AN: This show stared off with great promise, and this last season has been a bit of a letdown. So I wanted to write my own ending. This is everything I want in the finale. I see that the writers could easily do something like this, but I'm so afraid that we will only be disappointed. So this will be my headcanon regardless of what happens in the final two episodes.
We've Got Work to Do
Merlin's not sure how he gets himself into these messes.
Somehow, some way - Merlin can't explain how - Morgana finds a way to take his powers. Then a few of her men sneak into the castle in the middle of the night and abduct him. They chain him up in a cell in some ruined castle and leave him. Merlin is powerless to resist.
When Morgana comes to see him, she smirks, and Merlin feels his blood boil. She sneers about what an honor it is to meet the legendary Emrys. Makes some joke about how she always imagined he'd be taller, less scrawny, more...well, more.
Then she tells him that she is sending Arthur a ransom note, telling him she will let Merlin go if Arthur comes to face her.
"He'll know it's a trap," Merlin answers back angrily. "He'll never come."
Yet even as the words leave his lips, he knows they're not true.
Morgana smiles almost hungrily at him as she replies, "Arthur's a sap, Merlin. Don't lie to yourself. He'll come. And when he does...I will be ready."
Then she leaves him alone in the cold and the dark.
A few days later, or what seems like a few days, Morgana has her men lead him out of the castle. They pass through the fields of Camlann, where Morgana's army sits encamped, sharpening their swords. Merlin sees the place where Arthur will die with his own eyes. He flinches, and Morgana laughs, and he knows she must be toying with him.
She has him thrown unceremoniously into a cave a few miles away and chained to the wall.
"My spies tell me he's marching as we speak. He brings a small army, but it's nothing compared to my numbers. Your precious king doesn't stand a chance, Emrys."
She leaves him chained to the wall, and all he can do is struggle against his bonds and stare out at the sky hopelessly.
He thinks that Mordred will visit him, but he doesn't. Perhaps Mordred thinks Merlin will try to talk him out of this, and Merlin wishes desperately that he could.
As Merlin struggles, the bonds grow tighter. He struggles until the bonds become so tight that he loses consciousness.
When he finally awakens, Morgana stands over him. She tells him that Arthur has actually come to Camlann to meet her. That he and the small army he brought with him are in the process of being killed by the massive army she has ready to ambush him.
Morgana removes his shackles with a flick of her wrist, and Merlin moves to strike her, but she merely puts up her hand and he freezes. When she tells him to kneel, he does.
"You know, the all powerful Emrys is a bit of let down. But I should have expected as much when I found out he was you. Enjoy knowing the fact that your king will be dead within the hour."
She turns to leave.
"Morgana…you can't do this."
Morgana pauses for a second, shoulders tensing, and Merlin wonders if she's having second thoughts. But then she turns back to him. "I can do this, and I will. Goodbye, Merlin."
Merlin sits on the floor and watches helplessly as an avalanche of boulders falls and traps him inside the cave. He tries to move them but he knows it's no use, they're too heavy.
Merlin pounds on the rocks and screams. It's a sound he didn't know he was capable of making. Feral and wrecked. He sounds like he's dying, feels like he's dying, because there is nothing he can do to save Arthur.
He screams until he's hoarse. He needs to save Arthur; he has to. Neither of them have fulfilled their destinies. This isn't the end, it can't be, Merlin refuses to let this happen.
So when he can't scream anymore, he begs the dragon to come help him. He uses the same words, but they don't come out right. They don't sound powerful like they usually do. He can say the words, but he doesn't have the power to make them to work.
He says the words again anyway, because they soothe him. They're like a lullaby. He knows that when he says them, magic happens, and it comforts him. So he says the words one more time. They don't sound powerful, but to Merlin they work wonders.
He doesn't have any magic…but somehow the Great Dragon hears him.
He lands on the ground outside, and Merlin clearly hears the dragon's voice in his head saying, Stand back, even though he knows he can't possibly understand the dragon without magic.
He steps away, and the cave grows warm, warm, hot. He knows he should be burning up, but he's not. It doesn't hurt at all.
