Disclaimer: Merlin is property of its respective owners. The only thing I can lay claim to is the insanity that is my mind.

The Morning After

Merlin groaned when he felt the gentle caress of morning sun on his face, but he stubbornly refused to open his eyes. Just a few more minutes. That sounded nice. A few more comfortable minutes in the warmth of bed before getting up. He didn't have to serve the royal prat today. In fact, he wasn't even due back in Camelot until the following day.

As far as Arthur knew he was off visiting his mother. In truth he had set out to stop Morgause from finding an ancient relic of incredible destructive power; as the ancient relics usually seem to be. Just once he would like to come across the ancient relic of sunshine and rainbows, just for the change of pace.

It was happy coincidence that he had come across Gwaine on his travels. The knight – because no matter what anybody else said that's what the man was – was eager to help out. With Gwaine's help he had even made it to the cave before Morgause and destroyed the relic. Before leaving Gwaine put an old horseshoe he said he kept for luck on the pedestal in the relic's place for Morgause to find. Nobody knew what the relic actually looked like after all. Merlin just rolled his eyes, but Gwaine found it funny, so why not?

Then Gwaine had wanted to stop at the nearby town's tavern inn to celebrate. Somehow he had managed to convince Merlin it was a good idea, though he has no idea how. That was the other reason Merlin didn't want to open his eyes. Sighing he muttered a spell for the hangover under his breath and snuggled into the comfortable warmth in front of him.

Then it hit him and Merlin wondered exactly what had happened last night. He had gotten a few, well more than a few, drinks with Gwaine at the tavern. Gwaine was knocking them back like a man dying of thirst and Merlin had to admit that his friend's enthusiasm had him indulging more then he normally would have. He remembered noticing a cloaked woman sitting alone in the corner, obviously upset about something and downing drinks at a pace that made Gwaine look positively sedate.

What next? Right, Gwaine noticed his stare and encouraged him to go talk to the mystery woman and Merlin had enough liquid courage in his system to think that was a sound advice. He got two mugs of ale and went over to her and then... He had no idea what happened next. Evidently they had hit it off. The smooth, bare skin pressed against him was evidence to that, but how had they got to this point?

He kinda would like to know the details. Even something little, like, say, the woman's name for example. It would probably make things less awkward once she wakes up. Unconsciously Merlin's hand began to trace patterns in gentle strokes on the tone stomach it rested upon as he concentrated on remembering the night before. Minutes passed and the arc of Merlin's strokes grew larger and larger with each one until finally his fingertips lightly grazed the underside of a breast and the woman groaned.

She settled deeper into his embrace as she slowly began to wake. After a few moments she turned in his arms and looked at him with sleepy eyes. Merlin froze in shock at what he saw. Then recognition dawned in her eyes as well.

"You!" both Merlin and Morgause screamed at the same time.

Gwaine set his glass down and motioned the bartender for another. He had gotten up early to drink his breakfast before Merlin came down for an actual meal. Sometimes he wondered where Merlin had picked up that disapproving eyebrow thing he did sometimes. It was damn effective.

After the refill he picked up the glass and took a small sip of his second and last mug of ale for the morning. It was only barely sunup and he wasn't an alcoholic after all. Besides, he had the time to enjoy it. Gwaine very much doubted Merlin would be down anytime soon.

He let out a soft chuckle as he thought about what Merlin must have gotten up to last night. Good for him. He deserved to have some fun for a change. Gwaine was proud of himself for pushing his friend to let go and enjoy life for a night. Oh, he had kept an eye on Merlin long enough to make sure he wasn't going to pass out next to the cloaked woman, but he needn't have bothered. In short order Merlin and the woman were stumbling up the stairs to the inn portion of the tavern.

Who knew Merlin was a ladies man when he was drunk? Gwaine sure didn't, but was happy for his friend nonetheless. He just hoped Merlin had a good time last night... And that he remembered some of it this morning.

Chuckling at the thought, Gwaine went to take another sip when a scream caused him to jump to his feet. His hand went to the hilt of his sword as his eyes scanned for the source.

That was when Merlin came flying down the stairs tugging his pants up, his boots under one arm, his shirt and neckerchief under the other, and moving like the hounds of hell where on his heels.

"We have to leave now!" Merlin yelled as he neared him.

Then a figure appeared at the top of the stairs, her unkempt blond hair falling onto bare shoulders, her body covered only by a thin white sheet, a murderous scowl on her lips, and a ball of flame hovering in the palm that wasn't holding the sheet in place.

"Take it like a man!" Morgause yelled. "And I promise to only burn one of your testicles off!"

Gwaine grabbed Merlin by the shoulder and shoved him out the door, the fireball missing them by mere inches. "Yep, we definitely need to go."

Hours later the two finally stopped running, confident they had finally lost the enraged sorceress (who they had actually evaded at the start when she decided to find her clothing before giving chase but neither wanted to risk their manhood by assuming). They panted heavily and swiped the sweat from there brows.

"Admit it," Gwaine said after they rested for a few minutes, a grin appearing on his face. "You still had fun."

Merlin just scowled at him. "I'm never drinking with you again.