Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Arthur must pay the price for the way he's been living his life
Word Count: 818
Author's Notes: Yay for surrealism! Merlin's some kind of Green Man, Arthur's a city businessman. Motifs used take inspiration from The Hunger Games (Tick Tock, This is a Clock) and The Keys to the Kingdom series (the idea of imprisonment on a clock)
A fitting punishment, Merlin thinks, for one who ties each fold of his life to the ticking of the clock. The shrill shriek of an alarm, a stopwatch counting down his days, dividing his life into regulated, allotted slots.
He checks the briars once more, tighter round Arthur’s ankles and wrists than any rope, stronger even than iron chains. Merlin smiles. He won’t be getting out of this one.
Arthur stirs, and Merlin sets the dirty clockwork into motion. Arthur is divested of his customary suit, naked now, and tied to the hands of a clock. His wrists are bound to the minute hand, his ankles to the hour hand, near to where the hand joins the face of the clock. It gives him just enough room for movement, with bent knees, that the clock will not destroy him. It will hurt, though. Merlin ensured that.
Arthur moans a little. Those who brought him here, the Nimueh and the Morgana and the Morgause, they were not careful with him. All the better, Merlin thinks. All the easier to break.
For Arthur has committed the ultimate offence against nature. He has ignored it. When he is made of it, of the power it creates. And for that, he must be punished. Hurt. Moulded, into the person he should have been all along.
Arthur opens his eyes. He stares for a long time. And then he blinks.
“What am I doing here?”
“You’re tied to a clock.”
“Am I dreaming?”
Merlin smiles at that. Small and twisted. “No.”
“Because you ignored us, Arthur Pendragon. You took us for granted. And now we will exact our revenge.”
“Nature!” Merlin all but yells. Arthur thinks he might be a little bit insane. Which is going to make it even more difficult to get free. He tries the ropes, briars even, and there’s no give. The thorns just cut deeper into his skin.
But the fact of the matter is, Merlin is perfectly sane. It’s the truth. He, with his cloak of leaves and blossoms and berries, was given the power to work nature. And he has become it, as much as it has become his will. He works its magic, and they answer to each other.
Arthur lies there, in pain, and tries to ignore it. To wait until the idiot turns his back so he can make some sort of bid for freedom. Despite how he’s bound to the hands of the clock.
“You will stay there, for twelve hours. On the thirteenth, when you are at your weakest, the lightning will come for you in the rain and in the sky and in the earth, and you will die.”
Arthur just nods. There’s no point trying to reason. He may as well face whatever the madman has in store for him.
“Of course, there is the option of redemption.”
“How would I…” Arthur coughs, “How would I redeem myself?”
“By embracing nature again. Letting it take you, hold you, become a part of you.”
“You really want to know?”
“Are you prepared for the consequences?”
“You’ll never be able to ignore us again.”
“Yes, just let me off this clock!”
“My name is Merlin. You should know that.”
“Mine is Arthur.”
Merlin sheds his cloak, and steps forward. And Arthur can’t believe that he hadn’t noticed how beautiful the man is, with his sharp cheekbones and his dew-soaked, dark hair, and his eyes. The blue of the sea or the sky or maybe even both, whirling together in a pattern that Arthur can’t get enough of. He’s pale, almost white, almost stone, and Arthur longs to touch him.
Merlin lays himself over Arthur, kissing his lips. Chaste at first, building to tongues, then teeth, then fingers over his skin. Merlin tingles where he touches, fizzes like electricity in the rain. He reclaims, transmutes, possesses.
And then his eyes flash gold. Arthur gapes, and Merlin smiles, softer, more meaningful. He presses inside Arthur, an easy slide down to the magic, and Arthur gasps. Likes it, inexplicably. Merlin’s smile widens at that, and he pushes, moving faster, claiming more and more of Arthur, until Arthur’s coming, they’re both coming, and Merlin’s hands rest over Arthur’s heart and he’s never felt so full, so connected.
Merlin sits back on his heels and surveys the golden man in front of him. Liquid, like the sunlight, as he lies back, lax in the grip of the clock face. The briars clear away, leaving Arthur freed and open and ready. And Merlin really smiles then, teeth showing, dimples in his cheeks. At that moment Arthur can believe that he really is nature itself. Changeable and perfect.
“Come on, Arthur. It’s time.” And Arthur follows.