Alfred! Alfred! Why-why can't I hear anything? My voice-Arthur's hands flew up to his throat, his mouth mouthed the words but nothing came out. Then it dawned on him. The price. His voice had been the price.
"Arthur! Y-you're a merman? Wait. You can't speak," Alfred's face fell, "No, Arthur, you didn't!" the merman visibly struggled, "Get out of here!"
Arthur promptly did the opposite, and taking his hands off his neck and swam toward Alfred. The King looked at the newcomer with a mix of shock and disgust, "Aren't you that pirate? Wait, Eliza! That damn sea witch meddling where she doesn't belong! You, pirate, who do you think you are, swimming into my relm?"
Arthur didn't even acknowledge his presence and swam up to Alfred, the King's face lit up with fury. Arthur reached for Alfred's wrists his fingers hit something before they touched skin. He wrapped his hands the best he could around the invisible chains and pulled.
Alfred looked on in dismay, "Arthur what are you doing? Get out of here! Damn it, Artie, listen to me!" he pulled at his chains, desperate to push him away.
Now you call me that, he wanted to mutter but all he could do was mouth out curse words. Arthur was doing nothing to the chains, despite using all of his strength. Didn't the sea witch say he could break Alfred out?
Meanwhile, the King looked down at the scene, fury building in his black eyes, "I will not have such filth swimming in my waters." He raised the razor sharp spear.
Looking up, Alfred wrestled with his chains, "Artie, look out! Get away!"
One moment Arthur was pulling at the chains, the next he was torn away by a torrential current.
Dazed, Arthur tried to find which way was up. When he finally got his bearings he looked up to see the Ruler of the Sea staring down at him, black spear ready to strike.
The pain was not instantaneous. At first he wondered if the spear really did hit him. He looked down and there was the rod, impaled all the way through his stomach. The sight of it brought the pain. Pure agony. Arthur didn't feel or notice it being pulled out, the barbed spear head getting stuck a little bit on the other side of his body. Alfred was screaming something. Down he went, all the air leaving his body, dragging him to the bottom. When he hit it, ever so softly, his head rolled to the side and he could see Alfred screaming, jerking his body from the bonds so violently that it was a wonder he didn't rip his arms off.
A small part of his mind was slowly learning to think past the pain and it heard the words throatily yelled at him, "Why? Why did you come back? Arthur! Artie! Why?"
Oh that small part of his mind had a lot of answers to that question; I wanted to beat you black and blue myself, some stupid sea witch bewitched me, I was just passing by, I'm drunk. All untrue.
Or maybe he could go with I missed your smile, nothing is the same without you, I wanted to tell you that I don't want to tear my ears out when you actually sing, you gave me the best damn snog in my life and can't expect me to just leave it at that, you don't deserve this, Whaley misses you. All true.
But for some reason he couldn't mouth any of that, much less say it. For some reason he mouthed the three sappiest words to ever come from his mouth.
I love you.
Comprehension dawned Alfred's face and he stopped struggling. He saw the red plumes billow from his body and watched as his eyes closed. "Arthur?" he whispered.
No response came, no movement. Just silence.
It was broken by the Kings rumbling voice, "I hope you see now why you must follow my orders, Alfred. Besides, the merman you see now is still a lesser creature, only made by twisted magic, and unfit for these halls."
"Yes," the King turned his head to see Alfred's head bent down, his face hidden.
"You know…what I think?" Alfred's voice sounded forced, "I think the only lesser creature in this room is you," there was a crack. The marble armrest under the merman's grip had spider web cracks. "You do not deserve your throne. You do not deserve to be my father. And you know what?" There was an even louder crack from the binds and Alfred threw up his hands then slammed them back down. He turned his hard blue eyes to his father with utter hatred and fury, "I'm ready for my crown now."
Arthur felt cool hands on him, light and spreading a soothing iciness to his wounds. His eyelids squinted as he tried to open them but a voice stopped him, "No, keep them closed; Al's finally fighting back."
"I'm closing your wounds and repairing some of the damaged organs, you should be fine. Alfred just broke his chains, knew he could."
