Miscommunication: A failure to communicate adequately.
He didn't mean it to happen, Merlin had been drunk at the time, he was always a fool when he was drunk. This time, was one of the worst. It was the night of King Arthur's coronation, there had been a feast afterward, with more food than you can eat and even more to drink. When the newly crowned King shoved a goblet of wine into the servant's hand, he hadn't thought anything of it. They drank, they all drank, marry in the thoughts of what a great king Arthur would surely be. It wasn't until sometime later, when Merlin had been following the King back to his chambers that he had realized just how drunk he was.
He was swaying something fierce, unstable on both his feet; he had ran into a wall and apologized remorsefully. That earned a hearty laugh from the new King.
"You are completely pissed," Arthur told him, grabbing him by the jacket and pulling him along.
"Is-your fault," Merlin told him, trying to decide which Arthur was the real one, there were at least two or three spinning in front of him.
"Hardly," Arthur remarked, guiding him through the halls, to the King's chambers. "I told you to enjoy yourself, not drink Gwaine under the table."
"That's-how I-enjoy myself."
"Figures as much."
Once they reached the new King's chambers. It was an even bigger chore than usual to get Arthur ready for bed; he dropped Arthur's night pants more than once and ran into a bedpost. Soon, Arthur just forced him into a high-backed chair and got changed himself.
"Thank you for nothing, Merlin!" Arthur called after him, as the servant was leaving the room. Merlin was in too much of a state to play the insult game with Arthur, even if it was one of his favorites. Instead, Merlin just picked up the basket of clothes he had needed to wash in the morning, bid Arthur a goodnight and left the room.
It happened on the stairs, Merlin was tipsily walking down them, heading to his and Gaius' chambers. It was a trying thing to figure out how to step down without falling, it was really far down to the bottom and even in his drunk state, Merlin knew a cracked skull did not make a happy skull...or an alive Merlin. He made approving noises to himself, as he peered over the basket, stepping down one step at a time. He heard other noises on the stairs and turned around, trying to see who it was.
But just as he did this, he stepped down and his ankle buckled, he wiggled and wobbled on the step, trying to stay standing. Forgoing the safety of the basket, Merlin dropped it and grabbed hold of the railing. He watched as the wooden basket tumbled down the stairs, Arthur's clothes falling out along the way, Merlin was just thankful it wasn't him loosing bits as he fell down the stairs. Even still, he was unhappy about the extra work he now had to do. He grumbled to himself as he stepped down, slowly, picking up one of Arthur's shirts as he went.
Shirts, pants, it was annoying, picking these all up and with nowhere to put them! It dawned on Merlin then, in his drunken brains, he didn't need to be. With the raise of his hand and a mutter of a spell the basket flew from the bottom of the staircase and right into Merlin's hand, he smiled to himself, shoving the clothes inside. But the smile was short lived. He heard a loud shuffle from behind him and he gulped, eyes widening. The man cleared his throat and Merlin just knew, he was royally screwed.
He turned around then, to face the music, how quickly a drunken state can leave you, when faced with a real problem. Agravaine stood there, on the top stair, looking down at Merlin, one would think puzzled, but Merlin knew better, this man was tickled pink with glee.
"What did you just do?" he asked, even though he had just bloody damn saw it for his own eyes. Merlin gasped, mouth opening and shutting, he was ruined, this was it. Agravaine would tell Arthur and Merlin would be dead by dawn. "Did you…just use magic?"
"I uh…" Merlin mumbled, it seemed some of the alcohol still held tight to the part of his brain that he needed to think with. He was never drinking again, Merlin vowed to himself.
"King Arthur's personal servant a sorcerer?" Agravaine said, trying to hide a grin. "Guards!"
"No, please," Merlin said, dropping the basket again, he heard it fall down the stairs this time. "I was just…I…"
With some quick thinking on Merlin's part, he held out his hand and said a spell, loudly, to ensure the power of it, and watched as Agraivne backed up, seeming to know what was going to happen, before something invisible hit him over the head and he fell, knocked out on the top of the stairwell. Merlin took in a deep breath, trying to think of what to do now, he didn't know any memory charms off hand, he needed to clear this memory from Agravaine's mind, and there was only one place to go for something like that. Merlin turned then, leaving Agravine on the floor, as he ran.
He burst into his and Gaius' chambers, not caring if he woke the sleeping physician, he needed to be awoken anyway.
"Gaius!" he said, failing over to the man, who was currently grumbling as he sat up.
