Lies burn his throat, every smile a deception.
He hides beneath a clumsy fool's facade; no one sees the real Merlin, breaking under the weight of a thousand decisions, the loathing he feels for every life he's taken, the endless regrets, the iron prison of expectations.
Sometimes he can't stand it, wants to tear his flesh open and let all the horror out, cleanse himself in his own blood. Hopes the pain would be enough to make him somehow innocent again.
But it's not. He's not.
When destiny demanded sacrifice, Merlin thought it his salvation. Instead, it was his doom.