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Until We Meet

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“-you alright? Arthur? Arthur, can you hear me?”

 

Merlin turned to the voice that was right next to his ear. The man who was speaking was handsome and his face was creased with worry.

 

“I can you hear you,” Merlin blurted out, eyes widening at the voice that came out. He looked down at himself, taking in the mud and grass stains that covered his knee high socks and sport shorts.

 

Merlin kept his hands from travelling over the thick muscles of his legs and instead looked at how tanned they were. Feeling a flush spreading across his cheeks he looked up instead and took note of his surroundings. He was in some sort of stadium, a muddy pitch beneath him.

 

“Not so graceful after all, are you Princess?” A voice laughed.

 

Merlin turned to see a group of boys heading his way, laughter in the expressions and a relaxed familiarity.

 

 

“How hard did you hit your head?” the man who had called him princess asked, a frown replacing the grin on his lips.

 

“You’re not Arthur, are you?”

 

Merlin shook his head. He heaved himself up, getting to his feet, his heart pounding in his chest. He didn’t know how much time he had.

 

Nobody knew when it would happen. It happened to everyone, regardless of sex, gender or race. At point in your life you would switch bodies with your soul mate. Nobody knew how long it would last or why it happened. Scientist had been trying to figure it out since the beginning of time but was no close to discovering the phenomena.

 

“Who am I?” Merlin demanded.

 

“You’re Arthur Pendragon. I’m Lancelot. We are the Camelot Knights. We’re in the middle of a training session.”

 

“Arthur Pendragon,” merlin repeated. The name sounded familiar and it took him a moment to realize where he had heard it before. Arthur Pendragon was the lead forward in the Camelot Knights soccer team. The very team that was top of the leader board and speculated to win the championship.

 

“This is Gwaine, Leon, Percival and Elyan,” Lancelot introduced. “We are Arthur’s friends.

 

“I’m merlin,” he answered. “Where are we?”

 

“Avalon Stadium. Have you heard of it before?” Lance asked.

 

Merlin nodded.

 

“Where are you?” Gwaine asked, humor glinting in his eyes.

 

Merlin frowned. “What do you mean?”

 

“Well, Arthur was in the middle of training when he fell flat on his face,” Gwaine grinned. “So, what exactly were you doing?”

 

Merlin froze, eyes widening. “Oh god.”

 

“Merlin?” Lance asked.

 

“You have to help me,” Merlin almost shouted. “Please, you’ve got to help me.”

 

“Whoa, hold on,” Gwaine humor left his expression.

 

“Help you how?” Percival asked.

 

“I’m stuck in the middle of a frozen lake,” Merlin rushed to explain. “The ice was starting to crack when the swap started happening.”

 

“What?” Elyan and Leon shouted.

 

“Why are you in the middle of the lake?” Lance demanded.

 

“Does it matter?” Merlin cried. His vision was starting to blur and cold terror gripped Merlin. “Please, you have to help me.”

 

“Where are you?” Gwaine demanded.

 

“It’s,” Merlin stumbled, vision starting to go black once again and before he could get the words out his vision went black.

 


 

 

Arthur opened his eyes and immediately felt the cold sweeping through his thin jacket. He shivered but froze when an ominous crack sounded underneath him. Slowly he glanced down.

 

A crack in the ice drew his attention immediately. Arthur swallowed thickly.

 

“Well shit,” he drawled, noticing the slight accent that came with the statement. As much as he would love to thoroughly explore who exactly he was at the moment he had slightly more pressing matters.

 

Glancing around, it took Arthur a moment to pin point exactly where he was. He was very thankful that his trainer – who also happened to be his father – insisted on training in a manner of all conditions. This included a regular run around Avalon Lake. They hadn’t been on late since the sudden cold snap made the area too icy to run around.

 

He had no idea why his soul mate thought it would be a good idea to cross an icy lake all by himself but here he was. He took stock of his current situation. He was alone, a single staff, a satchel and some rope.

 

A small warbled cry sounded from a scrap of red fabric and Arthur’s eyes widen. He could just see the head of a bird peeking out and Arthur’s lips quirked. His soul mate had been trying to rescue a bird.

 

Arthur noticed that current body he was in was slight but toned. He was light but the question was if he was light enough to not break the ice.

 

Arthur tested his weight and the ice cracked again.

 

He froze.

 

If he and his soul mate got out of this Arthur was going to have very strong words with the boy and getting himself into dangerous situations that were easily avoidable.

 

The ice cracked again and it shifted underneath his feet.

 

Arthur tensed and looked frantically around. Slowly he reached down and grabbed the staff and rope. Cautiously, he wrapped one end of the rope around the staff and the other end around his wrist. He grabbed the staff and swallowed. Take a deep breath he slid the staff across the ice towards the shore.

 

He grinned, letting out a small laugh as his genius. He hoped his soul mate had told his friends and fellow soccer team where he was and that he was in trouble.

 

His vision started to blur and Arthur stumbled.

 

“NO!” Arthur shouted as the ice gave way and he fell into the lake below, icy cold water engulfing him in an instant. Then the world went black.

 


 

“You back with us Arthur?” Lance asked.

 

“Yes,” Arthur grumbled, looking at the soccer pitch once more. He was on his knees, Lance comforting hand on the middle of his back. He pushed himself back onto his feet. “We have to go.” Arthur started running off the pitch.

 

“Merlin?” Gwaine asked, running along side him as the rest of the group followed.

 

Arthur frowned at his friend.

 

“He said he was in the middle of a lake,” Leon explained.

 

“Yeah and he just fell through,” Arthur said grimly.

 

 


 

 

Merlin broke the surface with a gasp, icy cold water dripping down his face. He only just managed to keep himself from going under again, gripping the edge of the icy surface. His arms shook, shivers violently jerking his body.

 

“Fuck,” Merlin stuttered out.

 

His feet kicked in the water as he tried to keep himself a float. He coughed roughly, pain rippling through his chest as he did. He had come back to his own body when he was under water and he feared he might have taken some in before he broke the surface.

 

He tried to heave himself up but the water was dragging him down, his clothes too heavy. As his teeth begun to chatter he noticed that the rope he had brought along with him was now tied around his wrist. He smiled.

 

Arthur tried to get me out of here, Merlin thought.

 

At the thought of Arthur a shot of adrenalin went through Merlin’s body. He refused to freeze to death in an icy lake when he had only just found his soul mate. Gritting his chattering teeth he heaved with all his might, pulling his body out of the water. He slumped half way out, his lower half still in the water as chest and face pressed against the solid ice.

 

He shivered, groaning in pain. As much as he wanted to close his eyes and sleep he fought to keep them open. He kicked his legs, trying to wiggle himself further onto the ice. He wasn’t sure how long it took but finally he slumped on the ice, his body now fully out of the water.

 

Fuck it’s cold, Merlin thought as his body shook almost violently as he shivered.

 

A warbled cry reminded Merlin why he had been out on the frozen lake in the first place and he moaned. Merlin had been walking around the lake when he had spotted a bird flapping on the ice, crying out in pain. He had given it a second thought before he had rushed out onto the ice to save it. It was lucky that he had been heading to his favorite Chinese restaurant where the owner had asked that when he came in next he brought some rope with him. Having spent a couple of years getting to know Kilgharrah and the strange ways of the man he hadn’t questioned it.  

 

With effort he dragged himself towards his scarf that he had managed to wrap the bird in. His shaking fingers curled around the fabric of his scarf and he dragged it close. His satchel rested not far away and his next task was to drag himself to it. Eventually his fingers curled around the strap and he dragged it close. It took several attempts to open the flap but he managed it and tucked the bird safely inside.

 

The ice creaked under Merlin chest and he groaned again.

 

“Come on, Arthur,” Merlin chattered out. “Please.”

 


 

 

“I’m all for speeding,” Lance said, eyes flickering between Arthur and the road ahead of them. “But it would do Merlin no good if we got in an accident along the way.”

 

The car slowed for a brief moment before Arthur put his foot back on the pedal and the car picked up speed again. “We’ll be fine.”

 

“Where are we going anyway?” Gwaine asked from the back seat.

 

As they had sprinted to the car, Elyan and Percival staying behind to explain to Uther why suddenly majority of his team had sprinted off, they hadn’t dared to question Arthur where they were headed.

 

“Avalon Lake,” Arthur grunted. “We’re nearly there.”

 

“How do you plan on getting to him?” Leon asked.

 

“He had rope with him,” Arthur explained. “I wrapped one bit around his wrist and the other around the staff he had. We get the staff and we can pull him to safety.”

 

“Only you,” Gwaine muttered. “Would meet you soul mate while in mortal peril.”

 

Arthur growled and sped up.

 

The lake came into view and Arthur sped into the parking lot, skidding to a halt. He only just put the car in park before he was leaping out, not even bothering to shut to the door behind him.

 

Arthur sprinted towards the lake, taking the familiar route. The lake was empty, nobody mad enough to come out in the cold weather. The sharp wind bit at his exposed skin. The stadium roof had been closed during the practice and Arthur was thankful that he had spare change of clothes in the boot of his car that included a warm jacket.

 

“There!” Arthur yelled, spotting a lone figure on the lake.

 

“Arthur be careful,” Lance called out after him. Arthur carefully stepped out on to the ice, testing the weight on the ice. When it didn’t crack or groan under him he padded his way across the Merlin.

 

His heart beat rapidly in his chest when he saw that Merlin wasn’t moving. His pale skin seemed to gleam, his dark hair a stark contrast against the ice he laid on.

 

“Merlin!” Arthur called, unable to keep the worry out of his voice. He kept moving forward, aware that his friends were right behind him, waiting for his instructions.

 

“Merlin!” Arthur tried again. He let out a breath when he saw a small twitch in Merlin and dared to move faster. Finally he reached the staff that he had tossed earlier and gripped it tightly in his hands, pausing as he wondered what to do next.

 

“Merlin!” Arthur yelled again.

 

“Arthur?” Merlin voice was weak but he managed to lift his head.

 

Even from a distance Arthur could see just how blue Merlin’s lips were and how pale he was. He needed to get Merlin warm now.

 

“Merlin, hold on alright. I’m going to pull you in,” Arthur said.

 

“Wait,” Merlin croaked. “The ice. It’s cracked.”

 

“Shit,” Arthur swore under his breath. “Alright, don’t move.”

 

Merlin huffed out a laugh. “Sure, good idea.”

 

Arthur weighed his options. He didn’t want to go further and risk the ice breaking under him trapping them both nor could he just leave Merlin there and risk him falling back into the water.

 

“Merlin, can you hold onto the rope?” Arthur asked.

 

Merlin weakly curled his hands around the rope.

 

“Hold on as tight as you can,” Arthur instructed. “I’m really sorry but this is going to hurt.”

 

He gripped the rope with his hands and started pulling. His heart pounded in his chest as Merlin gave a cry but he didn’t stop pulling, reeling Merlin until he was by his feet. He dropped the rope and staff, crouching by Merlin side.

 

“Owe,” Merlin whimpered.

 

“Sorry,” Arthur said. He rolled Merlin onto his back, hissing as he felt how cold he was. He gently untied the rope from Merlin’s wrists, noting the red marks and slid the satchel off his shoulder.

 

“Alright, up we go.” He tugged on Merlin’s arms, dragging him up and tossing him over his shoulder.

 

“My bag,” Merlin mumbled against his back. “The bird.”

 

Arthur bent down, grabbed the satchel and put it over his free shoulder. He moved quickly back towards the shore, mentally cursing as he did. As soon as he made it, Lance and Gwaine were helping him up onto the path.

 

“Lance, there’s a hurt bird in here,” Arthur handed over the satchel. “Make sure it’s okay. It’s why Merlin was out there in the first place.”

 

“Got it,” Lance said, falling into step as they hurried back to the car.

 

“Leon’s got the car running,” Gwaine said.

 

As they reached the car, Arthur gently placed Merlin in the back seat and climbed in after him. As soon as he was in Gwaine was passing over the jacket that had been in his boot and Arthur wrapped it around Merlin’s body before pulling him into his chest.

 

The doors were closed around him and as soon as Gwaine and Lance were in, Leon pulled out of the parking lot and sped towards the hospital.

