A/N: Hello! This is my first Merlin fanfic and I am quite excited about it. There's definitely not enough slash-free Arthur angst out there, so for those of you that crave it - voila! Please leave a review and let me know what you think - I'd really like to continue! For those of you who had me on your watch list from previous stories, I hope you're not too disappointed by the jump in fandom. If you haven't watched Merlin, you should definitely give it a try! Dedicated to (and hopefully a lovely surprise for) Halcyon Impulsion!
Summary and about the story: "My plan to undermine Arthur is underway. Soon Uther will detest the sight of his own son." A more frightening way that Beauty and the Beast could have played out as Arthur bears the brunt of his father's enchanted anger. Plenty of Arthur angst abounds! NOT SLASH!
There's going to be a bit of revisiting on some of the scenes in Sleeping Beauty Part II, and a few changes to the way the episode played out. Stick with me, it should get pretty good. Rated T for violence, could be rated higher later on depending on how it plays out. Enjoy!
Arthur had always thought that if his father ever fell in love, he would be happy for him. Surely the king deserved a queen, and as a man who had lost his wife years before, the companionship of another. But no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't be happy for Uther and his newfound queen, Katrina.
It wasn't just the change in mood that his father presented, nor the randomly unreasonable things that he suddenly demanded. Even before things began to change, Arthur thought that the love that bloomed between the king and the homeless noble had done so far too fast.
Arthur had always been the only person that Uther cared for, ever since his mother had died at his birth. Surely he couldn't be replaced so quickly?
But as the days wore on, the prince's doubts grew, his comfort unsettled. The day his father told Arthur that he was to collect an unreasonable amount of extra taxes from the people, it solidified the knot of impending doom that had begun to form in the pit of the prince's stomach.
The day he witnessed the brutality of the knights trying to force the extra dues out of the peasants made him feel downright ill. It wasn't right.
It wasn't right.
He overturned his father's orders in front of his men, in front of the people, despite the fact that he knew he would have to face the wrath of the king. Any punishment he would receive was no worse than this sick feeling that had overcome him at what the king was doing to Camelot.
Or so he thought.
His father's wrath, indeed. Uther was just as angry as Arthur had expected, and there seemed to be no talking sense to the man - especially with his queen at his side.
"Is it so unreasonable for a king to expect his subjects to obey him?" Queen Katrina snapped at Arthur, her belittling tone infuriating him.
"They'll starve!" He protested in disbelief.
The pendant on Uther's chest flashed dangerously, but remained unnoticed. "Nonsense," the king said, standing from his throne. "You've grown too soft. Remember these are your subjects, not your friends."
Arthur looked from Katrina to Uther, his brow knotted in upset. "Why can't they be both?"
"Because we rule the people, not the other way around."
Arthur shook his head and lowered his eyes. "I think you're wrong."
"I beg your pardon?" Uther asked incredulously as he took a few steps down towards his son.
"I said you're wrong. Without the people, there is no Camelot. We're as much their servant as they are ours."
"You allow him to address you in this manner?" Queen Katrina stood from her own throne and stepped forwards behind Uther's back. She glared at the prince from over the king's shoulder, and Arthur glared back.
"No I do not." A flicker of fear lit through Arthur as his father's tone became suddenly angrier. "It will not be tolerated. You will take your men down into the town and go to every house, collecting the payments I demand!"
Arthur lowered his eyes for a moment, trying to compose his emotions as a dignified prince should. He looked back at his father with determination. "I will not."
If Uther was surprised in any way at his son's rebellious response, he did not show it. In that moment, the stone on the king's necklaced flashed again, flooding the man with some more passionate magic.
Arthur had no chance to think, or even react, as his father's fist pulled back and just as quickly slammed into the young prince's face. Stumbling backwards from the force, Arthur tripped and fell onto his backside, his head turned from the momentum. A deadly silence took over the space, and had anyone else other than the three royals been in the room, they would have seen the malicious grin that slid easily onto Queen Katrina's face.
Arthur lifted a hand to his face, covering his swiftly swelling left eye. He looked up at the king in what resembled horror, his mouth parted in shock.
"Get out of my sight." The words that fell from Uther to the prince at his feet dripped with venom.
Without another word, Arthur pushed himself to his feet and hastily left the throne room. He did not look back.
It seemed to take forever for the prince to reach his quarters. His legs did not seem to want to work the way that he wished, making the distance seem further and further with each step.
Finally back in his room, he slammed the door shut behind him and stood frozen in the middle of the room. His whole body was shivering, his mind unable to comprehend what exactly had just transpired.
His father had just hit him. He had hit him, for doing what Arthur knew what was right.
He carefully lowered himself down into his chair. His freshly-wounded eye stung painfully, pricking tears of betrayal that he would now, and always, deny. What was happening? What was happening to his father, to Camelot? Catching his men trying to violently force money out of that old man in the street had scared him. He did not want to be part of a rule that oversaw that kind of behavior.
