Pairings/characters: Arthur/Merlin (also Arthur/Guinevere, Lancelot/Guinevere)
Word Count: ~66,000
Warnings: Character Death (not Merlin/Arthur), graphic violence, torture, explicit sexuality, references to incest, non-consensual sex with a minor (possible spoilers - highlight to read), blatant use of favourite fic tropes, angst.
Summary: Canon era AU. Betrayed by the people he loves best, Arthur finds comfort in the arms of his manservant, Merlin. In the wake of Uther's death, the unrest to the east intensifies and shocking secrets are revealed. As a young king struggling to find his place and control a kingdom on the verge of war, Arthur must decide whether to continue his father's crusade against magic users or place his faith in the one person he thought he'd never trust again.
Author's notes: My eternal thanks to my friend and beta otta_ff for her incomparable support from start to finish—from brainstorming, to cheerleading, to necessary prodding, all the way to final editing. I couldn’t have done it without you. You are the very bestest of the best. Huge thank yous also to magnolia822 for pre-reading, to 40_miles for the Brit pick, and to my wonderful artist sallyna_smile for the gorgeous art accompanying this story. I’d also like to thank sapphirescribe, melooza, and icmezzo for both stepping in as my informal cheerleaders and for the excellent company during WCs. Finally, thank you to the_muppet for the amazing job running this challenge.
Artist's notes: Artists notes in Art Masterpost
Story link: STORY MASTERPOST | on AO3
Art link: ART MASTERPOST
Disclaimer: Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made.