Apologies for the immense purple. It was an early fic of mine. ^^;

Warnings: same as last chapter.

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Arthur?

Instantly your body tries to jolt off the table in reaction to the voice, taking the several of the hands holding you down by surprise. However, the large, chubby fingers are not deterred as one set snakes along your back, and another set grasps your hips in a tight hold. They push your naked body against a clothed chest, the object you're impaled on digs into you even further.

Deeper.

Then, yet another set of hands cups the underside of your rear, avoiding the location of the area where that object is disappearing inside of you, pumping your body up and down the long object, the palms from behind you rubbing along your skin.

" Beautiful." The words say, a tongue violating your ear.

You don't know if you're screaming the prince's name. If you've managed to scramble the words into one cohesive cry for help, let alone gotten it to leave your throat, but you're trying.

Again and

again and

again and

again!

You can only hope as you stand amongst the waters and mists of your mind that it's getting through.

You almost wretch as something warm fills your gut, and the object inside you grows smaller, a rough kiss shoved on to* your lips. " Maybe you'll scream my name, next time," the lips purr as they tickle your ear. A sense of relief fills you as you are slid off the object, albeit feeling hollower than you were before it was shoved into you.

Like a piece of your soul is missing.

Something dark, something sinister, something terrible, something broken…

What do they want? What are you missing?

WHERE IS ARTHUR?

The thoughts are jerked out of your mind as you're shoved down on the table again, this time on your stomach, and another long, thick, no, thicker object quickly shoves its way through you, the sticky substance the other previously left in you easing the object's path.

Your vocal cords scream, the prince's name a plea, until your cry is silenced as another object is shoved between your yelling lips. You gag at the intrusion, the hot, wet, sticky object pumping up and down your throat. Once again you can't breathe, your chest rising and falling at a rapid rate, lungs fighting for air, fighting the anomalous object as it hits the back of your throat.

Arthur? ARTHUR?

Where are you?

The two objects continue to pump into you, one sawing your shaking body in half and the other pounding its way through your mouth. The minutes drag by in your hazy mind; you're still pulling most of the pieces together, trying to ignore the offending objects piercing you and those hands still petting your body all over. When those objects are done, more replace them. The cycle continues for what seems like eternity, time spinning out6 slower and slower as you begin to piece back together your mind within the waters' mists.

With each new thrust,

fill,

release;

your mind becomes clearer, less hazy. You begin to realize what is happening to you.

And wish you could bask in the hazy mist of ignorance once again.

"Stop!"

You scream!

You cry!

You search for your magic but the piece is still missing, still submerged under the drug.

Oh how you wish they would put you under the euphoria once again.

"P-please, Stop!" Your lips form the words, barely, but you can no longer scream. You scarcely even hear the gruff moans and taunts of the voices that surround you anymore, the dark atmosphere of the mysterious figures fading in your mind.

All of your senses formerly exploding behind your eyes now dwindle into a small sizzle. Your nerves are overworked and your mind is overburdened. You hear the world around you no more. You can feel the cloud return to your mind, that dark, watery mist, and you eagerly pull the blanket of ignorance over yourself without any hesitance.

The pain is becoming duller,

The world is breaking down,

You are safe under* those sheets you foolishly broke out of, was it moments…hours…days ago?

Oh, come hither, sweet ignorance!

Finally, you absently sense your broken form being released from between two sweating bodies. You are laid down on the hard wooden surface again, body too in shock and mind too exhausted to move. You begin to hear the world once more; feel8 the world once again.

The waters return to your eyes still hidden behind the blindfold and your sore throat vibrates with hoarse sobs; the cool air brushes against your wet, naked skin.

Those hands are no longer all over you…exploring you…violating you. Nothing is trying to get into you…spoil you. You can't even faintly sense the presence of anyone else around you anymore .

It's just you…and your body…your mind…your thoughts.

"A-arthur," the name painfully leaves your throat as you try to turn your head to the side, choking on the sticky liquid still trickling down your esophagus,"…Sire?"

Your muscles freeze as one of those gloved hands brushes through your damp hair. You feel your lungs suffocating once again; mind overexerted and screaming as it is pushed further and faster into panic. Your chest heaves and you fight for air as the gloved fingers continue to travel through your sweaty locks and over your cheek regardless of your fear.

" He's had enough, father."

The hand retracts after a few idle moments and you can breathe once again. The ominous sound of a door being shut somewhere reverberates from close by. The clicking of shoes against stone can be heard pacing around your naked form sprawled out on the table. Your eyes follow* the sound from behind the blindfold.

