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A Moment of Truth

Shield
Fandom: Merlin

Title: A Moment of Truth
Rating: G
Characters: Merlin and Arthur
Genre: General


“No, not today,” Arthur said as Merlin reached to help him with his armor. “Put on your own.”

Merlin put on his greaves, fumbling a bit with a strap. It was so much different putting these things on yourself rather than someone else and he was nervous. Not because of the upcoming battle but because of the words of his childhood friend Will, who said Arthur would no longer be his friend if he learned of his powers. Merlin knew Arthur wasn’t the type to let his father’s laws and intractable personality prevent him from acting on principle. They may have gotten off to a rocky start, he and Arthur, but now they were friends. At least he was reasonably certain Arthur considered him a friend. Had he not come to offer his sword in defense of Merlin's home village, and in defiance of his father’s edict?

Arthur took his arm and buckled the greave for him, then clapped him on the shoulder and gave him a reassuring smile. The prince of Camelot helping him into his armor, what would Uther say if he saw this? Never mind. Merlin knew the answer to that as well. In fact, if Uther found out Arthur had come to help him, Merlin was certain they would both be subject to the king’s wrath.

"You ready?" Arthur asked.

"My throat's dry."

"Me too."

Arthur held out his hand and Merlin paused only a second before clasping it in kind.

"It's been an honor," Arthur said, and Merlin could see he truly meant it.

Not only had Arthur come to aid the besieged village, he had been training the people to fight as well, working tirelessly and patiently with the farmers, most of whom had never even picked up a weapon to hunt. And he had brought an extra suit of mail, the mail Merlin was wearing now. No knight would risk the weight of extra mail when traveling without good reason and Merlin felt pleased and honored that Arthur was so concerned for his safety.

So why not tell him his secret? Will was wrong. Arthur would not turn away from him if he knew. . . would he?

“Whatever happens out there today please don't think any differently of me,” he said.

“I won't. It’s all right to be scared, Merlin,” Arthur replied, misunderstanding him as always.

“That’s not what I meant.” He smiled to think that Arthur sought to comfort him, as though he was a novice warrior under Arthur’s command and not merely a servant. But his smile faded as he turned to face Arthur and saw the expectant look on his face.

“Then what is it?” Arthur asked.

Merlin hesitated.

“If you've got something to say, now is the time to say it,” Arthur encouraged.

Merlin looked at Arthur, standing armored and ready to take on a fight that was not his. The very ideal of a knight of Camelot. Arthur was not only a friend but a fine man as well, a prince worthy to be a king. Yes, he could tell Arthur his secret. Arthur was a man of honor, he would not turn from him, would not turn him in. He could tell Arthur anything. . . and make him live the lie he must live each day, make him hide from Uther, face the constant risk of discovery, and relinquish his honor and duty to Camelot in the bargain.

Yet if Arthur was to see him use his powers, if he were to realize Merlin had betrayed their friendship through keeping his abilities secret then he might no longer consider him a friend. There was no doubt that Arthur finding out would change their relationship, no matter how it happened that he found out. So which would be better for Arthur, to hear it from him or to find out in the heat of battle?

His mind made up, Merlin braced himself to speak.

“Arthur, they’ve crossed the river.”

They turned to see Morgana standing in the doorway. Arthur hastened out and Merlin hung behind, his decision made for him. He drew his sword and followed, to whatever end.

Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
heartofoshun
Apr. 13th, 2010 02:35 am (UTC)
I've already told you how much I like this! I can't believe you actually wrote a Merlin fic. I'll have to figure out how to post to one of the Merlin forums for you. Everything I said before about how much I like it. I have to get off the computer now, but I will come back and write a proper review.
ignoblebard
Apr. 13th, 2010 02:54 am (UTC)
I'm thrilled that you like it. When I saw the episode (I'm woefully behind) that scene made me think of you and I finally understood why you like the characters so much. I rarely get the urge to write in other fandoms, as my LJ here can attest but this just kind of leaped out at me.

I hear you had a good, if exhausting, birthday which I was also glad to hear. You deserve lots of good things and I can see by your LJ that you have many friends who feel the same.
heartofoshun
Apr. 13th, 2010 04:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you! My birthday was great fun. I'd have written about that on my LJ if I hadn't had so many people to thank.

I really do intend to write a better comment later!
ignoblebard
Apr. 14th, 2010 03:08 am (UTC)
You did have a lot of people to thank, that's awesome! And you're so good to me. You already gave me great comments, and you betaed your own birthday fic. That's real friendship. :-)
lissas_elves
Apr. 13th, 2010 04:48 pm (UTC)
Oh, you've branched out!

(I noticed your post and wondered what on earth was going on, but happened to read Oshún's post before yours, and there was the explanation already. *g* )

Lovely description of this 'quiet-before-the-storm' moment between the two! It's quite the secret to break to someone as important to Merlin as Arthur. No wonder he finds it so hard to say.
ignoblebard
Apr. 14th, 2010 03:18 am (UTC)
It's kind of a shock to see me write something besides LOTR, isn't it? It came as a shock to me too. :-)

Thanks for your comments, Lissa. I liked the interplay between Arthur and Merlin in that scene. Although I think Merlin should just spit it out already, I can see where that might not be such a good idea.
crowdaughter
Apr. 13th, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC)
I have no clue about the show, as I have not seen it, and so I can only rely on what I know of the mythology of these two; but the fic is terrific, and the dilemma of Merlin here comes over very well. The end is well-working, too. Great" :)
ignoblebard
Apr. 14th, 2010 03:21 am (UTC)
Thanks Aislynn, I'm glad you enjoyed this. The show is about Merlin as a young man and he comes to Camelot. Uther has made the use of magic a capital offense so Merlin has to hide his powers and act as Arthur's manservant while moving the two of them toward their intertwined destinies. It doesn't have much to do with the legends but it's a fun little fantasy show.
indy1776
Apr. 13th, 2010 10:16 pm (UTC)
This is fantastic! I love your characterization of Merlin, and the introspection.

