Title: Once, Future, and Always.
Fandom: Merlin/Chronicles of Narnia
Pairings: Merlin/Arthur, Peter/Edmund
Summary: Arthur, the Once and Future King, has returned again, this time to answer the call of Narnia.
A/N: Written for kinkme_merlin but I was convinced to crosspost here. Original prompt: Peter, Arthur reincarnated, remembers his past and realizes his brother Edmund was once Merlin. First Merlin fic, so *winces* Please be gentle?
Peter was, predictably, arguing with Edmund when it happens.
“Why can’t you ever do as you’re told, you utter idiot!” Peter all but screamed into his brother’s face, “Don’t you realize what could have happened? Do you ever think about anyone but yourself?”
“Peter –” Susan tried, always the peace keeper between them, but the pair paid her no mind.
“Just shut up, you great prat!” Edmund yelled back before he jerked his arm from Peter’s gasp and ran back into their mostly demolished home.
Peter gasped and his knees buckled. He fell on all fours onto the grass, his teeth digging into his lower lip as pain seared through his head. Light blinded him for a moment and then memories flashed across his eyelids, a lifetime of emotions swamped him, crashing upon him like a tidal wave: cold fury, nauseating fear, warm fondness, hot arousal, biting annoyance, and beneath it all lovelovelove, so pure and true and utterly overwhelming. It stole his breath and stopped his heart and brought time to a complete standstill.
And then Susan was there, falling to her knees next to him. “Peter? Peter, are you okay?”
The memories fell back, no longer encasing but still there, at the back of his mind, and he was more than just Arthur. He was Peter again. His heart beat once more and he drew a breath, releasing it shakily.
Peter shook his head and climbed to his feet. He shrugged her hand from his shoulder, “Nothing. I’m fine.”
Except he wasn’t because he was Arthur and he needed, desperately and utterly needed, Merlin.
Merlin who was his brother now.
Merlin who was Edmund.
Merlin who was no longer his, who couldn’t be his.
Not this time.
Susan watched him for a moment, serious and concerned, and then she turned and went into the house, leaving him alone.
Peter looked up at the sky and let himself remember.
Merlin twisted beneath him, gasping aloud. “Please. Arthur, please.”
Arthur laughed and nuzzled his nose against the long column of Merlin’s pale neck, dragging his lips across the soft skin. Merlin made a muffled sound of protest and curled his fingers into Arthur’s hair, pulling him into a kiss. With a push and a shove, Merlin had Arthur on his back, servant looming over his prince with a satisfied and teasing smirk.
And their moment was interrupted by a clatter as the draperies from the bed fell down around them. Merlin laughed, dropping his head down so that his face was buried in the juncture of Arthur’s neck and shoulder, and Arthur groaned.
“You didn’t secure them after you had them washed, did you?”
“I forgot,” Merlin admitted sheepishly.
“You are without a doubt the worst manservant ever!” But there was fondness in Arthur’s voice, in the curve of his smile, in the soft caress of his hand as he dragged his palm down the bare skin of Merlin’s back.
“Oh, shut up, you great prat.”
Peter jerked and shook his head, trying to send the last bits of the memory away. He dragged his forearm across his eyes, wiping at his tears furiously with the fabric of his jumper. Straightening his spine and lifting his head with the pride of a king, he ventured into the house.
Merlin –Edmund, Peter reminded himself –scowled at him and turned away.
Every part of Peter wanted to fight, wanted to defend his home and his country. He was the once and future king, how could he simply stand back as the land that he loved, that he had always loved, was destroyed by fire and bomb and war?
But Peter was merely a boy, barely into adolescence, and that was not his destiny. He packed up his things and kissed his mum goodbye and followed his brother and sisters onto the train that took them away from London. He held Lucy’s hand as they stared up at the vast home of Professor Kirke and nodded politely when Mrs. Macready listed the rules and informed them that Professor Kirke was not to be disturbed.
Peter tickled Lucy’s sides and chuckled as she squirmed, not paying attention to Susan until the girl jumped on him, coming to Lucy’s aid. They both dug their fingers into his sides and he shook with laughter and lost his footing and they all three crashed into Edmund.
