So... this is basically all my mental images, based on the preview of The Diamond of the Day Part Two, and the tearful comments (borderline spoilers) from my friend. Btw Julie you brought this upon yourself. And also because I was listening to Paramore all day lol

EDIT: this has a sequel, called Dominoes Can Rise Again (how creative eh) GO READ IT IF YOU DON'T LIKE WHAT I'VE DONE HERE


One by One, Like Dominoes,

They All Fall


Morgana didn't know what hit her.

It shouldn't have happened, she tried to convince herself.

But it did.

And as Arthur ran his sword through her, all she could feel was surprise. Even then, it lasted barely a moment.

And then she fell to the ground, nothing but death read from within her cold green eyes.

Morgana Pendragon was no more.

There would be tears shed over her body. Not many, but tears nonetheless.

Arthur stood over the dead body of his sister. There were tears falling unchecked from his eyes. He didn't care.

"Morgana!" came a scream from one of the few living soldiers. Mordred.

Arthur slowly turned to face him. He could hardly take it, this… betrayal. He'd taken Mordred under his wing, fully aware that he was of Druidic origins. He'd knighted him, even after he'd been on the enemy side. He'd trusted him.

That same boy—no, that same man, for Mordred had not a shred of innocence left in him—had his sword drawn, eyes flickering from the lifeless body of his mistress to that of her killer.

"Arthur."

He said it quietly, but the silence of a dead battle was enough to carry it to the King's ears.

Arthur stared at him, fearless. "You don't have to do this, Mordred."

Mordred came closer still.

The King raised his sword.

"It's over."

Mordred screamed, breaking into a run, weapon raised high.

Arthur let out a tiny, pained sigh. He'd had enough of this… this fighting. But still he held his ground. "So be it," he whispered to none but himself.

And the battle began.

It was more of a battle of wills than anything, in the end. Who had the stronger passion; the once proud King, humbled to his knees by his people and his will to save them, or the fierce warrior Druid, master in sword and magic alike, determined to avenge his mistress and fulfill his destiny.

Then came a sudden shout.

"Arthur!"

It was Merlin, that clumsy fool, running and tripping over the fallen to reach his King.

Arthur didn't know what to feel at the sight of him.

But the surprise let his guard down.

And then it really was over.

Arthur wondered if Morgana had felt it, this intense numb pain, as the sword ripped through him, spilling out his blood, his life. He wondered if all blood was crimson when shed. He wondered.

He wondered as he fell, if it could have happened otherwise.

He wondered a lot.

And then he wondered no more.

There were open arms, reaching for him. A blond woman—his mother? And his father—he looked almost… sad. There were countless others, along with a few he did not recognize. There was Lancelot, bearing a melancholy smile, all the loyalty to his King displayed in his eyes. His dead eyes, so full of life.

And there was a young woman behind him, stood before a great light. She was beautiful, with a cascade of wavy ebony hair tumbling down her shoulders. She wore the regal robes of a princess, but her demeanor portrayed someone much more than that.

Arthur thought he recognized her.

He probably didn't.

She smiled at him. "Come," she said, opening her arms. Her voice was like a tiny stream of water in a parched throat. It echoed around him, bringing him nearer.

And Arthur did.

He was content.

And Merlin was absolutely desecrated.

He screamed, many times. His throat failed to be loud enough for him. He screamed some more.

He'd seen this happen.

It was so much worse than he'd imagined.

He looked up from his master's body, only to see the killer.

The traitor.

The Druid boy.

Mordred.

The warrior did not try to run as magic had its way with him. He didn't get a chance.

Merlin let loose a final scream, louder than all the rest. His incomprehensible words reverberated in the open plains, and they all spread out, until all was silent.

And then the words came back. They were so loud and so quick; you could actually see them as they tore into the King's killer.

Merlin watched with no feeling left inside him as Mordred's ashes floated away. It was painless.

More than he deserved.

So much more.

He had more to do. Merlin leaned over the King's body, tears shining on his face, but no longer falling. He placed his hand on Arthur's chest.

And he let Emrys go.

At first, nothing was moving.

And then everything was.

The plants grew taller.

The birds sang louder.

The people looked to the sky and smiled.

It was an outburst of magic; the first, the greatest, yet… the last.

With a gasp, Arthur opened his eyes.

With a gasp, Merlin's kneeling form seized painfully. He fell to the ground.

The King was confused. Where were his parents? Where were his proud, smiling, fallen warriors? Where was the light?

Where was the afterlife?

He looked down. His manservant was shivering. Arthur frowned.

"Merlin?"

Merlin gave a mirthless chuckle, but it was full of relief. "Thank… God, you… you prat," he whispered.

He gave a slight yelp as a jolt of pain flashed through him. They were getting worse; he was nearing the end….

