I keep trying to write another fic for my TVITD series, but I simply cannot get over the finale. So, here's another post-Season 5 story. I wrote it as a standalone, but it could be a prelude to my fic "When You Find Me," too.
I always think of a dozen things I should tell you in between publishing, and then I go to write the author's note and I completely forget. I did want to know if anyone likes to make fan videos, because I have ideas for one or two and I have no idea how to even begin; so if you're interested in doing the editing, I'd be happy to share my ideas. And anything else I wanted to say must not have been too important, because I can't remember it at the moment.
Please forgive the lame author's note and title of the story. I've been staring at spinning stars today (don't ask), so I'm even too tired to be sarcastic, which is saying something for me. hehe
I did not actually write this story while being this tired, though, so it shouldn't be as lame as the note and title. Just so you know.
I remember his ears.
This may seem strange, perhaps, but if you knew him like I did, you would know why I remember his ears so well. No matter how mature he grew, or how solemn he became with those years, his ears always reminded me of who he was, of that ridiculous boy he would always be, even if time had made him dark and serious in some ways he hadn't been before.
I think perhaps he thought I didn't notice. Maybe I didn't notice a lot of things I probably should have. I noticed when he didn't smile, though. That's what I remember too, is his smile. I woke up to it often enough. It was good.
Next, I suppose when I remember him, I remember his eyes. Either that, or his cheekbones, or maybe I immediately think of both at the same time—those, and that ridiculous scarf. Something like that is hard to forget. Actually, I think I only ever saw him not wearing one when he was in his nightclothes.
I think, though, more than any of those mornings when I woke up to his smile and his scarf and his rambling on about stupid things, or anything great or small that happened during any of those days, I remember those last two days most of all. I remember most every detail of those, though in this surreal world I find myself in, I seem to drift in and out of those memories, so that one moment I've forgotten them completely and I am thinking of nothing at all, and the next, I'm recalling every second, reliving it in my mind, watching his face, his eyes, his cheekbones, the smoke from the fire, the full moon, the way he never smiled. Not once did he smile during those two days, not the real smile I knew, at least. Any smiles he offered during that time were momentary echoes of his real smile, at best. I didn't like that. It was either a real one, or none at all.
Though I supposed that's not true. I'd rather see half his smile than see him not smiling. His smiles are good. I think I've said that before already. Perhaps I should say they were good. I'm not sure what the proper thing is here, if that entire world is a "was" or if only I am. I'm really not even sure where here is.
I'm drifting again. I can feel it. I'll be drifting for a while.
His eyes were sharp, I remember.
I didn't really think about it then. I was tired, and I think my side was hurting a bit too. Actually, I think it was hurting a lot. I think that's what was making me so tired, in fact. There was a great deal of pain then. I wanted to sleep.
I had to tell him, though. I remember thinking something about how I might not get another chance, how I might wake up and find myself too weak to talk to him anymore, and so I told him. I told him how I didn't want him to change. I didn't. I still don't. I don't know how long it's been. Maybe it's been years. I just don't know anymore. I hope he's not changed too much. I hope his ears still look too big, and his cheekbones are still strong, and his eyes are still bright.
They were sharp then. That's the only way I can think to describe them, as he stopped me falling asleep and asked me…something. Something about a day off, I think. I must have said something he liked, because he whispered to me in that voice he always had when he was caught between teasing and being pleased with me. Two. I think I told him I would give him two days off. He said I was generous.
Now that I think about it, I think he must have thought I was going to sack him for what he'd done. He didn't realize that would actually punish me more than him. All the others were boring. He wasn't boring. He was good.
I think I've said that before, maybe. I know I've thought it more than once.
He was good. He was always good. He was good everyone, to anyone, but to me especially. He was wonderful to me. He lied to me a lot. He lied to me about everything, I suppose, but he was good still. He only lied to protect. I understand that now. I understood that within hours after I discovered his lies.
Before I understood, I thought about sacking him. I thought about exiling him. For a bare moment, I even thought about executing him for the hurt he was causing me. I remember my chest tightening strangely when I thought about that, though, and it didn't ease until I'd decided I wouldn't do any of the three until I understood. Then, I did understand, and I couldn't think to do anything to harm him. I never could, anyway; I could barely stand to think about him being flogged, which is why I never punished him like that. I probably should have. He deserved it a couple of times. That was fine, though; I probably deserved it too.
