Second Star To The Right, Straight On 'Til Morning

A/N: Not much porn, but still from kinkme_merlin: Arthur/Merlin, Merlin has Cancer and only a small amount of time to live. In pain, he decides to end his life with an overdose of morphine. (You can get doctors to do thisin the UK, if the intention is to "free from pain" rather than "end life") With Arthur there the whole time, of course.

Warnings: tear-jerker, euthanasia

Also, a brief note on the terminology: euthanasia literally means 'good death'. While the legality of euthanasia as a whole is still quite up in the air, the act of using morphine to end pain is legal in the UK.

ETA: to detail this issue, there is something called the principle of double effect which is used. If a doctor uses morphine to end a patient's pain, it's legal - even if it results in that person's death. So long as the intention was to end pain, not end life, the doctor will not be prosecuted for murder or assisted suicide. At best, it could be a malpractice suit, and this would involve the family or someone similar pressing charges - and if the patient had intended to die, then the family is usually in on it, so they're not going to. It's a legal loophole which isn't all that commonly used - especially as patients who are in conditions to warrant euthanasia are usually so close to death, anyway, that no one really looks too deeply into the matter - but it exists. It allows for euthanasia so long as no one calls it euthanasia (so people can feel good about themselves, the hypersadistic idiots) and so long as no one actually brings it up. Somewhere along the lines of all the other legal issues which are considered just and equal so long as no one actually mentions it.


Beep

"Arthur?"

Arthur head jerked up, and he winced before even opening his eyes, hand shooting up to rub at the crick in his neck that came from sleeping in the ridiculously uncomfortable hospital chair with his head on Merlin's bed.

Beep

He opened his eyes to see Merlin propped up on the electronic hospital bed, smiling down fondly at Arthur. He was gaunt, barely weighing seven stone after all the chemotherapy, eyes sunken in and hollow from the pain, hair thinned out, hands trembling as he reached over to clasp his hand in Arthur's, just by his hip. But his smile was still as bright and dazzling as ever.

Beep

Arthur wrapped his hand around Merlin's bony one, feeling the dry, papery skin against his palm and giving a gentle squeeze, lending just this little bit of warmth to Merlin.

Beep

"It's morning, Arthur," Merlin said, simply.

Beep

Arthur pursed his lips and nodded, swallowing past the lump in his throat as he said, "Not long, now, then?"

Merlin nodded tiredly.

Beep

"Doctor'll be here in a few minutes."

Beep

Arthur's eyes widened. "B-but...this is too...why didn't you wake me?"

Beep

"You...you looked like you needed the sleep. And you looked peaceful. I...I wanted that to be one of the last things I see - you," Merlin said, somewhat sheepish in tone. The blush was only slight, but it looked impossibly red on his pale, pale cheeks.

Arthur's breath hitched and his whole chest trembled, and Merlin smiled in understanding, squeezing Arthur's hand weakly.

Beep

Using his free hand to shakily reach over himself, Merlin patted the spot beside him on the bed. "Please...hold me while I...when she...hold me?"

Beep

Arthur nodded. "I'll have to move you-"

"I know," Merlin said, the look on his face saying he was already bracing himself against the onslaught.

Beep

It tore Arthur's heart to hear the whimpers Merlin couldn't hold back from the impossible pain, eyes screwed shut as Arthur moved him. But soon, very soon, Arthur was under the sheets beside Merlin, arms wrapped around him, the dark head resting against his shoulder, a surprising spot of warmth against the completely internal chill Arthur had been feeling ever since Merlin told him what he'd asked of the doctor.

Beep

He buried his face in the thin hair, which still smelt entirely of Merlin, and kissed his head as Merlin settled in, mumbling and purring slightly as he made himself as comfortable as he could, considering the constant agony that came with his impending death.

In that moment, Arthur felt a flash of self-hate as he realized that part of him wanted desperately to keep Merlin here for the remaining few months he had to live, despite the agony Merlin was in. It was selfish, he knew, but that didn't make him want that any less.

Beep

But it was also impossible to watch Merlin suffer so much.

