Merlin knew he was no longer dreaming but didn't open his eyes. He hoped he would fall back into his dream and once again be lying on the beach next to a half naked prince discussing the beauty of the fish as they flew through the air. It didn't make sense but it didn't need. The bed was too comfortable to pass up the chance for more sleep. At that thought Merlin's eyes flew open.
It was definitely the ceiling of his room. Merlin sat up. His bed was slightly larger and softer then what he remembered. He couldn't have been imagining it. He stood and suddenly felt weak, stumbling.
"Oh, right. Blood loss." He said quietly. He lifted up his night shirt but didn't find a wound or scar. "Strange." He could have sworn he remembered being stabbed through the gut with a spell. Vividly remembered, actually. He slowly made his way to the door and opened it. Gaius was reading a book, looking up when he heard the door
The old man gave him a wide smile, "You're awake!" Merlin smiled as Gaius got up and hugged him. "Thank goodness. I wasn't expecting you to recover so quickly."
"What you mean?"
"Well, the attack only happened yesterday, I was expecting you to be out for at least a week."
Merlin smirked, "You seem to forget who I am."
Gaius shook his head, "Sometimes I do."
"What happened with Morgause and Gloriana?"
"Gloriana put the king to sleep while she and I healed you. Morgause's body disappeared in the chaos. The king came too, and seems to be missing large chunks of information, like that the attack involved anyone but Morgause but remembers things like you nearly dying and defending him."
"She can read minds, doesn't surprise me much that she can alter them too."
Just then they heard shouting coming from the corridor, "Seriously father, he saved my life. Again! I will check on him as often as I like and-" The door opened and their stood the prince and the king. Both stopped at the sight of Merlin, awake and standing. Arthur dropped a scroll he was holding and ran to him, hugging him tightly. "Thank the gods." He whispered into the crook of Merlin's neck. Merlin hugged him back, avoiding the king's stare as he remembered their talk. It was hard to protect from a distance if the prince was going to keep invading his personal space. Arthur pulled back, giving him a broad smile that melted Merlin's resolve again.
"Did someone switch out my bed?"
Arthur's smile fell, "You needed a new one. How did you sleep on that thing?"
Merlin's eyes finally found Uther's. There was something like defeat in them, and the tiniest bit of amusement. "I hear you saved my life, boy, as well as my son's. You fought well. Such a small comfort was nothing compared to the deeds you've done." Arthur looked at his father, surprised. Uther shook his head picking up the scroll from the floor. "I'll send a servant down with some food." He left, closing the door behind him.
Merlin gulped, "So I get to keep my head?"
Gaius nodded, "Seems like it." the old man fixed his robes and straightened, smiling. "I've got an errand to run. I'll be back in a few hours." Gaius gave them a nod, and left as well, leaving the two of them alone.
Arthur turned to Merlin. "If you scare me like that again, I'll kill you myself. Deal?" Merlin nodded, confused but happy. "Good."
When the silence went on for more than a few minutes Merlin cleared his throat, "Well?" Arthur looked at him, then looked away quickly. He shifted from foot to foot. "Are you alright, Arthur? Are you not feeling well?" Merlin raised his hand and lightly touched Arthur's forehead. He recoiled back a few inches, looking frightened. "I'm sorry. I was just-"
"No, I am. You surprised me, is all. It's okay. Really." Arthur stepped forward again, swallowing hard. Merlin searched the prince's face for an answer.
"There's no one here Merlin. Stop calling me sire." Arthur ran his fingers through his hair.
"You can tell me, Arthur."
"It's not fair to you. Telling you… Knowing that-"
"Fair or not, I know you'll tell me eventually. You're a selfish prat like that."Arthur was trying to look anywhere but his eyes now. "You contemplating changing makes me concerned for your health. That fight must have knocked a few bits loose."
Arthur met his eyes. A look was growing in them that was hard to ignore. Merlin took a step forward, shortening the gap between them. Arthur's hand came up as if to touch his face but stopped half way moving as if it didn't know where to go. "I-…" The hand finally went back to hanging at his side, then reached forward and held Merlin's gently. "I love you..." He breathed in like it was difficult, shaking as he squeezed his hand. "Knowing who I am and who you are, I can see why it never even crossed my mind that was what it was. I didn't think of it because it was so terribly unfair." Tears started to swell in Arthur's eyes and Merlin was speechless; that had not been what he expected at all. It was so jarring he just stood there. "And nothing could ever happen between use because I have to marry and have an heir and be the prince and then king and you'll always be just my servant and that hurt so badly I can't-"
Merlin couldn't take it anymore; he leaned forward, kissing him. Arthur tensed a bit in surprise, but Merlin pulled back quickly to shake his head. "Arthur, whatever happens, or doesn't happen doesn't matter. We'll do what we must and right now I must kiss you again."
Arthur didn't wait for him. He grabbed the back of Merlin's neck and pulled him in. They didn't notice the door open and Gwen squeaking then leaving the room once more after placing the food by the door. Merlin wobbled a bit and Arthur pulled back, "Lord, I forgot. You need to eat." They turned to the door and noticed the tray. Arthur blushed furiously. "This will be all over the castle by sundown."
Merlin grinned, as he sat at Gaius' table. Arthur brought him the tray. "There were rumors before, anyway."
"Don't act so surprised, you were calling me to your chambers at all hours of the night, I help you dress, wake you up. I was so obviously pining after you; it would be strange if there wasn't talk."
Arthur shook his head, "Servants and their gossip."
"We've got seldom little else to do."
"What about your job?" Merlin leaned forward, and kissed him again. "Oi! Don't think I'm just going to start going easy on you or anything, you are still my servant."
"But I'm also so much more than that."
Arthur smiled softly, "You've always been more than that. Now eat. Can't have you passing out or anything. My room is a mess."
"It was clean not twenty four hours ago!"
"Well, worrying over your safety blocks out what little knowledge I have about keeping it tidy." Arthur grabbed an apple from the tray and Merlin at the rest. Merlin couldn't believe his luck. "Home at last." Arthur whispered wistfully. Merlin gave him a curious look and Arthur pulled out his compass, taking it off and holding it out for Merlin. "Try it." It was pointing at him but when Merlin took it the needle spun around to face Arthur.
"Home." Merlin shook his head, "That isn't what I intended at all."
"Does your magic EVER go as planned?"
"Nope. Never. It'd get boring if it did."