Only with great effort had they been able to defeat the sorcerer.
The two knights had died trying. But they had been enough to distract the sorcerer for a moment. Merlin cast a spell that brought a gust of wind which blew into her eyes while Arthur sneaked up behind her and killed her.
Now Arthur stood there, panting and pushed his sword back under his belt. He turned around.
"Merlin, get up! You didn't even do anything. If anyone had the right to lie around it would be me!"
Merlin groaned. "Yes, Sire." Same as always.
"Arthur!" Merlin called out, panic in his voice.
Arthur looked back over his shoulder. "What is it?"
Merlin still lay on the floor. “I can't move.”
He scoffed “Don't be so dramatic. Get up. We need to be back in Camelot before nightfall."
“I'm serious Arthur. I can't get up. I can't move my legs at all.” There was a nervous tremor in Merlin's voice.
Worry flicked over Arthur's features. He went to Merlin and pulled him up.
Merlin stumbled and held onto him.
He scowled at Arthur. "Of course I am."
Arthur half pulled, half carried him to his horse. He made the horse lie down and heaved Merlin onto it.
"Are you hurt?" Arthur asked as the horse got up.
"I don't think so. Maybe it was a spell?"
Arthur nodded grimly. He took the horse's reigns and began leading it to the path that would bring them back home.
After several hours of silence, they caught sight of the walls of Camelot. It was already getting dark.
They left the horse at the stables and Arthur slung Merlin over his shoulder to carry him up the stairs.
After two flights of stairs, he stopped. "Is it-" he huffed, had to catch his breath. "much further?"
"We're about halfway there." Merlin said quietly.
Arthur groaned. "We'll go to my chambers. They're closer."
Merlin nodded. "Okay." Not that he had a say in it.
When they arrived, Arthur put him down on his bed and then collapsed next to him. He sighed and turned onto his back.
After several minutes Merlin said: "You need to go tell your father that you're back."
Arthur grumbled. "Yes. Will you be alright?"
"Don't worry, I won't run." Merlin said dryly.
Arthur frowned. "I'll get Gaius on my way back."
When the door closed Merlin groaned. He started whispering spells. But none of them helped. One made his legs twitch for a minute, but after it stopped he still had no control over them.
He gave up when he heard steps outside in the hallway.
Gaius and Arthur entered.
"-not see anything?" Gaius asked.
"No." Arthur said in a tone that made clear he was getting impatient.
"Hello, Merlin." Gaius said.
"Hello." Merlin waved from where he lay on the bed.
Gaius shook his head and set his bag down next to Merlin.
He started inspecting his legs, moved them and asked him if anything hurt.
"But you do feel your legs, right?" Gaius asked.
"Yes." Merlin answered.
Gaius frowned. “It doesn't seem to be anything physical. I have to find out what kind of spell it could have been. Otherwise, I won't know what to do.”
“Tell me if he gets better.” Gaius told him.
When Gaius was out the door Arthur sighed. “Why did you have to get yourself into this kind of situation, Merlin?”
“You act like I chose this.” Merlin complained. “Believe me I´d prefer to be able to walk. The way it is now I don't know if I will ever walk again.”
Arthur stilled. Apparently, it hadn't occurred to him. He frowned at Merlin a while longer.
“Well, we will have to wait until Gaius finds something.” Merlin said. He didn't have the energy to listen to more of Arthur's complaining.
Arthur huffed and started undressing. When he was only wearing his pants, he pulled Merlin higher onto the bed and pulled his shoes off.
Merlin got out of his jacket and pulled his neckerchief off. He handed both to Arthur.
Arthur struggled to pull the blanket out from under Merlin. When he managed, he crawled into bed and covered them both with it.
“Good night.” Merlin said.
Arthur huffed. “Good night.”
Merlin was awoken by a loud clatter. He jolted upright. His eyes flitted across the room, disoriented for a moment. Then he caught sight of Arthur and it all came back to him.
He stared down at his legs, tried to move them. Nothing.
“Glad to see you're finally awake.” Arthur commented as he picked up his gauntlet from the floor.
