Author's Note: This is a translation of Mokona-pyuh's story Fuir, originally written in French. I invite you to read it in its original language by either following the link on my profile or looking it up via search engine.

The story belongs to her, she did the lion's share of the work, I'm just the translator.

Disclaimer: All characters and canon story belong to Shine and BBC. No profit was made via this story.


Merlin was running. He wasn't quite sure since when and he wasn't quite sure for how long still. He only knew that he had to run, run fast and run far. Behind him, the sound of horse hooves had made way to the fast pace of knights, a thudding and repetitive noise which reminded him of the reason for which he was running. Why he was running. From whom he was running. He didn't see the root that was on his path, causing him to trip, sprawling across the forest floor. The impact made stars dance before his eyes, and he knew, from nothing but the sound, that his pants had ripped near the knee. If he believed the pain he was feeling, he was also bleeding. Perhaps he had skimmed a rock.

He didn't take the time to check.

In one bound he was up and running again, ignoring the pain coming from his knee. Ignoring his vision filled with stars, black spots, and mostly tears. Trying in vain to silence the pain in his heart, much stronger than the one in his knee.

Behind him, Arthur and his men yelled words that no longer made any sense to him. Behind him, they were running too, and their hearts hurt too. But honestly, Merlin greatly doubted that they knew the same pain and the same hate as him. He had trusted them. He had believed, naively, that they were his friends. He had told them the truth. At least, he had told them the truth instead of letting them find out by themselves. A part of him expected their reaction, but it was painful all the same. Did that make them hurt them more than him? He wasn't sure, but he was sure that they didn't have anyone running after them yelling 'to the pyre'. They didn't have anyone waiting for the chance to strangle them.

Friends, brothers of the heart, yeah right, thought the sorcerer bitterly while jumping agilely over a bush despite his injury. They had been quicker at wanting to capture him then hearing any explanations he might have.

A part of him stayed focused on his vision of the path between the trees, on the fact that everything he saw was still a blur – and for heaven's sake, why didn't he stop crying, it was pitiful, he had to pull himself together. But another part of him was thinking of Gaius, of Gwen, of Camelot. He hadn't had the time to do anything. He had only had just enough time to see the Queen's shocked and betrayed look, tears in her eyes, he had the time to see Gaius trying to hold Arthur back, he had the time to warn his mentor with his eyes that it wouldn't be within his best interests to tell Arthur that he had known all along. He had not had the time, however, to take his things, or even a horse. He hadn't had the time to look back one last time, to engrave the castle, the city, within his mind. He didn't have the time to say goodbye, or at least explain himself. Just the time to see his friends take their swords and sound the alarm.

-Shit!

The swear passed his lips before he even thought about it, as he abruptly stopped running, skidding and regaining his balance just in time, staring at the cliff's edge in front of him. Two steps more and he would fall into the void. He almost jolted in surprise. He knew this place, he had been here before. It was far from Camelot. Had he really gone so far, by foot, without stopping? Oh, and Arthur who said he had no endurance… The thought made his heart throb, while he thought with bitterness that Arthur must really be unpleasantly surprised to be dragged all the way out here by his clumsy servant. Oh, how he must be telling himself that he had lied about everything, absolutely everything. It wasn't false, but it did hurt.

-There he is!

The cry was heard, but he didn't dare turn around. He didn't dare move as the sound of running finally came to a halt behind him, where he could hear irregular breathing coming from the knights and their king. Merlin lifted his face to the sky, breathing the fresh air deeply, as if he could delay the deadline. He was trapped. He didn't know how to fly and there were swords at his back. He closed his eyes for a moment, wondering if he preferred to keep his back turned, or face his former companions – not friends, never again friends, he no longer believed it possible. Finally, he opened his eyes and looked at the grey sky. Strange how quickly the clouds darkened, as if mirroring his mood.

-Turn around sorcerer. A sudden voice spat, one he would recognize amongst a thousand others, but had never wanted to hear speak to him in such a way. Turn around!

And so Merlin turned, his breath stuck in his throat as he took in the scene playing before his eyes. Arthur was there, Excalibur in one hand and the other one lifted in the air as if to give the command to an execution, surrounded by his knights. There was Leon, there was Percival, there was even Gwaine. There was Sir Edouard, Sir Kay, Sir Alan, there was almost everyone. All these familiar faces, now with a look of rage and hate. Some seemed confused – Gwaine seemed hesitant. But despite this, all of them were pointing their swords at him. This was enough to break the last little bit of hope he had left. What had he been expecting?

Slowly, silently, the sorcerer raised a hand to his face to wipe away his tears. He was surprised to notice that he had finally stop crying, but he was even more surprised to see his fingers come away bloody. Oh, he thought absentmindedly, a branch must have whipped his face while he was running. Or perhaps another rock, when he had fallen, had scratched his cheek. Either way, he hadn't noticed, and it didn't even hurt him. What did hurt him, however, was to see all the knights present tense like bow strings when he raised his hand. As if he would really attack them at the smallest occasion. Had he been in the mood, he would have laughed. Above him, a rumble of thunder was heard.

-Now come towards us, slowly, with no abrupt gestures. And no magic. Growled Arthur, just as tense and hateful as the others.

Merlin couldn't keep his bewilderment off his face this time. His eyebrow arching, and he took a tiny step back – he knew, he knew the edge wasn't far, but his foot was met with the ground, not air. Faced with the King's disapproving air caused by his action, the sorcerer couldn't stop himself. A humourless smile pulled at his lips.

