Lancelot closed his eyes and turned away from the courtyard he knew would soon be his tomb. If he ran his fingers through his hair then perhaps he could imagine it was Elyan’s familiar palm pressing down over his growing curls. If he allowed his back to brush against the wall then perhaps he would be able to believe that Elyan was holding him their with his body. If opened his eyes then perhaps he would see Elyan leaning against the bars of his cell, mouth hard.
‘You shouldn’t have done that, Lance.’
Drawing close, Lancelot’s fingers curled around the bars. ‘How could I not?’
‘Because you were dying.’ Elyan’s body relented, reaching out to graze against Lancelot’s knuckles with his fingers. ‘You had other things to worry about.’
‘I would have died every day without you,’ whispered Lancelot. ‘The fire you ignite within in me is stronger than any pyre. Without it, I’m nothing.’
‘You’re not nothing, Lancelot. You know that.’ Elyan’s fingers had tightened around his hands. ‘You have to tell them the truth.’
‘And watch them drag you away instead? I think not.’
Elyan wrenched his hands away to run them over his head as he began to pace up and down. What he had bribed the guards with to give them ten minutes alone, Lancelot had no idea. When he rested his hands on his head, Elyan’s shirt rode up and revealed the scars that had come from his time as a wanderer, from his brief time with Lancelot before Cenred had captured him. Lancelot had traced each of them like letters of an alphabet he was learning to read, drawing meaning from the shapes and embedding them in his memory. Whenever he did so, Elyan had a habit of burying his face in Lancelot’s neck, as if he were afraid to meet Lancelot’s eye. As if he were afraid that Lancelot would see the residue of the pain in his irises.
‘I’m the brother of the future Queen of Camelot,’ he finally said. ‘There would be leniency.’
Even as he said it, he didn’t sound convinced.
‘But you have a life here, El.’
‘And you don’t?’ Elyan fired back.
‘Not in the same way. You have Gwen, Leon, the others...’
‘What about Merlin?’
Lancelot averted his gaze. Merlin had looked like he had been struggling to breathe when Lancelot had been arrested and hadn’t visited the knight yet. Lancelot had a strong suspicion that there would be some kind of midnight visit. ‘Merlin has his own life. He’s managed without me in it before, I’m sure he can do it again.’
Elyan was back on the other side of the door, forehead pressed against the bars. ‘Why did you say it was you?’ he breathed.
‘I didn’t want to see you in any more pain.’
‘Lance...I may not be the one they tie to the stake, but if they do then it will kill me as much as if I were.’
from my tentatively titled elyancelot wip i'll keep the pain in my locket