In the Hand of Darkness

A/N I want to thank this Merlin community for the wonderful response to Hunting Secrets! Everlasting thanks are due to each and every one of you who commented, followed and favorited!

I wrote this reveal fic last summer, and it is set a few weeks after the end of Season 4. None of the events in Season 5 will be referenced. It is written in a double chapter format, with each chapter told from the point of view of Merlin and Arthur. I will publish one chapter on Friday and the second part of the chapter on Saturday. Updates will be weekly. This is a whump/reveal story. I hope all of you will enjoy it!

The Attack: Merlin

"Try not to move, Merlin," hissed Arthur fiercely.

The pain that shot through Merlin sucked the breath from his lungs and he knew something bad had happened, but he wasn't sure what. His body wasn't working, he thought blearily. That must be bad, Arthur sounded upset. Vaguely, he knew Arthur should have been angry with him, but all Merlin heard in his voice was concern.

"Listen to me, idiot!" Arthur's voice pierced through the blinding fog of pain that was forcing him inward. With all his strength, he tried to focus. He nodded and he heard Arthur talking but he could barely make sense of the words.

"Listen to me Merlin. Stay with me, ok? I'm right here with you, but you need to hang on. I have to move you, take you to Gaius. It's bad right now but it's going to get better. Keep listening to my voice, Merlin, I'm here with you." Odd how Arthur was babbling. He couldn't understand.

The fear reverberating in Merlin's confused mind kept trying to surface, but Arthur's voice was like a lifeline in a quagmire. He hung on with all his might. It was all that mattered. He opened his eyes, slowly focusing on his prince. No. Arthur was king now. Arthur's familiar face was limned in the harsh dark shadows of the late afternoon.

"Merlin, can you hear me?" Arthur sounded almost angry, but Merlin knew that Arthur was afraid. That struck him to the core. Was Arthur hurt?

"Are you all right", he croaked. Arthur's eyes glittered suddenly.

"No, Merlin. I'm not. That's why you have to stay with me." That made sense thought Merlin dizzily. He tried to nod again, but for some reason, he couldn't.

"I'm going to pick you up, Merlin. Don't try to move, ok, Let me do it. It works better this way. Trust me, I've been on your end. Right? Just keep listening and for once in your life, just do as you're told. Stay with me. Ready."

His body exploded in agony as he felt Arthur reach under to lift him. But he couldn't hang on. The pain merged into burning. The pain burst from him like a spear lodged in his chest. He was choking from the heat, desperate for air. He was slipping into the fire, and a ferocious dark that trapped him tighter than an iron fist. Something terrible had happened, he knew it deep down. But Arthur was right. All he had to do was listen and maybe even do as he was told. The burning hand of darkness claimed him.