And then suddenly he's standing there with the sun pouring in on him, lighting up the dragon's face.
Emrys, Kilgarrah whispers in his mind, and Merlin knows he shouldn't be able to understand him.
I heard you, young warlock.
Then he blows blue fire at Merlin, and Merlin feels certain that it should roast him alive, but instead it warms him throughout. It starts at the ends of his nerves and flows inward and through him, filling him up with power. He opens his eyes and he can't see it but he knows they've just flashed gold.
He hears himself speak to the dragon, and he knows what the words mean this time.
"You…how did you-?"
"You were born of magic, Merlin. Did you ever think it could really leave you for good?"
Merlin smiles, and tears build in his eyes.
"I did. But then I remembered that you told me Arthur was my destiny; that Arthur was supposed to bring about a new age. We were supposed to do that together. But we hadn't yet. He still needed to listen to me more, treat me less like a servant and more like his friend. He needed me to help him."
The dragon nods, a hint of a smile on his face. "You have always been two sides of the same coin."
Merlin laughs as he continues. "When I realized that he still wasn't the great king I knew he would be, the one he was destined to be, I knew I could save him. I knew I could get my powers back, that they could never really leave me. That's what brought you back to me."
"Hope," Kilgarrah replies softly.
Merlin nods. "Hope."
Suddenly, a strange look passes over the dragon's face.
"Emrys…we must go."
Merlin doesn't need to ask him what he means.
It's almost time.
Merlin climbs on the dragon's back without hesitation, knowing that this is where he is meant to be.
As they fly closer to Arthur, a thought hits Merlin hard and painful.
He's ready. He's ready for Arthur to know. He has been for awhile. But a small inkling of doubt rises in the back of his mind.
What if I save him…and he rejects me? What if he's had all he can stomach of magic, of betrayal and lies? His mother dead from magic. His father convincing him to hate it. All those who have turned on him – his sister, his uncle, and now Mordred: the boy he thought was the most loyal of all his knights. What if after all that he just couldn't take it anymore?
What if he can't bear to see magic in another friend's eyes?
He feels himself transform into Dragoon.
Without any potion, or any words whatsoever. He just thinks it, and suddenly he's Dragoon.
Merlin smiles. He's regained his magic, his lifeblood, and he's more powerful than ever.
Merlin actually laughs.
Of course his destiny wasn't filled yet. It wasn't just Arthur who hadn't been ready to be the Once and Future King.
Merlin hadn't been ready to be Emrys.
He should have known he wasn't the great and powerful warlock the dragon said he would be.
But now he is.
He can do anything.
He feels invincible.
And yet...as the dragon lands, breathing fire on Morgana's army, Merlin feels his tired old feet hit the ground, and he's still Dragoon.
And then suddenly there's nothing but battle.
Merlin knocks down everyone in his path. He barely lifts a finger, flings bodies left and right. They hit the ground hard. Merlin hasn't killed them. He doesn't want them dead. He wants them to be unconscious until he, Arthur, and Camelot's men have made it home.
He wants them to stay down, so they stay down as he pushes forward to Morgana. She has to be stopped first. Mordred is her puppet after all; if she falls down, then so will he.
He finds her easily, and Morgana barely has time to look at him in shock before he flings her body to the ground. She's not dead, he knows she isn't. He's not sure what to do with her, but he thinks that Arthur should be the one to make the call. So he tells her to lie down until Arthur comes for her.
He wants her to stay down, so she stays down.
In the end, he gets there too late. He doesn't know how, feels it can't be possible. But he gets there just in time to watch Mordred sink his sword into Arthur's chest.
The cry that leaves him shakes the very ground under his feet, and everyone who's still standing stops dead in their tracks. Some of them drop their swords in shock, some keep them raised. But they watch, finally noticing the stranger in their midst who rode in on a dragon.
Mordred turns to him and grins. It's too evil a look for someone so young.
Merlin feels a wave of pity shoot through him, but then Mordred speaks.
"The great and powerful Emrys. You're pathetic. A weakling. Too scared to show your true face to the people you love, to your own king."
Arthur's not dead. He looks up at him, tears in his eyes, blood on his lips.
