I feel like I should give a little bit of a warning. This is an angsty death fic. (though there may be a second part in which I bring him back.)
I had the strangest urge to write one.
Just letting you all know what's going down, because I don't want anyone morbidly depressed without prior knowledge.
Besides all this, I hope you manage to enjoy (kind of?)
This is the story of a boy. It's a little cliché, maybe a little used, but it's his. It's his, and he's not going to let anyone take it from him, even though he's gone.
It's been there for days now, Merlin's noticed. Sometimes, it's worse than others. Usually, he can deal with it.
There's been a dull, throbbing ache in his head for 6 days, no matter how much he sleeps or relaxes his mind. He even avoiding magic for a few days, thinking that was the cause. However, nothing seemed to make it go away.
Mostly, it was manageable. At first it was easy to ignore, but recently, it's been getting worse. The dull throb was almost moving toward his eyes, and Merlin had constant headaches. He figured it was stress, and worrying about keeping Arthur safe, and making sure Gaius looked healthy. He thought nothing of it.
But really, it's not like Gaius could do anything for him in the long run.
"Did you miss me?" Arthur's tone was sarcastic and a little harsh, but with an undertone of weariness and...and maybe just tinged with feeling. Merlin was probably just hearing things.
He turned from Arthur's bed-where he was actually doing his duties at cleaning it for once-and wobbled a little at the wave of dizziness that hit him. He blinked at Arthur who loomed in the doorway, smug smirk on his face.
"No, I can't say that I did. It was nice and quiet without your constant demands." Merlin joked back, but the small smile on his face told the truth. He had been worried; Arthur was out fighting with his men, and Merlin wasn't allowed to go with him. Clearly no one knew how many times Merlin saved Arthur's life, because then they'd let him go.
But no, he was stuck in the castle cleaning Arthur's chambers-which was stupid. Arthur wasn't even there!-and not able to keep Arthur safe.
Arthur indulged in one tiny smile back, before the grin was back in it's place. he leaned devastatingly sexy infuriatingly smug back against the door frame, and raised one brow.
"Well, someone has to be here to keep you on your toes, Merlin. I see you've gotten no better at this job in the past few weeks. Aren't you going to help me out of this?" Arthur referred to his armor, hand swiveling in the air in a 'get to it' manner.
Merlin just rolled his eyes and crossed the room to Arthur's side, and felt relief coil low in his stomach. Arthur was here, and safe, and things were okay.
He felt himself fumble with the armor, but his fingers were numb. They were scrabbling about along the smooth and slightly rusty metal, and he couldn't feel it. Merlin's eyebrows drew together in confusion, and he pressed his fingers into his palms and shook them out. He rubbed his hands together.
"Well? What are you doing, some sort of prayer service? My armor, Merlin." Arthur rolled his eyes, and Merlin resisted a retort, because his fingers were back to normal. He removed Arthur's armor swiftly.
Today, it rained.
Merlin spent most of the day in his room, because the day Arthur came back from battle was always his day to sleep off his injuries and sores.
He tried to practice his magic, but it was weak. He couldn't lift things off the floor more than a few inches, and he couldn't slide things across his desk for more than a few seconds.
Not to mention the horrible throb he'd get every time he tried.
Merlin was frustrated.
"Gaius? Gaius, could you check me for a fever? I think I might be coming down with something."
"Come here boy, let me see." Gaius sat him down at his table and did every test he could think of, but he saw nothing wrong.
"You don't seem to have a fever, no. Your throat isn't sore?"
Merlin shook his head. "But I have a really bad ache in my head, and I can't really-my magic isn't working."
Gaius eyed him for a few moments, and then simply sighed. "I don't know, Merlin. I see nothing physically wrong with you. Maybe you're just overworked."
Merlin wanted to tell him no, no that wasn't it, no, because he'd slept all day, and he'd barely done anything for the last couple of days, but then he looked at Gaius.
Gaius, who was worried very faintly, because he really didn't know of what else he could do, and Merlin swallowed the protests down his throat before they could be voiced.
"You're right. The stupid prat always makes me-"
There was a knock on the door.
"Merlin! Prince Arthur requires you in his chambers."
Merlin allowed a side of his mouth to raise in a small grin, and lifted his brows in an 'I told you so' sort of way. He watched Gaius visibly relax slightly, and smiled.
"Best be off, then. Wouldn't want His Royal Highness to wait long."
He walked to Arthur's room trying to believe Gaius, but still couldn't shake the feeling that something was off.
Arthur was sitting on his chair, by the fireplace, when Merlin entered without knocking.
"You needed me?"
