Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur (if you want - who knows where it will go)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Leon, Gwaine, Percival, Lancelot, Elyan
Summary: Arthur had been missing for months. Merlin wasn't sure he had found him.
Word Count: 1000
Prompt: No, Stop!
Author's Notes: Continuation from last week.
The journey back to Camelot was uneventful considering they had an ensorcelled prince in their midst. Leon kept a close eye on Arthur, making sure his bindings were tight without causing him pain other than frustration.
But Merlin knew Lancelot was the only one aware of how much it was due to the warlock that nothing happened. He kept Arthur lethargic, sending him to sleep every time they stopped. The rest of the knights blamed it on the curse and Merlin tried to do the same, even if it was to stop the guilt from eating him alive. He had to keep Arthur safe, no matter what.
Elyan rode ahead when they reached the citadel, alerting Gaius to the problem and securing them a route into the castle. They had all agreed – even Leon – that Uther couldn’t find out about this. His state of mind after Morgana’s betrayal could not be trusted and if he knew he was losing another child to magic, there was no telling what he would do.
They got Arthur to his rooms without anyone being any the wiser about the prince’s state of mind. There, Gaius banished the knights, only letting Merlin remain as he examined Arthur. Merlin kept the prince subdued, but Gaius looked old and grave when he saw Arthur’s eyes.
They left him sleeping, being careful to lock the door. Leon organised a guard, although what excuse he had given them, Merlin had no idea. As soon as he reached the physician’s chambers, he reached for the man’s books.
“Are you sure you want to be in here?” Gaius asked, peering at him over the top of his spectacles. A large tome was already open in front of him and Merlin knew he had started researching this curse before seeing Arthur.
“Where else would I be? I have to find out what this is.”
Merlin sat down suddenly, his legs simply giving way beneath him. The exhaustion of the trek and the search were taking its toll now he knew he didn’t have to deal with the magical side of Arthur’s kidnapping alone any longer.
“He’s trying to kill me, Gaius.” Merlin said, his voice grave. “Not Leon, not Gwaine, me. I can’t be around him.”
“It’s not about me.” Merlin ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “Part of him is conscious, Gaius, I know it. If Arthur is aware of what he is doing… It will kill him to know he is hurting me.”
Gaius didn’t have an answer to that. They spent the rest of the day pouring over volume after volume. Merlin sent a message that he needed someone else to attend to Arthur, although he wasn’t sure Leon would let a stranger into the room. But right now, Merlin couldn’t be around his prince.
When dawn broke the falling morning and there was still no answer, Merlin knew he had to face his fears though. He couldn’t hide from Arthur, not when he knew it was because he was scared despite what he told Gaius. Not to mention the magic would be wearing off and Merlin wanted to make sure Arthur remained calm.
The corridors were deserted as the sun had yet to fully rise and Merlin knew this was the one time he was on time for work. But as he slipped through Arthur’s door, he knew the prince wouldn’t notice. Arthur was still asleep, but the state of the room indicated he realised he had been locked in. Merlin hoped that was good – it meant Arthur hadn’t developed any other abilities other than a determination to end Merlin’s life.
He managed to tidy the room and fetch breakfast before Arthur stirred. Merlin was instantly by his side, his magic at the ready. When Arthur’s eyes opened, Merlin swore he saw a flicker of the familiar blue. His heart lurched and he lent forward.
He waited too long for an answer though. Arthur’s punch caught him square on the jaw and Merlin went flying. He hit the table and fell to the ground, stunned. Arthur was on him before he had a chance to react.
“Arthur, what are you doing? It’s me! It’s Merlin! Let me go!”
Struggling physically did nothing though. Arthur forced him flat on the floor, straddling him with his knees pressing Merlin’s wrists to the ground. It hurt, more than Merlin was expecting, but he couldn’t draw a breath to complain about it.
Arthur’s fingers had once again wrapped around his throat. Merlin coughed, trying to draw a breath in order to stop Arthur from strangling him. But the prince’s hold was too strong and Merlin knew his feeble attempts to throw Arthur off were getting weaker by the second.
Dark spots danced in his vision when Merlin’s magic reacted instinctively. Power flooded his body as he it fought to save his life. As Arthur’s hands clenched again, Merlin felt his eyes turn gold.
“No,” he croaked, “STOP!”
His magic enforced the word and Arthur was thrown back from him. This time, it was Arthur who went flying and hit the opposite wall with an audible thud. Merlin winced even as Arthur dropped to the floor. Hurrying over, he made sure his power remained at the ready even as he crouched beside Arthur.
“Sire?” Merlin muttered cautiously, rolling him over.
“Merlin?” For a split-second, it was Arthur looking back at him. His prince; his destiny. Merlin let out a sound between a laugh and a sob.
“It’s me, Arthur. I’m here.”
He didn’t know if Arthur heard him as the prince chose that instant to pass out. But if he had fainted while the man himself was in control, Merlin knew there was a slither of hope that it would be Arthur present when he woke up again.
Merlin knew he had been right; Arthur was in there and fighting. All he had to do was figure out how to help him fight off the curse.