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sprig of holly

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“i don’t know what i did.” merlin admitted, sighing as he looked over at hunith.

hunith already knew what was wrong and she knew she should tell the young warlock. but she felt as if she couldn’t. as if it was no longer her place. so she sighed quietly and continued to stuff more and more oats into more jars, beginning to stack them up on the little shelves that she had set up a while back. they were already lined with beans but she knew she needed to put the oats in. and she was keeping her milk in a small glass jug.

merlin continued with the oats too, looking down as he finished putting the last few oats into the last jar. once that was done, he stacked it alongside where hunith had been stacking them on the shelves and sat down once again, cleaning the oats that had unfortunately dropped to the ground or had been completely missed.

“do you want to know what i think?” she asked, a soft, almost cautious, tone in her voice. as if she was beyond hesitant to even speak her mind on the topic, which very slightly confused the young warlock.

he nodded and she continued, “i think arthur means a lot to you. i can see how much he needs you. and how much you need him.” she spoke, quietly, brushing off a few oats from her clothing, speaking every word with the utmost caution, “like i’ve said before.. you’re like two sides of the same coin, merlin.”

merlin nodded a bit. “i know that. i’ve been told that so many times, but i don’t understand it. if we’re destined together to build camelot up, me in secret, why is he ignoring me?” merlin asked.

and suddenly, hunith connected everything. merlin had been told he was destined to build camelot alongside arthur. not in secret. not as a secret sorcerer or warlock. she hadn’t realised how wrong she had interpreted it, but now that merlin had said that, she thought she finally understood.

“you told arthur you like men?” she asked, peeking over at him, receiving a nod in response.

hunith hesitated, once again, before looking down, fiddling with her fingers. she was clearly anxious to tell merlin what she had on her mind and that confused merlin more than he ever thought he could’ve imagined.

“merlin..” she began, speaking calmly and quietly, now as if she were trying to console the young warlock, which once again left him confused. “i think that arthur..” she trailed off.

“yes?” he asked, almost impatiently. whatever she had to say, he wanted to know desperately. he trusted his mother more than most people and her opinion was one of the most important opinions to him, and he’d always do his best to listen to them and heed her words. not that he was very good at that anyway.

“i think that arthur has feelings for you. romantically.”

merlin’s eyes widened, his mouth gaped into an o shape and his whole body went almost rigid from pure and absolute shock. he had never heard his mother say something so ridiculous.

“no, no way. that’s ridiculous.”

“it’s not, merlin,” she began, “you’re destined to build camelot up together. what if that’s in a way we never thought of? and he seemingly cares about you a lot more than you see, but i see it. i see it all.”

“that’s crazy, there’s no way!” he exclaimed, his disbelief consistent as he continued with his protests.

“merlin, listen to me. you and arthur are meant to be together. and you always believed that was you by his side, protecting him with your magic. what if it isn’t just that?” she paused to take a hesitant sigh, as if she were nervous, “i’ve seen the way he looks at you.. and i’ve seen the way you look at him. whether you realise it or not, merlin. i think you’ve fallen in love with him. and i think he’s fallen in love with you too.”

merlin couldn’t bear to listen to anymore of it, he simply got up suddenly, and grabbed the jacket closest to him, quickly rushing out of the door. he hadn’t even realised it was arthur’s red leather one until he was at the start of the woods, but he just sighed from defeat and slid it over his body.

it was much too big for him. merlin wasn’t skinny to the point where he had no muscles, but she wasn’t as large and as strong as arthur. his arms lacked the muscle that arthur’s were full of. and his body definitely lacked the height. merlin’s physique was a lot more boy-ish, whereas arthur’s was manly.

yet another reason why merlin didn’t believe arthur could have feelings for him. arthur had never shown any signs of feelings for any men that merlin could see, and even if he did like men, why would he go for merlin? merlin, who he thinks is an idiot, who constantly makes mistakes around him. merlin who is a boy.

merlin wouldn’t let his thoughts overwhelm him, he simply confused the journey through the woods to the small, bare area of land that he and will used to camp at during night on their birthdays, as an almost party for the two of them.

once he reached the land, he looked around, wanting to make sure that nobody was there. nobody could see him doing this. and arthur was still out there somewhere, and merlin didn’t necessarily fancy getting caught by the crown prince who, currently, apparently is in love with the young warlock, and who hates magic alongside his father. he did not want arthur to see him talking to a dragon at all.

so once he had made sure the area was safe and secure, he stepped towards the middle of the bare land, his feet crunching the leaves that lay under his feet, he looked up at the sky and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath.

and then he was yelling. yelling as loud as he could. calling to his kin, calling for help from the one who had helped guide him from the beginning. who had always given him warnings to heed.

he could hear the faint flapping of wings in the distance.