"What's wrong?" was all the King could force out, searching all across his friend's body with his eyes, but… no, there was no visible injury. Then why…?

"The… the gift of life," he breathed painfully, "has a… a… a heavy… price."

"Merlin, what on earth are you on about? Come on, we've got to get back to Camelot." Camelot was safe. Camelot was good. That's why they should head there, right?

Merlin smiled. It was small, but it was genuine. "Not… not me."

Arthur felt a deep finger of ice claw into him. "Merlin?"

"A l-life… for a… life…. Sire, I'm afraid I… I won't be… joining you… a-anytime… soon."

The finger dug deeper, seeking out his fragile heart. Why wouldn't that cold feeling go away? Didn't it understand that his heart already had too many gouges and rough patchwork across it to bear any more?

"What? Nonsense. Get up, Merlin." But there was a tremor in his voice.

What did he mean, 'a life for a life'? Surely….

The finger burrowed into his entire being, settling there for what would seem like an eternity. Perhaps it was. "Merlin, what did you do?" His tone was full of urgency. He moved closer and cradled his friend's head in his hands, anchoring him to the land of the living.

"T-told you."

No.

"… But how? Merlin, I was dying, and…. Where's Mordred?"

"Arthur…."

"No, Merlin, you're fine. You've been hit on the head."

"A-Arthur…."

"You're delirious…."

"Arthur." Something in Merlin's soft, dying voice made the King stop.

The finger of ice was no longer just a finger.

Emrys was done. There was no more need for him.

But Merlin was not.

"Th-there is something… something you… should know."

"… Merlin…."

"Arthur… please…." He was begging. Merlin shouldn't have had to beg.

"… Go on." What could be so important it was worth his dying breath?

Merlin smiled again, forcing his stubborn eyes to remain open and upon the King's. "I… don't know if I… if I should, A-Arthur. You… you won't… like… it."

Arthur paused. His manservant was dying, he knew. There was resolve in Merlin's voice. It was the resolve of a man who had accepted his fate.

But Merlin didn't have a fate to accept. This wasn't happening, it couldn't….

"Merlin, I want to know." He didn't know where the words came from. But at the same time, he did. The icy finger receded a bit. He gripped Merlin's form in his arms, not sure if he could feel it. Arthur could hardly feel it himself.

He somehow knew the words before they even left the man's—the warlock's—dying lips.

"I am a sorcerer."

The words were clear.

"I have magic."

Their meaning was not quite as clear.

But Arthur did not let him go. He held him, staring into those blue, blue eyes, so full of life and joy….

How could he let those eyes die?

Merlin smiled. His eyes flashed a rich gold colour, just as lively as the blue.

The small, glowing blue butterfly that emerged from one of his fisted hands made Arthur gasp, laugh, shout, and cry, all at once.

And the warlock's head tilted back, his muscles relaxing.

A life for a life.

Was it worth it?

Merlin had fulfilled his destiny. Arthur would live.

Yes, Merlin thought, it was worth it.

And Freya, Will, Balinor, Lancelot… they were awaiting him. He still had a place, albeit in another world.

And the eyes, while still inexplicably joyful, were now blissfully shut.

Arthur didn't need to open them to know that the life was gone from them.

It took him a few moments to realize what had just happened. What had just ended.

A single tear. Followed by many, many more. They fell upon the dead man's cheeks, but he did not stir. His face was frozen in a peaceful slumber, mouth twitched up into a tiny smile.

Arthur's heart throbbed.

The world he could see was nothing but shattered, distorted by the salty tears overflowing from his eyelids. The tears that fell took with them the King's last traces of joy and left nothing but the cold, jagged rocks of anguish in his heart.

He shouldn't have cried.

Merlin's tears would never again fall.

And it wasn't fair.

But it never had been.

Understanding hit him hard, as he remembered the words of a wise man, so long ago….

"There are many more who believe in the world you are trying to create."

Arthur tightened his grip around his best friend's body.

"One day, you will learn, Arthur…."

Arthur didn't try to muffle his sobs as the world seemed to fall to pieces around him. Nothing mattered anymore.

"One day, you will understand…."

He clutched his friend's blue shirt, his brown coat, his constant red neckerchief.

The King screamed his friend's name, the word muffled by warm fabric on cold skin.

"… Just how much they've done for you."


EDIT: yeah this author's note was interminable so YEP I JUST KILLED IT.

NOW GO READ THE SEQUEL TO THIS STORY
Here's the summary if you want :

"Sequel to Like Dominoes. The Gods have decided that Merlin, Mordred, and Morgana are not yet done with destiny. They are sent back, but as teenagers with no memories, and with the power of Emrys imbedded deep within each of them. They are taken in by the Druids, far from Camelot, where Arthur has been grieving for a year, and is close to giving up. No slash, a bit of whump/gore."

It's much happier than this because of obvious reasons XD