You can never get enough of nature. To be surrounded by it is to be stilled. It salves the heart. The mountains, the trees, the endless plains. The mood, the myriad of stars. Every man can be made quiet and complete.
Riding through the
prairie. Long grass blows in endless wind.
Jazz in a New York bar. Smoke
curls from the end of a cigarette. A woman with elbow-length gloves and lips as
red as blood.
Heat rising from cracked
tarmac. Endless blue sea and deserted streets. The yellow sign of the post office
is the only end in sight.
An Emerald City rising
from desert, but it is smoke and mirrors. It is illusion, and you are afraid.
The last mashtryoshka doll.
Unreal hands, and eyes
that no longer belong to you.
Dramatic music in the
background to strolling down a hill. Hair gusts in an unseen wind. An explosion
behind, and you don’t look back. You never look back.
“Can’t go on without you.”
Yet the world keeps turning, and children keep playing, and one day new children will be born to replace the ones who have grown.
Lancelot crept in
through Guinevere’s window. Blood on the sheets from his bandaged hand, and
golden hair falling around milk-soft skin. The sigh of lovers in the dark and a
kiss that tasted of coffee and regret.
Arthur would have burned
her for less.
A kingdom fell. At
Camlann, in flames, the horn sounded its last call. A man shed his son’s blood
for love of a woman, and the men who loved him in turn wept and followed to the
brink of oblivion.
Better to hope that no
one tells you how big empty is.
His side of the wardrobe.
A photo album full of
your friends, and not a single image of you.
The fog that fills your
Ships that float through
a hundred burning stars. The stars are falling.
We don’t want this, but
we suffer anyway.
Hair as black as a raven’s
wing, and the tower after the princess ran away to freedom – to a prison of a
At least the villains
We wanted pirates and
magic. We found changelings and fairy rings, and decks slippery with blood. It
is never as romantic as the stories make it sound. Why else do we need
storytellers, if not to rewrite the stories we cannot bear to remember?
Empty is too far, and
big is too abstract, for our brains to comprehend. Know only that stars burn,
and kings die, for far less than you.
“Will you get rid of that ridiculous hair?” A sharp accent growled behind him and Arthur turned to see Francis behind him. With a sigh and a glare he let the red in his hair fade out to be replaced with blonde.
“Why must you fight my hair color? We have known each other for generations and the only thing you will even notice is my hair color.”
“Perhaps if I actually considered you a threat I’d have more to complain about.” Francis said smoothly, not even twitching as the sharp tail twitched and was pointed centimeters from his eye.
“For an angel of love you are way too cocky especially while facing a high ranking demon.” Arthur snarled and flinched as he saw the beautiful gold wings move forward to brush his tail away and gently sweep across his face.
“You’re an ass.” Arthur snarled and huffed, looking away as Francis burst into laughter.
“For a demon you have little bite amour.” He teased and Arthur glared at him.
“Quit calling me that I am not your love I’m not anyone’s love so knock it off.” Arthur scowled and started walking away, Francis following.
“Does that upset you? You know magic arrows and the red string don’t affect being like us. If we fall in love it has nothing to do with fate or destiny.”
“Whatever, we are not falling in love, ever, I don’t know why I haven’t destroyed you.”
“Neither do I my feisty little lion.” Francis snickered, dodging the jabbing tail with ease. The day Arthur killed him would be at the end of the world, and they both knew that even if they preferred to never say anything.
Francis followed Arthur across the busy street, occasionally flicking his wings irritably at the language he could hear. He hated disrespect to either gender, the degradation of others that people seemed to feed on from the beginning of life itself. He almost didn’t catch the flash of tail that spilt coffee on a man that had decided to feel up the young woman next to him, and then stab into a purse of a woman whose fist was raised to strike her cowering son and husband, splitting it at the seams.
“I don’t like people.” Arthur grumbled as if he’d not actually done it because he’d felt sympathy for those being mistreated and instead was simply causing trouble.
“Sure.” Francis snickered, slapping a wing over two men and watching them stumble into each other and blushing.
“Knock it off with the love mojo, would you? It’s annoying.” Arthur grunted, ordering a coffee and tea from a roadside stand.
“You’re just angry that I can’t use it on you. Besides, you started it.”
“Do you always have to one up me?”
“Yes.” Francis said smugly and Arthur gave him the harshest glare yet.
“Two-” Francis started looking at Arthur only to be cut off.
“I know,” Arthur growled before Francis could finish. “Two shots of caramel, a single of vanilla, a spoonful of sugar and marshmallows, there is literally no difference with you.” Arthur listed off with an eye roll.
“And yet you say we aren’t friends.” Francis said softly taking the drink carefully as he avoided Arthur’s gaze.
“Francis… yeah… we’re friends.” Arthur mumbled softly as he took his own drink and led him to the local park. They sat together in silence, angel and demon, enemies from the fall of Lucifer and yet, friends. Arthur’s cup was in Francis’s hand as he fished out some knitting materials, Arthur’s head resting on Francis’s shoulder comfortably.
