rocknvaughn (rocknvaughn) wrote in camelot_drabble,
rocknvaughn
rocknvaughn
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Lessons from the Crystal Cave

Author: rocknvaughn
Title: Lessons from the Crystal Cave
Rating: PG
Pairing/s: Canon, but you can spot Merthur if you squint. (You don't have to squint that hard, really)
Character/s: Merlin and Arthur
Summary: 5X13 Alternate Ending. In which Merlin is a BAMF and Arthur doesn't die.

“No,” Merlin said again, resolve coloring his voice and face as he slid his body out from under Arthur’s and laid him gently against the dew filled grass. “I’m not going to lose you: not here, not now, not like this.”

Merlin was not Emrys for nothing. What they meant to each other and to this land was not for nothing. Being two sides of the same coin was not for nothing. It would not end here.


Warnings: None
Word Count: Too many, but that's not unusual for me... (~ 2.1K)
Prompt: #67 ~ Healing
Author's Notes: Okay, you can blame this story on rodneyscat and her choice of photo at A Shot of Colin today. I couldn't save poor Cathal, so I was damn well going to save Arthur!


o-o-o

“Just…just hold me…” Arthur gasped from where he lay sprawled atop Merlin, his nearly dead weight pressing the slighter man into the ground. Gently, he patted the warlock’s arm. “Please…”

Instinctively, automatically, Merlin’s arms obeyed even as his mind was screaming, No, no no! This can’t be happening! Not now…when he finally knows the truth!

“While you’re magical, Merlin…you cannot save my life.” Arthur soothed a gloved hand down Merlin’s arm in long strokes, as if trying to settle a nervous colt.

“I can,” Merlin immediately responded, his grief rising like a flood within him. Every one of his heartbeats roared in his ears; a juxtaposition to how weak and thready Arthur’s had become.

“Shhh…” Arthur’s breathy voice ghosted past his ear, ruffling the dark hair as it moved. “It’s all right, Merlin. It’s all right.”

Something about the defeated tone of Arthur’s voice sparked a memory in Merlin’s breast…

The Crystal Cave: the lesson that Taliesin had tried to teach him. Now, when the moment was upon him, he understood: Some things have been foretold and cannot be changed. It is what one does with the knowledge that matters.

Merlin could not change the events leading up to Morgana’s attempt on Uther’s life no matter how hard he tried. It happened as it was foretold; as it was supposed to happen. However, the outcome…that he could, and did change. But why he’d needed to live through that time and learn that lesson then had never made sense until now.

Mordred had always been fated to join Morgana’s cause and give Arthur this mortal wound. Merlin had seen it in Lochru’s vision, and nothing he had done since had saved Arthur from that moment. It was what Merlin did now that made the difference.

“No,” Merlin said again, resolve coloring his voice and face as he slid his body out from under Arthur’s and laid him gently against the dew filled grass. “I’m not going to lose you: not here, not now, not like this.”

Merlin was not Emrys for nothing. What they meant to each other and to this land was not for nothing. Being two sides of the same coin was not for nothing. It would not end here.

With difficulty, Arthur turned his face toward Merlin. Worry and pity laced through his features. “Merlin…” The last half of the name ended in an awkward cough.

It was clear to Merlin that Arthur was worried about how his best friend was handling his impending death. Merlin’s gaze locked with his and the determination he found there made Arthur’s eyes widen in response.

“Gaius said the only way to save you was to take you to the Island of Avalon,” Merlin explained as he hurriedly stripped off his leather jacket and used it to cushion Arthur’s head. “To get the Sidhe to help you. But that was always a long shot at best. They’ve never been your greatest fan, Arthur, and they certainly aren’t mine.”

“Gaius is a very wise man and I believed him; I trusted him. But this time he was wrong. When he said that my magic couldn’t heal you, Gaius didn’t know what I do. He wasn’t there in the Crystal Cave when my magic was restored. He does not yet understand the extent of my powers. I can do this. I know I can.”

Ever so softly, Merlin trailed the backs his knuckles down the side of his king’s beloved face. “Please, Arthur…let me help you. This is not the end; I know it more certainly than I know my own name. There is so much more that we need to accomplish in this lifetime. We have not yet fulfilled our destiny.”

