This one is for 'LovesAngst'
I am currently working on the seconds prompt in which Arthur's comments finally get to Merlin. Once the first four prompts are finished, feel free to post more!
Sacrifice (So much longer than I intended… hence the delay!) –
"My lord, the King has sent me, we have received word that a Balstorm is heading towards Camelot," Arthur looked at his father's manservant with an eyebrow raised. What the HELL was a Balstorm?
"And that would be?" He asked with a smirk. If he, Prince Arthur, had never heard of such a creature, surely it could not be so much of a threat. The manservant trembled ever so slightly under the Prince's cocky gaze.
"Sire, it is a creature we believe to have been created by magic. It has the body of a dog and the head of a bull. That might not sound so threatening sire, but it is the size of a house," The manservant informed Arthur. The Prince's cockiness disappeared in an instant. He was on his feet, and was in the face of the manservant.
"What else do you know about this beast?" He questioned. The manservant muttered something inaudible, making only one word clear. 'Gaius' "Gaius knows about this… Balstorm does he?" The manservant nodded. "Then inform my father I have gone to him for further information, then I intend to kill this beast before it has a chance to come anywhere near Camelot," And with that, Arthur swept out of the room, leaving the manservant to drop into his chair in relief.
"Yes, I've heard of the beast, but it's existence was always thought to me a myth," Gaius informed Arthur. "It would most likely have been created by sorcery, so I don't need to tell you to be careful," He continued. Arthur raised an eyebrow.
"How do I kill it?" he asked, ignoring Gaius's concern. The old Physician sighed, when would Arthur learn to take things seriously?
"It's quite simple really, you must wound it in a way that means it cannot heal. The creature has healing powers you see, so you must pierce it's heart and you must not remove your sword from its body, or it will heal within seconds," Arthur nodded as Gaius spoke. This all sounded simple enough, where was the threat? "I must also inform you sire, of creature's powers. It has a hypnotic gaze, so avoid its eye's. Don't let it scratch you with its claws. If they so much as break the skin, you will be cursed by the Balstorm, and if you kill it, you will die a slow, painful death. I urge you sire, to be careful. There is no cure, short of magic, that will save you from that fate," Arthur smirked.
"I'm sure I can handle myself Gaius, now, where is Merlin? I shall need his assistance in conquering this beast," Arthur said as his eye's scanned the room. They rested on Merlin's bedroom door and widened ever so slightly.
"Last I knew, he was at the castle, cleaning your armor," Gaius informed him. Arthur spun round to face Gaius, his face a picture of confusion.
"He cleaned my amour last night," The Prince stated. Gaius let a smile flicker on his lips.
"Ah, I have landed him in it haven't I." He said. "He intended to clean your armor last night, but was so tired, he retired to bed instead. He intended to have it done before his duties started this morning, but I guess he didn't see such thing's coming up," And with that he slipped out of the room, deciding it best, just encase he dropped Merlin in it yet again.
"Idiot!" Arthur muttered to himself as he left the room.
Arthur watched Merlin from behind the door the armory as his manservant cleaned his armor. He fought back a laugh as Merlin scrubbed at one stain so hard, he knocked over his bucket of water. Merlin spun round to catch the bucket, only for the armor to tumble from his grip. He cursed to himself and stood up. He reached out for his mop, only to slip in the soapy water.
"Great…" He muttered. "Could this get any worse?" he asked himself.
"Well, the stain in your trouser's doesn't help much," Arthur laughed as he revealed himself.
"Stain?" Merlin asked, not daring to open his eyes. He was sure that seeing Arthur's reaction would only make him feel 10 time's worse.
