Title: Letting Go
Characters/pairings: Merlin/Arthur, Freya
Summary: Missing Scene from 5X13: Merlin prepares Arthur for his final trip in this life.
Warnings: MCD, extreme angst, 5X13 missing scene
Prompt 285: Sorrow
A/N: This was the perfect prompt to get me back into writing for camelot_drabble.
Merlin roughly wiped away tears as he continued to stare unblinkingly at what looked like a sleeping Arthur. It would be easy to imagine that at any moment the king would wake, those long, beautiful eyelashes of his fluttering open to reveal familiar blue eyes that would dazedly dart around, wondering where Merlin and he were.
“Oh, Arthur,” Merlin said through another sob. Slowly, he stood and stared down at the body he knew so very well. How was it that this could be real? He wanted so very badly to think that all of this was a horrible dream, but he had already pinched himself numerous times, banged his fists on the ground so much that bruises covered his wrists, and cried out until his voice was raw. If it were a dream, Arthur would have long ago woken Merlin and told him to keep it down.
Oh how very much Merlin wanted to hear Arthur tell him that once again.
But he never would, would he?
Looking around, Merlin tried to gather his thoughts. Now that he had taken care of the sword, returning it to its rightful home, he knew that he needed to make another move soon, but he didn’t know where to begin. What was he to do? Should he take Arthur’s body back to Camelot? That seemed the right thing to do, but logistically, that just wasn’t plausible. Well, with magic, anything was possible, but Merlin didn’t think anyone would thank him for using magic to bring the king back to them—they’d probably accuse him of being the one who killed their leader.
Merlin looked out across the lake of Avalon, lamenting the fact that he and Arthur had been so very close to the Sidhe, who could have possibly healed Arthur. If only he had insisted that they continue on. He slumped to the ground, crawled over to the now cool body of Arthur, settled himself beside him, and entwined their hands together.
Merlin wasn’t ready to let go.
He closed his eyes and let the torrent of tears fall again.
The sound of foliage crunching nearby brought Merlin out of his stupor and forced him to sit up and glance around frantically. He didn’t see anything but guessed there were unknown creatures nearby, waiting to pounce upon a lifeless body for their own needs, Merlin’s needs be damned.
He scrubbed his face and looked down at Arthur. This was wrong, So very wrong.
“Okay, Arthur, let’s get you somewhere safe.” Merlin slowly stood and looked around, searching for anything. He needed a sign.
When a small boat seemingly appeared out of thin air, Merlin wasn’t surprised. He was a sorcerer, after all. When he needed something, it seemed to always appear. Only, it didn’t work when he wanted those he loved to live, did it? His father had died despite his best efforts, and now Arthur…
Merlin wished with his whole heart that he could trade his life for Arthur’s, but he knew it was too late for that. And, he had tried that before, hadn’t he, and it hadn’t worked. That time, Lancelot had been the one to give his life for Arthur’s. Now, there was no one else to do that. Only Arthur.
After directing the boat to stop at the shore, Merlin thought about adorning it with greenery, but instead made a simple bed of reeds, deciding it more befitting the King of Camelot.
Settling Arthur into his arms, Merlin began sobbing again. How could he do this? How could he leave Arthur?
Merlin stood and stared down at the regal face, wondering how he had been the one fortunate enough to be given the responsibility of seeing to this wondrous man’s needs for the past ten years.
“How am I to live without you, dollophead?” he asked, angry at the world for being so vastly unfair. Yes, he and Arthur had brought peace to the five kingdoms known as Albion, but magic had never had a chance to reign freely, and Merlin felt robbed. The world had taken away Arthur’s right to accept Merlin and his birthright. It was a cruel fate.
Tears fell upon Arthur’s face, one after another. At first, Merlin wiped them away, but more soon replaced them and it wasn’t long before Merlin gave up and found himself hugging Arthur to him, vowing that he would love him forever.
He wasn’t ready to let go.
“Merlin, let him go, sweetheart,” a familiar voice whispered in his ear.
“Freya?” Merlin asked through his tears. No one answered, but he knew that it had been her, just as he had known that it had been Freya who received the sword. It was this realisation that made him understand that it was time. He nodded.
Slowly, almost painstakingly so, he walked to the boat and carefully laid Arthur inside, making sure his cape cushioned his body as much as it could. When he was satisfied, he took his time placing Arthur’s hands just so.
Once that was done, Merlin redirected his attention to Arthur’s hair, grinning ever so slightly. Arthur never had liked it when Merlin tried styling his hair. But this time he didn’t have a choice, did he?
“Okay, Clotpole, here I am, about to run my fingers through your hair. You must be screaming on the inside, yeah?” Merlin reveled in the feel of that familiar hair running through his fingers, more tears falling when he had it looking perfect. “I think even you would approve. Please tell me you approve,” he added pleadingly, his tear-stained grin faltering.
Merlin felt himself beginning to shake as he prepared to let Arthur go. He thought briefly about climbing into the boat with him, but that wasn’t his right, was it? Instead, he placed his hand on Arthur’s forehead and soaked up the last few moments of touching the man he loved. How could he let him go?
He slowly stood and let Arthur go.