elfflame

May 2016

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Meet Me at the Avalon Pt 2

Title: Meet Me at the Avalon
Author: [info]elfflame
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin, many others in passing
Summary: Through all the centuries, Merlin has found a home, and brings his friends there when he finds them again and again, but never Arthur. Until one day, Arthur finds him.
A/N: See notes in part 1


Pulling off his coat, he tossed it over a nearby chair, then headed towards the screens that separated his sleeping area from the main part of the room.

He was so lost in his thoughts, he almost didn’t hear the sound when it came, a scuffing sound, like someone shifting to the side. He turned toward it, eyes narrowed. “Who’s there? Gilli?” He moved to the darkened corner, frowning. “Come out. Don’t make me come after you…”

The young man who stepped into view wasn’t Gilli or Will or anyone Merlin knew. Tall and blond, athletic, and far too young to be here. He had a sheepish look on his face. “Hi,” he said. “Sorry… I was just looking around.”

Merlin scowled at him. “This isn’t public space, kid. And even if it was, you’re what… fifteen?”

The boy scowled. “Eighteen, thank you very much.”

“Oh?”

The boy made a face. “Well… almost.”

Merlin crossed his arms. “Almost?”

“In March,” the boy said.

“March is six months away, kid. Now… how did you get in, and even more importantly, how did you get into my private rooms?”

The boy’s bright blue eyes widened. “You’re… Emrys?”

Oh, no. Not this. “Doesn’t matter. Rules of this club clearly state you have to be of age and invited by a member. You’re far too young.”

“I’m of age!” he scowled. “My friend Percy gave me an invite on my seventeenth birthday. He’s been telling me all about this place since he started working here.”

Obviously, Merlin was going to have to have a conversation with Percy about that. Percy might be young, but that didn’t mean he could invite his youngest friends here, just because he worked here. “Oh, has he? And what has he told you?”

The boy’s eyes flickered, and he turned his face away. “That you can have whatever you want here. That… I could have… what I needed.”

Merlin frowned. Obviously, this was where he was supposed to ask what it was the boy thought he needed. But he wasn’t going to fall for that. “Well, you can’t. This is my club, and you’ve entered a private area without asking. So I hope you got what you wanted, because you won’t be coming back.”

The boy looked up at him, stunned. “What? Why? I just… wanted to look!”

“Well, you’ve looked, and now it’s time to go.” He grabbed the boy’s arm and tugged him toward the door, pushing it open and tugging him out into the hall, even as he struggled against his grip.

“Let go of me!” the boy was shouting. “You can’t do this to me! Do you know who I am…?” He paled, and Merlin’s eyes narrowed, looking back at the boy. Either he had a lot of ego, of things were likely about to get a lot worse.

“No. Because you are an interloper, and have not been invited here. So…who are you, then, hm?”

The boy shook his head. “Never mind. But you don’t have to yank me about.”

Merlin was about ready to shake him. “If you have brought trouble to my club…”

“Your club? You own it? I thought you were just…”

“For hire? No. I only let people pay in certain conditions. Now…” He looked around, relaxing when he saw a familiar face coming up the steps, tray in hand. “Will… You’re early.”

Will grinned, then his eyes landed on the boy. “Started without me?” he asked.

“He’s not a member, Will. Could you set that in my room, then escort him downstairs? And tell whoever’s at the door that he’s not to come back in? Oh, and send Percy up. I need to have a word with him.”

“What?” The boy looked truly worried now. “You’re not going to fire him, are you? It’s not his fault! He didn’t know I was going to do this, please don’t fire him…”

Merlin looked at the boy. “Then perhaps you shouldn’t have gone sneaking about where you weren’t invited, hm?”

“Please… I just had to know…” He glanced at Will, who had disappeared into Merlin’s room, then returned.

“Know…?” Merlin prompted.

“Please, could we just…talk for a minute? In private?” The boy asked.

“And if I say no?”

He looked down and seemed to be considering the question. “If I… tell you how I got up here…
will you at least promise not to fire Percival?”

