Warnings: This is a modern AU and contains slash and swearing, and some violence. Arthur is pretty OOC in some ways as well - more like the man he is later in Series 3 in the way he acts towards Merlin.
I do not own these characters, they are property of the BBC.
The reviews I got on my other story really encouraged me to write more, but I decided on one of my other favourite pairings. At the moment I'm working on about seven fics at once, so it might be a while before I get anything else up, but I'll keep at it.
As for Merthur, if you don't watch the show you're missing out on one hell of a lot of eyesex
Accidental Train Ride
Arthur scowled as he tried to haul his gigantic suitcase onto the train; it wasn't as if he was unfit, far from it, but Morgana had insisted on packing almost everything she owned. And, because it hadn't all fitted in her three bags, she'd poached his as well. If anyone decided to open his case they'd assume that he was a secret cross-dresser with a fancy for red and green full length dresses.
He sighed. He may be gay, but not that gay, and as the next in line for the Pendragon Enterprise he couldn't afford for his father to find out. Yet.
Morgana knew of course; there was nothing you could get past her. It would have been the source of endless blackmail and teasing, if he hadn't come home from work early one night and found her sprawled naked over the sofa with someone blonde, leggy and decidedly female called Morgause.
The metallic voice announced the train was leaving in two minutes and he renewed his efforts, but it was impossible. He gave up and called out to the first person who happened to be passing by, a young man with black hair that stuck in all directions and ears that, if he'd been in a cruel mood, he might have compared to dumbo's.
"Oi! Can you give me a hand here?"
The man – more of a boy really – turned and gave a genial smile that split his face and made the dimples on his cheeks stand out in a way that even Arthur had to admit was slightly adorable. Only slightly.
"Sure." He ambled over, almost tripping twice over his own feet, and lifted the bottom of the trunk. Arthur wriggled backwards, turning the corner and entering his private carriage. Uther had arranged for Morgana to have her own at the opposite end of the train. Sometimes Arthur had to admit the old man knew them far too well.
The boy had let go, but he looked at Arthur with concern, struggling with the case still. "Need more help?"
Arthur flushed, but he wasn't going to turn it down. "Please."
Together they worked the trunk through the narrow gap and forced it onto the rack. Arthur cursed – why did they have to make the damn things so high up? The boy was red and breathing hard, and sat back for a second.
"Thanks," Arthur panted. The boy nodded and turned with another wide smile. Only to have the doors shut in his face and the rattle of motion as the train started moving.
Arthur's mouth fell open as the boy banged on the doors with a shout. "Hey!"
"Shit!" said Arthur. "I'm really sorry, I didn't realise…"
The boy shook his head. "It's fine. I'll just get off at the next stop." Arthur felt his face fall a little more, and the boy spotted it, reaching up to tug at the dopey red scarf he was wearing round his neck with a worried expression. "What?"
"This is non-stop. To Scotland."
"Scotland!" Miserably the boy patted his pockets. "I've only got a fiver on me."
"It's fine." Arthur dragged him into the compartment and slid the door shut. "So long as you're with me they won't question anything."
The boy grinned and sat on one of the squashy seats without being invited. Arthur might have been annoyed, but he had practically press-ganged the boy into coming to Scotland with him.
"Are you royalty or something then?"
Arthur felt a smile flick over his face as he sat down opposite the boy and put his hands on the table.
"The carriage is all paid for, so no-one will check in here."
"Right." The boy didn't seem able to sit still, one second fiddling with the chair, the other tugging at the sleeves of his brown jacket. Arthur looked at him closely; the clothes were baggy on his thin frame and slightly shabby. There was no telltale bulge of a mobile in any of his pockets; he didn't look very rich.
"What's your name then?"
The boy started and blushed. "Merlin."
"I'm Arthur." He extended a hand but Merlin only looked at it blankly, so he quickly changed the direction and opened the small strip of window at the top of the pane.
"Not Pendragon?" Merlin was looking at him closely. Arthur sighed; bloody magazines.
"Yeah. My father's staying for a few days and he didn't trust me and my sister to be alone in the house without burning it down."
Merlin was smiling shyly. "I'm glad to meet you."
Arthur rolled his eyes. "I just kidnapped you and dragged you to Scotland. You can't be that pleased to see me."
"Is this a kidnapping then?"
Arthur arched an eyebrow, in an unusually playful mood just because of the way Merlin's eyes were sparkling. "What if it is?"
