Merlin doesn't feel too well. He was out too long in the cold. His already weak bones have drunk up every bit of cold to their brink, body too tired, his barely there frame feeling like a twiglet in the face of the gushing cold wind. Everything was cold and hard. The bare, marble floor he has to scrub with cold water, winter making all utensils and objects he has to carry for his work purposes so much colder and heavier. his flimsy jacket barely giving him protection against the wind that gushes momentarily here and there. His work usually gets blood flowing through his veins. But today it has been too much. It's too cold and his malnourished frame does not have enough storage to fend for itself, bones poking from every edge, body frail.
He took a deep breath in, feeling a bit more relaxed. Resting his head against the wall eyes shut. The cold always gives one a rush. Your body becomes more alert, up to defend itself, survival instincts rushing in. And that usually gave one a feeling of being alive. But today it was too much. He hadn't eaten since God knows when, being too busy or too negligent, or too tired. He wasn't a big eater to begin with honestly. Rarely finding pleasure in food unless after a long day of work, easily finding amusement in other things, like nature, exploration, magic tricks and books.
He was sitting at the edge of a big column pedestal, haven't even managed to get through half the day's errands.
The winter is too long this year, or at least that's how it feels like. The sky is illuminated by an illusive light, radiating a pearly glow. No warmth though, just beauty. Merlin chuckles bitterly at that thought, but his growling stomach, aching from the hunger to the point of extreme uncomfort, brings him back to the problem at hand. He really doesn't want to faint. He hates fainting the most. That loss of control, having to give up the power you have over yourself to someone else, just frightens him to no end. He hates losing control over himself. Nobody will know his needs better than himself after all. And the panic of losing consciousness in itself is bad enough. He doubts he can even make it back to his place to see if Gaius had left any scraps of food for him to keep going. He can't even make it to the kitchen to beg the servants to spare him any bits of food before serving it to the lords and knights. If it was even lunch time yet. Stupid Arthur didn't finish his breakfast this morning though, and he was the one who was supposed to carry it back to the kitchen and he didn't yet, opting to do the laundry first since Arthur has been very grumpy about the lack of fresh garments to wear. As if he can't ask the maids, as if Merlin does not have enough things to do. He trudges carefully to Arthur's room, trying to save up all the energy he can lest he does faint.
He makes it upstairs successfully and opens the doors. Half way from the bread on the table the world goes blank, his barely there mind screaming a last plea, knowing that it was too late.
Merlin wakes up to soft hands, and a cold edge to his mouth. His eyelids are too heavy, producing any sound of objection is not even a possibility, it's a Herculean task.
Ugh. This sucks. He hates fainting so much. His body aches, his head whirls, this feels so bad, so bad, so so ba..
"come on dear.."
He obliges and sips from whatever he's offered, his veins sing with the glucose they were given and blood gushes to his body, with every sip he starts to feel human again. The hands caress his cheeks softly. He sighs. There is a solid, warm existence that is guarding his head. He really shouldn't have let himself go like this. Stupid Merlin. He should've taken better care of himself, he should've known better. But the familiar scent and the warm chest makes him feel so much better. It has gone from hell to heaven quite quickly. He's so thankful to who ever it is that is so kind to him.
"Merlin" sobriety kicks in. Lids open and his hearing works again, "sorry!" He barely says, yet still becomes alert that he had fainted in Arthur's room, Arthur had to feed him like a child. He fucked up he really fucked up..
Arthur readjusts him and he's laying on Arthur's bed, Arthur tears pieces of bread and feeds him bits. After it was obvious he was back to his senses, Arthur's annoyance finally shows.
"What have you done you idiot? How many times did I tell you you looked too faint Merlin? Why do you not listen? Do I really have to leave my duties to take care of you?" Arthur paces across the room in his white tunic, rearranging things Merlin is way too tired to realise what they are. Then he goes over Merlin and covers him with the bed covers and tucks him in, his body is so grateful for the warmth.
