A/N. HI, just to let you know that there is now a sequel to this story and I've sneakily attached the first chapter to it below. It's called "Purchase from Sorrow". If you want to carry on the story please do so, and please do review.
Also just to reply to Solar07's question – Nope, it's not the same IT you refer to. I've not read the story you ask about. I mainly confine myself to Merlin, Dr Who and Criminal Minds fiction so if it's not one of those then there is little chance of me coming across it. Guess it's just a case of "Great minds think alike" or more likely "Fools seldom differ."
I don't own Merlin; but now the current owners seem to have finished with it I was wondering if they would be interested in any offers?
Merlin sat and looked at the small white stone. It was quietly beautiful, no other words for it. Smooth and glowing and so sad it made his heart break everytime he saw it. Engraved on it was a name and five simple words.
"Love. Healing. Kindness. Bravery. Protection."
Simple, Merlin thought, but so very complicated and hard. Those words contained so much that made him sad and proud and lonely and loved.
Reaching down he placed a bunch of wild herbs and flowers at the foot of the small earthen mound. His hand remained, touching the grave, remembering how he had held her as life had drained away. Remembering how she had told him some things were worth dying for. "You were right" he said "But are some things worth killing for? I wish I knew."
"Merlin, it's time" Arthur's voice came from lower down the hill, by the tree line. "Say your goodbyes. We have to go before it gets dark." Merlin remained where he was, not ready to move yet.
"Merlin." This time the voice was very near and Merlin turned to see Arthur standing behind him. "I do understand but it's not safe, we have to go. We can come again but..." Arthur glanced up at the reddening sky "This part of the forest is not somewhere we want to be at night and we have already stayed too long. My Father will begin to wonder where we are. This was supposed to be a 2 day hunting trip and we are due back."
"I wish it were different..." the Prince continued "But we have to leave."
Merlin looked at Arthur and knew he really meant it, that he too wished they could stay and think and remember. But, even with the thawing of his emotions over the last year, Arthur was still a Prince, a Knight of Camelot and incredibly practical. It was not safe to stay in this part of the forest for too long and no amount of hoping or pretending would make it so; therefore feelings were put aside and they had to go. Merlin understood, he really did, but that did not take away his memory of the last three hours by the grave.
While Merlin had gathered the herbs and flowers Arthur had knelt beside Niamh's eternal resting place and had spoken quietly to her. He told her of all that had happened in Camelot since her death. Of the mighty deeds that had taken place –the victory over Cornelius Sigan, the defeat of Morgause and the death of the dragon. He also spoke of the loss of Morgana and his determination that she would be found. Never boasting but always rightfully proud of the way Camelot had overcome its enemies and prevailed against often seemingly insurmountable odds. Although he did not realise it Arthur had grown much since the battle with Mawr – he was somewhat more able to speak of his emotions and had even begun to believe that he could be a different King from his Father.
Then it was Merlin's turn and he too spoke of the events in which he had played such an important role. He spoke of the death of Sigan, the freeing of the dragon, the poisoning of Morgana. He told her of how he knew in his head that he had done what was right, but how his heart still burned with the horror of his actions. Haltingly he told her of Freya "I think you would have liked each other you know. She was like you, brave and kind." Then he told of the death of his Father and of his fear and guilt that he had been the cause.
Merlin carried on talking for an hour or more but his were not stories of daring do or victory unexpectedly snatched from defeat. The telling of his tales was full of regret, guilt and contrition. Merlin too had moved on much since the confrontation with Mawr – his powers had grown but so had his actions. He had been forced to kill and cause harm to others and it sat heavily on him.
Coming back to the present Merlin knew they had to leave. It just he had one more thing to say "Niamh, I hope Freya is taking care of you. When you see her, tell her that I miss her."
As the two young men quietly packed up and walked to the horses, a light wind blew a wan fog over the young girl's grave. The fog hovered in the air as if IT too were conversing with the dead girl, then IT seemed to gather ITself into a more coherent shape and moved off. If anyone had seen, they would have said IT was almost alive, a thing moving with reason and purpose. But no-one saw and after all IT was just a fog, wasn't IT?