"Well I'd have to defend myself then, wouldn't I?"
Arthur barely hid a snicker. "What are you going to do to me?" Come to think of it, that did sound rather perverse. Merlin winked.
"Oh you'd be surprised." He was shut of with a squeak as Arthur leapt across the table and pinned him to his seat with both hands.
A struggle ensued and by the time they emerged Arthur was sitting astride Merlin with one hand on each shoulder. Only after a couple of seconds did they notice the position was rather…compromising.
"Sorry." Arthur felt his face flame as he wriggled back into his seat. "Please don't file for assault."
Merlin looked concerned. "Is that what people do?"
"My father's rich as hell. People try to sue me if I bump into them, let alone push them into a seat and jump on them."
He said it without thinking and they both giggled nervously. "I tell you what," Merlin said slowly. "If you have a mobile I can borrow I'll let you off."
Arthur passed his phone, one of the latest models, across the table. Merlin picked it up and pressed a few buttons.
"Yeah, hi mum. Listen, I've got a bit of a problem…"
Arthur found Merlin easy to talk to. After the brief phone call to his mother Merlin had sat back down and they'd talked for an hour.
Merlin was nineteen, although he looked a little younger. His last name was Emrys, and he had a dog called, fairly bizarrely in Arthur's opinion, Dragon. His father had died recently, trying to protect his family from an armed robber. He had no brother's or sisters, but a best friend called Will, whom he prattled on about for several minutes before Arthur decided to change the subject.
"So what do you do? Are you still at university?"
"We didn't have enough money for me to go." He didn't seem embarrassed by the fact, more accepting of his fate than Arthur thought normal. "I work as a cleaner for one of those companies that loan us out to customers."
"You make it sound like some kind of prostitute ring," Arthur broke in absentmindedly. Merlin giggled – it was definitely a giggle – and for once it didn't annoy him. When Morgana, or worse Morgause, giggled it ground on his nerves and set his teeth on edge. When Merlin did it he was positively cute.
"It's not quite that bad, but I wouldn't recommend us."
Arthur raised his eyebrows. "Oh?"
"There has to be about two uncorrupted workers there, and I count myself as one of them. Unless you want your silver spoons or your TV pinched I'd do it yourself."
"Right. Why are you telling me this? Surely you should be saying you're the best company in the world and I should tell all my friends to use you."
Merlin flushed. "If you're going to 'use me' as you put it, I'd rather you came one at a time."
Arthur's turn to blush, a smile tracing his lips. It seemed he'd met someone who had an equal to his dirty mind, a very rare occurrence nowadays. His body may have been raised the rich son of Uther Pendragon, but his mind lived in the gutter.
"So what about you?" Merlin broke the awkward silence, still grinning lopsidedly at him from across the table. "What do you do?"
Arthur scowled. "Not much really. Until my father hands the company over to me there isn't much I can. I finished uni a couple of years ago, and now I just work pushing paperwork around."
"Fencing mainly. Bit of riding if I happen to be in the country. Dad's obsessed with hunting so I'm often going out on trips for that, but I don't like it all that much. Morgana hates me for doing it. What about your hobbies? Do you have a girlfriend?"
"I go for magic – party tricks and stuff. I've got hundreds of books on them at home. As for a girlfriend, girls are fine, but they lack certain appendages that interest me."
Even with an appealing eyebrow wiggle it took Arthur a couple of seconds to work out what Merlin was saying, and when he did he couldn't help it.
"Oh. Me too." He felt silly straight afterwards, but there hadn't really been anyone else to talk to…not even Morgana.
Merlin leant forwards a little. "Really? I never read that."
God, it would be all over the papers tomorrow. "It's not…only Morgana knows."
"Not even your dad?"
"I don't think he'd like it. He doesn't like gay people all that much. Not really homophobic, per se, but he thinks they're a waste of space. If he found out both me and Morgana were…I think he'd have a fit."
Merlin grinned. "Morgana too? This'd be funny if it wasn't so depressing."
"She's bi, but she's got a girlfriend at the moment." He paused. "Listen, you seem pretty decent. Do I have to ask that you don't tell anyone this? No gossip or anything? Because you know what happens when the press gets hold of things like this and Morgana would murder me if she found out I'd told someone I didn't know all that well about her."
Merlin looked slightly hurt. "I'm not an idiot. I understand."