 

“Merlin?” Arthur asked, his lips brushing Merlin’s wet hair as he did.

 

“S-S-Sorry,” Merlin teeth clacked painfully together.

 

“Idiot,” Arthur whispered against his ear.

 


 

 

Merlin wanted to say more to Arthur but feared his teeth would bite through his lip so instead he stayed silent. He must have drifted because the next thing he knew he was being carried and worried voice shouted all around him. Rough hands took him and he moaned at the pain it caused.

 

“Arthur,” Merlin whimpered.

 

“It’s okay Merlin,” Arthur’s voice was close. “You’re going to be okay.”

 

Merlin whimpered again but he felt like he was floating and he slipped into unconscious once more.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text


 

“Arthur Pendragon!

 

Arthur jumped up from the seat. He had been silent since the nurses had taken Merlin from his arms, wheeling him into the emergency room without a backwards glance. When Merlin had passed out in the car he had feared the worst. He had all but sprinted into the hospital with Merlin slumped in his arms.

 

His heart had picked up briefly when Merlin had woken up, Arthur’s name on his lips, but then the nurses had rushed him away and it dropped back down to his stomach.

 

Gwaine and Leon had stayed with him while Lance had headed to find the nearest vet to have the bird looked at. They knew Arthur well enough to let him be silent and instead talked in low voice beside him.

 

It had been over an hour and Arthur had heard nothing. His hands were pressed to his mouth as he stared at the hospital floor. If anyone had told him this is how meeting his soul mate would go he would have laughed.

 

Leon’s soul mate swapped had gone smoothly. It helped that he had woken up in Morgana’s body while they had been at the same party. His sister and his good friend had disappeared upstairs for the rest of the night and had been happy ever since.

 

A few months ago Lance’s soul mate swap had gone smoothly too. Though he hadn’t known Gwen, he had left a note with his address and phone number and the two had quickly met up and had been sickeningly sweet ever since.

 

Gwaine had still yet to go through his, as did Elyan and Percival. He only wished theirs went better than his did.

 

“Arthur.”

 

Morgana’s voice made him sink back down in to his chair, disappointment filling his chest that it hadn’t been a nurse. She took the seat beside him, her hand gently resting on his arm. “Uther told me what happened.”

 

“He did?” Arthur asked, surprise lifting his eyebrows.

 

“When you take off in the middle of a training session it’s big news,” Morgana smiled slightly. “I heard Elyan explaining to Uther. He sent me here to get you.”

 

“I’m not leaving,” Arthur scowled.

 

“Arthur, the press have already caught wind of you running out of training with half the team,” Morgana said, her grip tightening on his arm. “It won’t be long before they find out you’re here and why. Do you really want Merlin waking up to this?”

 

Arthur scowled but hated to admit she was right. His football career had taken off and lately the press had been interested in his every move. It wasn’t fair to introduce this to Merlin without having had the chance to actually speak with him.

 

“I can’t just leave him without speaking to him,” Arthur said firmly.

 

“Arthur? Morgana?”

 

Both looked up at the familiar voice and saw Gwen hurrying over to them. She was wrapped up in a jacket and a thick scarf around her neck. “What are you doing here? Are you okay? Is Lance?”

 

“Lance is fine,” Arthur assured her quickly. “We all are.”

 

Gwen visibly relaxed but she still looked frazzled as she tried to unwind the scarf from her neck. It was clear she had rushed over from where ever she had been, her face drawn and pale.

 

“What are you doing here?” Morgana asked.

 

“My best friend was brought in. I’m his emergency contact and they called me and they told me to come over but they didn’t explain what happened” Gwen rambled, her voice getting stressed as she continued.

 

“Breath, Gwen,” Morgana coached.

 

Gwen drew in a shaky breath. “Sorry.”

 

“What’s your friends name?” Morgana asked.

 

“Merlin Emrys.”

 

“Merlin?” Arthur repeated. “Pale, dark hair, lanky?”

 

“You know Merlin?” Gwen asked, eyes wide. “I – I hadn’t introduced you yet! I was going too – he’s just been so busy with the shop and helping his uncle.”

 

“How do you know Merlin?” Arthur demanded.

 

Gwen’s eyes widened further. “I grew up with Merlin. I’m apprenticing with him at his Uncle pharmacy before I continue on with nursing. How do you know Merlin?”

 

“It would appear,” Arthur drawled. “That we are soul mates.”

 

“You are?” Gwen beamed. “But that’s wonderful news.”

 

“Merlin was in the middle of a frozen lake when we swapped,” Arthur winced, his voice grim.

 

“Oh Merlin,” Gwen shook her head, the smile falling from her face. “Don’t tell me it was another bird?”

 

Arthur let out a bark of laughter. “Is this a regular occurrence?”

 

Gwen sighed. “I love Merlin and he’s so sweet and caring to everyone, humans and animals alike. But it’s not the first time his risked hurting himself to help another.”

 

“He fell through the ice. I got to him as fast I could,” Arthur said.

“Thank you,” Gwen voice trembled.

 

“Arthur, you know I hate to say this but we do have to go,” Morgana said.

 

“I can’t leave him,” Arthur growled.

 

“I’ll stay,” Gwen said. “I’ll explain everything to him when I see him. I’ll send you regular updates as well, I promise.”

 

Arthur stayed stubbornly silent.

 

“Arthur, the press will be here soon,” Morgana said. “I know it’s not fair but can you do that to Merlin?”

 

Arthur sighed, feeling defeated. “Promise me you will send regular updates.”

 

“I promise,” Gwen placed a hand on over her heart.

 

Arthur stood abruptly, dislodging Morgana’s grip. “Let’s go before I change my mind.” Without another word he strode from the emergency room and back out into the cold.

 


 

 

“Family for Merlin Emrys?”

 

Gwen jumped to her feet, catching her scarf before it hit the ground and hurried over to the nurse who had called out to the waiting room.

 

“I’m Gwen, his emergency contact.”

 

“Follow me,” the nurse smiled.

 

Gwen followed closely behind her, twisting her hands nervously. She was led past various closed curtains until she reached the end of the room. The nurse peeled back the curtain and Gwen gasped as she saw her best friend.

 

He was wrapped in foil and blankets, his head barely visible underneath them all. The little skin she could see was paler than usual, looking like carved marble as he was so still.

 

“He’s going to be okay,” the nurse smiled reassuringly. “We got his temperature back up and he doesn’t seem to have any fluids in his lungs from when he was in the water. He was very lucky those men found him when they did. Any longer and he may not have made it. We actually didn’t think he would but it’s a miracle.”

 

“Oh Merlin,” Gwen whispered. She had no doubt that the miracle may have involved some of Merlin’s magic. She was so grateful that he had such a special gift. She moved to his side and gently brushed her fingers through his dark hair. Tears pricked at the back of her eyes and she whispered thanks that his soul mate swap had happened when it did and that Arthur was a quick thinker.

 

“We’re going to keep him here over night but he should be able to go home tomorrow if we feel his recovery is going well,” the nurse explained.

 

“Thank you so much for everything,” Gwen said.

 

“Not trouble at all,” the nurse smiled. “I’ll leave you to speak. He just sleeping at the moment but you may wake him up. Just make sure he remains covered.”

 

As the nurse left, Gwen gently pushed Merlin’s hair back from his forehead and kissed him gently. “Merlin?”

 

Merlin made a small noise in the back of his throat. “Arthur?”

 

“No, sweetie, it me, Gwen.”

 

Merlin pried his eyes open and blinked sluggishly at Gwen. “Hey.”

 

“Hey,” Gwen smiled. She pulled up a chair and sat as close as she could. “Merlin, you had me so worried.”

 

“Sorry,” Merlin quietly.

 

“How many times have we discussed you saving birds in the middle of frozen lakes?” Gwen asked.

 

Merlin snorted. “None?”

 

“Well, yes okay we haven’t but we have discussed not helping animals when it’s too dangerous,” Gwen appeased.

 

“True,” Merlin said. “I am sorry.”

 

“Thank god you soul swapped with Arthur at the time,” Gwen sighed.

 

Merlin’s eyes narrowed. “How did you know that?”

 

“I bumped into him the emergency room,” Gwen grinned. “He’s very worried about you.”

 

“Where is he?” Merlin asked, perking up a little.

 

“I’m sorry, Merlin but he had to go,” Gwen bit her lips as Merlin’s body deflated. “He wanted to stay, truly but the press had got wind that he had left training early and he didn’t want a swarm of them here.”

 

“The press?” Merlin frowned.

 

“Don’t you know?” Gwen eyes shot up. “He’s a huge soccer star. The Camelot Knights are favored to win the championship this year. Arthur’s the captain. He plays on the team with Lance.”

 

“I knew he was captain, I just didn’t realize he was famous,” Merlin said quietly.

 

“What’s going on in that head of yours?” Gwen asked softly.

 

“Nothing,” Merlin mumbled.

 

“Merlin,” Gwen glared sternly.

 

“Is Arthur mad? Is that why he left?” Merlin asked.

 

“Oh, sweetie, no!” Gwen was quick to reassure. “He was so worried. He wanted to stay. Morgana and I had to force him to leave. He agreed that he wanted the opportunity to speak with you before the press found out. He agreed that it wasn’t fair to do that to you.” Gwen fumbled for her phone and quickly took a picture of Merlin wrapped up in all his blankets and foil. “I promised to give him updates.

 

“No,” Merlin moaned, moving weakly as he tried to swat at her phone. “Don’t send him that.”

 

“Hush, you look adorable,” Gwen smiled. “If I weren’t so worried about you I would even say cute.”

 

She quickly sent the photo to Arthur and related what the nurses had said.

 

When she looked back up Merlin’s eyes had fallen shut again and he had fallen asleep once again. Gwen leaned forward and kissed his forehead once more before settling in. Though he was asleep, Gwen couldn’t bare to leave her best friend just yet.

 


 

 

Arthur felt his lips tug into a quick smile as he stared at the photo but worry still settled in his gut. He could barely make out Merlin under the amount of blankets that covered him, but his eyes were open, which was the main thing.

 

“Arthur,” Uther said.

 

Arthur pocketed his phone. He had finally changed from his uniform and into some warmer clothes. Uther hadn’t been there when he arrived at his flat he shared with Gwaine and Lance but it hadn’t taken him long before he arrived.

 

“Father,” Arthur nodded.

 

“You ran out of practice, taking half the team with you,” Uther gaze was hard.

 

“My apologies,” Arthur said. “It was a matter of urgency.”

 

“You soul mate swapped,” Uther said.

 

“I did,” Arthur said. He hesitated before telling Uther the truth. “Merlin was in trouble. He needed help.”

 

“Is he okay?” Uther asked.

 

“He’s in the hospital,” Arthur said slowly.

 

“No need to look tense, Arthur,” Uther said, a small smile lifting his lips. “I know how important this is. I was the same when I swapped with your mother.”

 

“I thought,” Arthur cleared his throat. “I thought you would be angry that I skipped training.”

 

“There are something that cannot be within our control,” Uther said. “This is one of those things. It also something I do not want you to miss out on. I know I push you to be the best. You have a very bright future ahead of you, Arthur, I’ve only ever wanted the best for you. That includes your soul mate.”

 

Arthur was expecting a conversation with Uther but he never expected it to go this way. When Morgana and Leon had switched, Uther had chatted with Morgana as well. As the rising female soccer star, Uther had always pushed the two of them when it came to training. Morgana had never said anything about her chat but Arthur had assumed it had been bad, as both Leon and Morgana had seemed distant the next few days afterwards.

 

“I – thank you,” Arthur said.

 

Uther nodded. “I know this is going to be an interesting time for you but I do ask just one thing of you.”

 

“Yes?” Arthur said warily.

 

“Don’t lose focus. You do have your career and your teammates to think about. You cannot forget them.”

 

“I wont,” Arthur bowed his head.

 

“That is all I ask,” Uther said. “I will give you the rest of the week off. I know how important those first few days are.” He smirked. “You showed great strength in leaving his side today.”

 

“I didn’t want to,” Arthur admitted. He felt an itch under his skin that he couldn’t scratch, the desperate need to have Merlin by his side. The fact that he had saved his life and now he couldn’t be there for him was torture.

 

“You did the best thing leaving,” Uther said. “The press had learnt of your abrupt leave from training.”