"Why...what are you doing here?"
It takes more energy than Arthur can spare to say the words.
Merlin feels his magic burn hot inside him, a fire inexhaustible.
Merlin is the Great Emrys. Now, truly, he can't be afraid. Not of anyone. Not the knights, not the Queen, not Morgana, and centainly not Mordred.
But above all…
"It's okay," Merlin says firmly, and the voice that leaves his lips is his own. Merlin smiles as he sheds Dragoon, sheds what he thought was Emrys but was really just a scared little boy, and he becomes Merlin; becomes the real Emrys. He's back to himself again, and he feels his eyes go gold.
But Arthur's unconscious. He hasn't seen him, doesn't know that Merlin's there to save him, that everything's going to be all right.
The knights see him, though.
There are only ten of them left on their feet, and they turn to him, swords raised.
It only takes a few to make them stop.
Gwaine screams at them to stay back, holds up his sword, and Leon and Percy do the same.
Merlin's not sure why they've stood up for him, but he doesn't stop to wonder. He can't focus on them. The only person he can see is-
"Mordred. Stand down and I will let you live. Try to stop me from saving him, and I will end your life."
Mordred shakes his head. "I can't let you do that, Merlin. He's the one who killed Kara. He's the one who's taken magic from us. He has to pay."
Merlin feels his heart wrench in his chest, and even though his mind's made up, has been since before his feet hit the ground, he hates that he has to do this. Knows it will mean countless sleepless nights. But the alternative….
He hates it. His eyes fill up with tears and his voice comes out in a near sob.
Mordred barely has time to look at him in confusion before he hits the ground dead.
In a far off corner of his world, Merlin hears Gwaine tell the knights to wait again, hears Percy and Leon telling them to stand down. The Knights of the Round Table are the most trusted and loyal of Arthur's men, and no one tries to stop him as he kneels down at Arthur's side.
He puts his hand on Arthur's chest. He's dead. His heart has stopped beating.
But Merlin can bring him back.
He has to.
He knows the right words to say, and as he says them he feels the earth groan, hears his voice come out as a growl, as an order. His eyes glow gold, and he starts to feel cold. Bringing Arthur back from the dead is harder than killing Mordred. A hundred times. A thousand times.
He feels his energy flow out of his body, flow into Arthur. As Arthur grows warmer, Merlin grows colder.
Just when he doesn't think he has any more to give, Arthur gasps in a harsh breath and his eyes fly open. His gaze falls on Merlin, and as Arthur looks up at him, a look of wonder passes over his face.
"Merlin…you're okay. You…you brought me back?"
Merlin feels himself crying, tears falling from eyes that still glow gold. He feels them fade back to blue.
"You're alive. I can't believe it. Arthur-"
That's the last thing Merlin is fully conscious of. He doesn't feel his body hit the ground, but he feels Arthur yank him up, pull him close. He doesn't hear Arthur call for help. He doesn't hear Arthur say they need to get him home, get him back to Gaius, but he feels Arthur pick him up, carry him, and lay him down gently on a horse.
He doesn't hear the fear in Arthur's voice as he says, "Please, Merlin. You have to be okay."
When he finally wakes, he feels like he's come down from the world's worst night of drinking.
When he opens his eyes, he's not sure where he is. He knows he's in the castle, but he's in a room much larger than his own. Not as big as Arthur's, not nearly as nice, but a pretty big upgrade from his small bed in the physician's tower. The bed itself is huge; plush and warm and cozy. He looks out the window and finds the sun shining on the most gorgeous view of the forest beyond the edge of Camelot.
"Do you like it?"
Merlin smiles and turns his head around.
Arthur's sitting next to him on a stool, smiling.
"Thought you were gonna sleep for a month," Arthur says jokingly.
Merlin frowns. "How long was I out?"
"Twenty-seven days," Arthur says without hesitation, and he doesn't seem to notice how touched Merlin is at the fact that he knows this.
"Where am I?"
Arthur laughs quietly. "You always have so many questions, Merlin. I simply decided your old room was too small. Are you hungry?"
