Title: More Than Words
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur dies on a battlefield. Merlin mourns.
Warnings: Character death (sorta), angst (kind of), manly tears of pain
Word Count: 853
Prompt: #9 Tears
Author's Notes: Kudos to keire_ke who was once again
The battle was lost before it even began.
The barbarian army swept over them. Wave upon wave crashed against Camelot’s walls like a tide, but for every enemy slain, ten more rose to attack. The knights stood proud and courageous, as they always did, alas; there was only so much they could do.
On the third day, the gates of Camelot stood open.
Out of the castle poured Camelot’s finest, horseback and clad in gleaming armour. Red banners, adorned with the golden dragon, flew in the wind over their heads. Leading them, then and always, was Prince Arthur.
Merlin had watched anxiously as the barbarians’ line broke and then fell apart under the onslaught of Camelot’s charge. He ached to be there, among the clash of swords and storm of arrows. It was only Arthur’s will that had kept him where he was, behind the walls, ready to call his magic and protect Camelot’s people if all else failed.
He shouldn’t have stayed, he realised now. His place was out there. With Arthur.
He began to run.
The advantage the cavalry had won dissipated off quickly. The barbarians were pressing back in, and more and more of Camelot’s knights were slain. Soon it was only the Prince and his most trusted warriors that stood ground; but even the greatest of them all, the noble Sir Lancelot and the brave Sir Gwaine, fell, until only Arthur was left standing.
He had torn off his helmet, his hair bright and golden in the sunlight. His sword was a gleaming, silver line, slashing and cutting with inhuman speed. Enemies backed away from him; but in the end, there were too many.
Merlin reached the open field in time to watch his Prince fall.
He screamed and screamed until his lungs burned and the sky turned black. Lightning struck, and the forest caught fire; thunder rolled over the land.
Merlin dropped to the ground.
Arthur’s eyes were clear and perfectly blue. An arrow had struck him in the chest, heedless of armour and chainmail, piercing his heart. He was breathing heavily, but he would not be breathing for long.
‘My lord,’ Merlin said brokenly. He took Arthur’s face in his hands. ‘I have failed you—‘
‘Never,’ Arthur said quietly. With great effort, he reached out and brushed the hair out of Merlin’s eyes.
Merlin choked on his tears.
‘Arthur,’ he said, pleading. ‘Arthur—‘
‘Merlin,’ Arthur said from somewhere behind his back.
Merlin startled in his desk chair, his vision more than a little blurry. He hit alt-tab reflexively and spun around. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed that instead of the report he was supposed to be working on, his desktop was now stuck on lolcats.
Arthur heaved a sigh.
‘What were you doing, Merlin?’ he asked.
‘Nothing. Working,’ said Merlin, radiating innocence. He tried to wipe the tears from his eyes with his crumpled sleeve.
‘Yes, obviously,’ Arthur rolled his eyes. ‘Now shove over.’
Merlin fought bravely but the struggle was short.
‘That’s a horrid breach of my privacy, Arthur Pendragon!’ he exclaimed through breathless giggles, trying not to alarm everyone outside of his tiny office.
‘That’s shameless slacking off and you know it,’ Arthur said, unconcerned, looking over all of his tabs. He picked one and groaned. ‘Oh for the love of—‘
There was very little dignity one could maintain in such a situation, but no-one could say Merlin didn’t make an effort.
‘I got it from a friend,’ he said haughtily.
Arthur skimmed over the text, raised his eyebrows in a suggestive manner and then scrolled to the top of the document.
Prince and his Manservant, it was called, or an epic tale of love, magic and courage. By Merlin Emrys.
There was a beat of embarrassed silence.
‘Um,’ said Merlin.
Arthur dropped his head and stood back. His body was shaking with silent laughter.
‘Prince and his Manservant? Seriously?’
‘It’s a period piece.’
‘It sounds like a cheap porno,’ Arthur said with his most prattish grin. ‘But it’s nice to know you fantasize about being my manservant.’
‘And you were crying?’
‘I was mourning our tragic destiny; I wouldn’t expect you to understand.’
‘The only thing that’s tragic here, Merlin, is your writing,’ Arthur said, with an entirely unprofessional ruffle of Merlin’s hair. ‘Now get to work before I put your period piece on group e-mail.’
‘Arthur,’ Merlin said seriously. He rose so that he was close enough to kiss Arthur – just a quick press of lips. Even forgetting that one time Arthur had sat him down and treated him to a lengthy lecture entitled PDA: why you shouldn’t, there was still the small matter of them being at work, when anybody could just walk in. ‘I love you. Even though you don’t get my passion for literature.’
‘Merlin,’ Arthur said back, too soft to be truly mocking. ‘I love you. But please don’t call this garbage literature.’
(Much, much later on, Merlin accidently stumbled upon Arthur: hunched under the blanket with Merlin’s laptop and crying, just a little.)