"The stain on your trousers, that suggests you have the weak bladder of a baby," Arthur said. Merlin looked down, and immediately blushed. It really looked like he'd lost control of his bladder. He wished at that moment, that magic was not outlawed in Camelot. It would be so simple to dry out his trousers, and erase Arthur's memory of what had just taken place. "Merlin are you there?" Arthur asked with a grin as he waved his hand in front of Merlin's face. He couldn't help but smile when Merlin zoned out like that, he looked so cute… Merlin snapped back to reality with a jolt and was meet with the sight of Arthur's grinning face. He blushed a brilliant red, and ducked his head to stop Arthur from seeing. Arthur however, saw, and felt his own face flush. He fought back the heat with us much determination as he could muster. He knew about Merlin's crush on him. It had been obvious from day one! Why should it please him so much now?
"I'm sorry Sire… I'll just go and get some mo-" Merlin began, before being cut short by Arthur, who raised a hand to silence him.
"We don't have time for that Merlin. You're so disorganized; you'd never find a pair of trousers before the Balstorm got here," Arthur teased. "You can borrow a pair of mine,"
"Balstorm? I thought they were just a myth?" Merlin questioned as he got to his feet. He ignored Arthurs other comment, fearful that he would sound to enthusiastic at wearing the Prince's clothes. Arthur laughed.
"Didn't we all. We have to kill it before it brings chaos to Camelot." Arthur said. "Now come along Merlin, I'm sure I have something you can wear that I don't mind being ruined!"
"Oh ha-ha, very funny Arthur!" Merlin said, annoyed at the suggestion, but pleased that the Prince was serious about lending him a pair of trousers.
"So only magic can cure it?" Merlin questioned Arthur as they traipsed through the woods an hour later. He knew the answer of course. He'd read all about the legendary Balstorm in the books Gaius had given him. The cure was a simple incantation. But it simply wasn't good enough. Magic would never be allowed in Camelot, or by its residents, while Uther ruled.
"That's what Gaius said. So whatever you do Merlin, don't get clawed by that thing." Arthur said with an eyebrow raised. Merlin attempted a smile as he struggled to catch up with Arthur. "Not that it matter's, you're so useless, you'll still be here by the time I find the Balstorm, dragging my weapons through the mud." Merlin didn't respond. Some time's Arthur really hurt him when he said such thing's. If only magic wasn't outlawed. He thought to himself. Then I could show him I wasn't so useless.
It wasn't long before Arthur stopped. Merlin walked into the back of him and fell flat on his back. Arthur sighed angrily to himself.
"Get up Merlin, the beast is near," He said through gritted teeth. Merlin stood up, with some difficulty, considering the heavy bag of weapons he carried.
"How can you tell?" Merlin asked, looking around for some sort of sign. Arthur watched him for a few seconds with a smirk.
"The foot prints Merlin," he said with a smirk, glancing down. "You see, the prints of a dog, but they are the size of dinner plates. And they are still warm. Our beast is nearby. I thought you had some intelligence in you Merlin,"
"Oh… right… let's find it then," Merlin said, again ignoring Arthur's harsher comment and the pain that came with it. Merlin stepped forward, and immediately, the silence that surrounded them was broken by a loud crack. "ARTHUR!" Merlin cried out as he felt himself slipping into a hole that was hidden underneath the branches' and leaves on the ground. Arthur grabbed him just in time to sop him sinking into the hole.
"Merlin watch where you're going you idiot!" Arthur cried as he pulled Merlin free. Merlin winced and looked down. His foot stuck out at a peculiar angle.
"I think it's broken. We need to return to Camelot," Merlin whispered through gritted teeth as he gently lowered his foot to the ground.
"We can't Merlin! What about the Balstorm? It could attack Camelot at any moment. We need to destroy it!" Arthur urged. "Now come on, on your feet! It can't be that b-" Arthurs ranting was interrupted however, as the sound of screeching filled the air. It was a sound like nothing either man heard before. It was like the call of an animal in pain crossed with the sound of a terrible singer. Both Merlin and Arthur covered their ears. As they did so, the mythical Balstorm appeared. It was bigger than anyone could ever imagined. It had the body of a pit-bull and the head of a raging bull. The horns alone, were the size of Arthur's arm.
