Okay I've been away for a while and this is my first Merlin fic so have mercy! I just wanted to write something for fun for once. A break from uni essays ha!

I'd just like to say that I came up with this little story before last saturday's episode, but never mind...

It's from Merlin's perspective. Slight A/M.

Also it's an odd combination of humour, angst and romance (or friendship if you prefer!). Let me know what you think - I may even write some more... :)

It's a nightmare. A complete nightmare. No it's worse - this time it's really happening.

All I did was walk into Arthur's chambers to change his bed sheets - same as I do every day (okay, well maybe not every day... or even every other day... or week... Don't judge me, I'm a busy person!). And who should I happen to catch stealing, stuffing his pockets full of Arthur's spare change? That's right, Uther's retired Witch Finder and buddy, Aranis (what a prat Arthur is anyway, just leaving all that money there - who does that? Oh yes, Mister I'm-so-rich-and-arrogant-and-attrac... Anyway!).

Excellent. Just my luck isn't it?

Upon hearing the announcement that Uther's friend, who just happened to have helped "Rid Camelot of sorcery in the original Great Purge" was coming to stay, I decided to stay out of his way. He may have been retired and just passing through, but I wasn't taking any chances, you see. Not after the great smokey horse/Aredian debacle anyway.

But then I see the crockety old clot pole stuffing his pockets with coins that aren't his.

"You're a thief!"

"No I'm not young boy," he replied, mean little eyes narrowing in my direction.

"Oh so I guess that makes you Prince Arthur now does it? Since you're not stealing his gold and all, sorry my mistake my lord." I answer back sarcastically, edging towards the door, "Maybe I should just tell Uther his son has returned early from his hunting trip - and how it's certainly aged him?"

Okay I was babbling. At this point I wasn't sure if I'd have actually told on him. I just wanted to scare him off, I mean, Witch Finders as a rule generally make me twitchy anyway. Even retired ones. But this one had helped kill so many people. People with magic. People like me. And now here he was stealing, from my best friend - I mean Master. Maybe I wanted to make him twitch for a change.

Bad idea.

Never play a player.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you boy." he said calmly.

Why boy? I'm twenty. TWENTY. I was so consumed with irritation that I almost missed his next threat.

"I still have a lot of influence over the king - despite the fact I've lost my riches." He smiled in a creepy manner, "You shouldn't upset me."

"Is that a threat?!"

"Well, yes." He said, looking at me as if I were simple.

"Oh, of course." I replied, possibly blushing. "Well don't! Threaten me I mean - there's no need. Just put it back and we'll forget all about it. Or I'll just have to go and tell on you - and I really don't want to do that."

A perfectly reasonable request, I thought so anyway. But when it comes to these holier-than-thou psychopaths, reason simply doesn't work.

"Oh I don't think so serving boy." That's even worse than plain boy! "I don't respond to threats you see."

"It wasn't a threat, it was just-"

And that's all I can remember, before waking in those oh-so familiar dungeons. See, I was too busy passing out after he hit me with Arthur's water jug.

Who uses a water jug, honestly?

No one believes you when you're a servant. It was my word against his. And that craggy old thief couldn't just accuse me of stealing could he? Oh no. it was his honour that was at stake so naturally I had to die for it.

He accused me of being a Sorcerer. Said he'd caught me practising alchemy. Used his own stolen gold coins against me. Apparently it was one accusation too many for the mighty King. He thinks he knows better all the time doesn't he? He married a troll, made me drink poison and almost had Gaius killed for casting magic, but still thinks he's so smart. And okay, this time he may have caught a genuine warlock, but I would never harm anyone in Camelot. Especially not Arthur, as Aranis claimed. How could I ever hurt Arthur?

These are the jumbled thoughts that run through my petrified mind as I stand before everyone - a dark idol. There was no trial. No fairness. No mercy. An instant execution so that I'll be dead before Arthur returns.

I let out a hysterical giggle. it's ridiculous. the first time Arthur lets me stay at home during one of his hunting trips and this happens.

And the last thing he said to me was, "Try to stay out of trouble Mer-lin," in that not at all adorable way he always says my name.

I let out a hysterical giggle. it's ridiculous. the first time Arthur lets me stay at home during one of his hunting trips and this happens.

