Disclaimer: Don't own Merlin.

This story contains slash/femslash. Don't like? Don't read!

Slightly OOC Arthur due to the stress/terror/anger of the situation.

"Are you okay?" Merlin finally tore his golden eyes from the figures as they disappeared around the corner, before turning towards the boy who was still on the ground. Merlin knelt down next to the boy and hesitated a second before reaching for his face, raising it from his chin to view the bruised face. "Those bloody bastards. I shoulda killed them."

The boy looked up at Merlin, eyes eerily blue, black hair falling into his face. He didn't say anything, obviously in shock after having been attacked by those four grown men. The boy was barely seven, what was he doing out alone here anyway?

"Daddy! Daddy!" Twin voices were the only warning before the girls rushed to his side.

Merlin frowned at them as the boy jumped at the noise they'd made. "I told you two to stay in the car."

"I told Soph that." Freya, the dark haired twin, whispered in her soft voice, hanging onto Sophia's arm and hiding behind her slightly, looking at the injured boy.

"Stop being such a tattle-tale, Frey." Nine-year-old Sophia sniffed before turning to their father. "Are you okay daddy?"

He nodded, before turning to the still silent boy. "Can you stand up?"

The boy nodded, seeming numb as he accepted the hand Merlin offered him.

Merlin could barely contain his fury.

This was a child.

Why had those men tried to hurt him?

If he ever saw them again they'd end up in the evening news!

The thought....his gaze went to his daughters, the loves of his life...and the thought of someone like those men trying to hurt them.

He clenched his fist at the thought.

"Are you okay?" Sophia marched up to the smaller boy, eyeing him curiously. "Ouch. Your face looks terrible. Gotta hurt."

The boy just looked up at her, eyes emotionless and closed off.

It hurt Merlin to see such a look on such a young boy's face. "Where's you dad?" He knelt down, eyeing the boy in the fancy school uniform. "We need to call him, to let him know what happened."

The boy just ducked his head.

"You're from Saint Augustine's, aren'tcha?" Sophia announced, obviously recognizing the uniform. "Your dad must be some big hotshot, only the rich kids go to that school."

The boy winced.

Merlin was beginning to wonder if that wasn't the reason why the boy had been attacked. Things were bad economically in the world, and there'd been kidnappings recently of rich kids, the ransom for each return going higher and higher.

The last child hadn't made it back home alive.

That fist clenched harder.

"Come on." Merlin outstretched his hand to the boy, not taking him without his permission, knowing that the child was traumatized as much as it was. "We'll take you to the hospital, get you looked at."

That blue gaze went to Merlin's hand.

Sophia made a face, pursing her lips.

Freya peeked out from behind her twin. "We're not going to hurt you. Daddy's good, and Sophia's not so bad once you get used to her. She's just very loud."

"Hey!" Sophia exclaimed.

Merlin chuckled at the antics of his girls. He'd nearly died when Morgause had left, but he'd loved their daughters with all his heart, and they were everything for him now.

The child continued looking at Merlin's hand, before looking at the girls and then at Merlin once more, before slowly placing his hand in Merlin's.

Smiling comfortingly, Merlin helped the injured, limping boy to the car and drove to the closest hospital, informing the doctor of what had happened, the police being called immediately. He would have waited outside for the boy to be examined, but one small hand had clutched tightly in his shirt, and Merlin had been unable and unwilling to leave the small, obviously terrified and traumatized child alone when the kid was basically begging him to stay. The doctor understood, letting Merlin and the girls stay as he tended to the boy's wounds. Both Merlin and the doctor tried talking to the boy, tried getting him to speak, and the police did as well once they arrived, but the boy wouldn't say a word, only looked at his feet and held on tighter to Merlin's shirt.

The father in him was in protector-mode, and he stood over the boy, answering the questions he could, the girls (or, well, Sophia) butting in every odd sentence, adding little details he'd forgotten or missed.