Arthur was tired and weary and, despite his very strong will to live, ready to let go. He had fought against the inevitable long enough and had earned a Warrior’s rest. But how could he, after everything Merlin has done for him for the past ten years, deny his best friend this last wish?

Arthur’s eyes closed and his blond lashes almost hid the tiny trail of tears that leaked from the corners of them. “Very well,” he whispered brokenly, the combination of fond exasperation and soul-deep love for this man rising within him nearly stealing his ability to speak.

Merlin blinked back tears of his own and then pushed himself up onto his knees, his hands held up in supplication. “Ic i ábene séo Líf Bune!”

Arthur gasped as the deep gravelly tones of the Old Tongue and the magic contained in them wound their way around him, as if the words themselves could comfort and sustain him. He watched Merlin’s eyes turn a burnished gold, and in the space of an eye-blink, a shining silver cup appeared in his hand: a very familiar looking silver cup.

Merlin!” Arthur did not even try to hide the awe contained in those two syllables.

A gentling hand pressed against Arthur’s shoulder. “Hush,” Merlin’s voice comforted, “it will be all right.”

The warlock held the cup up to the cloudy predawn sky and commanded, “Ic i ábene se regnscúr!” His eyes flashed molten once more.

As if Nature herself bent to Merlin’s will, rain obediently fell from the clouds, a soft shower of warm droplets that plinked a tuneless song against Arthur’s mail and plastered his already damp hair to his face.

Once the cup Merlin held was nearly full, he chanted, “Ic i ástynte se regnscúr!” and the rain suddenly stopped.

Arthur rapidly blinked the rainwater out of his eyes; his arm felt much too heavy to move. Even though his body felt weak and numb, his mind had never felt so alive. His brain was buzzing with the attempt to fathom the almost effortless displays of magical prowess he’d witnessed in the last two days: earth, wind, fire, water, and lightning all at Merlin’s command. Somehow Arthur knew, as impossible as it seemed, those gifts barely scratched the surface of his friend’s power.

The stem of the Cup of Life clasped in one hand, Merlin pushed himself to a stand. Wordlessly, his eyes flashed with magic and a small stone table materialized beside him. Setting the nearly full cup onto it, he held both hands palm down over Arthur’s body. Merlin’s irises turned gold and Arthur felt the ground under him shift…and then he was slowly being lifted toward Merlin’s hands by a dais of solid stone that had formed beneath him.

As the altar halted its push toward the warlock’s hands, a soft smile touched the corners of Merlin’s mouth. He slicked a reverent hand through Arthur’s hair to push it away from his face.

Merlin’s other hand extended outward and Excalibur flew into it, handle first. He laid it lengthwise on Arthur’s chest, moving the king’s hands for him so that they lay on the pommel, trapping the sword in place.

“What are you doing?” Arthur mouthed, his breaths so shallow he could not even push it outward to make sound.

Merlin didn’t answer, but instead put one hand over one of Arthur’s ears and the other upon his forehead. “þu you heorcnest ond þu you ácnæwest.

Arthur felt the warmth and light of Merlin’s magic enter him…and then suddenly without being told, he knew: Merlin had given him the ability to interpret the Old Tongue so that he would know exactly what Merlin was saying and doing.

Again Merlin’s long arms raised into the air, palms facing the sky.

This time when Merlin spoke, Arthur could hear, almost as if in the background, the words of the Old Tongue. But layered over it, Merlin’s voice now rang clear in the language Arthur knew.

“With the power given to me by the Gods, I invoke the Rite and Ritual to Mirror the Powers of Life and Death. Here before me lies Arthur Pendragon, the Once and Future King, lethally pierced by a dragon-forged blade. Yet this dragon-forged blade,” Merlin paused a moment and laid his hand upon the flat of Excalibur right over Arthur’s heart, “has given you the required sacrifice in kind: Morgana Pendragon, the last High Priestess of the Old Religion. A life for a life; the pact is fulfilled. As my hand doth wrought the death of one, so it shall save the life of the other by use of this Holy Cup.”

