Title: A Sour Saviour
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur, Arthur/Other
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: He had been a fool breaking up with the man he loved.
Warnings: Dub-con, possibly attempted rape.
Word Count: 999
“Cheer up, mate.”
Merlin tried to force a smile on his face at Gwaine’s words, but knew his friend saw straight through it. He was trying; he really was. They didn’t deserve him in this sort of mood, not after all of this time. It had been nearly a month and his company was still as lousy as it had been after he had realised he had just made the worst mistake of his life. Somehow, that made it all the worse knowing he had brought it upon himself. He didn’t deserve them trying to cheer him up.
“Sorry,” Merlin muttered, cradling his beer and realising he had only taken a sip or two. After weeks of ducking his friends, they had turned up en mass at his flat and practically dragged him out with them. Merlin hadn’t resisted – he just thought he was lucky they would still bother with him after he had been ignoring their calls for days on end. They were worried about him. If he was honest, Merlin was worried about himself.
“I should probably get going.”
“No way. You are staying here until you are suitably drunk enough to pour out what is on your mind to your nearest and dearest so you will quit with the moping around. It’s giving me grey hairs, so for the sake of my looks you need to get drunk.”
This time, Merlin properly smiled. Typical Gwaine to be able to make him smile even when he just wanted to cry and hide, just to make sure he didn’t bump into…
It couldn’t be.
This was his first night out since the break-up, he couldn’t be here. Not now. Not when Merlin was here.
He must have gone pale, for Gwaine leant across the table anxiously and grasped his wrist before turning and swearing.
“Merlin, I’m sorry, I didn’t…”
“It’s okay,” Merlin muttered, finding his eyes were drinking in the sight of Arthur. He looked good; he always looked good. But even after a month, Merlin’s heart ached at the sight of him. He had been in love, he knew that now. He had just been scared of commitment and pushed Arthur away rather than holding onto him. “Maybe I should talk to him? Maybe it would help?”
This time, however, Gwaine was the one to go slightly pale.
“Not a good time, Merlin, mate. How about we move on to somewhere else?”
“What don’t you want me to know?” Merlin knew Gwaine well; he knew that the man was hiding something. Gwaine made to open his mouth, but another voice – much louder – got there first.
“Arthur! There you are!” Merlin watched as someone he could only describe as a brute ambled through the door and draped an arm over Arthur’s shoulders, pulling him close and kissing him. And Arthur kissed him back.
Merlin felt sick.
There was a sour taste in his mouth, as if something had crawled in there and died. This was what Gwaine didn’t want him seeing.
“He’s seeing someone?” Merlin was proud of how steady his voice came out, but he could feel the tears pricking at his eyes. Of course Arthur was seeing someone – he was gorgeous, loveable and prepared to offer his heart. Unlike Merlin had been. And now he felt like someone had just ripped his heart out and stamped on it.
“We could go, you don’t have to see this,” Gwaine muttered, clearly knowing without turning around that Arthur and his partner were still making out. Merlin shook his head.
“No,” he said, “it’s fine.”
It wasn’t fine. It hurt. Hurt like hell. And that is why he had to stay. To prove to himself that if Arthur could move on, then so could he. Arthur had found happiness again – and a new found confidence, for Merlin knew he would have been far too embarrassed to kiss this deeply in public before. This was his punishment for pushing the man away and Merlin was determined he was going to endure it.
But the evening had been spoilt and his mood got darker as Arthur’s new partner got progressively more and more drunk, and it resulted in him becoming more lewd with Arthur. Even from a distance, Merlin knew he had been wrong. Arthur wasn’t happy. He could see it in the defeated slump of his shoulders when his boyfriend kept a hand at the very least on his thigh all night, possessive and dominant.
It was nearing 11pm when Merlin decided he couldn’t take any more. Arthur and his man had vanished and Merlin knew this would be a good time to make a move so there was no risk of being seen. Muttering to Gwaine about needing to go to the bathroom, Merlin finally drained his drink and stumbled into the gents.
The last thing he expected to see was Arthur again. With one arm bent up behind his back, a hand over his mouth, being held against one of the stalls with his so called partner groping him despite Arthur clearly resisting.
The drunk turned to look at him and sneered.
“Plenty to share, just get in line, mate.”
Merlin saw red. He barely even noticed the shock on Arthur’s face as he clearly recognised Merlin’s voice, nor the tears in his eyes at the degradation he was being subjected to. All Merlin was focusing on was getting the brute off the man he loved. He thought he might have even said something along those lines as he punched him as hard as he could.
Luckily, the noise the man made as he fell brought others running and Gwaine quickly took control.
“M-Merlin?” Arthur whispered, his eyes still wide. Merlin smiled. The sour taste in his mouth had gone, warmth settling into his heart. Nothing would happen – he wouldn’t dream of taking advantage of Arthur being shaken up. But hopefully it would be enough to start them talking again.
“Come on, I’m taking you home.”