Character/s: Freya, Merlin
Summary: Merlin turns his body into Camelot's first defense against a powerful dark magic, but his vigilance comes at a cost.
Word Count: 286
He comes when it becomes too much, when his skin burns like a thousand tiny suns trying to escape from his blood. He comes when the secrets he keeps are bleeding out of him like wine through silk. He lies bare-chested in the snow, his marred skin pouring heat into the night air and setting it alight. She sits at the threshold between her world and his, where the water meets the earth, and her fingers trace the swirling pattern of the gate on his back.
He came to her on the first night, when the cathars' ink was fresh and he hadn't yet adjusted to the weight on his shoulders. And now he comes when he can't contain his cries, when all the demons of hell are pounding at the bars of their cage and the only thing holding them back is the knife's edge of his will. He comes so that he can be in agony, and she wishes for the days when he would be absent for months or years, because even though the lack of him was a gutter in her heart, she knew that he was happy.
She gives him what comfort she can, soothing the burn of his burden with her waters. It's not enough, but it's all she has to give. He never asks for anything, but she knows the silence itself is a respite. He comes, and she is there, and that is enough to bridge today with tomorrow. He will fold all his sorrows back inside, and return to the mute service of his king. And when he leaves, she will rest in the patience of the still water and wonder why tomorrow never seems to come.