Title: Silver Song and Golden Eyes [Part 2]
Character/s: Arthur, Gaius, Gwen
Summary: Everyone expects Arthur to remember, but he can't.
Word Count: 965
Prompt: No. 285 Angst Month - Sorrow
Author's Notes: Part 1
Arthur’s legs healed at a dragging pace. Gaius had insisted he stay in bed, which he challenged every morning after waking in a cold sweat from dreams he could never remember.
At first he’d just sit there, willing him legs to move. Days later, he’d been able to drag himself out of bed, only to have his legs give out from under him once he’d tried to support his own weight. It had been slow and steady progress.
Progress, nonetheless, he’d told himself.
For the first few days he’d been awake, Gwen had slept with him in their bed. She’d stroked his hair and tried to comfort him, but it hadn’t feel right.
Nothing felt right. Not anymore.
When Arthur had introduced the idea of sleeping in separate rooms, Gwen hadn’t argued. “If you think it best,” she’d said, smiling weakly.
Arthur knew it had been a strange decision to make, to be separated from his wife, but he’d wanted to recover alone. He hadn’t wanted someone hovering over him as he struggled to do what most men could do with ease. It had been bad enough that his new servant would find him on the floor of his chambers most mornings unable to get up.
Holding council meetings in his chambers had been embarrassing, but he’d refused to be carted around like some invalid. Word had already spread like deadly vines, ensnaring the people of Camelot, from the kitchens to the lower towns, that the king would never be able to walk again.
A king who could not be with his men, defending his land with his own strength, should be no king at all, they’d said.
I’ll show them, Arthur thought darkly as he stumbled through his chambers only to collapse after a few feet. He hit the table before landing hard on his knees. He plopped down with a grunt and inspected his new bruises that would join the many others he’d acquired in the past couple weeks.
Many things had changed in the wake of Morgana’s death, and nothing he did—no matter how hard he tried to get along with his knights and Gwen, or crawl out of bed each morning—made anything normal. With each day, Arthur grew more tired and restless, snapping at everyone who came into his room, focused to point of obsession on being able to walk again.
He watched the blood blossom on his knee. Suddenly, he wished he could go back in time, when everything was good. When his legs didn’t scream in protest as he stumbled to his work table to grab a scrap of parchment. When everyone respected him as the King and he didn’t want to explode with frustration at his friends and himself.
Maybe not back in time, Arthur quickly amended in his mind, since Morgana and Mordred would then still be able to torment his every waking moment as he held on to Camelot with a death grip.
If I did go back in time, I’d see Merlin.
Merlin, the elusive, strange man whom every one wished to see and Arthur couldn’t remember.
Merlin was still missing, according to Gaius. They’d discovered Arthur, who had been lying by a lake, skin white as snow with only a faint pulse, but neither Merlin nor Excalibur could be found.
Gaius had pored over every book he could get his hands on, but he’d been unable to explain what magic had caused the mark on his chest, the temporary disability of his legs, his memory loss, and Merlin’s disappearance.
Thus making Arthur the only key to saving Merlin.
In addition to dreamless sleep remedies which never worked, Gaius had given him murky concoctions devised to retrieve his memories, but even the strongest of drafts hadn’t been able to unlock the recesses of his mind.
His mind was like the night sky, Gaius had explained. The stars burning brightly were memories of his childhood and crowning accomplishments, but between those points of brilliance lay the sea of stars that had lost their light, some faded but still reachable, but others forever gone in the darkness.
Gaius hoped Merlin was the former.
Gaius had tried to convey time and again how important it was that Arthur remembered Merlin, but Arthur couldn’t help but help but feel irritated.
He couldn’t remember anything. Not the sound of Merlin’s voice. Nothing.
Everyone in the castle, from the head cook to the stable boy, had told him many stories of Merlin and his wit and bravery (and on occasion his mischievousness and foolishness), hoping it would trigger something. Arthur had pretended to listen, but he hadn’t wanted to hear it. The stories hadn’t helped, if anything it had made it worse.
Why were they so obsessed with a servant, when Arthur was here, right now, on the floor struggling to stand on his own two feet and lead the kingdom? He couldn’t remember Merlin and there was nothing he could do.
Merlin could wait, he thought in response to the pang of guilt he felt for walking one more measly step than he had the day previous.
Some days, when he woke before dawn, Arthur didn’t see why he needed to remember at all. Maybe as long as he was able to walk again, things would be fine. He could get used to the dreams and they would fade away with time.
In a burst of bitterness, Arthur decided he didn’t want to remember. He came to this conclusion alone in his chambers, watching the sun drag across the sky, the shadows sliding along his stone floor, his fingers, the dried blood on his knees. He curled up on the floor and closed his eyes.
He waited for night to come and the darkness to haunt his dreams.