nekare: (Elektra)
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Some MOAR Merlin fic, because the show is seriously too much fun. :3

Title: Of the twigs caught in your hair
Word Count: 2800
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin
Summary: In which there is a forest, and nymphs, and two lost boys.
Author's Notes: Slight spoilers for Le Morte d'Arthur. Betaed by the awesome [ profile] sarie_gamgee. Much thanks to [ profile] mon_starling and [ profile] crooked for the prompting. ♥ If 'the boys get lost in the woods' isn't a fandom cliche by now, it totally should be, because it is shiny and awesomecakes. Yes.

Of the twigs caught in your hair

There is a quest. Through a valley and a cave and past an enchanted forest to the famed object that will save lives in Camelot. Merlin rides beside Arthur and wonders why it doesn’t feel as trite as it sounds. And yet, some days, he feels like he’s in a story, in a night-time tale for children.

When he tells Arthur, he says that all the better, that a few songs about him and his bravery would be appreciated. Your ego probably weights more than your chainmail, Merlin says, and Arthur says he’ll have to scrub his clothes extra hard for that.

Arthur is uncharacteristically quiet. Has been for a long time, actually, not quite cold but not quite like usual, either, and it’s starting to eat at Merlin’s mind. If he looks back, it started with that conversation when he said goodbye, and revealed too much of himself in the process.

The valley and the cave go all right, spiderwebs getting caught in their hair notwithstanding. Then there’s the forest, older than Merlin has ever seen, and he can practically feel it pulsing with magic, ancient and earthy in feeling, and by the looks of Arthur, back stiff and knuckles white around the reins, he can feel it too.

The trees are impossibly tall, dark and twisted and with veiny barks, branches creating a vault over their heads where they join above the barely visible path. The light filters through the leaves with a greenish hue, sudden spots of light in the semi-darkness. There is fog near the ground, getting the hem of their breeches wet. It adds to the atmosphere of the forest, makes it eerie and foreboding and yet appealing all the same.

Merlin feels warm, but he can see Arthur’s breath coming out in puffs when it leaves his mouth. “I don’t like this,” Arthur says, eyes a bit too wide, and it’s strange, because Merlin feels perfectly at home in here.

The forest seems never-ending. Once the trees close enough to make riding near impossible, they walk, and walk, and however long they do so the forest looks the same, and they get nowhere. After the fourth time Arthur throws his sword at a tree in a tantrum Merlin starts worrying about what the endless repetition is doing to them.

On the fifth day, there’s laughter behind them. They both turn sharply at the sound, and then back when there’s another laugh at their right. Soon they’re surrounded by it, the sound high and inhuman, a bit chilling and a bit entreating, like everything else in this place. They walk faster, dragging their scared horses forward.

They see the first girl a day later, hiding behind a tree, and after Arthur yells “You!” and runs toward her she’s already gone, the image of her, leaves twined in her hair and giggling into her hand etched in Merlin’s head. The second girl, running past them, they see barely minutes after, and then the forest is full of life, full of giggling, dancing girls with bare feet and light steps that they can see for just a moment before they fade away with the breeze. They play with them, a bit, getting close enough to touch and to laugh into their ears, the sound like chiming bells.

It’s unnerving, and Arthur is circling round with his sword drawn, jaw clenched. “Move faster, Merlin,” he whispers, but Merlin can hardly tear his eyes away from these magical creatures, hiding from tree to tree, following them, leaving light in their wake. They walk like that for a day, chased by soft laughter, Arthur on edge and Merlin transfixed and the girls dancing in ever shorter circles around them.

“What are they?” Arthur asks.

For once, Merlin has done his homework. “Nymphs. The wood kind. Dryads, I think they’re called.” Rather than scared, he sounds awed.

Arthur groans. “Oh, God, please don’t tell me they’re sort of your relatives.”

Merlin makes a face. “What?”

“I’m not stupid, Merlin, I know you’re somewhat magical yourself.”

The revelation should be enough to knock him off his feet, but that’s the moment one of the dryads touches his nape, has him turning around only to see her smiling, close, and for her to say, Emrys, before running away, as if asking to be chased.

“Enough!” Arthur says, taking after her, and Merlin’s Arthur, no! is drown out by the ever-present laughter and his own loud footsteps on dried leaves as he goes along with him.

The dryad is always a step ahead, hiding behind trees and then peeking playfully, like a wild child. There’s only one girl, and one string of laughter: hers, and then when she fades altogether Merlin almost misses the sound.

