A/N: Well, my chest hurts…. I don't know where this came from :(
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to Merlin. All rights go to other, much more powerful and talented people.
Warnings: I went a bit heavy on the angst here.
Wasn't Supposed To Be
It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Merlin remembers hearing those words leave Arthur's mouth, twisted with anger and distrust and a sorrow so deep that it went beyond flesh, beyond bone, and down to one's very soul. Merlin remembers the way that the words had cut at him, seeming to draw blood, and he had reeled back. Nothing else that Arthur had said before that had hurt quite like that, which didn't make sense, since Arthur had been going on and on about broken trust and betrayal and consuming hate and disgust.
The warlock sighs, pressing his back up against the wall of the dungeons and wrapping his thin arms around his knees. He had known that revealing his magic to Arthur would be a bad idea, had know that it was too dangerous and risky and foolish, but Arthur had been in such danger, on the verge of being killed, with blood streaming down his face and helpless curses streaming from his lips as that group of bandits had come after him, outnumbering him eleven to one, or two, if you count the fact that Merlin was there. Merlin couldn't have stopped himself if he had wanted to though. It was as if something had suddenly overtaken him, leaving him unable to control himself, and before he knew it, it was as if his magic was bursting out of him as nothing more than a bright golden-white light that was set on destroying everything.
Except for Arthur.
And Arthur had just lain on the ground, covered in blood and bearing wounds that went further than just the ones that he had acquired to his flesh and bones. Merlin saw it in the way Arthur had looked at him; saw it in the emotions that he couldn't quite place a veil over in his blue, blue eyes. Arthur had been shocked, and maybe just a little bit frightened, but more than that he had felt betrayed, and hurt to a point that could never be forgiven. And he had hid it all underneath cold fury and vile, disgusted distrust. And instead of lashing out at Merlin, instead of asking him why, Arthur had simply called him a traitor to Camelot. He had called Merlin evil, and so many other names as well, but there was no anger behind his words as he spoke. His voice was cool, almost uncaring, and that hurt so much; it hurt more than anything else could have. In the end, Arthur had told Merlin that he had no friend in him, that there was nothing between them… that everything that they were was nothing more than a lie, an illusion built up by sorcery.
It wasn't supposed to be like this, he had said, and had all but pushed Merlin away when Merlin had tried to help him. He had been furious, angered to a point where he could see or hear no reason, would accept no explanation, and when Camelot's knights had finally arrived, Arthur had ordered them to take Merlin away, not even sparing him a glance as they grabbed him and dragged him off to the dungeon, hands bond and face tear drenched.
It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Merlin couldn't help but agree. It wasn't supposed to be like this. Things were never supposed to get so out of hand. Arthur wasn't supposed to know, not yet, not until he was less of who he is now and more of who he was meant to be. But Merlin hadn't had a choice! He had only had two choices, and one of those choices wasn't much of a choice at all. There was no way that he could have let Arthur die, no way that he could have stood back and allowed the unthinkable to happen, not if he could have stopped it.
And now it seems as if his reckless decision, his obvious devotion and willingness to sacrifice would lead to the ultimate sacrifice.
But he couldn't regret it… he wouldn't. Not when Arthur's heart was still beating with life. That is Merlin's job, after all… to keep Arthur alive. But still…. It hurt. There is no other word to describe how it feels to be so openly rejected and cast aside.
It wasn't supposed to be like this Merlin. You were… you are… you've always been such a fucking idiot…. I should have known… should have seen…. Now… I never want to see anything related to you again. Take him away.
Merlin is snapped out of his thoughts when he hears the door to the dungeon rattle open. Footsteps approach his cell, and he presses his back more firmly against the wall, wary of whatever is about to happen. He doesn't know who could be coming down here to see him now. He knows that there is no way that Gwen or Gaius could have gotten past the guards to see him, even if they had tried.
He's more than just a little bit surprised when Arthur's face appears in his line of vision, his eyes hard, his mouth set.
"Arthur," Merlin breathes out, wanting so desperately to touch his prince, to take all of the pain that he has caused away and to explain that these things, these powers that he had, aren't his by choice. But Arthur just shakes his head, still looking furious, and unlocks the cell.
Merlin feels fear course through him in a cold wave of feeling.
"Arthur," he asks again, reaching out with one thin, pale hand.
Arthur shakes his head again. "Don't speak," he growls, voice harsh. "Don't say my name… I can't… you can't… just don't Merlin." And Merlin thinks that he hears the prince's voice break.
"I'm sorry Arthur," Merlin says, sorrow all but clogging in his throat. He doesn't try to explain though… doesn't try telling the prince that he's sorry but not that he feels no regret. It'd be a useless effort.
Arthur merely turns away so that he's no longer facing the warlock, and tosses something over his shoulder that lands at Merlin's feet.
"What…." Merlin asks, stooping down to pick up the small pouch. He's not too surprised to see that it's filled with gold pieces, but he's confused as to why Arthur gave it to him.
"Take that," Arthur says, his shoulders tense. "Take it and never come back here. I don't ever want to see you again."
"But Arthur…." Merlin says, desperate. He feels horror wash over him. No…. he can't leave…. This isn't how things are supposed to be…. There's still so much that he has to do… and Arthur needs him… he can't leave.
"Leave," Arthur growls out, whirling around to face Merlin now, and Merlin is surprised to see that there are tears in Arthur's eyes. "Leave, or you'll be killed. Go now Merlin, and don't you dare come back."
"Arthur," Merlin says, reaching out. He has to touch, has to do something to make this situation better. But Arthur steps back, and then away, and it's clear that nothing can be done to erase what their lives have become.
"Go now. Run. Don't stop for anything. And don't look back either. I'll tell the guards that you escaped somehow. You're a sorcerer after all. It's possible." He spits these words out like a curse.
"Why are you helping me," Merlin says. He doesn't bother to point out that it was Arthur who put him here in the first place. He doesn't bother trying to fight Arthur, and tell him that if he had only calmed down and thought things out for an instant, maybe things wouldn't be this way.
Arthur doesn't answer. He merely turns away again, and walks out of the cell. His shoulders stoop as if he no longer has the strength to support himself.
"Arthur," Merlin calls out, and he doesn't expect Arthur to turn back, knows that he wont, but he's sure that Arthur is listening. "I'm sorry. It wasn't supposed to be like this."
"And yet this is how it is," Arthur says. His voice is no longer angry though, just unbelievably sad, and almost dazed. Merlin hears an apology in there somewhere, underneath it all. And he feels tears fill his own eyes.
"And yet this is how it is," he agrees, voice breaking. This is how it is, at least for now. Maybe someday…. years from now…. things will be different. But for now….
Things are as they should never have been.
Arthur walks away, not bothering to turn back to look at Merlin. And when Arthur is gone… Merlin flees.
He leaves behind the coins that Arthur left him though, and in doing so… he never sees the small scrap of paper, hidden at the bottom of the bag, that says but one word.
Perhaps no one understands what that one word means, no idea quite what Arthur was refering to when he wrote it, but Merlin would have…. If he had seen it.
He hadn't though….
But I think that he knows anyways.
A/N: so who wants to kill me for this? Anyone? Yeah… I thought so :( I have the future as it is connected to this story all but played out in my head though… so maybe one day I'll share it with you all as well.