Title: Cut short
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gwaine, Percival, Gwen, Lancelot, Elyan, Leon
Summary: Falling in love in a war was never the best idea.
Warnings: Mind control, attempted murder, angst
Word Count: 791
Prompt: #224 - Anything you want
Author's Notes: Why, when the prompt is 'anything you want', is angst the first thing that comes to mind? This is an idea from a longer fic that will never make it into being. This scene has been niggling at me though.
Merlin looked around the room, something akin to hopelessness blooming in his chest.
Gwaine was sat at the table, slouched in his chair and staring unseeing at the unfished game of cards before him.
Percival was sat on the floor, back against the wall and his head in his hands.
Gwen and Lance were curled up together on the couch, tear tracks still staining her cheeks as Lance gently ran his fingertips over her hair.
Elyan was sat by the door, staring at his hands unseeingly.
Leon was on guard duty.
Merlin was … well he didn’t quite know what he was doing. He’d been feeling wretched for hours, as if part of him had been ripped away.
And in a way, it had.
Arthur was gone.
There was a hole in Merlin’s heart.
He knew they should be out there searching for Arthur, tearing apart every base, every hole, every house until they found him. But, in reality, they knew where Arthur was, and perhaps that was why this sense of hopelessness was so suffocating.
Or perhaps it was that Arthur was their leader, their guide.
Merlin’s whole world.
Falling in love in a war was never the best idea.
Falling in love with the son of your enemy, even less so.
But Merlin couldn’t imagine, couldn’t comprehend a world without Arthur in it. It wouldn’t be right.
There had been glimpses of each other at first. A shadow across the battle field. A face in the fray.
Then the gentle touches, the shying away. Any time they came face to face in a fight it was like they couldn’t think, let alone attack.
Merlin knew he should have hated Arthur. Arthur the son of Uther who had sworn to eradicate all sorcerers from the land.
But then somehow he’d ended up saving Arthur’s life.
And everything had changed.
He dropped into a chair, looking at the grain of wood on the table, endless lines of a tree which had once reached towards the sky, tall, proud, powerful. Only to be cut short by fate and the axeman’s blade.
He and Arthur had been cut short. Whatever they had had broken off before it ever got the chance to become something … more.
Arthur would perhaps face execution. If Uther’s ire was great enough. Or perhaps just locked up. An example to anyone who should dare defy the tyrant.
Merlin chewed his lower lip.
They had to do something.
But defeat clawed at his insides.
Suddenly, there was a loud commotion in the corridor outside their room, a jubilant shout from Leon. The door banged open-
Merlin rushed to his side, eyes raking over the faint grazes and blossoming bruises on Arthur’s face.
“What happened?” he demanded.
“I escaped,” Arthur responded promptly, one of those teasing smirks curling his lip.
“You escaped?” Gwaine said bluntly. “No one escapes Uther’s camp.”
Arthur didn’t respond.
He was looking at Merlin with something in his gaze that Merlin couldn’t quite place.
“Arthur?” he asked, his voice cracking a little in doubt.
Arthur moved quickly. It wouldn’t usually have been fact enough for Merlin but it was Arthur and he couldn’t quite get his head around it in time before Arthur had an arm around Merlin’s chest and a gun at his temple.
“Get away from him!”
The rest of the group immediately drew guns, their expressions ranging from surprise to anger.
“Don’t shoot!” Merlin gasped, whether to Arthur or the others he wasn’t sure.
“Yes, I wouldn’t shoot,” Arthur said, his voice a mocking sneer in Merlin’s ear. “Not unless you want to say goodbye to Merlin here.”
“Arthur, Arthur, what are you doing?” Merlin asked, trembling despite himself.
He could see Gwaine shooting him meaningful looks.
But he couldn’t. Not on Arthur.
“What I should have done the moment we met,” Arthur growled. “Putting a bullet through your brain.”
Something inside of Merlin shattered.
It was Uther. He must have done something.
He felt Arthur tense behind him and his magic acted on instinct, flaring up and dissolving the bullets in the gun.
He still shook when Arthur pulled the trigger.
Arthur would have done it. Arthur would have killed him.
There was stunned silence for a beat and then suddenly Arthur crumpled behind him and Merlin turned to find Leon standing there, the butt of his gun raised and his face white.
Merlin looked down at the man he loved, his heart squeezing painfully tight. Tears pricked the corners of his eyes.
Arthur would have killed him.
Gwen pulled him into a hug, and she was shaking too.
“What are we going to do?” Percival asked.
The question hung in the silence.
No one had an answer.