Author's Note: This is the same story as "Bear the Scars" I just took out all the graphical violent/non-con parts for those of you who don't care to read the ugly bits. This results in a slightly less coherent story. However, if you want to read "Bear the Scars" after reading this one, keep in mind that it has frankly graphic scenes of violent rape & non-consensual sex.
Merlin stood alone on the battlements, looking out over the ever-increasing sprawl that was Camelot, the capital city of a united Albion. Not for the first time, he contemplated the long drop to the ground below and wondered...would it even work? None of the other attempts to put an end to his suffering had ever managed to do the job. His thrice-damned magic had saved him every time, preserved him to fufill his destiny. Gods how he hated that word. Hated the word with an intensity that burned almost as hot as it did for the life that word described, the life he'd been living since he'd first come to this stinking city at the tender age of sixteen.
How quickly his simple life had become complicated then. An innocent he'd been, so damn naive and trusting, so very malleable. He'd been unformed clay and almost everyone around him had taken greedy fingers to that clay to mold it to their design. Arthur, Uther, Gaius and that great winged lizard with his shining promises of future glory.
He snorted at that. Glory, oh yes, his life had brought him so much of that. He swallowed then winced as the action stretched his still sore throat. Arthur had been even rougher than usual last night, his rage towards Guinevere's betrayal spilling over and filling the usual receptacle for his dark moods. How long had Merlin been fulfilling that role now? It certainly seemed like his entire life.
Everyone had been right, Arthur was different from Uther. He didn't take his fears, rages and disappointments out on his people, oh no, he had Merlin for that. Had had him for that almost since the day he'd come to Camelot. The sorcerer had fantasized so many times what his life would now be like, what he'd be like had he allowed Mary Collins' blade to pierce that miserable bastard's chest all those years ago.
They were pleasant fantasies. Perhaps he'd be a physician now, perhaps he'd have learned from Gaius the proper ways to channel his magic toward the healing arts. Perhaps he'd have drifted back out of the city and found a quiet place among the Druids and be living a peaceful life in harmony with nature. Perhaps he might have freed Freya and successfully run away with her. Perhaps they'd be living together even now, somewhere far from Camelot, raising magical children in happy obscurity.
However, he'd foolishly stopped that blade and plunged himself right into the heart of darkness. There was no peace, no quiet and certainly no happiness for him on this earth now. This was his destiny. He stood by the High King's side through every endeavor, every trial and every challenge that stood between Arthur and a united Albion. He smoothed the path, carried the burdens and protected the future of the entire nation. It was his ordeal, his task, his quest to create the future that had been promised. It was not Arthur who'd done this, it was Merlin.
He understood his role in all of this even as he despised it. His narrow shoulders had supported the weight of the world, the womb of his magic had brought forth the glittering child of Destiny known to all as Albion. However, Destiny was a harsh mate, almost as harsh as the man she forced the warlock to serve. King Arthur, the shining beacon of everything that was good and bright, the champion of equality, chivalry and justice for everyone no matter their birth or circumstances. He extended those ideals to all, all except one. For no man can be entirely of the light and even the best of men need some place for their darkness to go, some outlet, some deep well to pour it into. Merlin was that vessel, the sacrifice of Albion, the recipient of all the King's corruption. He saw the shriveled blackness at the man's center, the withering canker that hid deep beneath the shrouding layers of good deeds and noble words.
Once, long ago, he'd loved that man. Loved him with every fiber of his being, each spark of his power and the last mote of his soul. He'd given everything to his golden god and that foul git had taken it all. He'd consumed everything Merlin was and given nothing in return but pain, derision and torment. Oh he'd jealously guarded his favorite possession, never allowing him too far from his side, he'd taken the sorcerer and he'd kept him, he kept him still.
Merlin could never have known what he'd allowed into his life when he opened his heart, his soul and his mind to the Prince all those years ago. He'd come from a life of love, where he'd been cherished and adored, first by his mother, then by his guardian, Gaius. Both had shown him nothing but affection, support and reassurance. They'd told him he was special even while they comforted him for having to hide that fact from the world. They'd sheltered him, emotionally coddled him and left him vulnerable so that when he'd given his heart, he was unprepared to have it carelessly consumed by a man who'd never been taught what love was. Arthur didn't understand the boon he'd been given, couldn't appreciate the precious nature of the emotion he'd never before been awarded and it was inevitable that, in his ignorance, he would break the gift that Destiny bestowed on him, the gift that was Merlin.
