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Where I feel at home

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·  ̩̩̥͙*• ̩̩͙•̩̩͙ ♩♬˚*•̩̩͙♪ ̩̩͙· ̩̩̥͙ *

There is a house built out of stone

Wooden floors, walls and window sills

Tables and chairs worn by all of the dust

This is a place where I don't feel alone

This is a place where I feel at home

~ The Cinematic Orchestra

·  ̩̩̥͙*• ̩̩͙•̩̩͙ ♩♬˚*•̩̩͙♪ ̩̩͙· ̩̩̥͙ *

 

Arthur knew it upset Merlin to think about home. For Merlin, it hadn’t been home for centuries, but Arthur hadn’t felt the length of those years himself. So, home for Arthur was still Camelot and he was missing it. Believe it or not it was rather hard to adjust to a new world and a new home when it was completely different and far more advanced than the one you came from. 

So, Arthur had tried not to mention it. He’d stopped himself every time he’d wanted to ask a question involving Camelot and he’d thrown himself into learning about the modern world instead. Merlin seemed satisfied that he was moving on, albeit reluctantly.

Except he wasn’t moving on. Merlins reluctance to discuss Camelot was only making Arthur feel worse. 

So, Arthur waited until Merlin left the house to go shopping. That would give him at least an hour, hopefully longer, to really do some research. Merlin had taught him how to use his laptop only the week before, so Arthur felt sure he was ready to investigate. There was also Merlins study, full of books on their history and documents and newspaper cuttings but Merlin forbade Arthur from looking at any of it. 

He claimed none of it mattered but it mattered to Arthur. 

He didn’t want to disturb Merlins study though and the laptop was just sitting on the coffee table and Arthur couldn’t resist. He watched Merlin pull out of the driveway and head down the road towards the closest town then waited a little longer in case he’d forgotten something and had to come back. Then finally Arthur hesitantly unlocked the laptop and typed ‘Camelot’ into the search bar. 

He was surprised at how quickly things appeared. There were pictures and articles on everything from real history to films and stage shows. There were even websites telling Arthur exactly who he was. He tried to avoid them because he knew they were bound to be inaccurate. 

He clicked on the first link that came up and began skimming through the small writing on the screen. 

The stories locate it somewhere in Great Britain and sometimes associate it with real cities, though more usually its precise location is not revealed.

Arthur frowned. How could no one know where Camelot was. Back when he’d been King you couldn’t miss it. 

Most scholars regard it as being entirely fictional, its unspecified geography being perfect for chivalric romance writers. Nevertheless, arguments about the location of the "real Camelot" have occurred since the 15th century and continue to rage today in popular works and for tourism purposes.

He quickly slammed the laptop shut. He didn’t understand. He’d done this to uncover secrets not to get more confused. Sure, Merlin had been keeping him in the dark, but he hadn’t realised it was because of this. Because… many people didn’t believe Camelot had ever existed

With a deep breath Arthur returned to his research. It made sense now. None of the pictures were real, it was all art. None of them were very accurate either.

Arthur felt a harsh ache in his chest. Merlin had been protecting him. Because Merlin knew how much it would hurt Arthur to discover that his home, all that he had built and kept safe, had gone. So much so that no one even believed it to be real. No one believed him to be real. Part of Arthur wanted to be angry at Merlin for keeping his hopes up and not telling him, but he felt too sad for that. 

He quickly cleared the tab and shut down the laptop, placing it meticulously back on the coffee table. Arthur suddenly wished he’d listened to Merlin and not asked. He picked up a cushion from the sofa and hugged it close to his chest. He felt lost without Camelot. Lost in this new place he was expected to call home. 

~ ♛ ~

When Merlin got home Arthur was still clutching the cushion as though it was the only thing keeping him from drifting away from reality. 

“Hey Arth?” Merlin called through the house. “Can I have some help with the bags please?” Arthur only vaguely registered Merlins presence but not what he was saying. After a few minutes he jumped as the front door slammed and Merlin entered the room breathing heavily. Arthur was broken from his daze and turned to look over at him stood in the doorway. 

“I’m not your servant anymore.” He said frustrated. 

Arthur nodded absently. 

Merlin rolled his eyes. “Fine well at least help me put stuff away.” And he disappeared again. Arthur stood reluctantly and followed him to the kitchen where Merlin shoved a few bags of fridge items at him. Arthur allowed himself to be distracted as he piled all the food into the limited fridge space. 

As he finished up Merlin began to make dinner, putting a lasagne in the oven he stood back and sighed. “Do anything interesting while I was out?” He asked. 

Arthur shook his head, folding his arms around his chest in an attempt to comfort himself.

“You should have come with me. There was a market on in the town square you might have liked. Markets always remind me of Camelot.” Arthur wanted to smile to show Merlin that he was okay but at the mention of Camelot he felt his brow twitch and his lips fall into a frown.

Merlin watched him curiously. “What’s wrong?” He asked, approaching Arthur. “You haven’t said a word since I got home.” He took Arthurs hands and squeezed them. Arthur met his eyes sadly but before he could say anything the oven beeped, and Merlin moved away to retrieve the dinner. 

Merlin kept glancing at Arthur as he served up the lasagne and poured drinks. “Why don’t we eat in front of the tv today?” He suggested. Arthur didn’t mind. 

They ended up watching some random dancing show that just happened to be on, but it was good enough to distract Arthur for a little while. As the evening got later and what they were watching didn’t show any signs of being over soon, Arthur curled into Merlins side and Merlin played with his hair in the way he loved when he was sad or stressed. 