Beep

The door to the private room opened, and Dr. Vivienne walked in and gave a soft smile at the sight of Arthur in the bed beside Merlin, but did no more as she came up to all the monitoring equipment by the bedside, fiddling and checking all the machines that counted down to the end of Merlin's life.

Beep

"How are you doing, Merlin? Arthur?" She asked, adjusting something to do with the IV.

Beep

"Same as always, Nimueh," Merlin mumbled, cheek still pressed against Arthur's chest. He didn't need to elaborate on what 'same as always' meant - they all knew too well. The screams still rang in Arthur's ears.

They always would.

Beep

"Well," she said, after a moment. "The authorizations are in place, paperwork in order. Your post-mortem legal formalities have been settled, and all the people you requested contacted. You're good to go."

It sounded like she was talking about discharging Merlin, or transferring him. Not...not...

Beep

Merlin just nodded, and Arthur felt his eyes blur wetly as he watched her cross over to the locked cabinet and open it with a key and a code. She pulled out a very large needle and the not-so-little jar of clear liquid - the morphine.

Beep

Closing and locking the cabinet again, she came back and set them on a tray by the bedside, and looked between them and said, "Shall I give you a moment?"

Beep

Merlin and Arthur both nodded, and she smiled sadly and left without another word.

Beep

For a few moments, Arthur and Merlin just lay there, Arthur desperately holding on to the little bit of Merlin he had left, and Merlin breathing softly into Arthur's collarbone, breaths warm damp and shallow.

Beep

"Are you okay?" Merlin asked, after a moment.

Beep

"Shouldn't I be asking you that?" Arthur asked.

Beep

"I'm going to be dead, soon," Merlin offered bluntly. "You the one who'll have to keep living."

And that was it - that broke Arthur right there.

Beep

His chest shook as a single sob was ripped out from his throat, a few lone tears trailing down his face as Arthur said, desperately, "I'm going to miss you...so much."

Beep

"I know," Merlin said, softly. "It's okay."

Beep

Arthur wondered why Merlin was the one comforting him. Arthur wasn't the one that was going to die.

Beep

But then...

You're the one who'll have to keep living.

...maybe that was the point.

Beep

"Wait for me, will you?" Arthur said into Merlin's hair. Merlin chuckled, slightly, the closest thing to a laugh he could manage without it ending in agonizing screaming.

Beep

"I'll save you a seat," Merlin promised. "But remember what I said - keep living, yeah? Even if that means moving on from me. I won't take it personally."

Beep

Arthur would.

Beep

"Kiss me?" Merlin asked, tilting his head up.

Beep

He did. Leaning in, he captured Merlin's thin lips in his own, and another tear slipped out as he kissed Merlin good-bye. Slow, familiar, comforting, and languid, it felt more like the lazy Sunday morning kisses they'd shared, once upon a time, than a kiss good-bye.

But then, maybe Merlin didn't intend for this to be a good-bye, after all.

Beep

They parted almost regretfully, Merlin unable to hold his head up any longer. Shutting his eyes, he rested his head back against Arthur's shoulder, mumbling in content.

Beep

Taking a deep, shaky breath, he pulled Merlin closer, and called out to the doorway, "Doctor Vivienne? We're ready."

Beep

She came back in, appropriately somber, and without further ado, sucked up all the morphine into the needle, and injected it straight into Merlin's IV bag.

Beep

"Sleep well," she offered to Merlin softly, before pulling the curtain around the work area, giving them privacy while still remaining present.

Beep

It would be a few minutes, and in it, Arthur wrapped one arm protectively around Merlin, and clasped the other hand in Merlin's, holding on for dear life.

Merlin's eyes fluttered open for one last time.

Beeeep

"I love you," he said.

Beeeep

"I love you, too," Arthur said, smiling.

Beeeeeep

Merlin closed his eyes with a smile and settled into Arthur's chest.

Beeeeeep

Arthur pressed his lips against Merlin's forehead, one last kiss which would never be a good-bye.

"Always," he promised.

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-


A/N: For the record, I really do feel bad, sometimes, about what I do to my characters.

*sees incredulous looks*

No, really, I do!

*dons Merlin's innocent!face*

*remembers that innocent!face is never innocent*

...plan!fail!