Title: You Can't Sweat Out
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Still, if he has to die on this day, he wants to leave Arthur with the knowledge it was all for him, always for him.
Warnings: Kind of graphic description of being burned at the stake? (No character death though)
Word Count: 661
Author's Notes: Totally woke up at 5:30 this morning to write this, so if it's riddled with errors, I apologize.
He doesn't put up a struggle when he's bound to the pyre, doesn't raise his weary head when the king demands for any last words, doesn't even flinch when the fires are lit.
Because all he can focus on is that Arthur knows, he knows, and now Merlin is paying for it.
He could have easily escaped a thousand times by now, could have run from the people that have become his family and the place that has become his home. But that would only serve to enforce the common belief that he's guilty of all the crimes listed against him.
The only thing Merlin is guilty of is loving Arthur too much but trusting him too little.
Could he hardly be blamed for that, given the circumstances he's in? As soon as that bitterness creeps into his head, he spits it back out; it tastes sour and metallic, like the blood leaking from a cut in his mouth or the acrid smoke from burning ash and fiber that encloses him.
The wood must have been coated with pitch for an exhilarant, because the flames have already soared upwards to the skies themselves, determined to blot his existence from the rest of the world. While the fire licks hungrily all over his skin, leaving oozing blisters in its wake, its main desire seems to be his back. The intense heat cuts deepest there, all the way to the bone, all the way to his very core.
The horrid scent of his own flesh burning infiltrates his nose and threatens to make him sick all over the cobblestones at his feet.
He finally cries out, not just in pain, but one last hope that Arthur will somehow rescue him. That after all the times Merlin has lain down his life for his prince, Arthur would feel compassioned to do the same. As he has already done so many times before, more than anyone would do for just a simple manservant.
But why would he, now that he knows Merlin is a sorcerer? That one of his closest confidantes--and perhaps even friend--has withheld such crucial information all these years?
His eyes sting and water so much he has to squeeze them shut, but he couldn't have spotted Arthur through the smoke and flames anyways. Couldn't have struggled to meet his gaze helplessly, only to receive an expression of fear, revulsion, or betrayal in return. Perhaps all three, because Merlin can't decide which is worse.
Still, if he has to die on this day, he wants to leave Arthur with the knowledge it was all for him, always for him. The truth about everything--his magic, their destiny, everything--spills from his trembling lips, punctuated by the hacking cough that wracks through what's left of his body.
A collective gasp rolls over the crowd that's gathered to watch the display of Uther's power over the land, a crashing din of voices that rumbles and transforms into one melodic sound ringing in his ears.
That's when he realizes it's thunder, and with the thunder comes sweet, delicious, cool rain. He shouts, he laughs, he cries as the flames are squelched and his brow is caressed lovingly by nature's hand.
And then a voice comes down from the heavens: "You idiot."
His bleary vision snaps open, and it's no longer a swirl of angry reds and grays before him, but the drab colors of Gaius's workshop. His head lolls to the side, and the palette changes to include a dash of fierce blue eyes and a smattering of hair as golden as the sun.
"You unbelievable idiot," the voice repeats, and for a second Merlin is so sure it's Arthur, that he saved him after all, that he unabashedly weeps.
"...We'll discuss this later. Just...just focus on getting better for now."
Merlin nods weakly, content in chalking this moment up as yet another part of his feverish dream, and lets the darkness of sleep claim him once more.