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Living in Grey

From the last Merlin Games. I never got around to posting it for some reason.

Team: Team Historical
Category: Short Fic
Your user name: J_Corrosion
Title: Living in Grey
Pairing(s): Lancelot/Gwaine
Rating: R
Warnings: War, violence, reference to genocide, heavy angst
Word Count: 2,569
Summary: Second World War: Berlin. Fragments held together by love, surrounded by hatred.
Notes: I apologise for the historical inaccuracies and the slightly jumpy nature of this story time wise. It is set roughly between 1936/37 and 1942. The fragmentation I suppose also represents how I view the Second World War and the holocaust, like the madness it is.
Prompt and Prompt ID: 262 "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." ~Leon Trotsky




---


“I won’t let them take you” Gwaine whispered finally, breaking a long, brooding silence. They lay together on a mattress in a pitch black hidden room, it may not have been cosy but it felt safe for now and they had each other at the very least.
Gwaine was surprised by the soft chuckle he felt against his chest, he wished desperately that he could see his lover’s face, imagining wasn’t quite enough.
“You do realise that they are after you too? Not just me” Lancelot’s voice was surprisingly calm, though Gwaine supposed that little more could happen to them that could make the despair any deeper.
“Well, they’re going to have to go through me to get to you” he felt Lancelot shift until their noses were touching and he could feel a smile pressing against him. It was surreal. Hiding in the city they were born from the government that were supposed to protect them; Lancelot had lost everything but still managed to smile for him. He felt his own mouth quirk into a smile. They might as well be dead if they couldn’t even find their own personalities. Lancelot kissed him, soft but with a manic edge.
“We must be at the top of the wanted list, a Jew and a dissident, both homosexual and kissing in the dark” Gwaine couldn’t stifle a giggle and threw his hand over his mouth instinctively.
“It’s a shame you’re a painter and not a poet” he leaned blindly towards Lancelot and found his lips once again; they were warm and reminded him of all that he had to lose. He fought the rising panic; it wouldn’t do him any good to break down now, not when they needed to stay alive.
“Maybe after this is over, I’ll paint us together” Lancelot leant his head against Gwaine’s chest, Gwaine could feel the burst of energy leaving his lover as the situation once again seeped into their skin.
“Once this is over” Gwaine muttered and wrapped his arms tighter around Lancelot.


---



Gwaine sighed and fidgeted awkwardly, he never liked being at these events but his editor had pushed the subject and made him go anyway. He couldn’t normally complain, he knew that he got far freer a reign than any other journalist to cover what he liked, so long as once in a while he covered boring arts events where everyone showed up just to pat each other the back. Still, this one seemed different from the others; for starters, the art was rather interesting.

He paused as he heard two women clucking excitedly at each other “And I heard that the young man might be a Jew!” she almost whispered, the other woman’s eyes widened, “How revolutionary of them”. Gwaine rolled his eyes and stopped himself from explaining how ridiculous both them and all the horrific laws were, instead he held his tongue and continued taking notes about the paintings around him. He found that he really enjoyed them, they were dark and perhaps somewhat disturbing, but they had a wonderful sense of humour that made him smile.
He could imagine the mind that created these pieces, twisted, of that was no doubt but there was something else there, a sort of heroism he supposed. The art was strong and seemed to have a theme of vanquishing true evil, with gruesome images mixed among some of valiant soldiers fighting demons and others sarcastic with a vague nod to corrupt governments. Not really surprising of a Jew of Berlin with such anti-Semitic legislation and animosity in place, still, the artist must have been a brave man to exhibit these paintings in such public forum.

He heard a commotion by the door and turned, gathering that the artist had finally arrived, he mumbled something about prima donna artists and having to be the stars of their own shows but stopped dead when he saw him.
It felt like all the cliques from all those romance novels he refused to read, everything that his cynical brain told him didn’t exist. The artist was unnecessarily attractive, sleek and strong but also delicate looking at the same time. He wondered how the artist would look thrown onto his bed, his long hair mussed and eyes full of lust. His heart leapt into his throat as the dark haired, dark eyed man’s eyes caught his own and smiled a devastating smile that Gwaine thought was destroying him from the inside. He bit back a moan and made his way towards the artist to get some quotes for his article, and nothing more he told himself unconvincingly.

