A/N: I wrote this because I felt cheated out off something that could have been really good with the last episode of Merlin: A Lesson in Vengeance. The writers totally botched it! Merlin crying when he thought Arthur was dead? Good. Merlin standing half bathed in shadow, brooding awesomely as he stared at Arthur's prone form? Good. Not having the knights be indignant at Merlin's being accused of treason? Not. Good. At. All. Merlin grudgingly accepting of all of this? TERRIBLE! So, Here's my revised ending. I hope you like it!
Merlin woke to a sudden loud clanging reverberating through the cell. He shivered under the rough blanket, his stomach scraping the cot beneath him, and opened his eyes. Warm daylight illuminated the floating dust in the stale air of his prison, and as Merlin lifted his head with a groan and a hand through his sleep mussed air, he caught sight of two figures standing in the doorway. Merlin blinked his bleary vision away, and was immediately hit with two warring emotions at seeing who faced him. Gaius was smiling amusedly, and Merlin felt a rush of jubilation and relief at their shared victory. Though he had been fairly certain of Arthur's recovery the night before, due to his magic, there had been an irrepressible doubt in his mind that had only lessened with sleep, and even then he had been haunted by nightmares of Arthur dying. Arthur pale and slumped in his chair, barely breathing. Shaking away those thoughts, Merlin turned to the other person watching him.
Gwaine stood with a pleased smirk on his face, and Merlin felt his mood plummet drastically.
He glared back at the knight, trying to convey all the betrayal and anger and hurt he felt into that one look. Gwaine's smile dropped off his face immediately, and Merlin couldn't help but feel some perverse satisfaction. Serves him right, he thought.
"Umm…" Gwaine said, having the nerve to look confused. Confused! "The king would like to see you,"
Merlin pointedly looked away from him and sat up, plucking some loose straw from his hair and trying to ignore all the aches and pains that had suddenly decided they needed his attention. He stretched his arms upward then braced them on the cot, wobbling to his feet. And looking rather sorry doing it, due to the current pudding state of his knees.
Gwaine's brow furrowed in concern and he stepped forward but Merlin shot him a look that could've curdled milk and he wisely retreated.
"I don't want your help," Merlin growled, and Gwaine ducked his head with a remorseful expression. Remorseful, but not ashamed. A sour taste filled Merlin's mouth as he realized this did not surprise him.
Moving quickly, Merlin brushed past them out of the cell, and let out the breath he'd been holding the past days or so.
Arthur wanted to talk to him. Fine. Merlin had some things to tell him. He needed to voice his suspicions, and soon
It had been cold the night before. Very cold. In fact, it had been so cold that Merlin had slept on his stomach in hopes of keeping his chest warm, where the important stuff was. Still, sleep hadn't come easy, and Merlin had had a lot of time to think.
Thinking when starving and alone and shivering in a cell, which you had been thrown into by your so called closest friends, is a dangerous pastime, indeed.
Trotting up the stairs, the feeling began to seep back into his bones, and this was both a good and bad thing. Now he could feel every sore and bruise and scrape that had accumulated in the past couple dozen hours. He'd hit his elbow on the floor when they'd tossed him into the dungeon, and it was now swelled and throbbing. He'd scraped his legs none too few times on the wall outside the prince's chambers as he'd climbed the night before. His head pounded with a blistering headache, and his stomach was empty of food only to be filled with resentment and disbelief and, even, dread.
How could they do this to him?
Wallowing in dark thoughts, Merlin walked robotically until he found himself outside Arthur's chambers. He raised his already fisted hand to knock, and heard a mild "come in" before entering.
Shutting the door behind him, Merlin turned to see Arthur seated at his table, a small, fond smile playing against his carefully schooled features. Merlin felt a flare of annoyance in his gut. Of course, Arthur trying to hide his concern.
"I must say, Merlin. This is the second, maybe, third time in my life I've actually been happy to see you,"
Merlin chuckled darkly,
"My thoughts exactly, sire," he said, though not for the reasons Arthur seemed to think, seeing as the king smiled and laughed himself, completely oblivious, as always. Merlin wasn't surprised at Arthur's easy banter. Of course, he expected Merlin to just…be okay with everything. As always.
"Sit down, Merlin," Arthur said, gesturing at the chair next to him. Merlin hesitated. He knew that Arthur would never let Merlin sit with him if anyone else were there to see. This made his insides roil with contempt.
He contemplated refusing, just to spite Arthur, but decided against it.
He plopped into the seat at Arthur's left, and stared down at the table, unable, or, rather, unwilling to look him in the eyes.