Will snorted. “Now he’s bargaining for someone else? Not going to get him what he wants, is it?”

Merlin shot him a warning look. “Go get Percy, Will.” He took the boy’s arm. “Come on. If you’re going to insist, at least let me sit. Been on my feet far too long today.”

“You’re going to let him stay?” Will asked.

“I’m not going to let him do anything, Will, but obviously forcing him to go now won’t keep him from sneaking back in later, so it’s best to get to the bottom of it now. Go. And make sure Lance is on duty?”

“What? But…”

“Will. Now.”

The boy snickered, and Merlin shot him a look, which made him sober and look down once more. Merlin moved back into his rooms, then settled across from the tray, legs crossed as he watched the boy follow him in and settle on the other side, looking more like he was sitting on an instrument of torture than a soft cushioned sofa.

“All right. Let’s try this again. You know who I am…”

“You are Emrys, then?” the boy asked, excited.

Merlin sighed, then nodded. “Some call me, that, yes.”

“Then you’re who I’m here to see. Please…”

It was difficult to hold onto his temper. “And you are…?”

The boy’s cheeks went slightly pink, and he looked down. “I’m… My name is Artie.”

An odd name, but hardly unusual. “Artie…?” he prompted, knowing the boy was hiding something.

“Does it matter?”

“It does. If your father is some kind of… police officer or worse, I need to be prepared, Artie.” He frowned when he saw the boy wince at the name. “You don’t like me calling you by name?”

Artie flushed darker, looking away as he mumbled something Merlin didn’t quite catch.

“What was that?”

“I… haven’t really gone by that since I was about twelve.”

“Oh? Then what do people usually call you, hm?”

Blue eyes rose to meet Merlin’s. “Arthur.” The name would have been blow enough, but then the boy added, “Pendragon.”

* 2 *


Arthur’d heard about the place in grammar school. A friend’s older brother had been invited for a party, and he’d been shocked, then fascinated. After that, he’d gathered anything and everything he could find out about the club. It had been difficult at first. He was too young to get his hands on a lot of it, but the Internet had helped. He’d been shocked to learn how long the club had been there, and that it had had a long string of related owners who had that inherited it as well as the inn that had been there before it.

Of course, being who he was, no one was going to be stupid enough to offer him an invitation to the place. His father had been in politics longer than he had been alive, and was currently an MP who belonged to the Cornerstone Group. If he’d had even the slightest inkling that his son was interested in an adults only club that was known for sex and alternate sexuality, Arthur would have been locked in his room until he was thirty. Still, it hadn’t stopped Arthur from trying.

When he’d met Percy at a party and learned he was working there, well, he’d made very sure not to let on that that was his only interest. And truth be told, Percy was an all right bloke. Even without the connection to the Avalon, Arthur was fairly certain he would have wanted to be friends with the other young man. It had taken him a few months to find a way to suggest he could come visit him at work. Just a quick tour of the place, he’d assured his friend. And even then, Percy had been skeptical, but in the end, he’d agreed.

It had been well worth it, even though Percy said he couldn’t leave the main room. Just standing in the Avalon, he’d known this was the place he was meant to be. He couldn’t have said how he knew, but it just felt right. When Percy’d been called away by a tall young woman with a twist of black hair on her head, Arthur had taken the chance he’d wanted, and snuck through the nearest door, and had eventually found his way here, to Emrys’s rooms. Or at least, he’d assumed they were. He’d heard so much about the man in his research on the place.

Emrys was known for his particular clientele. No one knew who he truly was, only that he occasionally took on men who enjoyed dominance and submission scenes. And that had been an education all on its own, when Arthur had read up on what that meant. The more he’d learned, the more he realized it was just what he wanted. He’d not admitted it to himself, but he’d hoped that Emrys would be here, and upon entering the room and finding it it empty, he’d felt such a rush of disappointment that he’d missed the footsteps at first. It wasn’t until the door began to swing open that he’d realized someone was coming in, and terrified, he’d dove for cover.