"What is it, Merlin?" he was asking, pushing the blankets off himself. "Do you know what time it is?"
"I do, but…" Merlin turned away, over come with the predicament he was in. "Something terrible has happened."
"What is it?" Gaius asked, seeming to be more awake now.
"Agravine saw me use magic," Merlin admitted, feeling stupider and stupider by the minute. He had been such a fool. "We've got to do something, to clear his memory."
"How could you be so foolish!" Gaius yelled at him then, whacking him over the head with his head. Merlin scurried back, out of the man's way as he made his way to the shelf were the books were. "Memory charms are dangerous and require a great deal of skill," Gaius explained, as he seemed wide awake now, skimming through books. "Which, with an idiot such as yourself, will be hard to muster."
"I'm sorry, Gaius," Merlin told him, pleading almost. "I was…"
Gaius sniffed him then, eyeing him up and down, "You are drunk!"
"Just a little bit…" Merlin muttered.
"How many times have I told you to stay away from alcohol?" Gaius asked, shaking his head as he continued to look through the book. "You cannot afford to be venerable."
"I know," Merlin grumbled, kicking a bit of dirt with his boot, he felt terrible and stupid, Gaius was only making it worse.
"Clearly something went amiss in the journey from my mouth to your brain," Gaius told him, before slamming the book shut and grabbing another. "You have really done it this time."
"What am I supposed to do?" Merlin asked. "When Agravine wakes up he's going to tell Arthur I'm a sorcerer!"
"Yes, I um…sort of knocked him out."
Gaius just rolled his eyes, even in the dim candlelight, Merlin could easily see that.
"You will simply have to tell Arthur before Agravaine gets the chance," Gaius told him, moments later, as he slammed another book shut.
"Tell Arthur I have magic?" Merlin asked, eyes widening. Did Gaius want to get him killed?
"Persisly," Giaus nodded, walking away, he went and stood by the table, tapping his fingers as he thought. "I have yet to find any charm that will permently clear this type of memory, unless you would like to clear his mind compeltly."
"That wouldn't bother me any," Merlin said, shrugging.
"Merlin!" Gaius warned. "You will simply have to tell Arthur the truth."
"I can't, Gaius!" Merlin retorted. "He'll…he'll kill me."
"I hardly think Arthur would sentence you to death," Gaius told him, shrugging one shoulder. "You mean a great deal to him."
"We might be friends, but I've broken the laws of Camelot, he'll have no choice."
"Arthur is king now, Merlin, he can make changes to the law as he sees fit."
"I can't tell him!" Merlin all but yelled. Gaius nodded then, heading back over to his bed.
"Then let Agravaine, who will surely twist whatever you have done, into something much worse."
Merlin knew he was right, Agravaine lived for this sort of thing, he loved getting others in trouble, it was almost as if he was trying to ruin everything for everyone. Merlin thought, as he tugged himself up to his bed, he probably was. There was something very off about Agravaine.
In the morning, Merlin woke up with a headache from hell. He moaned and cursed as he stumbled down the stairs, where, Gaius held out a tonic for him. Merlin downed it, disgusted by the taste, but when his headache lessened, he sighed, letting the upcoming day loom on him. He would have to tell Arthur about his magic. He had worked so hard to gain Arthur's trust, and now, it would all be shattered.
"Good luck, my boy," Gaius told him, with a smile, as he walked out that morning. There was a very good chance Merlin would never see these walls or Gaius again. He lingered in the doorway, watching Gaius for a moment, before heading out. He stopped and picked up the new King's breakfast, before trucking his way to the King's chambers. He opened the door, quietly, trying not to wake the sleeping man, so maybe, he could hold off on telling Arthur for a bit longer. But Merlin's plan failed, seeing the King already awake and dressed, sitting at his desk.
"You're up early," Merlin told him, biting his lip, as he walked further into the room.
"You're up late," Arthur retorted, looking up with a raised eyebrow. "You look like hell," he stated then, smirking as he stood. "That teaches you to drink so much."
"You would think…" Merlin muttered, off-handed, as he placed the tray of food down on the table. Arthur wondered over, leaning against the wooden table, picking at his food.
"I've got to hurry and get down to the training field, the knights are running drills," Arthur explained. "I've got a list of chores for you, if you are not too incapacitated to do them."
Merlin just nodded, in a daze, as he stumbled over to get the King's armor. Dressing Arthur today, proved just as hard as it had been the night before. But not because Merlin was drunk, but because he was too busy thinking up predicaments in his head. If Arthur didn't kill him, but only banished him, how was he to fulfill any destiny that way? And if Arthur did kill him…
"Yes, Sire?" he asked, trying to clear his mind of the haunting thoughts of death.
