A/N: Alright, let me tell you something. Y'all are terrifying. Haha, because of the, frankly, strongly worded private messages I've recieved for this story, apparently a LOT of people wanted to see more MerGwaine. Orginally this was gonna be a one shot, but again, cause y'all are TERRIFYING, I'm putting it with the main story. SO tell me how like it and if you'd like to see the rest added to this instead of separate stories.
Confusion was a constant state of being in Merlin's life. But when you're the subject of prophecies, Merlin supposed it was part and parcel of the experience. Now the confusion, it wasn't that he minded, it was more that he preferred that the confusion stay where he was used to dealing with it and not having it seeping into other parts of his life where it had no business meddling. One place he was thankful there was no confusion was outlook on his relationships with other people. There were the people who liked him, the people who hated him, and then there were those who could honestly swing either way on that topic depending on the situation. It was concrete, familiar even and he liked it that way.
Except that there was definitely something not familiar going on.
It had been a grueling seven years, seven years fraught with tears, fear, resentment, betrayal, reconciliation and love. Merlin wrinkled his nose, as he walked through the markets of Camelot, arms full of herbs and deep in thought, neatly sidestepping children racing down the walkway and vendors carrying produce.
Merlin hadn't thought he would need to worry about love, not after Freya's death. He was so sure that he would never fall in love again. But then Gwaine arrived and over hearing him tell Percival that he was in love with him had done all kinds of silly things to his head. Then when Merlin managed to go back to being Merlin, Gwaine had messed things up even more by kissing him. Regardless of the fact that it was hardly his first kiss, there was Gwen (the knowledge of that one he'd be taking straight to the grave - if he ever had a grave, the jury was still out on that one), and of course Freya, but the kiss with Gwaine was something he wouldn't soon forget.
However, it seemed that the perpetrator of the crime, Sir Gwaine of Camelot, had forgotten, less than a month after the kiss, Merlin was completely disregarded, well romantically forgotten. Merlin clenched his hands tightly on the sage cradled in his left hand. I mean what am I supposed to think? He just kisses me and then nothing.
It was mind boggling to think of. How could he? How could he kiss him? How could he just tell Merlin that he meant everything to him and then proceed to behave as if nothing had changed? Nothing puzzled him more than Gwaine's current behavior, not only was he the same as he'd always been but it seemed that Merlin could never get a chance to speak to him alone. They were never in the same place twice, and never without the company of either Arthur or one of the Knights. It was almost like Gwaine was avoiding him, though it wasn't as if Gwaine wasn't speaking to him.
He pursed his lips, deep in thought. Merlin wondered just what had gotten into the Knight, at first full of passion and then nothing, like the passion had never even been there. He was so preoccupied that Merlin was nearly bowled over when Godric bounded up directly in front of him.
"Oh whoa – Godric! Careful, I could've fallen and hurt you!"
Godric rolled his eyes, perusing his foster father's body up and down.
"Honestly, you'd fly away in the wind Master, before you'd be able to hurt me. You can't weigh more than a twig." Merlin thumped in the head with a fist.
"Oi watch it. I may not be as large as say, Percival, but I am more than capable of landing wee brats like you on their arses. Don't tell the King I told you, but I definitely beat him the first time we met. "
"He said he beat you."
"He's covering his own pride Godric and we must never deny a noble their right to their ridiculous pride." Merlin winked at the boy, letting him know exactly what he thought of Arthur's claims. Thinking of that however, only sent his mind hurtling back to Gwaine and his current predicament. It wasn't as if he knew what he wanted, per se, but he knew he wasn't liking the fact that he was being ignored.
"Let me guess. Your Knight-in-Shining Armor still hasn't bedded you?" Merlin's head snapped up and locked eyes with Lianora's mirthful snicker. She stood at the entrance of her tavern, propping the door open with her hip, no doubt airing it out before the tavern opened for business in a couple of hours. His ears burned red, and he grabbed Godric's head, placing his free hand over the youth's ear and smushing the other side into his chest.
"Lianora!" He hissed, mortified. "First of all, shut up there is a child here and second, who said I even wanted that?" Lianora's waved her hand dismissively.
"Oh lighten up you incessant prude. Godric's a big boy, almost 16. I'm sure he's had enough encounters by now."
Now it was Godric's turn to be mortified. He wrestled his way out of Merlin's grasp and shot a horrified look at the laughing woman.
"That is disgusting, Auntie Lianora."
"I don't hear you denying it, honey." The redheaded woman singsonged. Godric's eyes flicked towards Merlin's put his free hand on his hips.
"Don't be ridiculous Lianora. Godric would have told me if that were the case, wouldn't you Godric?" At the young boy's silence, Lianora's grin widened, and Merlin turned to his adopted son, nonplussed.
