How about a small flurry of Arthur-Merlin-brotherly-fluff to wrap things up?


Gaius woke with a jump, nearly falling off his bed as the doors banged open and Arthur stalked in. He blinked, thinking for a moment that he was seeing things, but the image remained. The king of Camelot was half-dressed, sleeves askew, doublet fastened crooked, trousers wrinkled and torn at the hem, a look of something akin to madness in his eyes. "…Is there something I can…help you with, sire?" the physician asked, sluggishly raising a what-the-devil-is-going-on-here eyebrow.

The king's head snapped toward him. "Gaius, he had better ruddy well be better today, because I can't take anymore."

Gaius swallowed his remaining drowsiness. Gawain and Merlin had talked last night until Merlin's eyes began to droop, and even then the knight had refused to leave until the younger man's breathing evened out.

And they'd slept in, apparently. "I didn't think you would want him in today."

"Want him in?" the king said, his bloodshot eyes widening a bit more as he released a shaky, breathy laugh. "George doesn't talk and doesn't notice when I tease him and doesn't respond when I tell him it's a joke, Gwen's too busy with the servant reorganization to talk to me, I can barely keep a schedule straight in my mind and deal with sudden crises at the same time and George doesn't know my schedule, and none of the council members can give advice worth the breath it takes to say it, and I was up half the night trying to write this stupid speech for the new provinces and there's six other things I'm supposed to be working on—"

Gaius silenced the babbling king with his alright-yes-that's-quite-enough-of-that eyebrow. He stood up and bit back a yawn, tottering over to the shelf of potions, fishing around. "Here," he said, walking back to Arthur with a small bottle. "Drink this before you try to say anything else."

Arthur eyed the bottle in suspicion, the look made less potent by his trembling fingers and the dark circles under his eyes. "Why, what is it supposed to do?" he asked.

"Calm you down," the physician answered.

He shook his head. "What do you mean? I'm perfectly calm. I am the model of—of calmness. Who's said anything about me being—" He shut up at the sight of Gaius' don't-you-dare-argue-with-me-boy eyebrow before popping the lid off the vial and downing it. He shuddered, then blinked when the taste actually hit him. "…Huh, that's not actually bad."

Because it was basically a variation on chamomile tea, but Gaius had never told Uther that and didn't see any reason to tell Arthur. "Not all potions are horrible tasting," Gaius said. "Yes, Merlin may go back to work—but only as long as you take it easy on him," he finished as Arthur started thundering up the stairs to Merlin's room. He sighed and followed the king as fast as he could.

Arthur opened Merlin's door and Gaius looked in under the king's arm, smiling fondly. The warlock was still fast asleep, looking much younger and more innocent than he did in his waking hours. Somehow he looked more vulnerable now than when he had been thrashing with illness, too. A tiny smile tugged at his lips, as if he were having a good dream. The patchy fever was clearly gone for good.

Arthur snorted at the sight. "Look at the layabout," he said. "He probably wouldn't wake if the warning bell rang in his ears." A wicked smile crossed Arthur's face then, and before Gaius knew what was happening, the king was running toward Merlin's bed.

"MERLIN! BANDITS!" The king yelled before taking a flying leap and landing on the warlock's stomach. Gaius' gut did a backflip as he realized what a phenomenally stupid thing Arthur had done without realizing, but it was too late to do anything but watch. Mostly with his head buried in his hands.

Merlin woke with a high-pitched screech as the king landed and knocked the wind out of him. "ARTHUR!" he yelled at his laughing friend when he realized what was going on, thankfully with no panicked outburst of magic. What was better, his voice was strong and normal.

"You squealed like a girl," Arthur said, rolling onto Merlin's legs in laughter. Merlin kicked him in the side.

"Yeah? Well, what did you do, throw yourself into your wardrobe and hope the clothes would arrange themselves?" the warlock asked, turning red. "Get off."

"Well, you can fix it. You're coming back to work today!" Arthur pulled Merlin almost double, catching him in a headlock and rubbing his knuckles against the top of his head. Merlin growled and pushed at Arthur's side, and the king let out a very unkingly giggly gasp as Merlin's fingers brushed against his ribs. Merlin broke free and snaked his hand through Arthur's flailing arms to tickle him again, starting to grin.

"Children," Gaius snapped before the fight could escalate, and the two sort of fell sideways apart from each other and looked at him from opposite ends of the bed, feigning innocence. He found a clean pair of trousers and shirt folded up by the door and tossed them at Merlin. "Get dressed and leave, the both of you. And don't come back unless you're dying." He turned and started down the stairs, much slower than he'd gone up. Before he hit the bottom step there was another yelp and shriek, and a blue-red-and-brown blur raced by him, dogged by a white-and-brown blur with a mop of yellow hair. Gaius pressed himself against the wall as the two scampered out of his chambers, one bellowing and one cackling, though it was impossible to tell which was which. There was another huge crash and a loud, clear laugh from the hall that indicated one or both of them had run into a suit of armor.

The physician groaned and went back to bed.

Merlin was definitely better. And he was definitely getting too old for this.

That is the end! I hope you enjoyed it, and the story as a whole. Thank you, wonderful readers, and good night!