Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Gwaine, Percival,
Summary: The iron collar and the cell didn't matter. What mattered was being away from Arthur.
Word Count: 1000
Author's Notes: This is really rather soppy, sorry!
Merlin didn’t know how long he had been unconscious for. Jolting awake, his breathing coming in quick, shallow gasps, he stared around, trying to make sense of what he was seeing. He appeared to be in a cell of some sort. Thick stone walls surrounded him on three sides. The fourth wall was constructed from thick metal bars and Merlin shivered.
Pushing himself first into a sitting position, then to his feet, Merlin clutched at the bars in order to remain upright. He remembered the attack and how powerful the enemy sorcerer had been. After the blow to his head, he hadn’t been able to concentrate to deflect that much dark magic and Arthur…
Merlin examined his cell again, despite knowing the king wasn’t with him. He moved closer to the door, the cold bars pressing against his chest as he tried to see out.
Only the echo of his own voice responded. Merlin shook the bars in frustration, then reached for his magic. He felt his power rise, then flinched violently as a tremor ran through his entire body and his magic slipped from his grasp again. Merlin tried again to the same result, then shakily lifted a hand.
The cell seemed to close in on him as he felt the cold iron collar locked around his neck. He swayed, swallowing bile. He knew what this meant. He was helpless. He couldn’t get out of this cell, couldn’t save Arthur, couldn’t even protect himself…
“No!” Crying out in sheer frustration, Merlin attempted to force the door. But it was no good. The door wasn’t going to open and Merlin sunk against it, helplessness threatening to overwhelm him. He was used to getting out of tight spots, but he had always had his magic to help him.
Being separated from Arthur made it worse. He had no idea if his love was alive, or injured, or even here. Arthur was his strength and separating them was more effective than the collar locked around his neck.
Sinking to his knees, Merlin forced himself to think. He needed to get out of here.
He just had no idea how.
One of the men chuckled and Arthur snarled in fury. But as two men shoved him at once, he lost his balance and fell heavily. He didn’t have time to roll over before the door slammed shut.
For a moment, Arthur lay where he fell, trying to control himself. He had been in situations like this before; he had trained his entire life to control himself. They could torture or kill him and he wouldn’t show a flicker of fear.
He was, however, absolutely terrified about what could be happening to Merlin. The men had seen him use magic and Arthur wasn’t naïve – he knew there were ways to restrain power, even for those as strong as Merlin. If they had captured the warlock – which they must have done as otherwise Merlin would have rescued him by now – it was because they could control him.
The thought was enough to make Arthur shiver.
Pushing himself upright, he used the rough edges of the bars to the door to break the ropes around his wrists. Then he clutched at the bars, peering out.
“Merlin?” No one answered his call and Arthur forced himself to concentrate. Merlin was okay – he had to be. But if he couldn’t rescue Arthur, then it was time the king did the rescuing for a change.
Feeling sick – not certain he was ready to face whatever torment his captor was about to throw at him – Merlin sat up. Facing these men was the only way he would discover what had happened to Arthur and Merlin was going to make his king proud and facing his attackers with his head held high.
But when a face appeared behind the bars, Merlin’s eyes widened in surprise, uncertain whether he was still dreaming.
“He’s here!” Gwaine yelled, his loud voice making Merlin flinch. Percival appeared and made short work of the door, allowing Gwaine to enter the cell. Merlin clutched at his friend for support as he stood, his legs threatening to buckle.
“Where is he?” he whispered, knowing Gwaine would know exactly who he meant. The knight grinned and supported him out of the cell.
There, across a small room lined with weapons and torture devices, stood Arthur. A bloodied sword was in his hand and a pile of men surrounded him. He turned and their eyes met across the room.
Merlin felt his power flood him. Love and protectiveness reared up as well and the collar stood no chance, falling from his neck as his eyes flared gold. Any enemy left standing was blown off their feet and the knights quickly dealt with them.
Merlin barely noticed, not looking away from Arthur as he stumbled across the room. Arthur met him halfway and Merlin felt his strength fully return as he clutched his king.
“You’re alive,” he whispered, his voice trembling in relief. His gaze anxiously scanned Arthur’s body, looking for injuries. Arthur’s hand caught his chin, forcing him to look in his eyes instead.
“I am.” Relief shone from Arthur’s gaze and Merlin knew he had been just as scared as Merlin had. Not for themselves, never for themselves.
But for their love.
“And no one,” Arthur continued, his voice radiating authority, “is going to separate us again.”
Merlin smiled, not doubting him for an instance.