I went to sleep after we spoke, and I recall feeling him so intense beside me, like he was waiting for something, or maybe watching out for some danger he expected might come upon us. Saxons. That's what it was. I'd been fighting Saxons. They were still looking for me. It was a Druid that hurt me, though. I do know that. It was Mordred. He sided with Morgana.
Merlin killed her. I remember that, too. He was so brave when he did. I know it hurt him. He hated dead things, but he ended her life. He ended it to save me. He did everything to save me.
I loved Morgana le Fay. I still do, I think.
I hate Morgana Pendragon.
She is not Morgana le Fay. She is not the Morgana I know. Something terrible took over her body. Something changed her; the name Pendragon turned her into a creature that was not my Morgana. When she was my cousin, I loved her like a sister; when she was my sister, she became my enemy. Our father managed to make that happen, somehow. I'm not sure how. It's hard to remember things like that now. I just know that it's true.
I'm not sure if I hate my father. I probably do.
I remember that he tried to kill Merlin and Guinevere both, even after he was gone. I do wonder how he could have tried such a thing. She was too precious for that. They both were, but unlike Merlin, she was innocent. She'd never killed, like both Merlin and I have. She cheated me, once, but that wasn't her fault. There was more to it than that. I know there must've been.
Merlin told me so, once, I think. He told me about a bracelet he found in a dungeon. I don't remember now.
What was I saying? It must have drifted away.
Merlin held me.
I remember asking him to, and he did. I was in armor. I remember feeling it heavy on me. It must have been heavy on top of him, too, and uncomfortable, probably, with the way he held me. He didn't complain, though. I think he was too sad for that. He was sad because of me. Yes, that was it. He was sad because I was dying.
I didn't see him weep, but I know he must have. I know, because I could hear his heart beating so quickly against my ear, and because I can remember hearing him screaming after everything went dark before my eyes. I don't know what he said; he often said ridiculous things, but this was something entirely different. It was magic. It must have been, but there was immense suffering in the way he shouted it over me. He suffered because I was dying. Selfishly, I think that I'm glad. I'd worried that past day if I had made a horrible mistake in the way I'd always treated him, if always shouting at and pushing around someone so powerful had caused him to despise me to a point. To know he was hurting over my leaving calmed my fears. He didn't feel I'd done him wrong. He was going to miss me.
I realize for the first time—or is it the first time? Have I thought of this before?—Merlin loved me. He loved me with something most people probably couldn't even understand.
I loved him too. I still do. Even the moments here when I forget my name, I'll always remember that there were two people who always will love me, but Merlin especially. I love him.
I loved my men. I adored them all. I knew every single one of them by name. I may have forgotten important questions to ask, and important things to do, sometimes, but I never forgot any one of my men.
They had sworn fealty to me. They protected my kingdom with their lives. They deserved better than a leader who forgot their names, so I didn't. I can tell you every single one of them that died for me during all my years, in the order that they did.
My father told me that the knights couldn't really be my friends, and nor could the people. I was their judge, he said, their ruler and their punisher. The knights, perhaps, I could be friendly toward, but the people—I shouldn't even laugh around them, he said. I forget what the reason was. I'm not sure it was important, anyway, since I ended up marrying a serving-girl, and finding a brother in a serving-boy. They were two people that I would have missed knowing if I'd listened to my father when he said I should only be friends with authority equal to me.
I never met a princess as much like a queen as my Guinevere, nor a lord as wise as my Merlin.
I realize I've said "my." They really were mine. I suppose I never took the time to appreciate that.
I wish they were here with me. I'm suddenly realizing I miss them. Before I can dwell on it, though, I'm fading out again.
I was never afraid of him.
When I came to realize that he wasn't as stupid as I thought, that he was more than clever enough to outwit most people I knew, I never once thought that he wasn't trustworthy. In fact, knowing it only made me trust him more.
When I found out what he really was, at the first of those final two days, I still wasn't afraid. Every fibre of my being told me to be. Every warning my father had ever given me, every fear I had felt for myself at the hands of wicked sorcerers, leapt up to the forefront of my mind. It didn't scare me, though.
Even as the embers from the little fire dissipated from their magic-made dragon form and he looked at me without breath, I wasn't scared of him. Though he was abruptly something new and my heart was frozen in shock and horror at this, he wasn't someone else. He was still Merlin. I knew that. It was just that he suddenly was so much more than that, and all of that was what I didn't understand—not yet.
