You asked, I delivered. This is the sequel to Camlann. Enjoy, guys!
The moments were cut into snippets.
After the pain hit, there was but a moment of clarity before everything began to blur. And yet, through the haze, he caught glimpse of Morgana throwing the dagger, felt two strong arms circling around him, and finally another face ( one that he'd unconsciously sought for.) appeared in his vision.
Desperate blue eyes, tousled blond hair. The other side of the coin.
He could only work out half of what his King was saying.
He tried to stop Arthur's panicked and senseless diatribe for he knew there was something he needed to say before his heart stopped forevermore, something that Arthur needed to know.
"You are the…best friend…I ever had. I'm honored to have fought…by your side…M-my King"
He felt the last little bit of air leave his lips, the last strand of life separating itself from his battered body… and something carrying him away…far away.
A desperate cry tore his eardrums before he left completely though. Someone was screaming.
Wasn't it his name?
Darkness surrounded him. Darkness so thick and empty that he didn't even made an effort to fight it. He just surrendered.
Later on, he would feel ashamed but in those moments he just felt…relieved. There was only relief when he closed his eyes, relief when he felt himself floating away. Relief when all the pain reduced to nothing but just a faraway point in the stars that he could not see.
It was before his heart stopped beating and the pain that Arthur was feeling became his as well, now that his spirit could feel the damaged- but never broken- thread of destiny.
Relief turned to overwhelming anguish. He was forced to watch as Arthur mourned over his still form. He was forced to watch, not able to emit a single word of consolation, while Arthur picked up his broken body and held it tight, as if he could somehow give his own life force to the man that was half of his soul. He was forced to watch as Gwaine and Lancelot cried. He had to watch as Arthur called to him with a broken whisper and for the first time he couldn't answer-
It was then when he stepped into the blinding light.
The light was gentle, and kind, like a mother's lullaby. It soaked him as if it had waited for him centuries. It celebrated with him his journey through earth to finally become one with the roots of the earth.
But Merlin wasn't celebrating.
He was a coin broken in half. He had never felt so utterly alone before, as if all that he would ever feel from now on was heartbreak. He knew that in some point somewhere in the universe, his King was feeling exactly the same. He longed for him. He longed to go to him and just stay there, to feel Arthur near him again. Why was it, how was it, that he had managed to survive nineteen long years on his own without his royal prat?
Even if now his heart was no longer beating, if it lay dead on his chest, still and unmoving, Merlin felt as if it was breaking. No longer beating, but capable of suffering and enduring pain. What was the fairness of death?
There was no fairness that was for sure.
Merlin glanced down at his hands, and he was no longer met by the brutal sight of his bloodied fingers or a hole on his chest. His hands were perfect, clean, the scars he'd endured for Arthur were gone and so was he.
Albion…his destiny…was this how it would end? Before he could even see his friends, his family, once again?
No, it couldn't end like this, could it?. It was too soon…
The absolute loneliness was agony. There was something missing…a part of him was gone. And his soul cried out for that part. It needed it.
He wasn't going to accept it. He had defied destiny a million times before, and this wouldn't be an exception. He would make it back to his King…no matter what.
Merlin's blue eyes searched for the sound but found nothing. Just absolute emptiness in wherever he was.
It was then when he saw; materializing in front of him, a little girl, light blond hair and timeless eyes, no more than five or six. She was holding a pair of scales in her tiny hands, and a little smile graced her red lips.
"Is good to see you, Emrys. After all this time"
Merlin felt like if he had seen this girl before…somewhere…
"Do I know you?"
The smile extended even more through the youngster's face. "I always wondered if you would recognize me. It seems that a part of you does, anyway. For you, Emrys, my name is Kismet."
The part of Merlin that was Emrys understood. He stared into the girl's colorless eyes and drew a small gasp. Kismet…Fate…
"Oh" he said softly.
"Yes. We have met before Emrys. I chose you, and Arthur, to be bonded. I interlaced your souls as one. It is needless to say, that I didn't see this coming"
She motioned to the scales with one of his tiny hands and as Merlin watched, both of the weighting platforms suddenly snapped and fell to the floor with a clatter.
"It's destroyed the balance." Kismet said softly with a look of intense interest and sadness in her eyes "you and Arthur are both suffering from this partition. The witch had managed to break what destiny took so many delicacies on unfolding."
She watched silently the two platforms on the floor for a moment before turning to Merlin once again. "I will take you to your King, Emrys. But I can do nothing for you, besides that. Destiny, it seems, has been broken from its roots, and only you and Arthur can restore it. I am powerless now."
Merlin watched as the girl placed one of her tiny hands on his temple and directed him a warm smile. She had managed to fill some of the void he was feeling on his chest, though not completely. She was like an old friend.
