Title: Not Going Back
Rating: PG-13 to be safe
Pairing/s: blink and you miss them Merlin/Arthur, Percival/Gwaine
Character/s: Merlin, Percival
Summary: Merlin and Percival find each other going in different directions.
Warnings: mentions canon major character deaths
Word Count: 677
Prompt: #159 song prompt 4
Author's Notes: I forgot how much time slips away with these. This song brought back so many of my 5x13 feels, so I poured out a bit of my angst and headcanon into this little piece.
Traveling back to the castle gave Merlin time to think. While most of his thoughts began with 'what if' or 'if only', he occasionally asked himself 'what now?'
He was about half a day's ride from Camelot when he stopped by a lake to water his horse and refill his skin. He had only been stopped a few minutes when he heard a familiar voice.
"Merlin? Is that you?"
Merlin turned to face the knight asking the question. It was good to set eyes on that familiar, tall frame with its broad shoulders and large arms. It was a wonderful sight... but one glimpse into Percival's eyes told him the knight's mission was not a happy one.
"Yes, Percival," Merlin answered
It was all the invitation Percival needed to run to him, wrap his gigantic arms around Merlin's sides and lift him into a tight embrace.
"I can't believe it. People were saying you were dead. That Arthur was dead. Where is he?" Percival lowered Merlin back to the ground before looking around.
Merlin had to lower his gaze in order to gather the courage to meet the knight's, his friend's, eyes. "Arthur was mortally wounded."
"Noooo." Percival's voice was quiet, like he had had been winded. Merlin tried to convey the truth with his facial expression alone because he did not trust his voice to say the words aloud. Not yet.
One day, when much more time had passed, he may come to terms with it, but not yet.
Merlin swallowed back his tears and tried to change the subject. "What brings you out this way?"
Percival cocked an eyebrow, naturally shocked at Merlin's quick change of subject, but after a few seconds seemed to understand and gave his answer. "I'm searching for the fallen knights." It was his turn to fight back tears. "I want to bring them back to Camelot and give them a proper burial."
They both knew there was only one fallen knight for whom Percival was searching. "They deserve that," Merlin agreed.
"So, you are going back to Camelot, right?" Percival, like Merlin, did not want to dwell on the loss of a loved one.
That question had plagued Merlin throughout his journey towards the citadel and now he knew the answer.
"No, I'm not sure I can."
"What are you talking about? Of course you can! Gaius and Gwen are worried sick about you, even though they won't admit it. And Leon and I miss you too. There will always be a place for you with us at Camelot; you must know that, right?"
"I know that, Percival."
"So you'll go home?"
"In time, maybe. But not now."
"What do you mean, not now? Why not?"
"For the same reason you are riding out. We lost so much in the battle. Camelot lost their King." Merlin's throat tightened at the words but he swallowed and continued. "Camelot needs to use this to make a fresh start. To reunite all the people of Albion in the names of peace and harmony. And I want to see that, but not from inside the castle walls; not anymore."
There was a moment of silence as Percival took in the full meaning of Merlin's words.
"Gwen will be a great Queen and you and Leon can rebuild the Knights of the Round Table, but it won't be the same. I will always look back on our years together as being the greatest of my life and now is the best time for me to move on."
A tear ran down Percival's cheeky though his sadness was not evident in his voice. "I will let the others know your decision and that you are well. We will not let anyone still living nor the future generations forget what has happened; what we stood for and what we still stand for."
"You are a great knight Sir Percival." Merlin placed his hand on the man's upper arm.
Percival smiled as more tears ran down both his cheeks. "And you are a great man. Good luck, Merlin."