Pairing - Merlin / Arthur
Rating - PG-13
Summary- Merlin's magic goes haywire when he gets ill.
Merlin heard the voices but ignored them, burrowing further under his bedcovers. He felt awful and he hadn’t been able to stop shivering since he woke up that morning. Gaius had brought him a tonic a short time ago, saying that it would make him feel better but as yet, it hadn’t. Right now, all he wanted was to go back to sleep.
There was a knock on the door and Gaius came in, looking apologetic.
“I’m afraid that Prince Arthur is demanding your presence.”
Merlin poked his head out from under his blanket and sniffled. “Has anyone told him that I’m sick?”
Gaius nodded. “I did. He sent a messenger to find you and tell you that unless you’re on your deathbed, you are to attend him at once.”
“Pratt,” Merlin muttered, but he stumbled out of bed anyway. There was no way that the Arthur would take no for an answer. “Well it’ll be his fault if he gets ill from me.”
Merlin sneezed and the door in front of him suddenly came back to life. The wood became brighter, filled with vitality, and small green shoots began sprouting from it. Merlin looked to Gaius and knew that his face held the same look of horror.
“This is not good,” he said, sinking back down onto the bed behind him.
Gaius agreed and went to report to Arthur that his patient was too ill to attend.
The following day, Merlin was awakened by someone barging into his bedroom. He looked up to see Arthur standing over him, eyeing him critically.
“You don’t look sick.”
He did feel a little better today. He still kept sneezing, and he felt tired even before he’d got out of bed, and then there was still the problem he couldn’t tell Arthur about. An hour earlier, Gaius had brought Merlin some soup and had left carrying a bowl of strawberries- blue ones- following an attack of sneezing.
“Well?” Arthur glared at him. “I don’t have all day!”
Reluctantly, Merlin got up and followed him out. Gaius gave him a reassuring smile but they both knew it would take more than that. By the time they reached the castle, Merlin had made up his mind. All he had to do was keep out of everyone’s way; he could carry out his duties on things such as cleaning Arthur's armour without having contact with anyone, couldn’t he?
Unfortunately, Arthur had other ideas.
He obviously had nothing to do as he followed Merlin about for most of his morning. When Merlin tried to get on with his tasks with the least amount of interaction, Arthur wandered into the room under the pretence of finding a book to read. He sprawled on a nearby chair and said,
“You’ve missed a bit.”
Merlin ignored him and continued polishing the boot he was holding.
“Right there, on the toe.”
There was a loud sneeze and Arthur made a noise of disgust. “Do you think you could manage cleaning my boots without getting your germs on them?”
Feeling something move in his lap, Merlin looked down in alarm. The cloth he had been using to polish with had gone and in its place was a rather surprised-looking white, long-haired kitten. It looked up at him with wide blue eyes and meowed pathetically.
“What was that?”
Trying to shush the kitten, Merlin tucked it under the edge of his jacket. “Nothing Arthur.”
He did think about trying to turn the kitten back before Arthur noticed it but, with the way his magic was malfunctioning, he didn’t think it would be wise. Besides, he might keep it; it was rather cute, after all. Petting it, he smiled as it curled up on his lap and went to sleep. Merlin reached for another cloth and continued polishing.
“I don’t feel well.”
Merlin looked at the tray that had held Arthur's lunch. “Well it could be the amount you just ate. That would make anyone feel unwell.”
Arthur scowled at him. “I have to keep my strength up; I have practice with my knights later.”
“Yeah, right. And here I thought you were just being a pig.”
Merlin felt the dreaded tingle in his nose and couldn’t stop the sneeze in time. Hearing a yelp, he looked around in time to see Arthur vanish in a puff of smoke. The Prince’s clothes landed on the floor in a heap, a moving, snuffling heap. Moving closer to investigate, Merlin jumped back as a small pink piglet fought its way out of the shirt and shot off across the room. There was a hiss as the kitten was awakened from its hiding place under the bed by the boisterous piglet, followed by a squeal as the piglet received a swipe from the kitten’s claws, right across its snout.
Rescuing the kitten and putting it on the bed out of harms way, Merlin set about trying to catch Arthur.
He sighed; he knew he should have stayed in bed this morning.
The older man frowned as his charge elbowed his way through the door and held out a ball of white fluff.
“Here, hold this.”
Gaius looked at the kitten in his hands and then at Merlin, still struggling to hold onto a squirming pig.
“Do I want to know?”
Merlin managed to get the pig into his bedroom and close the door so that it couldn’t knock anything breakable over and sank down onto the step, exhausted.
