Author's Note: Finally! I got to write something, and I must say, Laree England's stories really inspired me to write. Go check her profile out! If you're a hardcore extreme Merthur bromance fan like I am, she's the perfect author for it!
So, Uther may be a bit OOC and he's quite abusive, so if you really, really like the guy, this one's not for you. And there's extreme bromance. Protective and caring! Arthur and comforting!Merlin later on. And also, as all my stories are, this one isn't beta'd, so if you see any mistakes then I'm sorry about that! I've corrected the ones I could find though,
Thanks to all of you who have tagged and reviewed my previous stories, or at least simply read them!
I'll Fight For You
Silence filled between the walls of the prince's royal chambers, as it had been so ever since the moment Merlin entered the room in the morning. Other than a few orders here and there, Arthur remained strangely silent throughout the entire day. There were no witty remarks or retorts exchanged between them, nor any mocking insults were hurled at one another. Arthur didn't make even a single comment on Merlin's incompetence when he burst through the door this morning without even requesting for permission as well as arriving a good ten minutes late. And he did not say a simple word about his manservant's clumsiness. He wouldn't even roll his eyes at him or smirk in amusement when he saw him trip multiple times in only an hour. Merlin even tried to fall deliberately, right into his master.
And he didn't even call him an idiot for it.
No laughters or jokes were shared at the expense of each other's dignity. In fact, no laughters or jokes were shared at all. Merlin had tried to kid around with him in order to cheer him up but only received his depressing silence in response.
And frankly, he was getting quite worried about his friend. He was sad, the warlock could see that much. But what could it be that had him so upset? How long could it have been bothering him? He did seem fine yesterday though.
He searched through his memories, trying to recall if he saw anything happen or knew anything that could cause Arthur to react in such a way.
Only to come up empty.
It wasn't just him he was like this with. Where he would often make fun of Merlin during training sessions or just completely fool around with his knights, he mostly stayed quiet there as well. And as much as it pained him to admit, he actually missed Arthur's prattishness. Merlin didn't know what was wrong with his prince, and he hated it because not knowing why someone he cared about wasn't alright made him restless. He wanted to talk to him, to make him feel better about whatever it was that had him so aggrieved but if he knew Arthur, he would most likely shut down rather than spill his problems. It was times like these when he hated Uther for ingraining the misconception that sharing emotions are weak into his friend's mind.
Helplessness weighed heavily on him. He couldn't help Arthur if he didn't know what was wrong with him, and he knew that asking him would be absolutely pointless because he's not going to tell him anything, unless it was of his own accord.
Then he remembered Gaius, wanting to inform him about something, his desperate voice chasing him out the door while he babbled in response about how I'm already so late and you can tell me later and Arthur's gonna kill me. Gods! He was in such a rush back then that the thought never even came to mind that it could be something extremely important. Now he's regretting not sacrificing a few precious moments to listen to his guardian's warning.
Night fell upon the beautiful city of Camelot, stars glowing marvellously on the dark sky. It was now dinner time for the royals in their chambers. But tonight, Uther called for his son's presence, and unable to refuse to the king, Arthur agreed to dine with him and Morgana.
Merlin would've thought it better if Uther decided to eat alone tonight, considering the way he was practically shaking with fury, his breaths roaring as his hands curled into a whitening fist on the table, his muscles tight and tensed as if ready to attack anyone who even moved irritatingly. He figured it must have something to do with what Arthur's been distressed about all day. What it was, he'll probably never find out. But he had a vivid feeling that it was linked with it.
"Sire?" Morgana's soft voice filtered in his ears and he looked up to see her staring worriedly at her king.
"I'm alright," Uther replied automatically, even though he didn't look so.
Morgana looked unconvinced, no doubt, but she just nodded and said nothing.
After that, all voices were absent except for the light sounds of clinking spoons and the barely audible noises of chewing.
Then it was broken.
"You!" Uther's voice boomed out, and Merlin was startled out of his reverie, jumping slightly at the sudden voice as his eyes whipped up at the king. His eyes fell on the goblet being outstretched at him, motioning him to fill it up.
Merlin hesitated for a few long seconds, just standing there and staring at the king's vacant cup. He would be lying if he said that he wasn't apprehensive. Who in their right mind wouldn't be when he was like . . . that? So much anger burning in his dark eyes, immense bitterness twisting his cruel features.
And there he was just a few minutes ago, futilely hoping against hope that he wouldn't be forced to ever go anywhere near him.
But fate had always been merciless towards him.
Apparently he faltered for a bit too long because suddenly, the king was even more furious and impatient. "What the bloody hell are you standing there for!?" Uther bellowed irately at him.
Merlin flinched violently, his heart pounding anxiously as he met Uther's crude glare, while at the same time, catching Arthur's glance at him in his peripheral vision. He hastily rushed to the table, his grasp sweaty on the flagon's handle as he guided his trembling hands towards the king's goblet, the spout of the container hovering above it. He willed his appendages to quit shaking because they were causing him difficulties in aiming and his clammy palms were already bad enough, adding in the heavy weight of the full jug. He couldn't allow himself to let go of it though because that would, no doubt, infuriate Uther even more if possible. Something told him that the consequences of mistake would be exaggerated this time, and he always knew to trust his intuition.
But then . . .
He didn't know how it happened. Maybe it was the immense shaking as well as the massive weight of the flagon that somehow caused him to drop it, or maybe his sweaty hands made it slip off.
But the next thing he knew, he was watching the jug fall.
Going down and down and down.