“Why did you never tell me?” Arthur finally whispered. He couldn’t see Merlins face, but he assumed he was probably confused. 

“Tell you what?”

“About Camelot.”

Merlin sighed. “I didn’t think it mattered that much.”

“Of course it matters.” Arthur mumbled miserably. Merlin hummed as he continued to stroke Arthur’s hair. Arthur just clung to his middle. “I thought it at least still existed. I hadn’t realised it was completely gone and that nobody even… nobody believes it ever existed.”

“I’m sorry. I thought- I’m not sure what I thought.” Merlin whispered. His voice sounded hoarse like he was about to cry. Arthur didn’t want that. If Merlin cried, he too would cry. 

“Is any of it left? I mean, people may not know it’s Camelot, but you know the truth.” Arthur looked up at Merlin when he’d been silent for too long. He looked conflicted so Arthur nudged him gently in prompt. 

“Yeah. Yeah, the castle ruins remain. That’s about it.”

“Do you think we could go?”

“It’s very overgrown now. I’m not even sure if I’d be able to find it.”

Arthur felt a little disappointed. 

Merlin inhaled sharply. “We can try and find it anyway.” Arthur beamed and pressed a kiss to Merlins cheek. 

~ ♛ ~

The next day Arthur was eager to leave the house. Merlin had promised they’d go find Camelot today and the thought of going home was both nerve wracking and exciting. 

He ended up drinking several cups of coffee as he waited for Merlin to get ready and by the time they were in the car Arthur couldn’t sit still and his hands were shaking from the caffeine. 

“Trust you to get a coffee addiction after only a few months of knowing it existed.” Merlin laughed. 

“Shut up and drive.” Arthur mumbled, looking out of the window anxiously. 

“Yes Sire.” Merlin mocked. 

Arthur sent him an unimpressed frown and Merlin just smirked back. 

They drove away further into the country, passed forests and fields Arthur didn’t recognise. It wasn’t a long journey from Avalon to Camelot especially by car. They didn’t speak the entire journey as Merlin needed all his concentration.

They pulled up at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and Merlin jumped out. Arthur followed and watched as Merlin gazed around trying to place himself. Arthur could tell this must have something to do with his magic. Like he could feel their proximity to the ancient city. 

“This way.” Merlin gestured up a narrow grassy path. Arthur was sure it hadn’t been there earlier. They walked for a few minutes until Merlin tripped suddenly on a piece of jagged rock in the middle of the path. Arthur jumped into action and caught him around the middle before he could hit the ground. His cheeks were very pink in embarrassment, but he quickly composed himself and then grinned. 

“I think this is it.” He said. Arthur took in his surroundings. It was mostly green and mossy within the forest, but he could just make out a surrounding of stone walls around them. 

“Is this- “

“The council chambers I think.” Merlin confirmed. Arthur nodded and was about to speak again when Merlin silenced him. He watched the sorcerer closely as he approached one of the walls and pressed his palms to it. He murmured something and then all around them tiny flecks of light began to swirl through the air. At first Arthur was confused but then he realised what was happening. The flecks were joining together to complete the structure of the castle. They were indeed stood inside the council chambers, the doorway opposite Arthur was the door into the corridor and it all opened into the rest of the castle. 

Merlin pulled away from the wall looking impressed with himself. “Want to explore?” He smiled. Arthur really did. They walked through the non-existent hallways and up some steps that were still cut into the rock. At the top of what used to be one of the lookout towers. Merlin and Arthur stopped to take in the view. 

The light flecks disappeared once they were there, and Arthur gazed down at the remains of his beloved home. 

“I know you miss it.” Merlin said quietly. “I do too. A lot. I guess that’s why I didn’t like to talk about it, but you’ll get used to our home in Avalon. Or we could move if you wanted to, but things do get better. I promise.”

Arthur breathed in the fresh country air and pulled Merlin into his side. It was nice to know Camelot wasn’t lost forever. It may have been lost in legend for most of the world, but Arthur and Merlin knew the truth and on the whole that was what really mattered. 

But these ruins, they didn’t feel like home. 

“You’re right.” Arthur said. “Things have changed since my days in Camelot. You’ve had to adapt and I will too.” Arthur turned Merlin round so they were looking at each other. “But do you know one thing that hasn’t changed?”

Merlin shook his head quickly. 

“You.” Arthur smiled and leaned in to kiss Merlin softly. Merlin responded back with the soft press of his lips. It was so tender and gentle Arthur pulled Merlin into a tight hug, affection warming his chest. “Wherever I am with you feels like home.”

“I hope,” Merlin began as he pulled away, wiping his eyes. “I hope you never have to know how it feels to be alone.”

“Hey stop that.” Arthur scolded gently. “I’ll never leave you again.”

Merlin nodded like he couldn’t exactly believe that were true. Arthur held his hand tightly in reassurance and turned to look out over the abandoned citadel. 

“Now wave to your subjects. You are Prince Consort after all.” Arthur teased, nudging him to follow his gesture as he waved at a non-existent crowd below them. Merlin snorted but obliged. 

After some moments of silence to take in the peace that had befallen the castle Arthur sighed. “Come.” He said tugging on Merlins hand. “Let’s go home.”

Merlin beamed and gladly followed.

·  ̩̩̥͙*• ̩̩͙•̩̩͙ ♩♬˚*•̩̩͙♪ ̩̩͙· ̩̩̥͙ *