LENGTH: 540 words
SUMMARY: Freya has an eternity to live, just like Merlin.
WARNING: Vague spoilers for 3x13
NOTES: Written for the second challenge of round one at camelot_fics. The theme was "forever and a day," and bonus points awarded if it's set outside Camelot, with no direct speech and the use of one of three words (fierce, hollow, winter).
The first time Merlin makes the joke about time being a river, Freya laughs. Not because it's funny, because it's not actually, but because his eyes get this twinkle when he tells it, and no matter how many centuries go by, she will never know anything as beautiful or uplifting as Merlin when he smiles.
It makes all the time in between his visits worth it.
She learns how to slip away from her watery home for longer periods as the years pass, but each exodus only serves to remind her of how much she is missing. Merlin suggests once or twice she find someone exciting to watch, that the changing world is an exhilarating place when seen through the eyes of the right person, but honestly, Freya has little interest in knowing how it is all different. What's the point? She's not a part of it anymore, though in all honesty, she had never really been a part of it at all. She'd always been separate, with the rare exception of the moments Merlin had been there with her.
Just as she is separate from it all now. And again, the anomaly is the time he comes to see her, those precious days scattered across forever where she can emerge from the lake and join him on its surface, when she can lay back in the small craft he takes to meet her and float along the water, staring up at the cloudless skies.
He always chooses days when the weather is glorious. She knows he does it especially for her. Because that is the kind of man Merlin has always been.
Sometimes, he tells her about some of the places he's visited, or stories about some of the people he's met. She hangs on every word, prepared to replay them over and over when she is alone again. He does his best to keep his tone bright and lively, but she can hear the sadness that lurks beneath each word. He misses Arthur and can't admit it. Or won't. The semantics is pointless. The end result is the same.
Waiting for the one person who gives your life meaning is not easy when you're immortal.
Sometimes, they don't talk at all during his visit. He pulls her out of the water and crushes her into a fierce embrace, as if he can't believe she is really present. The day is then spent lost in touches, fingertips both wet and dry sculpting over naked flesh. He wears the weariness of his wait upon his skin, while she sheds her loneliness at the first caress from his. Neither questions the bargain they make. They need it. This. Each other. For now, anyway.
Because when Arthur returns, they both know the visits will stop. She will watch from afar, just as she has done all these decades, and he will be at Arthur's side, ready to help wage the battle his liege will lead. If necessity dictates her involvement, Merlin will come to her, but she doesn't put too much faith in that as a possibility.
But she will still be there for him, should he need her. Just like she is always there for him, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.