Characters: Merlin, Arthur and Gwen.
Merlin was in a foul mood. His chores had taken longer than he had imagined, Gaius was out on business and all the bread was stale. He was sat on his bed, studying a book on potions to take his mind off his anger, when his door was nearly knocked off its hinges. In the doorway stood Arthur, in full royal regalia and fists clenched.
“You lying slut.” He spat.
“You heard me. You’re a lying whore.”
Merlin was beyond confused. Seconds ago he was reading and now he was being called a whore by the King.
“Arthur, w-what are you talking about?”
“Don’t play stupid, Merlin. We both know what you’ve done.” Arthur struggled to look at Merlin square in the eyes, which had the effect of unnerving the wizard.
What’s he playing at? Why won’t he just tell me?
“Arthur, what?” This was not helping Merlin’s mood.
The King let out a short laugh. “You know, Merlin. Or perhaps it’s such a common occurrence it doesn’t spring to mind.”
Merlin snapped. “If you’re not going to tell me Arthur, piss off. I don’t have time for your shit.”
“Don’t you get angry at me, Merlin. You have no right.”
“Don’t say another word, wizard, save your lies for someone else.”
“No. It has all just been one big lie, one convenient excuse, hasn’t it?”
“Don’t… don’t lie to me Merlin, not again.”
“WHAT ARE YOU FUCKING TALKING ABOUT?” Merlin erupted, so loud that the ravens took flight from the courtyard twelve stories below.
For a moment, there was a tense silence. It seemed to Merlin that Arthur was struggling with his words, like he was unsure of what exactly to say.
“You… you said you loved me.” It was almost inaudible, but the words rung in Merlin’s ears.
“I did. I do. Is that what you wanted to know… did you want some sort of confirmation? An ego boost?”
“You said you loved me,” Arthur repeated, with more anger. “So why did you sleep with Gwaine?”
Merlin was horrified. Stunned into silence, he suddenly felt unclean again. Time seemed to slow down, before the wizard realised Arthur was waiting for an answer.
“How did you… find out?”
“That’s your first response, how do I know? Are you pissed off I found out you were lying? Or is it that you’re worried everyone will find out you fuck men? Or what a slag you are? ”
Merlin was lost for words. It seemed he couldn’t get anything right. Finally, he looked at the King.
“Of course you are, Merlin. You’re sorry. You love me.” Arthur’s mocking tone ripped Merlin apart, leaving him feeling… empty. “You’re sorry you got caught.”
“No,” Merlin replied, trying to hold back the tears that were forming. “I am truly sorry. I wasn’t thinking.”
“Oh, so this wasn’t pre-meditated? Well, at least Gwaine consented. I suppose that’s all we can hope for when Merlin fancies a shag.”
Arthur paused, perhaps waiting for a reply. A rebuttal. For Merlin to fight back. But the wizard had nothing left to give. He deserved this. This was nothing, compared to what he put Arthur through.
“Are you trying to work your way through the whole Round Table? The cum bucket of Camelot? Do you have nothing to say for yourself?”
And I thought things couldn’t get any worse between us.
“Please, Arthur. You can’t make me feel worse than I already do.”
“Hmph. Pathetic. Do you know what you are, Merlin? Nothing. You are nothing. To anybody. You’re so pathetically desperate for attention you’ve turned to whoring yourself out to anyone who looks twice at you. No wonder nobody respects you. The other servants hate you, the knights laugh at you behind your back, even Gaius thinks you’re hopeless.”
“Stop.” Despite his best intentions, Merlin was beginning to get angry. Arthur was getting too personal, he was taking a sick joy in tormenting his servant. He was being too cruel.
“Stop? Is that what you said to Gwaine? Of course not, because how else do you feel special if it’s not by fucking? You’re disgusting. No wonder your father left you, then your mother sent you away.”
Too far. Merlin was visibly shaking with rage.
“Oh don’t cry again, Merlin. Your act, it’s so tiresome. You make me sick, I can’t even look at you.”
“THEN WHY ARE YOU HERE THEN?” Merlin exploded. “If I’m such a slut, why is a surprise Gwaine fucked me?”
That silence, the angry, hateful silence that had come to define their relationship had returned.
“Nothing to say, Arthur? Finally. What is it you want to hear? I did a shitty thing, and I am so, so sorry. I’ve apologised, I’ve even offered my life to save your kingdom.” Merlin couldn’t control himself, it was his emotions speaking now. Raw anger, at Arthur and at himself. His shame. His disgust. His regret. His fatigue. He was tired of feeling like this, of bottling it all up. He wanted to release it all.
“And then you come and tell me I’m worthless, I’m nothing, I’m a slut. You tell me everything I already know. But why do you care? Why does it bother you that I fucked Gwaine?”
“Your life doesn’t bother me, Merlin.”