Not that it had done him any good. So now he was sitting here with Emrys, and about to be thrown out, and all he could think was how very much he wanted to stay.

The look on Emrys’s face when he’d said his name was enough to tell him that would never happen, but there had been a different look at his first name, and Arthur wondered what it meant. “You’re going to kick me out forever, aren’t you?” he asked softly.

Emrys was still staring at him, horrified. “Arthur…? But…” Arthur began to worry as the word stretched into silence, Emrys’s eyes never leaving his face.

“What? What is it?”

Finally, Emrys seemed to shake himself, and stood up, turning away. “Yes. You have to go.” He was quiet for a moment. “Pendragon…” He shook his head. “I’ve… There’s an MP with that name, isn’t there?”

Arthur nodded. “My… father.”

Emrys closed his eyes, and Arthur could hear him muttering to himself, the only word of which he could make out was, “Stupid…”

“Look, I’ll tell him it was my idea, and that you had nothing to do with it, I swear.”

Turning to look at him, Emrys speared him with a glance. He’d wondered how a man so slight could do some of the things he’d read about on those sites after finding out what he did, but now? Now he knew. “And you think he’ll just believe you? Won’t think that me and my club are a ‘corrupting influence’ that he needs to snuff out?”

Arthur felt himself grow pale. “I… I didn’t mean…”

“Well, whatever you did mean, it’s too late to fix the damage easily, boy.” He sighed, brushing back wispy white strands of hair from his face. Despite his own horror at what he’d done, he couldn’t help but wonder what Emrys looked like when he was young. He certainly didn’t look old now. He couldn’t help but wonder why his hair was so white.

Someone knocked, and Emrys walked to open it, nodding at the man on the other side. “Percival. Do come in.” He stepped aside, letting Arthur’s friend in.

Percy looked horrified. “Arthur, why…?”

“I’m sorry, Perce.” He wanted to explain himself, but really, what was there to say? He was just going to have to accept whatever came his way. Even if it meant losing his friendship, or any access to this club ever. His throat closed at the thought, and his shoulders hunched forward, ears ringing, not even aware of what the other two men were saying until Percy tapped on his arm.

“Come on, kid. I’ll get you home.”

Arthur looked up at Percy, then at Emrys, who wasn’t looking at him. “I’m sorry, sir,” he said softly, hoping for a glimpse of those amazing blue eyes once more. He’d never seen eyes quite that blue before. His own were ordinary by comparison.

Emrys grunted, but didn’t look up. “Go on, before I change my mind,” he told Percy.

Arthur stood and let Percy lead him from the room, but glanced over his shoulder before the door closed behind him. The last sight he had of Emrys was of the man sitting in his chair once more, head in his hands.

* 3 *


Arthur. Here at the Avalon. How had he found him, when Merlin hadn’t even known he’d returned yet? Yes, he’d heard of MP Pendragon, but he’d heard the name plenty of times in the past without it meaning anything. Was the man’s name Uther? He couldn’t remember. After the hundredth false alarm at the name, he’d stopped checking, stopped hoping, stopped thinking there was any connection. So instead, he’d been surprised, and Arthur… Arthur had found him.

After a moment of dwelling on all of it, Merlin stood and made his way to Gwen’s office, ignoring the stares and cries of welcome home, still too caught up in his troubles to pretend a happy homecoming right now.

She had mounds of paper around her, and was busily typing them into the computer in front of her.

“Gwen?”

She looked up, startled, smiling at the sound of his voice, then frowned when she saw his experience. She quickly pressed a button to save what she’d been working on, then stood up and moved to him. “Merlin? What’s wrong? You haven’t even changed yet. Are you all right?”

Merlin shook his head. “I… I need to talk to someone. Can you spare some time?” He supposed he could talk to Gaius, too, but Gwen was always so much more empathetic, and that was what he needed right now.

She glanced at the stacks on her desk for a moment, then nodded. “Of course. Your room?”
He nodded.