"A-arthur?" You don't remember sounding the words, your body taking over as your brain losses its hold on reality.

" Stop crying, you idiot." You don't remember crying, either.

Strong arms wrap around you, lifting you off the table and onto a lap, your head resting on a warm chest. They tighten their hold as your body fights the contact. The prince voices an endless chain of soothing words to ease your painfully alert mind. Eventually, you're too weak to fight anymore and you simply lie limp within those circling arms. You feel your exhausted mind become weightless, drifting off into unknown realms at the soothing rhythm of the princes words and the heartbeat against your ear.

"You did a good job, Merlin." The voice says. You can't recall who it is, anymore.

" Did I?" your own lips quaver.

" Yes, and it'll be all gone tomorrow. All the* pain will be gone."

Your wobbly mental legs step back into the pools of your unconsciousness, the waters of the warm abyss wrapping around your battered form. Those swirls of liquid are cleansing you before you float away into the darkest, most secluded parts of your dreams, the lull of the young royal's voice filling the air and calming the mind.

" You won't remember anything come morning," The last of the voice soothes, a light kiss on your cheek,

" You never do."


A dull pain; your entire being is in pain. Every nerve in your body aches. They are screaming, ordering you to stay still on the surface of the bed. You can't even think about it or begin to move a limb without hissing in agony. Hell, even breathing hurts. The air running in and out of your chest is making your throat itch painfully.

" Stop being a girl, Merlin."

You move your head in the direction of the voice, the soft dip of the mattress cutting off half of your eyesight. Why did you fall asleep on the prince's bed, again? You cannot recall the moments before your head hit the mattress and you drifted off into the slumber.

You hiss in pain once more, your neck making sure that you know it doesn't want to be moved. Instead, you opt to stare at the canopy rising over the expensive royal bed, wondering why you have found yourself waking up in this position so many times of late. Every time you are exhausted and sore all over. Every muscle in your body, every nerve, feels like it's on fire. And once more, like each and every time you wake up like this throbbing with unbearable pain, you're always either in the prince's costly bed or in the empty antechamber adjacent. Every time you ache all over.

You hiss in pain once more, your neck making sure that you know it doesn't want to be moved. Instead you opt to stare at the canopy rising over the expensive royal bed, wondering why you have found yourself waking up in this position so many times of late. Every time you are exhausted and sore all over. Every muscle in your body, every nerve, feels like it's on fire. And once more, like each and every time you wake up like this, throbbing with unbearable pain, you're always either in the prince's costly bed or in the empty chamber adjacent."

Furthermore, you can never remember why you wake up with your body feeling like a dragon has run over it.

" Why does the world hurt so bloody much?" you ask the prince who is sitting by the table. Your voice is hoarse and raspy. It feels like someone's shoved a sword down your esophagus. It hurts to talk but your curiosity and embarrassment override the pain.

The sharp, loud bite of an apple is heard from the prince's direction before the royal's muffled voice finally acknowledges your question.

" Cause you're useless."

Well, that answered not one bloody damn thing, did it?

" How long this time, Arthur?"

A pause; your stomach clenches with a foreboding anxiety as you wait to hear the answer.

" You've been out for four days. I'm going to need to get a new manservant at this rate."

You laugh, immediately cringing in regret at your body's reaction; muscles painfully protest the movement. Four days, well. Four days is a record thus far for you. How long were you out last time this happened? Two days?

" Has Gaius finally figured out what's wrong with me?" your question weakly leaves your lips. The words are sloppy and slow. Dark clouds dance in and out of the corner of your vision, your mind floating steadily away again. Your body wants to resume its recuperation; heal the aches and pains all over.

" As I've told you last time, idiot." You vaguely hear the royal's voice from somewhere in the room. It barely reaches your ears. Your mind, once sharp as a blade, is growing dull and worn…unnecessary.

" Gaius is busy. I brought in another physician to look after you. Now, get some sleep," you may have heard him say.

You nod absently, the soft, thoughtless cloud encompassing your thoughts. The warm, floating steam begins to rise around you. Your comprehension of the world around you falls drastically.

Then, finally, you return to that sweet oblivion once more.

It takes you another two days to finally be able to move about and return to your chores. Truthfully, you are more than ecstatic to finally be able to work again. To walk across the room, and follow the prince as you usually do without feeling like you are stepping barefoot on knives with every step. Like your toes, legs, and lower back are being pierced and bled by sharp objects with every footfall. You are finally returning to your normal self, and you couldn't be happier about it. For once, the royal didn't have to force you to do chores. For once, you cleaned the stables on your own. You're as happy to teeter acrossthe earth's surface, Gaia's skin, as a newborn babe first learning how to walk.

