Word Count: 708
Summary: "This is no time to play dim, Merlin," he hisses. "We're in a bit of a pinch here, and we could use a stroke of luck," he says pointedly.
No Choice but This
By Elandria Lore
"Well go on," Arthur says, nodding to Merlin, and waving his hands for a bit for emphasis.
Merlin's looks confused and Arthur moves closer and lowers his voice. "Can't you put them all to sleep or something? Lure the guard with the key over here?" at Merlin's crazy-eyed look his voice gets more and more intense. "Blow out the side of the prison wall? Come on, Merlin, there's got to be something."
"I-I don't know what you're talking about," Merlin babbles and Arthur smacks him on the side of the head.
"This is no time to play dim, Merlin," he hisses. "We're in a bit of a pinch here, and we could use a stroke of luck," he says pointedly.
Merlin's face pales a bit, because Arthur clearly knows. Except that Merlin's already wracked his brain for everything he can think of and there's nothing that he can do that would get them both out of there alive.
"There's nothing," he says, and for the first time since they'd been taken captive, Arthur looks defeated.
"Well then," Arthur says, stepping away to slide down the stone wall, his head tilted back like he was already ready to be sacrificed. "You aren't exactly who I imagined would die by my side, but it could be worse." He tries to smile, but Merlin suddenly can't stand it.
Because this is Arthur, this is his friend, and this is the man that he's supposed to protect with his life.
"I can do one thing," he says, stepping in front of Arthur, and then crouching down.
"Yeah?" Arthur says, raising an interested eyebrow.
Merlin scoots forward until he's right up close to Arthur, his knees hard on the stone floor as he straddles Arthur's hips.
He's not quite sure what Arthur thinks he's about to do, but Arthur's trust is a bit staggering, because he's just looking up at him with clear blue eyes, waiting as Merlin takes Arthur's face in his hands.
He's never spelltouched before, but the moment the words start coming out of his mouth, he can see why it's such a disconcerting thing to do. His power is suddenly amplified by the feel of Arthur's strength against him, but that's not the strangest thing.
The strangest thing is that he doesn't just feel Arthur's strength, he feels his everything. For a minute it's like he's drowning in faith and loyalty and courage and everything else that makes Arthur who he is. He can feel Arthur's heart beating, and his lungs filling with air and he's almost dizzy with it when he breathes in the smell of leather and sweat and, unaccountably, cloves.
"Merlin," Arthur says, and Merlin doesn't so much hear it as feel it, the vibrations in the air as his name passes through Arthur's lips.
Merlin only realizes then that he's closed his eyes, and when he opens them, he gets another rush: Arthur's eyes glowing like the blue of new magic that's been unleashed and his face flushed with heat. Which, Merlin realizes a moment later, is because Merlin is hard and grinding himself against Arthur, wild and uncontrollable, and words are still coming out of Merlin's mouth when he kisses him.
Arthur surges up into him like a bolt of lightening moving inexplicably from ground to sky, his mouth accepting Merlin's fierce kiss, his hands shoving their way under Merlin's clothes.
Arthur is hard and strong and everything perfect, like a song or a sunset that no one can keep, and Merlin wants to weep with the frustration of having this and losing it within moments.
"I'm sorry," he whispers against Arthur's throat, his hands clutching at Arthur's solid body because he wants so much to be able to hold on. "I'm so sorry."
"Merlin," Arthur says breathlessly through swollen red lips.
But the spell's already working, and Merlin is sinking to the floor, Arthur's image now only an illusion.
Merlin curls up against the wall, the memory of Arthur on his lips as he tries to forget the last spike of betrayal that he'd felt through his brief link with Arthur.
Arthur would eventually understand.
Merlin could only save one of them.
It had never been a question which one it would be.