His father had used to feel the same way. Something had to be going on with Uther. It was the only explanation. A great and honorable king didn't just suddenly up and change his views on everything in life from the loyalty of his subjects to...
To the trust of his son.
Then again, Arthur had never witnessed his father in love before. Perhaps he had underestimated the power of his father's feelings, the power that the Lady - no, the Queen, Arthur thought vehemently - Katrina held over him.
Whatever it was, Arthur just wanted the nightmare to end, and for everything to go back to normal.
Most of the rest of the day swam by as if he were in a thick fog. Some part of his mind had Arthur convinced that he was, indeed, dreaming, and that everything that was happening would be gone by the morning.
When Gwen came by, he forced himself to straighten up, to calm down. He brushed his reddened eye off as a training wound. Somehow, her presence helped with his nerves, but still he couldn't help the sullenness and dejection from leaking out into words. He almost scoffed at her when she told him she thought that the king loved him.
Arthur was beginning to doubt that it were true.
Still, Guinevere's words brought a little bit of hope to his heart, and by the time he was called back to the throne room for the meeting, he had completely calmed himself. Hiding his eye as best as he could behind his bangs, he felt that he was ready to face his father once more.
The shock of Uther's newest announcement, however, nearly undid him.
"You are to be disinherited. With immediate effect."
… What? The young man could have sworn that his heart had stopped. He wavered on the spot.
"You are no longer crown prince of Camelot."
The unmistakable hurt caused by the king's words could not be hidden as Arthur looked his father in the eyes and all but pleaded for the man to come to his senses.
"My decision is final."
The words tore a hole in Arthur. They echoed in his mind as he stood there, over and over, and a cold hand clenched his stomach and his heart tighter with every moment spent in Uther's presence. The prince stood there, his eyes swimming, his head spinning, searching for any stroke of doubt upon his father's face, for any spark of the man whom Arthur thought that he was.
He wanted to say something more. He wanted to scream at the man, to demand answers to the questions that assaulted his thoughts relentlessly. What did I do?! His heart cried out. What has happened to you?!
Words didn't come, however, and Arthur dropped his head in defeat. Even if he was no longer to inherit the crown, he was the king's son, and would show one last bit of dignity as his life was being ripped away. His questions could remain unanswered, because it was obvious that his father had made up his mind. Arthur turned and left the court for the recluse of his quarters once more.
By the time he had been pulled from his room for the crowning ceremony, Arthur's entire body had gone cold. The fog he drifted through had thickened, and it allowed him to repress his feelings deep down to be hidden from others during the very public affair. He couldn't even find the strength to be humiliated in front of everyone, as his father gave away his inheritance to a stranger he barely knew.
Only when Katrina's true nature was revealed did Arthur's quiet detachment break.
A troll. She was a troll all along! The shock of the discovery caused him to forget what had transpired between himself and his father, and his jaw dropped as he gawked at the hideous creature.
Uther, it seemed, did not even notice. Even when she ripped the door to her chamber off its hinges, the king did not seem to realize that he was, in fact, married to a ghastly magical creature.
"Stop it! Haven't you hurt her feelings enough? Insult my wife again and it will be the last thing you ever do."
Arthur didn't even know which way was up anymore. At least he was no longer alone. Everyone who had witnessed the event finally wandered off in a confused stupor, unsure of how to proceed with the subject.
He heard that later on, Gaius and some members of the court had attempted to approach his father about the deceptive troll, but their efforts were denied.
His father was enchanted. That was the only answer. There was magic at work within the castle's walls - troll magic, apparently - and Uther's erratic behavior was a result of it.
The realization should have come to Arthur as a relief, but as he sat in the chair in his room, he felt himself weighed down even more heavily with worry and gloom. Perhaps the horrible things that his father had said to him - had done to him - were due to Katrina's magic, but the problem still remained. Uther was married to a troll, and that troll was to inherit the throne to Camelot.
Running a hand through his already tussled blond hair, he lay his head back heavily against the wooden seat. He knew that something needed to be done about Uther's current situation, but he found himself doubting his ability to be the one to bring sense to the king, to break the spell. Whether it was his father's earlier words, or the air of helplessness that blanketed the town like low-riding clouds, he wasn't exactly sure.
His eye throbbed painfully against his head, a melancholy reminder of Arthur's earlier encounter with Uther, and of the prince's self-doubt.
Suddenly, something Gwen had told him earlier pawed at his troubled mind. He tried to remember her kind words; the thought of her soft voice flooding him with warmth.
"You've a kind heart, Arthur. Don't ever change. Not for anyone."
The memory brought the smallest of smiles to his lips. Her comfort had been completely undeserved, and yet, she always seemed to say the right thing.
Perhaps Gwen was right. Now was not the time for brooding, but the time for action. It was what he normally would do.
After taking a moment to gather up some resolve, and to push away the insecurity that was gnawing at his mind, Arthur pushed himself up out of his chair and left the room.