I've realized that I'm the type of person who needs to finish a fanfiction all in one go. So I'll upload the second chapter soonish. If you review, I'll be super pleased. I've been reading a lot of suicide related fanfictions from the Merlin fanfiction request blog on Tumblr (awesome blog, dirtybookshelves), and figured I could write my own. So. Here it is. And don't worry, it does have a happy ending!
Warnings: Self harm, suicidal thoughts, blood, suicide, ect.
Morgana's eyes burned into his skin. He remembered her face as clearly as though he were watching her all over again. He could feel what she felt, the agony of being betrayed by someone who knew her secrets. He could see it all written on her face, she had trusted Merlin, she had called for him, she would have obeyed any command he gave her – and he poisoned her.
He remembered the way his own throat began to close, he almost wondered if he had been slipped some of the poison as well. But he could still breathe, he remembered his hands on her, trying to comfort her, trying to tell her that he was so so sorry. But his throat had closed and he couldn't speak properly.
When her body went limp in his arms, the memory changed and he watched her die instead. Her last breath was taken from her as she lay quiet in his arms, her body was heavy against his chest.
Usually, then, he would wake up. Sometimes he would sink into blissful blackness that was sleep. He liked sleeping, even if the memories echoed in dreams.
Sometimes he thought of his father, who had saved his life and ended his own in one motion. If he wasn't so scared of Arthur's judgement, he knew he could have saved his life. He knew that he could have found the spell to close the wound, repair the broken flesh, bring life into his father's being. If he hadn't been so selfishly self-preserving – he could have saved his father's life. He would still be alive, and Merlin would still have his father.
He didn't get a chance to get to know him, only a few times where they stayed up and spoke. He only had the carving of a dragon to remember him by.
But in the end – it didn't matter because Merlin had been the one to set the dragon free. If he hadn't promised, then his father wouldn't have needed to be sacrificed. If he had let the dragon rot under Camelot then Merlin could be happy never knowing who his father was.
He had followed Arthur, after he had sent the dragon away (another lie), to survey the dead. There were so many people, wrapped in cloth, laying in the streets. He saw the burned and gruesome corpses, the tear streaked faces of wives and husbands and mothers and brothers and sisters as they watched their loved one get carted off. Merlin remembered feeling sick to his stomach, and nearly having to hide somewhere until it passed. Even Arthur looked more pale than usual.
Merlin knew that each and every one of these casualties was his fault. Each and every body was another weight on his shoulders, the families who had lost some or all of their dearest friends, were on his shoulders too. This was all his fault.
He was blinded by tears as they walked, and while Arthur was distracted Merlin ducked into an alley to empty his stomach and sob into the palm of his hand, trying to stifle any noises. He was a shaking, quivering mess, and it took a long time for him to pull himself up again, and even then his knees were weak and he rest heavily against the wall behind him. He heard Arthur call his name, looking for him, and had ignored it.
The faces lingered in his dreams too – if anyone ever found out that he had released the dragon and caused all those deaths, then he knew that they would run him through if Arthur didn't do so first.
That night he vaguely remembered getting to his little room in Gaius' chambers. He was blinded by agony.
It had only been a few weeks since the dragon had attacked, the dead had been carried away but the people had not forgotten. A screech of a cart caused them to flinch, as if the dragon had returned. Fire was avoided, everyone preferred to sit in darkness. Everyone had aged years during the attacks.
A few men and women were brought to Gaius – brought in by concerned friends or onlookers because they couldn't deal with the visions anymore. They had watched their loved ones burn before their eyes, and begged for death instead of continuing to live with it. One young woman, who had watched both her parents burn, and her siblings crushed as their home fell down, had managed to get around Gaius' watchful eye. They had found her lifeless body in a pool of blood and Merlin hid that day.
A woman had taken her own life because of Merlin's mistake. He had been friends with her – learned her name, walked with her outside to try to keep her mind off of things, watched Gaius talk to her to soothe her battered soul. But she had taken her life away anyways, and Merlin didn't know what to do. He didn't even notice when Arthur found him the next day, demanding to know where he had went the day before. He had been sent to the stocks, and stood lifelessly as bits of food crashed over his head.
Sometimes he thought of Freya.
He loved her – not as much as he had loved Arthur (he was beginning to forget how nice it had been to hold onto something like love), but he had loved her anyways. He loved her enough to try to take her away from Camelot. He wanted a simple life, away from Camelot, where he could perform magic tricks for her and she would give him that kind smile again. He wished that he had been able to save her, but his magic had been no real use, not that he knew how to heal back then. He had carried her to the lake, and watched her burn.