Even though I had built up a strong wall in myself against magic and everyone who practiced it (because it was, after all, the whole foundation of that war that had lasted all my kingship and before), Merlin had already made it inside every wall I had. He had long before then, in fact, and he was within a part of me where I couldn't draw him out and hate him like I wanted right at that moment.
I hated him for his lies, for deceiving me, for not trusting me enough to tell me who he really was. I never hated him for the magic. Now that I look back, the thought never even struck me to hate his magic. I never thought to fear it, because it was under Merlin's control. Merlin would never harm me. He was too good for that. He belonged with me. He was mine.
Merlin was mine. He still is.
Somehow, that means it all still is. Guinevere, Camelot, Albion—it's all mine. It will be, for all of eternity, I think; even if I spend it here, and I never get to be that king again—even if I am naught but a spirit in this world for the rest of my existence—everything I once had will continue to be mine. I know that Merlin will remember that. Wherever he is now, wherever he will go, I have trust in him not to forget. He will remember that he is mine, and he will remember that all of Albion is mine, and our memories will stretch out past any distance or time and keep it all true. The farther apart we are, the truer it will be. That glorious time will never be lost.
I never weep, but I almost wish I could when I think of that. My tears will not shed here, though—I never have enough time. I am slipping away again.
My thoughts are different.
Where once were familiar things—memories of places and people I knew, I see strange things now. I see mighty towers many times taller than the turrets of Camelot, made of strange stone gleaming like polished armor. I hear roars of large, colorful creatures with people inside them, moving in lines between the towers. I see other people walking, all of them wearing peculiar clothing and speaking in a tongue I cannot comprehend.
These are places I walked in my life, but they are different now. I do not recognize them. I only sense their familiarity.
I see mountains and forests that I knew. They have not changed much, and for that, I am relieved, though it seems in some of my favorite places to go in my kingdom, villages as new and weird as the city have overtaken the peaceful land. At least here there are still some farm animals, and the children still play barefoot in creek waters.
I dream of this strange land for a long while. Little by little, the words I hear become understandable, and then, sometimes I realize that my Albion has changed so much more than I could ever have thought it would. So many people are angry and sad. These are my people. I want to lead them. I want to heal them and their land. Our land. My land.
I can do nothing but watch and listen. I am waiting for something. I do not know what.
I saw him.
Everyone else is gone. Everyone I knew is passed on; of course they are. Who knows how long it has been.
Merlin is still there.
Gods help me. He's still there, waiting, just as I have been waiting here for so long. He's waiting for the same thing I am. We're both waiting for me. We're waiting for justice and freedom and all that is good. We're waiting for this unhappy place called Britain to be Albion once more.
He's unhappy too, almost as though the land itself grew into this unhappiness and loneliness because he did first. His face is so weathered, his hair so white. He is old, so old, now. But his ears still seem too big, and his cheekbones are still strong. His eyes aren't really bright, but they're not dead, either. They can be healed. I'll heal them. I'll heal him.
I watch him for a while. If I could smile here, I would as he mixes colorful potions to sell on the street. I want so badly to laugh as he gets irritable with his long, white hair and finally ties it back in a shabby-looking knot; I don't know why it's funny to me, but it is. He just has a way of looking ridiculous in my eyes. It's one of the reasons I came to adore him so quickly. It is a serious thing, to see him so old. I will not pretend it isn't, for it means he has been through a great deal, but I want to laugh at him nonetheless. I'm sure he'd forgive me for that.
I'm sure he'd laugh right along with me. I wish he would laugh now. I want to hear it. I swear that that is one of the first things I will do when I return. I will make Merlin laugh.
I wonder if he'll smile when he sees me. I hope he will. It looks like it's been too long since he has.
He is passing the place where I left him all that time ago. His step falters for a moment. I wonder if he really remembers that that is the exact spot where we saw each other last, when it looks so different than it did then, and so many years must crowd up his memory now.
He does remember. He must, and I want suddenly to hug him. I want to tell him that I am not so far away; I am just across the lake. I am watching him from this island's depths. I can see him now, I want to tell him, and so it will not be long before he will see me, too. I can feel my spirit awakening a little more with each sunrise.
It will not be long now.
I really hope I put all the lines between the proper paragraphs, and also that I didn't bore you with this. I just really love writing in Arthur's perspective; he's so roughly articulate and so endearingly Arthur. He's really an amazing and beautiful character, and I just enjoyed describing his feelings with his words. I hope you enjoyed reading them, too.
For my regular readers: Another TVITD-verse story is soon coming, so keep on the lookout!