Well, trouble in paradise, huh?*hides from angry mob*
Hey we've got to stay canon somehow, right? (READ AND REVIEW PLEASE :) )
There were a thousand ways this could have gone.
And yet, somehow, the outcome, Salazar thought, would always have been the same. Night had fallen over Camelot, one that was quiet and still, like everything in his surroundings had just stopped. Still hours away from dawn, the forest was frozen, every breath he took was loud compared to the world around him, and in its own odd way, that made the past few days come back vividly in his mind, threatening to overwhelm him.
"You don't have to do this, you know." The calm voice in the silence of night unsettled Salazar, who whirled around in the dark, fumbling for purchase amongst the trees when his foot got caught in the brambles below.
It was Merlin, leaning against a tree and watching him with steady blue eyes, clear as crystal and unnervingly omniscient in their observation. Salazar had no doubt that though he hadn't seen Merlin in more the 8 years now, the warlock definitely knew what had transpired in the last fortnight and last night.
"Do what?" It was foolish, yes, Salazar knew that, to assume that he could dodge one such as Merlin with simple bravado. After all, the terms were more or less a definitive image of him. However, there was a small part of him that hoped that Merlin wouldn't see his bluffing for what it was, and instead would believe whatever he told him.
Merlin didn't move from where he stood, merely raising an eyebrow at Salazar, as if to say, 'see for yourself'. Of course, Salazar knew what he looked like. A twenty two year old man, leaving from Camelot at nigh 3 in the morning, with a rucksack full of his belongings and a trunk floating behind him, wading through the Not-so-Forbidden Forest on his own?
Definitely running away.
No, not running away, leaving. Salazar corrected himself, sighing and re-adjusting the rucksack on his shoulders.
"Look, I know what I'm doing -"
"Do you?" Merlin said coolly, and Salazar stopped, looking at the sorcerer in front of him. He was well over 35 in age and still he managed to look like he could pass as Salazar's age. Immortality was clearly doing a good job in keeping up appearances. Still, the days of his adoptive parenthood were over, Merlin no longer had a say in Salazar's decisions, and he was going to let him know that today. The man hadn't even been around more than a handful of times in the last 8 years. Showing up for a few breakfasts a year didn't count as visiting in Salazar's view.
"Yes, I do. And if you think you're going to stop me -"
"I never said anything about stopping you, Salazar. I just asked if you knew that this wasn't the only way." He hated it. He hated this, when Merlin did that thing where he just looked at you. He looked at you and in an instant it was over, you knew he was right and you were wrong damnit if he didn't try and
make you do the right thing everytime.
Salazar shook his head. Not this time. He knew what he was doing was right. If he stayed things would only get worse. The others just couldn't see his point of view and no matter what he did, he couldn't bring himself to compromise. It was a matter of practicality, students of magical descent from both sides were most likely to be the most promising of students, how could no one else see that? Those who were pure could be trusted to keep magic pure, to keep it from being tainted like Morgana had tried so hard to do all of their young lives.
"You don't understand, Merlin, if I stay, it'll – I can't – It just won't work." He couldn't stress that enough. Merlin stayed infuriatingly still, watching him. His eyes flicked once to the castle still deep in sleep.
Salazar sucked in a breath, willing his face to stay unchanging. He had avoided thinking about her in this whole mess, he couldn't afford to. This was bigger than the two of them and whatever they had – didn't have – would have had – could have had. He scrubbed a hand over his face and grabbed the straps of his rucksacks, the knuckles going white with how tightly he had a hold of them.
"She'll manage." Merlin didn't look impressed, finally standing upright and away from the tree.
"Will she? You know as well as I do, that the minute you walk away from this, from us, it's over. You'll break her heart. She'll live alone forever Salazar, she'll seal her heart shut and you will be the cause of it." Salazar flinched, shaking his head, feeling the swish of blonde hair over his forehead.
This was the most emotion Merlin had showed through the entire exchange, which was uncharacteristic of him. By now, Salazar had been expected to be bodily hauled back to Camelot, or Hogwarts, the bizarre name King Arthur had bestowed upon the school that was attached to the Castle. Yet, Merlin showed no signs of interfering with his actions beyond this conversation.
" I can't Merlin." Salazar was resolute in this, though he wished he didn't have to be. But it was time he admitted couldn't look Merlin in the eye as he said the words.
"I'm not Godric, Merlin. I can't just – I can't just ignore it. I'm not like that. Like Helga, like Godric. She deserves someone like him. Not me."
There. He'd said it. Out loud. There was something to be said for relieving your burdens this way, he absentmindedly considered. Salazar felt oddly lighthearted. Though it didn't mean it didn't still slightly hurt when he saw Merlin's widen and then soften. Almost like he was looking at him in pity. Normally he would have addressed, but for once, he felt the insult of being viewed as such was well deserved. After all, he was running away.
No, not running away, leaving. It's different.
"Have you even asked her? Or did her opinion just not matter?"
"It wouldn't change anything."
"Because you know her."
Salazar nodded. Merlin snorted in laughter.
"That's the biggest mistake you could make, Salazar. Godric? How could you - " The sorcerer made a huffing noise, one that he usually reserved for when the King was being a particular brand of prat and inappropriately, it made Salazar want to smile. "Did you actually go blind while I was away or -? The fact you think that Helga would want Godric over y - I'm speechless." Merlin had a hand on his hip, the other over his face as he controlled himself.
Salazar took this time to continue to walk, towards the borders of the magical wards cast around the Castle, put in place two raids ago, when they'd been caught by surprise by Lot and his Army. His very Undead Army. He ducked past Merlin and continued the walk, hearing the Sorcerer thunder after him moments later. It slowed as he caught up, and the wizard was silent, walking with him to the edge.
"Brothers fight all the time, Salazar. This is no different."
Salazar's mind unwillingly flashed back to the events of the night, the screaming, the look in Rowena's eyes, the shock in Helga's and the hurt in Godric's. Words were said, words that Godric had regretted the moment he'd said them, and things Salazar had done that he'd regretted. The image of Helga's dinner, a mess at their feet would forever be seared into the blonde wizards mind for lide. He hadn't meant for any of it to happen the way it did.
But it had happened, it could have gone a thousand different ways, each of them with the same end. So in the end, the road didn't seem to matter much, Salazar thought, a space in his heart twingeing at the thought of what this meant for him and his future. The future he'd spent his childhood dreaming of, of a small hut near Carhaix, of a red headed wife with gentlest smile he'd ever seen, of unruly children and rambunctious days with cozy nights. The future that now lay shattered at his feet, spread for miles in every direction, the wreckage of his own doing.
"That's a lie and you know it. I know you've been to see Taliesin. You know how this ends, don't you? I can't go back to him, not when I – not when that -" He took a deep breath and stilled, his feet pausing, hesitating to take that last step and leave the barrier, knowing what it would mean.
"You don't have to do this." The first sentence echoed again, a hope of it reaching it's audience better than the first time. He closed his eyes and took the step, his world changing, falling, shattering, breaking and building itself up all over again. When he opened his eyes, nothing was different. It was still dark, the larks were beginning to sing, and now the barrier stood between Merlin and himself. A gulf that there was little chance of bridging again. After all, he'd had his second chance at life already, hadn't he? He wasn't greedy. He would be grateful for the life he'd had the chance to live.
"This is what is best for everyone, Master." He walked backwards, towards the dense foliage behind him, looking at the forlorn look of his Father, the only one he'd ever known and knew he was breaking his heart. He let the trees swallow him as he prepared to Apparate.