Really, he didn't know what would have happened if they hadn't stopped at the red light at that specific junction and saw the group of men chasing the terrified child. Merlin had acted on instinct, getting out of the car and hurrying after them just as they'd caught up with the boy, roughening the crying boy up. He didn't like the realization that the boy had seen him at his worst, had seen the pain Merlin could inflict when he saw gold and let the magic he'd always had in him take over. Now that he thought it over, it was his darker, magical side that Morgause had been interested in, and when he'd become a husband, a father, he'd tried even harder to try and suppress it, to give their daughters a normal, happy and safe family, something Morgause hadn't appreciated.

Today was the first day in years he'd lost his control over his magic.

His blue gaze went to the boy, the arm he had holding onto Merlin was shaking, his knuckles nearly transparent from the intensity of the grip.

"You're okay now." He placed a hand on the boy's shoulders. "You're safe. No one's going to hurt you."

The boy looked up at him silently.

God, it was breaking his heart.

"We've called Mr. Pendragon and informed him of what has happened." One of the officers told Merlin as they returned, which surprised him because they hadn't the boy his name, apparently his father was that well known. "He's overseas on business, and had left his son in the care of some bodyguards, but apparently they waited for him to leave England to kidnap the boy. From your description they sound like the boy's bodyguards, but we'd like you to come to the station with us to look at some shots and see if you can identify the men. We'd normally ask the child...but he isn't speaking."

Merlin nodded.

That grip tightened.

He looked down at the boy and gave him a reassuring smile. "I'm not going anywhere right now, don't worry."

The police officer smiled at the way the boy closed his eyes and rested his head against Merlin trustingly.

There was a knock on the door and a nurse stuck her head in. "Excuse me, but a Ms. Reeve is outside saying that she was called by Mr. Emrys?"

Merlin smiled. "Yeah, Gwen, let her in."

Gwen was let passed the officers stationed outside and looked around, pulling a tight curl behind her ear. "What have you gotten yourself mixed into now Merlin?"

"Auntie Gwen!" The girls squealed and rushed to hug her.

"Hello darlings." Gwen smiled, kneeling to hug them both and press a kiss to their cheeks. "You've been behaving for your dad?"

Sophia shook her head truthfully.

Freya nodded dutifully.

"Oh, you two are so cute I wanna devour you whole!" Gwen cooed, hugging them tightly to her before smiling up at Merlin. But her smile slipped when she saw the boy, and she stood immediately. "My god! Who did that to him?"

The boy winced.

Gwen turned to Merlin once more, eyes narrowed. "I hope you kicked their posteriors."

Only Gwen would say something like that.

The boy looked up at Gwen in surprise at the vehemence in that sentence.

The woman then gave the boy a sweet smile, one of her Gwen-smiles that always made everything in the world alright. "I'm Gwen, what's your name?"

For a moment it looked like he wouldn't answer her, just like he wouldn't answer anyone else when they'd tried asking him questions to get him to talk, but then he looked up at her, face serious. "Mordred."

She was silent, before giving a little elated squeal. "He's so cute!"

Merlin chuckled as Mordred's eyes widened in shock at that, a faint flush crawling up his neck as he clung tighter to Merlin, obviously unsure and seeking a feeling of comfort and protection. "Gwen, stop showering the boy with your powers of Gweness. It's overwhelming him."

She grinned brightly at him. "But it's a natural talent Merlin!"

He didn't know what he would do without his best friend. They'd grown up in the same Foster Home, become like brother and sister to each other, and after Morgause had left, it was only Gwen's love and support that'd gotten Merlin through the darker days, she and Morgana were the ones who'd helped him believe that he could be the parent his girls deserved. He and Gwen were lucky, having had such a wonderful home to grow up in, and such wonderful parents, Hunith and Gaius. They'd grown up closer than normal brother and sister, and probably cherished their family more than most blood-related families did.

"Come on you two, Mordred and daddy have to go with the nice police man so they can help them find the men who did this to Mordred." Gwen announced, going to the two girls.

"But we wanna go to the police station too!" Sophia complained, stomping her foot. "I wanna see a real live jail cell!"

"Dear god." Merlin bemoaned. "She'll grow up to be a crime-lord, I just know it."

Gwen giggled, patting Sophia's head. "Come now Soph, I'm sure you'll see your share of jail cells in your teenaged years."

"You think?" Sophia asked, eyes wide.

