Gaius settled the little bundle in his arms on to the sofa and wrapped his coat over it, trying not to wake the sleeping form of a little boy. Walking softly into the kitchen Gaius had to try and come up with a plan of how to explain why a four year old boy was currently asleep on Uther Pendragons sofa. Of course he would find it a lot easier to explain if he understood what had happened himself.
Gaius studied the clock knowing that as every minute went by it was getting closer to having to face up to Uther and telling him what he had done. Uther already had two children who were currently away for the week at their uncle Agravaine's in London, this had been the first time since Arthur had been born that Uther has had a while away from his children so that he could have some time for himself. Gaius couldn't bare to find out how he would react to seeing someone else's child that he didn't know on his sofa.
To pass the time away Gaius decided to make the little boy who was snuggled up on the sofa a small hot chocolate along with some toast which had a little amount of butter on it. When Gaius had made his way back to the sofa with the hot chocolate in on hand and the toast in the other, the little boy was startled to hear his footsteps and shot upright, along with beginning to breath heavily and bringing his legs towards himself and hugging them.
"It's alright," Gaius reassured the little boy, the little boy just looked at him blankly as if he spoke a completely different language. As the boy proceeded to wake up properly and looked at Gaius with more detail he face began to crumple up and tears were forming in his eyes but Gaius knew what to do.
"Hey don't cry your safe I promise" Gaius said which made the boy stop in his tracks for a minute before he stumbled out a "Sorry sir, scared, sorry" before hiding his face. "You have nothing to be sorry for and you don't need to be scared either, your safe now" Gaius responded in a gentle tone, trying his absolute best not to frighten the boy any more than he already was. If Gaius was honest with himself he too was slightly scared of how this evening would plan out.
"Now take some toast and drink this hot chocolate, you need this " Gaius said in the same tone as before, however this time Merlin didn't cry or try to hide instead he was calm enough to take a slice of toast and a sip of hot chocolate. In the end the little boy had managed to eat four slices of bread along with having drunk the whole hot chocolate despite his skinny frame.
As Gaius was clearing away the plate and cup that had been used, the little boy kept flinching at the cluttering noise that the plate made as it was put against the worktop which Gaius noticed. "I'm only putting this plate away, I will come back in a minute and sit with you" Gaius offered which the boy seemed to accept. When he sat back down on the sofa the little boy instantly put his head onto Gaius's thigh as the boy curled up into a little ball next to him just like a cat while sucking his thumb and looking relaxed , in a time frame of five minutes the little boy fell asleep which gave Gaius a warm feeling. The same feeling that Uther gets when his kids are fast asleep.
The peace and quiet in the atmosphere was soon broken when the front door opened and Uther came into the living room, his eyes went wide as soon as he saw the little boy curled up next to Gaius. "Who is he and why is he asleep next to you on my sofa" Uther whispered, Gaius hated how scary Uther could sound in a single whisper.
Gaius sighed. "His name is Merlin and he is an emergency case as police found him locked in what was assumed to be his bedroom on his own".
"But why is he here" Uther asked, this time his tone of voice sounded more friendly but still firm.
"There was no one who could take him at such short notice he was only found this morning" Gaius explained. Uther still didn't look entirely convinced so Gaius gently removed Merlin's head from his thigh and replaced it with a cushion so he and Uther could talk in private. "His parents had gone away abroad and abandoned him, when police were informed they went to the house, there was no food or water to be seen, the house was a mess and there were empty bottles of vodka everywhere along with the smell of stale cigarettes, but when they finally found their way to Merlin's bedroom it was... unimaginable of the state the room and Merlin was in". Gaius looked as if he wanted to cry for Merlin.
Uther ran a hand through his hair. "How long do we have him for"? Uther asked now concerned for Merlin's physical and mental health.
"As far as I know we only have him for the week however the plan can change but only if he appears to be doing well and getting comfortable around these surroundings as if he isn't then he will be put into the care system", Gaius explained.
At this point Gaius looked as if he was close to tears again; Uther could see how much this kid meant to Gaius even if he had only known him for a few hours. Uther was also aware that Gaius had been working for these sorts of people for years and had never been on a case as serious as this before.
"Alright Gaius I tell you what since you have helped me look after my kids for a long time I'll let him stay for the week and if things go well we could think about extending the length of his stay".