The artist was already playing with him, he noticed, despite being in deep conversation with one of the deplorable women; his eyes were locked onto Gwaine’s. He was daring him to try something. Gwaine blew out a breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding, this man was really something.

Before he could even reach the artist, he had excused himself from his conversation and approached him, “I suppose you are from one of those magazines that find fault with everything but its own words” his voice was smooth and charming and once again daring him. Well, Gwaine was never known to back down from a challenge and he wasn’t about to start now.
Gwaine grinned and shook the artist’s outstretched hand, “And you must be one of those artists that think everything he does is poetry?” The artists grin only got wider as his hand lingered on his own for a second too long.
“Touché” he laughed, the sound twisting very pleasantly at his insides, “But you can call me Lancelot.”




---



(before the darkness, there was pain)


The bang on the door awoke Gwaine from his troubled slumber; wearily he lifted himself from his desk and went to see what the racket was about. Opening the door he found himself confronted by Lancelot’s shaking and distressed form and felt his heart freeze in chest and then plummet at the heart breaking expression on the other man’s face. He looked terrible, as if the weight of the world that had been on his shoulders for some time now, had finally crashed down upon him.
Without giving him a chance to be overly polite and ask to come in as he always did, Gwaine grabbed Lancelot’s arm and without checking to see if any of his neighbours had noticed, pulled him into the flat. He did his very best to avoid looking or touching the yellow star of David tied around the other man’s arm like a death sentence. It made the bile rise in his throat at every glimpse of the monstrous thing.

The dazed man opened his mouth to speak but only a pained, strangled sound escaped his throat, though his eyes reached out trying to convey his meaning instead.
“Lancelot” he muttered and pulled the distraught man into a hug, he could only guess at what had happened, but the things that had been happening, things that had been increasing in frequency since the rise of the Chancellor, meant that it was something horrific.
And just like that, Gwaine felt Lancelot reach breaking point. With his head buried into Gwaine’s shoulder he shook uncontrollably and collapsed to his knees, taking the other man with him. How long they stayed like that, Gwaine wasn’t sure, it felt to him as if they were trapped in time, in a moment that would last forever. He’d wanted Lancelot for some time now, but not like this. Not with so much pain and despair.
“They’re gone” Lancelot’s voice sounded hoarse and un-used, “All of my family, gone”.
Gwaine sighed and held Lancelot even tighter to him, rumours and snippets of information had been circulating as to where people were being taken to and all of them were, from what he had heard, were horrific.
There was nothing he could say, nothing he do to make this any better so they clutched at each other until their bodies had not another tear left to cry.


---



“Lancelot, we can leave, get away from Germany” they were both frantic and pacing manically around Gwaine’s small apartment, they didn’t know what else to do with themselves. “My friends in the resistance can smuggle us out of the city and out of the country, they have a plane!” Gwaine felt dizzy, like the situation was finally almost out of his control.
“Gwaine, I can’t” Lancelot stopped and stared at him, his hands shaking, “I can’t leave my family, they need me”. Gwaine opened his mouth to respond, to argue that the only way to survive was to get out of Berlin at the very least. But Lancelot was right, Gwaine may not have any family left but Lancelot did and Gwaine understood that he needed to protect them, in the same way that he had to protect Lancelot. Love was worth risking death over.
“Then I’m staying with you” he meant every word more than he could ever explain. Once upon a time love was an impossible state, now, he doesn’t know where he would be without it.
Lancelot grabbed his hands, “No! You can’t risk your life for me” his deep brown eyes pained and full of turmoil. He knew the feeling.
“I can and I will. You know how stubborn I am” Lancelot paused and stared deeply into his eyes.
“I love you” he said eventually, it seemed he realised that Gwaine would never back down and that arguing would only waste energy they didn’t have.
“I love you too” a moment like this was supposed to be so very happy, but love under Hitler could be nothing other than bittersweet.