"Arthur we have to get out of here!" Merlin cried as he did his best to stand up. However, the pain in his foot was too much, and he was forced back to the floor. Arthur grabbed a sword and ran at the beast.
"Stay where you are Merlin, I'll sort this!" He cried as he charged. Merlin cursed to himself. Arthur stood no chance alone against such a powerful being. He waited until Arthur was engaged in battle before he used magic to mend his ankle.
"Senidum Arwaynium" He muttered. As soon as the words left his mouth, his bone went back into place. He got to his feet and ran towards Arthur and the Balstorm, just in time to see Arthur fall under the beast's hypnotic gaze. Arthur dropped his sword and began to sway in time with the Balstorm's eye's. "ARTHUR!" Merlin cried. He forced his legs to move faster. He had only seconds before the Balstorm killed Arthur. Arthur didn't even look round at Merlin's call. He was completely under. The Balstorm raised its front leg, its claws poised and ready for attack. "ARTHUR!" the sorcerer cried again. It didn't matter to him that Arthur would not hear him. He had to do everything in his power to save the Prince. For, as hard as he fought not to think about it, as hard as he fought not to act on the thoughts that did get through, he knew in his heart that he loved the prince. Loved him in the way that a man should love a woman, not another man. Especially not the crown prince of Camelot. Merlin was within feet of Arthur when the Balstorm brought down it's leg. He used all his strength to launch himself forwards those last few inches. His body collided with Arthurs at the exact same moment that the Balstorm's claws tore through the sorcerers shirt and the flesh beneath it. Both men collided with the floor, Merlin becoming dazed and disorientated as Arthur regained control of his body and mind.
"Merlin?" Arthur said, the second he was himself again. Merlin was the last, and currently only, thing he could remember. He heard a groan to the left of him and turned to see his manservant lying with his back to him. He was bleeding. "Merlin! Did the beast claw you?" Arthur asked, ducking another swipe from said beast as he did so.
"No! I caught myself on your sword as I knocked you out of the beasts gaze sire," Merlin whispered, not daring to move. If he did, Arthur would see that he was lying, and would refuse to kill the Balstorm in order to save Merlin from a terrible death.
"Merlin...!" Arthurs voice was urgent and frantic. Merlin was lying and he was sure of it.
"Kill the Balstorm Arthur!" Merlin cried as yet again the beast swiped its claws at them while screeching louder than before. Arthur didn't move. He reached his hand out towards Merlin, but, as he rested it against his menservants shoulder, Merlin shook it off. "NOW ARTHUR!" The urgency in Merlin's voice was obvious. Arthur took the opportunity to think with his head and not his heart. He had to kill the Balstorm now, or risk every life in Camelot. It didn't take long to finish of the beast. Gaius's advice proved to be spot on. Arthur was able to duck under the beast, and pierce its heart before it had time to react. The beast fought hard against the foreign object that had pierced its heart, but, within seconds, it had become overcome, and it collapsed on the floor. Arthur moved just in time. The blade stayed in place, and Arthur watched, satisfied, as the beast drew in its final breath. Arthur watched the corpse for several seconds, basking in the glory of the kill. It wasn't long, however, before a feeble cry broke the still silence in the air.
"Merlin!" Arthur cried, finally remembering his wounded manservant. He span round and raced to the young man's side. "Come on Merlin, let's get you back to Gaius an-" But Arthur stopped. As he knelt down beside Merlin, he noticed the way the manservant's clothes were torn. Noticed the three, adjacent wounds that ran along his shoulder. Noticed the far of look in his eyes… the look that came with the knowledge of impending death. "What have you done?" Arthur demanded, a faint wobble to his voice. The only sign of the heartbreak within. Merlin laughed.
"Arthur you prat! Did you really think I would tell you that the Balstorm clawed me, knowing you know what that means." Merlin whispered. He gasped several times, but refused to let the pain overcome him.
"You idiot Merlin! I could have come back to kill the beast once Gaius had healed you!" Arthur whispered. He gingerly moved the shredded cloth that covered Merlin's wounds, knowing that the feeling of fresh wounds on any surface, no matter how soft, was incredibly painful.
