Title: Omit Thy Love
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Gaius
Summary: A king can only be struck on the head so many times.
Word Count: 1000
Author's Notes: Back to normal this week
“Arthur?” Merlin craned forward. Arthur’s eyes were twitching, he was sure of it. Out of the corner of his own eye, he saw Gaius turn. The physician moved towards them and Merlin put a hand on his lover’s shoulder.
“Arthur, can you hear me?” He was rewarded with a soft moan and Merlin breathed a sigh of relief. He thought years of watching Arthur get hit over the head would mean his heart didn’t skip a beat every time he saw his king unconscious. But although Merlin had dispatched the bandits with a heated glare when he saw Arthur crumble, his heart-rate hadn’t returned to normal until now. He had to know Arthur was alright first.
Arthur’s eyes flickered and Merlin was smiling by the time the king managed to open them. He gave Arthur’s shoulder a soft squeeze.
“Welcome back, love,” he murmured. He made to move to one side and let Gaius examine his patient. Merlin knew from practice that Gaius was the one with the chance of getting Arthur to stay still to recover. But he never took the step. Arthur’s hand shot up and he latched onto Merlin’s wrist. His grip was hard enough to bruise and Merlin lifted an eyebrow.
“Honestly, Arthur. I know you think I’m a weak girl half of the time, but you don’t have to bruise me to prove it.”
“What?” Arthur looked at him completely bewildered. He let go, but Merlin shifted when he saw the confusion didn’t leave Arthur’s expression.
Arthur looked around the room. His fingers gripped the sheets and he swallowed uncertainly. Merlin’s recovering heart-rate picked up again.
“Arthur, what’s wrong?”
“Stop calling me that!” Arthur’s shout made Merlin jump and he glanced at Gaius. The old man hurried over and Merlin looked back at Arthur.
“What would you rather I called you, Sire?”
“Just… Where’s my father?”
“Ar-what?” Merlin caught himself just in time. Uther had been dead for over five years now. Arthur fixed him with a glare and Merlin felt himself transported back to when they had first met.
“I don’t know who you think you are addressing your prince in such an informal way. But I suggest you remove yourself from my presence before I call the guards on you.”
“Arthur, it’s me,” Merlin said weakly. He didn’t step away, but instead moved closer to the bed. “It’s Merlin. I’m here.”
“You say like that means something to me. You’re dressed as nothing more than a servant.” There was a definite sneer on Arthur’s face. But Merlin knew him better than that. The uncertainty was lingering in his eyes and Arthur’s gaze wouldn’t rest on anything for long. It was as if he was trying to reassure himself.
“Gaius?” Merlin backed away from the bed to let the physician take his place. Gaius put a gnarled hand on Arthur’s shoulder.
“Am I right in thinking you are having difficulty remembering, Sire?”
“Do not talk about these things in front of a peasant!”
“It’s just Merlin,” Gaius reassured. “He’s my apprentice. He needs to hear if he is to help. He’s the only one strong enough to use magic to heal you.”
What small amount of colour Arthur had drained and he lurched up the bed.
“M-magic?” Even his lips were pale. “Gu-Guards!”
No one answered Arthur’s shout. They wouldn’t. Not considering Merlin had sound-proofed the room the day he realised how vocal Arthur was in bed. His magic protected the king far better than the guards could, it wasn’t like he was leaving Arthur vulnerable.
“Sire, you need to remain calm.” Despite realising he had said the wrong thing, Gaius still sounded in control. It was more than Merlin felt. The look in Arthur’s eyes was sheer horror and fear and he was still trying to escape Gaius’ hold. Not knowing what else to do, Merlin stepped forward.
“Arthur, stop fighting,” he said firmly. “You are the King of Camelot. You repealed the ban on magic three years ago. For me. You did it for me, Arthur. You might not remember, but you love me.”
A snide retort was on Arthur’s lips, Merlin could see it. So he gently took Arthur’s hand, sinking to his knees besides his bed and holding it against his cheek. He closed his eyes so he didn’t have to see that fear in Arthur’s expression.
“You love me and I love you. You accepted me. Please, Arthur. Sire… Come back to me.”
When Arthur remained quiet, Merlin dared to open his eyes again. Arthur was watching him thoughtfully. The fear was fading though and Merlin latched on to that hopefully.
“I love you?” Arthur repeated thoughtfully. “Don’t know what I’d love about a scrawny thing like you. Maybe you’re good in bed.”
Merlin flushed but didn’t glance away. Arthur was softening. Gaius stepped away and Merlin shifted until he was closer. He tenderly brushed Arthur’s hair back from his forehead.
“You certainly have no complaints,” he murmured softly. Arthur didn’t seem to know what to say – he clearly hadn’t expected a comeback.
“I don’t know you though…”
“You will, Arthur.” Merlin smiled down at his king. “How about you tell me what you do remember? You clearly haven’t forgotten everything if you can still be such an obnoxious prat.”
“You can’t talk to me like that!”
“Oh, Arthur.” Merlin shook his head. “I can and I will. You accepted it before. You’ll accept it again. But you don’t need to worry about that. I’m going to look after you.”
“I was your servant before your lover, Sire. I am fully capable of looking after you.”
Merlin smiled encouragingly as Arthur stared at him. The fear had faded, but there was a vulnerability in Arthur’s eyes that Merlin had never seen before. Years had stripped away from him and Merlin resisted the urge to kiss and hold him. He had to give Arthur the chance to remember.
But he was going to get his king back.