---


He was screaming. The terror and rage than engulfed him this very moment was indescribable. The two men holding him back and clamping his mouth shut with strong hands were his friends, they were the resistance. But right now they were protecting him from himself.
Gwaine railed and fought as he watched an SS soldier kick his lover viciously in the ribs. Lancelot crumpled like paper, blood spluttering out of his mouth as he hit the floor. But Lancelot was brave, stupid and brave as he fought his way defiantly back to his feet, to the amusement of the soldiers.
He bit at the hands until blood was pouring down his throat, but still the hands clamped tighter than steel. A metal pole wielded by one of the soldiers was smashed against Lancelot’s head until collapsed bonelessly to the floor. The fight was over quickly, he hadn’t stood a chance. A weak, half starved painter against three laughing member of Hitler’s militia, he was lucky not to be dead. Or not so lucky if the rumours were to be believed. Gwaine couldn’t think about that, in fact, he couldn’t think about anything at all.
He was pinned by two friends against a wall, out of sight of the soldiers but not out of sight enough that he didn’t have to watch his lover be dragged away to a fate worse than death.
He slumped in their arms. This was surely the end of him now.

---



He had been lying in the strange bed for a long time now; this was the only thing he was sure of. Time was irrelevant.
His hunger had burnt away, like his remaining energy, until all he could do was stare blankly into the darkness and imagine the horrors that Lancelot must be facing, if he was even still alive. No, he wouldn’t allow himself to even think about that possibility. Lancelot had to be alive, it was selfish, but he needed him to be alive. The thoughts of Lancelot were the only thing stopping him fading into the mattress.
Occasionally he would here the whistle of allied bombs, some times in the distance and some times so close he could feel the whole room shake. Not that he cared, sometimes he wished the bomb would drop straight on top of him and end this hell.
Kurt hadn’t been to deliver food and he had run out of his remaining supplies days ago, the warning siren in his head that he needed sustenance or he was going to die had been blaring at him for a while now. He had to get up, for Lancelot.


---

It was over. Hitler had committed suicide he was told, his brain barely registering the facts. It didn’t feel real. He surely should have been elated, he knew he should have been, but he couldn’t feel anything but a cold numbness. The grey overcast day burnt at his eyes and he wondered vaguely how he got outside. The British soldier is speaking in broken German to him but he is not really following. He feels he should tell the man that he can speak English to put him out of his misery but he can’t muster the energy to find the words. A flash of Lancelot and his electric smile crashes into his memory.
When the man finally taps him on the shoulder he realises what he needs to do, “Where do the families of those in the camps go to find them?” he asks in perfect English. The soldier looks stunned for a few moments but then takes him to where he needs to be.

---



Each passing day his hope faded a little, but it was still there, and thus, he still waited. He watched as families were reunited, survivors of the camps, skeletal but alive fell into the arms of lovers, mothers, friends. And other times he saw people like him, in a state of mourning-in-limbo, unsure of the news that awaited them. Allied soldiers moved among them like other worldly beings, handing out news both good and bad, watching them but not quite understanding.
He felt much like he did lying in the dark, not knowing whether he would live or die with no end of his torment in sight. The survivors may be filling in but there had been no Lancelot. On second thought, he was sure this was worse than starving in the dark. At least then he had almost no hope at all. Here, the war was over and he was supposed to be happy.


---



“You waited” the voice was like touching an electric circuit, he bolt out of his thoughts and to his feet. Was this another hallucination? That couldn’t have been Lancelot, surely. Gwaine was sure that he looked like a cartoon character version of shock because he still couldn’t believe his eyes or his ears. There he was. He was as thin as a piece of rope, frail and damaged, his lovely long hair all shaved off, but it was him.
He couldn’t find the words and instead pulled the man into a hug, painfully aware that he was hurting Lancelot. But he didn’t seem to mind, in fact, he pulled him deeper into the hug.

They were both crying and laughing hysterically; Gwaine pulled Lancelot into a slightly more secluded corner and kissed him. The kiss was awkward and pained, their breathing harsh and panicked, but it was the most joyful thing they had ever experienced.
“So did you” Gwaine breathed into Lancelot’s neck. He looked up and saw that devastating smile and for the first time in a very long time, he felt alive.



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