This probably won't be a very long story, but I wanted to try my hand at writing a multi-chapter story for Merlin.
So, thanks for reading, leave me a comment if you can, and I'll catch you in the next chapter.
"Question," Merlin stated softly, nearly tripping over his own feet.
"No, Merlin, you can't have the day off tomorrow," Arthur deadpanned barely acknowledging the young warlock's blunder, his eyes scanning the forest floor.
"I'm so glad you can read my mind, Arthur," Merlin retorted sardonically, adjusting the bag over his shoulder. "I'd hate to have to think for myself," he added for good measure receiving an eye roll from his master.
"Can you think for yourself?" Arthur countered, the corners of his mouth turning up. "It's just, every time I see you attempt to think, I swear I see smoke coming out of your ears."
"Oh, Arthur, I see you've been staring into mirrors again. Careful now, we wouldn't want them to break."
"How long have you two been married again?" Gwaine asked suddenly, swinging down from a tree limb, hanging upside down, grinning at the glares thrown his way. "I think we should be heading back, gents. There's a warm seat at the tavern with my name on it, and a new barmaid just waiting for me to take her home."
"I sometimes wonder what you're addicted to more: mead or coitus," Arthur commented dryly and Gwaine merely gave him a cheeky grin before pulling himself back up, onto the tree branch.
He dropped down next to the two younger men and slyly questioned, "Why can't it be both?"
"I swear I can practically see the gluttony and lust rolling off you."
Gwaine merely grinned wider and then turned to Merlin, who was trying really hard to keep a smile off his face. "So, mate, what was your question?"
"Just wondering when we were heading back to Camelot," Merlin replied quietly, Arthur's bag digging into his shoulder. It was too heavy and he was certain his arms were going to fall off if he didn't put it down soon. "I swear, you add things after I've packed for you."
"No Merlin, that's your lack of muscles," Arthur replied turning to smirk at Merlin.
"Oh yeah, and what do you call this?" Gwaine asked teasingly, patting Arthur's stomach. Both he and Merlin started laughing when the king swatted the knight's hand away.
"I am fighting fit," he argued sneering at the two laughing men. With a scoff, he shoved the crossbow at Merlin, knocking the wind out of him, and stalked ahead of his so called friends.
"Oh, Princess, don't run away," Gwaine called to the king. He glanced at Merlin, who was slowly getting his breath back, shot him a lazy smile, flipped his hair, and quickly chased after the blond. The warlock snorted, adjusted Arthur's bag again, and hurriedly trailed behind the others.
"I think we're lost," Gwaine announced after thirty minutes of wandering through the forest.
"You always think we're lost," Arthur retorted, trying to subtly look around, ignoring the fact that Gwaine might possibly be right this time. "We're not lost," the king stated for good measure, turning to Merlin. "Where's that map I asked you to pack?"
"Map? What map?" Merlin's eyebrows furrowed in confusion and he said, "There wasn't a map, Arthur."
"Yes there was, Merlin," Arthur replied slowly, as if speaking to a child. "I left it on the table with a note specifically stating 'Dunderhead, Pack This.'"
"I swear to you, Arthur, there was no map on the table," Merlin argued, in an equally patronizing voice, choosing to ignore Arthur's jibe.
"There-" Arthur trailed off, mentally retracing his footsteps that morning. Merlin had been late, as usual, his breakfast had been cold because his good for nothing manservant was late, his boots had gone missing only to be found under Merlin's bed, obviously he had been skiving on his duties again, and he had grabbed the map and put it on the…
"Obviously you didn't look hard enough," Arthur stated and sped ahead of Gwaine and Merlin. They didn't need to know he had forgotten to put the map on the table. He had every intention of doing it. It was all Merlin's fault for being late.
"So, we're lost, huh?" Gwaine looked between the two younger men, nodding slowly. "I wonder if there's a tavern nearby."
"Take this however you'd like, but if there was I don't doubt that you could find it," Arthur commented dryly.
"I will take it as a compliment if you don't mind," Gwaine retorted with a smirk.
"Good wouldn't want it to be taken the…" a stick snapped in the distance, cutting Arthur off, and he drew his horse to a stop, holding his hand up to halt the others.
"Could be an animal," Gwaine stated coming to a stop next to the king.
"Yeah, maybe," Arthur responded quietly, but both men slowly dismounted their horses, both waving at Merlin to stay on his, and scanned the area, keeping their hands on the hilts of their swords. It was a few moments before they relaxed, finding no immediate threat.
