Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur starts to understand that everything will be harder than he thought.
Author's Notes:Still not betaed, sorry. Follows Life changing surprise
Since Gwaine's departure and the new of Merlin pregnancy, two weeks earlier, Arthur had decided to lighten his schedule and spend more time with his manservant. He knew Merlin was still shocked by the recent events.
Arthur tried to spend at least some time during the afternoon with him, going for a walk around Camelot, to the market or just talking in his chambers. On the evening, they often dined together.
Of course, Merlin had to rest a lot and he wasn't able to fulfill all his servant's duties. Arthur had hired a new manservant but Merlin still insisted to take care of Arthur's bath and helping him dress.
That night, they were sitting in front of a raging fire, talking about the training of the younger knights. Merlin still loved to watch them and Gaius had let him go with the promise he will not run or carry heavy load.
"Goralon is really good! Have you seen how he parried Gereth's attack?"
"Yeah… But he's still very young and easily influenced… I'm thinking of putting him under Leon's protection."
"That seems a good idea. And Leon loves training the young knights."
Arthur watched Merlin. He was smiling more and more these days. And Gaius has told the Prince he had stopped crying every night. Of course Arthur knew that everything was not fixed but it was encouraging.
Merlin looked at the fire and, for a moment, he looked lost in his thoughts. Arthur was able to watch him closely.
He had finally started to put on some weight; probably due to Arthur's insistence to make him eat for two.
Merlin was now stroking absentmindedly his stomach. Arthur wondered if his body had already started to change, if his stomach wasn't as flat as before. Merlin was just starting his third month… Most of the women didn't show at that stage but it was perhaps different for a man.
"Arthur? Are you ok?" Merlin asked, startling the Prince.
"Oh… Hum… Yes…"
"You were looking at me strangely."
Merlin tilted his head, trying to understand what was going on in his master's mind. He was really cute like that. But Arthur promptly dismissed this though.
"I… It's just… You'll probably think I'm crazy but…"
"Arthur, I already think you're mad so just tell me what your crazy mind has made up?"
"I… I was wondering if… If you're already showing a little…"
Arthur looked at the fire to escape Merlin's gaze.
Merlin didn't answer. He didn't laugh. Arthur just felt Merlin's hand gripping his and putting it on his stomach, on the barely noticeable little bump.
"Gaius said it was normal… I'll probably have a bigger belly than a woman… So…"
A sob interrupted Merlin's sentence and draw Arthur's attention back to his manservant.
The young man was clearly moved and his grip around Arthur's hand tightened.
The Prince came closer and put his other arm around his shoulders.
"Merlin? I'm sorry I shouldn't have…"
Arthur tried to remove his hand but Merlin kept it on his belly.
"No… It's just… Gwaine."
"He should have been the first to… feel it."
Merlin suddenly burst into tears. Arthur immediately drew him closer in his arms.
Of course… Even if Merlin was starting to feel better, Gwaine's shadow was still there. And it will remain there for a long time. Arthur knew it. Sometime he wished to forget it, to let himself hope he would be able to put back the pieces of Merlin's heart together. Sometimes, he was fool enough to hope Merlin could love him as much as he loved his manservant. Then, a small event would remind him that Merlin was still in love with Gwaine, was bearing his child; that the baby will probably look like Gwaine and would always remind Merlin of his past lover.
Gwaine would always be a part of Merlin's life, a shadow Arthur could never catch.