Title: The Reason
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur, Arthur/Elena
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur,
Summary: It seemed there was a genuine excuse this time.
Warnings: Just Uther being an arse
Word Count: 997
Author's Notes: A conitnuation of In Your Arms.
Arthur peered up blearily when he heard the door opening, his hands automatically twisting in the chains that bound them securely to the wall. His father had been furious when Elena’s cycle had revealed another month had passed and she was still not with child. Arthur didn’t know why; he had done his duty and even tried hinting to the king that perhaps they would be unable to bear children. After all, his own father hadn’t been able to produce an heir without the aid of magic.
But Uther’s rage at that suggestion had caused him to strike out. It was the first time the man had resorted to pure violence against him and Arthur had still been staggering from the shock when Uther had forced him into his small room and to his knees. He had wrapped the chains around his wrists, shortening the length until Arthur had no choice but to stay on the floor before securing it to the ring in the wall.
Arthur had been left there, forced to wait out the week until he was supposed to resume his duties. A servant came in with food three times a day, always accompanied by a knight as they gave Arthur more slack to relieve himself and wash. In a strange way, the prince felt relieved to have the time to sit and think rather than giving his excuses to nobles who didn’t understand the situation and didn’t know why the once passionate prince no longer cared.
But being locked up securely for the entire week meant he hadn’t been able to slip out to see Merlin and being apart from his lover in such a forcible way hurt him more than anything else Uther could do.
Now, however, his father was staring down at him with a sneer on his face. Arthur forced himself into a more upright position, biting back a wince when it chaffed against the sores on his wrists. He hadn’t openly struggled against the restraints, knowing it was futile. But a week of being chained had left its mark and he felt sore and weak.
“It is time,” the king said, his voice flat and careless. He didn’t care about Arthur anymore; he was just a means to an end. Arthur knew from the servants his father had been openly courting every noblewoman who came to court, looking for a match so he could secure the line for himself and disown Arthur. At least that would mean he could be with Merlin…
Arthur forced himelf to stop thinking there as a guard approached to unchain him. Thinking about his lover in front of his father only led to him feeling angry and it got him nowhere. The guard aided him up and although Uther clearly thought the hold was tight – for nothing else would make him smirk in satisfaction – Arthur smiled his gratitude. The man was stopping him from collapsing; he still had allies.
The king accompanied him to Elena’s chambers, almost as if he expected Arthur to make a run for it the second he could. But Arthur allowed himself to be walked in, even managing not to react when the door locked behind him. His father truly didn’t trust him.
Elena turned from where she had been sitting at her desk and smiled. There was no love in the smile, but fondness and compassion. She might not have spent the week chained, but Arthur knew they were trapped in this together. Before he could say anything, she had pulled him into a hug.
“I’m so sorry,” she murmured. Arthur embraced her back. They might have been forced into a marriage, but they had managed to become good friends. Elena knew of his love for Merlin and had even encouraged him to hold onto those feelings.
“It’s not your fault,” Arthur was quick to reassure her. Elena pulled back, however, blushing.
“Sit down, Arthur,” she requested, motioning to the bed. Arthur inwardly smirked; it was the only piece of furniture in the room he ever used. Elena sat down next to him and Arthur realised she was almost nervous.
“It is my fault. I… Gaius has found a herb that will stop a pregnancy.”
“What?” Arthur knew he sounded shocked, but he thought Elena wanted children. It would have given her far more favour with the king and she would have actually been treated like a princess rather than a glorified prisoner.
“My only excuse is that I wanted to protect you. I thought… I don’t think he will disown you once I conceive. I fear he will kill you. But for now, he needs you around. You don’t want to be a father, Arthur. Not to my children.”
Arthur could only stare at her. He knew what a risk she was taking… and all because she wanted to keep him safe.
“I don’t know what to say,” he ended up murmuring, taking her hand. Elena kissed him on the forehead, holding him close for a moment.
“You know I don’t love you, Arthur. But I’m not going to lose you either, not if I can help it.”
“What did I do to deserve a friend like you?”
Elena smiled and Arthur knew they had a deep understanding between each other. He could never love her, not while his heart belonged to Merlin. But he could admire, respect and care for her. They sat together for a few moments before Elena moved around and laid back on the bed. She hitched her shift up before reaching for Arthur and unlacing him.
“The excuse will only work if they think we are at least trying,” she said regretfully, pulling Arthur’s breeches down. He sighed, climbing onto the bed with her. She gently began stroking him, knowing how difficult he found it to become aroused in this situation.
“Close your eyes and think of Merlin,” she whispered. Arthur knew he had no excuse but to do as he was told.