Title: Dreams Come True
Character/s: Merlin, Mordred, Leon, Gwen
Summary: What happens after Mordred kills Arthur.
Warnings: Death of Arthur referred to.
Word Count: ~975
Prompt: 22: All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
Author's Notes: This takes place immediately after Your Secret is Safe. Thanks to cecilegrey, fleete, and tossuka for chatting with me about various plot points. I’d love to talk Mordred with you all. Please, discuss.:)
Merlin looked at the man crumpled on the ground at his feet. He was filled with disgust and loathing and anger. He didn’t know how he was supposed to contain all those feelings. He wanted to channel all those feelings into magic -- to turn this man into a worm and crush him beneath his boot.
But for what? Arthur was dead. There was no point in that line of thought. Arthur was dead. A keening noise filled Merlin’s ears until it filled his ears; he thought it was bouncing off the hills until he realized it was coming from him.
He thought his heart had shattered. He didn’t know how he’d stand, or live for that matter.
“Ashes. It’s all ashes now,” he whispered, right before he collapsed.
When Merlin came to, his head was cradled in Mordred’s lap. The howling in his ears had subsided to a dull whooshing sound. The air was cool and damp, sunshine blissfully absent. Merlin pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes, trying to remember why he felt empty.
The memory rushed back. The surprise, the pleading look in his eyes, as Mordred thrust his sword into the king’s gut and Merlin was unable to stop it -- or reverse it.
Mordred. Mordred was cradling his head. He looked up a Mordred, seeing only a shape, really, dimly light by the fire. Light reflected off two wet trails down Mordred’s cheeks.
Merlin no longer felt like a man. Was he a ghost? Or a golem? Surely his heart could no longer be beating if Arthur were dead. He started. Maybe Arthur was alive? He sat up and twisted to look at Mordred, who continued crying. No. Arthur was well and truly dead.
“Why?” Ghostly, the word floated out of Merlin’s mouth, but Mordred caught it as though it had been trumpeted throughout the land. Had Merlin communicated his thought directly to Mordred’s mind? He wasn’t sure. He didn’t have the energy to care any more.
Mordred shook his head, slowly.
“I want to hear you speak the words, you bastard,” Merlin spat out.
Mordred pulled his knees up to his chin, wrapping his arms around himself, and rocking. He looked so vulnerable, so innocent, but Merlin knew what he’d done.
“Why?” he hissed, reaching out as though to shake him to get the answer loose.
Mordred flinched. He opened his mouth.
“I,” he started, hesitantly, “I had a dream.”
Merlin narrowed his eyes. “You had a dream? That was no dream, it was a nightmare.”
“No, you misunderstand me, Merlin,” Mordred said, voice hoarse from crying.
Merlin looked into Mordred’s big blue eyes and felt himself start to thaw, just a crumb. He remembered his words, right before he’d fainted, “ freedom for our kind”. He stiffened himself. The cost had been too high.
Merlin had ended countless lives to keep Arthur alive for the sake of a prophecy from a dragon’s lips. A dream he’d foolishly believed. A fantasy that he would help Arthur build a golden realm. It all came down to ashes now.
Merlin laughed bitterly. “A dream, Mordred? We are free now, but Arthur is gone.” Merlin trailed fingertips in the wet dirt, cracking a fingernail. “I do not think I want to live in this world any more. It has all been for naught.” He took in a deep, shuddering breath. “We are free, but the light is gone. I failed.”
Mordred reached out to cup Merlin’s face, but Merlin felt nothing. He was numb. Mordred leaned in, breath warm on Merlin’s skin.
“Merlin, I didn’t know and I’m so so sorry.”
“That doesn’t change the fact that you killed him and there’s nothing to be done.”
“No, it doesn’t. You are right. But, you are still alive. You can choose to live, Merlin. Use your power, the way you were destined to. Don’t let Arthur’s death be for nothing.”
Fresh tears welled in Merlin’s eyes. The loss of Arthur was threatening to swallow him whole, as if he were a minnow before a shark. He felt the pressure of Mordred’s hands increase, bringing him back to the present.
“Merlin, you do not have time to wallow in your loss. Yes, it is immense, but if you do not act soon, someone else will come and rule in Arthur’s stead. Who better to take his place than you?”
The weight of Mordred’s words penetrated his consciousness, sinking down into his soul. He didn’t know if he was grasping at straws to distract him from his pain, but he felt the truth of those words. He nodded, but he didn’t know how that would be achieved.
“But surely I could not actually rule in his place.”
“Mmmm, no. You could not.”
Merlin had an inkling of a feeling.
“Mordred, what are you not telling me?”
Mordred pursed his lips. He licked his lips and turned his face away. Merlin’s heart twisted anew, sure that Mordred was hiding something else. He was about to reach for his magic when Leon came crashing into the clearing.
“Merlin! You’re all right! Thank heavens. Gwen has had us out searching for you. Geoffrey and the council are convening soon to make her the rightful ruler.”
“But what does she need me for?”
Leon laughed. “You are to be her advisor. She said she could not imagine ruling Camelot without your counsel.”
Merlin had not taken his eyes off Mordred and noticed his eyes widen in surprise at this news. Merlin’s constricted chest loosened. He inhaled deeply. He did not know what this change would mean for him, but he could not deny it either. He stuffed down what he’d seen, the weight of destiny lying heavily on his shoulders once more.
“I will gladly serve my queen.”