Title: Written in the Moon, Part 3
Rating: PG-13, maybe
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Uther, Valiant
Summary: In which Arthur and his father have a friendly little chat
Warnings: Brit-ican English, lack of inspiration
Word Count: 1000
Prompt: "Wait for it"
Author's Notes: Part One, Part Two, on ao3
If it's horrible, someone yell at me before I post it to ao3. (Nicely. Yell nicely.) Okay? Okay. Also, still for Kitty. Who is lovely.
Arthur grabbed Merlin tightly to him with both arms, a fierce hug of never-letting-go, then spun to face his father.
“Stop! You can't arrest him!”
Uther did not look impressed by this statement.
“Arthur. I am the king. I assure you that I can do whatever I like.”
“But he's my soulmate!”
Arthur wasn’t sure it was possible for his father to look even more furious, but somehow he managed it.
He heard Merlin mutter “Arthur—” into his ear, but just snapped, “Shut up, Merlin.” Now was really not the time for the idiot—his idiot, mind you, but still an idiot—to mess things up. He let go with one hand to grab Merlin's head and smush his face into Arthur's shoulder. Knowing Merlin, he'd run off at the mouth and be sent to prison for the rest of his life. Merlin squawked in protest, but Arthur ignored him.
Valiant lurked behind the king, looking eager. At a nod from Uther, he stalked over to grab Merlin. When he tried to put his slimy hands on Merlin, Arthur growled at him.
“Stay back!” Arthur glared so fiercely, Valiant paused. Merlin squirmed frantically, but Arthur ignored him. “Father, he has my soul mark. Send everyone away, and we can talk about it.”
“Arthur. You know you don't have a mark. I don't know what kind of trick this boy is trying to pull, but I can assure you, I won't fall for it.”
Merlin grumbled something into Arthur's shoulder. Arthur ignored him.
“Father. It is no trick. I have seen it. It is a true mark.”
Uther glared at him. “You only wish to escape your marriage, Arthur. This childish prank won't work.”
Arthur felt his initial panic at the threat of Merlin's arrest shift to the burn of anger. “Why are you so against this, Father? Why wouldn't you want me to be happy?”
“Happiness is an illusion, Arthur. Love is an illusion. The soul marks give you hope only to destroy it. I've tried to protect you from that.”
“You've tried to protect me? By doing what? Denying me any form of love, ever?” Arthur struggled to keep his voice steady.
Uther shook his head, as if clearing it before a battle. He turned to the guards and snapped, “Leave us!”
The room cleared. Only Valiant lingered, though he retreated behind Uther.
Arthur had no patience to deal with that prick. “Get the fuck out, Val.”
Valiant leered at him, then lowered his eyes to where, to Arthur's horror, Merlin was mooning the king. No wonder Merlin had seemed so irritated with the position. Arthur let him go and hissed, “Get dressed!”
“What did you think I was trying to do?” Merlin pulled up his trousers with a whispered “prat!”, then turned towards the king.
“Actually, Valiant, you may stay.” Uther sounded smug. “So, Arthur, let's see this soul mark, then.”
“Not yet. What did you mean about protecting me?”
“Why this delay, Arthur? Is it because there is no mark?”
Uther looked too pleased with himself. It suddenly occurred to Arthur the reason why. Soulmates’ marks appeared in the exact same place on each of them.
Arthur fumed. “You knew about my mark all along! You know exactly where it is!” Could his father really have been so cruel?
“And I had hoped that you would never find it. Why do you think I forbid you being alone with other young people?”
This was too much for Arthur to take. “You've been sabotaging me?” His voice squeaked in disbelief.
Uther merely sounded bored. “That's hardly news, Arthur.”
“Let me rephrase that. You've been sabotaging me so that I wouldn’t find my soul mark?”
“If you'd known about it, you'd have spent your whole life searching for an illusion. I couldn't risk it.”
“You couldn't risk it? Risk the chance that I might find love?” Arthur’s eyes prickled, and he blinked them firmly.
“There is nothing good about love. Love makes promises of happily-ever-after, then leaves you heartbroken and empty-handed. At least by marrying Elena, we'll have a political alliance to celebrate.”
The pieces slid together in Arthur's head. “This is about mum? She died, so you thought you'd spare me your pain? I've been fighting to win the tiniest morsel of your love since I was born. I thought that if I were better, more perfect, you might finally love me. I've tried to wait for it my whole life, and now I find out that nothing I do will ever be enough, because you thought you were protecting me?”
Arthur knew he sounded hysterical, but if he couldn't throw a mini-tantrum now, when could he?
“I've finally found my soulmate, someone who loves me no matter what, and I'm not going to let you take that away.”
Something else was bothering Arthur. “How could you have known where the mark was? That's just—”
“Despite what one might think, I have changed a nappy or two in my time, Arthur.”
“Wait—nappy? But that means—”
That meant that the mark had been there since infancy. It was said that the earlier your mark appeared, the more intense the soulbond would be.
Behind him, Arthur heard Merlin murmur, “But Mum never said anything. She wouldn't have hid that from me.”
“You're a year older than me, Merlin. You must have been out of nappies by the time the marks appeared.”
He turned back to Uther. “I will not marry Elena, Father. You were wrong to have expected it of me. You knew who my soulmate was, all this time, and tried to keep him from me. I cannot forgive that.”
He pulled at Merlin by the upper arm, causing the idiot to stumble in surprise. “Come on, then. I have a wedding to cancel.”
Uther roared. “You cancel this wedding and I'll disinherit you, Arthur!”
“So be it.” Arthur pushed past his father and Valiant and dragged Merlin right out the door.