Hey. I'm kinda new to the world of fanfiction writing. I've been reading fanfiction for a few years, but I've only tried my hand in writing one last year. English isn't my first language, and I don't have a beta. I apologise for all the mistakes I might have (probably have) made. I hope you like my story

This story takes place several years after the Merlin Finale. I've made some changes to the story, because although I liked the finale, it was just too sad for me. And that's why, some of the characters, like Arthur and Gwaine, are alive here. I'll probably explain how they managed to survive the finale at some point in the story. Feel free to PM me if you want

-_-_Chapter 1-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-

He swung his sword, moving and turning, successfully dodging their blows. It was four against one, but one of them was wounded, so his blows were weak and slow. The other three were healthy and strong, but they weren't skilled fighters, and although they knew how to hold their own, they were still no match for King Arthur Pendragon. The best swordsman in Camelot, who under normal circumstances, would have been able to deal with them quickly. But these were not normal circumstances. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with Arthur. He was relatively well rested, his reflexes were as good as they've ever been, and were the situation different, he would almost be enjoying the battle. Not actually enjoying the battle, of course. He was fighting several bandits alone, he was in the forest, and there is always the possibility of losing, even when you're far more skilled than your enemies. But normally, Arthur would look on this as an ability to practice his abilities, and practicing always made him feel more confident and better about himself.

However, that was not the case now. He was not able to move freely in every direction, as he would have usually done when avoiding enemy attacks. He had to stay in one place, not allowing the bandits to come anywhere near the tree that was several feet behind him. He had to avoid their blows, and fight them all simultaneously, so none of them would be able to sneak past him, or go around him. No, he had to keep them occupied, and away from the tree. Why was that particular tree so important? It wasn't a magical tree. It wasn't a sacred place, and no one important was buried near the tree. It didn't hold any memories dear to Arthur, it didn't bear any delicious fruit, it wasn't even a particularly beautiful tree. No, Arthur couldn't care less about the actual tree. What he did care for was the person leaning against the tree. Merlin was back there, behind Arthur's back, barely able to stand. He had offered to use his magic to help, and to that, Arthur had very politely responded: "Don't you even think about using your magic tricks now Merlin! You'll use up all your energy, and I'll have to carry your sorry back all the way to Camelot!" And Merlin had agreed, either because Arthur had looked very kingly and dignified while saying that, or simply because he hadn't had the energy to argue. Arthur liked to think it was the former. Whatever the reason, that still left Merlin leaning against the tree, helpless, leaving Arthur to fight off the bandits alone.

He was getting desperate. Arthur's swordsmanship was leagues beyond that of the bandits, and he had the instincts and reflexes of a seasoned soldier. But even though that was true, Arthur was still alone in this fight. Sooner or later, he would get tired, and he wouldn't be able to keep fighting. And that would be very bad. At the moment, Arthur was trying to come up with a plan that would help him defeat the bandits, even for a short while. It was enough for him to grab Merlin and run away somewhere. He dodged the latest attack from the tallest of the bandits, punched him in the face, then turned to his left and hit the blond haired bandit on the head with the hilt of the sword. Both of them fell to the ground, and Arthur was left with the two remaining bandits. "Good" he thought "It's going to be easy to fight off these two, seeing as one of them is wounded". They fought for a few minutes, and things were going well for Arthur. The bandits were starting to get tired, and Arthur thought that the battle would be over soon.

And then he saw them. The two bandits he'd knocked down earlier were starting to move again. They got up and started running towards him. "This is it" Arthur thought to himself, panicking "there's no chance I can hold of all of their attacks at the same time. Why did the both of them have to wake up now, for God's sa…". He didn't finish his thought though, because a faint sound behind him caught his attention. He didn't recognize it at first, but after a few seconds he realized what it was. It was Merlin. Reciting a spell. Arthur didn't know what the words meant exactly, but he remembered having seen Merlin casting that same spell. He remembered how powerful that spell was, and the huge amount of power radiating from Merlin in those moments. He remembered how Merlin looked at those moments, so strong and powerful, and how his enemies ran away, trying to get away from the Great Emrys. But Merlin was healthy then. He was healthy, and fed and fully rested. He wouldn't be able to handle casting such a powerful spell now, not when he was wounded and exhausted form the blood loss. So Arthur tried to stop him. He turned around, but he never got the chance. Before the words were even out of his mouth, Merlin's eyes turned gold. The air around him changed, and Arthur felt a wave of energy that almost knocked him of his feet. But it did a lot more to the bandits. The four of them shot backwards through the air. Each of them collided with a tree, or a rock, and a strong blow at that speed was enough to knock anyone unconscious. They fell to the ground, unmoving, and Arthur wondered for a moment if they were really only unconscious or dead. The moment passed, and Arthur ran towards Merlin, feeling angry, worried and relieved all at the same time.