"Are you alright?"
"Yes, of course, why?" Merlin asked, fumbling with a loop on Arthur's armor. He was shaky and his brow was drenched in sweat.
"You've barely said a word all morning," Arthur explained, turning to look at Merlin with concern. "And you've tied that same loop five times." Merlin looked down, dropped it and moved on to another. "It doesn't take a genius to figure out something is wrong."
"That's good, because you're defiantly not a-"
"Merlin," Arthur said, looking at him with a warning. Merlin grinned at him, or at least tried to. "Well, come on, out with it."
"Arthur, I…I don't know how to tell you this," Merlin admitted, biting down on his bottom lip. This is harder than he ever thought it would be. He always pictured himself doing something sort of heroic magic and that was how Arthur found out, not this, not just telling him. How was he supposed to believe Merlin only wanted to protect him, if there was nothing to protect him from?
"Well, do your best," Arthur smiled, encouragingly.
"I'm not all I seem, Arthur," Merlin started and cringed, stepping back from the King, after finishing the loops on the armor. "I…I'm different."
"Yes, I…." he took in a deep breath. "I'm not like you, I want to be, but I'm…" he paused, trying to think of the proper words. "I'm special, that's what my mother tells me anyway."
"Is that so?" Arthur asked, crossing his arms over his chest, looking very interested in Merlin all of a sudden. "Is that all?"
"No I um… I'm not special though," Merlin fumbled further. "At least I don't think so, I know you are going to hate me when I tell you this, but I don't want you to!" he pleaded with him. "I don't want you to think of me any different, I'm not a monster, I care about you more than anyone, I just want to…" he trailed off, wiping the stray tear forming in his eye. "Arthur, I…"
"You don't have to say it, Merlin," Arthur stopped him, with a smile. "I know what you are."
"You do?" Merlin asked, eyes blown wide, in a mix of worry and astonishment. Arthur knew? But how…?
"I've known for some time now," Arthur continued, frowning now. "It's about time you've told me, it couldn't be easy to keep such a thing to yourself."
"Gaius knows," Merlin admitted, bashfully. But to his surprise, Arthur smiled at this.
"I'm glad someone does, you cannot possibly keep it all bottled up, you'll explode," he said, turning and grabbing his sword.
"I can't believe you knew," Merlin was baffled, absolutely baffled. "How long have you known?"
"Since we went to Ealdor together," Arthur said, smirking then. "It was plain to see, you nor Will could hide it from me."
"I'm sorry I lied to you," Merlin said then, but he couldn't help but smile. "Why didn't you ever say anything?"
"I didn't think you were comfortable talking with others about it."
"I just thought you would hate me if you knew..." Merlin trailed off, feeling stupid now. Arthur was being so understanding and kind about this, it was almost too good to be true.
"Why would I hate you?" Arthur asked then. "It isn't your fault you are like this. I believe people can be born this way."
Merlin's heart almost exploded right there, with the feeling of wanting to hug Arthur. He just stood there though, smiling like a complete idiot, watching as Arthur finished off the last bits of his breakfast, he laughed at Merlin, when he looked back at him.
"You are such an idiot," he grinned, punching him in the shoulder. But the found smile was clear on his face. "Now, if you don't mind…I have knights that need training."
"Of course," Merlin muttered, skirting back so Arthur had a clear shot to the door. As the King walked toward it, however, Merlin couldn't stop himself. "Arthur…"
"Yes?" Arthur looked back, with a smirk.
"Thank you," was all Merlin said, Arthur nodded and with that, opened the door and marched out.
Gaius was astonished, astonished and that doesn't happen very often, he has been shocked plenty of times, but very few times has the elderly man ever been truly astonished. Today was one of those days when he was. He had been sitting at his workbench at the time, trying to remember the ingredients to a sleeping draft, all while worrying for that fool Merlin, who was off telling the newly appointed king he was a sorcerer. Gaius had been so wrapped up in his worries for the young man that he almost dropped his vile when that very boy burst through his chamber door.
But it was what Merlin had to say that truly astonished Gaius, not Merlin's lack of respect for the door and Gaius' work place. No, Merlin told him of how King Arthur had already known of Merlin's magic, had for some time now, and that there had been no bloodshed, no fighting and most importantly, no conviction on Merlin's life.