Arthur gestures to a plate of food on the table next to the bed. Right on cue, Merlin's stomach growls loudly and Arthur laughs.
Merlin smiles and helps himself to the food. He still feels weak, and he eats slowly, drinks the whole jug of water. It's all of his favorite food, and he eats as much as he can while Arthur watches silently.
When he's done, he relaxes back against the pillows and smiles in contentment.
"I've asked Gaius to train a new assistant."
The comment comes out of nowhere, and Merlin feels his heart drop.
"You…you what?" he asks, flabbergasted.
"I found an older boy in town, 17, maybe 18. He's very good. A natural born healer I've been told. I offered to pay him enough money to bring his family out of poverty, in exchange for becoming the apprentice to the Court Physician."
Arthur doesn't want him working for Gaius anymore? Is he preparing to send Merlin away? Is he going to tell him that once he gets better he has to leave? Is he saying….
"You don't want me to be your servant anymore?"
It sounds childish, like he's five years old asking his best buddy, "you don't wanna be my friend anymore?" but Merlin can't help it. He's terrified of the answer. Terrified of what he will hear.
That. Merlin is terrified of that. He feels his breath catch in his throat, feels the room start to spin slightly.
Then he feels a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"Merlin…look at me."
He does, braces himself for the impact.
"Merlin, I don't want you to be my servant. I want you to be my advisor."
Huh. Merlin was not expecting that.
"I should have listened to you, Merlin. You've always had my back, even when…even when I didn't really deserve it. I don't want you to leave. I want you to stay. I want you to…I want you to help me be the king that Camelot needs me to be."
Nothing would make Merlin happier.
He wants to tell Arthur that, but before he says anything else what he really wants to do is apologize.
"I'm sorry I kept this a secret from you, Sire," Merlin says quietly.
"Merlin…my name is Arthur. And I..." He pauses and looks down at the floor before he continues. "I'm still not entirely comfortable with the fact that you have magic."
There it is again. That fear creeps back into Merlin.
"Arthur, I'm so sorry. I never wanted to hurt you."
Arthur shakes his head slightly and looks back up at him. "I trust you, Merlin. I do. It's magic I don't trust. I've seen it corrupt. Seen it destroy everyone I've ever loved. My mother. My father. Morgana. Mordred. But that day in Camlann...I saw it used for good. You brought me back, and I saw what magic can do when the right person wields it. But it still…it…."
"It terrifies you," Merlin whispers, and Arthur looks at him in confusion.
"How did you-""
"It terrifies me, too. I killed Mordred, Arthur. I killed him without even blinking. It's like I just told him to die, and he did."
Merlin thinks that Arthur should be looking at him in revulsion. He's not at all prepared to find Arthur looking at him with compassion.
"Merlin…you can't feel bad about killing him. You did what you had to do to protect the people you love. That's what any good king is willing to do. Fight to protect his kingdom, his people. You've fought for me before, Merlin. I think I know now. All those times you've stood up for me, gone into battle with me, told me what to do. All those times you saved my royal backside?"
Merlin laughs, and Arthur smiles at him before he finishes.
"You've shown me time and again that you have my back, Merlin. I want to be a better king, and I…I think I need you to help me do it."
It takes a minute for that to set in. Then Merlin laughs nervously.
"I can't believe you're not threatening to put my head on a spike." He says it with a hint of fear, as though he's afraid Arthur can change his mind at any second.
"I trust you, Merlin. Now I need you to trust me. I don't want to kill you. I don't care about the magic. This is you we're talking about."
Merlin shakes his head. "What do you mean?"
"You talk in your sleep, Merlin."
Arthur pauses for a minute, and he seems to get lost deep in his memory.
"I wasn't sure if I should trust you. I brought you back here without thinking twice, but you had slipped into a deep sleep. Gaius said you were alive, but just barely. He said he wasn't sure if you would wake up, and that all we could do was wait and see. So I brought you here and used the time to think. It was my fifth night visiting your bedside when I heard you screaming. Over and over again. 'I'm sorry, Mordred. I'm sorry.' You saved my life, almost died doing it, and all you could do was apologize for killing a man."
