Apologies, my lovely fans. It has been ages. Again. I will to try and update more regularly but I can't make any promises. It's been a rough couple of months and I recently lost my jobs so, chances are you will hear from me from time to time while I get myself employed again.
This one goes to Silver Felicis, who has requested that Merlin finds something 'magical' (the something is unspecified) that he somehow gets addicted to. Having done my research (as I so enjoy, to make these little stories as realistic as possible) I have decided to go with magically enhanced Opium.
Merlin belongs to the BBC, I am just playing in the sandpit
CHARACTERS: Merlin, Arthur & Gwaine
GENRE: Hurt/Comfort, Angst
WARNINGS: Drug use and uncomfortable scenes
THE ADVENTURES OF MERLIN
The first time he tried it, he was with Gwaine. The King had been with them at the Rising Sun, indulging in a celebratory tankard of mead or three with the pair for Merlin's birthday but had decided to call it a night when he couldn't see straight anymore. As he stumbled out the door, Gwaine gave the young Warlock a friendly clap on the back before rubbing his hands together in a conspiratorial manner.
'Right then, my young friend!' The scruffy knight slurred with a grin, his eyes twinkling as he rose. 'It's time for your surprise!'
Merlin was confused and slightly more than tipsy as the older man rose, emptying his coins on the table to pay for their drinks.
'Gwaine, you've given me enough – maybe we should just head back to the castle and get some sleep,' the dark haired youth replied, stroking a long finger across the velvety material of his brand new scarlet neckerchief. Gwaine rolled his eyes and hauled the wiry man to his feet.
'Nonsense Merlin. Stop being a stick in the mud and join me! You will not regret it, I promise!'
Merlin hesitantly obeyed and the pair of them ended up at the bottom of the tourney ground, smoking something that Gwaine had purchased from a travelling merchant from wooden pipes.
The pair of them spent the following day in the stocks after Arthur found them asleep in the grass at ten in the morning.
It was several weeks before he had that deliciously incredible stuff again. The Camelot patrol were visiting a neighbouring Kingdom on the request of the ruling monarch, and left to his own devices while intense negotiations took place, Merlin approached by a street merchant selling it from a stall in a dingy alleyway. The suspicious surroundings should have sent the normally cautious young man running, but ever since he'd first had it, there was an annoying itch, below the surface of his skin that he just couldn't scratch. He used the majority of his coin to pay for a month's supply before thanking the vendor and slinking off into the surrounding woods for a smoke.
It was innocent enough, to begin with. A smoke here and there after a particularly stressful day did wonders for Merlin, who shouldered so much for one so young – but soon enough, the itch was becoming more and more evident and he soon ran out.
Desperate for more, he searched the lower town for a vendor who would sell him the miraculous stuff. After three hours, he was handing over his weekly wage to a ragged old woman who had set her stall up in a dark corner of the marketplace.
As the weeks wore on, his problem became more noticeable to Arthur. He was far too easily distracted and his work went from passable to downright shoddy. The King was a patient man when it came to Merlin, carrying an ever growing soft spot for the boy – but this was getting ridiculous.
Arthur was awake, dressed and halfway through his paperwork when Merlin stumbled in three hours late, hair in disarray and eyes bloodshot as he carried the King's precariously balanced breakfast tray one handed.
Blonde eyebrows raised, he set down his quill and fixed Merlin with a steely glare.
'You're late.' He scowled, watching the youth stumble around, clumsier than usual.
'Sorry sire, it won't happen again,' the boy replied rapidly, setting up Arthurs place at the table – arranging and rearranging the cutlery with an obsessive and slightly manic air. The young royal frowned. Something was definitely wrong with the man and Arthur was going to find out what.
'What's going on with you Merlin?' He commanded loudly, causing the youth to jump out of his skin and drop the goblet he had been polishing with his ratty tunic.
Merlin's blue eyes widened comically and Arthur noted that even from a distance, he could see the youths pupils dilate and contract rapidly.
'I-I don't know what you mean, my lord,' he stammered, his breaths becoming shorter and faster.
The King took a step forward and his servant took a hurried step back, snatching the sharp dinner knife from beside Arthur's plate.
'Easy there Merlin,' the blonde haired man was beginning to get concerned by his friend's erratic behaviour and he raised his hands in a gesture of submission.