Oh boy.

Now I'm standing on a pyre, surrounded by planks of assorted dead wood and I'm completely terrified. My legs are actually trembling and it's almost a good thing my hands are bound with chains - at least I wont fall if my legs fail me. Wouldn't want to hurt myself...
Another shrill chuckle- what's wrong with me?!

How did Gaius stand this, when he faced execution this way? How could he stand there and look so dignified? I'm not brave like him. I can't die like this, it's not fair. All I ever did was try to belong. Try to protect Arthur. And now...

"For the act of Sorcery there can only be only one punishment. Death by flames." It's the oh-so great King from the balcony behind me.

"Uther please no, he's just a boy!" If there's anyone who I'll allow to call me boy it's Gaius - but right now I can't stand it. His voice cracks on the word. He sounds like he's in physical pain. I can't let myself look and see his suffering. I know it only too well, yet I wouldn't trade places with him for the world. He's one of the reasons I am still here - not that I'll ever let him know that.

"Get out of here Gaius please!" No point in us both suffering. he's already had his life threatened by Uther for trying to save me, or so I've heard.

As I was bound and gagged in the dungeons (as a precaution against me breaking out) Aranis taunted me, saying Gaius would be next if I escaped. I doubt I could escape now even if I was willing to risk Gauis's life. I'm far too frightened - and I need my hands.

Uther ignored Gaius's pleas from among the solemn crowd. I like to think they weren't baying for my blood because they liked me. Even cared about me. It's more than I could have hoped for. How else could this have ended? As a magician living in Camelot, how else could this have ended?

"Let this be an example to all who practise magic. For this is the only fate that awaits you." Read my mind, and I'm the Sorcerer?

"Please Uther!" Cries Gaius.

"It's wrong..."

"Not that boy he's -"

"He can't be -"

"- innocent!"

"- a good lad."

I catch snippets of conversations caused by his declaration and I'm truly touched. They're actually protesting. Now my eyes finally fill with tears.

"How dare you disrespect the King!" I burn with fury. It's him, the prissy-thief man. I breathe deeply. Setting him on fire really isn't the solution, no matter how appealing it may seem. He's human. I wont lose my soul over him.

"How's Arthur's gold? Not too heavy for you I hope." Okay. Can't resist.

"Enough! Sire, will you allow him to disrespect me so?"

"Of course not. He's the condemned one after all." Was Uther's chilling reply, "Light the pyre."

Oh god. Oh god. What about my destiny? Oh Arthur. I'm sorry. So sorry. My poor Mother too. She'll die when she finds out. She'll blame herself. Oh, I'm so so sorry.

I swallow hard, refusing to cry. Even now I wouldn't trade this for never coming here. Never making friends - my new family (some who are strangely absent). Never meeting Arthur. So much love, I'm lucky really... This thought gives me strength. I open my eyes - avoiding the sight of the approaching guard with his flaming torch. I focus on Gaius. He looks heartbroken.

"It's okay. It's fine," I murmur. I can afford to speak softly. There is utter silence - dissaproval tangible in the air. "Don't be sad." My voice cracks as I try to smile.

Such love is more than I could have ever asked for, considering the circumstances. At least until...


Someone pushes through the crowd. Armour clad, furious, still strutting. I laugh, half-mad.


Maybe he's an illusion? Conjured out of half mad longing... I have been cackling like a witch (appropriate) and that's never a good sign.

No way can any imaginary Arthur look that outraged (I know that look) and still arrogant!

Suddenly he's in front of me and - oh yes - he's punched the torch bearer in the face who promptly falls to the ground, sleeping like a baby. I'd almost feel sorry for him if, you know, he wasn't trying to set me on fire.

"Are you mad?! What on Earth is going on here?" His voice is all high and un-prince like. Squeaky with disbelief, his wide, blue eyes lock with mine in search of answers.

I attempt to shrug, which is hard when you're tied to a pole. "Oh you know me, staying out of trouble." It's meant to sound funny and flippant, but just sounds weak and scared.

"You mean... Surely you're not going to burn Mer-lin?!" His voice reaches the highest octaves which would be amusing under any other circumstances, "Merlin? MY Merlin? I mean - manservant!"

