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One Night Could End It All

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Merlin groaned, gripping tightly to a bucket while sitting on the floor next to his bed. He was greatful he thought of putting it next to his bed the night before.

He noticed first rays of light started to enter his room for his small window. With a sigh, he laid his head against the side of his bed and kept the bucket balanced on his lap. He needed a drink of water, but he didn’t feel well enough to stand up yet. So he just tried to relax for a moment and hope that his stomach was fully empty.

This wasn’t the first time in the last week Merlin had gotten sick. At first he assumed he just ate something that didn’t agree with him, but this was the third morning he’s thrown up now and he didn’t know why.

He wondered vaguely if it was nerves. About a month ago, he had returned from a patrol and things between him and Arthur have been awkward ever since.

Before they had started their return trip back to Camelot from that patrol, they had stopped at a tavern. The knights ended up getting pissed that night, and somehow Merlin did as well.

Merlin couldn’t really remember half the night, but the next morning he thought he must have died and went to heaven; for he was pleasantly curled up against a certain blond haired prince. The dream was shorted lived though, as Arthur woke up and started to panic. Although Merlin didn’t remember what happened, he could give a pretty good guess by the pain in his behind and lack of clothes.

It had taken everything Merlin had to keep a straight face as he watched Arthur panic. Arthur had gone on about how they would act like it never happened and how it could never happen again. Merlin knew this. He knew for a long time that he could never act on the feelings he had for the prince; because he was just that, a prince. And princes couldn’t have servants as lovers; especially those of the male variety.

So he had sat there, trying to keep his magic from exploding in response to the pain he felt. Then when Arthur seemed to be done with his spill, Merlin said he understood and fled the room as fast as he could.

The ride back to Camelot that day had been awkward, and all of the knights noticed.

Even after they returned, the pair couldn’t bring themselves to even look at each other.

Merlin did end up spending a couple days hiding from Arthur when they got back, but finally went back to work in fear that the King would flog him if he didn’t. Yet they ended up still trying their best not to be in the same room as each other—especially alone—for more than a few moments.

Merlin did what chores he needed to do in Arthur’s chambers when he knew the prince was training his knights or talking to his father. And when Merlin seemed to not find anything to do that didn’t involve being close to him, Arthur made up some chore to do across the castle.

Gwen had been asking him lately what was wrong with him and Arthur, but he really had no idea what he could tell his friend. He simply said they had a fight, but never had a fight between the two lasted this long.

If he didn’t know any better, he would think the entire castle was worried about them. He was sure people had bigger problems to worry about than if the prince had issues with his manservant, but he always seemed to be catching people throwing him worried glances lately. And just the other day, even King Uther had inquired if Merlin was feeling well as he served drinks the other night to the royal family over dinner.

Merlin started to cough again and dreaded the thought of throwing up more. In the end, he just dry heaved a bit—though, that didn’t seem much better.

He was trying to even his breathing back out when Gaius knocked on the door, “Are you alright, Merlin?” The question came through the door.

“I’m fine,” Merlin croaked, “My stomach just feels a bit upset.”

There was a pause, and he could imagine Gaius’s thinking face. “I shall make you a tonic, then,” Gaius informed and Merlin heard him shuffle away from the door, back towards his working area.

Merlin’s head felt heavy as he laid his head back down. He wiped some sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand and prepared himself mentally. With how he was feeling right now, the last thing he felt like doing was going to wake Arthur up. With much effort from his tired body, he was able to get slowly to his feet. Once he was sure he wasn’t going to need to use his bucket in the imitate future, he wobbled out of his room in search of some water.

***

Thankfully, the tonic Gaius gave him seemed to help his stomach and Merlin was able to make it to Arthur’s room almost on time this morning.

Merlin entered Arthur’s room while balancing the prince’s breakfast in his arms. “G’morning,” He mumbled as he sat the breakfast on the table. Arthur was sitting up on the edge of his bed; still not dressed and hair sticking out everywhere.

“You made it before I dressed myself this morning,” Arthur pointed out, a yawn muffling his sentence before it ended. Arthur stood up and stretched his arms over his head; Merlin tried not to stare at Arthur’s bare chest as he did so. He really loved fresh out of bed Arthur and he used to not mind an eye full to start off his day. But now, any lingering glances between the two left them with discomfort.

So, Merlin forced his eyes away and went to push the heavy curtains away from the windows to let some of the morning light in. As Arthur sat down to eat, Merlin hurried to put the bed back together and then started to pull some clothes out for the prince’s day.

“What are you doing this morning?” Merlin asked as he dug around the wardrobe.

“Training,” Arthur answered, still not sounded completely awake and had a tired roughness in his voice.

“There is a council meeting this afternoon, so I’ll need a bath ready when I’m done with the knights,” Arthur continued and Merlin made a sound of agreement as he pulled out Arthur’s training clothes.

“Merlin…” Arthur said to catch his attention and the tone in his voice made Merlin tense.

“Yes, Arthur?” Merlin encouraged nervously.

“Nevermind,” Arthur said after a pause and continued with his meal.

***

A week later, the two still hadn’t talked things out, but they seemed to fall back into something a bit more normal. Though, of course, that wasn’t good enough for Morgana.