"Thanks." He pulled a bag of sandwiches out of his rucksack and spread them out on the small table. "Enjoy."
Merlin took a sandwich and peeled it open. "What is this?"
"Oh." He rummaged round the rucksack further and pulled out a slightly crushed packet of crisps. "Here."
As Merlin reached for the packet there was a shuddering jolt that wrenched them round, throwing Merlin up in the air and juddering the carriage sickeningly. There was a split second and then they began to roll.
Crashing, crumbling creaking and groaning surrounded them in the screech of twisting metal. The window hit something and cracked into a spider's web. The lights went out and the darkness heightened his hearing and touch, making everything hurt ten times more. There was a second of sickening freefall and then a heavy thud that rattled his bones. Sparks flew out and in the subsequent shadows he was just in time to see Merlin's head hit the side of the window with enough force to break it and pepper Arthur's cheeks with tiny shards of glass before he was thrown down and everything dissolved away.
When he jerked back to consciousness the train was still settling, so he couldn't have been out for more than a couple of seconds. In the light of a small fire flickering in the doorway of their carriage he could see the whole train had been turned on its side, with grass ticking through the broken window and the evening sky visible through the other.
The last thing he'd seen was his head hitting the glass…god he could be dead. Arthur felt a rush of guilt; Merlin hadn't even supposed to be on this train. Arthur had forced him to come.
"Merlin?" His voice was croaky from the smoke. "Merlin?"
He made his way over to widow, clambering over the fixed seats like logs, ignoring a twisted ankle that twinged painfully, and found him on top of the broken glass. He was stretched out in a bizarre position, legs curled over and both arms flung out at ninety degrees from his head. One wrist, maybe even the arm, was clearly broken, even to Arthur's untrained eyes.
Arthur gently shook him, and when he didn't respond, pulled him upright and held him to his chest, wondering if it was the right thing to do. "Merlin?" he repeated, jiggling Merlin slightly and tapping his face, crouching half in the mud and half on a seat.
Merlin gave a low groan. "Please tell me that was a nightmare."
"Sorry." Arthur helped him to stand, hissing at his ankle, and Merlin stood leaning on his arm, swaying slightly. Arthur glanced at the entrance to the carriage, but the flames were a lot higher now. They were trapped.
He coughed and looked up at the window above them. "We've got to get up there and break through before there's too much smoke."
Merlin grunted and reached a hand up to grab across the aisle and reach the second set of seats that hung in the air, but his wrist gave way and he fell back with a howl. Arthur caught him and held him for a couple of seconds, feeling their hearts beating at double speed together.
"I'll go," he said, speaking loudly over the crackling flames. "Then I'll lean down and pull you up."
Merlin shook his head. "There's no way you're going to be able to do that. Just get out and get help, I'll be fine."
"You'll have bloody suffocated by the time that happens." Arthur got his good foot on the seat and used his fairly impressive upper body strength to pull him up to the level of the window. The little green hammer was missing – how typical – so he used his elbow, sending a shudder through his entire body.
It worked though; the glass cracked and he had just enough time to turn his face to the side as it rained down. Merlin gave a yelp and there was a creak behind him.
He half-jumped to get out of the window and wriggled inelegantly onto the side of the train. Without looking round he pulled off his jacket and wound one end round his wrist.
"Grab onto the sleeve with your good hand!" he yelled at the shadowy figure standing below him. "Use your feet to support yourself and I'll do the work."
"You should get out of here," said Merlin, even as he did as he was told. "What if the train explodes?"
"I got you into this." Arthur grit his teeth as Merlin began to climb. Sheer desperation forced them to keep going, but it took a couple of attempts to get Merlin to the level of the window.
Arthur dropped the jacket and grabbed for Merlin's hands instead. The jacket fell back and Merlin's broken wrist clicked horribly under his palm as he dragged the dark haired man out of the yawning gap and they rolled onto the grass.
For a couple of seconds they lay there, groaning. Arthur turned and looked into Merlin's face; his eyes were hazy with pain and his hair was matted with blood. Arthur wondered just how hard he'd hit his head, and the thought 'hospital' popped into his mind. He felt for his phone, and then remembered it had been in his jacket.
"Come on," he stuttered, pulling Merlin to his feet. The other man's legs gave way, so Arthur pulled his arm around his own shoulders to hold him up.
