A/N: Before you get into this, you deserve a warning. This is dark. Like, the darkest I've ever written, and the first in 2nd person 'you'. I have no idea what horrible person got into my head and made me write this, but you are warned. Dark. Yes, even darker than Le Morte de Merlin. Implied death and torture. Please, please review and tell me how to improve my dramatic writing. And like all my oneshots, this is not beta'd. So tell me any mistakes you catch!
Also, please no "OOC" comments unless there is a really good reason. This fic is a 'what if..., then could this happen?" story, so if you disagree, that's fine. But say so politely, if you please. Also, as it's Arthur POV we can't see what's going on with Merlin... Keep that in mind. All other comments welcomed, especially constructive criticism!
Title: Cold Blood, Black Fire
Rating: T! For heavy themes, not sexual ones.
Characters: Arthur, Cenred, & Merlin
Summary: It's relatively easy to say 'no' to a bunch of threats. But it's a lot harder to refuse the tortured cries of your manservant wafting through the bars. And you're only human. Oneshot.
You're shaking, but not because it's cold in the room; it's actually not. It's not the chill outside. It's an internal cold, a terrifying, unrelenting one in your blood. And it makes you shiver, makes your chains rattle like the sound of mourning ghouls.
You look up into Cenred's sneering face and shake your head defiantly, trying to look unfazed. You're failing; he scares you to the core.
"I won't tell you anything," you say, and the words sound good. But you don't feel them, because you know they will only bring the pain you fear into reality.
But he doesn't hurt you. He just swaggers to the door, that barred door, and you watch in trepidation from your place on the filthy floor as he signals to whoever is outside with a casual flick of his hand.
He turns back to you, and his eyes gleam with a black, evil, cold fire.
Cold fire. So he feels the chill, too; maybe it isn't just you…
He speaks, his voice too happy, too cheerful for a man with black soulless eyes that bore into your pale blue ones. "Tell me what I want to know," he orders.
You can only shake your head. There are no tears because tears are warm, and you are too cold. If you put black colors over blue, the black blocks out the blue every time, and you know it.
Cenred seems to accept the answer, even to enjoy it. He sends another signal to those outside of the prison, a dark grin pulling at his lips. And then it starts.
You think, for just a second, that he's begun his torture and the yell is yours, but that rings false in your mind. There is no pain.
It's somebody else's scream, you see that now. And then you recognize it.
A wave of horror and disbelief starts in your stomach and pushes up, past your heart and into your mouth. You throw yourself against the chains, not feeling the cold metal bite your wrists, but they don't give. "Merlin!" The name is ripped out of you, and your face transforms; eyes widen and lips pull away from your teeth, but you are not smiling.
Cenred is, though.
The next shriek is your name, which your manservant calls as though it's his last hope, as if you alone can help him now. "Arthur!"
"Tell me what I want to know." Cenred's voice is calm and quiet, but you can hear it over the sounds from Merlin quite easily.
"No!" You're shouting louder, as though that can make Merlin shout less. "Stop it! Stop this!" The cold dread has reached your brain now, and you can't think.
The only response is the boy screaming, his voice breaking, begging someone you can't see for something he can't have: mercy.
"Only you can stop this."
Cenred's right. Only you can, but you shouldn't allow yourself to… Camelot. Camelot's safety.
Merlin. Merlin's pain.
"No!" Still there are no tears on your face, but they're in your voice and in your throat. "Please, stop! Please don't hurt him; he's just a servant."
Cenred shrugs apathetically and makes another gesture out the bars, and you allow yourself one second of hope.
This time the scream is so high-pitched and uncontrolled that if you were glass and not flesh, you would shatter.
His yells are like pointed, vicious steel hooks, tearing into your body and rending your heart in two separate pieces. But there is no blood.
Don't talk; don't talk. Camelot… Camelot…
No blood. How could you bleed? You're so cold that you're frozen. Your heart, your soul, the screams that seem to linger in your ears…because they're frozen into thin, cracking sheets of ice.
He calls you again, his voice devoid of its usual good humor as he begs for the respite that they will never give.
That they will never give because you won't let them.
Camelot. Merlin. Torture. No.
Cenred is looking out the bars, chuckling, that black fire burning brighter. "You should see," he says. "There's blood everywhere. It's running down his body just like tears… He's crying, you know, sobbing…"
You don't want to hear! No! "Shut up!" you shout, fighting against the clanking bonds again, yelling at both Merlin and Cenred.
Your manservant's – your best friend's – anguished cries seem to multiply, to press in on you until you think you're screaming with him, and it feels like you're cracking into little pieces, like ice with too much pressure on it. All you can think is his pain, and your name pulled from his throat by their torment-inducing instruments…
"He's crying, you know, sobbing…" he'd said.
"Stop! By all that's holy, stop; I'll tell you anything! Anything you want!"
The ice breaks, thawed by the heat of the room. At last tears are coming from your eyes. Your head drops in shame, knowing you just said that, even though you tried so hard not to talk… So hard…
It's almost worth it, though, because the screams stop almost immediately, and you feel your whole body relax. You're still but for the sobs tearing at your chest.
"Then talk." You don't look into his demon-black eyes, not wanting to see his pleasure at such cold-blooded torture.
And you do talk, the dead echo of Merlin's screams urging you on. Names, codes, places, plans…In the next few minutes they all roll off your tongue in a blur, punctuated only by the times when you are crying too hard, when the thought of your disappointed father or betrayed knights becomes too much for you. But Cenred puts a stop to these intervals with a threatening glance towards the door.
Finally your well of information runs dry, and you have nothing more to tell him. He grins when you tell him that, and fear begins to grow up in your chest again.
"Then," he says, "we're done here." He signals out the bars.
Panic. You panic even before the first hoarse scream wafts down the hall and filters through the bars.
"No! You promised, Cenred! You promised!"
Another heart-wrenching scream.
You pull but the chains won't give. "Cenred! Stop this, please! Please, you promised! I told you everything!"
A scream so full of agony that you can feel it in the air.
"I told you everything!"
Cenred shrugs and opens the door, preparing to leave, and you struggle to get away from the walls of the squalid cell.
One more shriek, twisted into the sound of 'Arthur'.
"Cenred!" you roar.
And this time, the scream is cut off in the middle, sending the dungeons into sudden silence.
Denial and nausea mix together and rise in your throat. This can't happen. You try one more time, tears soaking into your face.
Cenred just smiles, his eyes aflame and black, and leaves you alone, kneeling in the dust and pulling against unbreakable chains.
But you get no answer.
A/N: By the powers vested in me as Kitty O, I order you to review! Please and thank you.