 

Arthur nodded. There was only four days left in the week but Arthur was grateful that Uther had given him them off. There was no way he was going to be able to concentrate on anything but Merlin.

 

After the swap, everyone always explained the feelings afterwards the same. The longing, the physical ache when you weren’t in the presence of your soul mate. Arthur was restless, desperate to get back to the hospital and see Merlin but he restrained himself.

 

“Father?” Arthur asked.

 

“Yes?” Uther raised an eyebrow.

“I was wondering if I could have the keys to the summer home,” Arthur said.

 

“I thought you would ask,” Uther said, handing over a set of keys. “I’ll make a call to have the house set up.”

 

Arthur grinned.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text



 

“What do you think, Gwen?” Arthur asked.

 

“It’s gorgeous,” Gwen said as she took in the house that Arthur had just led them into. Just outside the city limits the beautiful home was built in a forest area. Modern, with big glass bay window at the back of the house the house was something that Gwen had never dreamed off before. “You own this?”

 

“My father does,” Arthur explained. “He bought it for my mother on their first wedding anniversary. They come here every summer.”

 

“That’s so romantic,” Gwen gushed.

 

Arthur shifted from foot to foot, fighting the flush that wanted to spread across his cheeks. “Do you think Merlin will like it? For the next few days?”

 

“Merlin will love it,” Gwen beamed. “I mean, Merlin would be happy in a cheap hotel room.”

 

“It’s too much, isn’t it,” Arthur’s face fell.

 

“No! No, no I didn’t mean it like that,” Gwen hurried to explain. “No, it’s just – Merlin and I didn’t have much growing up. This is by far the fanciest place I have ever been too.”

 

“Will Merlin like it though?” Arthur asked. He didn’t want to make the wrong impression on Merlin. This was his soul mate, the person he was destined to be with. He didn’t want to come off as an arrogant prat as he has in the past.

 

Gwen’s smile turned fond. “He will love anything Arthur, as long as it includes you.”

 

Arthur nodded, some of the tension in his shoulders loosening.

 

The door opened and closed with a click and a moment later Lance joined them, his arms loaded up with bags. Arthur grabbed a couple from him and together they stocked the fridge and cupboards with food.

 

While they did that, Gwen went to the bedroom and placed Merlin’s bag. When she had finally left Merlin’s side at the hospital, Arthur had called her and relayed his plan. Eager for Merlin to spend some time with his soul mate she had swung by his place and packed a bag for him. She thought it was truly touching. She didn’t know how Arthur was staying away from the hospital.

 

When she had swapped with Lancelot she had almost been frantic to get to him. When they had finally met it was if her heart had filled with an impossible feeling, one she had never felt before. It had been so hard to leave Lance’s side that she had called in sick at the pharmacy for the rest of the week. Even month’s later she still counted the minuets until she could see Lance again.

 

If all went well, Arthur and Merlin would be together soon.

 


 

 

“I have no idea how you did it, Mr Emery’s but you are perfectly fine,” the doctor said.

 

Merlin beamed, eager to get out of the hospital. Of course the doctor had no idea that when none of the nurses had been looking he had healed himself with his magic. He couldn’t take everything away but it was enough to get him out of hospital faster.

 

When he had woken up again Gwen was in new clothes and had brought along some for him too. The nurses had allowed him to change into them and then wrapped him back up in the blankets until the doctor came around to check him out once more.

 

“So, can I go?” Merlin asked.

 

“You can,” The doctor said reluctantly. “If you feel anything abnormal or show any symptoms you are to come back straight away.”

 

“I understand,” Merlin nodded.

 

“The nurses will get you some discharge forms. Once again, you are very lucky,” the doctor said all the while eyeing Merlin suspiciously.

 

Filling out the forms as fast as he could when the nurse brought them around, Merlin felt giddy with excitement and something he couldn’t quite place. Gwen giggled by his side and he shot her a reproachful look.

 

“I didn’t tease you when you met Lance,” Merlin pointed out.

 

“I know,” Gwen said. “It’s just so nice to see you like this. Oh, Merlin I’m just so happy for you and Arthur.”

 

Merlin ducked his head, cheeks flushing. Just hearing Arthur’s name sent his heart rate up and his magic rose inside him. He pushed it down, not wanting to have a magical outburst in the middle of the emergency room.

 

Leaving the emergency room was a huge relief and Merlin breathed in the fresh air. It was still cold and the chill in the air caused him some discomfort when he breathed in but the doctor said that was to be expected. He was ready to get out of the cold already and looked for Gwen’s car.

 

“I’m not taking you home,” Gwen said, noticing his gaze.

 

“What?” Merlin frowned.

 

A black car pulled up next to them, the windows too dark for Merlin to see into. That didn’t matter for the passenger window was sliding down, revealing the interior.

 

“Arthur is,” Gwen beamed.

 

“Hello, Merlin,” Arthur winked from the drivers seat.

 

“Arthur!” Merlin said a little too loudly. Merlin’s magic reared up inside him, eager to reach out to Arthur but Merlin slammed it back down before it could.

 

Gwen pulled Merlin into a hug, kissing his cheek. “Have fun. Call me when you have the chance.”

 

Hugging her back tightly, Merlin pulled away and slid into the passenger seat, the door shutting behind him with a tight snap. The window slid back up, shutting the outside world out.

 

As Arthur pulled out of the parking lot, Merlin couldn’t help but stare. He hadn’t had the chance to get a look at what Arthur looked like and he could happily admit that he wasn’t disappointed.

 

“Hi,” Merlin said.

 

Arthur quickly glanced at him, smiling brightly before looking back at the road. “Hi.”

 

“I didn’t get to say thank you,” Merlin said. “For your help and everything you did for me.”

 

“I’m just glad I got there in time,” Arthur said. He hesitated before taking one hand of the wheel and reached for Merlin’s hand.

 

Eagerly, Merlin entwined their fingers together, fully relaxing into the leather seat. They’re hands fit perfectly together, their palms warm in one another. Merlin noticed that Arthur had a silver ring on his finger and it was cool against his skin. His magic simmered underneath, reaching out and touching Arthur. Merlin reeled it back in. When Arthur didn’t react Merlin let out a quiet breath of relief.

 

“All that for a bird,” Arthur shook his head.

 

“The bird!” Merlin cried. “I forgot about the bird? Is it okay? Where is it?”

 

“Relax, the bird is fine,” Arthur said. “Lance took it to the local vet and they are taking care of it.”

 

Merlin let out a breath, relaxing once again. “Okay, good.”

 

“Gwen said this is a usual occurrence,” Arthur gave him a sidelong glance.

 

Merlin’s cheeks flushed. “She’s exaggerating.”

 

“I’m sure,” Arthur smirked.

 

Merlin huffed but squeezed Arthur’s hand; delighted with the easy banter they had fallen into. He had heard that meeting your soul mate was easy. You fell into a rhythm that instantly and Merlin could feel it with Arthur.

 

“Where are we going?” Merlin frowned as he looked out the window, finally taking notice that they were heading out of the city.

 

“I thought you could recover somewhere more comfortable and private,” Arthur said. “If you would like.”

 

Merlin blinked, his mouth falling open slightly. “Really?”

 

“Of course,” Arthur said, glancing at Merlin quickly before looking back to the road. “We have it for the next three days if you would like.”

 

“Thank you,” Merlin said quietly.

 

The conversation continued to flow between the two of them and it didn’t take long until Arthur was pulling up to his parent’s summer home. As he parked the car, he looked at Merlin, drinking in the expression he had on his face. Reluctantly Arthur untangled their fingers and they climbed out of the car.

 

Taking Merlin’s hand again, he led the slightly taller boy into the house, his nerves picking back up again.

 

“This is yours?” Merlin asked, wide eyed.

 

“My parents,” Arthur rubbed the back of his neck. “You think you’ll be comfortable here for the next few days?”

 

“Absolutely,” Merlin beamed.

 

Arthur grinned back; drinking in the smile that Merlin was giving him. Finally getting a good look at his soul mate Arthur felt his heart stutter. He had never been attracted to a man before. Growing up he had always believed his soul mate would be a woman. But looking at Merlin now he couldn’t believe he had been so stupid.

 

Tall, lean but toned, dark hair that emphasized his pale skin and sharp cheekbones, Merlin was absolutely stunning.

 

“How about a tour?” Arthur asked pulling his gaze away before he could get full lost in everything that was Merlin.

 


 

 

Merlin’s favorite part of the house had to be the balcony that over looked a creek. Fairy lights had been strung up above them and Merlin believed that during the summer it would be so nice to laze on the cushioned couches. It was much too cold now and Arthur had not let him linger too long outside.

 

“Are you hungry? We could order some food if you like,” Arthur asked as he shut the sliding glass door behind them.

 

“Can you cook?” Merlin asked.

 

Arthur pursed his lips. “Not enough to impress you, unfortunately.”

 

Merlin swallowed. “You want to impress me?”

 

“Of course,” Arthur winked. “Though, Gwen said you were easily impressed so maybe I cooking skills will win you over.”

 

“Hey!” Merlin gave him a playful shove. “Subpar cooking will not win me over.”

 

Arthur opened his mouth the retort but there was a loud knock on the door that startled both of them.

 

“Are you expecting someone?” Merlin asked, his voice dropping low.

 

“No,” Arthur lips pressed into a thin line. “Stay here.”

 

Merlin shifted his weight from foot to foot as Arthur strode through the living room and disappeared down the hallway to the front door. He could hear the low voices speaking and a moment later Arthur was returned with a bag full of takeaway and a frown on his face.

 

“Did you already order?” Merlin asked.

 

“No,” Arthur said. “The delivery guy said it was all paid for as well.”

 

“Why are you looking at it like it’s about to attack you?” Merlin strode over and took the bag from Arthur and made his way to the kitchen.

 

“There are only a handful of people who know we are here and they know better than to interrupt,” Arthur said seriously.

 

“Oh,” Merlin said as he pulled out the containers, recognizing the logo instantly.

 

“What?” Arthur asked.

 

Merlin ignored him, continuing to pull everything out, including a small white card.

 

Enjoy your destiny on me.

 

“I don’t think your friends ordered this,” Merlin mused, shaking his head softly.

 

“How do you know?”

 

Merlin handed over the card.

 

“You can read this?” Arthur asked. “What language is it?”

 

“An ancient one,” Merlin grinned. “The owner of the shop is a little…strange but he means well. Well, dig in” he nudged a carton towards Arthur.

 

“You go here regularly?” Arthur asked.

 

“Gwen and I found it when we first moved to the city and have been going there at least twice a week. You’ll never have other Chinese food again,” Merlin grinned and held out a pair of chopsticks for Arthur.

 

Arthur took them and he opened the carton and scooped up some noodles. “Okay, that’s amazing.”

 

“Told you,” Merlin grinned.

 

 

 

Chapter Text


 

 

“Merlin?” Arthur blinked groggily, his voice scratchy with lack of use. He groaned, stretching long and hard. He sat up and looked around the living room. After dinner they had started a movie but Arthur didn’t remember falling asleep.

 

“Merlin?” Arthur tried again. He stood, trying to fight the panic that threatened to climb up his throat. As he ran his hand through his hair, making a list of where Merlin could be, something delicious invaded his senses.

 

Heading to the kitchen, Arthur paused in the doorway as he saw Merlin at the stove, sizzling and crackling filling the air along with the smell of freshly cooked meat.

 

“Are you cooking me breakfast?” Arthur asked.

 

Merlin whirled around, his heart beating quickly in his chest. “You scared me!”

 

“Sorry,” Arthur grinned, looking anything but sorry.

 

“See if I share,” Merlin grumbled playfully.

 

“You didn’t have to cook,” Arthur said.

 

“Would you have?” Merlin asked, his eyes shimmering with humor.

 

“How did you sleep?” Arthur asked as he moved further into the kitchen. He went to the cupboards and brought out a couple of plates.

 

“Good,” Merlin blushed. “Sorry for, uh, falling asleep on you.”

 

“Don’t apologize,” Arthur said. “It’s the best sleep I’ve had in a while.”

 

Merlin nodded, a cheeky smile lighting up his face. “You’re right, the couch is really comfy.”

