Summary: Set after the S4 finale. Merlin is haunted by the actions he took in defense of his king.
Word Count: 429
Prompt: #30 - Ghosts
Author's Notes: Bit of a rush job. Probably should have left it at 210, but I didn't quite get the angle I was going for.
The wind is a constant song in his ear, reminding him that he is alone.
As he should be.
He has tumbled through the last two days on a raft of hope and destiny. He should be content with his accomplishments, but peace is a greater agony than war. Leashing Morgana's magic took all of his ingenuity and a large share of his power, but at least he couldn't dwell on the past while all his thoughts were bent to that single end.
Now the chaos of rebuilding shatters his days into a thousand tiny tasks, and the memories slip into the cracks. He is afraid that he will say something to Arthur, or Gwen, or a servant passing in the hall, anyone. He wants to scream his crime to the world, whether for absolution or condemnation, he does not know. Yet now, when the gusts of the first winter storm will carry the words safely away, he cannot find his voice.
That day in the forest, his bones sang the song of the dragon, but the notes were twisted by his cowardice. He didn't want to get his hands dirty, didn't want to do the killing himself. He thought if he didn't see it, somehow it wouldn't matter.
He has thought often on the nature of magic, its sources and effects. He sometimes discusses his thoughts with Gaius, but they always end up talking past each other. The old man still thinks in terms of the ancient rituals and forgotten gods. He is a man of learning, but he doesn't feel as Merlin does. The world has a pulse, and magic beats in time with it, inextricably bound to the elements and forces that turn the seasons and breathe vitality into the earth. To Gaius, magic is a tool that can be used to preserve life or destroy it. To Merlin, it is life.
When he closes his eyes, he sees Agravaine leaning forward, deadly intent written across his features. He feels his magic, his life, rising like a tide and even though he knows he must use it, it is an awful, self-defeating thing. He can hardly bear it. In mere heartbeats, corpses litter the ground like discarded leaves, destroyed by the very power that created them.
He sees them in his dreams, and their ghosts cling to his mind like smoke. He smells flesh seared by dragon fire, and watches blood pooling beneath still, faceless forms. He repeats his justifications like prayers, but there is no one to hear them. Only the unforgiving dead.