“You know… if we were caught we’d be destroyed.” Francis said softly and glanced down at Arthur.
“I wouldn’t let them touch you.” Arthur growled possessively and blinked up at him as if realizing what he’d said. “After all… I owe you so I have to make good on my debts… and It would get boring without you.”
Francis laughed and smiled at him, a golden wing moving to rest over Arthur and the demon’s own leathery black wings. In return the sharp tail curled around his waist, not too tight, but with enough pressure that Francis wouldn’t forget about it. Francis slowly sipped his coffee, occasionally handing Arthur his drink, he reached down and slowly stroked the tail, ignoring the demon’s shiver and grunt.
“Alright Aziraphale, knock it off.” Arthur growled, stabbing into the wing with a knitting needle.
“Does that make you my Crowley? It may not have been implicit but we both know the two were more than friends.” Francis drawled a hint of longing in his tone that Arthur pointedly ignored.
“Perhaps I am in the role of Crowley but I am not your anything, and quite honestly I never will be.” The demon grumbled turning back to his knitting and Francis frowned at him. As the angel of love this was very frustrating to have his best friend pointedly ignore the subtle messages. Even if Arthur was a demon, Francis knew that didn’t mean anything about whether or not he wanted love and respect, everyone craved it, it was a flaw neither God nor Satan could fix.
“Francis… do you still have it?” A soft voice asked, the originally jabbing knitting needle now softly stroking a feather.
“Of course I do.” From within his shirt he withdrew a long necklace on the end held a small talisman and then a single pale yellow feather. Arthur reached out as if to touch it but drew his hand back instead.
“There were more last time… have they really perished except for this one?” Arthur asked, his voice soft and concerned and Francis shook his head.
“No, I use them to fletch my arrows, for some reason, the only ones that always fly straight are the ones from you.” He said gently, wondering how he’d react. Arthur gave a hard and cold laugh, his eyes dark.
“I can only imagine why, the feathers of a fallen angel’s wings, the fact that you use them in arrows created to spread love is probably sacrilege.”
“Perhaps… but I find I don’t care much anymore for the rules, besides these are from before you were cast out.”
“But still after I’d fallen Francis.”
“To me, you’ve never fallen.” Francis countered softly, ignoring Arthur’s shocked and incredulous face.
When Arthur had fallen his wings had lost all of their feathers, leaving him with the plain leathery black ones he bore now. Francis had sat beside him as each feather dropped with a sob of pain from Arthur. Instead of burning as was customary and as Arthur had requested, Francis had collected the ones still whole, ignoring the way they glowed under his fingers, and created a long necklace that he wore everywhere. Despite the mistrustful looks he had received for it as well as the hateful disrespect, Francis had still never removed it from his person. It had taken many years to find Arthur, and many more to convince him to talk back after he had seen the necklace. Now every time they met Francis would show him it, prove he still trusted the ex-angel.
“Why’s that one so special?” Arthur finally grunted after a few minutes, looking at the single remaining feather. Francis glanced at it and smiled.
“It was the first one you gave me… the one that matches your necklace.”
“Y-you… YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO DESTROY IT!” Arthur yelled causing glances towards them, Francis ignored the looks and stroked the tail on his waist until Arthur turned slightly pink and calmed down.
“Francis…. you know the rules… we aren’t… you can’t … Francis, that was a long time ago, we aren’t the same people we aren’t…”
“Mates,” Francis finished gently, not looking at Arthur. “I am well aware that we are not bound to one another nor do our souls and grace intertwine…That means little to me. If you care so much about the rules and our current status as enemies, then why do you bear my own promise on your neck? You carry my feather as I carry yours.” Francis murmured almost lovingly as he stroked the tail on his waist again.
“If someone important found out you could be destroyed! Forget losing your wings or being kicked out, you would be wiped from existance, memory and history alike. A demon is expected to do things frowned upon, murder, genocide, wearing the mating ritual necklace.” Arthur said with a snarl, trying to ignore the way his cheeks lit up a fiery red.
Francis tapped the yellow feather once as he hid it under his shirt again. He remembered a time before the Fall, when he and Arthur had been ready to swear their lives together, to die the moment the other had, to feel everything they felt, to have a perfect connection of mind and powers. They had only passed through the first part, the necklace of which bore the most powerful feather in an angel’s wing, the one that could only be removed by the angel whose feather it was. Without it an angel would be grounded until it regrew unless it was replaced with another, in the case of the ritual. The two switched feathers, always wearing it and powering their wings through the others devotion. Even after the Fall, Francis had never once faltered in flight, and he knew Arthur hadn’t either.
“Arthur… The past is the past and neither of us can change it, whether we’d want to or not. So let’s start fresh, like humans do. You are a demon and I am an angel, if you think we have changed too much to be anything more than we are now then nothing will happen, but give us a chance.” Francis begged, a hand over the feather and the other on Arthur’s knee.
“Francis!…” He let out a sigh and leant back, wrapping his tail tighter around Francis as the wing shifted to comfortingly wrap around him protectively.
