I Hate That Word

So here I am with an completely unexpected and rather long oneshot for you. I wrote this in like one day so please give me a little credit, it has close to 9,000 words in it. Anyway, I really wanted to post this so I took a tiny break from my other story, which I will get back to now that I'm done with this. This story takes place sometime after Arthur has become king of Camelot, but don't worry, I actually like it so hopefully it's good. I personally think that this is some of my best writing yet and I hope you do too. There is whump and blood, and a teesny-weensy bit of self-harm in here but I promise you that it is only because it needs to be done in order to save a person's life. Also, the bromance is heavy but is not intented to be slash, however, there is a point where someone is refered as being a "mate" and I just want to say that in the UK the word doesn't only apply to wifes and things, but also to good friends. Anywho, here you go...

Summary: Arthur really hated whenever Merlin said the word "fine" because it almost always meant that something wasn't. But even knowing that hadn't been able to help him save Merlin, there is only way the boy can live now, but will Arthur do it? No slash. Plenty of bromance and whump as usual.

Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin or any of the characters, I simply wish to play with them for the enjoyment of myself and others, not for any profit beyond that.

"Fine," I hate that word, Arthur thought.

Once upon a time "fine" was a good thing. It meant that a person was okay; that no one needed to worry. That is, until a certain clumsy servant came along that's what it meant. When Arthur met Merlin that word took on a whole new meaning.

At first Arthur had believed Merlin when he said he was "fine" but it wasn't long before he knew better. It had started out small; whenever the servant was feeling down, or sad, he would automatically lie; something Arthur could understand. Sometimes when you just weren't feeling particularly happy you didn't want someone to come along and point it out.

But then he began to transfer his new meaning of the word into far more serious things than feeling a little depressed. One day Merlin came to wake his master up and he was on time, so, of course, Arthur immediately knew that something was wrong. But that was back when he had still tried to maintain the pretense of not caring about his servant. Back when he actually cared what people thought about his friendship with someone who served him.

Neither one of them cared about that anymore, not since they had both, or at least Arthur had, realized what they meant to one another. Some people who had nothing better to do all day than gossip would say that the two were in a "relationship" and they were right. That relationship was friendship, nothing more. But it was, however, a close friendship, and Arthur had only just realized how close it was when his servant gave his life for him.

When he finally came to the conclusion that Merlin would happily die for him and he for Merlin he knew what he had to do.

Merlin was dying, no amount of medicine would change that, not even Gaius; perhaps the most skilled physician in all of Albion could help, even if he had been nearby. Merlin had saved his master's life, and now his was slowly fading away. So Arthur had done the only thing he could do, he saved him...with magic. Since that day he and Merlin hadn't so much as tried to hide their close bond, after all, what was the point? If they were both willing to give their life for the other then why try to hide that fact?

And since his father had died Arthur believed that it had become a lot easier. To look at them people had always known they were close, but after coming back from this particular group of their near-death experiences they had known it too which made it that more obvious. It would be an understatement to say that Uther hadn't been happy about it. But he really hadn't been able to stop it, and now that Arthur was king there was no one higher than him who could object; and that made it easier.

But before either one of them had admitted to the other that they were friends it had been far more difficult. And so when Merlin had come on time, a fact that had seriously worried Arthur, he really hadn't known how to ask what was wrong; so he just hadn't.

And it had turned out that Merlin was pretty sick from a disease he had contracted while helping Gaius with his rounds. Apparently it was a very nasty illness that, though it could not kill people, made them very sick and was quite hard to shake.

Arthur had never considered that Merlin might get sick, he just hadn't. The boy never became ill so the thought that he might never crossed his mind. According to Gaius Merlin became sick because he was doing too much and not getting enough rest or food. In short, Gaius had said that both of them had worked the poor boy to the point where his body could simply not fight off an illness as bad as that one had been.

Arthur, for his part, had felt extremely guilty, he never seemed to realize that not only did he serve him, but the idiot also helped out Gaius in his free time. And if what Gaius said was right then Merlin was skipping out on food and sleep just to accommodate his two masters.

And so that was why Merlin had woken up Arthur when he was supposed to, because the fever had caused such a delirium that he couldn't sleep so he had, like the idiot he was, decided to get up and do something.

And so it was that that was the first time Arthur had heard the term "fine" applied to a person who was so far from fine that it was a downright lie to use it. Merlin had said that he was fine while his cheeks burned with fever and he was so shaky and in so much pain that he couldn't even stand up. And so that's how Arthur was first introduced to Merlin's code word for "really not fine at all."

He would hear it other times and each time he did a chill would run down his spine as he remembered how Merlin had looked as he said it. And so that's why whenever he heard the word come from anyone's mouth he would always check to make sure that they weren't lying. But who would've known to look at the boy that Merlin was incredibly good at hiding his pain? Arthur certainly didn't. Which was why, even when he would look closely at his face to see if there was even a hint of a lie on his features, he still wouldn't always know when something was wrong. So he simply learned to never accept the word as anything other than a bad omen when it was used by his servant. Even so, he still failed to realize what Merlin had needed him to until it was far too late.

