Disclaimer: I think Merlin is glad I don't own him!

A/N: So the long awaited second chapter. Well, I hope it is still awaited. How many months has it been? *chuckles nervously* No excuse...well acutally there are many. But, let's just say I really hate editing. If there are still mistakes after a beta check and three or more checks by me well...*kills story*

Just when Merlin thinks things can't get any worse...

Bad Day

Arthur woke up stiff and aching, opening his eyes to find the sun shining down upon his face. He frowned in confusion, trying to gage his surroundings. He turned to look at his companion sleeping beside him and sighed as the slight movement caused his head to pound. He found his loyal, slightly annoying and occasionally wise friend had his head on his shoulder.

"Merlin," he said in an irritated tone, trying to shake his manservant off him, "Merlin."

"Huh," Merlin murmured as he raised his head and found Arthur's eyes in such close proximity that he pulled back quickly, startled. Then, his face crumpled in pain and his eyes became glassy.

"What's wrong?" Arthur demanded, concerned with his servant's severe reaction.

"Nothing," Merlin said, trying to breathe through his distress.

"Tell me," Arthur commanded, his words holding their usual authority and superiority.

Merlin expression turned slightly exasperated. "If you must know, I fell on my arm," he said as he clambered to his feet, "Nice to know you care." A cheeky smile slipped onto his face.

"I don't," was Arthur's automatic response even as grabbed Merlin, pulling his servant toward him so he could check his injury. Merlin waited patiently as Arthur untied the makeshift bandage on his arm. The wound was healing nicely with no signs of infection as of yet.

"It will be nice to be back home," Merlin mused as Arthur retied the bandage. Then, he leaned down to pick up his jacket off the wet grass, frowning at the dark red patch on the ground.

"You're telling me," Arthur chuckled. "Grab that, will you," he said and pointed to the bedroll. Merlin nodded as Arthur headed toward the horses. His gelding whickered softly at him and he patted it gently on the head until his stomach grumbled. Arthur paused trying to remember the last time he had eaten. He recalled eating lunch in a tense silence while his manservant tried to start a conversation, but didn't think he'd had any food since then.

He heard a soft cry behind him causing his head snap towards Merlin. His manservant was hunched over, his body lined with tension.

"Merlin?" he asked, obversing his friend start for the second time that day looking for the entire world like a startled stout. Then, Merlin turned and smiled at his master and Arthur wondered if he was imagining things. He watched as Merlin picked up the bedroll and headed towards him. Arthur rubbed his temples, trying to contain the ache.

"Yes?" Merlin inquired, his eyebrows raised in question.

"What?" Arthur frowned, staring at his curious friend.

"You said my name," Merlin said with wide eyes.

"I did?" Arthur asked feeling rather confused.

Merlin gave Arthur a strange look, "Are you feeling alright?"

"Fine," Arthur snapped. Merlin raised his eyebrows again, this time in surprise, as he placed the bedroll on the back of Arthur's horse.

"I think I need to check that head wound of yours." Merlin approached him and started to lift the baggage on his head.

"It's fine," Arthur protested, batting his servant away.

"I think you're far from fine. Now, let me take a look at that," Merlin ordered and Arthur sighed as his servant took away the ruined neckerchief and tossed it to the ground, looking only slightly sorrowful over the ruined garment. He ripped another piece of fabric off the bottom of his already torn shirt, took the water skin out of the pack, wet the cloth and started to gently rub Arthur's forehead causing the crusted blood to crumble and fall away.

"It looks okay for now but Gaius will want to see it when we get back," Merlin said as he pursed his lips in concentration.

"Naturally," Arthur replied, "Shall we?" He was ready to go home. The promise of food and a nice warm bath was overwhelming.

"Yes." Merlin looked as happy at the thought of home as he did. Arthur mounted quickly, swaying slightly as his equilibrium changed, making him dizzy. He waited for Merlin to get on his mare but he stared at it with a slightly queasy expression on his face.

"Well?" Arthur asked.

Merlin smiled a disarmingly grin at him and pulled himself into the saddle. "We should get going," Merlin said.