Until it collided hard with the table top, emitting a loud clang from the metallic material while, at the same time, a thud from the table. Water spilled all over while wetting the king's food along the way, stupefying everyone into astounded silence and stillness. No more clinking of spoons. No more noises of chewing.
Just . . . nothing.
Except that one sound.
And the water dripped from the edge of the table, splatting lazily onto the king's clothes.
Merlin's eyes were wide as he stared at the fallen jug in shock.
His shock quickly transformed into fear as his blue eyes drifted to the king, watching him stand up slowly - dangerously. His features contorted into an enraged snarl, his nostrils flaring and his eyes darkening even more with fury as he stared down his nose at the servant. Merlin thought he looked like a different man right now.
A man who was even more cruel and acrid, filled with a lot more hatred and bitterness than he was normally was. It terrified him to no end to see such a man as his king; someone who's capable of holding so much loathing in his heart.
In the corner of his eyes, he could see Arthur and Morgana stand up as well, slow and cautious.
"Father," Arthur said hesitantly, glancing almost frantically towards his servant, feeling a rush of protectiveness surge through his body when he saw the fear on his expression. His eyes were large, his throat bobbing shakily, his hands still trembling. He wouldn't blame him because the look on his father's eyes could've made anyone want to flee far, far away from Camelot. He was afraid as well, truth be told. But he wasn't exactly afraid for himself.
He was afraid for Merlin.
"You filthy piece of scum," he snarled maliciously, his low voice vitriolic and seething.
The two other nobles currently occupying the room seemed appalled at the king's use of such language. Though Arthur was able to recover from it quick enough to attempt interrupting his father, to break him away from releasing his anger out on his poor manservant. "Father, calm down, please. I'm sure he did not mean to. It was simply an accident," Arthur reasoned, and if his voice was slightly desperate and pleading, nobody said a word.
But Uther either ignored him or didn't hear him, deafened by his rage. "You worthless peasant!" He yelled wrathfully, his tone rising with each word.
"I . . . I-I apologize sincerely, sire," Merlin stammered bashfully, his head bowed down, feeling his knees weakening. He was surprised that he could even form words at all, considering the consuming terror he was feeling that made his heart hammer violently against his sternum, his ears filled with his own wild heartbeats. It made his breaths emerge in heavy, rapid pants; made his stomach hurt and sickened with anxiety.
Uther was fuming by now. Apparently, Merlin didn't understand the full extent of his rage as he attempted to apologize to the king once more.
But he found out just that when the king's fingers curled into a hard stone, his knuckles whitened from being clenched so tightly, fist raising beside his own head and pulling back.
And before anyone's minds could catch up with his intentions, the damage was already done.
Because the next minute left Merlin lying curled up on the floor, his vision filling with the king's expensive leather boots. His prominent cheekbone throbbed mercilessly, an enormous, livid bruise supposedly forming there already. His head was spinning and the right side of it aching, his nose releasing driblets of ruby red blood. He probably must have slammed his nose into the ground. Probably landed on his wrist as well and twisted his ankle along the way, because they were hurting too.
His good hand shakily raised to his face, wincing sharply as the pain stung his cheek.
Arthur was stunned as he watched his manservant fall down to the floor from the impact of his father's hard, calloused fist.
Stunned wasn't even the right word, actually. Arthur was horrified. Because even though his father held the narrow-minded belief that the nobles had the authority to do as they wished to people who were of lower status than themselves, he never abused that so-called right.
And to see him do so had left him flabbergasted.
But that wasn't even the worst part.
The worst part was that he hurt Merlin. That he abused that power on Merlin.
That he abused Merlin. His Merlin.
And that, according to him, was just unacceptable.
Looking over to the young woman he considered his sister, he could see that she felt the same. Her glaring eyes were angry as she stared at him, her fists clenched at her sides.
Uther raised his leg, as if to kick the small, fetal form lying in front of him. But before he could so, his son's furious voice erupted in his ears.
"Get away from him!" Arthur snarled angrily, coming to stand between his father and the young boy as some kind of bodily protective shield.
"H-How dare you?" Uther growled, glaring at his son angrily.
Arthur didn't miss the slight stumble in his words. And realized, after critically scrutinizing his father with a closer look, that he was drunk.
The glassy eyes, the slight swaying of his feet, the inordinary behaviour. It made sense. His father would never get so ballistic about something as simple as this, not unless he was drunk and furious about something else. Those two never mixed well with him.
"You're drunk," Arthur vocalized, his tone still angry. Drunk or not, his father had still hit Merlin.
Hit Merlin. The thought just sounded so wrong, because how could anyone with a heart have the stomach to hurt Merlin?
Sweet, loyal, innocent Merlin. His best friend. That same clumsy, brave idiot who had once walked into his life out of nowhere and changed his world forever. Changed his perception. Changed him. The only person who ever understood him and his problems and accepted his vulnerabilities and imperfections without even judging him once. Someone who saw him as a person, a human being. Saw him for him. Saw him as Arthur. Not Prince Arthur, but just Arthur.
He was the obnoxious and irritating younger sibling he never had but always wanted as a child. His baby brother. His other half that made him whole. His reason to live, to breathe, to smile and laugh and just be okay. The cure to his loneliness. The only light that had managed to break through the darkness once surrounding his heart.
All his life, Arthur had felt as if there was something was missing. There was a kind of emptiness, plaguing one half of his heart, his soul. He thought it was his mother.
But even though he loved her very dearly and wished every day that she was alive; wished that he could know her, hold her; wished that he could just be with her, that he could feel the precious love that only a mother could give.
It wasn't her.
It was Merlin.
It was always Merlin.