When the sorcerer all but skipped from the room, muttering a goodbye, humming happily as he went, it was then Gaius shook his head. He hadn't expected this, for Arthur not to be angry, not only that…but to already know.
Merlin was always too clumsy when it came to keeping his magic a secret, with a shudder the man remembered when the Witchfinder had come to Camelot. Gaius shook his mind of those thoughts, finishing off the sleeping draft. He left his chambers then, heading to the council, he had important matters to discuss with the new King.
There was a nasty flue breaking out in the lower town and Gaius needed vital supplies that were at least two days away from Camelot. The elderly man walked into the council chambers and took his seat at the table, waiting for the King to enter.
When Arthur did walk in he looked happy, in high spirits even with the newfound pressure of now truly being King. He looked a bit too pleased for someone who had such a mess on his hands, a whole kingdom to run, a half-sister on the loose wanting his head, and now to top it off, a sorcerer to keep secret.
"Gaius," Arthur smiled, bowing his head in the man's direction. "As I understand you need time off of your physician's duty to go and collect supplies?"
"Yes, Sire," Gaius said, nodding. "There is a flu-"
But just as Gaius was explaining, an outburst made him jump. The chamber doors burst open and in walked Agrvaine, wearing the same clothes he had been the night before, his hair was stuck up in odd places and he had dried spit running up his cheek.
"Sire, I need a word!" he said, baring his teeth and looking around madly, probably for any sign of Merlin.
"It looks like you've had a hard night," Arthur said, trying to hide the amusement in his voice, Arthur was still very young, something like this would amuse him. It even amused Gaius a little bit. "Perhaps you would like to freshen up first?"
"No, Sire," Agraivne shook his head. "I must speak to you at once, it is urgent."
"Very well," Arthur nodded, looking at Agravaine with the upmost attention. Agravain took in a breath, before standing tall, ignoring that bit of hair that stuck up on the top of his head.
"It is about your servant, Merlin."
"Merlin?" Arthur asked, looking a tad more concerned now. "What about him?"
"I caught the boy….in a very compromising position last night," Agravaine explained and then Arthur's face turned to from worry to plain. "Sire, your servant is.."
"I know what he is, Uncle," Arthur stopped him, looking a bit amused again.
"And you are not angry about this, Arthur?" Agravaine asked, forgoing the property. "You have not thrown him in the cells for being so…being a…"
"There is no reason for such actions," Arthur said, shaking his head. "Perhaps my father would have seen someone like Merlin as inhuman or even a threat, but I don't," Arthur told him, holding his head high. "I am not my father, Agavaine, and I mean to prove that."
Agravaine looked utterly bewildered and a tad disappointed, if Gaius did say so himself.
"So, you just simply do not care that Merlin is-"
"It does not change who Merlin is, not to me anyway," Arthur said then, leaning up in his chair. "He is just as human as the rest of us."
Agravaine huffed, turning around and heading back for the door, as he walked out though, he seemed to remember his head and turned back to the court.
"I am sorry to have disturbed, if you do not mind, Sire, I will freshen up now."
Arthur nodded and Agravaine stomped away. Arthur shook his head then, and looked down at the papers in front of him. Gaius was truly proud of Arthur, not that he hadn't been before, just a tad bit more now.
"Sire, I must say, you are taking this better than I had expected," Gaius told him, unable to contain his feelings at the moment, it just proved all of Uther's hatred had not washed on to Arthur.
"I don't understand why everyone thinks I would take it so badly," Arthur explained, looking over at Gaius, puzzled. "Why should I care if Merlin likes men or woman? It makes no difference to me."
Gaius nodded along until the words Arthur had spoken sunk in on him.
"What?" Gaius asked, confused. "What exactly did Merlin tell you this morning, Sire?"
"That he was gay, what else?" Arthur asked, looking confused now too. "He told me you knew?"
"Oh yes," Gaius nodded then, standing up, as quickly as any old man could. "I did know, indeed" he nodded again and headed toward the door."Well, I must be off…"
"We're in the middle of a council!" Arthur called after him.
"The flu does not wait for council metting's, Sire!" Gaius told him, hiking up his robes and bolting toward the door. He simply had to find Merlin before he saw Arthur again.
He left the room at his quickest pace, rushing down the halls in search for Merlin; Gaius sometimes wondered how such a powerful sorcerer could be put into such an idiot of a boy.