"Guinevere!" Merlin gasped. "Don't entice her!"

Gwen just winked at Merlin and ushered the two girls out of the room.

The trip to the police station had been exhausting.

At least they'd been able to help, both Merlin and Mordred identifying the same pictures as the people who'd tried kidnapped Mordred, and Mordred had been allowed to go back to Merlin's until his father arrived for him. The boy only had two people in his family, his father and his grandfather, and from what Merlin understood, both were important men and both were out of the country. So considering that the child was already traumatized and seemed to trust Merlin, officer Du Lac had allowed him to go with Merlin, assuring the boy that there would be a policeman in a car across the street keeping an eye on the house to make sure that they were safe.

When they'd arrived Morgana had been there, entertaining the girls with stories of how she'd met a cannibalistic tribe while trekking in the Amazons in her teenaged years and how they'd seen what everyone else was 'obviously too stupid to realize' and thought she was their goddess come back in human form. She'd had a whole tribe of fierce warriors at her beck and call that whole summer, until she'd had to return to England for her last year in high school.

Merlin sighed.

Sometimes Morgana was kinda scary.

But he didn't know how he would survive without her, Gwen, Hunith and Gauis.

Morgana was Morgause's half-sister, and while the sisters never really gotten along while growing up Morgana had attached herself to Gwen when she'd met her through Merlin, and that had helped Merlin form a relationship with his wife's sister. When Morgause had run off with someone else Morgana had sworn never to forgive her and had been an anchor and shield for Merlin, she and Gwen were the best friends he could have ever asked for, both loyal and fiercely protective of him and his daughters. They were the mothers his daughter needed, the reason why the girls never really wondered where their mother wasn't with them, and didn't really seem to care.

"There's just something about that boy." Morgana announced to Merlin as she watched Mordred sitting silently, looking at his cards, as he played Uno with Gwen, Freya and Sophia. The boy hadn't ever heard of the game before, but Gwen had explained the rules...and ever since the first trial round he was killing the girls...winning every single game.

Sophia narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously over her cards. "You always this good at games?"

"I don't know." Mordred replied in a monotone way, gaze on his cards. "I've never played before."

Something in Merlin ached to hear that.

Sophia blinked. "I'm going to have to bring you along to play poker with the other kids at my school. If you're this good naturally we could so totally clean those losers out! And if they can't cough up the dough, we could use it to make them become our minions!"

Merlin sighed, hanging his head.

His daughter, the future Crime Lord.

He turned to Morgana. "I'll have you know that if she ends up in prison, I'll blame you."

Morgana grinned brightly.

He sighed again.

"Uno." Freya called, holding the last card in her hand.

They continued on with the game late into the night, until Merlin informed the girls it was time to sleep. They went to bed without any trouble, Freya curling up into her father's arms and Sophia informing Mordred that he was lucky the game was interrupted because she'd been just about to kick his butt with her 'awesome cards'. Mordred had flipped the cards over, showing a couple of 1s in different colors.

Sophia had pouted and left, bluff called and defeated.

After putting the girls to bed and receiving his nightly goodnight kiss, Merlin had taken Mordred to the spare bedroom next to the girls and tucked him in as well on reflex. "Would you like anything before you go to sleep?" He asked. "A glass of water maybe?"

Mordred shook his head.

Merlin smiled. "You're safe here. You can sleep soundly, okay? I'm in the other room, Gwen and Morgana are staying over, and there's a policeman outside."

Mordred nodded.

"Sleep tight." Merlin went to the door and reached for the light.

"Can you keep it on?" Mordred asked quickly, a little desperately.

Merlin turned and smiled in understanding. "There's a nightlight in the corner, it'll light up the room enough."

Mordred was silent, head tilted down. "I'm not usually such a sissy." His voice wavered.

A frown touched Merlin's face and he found himself going back to the bed and sitting on the edge of it. "Sissy? Don't be ridiculous. You went through an extremely traumatic experience today that would have made adults burst out in tears...and you've handled it so maturely. It's only human for you to be shaken up after a thing like that. Those men were supposed to protect you, not hurt you."

Mordred nodded.

