Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gwaine
Summary: Now the knights were here, he would be fine. At least, that's what Arthur assumed.
Word Count: 1000
Author's Notes: Enjoy!
The sound of fighting jerked Arthur back to alertness. He wasn’t sure if he had been asleep or unconscious, but his body screamed at him as he opened his eyes again. His hands clenched into fists, wrapping around the chain that was keeping him bound to the ceiling as his ears strained to find out what was going on. This wasn’t the first time a fight had broken out among his captors and Arthur wanted to know if there was any weakness he would be able to exploit while they were at each other’s throats.
At least, that was his theory. Balancing on tiptoes with his hands shackled to the ceiling above his head made seeing anything other than the wall of the hut he was being kept in impossible and the gag tied around his mouth meant he couldn’t even demand answers. He couldn’t regret the flippant words that had caused them to silence him though. After all, that was what had caused the first fight between them.
But even though Arthur struggled and tried to fight against his restraints, he had been held captive for days now with no food. He wasn’t going to be breaking out any time soon and he was left to balance there as he fought to understand what was going on. It didn’t take him long before hope began to blossom in his chest. The last fight had been with fists yet this time there was the distinct sound of the clash of swords and yells of dying men. The bandits might not like working together, but Arthur knew they wouldn’t turn on each other to this extent, not when they had him hostage and therefore were close to getting what they wanted.
It was a rescue. It had to be. Arthur knew full well Merlin would have been using magic to locate him as soon as he realised the king was missing from the returning hunting party and the rest were injured. Although tracking spells were not his lover’s strong point, Arthur knew what Merlin was like when he was worried. He would have managed it, even if he exhausted himself in the process.
Knowing he had to draw attention to himself, Arthur struggled as hard as he could, trying to call out behind the gag. Although his words were muffled, he was at least still making a noise and it didn’t take long before footsteps sounded right outside the tent. Arthur relaxed, sure it would be one of his knights. Then he recoiled in horror as a filthy man opened the door, leering at him. It was the same man who had overseen his beatings when Arthur was putting up too much resistance and there was a sneer on his face even as he drew a wicked dagger.
“No rescue for you, little lord.” He made to take a step into the hut, no doubt with the intention of killing Arthur rather than letting him go free. But before he could do so, his mouth contorted into a surprised expression which morphed quickly into pain before he collapsed where he was standing. Gwaine drew his sword free and glanced towards his king. Although his face was impassive, Arthur could see the relief in his eyes. He moved across the hut and ungagged him.
“Glad to see you’re still alive,” he muttered before stepping back. He made it to the door and opened it again. “Merlin! He’s here!”
Then, to Arthur’s astonishment, he left.
“Gwaine! Gwaine, get back here and untie me!” It didn’t matter how much he yelled after his knight, Arthur was left on his own.
Not for long though and a genuine smile blossomed across his face when Merlin appeared. He didn’t look like he had slept in days and was streaked with dirt and blood. A visual examination convinced Arthur the blood was not Merlin’s. He stayed quiet, smiling as Merlin moved across to him.
“I told Gwaine to leave you,” he murmured, his hands stroking Arthur’s cheek and his eyes darkening when he saw the bruises.
“Why?” Arthur murmured.
“You can’t get yourself hurt if I know where you are. You’re not joining this fight, my love.”
“Merlin.” Arthur couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Let me down. I have a right to…”
“Kill them? You do, love, you do. Only we’ve already done that.”
Arthur could only stare at him even as Merlin pressed soft kisses to his face. He was being serious; he was leaving him tied up until the fight was over. Arthur shifted the best he could, pulling back from Merlin’s touch.
“Don’t whine at me,” Merlin chuckled, his relief at finding Arthur obvious in the grin on his face and a light reappearing in his eyes. “They told me you pursued them on your own and that’s how you were caught.”
Arthur flushed. His men had been hurt and he hadn’t been thinking straight, the battle clouding his mind. He hadn’t realised he had been walking straight into a trap.
Arthur was sure that was Leon’s voice. He hoped so. The last time he had seen the man, Leon had been bleeding. But his words were enough for Merlin to sigh and glance up at the chains holding Arthur.
“I wish I could leave you tied up. I wouldn’t have to worry about you doing something stupid that way…”
“Merlin, release me, or so help me I’ll…” Arthur had no idea what the end of his threat would be. He knew what Merlin was like when it came to his safety and wouldn’t put it past him to actually try something like that. Thankfully, Merlin seemed to take him seriously and his hand waved, causing the manacles to click open. Arthur crumbled.
“Come on, you,” Merlin muttered fondly, hauling him to his feet. “You can thank me later.”
“You wanted to leave me there!”
“Come on,” Merlin repeated. Arthur let himself be led outside. Back to freedom and safety.