They had been on a trip to a neighboring kingdom, which since Arthur had become king meant that they were really, really far away, when they had been ambushed by bandits.

Most bandit groups consisted of about a dozen, at most, men, but this group had been made of several different groups. Apparently when they had heard that a powerful and rich king was passing through they had all banded together in order to have better success, which meant that this particular ambush involved over thirty men attacking the people from Camelot. Of course they had failed, miserably; Arthur had planned ahead in case of something like this, so he had had more than enough knights to finish off the would-be thieves.

Since he had found out about Merlin's magic Arthur had put a lot more faith in his servant's abilities to protect himself and others. Even so, he had always tried to keep an eye on him at all times during dangerous situations, and sometimes during ordinary ones; the boy was still accident prone. Arthur had long since realized that simply having his prince know about his magic had greatly improved not only his confidence, but also his skill as well. Merlin was far more capable of protecting other people and himself now that people knew, though, at first he still hadn't been comfortable showing it to others.

But even though Arthur tried to keep a lookout for his friend and now court sorcerer, he still hadn't seen the horrible event that nearly cost the boy his life...again.

The fighting had ended and they had all been trying to take care of the wounded. They were even trying to save the bandits who were still alive and were unable to run away, it was one of Arthur's new policies. Merlin had mentioned, as he was defending himself for using magic what seems like ages ago, that he hated killing, even when it was necessary. And Arthur had agreed, there had been far too much killing, and so, when he became king, he put a stop to that. As much as he could, anyway.

So that was why, when the battles were all done and over that the knights, physicians, sorcerers, and even the king of Camelot would try to save as many lives as they could, regardless of which side they had been on. If they managed to save any of the bandits they would tie them up and notify the nearest kingdom of their whereabouts in order that they may be stopped from ever hurting anyone again, but still live.

And that was what Merlin was doing; he was trying to save lives, what, in Arthur's opinion, the boy did best. He had already healed the few badly injured knights and had now moved on to helping the bandits.

As Arthur came up to him he realized that the boy looked a bit more tired than he usually did, though, that could be because of the healings, Merlin always did get exhausted when he saved lives that were nearly ended.

He had just finished healing a boy who seemed to be about nineteen years of age, an age that Arthur very well remembered Merlin being. In fact, the warlock was probably only a few years older than this particular bandit, who, as the more he looked at him, Arthur was beginning to suspect was only here because of the influence of a relative.

You'd see this all the time, a young boy in a group of people who stole things and hurt people for a living who was in the said group due to having a harsh life and having his closest living relative be someone who was already in the business, if you could call it that. It was sad that that is how many criminals started; because of the bad influence of someone they should be able to trust, but really can't.

"There you go; you're going to be alright." Merlin said to the boy who looked terrified.

"What's going to happen to me?" The boy reminded Arthur of Merlin, so young and so innocent, only this one happened to get mixed up in something bad. Then again, so did Merlin, except he was usually the one to stop it.

"Well, I'm not entirely sure," said Merlin, though, he seemed rather distracted, which was unusual for him since he always liked to make people feel better emotionally as well as physically. "But I promise that no one is going to hurt you. Now, I need to go and see to other patients."

"Why do you care? We did try to rob and hurt you." The boy seemed genuinely confused.

"Bandits try to hurt people, I try to help them. It is what you do, and it is what I do. I've found that there are far greater riches in the world than gold and jewels." And with that he got up and walked to another injured person.

Though Arthur agreed with what he said, and though he always seems to have great words of wisdom, Arthur could tell that something was wrong. It was almost as if he was trying to be his usual self, but was failing. So he decided to find out why, he had long since learned that if you suspected that something was wrong with a certain young warlock then you were probably right. So he made his way once more to where Merlin was healing a bandit, though, this time it was a slightly older man, probably in his thirties.

It was a strange and rather fascinating thing to watch a healing, and even more so to be the one who gets healed. Even though Arthur had seen it many times he still found it an amazing thing to watch, then again, that's how he felt about any magic that Merlin did. But just to see the blood and the gore and the marred flesh that often would mean death for the one who possessed it to just heal up and go away was fascinating to the young king.

Merlin had both of his hands touching the man's chest; close to the wounds but not quite; in order not to inflict any further pain, plus the grossness. He had his eyes closed and it looked like he was concentrating, though, every couple of moments or so the boy would flinch slightly.

Arthur felt a pang of guilt as he always did when he saw the flinching. In order to heal properly the boy would have to empathize with his patient; his magic would have to merge with the person, become familiar with them to know exactly what to do to heal them. But the side effect of these rather amazing healings would be that Merlin would feel some of the person's pain. And Arthur always felt guilty when he enjoyed watching the process because it really wasn't that pleasant for anyone involved but him.