In the dying light and the flickering flames he could see the train. It was a mess, with the middle blown outwards and completely missing; only the furthest three carriages at both ends seemed to have survived. Bits of the train lay scattered everywhere; it looked like they'd fallen down a small slope, which explained the freefall before the landing.
From the remaining carriages people were climbing, some out of the windows. Others had managed to force the doors open and were leaning through to pull more people out. Still more stood around nervously, or wandered helplessly.
"Morgana?" he shouted, coughing as smoke suddenly billowed outwards. "Morgana?"
"I'm here!" she spluttered, limping forwards, holding her shoulder. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah. Sprained ankle at worst."
"Who's this?" She looked at Merlin with a frown, but Merlin only groaned and sank to his knees, dragging Arthur with him.
"I'll explain later," Arthur said, helping roll Merlin over into the recovery position. "What the fuck happened here?"
"I'm not sure; there was this massive flash and then the whole world just went crazy." She looked on the verge of crying, which was disturbing in itself.
"Terrorists? Judging from the way the middle's completely disappeared…"
She nodded. "All those people…"
"We should help them get the others out." He checked Merlin's pulse, and it fluttered alarmingly. "Do you have your phone? I lost mine."
She reached into her pocket and pulled it out; the screen was cracked, but the light flickered on when she unlocked it and dialled 999.
"Fire, police or ambulance?" The loudspeaker was on and he heard every word.
"All three," she said, speaking more authoritatively than he knew she felt. "Listen there's been a huge train crash on the way to Scotland, we've rolled down a hill and I think there was an explosion…"
"We've already had some calls about it; the services have been dispatched. They should be here in less than an hour." There was a burst of static and the phone clicked off.
"An hour?" Arthur burst out.
"We're in the middle of no-where here! If they need air ambulances they need time to get ready and…"
Morgana was pacing, making him dizzy, so he looked down at Merlin instead, biting his lip. He was so pale…
A man with singed clothes walked over; he looked old, white haired and slightly wrinkled. "You three alright?"
Morgana gave him her 'are you fucking kidding me' glare, but Arthur merely shook his head.
"Not too great. Me and my sister are just about fine but my friend's in a really bad way…"
The man bent down and tipped Merlin's head to one side. His eyes widened.
"I'm surprised he's been able to walk…" Arthur knew he wasn't supposed to have heard that, and he felt tears prick the back of his eyes.
"What? What do you mean? Please, you've got to help him, I-"
"Keep calm boy!" Arthur clapped his mouth shut. "I'm Gaius, and I'm a doctor, luckily for you, but I need you to stay calm, or I won't be able to help him."
Arthur nodded. Morgana had drifted off, probably to go rescue other people. She could take care of herself, so he wasn't worried.
"What…what's wrong with him?"
"He's got a severe head injury, and maybe mild shock. It's hard to tell with something like this. I need you to tell me exactly what happened when we crashed."
Arthur bit his lip; everything was a little fuzzy. "He hit the window, with the side of his head I think, when we landed after that second where we dropped."
"How hard did he hit it?"
"Enough to break the glass, but it was already cracked I guess. He managed to hold onto my jacket and climb out, but then he passed out almost straight afterwards."
"Adrenaline would have kept him going; people in life-threatening situations manage to do the craziest of things, but as soon as they know they're safe they can go into shock and even die. It's a bit ironic really."
"Can you do anything for him?"
"This position you've got him in is good. We really need to wake him up, then keep him conscious for as long as we can."
"How do we do that?"
"Call his name, tap his face and hands, and if that doesn't work try pinching him. I need to help the others, but if you have more trouble feel free to come and get me, alright?"
Arthur nodded, calling Merlin's name and steadily progressing to tapping his cheek. Merlin remained unresponsive. With rising panic Arthur pinched Merlin's leg, then examined the other man's large ears. A crazy idea popped into his head, something he'd read in a magazine…
He pinched the soft flesh of Merlin's earlobe, digging his nails in shamelessly. Merlin gave a low gasp and his eyes flew open, but the pupils were dilated and wild-looking, squashing the blue out of them.
"Arthur?" he managed to choke out, before he rolled over and was violently sick. Arthur held his head and massaged his shoulders gently.
"Hey, it's okay. We're going to be okay." He pulled off Merlin's necker and used it to wipe the soot and tears off the other man's face. "Better?"
Merlin nodded, just as the shouting rose from behind them. Morgana rushed over, still holding her shoulder, plastered in dirt from head to foot.