I love the final line.
ignoblebard
Apr. 14th, 2010 03:23 am (UTC)
I appreciate your comments Indy, thanks. The characterization is all in the show but it's fun to be able to bring it out in a story like this, to get into Merlin's head a little.
indy1776
Apr. 14th, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC)
I love getting into Merlin's head myself, though I do characterize him slightly different than you. Plus, I'm forever influenced by what happened in season 2. It's hard to get back into the season 1 mindset.
ignoblebard
Apr. 15th, 2010 03:35 am (UTC)
I haven't even made my way through season 1 yet. lol It will be interesting to see how their relationship develops.
indy1776
Apr. 16th, 2010 03:24 am (UTC)
It is interesting! *wicked grin* (For full disclosure: I'm not a Merlin/Arthur shipper-- I prefer Gwen/Merlin and Merlin/Gwen/Morgana/Arthur.)
lilith_lessfair
Apr. 14th, 2010 03:11 am (UTC)
You wrote Merlin, really? Even if it was only this once and for Mistress Oshun's birthday, it was wonderful.

I believe that you've captured the moment perfectly. I see Merlin with his conflicting desire to be known by Arthur and accepted for who and what he is and his very powerful and very understandable fear that Arthur may not accept him, if not for his magic then for his decision not to share his secret. Merlin is both very young, as he appears in the series. Yet he is already jaded because he has had to protect his secret for so long and from those for whom he cares.

I do like the glimpses of Arthur, who is, at this moment, worried about Merlin and yet too worried about the situation to grasp that the coming battle is not the one Merlin fears.
ignoblebard
Apr. 14th, 2010 03:28 am (UTC)
Thanks so much Lilith. Oshun said she thought you'd like this one and I'm glad you do. :-)

Merlin is tasked with protecting Arthur and so I thought when I saw this episode that one of the reasons Merlin let Will "take the rap" as it were was to protect Arthur from the burden of knowing. This episode is the first one where I really came to like Arthur and see some depth to his character.
elfscribe5
Apr. 15th, 2010 12:16 am (UTC)
Enjoyed it and so great you're writing in this fandom. Poor Merlin, such a secret to struggle with. I've sometimes wondered about the correlation of keeping one's magic hidden and keeping one's attraction to another person hidden. This feels like just the beginning of what could be a longer story.
Lots of good bday gifts@! And I'm glad we all get to benefit from them.

Cheers
ignoblebard
Apr. 15th, 2010 03:45 am (UTC)
I'm glad you like this, Elfscribe. Thanks for commenting. I don't know how much I'll be writing in this fandom but I do enjoy the show when I get to see it, and I'm looking forward to seeing how season two goes.

"I've sometimes wondered about the correlation of keeping one's magic hidden and keeping one's attraction to another person hidden."

To us slashers, Merlin as both problems in this series. :-) But the show is about having to hide an essential part of oneself to fit in. I like that aspect of it.

I don't know about making this a longer story but I might be inspired to write a story around these characters. They are fun to watch.


nelyo_russandol
Apr. 15th, 2010 11:19 am (UTC)
I ended up here through oshun's birthday list. I have never watched Merlin and in your fic I first thought he was worried about declaring his forbidden attraction for Arthur. It was only at the end I realised it was about magic - damn, I was hoping it would lead to more!

Then I read the Merlin chapters' summaries from amazon and it all clicked into place... So basically, I have done it all backwards. I think I need to buy the DVD now...

I hope my icon is not as distracting as to stop you from reading this post... Look here, hello!! :o)

ignoblebard
Apr. 15th, 2010 12:44 pm (UTC)
*clucks like a chicken*

Oh, it's you Russandol. Sorry, I was hypnotized there for a minute. ;-)

This story kind of presupposes that one has seen the series and this episode in particular, but I knew Oshun had. I wasn't even sure I was going to post it because I didn't think anyone else would be interested. I had no idea the show is so popular.

If you're a fan of the legends you won't find much of them in the show, but if you're a fan of slash the two leads will give you ideas. lol
nelyo_russandol
Apr. 15th, 2010 01:59 pm (UTC)
If you're a fan of the legends you won't find much of them in the show, but if you're a fan of slash the two leads will give you ideas. lol

I am a fan of the legends and handsome men in armour, I am certainly a fan of slash, and the two Merlin guys look edible. So you have just given me the final excuse to put the Series 1 DVD into the basket in amazon.

Saying that, I am currently busy with a lot of ideas between my current Silm pair. In fact, the "ideas" between those two have escalated almost out of control and I have already spent many long hours wrestling them onto paper. I just hope they come up half right. Such fun!! ;o)

Glad my icon still has an effect on you...



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