Adela woke to the roaring of wind rushing around her. And given the pain that seemed to course through her body, she feared that she was burning.
The young woman struggled to lift her head, catching sight of the shaft sticking from her abdomen. Her eyes widened, harsh breathing becoming even choppier.
She had to fix this.
With a quick glance around, Adela noted that no one was in her area. She'd been diverting some men away from the children when she'd been struck. And thank the gods, because now she could…
Adela let her head drop against the dry brush beneath her, lifting a shaky hand to the arrow. She gasped as her hand accidentally jostled the piece of wood, black spots entering her vision. But she took a deep breath, closing her eyes in an effort to concentrate.
Adela remember what to do. It was something her mother had taught her about from the moment she could read. After all, as the camp's healer, Adela supposed it was her mother's duty to pass the knowledge on to her children.
For a moment, she wondered if the camp had never been raided, maybe she would have become…
Adela pushed the thoughts away, drawing her brows together in concentration.
And with a silent whisper and flash of gold eyes, the arrow disappeared beneath her touch.
Almost immediately, Adela's hands pushed down on her wound.
A sharp cry slipped through her chapped lips, and she fought the urge to curl up on her side. These next moments were crucial, evident enough from the slick feeling spreading through her fingers. Adela realized that she was bleeding out fast. She needed to stop the flow if she had any chances of surviving this.
So seconds later, Adela found herself plunging into her already waning reserves of magic in a desperate attempt to heal herself.
But the sky was darkening, her breaths shortening…
Adela fell unconscious once more.
Adela woke to the smell of smoke, and instantly, her eyes flew open.
The young woman blinked at the night sky before struggling to sit up. Almost immediately, her muscles locked, letting her only shake where she laid.
She tried to calm herself, eyes flashing from side to side in a panicked fashion. She didn't know what had happened, where she was, and...
'Merlin?' Adela asked almost hesitantly, eyes landing on a familiar figure sitting near a small fire.
Almost immediately, the young warlock swiveled around to meet her eyes.
Adela could feel the overwhelming relief in voice as he scrambled her way.
'Hey it's okay.' He whispered in her mind, 'You're fine- or... well, you're going to be fine.'
Melin sat beside her, smoothing her hair away from her face with a trembling hand. Adela watched him tiredly.
Merlin cocked his head to the side, brows drawn together in concern.
Adela tried to smile.
'Are you alright?'
Merlin let out a shaky laugh before smiling a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
'Of course.' He hesitated for a moment. 'We won against Cenred.'
This time Adela did manage a smile.
The pair sat in silence, Adela lifting her hand to touch her stomach. She winced as her hand came across the wound. But instead of the bloody mess she'd expected, her fingers remained dry as they brushed over her stiff tunic.
Merlin glanced to the side, staring at the fire once more.
'We didn't notice you were missing at first.' He stated somberly. 'We'd barely won the battle, and then there was Will…"
Adela blinked tiredly at the young warlock, waiting as he sighed.
'Morgana was the one who went looking for you. She brought Arthur and I and…" He paused for a beat. 'You were so pale.'
Adela raised her hand slightly. But her brain refused to comply and so it fell to her side.
'I'm sorry-' She started to whisper.
However, the feeling of Merlin's hand reaching for her caused her to falter, her heart-rate increasing dramatically at the sight of him bringing the back of her hand to his lips.
"Don't apologize." He whispered against her skin, the first time she'd heard him speak out loud since she woken. "You came to help my mother and I. There's no way I can repay you for that."
Adela smiled, noting silently that her face must've resembled a tomato at the moment.
"Well, I've always wanted wanted a unicorn." She whispered jokingly. "If you can get me one of those, we can call it even."
Merlin's smile was blinding.
Adela was rushed to Gaius the moment they set foot in Camelot. The old man bustled around and was quick to clean the wound on her stomach. She'd been lucky, from what she'd gathered of the old man's mutterings while he worked. Apparently she had managed to stop the bleeding with her spell as she intended. Had she waited a few more minutes, she might not have been so lucky.
Now the only threat that remained was infection.
