Author's Notes: This was written several weeks ago well before S5E13 aired. While it looks at Camlann, it doesn't contain any spoilers for that episode.
Written for Camelot Drabble's challenge #33 - Choices
A million thanks to RocknVaughn for the awesome Beta! All the mistakes are mine and most of the good bits are hers :D
"None of us can choose our destiny, Merlin. And none of us can escape it."
The scaly old fraud had been wrong about that first part. There were always choices. And it seemed that Merlin had made all the wrong ones. The very first one had been that he had picked and chosen when he wanted to listen to the dragon's warnings. Merlin had arbitrarily decided when to take the creature seriously and when to ignore him. He'd chosen to listen only when it suited his sensibilities, and he'd chosen not to listen when the task at hand was too ugly to contemplate in comfort.
Merlin had chosen not to heed Kilgharrah's warnings about Morgana; he'd chosen to aid the Druid boy Mordred. Both those choices had come back to bite him in the arse. Both those choices had turned out to be the choosing of his destiny. He had chosen not to eliminate those threats when first warned of them. After that, every choice Merlin made had led him inexorably further down the path to Arthur's destruction.
Time after time, whenever Merlin had had an opportunity to eliminate either threat, he'd failed to do so. First it had been his choice, he'd chosen not to murder, chosen not to allow death to visit either of them. Then, when he'd realized that both of them needed to die, Merlin had failed to deliver them unto death.
He'd failed every major test that was set before him. He'd failed to convince Arthur to allow magic back in the land. He'd failed to help Arthur become a great king. He'd failed to help unite the land of Albion. And in the end, he even failed to keep Arthur alive.
Finally, he has succeeded in killing Mordred, but now it no longer matters since Arthur already lies dead at his feet on the flaming fields of Camlann. The traitor knight has collapsed beside him, body twitching, still smoking from the inside-out burn so characteristic of a lightning strike.
Merlin looks down at the two of them, lying side by side, united in death. This is the end result, the sum of all his choices, the destiny he has pursued.
Enlightenment has come too late and at too dear a cost.
The dragon had been wrong…but he had also been right. Merlin had found a way to choose his destiny but now—with his cowardice on his conscience and their blood on his hands—he knows he can never escape it.