And we're done! This will be my last fill for hurt/comfort bingo round 6, and will get me a third bingo line, and also the Serial Pleasures achievement (all fills in a bingo are for TV series), and also an All The Worlds achievement (all fill in a bingo are for a different fandom). With less than sixteen hours still to go before the round closes, talk about last minute!
Pairing/characters: Merlin, Arthur
Disclaimer: Not mine. BBC and Shine own them.
Word count: approx 708
Summary: The most terrifying thing in the world was nothing.
AN: Unbetad due to lack of time before the round 6 deadline. Fills the hc_bingo ‘sensory deprivation’ square on my hurt/comfort bingo card.
fic on AO3
The most terrifying thing in the world was nothing.
Merlin knew that now. Dragons, sorcerers, armies; they could all be fought and overcome. Not this.
He no longer had any idea how long he had been here. Time was meaningless, played tricks on him. It felt like forever.
He was sure his eyes were open but he was surrounded by blackness so deep it seemed to suffocate him. There was no light, and no sound. No matter how much he tried to move he couldn’t hear himself, not even the sound of his own breathing. There was simply nothing.
It was Morgana, he was sure of that. He remembered her putting something around his neck, he remembered her laughing. After that...
He couldn’t move. Or maybe he could. Maybe he was moving, and he just couldn’t feel it. He thought about clenching his fist, pulling on the chains that had held him before. There was no sensation of pressure, or pain. He wondered what was worse; not being able to move at all, or moving and being utterly unaware of it.
Merlin tried to remain calm at first. To think. It was magic, obviously. Morgana had done something to him. There had been an amulet, he remembered. It had been glowing. That was never a good sign.
At first he had assumed it was simply dark. He had tried to cast a simple spell of light, but though he was sure he had spoke out loud, there was no sound, and no resulting light. He tried a nonverbal spell instead. If Morgana had done something to take his voice, there were ways around that. But again, nothing happened.
That was when he had begun to realise that it wasn’t just sight and sound. His last awareness had been of a dirty, damp cell, but now he couldn’t smell the straw or the dirt or the stale urine that had been in a corner too close for comfort. He had no sensation of the world around him. No sensation of himself.
That was when he started to panic.
Arthur would come for him, surely? Arthur would save him.
He latched onto that thought, let it circle round and round in his head. Arthur would save him.
Hours passed. Days. He didn’t know, couldn’t tell. He didn’t feel hungry or thirsty. If he had, at least that would have meant he felt something.
Was Morgana watching him? Was she laughing? Was he still in the cell, or was he somewhere else?
Was anyone coming for him? Did anyone know where he was? He couldn’t remember.
Was he dead?
The thought lodged itself in his mind. Surely it couldn’t be that? This wasn’t death. Or maybe it was. A living death, a death without end.
Merlin started to scream.
The silence closed in around him. He knew he was screaming, but there was no sound. He knew his throat should be raw but there was no pain.
There was nothin-
Light and sound and pain crashed in on him and he screamed again until something soft pressed against his mouth.
“Merlin! It’s me.”
The light was too bright and his eyes spasmed closed but he knew that voice.
He heard chinking of metal and felt warm hands removing cold, hard chains from around his wrists.
“The amulet,” he said, and it felt like he was coughing up razors.
“It’s gone. I destroyed it. Merlin, are you all right? What was it doing to you?”
He forced his eyes open, suddenly aware that his face was wet. He didn’t know when he had started crying.
Arthur was there, Arthur had come for him.
It was over.
Merlin reached for Arthur and pulled him close and burrowed his face against Arthur’s chest.
The chain mail was hard and sharp and threatened to break skin but Arthur was here and he was warm and he could see him, hear him, touch him. Merlin knew he would regret this later, but he needed it. Needed Arthur.
Arthur’s arms tentatively wrapped around him, and a hand patted his shoulder.
“It’s all right. It’s over.”
Merlin choked back a sob, and allowed the relief to flow through him at the simple sensation of being held.