"Well, it looks like we've both been through something of an ordeal,"
"Please, let me finish,"
Merlin swallowed and studied his hands. He didn't want Arthur to talk. If Arthur just didn't speak, didn't bring it up, didn't bring it all back, Merlin could just let go. He could slip on the mask and return to his perpetual façade of easygoingness; he could forget all about it, and go back to his life of invisible servitude in silence. If Arthur would just not-
"I'm sorry…about what happened to you. As soon as I heard, I told them it couldn't have been you that poisoned me. Also, the cook confirmed your alibi," Arthur grinned and looked so completely nonchalant that Merlin had to resist the urge to hit him.
Merlin was seething. The betrayal he'd felt before that had morphed into resentment was now rapidly turning into anger. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Merlin knew Arthur hadn't really done anything wrong. After all, he had trusted Merlin. Immediately knew he couldn't have tried to kill him.
But he was just grinning so easily, his eyes glinting so expectantly. He knew that Merlin would let it go. He knew that Merlin would be okay with being thrown in the dungeons by Guinevere and the knights. Because he was always okay. Wasn't he?
White hot fury pounded in his chest, and Merlin, literally, felt himself snap. Just a little.
But he snapped, nonetheless.
"Well," he said, drumming his fingers on the table and meeting Arthur's confused gaze, "That's all very well and good that you're sorry. Now, what are you going to do about it?"
"What do you mean?" Arthur asked, frowning and, seemingly, surprised. Of course, surprised. Surprised Merlin wasn't goofily, nonchalantly dismissing everything bad that had happened to him. As he always did.
"I mean, I was thrown in the dungeons and sentenced to death by your wife and knights, all because of some happenstance and flimsy, circumstantial evidence. And I'm wondering, what you are going to do about it?" A glint of annoyance flashed in Arthur's eyes, and he leaned forward a bit,
"Merlin that's not-"
"Of course, you won't do anything will you? No, I should just…bounce back from the knowledge that seven years of loyal service to the kingdom, to you, would hold no weight when your safety is in question. Of course, same went for Tyr, didn't it? He was on his way to the gallows before suspicions were even fully formed. But even he got a trial. Oh, no, not me, not Merlin. I should be so lucky,"
"Merlin that's enough!"
Merlin bolted to his feet, knocking his chair over, and Arthur stood as well, his face filled with confusion and anger. Hot rushes of agonizing hurt and anguish and fury pulsed through Merlin's entire being, and he could do nothing to stop the torrent of words now flying from his mouth. Not that he wanted to.
"No, Arthur, it's never enough, is it?! I spent hours alone in the dark, knowing you were dying and knowing that it took not so much as two minutes for my so called friends to blame it all on me. No one even came to see me. I was going to die! I thought, if nothing else, surely Gwaine would-" here his voice cracked, but even this and Arthur's now, slightly guilty expression could not stop him, "But no. It's never enough. No matter how many times I save your life, or theirs. No matter how many times I prove my loyalty, again and again. Hell, I've faced witches and bandits and bloodthirsty kings with you, Arthur. I've always been there, for all of you. You think it's easy for me? I deserve some trust! I thought Gwen, of all people, would give me the benefit of a doubt. But no, her immediate conclusion was that I tried to kill you, and you don't see the wrong in this? Damn it all, I'm the only reason you and Gwen are even…" his voice trailed off, his shoulders began to tremble and he looked down at the ground, his anger melting to be replaced by a strange, firm cold. He couldn't go on. It was no use, after all.
What was the use of any of it?
After a few moments of silence, Merlin forced his hardened eyes to meet Arthur's. He schooled his emotions, pushed away the pain.
No use. Arthur could never understand. None of them ever would.
The king had a strange look on his face, his mouth slightly open, his eyes wide with shock and confusion and a strange hurt, unmoving with one hand grasping the end of the table.
Merlin spun on his heel and headed for the door, no longer thinking on his actions and feeling something akin to…numb. He grasped the ornate handle, and pulled the door open. Before he stepped out, he glanced over his shoulder, not completely turning back,
And then he left.
A/N: Sooooooo, please tell me what you thought, and if you'd like me to continue! I probably won't, but, hey, nothing's written in stone, right? ;) This was fun for me to write, got rid of the frustration I'd been feeling from the last episode. Or, lessened it a bit, at least. As of this moment, Colin Morgan is the only redeemable thing about that show. At least, in my opinion. Omigosh when he started to cry over Arthur? I was like "Colin KNOWS what's what!" Okay, I'm done now. Reviews! :D