Title: Carry You Up
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Leon, Bedivere.
Summary: The one where Merlin is hit by an arrow, Arthur carries him up a hill, and there’s an almost kiss.
Word Count: 534
Prompt: #88 Breathless
Author's Notes: Hurt/Comfort. Pre-slash. In a universe where Arthur/Gwen ended after a brief period and Lancelot is not dead. This isn’t what I was planning on writing when I first looked at the prompt. Even the first draft of this was much different from this, but I’m way happier with the way it turned out.
They’ve done it before—just once, but Arthur doesn’t know it was Merlin who was kicking him and telling him to go faster and basically treating him like a horse. Merlin’s quiet now, unable to move his leg much, and stifling the groans of pain that are trying to slip out of his mouth.
Arthur had talked all the way up the hill as they were going, Merlin just nodding along and giving monosyllabic answers as he held onto Arthur’s shoulders, and rested his head against his back.
Arthur is breathless by the time they reach the camp. The sun has just set, leaving the world between the odd minutes when it’s neither day nor night. The knights have already set up tents and started fires, servants and squires have started making dinner. There’s a buzz in the clearing where the camp is set up.
Leon comes up to walk beside Arthur, and he glances at Merlin, frowns, before telling Arthur how worried they’ve been, and how they sent out search parties that couldn’t find them, and Arthur just grunts and nods before telling him to bring Bedivere to his tent, and then Leon is gone with a quick bow and they’re stepping in the tent.
Arthur places him down on a bed with a gentleness that dangerously warms something in Merlin, so he pretends to be asleep. There’s a soft hand at his forehead, brushing away the hair on his forehead before resting it there, and Merlin belatedly realizes Arthur is checking his temperature, and Merlin opens one eye.
Arthur is looking right at him; the look makes Merlin’s heart beat erratically.
“Sir Bedivere will be here soon,” Arthur says softly and Merlin belatedly remembers that Bedivere has a vast knowledge of herbs and healing. “He’ll look at your leg.” Merlin just nods.
Arthur hasn’t taken his hand back, and he’s looking at Merlin in a way that makes Merlin blush. There’s something here, he thinks. There’s something soft and growing between them and it is making his heart beat so rapidly, Merlin is almost sure Arthur can hear it. Arthur leans in, just slightly, but the movement makes Merlin’s stomach squirm pleasantly. It almost makes him forget the pain in his leg.
But then there’s a sound outside, then Bedivere’s gentle but old voice, and then Arthur’s stiff one, and then Arthur’s hand is gone from his forehead. Arthur straightens and stands and Merlin suppresses the sigh of disappointment.
Bedivere sits by his side and Arthur stands behind him, watching. Bedivere skillfully tears Merlin’s breeches from his knee down with a knife. Merlin leans his head back, and resists the urge to close his eyes against the pain when Bedivere starts applying herbs. Merlin’s eyes never leave Arthur’s concerned face as he watches Bedivere work on Merlin’s leg.
There’s a brief moment when Arthur looks at him, and the world stops ticking for a second. Merlin doesn’t look away the way he normally does. He holds Arthur’s gaze and smiles awkwardly. Arthur doesn’t smile back, but his expression softens, and the world starts ticking again. And that’s all Merlin needs to see to know that they’re going to be okay after all.