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Merlin slipped away to find Gwen. She wasn’t in the kitchen but the door to the patio was open slightly. A sigh escaped, turning slightly foggy in the cold air. She was outside in the dark.

Gwen startled as he draped Arthur’s hoodie over her shoulders, but settled when she saw it was just him, snuggling into the warm fleece with a small smile.

“Thanks, Merlin. It’s certainly getting colder.”

“It’s a nice night though. Clear. You can see the stars.”

“Yes.”

He watched her for a moment.

“Of course, you’re only looking at your hands, not the heavens. But you know, they’re nice too.”

She smiled but didn’t look up. He reached out and took her hand. It was freezing and he tutted and set to work chafing it.

“What is it Gwen? You know you can tell me anything.”

She bit her lip and looked up at him under her lashes.

“Will you promise to not tell Arthur?”

His hands stopped their warming rub for a second before he continued more gently.

“I will never tell tales Gwen, but I will tell you that I think you should talk to him.”

She shook her head. “How can I tell him that I feel crushed by expectation? That although I remember loving him more than anything else in the world, I also remember a life without him, where I had a boyfriend and was..”.  She broke off and her eyes went to her hands again.

When she didn’t continue, he reached out and tilted up her chin. “Where you were what, Gwen?”

His heart constricted as she blinked away tears.

“Where I was happy. I was content, Merlin. I wasn’t confused about who I was, about who I am, finding out I’m actually married to a king in a legendary romance, friends with a warlock, and fighting against great evil.”

“Well, when you put it that way it does sound bad. Except being friends with the warlock, because surely that’s gotta be kinda cool.”

Her half laugh tugged at his heart. He wiped her tears away and put his arm around her.

“I do understand Gwen. I really do. Destiny is a bugger of a thing – it pushes you ahead of it and sometimes you feel you have to either go along with it or be crushed. I can only say that Arthur’s love for you is legendary because of its strength. He would have given up his kingdom for you, would have died a hundred deaths to protect you. He relied on you then and if he turns to you now it’s because in his heart there’s no-one he trusts more.”

“There’s you.”

“Yeah, there’s me, but it’s different.”

She scrunched her eyebrows up at him and he tried to explain.

“Arthur and me, we are two halves of a whole, two sides of the same coin. Arthur and you, it’s different. You are the one who completes his heart.”

Her face crumpled and her hand went to her cheek as if to keep in the feelings leaking out her eyes.

“But that’s what I’m afraid of, what if I can’t love him back in the same way in this life? I only remember loving him,” Her voice sank to a whisper “I don’t think I actually love him.”

“Yet.”

She pushed her hair off her face and sighed. “Yet?”

“Yeah, yet. You gotta give it a chance Gwen, and if it doesn’t work out, well, I’ll be very surprised. But don’t throw away your chance to have the other half of your heart back in your life”.

Her mouth was still twisted but she nodded slowly. Then, squeezing his hand, she asked, “Is that why you can’t let Morgana go?”

Merlin let her hands drop and stepped back, crossing his arms in front of him.

“Something like that. I thought we were talking about your problems?”

She smiled and this time he could see the old Gwen blending with the new.

“You know she can be a real cow? And I’m not talking about the Morgana you knew, I’m talking about the one I work with.”

He let himself smile back, “I can’t help myself Gwen, it’s a sickness. I’m drawn to her.”

Her smile shrank. “I know what you mean.”

The door snicked open and Merlin was thankful he was no longer holding Gwen’s hands as the scent of jasmine wafted out.

“Merlin? Gwen? What are you doing out here?”

Gwen’s eyebrows raised at him and she smiled.

“Morgana, we were just talking about you.”

“Really?”

Merlin shot a frowning glance at Gwen and shook his head roughly at her. Surely she could hear the ice in Morgana’s voice, but she only smiled more broadly.

“Yes, Merlin was telling me about how happy he is that you’re back.”

She drew Arthur’s hoodie closer round her and walked past Morgana into the house.

Merlin turned to face Morgana, hand in his hair. “Ha, that Gwen.”

“Are you?”

“Am I what?”

“Happy that I’m back?”

His mouth opened but nothing came out and he shrugged helplessly. Her arms were wrapped around her chest and there was a tiny line between her brows. She finally sighed and turned back to the door. “Arthur wants you, Merlin, you’d better come inside.”

He stood for a full minute after she’d gone inside, then, aiming a passing kick at the patio table, he followed her in.

 

______________

From The Return of Arthur – Merlin Fanfic.

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