Title: The Cell
Character/s: Merlin, Leon, Gwaine
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: 1400
Prompt: 83 Commitment
Author's Notes: Not betaed as this took me ages, nearly missed the deadline. This is a sequel to 'His' and 'The Cold Light of Morning'
Merlin wasn't used to feeling so helpless. His magic had always been a powerful weapon, and he'd never, ever been unable to use it before. He hated the feeling, and hated more the waves of need that were still washing over him, calling out to Arthur to come and claim him again. A couple of knights, both probably alphas, were staying right there in the cell with him. He had no illusions about the danger they presented. The scent he knew he was still giving off would drive them to take him and he had no hope of getting away. It would be a horrible way to spend his last few hours.
Most of his captors had gone almost immediately after dumping him in the cell. After all, Merlin thought, he wasn't much of a risk, a harmless little omega stuck in the middle of his heat. Even if they'd known about his magic, it wasn't going to help him get out of this one.
He'd gone into heat before, but it had never been like this. It had never taken away his magic for one thing. Nor had it come on unexpectedly, weeks early, or as fast. Arthur Pendragon had a lot to answer for, he thought. Merlin would have done anything to have him there now. Just his presence would make Merlin feel safer. Which was stupid, he knew, because Arthur had been right there when he'd been taken, and he'd not been able to do anything. But Arthur had to come and get him out of there, he had to.
The two knights remained, both watching him. One of them was definitely sniffing the air now, making no secret of it. Worse, they were showing no signs of wanting to leave the cell.
Merlin tried to curl up in the corner. Nobody had bothered to bring his clothing, too concerned with holding Arthur down whilst Merlin was dragged away. The cell was cold anyway, but the stone floor on his bare skin just made it worse.
The taller knight unclasped his cloak, and moved closer, standing over him. Merlin gave a little whine of distress and tried to press himself further into the unyielding wall. His heat wasn't even giving him the mercy of simply being blind want any more, which would have made it easier. No, it had tasted Arthur, and now it was totally and utterly committed to Arthur. The touch of any other alpha would be totally repugnant.
"Please don't do this," he gasped. "I'm Arthur's. Arthur's."
The man was looming over him, huge and terrifying, and the other one was right behind him. Merlin twisted away, trying desperately to cover himself. If they saw his state of arousal they'd believe they were justified in what they were going to do. And then later, after they burned him, these men might tell Arthur what else they'd done, just to make him feel even more wretched.
The taller man was crouching in front of him now, still with his cloak in his hands. It occurred to Merlin that he was going to use it as a blanket so that he wouldn't have to lower himself to touch the floor of the cell. They were all nobles, after all.
"I'm Arthur's," he whispered again, trembling.
"We know that," the knight told him. He was holding out the cloak, starting to drape it around Merlin, being surprisingly gentle. "We can smell him on you. That's a strong bond you've made."
"You reek of him," the other one added. "It's pretty disgusting, like a massive warning to stay away, so don't worry, we're not going to harm you... Well..." He trailed off, apparently not quite sure what to say. "Not...until..."
"Gwaine!" there was a warning tone in the knight's voice.
The taller man stood up, and took a step back. "Arthur's going to be king one day. It's a bad mistake, taking his bonded omega like this. He won't ever recover from it." He looked down at Merlin. "What were you thinking of, coming into the castle in your heat? Going near the prince? Did you really think King Uther would accept it?"
Merlin just shook his head. It was difficult to find the words, and felt like too much to explain. It had been an accident. It had been because of Arthur. Everything was because of Arthur now, as far as he was concerned. Gods, he wanted Arthur. He couldn't answer them, and eventually they stopped trying to talk to him.
The knights kept talking to each other. He couldn't really concentrate on what they were saying. And then they were leaving the cell and anyway they weren't Arthur. They didn't matter. He tried to reach out with his magic again to his alpha, but nothing happened.
"Arthur," he whispered.
He thought the taller knight, the one with the reddish-blond curls, looked over at him pityingly as he locked the cell door.
And then he was alone. There was sunlight streaming in through the tiny window high above him, lighting the grimy little cell. Outside he could hear people calling to each other, could hear snatches of what they were saying. They were talking about a burning. About burning him.
It would be nothing, not compared to the way he burned for Arthur. Merlin curled in on himself, trying to fight his heat and damp down his fear. He needed his heat to end. He needed his magic back so he could get out of there. And most of all he needed Arthur.
Sir Leon had always had a very strong sense of what was right, and he was fairly certain that killing the prince's bonded omega wasn't it. He waited outside the omega's cell with Gwaine, standing guard as ordered.
"If Uther does this, it's going to have consequences."
"It will for that poor omega," Gwaine agreed. "Do you think his heat's going to disorientate him so much he won't really know what's happening to him?"
Leon stared at the closed door to Merlin's cell. "I doubt it. I'm sorry for the omega, but I'm more worried about what it's going to do to Arthur. You could smell it in there as clearly as I could. They've bonded."
"Just as well. Not sure I could stand out here for however long we have to if there was a ripe, unclaimed omega in there!" Gwaine gave a little sniff, then grinned. "There's still a taste of it in the air, even now."
Gwaine always had to make light of everything. It was one of many things that Leon found very trying about him. But he was a good man, and there weren't many Leon would trust with his thoughts on this.
"Who does Uther listen to?"
Gwaine shrugged. "Arthur, occasionally. He won't be listening to him this time. Gaius, sometimes. But the omega was his ward or something. He'd do better to lay low for a while. Lady Morgana?"
"She's out of favour too, she didn't raise the alarm about the omega in time." Leon settled himself down on the bench outside the cell, shifting to make room for Gwaine. There wasn't a lot they could do for their friend, wherever he had been taken, but at least they could protect his omega for a little while. "Uther should know better than to do this. He lost a bonded omega, he knows what that does to an alpha."
"Maybe he thinks it's early enough to break the bond."
Leon shook his head. "The only thing it's going to break is our future king's heart. Permanently. It's going to affect his ability to rule one day."
"Like it affects Uther's?"
Leon looked at him sharply. Sometimes Gwaine was a little too careless with his words, though there were only the two of them to hear. And he was right.
"Perhaps. There must be someone he'd listen to."
"Someone sensible and rational, someone high born and respected. Someone deeply dull."
The dark-haired knight was always so flippant, no matter what. Sometimes Leon wanted to slap him.
"I suppose so."
Gwaine pursed his lips thoughtfully. "Well," he said eventually. "There's always you."
Leon was fairly certain that Uther would be even less likely to listen to him than to the others. But at least he was still in favour. There was, he supposed, no harm in trying.