He missed her, and wished that he had tried to hide her instead. It might not have been the best life, but he could have hid her until everything blew over, then they could get away. Then Merlin wouldn't have made so many mistakes.
Merlin had been given one good and positive and happy thing – a young woman who was kind and grateful that he loved her, and she had been taken away from him.
The memories wouldn't go away, no matter what he did. He tried almost anything, brewing potions that would give him a dreamless sleep but nothing worked. Every night he relieved the events in his life that led him to where he was now.
Merlin was late constantly, he would rather be sleeping than be awake, where he felt the weight on his shoulders. Even if his sleep was ravaged by pained memories, it was better than being awake. Arthur didn't seem to notice, which was good. Merlin didn't really want to answer, Gaius' concern at the dinner table was more than enough. He still kept up fake smiles that didn't crinkle his eyes the way they did before, he still joked with Arthur, and when his remarks became more savage and less playful, Merlin retreated so he wouldn't cross any lines that Arthur had drawn for them.
Most of his chores were done with magic, so he could get them over with so he could go back and sleep. If he were lucky, he was able to avoid Gaius in the evening so he didn't have to choke down another meal. Everything turned to sand in his mouth.
One night, early autumn, Gaius was sitting at the table, his fingers on a note, his expression grim. Merlin sat down across from him, asking him what was wrong.
"Do you remember Audrey?" He asked, his voice was gentle.
"Yeah, she's the one who—" He broke off, she had been pregnant when the dragon attacked – her husband had died and in the resulting stress, she had lost the baby.
Gaius sighed heavily, "I should not have released her." He said quietly. "She assured me she had someone to go to. She didn't tell me she was alone."
Merlin knew what she had done before Gaius finished. He felt the weight of her, and her unborn child, sink onto his shoulders. Another life lost because of him. She was another innocent soul who had sunk into oblivion. "She thanked me" Gaius said gently, "for being there for her. And apologized."
Merlin left Gaius alone, knowing there was nothing he could do to help. He hid in his room, locked the door, and pulled his knees to his chest. How could it be that one person was responsible for all these lives being lost? How could he bear this weight and the burden on his shoulders? The last time he saw her, she looked so happy – like she was moving on and that she would be okay.
Though he knew that the last thing he wanted to do was hurt Gaius, it had been on his mind. If he weren't around, then no one else would have to suffer at his hands. Maybe he could trust Gwen with protecting Arthur, he was sure she would be happy to help. He was the last of the Dragonlords, but did that really matter with only one dragon? Maybe he could give him one last command, tell him that he was never to harm another human for as long as he lived, in exchange for his freedom. He could tell Arthur that he loved him, because Arthur was destined for greatness and many before him had fallen for the prince. He knew that his knights, the ones he trained and worked to the bone, loved him deeply. Arthur would be fine so long as his knights were with him, and so long as Gwen could love him and take care of him. He would fulfil his destiny on his own.
He didn't want the burden anymore, of both this foolish destiny and the countless deaths and pain he had caused. Everyone else would live on without him.
The next day Gwen stopped him, grasping his arm and asking him what was wrong. Concern was written on her face and though he definitely wasn't going to tell her everything, he would burden no one else with his pain, he told her what Gaius had told him. Just that he was upset over the loss of another life he had known. She embraced him, and he gladly held her and let his composure drop for a few moments in the safety of her arms. When they parted, she pressed her palm to his cheek and told him that she was always there for him.
Gwen would probably be hurt too – he realized. She would miss him, but she would have Arthur with her. He would tell him to go be with her, and to stop thinking about how their titles were so different, so that they could both find happiness without him.
He wondered, vaguely, what Arthur would do. They were friends, but often Arthur acted less than that. He was sure Arthur would be sad, for awhile. But he would move on and he would live because that's what he had to do. He would grieve and then he would accept the loss and move on.
But his mother, he knew, would not take the news so lightly. Maybe he could request that she move to Camelot as well, and live with Gaius and mother Gwen and Arthur, and take care of the three of them because he knew she would. She would probably mother the knights too, she would have a good life here, even if she lost her blood, she would gain the love of Merlin's friends.
He wrote her a long letter, telling her that he wanted her to come to Camelot. He missed her, and that he wanted to see her again. He told her that there was a place for her to live, and that she would be welcomed with open arms by everyone Merlin was close to. He sent it to her, he didn't know how long it would take before it got there, but he would probably be long gone by then.
A long and tiring week later, Gaius greeted him with more news. A young boy, no older than twelve, had drowned himself because he was so sick of the world he lived in. He had no parents, no friends, and nothing else. Gaius made his presence known in the towns, talking to anyone who was alone, so he could prevent more needless death.
