Only two days left! OMG I may scream with excitement. I dont want it to end though! Btw, just as a note in this chapter, they did have Christmas back then. Thanks for the reviews!

"I'm not dead." Merlin said simply, then, "You're not dead either."

"Once again, I will congratulate you for your top observational skills," Arthur teased. "Nothing gets past you."

"What happened then?"

"I was hoping you could tell me that," the blonde man admitted. "For instance, I really want to know how on earth you got burnt like that." As he said these words Arthur reached out towards Merlin's raw cheek but then, when his fingers were inches away, he pulled back, suddenly unsure of himself.

"Nimueh and I had a duel," the warlock began, Arthur felt he could see the cogs turning in his servant's brain as he tried to recall, "She was much more powerful than me; more experienced. I dodged some of her spells but one hit me. It was a fiery one and that's what burnt me." The boy visibly shivered at the memory. "Then I…" thought of you, Merlin wanted to say but didn't, "And gained the strength to send an enchantment at her. It was meant to kill her but I was too weak. She was merely frozen. I think she'll leave us alone for awhile yet anyway. Then I think I got on the horse. I don't remember after past that point until now."

"And, why did you send me away like that? You just touched me and I couldn't do anything."

"Where did you end up?" Merlin asked, curiously.

"In your bedroom, isn't that where you meant to send me?" Arthur frowned at his friend's guilty expression.

"Well, not really, I didn't know what I was doing at the time. I'd say you were fairly lucky to end up only in my bedroom. I could've sent you to the other side of the world for all I knew. All I thought was 'Send Arthur somewhere safe, to recover'."

"You class your bedroom as somewhere safe? Merlin, that place is a death trap. I'm surprised you haven't broken your neck yet tripping over all the clothes on the floor." The Prince chuckled slightly at his servant's wounded puppy look which he was offered for his comments.

"I'm glad Gaius patched you up though, life wouldn't have been the same if you'd died," Merlin said, sincerely, his ocean blue eyes wide and earnest. Arthur was struck by the sudden change of mood and it really did bring home the fact that both of them had nearly lost their lives. It just showed what he took for granted.

"I feel the same about you," he answered, softly.


Gaius watched from a distance, at his work bench, as the two young men lapsed into silence. He hadn't been eavesdropping – no, never – but he couldn't help catch snippets of their conversation and smiled as he heard how they had finally come to realise how much they meant to one another. Merlin and Arthur. Arthur and Merlin. They were two sides of the same coin and always would be. Nothing could tear them apart, not the Nimueh, not Uther, nobody. They would be one of the greatest couples in history, he knew it.

"Arthur," Merlin suddenly whispered, his voice tentative and his gaze downcast.

"Yes?"

"Are you going to tell the King then, about my…gifts?" There was a moment's pause and the warlock dared not look up and meet his master's eyes for fear of what he would see there. He needn't have worried however.

"Of course not, you idiot," Arthur grinned and hit him gently over the head with brotherly affection, "You're dreadful secret is safe with me." The small smile of relief that graced Merlin's tired face filled him with warmth. Everything was going to turn out all right.

There was a feast that night, to celebrate Prince Arthur's safe return. However, the man in question only attended for the start, for appearances and duty, before vanishing shortly after. No one was quite sure where he had disappeared to. Soon, though, his absence was forgotten as the partying got under full swing.


"We should probably take that horse back now," Arthur said in an offhand sort of way as he slumped in his chair, exhausted.

"Which horse?"

"The one we stole from those foresters."

"What?! No way. I love that horse. She saved my life. I want to keep her. Send them another horse but not Betha."

"Betha?"

"Yes, I've named her. It means life because she saved my life."

"I think you saved your life, Merlin." Arthur pointed out casually.

"She helped."

"Fine, I won't send her back, besides, I don't think I could hope to find those men anyway and I don't fancy going back into the forest with Nimueh probably out for revenge."

"She won't be angry for long. Soon she'll calm down and think of a plan to kill me and you again," Merlin stated, offhandedly.

"Oh, Merlin, you really know how to make someone feel better don't you?" Arthur sighed.

"But in the meantime how about we just think about recovering, eh?"

"I totally agree."


In the weeks that followed, Merlin and Arthur both made their way along the long path to recovery. They both spent a lot of time together, despite Uther's increasing annoyance, as Arthur couldn't practice his swordsmanship for fear it would rip his stitches and Merlin could move a lot anyway as it irritated his tender burns. Fortunately, the terrible scorched skin on his face, once red and raw, faded gradually. It first became a pinkish shadow and then was no longer visible unless you looked very closely. Thankfully, it was nowhere near as bad as Edwin Muirden's scarred face. Merlin still retained his handsome, boyish complexion. The marks on his chest, however, would remain with him for a long time.

By the fourth week, nearing Christmas, Arthur was becoming very restless and bored. He enjoyed Merlin's company but he really wanted to get out and ride his horse and fight a few knights. With this thought in mind he visited his manservant who had recently got out of bed and still bore the remnants of the night on his face to ask him to come with him.

He suggested that they rode into the forest as a way of trying to overcome their horrific past memories there. Merlin agreed, as long as he was permitted to ride Betha. The pair went to saddle their respective horses. As Arthur was slipping the bridle over his stallion's head (these days he barely ever got Merlin to do many jobs for him, it didn't seem right. It was disrespectful almost) he paused.

"You know your mare is called Betha?" He pondered.

"Yes?"

"Maybe I should name mine Than? What do you say?"

"What does that mean?" Merlin asked, perplexed.

"Death," Arthur grinned, patting the animal's warm flank. "Then we will have Life and Death in our hands."

"That's just plain morbid, Arthur, and you know it."

I was going to name the horse Mort but then I realised the name of the final episode was Le Mort D'Arthur and thought it was a bit too close to home.