Arthur was spitting fire. Gwen had never seen this angry. The only person who could calm him was currently unconscious after a bandit attack on the way back from an inspection that Arthur had sent him on.
Merlin, Leon, Percival and Gwaine had been sent to inspect the outlying villages but under orders not to were Camelot's livery. This was to see if the villages were safe and obeying the rules of the King. They also wanted to see if any new magical people could come to work under Merlin's tutelage as he is Magical Advisor to the King. Very few knew of Merlin's status as Arthur and Gwen's husband. They had been gone 2 weeks and were only a day's ride from Camelot when the attack happened.
Bandits came out of nowhere to the 4 horse men not in Camelot livery. As Merlin knocked one out the other knights brought down the bandits but one unseen seeing Merlin alone took a sling shot and fired it at Merlin hitting him on the temple and knocking him out. Gwaine turned to see this and flew into a rage firing a knife at the man killing him dead. The rest of the bandits ran realising that this wasn't just any ordinary group heading for the city.
Gwaine ran to Merlin's side seeing the blood run from his head.
"Merlin, come on don't do this me. The Princess will do unspeakable things to us if you die", he said in anxious tone.
"Gwaine", shouted Leon's commanding voice, "We've got to get him to Camelot to Gaius. Percival, lift him up to my horse and I'll carry him back to Camelot with you two behind me taking Merlin's horse".
Percival lifted him gently placing him on Leon's horse easily for Merlin was no weight, despite his height. Leon took off at a gallop and Gwaine gathered the reins of the horse with him as the mounted and raced after Leon.
It was late when they arrived, but the shout had gone up as Percival had raced on ahead to tell Arthur what had happened.
By the time Leon had arrived Gaius, Gwen and Arthur were on the steps waiting. Merlin was lowered but before anyone could take him Arthur grabbed him and raced with him to Gaius's room. Gaius and Gwen trailed after him. Leon, Gwaine and Percival coming up the rear, leaving a shocked court to see there King so affected.
"Place him here your majesty", said a worried Gaius as he hurried to assess the injury.
"How did this happen and how did you let it happen Leon," raged Arthur.
"I'm sorry sire …."whispered Leon, but before he could say anymore, Gwen cut him off.
"Arthur, don't you think we need to see to Merlin's needs then discuss the whys and wherefores later!"
"Yes you are right. Gaius will he be alright?" questioned the worried King.
"First I need to clean the wound then see how deep the cut is, also how did it occur".
"The bandits came out of the trees, Gaius. There were about 6 or 7 of them. Merlin knocked out a couple, whilst Percival, Leon and I took on the rest. But one came behind us unseen. He had a sling shot and the stone hit Merlin on the temple with such force he immediately lost consciousness and fell to the ground. I threw a dagger and killed the man but the rest who weren't dead got a way when they realised who we were," said Gwaine.
"Arthur I think you had better take the Knights out and see why bandits are so close to Camelot whilst Gwen and I deal with Merlin alright. Merlin will be fine, I'm sure. The cut isn't too deep but we need to wait and see how long it will take for him to wake up and assess the damage then. There is nothing you can do for now", stated Gaius.
"Alright, I'll go". He bends over the fallen figure of Merlin, wiping a tear from his eye. Kissed his husband softly on the lips, which the Knights had never seen, even though they knew of the relationship, kissed Gwen on the cheek and said, "Come with me".
Arthur marched to his chamber with the men after him rage seeping from ever pour. Leon new the signs and had never witnessed this extreme anger before.
"How the hell did you walk into a trap like that?" raged Arthur. "You are trained knight, did you not notice them, hemmm!"
"Your majesty, they came from the trees, they weren't native to Camelot of that I'm certain," explained Leon.
Gwaine moved closer to Arthur, knowing why the rage so intense.
"Arthur, those men who did this are still out there. I think the best we can do for Merlin is get them before someone dies. Merlin would want that."