“We can’t… not now and not ever.” Arthur decided and Francis let his shoulders drop but said nothing to disagree or argue. Instead he allowed himself one thing and that was to rest his head on Arthur’s, Arthur’s tail holding him as his wing held Arthur.
That’s how they stayed for hours, wrapped up in each other but looking, for all the world to see, like a young couple who had lost something important. The angel and demon relaxed in each other’s grip and didn’t speak when they left the park and separated. They had a more clear understanding of each other now.
Only a possible death and reincarnation as humans could bring them together. Yet the number of Angels who died had been 0 a year for the past Two Thousand years. Even as they said goodbye, they knew, in order to be together, Francis would have to betray his fellow angels, something he’d never be able to do.
The past was gone and so was any chance of being more to each other, now they were friends meant to be enemies. Bound by fate but no red string was strong enough to bind them, no net that wouldn’t unravel halfway. Instead they were locked in an eternal dance, because neither had the ability to join the other, they were denied a pleasure the humans took for granted. The ability to love and be able to stand up for it.
A reluctant Arthur sets out to meet his sister in South Wales for a New Year party. But instead, the broken satellite navigation system leads him to a ramshackle cottage, a trio of sheepdog puppies, and a brush with hypothermia. Not to mention the most glorious hot chocolate Arthur has ever tasted, and happiest of all, a scruffy local farmer with killer cheekbones and a sideline in flirtatious banter.
But even as the hot chocolate thaws Arthur’s body and Merlin’s clumsy flirting melts his heart, dark clouds are amassing on the horizon…
Comments: I just completely adore this fic. It gives me all the warm and fuzzies from the banter and dynamic of Merlin and Arthur to the slow burn of their relationship. I liked that Arthur kinda got to be himself and grew from getting to know Merlin as well. And the action bits were done well too. A delightful fic!
I was told I needed to sit in a corner and think about what I had done with that WIP, so I figure I should give you a (hella sketchy) follow up comic to make everybody happy again. I didn’t mean to drop concentrated feels in your tags. It wasn’t my intention. Subtitles included beneath in case you can’t read my chicken scratch.
Arthur: Mornin’ Lew… Breakfast smells good.
Lewis: Thank you.
Lewis: …Listen… If I went a little far with that arm thing, I’m sorry.
Lewis: I was hoping it would make you feel better.
Arthur: Seriously? You just ensured the last thing that hand felt wasn’t gonna be me murdering you. Trust me. I feel better.
Arthur: Besides, you’re not the only one with a new trick.
Arthur must’ve paced up and down your living room over a hundred times, sweeping back that usual mop of hair that always failed to stay put. He never considered himself a shy man even If you were to ask his brothers they’d tell you the same thing, however something in his head would shut down completely as soon as he tried to have a proper conversation with you. Today was different though, he woke up with a new sense of confidence, today he was going to tell you how he felt! Even if you didn’t feel the same way at least he’d no longer be eaten away by the ‘what if’.
You’d finally gotten out of the bath - that’d you had been craving for all day - and gotten dressed before descending the stairs of your parents home whilst fixing your wet hair into a messy bun. You wasn’t expecting to see anyone as you rounded the corner into your front room, especially not Arthur Shelby.
“Arthur!” You blurted out in surprise - not intending to sound as rude as it did.
“Sorry I knew I shouldn’t 'ave come, this was a bad idea. I’ll leave you be.” Arthur grumbled as he began walk towards you to aim for the front door.
“No no please stay, I didn’t mean to sound so startled, I just wasn’t expecting to see you in my front room.” You explained whilst letting out a bout of nervous laughter, “Ergh how embarrassing”. You thought.
“It’s alrigh’, yer mum let me in sayin’ I could wait here until you were finished bathin’.” He said as he turned around to take a look out of the window.
You couldn’t help but notice that his relatively calm demeanour was beginning to crack as he started to fidget.
“Y'know (Y/N) I’ve been wantin’ to have this conversation with yer for some time.” He began, all the while still staring out of the window. “I jus’ wanted you to know I like yer, like a lot.”
“I like you too……” Was all you could mumble out before being cut off.
“No I don’t just 'like’ you, I like you like you.” Arthur stressed returning to burning a hole in the carpet as he paced up and down once again. “I can’t believe I’m such a fuckin’ state! Call myself a fuckin’ Shelby!”
Tentatively you approached Arthur, resting your hand comfortingly on his forearm hoping to stop him from withdrawing into himself.
“Arthur, please.” You pleaded. “ I like you like you too, I never said nothing before because I just assumed you wouldn’t be interested in me. After all I’m not like one of those pretty moving picture girls.”
“No (Y/N) yer not, yer far better.” He started. “It’s me who should feel unworthy of yer attention, I’m not gonna lie to yer, I’m not a good man. I’ve hurt people, I’ve REALLY hurt people.” He said, placing his larger hand atop of yours.
“We’ve all got our demons Arthur, we’ve all done things we regret but that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve to love or be loved.” You reassured, looking up at him just as leaned down to place a tender kiss. A confirmation of his feelings you could say.