Title: This Is Why We Fight

Author: JALover7

Rating: PG

Spoilers: MAJOR spoilers for 2.12, "The Fires of Idirsholas"

Pairing: Arthur&Merlin friendship

Summary: Merlin's pov, set during 2.12, "The Fires of Idirsholas." Merlin will always have Arthur's back. But Merlin realizes that, someday, he wants Arthur to know it.

Disclaimer: Merlin is owned by the BBC.

AN: This is just a brief glimpse into one of my favorite scenes in the episode. I took one very short piece of a scene (seriously, blink and you may miss it) and expanded on it. It's kind of a reflection on what I was thinking when I watched it, but I feel like it's something that could easily have been on Merlin's mind as well.

This Is Why We Fight

"Run, Merlin!"

Merlin hears Arthur say it, hears him scream it, and he knows it isn't a suggestion, but he can't just leave Arthur to die at the hands of the knights. Not while he still has the power to help. So instead of running past Arthur and out the door, Merlin does the only thing he can do: he runs to Arthur and stands back to back with him, ready to do whatever needs to be done to protect him, even if it means using magic in front of him.

And in that moment, one extraordinarily powerful and crystal clear thought runs through Merlin's head: this is how it should always be: the two of us fighting together, side by side, protecting each other's backs. The need to fight next to Arthur rather than from the sidelines is stronger than it ever has been. In that instant, he feels the overwhelming desire for Arthur to know his secret. He wants to fight at Arthur's side, for Arthur to fight with his sword while Merlin fights with his magic. Merlin has always had Arthur's back, and he always will. But more than ever Merlin wants Arthur to know that he has his back. Merlin knows that Arthur feels like he has to protect him, and he wants to rid Arthur of that undeserved and unnecessary pressure, because really, it's the other way around. Merlin's job – his destiny – is to protect Arthur, and he wants Arthur to know that he doesn't have to fight alone.

But suddenly Arthur shoves him aside, yelling at him to do what he says, and Merlin is jerked from his thoughts. He stands in the doorway and hesitates, wondering if he's really ready for Arthur to know. But as Merlin watches Arthur fight, he realizes something: a second of distraction – like that split second Arthur just used trying to protect him – is all the enemy needs to find an opening in which to strike Arthur down.

And that's something that Merlin just can't live with.

So when Arthur pushes one of the knights aside and comes to stand with him, facing the army head on with Merlin at his back, Merlin knows what he has to do. He realizes that he doesn't care if Arthur finds out now, and so much the better if he does. Without another thought he mutters the words needed to bring down part of the castle ceiling and grabs Arthur, pulling him out of the way as earth and stone crumble down, and they run.

Minutes later, panting in the bright sunlight, Merlin braces himself for what he feels is sure to come.

But it never does.

Somehow, and damned if Merlin knows how, Arthur hadn't heard him. Maybe in the heat of battle Arthur had been too distracted to hear him. Whatever the reason was for Arthur's temporary deafness, Merlin knows he should be glad.

But as Arthur tears off part of his own shirt to bandage Merlin's first battle wound, he can't help but miss the feeling, however brief, of really having Arthur's back for once.

He wants to feel that again.

But it looks like now just isn't the right time.

After all, Merlin knows that, eventually, the truth has to come out. And when it does, he just hopes that Arthur will still accept him. Because Merlin doesn't want to fight from the shadows anymore: Merlin wants for them to fight together, side-by-side and back-to-back. Arthur is his prince, his future king, his friend, and more than anything, Merlin doesn't want to merely fight for him; he wants to fight with him. Merlin knows the difference between the two might seem minor to anyone else, but to him, it means the world.

the end.

AN: So I really liked seeing Merlin and Arthur fighting together. When Arthur told Merlin to run and Merlin refused and stood back to back with Arthur ready to fight, all I could think was that THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE. The two of them fighting together and having each other's backs, not just Merlin fighting separately where Arthur can't see him. Seriously, watching the two of them fight together did all kinds of things to me. My heart quite literally ached to see this happening on my screen, and I want to see so much more of it. I want Merlin's secret to come out to Arthur soon, and when it does THAT is what I want to see: the two of them fighting side by side, Arthur with his sword, Merlin with his magic.

And there may be a small dig at the writers thrown in that story for making Arthur too deaf to hear Merlin muttering a spell FROM RIGHT BEHIND HIM. Seriously, do they really expect us to believe Arthur is this dumb? Do they expect us to just accept this? I've accepted a lot of the close call scenarios, no matter how stupid, but this was just too much. I tend to think (hope) it's a hint that the reveal is coming soon. Bring it on, I'm so ready for it!