Title: Sleep gently, my friend
Character/s: Merlin, Gwaine, and Arthur (though other characters are in here)
Summary: "Sleep gently, my friend, for I am here." Merlin knew at once that something tragic had happened, and it was through his pain that he got to see his friend one last time.
Warnings: character death
Word Count: 716
Author's Notes: I struggled with this story because it threatened to explode into a huge fic, but I managed to tame the plot rabbit long enough to focus on what I wanted.
“You will never get me to speak. I will not betray my friends like you did.”
“You will have no choice, Sir Knight.”
Merlin woke with an anguished scream that pierced the quiet of the night like a sword. His heart was racing as though he had run a long distance, and in his mind, the images of Gwaine’s torture and the sounds of his pained screaming were as if he were there witnessing the events that took place. His magic exploded out from deep within him, causing the two enormous oak trees in front of him to splinter as though they were made of delicate glass.
“What’s going on?” He heard a panicked Leon yell out as he threw himself out of the way of the nearest oak tree that had just exploded into millions of pieces. The young knight covered his head as the pieces rained down upon him, and though Merlin realised the damage he had caused, he found himself still trapped in his vision of his dearest friend getting hurt.
“It’s Merlin!” Percival shouted, his voice rising above the alarmed yells of the other knights. “There’s something wrong.”
“Of course, there is something wrong,” Arthur said, getting to his feet when he found it was safe to do so. He looked around cautiously and then looked over to where Merlin sat with his hands clamped tightly over his ears. “Trees don’t explode for no reason at all!”
Merlin shut his eyes as Gwaine’s scream once again echoed through his mind. He did not hear Arthur’s approach until the young king had dropped to his knees before him.
“Merlin?” Arthur asked gently, taking one of Merlin’s hands and trying to pry them away from his ears. “What’s wrong, Merlin? Come on, you can tell me…”
Merlin stopped shaking and rocking back and forth, his eyes opened and Arthur was stunned to see tears streaming down his cheeks. For a moment, the young warlock looked into the distance as though seeing something awful before coming to himself and grabbing Arthur’s wrist with a strength that both shocked and alarmed the young king.
“It’s Gwaine,” Merlin choked out. “Morgana has him and is torturing him for information.”
“It’s terrible, Arthur. He’s in a lot of pain and I can’t help him because I am here…” Merlin stopped in midsentence, looking at something over Arthur’s shoulder. “No! Gwaine, continue fighting her! No…”
Arthur took Merlin in his arms, a feat that was made nearly impossible because the manservant was fighting him. He looked over his shoulder at the group of knights that were staring down at Merlin in shocked silence.
Percival stepped forward, his face ashen in the dying embers of the fire that had been lit hours earlier. “Sire... Should we go find Gwaine? We know where you sent him with the others…”
“It’s too late… It’s too late…” Merlin murmured into Arthur’s shoulder. “Too late to do anything…”
“It’s not too late,” Arthur said, wincing at how harsh his voice sounded. “Look, see the sky is beginning to lighten up. We’ll get our horses and we’ll find Gwaine. We’ll find him, Merlin. You’ll see.”
However, Merlin was not listening. His eyes were upon Gwaine who smiled down at him sadly, and though the warlock knew it was just a ghost of his friend, he felt himself relaxing though the grief of his loss was threatening to overwhelm him.
He watched as the ghost of Gwaine came nearer to him, kneeling close behind Arthur and bowed his head for a moment. Merlin closed his eyes tightly as tears threatened to pour from his eyes, and he found that he could not breathe as his throat had constricted suddenly, and he hid his face in the strong shoulders of his king who still held him. He felt Gwaine move to his side, felt his cold fingers brush his exposed cheek gently, and could feel a cool wind gently tousle his hair.
“Sleep gently, my friend, for I am here.”
He looked up in time to see the sun begin to rise and his best friend disappear in the early morning light, and though he knew that he had to rise to go with Arthur and his search party, he felt himself slip gently into sleep.