"I believe that's my job, Merlin. You always seem to forget."

"Never," Merlin quipped as Arthur led them into a canter.

Merlin wasn't sure how he was able to pull himself up onto the horse without screaming and maintain a normal conversation with Arthur. The moment Arthur turned away, Merlin let the smile slide from his face and waited for the pain to subside until it became a constant dull ache. Closing his eyes, he sighed; he couldn't wait to get home. He was already tired, exhausted actually. He felt like he hadn't slept at all.

They trotted in silence for a while until they heard a soft cry come from the bushes. Merlin's body suddenly became alert, full of tension.

"Help me," said a voice that was soft and feminine. Arthur leapt off his horse, before approaching the bush carefully. Merlin waited, perched on his mare.

"Who's there?" Arthur asked one hand on his sword, the other raised in front of him in an open gesture.

"Please," her voice broke, "Don't hurt me."

"I can assure you that you have nothing to fear from us. I promise you will not be harmed." A young woman slowly appeared from the bushes. Her white dress was torn and ripped and her pale blonde hair was messy and tangled, looking for all the world a fragile innocent. A wave of magic slammed into Merlin, almost knocking him off his horse. This woman had magic, powerful magic.

"Thank you," she said and smiled shyly as Arthur took her hand, leading her towards to the horses.

"We are headed to Camelot. You are welcome to accompany us."

"You are very kind." She looked up at Arthur with large blue eyes that contrasted with her pale face and blonde waves.

"It's no problem," Arthur replied as Merlin scoffed. Arthur turned to look at Merlin with a crooked smile, "You can have my manservant's horse. Isn't that right, Merlin?" Arthur's grin turned into a glare.

"What?" Merlin blinked.

"No, I couldn't possibly. You have been so good to me already," she said in a pleading tone, turning her eyes on Merlin. The warlock felt a rush of cold pass through him and he had he sudden urge to run away as far and as quickly as possible.

Merlin shook his head, working hard to stay calm, "It's fine. I can walk." Arthur looked at his servant strangely.

"Are you sure?" she asked and approached him slowly.

"Yes, quite sure." Merlin replied, his voice trembling slightly, as he nearly fell off his horse to comply. Arthur shook his head. Merlin could only imagine what he was thinking.

She smiled gratefully at him, "Thank you." She brushed past him, a hand crawling across his chest. He was suddenly breathless like all the air had been sucked from his lungs and dizzy; black dots danced across his vision. He tried to concentrate despite the shooting weakness that flared through his body in waves. He gasped for breath and his vision slowly returned.

"I never asked your name." Arthur said, completely obliviously.

"Suslbana." She smiled at Arthur prettily.

The prince frowned, "That is an usual name."

"My father thought so as well. That's why he gave it to me."

Arthur nodded and then started to help the lady onto Merlin's horse. Irrational panic rose within Merlin. She was not right. She was so wrong. So very wrong.

"Get away from him!" Merlin shouted and charged, pushing Arthur away from the woman.

"What's your problem?" Arthur demanded as he grabbed the arms of his servant.

"She's evil. Stay away from her," he begged. Arthur tried to keep his flailing manservant in check.

"Merlin!" he yelled. All Merlin could see was red, constricting his thoughts and suffocating him with fear until everything went dark.

Merlin woke to pain. He was swaying from side to side which caused his stomach to roll in protest. He tried to change position but something bound him to the moving object. He was lying on his stomach, his wound pressed into the side of the horse. He let out a soft whimper as the queasiness increased and tears prickled at the side of his eyes. The horse then went over a large bump and he threw up. He was choking on the bile that refused to leave his mouth in this position.

Then, he was suddenly free and retching on the ground causing his midsection to burn. There were hands all over him, helping him up, soothing on the back of his head as he continued to vomit. Finally, his stomach settled and the hands lifted him into a sitting position.

"Ow," Merlin moaned, shivering in the frosty air. The sun once again had disappeared.

"Are you feeling better?" Arthur asked and Merlin nodded slowly despite the ache throughout his body and the sudden new and prominent pounding in his head. He nodded. "Would you like to explain then?"

