It had gotten quiet in the camp and for a while the only things Arthur heard were the fire slowly burning down and the usual sounds of the forest around them. Not even Gwaine had to comment on one thing or another since Percy had threatened him with the deprivation of physical affection.
There were the occasional snore coming from different directions and Arthur smiled. His knights needed their rest, it had been a long and tiring campaign. He had taken the first watch, even though he had some difficulty to keep his eyes open.
He startled when he heard a slow groan. The noise was gone as quickly as it had started but then one of them started tossing and turning, murmuring in his sleep. Arthur pulled himself in a more upright position but he didn’t need to see who the troubled sleeper was.
Merlin! It was Merlin who once again was having a very vivid dream and by the looks of it, it wasn’t a pleasant one.
Arthur tried to decide what to do. This wasn’t the first night that Merlin was having nightmares. If he left him like this, he would wake the others up and he wouldn’t be in top form to wait on all of them in the morning. So Arthur carefully got up and crept over to where Merlin was tangled in his blanket, tossing his head from one side to the other.
“Merlin,” he called lowly.
When Merlin didn’t react, Arthur reached out touched his shoulder. “Merlin!”
Merlin sat up with a start and stared at Arthur, his breath coming in puffs as if he had run uphill. “Wha…?”
“I need you to do something.”
Making a little disgruntled sound, Merlin rubbed at his eyes like a five-year-old, which was way too adorable for a man his age. “In the middle of the night?”
Sniffing, Merlin looked at Arthur, strands of hair sticking out while Merlin tried to wake up. “What is it? Don’t you find your own bedstead? Need help arranging that blanket? Or is the fire too bright for you to sleep?”
Arthur almost chuckled. How Merlin could possibly make up all those insults even though he had just woken him from a troublesome slumber was beyond him. “No, I need company on my watch.”
“You need what? You shouldn’t have taken the first watch when you were so tired that you couldn’t make it through it.” Merlin grumbled and then yawned widely.
“Bring your blanket and follow me.”
There were more murmured insults and it was clear that Merlin wasn’t happy at all to leave his spot so closely to the fire to have to sit with the prince. “And now?”
“Now you’ll wrap your blanket around your shoulders and sit here.” Arthur had found his spot sitting against the tree again and patted the ground next to him. To his surprise, Merlin didn’t complain.
It didn’t take long before Merlin’s eyes fell shut again and again, so Arthur just reached over and pulled him close. “Sleep.”
For the first time since they had left Camelot, Merlin slept peacefully all through the night.