Title: The Cold Light of Morning
Character/s: Uther, Merlin, Arthur, Morgana, Leon
Summary: Uther had plans for Arthur. They didn't involve him choosing his own omega. They certain didn't involve him choosing a servant for that role.
Word Count: Um...2252 (It was a 1000 word drabble, honestly, but I didn't like it much and then I got carried away and wrote a second scene...sorry!)
Prompt: 82 Storm
Author's Notes: Thanks to deinonychus_1 for the beta. This is a sequel to His.
The Cold Light of Morning
There was something in the air that morning. A certain tension, as if a storm was brewing.
Arthur hadn't appeared for breakfast, but that wasn't entirely surprising now that he had a personal servant to wait on him hand and foot. Uther hoped his son was running the boy ragged, finding fault with everything and generally exerting his authority over the scrawny beta. It was what Uther always did, whenever he got a new manservant. They soon found an excuse to leave his service, some quite creatively, and then he got to do it all over again. It was perfect. The latest one was particularly dire, overly nervous and dropping things all the time. There was probably going to be a flogging in his future. Uther was rather looking forward to it.
Still, there was something not quite right that morning, and he couldn't quite put his finger on it.
Morgana swept into the room, beautifully elegant in an emerald green gown. She spoke gently to the servant who brought her food. He didn't tremble so much when he served Morgana, Uther noticed.
"Where's Arthur?" she asked. "Out with his knights already?"
"Breaking in that new servant of his, I assume. The boy looked barely competent."
"Then it was cruel of you to make him Arthur's servant. He did save his life. A bag of gold would have been kinder."
Uther smiled, chewing on the freshly roasted pork that had been put in front of him. Kind wasn't really his thing.
"I think an omega went into heat here yesterday," Morgana told him, changing the subject. "The scent was amazing. Some lucky alpha must have claimed them fast though, it faded very quickly."
"You mean in the town?" Uther checked. "You do mean in the town, Morgana?"
"I was walking with Gwen across the courtyard. The omega was inside the castle."
Uther frowned. "When was this?"
"Early in the evening. We'd just come back from our ride."
Uther didn't care what Morgana had been doing. Someone had blatantly flaunted the laws. No omega within a few weeks of coming into their heat was permitted anywhere near the castle. "Has there been a search? Was Arthur there?"
"No, it was just Gwen and I..."
"Did you tell any of the knights? Has there been a search? Do we know who brought it into the castle?"
" You!" He called over his servant. "Fetch Sir Leon immediately."
As the servant scuttled away, he glared at Morgana. "You should have told me at once. An unclaimed omega in heat... what if Arthur had found it first?"
"Omegas are people too," Morgana pointed out, but Uther wasn't listening.
Uther had plans for Arthur. They mostly involved an advantageous bond with one of the omega daughters of rival leaders. Princess Elena would do nicely, though he was holding out in case the rumour was true about Lord Bayard, Mercia's ruler, siring an omega that had been hidden away. The bigger the kingdom the better as far as Uther was concerned, and they didn't come any bigger than Mercia. If there was an omega heir then whichever alpha they mated would be ruler of the kingdom. Arthur wouldn't object. The first time he encountered an omega in heat it would be completely irresistible and overwhelming, and Uther was determined that he would be the one choosing that omega, not his son. There would be no chance of Arthur refusing the match, he would be too overcome.
Which was why Uther was furious at the thought of some alpha member of the court sneaking their ripe omega into Camelot. It was flaunting the rules right in front of Uther's nose. He'd find the omega, have them executed on the spot, and then see how the alpha coped with that. He knew well the pain of losing a bonded omega, Ygraine's loss was as bitter to him now as it was on the day she died. It would be an example to others and a warning that it was never to happen again.
Perhaps it might seem harsh to others, but Uther hadn't held his position as king for all those years by being seen as weak and easy-going. Arthur would thank him when he inherited the most powerful kingdom in Albion.
Morgana should have told someone, he expected better from her. But then, she didn't understand the danger, probably thought it was amusing.
Sir Leon arrived quickly, breathing heavily as if he'd been running. As he should do, when summoned by the king.
"The lady Morgana says she sensed an omega here last night."
Leon looked puzzled. "There are several working in the castle..."
"In heat, Leon!" He saw the knight's face pale in comprehension. "You and your men will hunt it down and bring it to me along with the alpha responsible. And keep Arthur away from it. Morgana, whereabouts was the scent coming from?"
"The West Tower, I think."
It couldn't have been worse. "Arthur's rooms are in the West Tower." He looked at the empty setting at the table. "You didn't think of that, you silly girl? You didn't think, while you were giggling with your servant, that my son, my heir could have been subjected to some plot... It'll be Godwyn, he's brought Elena in to secure Arthur. Damn!" He slammed his fist down on the table, furious. "If we've lost our chance at Mercia and have to settle for that stupid girl, I'll make him regret it!"
Uther strode towards the door, barely giving the servants time to open it for him before he marched through, Leon and Morgana hurrying along behind him.
It could be worse, he told himself. He'd rage at Godwyn, but eventually relent and allow the match. For certain considerations in the form of various parcels of disputed lands. It could be much worse. Still, he was going to give Arthur and that little strumpet a piece of his mind. Arthur wouldn't want to cross his father again in a hurry.
Assuming it was Elena... Anything else didn't bear thinking about.
Merlin lay back in the huge, deliciously soft and comfortable bed. His heat was calming a little now, and his new mate was more relaxed, curled around him and clinging to him possessively. The onset of his heat had been a shock, he hadn't been due for many weeks. Gaius was brewing him a remedy so that he could continue work. He was never supposed to have gone into heat within the walls of Camelot. He gazed down at the golden hairs on the strong arm that was holding him close. It was Arthur's proximity that had done it. Something about Arthur had set him off. There were stories of that happening if a bond was meant to be. Too late to do anything about it now.
