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.
Mike was down on his luck. Being 21, without a job and kicked out of home when his parents had enough of him, he was spending most of his time hitch hiking from town to town doing small jobs for some spare cash. He was a relatively thin boy with dark hair. He could be a model if he paid attention to the groom plus if he had more money to by better clothes.