Title: Long-Dead Waters
Summary: Merlin takes a long time to settle, to end his mourning
Warnings: Major character death
Word Count: 300
Author's Notes: It started off as a drabble. Then, as it neared 100 words and wasn't nearly done, I reconsidered. Around 230 words and without anything I could bear to shave off, I decided a double drabble wasn't going to be enough, either. So here it is, a triple drabble. No, I didn't try at all :P
Merlin takes a long time to settle, to end his mourning. With Arthur dead he cannot return to Camelot. Cannot bear the weight of each of their dreams, impressed on every stone. So he runs; he hides. Holed up in a cave where the crystals sing him lullabies of Arthur’s return, where he can sleep without food, without pretending to breathe. He doesn’t need to cry like that. Time doesn’t pass, not to him, and Arthur is mere moments away.
After a time, though, he learns to live. The heartache is still there, smouldering away, but Merlin learns to cope with it. He explores the world. Arthur wouldn’t like it if he were to mope. Arthur would requisition his word again and call him a dollop-head and clout him around the ear until he got some fresh air and excitement.
But eventually even the myriad wonders of the world run dry. There are only so many brightly coloured silk flags flapping from Buddhist monasteries that you can see without longing for the dark. There are only so many spices and herbs and incenses you can put your nose to before you feel sick. There are only so many journeys you can make before the weariness seeps into your bones.
Merlin longs, more than anything, to settle. A house, a cow, some chickens, a vegetable patch, the salt smell of the sea spray; its touch on his cheek. But the thing that drives him truly insane is loneliness. That’s why he cannot stop wandering. The only man he could bear to spend eternity with, the only one who could stand a chance of living that long too, lies buried and sleeping under long-dead waters. Merlin doesn’t know how to get him back. Not even lifetimes of travelling could tell him that.