The silence is deafening. Arthur looks around, mouth in a tight line, suddenly a hunter. “We could go back,” Merlin starts, but he cuts him off.

“No. We’re finding her now,” and Merlin wants to find her, but he still says You’re such a stubborn arse, which gets him a toothy grin in return.

They find her standing in the middle of a clearing, not quite still under the sunlight, head tilted to the right, curious. “Emrys,” she repeats. Her hair is brown, reddish where the light hits her, her limbs graceful, pale and hazy at the edges, like it takes a toll to keep this shape. Her hair, her clothing, all of her is covered in leaves and flowers. She looks as if she just stepped out of the very earth.

“What do you want from us?” Arthur demands, kingly, stepping before Merlin with his sword raised.

She giggles, shakes her head and sends twigs flying out of her hair. “Not from you, princeling.” She points at Merlin. “We have a request for Emrys.”

Arthur stares at him as if he didn’t know him.

She speaks like an over-excited child would, eyes wide open and mouth in a grin, her hands always in movement. “Such great power, Emrys – we merely ask for a taste. Surely you can grant us that.” Even her voice is harmonious and hard to reach, like the rest of her.

Merlin swallows hard, says, “If I give you that, a bit of my power, will you let us pass through?”

She laughs, shifting her weight from foot to foot, her body in an eternal dance. Then she raises her eyebrows a little, smiles even wilder. “Who do you take us for, Emrys? We do not mean you harm. We will let you through in any case, this is just a favor. A gift. Whether you choose to grant it or not, it is your own decision.”

“That makes it easier, then,” Arthur says, dry, finally sheathing his sword. “We’re leaving.”

He turns around, but Merlin stays put, watches as the dryad stares at Arthur with her head cocked to the side and mouth slightly open, blinking rapidly. He’s never seen anyone look at Arthur with such open curiosity and contempt at the same time. He likes these creatures, all of the sudden.

“All right,” he says, and both Arthur’s and the dryad’s faces snap back to him, one in bewilderment and the other in wonder. “I have enough to spare. Take your taste.”

“What?” Arthur asks, like he can't believe what he’s hearing.

The dryad’s smile turns vaguely predatory, her eyes so wide the white drowns out the green irises, and for a moment Merlin wants to take it all back. She comes closer, her footsteps so light he can barely hear a thing, and he walks forward as if under a spell, mesmerized by her walk and by the way she flickers out of sight every other breath; by the way she seems to be there and yet nowhere at all and by the way every movement of hers is like light.

Arthur drags him back by the wrist. “What the hell do you think you’re doing,” he whispers, alarmed. Merlin doesn’t quite disentangle himself rather than just keeps walking forward, dragging Arthur along.

“You can’t be ungrateful to your hosts, and this is their home,” he says, and he knows it’s true as he speaks the words, but he also knows there’s something about magic that connects everyone that uses it, that you have to give back in order to deserve it.

The dryad drinks his breath even before they touch. They stand like that for a moment, so very close, her breathing hard and him with his lungs aching and Arthur grasping Merlin’s wrist hard enough to hurt. The moment their lips brush, she lightens up, eyes closed and head thrown back. He kisses her with his eyes open, watches as red flows high to her cheeks, to her lips, and the garland around her head flowers, the leaves greener and the blossoms brighter. Their situations reverse, and now she’s the one that’s gasping for breaths.

When she finally opens her eyes again, they shine a inhuman green, far too bright. It unnerves Merlin a bit, makes him take a step backwards. He wonders if his eyes look anything like that when he does magic.

There’s a collective sigh around them, and the shuffling, the dancing of the other dryads starts again; the laughter more felt-like, the singing more cheerful. The very forest seems to have come alive.

“We thank you, warlock Emrys,” the dryad says, looking too otherworldly for him to be completely comfortable with. He can only imagine what Arthur is going through, Arthur who is still holding his wrist as if to prevent him to fade away into this magical world.

“We do not forget,” she continues, “and we deal in trades. So here.” She takes his neckerchief off, presses a finger to the dip of his collarbone. It feels warm, like sunlight the first thing in the morning. “A boon. It shall help you in the hour of need.” She ties the neckerchief on, he nods, and the transaction is done. She smiles, jumps forward so fast she’s just a blur and kisses Arthur as well just because, laughs at his alarmed expression before fading away.

