For Arthur by Emachinescat

A Merlin Fan-Fiction

SUMMARY: Merlin is seriously injured while protecting Arthur, throwing himself into danger without a second thought to himself. "Merlin didn't even register what he was doing until the dagger was in his chest."

A/N: This story, like the recently published When It All Comes Crashing Down, is also a part of my story collection, Sesquipedalian, which is why it may or may not seem a little familiar to some people. Not a death fic, either, just so you know. :) Please read and review; I'll have the next chapter up soon! :)

The Price of Friendship

Part One: The Dagger

He had watched as the assassin had drawn the dagger stealthily from his cloak. He had seen the flash of gold as the weapon's speed and path was enhanced with magic. He had seen the glint of the blade as it hurtled through the air, spinning in a deadly arc for Arthur's chest. There hadn't been time to think. No time to contemplate what he could do. No noble realization that this might very well be the day he died for his prince. No warning, no time, no thought.

Just action.

He had done what he had to do. And he hadn't hesitated. Saving Arthur wasn't something he had to contemplate anymore. It was elemental, instinctual. Just like his magic. The magic he hadn't even had time to use in the split second that he had to save Arthur. The magic that he could only hope would keep him alive now.

He flung himself forward, shoving Arthur's body as hard as he could, pushing him to the floor, shielding his friend, the deadly blade slicing easily through his flesh.

At first he felt nothing. He heard nothing. He watched with increasingly blurred vision as Arthur's mouth opened in a soundless roar and dove for the assassin, taking him by surprise and plunging his sword into his heart. And then the world tilted, spinning sickeningly as Merlin tried to figure out how the floor had grown so much closer in such a short amount of time and why his upper body was hanging limply from Arthur's arms. His mind was fuzzy, his ears buzzing, and there was something warm and uncomfortable soaking through his shirt. He wondered blearily if Arthur had thrown water on him again.

And then the pain started – a small trickle of uncomfortable agitation turned into unbearable agony as the shock of being stabbed wore off. He choked, coughing, and something bubbled out of his mouth, dribbling down his chin, tickling his neck. Above the humming in his ears and the fire screaming rabidly in his chest, Merlin was vaguely aware of someone shouting his name, yelling at him, pleading with him, demanding something of him. Merlin didn't know what it was and his vision had gone red. Whatever they wanted didn't seem all that important anymore.

He blinked, trying to clear his vision, and caught a quick glimpse of a halo of faces looming over him. He thought he recognized the old man, and the dark-skinned girl, maybe even the pale angel who looked on, her dark hair so long it almost tickled his face. He glanced up and saw the blonde man, recognition flooding over him. Arthur! He had never seen Arthur looked this terrified – what had happened? He wondered if someone had died. He tried to say something, to comfort his friend and master, but more blood clogged his throat and he began to tremble.

More faces, faces he didn't know at all, with silver helmets upon their heads, appeared and suddenly his world twisted yet again as he was airborne. He felt himself moving – but he wasn't moving – and he heard voices and shouts and doors slamming and people running and someone kept saying his name…

And then…

There was nothing at all.

A/N: This'll be 3 chapters… Next bit'll be up ASAP, and the last two parts will be longer. Please review! :)

~Emachinescat ^..^