When he'd first learned of the negative effects that these spells had on Merlin; the exhaustion and pain, he forbade the warlock from healing anything, other than his own injuries, of course. But the boy had argued that a little pain was well worth the greater pain, time, and energy that would be saved if he could simply heal the people rather than they heal through more normal means. And was definitely worth it if he could manage to save a life that otherwise would be doomed. And Arthur had to admit that though he could be an idiot sometimes, the boy had some wisdom and truth in what he was saying. He just really hated it when Merlin was in pain or was even tired; he had done so much for Camelot, and yet he kept on giving more, never even caring what the repercussions on himself might be.

But when Merlin had added that there was nothing that Arthur could do to stop him since, not only was he an extremely powerful warlock, but he also wouldn't just stand by and watch people suffer no matter what anyone said, Arthur had, reluctantly agreed to let the idiot heal people. But it didn't mean he'd have to like it.

The problem was that this time Merlin seemed to be flinching a lot more, which caused Arthur to really get suspicious since the boy was known to be unable to hide his pain, however much he may want to, when he was preforming a powerful spell. And from the looks of the wound when Arthur had first seen it, it had been a bad one. Just then Merlin pulled back from the man; the healing complete, and looked up at Arthur. And he must have seen the worry on his face because he asked,

"Arthur, is something wrong? Are you hurt?" He stood up from where he'd been kneeling next to the man quickly, all the while looking his king over to make sure he was alright.

The first thing that the both of them did whenever they got into a sticky situation and managed to get out of it again was to make sure that the other was unharmed and was in all around physical, mental, and emotional good health. Today had been no different, but the two were notorious for worrying unnecessarily about the other, and so the moment that Merlin saw the look of worry on Arthur's face his mind immediately jumped to the worst possible places it could go.

"What? No, nothing's wrong...with me." Never let it be said that subtlety is one Arthur's strong points.

"Oh, well, good. So, um, why do you look like you're either about to kill someone or die yourself?" Merlin asked tentatively; he had a feeling that he knew what was coming, after all, that tone was usually used when Arthur thought that he had done something stupid.

And personally, Arthur could've sworn that he heard a hint of pain in the idiot's voice. "Because, Merlin, I think that there's something wrong with you. How are you feeling?" He gave the warlock a pointed look that was saying; "don't lie to me."

"I'm fine," Merlin said at the same time that the Lancelot's voice said,

"Sire, there's a man over here who says he has a message for you."

And for as long as he lived Arthur would curse his hearing. Of course, he had no reason to blame himself; the knight's voice had been much louder than Merlin's. So even though Merlin's code word registered in Arthur's mind, it was only subconsciously, and therefore he wouldn't remember hearing it until it was far too late.

He ran over to where Lancelot was and looked down at the man in question. He was about fifty years old, had a beard, and, though he looked battered and bruised, seemed to be fine. He was lying against the base of a tree and was smirking up at him, something Arthur found he didn't like in the people he'd just fought and won.

"Smelly here said he wanted to talk to you, princess." Gwaine offered up. No matter how hard Arthur tried he still couldn't get Gwaine to stop calling him by that ridiculous nickname. A nickname that didn't even remotely apply anymore since he had become king, though, that didn't mean that Gwaine wasn't right; the man was smelly.

"I just wanted to ask you how you liked the gift I gave you," the bandit said, his smirk growing wider.

Arthur was confused. "Gift, what gift?"

The man laughed a horrible guffawing laugh, which quickly turned into coughs.

Arthur swiftly turned to his knight. "What's wrong with him? He doesn't look injured?" The last bit came out as more of a question.

"I don't know, princess, there's nothing wrong with him that I can see."

"Ha, I'm dying," remarkably the man was still laughing as he said that. "I've gone to all the most skilled physicians I could find and they all tell me the same thing. So I arranged this whole little party in your honor, sire, as one last chance to have some fun, and to give you a gift." He smiled and Arthur thought that even if he didn't die he still wouldn't be eating solid foods for much longer considering the state of his teeth.

"You're not going to die. Merlin, get over here!" He yelled, not even looking at the young man whose help he needed. "Now," he said, focusing on the bandit, "what gift?"

"Oh, come on, sire, everyone has heard about your loyal friend; your faithful companion, your powerful warlock. Well, let me tell you, he wasn't all that powerful."

A cold feeling of dread stole over Arthur, but he didn't want to believe what his gut was telling him. "What?"

"He was so busy protecting everyone, trying to hurt not kill. It was so easy to slip my knife in-between his ribs. How someone could be so powerful and yet be taken down by a dying man is beyond me. Maybe he just isn't as powerful as everyone thinks." He laughed again, but Arthur didn't hear it; he was still trying to make sense of the man's previous words.

No, Arthur turned around at the same time both Lancelot and Gwaine did; and what they all saw chilled them to the bone and stopped their hearts. Merlin, who Arthur just realized had not only said the word "fine," but hadn't come when Arthur had called, was lying on the ground, motionless.

And as one they all ran to his side. He was face down on the old, crinkly leaves— it was nearing the end of autumn—which covered the forest floor. Arthur gingerly lifted him up and turned him over, and saw the very thing he had hope to never see again; the front of his shirt soaked in blood.

