Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Morgana
Summary: It was the same question in his head, over and over. Who is Emrys? But Arthur would never betray Merlin.
Word Count: 1032
Author's Notes: Written for camelot_drabble prompt 169 - 'I'm here', and also fills the 'telepathy/Mind share' square of my merlin_writers trope bingo (that's 11/25 done) and the 'telepathic trauma' square of my hc_bingo round 6 card (that's 2/25 done) and the 'torture/interrogation' square of my trope_bingo round 5 card (that's 2/25 done).
Disclaimer:Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
Arthur knew it already, had felt the intrusion. He was used to it now. He was strong. He’d held out so far. He could hold out again. This wasn’t forever. Emrys would come for him. Arthur could stand it. He could.
You know how this goes, Arthur.
Yes, he knew. There would be the question, the same one, over and over. There was no need to answer her because Morgana was right there in his head. Whatever he thought of, she would know. It had been two days now since she’d captured him and there had been no opportunity to escape. Surely, soon, he would be found.
Who is Emrys? Tell me. This will stop if you just tell me.
Intrusion. Memories he’d tried to keep hidden away, things he’d tried to forget. His father… their father, shouting, the veins standing out in his neck where he was so angry. Gods, it hurt when she pulled the memories out. His throat was raw and yet he’d barely noticed he was screaming.
Always such a disappointment, weren’t you Arthur? And now you’re hiding a sorcerer. How Uther failed with you. He’ll be turning in his grave.
Uther would turn in his grave about many things that Arthur did. But Arthur knew everything Morgana did would hurt him more. Not that she would care.
No. I do care. I live to hurt him, and his legacy.
Arthur was his legacy. His sorcerer-loving son. No, he couldn’t think about that. “We want the same thing,” he attempted. “Emrys is magic, you know that. I’m going to repeal the ban on magic, you don’t have to fight me. I’m not our father.”
He felt the flash of rage, twisting, tearing at him.
“Our father,” he repeated. It made her so angry, just the thought of her heritage.
Morgana withdrew, just for a moment. He knew she was trying to calm herself, not let him see too much. Then there was the sharp stab of pain and he knew she was back. Back, and angry.
Perhaps you need more incentive. Perhaps this isn’t enough. I could get one of the knights… Leon, you’ve always been friends. How long could you listen to his cries? Or perhaps someone weaker, someone who couldn’t stand it for long?
He thought of Gaius, felt her recoil slightly because the old physician had been kind to her. Yes, there were her thoughts in there too. She wasn’t as good at this as she thought.
“He wasn’t that kind,” she hissed. “He knows who Emrys is. Perhaps he is Emrys. Is that it?” Is it Gaius? He always knew too much about magic.
Gaius would sacrifice himself for… for Emrys. But Arthur would not make that choice for him. And even by thinking it, he had eradicated that possibility.
Not Gaius. But he would know. He’d talk, if I threatened that serving boy, he’s like a father to him. Better than our father anyway.
Merlin. Arthur was not going to think of Merlin. A flash of blue eyes, that smile… Arthur thought of the knights, of forcing Merlin to take part in target practice. He thought of him scrubbing the floors… no, not that, not down on all fours… thought of him serving dinner, always so clumsy…”
“Think of him trying to poison me, Arthur,” Morgana spat. “Think of that. Your loyal servant. I had done nothing to him.”
He could feel it, the poison going down, the fear, the pain… But Merlin had told him… no, he couldn’t think of Merlin.
Tell me who Emrys is, Arthur. If you don’t, I’ll take Merlin, Gaius, Leon… I’ll take everyone you care about, one at a time, and I’ll make you watch as I destroy them. I could make you destroy them yourself…
His arm jerked up, reached for the knife she held out, took it, slashed smooth and clean. He wasn’t controlling it, it wasn’t him that handed it back to her. The last thing Merlin would see was Arthur looking down at him, watching as the life bled out of him. Watching as his eyes dulled, as he breathed his last.
“No!” The image was too real, playing out in his head. But it was all her doing. It wasn’t real.
Why was he naked, Arthur? That part wasn’t my doing. Why did you see him naked?
“More vulnerable,” Arthur gasped. It was hard to talk, even when she allowed it.
I don’t think so. Tell me about Merlin, Arthur. Tell me what he is to you, what he really is. How long has he been your lover?
He wasn’t going to let her go there. Of all the places, that was the most private, the most hidden. He tried to fight, tried not to think about Merlin. Anything else, anything else at all.
Merlin, lying back in Arthur’s bed, naked in the sheets, smiling, laughing, reaching out for Arthur, his eyes gl… no. Arthur tried to think of kissing instead, bathing, holding hands, Arthur touching Merlin’s skin, anything but the way Merlin’s eyes looked when he reached orgasm, the tell-tale golden glow that would betray his lover.
You’re hiding something still. What is it? What are you hiding? Let me in.
He could feel her moving, searching through his mind, intrusive, invasive. Every private thought, every moment with his lover was being laid bare. And he couldn’t even fight it in case he gave up Merlin’s secret.
And then, in the briefest of moments, the tiniest, stupidest of memories, he slipped and he knew she had caught the memory of the glow of his eyes over some minor piece of magic, reheating a shared bathtub, momentary and unimportant. He felt her shock, fading rapidly to triumph, knowing she had her answer.
“Merlin,” Arthur breathed, heartbroken at his failure.
He was so tired that he couldn’t even raise his head to see the delight he knew would be on his captor’s face. But there was no time for that. There was a crash, an explosion as the door to Arthur’s cell burst inwards, shattering, and suddenly Morgana was gone.
Emrys, eyes blazing gold, furious, stood in the doorway.