"Arthur! We need your help, there are a couple of kids trapped in the wreckage." Her voice trembled, but Arthur was a little hesitant.
"I'll be fine." Merlin gritted his teeth into a pained smile. "I'll be fine Arthur, just go help them."
His head dropped back, although his eyes remained open. Arthur allowed himself to be dragged off by Morgana to a section of the train that had been closer to the initial explosion.
"It's here," she rushed out. "We've prised the doors open, but some of the walls have caved in and it's all over their legs. We need some of the strong people to get down there, and you seem to have two good arms."
He nodded wearily and dropped down into the smoke, the twinge in his ankle still painful, but slightly duller. The heavy soot assailed his lungs and made him cough for a couple of seconds, but it wasn't as bad as it looked from above. Flames flickered eerily, and he felt lost.
A voice cut through the smog. "We're over here! Are you the one Morgana told us about?"
"Yeah, that's me." A man in a business suit grabbed his hand and dragged him along the sloping floor (or was it the wall? It was hard to remember).
The smoke cleared a little and someone had a torch, so he was able to see clearly; the children, two boys of about four and six, were only just visible under the heap of rubble.
"We've got a lever in place," the man explained, coughing a little. "But we need two to lift and one to get the kids out. That'll be Gwen."
A petite black woman in a conductor's uniform gave him a weary smile. Arthur only nodded, too exhausted to smile back.
Everything was done with the minimum of talk. Arthur and the man in the suit dragged down the lever, a long pole that had probably held up the door, and held it. Gwen began to ease out the first child, who was crying loudly. Arthur's arm muscles burned, but he'd spent most of his life fencing and could accept the pain. He was sweating, the salt running into his mouth, and his armpits stung ferociously.
"Got 'em!" came Gwen's voice, and Arthur and the man in the suit gratefully let the pole drop.
The smoke was thicker, choking, and if it hadn't been for Gwen, who seemed to be able to breathe easier, they might never have made it. As it was she had an excellent sense of direction, and knew the train layout well, so they made it to the doors, still prised open to allow a sliver of night sky to be seen through the smoke.
The children got passed up first, followed by Gwen, who stood on Arthur's shoulders. The business man insisted Arthur go up before him, and he couldn't be bothered arguing, so allowed himself to be passed up.
There was a click just as he pulled himself out of the train.
"Don't move." Arthur froze. The business man, who was a head taller than him, wriggled out of the doors by himself, but stopped dead when he saw who was behind Arthur, eyes wide.
"Turn around. Slowly. Any sudden movements and she's dead."
He nodded, moving his feet very slowly.
A woman with long black hair a little like Morgana's, only with fiercely blue eyes instead of green, was standing in front of him. She was holding a pistol to Gwen's head; Gwen was whimpering but stock still.
"Get over there."
He obeyed unthinkingly, joining the rest of the people, huddled together. Morgana reached out and took his hand.
"Who are you?" said the business man. The woman swung to face him and he quickly raised his hands. Her eyes narrowed she jerked her head towards the rest of the group. He nodded and moved slowly to join them.
"I'm Nimueh, if you must know. Now, which of you should I kill first?"
Silence. Morgana gripped his hand tighter.
She released Gwen and pushed her towards the others. "Get in a line."
Everyone hesitated, until she fired a shot. They scrabbled then, forming a clumsy line that wove around a little. Only when they were lined up did Arthur see just how few people had actually survived the crash; fifteen at most. Admittedly it wasn't the kind of train most people could afford to get on, but it wasn't going to be a happy figure.
"Why are you doing this?" Gaius's calm voice rang out in the silence. "What do you gain from blowing up a train?"
Nimueh laughed, threw down the pistol and pulled a second gun, which had been strapped around her back; this one looked a lot nastier, with a blunt head and a magazine clip. Arthur gulped.
"Why does anyone do anything? For power. To get noticed. When people see what has happened here there will be outrage. People of such esteemed positions; politicians, doctor's, businessmen. You're all here; you're all important. But not quite important enough to warrant protection or any of that shit. With you dead half the companies in England will be thrown into complete chaos, and the message will be pretty clear; we don't need your superiority."
Nimueh walked forwards and back along the line, humming softly. She paused in front of a woman who was cradling the two children they'd just helped rescue.
"Do you want me to kill them first? Spare them the horror of seeing the others killed?"
The woman's mouth dropped open and she pulled the children closer. Arthur felt a shudder of disgust.