Merlin tried to remember. All that came to him was a fuzzy haze. "I don't remember. What happened?"

Arthur rubbed his head, "Wouldn't we all like to know."

"Maybe I can help?" A wispy female voice came behind them. Merlin felt all his senses become alert and he tried to automatically back up. The feeling of wrongness overwhelmed him again.

"Merlin! What is wrong with you?" Arthur demanded and grabbed Merlin's arms to still him.

"I don't know!" Merlin replied in distress.

The woman came closer, "I can take away your pain away." She moved her bright red lips into an upturned expression, the trees casting shadows on her face.

"I'm sure you can." Merlin said, picking himself up off the ground and stumbling away. Her magic was powerful and it made him irrational. He needed to think clearly.

"I just want to help." she said, her voice placating.

"My lady, it is obvious that my servant is not thinking clearly. If you could give us some space."

"Of course." She nodded demurely and slowly moved toward the horses before she whipped around with unnatural speed and clubbed Arthur in the back of the head causing him to fall to the ground into a motionless pile. Suslbana stared down at the prince before slowly turning her gaze on Merlin. When her eyes found his, she smiled.

"Stay back." Merlin warned as the woman approached him again.

"Why would I want to do that?" She smirked and took another step toward him.

"I will be forced to hurt you if you come any closer." Merlin retreated another step as she continued to approach.

"You don't want to do that." A light breeze caused her dress to dance around her.

"Right." Merlin scoffed as the air hummed around them.

"Don't let me stop you from trying."

"Forbearne." Merlin spoke but no fire came from his hand. Instead, a shooting pain ran through his chest. He doubled over, hands on his legs as he tried to catch his breath. He gasped and lifted his shirt only to find that the wound on his stomach was slowly oozing blood. He glanced at Suslbana, "What did you do to me?"

"Nothing, my dear. You did that to yourself." In a swift movement, she raced toward him and slammed him into a tree. Then, he felt her hands on his chest and she pulled up his shirt.

His shock wore off and he started to struggle, "Get off."

"Hush," she whispered as her hands crawled under his shirt and grasped him on either side of his chest. The moment her hands touched his skin, he cried out. She was draining him, he could feel his magic disappearing, rushing out of him and into her. He whimpered and violently tried to push the woman off of him, away from his body, and stop her from attacking him. She pulled back and cocked her head to the side, pale eyes now red. "You are very strong, dear one." She slowly let her tongue pass over her lips. "Silence now, my lamb." She lowered her face and traced small patterns on his neck with her lips.

"No," he yelled and shoved her away once more. There was a momentary reprieve and he gasped in relief as tears leaked out the side of his eyes. The creature turned her head to the side, listening. He could hear it too; footsteps.

Then, Suslbana howled in rage and turned upon her unexpected attacker. Merlin slumped to the ground, leaning tiredly again the tree. She smiled at the prince as he held his sword in front of him. "Ah, the little princeling. Awake so soon?" Arthur's arm wavered slightly, "But, not for long. Sleep, little royal."

Arthur shook his head as her spell started to take hold, "Who are you?" he demanded, sleepily.

"None of your concern," she hissed, surging forward. Arthur ran her through without a moment's thought before slumping to the ground once more. Suslbana screeched one last time before dissolving into black liquid that was quickly absorbed into the ground.

Merlin let out a breath, sighing. All he felt was weak and empty. He closed his eyes, trying to stop the tears from slipping down his face.

He tried to pick himself off the forest floor, a flood of pain passed through him. Too soon. They really need to get back to Camelot. He could only imagine the problems associated with being knocked around the head twice in less than a day and he really didn't want to try and heal Arthur again. The thought of more pain made him shudder. He lifted his shirt and found that the wound had finally stopped bleeding.

When the pain had become a dull ache, he attempted to rise again, this time succeeding, though his entire body was trembling with the effort. He stumbled over to Arthur and shook his master slightly. He stirred but refused to awaken causing Merlin to sigh, "Floterian." Arthur rose from the ground and floated to the over the horses to land gently on his gelding. The moment he stopped using magic, a sharp stabbing pain lanced through his chest. He sighed, breathing through this new bout of pain. This was really getting tiring quickly.

