so there my friend

you're in the deep end

just hanging on to hope by a loose thread

Arthur's head hurt. He'd been up all night, lying awake, staring blankly at his ceiling, just thinking...and thinking...and thinking...and thinking...

There must be a way out of this. There must be. There had to be. Arthur would not let this happen, he would not, not if it was the last thing he ever did, not if Uther disowned him, not even if he had to break Merlin out himself. Arthur couldn't bare to sit around and watch this happen. No. He just couldn't.

Merlin didn't deserve this. He could only just recognise when he was actually using magic - how could he be expected to be able to completely control it? Arthur couldn't understand how Uther could sleep at night after what he had done... Arthur knew he certainly couldn't. He should have done more to stop this from happening, should have stood up to Uther, for once, should have...would have...could

No. That wasn't good enough. He was simply making excuses, and there was no room for excuses; not when Merlin was locked up alone in the dungeons right this second, cold, quiet, too young to understand what was going to happen to him in the morning. Arthur couldn't lay still. Had it always been this hot in his chambers? He rolled over, then changed his mind and rolled back, limbs strewn out half over the covers. He couldn't get comfortable; but then... he didn't want to get comfortable. How could he sleep, here, in his warm chambers with a mattress, plush pillows and as many blankets and sheets as he could want...when Merlin- Merlin...

Arthur groaned and hauled himself out of his bed, dragging a single thin sheet with him - then walked stiffly to a cold corner of his room and dropped down on the stone floor, laying the skinny sheet over himself the best he could. His window was still open and it brought in the night air on it's cold breeze, prickling goose-bumps into life along his arms. Arthur gritted his teeth and shifted his weight, hip bones already protesting where they dug into the cold floor. Stop complaining. This is how Merlin would be sleeping tonight, and so, Arthur refused to be any better off.

The hours passed painstakingly slow. Arthur ached all over like he'd never felt before, broad shoulders crying out in jagged pain, neck creaking and clicking and his entire side from his hip to his ankle hurting which ever way he laid. Merlin. Just think of Merlin. But then, that was just the problem.

Uther must be blind, Arthur decided. Or mad. Or- or something. He must be - no one in their right mind would ever sentence a child to death for something like this, something they could barely control. Another wave of guilt and dread washed over Arthur as he reminded himself yet again about what was to happen in the morning, what was going to happen because he, Arthur, didn't have the courage to stop it, and was simply laying around thinking about it rather than doing something.

This was absurd. Arthur jumped up, his bones aching and eyes feeling the strain of a sleepless night - but he ignored the protests from his body and started pacing nervously, bare feet padding on the floor. Arthur couldn't sleep. So he would find a way to be useful; he was going to break Merlin out of that dungeon if it was the last thing he did.

His brain whirred into action, scrambling furiously for a solution as his long, calloused fingers reached up to run through his blond hair. Now, having been accidentally revealed as a sorcerer, Merlin would be locked in the highest security cell, flanked by four to five guards at any one time. God, he wanted to scream. Merlin deserved none of this. He was just a boy, a boy, he didn't have a proper hold on his magic yet, he wouldn't have for a few more years - he couldn't die now, he couldn't, he was only seven years old, for god's sake! He would never reach his next birthday, never experience the full potential of his magic, never know what it truly felt like to have to it humming through his veins... he would never grow up to do all that he was supposed to; the Great and Powerful Warlock Emrys, and everything he was destined to become. It never failed to surprise Arthur when he used to look over at the little raven-haired boy playing in the grass beside him, or on the steps to the courtyard and remember that Arthur's own destiny couldn't even compare to the weight on Merlin's shoulders. A weight he didn't even know he had - and wouldn't know, ever, if Arthur didn't do something. Soon. He screwed his eyes tight and pushed those thoughts to the furthest point in his mind; he couldn't afford to dwell on tomorrow, and what it would bring - he couldn't afford to get emotional and lose his focus, he had to keep set on now, tonight, not get caught up in his thoughts. Thinking of any else would ruin any slim chance he had of saving Merlin.

He stopped pacing and walked swiftly over to his closet, fishing out a white tunic and his brown leathery jacket, pulling them on hastily. He had to do this. He grabbed his boots and yanked them on, then, on second thoughts, grabbed his belt and sword on his way out of his chambers. He had to.

There was no way he was going to let Merlin down.