Title: I’m Never Giving Up On You
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Arthur has slipped away and Merlin isn’t ready to let him go.
Warnings: Angst. Takes place near the end of 5X13. I cried writing this.
Word Count: 815
Prompt: Prompt #107: Say Something by A Great Big World (Song) written for camelot_drabble
Date: May 03, 2014
Author's Notes: This song wreaks of that dreaded scene we don’t want to think about, so immediately after reading the prompt for this week I was compelled to allow Merlin to voice what we all know he felt as he let Arthur go. I’ve written this in a somewhat clipped style to emphasize Merlin’s thoughts.
It hurts so badly—as if a thousand swords are piercing his very soul—that Merlin wants to die. The thought of sending the king of Camelot out into the lake alone is making it difficult for him to breathe. He wants to crawl into the boat with Arthur, fall asleep and drift away with him and the current. He doesn’t care where they go as long as they travel there together.
And the tears … the torrent of tears that are wracking Merlin’s body become more with each passing second and he thinks it probably isn’t normal. When he was a boy, his crying was allowed, but when he was older, hadn’t everyone other than Will and his mother called him a girl when he cried? And Arthur was forever calling him a girl. Merlin attempts to laugh through his tears. He is most definitely not a girl, but he knows he’s crying more than he should and that he has no intention of ceasing anytime soon. So, if anyone wants to call him a girl …
“I’m being such a girl, aren’t I, Arthur?” cries Merlin, wanting so very badly for those beautiful blue eyes to open and for that goofy grin to appear, followed by a shake of the head and that oh so familiar exasperated sigh before that voice that he needs so very badly to hear agrees that yes, Merlin is most assuredly being a girl. Merlin closes his eyes and sees it all in his mind. But when he opens them he sees the truth and it destroys him all over again.
He can’t do this. There is no possible way he can send Arthur away. Asking him to do so is akin to requesting that he cut out his heart and give away his soul. “I-I-I love you, Arthur,” Merlin whispers, taking deep breaths between uncontrollable sobs, barely able to speak as he takes Arthur’s calloused hands in his, devastated that his confession is too late. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you,” he adds as he runs his right hand through Arthur’s golden blond hair and caresses his still rosy cheeks that betray death.
How many times has Merlin seen this sleeping face and how many mornings has he witnessed these mischievous eyes as they greeted the new day with a pointed comment to Merlin about how it was too early to wake and that his worthless servant needed to allow him to sleep a few minutes more?
Now Arthur will sleep forever. “I’m so very sorry.” The silence that follows chills Merlin to the bone. Merlin has gone to great lengths to protect Arthur. In the end, it hasn’t mattered. The man Merlin loves is dead. Everything that made Arthur Pendragon who he was, is now gone.
Of course that isn’t completely true. Arthur’s body remains, and that is an infinitesimal comfort to Merlin. But a body cannot tell you that they love you as much as you love them and that they wish they would have told you when they had the opportunity. And a body cannot tell you that it is going to be okay and that life will go on and that love doesn’t cease with death.
“Say something, Arthur,” Merlin pleads, but he knows. He understands that there will be no more words. But if he can just pretend. For even one second more. If he can just imagine Arthur opening his eyes and speaking one more word … If he can do this it will be one less second Merlin will have to face without Arthur. And one second more with Arthur is an eternity when he knows there will soon be all the seconds in the world without him.
The feeling of helplessness overwhelms Merlin and he begins trembling and feels lightheaded. He can’t breathe. But then he forces himself to recall what he has been told moments earlier. “Young warlock, Arthur is indeed gone for now, but he will return when the need is greatest.” That is what the dragon said, isn’t it? Merlin can’t imagine a time in the future when the need will be greater than it is at this very moment. Merlin’s heart hurts so badly he thinks it will burst. He needs Arthur now. Not in the future.
But Merlin trusts Kilgharrah. He has to. It’s all he has. If he doesn’t have this hope to look forward to and to hold on to he has no doubt that he will give up. On everything.
Merlin takes a deep breath and does his best to compose himself. It doesn’t work. The tears continue to fall. But he knows that if he waits for the tears to abate, he’ll be waiting forever. And he will wait forever. But first he has to send his forever away. And trust.
“I’m never giving up on you, Arthur.”