"Merlin? Merlin?" Arthur asked frantically; trying to get the boy to respond. Oh, how could he have been so stupid? He should've known that the idiot was injured, after all, it was practically obvious, one just had to know the signs. And know them Arthur did.

The warlock's eyes opened just a crack and he looked blearily up at his friend. "Ar…thur?" He seemed to be having trouble speaking.

"Yeah, I'm here. Oh, why didn't you tell me, you stupid idiot?" Arthur was relieved that the boy was aware enough to talk, if just barely, but he was still more than a little worried.

"T-thought my magic could take care of me, didn't…didn't w-want to worry y-you." He really seemed to be having trouble staying awake at this point.

"Merlin, how on earth is your magic supposed to help you when you're using it to help everyone else? Huh, didn't you think of that?" Arthur wasn't mad at Merlin, more at the situation, though there was a time when both of the hovering knights would've disapproved of his callousness in a situation like this, but not anymore. Now they both new that the familiar insults and feigned annoyance was just a part of both of the boys' way of coping.

"Guess I wasn't thinking clearly 'cause of the blood loss." Merlin smiled; he liked knowing that Arthur was worried. He didn't like making him worry, but it was nice to know that in situations like these his king would care.

"No, no you weren't, Merlin. How-how bad is it?" Arthur was hesitant to ask the question, for many reasons, but he knew it had to be asked. The boy, due to his magic, was far better at diagnosing injuries or illnesses than a regular physician would be, and therefore was the one to ask, even in his current state.

"My magic is getting to work on it, but I really don't know if it'll fix it in time." And Arthur knew he was telling the truth, the warlock didn't know whether or not he'd survive this one.

"What-what if I help? The main problem is blood loss, right? If it were anything worse then you'd be de-dead already."

A slight look of fear passed over the ever paling boy's face; he didn't want this. "Yeah, I-I've lost—" he started choking and coughing and some blood bubbled to his lips.

"Merlin?" Arthur asked, frantic again. "Merlin, hang on."

The coughing subsided and the intense look of pain that had crossed his features eased somewhat. "You can't, Arthur, I w-won't let you." He tried to stare his master, king, and friend in the eyes, but couldn't quite manage it as the blood loss was making him loose control over most of his body now.

"No offense, Merlin, but you're in no shape to stop me." And with that Arthur handed Merlin over to Gwaine, who was also kneeling, and groped for the dagger that was normally in his boot. He found it and pulled it out, and then used it to tear an opening in the sleeve of his dirty shirt. He held the dagger over his wrist and realized for the first time how thankful he was that he had made Merlin do this.

Not long after He had become king, Arthur had told his friend that, under no circumstances, was he to ever give his life for his master again. Arthur didn't think that he'd be able to live with that, though; he didn't think he'd be able to live at all, period, if Merlin died, no matter why. Still, he had to stop the ridiculous notion that had somehow found its way into Merlin's head that he should be constantly giving his life for Arthur's. And that was the only way he knew how.

Of course a huge argument had started because of that simple order, and was only stopped when Gaius interceded. Gaius had asked both of them in turn if they were willing to give his life for the other, and, of course, they had both said yes. And then the physician had gone on to say that two very significant people, and more importantly, two such selfless people didn't deserve to die at all. Arthur had pointed out that he didn't really want to die, but unfortunately they didn't live in an ideal world.

Gaius had given him one of his disapproving glares, and Arthur had realized what it must feel like to be Merlin, and then the old man had gone on with his idea in the hopes of not being interrupted. And he hadn't been, for the most part.

He had explained that he knew of a spell that could allow one person to help another injured person. A spell that allowed him to give his life's energy in order to help the other to heal. Merlin had begun to protest that Arthur giving his life for him wasn't a solution, when Gaius had told him that it wasn't an exchange of life, but rather a sharing of life. That one person could give some of their energy in order to help a person heal, but it wouldn't prove fatal for that person.

He had told them that if Merlin was injured then Arthur could help him heal, but no matter what happened to the warlock the spell wouldn't drain the life out of Arthur. He had said that the only side effects would be exhaustion and some possible increased hunger.

Even so Merlin hadn't liked the idea until Gaius had pointed out that one day his own magic may be blocked or taken away and he wouldn't be able to heal Arthur through normal magical means. Apparently the spell needs to be performed only once; and was without the continuous drawn of magic that most spells require. Merlin had reluctantly agreed that if he either ran out of energy or couldn't access his magic someday that the spell would be a good thing to have performed. The boy never took any chances with his master's life, something that to this day Arthur still found weird, though; he shouldn't since he felt the same way towards the young man.

Arthur, for his part, was thrilled with the idea of being able to possibly save Merlin someday, before then all he could do was look out for him to try to prevent him from getting hurt and beg passing sorcerers to help him if he did. Now he could actually save Merlin, or at least try. He knew that the spell wasn't foolproof, but in most situations it would work, assuming that they both weren't near-dead.

