Title: A Fall pt2
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur, but working towards Merlin/Arthur/Mordred
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Mordred
Summary: Merlin and Arthur take Mordred home
Warnings: vague mentions of past abuse
Prompt: Healing, #67
Author's Notes: This is part two of The Fall. You can find part 1 here. Thanks to alba17 for the encouragement! All errors are mine. This story probably has more in it and will be posted on AO3 in a more polished version eventually.
Mordred looked into the man’s blue eyes and when he said, “Here, boy,” in a gentle tone, Mordred knew he could trust him. He did not resist being pulled to his feet, or the coat and scarf the man wrapped around him.
“Can you walk? How badly are you hurt?”
Mordred shifted, testing his weight on his feet and legs. They seemed sound.
“Yes, I can walk.”
“Good. We don’t have far. My flat is just around the corner. We will attend to your needs there. what is your name?”
The other man said, “Arthur, the risk is too big. You’ve got too much to lose.”
“Merlin, shut up.”
The two men set a vigorous pace that Mordred could normally have kept up with, but each step sent a jarring pain through his right wing and he was trying hard to hold it stiff while walking normally. Arthur noticed that he was not keeping up.
“Merlin, we’ve got to slow down. The boy is hurt.”
Mordred was just grateful that they were helping him and hadn’t left him to be found by the local constabulary. He’d probably have ended up rotting in a stinking cell as there was no one left to claim him. He swallowed the bile of that truth and blinked hard to keep tears from spilling down his face.
Arthur put his arm around Mordred, supporting him, and Mordred’s resistance crumbled, the tears falling freely now. Arthur murmured soothing and encouraging words that Mordred wasn’t really making sense of, but then they rounded a corner onto an even darker side street and the hub bub of the street faded quickly.
“All right, Mordred. Here we are. Merlin, hold the boy up, would you? Or better yet, open the gate. Here’s the key.”
While the man named Merlin opened the gate, Arthur kept hold of him and Mordred’s knees buckled, nearly giving way, as he realized that someone actually cared about him — even if he knew it wasn’t going to last. He tried to shove that bitter thought away. He needed something to hang on to.
They ascended a short set of stairs and Arthur unlocked a heavy wooden door. Mordred did not have the energy to discern the figures in the ornate carving on the surface.
“Leoth,” Merlin whispered. Mordred shivered, erotic desire, fear, and awe coiling in his belly as the magic brushed by him, igniting the gaslights on the wall.
Arthur guided him to the settee. “Sit. Merlin, I want you to tend to him while I put the kettle on.”
Mordred’s heart sank. He had felt safe with Arthur, but Merlin’s anxiety blended with his own. Still, he sat. He wanted to cringe back, away from Merlin’s touch, but steadied himself as slim fingers gently reclaimed the scarf and moved the coat off his shoulders to puddle around his waist.
Merlin hissed. “Gods, what have they done to you? No, don’t answer that question,” he said. He raised his voice and said, “Arthur, bring hot water and some towels with you when you come back.”
Merlin stroked the tips of Mordred’s glistening black feathers. Exhaustion overcame Mordred and he closed his heavy eyelids. He wasn’t aware he was falling asleep until his head jerked and he came to, forcing his eyes wide until they hurt. Merlin was still caressing the feathers, a look of pure bliss on his face.
Arthur returned with a tray of tea, towels, and bowl of hot water, steam curling on top. He hadn’t noticed the scene in front of him until he was standing right in front of them. He took in Merlin’s rapt expression, the fingers whispering over glossy pinions. Arthur’s eyes widened and Mordred’s heart skipped a beat as he tried to guess what that look meant.
“Merlin,” Arthur’s voice rasped out.
Merlin started, but did not take his fingers away from Mordred’s wing. Mordred looked at Arthur whose mouth hung open and his own mouth dried. He struggled to sit more forward, to gain purchase and stand, but Merlin’s firm hand resisted his efforts and he sank back into the couch, weary. He closed his eyes again, tired of all the struggles.
“Eh hem.” Arthur cleared his throat. It sent a jolt down Mordred, right to his groin and was immediately followed by a feeling of deep shame. He had been used before. He was not falling for this again.
“NO,” Mordred exclaimed, sitting forward suddenly, forcing his way past Merlin’s hands. “No, I won’t be used again. I may be a broken shell, but I can’t submit any longer. No, I won’t do it.”
Arthur took a cautious step forward. “Mordred, no one is going to ask you to do anything you don’t want to do. I promise you that. You are safe here. Really.”
Mordred’s heart beat fast and thready, harkening to his avian side. He wanted to trust Arthur, he really did, but too many years of ill treatment had made him suspicious, untrusting.
“How can I know that? How do I know you’re not just another in a long string of people to take me in, patch me up, and then spit me out again, broken?” Trembling with exhaustion, fear, and emotions, Mordred nonetheless held his head high.
Arthur looked back at him, unblinking. Those blue eyes bore into his soul. Arthur husked out, “Search your heart, Mordred. If you cannot trust my word, you must trust yourself.”
Merlin was still gently stroking Mordred’s wings. In fact, his attention had grown more bold throughout the conversation with Arthur and now the vibrations from Arthur’s voice were like a balm to his wounded soul. Mordred absorbed the words and found himself helpless against Merlin’s touch. How had Arthur known that he had never trusted another person, especially not one so well to do. He thought back over the last hour and remembered the real concern that had been reflected in Arthur’s voice even as he’d known about Mordred’s wings. In the end, whether it was faith, pure exhaustion, or the loving touch of another person, Mordred decided to let go.