"Yes you are right Gwaine. It's too late to start out now but first light we will go and rid these men and find out who paid them to attack this close to Camelot".
"We", said Leon.
"Yes, WE. Do you think after what they did to Merlin that I'm staying home? Dismissed and see you at first light."
After they had gone Arthur took his anger out on the furniture. Overturning table and anything that wasn't nailed down, he even smashed a chair against a wall. A maid who walked by the Kings chambers, hearing the turmoil ran to Gaius's rooms.
"Come in", said Gaius.
"Your majesty", she said curtsying to Gwen, "I don't want to speak out of turn, but there is a terrible noise coming from the King's chambers", she looked at Gwen earnestly then at Merlin's bandaged head.
"It's alright; I'll go see what is going on. Thank you for coming."
"I've got to go Gaius and deal with Arthur, before he wrecks the room."
"Go quickly Gwen. We can only wait now."
Gwen turned, kissed Merlin's head and left.
As Gwen reached the room she opened the door to a room over turned and Arthur in the middle chest heaving.
"It's not your fault Arthur. You know what Merlin would say! "questioned Gwen.
"Yes," sighed Arthur. "He'd call me a prat and make me fix my own room."
"I love him too you know Arthur, but this doesn't do anything. Go and say goodnight to John and tell him that Papa Mer is hurt but will get better before he hears it from someone else. I will get this fixed so you can get some sleep before you go out a first light".
Arthur nodded and left the room, leaving Gwen to tell a guard to call Arthur's servant so they could get this sorted.
As Arthur made it to John's room, the nanny came out almost bumping into Arthur.
"Sorry your majesty, but thank goodness you are here. John must have fallen asleep and woke up shouting about Lord Merlin being hurt. No one told him your majesty I made sure of that. But he said he had a dream about bad men hurting Merlin. He's crying and won't stop."
Arthur entered the room and swooped down to pick John up. He was 3 years old now and Arthur swears he looks at him some times like Merlin does.
"Hush now my love and tell Daddy what's wrong," whispered Arthur.
"Bad men (sniff sniff) hurt Papa Mer (sniff sniff). I saw it in my head. They hit him with a rock but Uncle Gawaine got the bad man who did it".
Arthur was stunned. John had just described what had happened in the forest.
Arthur rocked John and hushed him, but nothing would settle him. So Arthur decided the only thing to do was to take him to see that Merlin was alive but asleep.
"Listen John, I'm going to take you to see Papa Mer, alright," soothed Arthur. "Can you go and tell Gwen that what has happened and tell her to meet us in Gaius's rooms. "
"Yes your majesty", said the nanny as she curtsied and left the room.
Arthur lifted John who rested his head on Arthur's shoulder as they left the room.
When they arrived Arthur opened the door and said to John, "now Merlin is asleep John and will get better. Uncle Gaius is looking after him."
Arthur looked up to see Gaius and Gwaine in the room.
"Your majesty, Arthur what is Prince John doing here?" questioned the old man.
"Well, our John woke up from a nap and described all that had happened in the forest with Uncle Gwaine here," Arthur replied to a stunned audience.
As he was speaking John was squirming against him to get free and go to Merlin. Arthur set him down and the boy ran to Merlin but stopped as he saw the sleeping man. He reached out and touched his face with his hand and then proceeded to climb onto the cot. No one stopped him as he leaned forward and kissed Merlin on the nose as Merlin always did to tell him goodnight. He then proceeded to say, "Come back to me Papa Mer. I miss you".
Gwaine turned away and Arthur was sure he saw his so strong capable Knight wipe away a tear and coughing to clear his throat. He then looked back to see John place his head on Merlin's chest. At this point a hand started to stroke the boy's hair, and it was then that Arthur realised that Merlin was awake.
"MERLIN", shouted Arthur. The others turned round and ran to the bed. Arthur knelt down and placed his own head on Merlin's shoulder. Merlin looked at the room, smiled and placed his arms around the two men in his life, Arthur and John.
