Title: Here Comes A Lullaby

Summary: No matter how strong a man may be; even the most powerful warlock in the entire universe needs a release from his troubles. Merlin's momentary emancipation from the heavy burden of his destiny comes in the form of the most horrible coping mechanism; self-harming.

Here Comes A Lullaby

Such a small knife it was, only about six inches in length, and yet; it's edge was so acuminous and sharp. It was a small birthday gift from Arthur, and he felt guilty for using it for such purposes, but he figured it was his now; so it's his choice, his right to do whatever he wanted with it.

He swallowed hard as he tugged his sleeve down, his ocean blue eyes wandering over the scars from his bony wrist to his forearm, varying from pink to white, ranging from deep to shallow. It was wrong; it was so bloody wrong, what he was doing to himself; but he just couldn't make himself care. He needed it; he needed the physical pain it caused to take his mind away from his overwhelming emotions, from his problems; he needed the blood to keep his attention, his sadistic fascination.

He briefly wondered how his friends would react to this, how Arthur would react to this, since he was partly the reason for it. It's not that he hated him for it, or blamed him for it. Oddly enough, Arthur was the subject of this entire situation; but he was also the best thing in it.

And then suddenly, his eyes grew wet, his vision became blurred, and a small sob formed inside his chest, and he slowly eased his eyes to a close, releasing his tears.

Because . . . because out of so many people on this Earth, why did it have to be him? Why did destiny have to thrust such a massively burdening and such a painful, greedy responsibilty into his hands? He wasn't strong enough; the Gods should've known that. He couldn't bear this weight; he couldn't carry it all alone.

And now he's sitting in the corner of the armory room, holding a knife in his hands, and he's crying so hard that he could barely breathe and he can't stop; because he just wanted to end it all, despite knowing he can't. He wanted to be selfish, just this once, because he had already given enough, and now there's no strength left in him to lose anymore.

But knew he can't leave Arthur to fend for himself. He can't leave Camelot vulnerable to Morgana.

So he pushed those suicidal thoughts out of his head; he sniffed softly and swiped the back of his hand against his cheeks, and then placed the edge of the knife against his wrist, right below a very old scar and above a slightly recent one, about a few weeks old perhaps, he wasn't sure about the exact period of time.

And he dragged the knife across his wrist.

Blood formed instantly from the newly-made cut, ruby red liquid rising above the surface of his skin, slowly trickling down the side of his arm in a thin trail. His features that were previously set in stone, vacant and impassive, are now slightly twisted in pain.

He wasn't worried about anyone seeing him. It was night, which meant nobody would be coming to use the room at this time. It was time for Arthur to go to sleep, and this was his last chore for the day, so he was sure the king wouldn't need him anymore, and he would certainly not be looking for him.

He couldn't have been more wrong.

Because when he began to make the next cut,

A gentle hand, encircling his upper forearm, stopped him; and then slowly steered the knife away from his wrist.

He swallowed, and his wet, red-rimmed ocean blue eyes nervously flickered up to meet another pair of intense blue orbs, which belonged to none other than the king.

His wide, panicked eyes quickly ducked down, staring down at Arthur's boots.

No, no, no, no. He caught him. He saw what he was doing. Oh Gods, how would he ever be able to look him in the eye after what he found of him?

But then, the warmth of two fingers under his chin, lifting his head up to meet them again.

"I guess I always knew you were hiding something, Merlin." Arthur's voice was soft, gentle, comforting even; like when he would talk to those attacked villagers. He never used that tone with Merlin, and it was such a huge emphasis on how wrong this was, what he was doing; on how broken he was. "I just never thought it'd be this." He added, his voice now a sad whisper.

His stomach clenched at the pain in his eyes, the pity in his voice.

But he knew, somehow he knew; there was more than just pity.

There was caring; true, honest caring.

"You never fail to surprise me," He said softly, that same awe in his tone when the first time he witnessed his wisdom. Merlin felt a small smile twitch on his lips at the memory.

The warmth under his chin was gone, now dropping to his shoulders.

"Whatever it is, Merlin. You know you can tell me," Arthur offered earnestly.

Merlin's heart started pounding against his ribcage, his eyes filling again. His tone, the sincere desire to help in his eyes, his words that can only be spoken by a true friend, a brother; he was tempted to tell him, everything, in the hopes that he might accept him for who he was.

But he can't.

And that's why the dull ache in his heart returned; that's why the tears came back. Something clogged his throat, a bitter taste on his tongue, and his breaths came out shuddery. He swallowed, his face crumpling as he stared into his friend's . . . his brother's eyes. "I . . . I c-can't . . . can't t-te . . . " He was cut off by his own sob, unable to talk any further as a stream of hard, gasping sobs wracked his thin body.

And that's okay; because he didn't have to tell him.

Arthur understood, and respected that.

His large, muscular arms wrapped around his bony shoulders and his back, one hand on the back of his head, the other fisted against his shoulder blade, and he tugged his forehead against his collarbone, wordlessly holding him as he cried.

"You'll stop, won't you?" Arthur whispered to him, his embrace strengthening briefly.

And he did stop, after that night.

Author's Note: Hey guys! I hope you enjoyed it, hope it was cute, wasn't too OOC (I mean, come on, that poor boy is so darn young and still carries such a big-ass burden, and how else would Arthur react to his best friend/his baby brother's tears and the fact that he self-harms) and also broke your heart a bit. :D

Thank you for reading, and for your reviews/favourites/alerts in Body Ache (Please check it out if you haven't). You guys are awesome! *goofy Merlin grin*

Anti-flamers zone; you have a bad day, you don't take it out on fanfiction authors who don't deserve your darn wrath. Constructive criticism is welcome though! :D