12-3-11Let the Rains Come
A/N- Written before series 4 aired. This short fic was set in my imaginary 'future Camelot' where Arthur knew about Merlin's magic while Uther was still king. *Sniff* Wish it could have happened that way. Anyway, critics, reviewers and feedback-ers- do your thing! ;D
It had yet to strike Merlin that the castle was feeling strangely empty when drumbeats sounded in the courtyard.
Abandoning the prince's half-cleaned armor on the table, Merlin went to open the window behind Arthur's desk, looking out. Down in the courtyard, two guards escorted an unusually clad man to the chopping block, the hooded executioner awaiting them.
From the balcony on his same floor and to the side, Merlin heard the king's voice, announcing the purpose for the execution.
"This man, Adaetin, is guilty of practicing magic and enchantments," Uther proclaimed for all to hear.
Merlin was shocked. He'd heard of Adaetin- the sorcerer's work was well known. He was a healer, and a good one.
…How could anyone, even Uther see such a person killed?
"In accordance to our laws, he is to be beheaded." Uther nodded to the guards, who pushed Adaetin to his knees before the chopping block.
Merlin forced himself to watch as the king's order was carried out. He'd no desire to see it, but felt a strange sense of duty to do so. The man had been a sorcerer, and therefore his kin.
Sickened by the sight, Merlin found himself wondering if Arthur could have stopped it- if he had tried. …Didn't he owe his servant that?
Merlin stood staring blankly out the darkened window beside Arthur's table when the door opened. He didn't turn; he knew who it was.
"Merlin," the prince acknowledged him, laying his sword belt on the table with a thud and approaching the wizard. "…Is there a reason you have it so dark in here?"
Merlin didn't reply. The only reason it was so dark was because he'd not yet given much thought to lighting the room's candles, or the fireplace.
Arthur came to stand beside him, turning toward the wizard. "What's the matter?" he asked, honest concern in his voice.
Merlin closed eyes that weren't entirely dry, taking a deep breath. "Where have you been, Arthur?" he whispered.
"Out hunting with the knights," the prince answered, "I thought I told you I'd be gone."
Merlin shook his head. "I don't remember."
Arthur put a hand on his shoulder. "Don't tell me you've been worried, Merlin," he said in a half-joking tone of voice.
"A sorcerer was killed today, Arthur," Merlin told him abruptly, and brought himself to glance at the prince.
Arthur appeared startled by this revelation, though understanding. "I'm sorry, Merlin," he said gently.
Merlin shook his head. "It could have been me," he replied helplessly, looking out the window once more. "Maybe next time… Maybe next time it will be."
"I won't let that happen," Arthur told him.
Merlin said nothing, and the prince was also quiet for a time.
"I'm tired." The servant's words were as soft as a mere breath, but interrupting the silence, they felt too loud; their meaning certainly so. Merlin felt tears work their way to the surface, trailing down his face. "I feel like it's… like this lie is a constant rain that will never stop, and I can't escape it; I can't get away from it." He looked at Arthur as best he could through blurry vision. "I can't do this," he said, his voice cracking. "I'm living a lie, and I hate it. …I just can't do this anymore."
Arthur had nothing to tell him, but he slid both arms around Merlin's back and pulled him close- a gesture the servant welcomed. Smothering a sob, he sank into Arthur's arms, trusting the prince to support him. Arthur swayed them slightly from side to side, somehow sympathetic and reassuring in his silence.
Then, finally, he whispered, "Yes, you can. I know that you can. You're stronger than you know, Merlin, and brave. You've worked so hard for the freedom of your kind. I know you'll see the day when they're once more living in peace."
Merlin knew it, of course, though at times like this, he did become discouraged.
It helped to be reminded by the one who would be largely responsible for bringing about this new age- the time which they now only dared speak of in whispers.
It's destiny, Merlin remembered, and it will happen.
Arthur walked into his room the next evening and found his servant staring out the window- just as before, except that this time a fire glowed in the hearth, offering the room some needed warmth.
Merlin turned his face to see the prince. "It's raining," he said quietly.
Arthur blinked, and also gazing out the window, he frowned. He'd not noticed until his servant had mentioned it.
He came across the room to where Merlin stood, turning to him though Merlin continued to stare out the window.
Arthur wrapped an arm around him, pleased that this time, he knew what was going on in the wizard's head, as well as how to fix it. "It won't last," he assured his servant, who at last looked at him, a hopeful smile dawning on his face.
Arthur felt that he could read Merlin's very thoughts in that expression- and what Merlin thought now was that he believed him.