And then there’s silence, and they’re alone in the forest, Arthur’s fingertips against Merlin’s pulse.


“You think we could go now, Emrys, sire,” Arthur says, making a mockery of his own title. Merlin sighs and follows him back to their horses. The silence feels opressive after so much noise.

"You risk too much," Arthur says, livid with anger, and Merlin says It's not like you don't, and they won't agree on anything so they stay quiet for a long time.

Arthur puts a hand to his mouth, brushes at his lower lip. “She tasted like thyme,” he says and Merlin can only laugh. Arthur turns to look at him sharply, but then his frown turns into a smile, turns into a grin and then they’re laughing together as they walk in the direction the end of the forest should be. It feels somewhat tense, though, not quite honest, but it’s easier than going back to the conversation interrupted by the dryad.

It’s been months since Arthur almost died, months since Merlin came back from an island with magic thrumming in his veins, so much of it it almost burned. It’s been months, and if Arthur hasn’t said anything so far, it’s not likely he ever will, but the fear is still there, after so long hiding.

“She would have wanted you to stay,” Arthur says, still somewhat furious.

“Well, you wouldn’t have liked that, who would darn your socks then?” Merlin says, probably pushing his luck but forgetting to care for a moment.

“I wouldn’t have, no,” Arthur says with far too much meaning behind it, and Merlin is silent because what can he say after that.


Arthur touches him right where the dryad had as they settle to sleep that night, almost too intimate, and Merlin trembles all over, feels it throughout his body, as if he’d touched his very core. The fire gives deep shadows to Arthur’s face, makes his eyes look deeper and his hair even more golden and his nose larger, because there has to be some justice in the world. There's a slow burning in the pit of Merlin's stomach anyway.

“A boon, she said.” Merlin nods. “You think it’s safe?”

“Not all magic is inherently evil,” Merlin says, the same words he's been saying since he met Arthur and yet it's different now.

“I know that,” Arthur practically growls, and Merlin believes him.


A day after, the trees start thinning out, and they can see the sky again.

“How did you know?” Merlin asks, because for some reason he knows this conversation should start and end within the forest.

Arthur looks away. “I could hear. While I was asleep, or dead, or halfway there, whichever.” He finally turns around, looks Merlin in the eye. “I never thanked you for saving me.”

“Yes, well, even prats like you deserve to live.”

They smile, conspiratorially, and when Arthur steps in and kisses him, it’s nothing like the dryad, but hard and hot and with a hint of danger to it, Arthur’s hand curled around his nape. Merlin wraps his hand around Arthur’s wrist, a reflection of days earlier, and Arthur's pulse is racing under his fingertips.

As much as he wants to believe otherwise, to think it's just a spur of the moment thing, or that they've been too long with only one another for company, this, they, doesn't really come as a surprise. They've been twisted around each other since the moment they met.

"Stop thinking. It doesn't suit you," Arthur mumbles, and Merlin smiles into the kiss. He bites at Arthur's lips, walks him backwards until he hits a tree, his breath leaving him, and then Merlin's letting him borrow some of his air. "Ow," Arthur finally says, and then turns them around, presses Merlin into the bark, hard enough to leave red imprints on his skin, starts mouthing at the underside of his jaw. They slide down to the ground, Merlin's back still against the tree and Arthur between his knees.

"Couldn't you magic us a bed, then, if you're so allegedly powerful?" Arthur asks, and they both stop, flinch, Merlin at the words and Arthur at Merlin's reaction. They stare at each other, still pressed close, panting into one another's mouths.

“You won’t tell,” Marlin says.

“Is that a threat, warlock Emrys? Or a spell?” Arthur asks, and Merlin steals another kiss, makes it slow and deep.

“It’s a favor I ask.”

“You won’t tell, either,” Arthur says, and they both know he’s referring to his thigh pressed to Merlin’s cock, making him moan against Arthur’s lips. “You seem to like secrets, in any case,” he continues, almost recriminatory, and Merlin knows that’s what hurt him the most.

"You're being unfair, you pampered brat," he says, cupping Arthur's head with his hands, and he's glad when Arthur takes it like the challenge it is, when his eyes go mischievous again and he presses even closer. Merlin grounds his hips up to his, and then the talking is over.

They move against each other, too frantic to bother with clothes, kissing messy and wet and with their hands roaming, clutching whatever skin they can find.