Cobalt eyes darted to every corner of the room before they landed back on the King who had begun a slow and unthreatening approach to the servant.
'Stay back!' Merlin shrieked, scrambling back and falling over a chair. The knife slipped in his grip and left a deep gash in his palm before it clattered to the ground.
Arthur could see the blood welling from the wound, but Merlin didn't seem to notice as he continued to wriggle backwards until he was against the door.
'Merlin, you need to calm down. I'm not going to harm you.' The King promised softly.
'LIAR!' Merlin spat, his eyes crazed as he stumbled to his feet. 'You stay away from me, I'll kill you!'
Taken aback, Arthur froze on the spot watching but not acting as the young man flung the door of his chambers open and slammed them violently behind him.
He had a very bad feeling about this…
It was dusk, and try as they might, the King and his Round Table knights couldn't find hide nor hair of the boy. They were all worried – he had cut himself quite badly and it was entirely possible that he'd do further damage to himself in the state he was in.
When the citadel had been searched along with the lower towns, there was nothing further to do but saddle up the horses and ride out into the forest.
There was debate on who would go and who would stay behind to see if he turned up. After some time, Arthur decided that the less people that went, the less likely Merlin would become irrational and do something stupid.
So as Arthur and Gwaine galloped into the darkness of the forest, the remaining knights and Gaius (who had been made aware of the situation) waited in the Physicians Chambers for them to return.
The pair had been riding hard for about an hour when they saw a shadowy figure stumble ahead of them, puffing desperately on a pipe and babbling incoherently, using wild hand gestures to prove a point to the non-existent being he was apparently talking to. They could tell by the lumbering gait that they had found who they were looking for.
Arthur raised a hand and indicated for Gwaine to stay put as he dismounted and approached the youth cautiously.
'Hello Merlin, who's that you're talking to?' The King asked casually stopping as the youth froze.
'Hold on a moment, I'll get back to you in a minute…yes, yes its fine I'm sure,' he murmured to the invisible person and turned to face Arthur, looking haggard and really ill in the bright moonlight. His face broke out into a maniacal grin as he took another puff of his pipe.
'Arthur! What brings you out here?' He asked conversationally, apparently not remembering what had occurred earlier that day. Arthur noticed with a sick feeling that his tunic was smeared with blood and his breeches were torn at the knee.
'It's a nice evening for a ride, but it's getting late – what do you say we get back to Camelot and you can introduce me to your new friend?' Arthur suggested amicably, holding his hand out.
Merlin regarded it with suspicion and shook his head. 'No. I don't think I want to. Besides, Frederick here says he doesn't like you and you're not to be trusted. Leave us alone and we'll come back when we're good and bloody ready.' He snapped.
Right. He had tried it the nice way and now it was time for Plan B. Merlin was coming back whether he liked it or not.
'I don't think so, Merlin.' He muttered, breaking into a run as the young man stumbled away.
He tackled low, sending the pair crashing to the forest floor, Merlin thrashing and screaming as the pipe rolled out of his reach.
'LET ME GO!' He bellowed, panting as he swung his fists blindly at Arthur. Thankfully, Gwaine had the common sense to rush over and grab his arms before he got a solid hit in.
'Shh mate, come on now. It's alright, we've got you,' Gwaine soothed gently, rubbing his thumbs over Merlin's wrists.
'Unhand me, scurvy dog!' Merlin hissed, but his struggling was getting weaker.
'Little bit personal there, my friend. Why don't you take a few deep breaths and calm yourself?'
He took a shuddering breath and let out a sob, his shoulders quaking as a blinked, a flash of recognition crossed his features.
'I'm sorry…I'm so sorry. Please don't kill me Arthur, I swear I didn't mean it,' He whimpered pathetically, his face a mess of snot and tears and blood?
It appeared suddenly, a dark slug of crimson slipping from his nose and rolling down his cheek.
Straddling the youth, Arthur cupped his cheek, solid fear trapped in his chest.
'Merlin, it's ok – I forgive you. I will never harm you. Ever. I promise.' The King said with conviction as the boy moaned and swallowed heavily.
Merlin shifted his gaze to the canopy, eyes losing focus and for a heart stopping moment the King thought his best friend had gone and died on him.