Once more, he raised his tunic and cursed when he realized the injury was bleeding once again. He really couldn't win. He was quite sure now that any use of his magic would aggravate the wound.

Merlin bound Arthur to his horse, before staggering over to his own mare and gingerly pulling himself up. He took a few deep breaths, allowing the pain to ease, before clucking at his horse to urge her into a trot. She whinnied contentedly in response, as Arthur's horse obediently and automatically followed along behind.

The next hour passed in a blur. They would have made better time if he'd encouraged the horses to move more quickly but he found he couldn't bring himself to bother.

Arthur woke up to a splitting headache causing him to groan. He then realized that he was trussed to the horse like a turkey during the Midwinter Festival.

He heard the tired yet irritating cheerful voice of his manservant, "Good, you're awake."

"I am. Now, could you remove these bindings?" His own voice grated against his nerves and his overly sensitive head.

"Well..." Merlin said.

"Merlin!" Arthur exclaimed and winced as his head throbbed again.

There was a sigh, a thump and something that sounded suspiciously like a whimper. Arthur felt hands on his torso then the ropes were suddenly gone. He would have fallen off the horse head first if it hadn't been for Merlin.

"You okay, sire?" Merlin asked and helped Arthur down from his gelding.

"I am far from fine." Despite the headache that felt like it was cutting into his head like a knife, he was feeling clearer than he had all day even with the rather disturbing gaps in his memory. "What happened?"

Another sigh, "You don't remember?"

"I wouldn't be asking if I did, would I?" Arthur demanded.

"The woman was some sort of magical creature and you killed her with your sword." Merlin said, leaning against the horse.

"I did." Arthur studied his servant, searching for any untruths.

"Yes." Merlin replied with a nod.

"Oh, and why don't I remember any of this."

"Because she knocked you out." Again.

"Was this before or after I killed her?" Arthur questioned.

"After, of course." Merlin rested his head against the horse's warm torso, willing the world to stop spinning.

"Well, that doesn't make any sense."

"Well, she wasn't dead yet."

"You make her sound like some kind of Wraith."

"Well, she wasn't. And then, I had to lug your heavy body and tie you to your horse." Merlin complained.

"I am not fat!" Arthur exclaimed.

"So says you!" Merlin retorted and promptly fainted. Arthur leaped forward to catch his friend before he hit the ground and he did, just barely.

"Come on, Merlin, this is no time to rest." There was no response. He glanced at his surrounding and realized that they were close to the city. He took pity on his servant and didn't bind him the horse for a second time that day.

Arthur looked at his mount and cursed. This would be so much easier if Merlin was awake. After much struggle, the prince had managed to get both him and Merlin on his gelding. He let Merlin settle against his body and he set off for Camelot.

When Merlin awoke, he was resting against Arthur's shoulder for the second time that day. His back was pressed up against the prince and when he tried to move a familiar sharp pain stabbed through his torso causing him to fall back against Arthur's chest panting slightly.

"You're awake." Arthur said.

"Yes." Merlin murmured, "Where are we?"

"Just about to enter the city."

"Finally," Merlin muttered. He felt Arthur nodding behind him.

As they passed through the lower town, the stares of the people made Merlin's face turn red with embarrassment. By the time, they reached the stables he was feeling alert but rather agitated.

Arthur jumped off out the gelding first, ordering the stable boy to take care of the horses, while Merlin ungracefully fell off the animal. Arthur loosely gripped Merlin's arm and they proceeded to the infirmary.

The moment Gaius saw them, he rushed over, inspecting them with roving eyes and demanded, "What happened? Are you alright?"

Merlin blinked owlishly as words escaped him. He didn't know where to begin.

"What is wrong?"

Arthur saved Merlin from his chaotic thoughts.

"I think we both could use some sleep."

Merlin couldn't agree more.

Suslbana - Devil/ a torturing destroyer/ one who tortures while he destroys.

Forbearne - Fire.

Floterian - Float.

Well, I hope you enjoyed that. I know I would certainly enjoy knowing what you think! (Not so subtle hint.)