 

“Oi!” Arthur growled playfully.

 

Merlin served up breakfast, filling their plates high with sausages, bacon, eggs and bread.

 

“How are you feeling today?” Arthur asked.

 

“I feel fine. Almost normal,” Merlin said.

 

“You think you would be up for a bit of a walk? There are some great trails around here,” Arthur suggested.

 

“Sounds great,” Merlin beamed.

 

After they finished their breakfast and changed into some fresh clothes (Arthur wrapping Merlin in an extra layer much to his protest) they headed outside.

 

The chill was still in the air but the sun was shining, illuminating the surrounding forest in a way that made it look like magic. They walked side by side, their shoulders brushing every so often. They followed the trail by the creek, winding in and out of the tall trees.

 

Arthur knew the trails well and led Merlin easily to one of his favorite spots further up the creek.

 

“You know, this isn’t the first time we have met,” Merlin said, nearly tripping over a stray rock.

 

“No we haven’t,” Arthur stopped dead.

 

Merlin skidded to a stop when he realized that Arthur wasn’t beside him any more.

 

“I would have remembered meeting you,” Arthur frowned.

 

Merlin smirked. “It’s not as if we had a conversation.”

 

“We didn’t?” Arthur repeated.

 

“You looked familiar,” Merlin scuffed his foot against the ground. “Not because you’ve been on the news. It took me a while to place where I had seen you before.”

 

“Where?”

 

“The pharmacy I work at,” Merlin grinned. At Arthur’s prompting look, Merlin explained. “It was last year, before your first champion win. You came into the store with this dark haired girl.”


“Morgana, my sister,” Arthur said, his eyes looking distant as he tried to recall the moment he had crossed paths with his soul mate.

 

Merlin nodded. “You were after something to relieve a migraine.”

 

The memory struck Arthur hard. The stress of trying to prove himself worthy of the jersey Pendragon had been weighing on him. Uther had once been one of the top players in the country and now Arthur was following in his footsteps. As the champion grew closer, the pounding stress had finally driven Arthur into a migraine. Morgana had driven him to the nearest pharmacy to get something to kill the pain.

 

“Gaius served you,” Merlin said.

 

“You were the one who grabbed the pill bottle,” Arthur finished.

 

Merlin nodded. “You were such a prat.”

 

Arthur winced. He was well aware that his temper had been short and he remembered muttering a little to loudly at how slow Merlin had been.

 

“Glad to know it was just the migraine talking,” Merlin quipped.

 

“I owe you an apology,” Arthur grimaced.

 

Merlin stepped closer, shaking his head. “No you don’t. You were having a bad day.”

 

“More like a bad year,” Arthur winced. “I was…what did you call me? A prat.”

 

Merlin’s cheeks flushed.

 

“I want you to know though that I have changed,” Arthur said, his voice serious. “I’m not like that anymore. When Morgana soul swapped with Leon I realized that one day it would be me and I didn’t want to disappoint you.”

 

“You are not a disappointment,” Merlin said. His let his gaze drop to Arthur’s feet and then slowly dragged his eyes back up Arthur’s body. “In any way.”

 

Arthur’s eyes darkened and he stalked towards Merlin. The dark haired boy stumbled back until his back hit the trunk of a nearby tree. Arthur followed, pressing his body against Merlin’s. They moved together, both leaning in until their lips touched.

 

It was like a kiss neither of them had ever experienced. Both moved instinctively, angling their bodies as if they had done it many times before. Arthur cradled the back of Merlin’s head, his fingers threading into the soft dark hair while Merlin’s arms pulled Arthur’s body tighter against his until they could feel every inch of one another.

 

Merlin’s magic seeped into Arthur, curling around him and joining them together.

 

They parted, breathing heavily, eyelids heavy with lust and deep emotion.

 

“Don’t leave,” Merlin whispered as her felt Arthur begin to shift away. “Don’t ever leave me.”

 

“Never,” Arthur promised against Merlin’s lips and kissed him soundly once again.

 


 

 

“I don’t want to go,” Merlin sighed as he threw his bag into the boot of the car.

 

“Me either,” Arthur admitted. “But reality calls us.”

 

They hopped into the car and Merlin looked forlornly out the window as they pulled away from the house. He didn’t want to leave the little bubble he and Arthur had been in. Now he understood why Gwen had disappeared for a week when she had first soul swapped with Lance.

 

Arthur hands squeezed his thigh and he looked over to him.

 

“Don’t look so sad,” Arthur said. “It’s not as if we are saying goodbye to each other.”

 

“I know,” Merlin smiled, gently squeezing Arthur’s hand. “I just wanted to keep you to myself for a little longer, that’s all.”

 

“I know,” Arthur said. “We’ll make the time though for each other.”

 

The front display screen suddenly flared into the life and the ring of an incoming call filled the car. Morgana’s name flashed on the screen and Arthur rolled his eyes before answering the call.

 

“I knew you couldn’t wait three days before butting in,” Arthur greeted his sister.

 

“That’s no way to talk to your beloved sister,” Morgana cooed over the phone. “What impression are you giving dear Merlin?”

 

Merlin grinned widely.

 

“What do you want?” Arthur growled.

 

“I’m ringing to let you know that we are all having dinner tomorrow night,” Morgana said. “The whole team that is.”

 

“Why?” Arthur drawled out.

 

“It’s a welcome back to practice dinner. And to meet Merlin of course!”

 

Merlin shot Arthur a panicked look. “Me?”

 

“Of course,” The boys could hear the smile in Morgana’s words. “It will be at Uther’s place.”

 

“Text me the details,” Arthur said. “Goodbye, Morgana.”

 

“Bye boys!”

 

Arthur disconnected the call and glanced at Merlin. “You alright?”

 

“I’m going to meet you parents,” Merlin swallowed.

 

“Father isn’t nearly as scary as he looks on camera,” Arthur soothed. “Besides, my mother Ygraine will be there to keep him in line.”

 

“Arthur,” Merlin whined. “That doesn’t make me feel any better!”

 

“They’ll love you,” Arthur said. “It’s impossible not too.”

 

Merlin’s cheeks flushed a beautiful cherry red.

 

“You don’t have to come if you don’t feel comfortable,” Arthur said. “I would really love it if you could but I understand. This is moving fast.”

 

Merlin took a deep breath. “It’s only fair. You’ve met Gaius before.”

 

Arthur let out a bark of laughter. “Next time I promise to make a far better impression.”

 

“I wouldn’t worry. Gaius is a big fan of yours. He has the games playing in the back room of the shop,” Merlin rolled his eyes.

 

“Have you been watching me play?” Arthur asked, something hot stirring low in his belly at the thought.

 

“I’ll be paying more attention now, that’s for sure.” Merlin grinned.

 

“Come to my practice tomorrow,” Arthur said. “Then we can go to the party afterwards together. Bring Gwen too.”

 

Merlin nodded. “Yeah, okay I’ll come.”

 

Arthur beamed and squeezed Merlin’s hand tightly.

 


 

 

Merlin stumbled into the apartment he shared with Gwen, fingers lightly brushing over his swollen lips. This time when Arthur had pushed him up against a hard surface Merlin had managed to rein his magic in. He had wondered if Arthur had felt his magic the first time but the blonde hadn’t said anything so he assumed he was in the clear.

 

“Merlin?” Gwen’s voice floated out from deeper within the apartment.

 

He found her in the living room, her textbooks spread out across the coffee table. When she saw him her lips split into a bright smile.

 

“You look like you had fun,” Gwen giggled.

 

“I did,” Merlin grinned. “Arthur is….he’s…he’s just so…”

 

“I know,” Gwen nodded understandingly when he couldn’t get the words out. She patted the couch cushion beside her and Merlin joined her on the couch.

 

“Tell me everything!” Gwen demanded.

 

Merlin relayed their three days together and by the end of his tale he couldn’t decide if he or Gwen were more excited and giddy.

 

“Are you going to the dinner tomorrow?” Gwen asked.

 

Merlin nodded. “and the two of us are going to their practice before hand.”

 

Gwen nodded and she worried her bottom lip between her teeth.

 

“What is it?” Merlin asked, knowing that look anywhere.

 

“Did you tell Arthur about your magic?” Gwen asked.

 

Merlin shook his head. “No. Not yet anyway. I didn’t want to overwhelm with that bombshell and we have only just found each other. I don’t want him to leave me.”

 

“Oh Merlin, Arthur’s not going to leave you,” Gwen soothed.

 

Merlin shifted, not answering.

 

“Hey,” Gwen said softly. “Arthur isn’t like him. You situation is completely different.”

 

“I know that,” Merlin said quietly. “I’ve never felt like this before, Gwen. It’s so intense and if Arthur left.” Merlin shook his head. “I couldn’t, Gwen.”

 

“Did you tell Arthur about your parents?” Gwen asked.

 

“No,” Merlin said. “I didn’t want him to look at me the way everyone else does when they find out.”

 

“Arthur’s not like that,” Gwen said. “He would understand.”

 

“I can’t,” Merlin slouched back against the couch, his eyes falling shut. “Not yet.”

 

“Okay,” Gwen said, knowing not to push Merlin. His parents’ were a sensitive subject and she knew better than to push.

 

“Tell me about your first kiss again,” Gwen grinned, trying to distract her best friend again.

 

Merlin smiled, though not as bright as before, and re-told his first kiss with Arthur once again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text


 

 

“It looks like Arthur is putting on a show,” Morgana mused from the sidelines where she lingered with Merlin and Gwen. “I haven’t seen Arthur train this hard in a while.”

 

Gwen giggled, shooting Merlin a look and he stuck his tongue out at her.

 

“I take it soccer is the family business?” Merlin asked Morgana.

 

“Unfortunately Arthur and I showed promise,” Morgana grinned. “Uther started grooming us the minute we could kick the ball.”

 

“Do you enjoy it?” Gwen asked.

 

“I do,” Morgana smiled sincerely. “Sometimes I wish I didn’t.”

 

“Does Arthur feel that way too?” Merlin frowned.

 

“Arthur loves the game,” Morgana assured him. “He just feels a lot of pressure to perform exceptionally in every game. Uther is a big name to live up to sometimes.”

 

Merlin nodded, his eyes finding Arthur out on the field easily. Merlin was impressed. Arthur moved as if the ball was an extension of his foot. He moved almost like a dancer the way he ducked and weaved around the others, his muscles rippling with each power step he took. Merlin was horrible with any sport that involved a ball and regretted that he hadn’t followed football earlier if this is what he had been missing out on.

 

Merlin gasped as Arthur tripped, flying to the ground with an audible thump. Moving on instinct, Merlin started running towards Arthur. He was dimly aware that Morgana and Gwen were hurrying after him but he didn’t slow for them to catch up. He needed to get to his soul mate.

 

“Arthur!” Merlin called.

 

The team that had surrounded Arthur parted to let Merlin through, creating a circle around them all and blocking any cameras or press that may be lurking in the stands.

 

Arthur lay on his back, cradling his knee and his teeth gritted together as he growled in pain.

 

“Oh god, Arthur,” Morgana gasped, sliding to her knees beside Merlin.

 

“My knee,” Arthur gritted through his teeth. He tossed his head back, blinking back the tears that threatened to fall and collected him self.

 

“Uther’s grabbing the medic,” Gwaine said. “Shit, mate.”

 

“Morgana, do something,” Arthur hissed. “If the medic takes a look at my knee then I’m done for the season.”

 

“Arthur,” Morgana glared. “I’ve never done that before.”

 

“Now would be a good time to try,” Arthur growled at her with a glare.

 

Merlin and Gwen looked between the two, confusion brewing underneath their worry.

 

Morgana shifted closer to Arthur, prying his hand away from his knee and straightening it as much as she could. She stopped when Arthur gave a strained shout.

 

“Arthur, I don’t know,” Morgana hesitated.

 

“Just try!” Arthur implored.

 

“You can do it, Morgana,” Leon said, nodding at her firmly. "I believe in you, sweetheart. You can do this."

 

Morgana bit her lip and placed her hands on Arthur’s knee, ignoring his flinch of pain. Then she started to speak in an ancient language that had not been heard for a very long time.

 

“Stop!” Merlin shouted.

