Title: No Escape From Destiny
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Gwaine, OC’s
Summary: Continuing from Seen and Hidden, False Representation and Escape Plans. Arthur can escape the castle but he can’t escape his mind.
Warnings: angst (but if you’ve read from the start it’s probably expected)
Word Count: 980
Prompt: #6 Whispers in the night
Author's Notes: Another in the Seen and Hidden ‘verse. Thanks to all those who keep asking for more. I probably wouldn’t be writing this without you guys. Comments and hugs make me happy. Enjoy!
The sun was disappearing below the horizon when Arthur decided on a suitable place to camp. During the patrol they hadn’t run into anyone, but had found remnants of some camps less than a day old.
No course action registered in Gwaine and Leon minds as there was no obvious reason to think them sinister. People camped in the forests all the time for various reasons. Arthur had other thoughts though. When they came across the second camp the King suggested it would be a good opportunity to let the two young knights brush up on their tracking skills. Get back to basic, concentrate on something that I enjoy; or at least used to.
Arthur found Gareth and Daniel’s skills were a bit rusty, probably through lack of use. He made a mental note to send the newer recruits out tracking more often. Leon’s skills weren’t too sharp either, but Gwaine surprised him by picking up on a few missed placed leaves which highlights the likes of a real trail where Arthur had fallen for the easy decoy.
Since then, Merlin had sensed Arthur’s mood change for the worse, which was confirmed when he told Gwaine to shut up when he was half way through telling Gareth and Daniel about the time he had met both Arthur and Merlin.
After tying the reins of his horse to a tree branch, Merlin was about to unpack when he heard his name.
“Merlin, we need fire wood. Take Gwaine with you.”
“Is it just me, or is Arthur been acting weird over the past week? He’s been rather…”
“Moody?” Merlin offered.
“Temperamental,” Gwaine finished, laughing.
“Yeah,” Merlin agreed soberly.
Gwaine let his laughter die away. “You’re worried about him, aren’t you?”
Merlin didn’t answer, just added more sticks to the large bundle he had already collected. “Not you too! Geez, someone has got to talk around here. I can’t be the only one. People think I’m annoying enough as it is.”
Merlin turned at the comment. “We don’t think you’re annoying,” he protested.
“Ha! Got ya! Now talk. What do you think Arthur is hiding?”
“How long does it take to gather a few stick for a fire?” Arthur complained.
“Probably takes less than a minute using magi-hey!,” stated Daniel before Gareth poked him lightly in the back. He spun around to face the other knight. “What was that for?”
“Yes, what was that for Gareth?” asked Arthur.
“Umm… I… ummm, just thought…”
“I’m not my father. Just because the laws haven’t been changed yet…” Arthur started but couldn’t finish. He didn’t want say too much in case things didn’t turn out the way he hoped. Doesn’t mean I’m not trying to change. But it’s hard. It’s hard to take in everything. There is so much uncertainty and not enough knowledge after my father…
But even the thought of what he had seen and helped his father do was too much.
“Sorry Sire,” Gareth said, head bowed.
Arthur breathed a regretful sigh. He went over to Gareth and placed a hand on his shoulder. The fledgling knight raised his head to look up into his King’s eyes. The emotion Gareth saw on Arthur’s face seemed to be a mixture of an apology, appreciation and sorrow. It was only there for a few seconds and then it was gone, along with the hand; Arthur’s back was turned and he walking to the other side of the camp.
It was almost full dark by the time the fire wood reached the camp and Merlin’s stew was ready to be eaten.
With full stomachs, the knights turn in for the night. Merlin offered to take first watch but Arthur insisted and after some tossing and turning to get a comfortable position, Merlin was the last to finally fall asleep.
Arthur wasn’t sure taking the first watch was a good idea anymore. The quiet let his mind wander, all the worries coming to surface. Sitting still and looking at his knights leads him to thinking of the earlier incident with Gareth and Daniel only making things worse.
He stood up and began to pace.
Why did you have to cause so much unrest, Father? How am I supposed to be King in a land with laws I’m not sure I even believe in. What drove you to all of it? There must have been something that allowed you to watch coldly as all those people suffered and died at your command. You weren’t that heartless, Father… were you?
Deep in thought, Arthur hadn’t noticed he was making loops around the camp. His boot knocked a spoon sticking out of the stack of dishes not far from Merlin’s head. The dishes on top of the spoon clattered to the ground and Arthur stop in his tracks. He looked down at the dishes and then at Merlin. He didn’t seem to have stirred, so Arthur carefully more his foot away and made his pacing circle wider.
Passing the knights, he thought of Daniel’s words. Probably takes less than a minute using magic. That’s what he meant to say. People are afraid to even mention it out of fear. Did my father pass his fear to the people?
Arthur. The King heard a voice in his head, but it wasn’t his own. He unsheathed his sword.
“Arthur, what’s wrong?” came a weary whisper in the night. Arthur slowly turns around watching the trees. “Arthur, down here,” came another whisper and he realised it was Merlin. His manservant was lying propped on one elbow. “What’s wrong?” he whispered again.
Arthur looked around and then back at Merlin. “Nothing… Just voices in my head,” he whispered in answer.
“Just go back to sleep, Merlin.”
Merlin did as he was told, but not before thinking, you need to talk to somebody.
The same thought echoed in Arthur’s mind.