This is brilliant! I really enjoyed this and how original it was- I've read fics where Merlin leaves out of fear before, but none where when he comes back Arthur is so goddamn terrifying. You captured his fear and confusion so well, and even though I know Arthur to be good, his unpredictable reactions around magic made me worried for Merlin. The ending was perfect, though I was hoping for some mention of Arthur sending out a patrol to bring Gwaine back, and maybe offering him the honourable position of godfather/mentor to their son, as a reward for taking such good care of Merlin and being such a dutiful Knight? But it was enough to know that they lived happily ever after, so I can assume something along those lines happened. Beautiful story ♥
I awoke that morning feeling Braxton Hicks contractions in my belly but decided to just shrug it off for now. I was sure they'd stop once I had some food. I climbed out of bed as Brian continued to snore softly beside me and waddled to the bathroom to relieve myself. I was just getting ready to sit down so I could go when I felt a pop and water rushed down my legs soaking the bath mat.
I’m in transition for almost an hour, the contractions hard and constant. At one point they put me on oxygen because I’m hyperventilating from not remembering to breathe between screams. Then I start to feel the intense pressure of needing to push, which I do for almost forty minutes before the searing pain of my first baby’s head stretching my formerly tight hole hits me. It’s a looooong crowning, followed by stubborn shoulders that spread me so wide I could swear my pelvis is breaking.
Arthur growled wordlessly and Gaius subsided. Merlin lay still, wasted in the wake of his latest pain and wondered for the first time if he really had the strength to do this. He’d been undernourished for months, at first unable to hold onto anything he ate and later unable to force much of anything down his throat. He’d always been skinny but he didn’t think he’d ever been this thin before. He’d observed plump, healthy women, glowing with vitality killed off by the process of childbirth. He was about as far from healthy he could get. This was only his third contraction and he could already feel himself succumbing to exhaustion. He didn’t try to fight it; it was just so much easier to give in to the tug of sleep. Merlin was barely aware of the bed dipping beside him and a rough hand grasping his own in a gentle grip before he was lost to the darkness of sleep.
"Fuck you!" The girl spat, forcing herself not to give into her urge to push. The men around her laughed as she fell back against her bed panting. She couldn't stop nature though and she grunted as her vagina bulged out, the opening becoming a tear-drop shape. The men cheered watching the opening become wider with each contraction until finally the head was crowned. The woman before her massaged her lips to help them stretch as the baby's head pushed further out. The woman frowned as the girl screamed. The head was bigger than she expected. She pushed the girl's lips away from the head ordering her to push harder. "Uuuaagg!" She cried out, her face reddening from effort. "OH it burns! It burns!" She cried as the infants head stretched her wide. Her hair stuck to her sweat coated skin and she bore down. She tore as the eyes and nose were pushed out. She screamed in pain as her blood flowed mixing with the amniotic fluids which spurted around her child.
It felt like he was watching a movie as he saw the doctor cleaning out his son’s mouth and nose. Jason beamed as their little boy, Jackson was almost certainly going to be his name, was nestled into his arms by a grinning nurse. Distantly, he wanted to hold him too but the mere seconds of relief following his exit had disappeared and the pain was back with a frightening intensity.