“Oh, Merlin,” Morgana called out as Merlin was on his way to Arthur’s room to clean. Morgana was grinning at him like she was planning something. Add Gwen’s timid smile from her place behind her lady and Merlin was now very scared about what Morgana would want with him.

“Hello, Lady Morgana,” Merlin greeted, throwing a nervous glance at Gwen.

“Just who I wanted to see,” Morgana said, lopping her arm through his and started to pull him away, “Won’t you come and speak with me for a moment, Merlin?”

“Um, sure?” Merlin answered against his better judgment. He was pretty sure he didn’t really have a choice anyhow. “What do you need, Morgana?”

Morgana just ‘hmm’ed at him and continued to pull him along. Once they were down a hall that was barely used, Morgana started: “So, what is going on between you and Arthur?”

Straight to the point; very Morgana.

“What are you talking about?” Merlin asked in reply, trying to seem truly confused.

Denying it; very Merlin.

Morgana wasn’t fooled, he knew, he was a horrible liar. But he tired anyhow. Really, one would think with how often he had to lie about his magic that he would be better at the whole thing.

“Come now, Merlin,” Morgana said, “I grew up with Arthur and I know you pretty well. Something has been wrong with the two of you for weeks. You might have got the rest of the castle to believe you two made up, but I’m not that stupid.”

“Morgana, really, it’s fine,” Merlin tired.

“We’re just worried about you two, Merlin,” Gwen added, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“Arthur is just being his normal royal prat of a self,” Merlin said, “Really, it is fine. Thank you, but you two don’t have to worry.”

“What did he do?” Morgana asked, staring him down. Merlin realized some of his bitterness from the whole thing must have slipped out in his reply.

“Nothing, Morgana,” Merlin sighed, “I have work to do, so if you will excuse me.” Merlin couldn’t look at the girls as he quickly turned and headed down the hall.

He hated lying to the two. It was bad enough he could not tell them about his magic, but this time they were just being worried about him. But he couldn’t very well tell the King’s ward that he slept with the Prince.

Merlin rolled his shoulders, trying to relax when he realized that his magic was sparking at his figure tips.

“Do you think he will be alright?” Gwen asked Morgana as they watched Merlin retreat down the hall.

“Of course he will,” Morgana grinned, “Because we will make sure that he is.”

***

Another week pasted and things between Merlin and Arthur didn’t change. Though, Merlin could feel Morgana plotting. Even Arthur seemed to feel it. In the end, Morgana will probably not even have to lift a finger. The two would likely fix it themselves just because the vibes that Morgana was giving off was freaking them out so much.

Merlin sighed softly as he worked at polishing Arthur’s boots. He had come to almost enjoy polishing—of course, he never planned on telling Arthur that. It gave him time to think and it was a lot easier than some of the things the Prince had him do.

Though, right now, he just felt very tense. Arthur was sitting at his table, looking over some papers for the kingdom. Once this scene would feel peaceful to Merlin and he was upset that he had lost that.

He tried to ignore the broken friendship between him and Arthur, but the quietness was making it worse. Just when he thought he could relax, he would suddenly get lonely and feel like crying. Then he would just as suddenly get pissed off at Arthur for being a prick. In the last hour, he was pretty sure he went around in this emotional circle nearly twenty times.

Unexpectedly, Arthur’s hand slapped down on the table, breaking the silence of the room.

“Good God, Merlin,” Arthur growled, “What is wrong with you?”

Merlin sat with wide eyes for a moment, staring at Arthur. The Prince was glaring back at him in annoyance.

Merlin felt himself grow angry. What was wrong with him? Oh, maybe the fact that Arthur hadn’t looked at him in the eye in over a month. Or on the rare chance they playfully bickered together these days, it ended up having a very real edge to it.

Or the fact that I am sitting right next to you and yet I miss you like I haven’t seen you in years, Merlin thought.

“Oh, nothing,” Merlin replied sarcastically.

“Don’t give me that,” Arthur said, “You have been thinking so loud for the last hour that I am sure half the castle can hear you. And I know you don’t have enough thoughts to fill up that head of yours, so what is wrong?”

“I have plenty of thoughts, you clotpole,” Merlin argued back.

“Really, Merlin?” Arthur asked.

“Yes, you prat,” Merlin said, glaring at him.

“Than why don’t you share?” Arthur pressed.

“Because you are the one that’s avoiding talking to me,” Merlin growled. “I know the night at the tavern is bothering you too, but you are stubbornly against talking about it. Even if it means that we will never talk properly again.”

Arthur looked pained and started, “Merlin, you know we can’t—“

“No, you listen to me,” Merlin said, standing up, “We haven’t said more than we needed to each other in over a month. If you don’t want to talk about that night, than fine, but don’t think I can just forget that. I get, I swear I do; you’re the bloody prince and having sex with your manservant is against some stupid rules. I wont tell anyone and I wont expect it to happen again. But I don’t care if you regret it, Arthur, I don’t.”

Merlin didn’t wait for Arthur to say anything and he hurried out of the room. Once he made it back to his own room in Gaius’ chambers, he fell onto his hard bed and let himself cry.