I am going loopy. His panicked declaration sent waves of pride and pleasure through me. He'll make it right. This is how things work around here. We save each other. My Arthur. We always do.

"He has been accused of sorcery. It gives me no pleasure to do this..."

"Then don't!" He laughs, running his hands through his hair in a frustrated manner. "Father, this is insanity!"

"He confessed."

"To protect me from being the next person that thief accuses!" adds Gaius. I wince. He'll be joining me if he doesn't shut up.

Arthur glares at the accuser and king on the balcony before glancing at Gaius in surprise; "Well I don't know what's going on here, but I'm setting Merlin free. We all know he's innocent anyway. He's too much of an idiot to do magic! But he's my idiot so you can't just go and burn him! It's preposterous."

He moves to me, my prince, smiling likes it's all a misunderstanding. I smile back though my vision is blurred and my legs hurt so badly I can barely stand and I feel bad because I am a sorcerer and he doesn't know but he's reaching for me so I smile...

"Guards seize him!" thunders Uther. "A sentence has been passed and for this insolence you will watch justice be served."

The smile disappears from his face. I appreciate what he was trying to do. Turn this nightmare into a joke, but it would never work. Several well trained guards advance on him, going from determined to uncertain once Arthur draws his sword.

"ARTHUR!" A part of me almost wishes I could see the look on Uther's face. I've never heard him sound so angry before.

Maybe I don't have to see it. The look can't possibly be more frightening than Arthur's. Never once since I met him has he looked intimidating to me (he wishes he did). Not even when charging at me in full trainee jouster mode. But now... It's like his light has been taken away. He looks as if he genuinely means to hurt the advancing guards - his men and friends.

He looks like a killer.

"Tell your men to stand down." That's all he says. No threat. No need. He draws his sword...

"Arthur..." I think I'm close to passing out, but I wont see him kill for me. I can't let him kill these people - I know he will. As scared as I am, I can't let him do this. He could even get hurt in the process, then I'd really die, "Please just -"

"Be quiet Merlin." He cuts me off, "I wont let them hurt you."

My heart melts. He's still in there. Still inside that cold exterior. I know him so well. Better than he'll ever know me (it hurts but it's true). I wont let them hurt you. He sounds so vulnerable instead of protective as he intended. I think I'm the only person he's ever let in and now it looks like he's going to loose me. He can't suffer because of me.

"That is not your decision to make." Booms Uther, "He's a sorcerer! And just a servant anyway."

"No!" Arthur's voice cracks. "He's a good man Father. Please... He's - he's my friend."

"It's the way it must be." To his credit, Uther's voice does soften. "Guards..."

"Father don't!"

How can anyone deny such a sorrowful plea?

"Kill the boy."

So it's a deadlock. Arthur is surrounded by fearful guards who can't draw a sword out on the Prince. He wont move because I'm chained up. You can't cut through chains.

The Guards still nervously advance. They will win and I will die.

Arthur turns to me and to my horror there are tears in his eyes and panic in his voice. He says, "I can't take them all." He sounds lost. I can't bear it.

"Then don't." There is utter silence as I speak. No one knows what to do. This must be a shocking sight to see.

"I wont let them take you from me."


"I'll always be here for you." I answer, meaning every word though my heart is breaking as I realise something - "You have to let me go."

It's as if I've slowed time down. Our eyes meet and something passes between us. A mixture of fear, understanding and... love.


In one stealthily, swift movement, as he has always trained to be, he leaps over the wooden pyre and on to my unlit stand.

I am no longer alone on my deathly platform. Stunned gasps break the silence but i barely hear them. He climbs to me and it is just us. No crowd, no King, no accuser. Just him and me - and I'm actually... happy.

"Hello Merlin how are things?"

"Oh you know, the usual. Little bored. Kinda hungry."

So surreal.


Arthur simply laughs, "Never!"

"You're insane!" I hiss, but for some reason I'm still smiling.

I hear that magical laugh again as he wraps his arms around my middle and leans into my side - almost clinging to me. I wish more than ever that my hands weren't bound.

I settle for resting my head on his as I close my eyes - suddenly comfortable. If this is to be my last memory before they drag Arthur away, then I'll die happy. He's here for now and I'm happy.

"Light it." Says Arthur calmly and sincerely.