Title: Release Me
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: For years Arthur has been haunted by thoughts, dreams, and feelings for his manservant; now he knows why.
Warnings: Spoiler for the story Major Character Death
Word Count: 977
Author's Notes: Please don't hate me for this! I had this plot bunny attack me only hours before I saw this week's prompt!
“You have magic?”
It wasn’t meant to be a question, for there was no doubt. He’d seen it with his own eyes.
“Silence! You have magic. All this time, right by my side, right under my nose you’ve been using magic!”
“Arthur, please, it was for you! I only used it for you…” Merlin’s voice was piteously soft, almost a whimper, as if he was the one in pain here, the one betrayed. Arthur strode forward and gripped him by the arms.
“How long?” he snarled, giving Merlin a hard shake. “How long have you been using magic? Who taught you?” A horrible suspicion rose in his mind, one almost as painful as the knowledge of Merlin’s betrayal. “Was it Gaius?”
“No! Arthur, no! Nobody taught me, I was born like this. I was born with magic.”
“Liar!” Arthur shouted, flinging Merlin away from him. “No one is born with magic! You chose this path!” Without conscious thought, Arthur drew his sword and raised the tip to Merlin’s throat. “And you will tell me when.”
Tears streamed down Merlin’s face and Arthur felt his heart contract at the sight. He’d never been able to bear a mournful Merlin.
”And just why is that?” The thought sounded in Arthur’s mind, spoken softly in a voice much like his father’s. ”Why is it that you can’t bear to see him sad? Why is it that you are so invested in this boy? He’s nothing more than a servant, so why have you always cared so much what he felt? What he thought?”
“You’ve used it on me, haven’t you?”
Arthur felt his lip curl when Mer- no the sorcerer shook his head, a frantic denial on his lips.
“You have,” Arthur barked, cutting off the stream of weakly worded lies.
He didn’t need to hear them, didn’t want to. He knew the truth of it, the sense of it. Everything he’d never been able to understand before made hideous, painful sense now. Why he’d been haunted, almost since the day they met, by dreams of his skinny manservant. Why he’d found himself yearning for the boy, a peasant - a bastard peasant at that – ever since the day he’d come to work as manservant to the prince Arthur had been back then.
“From the very first you’ve warped my mind, manipulated my feelings, invaded my dreams!” His words began as a snarl, and ended as a shout. Years’ worth of heated thoughts, alluring images, and frightfully intense feelings assaulted him. He’d always felt too much for Merlin, intense and irrational feelings, unseemly in a king and illogical for a man. He had struggled against them, endlessly cursing himself the few times he’d bowed to them. He’d never been able to conquer those feelings, those shameful desires…and now he knew why.
“You made me love you!” he cried aloud. “Made me a puppet! Warped me and my feelings until there was nothing but you!”
He saw the startled jerk of Merlin’s body, the way his head snapped up, his eyes widening and his mouth dropping open. When he found himself helplessly admiring the blue of those eyes and the luscious curve to those lips, he cursed aloud.
“No! Arthur I wouldn’t do that to you! I could never! I love you!”
“Shut up!” Arthur screamed, stepping forward to backhand the sorcerer for the jolt he felt in his heart at the declaration of love, knowing it was false, another cruel lie cast into a vast sea of deception.
“You’re a sorcerer! You don’t have a heart! You don’t have a soul!”
A pitiful cry rose from the sorcerer’s lips and the sound pierced Arthur’s heart. Even now, even knowing what Merlin was, it hurt Arthur to hear Merlin cry out, to see tears streaming from his eyes. And that pain made him angry. Rage swelled in his soul, keeping pace with the pain shriveling his heart.
How dare he? How dare he try manipulate me? Even now with his deceptions revealed, he still strives to ensnare me?
“Stop it! Stop it now!” His voice was shrill in his own ears, weak and hysterical, the voice of a frightened child not the proud king of a prosperous nation. Just how low had Merlin brought him? Stepping back, he shook his head, snapping his jaw shut and forcing his ragged breath to calm.
“You will release me from your spell, Sorcerer. Or you will pay for it with your life.”
“Arthur, please listen to me! There is no spell. I swear it on my mother’s life! I…I didn’t even know! I never knew you felt that way...I never even thought that you could love me.”
Raising his blade once more, Arthur repeated his demand, “Release me from the spell. Immediately!”
“I can’t! I can’t release you! I never enchanted you to begin with!”
Again, Arthur heard the whisper of his father’s ghost, ”Kill the sorcerer and the spell will die with him.”
Everything inside Arthur recoiled at the thought of killing Merlin. He couldn’t…he couldn’t do it, he couldn’t live without Merlin. Couldn’t…live…without…
“No!” he screamed aloud at the treacherous thought. It’s the enchantment! It has to be! No man was that important, not to a king, and certainly not to Arthur.
If the sorcerer dies, the spell dies with him. How many times had Uther told him that? It had been drilled into him since birth. A sorcerer’s power was tied to his life. Kill the sorcerer, break the enchantment. He glared at Merlin, raised his sword and gave him one last chance.
“Break the spell, or I will break it myself.”
Merlin slumped, bowing his head as he whispered, “I can’t.”
Screaming as his heart twisted with pain, Arthur swung the blade down and found that in seeking a release from his torment, he’d only condemned himself to a never-ending agony.