Of Remorse, Rescue, and Repentance by Emachinescat

A Merlin Fan-Fiction

SUMMARY: AU tag to "The Hollow Queen." Merlin's dying and a desperate Daegol doesn't know how to save him. The only person he can think of that can help is back in Camelot, but if Morgana finds Daegol trying to slip back into the city, she'll surely kill him. How far is Daegol prepared to go to save Merlin, and will he be able to get help before it's too late? 5x08

A/N: It's been forever since I've posted anything, and I'm sorry! It's been a crazy month at school, and I've had papers and tests and projects out the wazoo, and I'm still not done, but I have to start writing again or I'll go insane! :) I thought that "The Hollow Queen" was a fantastic episode, with very, very long-awaited Merlin whumpage (although admittedly, season 5 has been doing quite well with the whump aspect this season). I still had an idea that I wanted to play with, though, and it is coming out in this story. I really hope you enjoy, and please read and review!

*One quick note; my computer is going ridiculously slow right now, and I'm not able to re-watch any of the episode for reference. Most of the story veers away from the original, but I do have a line or two from the episode, as well as I can remember it. Morgana's warning to Daegol probably isn't spot-on, but I did the best that I could from my memory. Feel free to correct me with the actual dialogue in your reviews. Thanks! :)

Of Remorse, Rescue, and Repentance

Part One: Remorse

"Make sure you tell no one of this – you forget I still have a few drops left," Morgana warned, and then she turned and faded into the forest.

Daegol stood at the lip of the ravine, stunned. He peered over the edge and his stomach clenched at the roughly seven-foot drop in front of him. Lying awkwardly on the grass at the bottom of the ridge was Merlin, unconscious. Daegol couldn't see the older boy in great detail from this height, but it was obvious that Merlin wasn't doing well.

Appalled by the idea of the man that had been so ridiculously kind to him all day dying alone in the middle of a bandit-ridden forest, Daegol jumped into action. Bracing himself for a difficult descent, he began to slowly lower himself down the miniature cliff-side, being careful not to slip up on the slick tufts of grass that stuck out from the dirt. He was sure that if he were to make his way around and through the forest a bit, he would find a safer and easier path to the bottom, but Daegol couldn't take that long. He needed to get to Merlin now.

A couple of long minutes later, Daegol was at the bottom of the ravine, stumbling to Merlin's side. His eyes widened as he took in Merlin's appearance: the man had just been given the poison ten minutes ago, and already his skin was pale. Black goo tinted the inside of his slightly parted lips and he was breathing a little heavily. And that wasn't even counting the injuries he had sustained after being thrown from the top of the hill. There was a cut on Merlin's head, just at his hairline, and although it wasn't gushing blood, it still looked pretty nasty. Daegol let his eyes travel down Merlin's body, and his eyes narrowed when he saw that Merlin's pants leg was ripped and that there was blood glistening on his skin under the clothing.

Daegol fought back nausea at the sight of the wound – and at the thought that he had caused this – and staggered to his feet. I should get him some water, the boy thought. It's the least I can do.

Yeah, a nasty little voice agreed in the back of his mind. It is the least you can do.

Daegol shook his head and cast one last worried look at Merlin before hurrying back toward the slope – he'd left the water skin at the top! Even as he began to struggle to climb the steep and slippery slope, he knew that the voice was right. After what he'd done, getting Merlin a drink of water was worth nothing.

Still, he had to do something.

Merlin was ushered back into the realm of consciousness by a great wave of pain. Everything hurt. His stomach was churning and his head was swimming. And his leg… Why did it feel like his leg had caught on fire? Oh, gods. Had he actually managed to somehow light his leg on fire?

Merlin managed to push his body up just enough to see that no, his leg was not on fire, but upon further inspection, he realized that he had a rather big gash adorning the side of his leg. Only half aware of what he was doing, Merlin tried to reach for the wound, but the effort proved to be too much for his body. He tried doing magic, but his magic wouldn't respond. Fear clawed at him, and he flopped back down and coughed, bile in his throat.

What had happened? He coughed again, and his body was wracked with a pain so intense that he almost blacked out. He managed to spit out the bile that had risen before laying his head back down, and then he went back to trying to remember what had happened.

Daegol. That boy had betrayed him. Merlin felt an ache in his chest that had nothing to do with the poison coursing through his veins. Even as the emotions washed over Merlin, so did unconsciousness, and by the time the guilty Daegol was back with the water skin, Merlin was unconscious once more.

Daegol made it back down the steep hill, this time with the water skin in hand, and made his way back to Merlin, who was still sleeping. He must have woken up in the ten minutes or so that Daegol was gone, however, because there was now sick crusted on the servant's pallid face. Daegol shook Merlin, trying to rouse him, but it was no use. Merlin didn't stir. Inspiration struck the boy, and he opened the water skin. He poured the water on Merlin's mouth, and finally the man's eyes opened slowly, his lips moving sluggishly at the refreshing water.

When Merlin was able to focus a bit, his glazed eyes landed on Daegol. Hurt frothed in his eyes as he struggled to speak. "You… You came back. Why?" His voice was harsh, strained, and ragged and Daegol cringed.

"I couldn't leave you to die," Daegol said simply, once again ignoring the voice that told him that all this was his fault in the first place.

Merlin coughed, retched, and spit. "Too late," he gasped, flopping his head back.

Desperation filled Daegol. He had to right this wrong. He couldn't let the man who had been so nice to him die like this. "No, I can help. You're a physician; you tell me what to do," he pleaded.

He saw the frustration in Merlin's ashen face. "There is nothing you can do!"

"There must be a cure. Tell me the herbs and I'll find them; come on, what do you need?" Daegol urged.

He saw a tiny bit of hope kindle in Merlin's unfocused eyes and knew when the man was going to comply. "I don't know… how to stop… the poison," Merlin gasped painfully, "…but I know of… some herbs that might… slow down… its effects so that help… can come…"

"Help?" Daegol asked. "I don't know anyone who can help! Can't you just think of a cure?"

"I. Don't. Know." Merlin could barely force the words out of his mouth at this point. "But rue… and milfoil… ground into… tincture… might slow down poison… for a while…"

He passed out.

Daegol swallowed hard. Merlin was going to die unless he got help, and the only place that Daegol could think of that might be able to give said help was Camelot, and it was nearly a half a day away, not to mention if Morgana caught him anywhere near the citadel, she would surely kill him. Her warning echoed once more in his mind, but Daegol couldn't help the pang of terrible guilt that he felt as he looked once more upon Merlin's prone form. He could not, would not allow the first person in over ten years to treat him with kindness die because Daegol had led him into a trap for money.

He would collect the herbs, grind them, and give the medicine to Merlin. And then he would tend to Merlin's leg as best he could, and leave for Camelot directly after. He would redeem himself and rescue Merlin from the jaws of death, or he would die trying.

Even if all the odds were against him, Daegol was finally going to do something good in his life.

Without glancing back, he ducked into the trees and began to hunt for the herbs. "Don't worry Merlin," he said to the air as his eyes scanned the ground for yellow flowers and feathery leaves. "I'm going to make this up to you, I promise."

A/N: Aaaand end of part one! I'm loving writing Daegol! Sorry for the sorta-cliffie! :) The good news is, I don't have too much more stuff to do for school, so I should be able to start updating for real now. This will have three parts, and part two should be up very soon. As for my other fan-fictions, they too will be updated in the very near future. Gosh, I've missed this! Please review, and I'll update soon! :)

~Emachinescat ^..^