Although, Adela certainly doubted that there'd be any worry of that while she was in Gaius' hands. The man really was a miracle-worker, even without the use of magic.
So within no time, she was returned to her quarters, told that she needed to keep her time out of bed to a minimum.
Merlin popped in whenever he could spare a moment. After all, being the manservant of the prince was no easy job. Adela was amazed that he even found time to return even once. Of course the visits were short. But every time, the young woman found herself fascinated with the young warlock's facial expressions as he talked, eyes flickering to his lips every so often.
Her hand still tingled in the place he'd kissed her the night after they'd left Ealdor.
Adela noticed three days after their return to Camelot, that Merlin was acting a bit strangely.
She didn't know when it started, only that suddenly, the young man refused to look her in the eye. Their gazes would meet for a second before he turned away, seemingly finding something that required his complete and utter attention on the opposite side of the room.
Then his visits grew shorter, and soon became rare event in itself.
Adela grew worried that she'd done something wrong, spending most days trying to figure out what had happened. She didn't even dare to call him through her mind, afraid that the attempt would be outright rejected.
So she spent the remainder of her bed-rest curled on her side, silently waiting for the next time Merlin would show up once more.
Adela sincerely wished that he would.
The day Adela was no longer confined to her bed, it was pouring in Camelot.
The young woman stepped out into the courtyard, relishing the feel of the chilled raindrops splattering across her face. After weeks and weeks, it felt amazing to finally stretch her legs.
Most people would start slow and get used to walking again in her position.
But Adela grew up with the knowledge that she was far from normal.
So she danced.
Adela skipped out in the middle of the courtyard, surrounded by a few couples who'd gotten the same idea. Her arms were raised, face turned towards the storming sky as she spun, relishing the feeling of her slick hair falling from her head-wrap, whipping around her in an attempt to match her movements.
All her fears and worries seemed to ease with each pin, each step.
So Adela grinned and sang and…
Adela's ankle bent and almost instantly, she lost balance. Part of her mind winced at the idea of what was coming. Pain and a fair dose of humiliation…
She never expected the hands that shot out to steady her.
Adela's head snapped up, and with a small gasp, she found herself standing in front of a slightly waterlogged Merlin.
It wasn't his presence that particularly surprised her. No, Merlin always had had the talent of turning up in unexpected places. What Adela found so shocking was that for the first time in weeks, the young warlock was looking her in the eye.
And she couldn't fathom why there was determination written clearly in those beautiful blue orbs.
They stood there for a moment, Adela trying to catch her breath, before Merlin's hands moved from her shoulders, trailing gently up her neck until they cupped her cheeks.
Adela's breath hitched.
'What-' was all that she was able to get out before he leaned forward, brushing his lips lightly against hers.
Adela could barely form a coherent thought, eyes wide and searching as he backed away. The kiss had only lasted a moment. But that in itself was enough to set her brain on fire, effectively making sure that all she could think of was how soft the boy's lips were.
Merlin glanced away sheepishly, the tiniest hint of guilt painted across his face.
'You can't kiss recovering patients.' Was all he said, glancing up to meet her gaze once more.
Suddenly, Merlin's odd behavior made sense. That whole time when he'd come to visit, he wanted to…
"Oh, you prat." Adela breathed before grasping his shirt and pulling him closer, pressing her lips firmly to his once more.
All around them, the other dancing couples had paused for a moment to watch, giggling and whistling at the spectacle.
Merlin and Adela paid them no mind.
It was to Arthur's chagrin that Merlin ended up being the first to wed. In fact, the bloody idiot never let the crowned prince forget it.
Never mind he was the king, Merlin thought it was simply delightful that he'd found the love of his life quicker than him, stating something about the different in character, or some other crap.
After that remark, Arthur made sure Merlin assisted the stable hands in cleaning up all the horse dung for the next week.
But despite his grumbling, there was a part of Arthur, a small part mind you, that looked at the kind kitchen help and his bumbling manservant and couldn't help but think…
'This must be what 'happily ever after' looks like.'
Merlin decided, upon entering a small grocery store in the middle of London, that the lack of technology in Camelot had been a blessing. There'd been no inane focus on social media, more time spent outdoors talking to people, and definitely no bloody princes texting him every five seconds.