“All right. Just let me talk to Sefa for a moment, so that this can all get finished in time for tonight. Morgan and her parties… So much planning…” She smiled, picking up the phone, and pressed a button.

Merlin didn’t bother listening. He glanced around, wishing he could regain the sense of “home” he’d gotten stepping in the back door less than an hour before. But now, that was shattered. Worse, it was in jeopardy. If Arthur’s father came after the Avalon…

“Merlin?” It sounded as though it weren’t the first time she’d said his name, and Merlin made a face.

“Right. Ready?”

She nodded, putting her hand on his arm. “Yes. Let’s go talk.”

They went back up to his rooms, and Gwen locked the door. “Just in case. Now that people know you’re back, everyone will want to say hi,” she told him.

“Thanks.” He definitely wasn’t ready for the masses to descend on him yet. He settled near the untouched tray, staring at it as though he’d not even noticed it before.

She sat next to him. “So spill. What’s wrong? Was it the Isle? You mentioned going there…”

Merlin had completely forgotten his disappointment at not finding Arthur there. He supposed he couldn’t have, if he was a teenager now. Oh, god, Arthur was a teenager. And he’d been here. In this very room. Merlin looked around. What had he touched? How long had he been here before Merlin had come in?

“Merlin?”

He turned, making a face. “Sorry. I just… I had a visitor when I got up here.”

“A… visitor?” Gwen asked. “Who?”

“Arthur,” he breathed. What the hell was he going to do? Even if he hadn’t been a teenager, his father was an MP!

Gwen’s eyes went round. “Arthur?” she echoed. “Here?”

“Yeah… Worse… his dad’s an MP. Pendragon?”

She swallowed. “Oh, god, Merlin. That’s… not good.”

“No.” He met her eyes. “Have you heard of the man?”

Her mouth twisted into a scowl, very unpretty on such a pretty face. “Yes. He’s always voting down funds for poorer neighborhoods, projects to help single mothers, immigrants… All of it. He’s one of those ‘England is for the English’ sorts. Anyone who doesn’t look like him or have his money or better isn’t welcome.”

“I didn’t figure Uther would be a friendly type, in whatever guise he was in,” Merlin sighed. “And if he finds out about Arthur coming here, I doubt he’ll be pleased.”

“God, no. He was behind a bill trying to ban any clubs like ours from London. He failed, of course. We all have too much money and support not to get help on something like that, but…it won’t keep him from trying again, especially to shut us down, if he thinks he can.”

And there, that was just what Merlin feared most. “What am I going to do, Gwen? I told him he can’t come back, but… it’s Arthur!” He met her eyes. “How am I supposed to stay apart from him now that I know where he is?”

“Oh, Merlin…” She curled her arms around him and hugged him. “We’ll figure something out. I’m sure between us we can. Now… as to what you’re going to do? You’re going to eat everything on that tray, then take a nice, long hot shower, fix your hair so that you don’t look older than Gaius, and I’ll send up both Will and Gilli, so you can relax.”

He wasn’t sure about the last, but at least he’d have someone here to talk to even if he couldn’t. Neither Will nor Gilli knew who he truly was, so he’d have to keep most of it to himself, but even having them there would help. “All right. And Morgan’s party?”

“Will be fine without you. Now eat.”

He smiled, then reached for the tray. “Yes, ma’am.”

* 4 *


The car ride home was quiet. Arthur didn’t know what to say to his friend. What did you say to someone when you’d cost them their job?

Percy pulled to a stop in front of the townhouse, then looked at Arthur. “You could have told me what you were planning, Arthur. Maybe we could have figured something out. Instead of this. Why did you do it?”

Ashamed, Arthur hung his head. “I… I don’t know. I just… had to. But I never meant to cost you your job,” he told him, doing his best to look as sincere as it was possible to look when you felt like you were banned from heaven.

“Cost… my job? Arthur, what are you talking about? He’s docking my pay. And I’m not allowed to work tonight. That’s all.”

“Really?” Arthur was so relieved, he sagged back in his seat. “Thank god. I promise… I won’t let it happen again. Okay?”