It wasn't that Arthur didn't want love, he did. He craved it desperately. His life was so bereft of tender emotion that he'd reached out with grasping, greedy hands when it was offered. Avariciously, he'd torn at what was freely bestowed. He'd voraciously consumed Merlin's love, sucked his affection dry and never realized that the well needed to be replenished in order to continue to give. Arthur didn't know how to nourish or cherish, he knew not how to offer in order that one might continue to receive.
The sorcerer gazed out over the city he'd built with eyes unseeing, his attention turned inward. It was so very very long ago now but he remembered every single second of his life in Camelot with unnerving and unrelenting accuracy. Oblivion was just one more comfort he'd been denied over the years. His mind drifted to the night before.
Merlin hitched the black scarf he wore higher around his neck for both comfort and protection. He knew most of the creamy length of his neck was marred with livid purple bruises from the King's hands as well as scabbed over wounds and bite marks in various stages of healing. He'd abandoned the neckerchiefs years ago, they just didn't hide enough of his skin. Now he wound long lengths of soft cloth close up under his ears and chin. He no longer wore the clothes of a peasant, it wouldn't have been proper for the Court Sorcerer to go about so attired but there were days he missed the domestic comfort of his old homespun clothes. The King dictated what he wore now and none of it was anything he'd ever have chosen for himself.
Though he was uncomfortable in close fitting breeches and snugly tailored tunics, he'd unwillingly become accustomed to being thusly costumed, knowing there was no choice. In the early days of Arthur's reign, he'd tried to defy him over the issue only to find his own clothes removed from his chamber and the new attire hanging in his wardrobe instead. He could have magicked the garments however he wished but it seemed a useless and futile gesture. After all, in the grand scheme of things, what did his clothing matter? No aspect of his life was anything he'd have chosen for himself.
His mind turned back again. This time to the oath, that pledge to never ease his own suffering at Arthur's hand. It was such a longstanding promise, one to which he was magically bound, his own power enforcing his obedience. However, though years and years had passed, the circumstances surrounding the vow's creation would never fade from his mind. Like every other pain filled memory, it's edges were as sharp as ever and they still had the power to slash him up inside when the anamnesis crept over his awareness.
Tears were tracking down his alabaster cheeks and he dashed them away with impatient hands. One would think that after all these years there couldn't possibly be any tears left in him. However, it seemed as if he had an eternal supply of the salinous lubricant; like his blood, his youth and his life-spark, he had been gifted with an overabundance of it. His sightless gaze shifted westward but he continued to register nothing before his eyes. His vision retained it's internal focus, drifting even further back, back to when everything had started to go wrong.
The wind whistled harshly at the highest point of palace and sprawling city. He could see for miles from this vantage though, all the way to the curve of the horizon and all of it was Arthur's realm. The realm he'd given the man on a silver platter wrapped up with the blood red ribbon of his soul. When had his love died? He tried to remember the exact moment but there wasn't one. His affection and hope had been horribly steadfast, blind and mulishly stubborn. The hope went first, he knew that, even though it had been a drawn-out death, ridiculously so. Ludicrous, that's what it was. He was every inch the idiot that the prat of a prince had always called him.
The love spun out even longer, the thread growing thinner and thinner as the years wore on but it held fast far longer than it had any right to. Finally one day it was all gone, the thread, micron thin for months, had simply vanished. It was not a relief, though it should have been. Instead there was nothing left behind but a gaping, empty void in his chest. A hole punched straight through bone and blood. Albion had already been united by then, Camelot the shining center of an empire of prosperity. With his destiny fulfilled and his love exhausted, Merlin had thought for a short time that he might leave, escape Arthur and finally find some peace. However, Kilgharrah had compelled him to consult with the Crystal of Neahtid, knowing that there would never be an escape for the hapless warlock.
He loathed that lump of rock. It showed him truths he never wanted to know. It showed him what would happen to Arthur and Albion should he ever leave. Without Merlin to absorb the poison of his dark heart, Arthur would turn the venom on his people and exceed his father in vile acts of evil just as he'd exceeded him in everything else. Without Merlin there to curb it, the corruption would spill out and poison everything it touched. His creation, his beloved Albion would be destroyed and all his suffering, all his heartbreak and anguish, all his mind-breaking work and the years of pain would be for naught. Arthur would take the realm apart piece by piece without the warlock by his side to temper the storm.
So for Albion and all the innocents she sheltered, Merlin stayed and willingly lay on the altar to become the sacrifice the realm required. Destiny had decreed it to be so. That bitch. That fucking cunt Destiny bit and Merlin's soul bore the scars to prove it.