“We know they'll attack as soon as the snow recedes. But we don't know where. We need you to get it out of him, Sir.”
Arthur steps closer to the small, one-way window. The man behind the door doesn't look like a powerful sorcerer. He's young and skinny. His hair is too long. And he's curled up on the bed as if he's trying to vanish, bound hands pressed against his chest.
“How long has he been in there?”
Three weeks without magic, probably without any human contact at all. He must be going out of his mind.
“I see what I can do.”
Dismissing the guard with a nod, Arthur takes a deep breath and opens the door. The prisoner jerks up, eyes turning wide when he sees Arthur, and an almost hysterical laugh is torn out of him. Shaking his head as if in denial, he buries his face in his hands. His breaths come in harsh, little gasps.
Arthur crosses the room and sits down next to him.
“What's your name?”
The man lets out a hollow sound. “Merlin,” he says, not looking up. “My name is Merlin.”
When Arthur settles a hand on his shoulder—a simple touch—Merlin shudders and grows tense, fighting the urge to lean in.
“I need you to tell me about the upcoming attack.”
“Why?” He spits the word out. “So you can destroy every last one of us?”
“So that I can protect innocent lives.”
Arthur slides his fingers along the nape of Merlin's neck, drawing a tortured sound, and it's almost too easy—pulling him close, burying his nose in Merlin's dark hair. Arthur strokes down his spine, and Merlin whimpers when he slips a hand beneath his shirt, but he doesn't stop him. Not when Arthur kisses his jaw. Not when he pushes Merlin back and stretches him out on the bed, takes off his clothes.
“I—I won't tell you,” Merlin insists when Arthur licks along the soft skin over his hipbone, when he lets his fingers travel up Merlin's thighs, guiding them open and leaving him exposed and vulnerable. “I won't betray them—“
Well, Merlin may claim that he's not a traitor, but his body clearly is, arching under Arthur's touch, needy and wanton and desperate. Arthur knows it's not fair. Cut off from his magic, Merlin's yearning for any kind of connection.
“Let me help you,” he murmurs, coaxing and teasing Merlin until he's hard and leaking, head thrown back and mouth open as if he's going under, as if he's drowning. “I can make the pain go away.”
“No,” Merlin begs and then bucks his hips when Arthur draws back. “No! Please. I need... I need.”
“Shhh. I know.” Arthur strokes over Merlin's stomach and chest, caressing the hard points of his nipples and palming his cock before he takes it in a firm grasp. He sets a steady pace, and soon enough Merlin is panting in rhythm with Arthur's hand.
“You're doing so well. You can tell me. I won't hurt them.”
Merlin is crying now. “You—You promise?”
Arthur presses a kiss into the crook of Merlin's leg. Rubs one finger over the soft skin behind his sack. “You have my word.”
The sound Merlin makes when Arthur slicks his fingers and slides them over his hole is heart-breaking.
“Oh god, please. Please.”
Arthur presses a tip against Merlin's tight opening. “Where will they attack?”
“Tell me, Merlin.” Arthur keeps circling his finger, neither pulling back nor pushing in. “You have to tell me.”
Merlin's chest is heaving, broken sobs falling from his lips. “You can't—can't stop them. Your leader—they'll know who it is. And they'll gut him.”
Arthur smiles. “Thank you.”
He pushes two fingers in, thrusting up sharply, and Merlin cries out, but Arthur knows he's too far gone. It won't be enough. Fumbling his trousers open, he kneels between Merlin's legs. With his pupils dark and skin covered in sweat, Merlin is so beautiful it makes Arthur's heart ache.
When he pushes Merlin's knees back, his eyes find Arthur's. He looks breathless and scared, but all he whispers is, “Please.”
Arthur nods. Takes his cock in hand and then sinks in deep. Their foreheads pressed together, he drinks up every one of Merlin's moans, lets him bite at his lips and claws at his back. He moves, dazed by the glory of being joined like this, of Merlin under him—tight and hot and perfect.
When he starts murmuring the sacred words—words that once before have bound them together—he can feel Merlin tense, can feel him panic, but he can't stop now. Opening Merlin up on his cock, he stitches the wound in Merlin's soul that has been left to fester for far too long.
Merlin comes with a silent scream, and Arthur follows, cradling Merlin's face in his hands and pressing kisses against his cheeks.
He frees Merlin's hands after, and the magic flares up like lightning, pushing Arthur back and down from the bed.
“You swore an oath,” Arthur says as he gets to his feet. “To never use your magic against me or mine for a hundred generations.”
Merlin stares at him uncomprehendingly.
“Don't you remember?” Arthur asks, throat closing up.
And Merlin laughs. He looks half-crazed, close to destruction. “They came and went an eternity ago.”
Arthur takes Merlin's hand then, puts it right over his heart. “So I'm not your king any longer? Not your friend?”
Merlin's face twists. His hands curl into claws. His knees give out, and he's clutching at Arthur's shirt now as he slides to the floor, forehead pressing against the flat of Arthur's stomach.
“I didn't come to destroy, Merlin,” Arthur says, a gentle hand on Merlin's head. “I came to unite what's been torn apart.”
Merlin lets out a sob, clinging to Arthur like he will fly apart if he lets go. “When Albion's need is greatest—“
“I'm here now, Merlin,” Arthur says. “You can rest for a while.”