"Ah, yes. Fetch me something to eat."
Merlin's eyes rolled-and he tried not to notice how it hurt-and he walked closer to Arthur.
"You couldn't have asked someone who was, oh, I don't know, around?"
"No, Merlin, I couldn't. And this is your job, it'd do you more good if you accepted your orders without so much complaint." Came his smug remark. "I'd like some meats. And bring me wine."
Merlin left, mumbling.
By the time he returned, he was panting, head throbbing, and out of breath.
"Out of shape already, are you? You should work on that." Arthur must of heard his heaving before Merlin even made his presence known.
"Whatever," he panted, keeping the nausea down. "I got you stew and wine."
"Well, what are you waiting for? Bring me what you-"
There was a loud crash, and Arthur felt tiny droplets of wine hit the back of his neck. He felt annoyance and fondness claw its way into his body.
"Honestly Merlin, can't you do anything right?"
"Merlin, I expect you to answer me when you..." Arthur stood up, voice haughty and annoyed. He turned, and the color drained slightly from his face.
Merlin was on the floor, wine staining his stupid blue kerchief. His eyes were closed, and he wasn't moving.
"Merlin? Merlin, can you hear me? Stand up." Arthur's voice was growing somewhat more panicked, and he made his way over to the boy. He poked him, tugged lightly at his hair, pulled at his arms, and nothing. Merlin didn't move. If it weren't for the faint pulse in his tiny, thin, delicate wrist, Arthur would have thought he were dead. He shuddered at the horror.
Still, something was wrong.
Instead of throwing Merlin mercilessly over his shoulder like he usually did, Arthur picked him up carefully and cradled supported him with his arms. He ran hurried sped walked to Gaius, using his weight to open the door.
"Gaius, Gaius, Merlin was getting my food and he-I don't know, he came back and collapsed on the floor. He can't hear me, and he's not waking up."
Gaius's face paled, and ushered them over to a small cot. "Lay him here, your highness."
Arthur laid him down, and ignored the way his arms felt cold because he let him go. "What's wrong with him?"
"I don't exactly know, Sire. He complained about having head pain, but I checked him to the best of my ability before, and there was nothing wrong."
Arthur knew that the best of Gaius's abilities were indeed the best, and that thought terrified him. Arthur was terrified.
"Is it, do you think it's magic?"
"I'm afraid not. He would have at least some sort of marking, or there would be something-something. There would be something to go on, but there isn't. I'm at a loss. I'll start researching right away."
"You have to fix this, Gaius."
"I know, Sire. Believe me. I know."
It was dark and damp. A warm sort of damp, though, and Merlin stretched, feeling content and cozy. He opened his eyes, and saw Kilgharrah.
"Where am I?" He questioned, turning his head to look at the dragon.
Kilgharrah let out a small sigh, and something about him was different.
"Young one, I'm afraid your time has come."
"What are you-where are we?"
"We're in your mind, Merlin. You're dreaming."
Looking around, Merlin realized it wasn't as dark as he thought. He was lying on freshly wet grass, looking up at a bright and cloudless sky.
"So that means this isn't real."
"Ah, Merlin, not everything that's only in your mind is a falsehood. And this, as much as it...painsme to admit, is very real."
"So, you're telling me...what, exactly?"
"Your time is up, Merlin. There was a sudden-change. It...maybe it won't be permanent...but your time, as of now, has come to an end."
The dragon nodded his head, very slowly.
"Oh. How much longer do I have left?"
"Counting today, three days."
Merlin knew better than to ask why.
"I'm...I'm sorry, Merlin."
"No, don't be sorry. People have died with less of a notice, and less of a life. I at least...got to know what I was meant to do, and did it for as long as I could."
"Protect Arthur, you mean?"
Merlin hummed in agreement, and closed his eyes once more. He felt himself drifting into consciousness.
"Tell him, young one. Let him know, it cannot do you any harm now."
Merlin didn't know if Kilgharrah was referring to his feeling, his magic, or both, but he nodded, before his dream land faded away.
"Arthur, honestly, he's just a servant. You can get another."
Arthur's hands slammed down on the table so hard, that even Uther jumped slightly.
He allowed himself to say the things he barely allowed himself to think about.
"He is not just a servant. I can never-I will never have another Merlin."
It was silent for a moment, the two of them suddenly very small in the large room. Just as Uther opened his mouth to speak, a servant timidly knocked on the door.
"I'm terribly sorry to interrupt, but Gaius called for Prince Arthur. He said it was very urgent."
Arthur ran without a look back.
"He's awake, and...Arthur, he's going to die."
