elfflame

May 2016

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Finding Arthur - Part 19

Title: Finding King Arthur (temporary until I find something better)
Author: [info]elfflame
Fandom: Merlin (BBC)
Rating: NC-17, bebe.
Summary: Things have gone bad in Camelot.  Arthur has been missing for a year, and Uther and Gaius have been poisoned.  Merlin and the knights of Camelot set out to find their Prince before the kingdom can be claimed by Morgana.
Warnings: Death (not Merlin or Arthur), minor spoilers for season 3.
A/N: 500 words of this was written yesterday.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10
Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15
Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18


"I…think that's everything…"

Arthur shook his head, then pulled Merlin against himself. "Need one more thing…a kiss for good luck. Isn't that the tradition?"

Merlin's eyes widened. "Arthur…Agravaine is waiting.

"He can wait another minute…it won't kill him…" He smirked, then kissed Merlin, lingering and slow, and apparently doing his best to wring a moan from him.

When Merlin pulled away, he knew he was flushed, but he couldn't quite bring himself to scold Arthur for it. It had felt too good. "Good luck, Arthur," he said instead. "Not that you'll need it."

"No. Not with you and Lancelot on my side," he said with a smile.

"And Gwaine."

Arthur made a face that Merlin couldn't interpret. "Yeah…him, too…I guess."

He'd have questioned what that was supposed to mean, when there was another knock at the door.

"Yes, all right, coming," Arthur called out, then turned and moved to the door.

After an annoyed glance from Agravaine, they made their way down to the field, this time, with almost no conversation. He didn't even bother to wish Arthur good luck before leaving them at Arthur's tent.

"So that's the way to get rid of him," Arthur muttered as they entered the tent.

"What?"

Arthur shook his head. "Nothing." He smiled, then moved towards his armor.

"Wait," Merlin told him, putting a hand on his arm. "Let me check it? Just in case."

Arthur looked startled, then nodded. "Right." He stepped back out of the way, and watched to see what Merlin would do.

Merlin cast a spell to search for any poisons or other tampering that might have occurred while the armor had sat her overnight. At first there was nothing, but then the armor began to glow faintly, and he frowned.

"What did you do?" Arthur asked, sounding concerned.

"Just a detection spell. I'm not sure what it means…yet." He cast a second spell, focusing on magical signature, but there was nothing, so he tried for poisons. Again, nothing, which let him relax a bit.

"Is…that it? Are you done?"

"No…" He held up his hand to keep Arthur back. There was still something, and he wasn't about to take chances until he knew they were safe.

"Merlin…the fights going to start soon…I have to get ready."

"I know, but I'm not about to let you wear armor if it's not going to protect you, or worse…might even harm you…" He cast a few more spells, then scowled. "Ah…" He leaned in and saw a flaw that had been caused in the metal. Obviously someone looking for a kill shot, because it was right over Arthur's heart.

Merlin concentrated, letting the metal shift and 'heal' the weak spot, then cast the spell again, smiling when the armor refused to glow this time. "There."

Arthur glanced at him, then looked over the armor. "I don't see anything different…"

"You trust me, don't you?"

Arthur smiled, then nodded. "Yes." He moved to pull on his mail while Merlin unbuckled the plate. He intended on checking every single fastening by hand before he let Arthur out on the field. Nothing was going to hurt him today. Not if Merlin had anything to say about it.

Despite Arthur's protests, Merlin took his time, checking and rechecking every buckle and every slight ding in the armor before he agreed that Arthur was ready.

"You're such a worry-wart, Merlin. I have Excalibur. I'll be fine. Nothing can stop me when I hold that, right?"

Merlin sighed. "Better safe than sorry, as they say."

By the time he declared Arthur fit for battle, they could hear the seneschal announcing the first battle, and Arthur glowered at Merlin, who grinned at him, unabashed. "At least now we know," he said, walking with him out to the field.

"Yeah…you couldn't have done that last night?"

"No, because it sat there all night, and someone could have tampered with it then."

"This morning, then?"

Merlin snorted, and Arthur grinned sheepishly. "Oh, all right. Perhaps not. But…you really didn't need to be that thorough…"

"Yes. I did." Because Arthur's safety was everything. And he didn't trust Morgana farther than he could throw her.

Arthur shook his head, but looked at him, fond. "Well, at least I know the armor won't do me in, then," he said with a wink.

They made it to the field just as the first fight commenced, and Merlin stood with Arthur to see the outcome. This was different from everything that had come before, because this time, there would only be one person to win the entire thing. And if that person wasn't Arthur…

"Stop worrying, Merlin, or I'll send you to clean my room while I fight."

"You wouldn’t dare," Merlin said, sure of himself that Arthur wanted him there as much as he wanted to be there.

"Try me," Arthur told him with a smirk.

Merlin glowered at him, then turned back towards the field, where the two men were fighting. Just a week ago, he'd been worried Arthur wouldn't even be able to get this far. But now…

"Merlin," Arthur said softly. "If you think I'm bluffing, keep that worried look on your face…"

Merlin was tempted to stick out his tongue at him, but refrained, and was glad of it a moment later when Gwaine appeared.