 

Morgan paused mid chant. “It’s okay, Merlin. I’m not going to hurt him,” she sent him a reassuring smile. “I promise I will explain later.”

 

“No,” Merlin shook his head, gently pushing her out of the way. “That spell won’t work on his knee.”

 

“What?” Morgana gasped.

 

Merlin took her place, putting his hands on Arthur’s knee. He glanced at his soul mate, an apology written in his eyes before he started the spell, rattling off the ancient language as if he was speaking plain English.

 

Arthur’s jaw dropped as he watched Merlin’s eyes flash a brilliant gold. He gasped as his knee popped back into place, a brief flash of heat rushing through his leg before it faded and along with the pain.

 

“Move! Everyone move!” the medic grumbled, pushing past the now silent group.

 

Merlin jumped back to his feet, nearly knocking into Gwen who reached out to hold him steady. He glanced at Arthur worriedly who continued to stare at him with his jaw open.

 

“Give me some room,” the medic snapped.

 

They did as they were asked, Merlin resisting the urge to sprint away and never look back.

 

“You have magic?” Morgana appeared by his side, gripping his arm tightly as if she could tell he wanted to run. Her voice was low but her eyes were bright.

 

“So do you,” Merlin shot back.

 

Morgana grinned. “This is brilliant! Who taught you?”

 

“Taught me?” Merlin repeated. He shot Gwen a look, who gave a helpless shrug in return. “Nobody taught me. I was born this way.”

 

Morgana’s eyes widened. “So what you did just now, to Arthur. Nobody taught you that?”

 

Merlin shrugged. “I guess. Most of it was instinct but Gaius has some books…”

 

“Could I see them?” Morgana asked. At Merlin’s wide-eyed look she grinned sheepishly. “I’m sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. You’re really the only person I’ve met who has magic as well. I’ve been trying to teach myself but it hasn’t been going well.”

 

“Does Leon know?” Merlin frowned.

 

“I do,” Leon appeared behind Morgana, putting a hand on her shoulder. “Bit of a shock when she told me.” He chuckled and kissed her cheek.

 

“There’s no damage,” the medic said loudly, everyone turning their attention back to Arthur. “Just the shock of the fall.”

 

Arthur got to his feet, testing his knee and stared at Merlin again.

 

“Right,” Uther said. “I think practice if over for today.”

 

Morgana released Merlin as Arthur strode towards them, not even a limp in his step.

 

“Arthur I-“ Merlin begun but was immediately cut off when Arthur wrapped an arm around Merlin’s waist and hauled him into a kiss. He gave a muffled squeak and before he could kiss back the blonde had pulled away.

 

“You saved my life,” Arthur said, pupils blown wide. “You fixed my knee. I would have been benched for the rest of the season. You saved my career.”

 

“It was only fair. You saved my life,” Merlin said breathlessly.

 

Arthur kissed him again, this time Merlin kissed him back. As catcalls and whistles echoed around them they pulled away, flushed but smiling.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Arthur asked, slinging an arm around Merlin’s shoulders as they walked off the pitch and towards the change rooms.

 

“I didn’t want you to leave me,” Merlin admitted.

 

“Merlin, I’m never going to leave you,” Arthur said. “Ever. I want you to know that you can tell me anything, just like I can tell you anything.”

 

“Is there something you need to tell me?” Merlin arched a brow.

 

“Only that I really wish we could skip this dinner tonight,” Arthur said in a low voice in Merlin’s ear, before he gave it a gentle nip.

 

Merlin tripped and spluttered as Arthur laughed.

 

“Prat,” Merlin shook his head.

 

Morgana and Gwen were waiting for them as they reached the change rooms.

 

“Hurry up and get changed,” Morgana ordered. “We’ll keep Merlin company while you change.”

 

Arthur rolled his eyes and kissed Merlin’s cheek. “I won’t be long. Don’t let her steal you before I get back.”

 

“He’s always been protective,” Morgana rolled her eyes as Arthur disappeared into the change rooms.

 

“I can’t believe you have magic too,” Gwen said after casting a look around them to make sure they were alone.

 

“I started having dreams when I was about eighteen,” Morgana explained. “The dreams started coming true and it just started growing from there. I told Arthur of course and he was helpful once he believe me.”

 

“How did you get him to believe you?” Merlin asked.

 

Morgana blushed. “I accidently set my room on fire via candle trying to prove to Arthur I had magic.”

 

Merlin and Gwen both laughed.

 

“I know,” Morgana sighed. “Not one of my finer moments. Uther and Ygraine were furious.”

 

“Do they know?” Merlin asked, wide-eyed.

 

“Yes,” Morgana nodded. “They are trying to understand but there is only so much they can do. I’ve been trying to get my hands on any books but most of it is just gibberish.”

 

Merlin nodded. “I know what you mean. Gaius has some books and I’m sure he can help you with any questions. He’s been really good too me, teaching me everything I know.”

 

“Merlin has some friends as well that have magic,” Gwen said. “Freya, right?”

 

Merlin nodded. “Yeah, I could ask her if she is willing to meet up.”

 

“Really?” Morgana eyes widened. “That would be more than amazing. I’ve just felt so alone in all of this. I’m so glad Arthur has you, Merlin.”

 

Morgana’s phone rang, interrupting the moment and she hurried to take it out.

 

“I’m sorry, excuse me for a moment,” Morgana said and stepped away to take the call.

 

“I saw the kiss Arthur gave you,” Gwen grinned, pressing herself into Merlin’s side. “I take it he took your magic well.”

 

“Yeah,” Merlin let out a breath. “I honestly didn’t know how he would take it. I’m surprised that Morgana has magic though.”

 

“Me too,” Gwen said. “But this is good! You don’t have to hide yourself anymore.”

 

“I guess I don’t,” Merlin blinked. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

 

Gwen squeezed his arm. “Are you happy?”

 

Merlin grinned. “I am.”

 


 

 

“Merlin! It’s such a pleasure to finally meet you,” Ygraine’s smile was just a beautiful as Arthur’s and her hug was warm and inviting. When she pulled back her blue eyes roamed over Merlin’s figure, her smile on increasing. “Arthur was right, you are gorgeous.”

 

“Mum!” Arthur groaned, tugging Merlin out of his mother’s grip.

 

Ygraine winked at Merlin. “It’s a mother’s job to embarrass you, Arthur. You just have to take it.”

 

“I’m getting a drink,” Arthur grumbled, pressing a kiss to Merlin’s cheek and heading over to the makeshift bar that had been set up in the corner of the large living room.

 

The party was being held at Arthur’s parents home and just like their summer home this one was just as glamorous. Merlin had never been in such a big house and he wondered if Arthur’s apartment was just as big too.

 

“He will be singing a different tune when your mother gets to embarrass you,” Ygraine laughed.

 

Merlin shifted uncomfortably and eagerly changed the topic. “Your homes are beautiful.”

 

“Thank you,” Ygraine said, looking around the home with a smile. “There are so many memories in here. I’m sure you and Arthur will make the same one day.”

 

“Mum, please,” Arthur reappeared, pressing a drink into Merlin’s hand. “It’s been a week that we’ve been together.”

 

“So?” Ygraine beamed.

 

“Oh god you’ve already started planning the wedding,” Arthur rolled his eyes.

 

Merlin choked on the drink he just taken a sip of.

 

Arthur patted him on the back. “Gwen and Lance are over there. Go, save yourself.”

 

“Thank you,” Merlin rasped and quickly scuttled away.

 

Ygraine laughed and Arthur shook his head. “Please don’t scare him off. He’s nervous as it is.”

 

“I promise I’m done,” Ygraine soothed. “I hope you didn’t put ideas in his head about us.”

 

“No, I fear they were already there,” Arthur mused.

 

“What do you mean?” Ygraine asked with a frown.

 

Arthur glanced over at Merlin who was now engaged with Gwen and Lance looking far more comfortable then he did a moment go.

 

“Twice now he’s asked me not to leave him,” Arthur turned back to his mother.

 

“That’s natural,” Ygraine said. “The first month is so intense, all these feelings. Even for platonic soul mates the very thought of losing one another is difficult.”

 

“It seems more than that,” Arthur said. “I know almost nothing about his family only that he lives and works with a older man Gaius. He’s been Merlin’s mentor for years now.”

 

“He hasn’t mentioned his parents?” Ygraine asked, eyebrows shooting up.

 

“I honestly don’t know if they are even alive,” Arthur said. “I know he grew up with Gwen and that’s as far as we discussed before he changed the subject. I feel like he’s holding back on me. Who knows when he would have told me he had magic.”

 

“Morgana mentioned that you didn’t know,” Ygraine said. “I’m sure Merlin would have mentioned it though.”

 

“Yeah,” Arthur said heavily.

 

“It will be okay, Arthur. You’ll see. Your soul mates and bonded to one another in a way that you will never be with anyone else. It’s so intense in the beginning that Merlin just may need some time to adjust,” Ygraine said.

 

“You’re right,” Arthur smiled softly. “I love him already, mum.”

 

“You Pendragon boys do fall hard and fast,” Ygraine smiled. “It’s what makes you who you are.” She kissed his cheek. “Go spend time with Merlin.”

 

Ygraine watched her son wonder to Merlin, the dark haired boy immediately aware of his soul mate presence and drifted into Arthur’s side. Though Arthur may be worried Ygraine could see that these two boys would be married by the end of the year. They were destined for one another.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Merlin grunted as his phone rang. His eyes flashed gold and the phone stopped ringing at once. Using the silence to focus, Merlin carefully measured the herbs before dropping them into boiling pot. The recipe he was following required exact measurements and the last time Merlin had winged it, he feared he would be stuck as an old man for the rest of his life.

 

His phone rang again and Merlin sighed.

 

“Are you going to answer that?” Gaius asked, eyebrow rose up high.

 

“I’m focused,” Merlin added another ingredient into the pot. White smoke bubbled up and over the edge of the pot, simmering down to the bench before disappearing.

 

“It’s Arthur,” Gaius picked up the phone, looking at the screen. “Are you two fighting?”

 

Merlin whipped his head up. “No?”

 

Gaius rolled his eyes and the phone fell silent once again.

 

“At least I don’t think we are,” Merlin frowned.

 

The phone started ringing again. “Merlin, your potion is boiling.”

 

Merlin gave a yelp and his eyes flashed gold, the potion simmering down. Most of it had landed on the bench and Merlin frantically searched for a towel to mop it up.

 

“Hello, Arthur,” Gaius answered the phone, putting it on speaker. “I’m afraid Merlin can’t come to the phone right now. He has a mess to clean up.”

 

Merlin shot Gaius a look but did as he was told.

 

“Hello Gaius,” Arthur said. “What trouble has Merlin gotten himself into this time?”

 

Merlin knew introducing Arthur to Gaius was a horrible idea. The two had gotten along well taking great delight in picking on Merlin. When they weren’t doing that they were engaged in endless discussions of soccer and past games that Merlin had never seen and had no desire too. He would never admit to the two that he was thrilled the two got along. Gaius was one of the most important people in Merlin’s life and since Arthur had introduced him to his parents Merlin felt it was fitting that Arthur met his mentor.

 

“He’s working on a potion,” Gaius said. “I can’t say I’m entirely sure what he’s trying to achieve.”

 

Merlin’s eyes flashed gold and the mess disappeared. He looked forlornly into the pot and sighed. The potion that would help him revert back to his normal self was ruined and he would have to start from scratch again.

 

“I’m afraid to ask,” Arthur drawled from the other end of the line.

 

“I can hear you, you know,” Merlin huffed, loud enough for Arthur to hear. “Did you call just to tease me?”

 

“No, actually. I have some news,” Arthur said.

 

“You sound serious,” Merlin glanced at Gaius.

 

“Have either of you read the paper today?” Arthur asked.

 

“I don’t think we even have one here,” Gaius looked around the workroom. Books were scattered across every free surface – some in English and others in the ancient language – but there was no paper.

 

“What’s going on?” Merlin asked.

 

Arthur sighed. “There is a picture of you and me in the sports section.”

 

“Oh,” Merlin blinked. “What are we doing?”

 

“Holding hands,” Arthur said. “Our picture was snapped when were leaving dinner the other night.”

