AN: So my plan was to lay of the whump for a little bit but there are SO many good whumpy ideas :) Also I found this on my computer already over three quarters of the way written. I know this idea has been done before but never to my satisfaction so I wrote it my way. I'll write more about it at the end of the fic. Enjoy!
Merlin saw Mordred approach Arthur from across the battlefield. His heart stopped, it was just like the vision the seer gave him. He couldn't breathe, he couldn't think, all he knew was the one simple and strong desire to get between Arthur and Mordred. There was no way he would get there in time, even if he was his young, agile self. He felt his magic roil within him like a raging storm and then it exploded as he blinked and he suddenly was not standing in the same place.
He could not see Arthur, but he could see Mordred.
The young man was standing right in front of him. Before either of them could react the sword that he had leveled towards Arthur plunged through Merlin's stomach. He gasped as the sword was yanked out again, Mordred staring at him in surprise. Merlin fell backwards, wondering if he had succeeded. Had he saved Arthur? Strong arms caught him and lowered him quickly to the ground and he breathed out in relief as Arthur stepped over him and buried his own sword into Mordred's stomach as the young man stood there still in shock.
Mordred fell beside Merlin his eyes wide as he sought out answers in Merlin's eyes before his final breath left him and he slipped into the darkness.
Arthur had been surprised to see Mordred standing in front of him, though not as surprised as seeing the sorcerer that suddenly appeared between the two of them. He took a few steps back, startled, and was horrified to realize he just barely missed being nicked by the sword that came out of the old man's back.
Mordred yanked the sword out his face a look of shock and fury, Arthur felt similarly but the sorcerer's sacrifice had not been in vain. Those few extra moments brought clarity back to his mind, as the old man fell Arthur caught him and lay him not too gently on the ground before stepping over him and thrusting his sword into Mordred.
Mordred looked at him with eyes full of betrayal, as though he had not just tried to kill Arthur himself and then fell to the ground besides the old man, Arthur standing between them. He watched as the life left the young boy, feeling it tear at his heart.
He stared at him a moment longer before remembering the old man and turning quickly to kneel beside him. "Arthur…" the man's voice croaked, reaching a hand out.
Arthur grasped it strongly. "What you do that for you old loon?" Arthur joked with him, surprising himself. This was the man that had killed his father, the man that he had tried to arrest and kill, but he joked with him as though he were… Merlin.
The man gasped, jerking Arthur from his musings. "I'm sorry." he panted and his voice didn't sound so old now. "I can't hold onto it." Tears leaked from his eyes. "I didn't want you to find out like this, please… forgive me."
There was so much sorrow in his voice that Arthur felt his heart break all over again. "What are you talking about, old man?" The man didn't say anything, just continued to stare. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes and, right before Arthur's eyes, he began to change.
His beard disappeared, the wrinkles in his skin evened out, his hair shortened and slowly changed to gray and then black. When finally the changes stopped he opened his eyes and those clear blue pools met Arthur's with such agony that it nearly killed him.
"Merlin…" Arthur breathed. He jerked his hand from Merlin's grip, whether from anger or surprise he had not worked that out yet but he saw the pain it caused Merlin.
"Arthu—" Merlin's voice was cut off by a choking cough which brought up blood.
"You're a sorcerer." Arthur whispered.
Merlin stared at him with tear filled eyes. "I only ever used it for you, Arthur, only for you." He coughed and blood stained the ground, Arthur still sat there in shock. "It's over now. He's dead. You killed him." Merlin whispered. Arthur looked over towards Mordred and back towards Merlin.
Merlin's eyes widened. "Arthur…" he begged, pleaded for comfort. He was dying, it suddenly occurred to Arthur, Merlin was dying, bleeding out right in front of him. This was the man that had been by his side for years. The only one who had never changed until now… Arthur realized that tomorrow there would be no annoyingly cheerful voice to pull back his blinds and shout 'Rise and shine!'