"You could have called the maids to help" he retorts weakly, unable to stand losing to Arthur even when he can barely stay awake. "Shut up Merlin!" Merlin's eyes are teary, God he hates fainting. "I've already called the maids to bring you food, I'm sorry you're in pain sweetheart, God why do you never listen to me?" Arthur's tone suddenly changes, worry obvious on his tone and expressions and he caresses his cheeks and his hair. Hmm. Merlin sighs. He feels good. This feels good. Arthur's scent is everywhere and he's engulfed in his soft bed sheets. And then Arthur's mouth is on his, and he feels alive again. Arthur slides his tongue in and greedily sips from his mouth as if he was the one starving, and Merlin drinks.
Yup, that's exactly what he needed.
The world feels wonderful again and the sun shines brightly even though his eyes are shut. He doesn’t know how long Arthur kisses him, but by the time the maids knock on the door, he doesn't feel thirsty anymore.
Arthur ends the make out session with a kiss on his forehead, hugging him closely, and goes to open the doors for the maids and bring the tray in.
He sets it on Merlin's lap after Merlin feebly drags himself up in a seated position. Arthur is away, then, closing the door after the maids. And Merlin wonders why and how did all this happen. And will it please ever happen again? Arthur and Merlin have been always close in one way or another. One always unknowingly providing refuge and safety for the other. And it was logical of course, they had faced evil side by side and fought together, it was understandable to find shelter in your trusted servants and comrades.
"Please stay" he finds himself saying. "I wish you to take care of me." He gulps, ordering Arthur as if their positions were reversed. Arthur sighs and hugs him as an answer, as if understanding the true meaning of the words. With sincerity mixed with worry in his eyes he answers, “With pleasure my dear”.
Merlin always thought Arthur was too selfish to care for the needs of another. He can order others to help who he wants to help, but never himself. And this always made Merlin illogically bothered and his blood boil. He hated it and didn't know why. Arthur never gave his own love. His own touch, his own caress. His own care and sentiment. He didn't want to feel it from a third person. And he ABHORRED how Arthur never did his lot himself. It made even more boundaries between them. Arthur was never reachable, yet always so close. He would jab Merlin, he would banter with him he would ruffle his hair and quarrel with him and he would be so close. So close Merlin can smell him. His sweat, his own unique scent, his fragrance underneath all the mud and dirt from practice. And he could feel his coarse fingers on his skin and his smooth hair tickling Merlin's cheeks when Merlin's trying to win. His cheeks and neck smooth and supple when he grasps onto them for dear life when Arthur eventually, and obviously wins. God he fucking felt so strongly towards him. Always. Too exhausted, too heated, too much, just too much.
Arthur feeds him a bit of chicken he had cut up, and he feels the warmth coursing through his extremities again. After feeling so cold he thought he would never feel warm again. Food never tasted so good. He can't believe he's fucking aroused while eating but it's too much. Arthur's scent, care, kiss, the taste of him and the taste of food, the warmth of the bed, his senses are enlightened and he feels like he's in heaven. Arthur feeds him well, stuffs his face with rice and vegetables and chicken and rum and Merlin feels like he is the king. After the last sip of rum, Arthur gently pats his mouth clean with a handkerchief, his eyes so blue like the ocean and so beautiful. Merlin is in heaven. He kisses him again and it feels so good. So so good. Merlin's so incredibly sated he wonders if he ever was alive before. And Arthur's lips are on his neck, his body is atop his and that pressure on his aroused dick just feels so good. Arthur kisses his forehead and straddles his hips, holding him close to his chest. Merlin feels so warm and safe. He realises he always felt safe when he knew Arthur was nearby. And he hates how much he needs him. And realises that's the reason he always felt so angry at him. Merlin closes his eyes and breathes.
They lay there opposite each other, Arthur caresses his hair away from his eyes, and pecks him every now and then. They cuddle and he falls asleep in his arms.