I have been watching reruns of Merlin on the SYFY channel - though I am watching for the first time. Earlier today, as I watched the episode 'The Moment of Truth', I was just struck by this idea. I hope it does justice to the series and the characters, and that you enjoy it.
Will had been about to push his way into Hunith's small hut, intent on dissuading Merlin from his path - from this foolishness - when he caught sight of his friend carrying the Prince's breastplate to him.
Though he felt a surge of triumph at this proof that he had been right all along, he was somewhat disappointed, as well - not that he was right, he hadn't expected better of a Nobleman, but for the sake of his friend, who was convinced that Arthur was different from the rest.
William set himself to interrupt them - it would serve Arthur right if he had to put his own armour on, like a normal man would. Before he took a single step, he was startled to hear Arthur taking the chest plate out of Merlin's hands, telling him not to assist with the armour today.
If that had startled him, it shocked him to the core when Arthur reached to secure Merlin's gauntlet - as if he were a . . . friend. William took a step closer to the window, enthralled in watching his old friend and his . . . Master.
After Arthur had fastened and tightened all the straps, he didn't pull away, but rested his hand curved around Merlin's forearm familiarly, taking a step closer. Merlin matched him, surprising the silent, unnoticed observer.
The two men just stood there, the one grasp Arthur had on Merlin's arm the only point of contact between them. Somehow, though, it seemed to William to be one of the most intimate things he had ever seen. They seemed to be communicating without words, eyes meeting - something unknown to William, unrecognizable, lurking in their depths.
William was beginning to lean closer, certain there was something he could decipher about their expressions, if only…
Suddenly there was a small laugh, and William looked over his shoulder to see the Lady Morgana approaching, with Gwen at her side. He glanced back through the uncovered window to see Arthur was now leaning his head against Merlin's, which stood just shorter then his own.
As Morgana and Gwen came closer, he spun, running off down a narrow byway, escaping their notice as he fled. He wouldn't have run, but for some reason he really didn't want Arthur and - especially - Merlin to know that he had been watching them in their somehow very intimate moment.
When he saw Merlin during the battle, standing shoulder to shoulder with his old friend, he was somehow far less surprised than perhaps he should have been to see the stricken look on the other man's face when Arthur was nearly decapitated by an enemy horseman's blade.
If he were honest with himself - and when could a man be honest with himself, if not when he was dying? - the thought of that look on his friend's face, the thought of what it might deepen into, if Arthur really were killed, was the reason that he had stepped into the path of the arrow to save Arthur's life.
William gasped for breath, unable to stop, even though he knew it was no use and it was only bringing him pain from the arrow transfixing his chest. Before he died, there was something he wanted to do - to save his friend.
He told Arthur that he, not Merlin, was the sorcerer, watching the disbelief crossing the Noble's features. He would have held his breath, but he was yet unable to still his rapid breathing. As Arthur spoke, telling him that he wouldn't have William killed - not that it would matter much now, he thought, with a pained, breathless laugh - he had a moment of hope for Merlin.
William traded light words with Merlin, knowing they would likely be his last. He hoped that, whatever Arthur was to his old friend - something he didn't wish to examine too closely, and felt he had already intruded upon - he would someday know, and accept, all that Merlin was. If he didn't, William feared it might destroy them both.