Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Arthur's memories made him who he was. But he could be more than just a bully.
Word Count: 355
Prompt: 220 Insecurity
Author's Notes: for some reason, insecurity led me here. Oh, well.
Disclaimer: I do not own the BBC version of Merlin; It and Shine do. I am very respectfully borrowing them with no intent to profit. No money has changed hands. No copyright infringement is intended.
I remember the first time my father hit me. I couldn't have been more than 4 or so, a child, and everything about that day seemed crooked afterwards, a lens covered in blood and pain.
I don't remember what I'd done, but there were stitches, and for a time, Gaius's gentle voice. I probably blocked out whatever else happened next, but I did spend the night in darkness and straw, a cell I think, because I remember the smell. It's funny sometimes how odours can bring back the pain or a flash of light or even the cold feel of iron under my palm, even now.
It wasn't the last time he hit me, either.
I learned to temper my reactions, learned to be stoic, and then later to take out my frustrations on others. A prince answered only to the king, and I think my father liked that I'd treat those lesser beings with contempt.
A blow to my ego became pain to someone else - a thrown chalice, a beating with fists or steel, even a night in those hated cells for those who got in my way. They couldn't fight back, either, and for a time, wrong though it was, it was almost enough.
Merlin didn't know – or didn't care. He'd talk back, stand his ground, duck whenever I threw something at him. I should have been furious, and for a time, I was. But there was something about him. His conviction, his courage, his refusal to back down, made me think again about what I was doing and why.
I realized that my father's punishments had made me insecure somehow - of his love, of my place, of everything. The only thing I could count on was pain and surely that wasn't enough to build a kingdom on.
But Merlin was certain. In every day, in every way, I could see the belief in his eyes, shining blue and steady and true, that I could better than a royal bully punishing those who could not defend themselves. That I could be a king worth following.
I'm going to try.