Merlin sensed it a heartbeat before the man moved, magic crackling hot and lethal around the hand he was raising towards Arthur. A thousand questions ran through Merlin’s head in that instant as time seemed to slow: how could Merlin not have known? Why didn’t he sense it? How could the knights have let him get so close? Why had they trusted him?
A thousand questions and no answers, but he knew one thing with a frigid certainty: if that spell hit Arthur, he would die and Merlin knew what had to be done.
There was no dramatic cry of warning; Merlin didn’t move to shove Arthur out of the way, just stepped between him and the oncoming spell. The silence Merlin felt more than heard shattered as the spell struck him, taking the breath from his lungs and he stumbled into Arthur as he turned, the knights finally beginning to understand what was happening.
Merlin stumbled into Arthur’s chest, the force of the spell and Merlin’s momentum knocking them both to the fl