Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Freya (OS)
Summary: Merlin refuses for her to become a heartbreaking headline splashed across the morning news.
Warnings: child abduction, despair, loss, murder of a child, not happy, seriously not at all
Word Count: 1330
Prompt: #301: heartbreak
Author's Notes: I'm so sorry for this. So so sorry. I was really hesitant to write this let alone post it because of the nature of it, however it just wouldn't leave me alone. So in advanced, I deeply apologize and please heed the warnings. Also sorry for the length of the story. I'm terrible at staying under 1k. And sorry if there are any British mistakes or such. I'm unfortumately American. Just....sorry about everything
Merlin’s eyes droop, the words on his laptop blurring until it’s just a rectangle of light. He shakes his head and blinks himself back awake. The news anchors drone on in the background, the changing colors of the television screen lighting up the living room, elongating shadows that dance with the changing screen. With a shake of his head, Merlin pulls himself up into more of a sitting position on the couch, shifting the warm laptop further up on his thighs. With a sigh, he scrolls further down the page, searching for keywords, headlines, anything that would give him a clue, some sort of sign.
He needs something. Anything. His heart can’t take much more of this.
He’s exhausted and drained, completely going out of his mind with worry and pain and an ache in his chest that just won’t give up. For two months now, its been building.
Ever since Freya disappeared from the front garden.
Arthur told him it wasn’t his fault, but Merlin knows better. Arthur was at work, Merlin at home writing his novel while watching their six year-old daughter Freya. Just a typical, standard weekday for them.
But in a second, it wasn’t.
It was a brief moment, he had just taken his eyes off her for only a minute and then she was gone.
Two months and there had been but a few leads, all dried up and gone. A white mini cooper, a dark-haired man, a blue Ford Fiesta, a blonde woman, all the supposed sightings by neighbors and passersby, differing in description and time.
All amounting to nothing.
The rattling of a key in the front door of the flat broke Merlin out of his thoughts and he glanced up as the door opened with a creak of hinges. Arthur stepped through, hair dripping and in disarray, bags under his eyes, the shoulders of his coat darkened with rain. Shoulders that were slumped and stooped. Merlin didn’t even have to ask.
The two of them hadn’t found anything during these two months either.
Despite the sadness in their hearts, Arthur gave Merlin a kiss in greeting after hanging up his coat.
Merlin just shook his head with a sigh.
Arthur nods, straightening himself up, trying to maintain his air of strength. He was the rock of their fondation, the reason Merin hadn’t completely broken down, the reason he hadn’t let himself go completely insane. Merlin knew Arthur was hurting inside just as much as he was. He loved Freya, despite not being of a blood relation. He had enthusiastically adopted her into his life after marrying Merlin, had adopted her way before that in his heart. And she had adored him.
Merlin watches Arthur’s retreating back as he heads for their bedroom.
All his fault.
He focuses back on the article on his laptop, trying to dispel the dark thoughts from his mind. Freya needs him. She needs him to focus and find her and bring her home.
The constant droning of the news from the telly is broken by the tone for an interruption. Merlin glances up half-heartly. A dark blonde woman sits behind the anchor desk as the words Breaking News scrolls by below on the screen.
“Breaking news just out of Surrey, where a bin bag containing the body of a little girl has been recovered in a field. A tourist made the gruesome discovery earlier this evening around 19:20 while out on a hike with his dog. The police are still working to identify the victim but have said they believe this the work of foul play. We will have more information as this story unfolds.”
All the air is sucked out of the room in an instant, cold descending into Merlin’s bones and freezing him in place. The world shifts and turns and moves without his permission and he feels inexplicably unsteady on his feet. He doesn’t even remember standing.
“Arthur.” It’s a miracle he can speak at all. A numbness spreads through his whole body as he stares at the screen. All the noise has left the room. His head is swimming, feeling as though he’s been shoved under the surface of an icy river, sounds muffled, gargled, indecipherable. He can hear his own heart beating rapid and panicked even as a cold shard stabs through him.
The blonde news anchor is still talking, her mouth moving as she reports the next story in the evening lineup. As though she hadn’t just shot an arrow through Merlin’s heart, As though she hadn’t just ripped his world apart.
“What is it? Merlin?” Arthur’s voice is nearly drowned out by the surmounting fear in Merlin. He doesn’t even blink when Arthur steps in front of him and tries to get his attention. “Merlin what’s wrong?!”
He can’t articulate the words, can barely breathe. He just stares at Arthur, at his wide concerned eyes, and at the telly behind him, not really seeing either of them. “Breaking news,” he manages to whisper.
Somehow, Arthur understands what he means and picks up the remote, rewinding back the last few minutes of the news. Merlin just stands there, unable to move or do anything but be dragged further and further into a black hole of fear and pain that he can’t feel but can sense lingering just on the cusp of his consciousness, waiting to overwhelm him with even the slightest bit of confirmation. Only a tiny shred of hope still remains in his heart. Hope that Freya is still out there, alive and well and trying to find her way home. Waiting for them to find her. Hope that, however selfish it may be, this little girl isn’t their little girl. That some other family will get a call, will mourn, will have to make arrangements.
That kind of hope makes him sick.
“Merlin.” Arthur must have finished watching the segment for his hands are warm and comforting on Merlin’s cheeks and Merlin can feel them. “Merlin, look at me.” He does, meeting Arthur’s blue gaze, seeing the strength in his eyes overshadowing the worry and pain that has been harboring there for months. Merlin hasn’t been much better. Worse in fact. A raging storm of determination and anger, agony and despair. He wants his little girl back, will do anything to have her back. Anything.
He refuses for her to become a heartbreaking headline splashed across the morning news.
“You don’t know that’s her.” Arthur’s eyes are determined, boring into Merlin’s with conviction and strength. Merlin drinks it in like a dying man, feeling returning slowly, the cracks in his heart ceasing their expansion. “Has anyone called?”
Merlin manages to shake his head.
Arthur nods. “That’s good. Alright? You hear me?” Merlin mimics his nod out of habit rather than belief. He’s worn out, being pulled in so many directions by hope and pain and fear that even as feeling begins to return, he doesn’t know what to feel. He just wants to sleep and wake up to this all having been a horrible nightmare. To cuddle up to his little girl and keep her safe and warm in his arms. To drink hot chocolate and watch disney movies and take her to the park so Arthur and the guys teach her how to play footie.
But Arthur is persistent and continues on, determined to instill hope in Merlin. “She’s probably still out there and she needs you to be strong. Okay?”
“A little girl is still dead.” Merlin mumbles. That news in itself is enough to bring tears to his eyes. He knows all too well what the family must have been going through these past few days or weeks or however long.
Arthur sighs. “Yes.”
He doesn’t continue. There’s nothing else to say.
It’s then that the silence is torn apart by the shrill ringing of Merlin’s phone. Without thought, he tears his eyes from Arthur’s and glances down to see who’s calling.
And Merlin’s heart shatters.