So, I just finished watching season five of Merlin on Netflix and I was just so not okay with how it ended and I refuse to accept that as the end so I'm going to attempt to write my own version of the ending.
Disclaimer: I don't own BBC's Merlin, nor do I own the original Arthurian legends. Obviously.
Tears stream down Merlin's face as he sends the boat holding his closest friend and king into the lake. His entire body trembles with the sobs that he cannot hold back. Arthur is dead. Has he failed? He feels like he has failed. Ever since his arrival in Camelot, Merlin knew that his destiny was to serve and protect Arthur. And Arthur is dead. Merlin has failed.
He looks at the small boat–Arthur's coffin, really–as it moves farther and farther away from him. It seems so hard to believe... Merlin has tried so hard to avoid this, has betrayed even his own beliefs to avoid what he knows now was inevitable. Mordred killed Arthur. Merlin knew that this would happen and yet, he was unable to stop it. If only he had be faster, if only he had taken the chance all those years ago to ensure the druid boy's death. If only, if only; but it is too late now. Arthur is dead.
He cannot bear to look at the boat anymore.
"Aspewce, in despe avonem es." He whispers and the water around the boat surges upward and engulfs it, swallows it whole. Merlin turns away and buries his face in his hands. What will he do now? For so long, he has devoted his life to serving Arthur and now that Arthur is gone, Merlin has no more reason to his life. What now? Surely, he cannot return to Camelot. The memories there... The pain is too fresh and returning home–is it home anymore?–will only make things worse. He will send word that the King is dead, but he will not go back there. He cannot, not even to say goodbye to Gaius. Gaius will understand; he will know that it is too painful for Merlin. Gaius has always understood.
Merlin knows that he should leave now, that staying there any longer will only make it harder when he eventually does leave this grave-site. He knows that he should leave, but he cannot make his legs work. So he stands there. He stands there and he cries because Arthur is gone and he has failed, no matter what the Dragon has told him. Merlin has failed his King; Merlin has failed his best friend.
An agonised cry escapes Merlin's lips as his sobbing becomes heavier and even more ragged. He thinks he hears himself cry Arthur's name, but he does not recognise his own voice anymore; it has become so mournful, so broken and shattered. It is not the same; he is not the same.
"I thought I told you that no man is worth your tears."
Merlin freezes. It cannot be... He knows that it cannot be...
Merlin turns and, there, walking out of the lake, is Arthur.
For a moment, Merlin stares. All he can do is stare. Then, he's running to him as fast as he can. He hugs him and, surprisingly, the great King hugs him back.
The water. Of course, the water... It had been the solution all along.
"Arthur, you... you were..." Merlin cannot bring himself to finish the sentence.
"I know and, thanks to you, now I'm not."
"Glad that's stayed the same then." Merlin manages a teary smile. Arthur smiles and claps him on the shoulder.
"Now, come, Merlin. We must get back to Camelot. The beginning is nigh."