Title: Try Again Tomorrow
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: He knows he's not healed completely. He knows he's nowhere near close to being healed completely, but he thinks maybe he's getting there.
Warnings: References to self harm and verbal abuse.
Word Count: 985
Prompt: #67 - Healing
Author's Notes: Oh. This one's a lot sadder than I was planning on. I dunno, I like the idea of a more emotional healing than a physical healing. Anyway, here we are. Please enjoy! The title is from this quote by Mary Anne Radmacher. "Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow."
He can't sleep for some reason.
Arthur shifts in the bed slightly, careful not to awake his partner. The room is dark, illuminated by nothing but the faint glimmer of moonlight through curtains and the annoyingly bright numbering on the alarm clock on Merlin's nightstand. It's cold, but Merlin, he swears, is like his own little furnace and whenever he curls into him, it's like sitting right by the fire.
(He likes staying at Merlin's house.)
But Merlin isn't curled into him, though, and actually he's facing the opposite direction, away from him (he's still pleasantly curled up, however.) Arthur thinks it's positively adorable, and Merlin being adorable is one of the few things that makes him smile these days. He tentatively presses a hand to his back, gentle fingers just absorbing the bliss that is contact, and unwillingly his eyes notice the underside of his wrist.
He pulls his hand back and he lays on his back, holding his arm up right above his eyes to try and examine it. Even without the light, he can make out every faded mark that mars the exposed skin. He knows exactly how long each scar is, and how deep, when he did it, and why. He trails his fingers over the marks, and hisses quietly to himself,
Because that's what it feels like for him. He feels like it's disgusting. No one's ever told him that, though, no, they only look at him sadly, hold him close and whisper, I'm so sorry. But there's nothing to apologize for. He does this to himself, no one ever drags the knife over his skin, it's all him, it's always only ever been him.
Arthur Pendragon doesn't cry. But he thinks he might if he keeps thinking like this.
He knows when he first started, he was scared. It was a terrifying experience, but he needed to do it so badly, he needed to feel something. Words had sliced him already, vicious, hateful words filled him up, almost to the brim, and he had been drowning in them. But he had felt numb all the same. So numb and so aching that he had thought, this will make me feel. After that, he couldn't stop.
He hasn't cut in a while, however. He's promised Merlin he wouldn't. For every time he wants to, Merlin is there, holding his hand, or murmuring to him softly over the phone, no matter how late. For every time he wants to, he thinks of Merlin's smiling face and thinks, I can do this for him. And he's true to his word. He is true because he cannot stand to see another person disappointed in him. (Not like his father.)
(Merlin would never tell him so, that he was disappointed. But he would see it. He always would.)
Arthur wonders how Merlin could ever love him. He's been doing this for six months (without cutting for three), and he's known Merlin for only those three, but Merlin has never once told him that he's to blame, that it's his fault. He's messed up, he still believes. He hurts himself. He doesn't trust in himself, trust in himself enough to know that he will get through it. And yet, Merlin is there at every turn, every corner, every dark patch, telling him he's more than worth it. He tells him he's worth all the love he can give him and more, and he knows, he knows over and over that Merlin is the most beautiful person to grace this earth and he doesn't deserve him.
He starts to cry then.
Arthur never cries loudly. It's always soft, hesitant, with no choked sobs. (He's learned to be quiet.) It's merely there, it exists, like his breathing. Silent tears, is what they are. They are silent reminders of what he is and who he is and what he will become if he does not try.
He feels warm hands tracing his wrist, then, and Merlin is awake, now, undoubtedly roused by Arthur's tears, brushing his thumb along the scars. He has this sense, he thinks, this sense that lets him know he's in some sort of distress. His face is tired but he's still smiling, eyes looking at Arthur as if he's the most beautiful person to grace this earth. He adjusts himself then gently tugs at him, pulling him close and holding him, murmuring sweet, incoherent words into his hair, stroking softly as Arthur lets loose. He doesn't know why exactly he's crying this time, he just feels too much and hasn't released it onto his body in so long, and finally makes out of Merlin's jumbled ramblings You're so brave and I'm so proud of you.
It makes him feel lighter.
When his tears finally subside, Merlin gives him his kindest smile, and then he raises his wrist, and Arthur tenses, not wanting him to see, suddenly self conscious about everything. He wants to shout, Don't look, I don't want you to see what I am. But Merlin doesn't hesitate, and slowly presses a kiss to each scar that remains. He then leans forward and gives Arthur a small, chaste kiss on his mouth, a silent reassurance of its own. I love you. The contact is sweet, and Arthur's heart swells with it, then Merlin yawns, and pulls the covers over the both of them.
Merlin curls into him, and Arthur puts an arm over him, pulling him close, and feels safe, somehow. He feels safe and as though by Merlin's mere presence, any demon he's ever had is chased away by the bright light Merlin radiates.
He knows he's not healed completely. He knows he's nowhere near close to being healed completely, but he thinks maybe he's getting there.
Arthur lets out a shaky, but content sigh at the thought, and with that, he lets the warmth overtake him. He sleeps.