“Yeah, well, seeing I can’t bring you to the club again without losing my job, I’d say that’s quite likely, isn’t it, mate?”

Arthur flushed. He supposed he could deny that he’d try it again, but they’d both know it for the lie it was. Even now, part of him was trying to find a way to get there so he could sneak back in.

“And don’t even try to find a way in on your own, Arthur. I’m the nice one. Some of the bouncers are downright mean.”

“Right,” Arthur mumbled. “Thanks.” He looked at Percy. “So… how pissed off at me are you?”

Percy tilted his head. “More like annoyed, mate. Give me a few days, but I think we’ll be okay. Just… don’t do it again.”

“Yeah, all right,” Arthur nodded. “I should probably get inside.” Even though he really wasn’t ready for this to all be over, despite how badly it had gone. “Thanks, Percy. I mean it. And… I’ll make it up to you. Eventually.”

“Yeah… I won’t hold my breath, all right, wanker?”

Arthur laughed. “Yeah, all right,” he said. “See you, Perce.” He got out of the car, then watched as Percy pulled away. Then he glanced up at the house. How should he play this? If his father was already home, he was sure to ask where he’d been, and if he wasn’t, there was always a possibility he might ask. Granted, he didn’t know where Percy worked, and Arthur planned on keeping it that way, but if Emrys or one of his people had called, he might find out. Though Arthur didn’t think that would happen. Emrys seemed pretty worried that his father would learn he was there. He’d hardly go out of his way to tell him himself.

Bracing himself, Arthur decided to go with the simplest lie. He and Percy had gone for a drive around the city, and then they’d had a minor disagreement, and Percy’d brought him back home. It would fit with Percy not coming to see him for a couple of days, and throw off any suspicions his father might have. Or at least, Arthur hoped it would. He made his way up the steps and opened the door. “Mum?” he called.

His father was rarely home at this time of day, but even when he was, Arthur far preferred to talk to his mother. Ygrane Pendragon was a sweet woman who’d had trouble giving birth, and had never been quite the same after. She was always getting some illness or other, and often bedridden because of it. Both father and son pampered her because of it, and Arthur always preferred her scolding and advice to Uther’s glowers and demands.

“In the sitting room, darling.” Arthur followed her voice, smiling when he saw her on the sofa, reading, a blanket over her lap. “Arthur. And where have you been, hm?” she asked with a smile.
He moved to her side, kissing her cheek. “Just out with Perce for a bit, mum. How are you doing?”

“I’m fine. The cough is almost gone. And don’t change the subject. You know your father wanted you home by supper…”

“Well, you’re not eating, so it must be before supper, right?” he asked with a grin.

“Yes, Arthur, but what if you hadn’t been? Must you continually test him? You know he only wants the best for you.”

Arthur swallowed, looking down. “I know, mum. And I promise, I wouldn’t have been late. All right?”

She sighed. “All right. So… where did you two get off to?”

“Oh… just wandering around London, you know. Nothing special.” His memory went back to the Avalon, and he wished he could tell her about it. Unfortunately, he knew she’d just tell his father, and that he couldn’t have. “Being blokes, that’s all,” he said with a smile. “Had a bit of a row, though. I spilled my drink in his car. So… might be a while before he comes around again.”

“It’s not like you to be clumsy, Arthur. Is something wrong?”

Arthur flushed. Were his thoughts that visible on his face. “Oh, you know how it is with us kids these days… see a pretty girl, and you do all sorts of stupid and clumsy things.”

“Well, so long as it’s nothing serious?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Good. Why don’t you go up and get showered and changed? I’m sure your father will be home soon, all right?”

“Yes, mum.” He gave her a hug, then headed upstairs, head still full of thoughts of Emrys and the Avalon.

Next Part

Comments

Nov. 2nd, 2013 09:47 pm (UTC)
then frowned when she saw his experience
did you mean expression?

Nov. 2nd, 2013 09:51 pm (UTC)
LOL No! Of course I meant experience... ;D Heh. Oh, dear.