He realized that he couldn't keep trying. Not anymore, not after everything. Gaius was out late, and Merlin huddled in his room. He scribbled an apology to Gaius, and to Arthur, telling him to take care of Gwen for him (because asking her to do it would only end up with Arthur's arrogance). He knew there the veins in the human body were, and it only took him a few presses of his thumb to find the one in his arm. Bleeding out seemed like a painless, if messy, way to go. So he did it outside, so Gaius wouldn't be forced to clean up his blood.
He sat outside under the moonlight, staring at his pale arm. The knife he had was one he had taken from Arthur's chambers, its point was sharp and it glinted in the light. He pressed the tip against his skin and shuddered, the pain was sharp but it slid easily, so long as he pressed hard enough.
He cut a long stripe down his arm, and watched the blood pour. He let out a soft sigh – it would just be like going to sleep. The mark stung, but he ignored that and slid the knife into his pocket. His vision clouded, relief was coming as the blackness set in. If this was how it felt to die then he wasn't sure why everyone was so scared of it – it was pleasant. He adjusted so he lay on his side, breathing in the sweet smell of the grass. He savoured it, closing his eyes, and letting the blackness take over him.
The last thing Merlin expected to do was wake up.
He felt light headed, woozy, sick to his stomach and his arm hurt as though it had been burned.
He felt heavy, but that was just the blanket over his chest. He opened his eyes and couldn't see for a long moment before it cleared, and the ceiling above him came into focus. Wherever he was, it was dark. There was a single candle lit somewhere to his right, and he felt a heavy warm weight near his hip.
Arthur was asleep in a chair beside the bed, his forehead resting on his hip, his hands folded under his chin. His face faced the blankets and he was still as he slept. Merlin let out a shaky breath, cursing himself. Had he been found? Had someone just walked by him, or had someone found the note and came looking?
His limbs felt weak from bloodloss, and he wondered just how long he had been asleep. He was thirsty, but he couldn't lift his arms enough to get anything to drink, so he closed his eyes and fell asleep again.
The next time he woke up, Arthur was awake and rubbed at his eyes. Then he noticed that Merlin was peering at him, and straightened. His voice was far too loud in the dull fog of his mind, and wondered if he was dreaming. Or maybe he had actually died, and this was just his afterlife, catering to him.
But the pain was still heavy in his chest, tinged with regret as he saw the lines under Arthur's eyes and the way it looked like he hadn't seen the sun in weeks. Arthur was pressing his hands across Merlin's body, touching his shoulders and neck and face and hair, his expression a waterfall of relief. He was yelling for Gaius, he thought, and closed his eyes again. Arthur shook him, and he opened his eyes again unhappily, wriggling his fingers. Everything was too real and he felt like he couldn't move.
Gaius was there, checking his pulse and examining his arm. There was a bandage wrapped around it, tightly, his fingers felt numb. The old man's eyes were red and lined like he hadn't slept in weeks, he heard him whisper that he was sorry, and Merlin tried to shake his head to tell him that he shouldn't be – that Merlin should have talked to someone, or he should have done a better job so they wouldn't have to worry about him.
Arthur remained at his side, and when Gaius had spoken to him (the words were lost in his head, he couldn't think clearly with not enough blood in his system) and left, Arthur returned. He touched Merlin's face, his thumb stroking his cheekbone tenderly. Worry was written in his face and Merlin couldn't watch, so he closed his eyes and forced himself to find the blackness of sleep again.
The third time he woke up, Arthur wasn't there but Gwen was, and he could think clearly. He had seen Morgana's face in his mind again, the way she looked at him as though he had stabbed a knife in her belly. Gwen kissed his forehead when she saw his eyes open. She grasped his hand and held it tightly to her chin, tears were slipping down her cheeks silently, as if she didn't notice them. He wriggled one finger, catching one of her tears before it fell from her face.
She couldn't stay composed, and bent her head down to rest against his shoulder, sobbing openly and clutching his hand as though her (or his, rather) life depended on it. "Why didn't you tell us?" She choked out. "We could have helped." Her voice strained and trembled and shook, so he just held her hand and let her cry against his shoulder.
Not only were countless deaths on his shoulders, now his friends' grief was there too. He wasn't supposed to survive, he wasn't supposed to see this. He was supposed to be blissfully unaware as they grieved and healed and moved on. Instead, Gwen sobbed against his shoulder. "You're one of my only friends" She eventually managed, her head still bowed. "I couldn't bear to lose you. I was so scared, Merlin, so scared. I thought you were gone, you're my family, I love you, I can't.." She sucked in a breath, and sat up. "We all love you, Merlin." She pressed her palm to her cheeks to wipe her tears. "Look, everyone brought you things. Everyone you know, even Lancelot is here."
