Looking After You
Disclaimer: I own nothing of Merlin, unfortunately.
Summary: Established Arthur/Merlin. Arthur takes care of Merlin. Oneshot.
Arthur stomped down the hall, only vaguely noticing the servants scurrying to get out of his way. Everyone knew that the odds were not in favor of a happy prince after a meeting with the king. His echoing footsteps warned of his approach, the sound allowing the servants to gauge his mood. They moved to the side of the hall as he passed them, watching as he made his way to his chambers. The servants hoped Merlin would be far, far away when he arrived there…
The irate prince threw open the door to his room with enough force that it bounced off the wall with a loud bang before swinging shut again of its own accord. He was practically seething as he ripped his jacket off and hurled it across the room as far as it would go. Not satisfied, he snarled wordlessly and looked around, hoping to see his manservant for once doing what he was told.
"Merlin!" he yelled, not seeing him in the immediate vicinity.
A sudden movement from his bed caught his attention, momentarily distracting him from his anger. The anger came back twice as hot as he recognized the tuft of brown hair peeking out from under his blankets. What the hell was Merlin doing sleeping when he was supposed to be working?
"Merlin, what the hell do you think you're doing? You're not supposed to be sleeping!" Arthur made his way to the bed, making no attempt to hide his displeasure. He opened his mouth to berate his manservant again, but the words never came as he took a moment to look at the brown-haired boy.
Merlin was curled up around Arthur's pillow, the blankets pulled up so high they almost covered his face. That in itself wasn't unusual, as when Merlin became his lover he frequently cuddled the prince's pillow when he wasn't there in person. What was odd, however, was how tightly Merlin was curled around it, like he was seeking comfort. Arthur also noticed that what little he could see of his lover's face was scrunched up in what seemed like pain. Upon noticing Merlin's distress, his rage immediately cooled and was replaced by concern. He lowered himself slowly down on the bed next to the other boy.
"Merlin?" he asked quietly.
Not quietly enough, apparently, as he watched Merlin flinch, screw his eyes shut, and bury his face further into the pillow he was clutching.
Gently, Arthur placed his hand on the top of Merlin's head and began to softly thread his fingers through his hair. Lowering his voice further, Arthur asked in the softest tone he could manage, "Are you all right?" In response, Merlin reached up, moving as little as possible, and grasped the hand that wasn't running soothingly through his hair in a vice-like grip. "Is it your head again?" he asked in that same soft tone. Without thinking, Merlin nodded. Immediately he whimpered, curling further in on himself, clutching Arthur's hand tighter than the prince had thought was possible.
Wincing in sympathy, Arthur leant over him, pressing a feather-light kiss to the warlock's temple. "I'm sorry, love." When he straightened, he noticed light was still coming in through the windows, which surely wasn't helping his lover's apparent migraine. The moment he moved to stand, he was met with resistance, as Merlin wouldn't let go of his hand. Smiling, he leant down again. "I'm just going to shut the curtains, I'm not going anywhere."
Arthur felt Merlin's reluctance to release his hand, but ultimately he did, drawing his own back to grasp the pillow that was still clutched to his chest. Unable to help himself, Arthur leant down to kiss his lover's head once more before rising and making sure there was no light coming in through the curtains.
Once that was done, he quickly stepped outside and flagged down a servant, asking them to have Gaius prepare a migraine potion and bring it to his chambers as soon as possible. Once that was done and he was sure he would not be disturbed due to his "ailment", he went back inside, shed his shoes, and prepared to slip into bed next to his lover.
Arthur lifted the blankets and situated himself next to Merlin, trying to jostle him as little as possible. Carefully, he drew the pillow from Merlin's grasp, slowly easing himself into the now-empty space. Once the warlock realized what the prince was doing, he immediately buried his head in Arthur's chest, wrapping his arms tightly around him.
Knowing from previous experience that the only thing that helped was a gentle massage, Arthur once again began to thread his fingers through Merlin's hair as they waited for Gaius.
Arthur wasn't sure how much time had passed while he lay there with Merlin before there was a quiet knock at the door. The prince was about to get up to answer it when the door opened and Gaius slipped in. The physician took one look at the two boys on the bed before he smiled softly and approached them.
"Merlin," Gaius called softly, carefully placing a paternal hand on his ward's head. Merlin tensed slightly before he realized who it was and relaxed. "Merlin, I have something for the pain. I'll give it to Arthur so you can take it whenever you're ready." At that, he handed the prince a small vial filled with a purple liquid.
Like in response to Arthur, Merlin reached up a hand to grasp Gaius' in thanks. The older man understood and chuckled lightly.
"You're welcome, my boy. I'll be in my chambers if you need me." With one last gentle caress of his ward's hair, Gaius retreated from the room.
Arthur looked down at the boy in his arms. "Do you think you can take this now?"
A questing hand came up, making the blonde prince smile. He uncorked the bottle and placed it in Merlin's hand, holding it steady as Merlin brought it to his lips and drank. As soon as the vial was empty Arthur placed it on the table next to the bed and again took up running his fingers through Merlin's hair.
Little by little the warlock began to relax, some of the tension leaving his face. Finally, the pain eased enough to Merlin to cautiously open his eyes.
The first thing Merlin saw was the white of Arthur's shirt. Slowly, he blinked, grateful Arthur had shut the curtains for him. He had been in no shape to do it himself when he had stumbled into the room, diving head-first into the bed and curling up there, attempting to lose himself in the smell of his lover.
Arthur noticed Merlin's wary movements with relief. He was clearly still in pain, but the fact that he was moving showed he was feeling at least slightly better. "Better?" he asked softly, reassured that, while Merlin still winced slightly, he didn't draw away in pain.
"A little," Merlin replied just as soft. He continued to lay against Arthur's chest, relaxing as he felt Gaius' potion slowly begin to chase away the pain. Suddenly, he blinked and looked at Arthur in confusion, squinting up at him. "What are you doing here?"
Arthur rolled his eyes. "Nice to see you, too," he said dryly.
"No," Merlin began to protest that that hadn't been what he had meant, but a sharp bolt of pain shooting through his temples stopped him, a small noise of distress escaping his lips.
Upon hearing the noise from his lover, Arthur immediately cradled Merlin's head to his chest, gently restraining him from movement. "Shh…Don't try to move yet. Give the potion more time to work." Once Merlin's hands released the vice-like grip they had on his shirt from when they had unconsciously clenched, Arthur continued. "I already had the meeting with my father, if that's what you're thinking of." Thinking back to the state he was in when he entered his room, Arthur winced. "I'm sorry if I made your headache worse when I came in here. I didn't realize…"
Merlin cut him off by trying to raise his head to look at him. Arthur carefully guided him back down before he could make the pain worse again. "You were angry. What happened?"
The prince shook his head and smiled to himself. Always looking after me, aren't you, Merlin? "Don't worry about that, I'm fine now."
"Merlin," Arthur cut him off. "I promise, it's nothing to worry about. You're always looking after me, let me take care of you now."
Merlin felt his cheeks heat up, sure Arthur could feel it even though his shirt. Smiling at the love he felt radiating from his prince, Merlin gave up and let himself sink further into Arthur's warm, protective embrace.