Nimueh laughed and dragged the younger child forwards, levelling the gun at his head.
"Beg for his life."
The woman threw herself down, sobbing. "Please. I'll do anything, I-" Nimueh shoved her away, and clicked the gun ready.
And then Arthur saw him, black hair flying round his head, and he understood.
She stopped to glare at him.
"Are you offering your life for this child's?"
"Yes." He hoped he didn't sound too distracted. Trying to be brave, he pulled out of Morgana's desperate clutch and stepped forwards. Nimueh turned and pointed the gun at his chest.
"You really are a fool Arthur Pendragon."
The surprise at her actually knowing his name didn't have time to register before there was a second click behind Nimueh.
"Drop the gun."
Merlin stood behind her, swaying on his feet. Blood was dripping slowly down the side of his face, but his eyes were just as crazed as hers, something gold glinting deep in the blue. His good hand was clenched around the pistol she had just discarded.
"It's out of bullets, you know," she chuckled.
Merlin shook his head. "If it was I would be dead by now."
She frowned, the gun still levelled at Arthur's chest. He could feel his heart pounding, almost breaking through his ribs. Every breath was difficult, a danger in case the movement annoyed her.
"Shoot me then. I wonder how many of these people I can bring down before I drop. Certainly your precious Arthur for one."
Merlin bit his lip. "If you give me the gun I'll let you live."
"Dear, dear, do you think I'd be doing all this if I wasn't intending to kill myself afterwards? You'll have to do much better than that."
Arthur thought. It seemed Merlin was doing the same, but they had so very little time before she went ahead.
She was facing away from Merlin. Slowly, the boy nodded, and Arthur understood. They had reached the same conclusion, because there was only one way.
Arthur leapt to the side, and automatically the gun followed his movement, sending a hail of bullets spraying at him, but he'd jumped round to draw her fire from the line of people. A couple of them screamed, and he felt a jolt as something streaked across his arm, leaving a long cut in the material.
At the same time there was a loud shot and she gave a jerk and a cry, crumpling inelegantly to her knees and falling still. The pistol fell from Merlin's grasp.
Arthur cupped a hand over the stinging gash on his upper arm and ran to him, catching Merlin as he fell backwards. His eyes were unfocused, and he whimpered and clapped a hand to his ear.
"What is it Merlin?" he said, scrabbling at the man's collar to try and loosen it.
"There's a ringing…god can't you hear it, it's so loud!"
"I can't hear anything Merlin, but you have to stay awake.
Gaius was there, ignoring the blood dripping from Arthur's cut onto Merlin's neck.
"How do you feel?"
"I can't feel my feet." Merlin's eyes slid shut, then jerked open again. "And 'm sleepy."
"No, don't go to sleep," Arthur muttered, resting his forehead on Merlin's.
"'s all foggy Arthur. I think the fog wants me to go sleep." Merlin's voice slurred out again and Arthur gripped him tighter, shaking him back awake.
"We're losing him," Gaius muttered. "Keep him talking."
Merlin let the hand drop from his ear and onto the ground. "You're very pretty Arthur, you know that?"
Arthur blushed. "You're not feeling right Merlin."
"'m fine. Still can't feel my feet though…" Gaius was doing something to Merlin's wrist, but Arthur hardly cared. "Your eyes are very blue. Like big blue butterflies. I like butterflies."
Arthur opened his mouth to reply, but there was a sudden screeching and flashing of lights and the place was swarming with people. Someone wrenched Merlin out of his grasp.
"No! I have to get to him, have to-"
"Calm down." Someone was wrapping a bandage round his arm and he briefly wondered how he'd managed to get from the ground to the ambulance in seemingly no time at all.
Arthur lashed out suddenly, struggling forwards. "Merlin!"
Someone slipped a needle into his arm and the effect was immediate, like heavy chocolate running through his veins and dragging him down…
His last coherent thought was that he didn't want Merlin's last words to be 'I like butterflies.'
When Arthur came round it was slowly, dragging himself out of a comfortable cocoon. He knew it was a hospital before he even managed to open his eyes, just because of the smell, which burst on his heightened senses with a bang.
He sat up with a jerk and someone put a hand on his shoulder.
"Easy there." He recognised his father's voice, and he was sure he could hear Morgana babbling in the background.
"What's going on? Why am I here?"