"I wouldn't have healed in time…" Merlin whispered, stopping to draw in a deep breath. "The Balstorm would have…" He drew in another breath. "Would have reached Camelot…" Another. "My life is not worth that…" Merlin stopped, despite having more he wished to say on the matter. He didn't have the strength. He needed to use what little energy that remained in him to get rid of Arthur, so he could cure himself.
"Then why didn't you let the Balstorm claw me! It would be I in your place! I would be dying! Which is more than I deserve considering I didn't listen to Gaius about being careful!" Merlin laughed ever so slightly. "This is no joke Merlin! You should not have sacrificed yourself for me!" Arthur cried, the tears in his eyes finally spilling down onto his cheeks. Merlin wished he could wipe them away.
"Don't be stupid Arthur…" Merlin's voice was growing faint and distant. "You are crown prince of Camelot…"
"I don't care! You should not have done this Merlin!" Arthur protested, his voice thick with the emotion he would normally fight. Merlin smiled and reached out to lace his fingers with Arthurs.
"Arthur… you are the most arrogant… selfish… pathetic excuse for… for a prince… I have ever meet… but…but you have… the biggest heart… of anyone I know… you will become a great king… Arthur Pendragon… and I… I love you… love you with… all my heart…" Merlin whispered. Arthur refused to interrupt him, knowing full well these could well be the menservants last words. His heart was pounding the entire time. He wanted to cry out, to scream, to sob… but he could let that be the last thing that Merlin ever saw. He grasped Merlin's fingers.
"Merlin I…" But it was too late. Merlin's eye's rolled into the back of his head, his hand went limp… "MERLIN! NO!" Arthur cried, desperately shaking his manservant. Merlin did not respond. Arthur fought hard to calm himself enough to feel for a pulse. It was there. But Barely. "Merlin! I am going to get Gaius! I will do whatever it takes to save you. I don't care if I have to use magic, I don't care what it takes! I need you to live Merlin! More than you can ever know!" Arthur paused. He wasn't sure if his manservant could hear him in his unconscious state, but now could be his only chance to say the words he thought he'd never say to another man. "Because I love you Merlin. Love you more than anything. What I feel for you… it takes me over… I never realized what that meant until today. Until now… But I swear Merlin… I swear, I will not lose you! I'm going to do whatever it takes!" Arthur lowered his face to Merlin's as he spoke, and, as he uttered the last word, he pressed his lip's against the manservant's' cold ones once, before he broke away. He gave Merlin's hand one last reassuring squeeze before announcing "I shall return with Gaius and a way to cure you, or I shall join you in death!" And with that, he took off, running as fast as his legs would carry him in the direction of Camelot.
"Prat!" Merlin smirked. He couldn't believe Arthur had left so quickly. If he had actually listened to Gaius, he would have known that Merlin would have been dying for hours before he reached his final moments. He also couldn't believe how cool he himself had managed to say. In any other situation, Arthur's speech would have had Merlin launching himself atop of the Prince! But if he did that, he would have to reveal his magic and risk losing Arthur, and his head. As obvious as it was now that Arthur loved him, he couldn't love him that much. At least not with Uthur around. Merlin sat up and looked around, making sure that Arthur was really gone. When he was sure that Arthur was beyond hearing distance, he hovered his fingers above the gashes on his shoulder and muttered "Imendium Catorsom" The wounds instantly healed, and Merlin felt his strength return.
Meanwhile, Arthur had finally reached the gates of Camelot. He weaved amongst its residence's as fast as was possible, ignoring the greetings and bows that inevitably came with being prince. He needed to get to Gaius. He needed to cure Merlin. Arthur knew without Merlin, his world would crumple and he would sink into a deep bottomless pit of depression. He reached Gaius's door after what felt like hours since he'd left Merlin. Gaius opened the door a few seconds later, and his expression clearly stated that he had not expected to see the prince at his door. Before he could question his presence however, Arthur spoke.