"What?" Arthur bellowed, but Gaius shushed him softly. They were standing outside the door. Gaius was letting him know the situation so he was prepared.
"Yes...I...there's nothing I can do. I felt his head, and there is a swelling on his left side. There is something internally wrong, and I do not have anything that can fix it. I don't think there is anything to fix it."
Arthur knew that hadn't stopped Gaius from looking, though. He could see the shadows under Gaius's eyes indicating his sleepless night, and he could see the paper cuts on his fingers from the searching.
He could also see the tears in the older man's eyes, but he made no comment.
"He's dying, Sire. And he's in pain. I've given him what I could for that, and it's helped slightly, but be careful when you're in there, alright? I'll leave him in your care for the time being. I must fetch some more water and things, I'll be back shortly. Is that okay?"
Arthur nodded, grateful for the privacy.
He quietly stepped in, all smirk and confidence taken out of his face. He took a seat by Merlin's cot, and watched his eyes blink open. His eyes were still impossibly blue, and his ears were still endearingly large, and his hair was still dark and messy. He looked like the same Merlin from last year; last month even.
Except, his face was slightly sunken in. His cheekbones-which were already prominent- grew more visible; he was thinner. There were deep shadows under his eyes, and his smile was a little strained.
He looked like a completely different man.
"If you've come to tell me to make your bed, I might have to shove it up your arse."
The fact that Merlin was still his old self made Arthur let out a huge breath of relief. This, he could do. "Merlin, stop playing sick to avoid your duties."
Merlin laughed, and it was smaller and weaker and not as full, but it was a laugh. Arthur watched the way his eyes brightened.
Neither of them spoke for a few minutes.
"I know Gaius told you." Merlin tilted his head to the side, looking Arthur directly in the eyes. He swallowed thickly. He didn't know what to say; he didn't even know if he could say anything.
"Oh, come on now, don't be rendered speechless! It's not so bad. Think of it this way, you'll have a more skilled serv-"
"Shut up, Merlin." Arthur's voice was low and threatening, and Gaius had told him to be gentle but this was hardly fair. Merlin couldn't be allowed to make jokes and act okay when he was dying. When he was leaving Arthur.
Merlin winced a little. "I'm sorry, I figured you'd-"
"I said, shut up. That's an order."
Merlin nodded. They sat in silence, and Merlin extricated one of his hands from the covers and slowly placed it on Arthur's forearm. He nearly jumped from the tingles it sent up his arm.
Arthur's insides were screaming at him to talk, to talk now, because it was almost over. He should be talking now, because Merlin was almost gone, and then he'd never be able to talk to him again.
The thought alone almost made him go mad.
"I'm magic. And I love you. I don't know which one you'll find to be worse."
Gaius always managed to step out just as Arthur came around. Arthur wanted to think it was coincidence, but the sad smile led him to think otherwise.
"What was that?"
"I'm magic." Merlin repeated, pushing himself up onto his elbows. He winced, pain hitting every pore in his body. "And I'm in love with you."
"Why are you..."
"Telling you? I don't know, really. I don't want to die with regrets. It's kind of stupid, I guess, but..." Merlin flushed, and it was really visible on his deathly pale cheeks. Arthur felt his heart move into his throat, and he desperately tried to swallow the lump down.
"Stupid. It's not-it's not stupid."
Arthur stayed where he was, and Merlin watched him through heavy eyelids. He was growing worse, and Gaius didn't even have to tell him that it was close. That anyday could be Merlin's last.
"You're not angry? You actually believe me?"
"You should have told me sooner." His voice was a little harsh, because yes, Merlin had lied to him about magic-he was decidingly avoiding the other topic-and he should have told him.
"About which one?" Merlin replied, his old cheeky tone back in his voice. Arthur grinned a little and rolled his eyes.
"Maybe I should have told you about my magic. You know, I've been using it mostly to save your arse. It's not all bad, Arthur. And as for...well, you know. I didn't actually realize."
"You've been...saving me?" The lump was back. Merlin was mostly using his magic for him. To save him. To keep him alive.
Arthur couldn't even return the favor
Merlin nodded, a small smile on his face.
"Why don't you-Merlin, use it now! Merlin, use it right now. I order you, I...Merlin, use it."
"It doesn't work well anymore." His voice was a soft croak, and Arthur looked over to the table where a set of keys jingled. "That's all I can do now. I think it's something to do with this illness."
Arthur fidgeted, and Merlin patted a spot next to him. On shakey steady legs, Arthur walked over and sat, leaning against the headboard. Merlin was still warm, still alive, and Arthur stored it into his brain, willing himself to never forget what this felt like.