"This is a hospital." Arthur resisted the urge to roll his eyes at how slowly his father was speaking. He'd been hurt before; he wasn't made of glass. "You lost a fair bit of blood and the paramedics had to put you under sedative so they could treat you."
"How long have I been here?"
"Six hours, give or take."
"That boy you were clinging onto?" Arthur didn't like the disapproving tone his father was using. "I don't know."
"He's out of danger now," said Morgana, standing up. Her arm was in a sling and she had a couple of stitches over her left eyebrow. "He's just down the hall, number twelve."
"Right." He wriggled out of bed, ignoring his father's annoyance, and shrugged on a dressing-gown. His ankle only ached very dully, and he wondered briefly whether he was on pain killers or whether it was just a mild twist. Judging by the way the ground seemed slightly wavy underneath his feet he was pretty sure it was the former.
When he stood up the world seemed to slide a little, going blurry around the edges as his eyes watered. He hid it as well as he could and managed to get to the doorway before his father caught up with him.
"You aren't going anywhere."
Morgana moved forwards and placed a hand on Uther's shoulder. "Merlin saved all of our lives. If Arthur wants to see him he should be able to."
Arthur escaped before either of them could change their minds, making his way unsteadily through a corridor packed with those kinds of things you found in hospitals; wheelchairs, gurneys and old people seemed the most common.
He knocked on the door marked with a twelve and waited for a couple of seconds. Then "Who is it?"
The voice was female. "It's Arthur…I was on the train with Merlin. Can I come in?"
He hobbled through. A woman with light brown hair and large eyes was sitting on a plastic chair with her hands clasped over Merlin's.
"I'm Merlin's mother. Call me Hunith." She looked tired, dark circles under her eyes; Arthur remembered Merlin telling him how his father had died, and realised just how much she'd probably been through over the last few hours. He felt vaguely guilty.
"Is he okay?"
"I think so. They think there might be some temporary headaches, but he should be able to get through it. My Merlin can overcome pretty much anything."
She gave him a long look. "Thank you for looking after him. Morgana told me you helped him out of the train. A lot of people would have abandoned him."
"It was my fault he was there in the first place. Bloody suitcase."
She gave a sigh. "Sit. I'm going to get coffee; do you want some?"
He shook his head, and she shrugged and left with a warm smile. It seemed she was the kind of woman who liked to smile, even in hard times.
Arthur jumped at Merlin's croaky voice, and then shifted his chair closer to the bed.
"I just shot someone, right?" Merlin's eyes looked slightly bruised, and he kept them closed while he talked. Arthur shifted nervously.
"Yeah. I think she's dead."
"Not quite what I'd intended when I stepped into the station."
Arthur blushed. "I'm…listen, I'm so, so sorry about that. And if you never want to see me again, I'd understand. It's just, I think-"
Merlin held up the hand that wasn't encased in a pot. "Now really isn't a good time to tell me all your darkest fears Arthur. I'm high as a kite on whatever they've got me on. Everything's giggly."
Merlin gave a raspy chuckle. "Like I said. Completely gaga."
"Do you remember what you said to me before you passed out?"
Merlin shifted and opened his eyes a crack, sending blue shooting out from underneath the lids.
"The butterfly thing? If you ever repeat that I will personally have you killed."
Arthur smile despite himself and leaned closer. "I'll take that as a yes. For what it's worth, I think you're very pretty too."
"Really?" He pushed himself up further, eyes now fully open. "Even the ears?"
"Especially the ears."
They moved together and Merlin's nose bumped clumsily into Arthur's as their lips met. Merlin opened his mouth a little and let Arthur in easily. He tasted of chemicals and smoke and, quite bizarrely in Arthur' opinion, warm honey. He tasted good.
They broke apart with a little gasp of shared air. Merlin blinked a couple of times before slumping back on the pillows with a happy smile.
"I didn't think it was possible to be any crazier."
Arthur broke out in a grin. "That was okay then?"
Merlin rolled his eyes. "Yes Arthur, it was okay. Now hug me."
"Hey, I'm injured here and I want a hug. Like, now."
Arthur shook his head and leaned over to grasp Merlin in his arms. Merlin wriggled closer and buried his head in Arthur's shirt; Arthur could feel him smiling through the material.
He couldn't wait until they were both feeling better.
This turned out more as pre-slash than I'd intended, but if it gets good feedback I might do a sequel (but there's no point if no-one's gonna read it, so tell me if you do want to see more please).
Thanks for reading! Please review!