Title: Stop them, please
Character/s: Arthur, Ygraine
Summary: Young Arthur keeps having bad dreams about someone crying. His mum tries to help. Modern AU, Kid fic
Word Count: 881
Camelot_drabble Prompt: 363 – "I had that dream again."
Disclaimer: Merlin characters are the property of Shine and BBC. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
“Mummy, I… I had that dream again.”
Ygraine looked up from her book to see her young son standing there, biting at his lip, shifting from foot to foot, blinking at her. Even from her bed, she could see Arthur hesitating. Then he straightened a little, pushing one fist across his face, wiping away the tears there.
“Is Daddy here?” The worried look on his face cleared when Ygraine shook her head.
“He’s still at work.” She lifted her hand and beckoned him in. “Come here, sweetheart.”
Scrambling into the bed, wiggling under the covers, then shoving his forehead up against her shoulder, he said, “I’m… it’s… I don’t.”
He was only six. He shouldn’t have to deal with all the horrors he was facing. Those damnable dreams of his.
She wanted to rage the unfairness of it all, wanted to beat whoever or whatever was causing her son such pain, but there was nothing to be done. They tried endless psychiatrists and drugs and behavior therapy and Uther threatening to sue everyone he could if they didn’t fix Arthur, but the dreams never stopped.
Instead, Arthur just refused to tell Uther about them. He stopped telling Ygraine, too, except when they got to be too much. Like now apparently.
Kissing the top of his head, she pulled him closer. She felt him melt into her, letting warmth and understanding push aside whatever he’d seen in those dreadful dreams.
“Do you want to talk about it?” She said, knowing that he’d shake his head and huddle closer and give a little hiccup of distress – which he did. “You know you can tell me anything. I won’t tell Daddy if you don’t want me to.”
She hated leaving Uther out of it, but he seemed to make things worse with the yelling and threats.
“It wasn’t like the others. You know, with the swords and bandits and… killing… people. I like the swords. They’re fun and I’d like one when I’m older but not… not the other things.” He gave a little shudder, his breath catching a moment. Then he said, more softly, “He was crying.”
Ygraine knew Arthur wasn’t talking about Uther. “So sad, so alone. I couldn’t reach him.”
If she could have taken his pain away, she would have done it and not counted the cost. Instead, she said, as gently as she could, “Was it the same man? What was his name again? Merlin, I think?”
Arthur nodded into her shoulder. “I didn’t want to him to be sad.” He pushed up a little, facing her. “But I don’t know… it’s stupid. He’s a grownup. I…he’s so old. He must be like a hundred or maybe a million. And I can’t play with him. He’s not my friend. But he is.”
Ygraine took a deep breath and let it out, squeezing Arthur a little as she did. “He’s not like your friends at school, I agree. And we aren’t even sure he’s real.” Arthur shook his head, biting his lip again. He didn’t say anything, but he’d told her often enough that Merlin was real, and to a six year old, belief was sometimes more important than mere facts. Ygraine tried again. “Have you told him that it will be okay?”
Ducking down, shoving his face into her, he let out a little sigh. “No.”
“Maybe he needs a friend to tell him that.”
Arthur brightened at that, pulling back to look at her. “I could do that. He likes when I swing my sword around, and sometimes we throw things at each other and laugh. But then he gets sad. I don’t like it when he’s sad.”
“Well, maybe next time, tell him that you want to be friends, but that you’re just a kid right now and you need to do kid things. And that when you are older, you can meet up with him and be grownup friends instead. If he’s your friend, he will understand.”
Looking solemn, looking as if he understood what she was saying, he said, “I don’t want him to be sad, though.”
“He needs to know that you are sad right now and that the dreams are making you a bit sick. I think that it would give this Merlin a purpose, to help a friend. I think if he was really your friend, he’d want you to be happy.”
Frowning a bit, Arthur said, “Does that mean that he’d go away?”
Ygraine gave him a little squeeze, then let him go. “It might. But then when you grow up, you can be together then and make each other happy. Like friends do.”
“I want Merlin to be happy.” Giving a little yawn, Arthur slipped down under the covers a bit more and his eyes grew sleepy. “I’ll tell him what you said. Thanks, Mum.”
Ygraine gave Arthur a kiss on the forehead, then pulled the blankets up around him. He was already asleep.
She just hoped that it was enough. Merlin wasn’t real. The dreams weren’t real. But Arthur thought they were, and if it took Arthur to finally confront this mythical dream-man and tell him to let Arthur be a kid for a while, maybe Arthur’s mind would accept it, too.
Ygraine only hoped it would be enough.