“What happened?!” Merlin shook himself.
“Welcome back to the land of the living!” Arthur said, pleased to see his friend was ok.
“He won’t be for long and nether will you!” Benjamin shouted.
Both Merlin and Arthur had witnessed the power this boy possessed and knew not to take this threat lightly.
“Look, just calm down. I know your upset about your sister’s death but it wasn’t Merlin’s fault. He didn’t kill her!” Arthur tried desperately to reason with the boy.
Merlin quickly gathered his thoughts that were still swimming wildly around his head. Arthur must have been informed on the fact that he had killed Nimueh but the problem was whether he should deny it or not. Deny it and maybe Arthur would belive him but except it and Arthur might lop his head off. Arthur wouldn’t do that though. The head loping that is. However Merlin decided not to risk it.
“How are you so sure?” Benjamin asked.
“Because I just know.” Arthur said rather rubbishy.
“Enough of this! I will kill you!”
“Wait! Think about what your doing Benjamin. Do you really want to become a murderer? Could you live with yourself? Think about it.” Merlin told the boy, even surprising Arthur with this new found wisdom.
“I…of course I…I’m not a kid!” Benjamin stuttered.
“Yes you are. Don’t do this.” Arthur said, taking a few steps towards Benjamin.
Benjamin stumbled off the rock and shrunk away.
“Back down! I’m warning you!”
Arthur had learnt in the short time he had known the boy that his threats were by no means hollow and stopped in his tracks.
“I am sorry about your sisters death. I truly am.” Merlin said. Meaning every word of what he said. He was not proud of killing Nimueh even though she had been evil and had almost killed Gaius and countless others.
“What do you mean?! You killed her!” Benjamin cried, falling back a few steps.
Merlin knew that down right denying the fact he had killed Nimueh would only angry Benjamin more but admitting to it would cause Arthur to loose his trust in him so he just stayed silent.
“Stop saying that! Merlin didn’t kill her! Did you?” Arthur directed the last question at Merlin.
“I…umm…” Merlin flicked his eyes from Arthur to Benjamin, not knowing what to do.
“What? You did?!” Arthur frowned, assuming that Merlin’s silence was guilty, though not truly believing it.
Merlin thought quickly. Keep his magic secret and possibly anger Benjamin so much he would kill them both or admit the truth and die anyway. He had decided.
“No, of course not.” He told Arthur, feeling hatred coming off Benjamin in waves.
“Do not lie warlock! You killed her!” Benjamin yelled.
“No, I did not. Don’t call me a warlock ether. I don’t have magic.” Merlin said, hating that he was having to lie to Arthur about his magic yet again.
“Well that settles it. We are leaving!” Arthur said turning to go.
“Fine! Go!” Benjamin shouted, “But Merlin’s staying!”
“Leave us alone! He said he didn’t kill your sister!”
“He is a liar, soon to be a dead one.”
“No chance.” Arthur pointed his sword at arms length at Benjamin.
“No, wait Arthur! Benjamin, you don’t have to do this. You can come back with us. Start a new life. Forget everything! Revenge won’t bring your sister back.” Merlin tried desperately to persuade Benjamin to change. He hated seeing a boy so young like this and he wanted to help him.
Suddenly Benjamin seemed to listen for once and appeared to be mulling this offer over carefully. Merlin marvelled at the mature attitude the boy had suddenly adopted that was so unlike a child.
“Do you really think that Nimueh would want you to be like this?” Merlin knew the answer was probably yes but maybe Benjamin wouldn’t see it like that.
“Merlin! We can’t have a sorcerer come back with us! Are you mad?” Arthur declared suddenly.
Benjamin looked up from his thoughts, looking suddenly scared and venerable.
“No it’s all right. No one needs to know he’s a sorcerer.” Merlin took a few steps towards Benjamin, holding out a hand.
“Come on. You can come with us.” He said.
Benjamin shrunk away from Merlin’s hand like it was a poisonous snake. Merlin suddenly noticed that the boy was getting closer and closer to the edge of the platform.
“No! It’s ok. Don’t move.” Merlin stretched his hand out further, trying to coax the young child towards him.
“No…stay away…” Benjamin took another step towards the edge, a few stones rolling off and falling into the endless darkness below.
Arthur had noticed to and tried to help Merlin.
“Don’t move!” He yelled as Benjamin took a step that wasn’t there and fell with a shout.
“No!” Merlin cried and leapt to the edge, kneeling down and peering over the side in a frenzy. Benjamin was clinging onto a small jutting out rock by one arm, his legs failing around in the air, a look of complete terror on his face, all traces of maturity gone. He just looked like any other frightened little boy.
“Grab my ankles!” Merlin yelled to Arthur, preparing to go over the edge.
“Just do it! I’m going to save him!”
“Wo-“ Arthur began to protest but Merlin looked as though he was going over the side, Arthur holding him or not, so reluctantly he grabbed Merlin’s feet and lowered him over the ledge, jamming his own feet into two small holes in the rock for support. Immediately his bad arm, the one the wolf had got to, began to hurt.
“Grab my hand!” Merlin shouted to Benjamin, reaching down for all he was worth.
“I can’t!” Benjamin cried, tears of terror streaming down his face.
Benjamin did as advised and began to swing precariously on his hand, reaching up with the other. Their hands touched briefly but the sweat on both of them caused them to slip away again.
“Lower me down further!” Merlin shouted up to Arthur.
Arthur bent his knees to achieve the maximum of his ability, flinching as his bad arm throbbed with the strain.
“I can’t hold on!” He yelled, his feet slipping slowly out of the dents in the rock.
“Come on!” Merlin said, extending his arms to lengths he didn’t even know were possible.
Benjamin had both hands on the jutting out rock but as he tried again to grab Merlin’s hand one of them slid off, a few small pebbles falling off the ledge.
“MERLIN!” Arthur puffed. Hs arm wasn’t going to take much more of this.
Benjamin’s face suddenly took on a calm serenity. He knew he wasn’t going to be able to reach Merlin’s hand and he also knew that Arthur couldn’t hold on forever and it would all end up with them all going over the edge. Merlin read the thoughts that were clear in Benjamin face.
“No.” He chocked so quietly it was barely audible, shaking his head gently.
Benjamin’s face briefly twitched with something that Merlin didn’t have time to register and then with a final tear rolling down his face he let go.
Everything went into slow motion, time seemed to stop and Merlin lost all acknowledgement of everything around him, even sound. All he saw was Benjamin’s body falling until the overwhelming blackness encased him. He didn’t want to breath. He didn’t need to breath. He didn’t need to do anything. He just needed to stare, as if that would bring the boy back.
Arthur gave the final ounce of his energy and heaved Merlin onto the platform. His first concern was his arm, which had opened up again and needed rewrapping which he did. He looked at Merlin who seemed to have frozen, a glazed expression on his face.
“…Are you alright…?” Arthur asked. Merlin took a moment to turn his head.
“I could have saved him.” He croaked. He could have done. He could have used his magic to help him but he hadn’t. It hadn’t occurred to him. He hadn’t had enough time.
“It’s my fault he’s dead.” He looked down at the floor.
“No. It’s my fault.” Arthur said, slumping down beside Merlin. “I should have lowed you down more.”
“Don’t blame yourself.”
“I won’t if you won’t”
Arthur got up and offered a hand down to Merlin.
“Come on. Lets go home.”