Warnings: Language, angst, unpleasant themes.
Summary: Reflection in the wake of an unexpected occurrence.
Word Count: 966
Disclaimer: Don't own Merlin or Arthur, the BBC & Shine do. No profit is being made and this is fiction.
Prompt: #39, Silver
Author's Note: I wanted to try my hand at something, well, dark and unpleasant. Dunno if I succeeded or not, but it was fun to write.
In the night, in the absence of light, Arthur lay in his bed and blinked into nothing. Sleep eluded him, despite the fact that today's training session with the knights had been particularly rigorous. Physically, his body was indeed spent, but his heart and mind were heavy with memory that he couldn't seem to displace no matter how hard he tried.
Almost as if he sensed Arthur's restlessness, Merlin turned over, peering at Arthur from beneath messy ebony fringe. "Hey. Are you okay?" he asked, his voice dripping with sleep.
Arthur pulled him close, covering both of their bodies with the ample blankets on his bed. Merlin's body was warm; it felt right in so many ways to Arthur. "I'm okay, just go back to sleep," he said fondly, dropping a kiss to Merlin's temple. Merlin wrapped his arms around Arthur and sighed, his face nestled against the prince's chest as he strolled back into slumber.
Whenever Arthur considered Merlin, many words came to mind: right, warm, home...
The last of these was new and unfamiliar to Arthur. It had manifested after a particularly unsettling occurrence a few days earlier. A curse had befallen Merlin, one with some very unusual results.
"It isn't a curse that harms the vessel physically. It breeds negative emotion. Rather, it brings out malice and negativity in a most harsh manner," Gaius explained.
"Merlin's not capable of that," Arthur argued. “He’s the kindest soul in all of Albion.”
Arthur’s pulse quickened as the memory flooded his mind. Of how Merlin, stricken, suddenly awoke and opened his eyes, eyes which were glittering silver.
Filled with sparkling light, yet utterly devoid of emotion.
The dichotomy therein was, still as fascinating and horrifying to Arthur now as it was then. Arthur had always loved the look and reflective nature of silver. The luster of gold was more favorable to some, but not to him. Silver reminded him of the way the lakes looked when peppered with moonlight, and that was a memory he held fondly.
There was nothing kind or fond to be found in what happened to Merlin on that day, however.
"You've no idea what I'm truly capable of."
"I'm so tired of your voice, Arthur," Merlin drawled, sounding nothing like the man who shared Arthur's bed and heart.
"There is an antidote," Gaius muttered to Arthur as he stepped forward. "Merlin. You're not yourself, lie back-"
"You forget yourself, old man," Merlin commented calmly, his eyes narrowing with a cruelty that stunned Arthur into silence. Gaius merely ignored the taunt and began to flip rapidly through his books. "It would be wise of you to hold your tongue. I think we both know that I could rip it from your mouth in a mere second."
"Merlin, show respect," Arthur said shakily.
"Respect? Do you know that I could snap his neck like a twig with a mere snap of my fingertips?" Merlin asked, nodding in Gaius' direction. "I hold the most ancient of powers within this mortal frame. Don't you dare speak of me to respect, your majesty," he spat, "until you are prepared to dole it out in kind."
Arthur gaped, stunned into silence.
Beside him, Merlin stirred, muttering in his sleep. Arthur held him tighter, until the moment passed. He pondered on respect, on what it had meant for Merlin to finally confess his true nature to Arthur not long ago. At the time, Arthur hadn’t been angry. If anything, he was only angry at the fact that Merlin hadn’t trusted him enough to confide in him earlier, but he understood Merlin’s reticence in the matter. Arthur also knew that while he loved Merlin with all of his heart, that this would change things somewhat. Were they to have good days and bad days, like any other couple? If so, was what happened that day to be labeled a ‘bad day’? Was it their fate to experience even more of them?
Arthur closed his eyes, refusing to believe that.
"I can't remember the last time you were so silent, Sire. Unless you consider last night when you were sucking me off," Merlin continued, his eyes shining brighter and brighter with every vile word that escaped his lips.
Silver and empty.
Arthur and Gaius both flinched, Arthur's face flaming red. "You should see it, Gaius, how he drops to his knees for me night after night like the whore he really is."
"Merlin!" Gaius hissed, shocked. Arthur waved the insult off, motioning for Gaius to continue searching for something that could release Merlin from the curse.
"What would Uther say if he knew? If he saw you, your pretty blond head between my legs, making me scream?"
"I wonder if it's a Pendragon trait? It's possible that you come from a long line of champion cocksuckers," Merlin grinned, eyes now glittering like veritable mirrors beneath his eyelids. "I bet your mother-"
"Merlin. Stop it," Arthur whispered, trembling with equal parts anger and fear.
Before things could escalate further, Gaius spoke an incantation with a force Arthur wouldn't have suspected the old man possessed, freeing Merlin from it’s grip. Merlin, when he woke, was blissfully unaware of what had transpired. Gaius and Arthur agreed never to speak of it again, and as quickly as the curse had come on, it was banished.
Arthur couldn’t shake it, though. He couldn’t forget. He couldn’t shake the vile words, but what haunted him most was the look of Merlin’s eyes draped in and coated with silver, filled with sparkling light, yet completely devoid of grace.
Something caught in the moonlight and Arthur’s eyes followed the light. It was cast from his beloved silver thumb ring.
With a grimace, he removed it and tucked it beneath his pillow.