Title: Time Taken
Pairings: Merlin/Arthur, Arthur/Cendred
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Cendred
Summary: It was taking time, but Arthur was beginning to heal.
Word Count: 998
Author's Notes: This links back to Scars.
Arthur was cooking dinner, humming to himself as he stirred the pasta and waited for his boyfriend to get home. He was starving, but he didn’t want to eat without Cendred. The mood the man had been in lately, Arthur wasn’t quite sure what the reaction would be. He could handle it, he was sure of that, but something was certainly changing. Cendred was no longer the man he had agreed to move in with.
“Kitchen,” he called back, glancing over his shoulder as the man in question walked in. Arthur made sure he kept an eye on the food though, knowing it was almost done and not wanting to start again. Cendred made a strange harrumph noise under his breath and came closer, his hands wrapping around Arthur’s waist. Arthur turned to kiss him, only for Cendred to lean back out of his reach. His hands, however, worked Arthur’s jeans open and his hand slipped inside, quickly working his partner to hardness.
“Cen, the food… It will burn…” Cendred growled irritably, flicking his wrist so that Arthur’s knees gave way and he was leaning back on the man, helpless to resist as Cendred leant over and turned the hob off. As the boiling water cooled, Arthur realised that he was no longer reacting under Cendred’s ministrations. He was hungry, and he didn’t want to be doing this now. When he said so, however, Cendred simply chuckled and licked his neck before sinking his teeth in. Arthur yelped in pain as Cendred’s hand yet again returned to its task and it didn’t matter that Arthur was trying to push him away, his body was reacting. Cendred knew him well.
He was in somewhat of a daze when the man pulled his hand out, not giving Arthur the release he was so close to getting but simply tugging on his arm and leading him to the lounge. Arthur stumbled along, a voice in the back of his mind screaming at him. He had told Cendred he didn’t want to.
Cendred pulled him close, shimmying his jeans down his legs this time. Arthur let his hand rest on the man’s chest, keeping distance between them.
“Not tonight, Cen. I’m hungry and tired, I just want to crash.”
“Cendred? Wha-? No! What are you doing, I don’t want to!” Arthur’s heart sped up in fear as Cendred grabbed his arms, turning him over and using his bigger build to force Arthur to his knees, bending him over the arm of the chair.
“I don’t care what you want, I do.”
“Stop it…” Arthur struggled to get up but Cendred had hold of the back of his neck with one hand and his dick in the other. Arthur could only let out an anguished cry as his so called boyfriend pushed in with no preparation. The only saving grace was that Cendred had obviously been working himself up to this and it didn’t last long before he was pulling out.
Arthur simply slid to the floor, tears streaming down his face as his hands shook. Cendred shook his head.
“They told me you were strong. Think about telling anyone and you know what will happen, you know how far my influence goes. I would say maybe you should go to the police, but oh look…” He bent forward, plundering Arthur’s mouth. “I am the police.”
He pulled back and stood up, fixing his clothing. Arthur tried to follow suit and took a shaky step towards the kitchen.
“Where do you think you are going? Go to bed, Arthur.”
“I haven’t eaten.”
“Go to bed!” Cendred’s roar filled Arthur’s head and he fled.
“Arthur? Sweetheart, wake up, you’re having a bad dream.”
Arthur jolted awake, tears streaming down his face and flailed for a moment. His breathing finally calmed down and he glanced over the bed to see Merlin watching him. The ache on his face made Arthur feel guilty. He knew Merlin wanted to help, but they both knew he couldn’t approach until Arthur calmed down. The first time he had a nightmare in Merlin’s presence had taught them that lesson. He took a few shaky breaths and collapsed back on the pillow, giving a nod.
Merlin instantly scooted across, gently wiping the tears away.
“What was it?”
“The first time,” Arthur muttered hoarsely, curling up and folding himself into Merlin’s chest. The man stroked his hair soothingly, dropping a light kiss onto it.
“You know you are safe, don’t you?” Arthur nodded, knowing Merlin would feel it even if he couldn’t see it. It wasn’t just that Cendred was gone now, behind bars and never able to hurt him again. It was that any time he was even in the same room as Merlin, let alone being held by him, safety just radiated around him. The two men were silent for a moment and Arthur found that he was beginning to drift back to sleep, the comforting thud of Merlin’s heartbeat under his ear calming his own. Just as he went, a thought occurred to him.
“Merlin?” Arthur’s voice was soft and quiet and his fingers traced light patterns on Merlin’s stomach, watching it react under his touch as he brushed a sensitive spot.
“That was the first one in two months.” He didn’t need to look to see Merlin’s answering grin. Six months ago, Arthur awoke screaming every night. Sheer exhaustion put a strain on their relationship and Arthur nearly lost Merlin, spurring him to finally get help. As soon as he stopped snapping at everyone and everything, Merlin had found a way back into his life and now Arthur couldn’t think of it any other way.
“You’re getting there, sweetheart. You’re getting there.”
Smiling against Merlin’s chest and letting sleep claim him properly, Arthur could only agree. It had taken a long time, far too long for him to be happy with, but Merlin was right. It seemed that he was beginning to finally heal.