Summary: What's next for them both
Word Count: 370
camelot_drabble Prompt: #135: Path
Author's Notes: A continuation of Scars and Mistake. The third chapter, Confessions, will need to be read before this makes sense. It was way too long for a drabble and also it was from an old prompt #015: confessions so I couldn't post it on camelot_drabble.
For a time, Merlin felt as alive as if he'd swallowed magic, the fires of ecstasy blazing just under his heart. Knowing that it might mean nothing, that Arthur might feel differently in the morning or that he'd go back into that hard shell of his and deny everything, still Merlin had had a single night to treasure in the days to come.
Arthur had been both shy and commanding in the way he wrung pleasure out of Merlin's body, seeming to delight in every groan. Using fingers to trail joy along his skin, mouthing at groin and nipple and that little soft spot behind one ear that Merlin hadn't realized was so sensitive, Arthur tried hard to make it good for him. And he had, oh so much.
But what brought him finally to tears was Arthur ghosting his hands across Merlin's scars. He'd been so gentle, as if afraid to hurt him, and he hadn't – except to remind Merlin of what he'd done.
Dishonesty and pretence and hiding forever beneath magic's ban. He'd trusted Merlin with himself and his vulnerable heart and instead Merlin betrayed him yet again.
He couldn't explain the grief, not while lying in Arthur's arms, not without begging for forgiveness, and so Merlin had let him call him a girl and kiss him until he forgot his sorrow in bright bliss.
In the days and weeks ahead, he knew he'd only continue along the path he'd set so long ago, digging himself in deeper and deeper until he was buried in lies.
But the thing that twisted at him, that drove the regret in deep, so deep that he could barely breathe, was something Arthur had said in the night. That he loved Merlin for wanting the man, not the façade of the prince or the prat, but for Arthur's true self.
It broke his heart to hear it, shattered it into a thousand desperate shards, and yet he hid his grief, smiled instead and kissed Arthur and drove him back into ecstasy.
He realized now that Arthur would never know the true Merlin. He would love the shadow and not the man, never the man.
And unlike the scars rending his skin, every time he betrayed Arthur with lies and more lies, every time he looked into Arthur's eyes and saw happiness there, a cut, deeper than any blade could go, would open in his chest. A fresh wound for every smile, for every fall into rapture, for every whisper of love.
But no scars this time - because some wounds never healed.