Arthur furtively cracked an eyelid and tried to see through his eyelashes. Matthew was nowhere to be seen but Arthur could see Alfred and the King in their respective chairs speaking heatedly to each other. By the tone of the conversation it was about to turn violent.
Alfred pushed away from his chair, clenching his fists, "Don't you dare!" the King roared, "If you raise just one hand against me I will not hesitate to kill you like that Arthur boy."
"Don't say his name!" Alfred lunged. The King swung the spear and a wave of orange fire overwhelmed Alfred.
Arthur's eyes flew open and he sat up, ignoring the twinge of pain. Alfred!He mouthed. The King showed no such care, "Know your place. Last time I checked you know nothing of magic. Your strength will get you nowhere with me!"
The fire raged around the spot where Alfred was, a great burning mass. Then suddenly Arthur began to see a figure making its way to Alfred, slowly materializing. A different kind of fire burned in Matthew's indigo eyes, "You can forget about the magic part," he said in the harshest tone Arthur heard from his mouth. His arm made a motion over the unrelenting fire and tendrils of the flames made its way to Matthew, traveling around his tail and into his palm.
Slowly the fire dissipated from Alfred, who Arthur noticed was unscathed, and gathered into a sphere in his brother's hands. When all the fire was there Matthew then clenched his hand into a fist, snuffing it out. The King looked disdainfully between the two brothers, "I expected this from Alfred but not from you Matthew. You may leave now."
Matthew made no move. The King's frown only deepened, "Fine." A blast of fire, ten times more powerful than the last, erupted from the spear. Unafraid, Matthew put himself in front of Alfred and he whipped his tail, sending out a wall of ice and snow. The two elements hit in an explosion and trillions of bubbles expelled, obscuring everything from sight like a wall of steam. "Go!" Matthew yelled and Alfred swam straight through it to the King on the other side. Arthur couldn't see him for a few minutes but could hear the dull thumps and smacks as the two mermen fought. The bubbles dispersed and he could see the punches being thrown from both sides and their powerful tails would slam into each other. Even from that distance Arthur could see how their teeth were elongated, now they looked more like fighting sharks than serenading mermen.
Alfred seemed to have the upper hand strength wise, impressive considering the King's size but it became apparent that his lack of a weapon was going to lead to his loss. For every punch or slap that he got in the King got in two or three hits with his giant spear. Arthur really didn't know how Alfred had so much endurance for pain, he was surprised he was still standing/swimming after all the bruises and cuts he had earned. The ugly wounds on his back were enough to knock the average person unconscious. It was absolute torture to Matthew, who wanted to help with his magic but could only watch as he couldn't use it without the possibility of hitting Alfred.
Suddenly that all didn't matter and the King had Alfred pinned to the wall, the blade of the spear across his throat. "Time to finally get rid of my worthless son," he growled.
Then Alfred grabbed the obsidian scepter.
Arthur closed his ears and eyes. Matthew gasped. The King was blown back, his hands empty. Opening his eyes, Arthur saw Alfred swimming there, looking at the spear with shock. Before he could ask, Matthew answered for him, "The scepter…has chosen a different master. Alfred is the Ruler of the Seas."
The former King's face was the epitome of despair and he watched his figure wither, shrinking and wrinkling until he was no more than a small old merman.
Alfred, however, grew. His muscles became more pronounced, his face smoothing and perfecting until it was god-like. A grin grew on his face as he looked at his arms and flexed the muscles in them.
Matthew was the first to frown.
Arthur looked up at Alfred in amazement. The merman was truly was a sight as all his flaws faded from existence. Power and magic radiated from him, a true Ruler.
"Wow," Alfred breathed, a gust to the others in the room, "This power…is awesome!"
Then Arthur frowned.
With a chuckle, the new King twirled the obsidian rod and a ring of fire circled him, the heat so intense Arthur could feel the warmth from his place on the bottom floor, "I-I could get used to this."
Cautiously Matthew swam forward, "Um, Al, remember what you said-,"
"Yes, yes, I know. But why give up this gift when I can do this?" he gave a powerful stroke with is new giant tail and the very current sent his father tumbling towards the doors.