Merlin feels himself blush slightly. He vaguely remembers dreaming about killing Mordred. Seeing the look in his eyes before he fell over dead. Knowing he had killed him so easily, feeling the power within him. He wasn't lying when he told Arthur it terrified him. "I gave him a choice. I wish that I hadn't needed to kill him."
Arthur smiles at him almost endearingly. "Some nights I would come to visit and you'd be fine...and some nights you would apologize. That's when I knew that I could trust you. All that power I saw, that power I felt, you were the one in control of it, not the other way around. You had all that magic, but you were still the Merlin who cried when good men died, who cried when I killed a unicorn, who cried when he killed his first boar on a hunt. You're not a killer, Merlin. You're a fighter. You're an advisor…and you're a good friend."
Merlin has to gulp down the lump in his throat. "I don't know what to say."
The change in mood is drastic, but not unexpected. The conversation is getting far too serious, after all.
"Well, I expect you not to say anything. As your king, I order you to pretend I never said any of those things."
And suddenly, it's like old times again. Arthur tells him to polish his armor. Arthur calls him an idiot. Arthur tells him he's the worst servant ever. It all means the same thing. It's so much like how they used to get along that Merlin laughs out loud.
"Of course, Sire," he plays along.
"But as your friend, Merlin, I ask you to be my advisor. Gaius will still see you weekly for training. I want you to be able to help people without using magic, too. I've seen how good you are at it."
The compliment is unexpected, and Merlin is grateful.
"Will you help me, Emrys?" Arthur asks softly, and Merlin flashes back to that day in Camlann. Arthur must have heard Mordred call him Emrys. He must have...wait...
"Arthur...what happened to Morgana?"
Arthur hangs his head sadly, and Merlin prepares himself for the worst.
"She...left? Just like that?" Merlin asks in confusion.
Arthur looks back up at him and sighs deeply. "While the men prepared to leave, I went to check on Morgana. She woke up, but she…she wasn't herself. She was terrified, didn't seem to have any idea where she was…or even who she was. She didn't know me, Merlin. And somehow I…I knew that she was telling the truth. So I told her she was far away from home, that she came from a far off kingdom, and I told her which way to go. Then she just…she walked away. But that's not even the weirdest part, Merlin. Just that morning, I had actually wished that Morgana would just forget who she was and find a new life somewhere. I thought that if she could just forgot about me, she could move on. After everything we'd been through...she was still my sister."
That spell he'd laid on Morgana had really worked then. Arthur had chosen her fate, just like he was meant to.
"I'm sorry, Arthur."
"I know, Merlin."
The two of them sit in silence, Arthur looking at Merlin with...well, if Merlin didn't know any better he would think that the king was looking at him with admiration. But that couldn't be right.
Eventually, Arthur shakes head and breaks the silence. "So. You still haven't answered my question, Merlin. Am I going to have to ask you nicely?"
Merlin chuckles. "Actually, Sire…I kind of want you to beg."
"You want me to what?" Arthur asks in a flat voice.
"Beg," Merlin says, barely able to hold in his laughter at the look of indignation on Arthur's face.
"You want me to…no. Okay. Fine."
Arthur stands up. "You…I can't believe I'm doing this."
Arthur kneels in front of Merlin, and when he finally speaks he makes sure to do so using the most melodramatic tone he can muster.
"Oh Great and Powerful Emrys, will you do me the honor of being my Royal Advisor?"
Merlin grins. "Now really, Arthur, isn't the name a bit much?'
"Yeah, you're probably right," Arthur agrees, getting up from the his knees.
"I think 'Merlin the Great' will work just fine."
Arthur laughs, and then Merlin laughs, and then they both laugh until they cry. And when Arthur calms down enough that he can speak, he says, "Thank you, Merlin."
Merlin smiles happily. Arthur has finally seen him for who he is...and he trusts him. Maybe things won't be so bad. Maybe they really can usher in the Golden Age of Camelot.
Maybe things can change, Merlin thinks to himself.
Then Arthur smacks him in the side of the head.
And maybe some things don't need to.
AN: Hope you guys enjoyed it. I really hope the finale isn't as bad as we're all dreading it to be.