Ah, the final chapter of my story. Sadness, but I hope that you've really enjoyed my story and know that I've loved reading all of your reviews. You guys are awesome! And… I've got another story idea in mind, but you can read about that after you read the last chapter! Enjoy!
Morning came and Merlin rolled over, still not ready to get out of bed. He was exhausted. There was a soft knock on the door and Gaius came in, holding a plate with some delicious smelling food on it. He waited until the older man helped him sit up, propping the pillow behind his back. Merlin had no idea how he'd had the strength to walk to Arthur's chambers yesterday when he could barely sit up today. Gaius handed him the warm bread smeared with jam and some fresh fruit. Merlin had only been allowed soup so far and he smiled at the meal before him, simple but tasty. He took a bit of the bread, savoring the taste.
"How are you doing this morning?" Gaius asked.
Merlin gave a non-committal shrug of his shoulders. "Better than last night."
"I'm glad. You did not seem well at all last night. Are you up to talking about it this morning?"
The warlock started to answer, but stopped at the sound of a slight knocking on the door and Gwen sticking her head in the doorway.
"I'm sorry to bother you, but Arthur needs you. He did not sleep well last night; I've never see him like that. Such awful nightmares that he wouldn't talk about. And now he's in pain this morning. I gave him the medicine that you left for him, but it doesn't seem to help."
"I'll be right there."
Gaius stood up. Gwen nodded and moved back into the main room. Merlin tossed back the blanket and slowly moved his bare feet over the side of his bed and put them on the cold floor.
"What are you doing, Merlin?" Gaius questioned. "You need to rest."
"No, I need to check on Arthur."
"Gaius, he would check on me if he could."
The older man nodded, going over to Merlin's cabinet and pulling out a clean shirt for him. He helped Merlin get dressed quickly and down the stairs. He almost tripped, feeling weak at the knees. Gwen was waiting with Gaius's medicine bag.
"If you could help Merlin, please Gwen," Gaius requested.
Merlin put his arm over her shoulder, blushing slightly at the contact. Gwen smiled at him, walking slowly with him down the hallway. Gaius walked in front of them, anxious to see how the prince was doing. He shouldn't have left him alone all night, but he had needed to remain with his ward and tend him, knowing that Merlin would suffer from nightmares. The walk was longer than normal, but the three arrived as Arthur's chambers. Gaius knocked before entering the room. Arthur lay in his bed, flat on his back and not making a sound. Beads of sweat were on his forehead and his eyes were clamped shut. Gaius didn't say a word as he pulled something of his bag that was stronger, hoping it would ease the pain.
"Sire?" the physician spoke. "You need to sit up a little to take this."
Arthur opened his eyes. They were free from fever, but clouded with fatigue and pain. Merlin got close to the bed, helping his master sit up a little bit. Gwen kept towards the door and observed them. Merlin took the cup from Gaius and pressed it to Arthur's lips, helping him drink it. The prince made a face, but his servant made him drink the whole thing. His face relaxed as the potion rapidly began to take effect and he leaned back against the pillow. Merlin assisted Gaius as he changed the bandages on Arthur's back. The wounds were clean and there was no sign of infection, but Merlin couldn't help but think that he caused those marks and Arthur would carry those scars for the rest of his life. Once they finished wrapping the clean bandages around his body, Gaius let Arthur lean back onto the soft mattress.
"Thank you, Gaius, Gwen… Merlin."
"Can you leave us alone for a little while?" Merlin asked the two behind him.
"Of course," Gwen whispered, leaving the room.
Gaius brought over another small vial, handing it to Merlin. "Only if he needs it."
Merlin nodded, watching him leave and giving him time to close the door before falling hard into the chair beside the bed and closing his eyes. He was trying to block the memories and regain his composure before he spoke to Arthur again.
"You look tired, Merlin," Arthur commented.
"I didn't sleep well, nightmares," Merlin replied, opening his eyes and glancing at his friend.
The prince frowned. "Same here." Arthur looked uncomfortable as he spoke again. "What were your nightmares about?"
Merlin had to lie; he couldn't tell Arthur that he feared the prince killing him because of his magic, but he could tell him about the rest of them.
"It was a series of nightmares, some about you getting whipped in the dungeons and others about the little druid girl that died. I at least had Gaius nearby to keep me company. What were yours about?" Merlin answered, studying the expression on Arthur's face.