Unfortunately, it happens again. Three weeks later you feel the strange sickness come over you again. It comes on suddenly, giving no warning. It's worse this time.

First, your mind slowly goes numb, floating away from reality. It becomes harder to concentrate on anything. More difficult is to hear and feel. You can't remember what you are doing in this room to begin with. You can't process thoughts as clearly. You look at objects without knowing what they are. Their names, their purposes, all understanding is lost. Then the cloak of ignorance finally wraps around you as your vision fades and the last thing you see with your blue, dreamy eyes is a vision of the prince standing afar. You don't remember why he was there. You don't really care. All you are concerned with, if concern is even the right word, is tugging the blanket tighter around your mind as the boat rocking upon the shores of your consciousness lulls you away into pleasant, sightless dreams.

Until the pain returns to you, until that god-awful pain shoots you back into dreams that are too real, knocking over the boat and taking away the blanket. You see images in the water.

No, you see images all around you. You see faces and hands, hands that are rubbing all over you…touching you...shouting at you…violating you. Making you choke on your own tears as your lips are spread around something so wide that your jaw feels like it's breaking.

You keep seeing the faces and the hands until someone shouts, a voice you cannot locate or recall the texture of. Then a cloth covers your eyes, cutting off the visions.

Then you feel them once again, all those hands. They cause you pain. They make you scream. They are uncaring, unconcerned with your protests. You feel as if you are being dissected inside and out. Cut open and put back together again.

And worst of all, you cannot wake up from the nightmares. You can never grasp the reins trailing from the images and jerk your body into reality. You can never find them. All your hands find are the ends of a hard wooden surface as your palms and fingers dig in and grasp the corners of the table tightly. You have to wait the nightmares out. You always have to wait till they run their course through your body. Till all those millions of digits are done touching you, exploring you; till whatever is causing you pain is spent. Till whatever pumps you up and down the hard wooden surface is finished. You grasp that wood so tightly for support that you are sure your hands are bleeding.

Only, to wake up once again, to finally open your eyes, thanking the deities above when you realize that it was only a dream. A terrible, surreal, awful nightmare; it's a side-effect of whatever illness you have acquired the last few months. You lie there in the royal's bed until your mind finally gets over the flood of the images from the dream. Sometimes it takes a few seconds. Other times, it seems to take an hour or more. The seemingly real voices cut and dissect your mind until you finally realize that you are in the prince's bedroom, safe from harm.

'Only a dream,' you remind yourself.

It was only a dream.

You hear movement to your right from beyond the bed, a shuffling of footsteps against stone and a smile tugs on your lips. The familiar presence eases your mind, pushing the memory of the nightmares away almost instantly.

He's here, like always. Like a best friend that is always there to hold your hand. Like a rope keeping you from falling into the eternal oblivion. A lifeline;

Arthur.

You wouldn't even have to search him out to know that he is there. You can feel his presence in the room. He is always there when you awaken from your terrible slumber; always there to make sure that you wake up at all. He will make you better; will keep those awful nightmares at bay. It doesn't matter how real they are becoming for he will always be there to pull you back to the surface.

" Six days," he tells you. You don't even have to voice the question to get an answer. He knows that your voice is hoarse, every breath pumping in and out of your lungs torturous and painful. He knows you like an open book, as you know him.

He knows all there is to know about you, except for that one secret.

That one single, close held secret that you hope you never have to reveal. A secret like that, a dark, powerful secret like that can shatter lives, let alone friendships. Especially with Arthur. With this city. This kingdom.

No, you hope he never learns of your secret, your magic. You dread the day he finally witnesses your eyes turn gold. You dread that what follows will inevitably be a sword against your throat. You dread seeing the hatred, and betrayal in his eyes as he learns that you have magic, that you are a monster. You are afraid to lose your lifeline. The dreams are becoming worse and you need him now more than ever.

Suggest this change for grammar, consistency and clarity

'But I don't feel bad about lying to Arthur, either,' you think, feeling the cool hand of the other youth as his palm lies on your forehead, checking your temperature. You look up at him from the mattress, but he doesn't look back at you. Those eyes are lightly rippling with something though; as he makes sure you are once again awake and well. You are sure it is worry within those pupils. You're almost positive. The prat has never been one to voice his emotions well.

You used to feel bad about hiding your magic from him, lying to him. Not anymore.

" Get some sleep, Merlin." You think you hear his voice command and you nod before thanking him, your mind drifting off into oblivion once more.

No, there's no need to tell Arthur.

After all,

we all need at least one closely held secret.