The spell had been simple, but Gaius had said that the reason it wasn't very well known was because it needed the right conditions to work. At the confused looks that he got he had elaborated. Apparently the spell needed to be performed on two people who were ready and willing to give their life up for the other if need be. It needed the people involved to have empathy and a strong love for the other.

At those words both boys, for that's really what they are, looked extremely uncomfortable. You just didn't say the words "I love you" to another man if you didn't want to be looked at funnily. But Gaius had refused to put up with their nonsense and had told them that love didn't always have to be romantic, that just as Merlin loved his mother in a non-romantic way, so also they loved each other as friends and brothers.

And though both boys agreed they only just barely nodded their heads; it was just too awkward to verbally agree.

But the fact remained that the two people involved would have to have a strong bond of friendship in order for the spell to work. It didn't require both people to have magic; apparently any type of love was a magic all on its own. And now Arthur realized that he had a chance to prove once and for all that he cared about Merlin.

And as the dagger was poised over his arm Arthur felt no fear or uncertainty, even though he had no idea what the physical consequences would be other than he wouldn't die, because he knew that whatever happened he didn't want to lose Merlin; the greatest friend he'd ever had.

He looked up at both of his knights; they both knew about the magical bond that the boys had made in an attempt to become prepared for just this type of event, and neither one of them was going to stop him, though they had been petitioned by both the people in question to stop the other from hurting himself on their behalf. They wanted Merlin to live almost just as much as Arthur and they weren't about to stand in the way. Lancelot, though, just had to make sure that this was done right; that Arthur knew exactly what he was doing so he said,

"Are you sure, sire?"

Without hesitating Arthur replied, "Yes," then he turned to Gwaine. "Put him on the ground." The knight did as he was told without so much as a smart remark or a weird grin; he knew how important this was.

Arthur looked for a tiny moment at the boy who he was going to try to save. In the few milliseconds that Arthur had been thinking about the events that had prepared them for this the being of magic had slipped back into unconsciousness, or at the very least, unawareness. He went over and held his wrist over the bloody wound in Merlin's side and pressed the knife into his forearm.

Both Merlin and Gaius had been adamant that only a few drops and a few words were needed to activate the magic that linked them, anymore would simply be wasting his blood. So Arthur made sure to only make a small cut; one that would heal up again in a heartbeat, but it was enough.

As the drops of Arthur's blood fell onto the limp and dying form of the warlock Emrys, the servant to King Arthur, the goofy friend-for-life that no matter what happened would always be the best mate the king would ever have, he said a few words.

Gaius had drilled into both boys' mind's the words that needed to be said for each different life-threatening injury that either might receive, and so that is what Arthur said now.

"I share my life's blood so that Merlin may be whole again, knowing that I bear no obligation to him as a person, but only as a friend. IC dæl mín feorhhorddréor."

And just like that; as the drops meshed and melded with Merlin's own, far too precious to be wasted, blood the magic started working. Immediately Arthur felt the energy leaving him, as if he had been running for miles and only now had begun to come off the high. And that scared him; not the leaving of his energy part, but that it had taken so much already, it must mean that Merlin had been really close to dying. And he was also worried that he simply wouldn't have enough to heal him with, but there was not much he could do about it if he didn't; this was their last hope.

But as he saw Merlin's blood almost flow back into him and the wound closing up he had a good feeling that it would be enough. With a sigh Arthur stood up and looked at his knights who were still watching Merlin closely.

In a way the king felt sorry for them, while Merlin was their best friend in the world, they weren't his. Merlin had been who had welcomed them to Camelot, he was the one who helped them when they needed it, he was the one who encouraged them and told them that they could do anything. But they wouldn't ever be that way to him, Arthur had taken that place in Merlin's life, and while the king was greatly pleased about that he knew how he would feel if Merlin was best friends with someone else.

To watch two people chatter on and on, and know what each other are thinking just by the tone in their voice would be painful if you didn't have that kind of a relationship with someone. Arthur knew that he wouldn't give up his friendship with Merlin for anything, and he also knew that even if he tried the boy wouldn't let him.

Arthur supposed that it would be like watching someone else being with someone you loved; it would hurt. To know that you're only second or third place in your best friend's friends list would hurt a lot; and that's why Arthur pitied his knights, because they had to stand by and watch as their best friend was best friends' with someone else. Arthur wouldn't give up his friendship with Merlin for anything; he knew how lucky he was, but it didn't mean that he was happy when others weren't as fortunate.

But right now he would leave his knights to watch over the only real reason they had ever stayed in Camelot in the first place; he had some business to take care of. He may be feeling the effects of the magic but that didn't mean he still wasn't pumped full of adrenaline, and now that he had done all he could for Merlin he could finally get angry.

He walked over very quickly to where the "dying" man was still propped up against a tree, whether it was because he really was dying or because he wanted to watch the show Arthur didn't know, and honestly didn't care. When he reached him he grabbed his shirt collar and drew back his other arm, which he then let fly right into the man's jaw. The man grunted as Arthur's fist hit him hard in the face, but as soon as he recovered he simply grinned his awful grin again.

