Title: Mind Games
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: He had to hold onto the memories. It was all he had left. Of Camelot and of Merlin.
Word Count: 994
Author's Notes: I knew it would be just too easy to do it with Merlin, so thought I would give him a break this week.
Arthur sighed as he stared out of the window. Across the street was just another part of the building he was in. Grey concrete walls with barely a window to interrupt the brick work. Certainly not the most inspiring sight one could wish for.
But that wasn’t what Arthur was seeing.
Instead, a gleaming castle rose in his mind’s eye, set off by lush green fields that rolled around it, bathing the castle in the bright sunshine reflected off the river that wove through the field. It was breathtakingly beautiful. So much, in fact, that it hurt Arthur to look upon it. His chest tightened and his breathing laboured as he struggled to control himself. He could feel the familiar burning of tears in his eyes and he screwed them up in order to look away.
But it didn’t matter that his eyes were closed, for the sight was burnt into the backs of lids. Nothing would ever allow him to escape that image. The view of a home long gone, a home he didn’t know had truly existed.
It wasn’t just the image that was haunting him though. He knew it was coming even as a shrill laugh echoed through his mind. He could hear the soft sound of worn boots running down a stone corridor, gasping breath indicating how their owner seemed to be running for their life. Or, at least, running from their lover giving chase, laughter bouncing off the walls and soaking into the tapestries.
Arthur moved away from the window as the image filled him up. Sitting on the edge of his bed, his hands automatically smoothed down the pristine white sheets. Everything was pristine about his room, even him. He wouldn’t let it get any other way. This was him now. The immaculate man who liked to lose himself in a past long gone.
He sighed as he fell back into the sheets, not being far enough up to actually hit the pillows. Throwing one arm across his face, Arthur lost himself to the images in his mind. He knew that he shouldn’t, that he should be keeping his mind in the here and now. But it had been a trying day and just for a while, he wanted to forget everything surrounding him. Wanted to brush away his troubles as if they were pesky flies, or command them to go away the way he had once been able to give orders.
It almost worked. As Merlin’s laugh echoed in his ears, the images shimmered and moved into the castle. He could see inside now. He could see himself, dressed in a lose white shirt and dark breeches, leaning into an alcove. And Merlin… everything about Merlin was vivid and colourful; from the red scarf tied around his neck to the way the blue of his shirt was making his vivid eyes sparkle even more. Arthur could see himself pressing in close, their kisses tender as one of his hands rested on Merlin’s hip as his servant drew him closer.
“Never leave me,” Merlin whispered.
Back on his bed, Arthur felt a tear slip from his eye as he heard himself promise he wasn’t going anywhere. They had been so naïve back then, so full of hope. With Arthur’s authority and Merlin’s power, they had truly thought they could conquer the world. The world, perhaps. But even the strength of their love wasn’t enough to allow them to conquer death and fate had forced them to part ways.
Maybe they had brought it upon themselves? Maybe their confidence that nothing could come between them would be enough to defy the odds of life? Arthur knew they should have known better but he had been young and in love.
He was young again now. Young and alone, staring at blank walls as he tried to get the image of a perfect home from his head. He didn’t even want the castle and its gorgeous surroundings anymore. That wasn’t what had made it home, not in the end.
He just wanted Merlin.
Forcing himself to snap out of it, Arthur dropped his arm, scrubbed his eyes and rolled off the bed. Dropping to the floor, he forced himself through his usual routine of push ups and press ups, hoping the pounding of his heart and the thump of blood in his ears would be enough to stop the thoughts from consuming him.
It didn’t work.
It never did.
He knew it wouldn’t, nothing would ever rid him of the thoughts in his mind. Deep down, Arthur knew why. He knew he didn’t want the memories to disappear. If they did, he had nothing. At least right now he had the pain of living each day without Merlin by his side serving as a constant reminder that he was alive and that he had a purpose in life again. He had to find his lover, no matter what it took.
To look for Merlin, he needed to get the images out of his head.
A soft knock at the door made him sit up from where he had been resting back against the dull carpet. Nothing in this room made him feel like living. If it wasn’t for the memories, he wasn’t sure what would keep him going.
“Come in,” he called, knowing that he was in no position to deny entry. He had lost so much when he couldn’t even guarantee the privacy of his own rooms any more. A figure clad in blue slipped in and Arthur glanced away.
The blue of his eyes and the dark mop of hair was right. But the soul wasn’t. It wasn’t his Merlin.
“Time for you medication, Arthur,” the figure said, handing over the pills. Arthur made the show of swallowing them and the not-Merlin left. Immediately, Arthur spat them back out. They didn’t think they needed to check anymore.
But he was not going to lose Camelot and Merlin, not again.