Title: Audentes Fortuna Iuvat
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Arthur asks just one favor of Merlin.
Word Count: 374
Author's Notes: It's a magic reveal! Cuz that all I write!
They faced each other across iron bars and silence. Any words Arthur had thought would bridge the chasm between them were stillborn. Though his chin was lifted defiantly, Merlin’s jaw trembled with the same emotion that had frozen Arthur’s own tongue.
It would have been easier if Merlin were unrepentant. Arthur would have mourned the betrayal as a death, but he wouldn’t have felt as though he were facing a friend. He’d seen how magic could drag a person’s honor over the jagged shards of its power, twisting him into something unrecognizable. It was almost like a sickness, leaving behind nothing but pale, withered bones.
Somehow, Merlin was still...Merlin. Incorrigible, compassionate, recklessly brave. He’d placed himself squarely between his king and the shadowbeast, armed with nothing more than an upraised hand. It was a swift, imperious gesture, obviously born of long practice and a fathomless power. Arthur hadn’t even had time to feel relief when the monster fetched up against Merlin’s spell and dissolved in a cacophonous flash of azure flames. The old terror had risen immediately, transforming his servant into an enemy.
But when Merlin had turned to face him, he did so without hate or even fear - just a terrible sadness that was mirrored in Arthur’s own heart. It was the same sorrow he saw reflected now. If he harbored any regret for the price he’d paid for Arthur’s life, it didn’t show. He simply stood there, awaiting the king’s judgment with as much courage as any knight.
No sane person could look at this man and see a criminal, he thought.
Arthur turned toward the stairs, the rattle of his chainmail deafening in the silence. He paused at the door, placing one hand on its frame. He meant to look back. He intended to. But something stopped him, and he addressed the empty corridor in front of him.
“When they come for you at dawn...don’t be here.” His voice nearly failed him, and he felt less a king than ever in his life. “Please, Merlin.”
If Merlin gave any response, he didn’t hear it. All he heard was the sound of his own footsteps echoing through the dungeon, like the tolling of the citadel’s bells, the knell of Albion.