In the Covert of the Night Author:tetsubinatu) Fandom: BBC's Merlin Title: In the Covert of the Night Prompt: Schmoop Bingo: playing instrument Medium: ficlet ~ 510 words Rating: G Warnings: Extreme schmoopiness? Summary: Merlin stumbles upon one of Arthur's secrets.
24/8 THE HP LINK IS NOT YET WORKING, but the SGA one should:
Once, just once, Merlin had seen a lute in Arthur's rooms, leaning casually against the wall as if it belonged there. Merlin's eyes had passed vaguely over it and by the next time he chanced to look at that wall it was gone. He'd thought it belonged to a friend, or maybe a 'friend' - plenty of the ladies of the court could play the lute.
He'd never imagined this.
Arthur's hands - his broad, warrior's hands - plucking at the strings with the same certainty as when they curled around a sword; his voice soft and sure in the ballad that the minstrel troupe had brought to Camelot last winter.
It was a nice voice, if rather deeper than was fashionable among minstrels - and a little shaky on the high notes, perhaps. After all, in all this time Merlin had never heard Arthur sing a note before, so when would he have practiced? Merlin had the feeling that without the lute to keep it in tune that voice might wander a little away from true, but not by much - not like Merlin, who could barely sing at all.
In the dark, hidden away where Arthur had no reason to suspect him of lurking, Merlin closed his eyes and let his mind slow and still until the only thing in the whole world was the warm, deep voice of his master and the mellow plucked notes guiding it in song.
The songs Arthur was choosing were melancholy ballads of the sort that ladies loved and knights openly scorned. He picked his way slowly through four or five popular songs before starting a tune that Merlin had thought he knew - but these words were not the ones that Gwen sang as she worked, the old familiar words that every noble and commoner of Camelot knew from the cradle.
All that thou art Can not be for me All that is offered I may never see
Was this how Arthur felt about Gwen, Merlin wondered - or was it a more general lament for all that he had lost and had yet to lose? The sorrow in the deep, warm voice made Merlin's bones ache to go to Arthur, to comfort him or infuriate him, to make him laugh or rage - anything but this unfamiliar resigned sweetness - but he lay still and let words and tune run through and around him. None of this was his secret to know.
I cannot love thee Yet I love thee still I may not kiss thee Nor I ever will
Arthur must never find out that he had spent this night under his bed. Tomorrow Merlin would take care of the Troll Queen and one day - maybe one day Arthur would share his secrets with him by choice. Until then Merlin would hold them inviolate with his own.
Prithee stay where I may see thee Prithee leave, that I may mourn Stay where I may ever love thee Go, that I may not be torn...
In the dark, Merlin lay with his eyes wide open, guilt and piercing affection swirling together in him with every soft note, until at last the Prince laid the lute aside and sought his cold bed.