A/N - I had a cold so I thought I would give Merlin one too. Hope you like this little bit of angstiness.
I STILL don't own Merlin *still crying*
Summery - When Merlin gets a cold Arthur worries a bit too much.
Arthur grumbled to himself as he climbed into bed. Merlin was not there, dressing Arthur in his nightshirt and putting out all of the candles, as usual. He was ill and Arthur had given him the evening off.
As he drifted off to sleep his mind replayed the scene from that afternoon.
Arthur sat at his table, eating the lunch Merlin had brought for him. A raspy breath escaped Merlin's lips, followed by several rough coughs, Arthur looked up. He watched as Merlin cleared his chambers, picking up the armour Arthur had discarded as he came in from practicing with his knights. Arthur watched the younger boy bend to pick up Arthur's boots and as he stood up Arthur was sure he saw him sway.
Merlin put a hand to his head and closed his eyes. It was then that Arthur noticed how pale he looked, not just the usual pale of Merlin's creamy skin, but white. He coughed again, bracing himself against the bedpost and then swayed again. Arthur jumped from his chair, only just catching Merlin as he dropped to the floor. His skin was tinged slightly green and there were beads of sweat forming on his brow. Arthur carefully lowered him to the ground.
Stepping out of his chambers, he found a guard and sent him for Gaius then hurried back to Merlin's side. His eyelids fluttered and he looked up at Arthur, blue-grey eyes confused.
"What, why am I on the floor?" Merlin muttered starting to sit up. Arthur pushed him back to the ground and placed a hand on his shoulder. Merlin's body convulsed as he let out another fierce cough.
"You passed out." Arthur grumbled. "Gaius is coming."
At that moment Gaius knocked on the open door and walked in, rushing over to Arthur, where he crouched over Merlin. Arthur moved out of the way, feeling useless. He could do nothing to help Merlin, just stand and watch as Gaius ran a hand over Merlin's forehead.
"It's nothing serious, Sire," the old physician assured Arthur, "just a mild cold, he needs to rest, but will be fine in a few days."
During Gaius's words Merlin had groaned and sat up, before being struck by another coughing fit.
"I'm fine now," he murmured but both prince and physician ignored him.
"Merlin, I will give you the evening off, and tomorrow as well. Now go with Gaius, rest and get better. I can manage on my own for one day!"
He helped Merlin to his feet and Gaius led him from the room. Arthur heard the coughing all the way down the hall.
Arthur rolled over, trying to get to sleep, but Merlin's pale face kept appearing in his mind. When he eventually did drift off Merlin still occupied his thoughts.
Arthur knocked on Gaius's chamber door and let himself in. He headed up the little flight of stairs into Merlin's bedroom. It was as much of a mess as usual but Arthur didn't notice. All he could see was his servant – no, his friend – lying still on the tiny bed.
Merlin looked up at him, his eyes were unfocussed and his skin was paler than ever. A hacking cough caught Merlin and Arthur rushed to his side watching Merlin choke out the harsh cough. Arthur's shock turned to horror as he saw the blood dribbling from Merlin's mouth. He grabbed one of Merlin's hands, holding tight to the ice cold skin. When the coughing subsided Arthur placed his other hand on Merlin's forehead. It was burning.
Arthur called for Gaius but the old man never came. Arthur continued screaming for the physician as he watched Merlin choke up more blood. His thin frame shook violently with every cough. Arthur felt tears surging down his face as Merlin stopped coughing, fell back on the pillow and lay still, his eyes closed. Arthur yelled for Gaius once more even though he knew it was too late. He held Merlin's limp body to his chest and wept.
A violent scream tore Arthur from his sleep. It was only once he was awake that he realised it had come from his lips.
Slipping out of bed, he pulled on his boots and a jacket over his nightshirt and ran from the room. As quietly as possible he hurried through the castle until he reached Gaius and Merlin's chambers. Slowly opening the door he saw Gaius asleep in one corner of the large room. The door to Merlin's room was ajar and Arthur could hear the gravelly cough.
