A/N : Hey everybody ! This is a one-shot set during and after Merlin goes to Arthur to say goodbye in episode 13. I love love loved that scene and their friendship (so this is non-slash!) . It so strong, even thought some people (cough) Arthur (cough) will try to play it cool.

Please tell me if you like it? Please review?

Xo, as always


"I'm happy to be your servant. 'Till the day I die."

That got his attention. Of course, his manservant had always been known for his dramatics, but something inside of him told Arthur that it was different this time. He didn't know what it was, exactly. Maybe it was the soft tone in the boy's voice, or the way he kept on lingering by the door, his hands folded against the hardwood, as if he were already leaving.

Arthur's head turned to his servant and he merely gazed at him, trying to make out if this was serious, if he was serious about… about being different, today. He looked him over, once – twice – and swore he saw Goodbye written in his eyes, set in harsh determination. The reason why he was leaving was as far out of Arthur's reach as ever, and he wondered if he would ever fully understand.

"Sometimes I think I know you, Merlin. Other times…"

"Well…I know you."

And maybe he did. Maybe Merlin knew him better than anyone. Scratch that, he was actually quite sure that he did. His friend was, too. When his father had ordered Arthur to accept the boy as his manservant, he had at first wanted to make Merlin pay for mocking him in the courtyard, drive him crazy with all the errands he demanded he run. He had worn his servant down to the ground and felt pretty good about it, as well. But over time some things changed – Merlin became his confidant, even though he denied it at every possible occasion. Merlin became his friend.

So they fought together and fought for eachother. They saved eachothers lives time and time again, and he supposed that they kept eachother balanced. Merlin was the dreamer, Arthur knew the harsh truth. They needed eachother to stay grounded. His father would think him weak to get attached to a man whose word – and whose life – meant so little compared to his. But Merlin had shown that he would die for him, and that was the truest form of friendship.

The man in question nodded once before twisting the handle on the door, something he had been anxious to do ever since he had arrived in the prince's chambers. When his hand disappeared into the hallway and the door fell closed in a soft click, Arthur remained silent for a moment, staring into the fire.

He was on his feet before his brain had even processed the thought of going after him. Slowly stepping into the hallway, he only just caught Merlin's retreating figure, a shadow on the stoney walls.

"Merlin?"

The footsteps halted and the shadow painted a dark, still form against the grey. The shuffling of feet – a few steps taken backwards, and his shoulders fell in defeat when he faced Arthur. "Yes."

The future king stepped forward towards the slumped figure, pausing a few feet in front of him. He tried to pose the question lightheartedly, but knew he was failing horribly. The ease with which he bossed Merlin around had left him, leaving only genuine concern in his voice.

"Why did I get the feeling you were saying goodbye to me?"

Merlin shook his head, trying to weasle his way out of having to explain the sadness in his voice, trying to erase the words he had spoken, wishing he could do it over again. Say goodbye without it being too bloody obvious. "I apologize for any impression I might have given you, my lord. Good night." He bowed his head once, curtly, and walked away – again. He tried to run, but his feet didn't follow his light tread and kept on falling to the floor.

It was all the evidence he needed.

-

The next morning, he stood by the window, leaning on his arm, trying to bite away the hurt it still caused him. He was crown prince of Camelot, and his people needed him to be up and running soon, it was to be expected.

A horse sped through the courtyard, and the sight of Merlin galopping away to the open grounds tore at him. So Merlin really had left, without explanation. The words he'd spoken had haunted Arthur all night, as he'd been laying awake and staring at the ceiling.

"Promise me this : if you get another servant, don't get a boot licker."

Another servant. It hadn't crossed his mind, yet. With Merlin gone, he would need another poor soul to clean up after him, to run at his every whim and to nod politely and do as he was told. And Arthur would have lost his friend, for good. "'Till the day I die."

His head snapped. Those words were a condition that had not been fulfilled yet, and if Merlin had sworn to protect him 'till his death, today, and his leaving, could only mean one thing. Merlin was going to get himself killed, and right now – there was nothing he could do. He was helpless.

Gwen entered the room, humming softly to herself as she put the dry towels into his cupboards and rearranged the flowers on the nightstand. "Gwen," he called to her. "Did Merlin seem any..different to you last night?"

The humming came to an abrupt stop, and her hands were left suspended in the air, no more busying themselves with their fluttering movements. "He did, actually. I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier, but it felt as if he were leaving." Her breath caught. "Is he leaving, Arthur?"

"I don't know." Arthur spun around to face her and gave her a cheeky grin, trying not to upset her even more by making his own fears known to her. "I don't command his every move, you know."

"Oh, don't you, sire?" She laughed. "It seemed to me that you had him pretty well-trained."

Arthur rolled his eyes dramatically. "Well-trained? That pup couldn't do a bloody thing. Worst servant I ever had."

"Then why are you so worried?" Her brow furrowed, mocking him. Great, another one to question his every action. But still, she was right. He was worried about Merlin, because the truth was that he would lay down his life for his servant as well. He just would.

-

The storm rolled in, attacking the windows and the towers, making the banners fold around their poles, tugging at the fabric. He hadn't left his room all day, but merely stared outside, watching the commoners go about their business. And all day, Merlin had not returned. Now the rain made his vision blurry, and all he saw were shadows hurrying to get inside the walls, where it was safe, and dry. The storm had come out of nowhere, catching everyone by surprise.

The knock on his door shook him from his reverie, and he muttured a quick reply. The door squeaked a bit, and small, squishy footsteps made his ears perk. "I'm sorry, sire. Have you eaten, yet?"

He twirled around, staring the drenched to the bone servant in the face. Merlin's dark hair clung in strands to his forehead, and his clothes were soaked, yet his eyes shone brighter than Arthur had ever seen. He couldn't describe the emotion in them, but wrote it off as excitement. What he had to be excited about, Arthur couldn't figure out. Not for the life of him.

"No, I haven't."

-

They hadn't spoken of his absense that day, but when Merlin was tucking Arthur into bed, careful to mind his wounds and bruises, he could hear him say, sounding as detached as he possibly could : "So you're back, then."

Merlin nodded, the smile spreading on his face. "Yes, I am."

And he was back to stay. By Arthur's side – until the day he died.


So? What did you think? Please review?

Xo, as always