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He wakes up in Merlin's arms, nose tucked into the soft skin of his throat, swallows back a wave of desire so intense he's surprised it doesn't wake Merlin somehow and holds very still.

Merlin wakes anyway, makes careful motions to move away without provoking Arthur's wounds.

"You were shivering, so cold, I thought—" he stutters, whispering in the pre-dawn light. "Gaius says that body-heat is best for—"

"Yes, well." Arthur clears his throat, feeling bereft, but lies anyway, "I'm quite warm now."

"Of course," Merlin gets up, having successfully extricated himself. "Good. That's very good."

"Where are you going?"

"I'll be right here," Merlin tips his head and smiles sleepily at him, curling up in the chair by the bed. "Do you need anything?"

Yes, Arthur thinks, stupidly, but says, "This bed is quite big, Merlin."

"Oh." Merlin nods, "Alright," comes back under the covers, but lies carefully out of reach. "Thank you, Sire."

Arthur makes an appropriately dismissive sound and curls a little closer as surreptitiously as he can with his injuries.

Eventually, exhaustion makes Merlin relax into sleep and leaves Arthur to watch the first rays of sunrise catch on his face, note the shadows under his eyes and the tensely drawn mouth, even in sleep and reach out before he can stop himself, tracing the shadows of Merlin's eyelashes, the lines of his cheekbones. Arthur swallows.

Merlin's mouth relaxes, moving into the palm cupping his face, trusting, and somehow they're much closer together than before, and Arthur's last thought before falling back asleep is that Merlin has stubble.

Really silly, boyish stubble.

But it's soft against his nose when Arthur tucks his head in above Merlin's shoulder, and the soft laugh this draws from him is more affectionate than uncharitable.