Arthur's hand moved of its own accord as he grasped Merlin's and relief glided across the revealed sorcerer's face. "I'm…s'rry." Merlin muttered.
"Hold on, dollophead, just hold on." Arthur murmured. "We'll get you to Gaius."
Merlin's breath hitched in his chest. "That's my word… prat." He accused.
"Well it fits." Arthur replied easily though his voice was serious.
Arthur stared into Merlin's eyes, betrayal still swimming through his own. "You've been lying to me all this time." He stated. Merlin didn't respond but averted his eyes. "Why did you never tell me?"
"You'd have chopped my head off." Merlin whispered.
Arthur stared at him seriously. "I'm not sure what I'd have done." He admitted.
"And I… didn't want to put you in that position." Merlin whispered, choking slightly on his words.
"That's what worried you?" Arthur asked incredulously.
Merlin coughed once more and lay his head down. He looked up at the sky above him and when he spoke his words were clear. "Some men are born to plow field, some live to be great physicians, others…" Merlin's eyes met Arthur's, "to be great kings." He paused for a moment as they stared at each other. "Me? I was born to serve you, Arthur." Arthur's eyes flashed away guiltily, but were drawn back when Merlin pulled himself up closer to his king, using Arthur's grip. "And I'm proud of that." he said. Arthur searched for the sincerity of Merlin's words in his eyes. "And I wouldn't change a thing." he said resolutely.
Arthur's eyes swam with tears which he refused to let fall. "I don't want you to change." he said, his voice quiet, private, so even if there was anyone else around no one would hear. "I want you to always be you."
He could see how his words effected Merlin. The joy that lit through them at Arthur's acceptance of who he was. Something he had been wanting for a long time. "I'm sorry for the way I've treated you." Arthur said sadly.
Merlin smiled. "Does that mean you're going to give me a day off?" Merlin asked.
Arthur couldn't help but smile in return. "Two." He joked back.
"That's generous." Merlin said closing his eyes with a slight smile on his face, he looked so peaceful as his breathing became more and more shallow, Arthur felt panic fill his chest, afraid every breath would be his last.
"There's…" Arthur started to say and Merlin's eyes opened to look at him as he spoke. "There's something I want to say." he finished hesitantly.
Merlin looked at him incredulously. "You're not going to say goodbye." Merlin said knowingly.
"No… Merlin." Arthur shook his head and Merlin watched him intently, his eyelids beginning to droop closed, but he fought to keep them open. "Everything you've done… I know now… for me, for Camelot, for the kingdom you've helped me build—"
"You'd have done it without me." Merlin said encouragingly.
Arthur laughed, even when dying Merlin could not help but interrupt him. "Maybe…" He said before turning somber again as Merlin's eyes turned to stare at the sky and became more unfocused. "I want to say something I've never said to you before." Arthur waited until Merlin's eyes focused on him again, eagerly awaiting these two words, "Thank you."
Arthur smiled weakly down at Merlin, Merlin's much stronger smile beamed back. Then it slipped away and his eyes closed drearily, his body going limp.
"Merlin… hey…" Arthur's panic leaked into his voice now, he had been expecting this, but suddenly couldn't accept that this would be the last time he saw those blue orbs. He pulled Merlin's limp body into his arms and shook him slightly. "Merlin!"
For a brief moment Merlin's eyes flew open and met his, but then they closed again, and this time they did not open.
Arthur bent his head over Merlin's, their foreheads touching, and felt one tear slip down his cheek and splash on the warlock's face, followed by another and another.
Merlin was gone, he had sacrificed his life for Arthur. What was the life of a servant? Compared to that of a king?
To Arthur… it was everything.
AN: I am a big fan of using the same lines from the TV show. Especially the last episode. If you read through my stories you'll probably find TONS of quotes from the last episode, though written in different ways like this one.
As you can see I used pretty much all the same lines, just twisted them around to fit my alternate ending. I felt pretty emotional writing this which is hopefully good because hopefully it had the same effect on you.
If you liked it please review! Thanks.