Gaius and Gwaine laughed and at that point Gwen came in and saw then scene placing a hand over her month.
She ran forward to and kissed Merlin's still bandaged head holding the hand that was on top of John's head.
"Can I have a drink please", came a croaky voice that Arthur recognised as Merlin's. He lifted his head and Merlin saw the tears in his King's eyes. Arthur kissed those dry lips as Gaius went to get a drink for him and moved to kiss his ear as he spoke softly.
"God Merlin I thought I'd lost you," Arthur said in whispers against his ear.
Merlin drank and replied, "I'm going nowhere Arthur, I told you once I'm happy to be you're servant to the day I die. But I don't intend to go yet."
"Papa Mer, you woke up. Daddy said you were asleep. Did those bad men really hurt you? Do you want me to kiss the boo boo better. "
"I'm alright John, but you can kiss my boo boo better."
John proceeded to kiss the side of his head.
"Now how about I get Uncle Gwaine to put you to bed young man so Papa Mer can get some rest! You love his stories and he will tell you one if you're good," said Arthur as he place John in Gwaine's arms.
"But I want to stay," whined John.
"How about a piggy back ride to your room", coaxed Gwaine, "and I'll tell you 2 stories".
"Alright, see you tomorrow Papa Mer," said John as he blew Merlin a kiss.
"Goodnight John and I'll see you tomorrow," replied Merlin catching the kiss as John and Gwaine left the room.
"Who told him about me hummm", said an obviously furious Merlin.
"No-one", replied Arthur, "He dreamt the entire thing even describing Gwaine killing the man who attacked you".
"My god, he's a seer", whispered Gaius as he sat down with a thump.
"Yes, just as Morgana was," replied Arthur still holding onto Merlin as if he would disappear.
Merlin slumped back and grabbed Arthur's hand. "I heard him you know, in my head. I was in a foggy place and couldn't find my way out. I heard John's voice saying 'come back to me Papa Mer. I miss you', I thought I'd imagined it until I opened my eyes and saw his sweet blond head on my chest and now your telling me that he knew of my injury without being told."
"That's what he said Merlin. Those exact words after kissing your nose," stated Gaius.
Merlin looked at Gwen took her hand and kissed it, "I'm alright you know."
"Don't you ever do anything like that again? How am supposed to cope with the prat without you," she softly spoke.
"Hey, I'm not a prat. I am here you know," replied Arthur trying to sound offended.
"This from the man who wrecked his room when you came back hurt. Humm," stated Gwen.
Arthur looked sheepishly at them both. Merlin raised an eyebrow, looked at him but said nothing but put both hands on Arthur's face and kissed him softly, gently and whispered again, "I'm going nowhere Arthur."
"Now I hate to break this up but I need to examine Merlin and he needs some sleep. You your majesty have an early start in the morning if I'm not mistaken after some bandits I believe!" stated Gaius.
"What do you mean an early start, Ohh", questioned Merlin as he tried to sit up realising that was a bad move.
"Now quieten down my boy. Arthur is organising a search for the bandits who attacked your party so close to Camelot. It has to be done. Next time someone might die," declared Gaius.
"But, but he can't go ..", declared Merlin.
"Yes I can, but I'm not. I'll send Leon on point with Gwaine, Percival, and a few other Knights. They can scout out and report back. We need them alive and if I went out I'm not sure they would be after what happened to you," announced Arthur.
"I'm proud of you for that Arthur," acknowledged Gwen.
"Yes our prat is growing up, who'd a thought", chuckled Merlin as Arthur glared, but laughed along with relief.
As they left Arthur saw Gaius go to Merlin and say, "Oh my boy don't do that to an old man. What would I have done without you"?
Merlin hushed him and comforted him as Arthur closed the door.
The next morning Arthur dispatched the Knights; Elyan was also in the party having volunteered to dispatch the threat. He was quite fond of Merlin.
When they returned that a few days later with 2 surviving members, Arthur interrogated them in Merlin's presence.