Merlin waited in the new King's chambers, just like the happy little servant he was. He had been so happy today that he had nicked a bit of extra food from the kitchens for Arthur's dinner, as a gift. He had even passed Agravaine in the hall, who scowled and glared at Merlin something terrible, which Merlin, happily smiled in return to. He felt as though all his worries and fears had left him, like his chest could finally breath and his shoulders were bare of their bourdon. It was a nice feeling, one he hadn't felt since coming to live in Camelot, and one that had gotten worse over the years.
Arthur walked in just a moment or two later, throwing off his cape and looking at the table with extreme intent. He sat down at the table and dug into his food, without a word to Merlin.
"Good evening, Sire," Merlin said anyway, in a happy and not at all sarcastic tone, like usual. Arthur looked up at this, chicken leg in his mouth.
"Merlin," he said, as he chewed. Terrible manners for a king, Merlin thought, but Arthur never had manners unless he had to, at feasts and what not. "I haven't seen you since this morning."
"How could you when everyone's got you locked away in the council chambers all day?" Merlin asked, but he smiled nonetheless. Arthur shrugged, looking a bit more agitated about this.
"Well, that will soon change," Arthur said, looking down at his plate. "They've made me miss lunch again."
"I'm sorry," Merlin muttered, itching to discuss something else. "I brought you extra food, I figured you would be hungry…and..."
He stopped there, he didn't want to tell Arthur it was a thank you for not throwing him in the cells, but that's what it was.
"I can see that," Arthur stated then, "I was just wondering," he smiled. "Have you eaten yet?"
"No," Merlin said, leaning back and forth on his heels, he wanted to tell Arthur something, but he just didn't know how to get them into that exact area of conversation. "You're list of chores left me busy all day; I'll eat when I get down to Gaius."
"That might not be for quite some time…"
"Come, eat with me," Arthur said then, kicking the chair next to him, with his foot, smirking up at Merlin as he did. Merlin, however, did not like this idea, not one bit.
"Eat with you? I can't, that's…that's…" he wanted to say strange, but held his tongue, he just shook his head instead, and Arthur laughed at him.
"When have you ever been keen on edict?" Arthur asked. "Sit down!"
Merlin listened, sliding into the seat Arthur had offered, but he felt strange doing it. Servants are not meant to eat with the King, now, picking a bit of food off their plate when they're not looking…that's a different story. The King offered him a chicken leg and a half of bread then, he took them, watching Arthur closely.
"I've been thinking about what you told me this morning," Arthur said, after sipping his wine. Merlin bit his lip at this. "It seems Agravaine knows."
"I know," Merlin nodded. "I sort of cought me last night, doing-"
"I really don't need to hear details," Arthur stopped him, Merlin flushed a bit. "I straightened him out though; I told him you are no different than him or I."
"You did?" Merlin asked, with a grin. So that's why Agravaine looked so annoyed, he laughed in spite of himself. "I still can't believe you are taking this so well…"
"I truly do not understand why everyone thinks I would take it so badly, you, Gaius, Agravaine," Arthur spat, looking rather peeved. "Does everyone think I'm heartless?"
"I don't think you're heartless at all, I think since you were raised a certain way …everyone just expects you to be angry about it," Merlin told him, taking a bite of the bread. It was good.
"I suppose…but I'm not my father," Arthur shook his head, pushing away his plate, that still had plenty of food on it. "I don't want to live in his shadow, I want to be my own king and do things my own way."
"You will," Merlin said, swallowing some of the bread. "You just need a bit more time, is all, you just started being king, you can't expect everyone to forget how your father ruled..."
"No, of course not," Arthur shook his head. "He was a good king, just sometimes…"
"I know," Merlin smiled. Arthur returned in and pulled the plate back over to himself. Merlin watched him for a second or two, before opening his mouth again. "Arthur," the King looked up. "I just want you to know, I won't…do anything in front of you, not if you're uncomfortable with it."
"Thank god for that," Arthur said, giving Merlin a rather disturbed look. "I might be understanding, but I'm not that understanding."
Merlin nodded, a little disappointed, he was hoping Arthur would let him show him a bit of magic, at least the un-dangerous kind, Arthur had never seen how beautiful magic could be, it wasn't all dangerous and deadly. Merlin supposed that would take some time and he would wait, until Arthur was ready.
After they were finished eating, Merlin handled clearing up the dinner mess while Arthur went over to his desk, looking over the papers. Merlin readied the bed for Arthur to sleep in and took the dishes back to the kitchens, by the time he got back the new King was ready for bed. This was much easier than the night before and a lot easier than it had been to ready the man that morning. But Arthur had been right, by the time Merlin was able to head down to his and Gaius' chambers it was rather late. He was surprised to see the physician still awake, as he walked in.
