"Arthur. Arthur. Arthur. Arrrrrthurrrr. Arthurarthur. A-rur-thur. ArthuryMarthury. Ar-"
"Merlin," Arthur cracked an irritated eye open, to glare at where Merlin was standing, positively looming over him. Who on earth gave a manservant to right to loom?
"Oh good, you're awake," Merlin smiled brightly, and Arthur remembered why it was that he slept within grabbing distance of a drinking goblet at all times. Unfortunately, Merlin had long since learnt how to dodge, and he neatly sidestepped the catapulting piece of metal.
Arthur grumbled something sleepy about hating Merlin, and wishing Merlin would learn some respect, and asking the air why Merlin enjoyed waking him up so much in stupid stupid ways. ArthurMarthury.
"What was that?" Merlin asked, watching with an amused expression as Arthur stumbled behind his screen to get changed.
"I said you're fired," Arthur informed him. Merlin did his best forlorn, kicked-puppy expression, before realising Arthur couldn't see him. To rectify this he bounded forwards, stood on tiptoes and grinned over the top of the screen at a naked Arthur, who squawked "Get down, Merlin!"
Merlin quickly hitched back his folornkickedpuppy face and said petulantly, still on tiptoes, "Arthur, you can't fire me,"
"And why not?" Arthur reached up and gave Merlin a smack on the forehead, effectively putting him back on his feet, before snatching up a pair of breeches.
"Because," and there were the exaggerated sounds of Merlin rubbing his head and whinging, "because you don't have anything major to do today, so we're going on a picnic!"
"A picnic," Arthur repeated, deadpan, as he reappeared fully clothed with only a sliver of his back still showing where his shirt rode up, like it always did.
Merlin darted forwards and tugged it down, nodding as he did so, "yes, exactly that. I've already got the food and everything," and he was smiling hopefully when Arthur batted his hands away from his waist and turned to face him.
"Only you Merlin," Arthur sighed, but Merlin liked to think there was something fond in the exhale, "would honestly believe that a picnic is the thing I'd most like to do with some time off."
"That's because I know you best," Merlin nodded sagely, and Arthur could have strangled him because it was true.
"Where is this food then?" He asked after a moment, because it was a little more than aggravating, having Merlin look at him like he could read his bloody soul.
"It's waiting for us," Merlin told him, "at the picnic."
"Merlin," Arthur pinched the bridge of his nose, "did you just leave a basket full of food lying around outside?"
"No! 'Course not," Merlin looked affronted, and Arthur let out a controlled breath.
"I left two basketfuls. I've seen how much you eat, Arthur, honestly," and he had the nerve to be shaking his head in disbelief as he left the Prince's chambers.
"You are a complete idiot, you know that?" Arthur was saying, ten minutes later, as Merlin led him off into the woods, bag strapped loosely onto his back. When Arthur had asked what was in the bag Merlin had opened it up and let him peer inside to see a bundle of woolly hats and gloves, accompanied by the explanation in case we get cold. Arthur had failed not to roll his eyes, and had told Merlin that if they got cold they would be coming straight back to the castle, and not dressing up in ridiculous items of clothing. Merlin, of course, had brought the bag anyway.
"You have told me many times," Merlin looked over his shoulder to smile at Arthur, "but I don't take the words of prats seriously."
If Arthur hadn't been too busy glaring at Merlin, he would have happily banged his head against the nearest tree.
"You're an idiot," he continued, stoically, "because if you'd had any sense you would not have left all our food just-" and then he was brought up short by the sight of one his own bed sheets, lying in place of a picnic blanket, and completely covered in food.
"You were saying?" Merlin asked, flopping down on the grass beside the food.
"Whatever," Arthur grumbled, not even bothered to complain about his sheets because, let's face it, Merlin was going to continue to do exactly as he liked, no matter how much Arthur protested. Merlin seemed to sense this too, because his ridiculous grin grew even wider as he grabbed a strawberry from a plate loaded high, popping it happily into his mouth, and then holding another out for Arthur.
The prince sighed heavily, and sat down beside his manservant. It seemed only natural then, to take the fruit from Merlin's hand with his teeth, and allow the boy in question to lean against him, licking his fingers and smacking his lips, as though he had already wolfed down a whole feast, rather than a single strawberry.
"You are..." he began, but Merlin interrupted,
"Brilliant? Fabulous? The best picnic preparer you have ever met?"
"Firstly," Arthur flicked the back of Merlin's head, "you happen to be the only picnic preparer I have ever met. And secondly, I was going to say that you are utterly impossible."
"Not a bad thing," Merlin mused, leaning away from Arthur to take a handful of crackers, not caring when one of them broke and crumbled all over his lap.
"No," Arthur wrapped an arm around Merlin's waist, to pull him back again, "I guess it isn't."