“I had a bit of an accident.” He held his hands out for the kitten and Gaius passed it back to him. “I kind of changed Arthur- it wasn’t my fault! If he hadn’t made me work when I clearly wasn’t well, there wouldn’t have been a problem.”
Gaius looked at the purring kitten. “You changed him into a cat?”
“No, he’s the pig. This little fellow used to be a polishing rag.” Merlin continued petting the kitten, finding it calming.
“You turned the Prince into a pig?”
Merlin smiled. “It was kind of fitting, actually. I know, I know; I need to fix him. I though it would be safer to try here rather than in the castle, though,” he said. “I might have to try a memory spell, too. He’s going to kill me when he gets his hands back.”
Gaius shook his head. “They are extremely risky, even if you weren’t having difficulties with your magic. You may end up wiping his memory completely.”
Two failed attempts and four hours later, Merlin heaved a sigh of relief as Prince Arthur stood in the middle of Gaius’ workroom, looking bewildered. A very naked Prince Arthur.
“Merlin, explain.” He glanced down at himself as though only just noticing that he was in nothing but his birthday suit but, to his credit, he didn’t even look embarrassed. “And get me my clothes.”
Merlin handed him a blanket to put around himself, all the while thinking that it was a shame to cover up such a lovely view.
“What am I doing here?”
“What do you remember?” Merlin countered, nervous about the answer.
Arthur glared at him but Merlin found it impossible to be even the slightest bit intimidated by someone he’d seen naked only moments earlier.
Gaius stepped in then. “I’m afraid you seem to have caught Merlin’s sickness. You passed out and Merlin brought you here for me to treat you.”
“Why here? You should have taken me to my chambers.”
Merlin felt awful about lying to him, but it was for his own good. Or rather, Merlin’s own good.
“It was closer.”
They took Arthur back to his room, after Merlin fetched him some clothes. He was still disorientated, which was working to Merlin’s benefit- he believed their story about becoming ill though he protested that he had not fainted. Knights, he pointed out haughtily, did not faint. Unfortunately, he really was catching Merlin’s illness, though thankfully without the magical chaos, and so Merlin convinced him to go to straight to bed.
“My head hurts,” he complained. “This is all your fault.”
Merlin rolled his eyes. “You made me come to work. It serves you right.”
He got everything that Arthur could need and put it within reach before heading for the door. His bed was beckoning and he was looking forward to some sleep.
“I’m tired, I don’t feel well and I want to get to bed, so what is it?” Merlin grouched, then sneezed. When Arthur didn’t reply, he sighed. “Well? For goodness sake, just tell me.”
“I want you to stay here.” Even Arthur looked surprised as the words came out of his mouth. As Merlin headed for the chair, Arthur lifted the edge of his bedcovers in invitation. “No, with me.”
Oh dear, he’d said ‘tell me’, hadn’t he? It had manifested as a truth spell. He knew that Arthur genuinely wanted him to stay- the spell wouldn’t let him lie. This was probably the only chance Merlin would get and so he locked the door, dumped his clothes on the floor and got in. Arthur immediately pulled him closer.
“You’re the one who made me ill so the least you can do is stay and make me feel better.”
Merlin knew he could exploit this, could find out all of Arthur's deepest darkest secrets, but that wouldn’t be right. Instead, he asked,
“Is that the only reason you want me to stay? To look after you.”
Arthur dragged the covers over them both. “No, that was just a good excuse to get you into bed.”
This was too good to be true, Merlin thought, unable to stop himself asking, “And what do you want now?”
“Want to kiss you,” Arthur replied, leaning over to do just that, his lips so close to Merlin’s that he could feel Arthur's breath as he added softly, “I want you to love me.”
“I already do,” Merlin murmured, as he hooked a hand behind Arthur's neck and pulled him down that last centimetre, closing their lips together.
The following morning, Arthur awoke feeling dreadful. His head hurt, his limbs ached and the stuffy nose and sore throat weren’t helping either. He also had a strange gap in his memories of yesterday and then a vague recollection of being in Gauis’ workroom, naked, followed by a rather embarrassing conversation with Merlin.
He groaned, remembering his words- “I want you to love me”- and could he have sounded any more girly? But Merlin had stayed, hadn’t he? Not just out of duty, either, as he knew that Merlin rarely did anything he didn’t want to, even if ordered to by his Prince. He’d been the one to initiate the kiss, too.
In fact, Merlin was still in bed with him, his warm body wrapped around Arthur's. As Merlin shifted in his sleep and pressed closer, cuddling up to him, Arthur closed his eyes again. He just wished he felt well enough to really enjoy it. He smiled; oh well, there was always tomorrow.