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Merlin Fic: Five Things Merlin Regrets

June 11th, 2012 (06:28 am)
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Title: Five Things Merlin Regrets (And One Thing He Doesn’t)

Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin

A/N: Happy birthday, geminigrl11! This isn’t much, but I hope you enjoy your day :)

A/N 2: Beta provided by sendintheklowns. Some spoilers for various eps through the series.

Summary: He’s only just arrived here, only just started to find his place, but already he’s done so much. He’s made a difference, for Camelot, for Arthur. And yet, already, there are things he regrets.



-o-

One

At twilight, Merlin stands atop of Camelot. The air is cool and brisk, and the breeze blows through his well-worn clothes. This is where he belongs; where he’s belonged since the beginning.

Yet, as the sun fades and the darkness rises, Merlin’s stomach goes cold and his heart almost freezes in his chest. He’s only just arrived here, only just started to find his place, but already he’s done so much. He’s made a difference, for Camelot, for Arthur. And yet, already, there are things he regrets.

He traces his fingers on the hard stone walls, staring up until the stars shine. He maps them in his head, charting them among the variable constants that still define his existence.

This is who he is, and this is where he is. He’s never been more himself, but somehow it’s still not enough. These people don’t know him like they should. He keeps his magic from there, and he holds himself back. He’s a winking star in the dimming twilight, lost within the black.

The other stars rise, but they can’t match his brightness. With the swaths of black, they may never know.

It’s late when Merlin descends to bed, later still when he sleeps and the morning sun blinds him to the things he regrets the most.

Two

Merlin’s never had a father, but he watches the other children in the village. Fathers seem overrated sometimes, ordering children about, swatting their backsides and drinking hard after a day in the fields until they are rough and mean.

But when he meets his own, when they’re standing face to face, Merlin remembers the rest. Remembers strong hands teaching children at the plow. Remembers thick laughs roiling through the walls. Remembers warm hugs on cold nights when the fire burning in the stove is never enough.

He remembers the things he didn’t have.

He already knows how to plot, and there’s nothing to laugh about here. And Merlin doesn’t need a hug to feel the warmth of meeting his father after all these years. For a moment, he doesn’t need the past, because he can see the future. Someone to talk to about his magic; someone to share a pint with in the pub. Someone to still catch him, no matter how old he is or how far he falls.

So when his father dies, sacrificing himself for Merlin’s sake, he doesn’t regret the years that have passed, but the ones that will never come.

Three

In Ealdor, Merlin would have married a simple girl and led a simple life. He would have worked the fields and she would have reared his children. It’s a domestic life he’s never wanted, one he’s never looked back for.

But Freya shows him what it is to want, not for the greater good, but for himself. She reminds him that happy endings aren’t just for other people, but for him, too. He thinks he can leave it behind for her, not because he doesn’t love what he has, but because maybe his happiness is more important than his destiny for once.

But Freya is a double-edged sword, and what pierces his heart with love, rips his life apart along the way. Her death is inevitable, perhaps, and his broken heart never quite mends. He can’t regret loving her, but she haunts his days, the other half of himself he’ll never quite know and still never forget.

Four

Merlin knows Morgana lies awake in her chambers and wakes up in the mornings screaming. He knows the images that haunt her are not her fault. He knows what she doesn’t, and he wishes he could tell her that her curse can be a gift.

He can’t, though. For his sake and for hers. Gaius can help her, and Merlin will always be there for her, however he can.

Until he can’t.

When he has to choose, when it’s Morgana or Camelot, Morgana or Arthur, there’s only one choice Merlin can make.

Years later, when her skin goes pale and her eyes go dark, he still remembers how she used to be. He still remembers her eyes, wide and pained as she drank the poison he gave her, the offering of a friend turned into the ultimate betrayal.

He tells himself he made the right choice. He tells himself there was nothing else he could do.

When enough time has passed, he almost believes it.

Five

Magic is a curse in Camelot, the sign of evil, the certainty of living a half life in fear. But Merlin also knows it as the blessing it is.

He’s saved so many people. He’s pulled Arthur from dangers; he’s protected Camelot itself. He’s warded off enemies and changed the course of history for the better.

Merlin is a skinny boy from a tiny village. He works as a servant to the royalty of Camelot. But he still sometimes thinks of himself as invincible.

He snorts at Arthur’s blindness. He rolls his eyes at Gaius’ warnings. He can do anything, he thinks.

But when Uther dies, when the king exhales and doesn’t inhale again, this is a failure Merlin can’t comprehend. The loss is too expansive. It’s not his fault, but he’d been so sure, so confident, so completely unwavering.

He escapes with his life, and he knows the kingdom will succeed with Arthur as its head. But he still goes by Uther’s monument in the catacombs and bows his head in apology to a man who he never liked and failed all the same.

And one thing he doesn’t

When Merlin is old, he stands at the top of Camelot and breathes. All these years, and much has changed, but so much is still the same. These stones, though sometimes broken are always rebuilt. This view, though sometimes marred still stretches to the end of Arthur’s realm.

He has no secrets now. Nothing to hide. His magic is as much a part of Camelot as Arthur’s strength, two perfect complements.

Arthur joins him as the dawn breaks, his body bent with age, but his weathered eyes are still familiar.

“You could have had more,” Arthur says. “All these years, and you could have had everything. And you stayed here, a servant to the king. Why?”

It makes Merlin smile. He turns toward his friend and shrugs. “And what else would I do?”

Arthur gestures out across the land. “Anything,” he says. He meets Merlin’s gaze. “Everything. The sacrifices you made – surely, now that it’s over, you must regret some of it.”

Merlin regrets some things, but he’ll never regret this. He started this path in the name of destiny, but he finishes it for something much more important.

He grins. “Maybe some of it,” he admits. “But not this.”

Not the two of them. Not the kingdom they’ve built, the lives they’ve led.

Arthur smiles back. His eyes are tired, but he’s still the same prat Merlin met all those years ago.

“Besides,” Merlin says with a shrug as he looks back over the land. “Someone has to keep an eye on a clotpole like you.”

Arthur’s too slow to catch him by surprise, by Merlin doesn’t try to move as Arthur shoves him playfully, like they’re still boys with the future stretched before them and nothing they can’t overcome together in their way.

And they laugh, warm and constant, as the sun rises and day breaks over Camelot.

Comments

Posted by: i want to cause a ruckus (geminigrl11)
Posted at: June 11th, 2012 01:37 pm (UTC)

You. are. wonderful!!!! What a perfect little fic charing everything from Merlin's beginnings to his (hopefully exactly like this) end, with all the important moments in between. Arthur and Merlin, older but still unchanged in the important ways. And friend till the end. I love it!! Thank you so much for making my b'day!! <3

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 12th, 2012 03:52 am (UTC)
arthur merlin friends

I'm way behind here. But I'm glad you liked it :) It's not nearly enough but sometimes I just don't have time :)

I'm glad you had a good birthday!

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