Title: Magic Fingers
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gwaine
Summary: Merlin could tell something was wrong as soon as Gwaine made the strike. There was a sickening crunch, Arthur gave a gasp of pain and dropped his sword. Arthur never, ever dropped his sword.
Word Count: 1340 (Um... Yes, but I've been really good at sticking to the limit recently!)
Prompt: 120 - Hands
Author's Notes: This also fills my hc_bingo square 'Broken Bones' - that's 1/25 done. Thanks to deinonychus_1 for looking it over for me.
There were worse ways to pass the afternoon, Merlin thought, than sitting around watching the knights training. Training was perhaps the wrong word. It was, in most cases, sitting around watching Arthur beat up his knights. Most of them were too nervous of hurting their king to put up a proper fight. Or, in many cases, Arthur was just better.
In Gwaine’s case he was neither too nervous, nor an unequal challenger. And, perhaps a little annoyed at the way everyone was letting Arthur beat them. Obviously he would never intentionally harm the king, but as he told Arthur when they faced off, Sir Gwaine was not easy.
That was debateable. However, in this particular fight, if in nothing else, it was true.
Merlin could tell something was wrong as soon as Gwaine made the strike. There was a sickening crunch, Arthur gave a gasp of pain and dropped his sword. Arthur never, ever dropped his sword.
Cursing, the king tried to pick it up, dropped it again, and then swapped to his other hand.
“Arthur, maybe you should let Gaius take a look at that!” Merlin called.
Arthur glared at him, then narrowed his eyes at Gwaine.
“You know, I’m just as good with either hand,” Arthur warned.
Gwaine grinned, although it was more of a leer. “Me too. I prefer this one, it’s a bit stronger, and I can get a better grip. Get more of a rhythm going...”
Gwaine, evidently, had forgotten (again) that Arthur was king now and that perhaps he should be a little more respectful. But then, Merlin thought, Arthur probably didn’t expect anything different.
The rest of the practice fight did not go well. Arthur’s damaged hand was obviously bothering him, and soon enough Leon noticed and called a halt to it.
“I was winning,” Arthur complained.
“Yes, but don’t you think we’ve all trained enough for one day, Sire?” Leon told him. “The men are all quite tired.”
Leon was very good at that, Merlin thought, and made a mental note to enlist his help next time the king started doing something foolhardy.
Arthur was still favouring his hand when they were back in his rooms and Merlin was trying to remove his armour. The gauntlet was very tight on his injured hand, so tight that Merlin had to cast a spell to enlarge the leather in order to remove it.
“Careful, Merlin,” Arthur growled, obviously trying to hide the way his voice hitched just as the gauntlet eased over a particularly painful part.
His hand was badly swollen, and he didn’t seem able to move it as easily as before. Merlin thought he’d need Gaius to look at it to be sure, but there was definitely something broken in there.
If only he’d learned healing magic. With Arthur’s tendency to get into any sort of fight going, it would obviously have been useful.
“Fix it,” Arthur growled.
For a moment, Merlin wondered if Arthur meant him to use his magic, if Arthur knew.
“Put those sticks… splints on it. Strap it up. Go and get Gaius if you can’t do it.”
No, Arthur didn’t know. Merlin sighed, and bent his head over Arthur’s hand, holding it gingerly.
“Gwaine really got you good, didn’t he?”
Arthur scowled at him. “It was a lucky hit. Ow!” He pulled his hand away. “It’s clearly broken. Where’s Gaius?”
“He’ll be out visiting the townspeople at this time of day. I can help. I know what to do.” It was true, he’d helped Gaius bind enough broken bones. Fetching a bowl of cold water, he had Arthur rest his hand in it to reduce the swelling while Merlin fetched what he needed to make a splint and sling from Gaius’s stores.
Or, at least that was what he told Arthur he was going to do. He also made a quick detour to his own room, hauled out the spell book and flicked through it until he found the spell he needed.
Arthur was in a fine mood by the time Merlin got back. He’d managed to slop the water over the floor and over a considerable amount of his clothing, and was sitting there looking grumpy.
“I’m the king, Merlin,” he pointed out. (Not literally, as he was having problems with that) “I need to be able to sign things, to fight… I need to be able to stand up on the balcony on feast days and wave to people! They like that! I need my hand working. I’m going to kill Gwaine!”
“It was an accident,” Merlin pointed out, putting everything he’d brought down on the nearest table.
“I’ll have him shave his hair off in penance, see how he likes that!”
“That would be unkind,” Merlin told him. “Give me your hand.”
“I want Gaius,” Arthur sulked as he held his hand out. “You’ll probably set it badly and I’ll never be able to hold a sword again.”
“Well, that would stop you risking getting hurt far worse than this,” Merlin said. “Now, I’ve got this ointment that Gaius said was really good for this sort of thing, especially if it’s not a proper break. It might hurt a bit…”
“See that it doesn’t.”
“A little suffering is good for the soul,” Merlin beamed.
“I’ll remind you of that tomorrow when you’re in the stocks next to Gwaine.”
It was an empty threat. Well, usually. Merlin hadn’t been in the stocks for months. Arthur seemed to have finally realised that they could be quite dangerous, and hadn’t risked him since.
Merlin took Arthur’s hand in his own and very carefully began to stroke his fingers over the skin. Arthur really did have wonderfully strong hands. He tried not to think about ways in which Arthur could use them, ways he could touch Merlin, stroking and soothing.
“That hurts, Merlin,” Arthur grumbled. But it did sound more of a token protest. Merlin knew that what he was doing was unlikely to actually be hurting, and anyway he had to do it to sense where the actual break was. He was fairly sure Arthur was just being difficult, because Merlin had already used a little magic to ensure that what he did was painless.
“Stop being such a baby, it’s just a bruise,” Merlin assured him. Arthur raised an eyebrow somewhat incredulously, but made no further comment.
Merlin bent very low over Arthur’s hand and breathed the spell silently as he rubbed in the quite useless and very stinky ointment, knowing that Arthur couldn’t possibly see his eyes glow from that angle. Arthur gave a small sigh of contentment as Merlin gently massaged his hand, then caught himself and turned it into a cough.
“You know, you’ve really got magic fingers, Merlin,” Arthur breathed. He seemed in no hurry to pull his hand away, although he was starting to flex it, testing it for strength.
Merlin shrugged, privately very relieved the spell had worked. His healing spells weren’t usually very good. “It obviously wasn’t actually broken. And this ointment is very good.” He let go of Arthur’s hand, and reached for the linen that he intended using for the sling. “You need to rest it for a day or two though, just to be on the safe side.”
Arthur nodded, still testing his hand. There was clearly nothing wrong with it. Belatedly Merlin wondered if he’d gone a little too far.
“Go on then,” Arthur said finally. “It won’t hurt to rest my perfectly healthy hand for a few days, I suppose. And Gwaine can feel guilty.”
“It… isn’t fully healed yet.”
“Really? Your fingers obviously aren’t as magical as I thought. Imagine that.”
Merlin flinched, but when he looked at Arthur his king was just smirking, laughing at his own joke, and still smiling when he met Merlin’s eyes.
Arthur didn’t know. He couldn’t know. Because if he did then surely Merlin would be dead. Wouldn’t he?
Arthur flexed his hand again, shaking his head and still smirking to himself.
Sometimes, Merlin wondered about Arthur.