Title: I Thought It Was You
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: When visiting his sister in hospital, Arthur runs into a certain warlock who’s loneliness over the years has sent him spiralling, and only Arthur can help him.
Word Count: 466
Prompt: #196 - Escape
Author's Notes: Unbeta’d
Shaken, Arthur stumbled out of the room, flinching slightly as the door was slammed behind him. His sister had not been pleased to see him, blaming both him and their father for her current situation.
Straightening, he took a moment to just stand there, composing himself before with only a quick backward glance he set off down the corridor.
Hands jammed deep into his pockets and, with his head bent just slightly forwards, he would have missed him as he walked past, but for the bright blue of the scarf wrapped around his neck.
Arthur paused, the garment stirring something in the back of his mind. He turned to see the scarves owner, making a half hearted attempt to be discreet about it.
He was met with pale skin, and dark hair falling over sharp cheekbones.
Making a snap decision, Arthur approached the man, slowing when his head snapped up, a pair of piercing blue eyes suddenly on his.
A flash of pain stabbed through his head, and before he could even process what he was saying, he spoke.
The other's eyes widened for just a second before they narrowed in suspicion.
Shaking his head, Arthur halted about two metres away from... Merlin. As his brain supplied. He allowed his mouth to snap closed just as the other spoke.
"You're not real..."
Of all the responses he was excepting that was certainly not it.
"What on Earth are you on about? Of course I am real." Arthur insisted, but Merlin just shook his head stubbornly, before ducking his face into the folds of his scarf.
Frowning, Arthur closed the distance between them, his hand hovering for a moment, before he steeled himself and took a gentle hold of Merlin's shoulder.
"I kept thinking I saw you, so many times... In so many places." Merlin swallowed heavily, peaking out from between his hair and the fabric of his scarf. "I tried looking, but- but. It was too much."
"People thought I was crazy, and maybe..." He looked away, shame clouding his features. "Maybe I started to believe them."
Arthur felt his chest clench at Merlin's words and the pain behind them.
"But you're really here this time. Aren't you?"
Arthur felt as the thinner man stiffened, his doubts refusing to be put to bed despite Arthur's presence- and really Arthur couldn't blame him, having been alone for so long.
Merlin didn't look up as Arthur knelt besides him, instead letting out a high pitched whimper.
"Shush." Arthur pulled Merlin's hunched form forwards, "it's alright. I'm here now," he whispered into Merlin's ear, bringing to other arm up around Merlin’s shoulders.
He pressed a kiss to the top of Merlin’s head, then continued.
"I know how to get you out, how to set you free."