"Godric, You didn't -" Merlin never got the chance to finish as the young boy, backed against a wallm did the only thing he could think of. He turned and ran. Merlin stood there, stumped, in his regular attire, the brown trousers under a ratty blue shirt, red kerchief and slouchy brown coat. Despite all that Arthur had given him in pay raise since he now had 4 extra mouths to feed and clothe, Merlin still kept to his previous clothes, more comfortable in them than anything else. A snort from Lianora's direction had Merlin turning towards her, eyes shooting daggers at the woman taking pleasure in his pain.
"Oh shut up Lianora. At least have the decency to pretend that you aren't enjoying this." The woman winked at him, motioning for him to follow her inside.
"I'm nothing if not honest, boyo."
He grumbled under his breath, mimicking her as she crouched behind the tavern bar, setting up the ale tankards.
He sat down on one of the stools, his mind inadvertently wandering again.
"I'm right though, aren't I?" Lianora's voice was considerably softer this time, and when Merlin looked up to meet her eyes, he could only nod.
"It's not that – I mean don't get me wrong, I'm not waiting for anything." Merlin's pride refused to allow him to admit that he was, in fact, waiting for Gwaine to something, anything.
"Why don't you just ask him?" Lianora leaned over the bar, resting her elbows on the wood and her chin in her left hand. Merlin sputtered impotently, unable to come up with a dignified answer that wouldn't out him as the coward he was being.
"I can't." Well. Honesty was something wasn't it?
"When would I do it? The man avoids me like the plague. I can't even get a second alone with him."
"You mean he's avoiding you?" Merlin shrugged, which had Lianora raising an eyebrow in question.
"Well, yes and no."
"It's one or the other. It can't be both." She slid a tankard towards him, holding up a pitcher of ale questioningly at Merlin. He grinned and slid it back towards her.
"Nice try, I can't be drunk this early in the morning. Try again tonight. Maybe I'll take you up on it." Lianora shrugged, setting the tankard back where she'd pulled it from.
"Can't blame a gal for trying. I still think you should talk to him, Merlin."
He gathered his sage to him and hopped off the stool, standing uneasily in front of the young woman, who could see how unsure he was. She smiled and leaned across the bar again and used one finger to beckon the warlock forward again.
"Listen to me you over sensitive numpty. Gwaine feels for you. Its not something you can just dismiss. Were or were you not present when that delicious Knight scooped you up and kissed you? During a giant sword fight no less?" Merlin nodded wordlessly.
"What ever is going on his head, it has nothing to do with whether or not he likes you, because I assure you he most certainly does." She finished, grabbing another tankard to wipe. When she looked up a few seconds later, she rolled her eyes.
"Well don't just stand there gawping at me, go." Merlin jumped slightly when she raised her voice at the last word and rushed out, sage clutched to his chest, thinking hard.
First, hunt down Godric, then deal with Gwaine.
Schedule set, Merlin made his way towards the castle.
It wasn't until a couple hours later that Merlin had finally extricated himself from the mess that had been Godric and his escapades and now, it was edging into that time where day and night inexplicably mixed. Merlin walked along the corridor that opened out onto the sparring fields in the rear section of Camelot's castle, and looking up, he could see the sky tinged with brilliant hues of pink, blue and just a touch of violent on the horizon, hinting at the darkness that chased the heels of the sunlight.
He wondered whether he was doing the right thing, whether Gwaine would want him to pursue this? What if whatever Gwaine had done was impulsive? What if it was something he wished he could take back? What would he do then? Would he ever be able to look at the Knight again without seeing Gwaine the way he had that day he'd woken up in his room, broken and yet with his heart in his throat, hearing Gwaine speak to him at his bedside.
What had happened? They had been fine when they were talking while he'd been bedridden all those weeks, when he'd first started moving again, learning how to walk even when his whole body was screaming for him to sit down, and they'd been fine when Merlin had finally been well enough to start working with the kids again, training them to use magic.
A sudden clinking sound drew Merlin from his own internal musings, and he looked down, realizing a button from his coat had fallen off. He knelt on the ground, to pick up the rusty metal circle, when a new kind of clinking attracted his attention and Merlin looked up just in time to see Gwaine, in all his wet, sweaty glory rounding the corner. It made Merlin's mouth go dry, the sight of him dripping wet, he was assuming from some kind of fight because he could see the vaguest tinge of blood dotting the corner of Gwaine's mouth and because the sword he was carrying was only half slid into its sheath.
When he finally made eye contact, however, with Gwaine, the man did something Merlin did not expect. He saw Gwaine literally freeze, eyes darting around, and then without even the smallest excuse of a greeting, the Knight spun on his heel and ran in the opposite direction while Merlin just watched, mouth agape.
And then suddenly, something within Merlin, he would never be sure what exactly, just snapped, gave way, whatever you wanted to call it, Merlin was finished waiting for Gwaine to make a move. As far as he was concerned, Gwaine had just made his move.
