Title: The King's Precious Fool
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Lancelot
Summary: He's only ever been Arthur's. But this isn't how he wanted it to be.
Warnings: Dark character, possessive behavior
Word Count: 1453
Prompt: #102 - Fool
Author's Notes: I love how I disappear for weeks and then suddenly return with dark!Arthur. HAHAHA. Sorry not sorry. Anyway, it feels great to write again! I've missed doing it. School work is crazy, am I right? Anywho, enjoy this little piece of darkness I whipped up just for this lovely community again.
He dreams the citadel is on fire.
Smoke fills his lungs and he chokes on it, burning his eyes and springing tears to them. He can't breathe and he can't see but he knows that something is wrong, and he feels the weight of it down to his very core. He begins to run through the smoke, trying to find the source, so he can douse it, so he can rid the city of the flames engulfing his home, his entire world.
But he cannot find it. He runs and he runs and there's nothing at all, nothing he can find, nothing he can do. He feels trapped and he cannot escape, cannot quell the fires or find his way, and suddenly he's lost, with no knowledge as to where he is or why, why is he here?
The ground begins to rumble beneath him. He can't move. Why can't he move? People scream, continue to scream, they are dying, why can't he help them? Why can't he, why can't he save them all--?
But then he hears it. He turns and amongst the flames and smog, he sees him. It's him, his king, his love, his everything. Arthur stands there amongst the chaos, and he laughs, he's laughing at the destruction, the smolders, the charred remains. He's laughing and his eyes are not his own, darkened by hatred and desire, of evil. He doesn't recognize him, he doesn't recognize this--
“They're dead because of you,” Arthur tells him, and suddenly he's so close, gloved fingers gripping his hair. “This is happening because of you. You made this happen, this is your fault, Merlin, all your fault!”
He's still laughing as the citadel erupts in more flames, the heat now unbearable. He screams, so loud, he screams so loud that he doesn't know how he doesn't wake up, how nobody can hear him. How can nobody hear him? How can nobody wake him?
The walls crumble around him, the ground breaking to pieces below his feet, and he falls, he's falling with Arthur's laughter in his ears, and smoke in his lungs, and images of fire above him.
“...lin! Merlin! Merlin, wake up!”
Merlin's eyes snap open, and he gasps, shooting up in his bed. On reflex, he grabs the newcomer by the throat with an iron grip, squeezing their wrist with his other free hand. He's shaking and slowly he grip loosens as he sees the tired, yet understanding face of Lancelot.
He lets go. He runs his fingers through his hair, scrubbing at his eyes. Instead of smiling, saying good morning or hello, he frowns. “You shouldn't be here, Lance.”
His old friend smiles ruefully, shaking his head. “It's okay. Arthur actually sent me to get you.”
“He sent you?” Merlin asks, a little incredulously. That doesn't sound like something Arthur would do, considering their tight-knit history. “Are you sure?”
Lance huffs out a tired laugh. “Crystal. Come on, old friend. Let's get this over with.”
Merlin bites down on his lip, and stares at Lance pleadingly, as if he had any choice in the matter. “Lance...”
“I know, Merlin,” Lance replies softly, extending his hand out. “I know.”
Merlin looks at him and sees the pain in his eyes, in his expression. He wouldn't be doing any of this if Merlin weren't so stupid, weren't so weak. Lance wouldn't be doing any of this if it weren't for his love and devotion to Gwen.
Merlin's heart sinks. Gwen. Oh, gods, dearest Gwen. His best friend. His sister. His heart aches for her, thinking of how scared she must be, locked away, far from anyone's reach, and he wishes then he were braver, that he could save her, that he could save everyone, that he could free everyone from this curse. But he can't. He's not strong enough. He's not courageous enough to fight Arthur.
Slowly, he rises to his feet, and sighs quietly, resigned, defeated. “Let's go.”
Lance raises a brow, and his lips quirk into a bit of a smile. “You're not going to change?”
