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hit-and-run ficlets

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"Chicken soup and cake?" asked Merlin, sitting up in bed and blinking blearily as Arthur entered with a tray and kicked the door shut behind him. He stared as Arthur plonked himself down heavily beside Merlin, nearly sloshing the soup out of the bowl onto Merlin as he did.

"The cake is for me," Arthur said shortly, shoving the soup into Merlin's hands and setting the tray on the bedside table.

"Thanks?" Merlin said, and looked down at the soup. It was rich and chunky and didn't look anything like the canned soup he'd asked Will to pick up for him when he'd felt himself coming down with a cold. "What are you doing here anyway? You're supposed to be at wor-" he tried to ask, and Arthur shoved a forkful of cake into his open mouth.

"Happy birthday," Arthur muttered at the soup, and ate the rest of the cake himself.

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"Right," Gwen swept a quick glance over the supermarket aisle and nodded decisively. "No knives, well, just one or two for normal use, but we don't want to get that close to the zombies, we could get their blood on us even if they don't manage to bite. I'll grab some food that will keep, and you pick up anything that looks like it could be a useful weapon."

"Or could be made into one," Lancelot said fondly, bending to kiss her cheek. "Take care, my love."

She tried and failed to hold back the giggle and blush. "You ridiculous man, we're only going to be apart for what, ten, fifteen minutes?"

"Any moment could be a lifetime, now," Lancelot told her seriously, and she found herself reluctant to let his fingers slip from her as they parted.

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Valentine's Days were always awkward, but this one was more awkward than any Merlin had ever encountered before. "Oh," he said, trying to think of something nice to say. "This is really... this is a really surprising gift. Wow. Thank you."

He smiled his widest smile, the one Arthur always said made him look like he had a hole in the back of his head and the sun was shining into the empty space behind his eyes. When he said that, Freya always smiled shyly and told him that Arthur just meant he could light up a room with his smile.

Except it looked like she wasn't quite buying his smile this time. Her eyes were huge and dark and glimmeringly tremulous, and she looked a little lost, like she knew she had done something wrong, but didn't know what.

It made Merlin feel even worse.

He tried harder. "That's a, a really wonderful leg of pork you got me, Freya." Meanwhile at the back of his head he tried to think where she might have got it from, and whether it could be traced, and if he'd have to pay the butcher or neighbour or whoever.

Freya wilted, her ears flattening and wings drooping, and nudged sadly at his hand with her cheek before slinking away with her tail nearly dragging on the ground.

"I really love your gift, Freya! Let's roast it for dinner tomorrow, when you change back?" He trotted off after her, then she turned back and pounced, knocking him to the ground, and purred throatily. Merlin sighed, wrapped his arms around her strong neck and held on while she rubbed herself happily on him.

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Pleased with herself, Morgana starts to turn to the sword rack to select a weapon, then Gwen catches her arm.

"Wait," Gwen says, biting her lower lip nervously, keeping her eyes respectfully lowered. Morgana's changed garb seems to have made her shy maid more uncertain of herself and the possibly changed rules of etiquette - before, she would have caught the trailing silken sleeve of Morgana's robe, rather than laying hands to her mistress's person directly. "Let me adjust your armour straps, it will chafe if you let it hang like that."

"Of course, Gwen," Morgana agrees, and waits patiently for Gwen to turn her attention from her mistress to the armour, and her hands to turn quick and sure once more.

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"Just slap it on your wound, and you'll be right as rain by tomorrow," Gwaine assured Lancelot, giving his shoulder a painfully hard thump as he dropped a small bundle of something small and brown in Lancelot's lap.

Lancelot stared at it, incredulous.

"I don't mean to doubt you, but is this a poultice, or one of your old socks? It smells like," he started to say, then failed to think of words to describe it. It wasn't like there hadn't been precedent to cause doubt; the last time Elyan had asked Gwaine to help him fetch a sleeping potion from Gaius, he'd handed over a singularly foul rubbing liniment that had given Elyan the runs for two days.

"Oh, ye of little faith," Gwaine sighed, hand over his heart as he pretended to swoon dramatically, "I got this from Merlin, who prepared it for you with his own two hands when he heard you were hurt. Do you need any help putting it on?" he asked with an exaggerated leer, leaning over Lancelot to breathe heavily down his neck.

Lancelot shivered slightly and sidled away. "I'll be fine, thank you." He looked at the foul-smelling poultice in his hand and resolved to take it to Gaius to make certain it was indeed the correct thing before using it.