Matthew's eyes widened at the uncharacteristic act, "Alfred, I think you should let go of the scepter now."
"No! Why should I?" Alfred said to him in a too loud voice, "Oh, I know. You're jealous. Can't stand that you are always the one overlooked and I can actually pull my weight. Well at least you have a mother! Even if she is a whore for sleeping with a married man."
Arthur was aghast, no, this wasn't Alfred. Alfred wouldn't say that, especially to his brother.
Matthew looked like he would cry, "Alfred," he choked out, "You know I would never-,"
"Shut up!" the King growled, "Know your place, half-brother." He swung the spear and Matthew was suddenly on the ground, gasping as he was crushed by an unknown force. Alfred looked on without mercy, his blue eyes darkening.
That's it. Arthur swam for Alfred and grabbed his arm and pulled as hard as he could.
"What, who-," Alfred's other hand whipped around and slammed into Arthur's stomach. The merman was knocked over and he clutched his stomach, clenching his teeth from the pain. Alfred turned and saw him there, "Arthur?" he asked, his face had softened. Alfred returned. Just as quickly that terrible look returned, "No. Arthur is dead. It's just one of Matthew's illusions."
Arthur looked at him in sheer terror. How he wished he could scream no!and beg Alfred to come back to reality. But the words were silent and he could only mouth his pleas.
Alfred lifted the spear. Arthur had just seen this; life was just cruel enough to let him see the black weapon a second time with the last person he wanted to see it with. At least he couldn't cry here. Dying with tears on ones face was rather embarrassing. All of his silent words ignored he murmured just one thing, a last resort; the dock. The dock, Alfred.
Alfred made no move from his position or sign that he acknowledged his silent words. Arthur couldn't talk his way out of this. He was going to die. The former captain took in a deep breath. Well, he thought, if I'm going to die it might as well be at the hands of the Ruler of the Seas instead of some stray bullet from a drunken sailor. The throb in his chest thought differently.
A heart beat. Alfred still hadn't moved.
That's when Arthur noticed it, the shaking. Those strong arms trembled so softly it was almost impossible to make out.
Then Alfred exhaled softly, like he had been holding his breath this whole time, "A-Arthur?"
Relief washed over him and Arthur gave a nod. Yes.
And it returned, Alfred's real smile, "Thank God you are alive," his face darkened again, this time with horror, "Wait. What-what was I doing?" he looked at the obsidian spear then down and spotted his brother, unmoving on the ground, "Mattie!" he called.
Alfred dropped the spear and swam to his brother, lifting his head up, "Mattie! Are you okay?"
Matthew gave a groan, "Yeah, now let me down you great lug before you break another one of my ribs."
"Glad to hear you're your snappy self again, bro," Alfred smiled sheepishly as he laid his brother back down.
The obsidian spear lay ominously just a few feet away. Alfred fearfully looked at it, he could still feel the effects of it and would continue to feel them until the scepter chose a new king, "I cannot and will not be King," Alfred slowly spoke, "But neither can anyone else. Not even you Matthew."
Matthew gave his own rueful smile, "Yeah, not going to argue there. So what's next?"
"I think it's obvious enough," Alfred grabbed the spear. A dark look flitted across his face and Arthur touched his arm in warning. The darkness passed and Alfred turned to Arthur, giving him an encouraging grin, "Don't worry. I won't do that again. Swim back will you?"
Reluctantly Arthur swam back a few feet, watching Alfred warily. The latter gripped the spear with both hands, "You know. I think I know why I was born so strong," he laughed then took a deep breath. His muscles bulged and his arms tried to bend as he pulled down on both ends. The obsidian screeched unnaturally and the rod curved in a way that was impossible for normal obsidian.
A shrill scream pierced the air and the scepter broke, shattering into a hundred razor sharp shards, "So I can do that," Alfred finished with an exhale. With the breath went all of the perfection and he shrank back to his normal height. He turned to Arthur and opened his mouth to speak, "Arthur-,"
"What did you do?" came a scream from down the hall and they all turned to see the source, "What are you thinking, Alfred?" the old merman croaked.
