Title: "I Know Now"
Summary:Arthur wakes up by the lake of Avalon...
Arthur stretched and sat up. He stared out at the lake for a few moments, rubbed his eyes, and then shook his head—as if that would help clear his confusion. The lake shone in the sun, and everything seemed dazzlingly bright and fresh. The world looked new. He pulled on his cloak to wrap it more tightly around himself in the early morning chill, but the cloak seemed to have caught on something. Looking down to free the cloak, he gasped, assaulted by a flood of images, memories and feelings.
“Merlin, Merlin, wake up!” he cried—but Merlin showed no sign of awakening. Beginning to panic Arthur put his ear to Merlin’s chest, heaving a sigh of relief as he heard the strong thump. Calming, he checked Merlin for injuries, then took him into his arms and wrapped his cloak around them both.
As the sun continued to rise, the images and memories began to sort themselves out. He recalled bits and pieces of a torturous journey. His brow furrowed and he felt his side, lifted his chain mail and tunic to find only a bruise and a wound that was well on its way to healing cleanly. And he remembered resting in Merlin’s arms, looking into his eyes, taking his last breath and letting go, sinking into darkness, quiet and peace. The pain was gone, and there was nothing left to do but rest.
Arthur closed his eyes against the sun’s rays, and watched the colors behind his eyelids—moving, glowing, bright, but soft—and he recalled the light that had seeped in to surround him in the darkness. Warm, glowing, growing brighter and brighter. The light was touching him, caressing him, holding him afloat, perfumed by the most gorgeous scent…life, maybe? It would have been horrible to leave the peaceful, dark stillness, but everything was so beautiful. Sounds, a voice, a name, his own---“Arthur. Don’t leave me, Arthur. I need you. Please. Please come back. Please.” He remembered opening his eyes to Merlin, shining like an angel, surrounded by light.
Merlin! Merlin had magic! His clumsy man-servant, his friend and closest confidant, was an incredibly powerful sorcerer—not just any sorcerer, but one powerful enough to end a war with a wave of his arms. Nudged by memory, Arthur turned his head and saw, on a nearby rock, the fragment of the dragon-forged blade that had nearly been his demise. He remembered Merlin’s shout of triumph as he lifted the shard into the air after drawing it from Arthur’s body. Merlin had placed the shard on the rock, and sunk to his knees, grinning at Arthur like a loon. “I’m so tired.. just need to lie down a bit,” muttered Merlin as he sank to the ground, fast asleep. Arthur had fallen asleep soon after.
Arthur mindlessly pet Merlin’s hair and watched as the sun continued its ascent. “Please come back to me. I know now what you have done for me.” Merlin stirred slightly, and nestled more closely against Arthur’s chest with a small sigh.
“You absurd, ridiculous fool. The most powerful sorcerer in the land, and you can’t even heal one little knife wound without knocking yourself out. You’ve taken such good care of me for so long. It’s my turn to take care of you now,” Arthur tightened his arms around Merlin. “No longer will you save me, save my kingdom, save all that is near and dear to me, putting your own life on the line again and again, without credit or recognition. Rest now, but when you wake up, I have so much to say to you.”