Merlin comes with his teeth on the soft place where Arthur's neck joins his shoulder, eyes clenched shut, and Arthur follows with his hands tugging at Merlin's hair. Later, sticky and red-lipped, they lie on the soft earth and stare up to whatever little sky that's visible and try and get their breaths back.

"The horses are watching," Merlin notices with a blush.

"So? The dryads are probably watching too, the fucking voyeurs," Arthur says, raising his voice at the last word and directing it to the thickest part of the forest behind them. There's a laugh, soft and melodious, and Merlin can feel his ears burning. There are branches in his hair, in his clothes, when he gets up.

"Your secret is safe, Merlin," Arthur says once he's sitting on his horse again, the path finally wide enough to ride.

"You don't have to," Merlin says, meaning it literally, almost a question for Arthur's motives.

"But I want to," he says, and Merlin grins so wide it almost hurts.


On the edge of the forest, so close to open space he can almost taste it, Merlin sees the dryad again out of the corner of his eyes, pale and bright as she stares at him from under her lashes, and then he blinks and there's only a tree where she was standing.

He wonders if he's really leaving a part of him behind of if he's taking something instead.
There are 77 comments over 2 pages. (Reply.)
1 2
ext_42328: Arthur and Merlin (BBC Merlin)
posted by [identity profile] at 01:16am on 24/12/2008
oh, wow. Lovely use of dryads! :D (Hah. That's not a sentence I'd expected to use outside of Narnia...)
posted by [identity profile] at 06:12pm on 02/01/2009
I must admit I kept thinking about Narnia while writing it, lol. Thank you!
posted by [identity profile] at 01:19am on 24/12/2008
Oh, yes, definitely AWESOMECAKES. I love this to bits. And the dryads. Because who wouldn't want to watch Arthur/Merlin shmex-in-the-forest?
posted by [identity profile] at 03:41am on 07/01/2009
Who wouldn't indeed! Thank you. :D
posted by [identity profile] at 01:20am on 24/12/2008
DRYADS! <3 I want to be a naughty wood nymph and steal kisses and spy on these two, oh yes. XD
posted by [identity profile] at 03:42am on 07/01/2009
Oh, wouldn't want that? :3 Thanks, Mon.
posted by [identity profile] at 01:54am on 24/12/2008

Hehehehe, en serio <333
posted by [identity profile] at 03:42am on 07/01/2009
♥ ♥ ♥
posted by [identity profile] at 02:01am on 24/12/2008
Aw, how sweet XD And not to mention, rather yummy and a little bit steamy XD
posted by [identity profile] at 03:42am on 07/01/2009
Hee, thank you! XD
posted by [identity profile] at 02:12am on 24/12/2008
Ooo, this is very cool. Very ... dreamlike, though Arthur is very grounding, isn't he? *g*
posted by [identity profile] at 03:43am on 07/01/2009
Haha, indeed he is! XD Thank you!
posted by [identity profile] at 03:01am on 24/12/2008
Oh, that was lovely! I loved your use of language and your characterization of Arthur and Merlin.
posted by [identity profile] at 03:43am on 07/01/2009
Aw, thank you!
posted by [identity profile] at 03:28am on 24/12/2008
Lovely! Nymphs freak me out generally, but this was awesome. Going in memories.
posted by [identity profile] at 03:44am on 07/01/2009
Thank you! I've always had a bit of thing for nymps, I have to admit. :3
ext_18566: (mer diefor)
posted by [identity profile] at 03:29am on 24/12/2008
oh gods that was gorgeous and... well, magical

He wonders if he's really leaving a part of him behind of if he's taking something instead.

*happy sigh*
posted by [identity profile] at 03:44am on 07/01/2009
Thank youuuu. :3
posted by [identity profile] at 04:16am on 24/12/2008
This was so lovely. Yay for use of fairies.
posted by [identity profile] at 03:44am on 07/01/2009
Thank you! :D
ext_7717: Lilian heart (Baobab for me <3)


posted by [identity profile] at 05:16am on 24/12/2008
Whee! \o/

My fav. line:

The fire gives deep shadows to Arthur’s face, makes his eyes look deeper and his hair even more golden and his nose larger, because there has to be some justice in the world.

posted by [identity profile] at 03:49am on 07/01/2009
I must admit I have a bit of a thing for Bradley's longish nose. :3

Thanks, hon.
posted by [identity profile] at 05:51am on 24/12/2008
::is irrationally jealous of dryads::

Which are, by the way, probably the best dryads ever

Merlin and Arthur were cute too.