"Ha! I knew you'd like my gift!" He started to laugh again but was cut off by both of Arthur's hands around his throat.

The king heard his knights coming up behind him but knew that they wouldn't try to stop him, and he was right. They simply watched, though, Lancelot being a gentler soul would probably like to protest Arthur knew, but the knight still held his tongue. Meanwhile; Gwaine simply did nothing but watch, Arthur had always known that the knight had the same loyalty and desire for revenge when someone he cares about is hurt in him that he himself had.

But Arthur had never meant to kill the man. It was yet another rule he and Merlin had come up with together a while ago. Not long after Arthur had become king they had come to an agreement that neither one would kill out of anger unless absolutely necessary. If the person in question still needed to die than the other would be the one to do it or order it since they both had more than enough power in the court these days. Any trials that were personal to either one of them would have the verdict be decided by the one who was impartial, or at least the most impartial. They had both agreed that there had been enough death that had been born out of pain, grief, and hate.

And so, just as the man looked like he was going to pass out from lack of air, Arthur released him; stumbling back and panting much like the man was doing. And as Arthur glanced back at Merlin he had a feeling that the breathlessness had more to do with the fact that the boy was looking better than the anger and adrenaline high he had just come off of.

"No, actually," Arthur said, staring at the still gasping man, "I didn't like your present; you must have been a drag at parties." And with that the king gestured to Gwaine to tie the man up and stalked; a bit clumsily, back to Merlin.

Throughout the entire ordeal the knights, with the exception of Gwaine and Lancelot of course, had stayed out of their king's way. They all knew Merlin to an extent and, as far as Arthur knew, liked him and so they didn't want to see him die. But they had long since learned to stay out of the way of Arthur and the two knights when it came to the warlock being in trouble because all three of them had been known to take their frustration on what had happened out on anything within reach; whether it was alive or not.

And when Merlin had fallen down no one had noticed until the three friends of Merlin had which by then, of course, it was too late. So they had stood off at a safe distance and solemnly watched as the events unfolded. It would've been disrespectful to have turned away when the boy could have been dying, so they had simply kept quiet and had watched everything, all the while hoping and praying that the ridiculous boy would live.

But when it had turned out that the boy would most likely continue living they had all heaved a collective sigh of relief and had gotten back to what they were doing, which was setting up the camp, securing the prisoners, and making the food that they would all start wanting soon. They had also, after a little debate, picked up Merlin's still limp body and place it on a comfy mat and had tried to make him more comfortable.

Which is why when Arthur got there that he found Merlin in a slightly different position that he had been in before, and he definitely looked more comfortable. He looked around at the rest of his knights; properly seeing them for the first time since Merlin had fallen, and he said,

"Who moved Merlin?" And even though there was no anger or hostility in his voice the knights were still hesitant to answer in case they had somehow infuriated him. But it wasn't long before several knights raised their hands; looking slightly guilty.

Arthur on the other hand didn't notice it and had nothing but sincerity and gratitude on his face and in his tone. "Thank you," he said simply, hoping that those few words could convey how glad he was to have knights that weren't only loyal to him, but to Merlin as well. And they did.

He sat down next to Merlin, suddenly feeling very dizzy. He felt a strange and slightly painful sensation on his arm, so he looked and saw Lancelot, who must've finished helping Gwaine tie the despicable man who had stabbed Merlin up, and was now tying a bandage around his wrist. It wasn't bleeding anymore and had closed up but only just; since cuts to the wrist are sensitive, in retrospect, he really should've gotten the blood from somewhere else on his body.

"Thank you." They both sat in silence for a moment before Arthur finally managed to gather the energy to stand up. "We really should get Merlin inside a tent and near a fire."

"Alright," Lancelot said, "but let Gwaine and I carry him; you look like you can barely stay conscious." He was right.

"Sure," Arthur said; not really paying much attention to anything anymore as he began to stumble his way towards his tent. He hadn't even gone half of the way when he vision became fuzzy and then faded out altogether. His legs could suddenly no longer support him and he fell to the ground and knew no more.

Arthur woke up to a bright light that was streaming through the windows in his room. Wait… room? Windows? Last thing Arthur remembered he hadn't been anywhere near windows and certainly nowhere near a room this nice. He sat up slowly; looking around. He was in a very nice room with a sort of yellow paint on the walls which why when the sun comes in the whole room looks sort of golden. The bed he was in felt a lot like his bed at Camelot, fluffy, comfortable, and a thousand times better than what most people got to sleep on. But it wasn't his room, in fact, he really didn't think that it was anywhere in the castle.

He knew almost every inch of his castle and there was most certainly not a room that looked like this anywhere that he'd seen. But that was all pushed from his mind when he saw the second bed right across from him.