"The same things, except you were the one being injured and I had to stand by and watch."
There was a sense of defeat in Arthur's eyes as he admitted what his nightmares were about. It wasn't like him to admit weakness, but it was alright for this circumstance. He would make it past all of this and regain his strength. It was nice that Arthur was being honest with him. Merlin nodded, understanding his pain. They sat in silence for long moments, neither one needing to speak to comfort the other. Sunshine poured in as the sounds of others going about their days came in through the open window and birds were singing. It was a beautiful day outside, but inside it was still full of pain from the night. Merlin had to remind himself that it was going to take time for both of them to heal.
"I know you'd never let me sleep in your bed. But if you'd like, I can put a cot in here and I can sleep in your chambers until your nightmares go away. It might help both of us sleep better."
Arthur thought about it for a moment. "I think that would be fine if Gaius says it is okay."
"What about Uther?" Merlin asked.
"If he comes in and sees you, I'll just tell him that you are tending to my wounds. He doesn't need to know anything more." Arthur seemed to think about it for a minute more. "Thank you, Merlin."
"That reminds me… what will happen to King Alined and his people?" the servant inquired.
"He'll get what he deserves and my father will show him no mercy. We gave him a chance and he broke the treaty. I'm only angry that I can't give it to him myself. Don't worry, Merlin. He will never have the chance to take you again. I promise."
Merlin smiled and relaxed into the chair. The prince dozed lightly on the bed until a small serving boy brought in a bowl of soup for the prince to eat. Merlin helped him sit up, sticking soft pillows beneath his back to help him stay comfortable. Arthur picked up the spoon for his soup and it fell from his hands, clattering to the tray. He didn't have the strength and he couldn't use his other hand. Merlin gently leaned forward and picked up the spoon.
"Here let me help you," he offered.
"No… please Merlin," Arthur mumbled, clearly embarrassed.
"Arthur, I've seen you without a shirt and cleaned your wounds. I've watched you throw up and I've seen you beaten. I've also seen you in a towel and that one time your pants ripped I saw… too much skin. You even removed my clothing and dressed me in dry clothing when I first fell sick. You saw me with barely anything on. I think we're reached the point where I can help you eat."
Arthur laughed, wincing at the movement and nodded.
"If you tell anyone –"
"I know," Merlin interrupted. "You'll kill me."
The two were quiet as Merlin fed the prince his soup, not bothering to be embarrassed. He was helping his friend. Arthur really would make a great king someday. Once Arthur was finished, he relaxed against the pillows and smiled at Merlin.
Merlin shifted in his chair, a little uncomfortable. "I forgot to say something to you. Thank you."
The prince locked eyes with his servant. "What for?"
"Thank you for saving my life and taking my punishment. No normal prince would risk his life for a servant and be whipped for him. You were very brave and I owe you one."
A smile formed on Arthur's face. "I knew that you would do the same for me. I haven't forgotten that you drank poison for me and tried to protect me, even if I didn't listen. You're welcome, Merlin."
The two sat in silence before Merlin broke it.
"If you would listen to me more, it would be so much easier to protect you," he stated.
Arthur frowned. "If you would stop cowering behind trees when we run into bandits, it would be easier so I didn't have to protect you."
"Well, if you weren't a prat!"
"Merlin! You just wait until I can throw something at you again."
"Didn't you hear Gaius say that a collarbone takes eight to twelve weeks to heal fully? You'll probably forget by then," Merlin taunted.
"I'm sure that I won't and once my back heals, you'll be stuck doing everything for me that I can't do with just one hand. There's a lot that I can make you do Merlin."
Merlin shook his head, a grin pulling up the corners of his mouth. Oh to be the servant to Prince Arthur… it was never dull.
That's it, no more folks. No epilogue since I think that this ends the story quite well. We know that Arthur will heal and annoy Merlin in the process. I've got another idea for an Arthur whump story coming soon. Arthur is in an accident and is paralyzed. Not permanently, of course. But he doesn't know that. ;)
Thanks to everyone that reviewed! A special thanks to Loopstagirl and Steffi Hoffman! You always would leave long reviews and I loved reading them!
Please leave one more review!
Thanks again! (And if you need more, I have a short little story about a drunken Merlin that you can read. :)