Innocence and Instinct

Chapter 15

When Merlin awoke it was to silence; he came to slowly and peacefully; he did not move; he was afraid if he did, he would break the silence. For a few moments he just breathed in and out, but his effort really made no difference.

Good morning, Merlin.

Merlin resisted the urge to grab his head in his hands in a vain attempt to squeeze the voice out. Go away! Merlin shouted in his head, as he had so many times before. He felt the familiar panicked feeling in his chest, making it difficult to breathe. He reached a hand and grasped at his shirt, clutching it into a fist right over where his heart would be, willing the feeling to go away even as his breathing increased.

You have failed again. How long do you think you can do this? How much longer before you kill Arthur?

Never. I will never kill Arthur. Merlin whispered in his head.

“Merlin.” A voice from the real world caused Merlin’s eyes to snap open, and he turned his attention to Gwaine on the other side of his bed.

“Gwaine.” Merlin spoke, the words riding on a sigh of relief. Garlock went silent in his head, not wanting to reveal his presence while someone else was in the room.

“You alright?” Gwaine asked.

Merlin shifted in the bed and began to nod, but caught Gwaine’s eye and saw the disbelief there. He hesitated a moment before shaking his head.

“No… no I’m not.”

They sat in an uncomfortable silence as Gwaine nodded his head. They had not been alone together since they had taken that walk… the walk where Merlin had used magic to get away from Gwaine and try to kill himself. Merlin could not look Gwaine in the eye. He knew… Merlin knew he knew. He wondered if Gwaine knew that Merlin knew that Gwaine knew. His eyes would flash over and look at Gwaine searchingly before skittering away when Gwaine’s eyes met his.

“Merlin…” Gwaine stated and Merlin knew what was coming next. “You have magic.”

Merlin’s eyes finally met Gwaine’s with a fixed stare. Their eyes locked for a long moment, Merlin breathing in and out quickly before he gave one sharp nod. Gwaine breathed in deeply and leaned back in his chair, running a hand through his hair.

“I… did not see that coming… though I feel I should have.” he said. Merlin still didn’t say anything. Too worried about what his friend would think.

“How long?” Gwaine asked.

“All my life.” Merlin whispered.

Gwaine’s eyes widened. “Your whole life?” he asked skeptically.

Merlin only nodded. “I wanted to tell you…” he started.

Gwaine lifted a hand and shook his head staring away from Merlin. “I understand why you didn’t, and I’m not angry.” Merlin visibly relaxed, but there was still a tenseness to his demeanor.

“That’s why… Gwaine… you have to see… that’s why I can’t… I can’t…” Merlin gripped his sheets tightly, willing his hands to stop shaking.

You cannot stop yourself from killing Arthur.

“Gwaine… I’ll kill him!” Merlin pleaded for him to understand. “I’ll kill him unless I kill myself first.”

Gwaine’s eyes were hard. “I won’t let you.” he stated firmly.

Merlin’s eyes grew dark and dangerous. “You cannot stop me!” he roared.

“But I can.” A deep voice came from the doorway. Merlin and Gwaine’s heads shot up to stare at Leon standing in the doorway. Gwaine jumped from his seat, placing himself a little in front of Merlin.

“What’s the meaning of this?” he asked angrily, annoyed by the intrusion and frightened by Leon’s statement.

“I heard.” Leon said. The blood drained from both Merlin’s and Gwaine’s faces.

“You heard what?” Gwaine asked.

“Everything.” Leon said. “I know Merlin has magic.”

Gwaine nodded. “That he does.”

Leon shook his head. “Do not be a fool Gwaine! Merlin was dangerous enough when he was merely a servant who was, at best, incompetent with the simplest of weapons, but as a man who has magic… who has had magic his whole life?” Leon shook his head. “He’s too dangerous to let live.”

Leon’s hand shook as he held the sword, lifting it up to point towards Merlin.

Gwaine shook his head angrily. “Merlin would never harm a hair on Arthur’s head. You know that!” he shouted.

“Merlin is not himself; not while he has that sorcerer in his head!” Leon shouted back.

“I won’t allow you to harm him!” Gwaine roared freeing his sword from its sheath and jumping at Leon. Leon took a step back in surprise as Gwaine’s sword crashed into his, he jumped at him with such force that they both tumbled down the stairs. Merlin kicked the covers off his legs and followed them, grabbing onto the walls for support.

“Stop it!” he shouted, but neither of them listened as they regained their footing and simultaneously attacked again. They began to knock over tables, potions crashed to the ground, and something caught on fire in the corner.

Merlin watched in horror as two knights who were closer than brothers went at each other’s throats… all because of him.

If you had just killed Arthur in the first place this never would have happened. Even if you had just killed yourself. Leon is right, there is nothing that you are really competent at.

Merlin squeezed his eyes shut lifting a hand to his head. Arthur is going to help me fight you, he said, but the argument was weak in his head.

There is not enough time, Merlin. You know it, and even if there was do you think that Leon will not tell Arthur? Arthur will know and then he will finally kill you for what you are and if he does not it is only a little longer before I have found and destroyed the last vestige of yourself that keeps you loyal to Arthur, and when that happens you will kill Arthur.

Merlin’s eyes snapped open, and he looked towards the two fighting knights. He lifted his hand shakily at the pair of them. He did not need a spell, his eyes flashed automatically as he moved his hand. With a sweep of his arm the fight was stopped.

Gwaine flew across the room and lay flat against the wall, immobilized and safely away from Leon. Both Gwaine’s and Leon’s eyes flashed towards Merlin.

“Merlin… what are you doing?” Gwaine asked anxiously.

Merlin ignored him and stared straight at Leon. The older man swallowed nervously.

“Leon’s right, Gwaine.” Merlin said. “I’m too dangerous to let live.”

Leon stared at Merlin incredulously. Gwaine opened and closed his mouth, not knowing what to say. Merlin continued to stare into Leon’s eyes, his own more determined than ever.

“You have to kill me.”

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