heofona_gehlidu: (Morgana)
[personal profile] heofona_gehlidu
Title: In darkness, truth
Fandom: Merlin
Rating:
Warnings: Shades of dub con
Pairing: Uther/Merlin
Wordcount: 846
A/N: Post Le morte d'Arthur. I didn't mean to write this - I was actually on with something quite different - but the bunny was slightly demanding

Part 2 is here



Camelot is different at night; what is noise and bustle and life by day turns to something quite different once the sun slips beneath the horizon. Winter nights most of all, when darkness comes early and cold seeps into men's bones and no one wishes to tarry before finding their bed for the night because everyone knows that in the darkness evil walks.

Merlin is not afraid of the dark. As a child he walked through the forest at night as safe and secure as he would walk by day - perhaps even safer because the older boys of the village who might have the courage to taunt him under the light of the sun would not dare to follow him into the trees after dusk. Free of the scrutiny, free of the danger of being seen, he is who he wants to be. In the darkness lies safety. Freedom.

That is as true now as it ever was in Ealdor.

He never comes this way by day. He never sees the sun's light streaming through the high, narrow windows that line this passageway; he never has to move out of the way of another servant carrying linen or take his turn in a queue behind a messenger boy come with a message so urgent it cannot wait. There are no witnesses save one to what he is about to do, and the veteran guard who stands motionless at the side of the door only nods in acknowledgement when Merlin reaches it.

This is not the first time Merlin has been here.

The lock clicks almost silently and the door opens easily on oiled hinges. Merlin considers it an unnecessary precaution, given how soundly Arthur sleeps. The only other likely to hear is Morgana, and Merlin is resigned to the fact that she will know if she is meant to know. No lock in the world can keep out her visions. For some reason he is not ready to admit to himself it does not concern him as much as it should that she might already know. But it is not his desire that enforces these precautions and he grudgingly accepts them for what they are.

"You're late," Uther rasps as Merlin steps over the threshold.

Merlin takes care to lock the door behind him and then he stands where he is, facing the door. Closes his eyes because even the light of the single candle is too much. Holds himself perfectly still, listening to Uther's footsteps as he crosses the room. Bites back his reaction when Uther's hand slides around his waist, confidently possessive.

Merlin keeps his eyes closed when Uther fucks him. His hands, slick with sweat, scrabble blindly for purchase against the smooth wood of the door. Neither of them says a word, not that Merlin could hear anything over the sound of the blood pounding in his ears. Only when pain blossoms into desperate, treacherous pleasure does Merlin finally make a sound and when he does he barely recognises his own voice.

They both fall to the floor when Uther comes, Uther heavy against Merlin's back.

Merlin's eyes are still closed but he knows Uther has seen his tears.

"Up," Uther says at last. He gets to his feet, wincing. Merlin knows from Gaius that the king's old, healed wounds are giving him some discomfort in the cold weather.

Merlin stands too, and goes to fetch Uther water to wash. It hurts to walk, hurts in places he probably shouldn't hurt and in ways he has become used to hiding from Gaius's knowing eyes, but Merlin knows his own limits quite well. Uther isn't foolish enough to fuck him without at least some consideration.

Merlin knows Gaius thinks that Arthur is the cause of Merlin's frequent hurts, and that knowledge gives him hot, twisting shivers of something he can't quite put a name to whenever he thinks about it. Now however he pushes the thoughts of Arthur away, angry with himself for the moment of weakness.

Uther turns away as soon as he is done washing, leaving what water remains for Merlin, and Merlin strips off what is left of his clothing and washes himself and tries not to look too closely at the shadows. By the time he has finished Uther is in bed. His empty, cold bed.

Merlin shivers as he lays himself down on the icy sheets, flat on his back, arms at his sides. Eyes open, staring up at the canopy and not at Uther leaning over him. Not at Uther's hands, lifting Merlin's head from the pillow to fasten the collar around his neck. If Merlin wriggles he can feel the pull of the leash that Uther has tied to the headboard.

Uther ties Merlin's hands next, rope taut over the bruises he has already left, and stops his mouth with a clean scrap of cloth, as if any of these things will render Merlin helpless. If Uther only knew the truth, Merlin thinks, he would probably kill Merlin himself without waiting to summon the executioner. He thinks about it sometimes.

But that is not how it is between them, and Merlin knows he won't tell Uther, not like this.

As if he knows what Merlin is thinking, Uther's hand settles on Merlin's throat, toying with the collar. One finger rests against the pulse in Merlin's neck, and Merlin swallows.

"You're afraid of me." It's not a question that requires an answer.

Merlin wonders, sometimes, what Uther gets out of this aside from the obvious.

"Don't move," Uther tells him, in a voice so soft Merlin can barely hear it. His hands settle on Merlin's hips.

Uther finally puts out the candle and the darkness rolls in.




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