Lying in the bed was a prone figure that was turned on his side facing away from the king. His heart sped up as he remembered what had happened before he had passed out; Merlin had been hurt! But maybe it was Merlin in the bed next to him, it was worth a shot. So Arthur slowly got out of the bed he was in and immediately knew that he'd been out for a long time. His legs were stiff and his neck hurt slightly as if it didn't remember that it was supposed to turn and move.

But get up he did and he made his way over to the opposite side of the bed; the side he couldn't see. And sure enough the face that he saw was Merlin's. Arthur breathed a huge sigh of relief; at least he knew that Merlin was alive and seemed to be doing well. The color had come back to his cheeks in a way that Arthur didn't think he had seen in years.

Before he had become king and Merlin his court sorcerer Arthur had worked the poor boy far too hard, and now that he was a sorcerer he had, if possible, more duties. The boy just never got enough sleep, or food, or sunlight. But now he looked far better than his friend had seen him look in a long time.

He was also clean and seemed to be wearing white garments like Arthur was, all in all, the warlock looked a whole freaking lot better than he had when he'd last seen him. But he was sleeping, and that worried Arthur. Obviously the idiot needed to sleep, but what if he hadn't woken up since the stabbing just like Arthur hadn't? Did that mean that something was wrong?

Suddenly Arthur heard a small click behind him and he turned around quickly; quickly enough to see Gwaine enter the room and close the door which issued another "click."

The knight turned and saw that his king and friend was up and about and a great grin spread across his face. "Princess! You're awake! 'Bout time too, you almost had me worried there." He walked over and clasped his king's shoulder. "How are ya feeling? I have to admit, you had more than a few of us scared when you fainted like that. But Gaius said that it was probably due to the strain that helping to heal Merlin had on your body. It just simply shut down to conserve energy or something."

"I feel alright, a bit stiff but other than that…Is Gaius here?" Arthur asked, looking around as if the physician was hiding right there in the room.

"Nah, but one of the more powerful sorcerer's here contacted him using magic and managed to get his opinion and advice on the situation that way. We had to take you both here; after all, we were far closer to Adric's kingdom than we were to Camelot."

"Huh, I suppose that makes sense." Arthur's brain was still having trouble processing things so it took him a minute or so before he asked, "Um, what was Gaius' opinion? Is Merlin alright?"

"Don't worry, princess, apparently the both of you simply fell asleep to better accommodate his healing. He hasn't woken up yet, but Gaius believes that it's only a matter of time before he does. He says that self-healings can be difficult and his body just wants to make sure that everything is in order before it wakes itself up." He grin widened as if it was his birthday, which, for all Arthur knew it was.

"Gwaine, how long have we been out?" Arthur asked tentatively, not entirely sure that he wanted to know the answer.

"Oh…about five days, I think." The way he said it seemed so casual, so nonchalant, but for Arthur it wasn't.

"Five-five days? What happened? I couldn't have been out that long! I have things to do and a treaty to negotiate with king Adric!" Arthur was panicking a little; he had never slept this long before, it almost felt as if years of his life had been wasted away, even though it wasn't really that dramatic.

"Calm down, your highness, everything's fine. Even the treaty with Adric has been taken care of, well, mostly; I think you still have to sign a few things." He looked thoughtful as if trying to remember.

"What do you mean? The treaty has been taken care of? You didn't try your hand at being diplomatic did you?" At that last thought Arthur felt a feeling of dread overcome him; Gwaine wasn't exactly the most charming person when it came to authority figures.

"Me, no, Lancey would never have let me. No, it was all you and Merlin." And when the knight saw the confusion increase on his king's face he briefly considered not telling him just for a chance to make him crazy. But decided not to since, whether he was his friend or not, Merlin would skin him alive if he woke up to an Arthur that had spontaneously combusted out of anxiety and annoyance. Plus Lancelot had told him not to do anything to upset the king when he awoke, and he was already on Lancey's bad side because of something he had said earlier. So he relented.

"When he heard of what you did to save Merlin, King Adric, apparently, decided that he wanted to be allies with a king who was willing to do anything in order to save his friend's life. So unless your beautiful temper manages to ruin the whole thing I'd say that all you have to do from here on out is smile and not fall in love with any of his daughters. Which would be a good idea to not do anyway considering that you have Gwen waiting for you back home."

He finished looking far too proud of himself for Arthur's liking; he'd have to do something to change that. However, before he got a chance a rustling from the still occupied bed stole both men's attention.

They both rushed over to where Merlin was groggily sitting up.

"Merlin! You're awake! I should go and tell Lancelot!" And with that Gwaine hurried out of the room, though, Arthur had a feeling that it was more because the knight was trying to give his king and best friend some time alone because he could have sworn he heard a bit of reluctance in his tone.

"Arthur, what happened?" Merlin asked.

"Well, you decided to be a huge idiot and chose not to tell me that you had been stabbed and were bleeding!" Arthur answered pointedly.

"It wasn't all that important," Merlin defended himself, and rather poorly too.

"Um, yes it was; I had to use that sharing spell in order to keep you from dying! We've both been unconscious for five days!"

