Title: A candle in the wind
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur,
Summary: When Merlin is blinded by sorcery, Arthur isn’t going to just sit by and let it go.
Word Count: 1110
Camelot_drabble Prompt: pt 456: tiny
Author's Notes: Unbetaed.
Disclaimer: Merlin characters are the property of Shine and BBC. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
He’d been going for weeks in the darkness, blinded by sorcery. Nothing worked to heal him, nothing in Gauis’s books, and Merlin’s magic had been less that helpful.
Since that awful night, Merlin tried to move on, helping Gaius as best he could.
He was useless as Arthur’s servant and George had already replaced him anyway. He mourned the loss of Arthur’s companionship but really what was Arthur going to do with a blind servant? It was impossible, the whole thing was impossible, and sometimes Merlin just wanted to give up. What good was destiny anyway when he couldn’t protect Arthur? When he couldn’t see enough to… well, he’d crossed that bridge and there was nothing more to be done.
Merlin still tried to help Arthur, cracking jokes and bantering, polishing things, doing chores that didn’t need eyesight, but Arthur would grow silent and clap Merlin on the shoulder and then walk away. Guilt would do that to most men and Arthur was no different.
The sorcerer meant the spell for Arthur and they both knew it. Merlin didn’t complain—well, not too much, but Arthur, arse that he was, grew distant and taciturn, guilt gnawing at the prince.
So Merlin learned to slide across Gaius’s chambers, feeling his way past potions and herbs, never raising his foot off the ground or running as he once had. Warming himself by the fire or grinding herbs that Gaius had already placed in the mortar, and trying not to think about destiny and magic and Arthur.
The tiny sliver of light caught him by surprise.
Arthur had gone who knows where and Merlin’s heart had gone with him. He was feeling a burden to everyone. He wondered if he should just go back to Ealdor, but that would put the millstone of his affliction around his mum’s neck and Merlin refused to do that.
So he sat there, listening to the clatter of horses outside, the crackle of the evening fire, feeling the sharpness of the sword in his hand and wondering if anyone would care if Merlin just disappeared. Or died.
There were spots at first in the darkness, pinpricks of colour and texture, but Merlin dismissed them as tricks of his mind. But the spots sharpened, then turned into light and shapes and real things as Merlin blinked.
He didn’t want to hope, but as he lifted his hand, he could see his fingers, rough and bloodied a bit from the sword. And beyond was the fire and the evening sky in the window. The cluster of herbs and lines of pots. That weird bunny mask and the haphazard tumble of books.
Jumping up, he started toward the door, wanting to tell Gaius and Arthur and all his friends that he was better when Arthur hurried into the room, glancing behind him, then closing the door with deliberation.
“Did it work?” Arthur said, and for a moment, Merlin didn’t know what he was talking about. “Did it work? Can you see?”
Merlin couldn’t breathe. Arthur had done something, probably something incredibly foolish. But gawping at him wasn’t helping. Merlin said, “What have you done?”
“Can you see?” Arthur repeated, grabbing onto Merlin and staring into his eyes. “Tell me.”
Merlin nodded. “Yeah, it just cleared up. On its own. I… Arthur?”
Managing to look guilty and proud at the same time, Arthur shrugged. “The least I could do. Is it back to normal? Can you see everything? How many fingers am I hold up?” He wiggled two right under Merlin’s nose.
“Two and what did you do? Magic?” Merlin glared at him in horror. “There’s always a price, Arthur. Tell me you didn’t.”
“I don’t have to tell you anything. I am the prince, after all, and you are my lazy, incompetent shabbily-dressed servant who had been too long lounging around instead of doing his job.” But as he said it, he pulled Merlin in for a hug, then shoved him back, and scowling. “I expect you bright and early tomorrow. I’ve laundry and my dogs need walking and there is rust on my shield. Rust!”
Merlin wasn’t having any of it. He knew a diversion when he heard it. He’d done it often enough himself. “What price did you pay?”
“I don’t consort with magic-users so I have no idea what you are talking about,” Arthur sniffed, then guilt flashed in his eyes.
“Price, Arthur, price,” Merlin snapped, growing more and more worried.
“Fine. She wanted clothes and I promised her a bolt of silk,” Arthur said, passing it off as nothing. “Remarkable cheap although considering I’m getting back a poor excuse for a servant, maybe not.”
That was a lie. Merlin could see it was and Arthur couldn’t really tell untruths to save his own life, never mind Merlin’s. “What else?”
At that, Arthur gave up pretending. “Fine. I promised to look into repealing the ban of magic, alright? I’m not proud of it, but you were… well, that sour face of yours was getting on my last nerve. I had to do something.”
Merlin stared at Arthur a moment. “You… magic… repealing it?” He wanted to hug the man, he wanted fireworks and dancing and incandescent joy, but Arthur just scowled at him.
“I promised to look into it. I didn’t promise I would. I can’t anyway, not until I’m king and that could be decades away,” Arthur pointed out.
Merlin stopped, frowning a little. “But that… that’s not enough. It’s got to balance the scales. So what else?”
Sighing, Arthur said, “If I didn’t change the law, your blindness would become mine.”
“No,” Merlin said, horror in his voice.
“The spell was meant for me anyway.” Arthur shrugged. “It’s not right that you should be punished for my actions.”
“I’m just a servant, Arthur, and you’ll be king. You can’t…,” Merlin said. “I won’t allow it.”
“It’s done, Merlin, it’s done. It can’t be undone.” With that, Arthur reached out, ruffling Merlin’s hair. “However, since you’ve been lollygagging around for months now, there’ll be no days off until next year.”
“I have not been lollygagging, you arse. And you never gave me a day off before so don’t go pretending like you are doing me a favour.” Merlin gave him the side-eye, but smiled, too. “I’ll be back first thing tomorrow. And thank you, Arthur.”
Arthur nudged him with one shoulder as he turned toward the door. “Any time, Merlin, any time.”
As if Merlin was going to let any sorcerer get away with messing with Arthur. Now that he could see again, it was time to find out who and what and why.