posted by [identity profile] at 03:50am on 07/01/2009
Thank you!
posted by [identity profile] at 06:22am on 24/12/2008
A lovely, lovely story.

and his nose larger, because there has to be some justice in the world

That struck me as such a perfect reaction!
posted by [identity profile] at 03:50am on 07/01/2009
I must admit I have a bit of a thing for Bradley's longish nose. :3

Thank you!
ext_31419: (merlin - come to bed)
posted by [identity profile] at 08:39am on 24/12/2008
Perfect way to spend the morning. Coffee and a sex in the forest story. Fab ^_^
posted by [identity profile] at 03:50am on 07/01/2009
Hee, that does indeed sound like a fine time. XD Thanks!
such_heights: amy and rory looking at a pile of post (merlin: written in the stars)
posted by [personal profile] such_heights at 10:15am on 24/12/2008
Eeeeee! *hearts you long time* I love the whole feel of this, and Merlin being more at ease in the woods than Arthur, and the AWESOME dryads, and magic and trees and this is just delicious, all of it.
posted by [identity profile] at 03:51am on 07/01/2009
LATE LATE RESPONSE SORRRRRRY. I sort of have a thing for Merlin being Rather Magical Yes, does it show? XD Thaaaanks, hon.
posted by [identity profile] at 12:46pm on 24/12/2008
This is awesome.
posted by [identity profile] at 03:52am on 07/01/2009
Thank you!
posted by [identity profile] at 01:08pm on 24/12/2008
"So? The dryads are probably watching too, the fucking voyeurs,"

Ya te lo dije ayer, pero esa frase? Kills me every time xD

FELIZ NAVIDAD! &hearts&hearts&hearts
posted by [identity profile] at 03:52am on 07/01/2009
Tarde tarde, pero de nuevo gracias por todo. :D
posted by [identity profile] at 01:49pm on 24/12/2008
oh, wow. that is so freaking gorgeous!
i love this... *happy sigh*

& now: sequel? ;)
posted by [identity profile] at 03:53am on 07/01/2009
I'm not really one for sequels, I have a very short attention span, lol.

Thank you! :D
ext_3167: Happiness is a dragon in formaldehyde  (Arthur/Merlin = SQUEEE!)
posted by [identity profile] at 03:43pm on 24/12/2008
"So? The dryads are probably watching too, the fucking voyeurs," Arthur says, raising his voice at the last word and directing it to the thickest part of the forest behind them. There's a laugh, soft and melodious, and Merlin can feel his ears burning. There are branches in his hair, in his clothes, when he gets up.

I really love that line because I feel like it touches on everything in this fic. How Arthur is just so *Arthur* and how the forest is magical and full of things that Merlin really belongs to, but are rather sinister at the same time. Also, the dryad was so much fun. Of course she kissed Merlin, and Arthur too, just for the hell of it.
posted by [identity profile] at 03:53am on 07/01/2009
Aw, thanks so much! I must admit I ended up being rather fond of the dryad, hee.
posted by [identity profile] at 07:28pm on 24/12/2008
This is so beautiful! :-)
posted by [identity profile] at 03:53am on 07/01/2009
Thank you!
posted by [identity profile] at 09:55pm on 24/12/2008
This is amazing! Really lovely.
posted by [identity profile] at 03:54am on 07/01/2009
Thank you!
posted by [identity profile] at 12:31pm on 25/12/2008
Wow, this is beautiful! It all just seems so natural and warm and there are no words for how much I love this fic :D
posted by [identity profile] at 03:54am on 07/01/2009
Aw, thanks so much!
posted by [identity profile] at 09:54am on 26/12/2008
That was quite awesome. Jealous!Arthur FTW!

Also, the part where Merlin was embarrased by the horses watching? Only for Arthur to mention the dryads? Cracked me up. Ha!
posted by [identity profile] at 03:54am on 07/01/2009
Hee, I rather like that part myself. XD Thank you!
posted by [identity profile] at 12:33pm on 26/12/2008
Mmm! That was nice and twisty and a little angsty and also hot. :)
posted by [identity profile] at 03:54am on 07/01/2009
Thank you!
ext_3952: (Merlin - I would die for you)
posted by [identity profile] at 12:32pm on 27/12/2008
Oh this was wonderful and magical. ♥
posted by [identity profile] at 03:54am on 07/01/2009
Aw, thank you!
There are 77 comments over 2 pages. (Reply.)
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