A/N: My fellow writers and readers, I DEEPLY apologize for my delay in this final chapter's deliverance. Hope you enjoy, please tell me your thoughts. :)
Arthur was barely cognitive when Merlin gave him his first few doses of medicine. His eyes searched but did not see, his dirty blonde head rolling about the pillow. Merlin did the best he could to make sure he was comfortable, but Arthur changed temperatures so quickly he eventually decided to strip the prince down to his undergarments and use blankets and furs when he became chilled. When his skin burned, Merlin would run a cool cloth across his face, dabbing gently. He was finally able to relax, seeing the color finally return to his golden skin. He brought him light food, just a few bites of fruit or bread at first. Gaius said if he would eat, it was an excellent sign of healing.
Arthur awoke to the morning's soft glow, feeling dazed but worlds better than he had. Except for his legs. They felt heavy, like they were being weighed down by a-
"Oh." By a Merlin.
He slowly moved his legs, sensing that Merlin really did need the rest. He really was a loyal subject. And a better friend. And... well, he'd never truly given him enough credit. He took in his surroundings, glad to be back in his own bed. A small bottle rested on his nightstand, half empty. He felt groggy, but otherwise alright. He swung his legs over the side of the bed, standing slowly at first. He found some clothes and threw them on. He remembered little of the fast couple days, but knew he had been well taken care of. He'd have to remember to thank Gaius later. Merlin snored slightly, reminding Arthur of his previous threat to kick him out if he did so. He also remembered that night hunting... What the hell had happened that night? The memory was clear as day, but it still felt muddled. Arthur didn't let himself ponder over it for too long. It had been just a little too exciting. Yes, just a little bit too flirtatious... And he had felt...
Never mind. Don't think of such repulsive things.
He walked around the bed to the other side, Merlin's lower half bent over on the hard floor.
"That can't be comfortable," he said. With little effort even after his trials, he smoothly lifted the rest of his servant onto his bed, resting his dark haired head on the pillow. Just as he let Merlin go, a strong dizziness took him, making him fall onto the bed as well. He inhaled sharply, feeling as unwell as he had earlier. He groaned in defeat. Beside him Merlin stirred, his sapphire eyes fluttering open.
"Sorry I woke you," Arthur said in as best a voice as he could muster.
Merlin said up, momentarily confused. "Did you move me?"
Arthur nodded. "You were on the floor. It didn't look terribly comfortable."
"Never seemed to bother you before." But he smiled, catching the look of fake indifference in Arthur's eye. Arthur kept his gaze for a moment. He'd almost forgotten how deeply those eyes went on. He felt as if he could fall within their depths. For just a moment, he did.
"Er, I should get you some more medicine." Merlin leaned over Arthur to grab the bottle that was just an inch out of reach from where he lay. Arthur reached for it too but their hands brushed and they ended up knocking it over. They both fumbled for it, managing to catch it in the nick of time, although they both ended up entangled on the floor. Merlin waited to be yelled at, but instead Arthur just laughed. Loud and full and healthy. Merlin relaxed, untangling their fingers and uncorking the vial. He offered it to Arthur.
"I'm such a clumsy git I'd probably just spill it," Arthur chuckled.
Merlin hesitated for a moment then brought a hand around to support the prince's head, tipping it back gently. Arthur closed his eyes and parted his lips. Suddenly nervous, Merlin nearly spilled the medicine himself. Arthur drank what he was given, not protesting when Merlin didn't move his hand. Merlin wasn't surprised at how soft Arthur's glossy hair was. He found himself moving his fingers through it slightly. Their eyes met again, this time with more purpose.
"Merlin..." Arthur began.
"Yes, sire." Their heads began to move closer.
"I think you gave me the wrong medicine."
Merlin's face was instantly anxious.
"You see, I've gotten this sort of infection..."
"I'll get Gaius right awa-"
"No you won't." Arthur sat up, taking Merlin by the arms. They kneeled in front of each other, both beginning to shake slightly. Merlin's hand moved from the back of Arthur's head to his face.
"Well you do feel a bit warm..." he said weakly.
"Merlin, that night when I made you sneak out with me-" he lowered his gaze, cheeks burning. "I didn't know.... That is.... I wanted to...."
"What?" Merlin whispered, silently allowing himself to hope. "You wanted to what?"
But Arthur's face fell and he stood up, moving across the room to the window. What the hell am I doing? What did I just say?
"Dammit Merlin," he said. "This isn't supposed to happen."
Merlin stood but didn't go to him. "What isn't?" But he knew.
Arthur sighed. "I'm a prince. I'm supposed to-"
"Marry the princess and live happily ever-"
"Yes!" Arthur turned on him, expression intense. "But then you-!"
"Yes, you, you bloody git! You arrived and.... and everything changed." His voice lowered almost to a sob with the last words. He leaned against the wall bitterly.
"Alright, if that's how you want it, I'll leave," Merlin said, hurt. "But before I do, you had better start saying what you really mean." He trudged over and pulled Arthur up by his shirt, pressing him into the wall. "Tell the truth, for once."
Arthur began to push him away then stopped, knowing Merlin was right. He'd been lying to them both, to everyone. He couldn't do it anymore.
"Everything changed..." he continued. "For the better."
Merlin loosened his grip a little, surprised.
"With you around I feel... safer. And stronger." He sighed, waiting for Merlin to break into laughter. The laughter never came. Only two arms wrapping him up tightly. It took a second, but finally Arthur leaned into him, relieved, though the butterflies continued to flutter around in his stomach. Merlin held him tighter than he'd been held before. Nothing could touch him, he felt so at peace.
"Arthur you are safe. I will always protect you."
Arthur rested his head on Merlin's shoulder. "I know... I really do...I... Even though I'm the knight-the prince-and supposed to be this brave, masculine... whatever...I..."
Merlin pulled back just enough to look into his eyes.
"Merlin-I-" breath short with passion, Arthur lunged forward, crashing into Merlin's lips with his own. Merlin met his passion, moving his lips in turn, pulling their bodies closer. After what seemed like a glorious eternity, they pulled apart, gasping, each one a little scared at what had just happened, what might happen next.
"You bastard," Arthur smiled. "You've infected me worse than any bloody little daisy ever could."
Merlin grinned widely, unbelieving what he was hearing.
"Forgive me if I am reluctant to find a cure, my lord."
A/N: And the Prince and the Sorcerer lived happily ever after! Show some love, please review! ^^