"What's your name?" he asked softly.
The girl's giant, beautiful and timeless eyes locked with his and she said gently "In your world, I'm called Themis."
She whispered some words on the old tongue and then let go of Merlin. "Think of your fate, Emrys." she murmured, so soft that her voice seemed to be carried by the wind.
And so, Merlin did. He let himself remember all the pranks, the jokes, the banter, the emotional moments, the sadness, the grief. He let Arthur's face fill his mind, his pratishness, all the time he had drove him crazy. But mostly, he let the moment Arthur was crowned King stand in wonder before his eyes.
The moment he muttered that name he felt himself being torn away from the nothingness and into a bright, white light again. His eyes closed, shied away from the brightness, and then…he was on the ground. He could feel soft grass below him, lulling him to sleep. But before his mind could grasp what was happening he felt himself being turn over, gently, carefully, as if he was made of glass.
"Merlin, wake up. You've got to wake up…come on, come on…"
It was Arthur. He would recognize that voice everywhere, even in the brink of death, or in this case, the brink of life. He wanted to answer him; he really wanted to do it. But no word came out of his mouth. He was still, as still as a dead body.
He felt his head being lifted and cradled gently, and more than anything Merlin wish he could speak "Don't worry Arthur, I'm here. I'm always here…"
"Wake up, my friend…I'm bringing you back, you hear me? You are coming back with me, now. That's an order, Merlin."
Since when have I followed your orders?
Just this once, though, he did. He ordered his soul to return, to seal itself, all the amount of power, into a small body again.
It was painful, when he did it. His magic, empowered by his touch with fate, started to work from the inside, closing the fatal wound, working through his tiredness and weakness, though not completely…
He felt and savored salt. Power, also, ancient power…
Someone drew a gasp by his side and Merlin felt a hand press itself around the skin on his wrist. The hand, the touch, it was like breaking through water and being able to breathe again…it was as if his heart had never been broken, as if the part of his soul that was missing had finally returned.
He heard, and felt, Arthur's heart shake and break painfully inside his chest. A sound that resembled a wounded animal filled the air. And then he wasn't lying on the flat grass anymore, but inside the circle of gentle arms, Arthur's arms, which were shaking as if he was trembling.
Arthur. He was crying…
"No man is worth your tears"
"I'm never going to let him live this down" Merlin thought weakly through the mist that enveloped his mind. He felt like if he was in the middle of a hazy dream. He was intensely attuned with Arthur somehow, his pain was traveling through his veins and it became his too. But his body still hadn't drawn a breath, and it was getting really difficult to stay awake…
"Merlin…" Arthur spoke softly, somehow reaching him through the darkness that was closing again "I thought I told you to come back. Why don't you listen to me? Please…don't leave me again…please"
His voice sounded so fragile and scared that Merlin forced himself to return, to face the darkness one again and draw a little breath.
It burned through his lungs, like fire. How many hours had there been since he had last breathed?
To be in his broken, bruised body once again was rough…but if that was the price to pay to see Arthur whole again. He would pay it gladly.
His eyes blinked. It was hard, to make them move once again. But he did it anyway…
He saw Arthur's neck, from the place of his head against his King's shoulder. He saw how the tears ran down Arthur's cheeks and through his jaw, down his neck, finally being soaked by his tattered, bloodied armor.
He exhaled the breath he had been holding and sighed.
Arthur's head immediately snapped towards his and the King's eyes had never looked as pained, but yet, never so majestic. The light of the new rising sun formed shades in the light blue of them, making them shine as sky-born pearls. Merlin looked into them, seeing Arthur's eyes widen in hope.
The hand of the other side of the coin moved down and Merlin felt Arthur's fingers reach through the hole in his tunic. His warm palm rested against his chest for a moment and the King's eyes had to blink away more tears of amazement and pure gratefulness. Merlin knew why. His magic had already closed the evidence that he had once being gone more than an acceptable distance from his King.
Arthur touched his wrist gently, unbelieving fingers closing around it as if he was holding to a lifeline.
His eyes continued locked with his King's, following each of his movements and frowning at the state he was in.
Seriously, I can't leave you for a minute, can I, old friend?
The Once and Future King looked like if he was dead himself. Pale lips, pale cheeks, pale skin. Glimmering, red shot eyes, shaking hands and body.
Arthur still watched him as if he was expecting Merlin to disappear any second.
With a small smile, Merlin let out another breath.
" Arthur…" he said, trying to bring him out of the depths of despair " You needed me." you'll always need me " I've come back." I'll never leave you, not even death can keep me away.
And he was glad he was enduring the pain when he saw Arthur smile.