[ time in a bottle ]
It’s not something he’s unaccustomed to. Not with Harry. Not with any of them, really. He’s sat at his fair share of bedsides over the years, what with James’ penchant to go in guns blazing and Martin’s ability to keep injuries under wraps until he returned.
That’s not to say he has to like any of it.
There’s a reason he’s not got any hair left.
Still, this is a different sort of wait than the rest. He’d come to Kentucky expecting to bring a body home to bury only to find that the body in question was lying in a hospital bed in South Glade County Hospital; living, breathing, very much alive.
Merlin has been here three days and still Harry hasn’t woken. But that’s alright. Healing will take time. He’s lucky to be alive, after all. Merlin is willing to be as patient as need be because all this waiting is a sight better than the alternative. He could sit and watch the rise and fall of Harry’s chest for weeks, if only because he knows that there is the eventuality of waking at the end of it.
“I know you prefer to be fashionably late, but this is really beginning to push it, don’t you think?” Merlin says to the slumbering man. “Everyone’s expecting you.”
He starts when, for the first time since he’d arrived, Harry stirs at the sound of his voice. Rising hesitantly from his seat, he holds Harry’s hand in his own, his voice quiet as he gently coaxes the former Galahad towards waking. At last, he’s greeted with soft brown eyes gazing up at him blearily.
“Harry,” he says, unable to keep the grin off his face. “Welcome back.”
“Harry,” the other man croaks, his brow creasing in a frown. “That’s not the name I… it’s not the one I remember.”
“The one you remember?”
“Yes. I remember ‘Merlin.’ It’s… that’s important,” Harry says, his voice a dry rasp. “I don’t… remember a Harry. Is that mine? The way you said it…”
They say that if something seems to good to be true, it probably is. Staring back at Harry’s confused face, Merlin has never been more certain of that fact than he is now. Steeling his emotions, he squeezes Harry’s hand and fits a smile back on his face.
“Yes, Harry is yours. Why don’t you tell me what you remember?”
The more they talk, the more evident it becomes that Harry hardly remembers anything at all. This is not the happy reunion he’d expected, but if it means having Harry back, Merlin will do whatever it takes. They can work with this. He squeezes Harry’s hand and gets a hesitant squeeze in return. They can to this. It won’t be easy, but then, the course of true love never did run smooth.