"Your father should arrive tomorrow on the first flight, so don't worry. I know this is a strange place and you don't know us, but rest assured that you are safe here." Merlin place a hand on that slumped shoulder. "We have enjoyed having you with us. And despite the circumstances, we hope you enjoyed it too."

"I...have." The boy looked up at Merlin and gave him a curious expression, as if surprised that he'd enjoyed himself. "It is very different here than home."

"How so?" Merlin hadn't heard the boys say this much all evening, and was intrigued.

"Loud." He shrugged.

Merlin chuckled. "That sums up this place incredibly well." He leaned in, whispering conspiratorially. "It's the women I tell you! Just don't let them know I told you that. They're scary."

"Especially Morgana." Mordred agreed softly.

Merlin threw his head back and laughed. "Good boy! You're sharp!"

Mordred's lips stretched slightly, like he was trying to smile and didn't even realize it.

Reaching over, Merlin ruffled the boy's hair affectionately. "Sleep well my boy." Making sure that the kid was wrapped up well, he stood and left the room, turning off the light and making sure the nightlight came on brightly before closing the door.

Making his way to the couch, he collapsed onto it, tired.

"How was he, Mer?" Gwen asked, sitting down next to him.

"Still a little shaken, but so incredibly strong." Merlin couldn't help but admire that.

"He might be a rich kid, but it doesn't look like that boy has had it easy." Morgana admitted, sitting down on Merlin's other side. "He said he doesn't play games. He studies. His father buys him puzzles and encyclopedias." She snorted. "Obviously the man's an idiot."

"'Gana." Gwen scolded.

"What?" Morgana looked genuinely confused as to why she was being scolded. "Gwen! The kid's six! Who gives their six year old son the Encyclopedia Britannica?"

"Someone who obviously wants the kid to be smart. It's a nice gift." Gwen replied.

"A nice gift would be a rugby ball." Morgana argued.

"So he can go out and get his nose broken?" Gwen frowned.

"So he can go out and have fun." Morgana replied.

Both were glaring at each other and leaning over Merlin towards each other.

He just sighed, leaning his head back against the couch. "He's a good kid. I think the girls liked him. They could be a good influence on him, get him to open up a little."

"Or plot world domination together." Morgana turned towards him. "Remember I was the one who found Sophia's list."

"Be Beautiful. Get Stupid Rich Husband. Take Stupid Rich Husband's Money. Form a Militia With Stupid Rich Husband's Money. Take Over A Small Country. Wage War With Another Small Country Bordering First Conquered Country. Conquer. Join Said Countries Into One Larger Country. Repeat Until Having Obtained Total World Domination. Have Free Chocolate For Life. Get Freya A Dog. Buy Dad New Socks." Merlin repeated the list by memory with a groan, placing a hand over his eyes. "She was only seven when she wrote that."

"I know." Morgana smiled proudly.

Merlin just groaned.

Gwen giggled. "Well, just be glad. In a few years she'll be too interested in boys to consider a future as a Tyrant/Dictator."

"Boys." Merlin groaned at the very thought. "Why do they have to like boys? Why can't they just skip that stage?"

"Well, they don't have to like boys." Morgana leaned back against him. "They could always like girls."

The doorbell ringing cut into that conversation.

Getting up with a groan, Merlin went to the door and opened it, eyes widening as he saw the last person he would have ever expected on his doorstep.

"I'm Arthur Pendragon." The blonde told him, looking absolutely distraught. "Officer Du Lac--- is my son---?"

"Come in, he's fine, he's sleeping. I thought you were coming tomorrow?" Merlin tried to keep himself together, calm, as he stepped aside and let the haggard-looking blonde inside. "Mordred's safe. Don't worry."

"I pulled some strings and got here faster, I just couldn't---my son! I'm going to fucking kill those bastards with my own hands!" He raved, tearing off his scarf and throwing it to the ground in impotent anger before turing to Merlin. "Were you the one who saved him?"

"Yes I--."

"Thank you." Arthur Pendragon reached for Merlin's hand and grabbed it, his own hand shaking slightly. "Thank you so much."

Merlin's eyes widened.

Morgana and Gwen watched curiously from the couch.

Of course, they didn't know that this was the man Morgause had left him for.