that I couldn't have gotten through anything we faced without you, Arthur. Before I came to Camelot, I was an outcast but I don't feel like I am here. Here is home to me."
He gave Arthur a wobble smile and pushed the box into his hands. Arthur looked down at it, then to Merlin who was trying to leave. He was never good at hiding emotion, Merlin was. Arthur reached an arm out and stopped him from leaving. He put the box on the table and with shaky hands opened the lid. He withdrew a clay form. Etched into this form was Camelot, the village, the forest, the knights, himself, Gwen, and freedom or what freedom was. All this was carved into a replica of Uther Pendragon.
Forcing himself to put the object down he turned to face the giver. "Did you," but he couldn't finish.
"I don't know what to say. No, I do but I don't know how to say it. I should not have snapped at you, Merlin, it was wrong of me, so wrong. I can't say I have a reason for distancing myself that is great because it's not. I never wanted to make you feel like you do. Being king is hard, very hard, Merlin. My father was a great man but he was not a great ruler when it comes to other peoples' pain or emotions. I want to be a great man who people can look upon, Merlin, not just another king. I am lost. I can't even decide what to do about magic. It's hurt many things but Morgana has it and I cannot kill her not when she's my blood. Merlin, do remember when I told you there was something about you I could not place?"
Merlin shook his head.
"I think I know what it was. You have this quality about you, Merlin, which makes people seem like everything will be all right in the end. People look up to that Merlin many people have you to think. I am scarred okay, Merlin, I am scared because I value your opinion of me over everyone else's and I don't know why but I feel everything I do will make you see me less of a king and more of a person who follows."
He looked at Merlin know who could only stare in shook. Arthur disappoints him! Arthur sought his option more than anyone!
"I thought pushing you away and being cold would help things but I guess it just made things worse."
Merlin smiled hoping Arthur would catch what he thought of this. Arthur must have because it looked like a weight had been lifted off him and he smiled back.
"You, Arthur Pendragon, are the most inferratting man I have ever met. But I don't think you any lesser a king then when I knew that's what you were destined for. You will, in time, see that you and your decisions are for the best. Magic, though, is your choice alone but if I may be as bold as to say, magic is not all it appears to be. Having magic on your side with the right people casting it is a good thing think about. "
"Thank you, Merlin. For everything. "Arthur said and took the time to hand him his present. Merlin blinked put held the present in his hands.
It was a sword. It was Merlin's arm's length and just the right balance for him. The blade was slim and crisp with gold edged in the inner part of the blade. It held a picture of two birds flying high above the castle. Merlin treated the sowed throwing it hand to hand like Arthur had taught him to do. He rested it against his knee.
"Do you like it?" Arthur asked knocking his head at him.
"A sword, Arthur, I can't even willed a shield right!"
The king smiled and set down the sheath for it. "Your right, you couldn't wiled a blade to save your life, but that's not the point."
He watched Merlin look down at the sword the look back up at him and confused expression showing. Arthur grabbed Merlin's hand and put the sword horizontal while he took Merlin's other hand and put it under to hold the blade.
"A sword is not about slaughter Merlin. A sword is a symbol for many things. It's also a sigh of honor and justices. Every single one of my knights has a blade they call their own and each was given to them by someone special. I give you one as your king but also your friend. It only seems right that you, a dollop headed clumsy clot pole, should have one too. I can't make you a knight Merlin but you are the most loyal and persevering out of us all."
Merlin laughed and took the sheath from the table and hooked it around his waist putting the sword back inside. He held out his hand to Arthur for him to shake it. Arthur griped it but instead of shaking it, he pulled Merlin into a quick friendly hug, before releasing him.
"Well we best get to the party then before they think we killed each other." He announced to Merlin.
When Merlin had not moved he pointed to the door. Smiling, he shuffled out the door and they walked down the hall. Arthur's crown gleamed in the light and Merlin's sword cast a shadow on the wall along with him. Arthur knocked Merlin In the shoulder and laughed as Merlin attempted to hit him back. Merlin stuck his tongue out at the king who snorted in amusement.
Who knows, Merlin thought, maybe by New Years I will tell him about my magic.
"Happy birthday Merlin."
"Merry Christmas, prat."'
Well here you all go. My super long holiday fic. I hope you all like it and have a good holiday! You know what would make my day? Reviews make good presents *wink wink* lol!