Edmund flinched and shoved at them, his eyes glowing gold with his fury and the familiar spark made Peter’s soul sing and he reached without thinking. Edmund slapped his hand away and snarled something before stomping off to their rooms, presumably to have a good sulk on his bed.
Peter had to remind himself that he was only thirteen and Edmund was even younger, an innocent child of ten meager years. It was not proper, it was not right. Edmund didn’t know who he truly was, didn’t understand that Peter’s whole being craved him. It was not proper, it was not right, and Peter was determined to put a stop to it all.
Peter wasn’t sure what to think, exactly, when Lucy came telling stories of magical wardrobes that lead to lands steeped in snow and winter and friendly little fauns that offered tea and biscuits. He instinctively looked to Merlin, only to remember that it was not Merlin at his side. It was Edmund and he was Peter and this was not Camelot.
Susan brushed it all off as Lucy’s wild imagination.
Until, of course, they were hiding from Mrs. Macready and stumbled into Narnia themselves. Before Peter could really blink, the faun named Tumnus was missing and he was in the home of a talking beaver and listening to the animal’s story of Aslan and the White Witch. Arthur had followed a dragon without question, so perhaps it made sense to follow Aslan as Peter.
And then Edmund had been gone. Just gone and Peter and Arthur had been as one, a single soul with one purpose: protect Edmund, protect Merlin. At whatever cost.
Peter followed Mr. and Mrs. Beaver without question after that. Peter of all people knew that you could not fight your destiny. It would drag you along, kicking and screaming if it had to.
As was proven, in his opinion, when a jolly old man with a white beard presented him with a sword. He took it in hand and his fingers curled upon the hilt, the weight familiar, the shine a welcome sight. Excalibur, the truest friend a man could have in a blade.
He met Aslan’s eyes without wavering, while Susan trembled beside him and Lucy curled her fingers around his wrist. He lifted his chin in a stubborn set and let his blue eyes flash with the same defiance they had when he had stood before Uther, and dared the old lion to refuse him Edmund.
Aslan seemed to chuckle at that, and Peter wondered if a certain meddling dragon stood before him, albeit in an unfamiliar form, but promised Peter that his brother would be returned to him. It was a satisfying enough answer that Peter stepped aside, willing to place his trust in the great beast until he had reason not to.
When he had awakened in the morning to find Edmund talking quietly with Aslan, he hadn’t been able to help himself. He ran to his brother and pulled him into his arms, buried his nose into his dark curls and simply clung. When he pulled back, at last sure that his brother, his beloved, was safe, he met Edmund’s eyes and felt grief. They were older, dark and tense and sad, as if he had been gone for a lifetime and had suffered the whole journey. There was no trace of gold in their depths and Arthur wept within, while Peter offered a shaky smile and fought the urge to throw up.
He had not known what sacrifice Aslan had been willing to make, but he thought perhaps that Edmund had been told. He had not been surprised, at least, to learn the truth. He had simply turned away, but not before Peter had seen the silent tears on his brother’s face.
Peter had not worried about the battle. He had fought and lived through worse odds when he had been Arthur, but then he had had his knights and he had had Merlin, so perhaps he had had cause to worry after all. Edmund stood at his side, but Merlin did not peer forth from his eyes.
After the battle, barely saved by Aslan’s teeth, Peter had held Edmund in his arms and cried into his chest and wailed his pain to the universe. They could not take him away, could not have him. They would have to tear him from Peter’s dead hands to do so.
Susan had pulled him back, though he had not let go, had refused to let go, so that Lucy could pour her drops of cordial into his mouth. Edmund had coughed and it had been enough for Peter, who drug his brother back into his arms and clutched him hard.
“Why don’t you ever listen?” He asked, through tears and bitten back sobs of relief.
“Arthur,” Edmund gasped, “Arthur.”
When he pulled back, Edmund’s eyes were gold, so very gold, and glowing. Arthur touched his cheek lightly and breathed out, a single word falling from his lips like a blessed prayer.