Merlin felt his eyes on him as he shuffled around the Prince's chambers, gathering up his scattered clothing. Merlin carefully put on his tunic, every single move making the muscles in his shoulders ache terribly. His vision swam as he bent over to pick up his neck-scarf and for a moment he thought he was about to black out. Arthur watched the whole scene from his bed, his eyes narrowed into slits. Merlin sighed and turned his back to the Prince. He hated when Arthur looked at him like that. It made his skin crawl in an odd way.
"Stop it," Merlin rasped out as he sat down on the bed to put on his shoes. His throat felt like it was on fire and every single word he spoke hurt. He was hit by another wave of dizziness and leaned his head against the bed post. "Don't look at me like that."
"You are to return to your own bed-chambers," Arthur ordered sternly as he got out of the bed, grabbing his own clothing.
Merlin snorted. Arthur looked at him with his best I-am-your-future-King-and-you-will-obey-me look and Merlin just ignored him. He knew he wasn't actually showing his master any respect, but Merlin figured after a whole night of being fucked senseless by the Crown Prince, several time he might add, respect didn't really matter that much. During the nights, in the throes of their frantic and desperate coupling, words failed them, the only sound they managed to make were loud moans. The mornings after, however, were still something Merlin struggled to deal with. He never knew quite what to say, what to ask, and he didn't even want to think what it meant. So mostly, both of them just stayed silent, resting peacefully in each other's arms, just holding onto each other as if it would be the last time they would ever be together like this, which really was ridiculous of course.
"You're obviously ill," Arthur stated matter-of-factly, looking away from Merlin, while pulling on his own tunic. "Return to your bedchambers and rest it off, and return to work when you feel better."
"I'm fine," Merlin said angrily, standing abruptly, facing Arthur, as if to prove just how fine he was. Not a good idea, Merlin realized at once, as he stumbled slightly, white dots dancing in his vision, his head aching worse than ever. Arthur moved quickly, grabbing Merlin's upper-arms firmly, holding the younger man up-right.
"Merlin?" Arthur shook Merlin slightly, worry gnawing inside him uncomfortably. Merlin's eyes were glazed over and he was pale and shivering like a man left outside in winter-time. Arthur tried to ignore the sudden, raw fear he felt at seeing his man-servant in this state. Arthur pulled back Merlin toward the bed and Merlin fell down on the bed, his head falling against the pillows. Arthur carefully climbed into the bed to lie next to the younger man, his hand resting lightly against Merlin's way too hot cheek, worry creasing his handsome face.
Arthur slapped Merlin's hot cheek gently, calling his name. "Merlin, can you hear my voice?" Merlin gave a small shudder, leaned into the Prince's light touch and slowly opened his eyes. Arthur exhaled in relief. "Merlin, you great idiot," Arthur rasped out and shook his head. "I thought at least by now you would've learned some common sense."
Merlin pressed the heel of his hand into the side of his aching head, that by now felt like it had swollen up to twice its size. "Did I pass out?"
Arthur moved his hand to feel Merlin's forehead. Arthur may have not been a physician but he knew that no man should have a temperature that high. "Indeed you did, and I changed my mind. You are not leaving this room."
Merlin groaned loudly. "Don't even pull that card on me, I have things to do you know."
Arthur smirked half-heartedly at him. "Yes, I know, you have things to do for me, you fool. However, you are obviously sick and perhaps even contagious, I can not have you walking around all over the castle and giving the people whatever it is you have."
"What about you then, sire?" Merlin asked, glaring and huffing, and Arthur had to restraint himself from taking Merlin right there, because he did look quite delicious, glaring at Arthur like that. "Probably means you have it now as well, this illness."
Arthur shrugged, "I am sure I can take it," Arthur leaned over Merlin and nuzzled his nose tenderly before kissing the younger man on the lips, his fingers touching and tracing Merlin's cheekbones. Merlin's hands pulled at Arthur's shoulders, deepening their kiss, before Arthur abruptly pulled away, resting his forehead against Merlin's. Both of them were quite breathless already. "I must not make you this breathless when you're ill," Arthur whispered intimately.
"Trust me," Merlin replied back huskily, "I do not mind at all."
Arthur stroke back some of Merlin's hair that had plastered itself to Merlin's forehead. "Oh, I am sure you don't," Arthur grinned smugly and pressed a feather-light kiss right above Merlin's left eyebrow.
"Sire, not that I am not enjoying your company immensely, but shouldn't you be going?" Merlin asked, as Arthur moved his lips along his temple, his breathing flickering across Merlin's skin. "You are hunting and well, I am contagious, apparently."
"Yes," Arthur pressed another kiss against Merlin's soft throat and leaned back slightly. "You are right, for once." Merlin gave him a sharp glare. "But you will stay here Merlin, I am, as your future King, ordering you to stay in here. I will keep the maids out and send for Gaius." Merlin rolled his eyes and Arthur gave him a stern glance. "And you will stay in this bed."
Merlin didn't even have the energy to complain anymore so he just kept his mouth quiet as Arthur got out of the bed and grabbed his sword, heading for the door. He passed by the doorway and looked back at Merlin, who was staring back at him from the bed. Something flickered across Arthur's handsome feautures and Merlin couldn't quite place it, but something like raw, naked vulnerability flashed in the Crown Prince's eyes. "You shouldn't do that," Arthur said quietly, his voice soft and cracking, just a little.
For a moment, Merlin was stunned, not quite sure what he was witnessing or hearing. "Arthur?" he asked uncertainly.
"You shouldn't do that," Arthur repeated, more steadier, almost irritated. "You shouldn't get sick. I don't like it." And with that Arthur turned and walked out of the bedchambers, leaving Merlin on the bed, feeling quite confused, as if Merlin himself could control his health.