Title: Knight of the Sky
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Merlin was in the fields behind the farmhouse when the plane fell from the sky.
Warnings: WWII AU, wartime violence, blood, injuries, aftermath of a plane crash
Word Count: 1700 (sorry about that)
Prompt: 349: Knights
Author's Notes: I'm clearly incapable of writing a simple drabble without creating a whole story, siiiiggghhhh
March 12th, 1944
Merlin was in the fields behind the farmhouse when the plane fell from the sky.
It streaked in from the east, black smoke cutting through the pinks and blues of the waning day like ink spilled on paper. The engine whined and sputtered protests, a higher pitch than the Messerschmitts that usually marred the sky over the French sky. As it soared low, no more than kilometer over the roof, Merlin could clearly see the underside of the wing and the elusive red, white, and blue roundel it proudly flaunted.
The British Royal Air Force.
Merlin didn't waste a second on hesitation or fear, letting the hoe drop to the turned dirt and taking off across the field and into the trees following the trail of smoke like a beacon. His mother's shout chased him but it fell on deaf ears as he left their farm behind. Time truly was of the essence nowadays, he knew that. A moment of indecision could mean the difference between life and death, be it yours or someone else's. War didn't allow for such leisure.
And if he could follow the smoking trail of the downed plane with little hindrance, then so could another. One of the less-than-friendly sort.
There were plenty of German soldiers around these parts, Merlin knew that all too well.
He hurtled over a fallen log, yellowed leaves crunching beneath his boots as he ran, glancing up through the trees every minute or so to keep his eye on the smoke trail. The lack of parachuter crashing through the forest canopy was worrying. Usually, the pilot of a damned plane would bail out before hitting the earth but this one had done no such thing. It didn't bode well for the scene Merlin would find upon arrival but he couldn't stop the covert feeling of hope as his adrenaline set his legs pumped and heart pounding
For all he knew, the pilot had been killed long before he reached the ground.
Merlin pushed that thought aside as he slowed down, broken branches making way to fallen trees, evidence of the plane's brutal crash. He coughed as the acrid taste of smoke reached his lungs. Bits of fuselage and distorted metal litter the forest floor, growing in concentration and size as Merlin picked his way through to the smoking wreckage. The fuselage lay on its side atop crushed and mutilated trees, one wing completely broken off and the other crumbled and bent but still hanging attached by a thin strip of metal. A few fires have sprung up here and there where the plane had created an impromptu runway through the trees. Just beyond the distorted and smoking nose of the wreckage and through gaps in the trunks, Merlin can see the long clearing he used to play in as a kid. No doubt the pilot had been aiming for it, hoping to use it as a makeshift airstrip. Pity he had just missed it by a few dozen yards. He would have had a much easier time of it had he just kept airborne a few more seconds.
But Merlin couldn't worry about that now. The wreckage was still aflame, a beacon for nearby German troops or Nazi sympathizers. And the pilot was still inside.
Merlin dodged flaming debris, coughing again as the smoke thickened. He unrolled his right sleeve over his fingers and covered his mouth and nose, breathing through the dirt and sweat. But anything was better than inhaling the noxious smoke. With cautious movements, he picked his way through the remnants of the plane with as much haste as he dared. His mother would have his hide if he stumbled back the farmhouse sporting a new injury for her to patch up. Again. She was at her wits end worrying about him as it was.
As mothers do when residing in the thick of another Great War.
As he rounded the fuselage, Merlin's heart sank. The canopy was completely shattered, only splintered, jagged remains clinging onto the canopy frame. And inside, the still figure of the pilot, leather-clad head slumped over the controls.
Though it looked grim, Merlin refused to give up entirely and found purchase along the crumbled wing of the plane to get closer to the cockpit.
"Monsieur?" he called, taking another precarious step against the folded wing. Metal creaked underfoot, threatening to buckle with his added weight, but Merlin paid it little mind. "Monsieur, vous sentez-vous bien?"
There was no reply, though Merlin had not expected one. Beneath the goggles, the man's eyes were closed, dark lashes fanned across tanned cheeks. A mask and helmet obstructed the rest of his features and his uniform and life vest disguised any movement of his chest. Merlin reached in, fumbling with the mask over the lower half of the man's face before finally finding the latch and releasing it to let the mask hang off one side. The pilot didn't flinch.
"Monsieur?" Merlin tapped the pilot's cheek, hoping to garner a response but none came. Then with bated breath, he held his hand beneath the man's nose and waited.
A puff of exhale, subtle but there tickled his fingertips. The man was alive.
