Disclaimer: I don't own BBC's Merlin or any of the characters, though I sure wish I did.
A/N: This chapter is also currently unbetaed. I hope ya'll enjoy it. I'll repost post the betaed version later when it comes back along with the next chapters also.
The Perils of a Stormy Night
Chapter 12: How Things End
Athur tugged on his reigns and tried to still Vidaldei's erattic movements when a startled shout reached his ears. He twisted arround in the saddle, looking over his shoulder just in time to see Merlin slipping off his mount and colliding with the solid ground.
"Merlin!" he shouted, while swinging his leg over his saddle and dismouting as quickly as he could. In a flurry of movement Arthur sprinted forward after absently tossing his horse's lead towards Gallahad, his eyes never leaving his servant's sprawled form. Sir Leon was at the boys side only moments before the Prince found himself on his knees beside him.
"Merlin!" he called, reaching out a quivering hand to grip the young man's jaw and turn it towards him.
"He's not breathing Sire, I believe the breath was knocked from him." Leon observed worriedly, watching as the boy seemed to try and open his mouth almost desperately, but no air was pulled in, nor did his chest rise.
Arthur's brow furrowed in concern, as Leon leaned forward and pulled Merlin's lanky frame up until his servant's back was pressed against the Knight's chest. "You need to calm down Merlin." Leon spoke as soothingly as he could. "Feel the rythm of my breathing? Now follow my lead. Breathe with me. Let the air come-don't force it."
The Prince frowned and was about to make a comment when Merlin inhaled a shuttering breath, followed by another, and another.
Sir Leon smiled reasuringly at Arthur when the young royal looked at him with questioning eyes. "My father did the same for me when I was twelve and fell from a tree." He divulged, lowering Merlin's slight body to the forest floor.
Arthur nodded gratefully before turning his attention back to his felled servant. Merlin had yet to open his eyes, his lashes however fluttered wildy across his flushed cheeks, the orbs trapped beneath the lids seemed to be rolling about in their sockets.
"Merlin" he muttered, lightly tapping the boys face, afraid that any real force might hurt the young man further. A low groan escaped past the parted lips, followed by a soft gasp.
Merlin pulled his head away from the warmth that was pressed against the side of his face with uncommon gentleness. His body was alive with promises of aches he was sure to feel later, but the pounding within his skull is what threatened to drive him to madness. The blinding light from earlier was all but gone, the flashes of the memories that bombarded him were disconcerting, overwhelming, but altogether welcome in the end. He could hear a voice beckoning to him from afar and felt himself drawn to the familiar sound like a moth to a flame. His first attempt to open his eyes led to a hiss as unshaded light came flooding in through the small crevises he had alloted. He slammed his lids firmly closed and grunted from the extra throbing that his previous actions had just added to his current suffering.
The calls were more insistant now. He groaned and turned away as more warm touches and soft words pulled him further into consciousness until his thoughts felt clearer despite the ache residing there.
Causiously this time, and far more controled Merlin let his eyes slowly creep open. His pupils quickly contracted as the light spilled over them. When his vision ajusted he was looking straight into the worried face of Arthur, who at the moment seemed to be leaned over him in a protective manner with an expectant expression crossing his face.
With a shuddering sigh he let a pseudo frown form on his lips though the edges faught to quirk in blatant mutiny. "Pratt" he hissed, ignoring the pressence of the other knights. "You never listen to me. I told you not to bring that damned horse."
An appauled look flitted over the other Knight's features, but the Prince's face held nothing short of shock. Merlin was satisfied as the expression quickly morphed into confusion, before hessitantly settling on something that looked suspisiously like hope.
Arthur had to take a moment in surprize, before he realized that this had been the first time Merlin had insulted him openly since the night of his accident. There is suddenly a slight tightening in his chest as he stared at the young man before him. The dwindling hope that he had been carrying around was quickly stoked and burning with a vengeance. Maybe, just maybe Merlin was still in there after all. Clinging to that reasuring thought he looked deep into the younger man's deep blue eyes, searching and finding the twinkle of mischief that shone in both depths despite the pain the fall had induced.
"Merlin? Do you..." he cuts off his quetion, cringing when his voice cracks, his heart was now thumping wildly against his sternum.
Merlin grins up at him, and it's wide and pure like he knows exactly what the older man was going to ask.
"Yeah" Merlin huffs, letting a breathy laugh escape him. "I remember." he admits. "It's a bit jumbled up, but it's there—everything," and his smile grows imposibly wider. For the first time in weeks Merlin feels normal, or at least as normal as he feels he should in the complexities that are his life.
Arthur feels his ears ring, and it's like the giant bolder that has been pressing him down falls away. He lets Merlin's infectious smile make him pull out his own, and he nods in relief. Not quite trusting his voice yet. He pats Merlin's arm in a way that says I'm glad to have you back, though he'd never admit to that in public-if ever. If his touch lingers longer than it normal would than nobody notices. This Merlin was real, his Merlin was back and Arthur makes a vow to himself that he'd never allow something like this to happen again. It's a promise, and he ittends to keep it.
Later that week, when Thomas and Harry notice Vidaldei missing from the stables they report it to Sir Leon, both men looking dutifully concerned. When the Knight simply shrugs and says not to worry about it the two men don't argue. A month later Thomas spots the missing mare and taps Harry on the shoulder while he points to where Vidaldei stands. The fine animal looks out of place strapped down and pulling a very proud looking fammer Gillian's cart. They look at each other curiously and just shrug before continuing on their way. Neither of the men ever mentions the fact that Merlin hasn't been seen pulling stable duty since the ordeal, nor do they comment when young Rupert suddenly picks up where Merlin left off..
If Leon had an opinion in the matter the Prince was most assuredly not being over protective of his servant, but he was in fact being so for a friend.
In the end there was one thing that was for certain-whatever was going on, or whatever had changed, Merlin himself was never going to complain about it.
AN: Well thats the end to this part I'm seriously considering a timeline sequal for this that would turn into a reveal fic...hmmmmm plotting, plotting, plotting. Let me know what you thought of this...I love your reviews, they're like candy to an author!