Rushing into the tiny room, relief washed over Arthur as he saw Merlin sleeping, his face screwed up with discomfort. Arthur stepped over to the bed and put a hand on Merlin's face. It was flushed and warm and the younger boy nuzzled into the cold of Arthur's palm. Arthur continued to run his hands over Merlin's face and through his hair until Merlin's face became peaceful and he let out a quiet sigh.
Not wanting to leave him, Arthur found a spare blanket from a tiny cupboard and lay down on the floor facing Merlin's bed. The floor was hard and uncomfortable, but Arthur told himself he would lie there forever if that's what it took to keep Merlin in his sights. He watched him intently and when another coughing fit caught him, Arthur sat up and rubbed Merlin's chest, gently soothing him.
When Merlin woke he felt terrible, his chest ached, his throat was raw and his head was pounding. There was a gentle weight across his stomach, he looked down and was surprised to see Arthur's arm wrapped around his waist. Arthur was sleeping slouched on the floor against the side of the bed, his head resting on his hand, which was entwined with Merlin's own hand at his side.
Merlin watched the prince's shoulders rise and fall with his steady breathing, the warm breath tickling Merlin's hand. He didn't know why Arthur was sleeping on his bedroom floor, but he looked so vulnerable. His eyes were screwed tightly shut and his forehead creased slightly. He was murmuring something under his breath but Merlin couldn't hear what.
He felt the itching at the back of his throat that told him a cough was coming, he tried to hold it back, not wanting to wake Arthur, but he got caught up in the coughing fit. Arthur's head shot up with a quiet scream of "Merlin!" and a panic-stricken expression crossed his face. His hands flew to Merlin, one hand gently patting his shoulder, the other rubbing circles on his chest.
When the coughing stopped, Merlin looked into Arthur's eyes, they were scared and upset.
"Merlin," he whispered, "You're not allowed to be ill, I don't like it." A tear leaked out from between his lashes. Merlin wasn't sure what to do, he wanted to comfort his master – no, his friend – but he knew Arthur wouldn't want anyone thinking he was weak. So Merlin ignored the tear and tried making a joke.
"Is that an order, Sire?" His voice was quieter and more raspy than usual but he got his usual mocking tone, and Arthur smiled.
"Yes," he returned with almost his normal princely arrogance. "Now get better. Please." The last word was so quiet Merlin almost missed it and in a sad, pleading voice he had never heard from Arthur before.
Merlin gave him a huge grin and reached out to touch Arthur's hand, which was still resting across his chest. Arthur looked at his hand, then at Merlin's and carefully clasped them together, his thumb rubbing Merlin's wrist. He got up off the floor and sat on the edge of Merlin's bed, shoving him over so there was more space. Merlin felt his warmth through the blanket, and snuggled closer to it.
Arthur ran the fingers of his free hand through Merlin's hair, brushing it back off his forehead. Then, sliding his hand down to the back of Merlin's neck, he pulled his head forward. He leaned closer until all Merlin could see were Arthur's bright blue eyes and slightly chapped lips. And then the lips were on his, gently kissing. Merlin closed his eyes, leaning closer to Arthur and put his arms around Arthur's waist. Arthur's hand slid from his grip and roamed over his back, up under his tunic making Merlin gasp. Arthur ran his tongue over Merlin's lips, and Merlin parted them letting Arthur's tongue slip into his mouth.
When Arthur pulled back, Merlin was breathless, he let out a tiny whimper that made Arthur chuckle and affectionately kiss him on the nose.
"Now, you have to rest, I will come back later." Arthur promised, kissing Merlin again before getting up and leaving. He turned at the door and grinned.
Later that day Gaius came into Merlin's room, his bag of medicines in his hand.
"I will be back later, Merlin, I have to go and see Prince Arthur. He has got a cold!"
A/N - Please review to tell me what you thought!