Title: A light in the darkness
Character/s: Merlin, Cenred, Arthur
Summary: How come it was Cenred who had seized control first? Forced Merlin to do his bidding and twisted and broken his life beyond repair.
Warnings: Abuse, violence. (Not Merlin/Arthur and not sexual abuse.)
Word Count: 1000
Prompt: #161 Moonlight
Author's Notes: This is rather dark, but the idea's been niggling me for a while! Great to get the chance to write another drabble here too!!
Merlin was back late. The house was in darkness and an uneasy silence greeted his entrance. He pushed the door closed, doing his utmost to stay quiet. Maybe Cenred had gone out, or perhaps gone to bed early, he thought desperately, anything which meant he didn't have to see him.
He toed off his shoes and slipped through the hallway to the kitchen, hoping there would be some food. Arthur hadn't been much in the mood for eating, he thought wryly, a rare smile warming his face just as he made it to the kitchen and turned on the light.
“Ah. You're back.”
Merlin's smile evaporated.
Cenred was sat near the window, his feet propped up on another chair and a bottle of beer in hand. Merlin fought the urge not to gulp. Cenred was always worse when he'd been drinking.
“You're late.” Cenred's voice was cold and hard and Merlin ducked his head. “Care to tell me why?”
“I was out with friends,” Merlin replied, his voice coming out without a wobble, which he praised himself for. He hadn't actually lied anyway, there had been a whole group of them there at Arthur's flat … the others had just left before Merlin.
The was a silence and, daringly, Merlin filled it by crossing to the fridge to look for some food. His hand had just closed on a jar of jam when Cenred spoke again.
“Are you sure it wasn't just one particular friend?”
The jar rattled against the worktop as Merlin's hand shook.
“Answer me!” Cenred's shout was enough to make Merlin jump at least a foot in the air.
“N-no … honestly Cenred there were lots of us there, I swear.”
He turned to face Cenred, flinching back as he found the man had gotten to his feet and crossed the room, his face twisted in a snarl as he towered over Merlin, forcing him back against the worktop.
“You're a liar. It was Pendragon, wasn't it.”
“No. No. Please, I promise. It wasn't him.”
Cenred backhanded him sharply, causing sparks to burst in front of Merlin's eyes. Before Merlin had a chance to react, Cenred took hold of his chin, the palm of his hand threateningly close to cutting off Merlin's windpipe.
“We had a discussion about this, didn't we?” Cenred's voice was smoother again, the control of the situation firmly in his grasp.
“I promise nothing happened!”
“You can promise all you like, Merlin. Doesn't mean I'll believe you. You think I'll just willingly let you sneak off to his place every night? You've got another thing coming.”
And then, because Merlin was really at the end of what he could handle, and because Arthur had said he needed to get away, had said he believed in him -- Merlin fought back.
A hard, two handed shove to the chest sent Cenred stumbling backwards, surprise spelled across his face.
Merlin darted quickly out of reach, his heart in his throat and his hands in fists because he was sick of all this and he had to do something.
“Oh ho ho! Would you look at that?” Cenred sneered, “the bitch can bite.”
“Don't call me that,” Merlin ground out.
“Or what?” Cenred laughed. “You're going to do some magic? Come on Merlin, we both know its not like that this time. And you must think about your poor mother. Without all that magic you had last time, you know you're nothing.”
Not to Arthur, I'm not. Merlin thought wildly.
He had tears in his eyes, however, because it just wasn't fair. Why couldn't he have his magic this time around? How come it was Cenred who had seized control first? Forced Merlin to do his bidding and twisted and broken his life beyond repair as he held his mother's life over him.
Cenred had had his hold over Merlin's life for so long, Merlin had almost forgotten how to fight.
“I can't let her die, Arthur.”
“I know. I know.”
“What are we going to do?”
“I … I don't know. But we will do something, Merlin. We'll make this right.”
He couldn't let her die. And neither could the others. Which was why Arthur was so frustrated and angry, because he was King Arthur for heaven's sake and he could do nothing to help the man he loved.
Slowly Merlin's fists lowered and his head dropped. There was nothing he could do.
“Better,” Cenred said, his voice harsh.
In three quick strides, Cenred had cross the space between them. “But a lesson still needs to the learned, don't you think?”
Merlin's eyes shot up, wide and panicked.
Grabbing Merlin's wrist, Cenred dragged Merlin from the kitchen as if he were nothing more than a rag doll, Merlin's protests falling on deaf ears.
With his free hand, Cenred wrenched open the door to the basement and shoved Merlin through it, sending him toppling down.
All the breath was knocked out of him as he landed at the bottom and Merlin's throat seized in fright as he fought to get to his feet, scrambling his way back up.
Already he could hear the cries of the mandrake roots from the darkness behind him.
Morgause had given them to Cenred to use as he wished once she discovered the legendary warlock would do her no harm.
Cenred smirked in triumph as he slammed the door shut and plunged the basement into darkness.
Merlin curled up on himself, his hands over his ears.
The narrow windows by the ceiling were all boarded up, not even the faintest glimmer of moonlight made its way in to keep away the darkness.
Merlin repeated the name to himself over and over. Arthur was his moonlight, his light in the darkness. The only thing that would get him through the night.