"I used to be really strong, you know." Merlin gloated a little, weak grin forming on his face as memories overtook him.
Arthur sat silent, for once, content with listening, and allowed Merlin to share moments from his point of view, until he fell asleep.
When Gaius returned, he said nothing of the tear stains on Arthur's cheeks.
Sunlight poured into Arthur's windows as he laid on his bed, glaring at them. He hadn't slept that night. He thought and thought, about magic-and how it wasn't bad, it just depended on who had it-and about Merlin.
He thought through some things that night, and he realized with a start, that he might have loved Merlin back. That's the only explaination for everything he feels.
It wasn't as scary as he thought it would be.
It wasn't as scary as knowing that Merlin was a dead man walking.
He pulled himself out of bed, his clothing from the other night still on-because if Merlin wasn't there to help him, he didn't want anyone to do it- and he made his way through the castle.
Uther knew well enough that these days of Arthur's belonged to Merlin. He learned the hard way, by trying to get Arthur to start training in preparating in case there was another battle.
Arthur broke everything in his path.
And then, when he was sent to the jail cell, he all but pulled the bars apart because he needed to stay with Merlin.
Uther allowed him these few days, just this once.
"I'm dying today."
Arthur was sitting on his spot next to Merlin, and he allowed himself to play idly with Merlin's hair. His grip tightened lightly.
"You don't know that."
Except oh, of course he did, and when he looked at Arthur with that lookin his eyes, he knew that Merlin meant it.
"No, Merlin-no. That's not...no."
"It was happening eventually, Arthur, and-and it hurts. Everything hurts. I've-I've said everything I had to. I'm okay now. I'll be okay and so will you."
Arthur felt the tears behind his eyes, threatening to make their way out, and he bit down on his lip. "You can't, I don't allow it. It's an order, Merlin."
Merlin smiled up at him, it was barely there, but he could see it. "When have I ever listened to a prat like you?"
Arthur slammed his eyes shut, feeling tears prickle against his eyelashes. Merlin pulled him down, down, down, until he was lying next to him. With his face hidden in Merlin's neck, he let the watery gasp escape his lips.
"I love you, too." He tried, one last futile attempt to get Merlin to stay.
"I figured, I'm pretty irresistable once you get to know me." His words were light, but his tone wasn't, and Arthur felt another wave of tears hit him.
"You can't leave." Arthur was proud. Arthur wasn't one who asked. Arthur was raised a prince, who got what he wanted, when he wanted it. Arthur didn't beg.
But he did, for Merlin.
"Oh hush, it won't be so bad. You're going to be king, and you're going to be great, Arthur. I can feel it. You're going to be the best king Camelot's ever had, and you're going to do great things. You just need to be extra careful, because you won't have my wonderful magic to save your arse."
Arthur let out a chuckle that sounded more like a sob, and his fingers dug into Merlin's shirt.
"Come on, now. You didn't sleep last night, did you? Let's get some rest. Close your eyes, Arthur, sleep with me." Merlin was working his fingers through Arthur's blonde locks, slowly, and Arthur pulled his head back. He stared at Merlin for a few moments before pressing his lips down against his. Merlin's eyelashes fluttered shut, and Arthur could feel them tickle his cheek lightly. He kept it sweet and chaste, and when he pulled back, Merlin looked pained.
"You're right, maybe I should have told you sooner." Merlin tried to joke, but Arthur could see the sadness in his gaze. He shut Merlin's eyelids, and kissed them.
"I love you." Merlin mumbled, sleep taking over. His fingers clutched Arthur's back, and he lowered himself back sideways, so that Merlin was pressed into his chest. He nodded, and closed his eyes as well, falling asleep with Merlin and the taste of bitter tears on his tongue.
Arthur awoke, feeling rested, but empty.
Merlin was curled into him, soundly. Arthur closed his eyes once more, and for a moment, he let himself believe that he and Merlin were on his bed, curled together on a rainy morning, ready to sleep the day away.
"Merlin," He whispered, and his voice cracked, and tears were sliding down his cheeks. "Merlin, It's time to wake up."
This is the story of a boy. It might be a little overplayed, and a little familiar, but it was his. It was his story.
Arthur takes the time to tell anyone who'll listen about the sorcerer who saved his life, in more ways than one.
Wow I'm sorry I actually, to be honest, didn't intend for this to become a death fic
I'm awful BUT THE NEED TO WRITE ANGST HAS BEEN EATING ME ALIVE
Feedback would be lovely! And constructive criticism helps me improve, so I welcome it.
And I really do look forward to hearing what you thought.
Have a good day, guys. xx