"So…how's the fight going?"

"It’s a fight. Rather overbalanced, actually," Arthur said, watching the two men once more. "The one in blue keeps dropping his sword tip at the wrong time. Even if this one doesn't take him out, he's not going to last…"

"I don't know…he's got a good bit of strength behind his blows," Gwaine said. "That might shift things in his favour."

"Might. If he were using a mace. But with a sword, it's only going to make him overbalanced and slow. He'll lose. This fight or the next."

Merlin couldn't see what they meant, despite having watched Arthur fight a number of times. He could tell, though, that the man wasn't nearly as nimble as Arthur was in his armor. And he was sure Arthur would take him out easily if he had to fight him.

"So when are you up?" Gwaine asked.

"Actually…we haven't looked." Arthur glanced at Merlin, who shook his head. He hadn't really thought about it. He'd been too busy getting Arthur ready.

"I'll go check now." Confident that Arthur would be fine with Gwaine, he hurried off towards where the board was to keep track of who would be fighting who next. It took him a few minutes to get through the crowd. There were more here today than there had been the previous two. Obviously, people had waited to watch until the final fights, knowing that those would be the most interesting.

There was another crowd around the board. Pages and servants and squires fought to get to the board to see when their masters would be fighting. Merlin might have cheated a little by using his magic to get others out of the way, but if he did, no one noticed, and soon he was hurrying back to Arthur's side.

"You're third up," he said breathlessly as he squeezed in beside him. And Lancelot is three fights after you."

"Thanks, Merlin. That means that we won't have to fight each other for a bit, at least…"

"Too bad you have to at all," Gwen said, and Merlin grinned at seeing her.

"Hey…when did you get here?"

She smiled at him. "Right after you left, apparently. Looks like everyone in the kingdom is here…"

"Well, they do have good reason," Arthur said, watching as the clumsier of the two current combatants was disarmed and quickly yielded to his opponent. "One down, thirteen to go," he said. He didn't look worried, but Merlin could see he had his fighting face on, and he'd never been able to read him in the moments before a tournament.


Twenty-Nine
Oh I Just Can't Wait…

By the time Arthur's first fight came, he was leaning forward with every blow the pair before him landed, and Merlin was glad that they hadn't had to wait too long, or he might have actually jumped out onto the field to fight whether or not it had been his turn.

Once they got to the entrance of the field, Merlin gave him one more glance-over, then nodded to him and handed him his helmet. He really wanted to say something wise, but he was too nervous to think of anything. "Good luck," he finally settled on.

Arthur smiled, patting Excalibur where it rested against his hip. "I don't need luck, remember?"

"Maybe. But…be careful anyway?"

Arthur grinned wider, shaking his head. "I will, Merlin. I promise." His expression shifted, and then for a second, Merlin actually thought Arthur was going to lean in and kiss him. Then the moment passed, and he turned away. Merlin watched as he made his way to the centre of the field, hoping that there would be no surprises and trying not to think to hard about could have beens and wishes.

He made his way back to the others to watch, not wanting to be alone for this. Even if Arthur wasn't nervous, Merlin was obviously nervous enough for both of them. He knew Arthur was good, but out there on the field, anything could go wrong. Especially with Morgana still in charge.

The fight was unsurprisingly short. The man fighting Arthur seemed to recognize him, and either it threw him, or he'd never been very good to start with, and soon he found himself on his back on the ground, Excalibur at his throat.

"Concede," Arthur told him.

The man choked out an agreement, and Arthur helped him up, then turned to look at the seneschal, who glanced up at Morgana where she sat. She was still for a moment, scowling, then nodded, and Arthur left the field, smiling when he pulled off his helmet. "That went well."

"Should we stay and watch Lancelot, or did you want to take off the armor for a bit until you're up again?" Merlin asked him.

"I'm fine, Merlin. You're such a girl. Do stop fussing." Arthur leaned against the rail separating the standing audience from the field, and watched as the next pair came onto the field.

Arthur and Gwaine discussed their form as they fought, pointing out all the flaws in how they lifted their swords, how they moved, how they hit… To Merlin, they looked far better than the previous two, but the way Arthur and Gwaine talked about them, they sounded as though they were stumbling about on the field, flailing blindly at one another.

Despite their predictions, the men seemed quite good, and evenly matched, as the fight continued on for quite some time, and Gwen finally dragged Merlin away to get refreshments for them all.

"Merlin…is something wrong?" she asked as they hurried back to the castle for a basket of pasties and some drink. "You've been acting so…odd these past two days."

Merlin did his best not to flush. "No…just…worried."

"About the fight?"

He shrugged. "That, yeah…and…everything."

"Merlin…this is Arthur we're talking about. He'll be fine. Everything will be fine. All right?"

Merlin wished he could be as certain as Gwen. But there was still so much that could go wrong. "I hope so."


Next Part


34252 / 50000 words. 69% done!

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