He'd never done it so blatantly before, even since Arthur had repealed the ban on sorcery but still Merlin, despite his misgivings, used his magic to apparate in front of Gwaine, much to the man's shock.
"Merlin!" The Knight unfortunately, had not the wisdom to anticipate this particular brand of Merlin's magic and therefore was unable to stop himself in the middle of his admittedly rather fast sprint. The impact from the collision sent them both stumbling onto the cobbled floor of the corridor. For a few minutes, it was a lot of tangled limbs and grunts and yelps of pain and when they'd finally managed to extricate themselves, Gwaine, huffing and puffing, but finally on his feet, extended a hand to help Merlin up.
"Need a lift mate?" He smiled at Merlin, previous fleeing apparently all but forgotten, which only served to irk Merlin more. The warlock took the extended hand and got up, but failed to relinquish his hold on Gwaine's hand.
"Gwaine." The knight looked at Merlin and Merlin could see the moment where it clicked for him and the moment in which Gwaine began to try and think of any possible outs to the situation.
"Stop," Merlin tightened his grip on Gwaine's hand, effectively trapping the man's attention.
"Stop, Just stop it, stop running away." Gwaine's brow furrowed a little at that.
"All you've done, this entire time, is run away from me Gwaine." Merlin was aware that he was quickly growing enraged, he'd been this way fewer times than he could count but was powerless to stop it regardless. Gwaine touched Merlin's wrist, now concerned.
"Run awa- Merlin, what are you on about? I'm not running from anything."
"No?" Merlin flung Gwaine's hand away. "You can barely look me in the eye, you avoid being alone with me and I can't get a second to talk to you seriously about US." The absolute confusion on Gwaine's face simply seemed to spur Merlin on in his growing fury.
"I - "
"I never asked to kiss me Gwaine. If you were having second thoughts or something -" Gwaine eyes were now fully wide open, in surprise. "Then it's fine, I wasn't going to pining after you like some girl. I wasn't going to -"
"cling to you or demand that you love me -"
"Merlin - "
"I mean maybe it's the thought that I'm a man, the idea that you could do so much better could certainly have crossed your mind but fine, if you didn't want me any longer, all you had to do was just say it Gwaine. Not avoid me like some little girl." Merlin pushed Gwaine back a few steps and made to leave, only to be grabbed roughly by the wrist and bodily shoved up against the corridor wall, with Gwaine's hands bunched in the fabric of his shirt. The warlock could do nothing but stare, absolutely flabbergasted at the turn of events.
Now Gwaine was the one who looked more than a little incensed.
"Oh no, you don't get to lob all that at me and then just walk away Merlin." The warlock in question remained silent, unsure of how to respond to the frankly hostile tone in Gwaine's voice. Gwaine must have seen the apprehension in Merlin's gaze because his own softened considerably.
"It's not that you're a man. You know me. I've had men before." Gwaine flinched as soon as he said the words. "Alright, perhaps not the best way to phrase that. It's certainly not about me wanting you either. It's just …"
"It's just what?"
"It's you." Merlin blinked, perplexed.
"Yes, you, you buffoon. It's you with your big, stupid blue eyes, your stupid hair and that stupid, stupid mouth of yours."
Alright, now he was thoroughly out of his depth.
"I don't understand."
"Merlin, the first time I tried to hug you, when we were alone, you nearly jumped out of your skin. Like I was going to eat you." Merlin flushed. Oh, he definitely remembered 'd wailed about it to Lianora for hours. "And I just couldn't, I couldn't help myself, okay? I knew that if I was alone with you, it was only going to get worse and I didn't want to scare you off." The Knight was practically vibrating with tension, Merlin could feel it when his hands went from bunching in Merlin's shirt to bracketing the sides of his head.
"Scare me off?"
"Listen, it's not that I don't want to touch you, Merlin." Gwaine rested his on Merlin's shoulder, perhaps unaware or painfully aware of how his breath was ghosting over Merlin's collar bones in warm puffs.
"It's that I want to touch you."
Gwaine was still shaking, and Merlin realized what he'd missed before. He wasn't shaking in anger, Gwaine was shaking with restraint. It showed in the bulges of the muscles in his neck and the veins running down his arms.
Merlin reached up tentatively to touch Gwaine's bicep and felt the man tense up underneath.
"All I need is one word, Merlin. One word."
Merlin bit his lip, let his head fall back against the stone wall. It came out as more like a groan than he'd anticipated.
"Gwaine." The word was a breath, a silent admission of something that Merlin didn't even know he'd wanted and suddenly craved it with a thirst that he found hard to quench. So when something, someone, appeared to take his breath away, Merlin could do nothing but give and give and give. It was like he was melting, falling into something he couldn't explain, like he was being consumed and didn't care to escape.
And as with everything in Merlin's life. His other half of the coin arrived just in time to get in the way.
"Oh, oh for the love of decency, the two of you are revolting. "