Merlin could curse himself for his stupidity. All this time in Camelot, and now was the time he made a mistake? It was one thing, having the Knights of Camelot aware that he was a sorcerer. Another entirely for them to know his secondary gender, which was a serious risk if he couldn’t get his fever under control.
They were out on a Hunt. Knights did love hunting, and dragging Merlin along was always a way to make sure they got stew to eat. Merlin didn’t mind, he quite liked the fact that they included him. Now, however, was a different story. Being a Beta amongst a group of Alphas was fine, there were no issues then.
Being an Omega, amongst a bunch of Alphas, was a very bad idea. Merlin had been ever so careful, to keep up on the herbs that Gaius prescribed, to wash his scent away with the strong-smelling plants that his Uncle assured him would hide his smell. It worked, nobody but Gaius and Morgana were aware of what he really was, a secret he thought he had kept rather well.
He’d brought the wrong herbs. Usually not an issue, he’d done that before, summoned them to his hand and began to try and craft. Unfortunately, he’d been disturbed by the Knights, had placed down his healing equipment to hurry across to their side to help them. When he’d come back, their camp had been raided. The Knights had been furious, angry that someone had dared to steal their clothing and food and waterskins.
Merlin had been terrified. They’d taken his herbs, his equipment to make his potion that he needed to take. Despite the fact that they knew he had Magic, he still moved away from them to try and summon the items. Herbs were alright, he could concentrate on them, but he couldn’t make the equipment needed to break them down. As his panic rose, his Magic became less and less helpful, and Merlin had considered what to do.
He could flee. Running back to Camelot would take over a day, but he might be able to make it without running into anyone. Make it to Gaius, and the Beta would be able to help him. Or, he could just hope that his scent would remain unchanged for a short time. That had been the option he had chosen, returning to the fire to cook food for the group, who had salvaged one waterskin and a couple of blankets.
They had to share the one bowl that they had for the stew, taking it in turns to eat. Merlin, of course, waited till the Knights had finished before daring to take the bowl, giving himself a small portion and snacking down.
‘And then Elyan crept up,’ Percival looked enthralled with the story, leant forwards on the log he was sitting on,
‘With my sword drawn,’ Elyan added to the impressed group,
‘And took the three of them by surprise. All dead, and the ladies swooned!’ Gwaine exclaimed, clapping his friend on the shoulder.
‘Pretty as well, a load of Betas, but then,’ Elyan began, Gwaine cutting him off,
‘An Omega.’ Merlin almost choked on his mouthful of stew, smiled at Leon when the man clapped him on the back.
‘Yes, Merlin, they do exist.’ Arthur teased, which was supposed to make him feel jealous. Any Beta should, Omegas were creatures to be treasured, honoured in society beyond belief. There weren’t many in Camelot, only three, and they were all married and had children.
‘Course, we’re both Alphas.’ Elyan stated, the group nodding along with the story, understanding what he was hinting at. Omegas couldn’t bond with Betas, usually didn’t find them attractive at all. An Alpha, however, was a very good prospect.
‘Now Elyan looked good, he’s been flaunting his muscle and all that, the poor Omega’s giving him starry eyes.’ Merlin’s gut twisted miserably, and he put down the stew. Muscles and strength, weaknesses to any Omega, even him. He hid it well, especially considering his current company.
‘Gives her name, Helena, offers out her hand.’ Elyan added this bit, now looking slight embarrassed.
‘What happened?’ Leon asked, handing the waterskin to Merlin. He took a sip, noted that he could almost taste Leon on it. He blinked, it hadn't been that long since he missed a dose of medicine. He was supposed to take it yesterday morning, but then he had realised he’d lost it. This morning had been the bandit raid, and he’d never missed a day’s dose.
‘Asked if we knew the King!’ Gwaine cackled, and the others started laughing. Even Arthur looked amused, chuckling along, while Merlin eyed up the waterskin. He guessed it was because he was around the Alphas, the affects of his usual medication must be slipping faster than he thought.
‘Aw, Merl, don’t look so down!’ Gwaine cooed, Lancelot nudging his shoulder from where he was seated on the other side. It felt rather nice, to have a Knight on either side, he mused. Then shoved the thought down, swallowed.
‘You’ll never get why Omegas are a big deal, but surely you’ve seen a pretty Beta you like the eye of? Even an Alpha?’ Merlin hated his secondary gender. Omegas were subservient, bowed down to an Alpha and did nothing but obey. He was mouthy, talked back whenever he could, demanded the respect of the Alphas around him. He didn’t act like a Beta, let alone an Omega. Plus, with him being a male Omega, it made life all the more difficult.
Attraction wasn’t easy. Alphas, obviously, were the main thing that occupied his thoughts. But he tried to ignore that, shoved it down and tried to settle for a Beta. Will had tried to be enough for him, just as Freya said she would when he admitted his secret to her. But he knew, deep down, that an Omega couldn’t settle with anyone but an Alpha.
‘With all the chores I’ve got to do for you, prat, I barely have the time.’ He lied, and Arthur threw him a glare. Merlin was eyeing up one of the blankets, feeling an urge to tuck himself up in it, to curl up by the fire and listen to the chatter of the Alphas.
This was bad. Omegas comforted, nested in a way, and he usually was alright with that. It wasn’t him. Yet the blanket looked soft, and Merlin wanted it so badly.
‘Eyes off my blanket.’ Leon joked, ruffling his hair in a way that made his heartrate pick up.
He was so screwed.
Waking up on the cold floor wasn’t nice, nor was looking across to see Arthur wrapped up. He settled back, the strong scent of Alphas filling the clearing, and Merlin relaxed into it. Honestly, he wasn’t sure why he hated it so much, it smelt like all the most delectable things. Sweets and honey and pastries, yet strong and muscular and…
He shook the thoughts away, decided that it was time to get ready for the day ahead. He relit the fire, warmed up some of the remaining stew and moved down towards the stream to fill the waterskin up. He got there, managed to fill it up before settling down by the side of the river.
He felt a little hot. Flushed, almost, in a way that made his skin itch, and Merlin grumbled. Rubbed at it, placed his hands in the water and sighed. Then came a sharp pain in his stomach, and wondered if the stew had been slightly dodgy.
Heading back to the clearing, he put the waterskin down and moved to where Leon had rolled around in his sleep, staring at the blanket he’d left behind longingly.
Another sharp stabbing pain, and Merlin placed a hand to his stomach. The skin was hot to the touch, burning even through the shirt, and it took the Omega a moment to understand.
Leon grumbled in his sleep, reached out and began to stir. The other Knights were doing the same, waking up, and Merlin decided he was either about to flee, or die on the spot.
He was in heat, in the middle on a forest, with six Alphas that were about to wake up.
He’d never been more terrified.