"It's Merlin… the Balstorm… it got him… he lied… said it didn't... and I killed it!" Arthur said in a rush, barely pausing to draw breath. Gaius held up his hands, indicating that the prince stop.
"Slow down Arthur. Now tell me, what happened? Is the Balstorm dead?"
"Yes! But it clawed Merlin, and I killed it before I noticed. Merlin's dying Gaius! We need to save him!" Arthur yelled, frustrated now. Why wasn't Gaius rushing to save Merlin?
"Arthur. The only cure is forbidden by law in Camelot," Gaius said solemnly.
"Screw the law! I need to save Merlin!" Arthur raged, fighting everything inside him that told him to lay his hands around the throat of the man in front of him. Gaius raised an eyebrow.
"You father would have your head if he knew Arthur," he stated. Arthur groaned.
"Then he can have my head! All that matters now is Merlin!" Gaius frowned.
"Your feelings for Merlin… they would warrant a death penalty as well…" Arthur slammed his fist against the door frame.
"I DON'T CARE!" He screamed. Gaius finally nodded.
"Then we must find the druids. Only they can help us now," Gaius said, gathering his things as he spoke. "You must understand Arthur, that your previous treatment of the druids could prevent them from helping you," Gaius warned. Arthurs face fell, but despite that, he nodded.
"I must try!" Arthur insisted. Gaius nodded.
"Then we must hurry. It could take hours to trace the druids, let alone convince them to help you,"
Gaius and Arthur had been walking for only a few minutes when Merlin came into view. Camelot's walls were still visible in the distance. The manservant was shirtless and still covered in blood, yet the wounds on his shoulder were gone, and he was able bodied as he had always been. Proven of course, when he stumbled over a log. Arthur watched him for a few seconds, unable to believe his eyes. When last he saw Merlin, he was at deaths door. What had happened while he was away?
"ARTHUR! GAIUS!" Merlin called as he caught sight of them. He smiled Arthurs favorite goofy grin, and Arthurs heart melted. Suddenly all that mattered was that Merlin was alive and well. Gaius nodded and smiled slightly. He knew exactly what had happened, and was waiting to see what story Merlin would conjure up. Arthur dropped his weapons and ran to his manservant, not caring what Gaius thought of him at that moment.
"MERLIN!" The men embraced. They pulled each other close and tightened their arms around the other with as much strength they could managed. Both had tears in their eyes. "I thought you were dead," Arthur whispered, finally pulling back to glance into Merlin's eyes. They sparkled as Merlin smiled.
"So did I… I thought I was a goner... but a passing druid took pity on me… he realized what had happened and cured me!" Gaius fought back the urge to laugh. It was so entirely believable.
"Who was he? Did he give you a name? I wish to thank him!" Arthur asked frantically. Merlin laughed.
"I think he realized I was from Camelot… why else would he have saved me? He wouldn't want to risk his head by leaving his name," Merlin stated as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"I almost lost you…" Arthur whispered as silent tears adorned his cheeks.
"I wasn't going to allow myself to die… not after what you said to me…" Merlin whispered, his face now a mirror image of Arthur's. Arthur raised an eyebrow. "Everything you said… after I passed out… I heard it Arthur… every word…" Merlin blushed and looked down, unable to meet Arthurs eyes as he continued. "Did you mean it..? Or was it because I was dying and it was what I wanted to hear?" he asked, fearful of what Arthur might say.
"Does this answer your question?" Arthur asked as he pressed his lip's against Merlin's. For a few seconds, they simply molded their lips around each others. It wasn't long however, before Arthur felt Merlin's tongue against his lip. The prince laughed and opened his mouth, allowing their tongues to connect, to entwine. For how long they did this, they never knew, but when they finally separated, Gaius had gone, leaving a note informing the pair that he had returned to Camelot. It made the pair laugh. "So, is your questioned answered?" Arthur asked again.
"That about did it sire," Merlin whispered with a blush.