Merlin knew that he shouldn't be too upset. After all, Arthur had only recovered his memories of Camelot the night before. And needless to say, the prince had many questions pertaining to certain events.
Like the newfound knowledge of Merlin's magical powers.
Merlin couldn't smother his grin as he pulled out his phone, flipping through his notifications. He'd waited so long for this moment, so long for his friends to return. And here they were: the knights, Gwen, even Morgana (although Merlin was keeping a careful eye on the clueless young sorceress).
In fact, that was why he was at the grocery store. In true kingly fashion, Arthur had decided that it was time for a 'feast' (as the prat had put it) to celebrate all of he and his friends' reunion. So, with the money he'd nicked from Arthur's wallet, he needed to buy enough food for everyone that night.
An annoying voice in the back of his head reminded him of the fact that not everyone would be there, and that was all it took for the glowing smile on his face to fade as quickly as it came.
Merlin silenced his phone before sticking it back in his pocket, reaching for the leather cord around his neck. For what seemed to be the millionth time that week, the not-so-young warlock silently glanced down at the two rings that hung there; one a plain gold band with intricate swirls here and there, and another a delicate golden ring wreathed with red rubies.
He remembered working working with Gwen during the day, and pouring over magical texts at night, trying to find a way to craft the perfect ring for her. In the end, it had been Arthur who'd given him the materials to make it in the first place, going about it in a perfectly prattish manner.
But the look on her face when he slipped the fine piece of jewelry onto her finger was one he'd never forget…
Merlin flinched at the realization that he had yet to tell Arthur that she'd passed shortly after him, that he managed to lose two of the most important people in his life within months of one another…
Merlin shook his head, taking a deep breath as he slipped the rings back under his scarf (the same red as his neckerchief, of course).
It was a happy day. And he had food to buy. So the warlock pulled out his phone once more, quickly finding the list Arthur had provided for him.
First off was-
"Parsnips, parsnips, lots and lots of parsnips!"
Merlin froze, nearly dropping his phone into a pile of apples. He spun towards the source of the song, heart beating wildly. And after one second, and then two, he saw. He saw.
It was her.
A million thoughts raced through his mind. Part of him wanted to call her over, part of him want to smoothly walk up with some one-liner he'd overheard the other day, and yet another part wanted to kiss her right then and there. However, it was the bumbling, idiotic part of his brain (or what Arthur liked to think was the only part of his brain) took over, causing him to blurt the first thing that came to mind.
"So you really like Parsnips, yeah?"
The young woman, spun around from her spot, parsnips in hand. Merlin couldn't help but admire the familiar blush that spread across her face then, smiling softly at the way her deep brown eyes widened ever so slightly and how her pink lips parted in surprise.
Merlin faintly hoped she couldn't see the how hungrily his eyes ate the sight of her up. Everything was so familiar about her. Her pale, ivory skin, her light brown hair all tied up (although the bangs were new), her button nose…
"So you're a fan of parsnips right?" He reiterated, inwardly cursing himself for making that the focus of their first conversation on parsnips of all things. Although, if he remembered their first conversation all those centuries ago…
The young woman shook her head, nearly throwing the roots with the others on the stand. She wiped her hands on her apron almost subconsciously, something Merlin knew to be a nervous tick of hers.
"I-I' The young woman cleared her throat, straightening up. "Boss wanted me to put up the new order of parsnips. The song was just… spontaneous? Honestly, I can barely stand the things"
Merlin's grinned widened.
"Well I thought it was amazing." He tried to say smoothly. But the amused look that flashed through her eyes told him otherwise.
The familiar look on her face, made his heart swell. He hadn't known that she'd return with the lot of them. He thought it'd only be Arthur, the Knights, and even Gwen. But he'd never expected...
"I don't think we've been properly introduced." He continued softly, holding out his hand. "I'm Merlin."
The young woman regarded him for a moment before a small smile spread across her lips, small hand reaching for his. Inwardly, he couldn't help but marvel at the fact that their hands still seemed to fit perfectly together, even after all this time.
"And I'm Adela."
Thanks for reading!