Title: In Mercy's Name
Characters: Merlin, Mordred
Summary: Darkfic. Set in alternate S5. Merlin doesn't make the same mistake twice.
Warnings: Character death
Word Count: 546
Prompt: #131, enchant
The horizon bleeds with the setting sun, but only Mordred can see it. He has no choice but to watch the world set afire with the dawn. It is either that or Merlin, and after the way Merlin has betrayed him, he will not grant his executioner any satisfaction in witnessing the hurt in his eyes.
But Merlin refuses to leave him to die in peace. Instead, he stands in wait for the trap he’d set for Mordred to completely close its jaws, limned in gold to tease at the periphery of Mordred’s vision. He has not uttered a word since casting the spell that locked Mordred in this stasis, somehow denying him access to the magic that would free him. Perhaps it is Mordred’s own fault for daring to hope for change. Morgana did warn him, after all.
“Can you at least tell me why?” he grinds out, ashamed he has to resort to voicing his curiosity aloud rather than speaking to the heart of Emrys.
“I do it for Arthur.”
“I don’t believe you. He would never order my death this way.”
“He doesn’t know.”
Which leaves Mordred more confused than ever. “Then what could Arthur possibly gain from this?”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“If I’m to die anyway, what harm comes from telling me?”
Merlin has no response to that, and Mordred sags into the ground. The trampled grass tickles his cheek, and the soil smells moist, hints of the fertile summer still to come. He shall not see it, because even now, he can feel the enchantment slowly pulling the strength from his flesh. It’s harder to keep his eyes open, but he is tired of darkness, of being banished to the shadows. He will not go out succumbing to it, no matter what Merlin does.
He even keeps them open when Merlin crouches down and fills his line of sight, refusing him the memory of the vista to carry into death.
“Do you know why Morgana wants you at her side?” Merlin asks.
The inquiry seems unrelated to any of this. “Morgana has always cared for me. Protected me.”
“Because you’re her greatest weapon.”
“Her magic is just as strong as mine.”
“It’s more than that. She sees the future. She knows what your destiny is meant to be.”
He doesn’t know if the cold in his stomach is caused by Merlin’s words or his magic. “What’s that?”
“To kill Arthur.”
“No,” he says without hesitation. “I would never do that. I vowed to protect him.”
“So have I.” His face is grim. “Arthur is a good, merciful man. He will be the greatest king Camelot has ever known. But to make that happen, I cannot show the same mercy.” For a fleeting moment, Mordred thought he saw pain flicker behind the determination in his eyes, but it was gone too quickly for him to be sure. “Not again.”
He straightens, and no further question can draw him back when he retreats. Mordred has no more answers than he did, but as the world begins to gray at the edges, he knows Merlin believes he has no choice, that he must do this to preserve the goodness in Arthur.
Mordred’s last conscious thought is his certainty he would’ve done the same thing.