Before Gaius even got the chance to say thank you Merlin had woken up and flinched when he saw Uther who was taller than Gaius which made his face crumple up again but this time he was actually crying and loudly for that matter.
Gaius slowly walked up to Merlin while Uther watched from a distance, Gaius then stroked Merlin's hair to calm him down before pointing out that it was eight in the evening which would mean bed time for Uther's two kids. Merlin then looked up as if he was pleased to hear the phrase bed time; he suddenly stopped crying and sniffed noisily before Gaius offered to take him to bed. The boy nodded which lead to Gaius having to pick him up and carry Merlin by lifting him on to his shoulder, Merlin snuggled his head under Gaius's chin and held tightly to his shirt as Gaius carried him up to bed.
The next day was full of surprises for all three of them.
Firstly Gaius and Uther were woken up by the sounds of crying at half past six in the morning. Gaius went into Merlin's room to find him curled up into himself with a line full of tears rolling down his cheeks. Gaius couldn't ignore Merlin's emotions of deep fear. "Hey Merlin shush its ok, you're okay, shhhh" Gaius cooed until Merlin stopped, his eyes still watery and begging Gaius for comfort which he was more than willing to give. Once everything had calmed down, Merlin broke the hug between him and Gaius and repeatedly apologised even when Uther came into the room. "No need to apologise, we don't mind" Uther said unexpectedly which earnt him a smile from Gaius. "Didn't mean to wake you, sorry" Merlin mumbled before Gaius picked him up and asked if he wanted breakfast which got Merlin interested but worried at the same time.
Once Gaius persuaded Merlin to get dressed, Uther had to borrow some of Arthur's old clothes which were far too big for Merlin as they hung off his thin figure but they had to make do with what they had. When Uther had made all three of them breakfast it took a while to properly convince Merlin to eat any. In the end Gaius had turned breakfast into a race to see who could finish first, Merlin ended up winning and the proud look on his face made Gaius give Merlin his widest smile even if he had let Merlin win.
However the fun soon ended when Uther began to curse faintly so Merlin couldn't hear. "What's the matter"? Gaius asked with concern in his voice which Merlin did pick up on causing him to look around for a hiding place if necessary. "Morgana and Arthur are coming home today" Uther replied while looking directly at Merlin without him noticing. Gaius rubbed his eyes before speaking, "we should just tell them that we have a visitor who needs to stay with us for a few days". Uther didn't look entirely convinced which showed when he asked, "what if they ask questions, what am I supposed to tell them". Gaius replied with, "say that he is a guest so we should treat him as part of the family", Uther nodded in agreement.
Morgana and Arthur were due to arrive home at two o clock and Uther had nothing prepared as an afternoon snack. It wasn't until one o clock when Merlin mentioned the idea of having pizza, Uther had never been keen on making their kids junk food but for once he decided to give his kids a treat.
Soon enough it was two o clock in the afternoon, when the doorbell rang it startled Merlin which caused him to run off to hide behind the sofa, his eyes watching the two people walk through the door, both smiling and giggling. Merlin then heard Uther telling them about him being a new guest in their house. One of the two people then walked up towards the sofa then climbed on to the sofa and saw Merlin's stare.
"Hello Merlin I am Morgana, pleased to meet you". Morgana was six years old and very mature for her age, all Merlin did was nervously stand up and walk next to Morgana cautiously. Morgana then took his hand and slowly walked him over to Arthur, "and this is Arthur he is four years old, the same age as you actually" Morgana stated proudly. However the happy atmosphere was soon interrupted when Arthur blurted out "he stinks and he looks strange". Merlin then shot off behind the sofa and began to sob which got him a yelled out shut up from Arthur.
"Merlin come back"! Morgana called before adding "Arthur is always like that", which was the pure truth as Arthur had always been the challenge of the family since he had started his terrible two's.
"Daddy, Uncle Gaius, Arthur upset Merlin" Morgana called which got her and Arthur removed from the crying scene by Gaius to try to calm Merlin down. After spending the next hour with Merlin he had eventually calmed down enough to be brought into the kitchen to eat his pizza.
Uther and Gaius weren't stupid, they knew there would be a few arguments but with their hearts set into getting Merlin settled and happy, they were determined to make this work no matter what was going to happen.