Merlin didn't have time to breathe a sigh of relief. The clock was ticking, their window of opportunity narrowing with every passing second. He took stock of the man quickly, the wickedly sharp canopy frame, the debris field surrounding them, and cursed. There was no feasible way he could carry this man, not on his own. And he definitely couldn't extract him from the cockpit without help. He needed the pilot to wake.
Merlin abandoned his own health concerns in favor of quicker movements, using both his hands to push the man's helmet and goggles off his head, unveiling sweat-soaked golden locks. He was handsome, Merlin couldn't deny that.
With that thought, he slapped the man's cheek. Hard. "S'il te plaît ouvre les yeux!"
This only earned Merlin a scrunch of the man's eyes and he nearly yelled in frustration. They didn't have time for this. Any second German troops could come a looking and then they'd both be caught out. And Merlin would not be spared for being a simple Frenchman.
In desperation, he grasped both of the pilot's shoulders and shook, only remembering to mind the man's possible injuries a second too late when his eyes flew open on a shout of pain.
Merlin scrambled forward and covered the man's mouth with his hand, deeming the spark of panic in the pilot's clear blue eyes a better tradeoff than garnering more attention to themselves. "Désolé désolé, s'il te plaît calme-toi." He held a finger to his lips.
A moment passed, the pilot looking around wildly, great warm heaving breaths washing over Merlin's hand as the panic and pain wanned from the man's eyes. After a beat, he met Merlin's eyes and nodded gently. Merlin leaned back, removing his hand before flipping in palm up to offer assistance to the man.
"Tu peux te déplacer?"
The man shook his head, shifting in his seat and placing his gloved hands on the canopy frame, dislodging broken glass. "I'm sorry, I don't speak French."
Merlin cursed his foolishness. Of course, he was an Englishman, a pilot in the RAF. He probably didn't know a lick of French. As with most arrogant Englishmen.
"Can you move?" Merlin asked, his tongue stumbling over the foreign words. He was rusty, unable to practice the language much these days, not with the German troops using any excuse to lock people up for the smallest of infractions. "We leave, now."
The pilot shifted again in his seat, testing his range of movement, and Merlin didn't miss the pained grimace he tried to hide. "Yes, I think so."
Even a negative response wouldn't have stopped Merlin. Now that he knew the man was alive, he couldn't just leave him here to die, no matter the threat to himself. If they could just get him out of the cockpit, and off the plane, Merlin was sure he could take it from there. The pilot just needed to power through until then.
It took a great deal of effort on both parts, some cursing and a lot of gritted teeth and bitten-off groans from the pilot, but finally, they managed to hobble their way off the plane and onto solid ground. The pilot slid in Merlin's grasp, his weight shifting until Merlin was all that was keeping him standing. Now that he was out in the waning sunlight, Merlin could see he was worse for wear than he had originally assumed. He dark blue uniform did a great job concealing the blood soaking through from where numerous pieces of shrapnel had lodged themselves in the pilot's arms and torso but did nothing for the exposed burns. His right leg had a nasty gash down the calf and his left wrist looked a bit wonky from Merlin's perspective. In all, he was in a bad way but Merlin didn't think any of his injuries were immediately life-threatening.
Didn't mean they could waste any more time. Keeping hold of the pilot, Merlin shifted them about until he could duck under the man's right arm and sling his own around the pilot's waist, bearing the brunt of his weight. The warm reassuring weight of the pilot grounded Merlin, setting fire to his determination and resolve. The man reminded him why he fought, why he jeopardized everything he knew and loved, why he would die to see this country, this world, free. Here was a man who had run headfirst into battle, risked his life day in and day out, if only so others wouldn't have to live under this cruel reign of terror. And if Merlin could save this man's life and ensure he made it home safely, then he'd do whatever it took. Damn the consequences.
The pilot grunted as they took their first stumbling steps forward but soon enough, they settled into a rhythm, traversing through the forest as fast as the pilot could withstand.
"I'm Arthur, by the way," the pilot said, his voice breathy with the effort of keeping pace.
Merlin hefted him further over his shoulder, earning a hiss from the man. "Merlin."
Arthur hummed though made no comment. But Merlin could tell he was battling with something, a question on the tip of his tongue and waited patiently. Finally, after trekking through the forest in silence for a few minutes, Arthur seemed unable to resist much longer and sent him a sidelong glance. "Where am—are you—"
"A friend," Merlin said, lowering his voice despite their obvious seclusion. He tilted his head and gave Arthur a reassuring nod. "Bienvenue à Ealdor."
Monsieur, vous sentez-vous bien? = Sir, are you feeling well
S'il te plaît ouvre les yeux! = Please open your eyes!
Désolé désolé, s'il te plaît calme-toi. = Sorry sorry please calm down
Tu peux te déplacer? = Can you move?
Bienvenue à Ealdor = Welcome to Ealdor