A/N: So this is my first Merlin story! Woo! I wrote this in a feels rush with emotional music playing on repeat in the background, so I apologize for any OOCness that may have caused… We all love some emotional, caring Arthur and sad Merlin though, right? Right! Oh and side note: I have yet to see the finale (I live in the U.S., darn it!) so please no spoilers in reviews! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I sadly do not own Merlin. Darn.
"This woman," Uther pointed to the weeping woman tied to the pyre. "has been found guilty of sorcery and condemned to death."
"Arthur, you must stop this!" Merlin cried as he tore his gaze away from where they were watching the scene in the courtyard from the prince's bedroom window to look desperately up at Arthur.
"Merlin, I," Although this method of killing was cruel and hardly used anymore, his father did still use it when a sorcerer was caught while he was in a particularly bad mood. Arthur knew he couldn't intervene. Uther wouldn't allow it. When it came to sorcery, his father's mind was as unchangeable as the stars. "I can't, Merlin. I'm sorry." Arthur had to look away from Merlin's broken expression. "Truly I am."
Outside, the woman continued to cry brokenly as the torch bearer strode closer and closer to the pyre.
As Arthur chanced a glance sideways at Merlin's face, he suddenly felt a strong wave of protectiveness pass through him. He couldn't let Merlin see this. Arthur had witnessed this kind of death before, having grown up in Camelot, but Merlin had yet to see one. Merlin was good, kind, pure, and Arthur couldn't stand the thought of that changing.
"Merlin, don't watch this." he said in a low, steady voice. He had to save Merlin from the sight of such pain and suffering, but the young warlock couldn't seem to look away.
"Merlin," this time, Arthur placed a firm hand on his servant's shoulder, but still Merlin didn't look away as the torch was thrown onto the pyre and the flames began their steady accent towards the hysterical woman. She looked wildly around with frantic eyes for some sort of salvation, but none came. Merlin felt as if he physically couldn't avert his gaze.
Tears filled Merlin's eyes as the woman finally threw her head back towards the heavens and screamed out against the flames licking at her legs.
Seeing the younger man's tears, Arthur used the hand on Merlin's shoulder to gently turn him around, away from the horrific image below them.
"Come here, Merlin. Don't watch." Arthur moved his hand up the warlock's back and rested it on his head to softly press Merlin's face into his shoulder.
As Arthur continued to watch the flames, to witness the consequences of the laws of his future land, he felt Merlin's shoulders shake and hot tears soak into the fabric of his shirt.
"No one deserves this, Arthur." came the servant's muffled voice and Arthur brought his other hand up to rub reassuring circles on the younger man's back.
"I know, Merlin." the woman's screams intensified and Arthur hugged Merlin a bit closer, as if his embrace alone could keep his friend from hearing the poor woman's tormented cries. "I know."
In that moment, with the woman's screams echoing around them and Merlin pressed, crying, against his shoulder, Arthur knew that when he was king, things wouldn't be like this.
Arthur never wanted his laws to be the cause of such grief in his kingdom.
More than anything though, Arthur didn't want Merlin, his faithful, innocent Merlin, to witness something like this ever again.
Arthur continued to rub Merlin's back comfortingly. Yes, when he was king, things would be very different.
A/N: I hope you liked it! I would really appreciate any reviews you could give me, this being my first Merlin story and all. Thanks for reading!