Title: A Little Life More
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Kilgarrah
Summary: Merlin cures Arthur’s injuries.
Warnings: Diamond of the Day.
Word Count: 1,033
Prompt: #211 elusive
Author's Notes: Went a little over, sorry mods & readers.
Merlin looks down at Arthur’s closed eyes. He feels Arthur’s weight in his arms. There has to be another way, he thinks, even though Gaius told him there wasn’t.
Something doesn’t feel right about that, though. Merlin places one hand on Arthur’s chest against the cold metal of the chainmail and his other hand on Arthur’s forehead. He closes his eyes and feels for Arthur’s life force. It’s still there. It’s not yet extinguished, but in not very long it will be too faint to revive. It just needs a little boost.
Merlin is good at accepting the death of a loved one because he has had so much practice, but not this time. Not this time.
He calls for Kilgarrah.
They land outside the Crystal Cave, and Merlin props Arthur against Kilgarrah’s back so he himself can slide off. A little bit of levitation goes a long way toward getting Arthur off their makeshift mount and into the caves. (Arthur is rather a lot heavier than a bucket of water or even several bags full of supplies and provisions, after all, and Merlin has no desire to injure himself when his talents are still so needed.)
Merlin half-carries and half-floats Arthur into the caves, then lowers him to the floor in the center of the long room of crystals. He kneels down next to his king and checks the pulse point in Arthur’s neck again. It is much weaker than it was before Kilgarrah found them.
Merlin stands swiftly and spins around in place. There is nowhere like where they already are to start his search, so he searches with his eyes along the nearest wall.
He moves closer for a better look. It doesn’t help that what he’s looking for is so small and so similar in color to the glowing crystals all around him.
A few more walls and corners, and several quick sweeps of the room at large, and Merlin starts to feel like there is no time left.
That butterfly is proving to be damn elusive.
He completes his circuit of the room, and there is no sign of it.
He is feeling distraught – again today – and goes back to where Arthur’s body is laid out on the dirt. Merlin sits down at Arthur’s side. The water in Merlin’s eyes is blurring his vision, but it has yet to fall. He pulls his knees to his chest, wraps one arm around them, and lays his head down. Before he closes his eyes, he grabs Arthur’s hand.
The tears soak into the fabric at his knees. He squeezes Arthur’s hand tighter, but it makes no move or sign of life in return.
Merlin sits there on the hard ground blindly holding onto Arthur’s hand - something that he has never done before - in an impossible effort to convince Arthur’s spirit to stay longer, to will it to remain there just by the force of his love.
Merlin keeps his eyes closed and his hand clenched around Arthur’s. He feels the urge to look at Arthur again. He won’t yet, though. It’s going to be hard to look at his king and see a pale corpse, so he runs through some of his favorite memories of Arthur smiling and looking healthy.
He feels an itch on the back of the hand that is holding Arthur’s.
There are so many times when Arthur looked at him with a brilliant smile. There are times when he was exhausted and triumphant after a tournament. There are all of the times when they were riding side by side on their way back from a battle in which Arthur and his knights came out the victors, sometimes with Merlin’s help and sometimes without it, and Arthur would slowly start to joke as the tension from the fight trickled out of him.
The itch on his hand is persistent.
Even the times when Merlin had to wake Arthur up too early in the mornings and Arthur was grumpy enough to throw things at him: even those times held an element of their friendship, and even those times forever would be preferable to Arthur’s death now.
The itch isn’t going away by him ignoring it.
He opens his eyes. They are blurry, but he blinks the blurriness away.
There it is: the stunning blue butterfly that he brought to life only days ago. Has it really been the better part of a week? It feels like ages have passed since his magic burst back into his body. And here the butterfly is as if it knows what Merlin plans to ask of it.
Merlin holds out his other hand with his palm up just an inch away as a way to ask if the butterfly is willing to do this.
It crawls onto his palm.
“Thank you,” Merlin whispers.
He keeps his hold on Arthur’s hand tight while he moves the hand with the butterfly in it closer to Arthur’s heart. The butterfly flutters out of Merlin’s hand and onto Arthur’s chest, and it flattens itself against the chainmail there.
Merlin flips his hand over so the palm faces down, and then he starts to chant: “A little life given for a little life more. Let the force flow from physical small to physical large.”
A bright blue light shoots up from the butterfly through Merlin’s outstretched fingers and toward the ceiling. The butterfly appears to sink into Arthur’s chest. “Accept what can be given. Regain what was forced out.”
Arthur’s hand clenches in a bone-grinding grip around Merlin’s. “Forbearnan.” The fire burns upside down. “Let it blaze through your skin, muscle, bones, future! Relinquish the metal and magic which has made you its sheath!”
Arthur cries out from the pain.
Merlin repeats “heal” until the piece of Mordred’s sword is all the way out of Arthur’s body, and for a little while after that. He never loosens his grip on Arthur’s hand, and Arthur, however unconsciously, doesn’t either.
A breathy “Merlin” reaches Merlin’s ears.
When did he close his eyes?
Merlin takes a breath, then opens his eyes to see the sight he hoped for. Arthur’s skin has regained its color, and he is smiling.