A/N: This idea came to be during my second watching of the phenomenal episode of The Wicked Hour. Wow man. Spoilers for sure. I don't own Merlin. No slash.
After Arthur had staggered out to see his father (thankfully with his trousers up) Merlin tidied up a bit; not sure if he should wait for Arthur to return or just let him see to himself after he came back from his father's chambers. Then, a grin crossed his face as he remembered how tipsy Arthur had been, bumping into walls, and dropping his trousers; Merlin had never seen him so drunk.
Shaking his head, he turned to go, heading towards the King's chambers. Arthur would never make it back to his bed in the state he was in. And if Merlin left him to fall asleep in that wooden chair across from Uther's, he'd be a bear in the morning.
He ambled through the halls, hearing the last of the partygoers laughing drunkenly from somewhere outside the open windows. The townsfolk did love to have a reason to celebrate.
Merlin entered the hallway outside the chamber doors, and paused. Where were the guards? Then he shrugged to himself, Arthur probably sent them away. He liked to have privacy when he met with his father, one of the reasons Merlin did not accompany him in the first place. He carefully unlatched the door, and pushed it inwards, not wanting to startle the men inside.
He eased his head inside, but nothing could have prepared Merlin for what he saw.
Arthur, kneeling on the floor, with his father's body in his lap. The knife thrower was in a heap further off. There was blood. Merlin's eyes widened.
Arthur's head jerked up at the sound of the door opening, and Merlin saw that his face was streaked with tears.
"Merlin," Arthur choked, his voice strained. "Get help."
Merlin could do nothing but nod, turning back the way he came at the dead run. As he pelted towards Gaius' chambers, he filled his lungs with air.
"Help! The King had been attacked! Help! Help!" He kept shouting, running through the empty halls. Doors opened behind him, and curious head poked out as he raised the alarm.
Guards ran towards him, and he gestured backwards, gasping out.
"Uther's been attacked, Arthur's there. Help him!" The guard nodded, and the lot of them took off in a run. Merlin sprinted in the opposite direction, the quickest way to Gaius.
As he entered their chambers, the warning bells began pealing. Gaius woke as the door slammed open.
"Uther's been attacked, you must come at once!" Merlin was already pawing through the medical supplies, his limited training and knowledge straining at his mind. He settled on a roll of bandages and some herbs to stop bleeding, while Gaius shot questions at him.
"I don't know much, but there was blood. Gaius, come as fast as you can." Merlin left him then, gripping his bag, and running back the way he came.
He was panting hard when he skidded into the Kings chambers again, the newly placed guards having let him through without hesitation., clutching the bag to his chest, and falling to his knees beside Arthur and Uther, and a few other guards who seemed to be waiting for orders. Arthur was staring, and didn't register his servant's reentrance. Merlin glanced over him, his hands hovering over the wound. Arthur's hand was clamped over it, and Merlin's touch didn't rouse him enough to move it away.
"Arthur, are you hurt?" Merlin asked harshly, still not having gotten his breath back. "Arthur!"
His sharp tone woke Arthur from his stupor, and he looked at Merlin with glazed eyes.
"Are you hurt?" Merlin asked again. Arthur shook his head, and moved his gaze to his father's bloodied side. "I need you to move your hand, alright?" Merlin said calmly. Slowly, Arthur let his hand relax, and Merlin moved it aside, squeezing it for a moment with one hand, while the other pressed the bandages to the newly bleeding wound. Then Merlin turned all his attention to medical matters, while Arthur watched silently.
Merlin examined the wound, after using the bandages to soak up as much blood as he could. It was still bleeding, and didn't look to be slowing, and Merlin had a hard time even seeing the edges through the flow. Some of the herbs he crumbled, and applied to the wound, and then he pressed down, waiting for Gaius.
It was moments later, that the man himself appeared. The blood didn't seem to have stopped any, but it was slowed, thanks to Merlin's efforts. An aged hand in passing squeezed Merlin's shoulder while the guards moved Uther to his bed. Merlin moved to help Arthur, who'd not moved or even struggled while they took his father from his lap, and Merlin was worried for him.
He knelt in front of the prince, and tried to meet his gaze, ask him again if he was alright. There were no visible wounds, and any blood on him seemed to come from his father, but something wasn't right.
"Arthur?" He barely responded, raising his head the slightest inch. Merlin frowned. He knew Arthur had been slightly-alright, mostly drunk earlier in the evening, but there wasn't a man he knew (except perhaps Gwaine) who was better at throwing off the effects of alcohol when need be. Perhaps it was simply shock, seeing his father attacked, nearly killed...but Merlin didn't think so.
He put a hand on Arthur's face, and his skin was chilled, clammy, not flushed as it would be if it were simply drink. Merlin raised Arthur's eyelid, and the pupil was dilated widely, and trembled as it wandered dreamily around the room. His pulse was slow. Arthur was showing all the symptoms of being drugged.
Merlin glanced up, and saw Gaius hard at work over Uther's body. He stood, and came closer.
There was a lot of blood spread over the sheets, and Uther's clothes, but Gaius seemed to have slowed the bleeding much more than Merlin's attempts had. Gaius had opened the shirt, and was engrossed in his work, manipulating the wound, feeling how deep, and where it entered and ended. Merlin didn't want to interrupt, but he didn't want to leave if Gaius needed help.
There was a young guard standing at the end of the bed, watching Gaius' efforts with worry, but not squeamishness, like the older, pasty faced guard on the other side of the bed. It was him that Merlin whispered to, so as to not disturb Gaius' concentration.
"Prince Arthur needs to be in bed. He's been drugged, probably by the same people who stabbed the King. Tell Gaius that I'll be in Arthur's chambers if he needs me, and help him with anything he asks." The young guard nodded, both of them disregarding entirely that servants were of lower rank than palace guards. Right now, Merlin was in charge and he knew it.
Thanking the guard with a nod, he walked back over to Arthur, who hadn't moved since Merlin had left. Bending down, he got Arthur's arm secure over his shoulder, and hoisted him up, grabbing his waist to keep him steady. The prince, a bigger man to be sure, still wobbled, but Merlin kept a hold, and then one step at a time, made their way towards Arthur's chambers.
In the morning, Arthur would wake to his servant sleeping in a chair, sock covered feet propped up on his bed. It was the simple fact that Merlin was there, that made Arthur sure that his hazy memories of last night had not been a dream. His eyes burned as they looked to the ceiling, but eventually, he would wake Merlin, and go with all haste to his father's chambers. For his father could not die, especially not while he was tucked up warm in his bed.
He could not.