Merlin groaned and let himself fall back onto the mattress.
Arthur came to a stop next to him. They stared at each other for a while, then Arthur reached out and pinched the skin of Merlin's thigh.
“Hey.” Merlin slapped his hand away.
“You still can't move them?”
“No.” Merlin shook his head.
Arthur leaned down, slid an arm around Merlins shoulders and pulled him up.
Merlin let himself be dragged to the table.
“Who brought breakfast?” he asked.
“Gwen.” Arthur popped a grape into his mouth.
Merlin reached for the grapes as well.
After breakfast Arthur piled his armour up in front of Merlin on the table. “You can still clean it, right?”
Merlin shook his head and huffed. “Of course, Sire.”
“Watch your tone, Merlin!” Arthur hit across the back of the head.
Merlin rubbed his head and watched Arthur leave.
Around midday, Gaius came by. “Have you tried any spell?”
“Yes, I did. Immediately after Arthur left to report to Uther.”
“None of them helped.”
“Have you found anything?” Merlin asked.
“No. But I haven't gotten through all of my books yet.” He handed Merlin a small vial with green liquid. “Try this. It helps against stiff joints.”
Merlin frowned but downed it in one go. “Ugh! Tastes terrible.”
Gaius shrugged. “I'll bring you two books and your spellbook. See if you can find something in there.”
By the evening they still hadn't found anything.
He spent the night in Arthur's bed again. Arthur didn't seem too pleased about it but he also made clear that he didn't want to carry Merlin all the way to his room.
Merlin thought about proposing to get two guards to carry him. Gwaine surely wouldn't mind. But he kept his mouth shut and enjoyed sharing a bed with Arthur instead. It was a lot more comfortable than his own, too.
When he woke up one of his feet tingled and itched. He sat up and reached out to scratch it. When he did, he realised he could move it. He could move his feet!
He turned over and shook Arthur's shoulder.
Arthur groaned and blinked up at him with a deep frown on his face. “Is it morning already?”
“Then why did you wake me?” He grumbled.
“I can move my feet!” Merlin said triumphantly.
Arthur blinked. “Oh.” He glanced down at Merlins feet and saw him wiggle his toes. “Good. Now let's go back to sleep.” With that, he turned onto his side and closed his eyes.
Merlin rolled his eyes and lay back down. Maybe, he thought, maybe the effect of whatever spell it was would gradually fade. And if he was lucky he would be able to walk again in one or two weeks.
When Gaius came by with their breakfast the next morning, he was as surprised as he was happy about the news. Especially because he still hadn't found anything useful.
Over the course of the next week, Merlin's legs tingled every now and then. Some days it really hurt. He barely dared to complain about it, didn't want Arthur to make fun of him again.
One morning, still in Arthur's bed, he woke up to a sudden, sharp pain in his chest. It pierced him, made it hard to breathe. He cried out and curled up, pressed his hands against that spot on his chest.
“Merlin! Merlin, hey! I'm sorry! Merlin!”
It took a while for the words to get to him. Arthur's voice was way too loud.
He turned onto his back and reached out with hand. “Shut up.” He heard a smack of skin on skin.
“Ow!” Arthur rubbed his forehead. “No need to hit me! Ok, well maybe, but-”
“What happened? You were apologizing for something.” Merlin interrupted him. He rubbed his hand over his chest, the pain was easing.
“I turned around and my elbow hit your chest.” Arthur looked down, away.
Merlin stared at him. He kicked Arthur in the shins.
“OW!” Arthur's face contorted in pain and he reached down to rub over his legs.
“Why are you laughing? That's mean, you know?” Arthur frowned.
“No! You don't understand! I can move my legs again!” Merlin rolled out of the bed and jumped up and down.
Arthur grinned. “That's great!”
As they both lay in their own bed the next night, they found themselves missing the warmth of another person.
The next morning, Merlin was startled to find Arthur sleeping with the pillow he had slept on, held against his chest. He didn't comment on it.
Arthur seemed embarrassed enough when he woke up and realised.