-What? He asked – his voice was hoarse and held none of the cheerfulness he usually tried to infuse his words with. Come forward? With twenty swords ready to eviscerate me? As tempting as that is, I think I'd rather pass.

He had pronounced that last phrase with sarcasm, but it wasn't like the usual ironic comments he liked to make. No, this time there was no humour in his words and he didn't miss the shudder each of the men in front of him tried to suppress when they heard his cutting tone. Really, they shouldn't expect him to be happy being threatened. Not hearing any reply to his words, Merlin shook his head to chase away all sarcastic thoughts from his mind. Sarcasm was his usual line of defense, but now he didn't need it anymore. He had no more use for it. After all, he was going to die.

Strangely, this idea wasn't as terrifying as it should have been. After all, he had known since his birth that he was going to die one day. And he no longer counted the nights where he jolted awake after dreaming of the way he would die. The most common way was the pyre. Fire was a slow death, painful, the worst there was, and Merlin had seen Uther burn enough people to know the details of how it happened.

The flames that climbed, starting by the feet, then the legs. The gag would suffice to keep the prisoner from biting their tong, but wouldn't completely muffle the screams, and the tears, and the piss on the pants. Everyone pissed themselves, shat themselves, everyone screamed while the flames took to the clothes, burning, melting the flesh and muscles. Merlin knew the smoke didn't kill; the wood chosen was always dry to avoid that possibility. On another hand, in a moment, the chains would burn too, adding their own markings to the skin, adding to the pain. And the gag ended up falling off, of course, but what importance did it have since they were in too much pain too even think about biting their tong and ending it, and, in any case, the blood must already be cooked in their veins by this point, so they screamed, they shouted, breaking their voices.

Yes, he knew, and he had dreamed of it in a lot of details. Because at each execution, he watched, with a sort of morbid fascination, until there was nothing but ashes left, well after the cries had stopped. He imagined being in the place of that man, that woman, that child. He knew one day, perhaps, it would be him that they would hear scream so loud, that all of Camelot would hear him die.

-We won't kill you. Percival suddenly intervened. As if to break the icy silence in Arthur's place.

-No, no you won't. Not here. Nodded Merlin coldly. You will do it in Camelot. Royal treason, lies, false pretexts, repeated usage of magic throughout the years… That's a lot. I'll be executed, like all those other people like me.

People like him. People stupid enough to perform magic near Camelot, stupid enough to tell someone they thought they could trust. People who, often enough, weren't bad, who didn't even do it on purpose sometimes. Normal people: fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. Husbands, wives, lovers and loners… People like nearly everybody else with the exception of having a special talent and the fact that they had to hope that no one else would ever find out they were special.

In front of him, Percival had stop talking, petrified, and the others held themselves with the same silence. Even Arthur seemed hesitant to speak now. No one had missed the flash of hurt followed by resignation in the blue eyes. But Merlin didn't care about their opinions, because even though he could see their sudden hesitation, their fists were still firmly gripped around their swords. How long before they got fed up and dragged him back to Camelot by force so he could be judged and burned. Beheaded, perhaps, if he was lucky. But really, when in his life had he ever been lucky? Not often.

He thought about all those years in Camelot, about all he had taken and all he had given for Arthur. Because he had believed a giant deranged lizard. Maybe Kilgarrah was laughing in his cave somewhere, telling himself that he had gotten Merlin well and good. Maybe he had never had any hope for magic and Arthur. He thought about Freya, he about his father, he thought about Will, he thought about Morgana… He thought about all the lives damned by his own fault, through the fault of a destiny bigger than him. He had the sudden desire to cry and laugh at the same time. Had he really done all that for nothing? Was his life nothing more than a big joke?

He saw from the corner of his eye one of the knights strengthen his grip on his weapon. He saw Arthur's eyes harden once again. He now no longer had a choice. Well he had a choice, but a choice that would end in the same manner either way. It was the story of his life, to choose between bad or worse. Or to flee. Merlin felt a smile without mirth stretch his lips. Ironically, this time, he didn't know which choice was horrible and which one was unthinkable, but he knew exactly which one was flight.

He looked in front of him. His first choice was to walk forward, let himself be taken and burned in Camelot. His second choice was to use magic against his King, something he had promised himself never to do, and to go far away, fleeing for the rest of his life, hidden in a cave like his father before him, to be eventually found and killed. Death or a shadow of life: which one was bad and which one was worse? He didn't know. He didn't want to know. He made his decision.

-Merlin, what are you doing? Suddenly asked Gwaine's voice – was that panic in his tone?

Merlin stared into the man's eyes. He seemed sincerely confused and worried. But it was too late for that. He was cornered, with a void to his back and sword in front of him. Another smile stretched his lips, but this time, it was a calm smile, relaxed… resigned. He had chosen. He wouldn't go to Camelot, die in front of Gauis and Gwen for a crime he commits solely by existing. He would not attack his King, his knights and Gwaine, the only one who seemed to hesitate. No, neither the first, nor the second solution was the right one. He answered, softly.

-I'm fleeing.

He chose the third solution.

He engraved one last time in his memory the faces of those who had been his friends – in another life, in another time, when everything seemed conquerable when they were there, when he believed in destiny and friendship.

He spread his arms.

Closed his eyes.

And took a step back.