"Like I said," Gwaine started moving back towards his horse, "just an-"
Several things happened at once and it was a miracle all three men managed to survive. An arrow implanted itself in the ground, inches from Merlin's horse, spooking it enough to jump up on its hind legs. The manservant tried to keep hold of the reins, but his hand slipped and he hit the ground, hard. As Gwaine ran to help him, another arrow slammed into a tree, inches from his head.
"Where are they coming from?" Arthur called ducking a third arrow.
"No clue," Gwaine answered helping a stunned Merlin to his feet, taking most of his weight when his ankle nearly collapsed on him. "But we need to move now."
Arthur nodded in agreement and the threesome darted into the forest, dodging more arrows, Gwaine slowing down because of Merlin. Arthur thought he heard the younger man mutter something about them leaving him behind, but that comment only warranted a snort and Arthur ducking under Merlin's other arm and taking the other half of his weight. There was no way he was leaving Merlin behind, not again, and Arthur knew, for a fact, that Gwaine would agree with him.
"We probably should have taken a horse," Gwaine suggested as he narrowly avoided another arrow.
"Oh yes, I'm sure they would have given us enough time to jump on a horse," Arthur snapped readjusting his grip on Merlin.
"It would have been faster, and I am sure Merlin would have appreciated it," the knight argued taking a quick right, nearly spilling all three of them onto the ground. He managed to keep his balance, ignored the look Arthur threw him, and ducked into a cave he had spotted a while back.
"They're going to catch up," Arthur commented as he and Gwaine set Merlin down, letting his back settle against the stone wall.
"That's the plan," Gwaine replied and Arthur nodded, understanding completely. Whoever was shooting at them would either have to show themselves or give up. The king was banking on the former. He hadn't had a reason to kill any Saxons in a while. That is if the Saxons were the ones shooting at them.
"How many do you reckon there are?" Arthur asked slowly, removing his sword from its sheath.
"They usually travel in a pack of ten," Gwaine replied weighing his own sword in his hand. "Though it seemed there were only a few shooters."
"So, we're banking on, at most, ten men, and at least three."
"Uh, guys," Merlin called and, as one, Gwaine and Arthur turned to look his way, their eyes widening at the cloud of purple smoke coming at them. As it engulfed the three men, sending them into a sea of darkness, Arthur couldn't help thinking: I should have seen this coming.
Gwaine woke with a start, coughing as he sucked in a lung full of dirt. Slowly, he sat up, running a hand through his hair, his eyebrows furrowing when he found himself in a cave. His memory was a little fuzzy, reminding him of the times he woke up from getting blackout drunk (though those moments were more frequent when he was in his late teens), but he was missing the massive, head splitting, puke his guts out headache that generally accompanied a hangover. In fact, with the exception of his memory, he was actually fine.
He scanned the cave, wondering how he had gotten there, his eyes settling on a familiar figure slumped against the wall while an equally familiar figure lay at the former's feet. Eyebrows shooting up, Gwaine crawled across the cave, resting his hands on Merlin's face, opening his mouth to say his name, but immediately closing it when nothing came out.
He tried again, but he still couldn't form words. Well, he could form the words they just wouldn't come out of his mouth. It was as if his voice had just stopped working. He tried clearing his throat, attempting to speak a third time, but gave up with a frustrated sigh.
"What the hell was that thing!?" he heard His Royal Pratness (Merlin was a worse influence than Arthur gave him credit for) exclaim and Gwaine couldn't help feeling a little disappointed. Why did Arthur get to keep his petulant voice while Gwaine lost his dulcet tones? "Hang on. I can't…" Arthur trailed off, and Gwaine glanced over his shoulder in time to see the blond wiggling his index finger in his left ear. "I can't…" he turned to Gwaine and practically shouted, "Can you hear me!?"
Gwaine nodded, eyebrows narrowing again, just as Merlin groaned, "What?" The long haired knight turned his attention back to Merlin, who had a panicked look on his face. "Hello?" the younger man called, letting his eyes scan the cave, but it appeared they weren't settling on anything specific. "Arthur, Gwaine?"
Worry settled in Gwaine's stomach, and he let his hand rest against Merlin's face again. The dark haired man jumped, his head turning in the knight's direction, but his eyes were looking over Gwaine's shoulder. "I can't… I can't see."
Oh, this can't be good, Gwaine thought sitting back on his heels, running a hand through his hair. This wasn't good at all.