As the Knights entered the throne room 3 chairs sat at its end; the largest was Arthur's who occupied it, on either side sat two chairs, one had a small crown carved into its head piece and vacant; the second was occupied by a Merlin holding a staff with a blue orb on top.
"Do you know who I am?" asked Arthur. "Do you know who this is?" as he pointed at Merlin.
"I'm Arthur King of Camelot and this is Merlin Court Warlock and consort of the King."
Arthur got up off his chair and walked towards the men, Merlin just smiled tightening his grip on the staff. Arthur wandered around them, trying his best not to give into the damage he wanted to inflict on them.
"Who sent you? What did you think you would accomplish attacking people so close to Camelot?"
They never spoke, but one made a leap for Arthur, but Merlin was quicker and suspended both men in the air.
"Now are you going to answer my questions or will I leave you Merlin's tender mercies as it was him you attacked?"
"Alright, alright," shouted the larger man. "We heard of the riches of Camelot from a travelling lady. She said you weren't that well defended as your Knights were away and now we know that this was a trap."
"What did this lady look like?" asked Merlin.
"Really beautiful like, dark hair and pale skin like you", he pointed at Merlin.
Arthur pale, and looked back at Merlin giving a knowing look.
"Where was this you met her?" questioned Arthur.
"Let us down and I'll tell your", shouted the smaller man.
"Tell us first and we'll consider it," replied Arthur.
"Up north your majesty, which is a long distance from here. We aren't from these parts and now I've lost my men because of that bitch" he ranted, "If I find her I'll kill her. Not guarded my foot," he grumbled.
Merlin let them down and Arthur dismissed them to the dungeons.
"So she's alive then. Survived the knife wound," stated Arthur matter of factly. Then he turned and reached for Merlin's hand and kissed it.
"I won't let her get you, Gwen or John, Merlin, never."
Merlin stood up and power emanated from him, "Arthur, Arthur. Listen to me. She will always be a threat. We know that. But she wanted us to know that she is alive. To unnerve you. Don't let her get to you. Remember. I am Emrys, the most powerful warlock of all time; I am a Dragon lord and have you at my side. She doesn't scare me Arthur. In fact she's afraid of me."
Arthur never felt more in love than at that moment and kissed him soundly until Merlin was breathless and they pulled apart as the doors opened again.
"Now are you two love birds going to get ready for the feast or will I cancel? Hum", questioned Gwen with a mischievous smile on her lips.
"I don't think John would be pleased Merlin. You promised him a dance," laughed Arthur.
"Yes, we can't have that, he'd sulk for a week, just like his father", Merlin grinned his reply.
"Hey. I am here you know", grumbled Arthur playfully.
He reached for Merlin and whispered, "remember I want you tonight and not just for a dance". He placed a kiss on Merlin's temple and Merlin shivered at the thought.
Gwen smiled knowing it would a time for the two of them, Arthur and Merlin alone tonight. She was glad that it could happen. Less than a week ago Merlin might not have been here and Arthur needed to take him to prove he was still alive and there to be held.
Before the feast, just as a precaution, Merlin set up magical barriers that would let him know if any powerful magical beings or large armed forces entered within 5 leagues of Camelot. That would give Arthur enough time to prepare his men and merlin his own magical forces.
The feast was a merry affair and Merlin danced with John and Gwen. At the end they all slipped away each to their own chambers. But Merlin went to Arthurs as promised threw the adjoining door. Their vows of love and adoration were renewed, and passion shared. Arthur held him all night thanking all that was holy that Merlin was still here to be held.
Nearing dawn, Gwen crept in and slide on the other side of Arthur and he held them close. He had his two loves, his son and his Kingdom. Let none try and take them from him. He slipped into a sleep surrounded by love. Holding each of them in his arms, as Merlin and Gwen held each other's hands resting against Arthur's chest.
Peace and calm lived in Camelot and all loved their King and Arthur loved them.