Warnings: slash, mention of violence, SPOILERS
Pairings: Eragon/Murtagh, Murtagh/Eragon
Summary: They never said what they meant. And yet, Eragon and Murtagh understood each other.
Author's Notes: …Why isn't there any Eragon/Murtagh here yet? SHAME ON YOU ALL!
Eragon remembered the first time he saw Murtagh. Murtagh, the son of his greatest enemy…Odd, that his first impression was of an angel, caring for him, looking at him with dark hair and darker eyes. "Who are you?" he had asked, through the swarm of pain and dizziness.
"Murtagh;" Murtagh had answered, his voice full of emotion even then.
It had hurt to talk. But he couldn't trust this man. Not yet. "Why did you help us?"
But nothing else had mattered. He trusted him. He had to. And he never regretted it.
He had seemed so young. But the boy was obviously older than his years. Murtagh had saved him, and joined him What drew him to this Rider, this Eragon, the apprentice of the man who had killed his father? "How are you?"
"Very ill." Heartsick, no doubt. Brom had been like a father to Eragon, Murtagh could tell. Having lived without a father, his heart went out to him.
But the comforting words died. "Will you recover?"
It was comfort enough.
Murtagh had joined them. Why? Eragon often wondered, even then, why this stranger would help them. For adventure? For glory? To see the world?
And yet, he had the urge to protect Murtagh. To keep him out of harm's way. To keep him from putting himself in the path of certain death.
"You won't be any safer with Saphira and me than if you were on your own."
"I know that." Eragon had been startled, though he wouldn't have shown it. Then why? Could it be that...? "But all the same, it won't stop me."
Satisfied that he had truly made a friend, Eragon smiled. "Good."
As they had ridden together, they had admired each other. Eragon had not failed to notice the grace with which Murtagh held himself, the way his dark hair flowed back and let the wind laugh within his eyes. "You have a beautiful horse." It was true. But still, the horse had a beautiful rider.
Murtagh had smiled, explained the history of the horse's name. "…but Snowfire is as close to his match as I've ever seen." Yet his eyes were not on Snowfire when he spoke.
Murtagh wondered when his safety had become secondary to Eragon's. "I'm not sure that you should be the one to go into Gil'ead."
As he had expected, Eragon had reacted badly. "Why? I can disguise myself well enough. And Dormnad will want to see the gedwëy insignia as proof that I really am a Rider."
A good point. He couldn't really argue. But he did. Eragon's safety came first. It took awhile, but he convinced him.
But still, Eragon seemed to be concerned for him, too. "Alright, you can go. But if anything goes wrong, I'm coming after you."
Murtagh knew he was telling the truth.
In the aftermath of their escape from Gil'ead, they had been tired, exhausted. But Eragon had felt remarkably regenerated. He looked at Murtagh.
Something had changed. They weren't allies, not anymore. They were something deeper. Something…more.
"You risked your life to save me; I owe you for that."
Murtagh looked awkward, then looked away. "I'm just glad I could help. It…" He trailed off.
Eragon almost smiled. He knew.
They had their first fight.
It was short, and it was messy. Their punches and kicks were blinded by pointless anger, and they were quickly pulled apart by an enraged Saphira. Held apart by her claws, they glowered at each other through sweaty bangs and breathy gasps.
The dragon's growled orders forced them to talk.
"I told you before: I don't want to go to the Varden!" Murtagh's voice had been choked with something Eragon couldn't quite understand.
"Don't want to…or can't?"
"Don't want to!" Like a child, ready to cry. His dark eyes pleaded with Eragon. Don't make me, they said. Don't make me tell you.
Eragon didn't want to.
But what was necessary was necessary.
Murtagh knew it, too.
Murtagh did not want to go to the Varden.
But Eragon needed to go to the Varden, and what Eragon needed came first in his mind.
They sat together, gazing at the mountains that loomed ahead of them. Eragon had protested Murtagh's offer to leave—saying that Murtagh would be safer with him. Murtagh couldn't help but wonder—could it be that Eragon wanted to protect him as much as he wanted to protect Eragon. He sighed, and gave in.
Eragon's face had lit up like a child's. "So you're staying?"
"Sleep or no sleep;" Murtagh swore; "I'll see you to the Varden."
They had their second fight.
No fists were exchanged this time, only words. They had been running, Eragon's only thought being for the Varden and safety…but Murtagh had stopped, his beautiful eyes flaring in anger.
"I warned you that I wouldn't go to the Varden, but you went ahead and trapped me between a hammer and an anvil! You're the one with the elf's memories! Why didn't you tell me this was a dead end?"
And yet, beneath the anger, there was something else. Hurt? Pain? Betrayal?
His own anger had boiled over inside of him. "All I knew was where we had to go, not what lay in between. Don't blame me for choosing to come!" But, he knew, he had wanted Murtagh to come…
But Murtagh couldn't know that. Fuming, Eragon continued. "What's your quarrel with the Varden? It can't be so terrible that you've hidden it even now. Would you rather fight the Kull than reveal it? How many times will we go through this before you trust me?"
His last statement seemed to hit home. Murtagh's eyes had widened the barest fraction. I want to trust you; his eyes said; I want to, but I'm scared.
And with a last bit of persuading from Eragon, Murtagh told him everything.
And Eragon listened.
The scar on his back was testimony to his suffering. A father who did not care for his son, a mother who could not raise him, a life in sheltered agony—where Eragon had had love, Murtagh had had pain. Yet as he spoke, he could see the distrust building in Eragon's eyes.
Is it to end like this? The thought crossed Murtagh's mind and he could not banish it. Before it has a chance to begin?
It would not.