Merlin looked a bit contrite at that. Good, Arthur thought.

"Oh, I didn't realize that it was that bad. I'm sorry. I never meant for you to have to do that." Merlin lowered his gaze to the satin bedclothes, he almost looked ashamed.

Oh, great. Now it was Arthur's turn to feel guilty. "Merlin, you complete and utter idiot, I'm not angry about the fact that I had to use that spell; I'd do it again in a heartbeat if that's what you needed. I'm angry because I almost lost my best friend five days ago and that's something I just don't think I can go through. I've already seen you nearly die more times than I can count and each of those nearly tore me apart, I don't know how I'd cope if you died for real. You know I deal best in a bad situation with anger, well; this was a really bad situation. And don't ever think that it wouldn't be."

Merlin stared up in awe and appreciation at his friend. This wasn't the first time Arthur had given a speech like this on order to prove to the boy just how much he was worth to the king and the rest of his friends, and he doubted it would be the last. The ridiculous idiot seemed to have no sense of self-worth or love, and every month or so Arthur would end up having to remind him of how much he would be missed if he died. Even now; now that everything had changed and there was no more secrets among one another, at least there weren't supposed to be, the powerful warlock still had trouble believing that when Arthur got angry it wasn't so he could scold him, but because Arthur was scared. He was simply scared of losing his friend.

Though, before the boy had woken up Arthur had planned on scolding him a little. Now, though, he didn't think he could scold very much without feeling guilty, so he'd have to tread carefully.

"Merlin, I know you think it's your job to save everyone in the world but it's not. You can't save everyone. But what you can do is save everyone you possibly can, which means that you have to stay alive long enough to do so. All it takes is for you to heal yourself, which would probably only take about five minutes, and then you could go and save everybody else. And if a few people die because of that extra time that you spent on yourself then it's not your fault, the way for you to continue saving hundreds of lives is for you to continue living.

"If you had to choose between not saving a few bandits, or even knights, or not saving hundreds of people because you weren't alive long enough to do so. If you could choose, Merlin, I know you would choose to save the many. So why can't you understand that your death will cause the deaths of many others just because you won't be around to save them?"

If Merlin had looked stunned before than it was nothing compared to how he looked now. The young man often had the wisdom of a thousand scholars and yet, when it came to himself he had the wisdom of a four-year-old. Merlin is truly a mystery.

"I, uh…" the boy didn't seem to know what to say, "I suppose…thank you, no one has ever explained it to me like that before. I just always thought that others should come before me; I never realized that doing just that could have the opposite effect. And thank you for saving me; I must say that I'm quite glad to be alive." He smiled and Arthur smiled back; knowing that the boy would be in no danger from himself on this front for at least a month, maybe more.

"So," Arthur said a bit awkwardly, now that I have that out of the way. "On that note, how are you feeling, Merlin? Because, apparently we have had our job done for us while we were asleep, so we really don't need to be here that much longer. When will you be able to travel?" It was a perfectly good reason for asking.

"What, it's finished? Well, I don't know, I feel fine so—"

"Uh-huh. Whenever you use that word that's when I know that you're not 'fine.' It's Merlin-code for 'I'm really not telling you the whole truth,'" Arthur interrupted Merlin.

Merlin looked surprised; almost as if he hadn't expected Arthur to figure that one out. "Really? How did—never mind. Well, I'm really feeling alright Arthur, I'm not lying. Other than some stiff muscles and the fact that I'm pretty hungry, which may have something to do with the being asleep for five days thing, I am fine."

Arthur just gave Merlin a look.

"Alright, sure, whatever, I won't use that word anymore!" Merlin threw his hands up in the air in exasperation.

"Good," Arthur paused then added, "You're right, I am hungry."

Just then Lancelot came through the door and smiled as he saw both of them awake. Do people not knock anymore? Was all that Arthur thought.

"Merlin! Arthur, it's good to see that you're both alright." He was focusing on Merlin until he remembered that he was a knight and his first priority was supposed to be Arthur. "You are feeling alright, aren't you, sire?"

And Arthur; so preoccupied with his thoughts and his hunger and with the fact that he'd never had to avoid the word himself said, "What? Of course, I'm fine."

"Arthur!" Merlin exclaimed.

"What? Oh….oh, I hate that word."

Well, there it is, I hope you like it. Please review and tell me your thoughts. The spell I used is translated as "I share my life's blood," so basically some of the same things that were said in english. I hope I got the translation right. The two previous events that I mentioned in here, the part where Merlin gets sick and the one where he gives his life for Arthur and the prince must resort to magic in order to save him has not been written. I am willing to write it if that's what anyone wants, but no promises as to when since I hope to be focusing now on my other Merlin story. I have no more plot-bunnies that are begging to be released at the moment so I may need some motivation to write any prequels to this story. I hope you liked and please review since I really want to know if this story is as good as I thought, if I don't get any reviews I'll think that it's because it was really bad. *guilt trip* Anyway, see you in my "Hidden" story.