A/N:It's exam time again, which means I have plot bunnies sneaking into my bed and refusing to leave. I haven't written anything in almost a year so this is probably horrible but I'm in such a Merlin mood I couldn't help myself.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything.


It's been two minutes.

It's been a lifetime.

There's blood soaking his clothes, covering his hands, seeping into the ground. The sound of the ongoing battle is distant to his ears, a dull ringing, hardly worth the attention. The sound of Arthur struggling to breathe, well, that's a bit more important.

"Arthur, just hold on," Merlin hears himself say, but he can't recall opening his mouth. Arthur just grimaces, trying to keep the pain from his face but Merlin knows, Merlin always knows. His hands, smothered in Arthur's blood, vainly try and cover the wound, try and stop the bleeding, try and slow Arthur's death. Because he knows. They both know. This day has been prophesised for so long, has been a dark shadow always looming ahead and it's finally arrived.

Arthur coughs.

"Merlin," he starts to say, but he can't continue, can't seem to form any words but that's okay because Merlin can't either. And Merlin feels so useless because despite all his power, his legacy, his destiny, this is the one wound he cannot save Arthur from.

And the two men, unable to speak, can do nothing but stare at the other, unsaid words and promises lingering on their lips with no means to be heard. And when Arthur's eyes finally do close, when his heart ceases to beat, Merlin can do nothing but grasp Arthur's limp hand in his own and wish for another life, another chance to see him again.

It's been one hundred years.

It's been a lifetime.

Merlin was surprised to find he was alive again. He wonders if maybe someone heard his wishes. He wonders why he hasn't seen Arthur yet.

He wonders a great deal.

It's been two hundred years.

It's been a lifetime.

Merlin meets Gwen. She's a serving girl again. He's a stable boy. It's almost as though they were back in Camelot, back where it all started, except there's no Arthur, there's no Camelot and Merlin is constantly aware that there is something missing in his life.

He knows Gwen feels the same way.

They try and make do in this rather harsh environment. Gwen is the first familiar face he's seen, although she tells him she has met both Morgana and Gwaine. They speculate as to why they are being reborn, but neither can come up with an answer.

Merlin keeps his own hopeful speculations to himself.

It's been five hundred years.

It's been a lifetime.

The last few years have been hard on Merlin. The last few lives have been hard on Merlin.

He meets Gaius again, and in a way it's the best thing that could happen because apart from Arthur, he's missed Gaius the most. And although its five hundred years later Gaius is still the same. And Merlin needs that sense of normality, even if it's just for a lifetime.

It's been seven hundred and fifty years.

It's been a lifetime.

Merlin hasn't seen his friends in a long time.

He finds himself roaming the country. He finds himself at Camelot. Nothing but shambles now. Not a trace of the great city he used to know.

It hurts more than he expected.

It's been one thousand years.

It's been a lifetime.

Stories are being told, tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, of Excalibur, of Camelot.

Of Merlin.

For his part, Merlin finds the inaccuracy of the tales rather appalling. Although, he supposes, it has been a thousand years and people aren't always reliable sources of information. Still, the growing legend, however riddled with inaccuracies, leaves a gaping hole in his heart. A longing for Camelot, for his friends.

For Arthur.

It's been thirteen hundred years.

It's been a lifetime.

Merlin finally meets Morgana. After centuries of being alone, her presence is more than welcome. The two share stories of their many pasts, and for the first time in a long time, Merlin doesn't feel so alone anymore. Morgana has been reborn almost as often as he has, and like him she still retains her magic.

Like him, she misses Arthur.

Merlin can't help but find comfort in that.

It's been fifteen hundred years.

It's been a lifetime.

There is a war on. A great war, involving countries around the world. And despite the losses, the bloodshed, the tragedy of it all, Merlin can't help but be excited because perhaps it is here, perhaps it is now that he will meet Arthur. In the midst of combat. So he signs up to fight, gets sent to France. The gun in his hand feeling as unnatural as a sword ever did.

He doesn't find Arthur but he does meet Lancelot. They spend a day catching up amidst the war, mud in their boots, their clothes, their hair. Their hearts. They get the order that they are going over the top. Lancelot goes first.

He never makes it across and Merlin is left to face a lifetime alone.


It's been sixteen hundred years.

It's been a lifetime.

Merlin is tired, so very tired. He's been searching, always searching and never finding. It's been decades since he has seen a familiar face, nearly a century since he has spoken to one. He's tired of feeling his heart flutter every time he catches a glimpse of golden blonde hair, tired of the disappointment he feels when it's not Arthur. Tired of living alone.

Tired of everything.

And then one day he's coming out of a bookstore and he bumps into someone. His clumsiness still thrives sixteen hundred years later.

"Sorry," he mumbles, ducking down to pick up his book.


And Merlin recognises that voice, would recognise that voice anywhere but he's afraid to look up. Afraid of more disappointment.

He's had enough of it to last him several lifetimes.

But in the end hope and curiosity win over and Merlin raises his head, preparing himself for the disappointment except he can't breathe anymore, can't think because it is Arthur standing before him.

"Merlin?" Arthur asks again, his voice quavering slightly. Merlin can't reply, can only stare, and Arthur shakes his head.

"I'm sorry, I- you look like someone I used to know," he mumbles, turning around.

Merlin swallows.


And Arthur turns around, eyes reflecting the hope Merlin feels and Merlin can't quite believe that after all this time he's finally found him. And it should be a moment of celebration, of balloons, of parades, of rainbows and sunny skies, of grand orchestral music as a long awaited embrace takes place. Instead it's gloomy and there are people brushing past them hurriedly, a society every moving. Except for two men who can only stand and smile as their past and present finally meet.

It's been two minutes.

It's been a lifetime.

Arthur is shocked that Merlin has been waiting so long for him.

Merlin would gladly wait it again if it meant he had the chance to live one more lifetime with Arthur.