 

It had been their first official date. Arthur had surprised Merlin by picking him up and taking him out to dinner. Dinner had been delicious and the company even better. Arthur had held his hands as they had left, going for a short walk afterwards. It had been the best night of Merlin’s life and just the thought brought a grin to his face.

 

“Is that bad?” Merlin asked.

 

“Not bad,” Arthur said. “I’m selfish and wanted to keep you to myself for a little longer.”

 

Merlin felt his cheek flush and he avoided looking at Gaius.

 

“It just means that when I do interviews they’re going to be asking about you,” Arthur continued. “I just wanted to give you a heads up.”

 

“Thanks,” Merlin said. “Make sure you say nice things about me.”

 

He could practically hear Arthur rolling his eyes.

 

“You will have to be careful Merlin about using your magic in public,” Gaius warned. “You never know who will be watching.”

 

“I hadn’t thought of that,” Arthur said.

 

“I’m always careful with my magic,” Merlin huffed.

 

“We can discuss this over dinner tonight,” Arthur said. “Gwaine has decided that we’ve had enough alone time.”

 

Merlin, are you home? A familiar voice entered Merlin’s mind. He stood up, moving through the room until he reached the door. He pulled it open and on the other side was Freya.

 

“What are you doing here?” Merlin frowned.

 

“Really, Merlin,” Freya scolded. “Is that anyway to greet an old friend?”

 

“Sorry,” Merlin winced. He pulled her into a hug, kissing her cheek. “Hi, Freya. You look lovely.”

 

“Thank you,” Freya smiled. “You look happy. It wouldn’t have anything to do with a certain soccer star would it?”

 

Merlin blushed and closed the door as Freya stepped into the room.

 

“Merlin? Are you forgetting something?” Gaius asked, holding up the phone.

 

“Arthur! Sorry,” Merlin took the phone and took it off speaker, holding it to his ear instead. “Sorry, my friend has just dropped by.”

 

“Alright, well I won’t keep you,” Arthur said. “But dinner tonight, okay.”

 

Merlin bit his lip. “Actually, I don’t think I’ll be able to make dinner.”

 

“Oh.”

 

Merlin could hear the disappointment in Arthur voice and could imagine the face he was pulling right now. Merlin desperately didn’t want Arthur to look or feel this way but this wasn’t a conversation he could have over the phone. He knew he had to tell Arthur about his past but he couldn’t do that just yet.

 

“Arthur, please,” Merlin started.

 

“It’s fine, Merlin,” Arthur said shortly. “Text me when your free. I’ll see you later.”

 

Arthur hung up before Merlin could say goodbye and he sighed, lowering the phone.

 

“Bad timing?” Freya asked.

 

“A little bit,” Merlin said.

 

“You’re going to have to tell him about your mother soon,” Gaius said.

 

“I know,” Merlin said. “I will but…what if he doesn’t understand? What if he thinks badly of me?”

 

“Merlin, I really don’t see Arthur as being one of those people,” Gaius said gently but firmly.

 

“Actually, Arthur is why I’m here,” Freya said. “I saw in the paper about the two of you and thought that maybe you wanted to go see your mum and tell her the happy news.”

 

Merlin perked up. “What? Seriously? I can go visit my mum today?”

 

“If you hurry,” Freya smiled. “It’s a special occasion.”

 

“Luckily we have spare potion,” Gaius went to the cupboard and pulled out a small bottle. He handed it over to Merlin who pocketed it in his jeans.

 

“Right? Are we ready?” Freya asked.

 


 

 

Merlin’s bones ached as he got out of the car, but the ageing spell was worth it if he got to see him mother. They had driven over three hours to get to the small town and Merlin had changed just before they had entered.

 

Freya had become his friend when she had been assigned to his mother’s case. As part of the relocation program, Merlin was only allowed to visit at random times, never in a pattern. He also had to be disguised as an old man so nobody could link the two of being mother and son. Being magical herself, Freya had taken on the case and was the one who got Merlin visitation rights. Had it been anyone else Merlin may not have ever seen her again.

 

The bakery his mother owned was warm as they entered and the heavy scent of pastries had Merlin’s mouth watering. A few customers lingered in the shop, browsing the array of treats that were being offered.

 

“Hi Hunith,” Freya greeted brightly. “Look who I’ve brought!”

 

Hunith met Merlin’s eyes and they widened.

 

“Hello, Hunith,” Merlin said, making his voice sound old. “I hope you don’t mind us dropping in.”

 

“Not at all!” Hunith gushed, hurrying around the counter. She took Merlin’s hands in hers, bringing them up to her lips to kiss them. “It’s so good to see you.”

 

“Would you have some time for another baking lesson?” Merlin asked.

 

It was the cover they had come up with for when Merlin visited. He played the old man who wanted to bake his grandchildren treats when they came to visit. It gave the two time to disappear and catch up probably.

 

“Of course! Alice, dear, will you be okay with Ellie for a few hours?” Hunith asked.

 

“Yes, go,” Alice smiled. “Enjoy your baking lesson.”

 

“I’ll be back before closing,” Hunith assured her staff.

 

Alice waved her off before serving the next customer.

 

“Give me a text when you are done,” Freya said. “I’ll come pick you up.”

 

Hunith and Merlin left, heading down the street. Hunith lived in a small house a few blocks away from the bakery and worked to walk every morning.

 

“Merlin, it’s so good to see you,” Hunith gushed quietly as the two walked. “I wasn’t expecting this when I woke up this morning.”

 

“Me either,” Merlin chuckled. “Freya thought it would be a nice surprise.”

 

“It is,” Hunith said.

 

They arrived at Hunith’s home and when they were safely inside and alone, Merlin drank half the potion and reverted back to his usual young self.

 

“Let me get a look at you,” Hunith gushed, holding onto Merlin’s hands. “You are so handsome.”

 

“You look great, mum,” Merlin said, eyeing his mother up and down. “How are you doing out here?”

 

“I miss you every day,” Hunith smiled sadly. “But I am enjoying it out here. The people are lovely.”

 

“Would you tell me if they weren’t?” Merlin asked.

 

“Of course I would,” Hunith promised. “Nobody has pressed about me not having my soul mate here.”

 

“They think he’s dead,” Merlin pointed out.

 

Hunith shrugged. It wasn’t exactly the truth. Hunith had soul swapped with a man name Balinor. He had been passing through the town where Merlin had grown up when he had met Hunith. The two had hit it off and shared a night together, soul swapping and learning who they were to each other. The next day, Balinor had left and had never been heard off again.

 

Soul Abandonment was the official term for it but most used the hurt slang Soul Slut. It was when someone soul swapped with their soul mate but did nothing to find them or be with them, instead choosing to find a partner another way. Hunith later found out that she was pregnant and had raised Merlin all on her own.

 

There were groups though that sought out Soul Sluts and hurled abuse at them, shaming them and the lives they lived. Some even went as far as attacking them, which is what had happened to Hunith. Nobody cared that Hunith had been abandoned and would not see reason. They had beaten her, nearly to death but Merlin had just managed to save her in time. He had not been so lucky with his best friend Will.

 

Will’s own parents had a similar story like Hunith’s and they had attacked Will’s mother as well. Neither of them had survived and Hunith had sent Merlin and Gwen to go live with her old friend Gaius while she was relocated where they could never find her again.

 

“Tell me what’s new with you,” Hunith smiled.

 

“Actually, I do have some news,” Merlin said. “I hope you’ll think it’s good.”

 

“Go on,” Hunith smiled encouragingly.

 

“I soul swapped with someone,” Merlin said in a rush.

 

Hunith eyes lit up. “You did? When?”

 

“A few weeks ago,” Merlin said. “I was trying to rescue a bird on a frozen lake when the swap happened.”

 

“Oh no,” Hunith gasped. “Were you both okay?”

 

Merlin nodded. “Yeah, Arthur saved me.”

 

“Is that his name? Arthur?” Hunith asked.

 

“Arthur Pendragon,” Merlin nodded. “He’s a soccer player. A pretty good one actually.”

 

“Is he good looking?” Hunith’s eyes twinkled.

“Yes,” Merlin blushed. He pulled out his phone and unlocked it, brining up a photo that Gwen had taken the other night at the party. “This is him.”

 

Looking at the photo, a small tear ran down her cheek.

 

“Mum?” Merlin asked, his heart sinking.

 

“Oh sweetheart I’m so happy for you,” Hunith smiled, quickly wiping the tear away. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to blubber. You look so good together and I wish I could have been there for you.”

 

Merlin shook his head. “It’s okay. Are you okay with me having a soul mate?”

 

“Of course,” Hunith’s eyebrows went up. “Merlin, you haven’t been worrying about that have you?”

 

“A little,” Merlin mumbled.

 

“What ever for?” Hunith gasped.

 

Merlin shrugged. “You never talk about dad and what he did. I just thought that maybe you wouldn’t want that to happen to me too.”

 

“I don’t want that to happen to you,” Hunith said. “It was a painful time and I never received any closure but I got you, Merlin, and I would never change a thing. I also would never want to stop you from having something special. Just because it didn’t work out for me doesn’t mean it will be the same for you.”

 

“I really like Arthur,” Merlin grinned. “He’s wonderful, mum. You would really love him.”

 

“Maybe Freya could arrange us to meet one day,” Hunith suggested. “Does he know about your magic?”

 

Merlin nodded. “His sister, Morgana has magic and I healed his knee when he broke it.”

 

“Tell me everything,” Hunith beamed.

 

As the tension left Merlin’s shoulders, he told his mother everything.

 


 

 

“Where’s Merlin?” Gwaine frowned as he set the table with Arthur and Percival.

 

“He isn’t joining us,” Arthur said shortly.

 

Gwaine raised his brows and shared a look with Percival.

 

“You two have a fight or something?” Gwaine asked.

 

Arthur ignored him.

 

“Dinner is ready,” Lance declared as he came in with a plate full of meat. Gwen trailed behind him with a bowl of salad.

 

“Smells good,” Morgana joined them, placing glasses around the table. “Are we ready? Where’s Merlin?”

 

“Apparently he isn’t joining us tonight,” Percival said, giving a significant look to them all.

 

“Are you fighting?” Morgana asked sharply.

 

“No,” Arthur growled. “Merlin was with a friend. Freya, or something.”

 

“Freya?” Gwen asked, sitting down slowly.

 

“His friend with magic, right?” Morgana sat down as well.

 

“Yes,” Gwen nodded. She smiled softly. “Merlin must have been excited to see her.”

 

“She’s a close friend then?” Arthur asked.

 

Gwen bit her lip. “Yes?”

 

“Why did you make it sound like a question?” Arthur frowned.

 

Gwen shook her head. “I didn’t?”

 

“Gwen, love, your not the strongest liar,” Lancelot gently patted her hand.

 

“I’m sorry, Arthur, but it’s not my story to tell,” Gwen rushed out.

 

“So Merlin is hiding something from me,” Arthur confirmed, slouching back in his chair. His appetite was suddenly lost and the fear that had been playing on his mind was suddenly confirmed.

 

“It’s really not what you think,” Gwen said.

 

“It isn’t.”

 

Arthur whipped around, eyes widening as he saw Merlin standing there.

 

 

Chapter Text


 

 

“Hi,” Merlin gave an awkward one-handed wave. His other hand cradled a brown paper bag.

 

“Merlin!” Gwen stood up and hurried around the table. When she reached Merlin she pulled him into a tight hug, mindful of the package he held. “I just found out you were with Freya.”

 

Merlin gave Gwen a smile. “Yeah, it was a nice surprise.”

 

“Are these…” Gwen trailed off, looking at the package.

 

“Yeah, I got your favorite and some for everyone,” Merlin said.

 

Gwen to the package and sniffed it, giving a little hum. “I’ll go put them in the fridge.”

 

“You’re just in time for dinner,” Morgana smiled. “Come sit down.”

 

The team shuffled across, making room for Merlin beside Arthur and he sat down hesitantly. Arthur didn’t look at him and a sharp pain radiated through his chest.

 

Gwen came back, bringing an extra plate and cutlery with her and placed them down on the table. “Here you go.”

 

“Glad to see you, Merlin,” Gwaine grinned. “We were beginning to think you and Arthur were having a tiff.”

 

“Gwaine,” Arthur snapped. “I told you were weren’t. Let it drop.”