"Oh you know, rebelling against the crown and all that, Pops," Alfred shrugged.
"But the monarchy? The system of government? The Great City will bring itself to ruin now that it has no one to govern it!"
Alfred shook his head, "Nah, there are other ways. One thing worked out a while in a certain place called a republic and it didn't have a King or nothing."
"Get outta here you Old Merman," Alfred made a dismissive motion with his hands, "We don't need your crap anymore."
To Arthur's surprise the merman went quiet and with a rather indignant air he turned and swam out. Of course, he didn't see the last part because he was suddenly tackled by a very enthusiastic blue-tailed merman.
Alfred's strong arms pulled Arthur into a crushing hug and he rambled on in his poor ears, "Oh I can't believe you are alive. And you came back for me! I'm sorry I went ape-shit on you, God, I owe you one for that too. I love you so much you know that? You look stunning as a merman! But your voice...damn, I am going to miss that."
Before he could get anymore out he realized Arthur was pushing him away and that he was probably in pain from his recent injury, "Sorry," he muttered again.
A green tail met with full force on Alfred's face. Alfred almost doubled over, holding his cheek. Even Matthew flinched. Alfred looked up to see a very-angry-Arthur glaring down at him. Though Arthur knew that Alfred couldn't hear him he then proceeded to go on the longest rant in merman history.
YOU DAMNED IDIOT! DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH TROUBLE I HAD TO GO THROUGH BECAUSE YOU COULDN'T GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ARSE?-fill this in with your imagination-you God-damned pig!
Arthur closed his mouth and suddenly the room seemed a lot quieter. Alfred, to his credit, still maintained eye contact and gave a small smile, "Uh, you know, Arthur, you're kinda mute and I can't really read lips that well so I didn't quite catch what you were saying."
Arthur's face went read for a moment then he rolled his eyes and grabbed Alfred's hair, pulling him close. The merman flinched and closed his eyes, waiting for that deserved smack or punch or head-butt. But instead of that, Alfred got a much more unexpected blow: a pair of warm lips on his own.
Alfred's eyes flew open and he saw Arthur, eyes closed, kissing him. Voluntarily. Needless to say, he got over the shock very quickly and dove right in, gently pulling the smaller merman closer to him.
Now while most couples at that stage of the relationship might just go for a gentle, chaste kiss showing their tenderness and compassion for each other, the two decided that passionate and devouring each other's mouths was more appropriate. Arthur didn't complain, nothing could compare, not even their first snog. It was all Alfred, that slightly sweet taste and no overpowering salt anymore. And though his stomach might have hurt a bit he was focused on other things, like how his lower half was wrapping around Alfred and that butterscotch hair was just as soft as he remembered-
Arthur quickly jerked away and Alfred somewhat reluctantly to look at the merman laying down on the ground looking at them with a raised eyebrow, "You know I was going to ask for a little love for the forgotten, injured brother down here but now I think I'm okay."
Blushing and mortified Arthur mouthed a sorry. Alfred just laughed and blew Matthew a kiss, "For you bro."
Matthew chuckled, "Oh stop it you~."
Arthur flinched a little in surprise when Alfred suddenly nuzzled his nose into Arthur's head, laying a small his hair, "You know, being a King and all was great but I'd much more rather get used to this." He pulled back and smiled. It was filled with imperfection, it was that same smile of that dopey merman who thought that by singing terribly he could ensnare his crush, it was the same smile of the idiot who thought that ghosts really did exist in a piece of wood leaning on the wall.
Yet it was that smile that made Arthur do something he hadn't done in a very long time.
He smiled back.
AN: You have just read 85 pages of fanficiton (not including ANs). Thanks for taking the time to read all of them and for leaving all of your lovely reviews!
EDIT: After much thought (a few years worth) I think that this is a pretty solid ending and I don't think I could finish it up as nicely as I did on this chapter. Sorry if you guys really wanted to see Arthur get his voice back but I think that would be a sequel to this one and I really don't have the time or motivation to write another 85 pager. Thanks again for reading this!