It was well into the morning. Merlin was surprised nobody had disturbed them yet. Surely soon somebody would notice the prince was missing? And then they would come looking, and find them... For all the reassurances Arthur had murmured in his ear the previous night, Merlin knew they wouldn't be allowed to continue. He wouldn't be allowed to continue. There were penalties for breaking the law, for being in Camelot close to your heat cycle. Worse even than for being a sorcerer, and Merlin was damned on both counts.
"You're thinking too loudly," Arthur whispered, nuzzling at the darkening mark on his neck. It hurt just a little, but it was a good hurt and just the feel of his alpha's mouth on him again was starting to bring on another onset of his heat.
"Mmm... I know, I can smell it on you. Gods, you smell better than anything."
Not possible, because nothing could smell better than Arthur. After a long night together the salt taste of his skin was sharper, their mingled scents unique and forever entwined. The rising heat was starting to cloud Merlin's judgement again, block out everything else except his need and Arthur. It was difficult to fight, but he had to.
"We can't stay here," he gasped. Arthur was over him, lifting him, turning him. For a moment Merlin couldn't remember why he wouldn't want to lie back, submissive. If Arthur tied him again they'd be trapped. "We need to find somewhere safe, somewhere hidden."
"We're mated," Arthur reminded him, and bit down on his neck again, very gently this time, just to remind him. "You're mine. Father will rage for a while, but he won't harm you."
Merlin wished he believed that. "Arthur..."
Arthur wasn't listening. "I thought omegas were supposed to be quiet and submissive," he teased. The warmth of Arthur's eager body pressing against Merlin's was like a drug, making his blood sing out. But there was something else, something louder, distracting.
"What's that noise?"
It was footsteps, many of them, thundering down the stone corridor. Arthur was slower to respond, distracted by his need for his omega. Then they both heard Uther shouting orders. He sounded angry.
"He's going to break the door down!" Merlin twisted under Arthur, trying to get free. His movements were sluggish, his body unresponsive to any commands that didn't involve kneeling on all fours and presenting himself. There was something hitting the door forcefully. It shook, but didn't give way.
"Arthur! Open up!"
Arthur glared at the door, furious at the interruption. He held Merlin down, despite his lover's squirming beneath him, and yelled at Uther to go away.
There was a moment's silence outside the door, and then the battering started anew, far more forcefully. This time the door fell in with a crash, and the dark figure of the king stood there, staring at them. For a moment he was frozen in place, taking it in.
"The serving boy!" In four strides Uther was across the room, his face a mask of fury. The anger was radiating off him in waves.
Merlin scrabbled for the sheets, trying to cover them. It almost made things worse, the bedding was spattered and stained with the evidence of the way they'd spent the night. As Uther closed in he gave up, electing to cower behind Arthur instead. The alpha fury on both sides was almost tangible.
"Arthur..." At least, that was what he tried to say. All that came out of Merlin's mouth was a low whine of fear. He clung to Arthur, trembling. He could feel the rage on Arthur too. Two angry alphas. It was terrifying.
"What have you done, you stupid boy?" Uther snarled at his son.
"I have a right to take a mate," Arthur snapped back. "And it's done. Leave us."
"Leave you? Leave you?" Uther leaned in, his face just inches from Arthur. It was horrible, horrible. Merlin pressed his face close to Arthur's chest, shaking with fear. He wanted to run and hide, but couldn't leave Arthur. He wanted to unleash his magic and use it to protect them both, but that wasn't an option if he wanted to keep his head. And he did want to keep his head, now that he had such a wonderful thing to live for.
"Do you know how many high-born omegas have been presented to me in the hope I'll allow you to mate them? Some came with whole kingdoms as their dowry!"
"I'm not a bargaining chip. I've made my choice."
"A servant! Give him up, Arthur. Give him up, we'll send him home and say nothing more of it."
"He's mine, we're bonded, you're too late," Arthur told his father defiantly. Try to separate us, see where it gets you. I'll just leave, take him with me."
Merlin wasn't expecting Uther to backhand his son for his insolence. Neither, it seemed, was Arthur. He reeled from the blow and in that moment Uther roared at the guards that they should seize the omega.
There was a struggle, more than half the men Uther had brought were needed to hold down Arthur whilst Merlin was forced away from him, both of them struggling and fighting for all they were worth.
"I'll separate you," Uther growled. "I'll show your omega what real heat's like."
Merlin gave a whine half of fear, half of need to be back with Arthur. His heat had subsided with the violent incursion, but not enough. It was rising again, and never mind that he was on his knees in front of a crowd of alphas. He couldn't even see Arthur, who was almost buried beneath a group of knights.
"Take that down to the dungeons. He'll burn as soon as the pyre's built."
"No! You can't do that!" Arthur yelled. "He's mine! Mine!" Merlin saw several of the knights holding him flinching, and knew Arthur was fighting them, hurting them any way he could in order to get free.
Merlin kicked at his own captors, but they had him held fast. He tried to raise his magic, but something, perhaps his heat, was stopping it. He was literally powerless, kicking and struggling was all he had left to him. It was to no avail, he found himself being dragged away by the stronger alphas, the sounds of Arthur's screams and protests and Uther's raging fading.
The cell they threw him into was cold, but that wasn't the worst thing.
Merlin shuffled into the furthest corner of the cell. One of the men who had dragged him down there was starting to sniff the air...