Title: Frozen Fractures
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Merlin shouldn't have been so trusting.
Warnings: Non-explicit torture, implied non-con
Word Count: 1000
Prompt: Unkept Promises
Author's Notes: This is seriously dark.
“You promise you’ll free my friends?” Merlin’s voice remained steady even as Arthur lurched forward. He ignored the king. “They won’t be harmed?”
“You have my word.”
Merlin tried to ignore his friends and focus his attention on the renegade in front of him. He had no idea where the attacked had come from. His first instinct had, naturally, been to protect Arthur.
But the attack had never been about Arthur.
It had been about him.
Him and his magic.
Merlin had tried fighting them off, but there were too many and their combined power was greater than his. Even stopping time hadn’t been enough. Now, Arthur was the only one still conscious.
“-I’ll go with you.”
“Good.” The bandit snapped his fingers.
A dark mist started to swirl around Merlin’s feet. He was cut off from his own power – a spell had rendered him helpless before he had realised just how strong these men were. But knowing he couldn’t defend himself meant this was the only option left open to him to protect Arthur.
That didn’t stop panic rising in him as he realised the forest around them was disappearing.
“At least let me say goodbye!”
His cry was ignored though, only mocking laughing reaching his ears as the trees, his friends and a terrified looking Arthur vanished from view.
The dark and cramped cell made it impossible to stretch out properly.
The bandits had told him they just wanted his help and that they wanted to understand his power. That was what he had agreed to.
Only as soon as they reached their destination and the torture had begun, Merlin realised how naïve he had been. They wanted his power, that was true enough. They just didn’t need him with it.
For weeks, they had been trying to harness his magic. They had tried bribes and incentives to start with. But it hadn’t taken them long to realise he wasn’t so easily bought.
Then the whips and chains had been brought out. They had used his own body against him. Hours of pain and humiliation, days of exhaustion and starvation. His resistance was dwindling as each day passed and isolation began to get the better of him.
Hearing footsteps made Merlin sit up, although he wasn’t fast enough to stop the whimper from slipping from him. He couldn’t take much more of this, knowing there was no way out.
When the flickering torch revealed who appeared first, however, Merlin breathed a sigh of relief. There was one man who kept him strong, kept him fighting. The one man who could give him what he needed when all else was lost.
“They’re okay?” Merlin whispered, his voice hoarse from his own screams. The bandit slid the torch into a bracket and turned to face him, nodding.
Every time this man came to see him, he promised that Merlin’s friends were safe. That Arthur was safe and that no harm had come to him. It was what kept Merlin fighting, kept him clinging onto the hope that he would survive this.
But as more men appeared, leers and taunts already on their lips, Merlin knew even the strongest man had to break.
He was running out of time.
But there came a day where he just couldn’t resist. He couldn’t do it anymore.
When their torments started, when the dark power called to his own magic, Merlin couldn’t refuse. He let his gift go, and even as the man jeered in triumph, the world spun alarmingly around him as his magic was stripped from him.
They needed to keep him alive, Merlin knew that much. But he felt weak and sick as he felt the leader take hold of his magic, twisting it to his own ends. He had let Arthur down, but he had kept him safe. That was what mattered.
“We need a demonstration,” the leader said. He clicked his fingers and two men seized Merlin’s arms. They dragged him from the cell, tying his hands. They took him to a central room, holding him down on his knees.
A commotion from across the room drew Merlin’s attention. He stared, terror rising in him, as another prisoner was bundled into the room. Bound and gagged, the man was shoved to his knees. It was clear the torture Merlin had gone through had been repeated on this man.
“You promised,” Merlin whispered brokenly. The leader – the same man who had been reassuring him this entire time – crossed over to Arthur, fisting a hand in his hair and jerking his head up. Merlin knew in one glance that Arthur had never found him because he had been here this entire time. He had never been left in the forest all those months ago.
But there was still defiance in his expression. He glared angrily, although Merlin saw the concern on his face.
“You promised!” Merlin screamed, his voice giving out. That didn’t stop the men from gagging him, their cruel hands holding him down.
“I lied,” the man said, shrugging. He closed his eyes and when he opened them again, they were burning gold. Merlin felt him tugging on the warlock’s own power but it was too late to stop it. He had given in; the spell was complete. Wrestling back control now wasn’t an option.
Tears slipped down his face as he fought against the restraints. But the binding was tight and Merlin was too weak to offer much of a fight. The men held him down with ease.
There was nothing he could do as his magic – his power that had been gifted to him to protect the Once and Future King – was turned on Arthur.
He shouldn’t have been so trusting.