Warnings: Bromantic fluff. Bed-sharing.
Disclaimer: I...*hic*...I don' *sob* don' own... *whimper, sob* M-Merlin. *wails, runs away*
Set: Post Lady Of The Lake.
Merlin wasn't sleeping very well.
His manservant might have thought so, but Arthur wasn't blind. He could clearly see through his false, cheerful smiles every morning; see the noticeable dark shadows encircling his eyes, the unnatural pallor of his skin; see the depressed, sad look he wore whenever he thought Arthur wasn't looking.
Something was bothering Merlin . . . hurting him; and it was also constantly keeping him awake at nights.
Yet, after knowing all of this, Arthur remained silent, uncertain of how to approach the issue. His only attempts at helping him were giving him friendly gestures such as ruffling his hair, giving him a rough noogie to his head, nudging his shoulder lightly, or punching his arm, telling him to cheer up.
Except they weren't doing much good.
They only illicited a momentary smile from Merlin; but as soon as he thought Arthur couldn't see him, the smile would fade away.
He should be trying to talk to him; but if he knew Merlin well enough, he'd probably shut down rather than spill his problems to the prince. The idiot was like that; always readily giving a listening ear to someone in need; but when it came to him...
He wanted to talk to that stupid fool, find out what's bothering him; why he wasn't sleeping. But it would most likely result into an emotional moment, which Arthur isn't very good with. His father's upraising mostly had a part in it; with all his teachings about how real men should never release his emotions in front of people and act weak, that they should never show their vulnerability to anyone, that they should always be strong. Thus, it ended up with him being absolutely uncomfortable in such situations.
All these thoughts were giving him a headache; and so, he decided to postpone them for later times. For now, after such a long, tiring day, he was so bloody exhausted; and all he wanted to do was crawl into his bed and go to sleep. He didn't get much sleep in the previous night, having to write another speech. He couldn't put this on Merlin, since he was already looking like a simple blow of wind can push him over and cause him to fall down; and also because he was worried (Yes, fine, he admitted it.) about his manservant's emotional health.
Stupid Merlin, with his darn sad puppy-eyes.
He pushed open the doors of his royal chambers and walked through.
And his steps jerked to a halt at what he saw.
Merlin, holding his boot in one hand, along with a cloth in his other, with his head awkwardly leaning towards his own skinny shoulder, snoring softly in a peaceful slumber.
Arthur rolled his eyes in exasperation, his cranky, exhausted mind wondering why in the bloody hell wasn't he sleeping in his own bedroom, at night, when he wasn't in Arthur's chambers; when he wasn't on duty.
But then, he took a deep breath and forced himself to calm down as he remembered why.
This would usually be a time when Arthur would playfully kick him into consciousness, yelling into his large ear to 'wake up you lazy, useless fool!'.
But not today.
Today . . . Instead of doing all of that; he quietly moved towards the scrawny young boy, pried the boot and the cloth away from his hands and set them aside; and he slowly slid a palm under his cold cheek - to which the stupid idiot leant into for it's warmth, and Arthur so did not feel something close to big brotherly fondness spreading inside his chest - to lift his head into a much preferrable position; but then, the prince stilled completely and held his breath for a tiny minute at the subtle twist of his features in slight pain, and the small shiver that ran down his body from the cold, before settling back into his previously relaxed expression and muscles.
Arthur exhaled the breath, and placed the inside of his arm behind his neck, the other one going under his knees. He rolled his eyes again as the younger boy snuggled into his body for more warmth, and still trying not to acknowledge the fuzzy feelings at it.
The idea of carrying him all the way to the physician quarters was not very favorable to Arthur right now, especially since he was already losing the remnants of his strength, fast; even though Merlin's almost as light as a paper; and also the fact that he didn't want to be seen carrying his manservant all around the castle.
As much as he didn't like sharing his bed with someone - mainly his personal servant - he figured it's the most safest option. It was much better than him being seen by a whole lot of other people, carrying his idiot of a servant all around the darn castle; and also, he would most likely wake up by so much jostling, and he did not want that, since keeping him asleep was the point of it all.
He lifted himself upright, the thin figure sleeping in his arms, and he took the younger boy to the luxurious, king-sized bed.
When he reached there, he gently lowered the smaller physique onto the mattress; and then began to turn away to go and change into his night clothes.
Until he felt a tug on his jacket.
And, with a furrowed brow; he turned his head towards the source and looked down to find slim, lanky fingers fisted into his collar.
Was Merlin really this clingy when he was asleep? If so, then Arthur really pitied his future wife.
He shook his head irritably, and encircled his own fingers around the bony wrist, gradually prying the grip open with ease, and then carefully led it to settle comfortably onto the boy's stomach.
He changed into his night clothes - which consisted of a simple white tunic and black trousers - and climbed into the other side of the bed, as far as he can from his servant; because surely, he doesn't want to wake up to his servant cuddling him in his sleep.
He still couldn't believe he was actually doing this.
He sighed softly, a breath filled of serenity and peace as he closed his eyes, anticipating sleep to quickly overcome him.
He heard a soft whimper from behind him; and he bit his lip and squeezed his already shut eyes. He opened them again, and turned over on his back to glare at the source.
And his features softened.
"Freya..." Merlin whimpered softly, tears leaking from his eyes as his face twisted, and he shivered again.
Arthur didn't know who that was; but he knew.
Somehow, he knew; that she was someone close to Merlin.
Someone he lost.
It was in the desperation in that small noise; in the clear grief, the painful loss.
And he'd probably be hearing her name should Merlin decide to open up to him.
"Freya..." He whimpered again. "Don' leeaave."
The heartbreaking words were followed by a small sob. Arthur said nothing; just reached out and lifted the duvet higher to his neck, rested a hand on his small shoulder, and closed his eyes.
The hand never left throughout the whole night.
Author's Note: Hi! Hope you guys liked it, found it adorable, and a weeee bit funny. Honestly, I wasn't trying too hard to be funny, but I think this belongs in that genre since I like to think it's a bit humorous. I was more focused on h/c though; my favourite above all! :D You know, if you look at my stories, you'll find most of them are H/C and angst, so yeah. *grins*
Goofy Merlin grin to you all! *wink, wink* Review/Favorite please?