 

“Sorry, Princess,” Gwaine raised his hands in surrender.

 

Food was passed around and they begun their dinner in a tense silence.

 

Merlin pushed the food around his plate, glancing at Arthur out of the corner of his eyes. He could feel how tense Arthur was and Merlin bit his lip.

 

Morgana?

 

Across the table, Morgana’s head shot up as she stared at Merlin.

 

Is Arthur mad at me?

 

Morgana glanced silently at Arthur before making eye contact with Merlin once again.

 

He’s confused. Arthur knows you are hiding something and he is concerned.

 

Merlin looked down at his plate, pushing the meat around.

 

Is he going to leave me?

 

Morgana stared at Merlin, her mouth dropping open with shock.

 

Why on earth would you think Arthur would leave you?

 

Not looking at Morgana, Merlin gave a small shrug. He could hear the horror in her thoughts and he swallowed down the fear that bubbled in his throat.

 

It’s not like it doesn’t happen, Morgana.

 

Morgana shook her head.

 

Arthur would never leave you, Merlin. He is not that kind of man and he is so in love with you, even if you haven’t said it yet.

 

Both jumped when Arthur slammed his hands down on the table. “What is going on with you two?”

 

“Merlin and I were having a conversation,” Morgana huffed. “Is there something wrong with that?”

 

“You’re having a silent conversation with magic?” Leon asked, looking between the two. “That is…that’s –“

 

“Insane?” Elyan offered.

 

“Rude?” Gwaine supplied.

 

“None of your business,” Morgana said.

 

“I was asking Morgana if you were going to leave me,” Merlin said.

 

They table went deadly silent and Arthur slowly turned to Merlin, his blue eyes widened with shock.

 

“Excuse me?” Arthur said, voice quiet but lethal.

 

“I know your frustrated with me,” Merlin said quietly. “You think that I’m hiding something from you and I suppose I am.”

 

“Merlin,” Gwen said gently. “You don’t have to do this now. If you’re not ready then you’re not ready.”

 

Arthur glanced between the two before settling back on Merlin.

 

“You’re my soul mate, Arthur and I want you to know everything about me,” Merlin said. “Even if it means you will never want to see me again.”

 

Arthur swallowed thickly. “Did you kill someone?”

 

“No!” Merlin cried out.

 

Arthur nodded. “Then I’m not going to leave you. Ever. I understand that we’ve only just met and we are still getting to know one another. Yes, I admit I am frustrated knowing that you are holding back on me but I’m not going to push you.”

 

“I know,” Merlin said. Hesitantly he reached out and took Arthur’s hand, relief flooding through him when Arthur didn’t pull away. “But with the media knowing about us I don’t want you to be surprised by anything.”

 

“Why don’t you start from the beginning,” Arthur suggested.

 

Merlin nodded. “Freya is my friend but she’s more than that.”

 

Arthur’s heart sunk quickly and his hand twitched under Merlin’s. He felt the dark haired boy grip it tightly, not letting him escape.

 

“She’s my mother’s case handler,” Merlin quickly continued.

 

“Case handler?” Arthur frowned.

 

“I’m only allowed to see my mum once or twice a year,” Merlin said. “She in a relocation program.”

 

Out of all the scenario’s Arthur had thought for the reasons why Merlin never spoke of his parents, this had never even crossed his mind. Confusion swirled thickly around his head as he tried to process all the new information he was receiving.

 

“You mean like witness protection?” Leon asked.

 

Merlin nodded. “My mother was Soul Abandoned.”

 

Morgana gasped, her hand flying to Leon’s and gripping it tightly. “No.”

 

Lance wrapped an arm around Gwen, pulling her almost into his lap.

 

Arthur stomach dropped and his hand tightened around Merlin’s. It all made sense, why Merlin had begged him never to leave, why he was always that touch bit distant with him. Soul Abandonment was not something that was taken lightly within society.

 

“She met her soul mate when he was passing through town. They soul swapped and spent a night together. The next day he was gone,” Merlin explained. “Nine months later I was born.”

 

Those who were abandoned by their soul mates were never treated well in the community often deemed tainted or referred to the vulgar slur Soul Slut. Their children were sadly regarded with same hatred as their parents. It pained Arthur to know that Merlin had grown up with that stigma placed on him.

 

“Why was your mother relocated?” Morgana asked hesitantly.

 

“Our little town didn’t accept mum or me,” Merlin said. “There were some families that were nice to us. Gwen for one.”

 

Gwen smiled at Merlin across the table. “You and Hunith are both so wonderful and took me in after my father passed away.”

 

“It helped that mum wasn’t the only one Soul Abandoned in the town,” Merlin continued. “There was another woman and her son, Will. We became really close friends.” Merlin drew in a shuddering breath. “I guess one day it just grew too much for them.”

 

Gwen whimpered, curling up herself into Lance’s side.

 

“They attacked you?” Gwaine said heavily.

 

Merlin nodded.

 

Arthur couldn’t speak. He simply squeezed Merlin’s hand tighter.

 

“A group of them… I don’t even know how it got started but they just started an attack.”

 

“It made headlines,” Gwen said quietly. “They called it ‘Worst Attack Against Soul Sluts – whose to blame?” Gwen shook her head disgustingly.

 

“I remember that,” Arthur said, his voice cracking. “Everyone does. Three people died in that attack.”

 

“Two people did,” Merlin said quietly. “Will and his mother were shot with arrows. Mum was so badly beaten that I nearly could save her. She survived though and the police fed it to the media that she had passed so she could be relocated. Gwen and I were sent to live with an old friend of hers, Gaius. According to everyone Gaius is my father and for a long time he has been. ”

 

“That’s beyond vile,” Morgana shook her head, a tear rolling down her cheek.

 

“Fucking vigilantes,” Gwaine shook his head. “Cowards, the lot of them.”

 

“I am so sorry,” Arthur shook his head. “I am so sorry you had to go through that.”

 

“It is what it is,” Merlin murmured.

 

“No, it’s not,” Arthur said sharply. “What they did to your mother is unacceptable. Nobody should ever be treated that way, Soul Abandoned or not. Neither should you have been.”

 

Merlin looked up and Arthur noticed how his eyes were looking red and tired. Today had obviously been a big day for Merlin and Arthur cursed himself for pushing Merlin.

 

“Nobody at this table thinks any less of you,” Arthur said strongly.

 

Everyone loudly declared their agreement.

 

“Thank you for sharing this with us Merlin,” Morgana said. “I know that wasn’t easy but we are behind you one hundred percent.”

 

“Always,” Arthur added.

 

Merlin drew in a shaky breath, his eyes sparkling with unshed tears. “Thank you.”

 

“We should have the cakes your mum made,” Gwen said. She untangled herself from Lance and went to Merlin, offering her hand. “Come help me plate them up.”

 

Merlin took the offer to escape for a moment to collect himself and disappeared into the kitchen with Gwen.

 

Arthur slouched back into his chair and ran a hand down his face.

 

“Arthur?” Morgana asked, her voice wobbling as she did. “Are you okay?”

 

“Okay?” Arthur repeated the word. “No, I’m not.”

 

A heavy silence fell over them. None of them had experienced anything like this and they were all still trying to wrap their heads around the terrible childhood that Gwen and Merlin had grown up with. They had all been lucky, relatively sheltered from Soul Abandonment and the hatred that came with it. Arthur couldn’t imagine what Merlin had been through and it frustrated him that he hadn’t been there for him when he needed him most.

 

They straightened when Gwen and Merlin came back with a plate full of sweet cakes.


“My mum baked these,” Merlin sat back down. “She’s a baker now. I can’t tell you where but she always packs me up some when ever I get to see her.”

 

“They look delicious,” Morgana grinned, going straight for a brownie.

 

While everyone helped themselves to the cakes, Arthur dragged Merlin’s chair as close as possible and wrapped an arm around him and tucked him into his side. He felt Merlin wriggle in close and Arthur kissed the top of his head.

 

“Here,” Merlin lifted up a raspberry tart from the plate. “I think you’ll love this one.”

 

Arthur took it a bite and melted. “How did you know this was my favorite?”

 

“I saw you eyeing them on the menu at the restaurant we went out too on our first date,” Merlin said.

 

Arthur’s heart fluttered that Merlin had taken such notice of him and he felt a surge of love for his soul mate. After everything he had been through, all the doubt and fear he had lived with, Merlin still wanted to be with him.

 

“Come with me,” Arthur stood, bringing Merlin with him. Nobody questioned or made comment when the two of them left and Arthur was glad.

 

He took Merlin to his bedroom, shutting the door behind him. Merlin had only been in Arthur’s room once and the blonde admired the way Merlin seemed comfortable in his space. He hoped to make it their space one day but that would not be for a while as he didn’t want to rush Merlin.

 

“Come here,” Arthur said, stepped forward to Merlin and opening his arms.

 

Merlin fit easily into his arms and he pulled the dark haired boy close, hugging him tightly. Merlin tucked his head into Arthur neck, shuddering for a moment before relaxing.

 

“Thank you for sharing your story with us,” Arthur murmured against his Merlin’s hair. “I can’t imagine how tough this has been for you.”

 

Merlin pulled back slightly so he could see Arthur’s face. “You don’t mind that I’m a soul –“

 

“Do not finish that sentence,” Arthur growled. “I don’t want to ever hear you refer to you or your mother as that term.”

 

Merlin eyes glimmered with tears.

 

“I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you when you needed me but I vow to be there for you now,” Arthur said seriously. “No matter what, we are meant to be together, for the good and the bad.”

 

Merlin choked out a sob and gripped Arthur’s face, pulling him into a kiss.

 

Arthur wrapped his arms around Merlin’s waist, kissing him back. He gasped against Merlin’s lips as he felt Merlin’s magic rush through him, warming him in a way he had never felt before. He continued to kiss Merlin as his magic wound through him before retreating. Arthur missed the rush but kept Merlin pressed against him.

 

The kiss began to lighten and Arthur opened his eyes as he pulled back. Merlin swayed in his arms, eyes dropping. The exhaustion of the day had finally caught up with him and he was ready to collapse. Arthur gently steered him to the bed, setting him down.

 

“Stay with me tonight,” Arthur said, gently smoothing Merlin’s hair back from his face.

 

“Yes please,” Merlin whispered.

 

Leaving Merlin for a moment, he went to the draws and pulled out some fresh clothes. Quietly they changed into a pair of boxers each, backs to one another. Arthur pulled back the sheets, eyes roaming Merlin’s bare chest. When Merlin was in, Arthur turned off the light and slipped into the bed. Immediately Merlin was in his arms, snuggling up nice and close.

 

 

Chapter Text


 

 

Merlin stepped into the warm air of the restaurant. The scent of food washed over him, making his stomach rumble. It was empty but the restaurant had only just opened. There was one man sitting at one of the middle tables and Merlin instantly recognized him as the owner and made his way over.

 

“Sorry it took me so long but here is the rope you asked me to get you,” Merlin said, dropping the rope on the table before taking a seat.

 

Kilgharrah smirked, giving a small chuckle. “The rope was not for me, young warlock.”

 

Merlin rolled his eyes. “Then why did you ask me to pick you up a rope?”

 

“Did you not end up using it?” Kilgharrah asked.

 

Merlin jaw dropped. “You knew I was going to soul swap?”

 

Kilgharrah simply chuckled. “Your destiny has been foretold, for thousands of years, young warlock.”

 

“What destiny?” Merlin spluttered.

 

Kilgharrah simply chuckled and stood up. “I will have your order ready for you later this afternoon.”

 

“I haven’t ordered yet,” Merlin whined but the man had already walked away. Merlin sighed knowing there was no way the man would be coming back. He had no doubt though that the food for the after party would be delivered to Ygraine’s home just in time. He left the restaurant and stepped out into the cold air.

 


 

 

“You’re late,” Morgana huffed as Merlin skidded to a halt in front of her.

 

“Shit, has it started?” Merlin panted. He had run from the bus station, by passing security with a quick flash of his VIP pass.

 

“No, but the boys are ready to head out onto the field,” Morgana said. “Gwen and Ygraine are saving our seats. Arthur noticed you weren’t here so I thought it was best you saw him before the game started.”

