Title: United Destiny
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur, hints of Arthur/Leon
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Leon, Gaius
Summary: Arthur was shocked at the state he found his destiny in.
Warnings: Mentions of past torture/non-con.
Word Count: 1000
Author's Notes: Quite proud of this one considering how ill I feel.
Emrys lurched and before Arthur knew what he was doing, he had combed his fingers through the sorcerer’s hair gently. It had worked up until now in order to soothe the man. Then again, up until now he hadn’t been conscious. Thankfully, it still seemed to work; Arthur could feel him sag against his leg almost as if he didn’t realise what he was doing.
Realising the man’s hands were raising to the blindfold, Arthur gently caught his hands, mindful of the bruises and injuries that lay beneath the white bandages expertly tied around his wrists. Gaius had been grave when he saw the damage and hadn’t let anyone close while he worked. Instantly, Emrys struggled against him and Arthur made a soothing noise in the back of his throat.
“Easy now. It’s alright. It’s only to stop the sun from blinding you. You spent a long time in that cell and you were blindfolded when we found you. Even if they didn’t keep you like that for the entire time, it was dark in there. You need to give your eyes a chance to adjust.”
“Wh’ou?” Arthur grimaced at the hoarseness to Emrys’ voice. He was hardly surprised. Who knew the last time the man spoke, not considering how harshly he had been gagged. Before then – considering the injuries over his body – he would have been screaming rather than speaking.
Arthur felt Emrys slump before he had the chance to respond. Still, the whisper escaped his lips before he could stop himself.
“Yes. I’m your destiny.”
He felt like he had been looking for Emrys forever. It was months ago the dragon had told him of his destiny and the warlock who would be by his side to help him unite Albion. Arthur didn’t think it would be that hard to find a powerful warlock. Only he wasn’t the only one looking and he hadn’t been the first to find him.
“Has he woken?” Arthur looked up to find Gaius heading towards them. The king glanced down at the man sprawled across his lap and nodded.
“Only briefly. He didn’t say much, but he knows who I am. At least, he knows who we are to each other.”
Gaius nodded, seemingly satisfied as he gently rolled Emrys away from Arthur and set about cleaning another wound. Their journey was stop and start, not moving nearly fast enough for Arthur’s liking. They had crippled Cendred’s army when they realised he was indeed holding Emrys hostage; Arthur’s own men causing devastation while the king pulled the sorcerer out from the dingy cell they had been keeping him in. He had pulled off the rune-encircled manacles from his wrists and ankles, but had needed Elyan to break free the solid iron collar locked around his neck, keeping his magic dormant.
Arthur was shocked he was alive. He had never seen someone so badly tortured and Gaius had insisted on stopping every hour regardless of pursuit or Emrys simply wouldn’t survive the journey back to Camelot.
Arthur moved away, letting the physician tend to a particularly deep whip lash on the man’s back. He found himself next to Leon, automatically seeking comfort from his old friend and most trusted knight. It was into Leon’s arms he had crawled when their search seemed futile, but he knew things would be changing now.
“How is he?”
“Still alive,” Arthur reported, glancing back. He couldn’t help himself; he was drawn to the man. Something told him Emrys was more than just his destiny, it was like he was a missing part of Arthur that suddenly fell into place now they were together again. He was glad Gaius had insisted on cleaning the blood from Emrys’ thighs before they had ridden out; he didn’t want his men seeing what Cendred had been using him for.
“Sire, he’s stirring again!” Shooting Leon an apologetic glance, Arthur hurried back. The sorcerer was fighting weakly in Gaius’ grip and Arthur found himself taking the man’s hand, his fingers finding his hair again.
“Shh, I’m here. It’s alright; you’re safe, Emrys.”
“Emrys is what I am. Merlin is who.” The man’s voice was stronger this time and at Gaius’ prompting, Arthur gently touched the water skin to his lips and helped him drink a little. He followed the physician’s instructions, pulling away as soon as he gestured. Emrys – Merlin – needed fluid, but not too much as to make him sick.
“What happened to Cendred?” His voice was stronger this time but Arthur felt him tense as soon as he said the name.
“He won’t come after you again.” Arthur couldn’t kill the man, not without declaring open war. But he had made sure the other monarch had paid for taking and abusing what was rightfully Arthur’s. Especially when he found out Cendred had known about their destiny and that was why he had got there first. Determined to destroy Arthur, Cendred had tried to break Emrys in his stead so Arthur would never have the aid he needed.
“Good,” Merlin sighed, relaxing back against the ground. It was as if knowing that had reassured him that it was safe to let down his guard. Arthur longed to see his eyes, to see into his soul, but he knew the sun was too dangerous for Merlin right now. But as he shifted his position, he realised Merlin was returning the grip on his hand and using Arthur as an anchor.
As Merlin sagged, Arthur thought he had passed out again. But his breathing was even and one glance at Gaius confirmed his suspicions. The man had simply fallen asleep. Awkwardly – not wanting to let go – Arthur pulled off his cloak and began trying to drape it over his destiny. He couldn’t quite manage until a hand straightened the edge. Arthur looked up and caught Leon’s eye as the man nodded in respect before stepping back again. Smiling, Arthur drew Merlin in close.
“I’ll keep you safe, I promise.”