Title: A Little Fall of Rain
Character/s: Merlin, Percival, Leon, Gaius
Summary: Merlin deals with Arthur’s death the only way he can. Leon and Percival, on orders from Gaius, go after him.
Warnings: Angst, consumption of alcohol
Word Count: just under 1000
Prompt: #111 Nepenthe
Author's Notes: Just my usual angst.
Seven days after Merlin returned to Camelot, it was raining. Not in oppressive torrents befitting the momentous loss of the king, but in a soft, melodic song of mourning that reflected the somber mood of almost everyone, none more than Merlin, who stood just within the door of The Rising Sun, downing his fifth cup of mead, oblivious to the two figures that were outside in the cold rain, looking at him as if they pitied him.
“Gaius says he’s been in there all day,” Leon said, not turning his head as Percival dismounted his horse. “I guess we should get him out of there before he does something he’ll regret.” Leon sighed. He wished to be anywhere other than here. The last thing he wanted to do was go in and tell Merlin he needed to leave, but Gaius had pleaded with him to do so, and how was Leon to say no when someone such as Gaius looked at him as if he were a breath away from bursting into tears? And, really, Leon knew it was the right thing to do, but he also knew that what Merlin was trying to forget was worth a few drinks and feeling like shite afterwards.
“What are we waiting for?” Percival replied as he tied his horse to the post just outside the tavern. Looking through the small window he shook his head and closed his eyes. He’d been looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fire—their patrols had been active, the death of Camelot’s king bringing out all sorts of people who were up to no good—but he’d not had one moment’s peace since Arthur’s death, so why should this night be any different? Reopening his eyes, he steeled himself for the battle to come, which would most likely be far tougher than the ones he had been in over the past week.
“He won’t come with us voluntarily, but he’s coming with us, Percival. If I have to put him over my shoulder, screaming and kicking, I will. You should’ve seen Gaius’s face; he’s worrying himself to death over Merlin, and as much as I think Merlin has a right to do what he’s doing, I won’t allow anything to happen to Gaius if I can help it.”
Percival thought the same. He had worried about the physician’s health for the past week. “If anything happens to Gaius, I don’t want to think what that will do to Merlin. Ready?” Leon nodded. Percival wasn’t, but he refused to allow Merlin to drink his sorrows away. Drink never had helped anyone—it certainly hadn’t helped his lost and wandering soul when he’d given the drink every opportunity to do so—and it never would. As much as it could take away immediate sadness, Percival knew that it left behind everything that had been there before and it promised a future of the same. Percival bore the scars of years of depending on the drink to soothe his hurts. He wouldn’t allow Merlin to do the same. He opened the door and immediately looked into the bloodshot eyes of a very inebriated Merlin. He swallowed and attempted a grin. “Hi, Merlin,” he said, nonchalantly, as if he were about to join him rather than drag him outside and take him away from his escape.
“What’re you doing here? I thought you were out on pa—patr—” Merlin began, but he stopped when he saw Leon. “Oh, have you come to join me? I’m glad to see the two of you. It’s been quiet with you two gone,” he then whsipered, his former smile faltering and turning into a frown. “His friends need to be together at a time like this, don’t you agree? He would want that.” Then Merlin downed the remains of his mead and wiped his mouth with his sleeve.
Leon did agree. “Gaius is worried about you. He thinks you’ve been here long enough.”
“He does, does he?” Merlin said, his voice becoming louder as his eyes were seemingly taking in everywhere around him other than the two standing before him. “Where is he? He isn’t my father. My father’s dead,” he spat out, spittle flying from his mouth.
“Merlin,” Percival said, his voice low, but stern. “You’ve had too much to drink. We are taking you home.” He then looked at Leon and gave a curt nod. He took the cup from Merlin’s hand—not as difficult as he had anticipated— and then he and Leon each grabbed an arm.
“I’m okay, really. Just let me be,” Merlin pleaded as his face crumpled. He turned and looked at Percival, but he didn’t try to escape the firm grip the two had on him.
“We can’t, Merlin. You don’t know what you’re doing,” Leon said, glancing at Percival, who blinked a few times and turned his head.
Merlin laughed, but it was obvious it held no humor. He turned toward Leon and sneered. “I don’t know what I’m doing? I don’t know that my best friend died in my arms seven days ago? I don’t know that I don’t know what to do without him? I don’t know that each second of every day I see his face and feel his hand on the back of my neck and head? I don’t know that it hurts so much I don’t think I can breathe? Don’t tell me I don’t know what I’m doing, because I do. I’ve had too much mead, but it’s my nepenthe and it helps deaden the pain, so I’ll be damned if I give it up.” He then turned to look into Percival’s eyes. “And you! You had to watch Gwaine die, so don’t you dare tell me that I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Percival swallowed. “You’re right. I do know, Merlin. I know exactly what you’re doing. That’s why Leon and I are taking you home.”
A tear trickled down Merlin’s face. “Okay.”