Merlin picked up the Cup of Life and held it aloft. Above him, the clouds parted just enough for one golden sunbeam to burst through, making both chalice and man glow with an unearthly power.

In that breathless space of time, Arthur felt that this must be what it was like to look into the face of an angel.

And then the moment was gone. The sun faded back behind the clouds and Arthur blinked as if he’d been temporarily blinded. Then he felt Merlin’s hand slide gingerly behind his neck to raise his head and the cup was held to his lips.

“Drink,” Merlin’s voice urged softly, latent power from the ritual still infusing his voice and tingeing the outside ring of his irises. Arthur obeyed, swallowing mouthful after mouthful of the coolest, freshest, purest water that had ever crossed his tongue.

By the time Arthur had finished drinking, the agonizing pain in his side had completely vanished. “Gods, Merlin…what did you do?” he asked, feeling returning in small increments to his limbs.

Merlin’s face was as sober and sad as it was stubbornly unrepentant. “Made Morgana’s death count for something. Now her loss was not in vain. She saved the life of the Once and Future King, and with it, all of Albion. Hopefully now her troubled soul can rest in peace.”

“Oh, Merlin…” Arthur awkwardly laid a shaking hand over the warlock’s, squeezing softly to let him know he understood that the choice to take Morgana’s life had not been an easy one for his friend.

Merlin nodded once in acknowledgement and looked away, his eyes bright with unshed tears. After a time, his eyes wandered back and a tiny smile graced the corner of his full lips. “Do you want to get down from there?” Merlin indicated the altar Arthur was still lying upon.

“If you don’t mind…” the slightly dry, sarcastic tone that tumbled out of Arthur’s mouth on instinct inspired a surprised but delighted laugh from Merlin.

Arthur didn’t even bother trying to hold up his own weight. Rather, he let Merlin slide him carefully down to the ground, the two of them sitting side by side on the damp earth, their backs resting against the stone plinth. He threaded his left hand through Merlin’s right, unembarrassed and unafraid by the emotion behind the gesture.

“There’s something I want to say,” Arthur began, his voice still rusty and now also clogged with unshed tears. “I know now what it was Gaius was trying to tell me that day. I don’t yet understand everything you’ve done for me, but I have seen the toll that it’s taken on you. I’ve seen the light of innocence leave your eyes over the years and had always wondered what could have caused it to happen. Little did I know that it was because of and for me, for Camelot, and the dream of a united land of Albion that we have begun to build. I always knew you were brave, but little did I know just how deep that bravery and loyalty went.”

Arthur felt Merlin’s hand tremble within his own and squeezed the fingers gently. “I have a feeling,” he said, a little bit rueful, “that I will be repeating this with embarrassing frequency in the days and weeks to come as your story unfolds, but I need to say it now because it is so dreadfully overdue: Thank you, old friend, for all that you’ve done. And above all, thank you for believing in me. ”

Their gazes locked for only a second before Arthur saw the signs. Putting a comforting arm around Merlin’s shoulders, he hugged the man to him as Merlin broke down and cried ten years’ worth of sorrow and joy and relief into his neck.

“I’m glad you’re here, Merlin,” Arthur said with a fond smile as he rubbed a soothing hand down his best friend’s back. “I really, really am.”







o-o-o







Glossary:
Ic i ábene séo Líf Bune!” – I call forth the Cup of Life!
Ic i ábene se regnscúr!” – I call forth the rain!
Ic i ástynte se regnscúr!” – I command the rain to cease!
þu you heorcnest ond þu you ácnæwest.” – You will hear and you will understand.






Tags: *c:rocknvaughn, c:arthur, c:merlin, pt 067:healing, rating:pg, type:drabble
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  • No Apology Needed

    Author: weatherfeather Title: No Apology Needed Rating: PG Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur or Merlin&Arthur Character/s: Arthur, Merlin…

  • Not Absent

    Author: ajsrandom Title: Not Absent Rating: G Pairing/s: none Character/s: Merlin, Arthur Summary: When Merlin doesn't respond…

  • Hunting the Beast

    Author: gilli_ann Title: Hunting the Beast Rating: G Pairing: Arthur/Merlin if you squint Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Uther…