“Then, again, why are you here? Why is it any of your business who I fuck?” Merlin couldn’t stop. Weeks of dark feelings were flowing from him, the pent up anger at his own stupidity which cost him his best friend.
“I don’t want you to do to them what you did to me.” Arthur screamed back.
“There’s no worry about that, sire. Gwaine came onto me. Gwaine wanted me – and that was nice. He made me feel special, after feeling like shit for so long,” Merlin lied, trying his best to hurt Arthur. “And guess what, Arthur – he was so much better than you. Even with the benefits of magic you were crap in the sack.”
“W-what?” The sudden shift in power in the conversation had thrown Arthur.
“After Gwaine, Arthur, you’re nothing to me. I look at you and I don’t see a King, I see a boy with a crown. After Gwaine, Arthur, I see how truly disappointing you are. I see that you were just a warm up for the real thing.”
“Ha, more lies Merlin.” Arthur was fighting back now. “They just fall out of your mouth, don’t they? Is your mouth as gaping as your arse? Don’t forget I still remember what you said to me, when you thought your magic had worked and you thought I’d forgot. I know how you feel, and I know how good you think I am in the sack.”
“You hate me, you can’t look at me, but you still want me to say you’re good in bed? Why do you care, Arthur? I’m gay, you’re not. I loved you, you hate me. Your law says that I’m wrong, illegal, that I can’t love who I want because it violates nature, that I’m disgusting, that I’m dirty. So really, Arthur, why the fuck do you care?”
“Actually, save it. Because I don’t care. You might hate me, Arthur, but now the feeling’s mutual. You’re dead to me.”
Merlin knew that was enough. Arthur looked different, he looked surprised. He turned and stormed out.
Arthur took it too far, and he paid the price.
The anger still flowing, Merlin picked up his potions book and carried on reading.
Gwen had been watching Arthur for about five minutes now. His back was to her, and to anyone else he would have looked like he was staring out the window in silent contemplation. But Gwen was his wife, and she knew the King. She knew he went to that window when he was upset. The last time he was there was after Uther died.
“Arthur.” She said quietly. He didn’t even turn to look at her.
“What’s the matter?”
“It’s not nothing, Arthur. Don’t lie to me. It’s Merlin, isn’t it?”
There were no words, just a very slight nod of his head.
“I know you’ve fallen out, it’s obvious to everyone. But it’s not obvious why.”
Arthur didn’t respond.
“Yet,” Gwen chose her words carefully now, trying to not startle the King. “I could hazard a guess.”
“No.” Arthur was still staring out of the window.
“Arthur, give me some credit. I know you. I understand you. I know Merlin. I understand him. I can read you both.”
Silence. Gwen knew this wouldn’t be easy, getting through to the King, but it broke her heart to see him so unhappy.
“I know you’re angry he lied. I know you’re angry he deceived you. He deceived us all. But he had to.”
This made Arthur turn towards Gwen, only slightly, but it was a start.
“It’s the law. It stops people like him being… open. It creates a culture that suffocates him. That makes him feel like everyone is against him. Imagine living like that – think of the things it could drive you to.”
“So it’s my fault?”
“No. That’s not what I said. I’m saying, Merlin is confused. He feels like he’s worse than everyone else. He can’t talk to anybody about what he is, because he’s scared he’ll be shunned, or worse, arrested and killed.”
“It’s… illegal. It’s unnatural.”
“Unnatural? You don’t really think that Arthur. You can’t. It is not Merlin’s fault he is what he is. Just like it’s not your fault what you are.”
Arthur turned to face his Queen.
“What do you mean?”
“I think you know… I think we both know what I mean.”
“What are you talking about?”
Gwen had thought about this moment a long time. She loved her husband, she always had. He was her best friend, and she loved him just for being… him, whatever that meant. It pained her to see him so upset, over something that should be so easy to remedy. If helping Arthur face the truth means I’m cast out, that’s fine. It’s worth it.
“Gwen, what are you saying?”
“I know why Merlin’s secret bothers you so much. It’s because it’s your secret too.”
“What do you think Merlin was hiding, Gwen?”
“I think, Arthur, it’s better if you say it. Out loud. To me. For me.”
“I love you, Arthur. I always will, regardless of… whatever. I only want you to be happy.”
Arthur looked at his queen, and realised for the first time what a wonderful person she was. What a wonderful, understanding, caring, beautiful person she was. He tried to gather up the courage so familiar when on the battlefield, but it eluded him. He tried to speak, but he couldn’t force the words out. His heart was thumping in his chest and his breathing began to speed up. He was scared, of words. Of the truth. Gwen cupped his hand gently, trying to reassure him.
“He’s…” Arthur tried, before sighing. “He’s got magic.”
Gwen smiled sadly at Arthur, before pulling her husband towards her in a warm embrace.
“Ok, Arthur,” she whispered in his ear, “we were talking about his magic.”
One day, he’ll be ready.
If you enjoyed, please comment or rate. Thanks 🙂 – Theogon.