Merlin's heart ached, and he closed his eyes tiredly. "Please don't go to sleep again. Please, I want to hear your voice." She begged him. "You can't do this to all of us, I couldn't handle losing you."
"Neither could I" Another soft voice said from the doorway, Merlin didn't bother to look, he knew that voice better than he knew his own. Arthur walked towards them, and placed his hand on Gwen's shoulder. She sniffed, wiping her eyes again and standing, releasing Merlin's hand. "Thank you, we just need a few minutes."
Gwen nodded, and he held her for a moment before she exited. Arthur silently sat next to the bed, and brushed his knuckles on Merlin's cheek. "I've never seen Gaius move that fast" He said eventually. "Even my father offered his kindness to you, it surprised me." Arthur's fingers never stopped moving on Merlin's face.
"How could you be so selfish?" Arthur's voice had changed – it was suddenly a harsh whisper, low and frightened, like a child left alone in the dark, too scared to speak up for fear of being eaten. "Did you think of us? Of me, of Gwen? Gaius? What's so bad that you felt you had to die?" Arthur's voice stuttered over the word 'die'.
"I've lost friends before." Arthur said, his voice slightly calmer. "But none of them have ever taken their own lives. I've held my friends in my arms as they died, I've carried them to their parents and lovers, I've seen it all – but I've never seen a friend do this. Why would you want to willingly give up your life? Why like this?" Merlin hadn't spoken a word, and had a thousand things to say but he couldn't say any of them. "You scared me." He admitted, "I thought I'd never see you again, I never thought I'd get to talk to you."
Arthur's voice lowered, his fingers stilled on his skin, "Please, say something. Anything, please."
Merlin was quiet for a long time, Arthur stared at him intently, expectantly, and Merlin knew he would need to get Arthur off of his case. He couldn't live with this, the crazy hurt in his chest was suffocating. "Cabbagehead" He muttered, closing his eyes again.
He felt Arthur let out a breathy laugh, then he was asleep again.
Merlin was still weak, and gave Gaius the minimum amount of explanation – he didn't want to tell him anything because his mind hadn't changed. He smiled, even though his limbs were sluggish and his eyes were deadened. He was still late, and he did his best to keep Arthur off of his back. But his friends insisted that he would never be alone, Arthur moved Merlin into his chambers and kept a close watch on his friend. Gwen walked with him whenever he left the castle, Gaius spoke with him and ate dinner with him in the evenings. The knights would invite him to sit with them, swapping stories and trying to bring a smile to his face.
Even Uther seemed slightly different around him, treating him a bit better than a servant, and more like someone who was a friend of Arthur. He didn't ask Merlin to do anything, as he had before. There were other servants for that.
Merlin couldn't take it. He couldn't take being constantly followed, people constantly trying to get into his business. He made sure to wear his sleeves long so that people would stop staring at the gruesome wound down his wrist. Not that he was ashamed (he was only ashamed that he had failed), but that he didn't like the looks of pity he got.
As the weeks passed, he heard back from his mother, who said she would love to come to Camelot, but she wouldn't be able to right now. But soon, she had been thinking of it for a while now, she missed her son. Merlin didn't tell her anything, and only muttered a soft apology to the paper. When she got here, it would be too late.
It was hard to get a few minutes alone, but eventually he did, and it was all he needed. It was raining and Arthur had went to sleep early. Gwen wasn't around and Merlin had hid from the knights so they wouldn't see him. He snuck out into the rain, armed with a knife. He was still weak, and he knew that this time he would bleed out quickly. He left nothing behind, and walked through the rain with purpose. He went through the gates of Camelot and out into the woods.
Merlin kept going as far as his weak legs would take him – Arthur wouldn't find him out here until it was over.
He exposed his other arm, the one he hadn't already attempted. He awkwardly held the blade in his left hand, found the vein, and pierced the skin. This mark was more jagged, deeper and uncontrolled. He ground his teeth against the pain and tossed the blade to the side, it clattered uselessly against the tree.
Then Merlin lowered himself to the ground, curling up into a ball, and savouring the smell of the rain and the dirt, the warm gush of red from his arm.
He tried to stay awake, and turned his eyes to the sky one last time. This time – he knew he hadn't made any mistakes. He knew he was dying, he could feel the sweet relief overtake him. Darkness settled into his limbs, the chill from the rain began to leave him, his vision began to blank and the last thing he felt was water running across his face, like Arthur's kind fingers. The last thing he saw was Arthur and Gaius and Gwen, the people he was leaving behind. He could almost feel Freya's warm embrace lift him away as the last of his life trickled into the rain. He exhaled one last breath, and embraced the darkness.