“Arthur wants me now,” Merlin says, shrugging. He glances down at his nightclothes, and seriously cannot bring himself to care. “Who cares if I look formal anyway?”
“He won't like it,” Lance tells him, but walks to the door nonetheless.
“Then let him hate it,” Merlin says, following him. “Maybe he'll get a taste of what everyone else feels.”
When Merlin enters the throne room, Arthur looks as he ever did. Strong, regal, and in control. He frowns in disapproval when he meets Merlin's eye, and for a second, Merlin feels triumphant.
To most people, there is nothing wrong. Arthur is a fair and just ruler, and loves his people with a big heart. There has been peace in Camelot for many years, since he took the throne from his father. But to Merlin, and to those as close, there is something grievously amiss.
Merlin is no longer Arthur's servant. Not since revealing his magic. Merlin has since become his sorcerer, his consort, his half, his everything, his, his, his. Merlin doesn't belong to himself. He belongs to Arthur, like a possession, like a pet. He has made this clear to every person in Camelot that Merlin is to be touched by no one, to be no one's friend. He's to be no one's anything but Arthur's.
And Merlin knows not to break this unspoken law as well.
When he reaches Arthur at his throne, he bows low, deep, mocking. “Sire,” he says, the formality as insulting as it always is.
Arthur's gaze narrows slightly, but he doesn't comment. Instead, he gestures to Lancelot. “Leave.”
Lance looks visibly pained by the command, but bows his head in respect. “Yes, my lord.”
He leaves, but Merlin doesn't break eye contact with Arthur, the retreating sound of his boots clacking in his ears.
There's a long drawn silence, before Arthur says, “Couldn't be bothered to dress yourself?”
“I don't see why it matters,” Merlin says bitterly, looking away. “It's not like it ever matters.”
Arthur scoffs, rising to his feet. “This could have been important court business.”
“And if anyone had ridiculed me on my appearance you would've had them killed,” Merlin shoots back, narrowing his own gaze. “Don't even think that you can tell me otherwise.”
Arthur smiles wryly, but doesn't refute the remark. “You didn't come to bed last night.”
“No,” Merlin says, crosses his arms, as if holding himself. “I was in my own chambers.”
The king shrugs, clicking his tongue, clearing disliking the idea. He steps closer, crowding his space. Merlin has a sudden moment of paranoia, recalling with sudden clarity his dream. He wants to shove Arthur away, to get him away, to be rid of him, but he can't. It would be so easy to end it all here, but Merlin is weak. He cannot.
Arthur brushes a hand down his cheek, and Merlin resists the urge to pull away. A dark part of him is comforted by it, the sweet, gentle caress. It soothes him, to a degree, and against his will, he relaxes, slightly.
“I wish you wouldn't hate me so,” Arthur tells him, cupping his cheek. “Everything I do is for you. I just want you to be safe.”
He meets his gaze, and for a second, Merlin can believe him. Rather, he wants to. A selfish part of him wants Arthur to be his just as much as Merlin is Arthur's. But the selfishness is quickly quelled, as he spits out, “And I just want to be my own.”
Arthur's tender touch turns cold, and he sinks his fingers into Merlin's hair, grasping a handful. Merlin winces, and Arthur yanks him closer, whispering against his lips. “But you're mine, only mine, Merlin.”
He kisses him, punishing and possessive. He uses his free hand to wrap around his waist, pulling them flush against each other. A sharp burn of arousal settles deep in his stomach, and all the fight he'd wanted to pursue leaves him. He melts, letting Arthur's lips and tongue plunder his mouth, claiming him, owning him, just as he'd said.
This is my life, he thinks, as Arthur guides him backwards, pulling him into his lap as he retakes his place on the throne. The kissing continues, scarcely giving Merlin a moment to breathe, reminding him that his life is so fragile in his king's hands, that all Arthur would need to do is say the word, and Merlin would end it all.
It reminds him that he's not a fighter, not a sorcerer or a knight, not brave or just or noble or kind.
He's just the king's precious fool.