Desperately, pleadingly, he gave a last attempt. "I have no allegiance to them, nor to I mean you harm!" Never would I mean you harm.
Something changed within Eragon's eyes—an understanding. He hesitated, asked one more question…and then decided. "Come, run with me."
Murtagh followed. Their trust was formed.
The Varden—the saviors of the Riders, the people with whom Eragon had thought he would be safe—now were threatening the life of the man he had come to care for like no other.
Murtagh looked at him. There was no fear in his eyes, despite the knife at his throat. Tell them nothing; his eyes said firmly. If I die, I die with honor.
Eragon had surrendered. Better that, than see Murtagh harmed. When the mind probes came to him, he protected Murtagh as best he could from prying eyes. They would not harm him. He was safe.
But he could not protect his companion from himself. Murtagh refused to be probed. The sword cut his skin, and Eragon nearly moaned. He could see the mental struggle that Murtagh faced, trying to force the unwanted presence out of his mind.
When he was finally released, Murtagh's dark eyes met Eragon's. Eragon went to him. "Are you alright? Did he get anything from you?"
A simple question. A simple answer. "No."
Eragon was impressed. His hand found his way to Murtagh's arm. "How were you able to keep him out? He's so strong." But you are stronger, he thought.
Slowly…lightly…Murtagh's hand closed over Eragon's. "I've…I've been well trained." His voiced disguised the look in his eyes.
Eragon looked away, but felt the magnetism of Murtagh's gaze pull him back. "I didn't let them know who you are."
Murtagh looked surprised, and then, remarkably, he smiled. "Thank you for not betraying me."
Eragon nodded. He knew.
Their first night with the Varden would be their last night together with the Varden. They slept close together, close enough to touch, just barely. Murtagh sat up when Eragon stood. "Morning."
"How long have you been awake?" Eragon sounded guilty.
They spoke in hushed tones, their conversation oddly mild for their situation. They sat close together, quietly, appreciating the silence and togetherness that they shared. Murtagh watched Eragon out of the corner of his eye. The Rider seemed deep in thought. Murtagh felt hope swell in his chest. Perhaps…maybe…was Eragon thinking of him?
They were summoned, before Murtagh had a chance to ask.
They had stood up in unison, unconsciously stepping closer to each other. Their hands brushed. They looked at each other, then away.
Coincidence, Murtagh told himself.
Eragon wished that Murtagh would simply surrender to the probe. But defiance was written in every line of that beautiful face, flashing in the dark eyes. Murtagh obeyed Ajihad's orders with cool dignity. The sight of the horrible scar made Eragon cringe, yet at the same time he almost wished to reach out and touch the marred skin.
When he turned back, his eyes met Eragon's. Surrender to them, he thought, willing his thoughts to reach his friend. Is this worth making me lose you?
Murtagh refused. As the guards led him away, Eragon caught his gaze and held it. "I'm sorry."
Murtagh's face was expressionless, his manner was cool, and his eyes were dead. But when he looked at Eragon, he inclined his head.
Visiting Murtagh in prison had been both relieving and painful. When Eragon had entered the room and found his friend safe and sound, it was all he could do not to run to him, pull him into his arms, and hold him.
Murtagh had looked up and smiled. Eragon wanted to sigh. That smile made the lines of pain and hurt melt away, leaving a shining radiance even the Elves could have appreciated had they seen it. "Eragon, I'd hoped you would come!"
Eragon had moved to his side and sat down next to him. He reached down and took Murtagh's hand in his own. "But aren't you angry? You're still a prisoner."
Murtagh had paused, but had answered honestly. They kept no secrets, not anymore.
Eragon moved on the bed, flopping down against the pillows. Murtagh smiled and lay beside him. His hand brushed against Eragon's hair as he did so.
Eragon asked about Nasuada. Murtagh had happily gone off on a tangent about her beauty and poise, but something had seemed to linger under his words, something that said he did not speak of Nasuada when he described the woman's qualities. "How long are you going to remain imprisoned, Murtagh? You can't hide forever."
Murtagh fell silent, then said "For now, I am content to stay and rest." He spoke a bit more, and then sighed, his eyes meeting Eragon's.
"No doubt I'll tire of this eventually, but for now…I am content." His hand, lying innocently on the bed between them until that point, moved up to linger on Eragon's cheek.
An innocent gesture of affection. Eragon covered it with his own.
The gesture was returned. The feeling was, as well.
Seeing Eragon awaken after a day and a half was revitalizing. Murtagh watched him finger his new scar with horror.
Arya had spoken before Murtagh had a chance to. "You have paid a terrible price for your deed, Eragon Shadeslayer."
Eragon's eyes had flown past Arya to look into Murtagh's. Murtagh returned the look. "Now you're just like me." His voice sounded harsh, even to his own ears. His eyes apologized for him.
Eragon's accepted it.
After all the times Murtagh and Eragon had fought together, all the times they had saved each other…Eragon could not save him when he needed to.
He could only stay with Saphira and come to find that Murtagh…his greatest friend, the son of his greatest enemy…was gone. Murtagh was gone.
And Eragon could not find him.
But he would.
For the sake of all that had been said, and all that still needed to be said…
Ending Notes: Now. Some of you may have noticed that the dialogue in this fic was taken completely from the book itself. There is a very good reason for that.
The reason being: So that people can't come to me and say "OMG, this is so fangirlish! You don't have any basis in the actual story! Besides, Eragon/Murtagh only loves me!1!one!" Okay, fine, so the last part is just poking fun at the fangirls. But whatever. The point is, this fic basically does one thing: it reads between the lines. This is my interpretation of what the characters were thinking. I hope you enjoyed it.
Reviews are greatly appreciated!