 

Merlin groaned as the hurried to the player’s lockers. He looked around before quickly sticking his head in the door. It was empty and Merlin entered the room, the door clicking shut behind him.

 

Inwardly he groaned. He knew how important this game was to Arthur and he had wanted to wish him luck before the came had started. He looked around for Arthur’s things, frowning when he didn’t see them. Looking closer, he realized that this was not the Camelot Knights locker room but the competitions. Releasing he was in the wrong locker room, Merlin made to exit when something caught his eye.

 

Stepping closer, Merlin reached into one of the bags and pulled out an ancient looking book. Looking back to the book he instantly recognized the ancient symbols on the book. Opening it, he scanned the page where it opened naturally and frowned.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

Merlin jumped at the voice, quickly dropping the book into the bag from behind his back.

 

“You are not supposed to be in here,” the man was tall and handsome, his mouth set in a thin line. He was dressed in yellow and blue uniform, the competitions colours.


“Yeah, sorry,” Merlin said. “I was hoping to catch my soul mate before he went out but looks like I have the wrong locker room.”

 

“Soul mate,” the man repeated. “Your Arthur Pendragon’s soul mate?”

 

“I am,” Merlin held his chin up high.

 

“They’re already on the field warming up,” the man said. “I suggest you try there.”

 

“Right,” Merlin started backing away, instantly hearing the threat in the man’s voice. The man continued to stare at Merlin as he left the room.

 

“Did you see him?” Morgana asked.

 

“That’s not their locker room,” Merlin grabbed Morgana’s hand and started pulling her away. “They’re already out on the field warming up.”

 

“I guess it’s too late now,” Morgana sighed.

 

“Who is the team they are playing?” Merlin asked as they headed to the stands.

 

“The Western Isles Knights,” Morgana said. “They’re a good team and currently in fourth place. If they beat the Camelot Knights today it will ruin the chances of them winning the championship.”

 

“There you are!” Gwen cried as they entered the stands. “Why are you late?”

 

“Kilgharrah was being his usual cryptic self,” Merlin huffed.

 

“Did you get the food ordered?” Ygraine asked.

 

“I think so,” Merlin said. He looked around and his eyes widened with surprise as he saw Gaius next to Gwen. “Gaius! What are you doing here?”

 

“Arthur invited me,” Gaius said. “He remembered that I enjoy the game.”

 

Merlin rolled his eyes and shuffled past everyone to take a seat next to his mentor.

 

The whistle blew loudly and the game begun.

 


 

 

“Oh dear,” Ygraine said as the half time whistle sounded. “That was not a good half.”

 

“I don’t understand what happened,” Gwen asked, her eyes wide. “Last game they played so well!”

 

“Uther and Arthur are going to be pissed,” Morgana commented.

 

“It was a string of bad plays,” Gaius commented. “They seemed to spend more time face first in the grass then with the ball.”

 

“That wasn’t a string of bad plays,” Merlin muttered to Gaius. “I think one of the players is using magic to cheat.”

 

“Merlin, that’s a strong accusation,” Gaius said, his eyebrow raised high.

 

“I went to the locker room before the game to see Arthur but went into the wrong one,” Merlin explained quickly. “One of the players had a book of magic. It’s the player called Valiant.”

 

“Are you sure?” Gaius asked.

 

“Yes,” Merlin nodded firmly.

 

“If the Camelot Knights are going to make a comeback in the next half you are going to have to do something and quickly,” Gaius said.

 

“Morgana, come on,” Merlin said, hurrying out of the stands.

 

“Merlin? What’s going on?” Morgana followed him with a frown on her face.

 

Quickly relaying what he told Gaius, the two hurried to the locker rooms where the teams had gone to re-group and plan their next half.

 

“What do we do?” Morgana asked.

 

“We use magic to stop him,” Merlin said. “He must be using some sort of charm that’s causing Arthur and the team to trip up all the time.”

 

“How do we get the charm?” Merlin asked.

 

“We need the magic book,” Merlin said. “If we can find the charm then we can reverse it.”

 

“Quick, they’re coming out,” Morgana hissed. She pulled Merlin behind a pillar and they hid out of sight. Listening to the team loud voices, they waited until they had faded until peeking out from behind the pillar.

 

“Let’s go,” Merlin said.

 

Hurrying into the locker room, Merlin made sure to lock the door with magic before hurrying to the bag he had found the book in.

 

“Got it,” Merlin said, pulling it out and opening it. “Okay, charm, charm, charm. Where is it?”

 

“How do you know what you’re looking for?” Morgana asked, peering over his shoulder.

 

“These games are taped so it will have to be something inconspicuous to avoid detection on the screen,” Merlin said. “Something like this!”

 

Merlin stopped on a page. The ancient language was written on the stained paper and there was an image of a necklace with the image of a snake.

 

“It says that all he has to do is say this phrase and the snake causes the intended to fail in their task,” Morgana summarized.

 

“It can do more than that,” Merlin said. He ran a finger down the page. “With continuous use it poisons the intended. It will kill them.”

 

“How do we stop it?” Morgana asked.

 

Merlin eyes flew across the page as he hurried to read it. “Okay! There is a way to reverse it. We have to say the command backwards until it turns on Valiant.” He snapped the book shut and unlocked the door with magic. “Come on, we have to get closer.”

 

They ran back to the stands, Gaius looking at them anxiously.

 

“Did you find anything?” Gaius asked.

 

“Yes,” Merlin panted, tearing open the book. He held it up for him and Morgana to see. “Just keep going. Don’t stop for anything.”

 

Morgana nodded and together they started saying the command backwards. Their eyes flashed gold and Merlin gripped Morgana’s hand as their magic joined together.

 


 

 

Arthur was frustrated. The first half had been abysmal and the second half wasn’t going well either. He sprinted down the field, chasing Valiant who had the ball. All game the man had been tackling and taking the ball, even scoring once. The man had been untouchable anytime one of Arthur’s teammates got close to him.

 

“Come on,” Arthur growled to himself, sprinting harder.

 

To his surprise, Valiant suddenly stumbled over the ball, tripping and falling flat on his face, the ball unprotected. Arthur grabbed it, spinning and sprinting back towards the other end of the pitch. It was as if a curse had been lifted and suddenly everything was falling into place.

 

The team sprinted down to the other end, passing it flawlessly to one another and setting up a goal that sent the crowd wild.

 

“All right men,” Arthur called as they jogged back to their starting positions. “There isn’t much time but we can still win this. Lets run play three and win this game!”

 

“Camelot Knights!” the team cheered.

 

The whistle blew and Arthur passed the ball the Gwaine. Together they passed the ball between them, flying past their opponents. Valiant tried to keep up but the man seemed weaker now and Arthur sprinted past him, passing to Gwaine who kicked it high and long –

 

They scored!

 

The crowd went wild and Gwaine went running to Arthur, jumping into his arms and ruffling his hair.

 

“Yes princess,” Gwaine crowed. “Nicely done! Looks like the curse is lifted.”

 

“Get off me,” Arthur laughed, dropping Gwaine to the pitch. The man simply grinned and flicked his hair out of his face.

 

“They’ll be talking about this comeback for years,” Gwaine grinned.

 

Arthur beamed to the crowd as the final whistle blew and the crowd leapt to its feet, roaring its approval. Arthur stumbled as they knights pounced on him, cheering. Relief washed through him. They were still in the game.

 


 

 

Merlin and Morgana collapsed down onto the seats as they crowd all leapt to their feet around them.

 

“My head,” Morgana moaned, placing her face into her hands.

 

“At least it worked,” Merlin muttered, his own head aching. Valliant’s charm had been powerful and it had taken both their magic to stop the charm and secure Camelot Knights win.

 

“I’ve never used that much magic before,” Morgana winced. “Does it always hurt after something like that?”

 

“Not usually,” Merlin rubbed his forehead. “That charm was trying to fight our magic, that why.”

 

“Well done,” Gaius said, patting Merlin’s back. “That was very impressive.”

 

“Did you do something to Valiant?” Gwen asked. “He doesn’t look good.”

 

Merlin looked up and saw that Gwen was right.

 

Valiant was looking pale, even from the distance and his knees kept buckling as he walked off the field. Suddenly he collapsed on the ground and two medics went running out onto the field.

 

“Did we do that?” Morgana gasped.

 

“No,” Merlin shook his head. He flipped open the book and quickly read through it. He winced as he took in the last few paragraphs. “It says here when you reverse the charm while wearing it the effects transfers onto the wearer.”

 

The crowd broke out into murmurs as Valiant was carried off the field on a stretcher and the celebration became somber. Morgana and Merlin slouched in their chairs, massaging their temples and tried not to throw up.

 


 

 

“That was a spectacular recovery,” Uther said. “You fought hard and well and in the last half. What we practiced in training you implemented in the game fantastically.”

 

The team beamed proudly.

 

“That being said we are now moving into the final games and our focus and training must continue. Enjoy the celebrations tonight as tomorrow a new training schedule begins.”

 

The team groaned good-naturedly and grabbed their things belongings. Arthur slung his bag over his shoulder and headed out. His spirits lifted as he found Merlin leaning against the wall, eyes closed.

 

“I see you finally made it,” Arthur said.

 

Merlin eyes snapped open and he smiled weakly. “Wouldn’t have missed it.”

 

Arthur frowned and gently took Merlin’s hand. “What’s wrong?”

 

“Can we go to the car?” Merlin asked. “I really need to sit down.”

 

Arthur frowned and led Merlin out of the stadium and to the car. He made sure that was seated comfortably in the passenger seat before getting behind the wheel.

 

“Does this have something to do with why you were late?” Arthur asked.

 

“No, that was destiny,” Merlin muttered, rubbing his eyes.

 

“What?” Arthur frowned as he started the car.

 

“I don’t know,” Merlin sighed. “I made it for the start of the game though.”

 

Arthur grunted. “The one time I want you to be late and you see our disaster of a start.”

 

“It wasn’t your fault,” Merlin said.

 

“We’ve never had a bad start like that. Ever. It was embarrassing. Thank god we managed to pick it up in the end,” Arthur shook his head.

 

“Valiant was using magic to cheat.”

 

Arthur’s foot slipped on the pedal and they suddenly shot forward as the car braked.

 

“Owe, Arthur,” Merlin groaned, rubbing his chest as he flung back into the seat.

 

“Sorry,” Arthur gently took his foot off the break and started the car rolling once again. “What do you mean Valiant was using magic to cheat?”

 

“He had a charm,” Merlin explained. “That’s why you guys kept falling and never getting the ball. Any longer and the charm would have started to poison you.”

 

“Seriously,” Arthur said.

 

“Morgana and I recanted the charm,” Merlin said.

 

“Is that why he left on a stretcher?” Arthur frowned.

 

“Yeah,” Merlin swallowed. “That was his own fault though.”

 

Arthur fell silent as he took in the new information.

 

“Arthur?” Merlin asked quietly. “Are you okay?”

 

“I didn’t think that magic could be used in that way,” Arthur said. “I guess I really don’t know much about it.”

 

“I would never use my magic like that,” Merlin said seriously. “Ever and especially never on you.”

 

“I know you wouldn’t,” Arthur said, glancing quickly at Merlin and then back to the road. “Are you okay?”

 

“Just a headache,” Merlin smiled weakly. “The charm was stronger than we thought it would be.”

 

“Morgana helped?” Arthur asked.

 

“Yeah.”

 

It didn’t take them long until they were pulling into his parents’ driveway and Arthur parked the car. He got out and hurried around to Merlin’s side. The dark haired boy was already out of the car and Arthur gently pushed him against the car.

 

“You saved me again,” Arthur placed his hands on Merlin’s hips.

 

“I guess I did,” Merlin grinned. “Just how are you going to thank me?”

 

Arthur leaned in and kissed Merlin deeply. He pressed himself closely, groaning as Merlin arched into touch, wrapping an arm around neck and threaded his fingers into his blonde hair. Arthur ran his tongue along the seam of Merlin’s lips until they parted and Merlin slid his tongue along Arthurs.

 

Arthur pulled back, ending the kiss gently.

 

“That was a good thank you,” Merlin gasped.

 

“And I’ll continue to thank you after the party,” Arthur smirked, taking Merlin’s hand and pulling him off the car.

 

“Arthur,” Merlin whined. “Tease.”