"You idiot, I told you not to use magic, I was handling the situation just fine".

"Of course" Merlin answered him, panting and trying to catch his breath "You could have handled everything on you own".

"Exactly. I am the king, after all".

"That doesn't mean anything, you can't even dress yours…" Merlin started, but his sentence was cut short when his legs gave out and he was suddenly falling forwards, unable to balance himself. Arthur was there just in time, catching Merlin by his shoulders and holding him up.

"I've got you" he said, looking at Merlin "Don't worry, I've got you.'' He leaned Merlin against the tree again, never letting go of him. Merlin's face was pale and he had a hard time catching his breath. It wouldn't have been a huge surprise if Merlin collapsed at this very moment. "You idiot" Arthur said, trying to sound normal, although his voice betrayed how worried and stressed he really was "You just had to go and be a show off, didn't you?"

The response never came. Merlin just looked at him, rolled his eyes and then he turned his attention back to focusing on his breathing. He was clutching Arthur's arms, trying to regain his balance. That spell took out too much energy out of him. Arthur was right (not that he would admit that out loud), he wasn't strong enough at the moment. His wound hurt like hell, his head hurt like hell, and all in all he wasn't feeling very good. And because that wasn't enough, his legs gave out again, and he would have fallen down if it weren't for Arthur's strong grip on him.

"All right, that's enough. I'm lowering you down. You wouldn't want your face to be covered in mud, wouldn't you? It's ugly enough as it is". And with those words, Arthur lowered Merlin down. Not being able to help himself, Merlin hissed when the movement caused his muscles to move, which in turn caused his abdomen to burn with pain.

"Sorry about that. There, now sit and relax. I'm going to go and check on the bandits. Sit here, and don't move". He adjusted Merlin and then headed of in the direction of the fallen bandits.

"Yes, because I had every intention of getting up and running around. Prat." thought Merlin to himself. He was actually really grateful and touched that Arthur worried about him so much. Of course, Merlin knew that Arthur cared for him. But the king wasn't a person who often showed, or talked about his emotions, and because of that, this caring side of Arthur was one that Merlin rarely saw. At the moment however, Arthur's feelings weren't his main concern. His wound now hurt more than before. Merlin was just grateful it hadn't started bleeding again. He was feeling very tired and lightheaded, and his vision was getting blurry. He had a hard time focusing on anything, and he wasn't really sure where they were, or how exactly they'd ended up in this situation. He did remember something about visiting some kingdom, and travelling. And he was sure there was some running involved. But his mind was fuzzy and Merlin didn't really want to make the effort to remember anything at the moment. He heard Arthur approaching and saying something about dead bandits. Everything that Arthur said after that turned into incoherent sounds, and Merlin was getting more and more tired, and if he could just close his eyes and rest, just for a moment…

"Merlin! Open your eyes, Merlin!" Arthur was suddenly yelling "We have to get to a safe place first. The bandits are dead, but more could come at any moment. We have to move". Arthur continued talking, but he stopped when he realized it was to no avail. Merlin was barely awake, and any words were lost on him. So he slid one arm around Merlin's back and slowly pulled Merlin up, into a standing (well, almost standing) position. The sudden movement caused pain in Merlin's wound, and that jolted him back to consciousness. He moaned, and said something along the lines of "Arthur, please, just leave me…" before he fell silent again. Arthur then looked at Merlin carefully. His wound wasn't bleeding, so that was good. But Merlin was exhausted and disoriented, and Arthur worried that the strain of the spell might have severe effects on Merlin's health. Pushing those thoughts away, he started walking, keeping Merlin up, and helping him walk, although he was more or less carrying him, because Merlin wasn't really able to walk.

They made their way through the forest, in search of a cave, or any safe place, where they could rest and hide. Their journey was slow, and Merlin was getting weaker and more tired with every step. The wound at his side sent sharp waves of pain with every movement, and he couldn't really concentrate on anything else. He was vaguely aware that they were looking for a shelter, although he didn't have a clue in which direction they were going. They traveled for what seemed like hours, and Merlin wondered why Arthur insisted on moving on. Everything looked the same anyway. His pain was unbearable at this point, and he moaned in pain at every step. Finally after what seemed like an eternity, they stopped. Arthur lowered Merlin to the ground, gently positioning his head onto something soft. He stared talking about something, but all the words sounded like muffled nonsense to Merlin. Arthur's voice sounded urgent and Merlin thought that Arthur might be talking about something very important. "Whatever it is, Arthur will handle it. He is the King, after all. But maybe, maybe, I should listen to him? Maybe, he needs my help? I should listen to him. Maybe…". He wanted to listen to Arthur. He wanted to do whatever Arthur was telling him to do. But his body had other plans. And so, Merlin surrendered to unconsciousness, Arthur's worried voice being the last thing he heard.