The youth blinked. 'Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.' He murmured, before his eyes slipped shut and his body started to jerk with a violence that Arthur had never witnessed before.
Gwaine swore and pressed his fingers to Merlin's neck. 'Weak and sluggish,' the knight determined when he found his pulse. 'We need to get him to Gaius, now.'
The convulsions ceased and when they could not rouse him, Gwaine situated the weak youth on the saddle in front of Arthur and with one hand securely on Merlin's chest and the other clenching the reins, the trio made haste to Camelot.
'Help me, help me Arthur, make it stop,' Merlin whimpered as the King dismounted carefully as Gwaine held him in place. He had regained consciousness just as they were galloping into the citadel, trembling like a frail leaf in the wind and Arthur, who had quite enough of seeing the young man suffer, had the sudden urge to lock him someplace where no harm could come to him. He had long ago, stopped denying the relationship he had with Merlin, for they were indeed friends – probably best friends – which meant that against his better judgement, he would do just about anything for the daft sod.
He kept his voice low and soothing as he lifted the light young man from the saddle and over his shoulder; now wasn't the time for eloquence – he needed to get the idiot to Gaius so the old Physician could figure out what was wrong with him.
'Hold on Merlin, not long now and you can rest,' the King assured, readjusting his grip on the boy and breaking into a jog. He took it easy on the stairs leading to the Physician's chambers and as he got to the landing, was relieved to see that the door was already open.
'Set him down over here,' Gaius commanded as Arthur entered the room. Outwardly, he remained calm, but as always when the King burst into his chambers, pale and scared, carrying the young man that was like a son to him, the Physician would feel the flutter of panic in his heart that this would be the last time – because all powerful warlock or not, the young man had undergone many traumas since coming to Camelot, and one day it\would catch up to him.
His pulse was weak and his breathing weaker, Gaius feared that this would be it – but he wouldn't give up. Merlin was only just conscious – his pupils like pinholes as he surveyed the room wearily.
'What happened my boy?' The Physician asked, resting a gnarled palm against the youth's brow.
'Jus'wanted to feel…better,' he replied thickly through blue-tinged lips. 'I remember…feeling so good when Gwaine gave me some…'
The scruffy Knight paled. 'Oh fie,' he hissed, scrubbing a palm over hiss unshaven face as the King turned to look at him, his features a mix of ire and disbelief.
'You did this to him?' Arthur demanded.
'Wait a minute princess! What I gave him – what we had, was a minimal dose. Perfectly safe and perfectly legal. There is no way he smoked enough to get addicted and go out to buy more without my knowledge. He'd been so wound up and he needed to relax, so I did him a favour!'
'Calm down, the pair of you. Gwaine – what was it you smoked with him?'
'Just a bit of Opium, Gaius – not even close to the amounts you use for pain relief.'
The Physician nodded. 'Gwaine is right, my lord. Smoking one, even two pipes of Opium is not enough to get someone addicted, nor is it enough to overdose. Merlin has clearly been smoking it for several months. The only plausible explanation for him to become addicted to it after one dose is if the batch was tampered with. Either it was mixed with another highly addictive drug, or it was enchanted.'
'How does that explain Gwaine? He smoked it too!' Arthur argued, still tempted to lock the man up for a few days.
Gaius sighed. 'Gwaine has a higher body mass that Merlin does. He also eats and rests more, so his body would have metabolised the drug quicker.'
Visibly calmer at the explanation, Arthur nodded. 'Ok, so what do we do? Look at him – I've never seen him look so sick,' he admitted, resting a hand on the youth's shoulder. Merlin blinked up at him like a dopey owl and apologised quietly before losing consciousness.
'There isn't much, I'm afraid. I can induce vomiting to assist his body in purging the drug – but the rest is up to him. Even when he is free of the drug, there is still the withdrawal, which can be every bit as nasty as the overdose itself. He will have to be monitored constantly over the next week or so.'
The King, once again, nodded his understanding. He would do everything to ensure his friend got through this with as little damage as possible.
Then he would have very serious words with the idiot about scaring his friends.
There will be a sequel to this, centred on Merlin's withdrawal. Again, I apologise for making you guys wait for so long! Not long until Christmas guys – I hope you have a safe and happy holiday!