"Where have you been?" Gaius asked, snapping a book shut as Merlin came further into the room. Merlin gapped his mouth open and shut, shrugging. "I've been looking for you all day!"
"I was tending to the King all day…what else?"
"Did you say anything to him about you having magic?" Gaius asked, standing up and walking over to him.
"Yes, you know I did," Merlin told him, starting to feel a little worried about the man's heath. He was rather old after all.
"I mean after that, I assume you have just left his chambers, did you say anything about using magic or having magic?"
"Yes, we had a talk about it…" Merlin trailed off. "He told me he set Agravaine straight."
"What he told Agravaine and what you told him are two very different things, Merlin," Gaius let out a sigh. "Did you tell Arthur you have magic?"
"Yes!" Merlin all but yelled, getting aggravated and more importantly, confused.
"Did you use the words, 'I have magic'?"
"I, uh…" Merlin mumbled. "What are you getting at?"
"There is no easy way to tell you this, my boy…" Gaius put a hand on Merlin's shoulder. "The King thinks that you are gay."
"What?" Merlin yelled, and he did yell this time. "What do you mean he thinks I'm gay?"
"He told me himself, in the council, I've been trying to find you ever since."
"I don't understand…why would he think that?" Merlin asked, he was completely flustered, and so confused. Arthur thought that Merlin was gay? That didn't make sense…
"What did you say to him…exactly?"
"Yes, exactly?" Gaius nodded.
"I don't know…I just went on about how my mum thinks I'm special but I'm really not, and how I don't want to be seen as a monster or different…"
"No wonder he thinks you're gay, " Gaius shook his head then, walking over to the table. "You didn't do much of a job convincing him otherwise."
"But he said he already knew!" Merlin said, it dawning on him now, Arthur thought he was gay and had even before Merlin said anything. "I'm going back to his chambers and straighten him out right now!"
"And what do you plan on telling him?" Gaius asked, as Merlin stomped over to the door.
"That I have magic and he is a big, fat clotpole for thinking I'm gay!" Merlin yelled, whipping around to glare at Gaius.
"So you can be put in the cells?" Gaius asked, with a raised eyebrow. "I think you ought to reconsider your options."
"I'm not gay!" Merlin growled, stalking back over to Gaius, even if he was angry, he knew Gaius had been right.
"Look at this," Gaius said, ignoring his last statement, shoving a book into Merlin's arms. "I've found a potion that will remove a certain memory the drinker has, as long as this spell works right," Gaius pointed out the incantation on the page. "It is powerful magic, though, I am sure you can handle it."
"When would I be around Agrvaine to make sure he drinks it?" Merlin asked, still angry. "And even then, Arthur still thinks I'm gay!"
"Tomorrow night, he plans to dine with the King, probably to discuss you...in private. You will be there to serve, make sure he gets the potion," Gaius said, as if it was all so easy. "And as for what Arthur thinks…I'm afraid there is very little we can do about that."
"Can't we give him a bit of this potion too?" Merlin asked. "Make him forget what I told him?"
"I'm afraid not, all of it has to be drunk by Agrvaine for it to work," Gaius said, walking over to the counter and picking up a small vile. "In time, a year or so, you can simply tell him you've grown out of it, that it was a phase of some sort."
"You can't just grow out of being gay, Gaius..." Merlin trailed off, sighing heavily. His head hurt all of a sudden, it was like his hangover had come back. "I'm going to bed."
He shrugged up the steps, still angry; he fell into his bed and rolled into his back. He couldn't believe this, he had been so happy, thinking Arthur knew and understood, he had been living a lie all day. Arthur had said he already knew, that he had known since they went to Ealdor... that Merlin nor Will would hide it from him, what exactly did he think happened between Merlin and Will...?
Merlin didn't want to think about it.
When Merlin woke up, it was already light out, which meant he was late with the King's breakfast, but in his heart of hearts, he couldn't find the gumption to care. He was angry with Arthur. He took his time getting ready; he walked down the stairs with leisure, taking a certain time with each step. He didn't care if Arthur would be angry with him for being late, maybe he just wouldn't show up at all.
He must have looked irritated when he walked toward the table, because Gaius looked up at him and shook his head. There was stuff in a bowl, that looked like mud, Merlin didn't even bother sitting down, he wasn't hungry anyway. He was angry.
"Do try to look a bit less like an angry dragon," Gaius told him, looking back down after a moment. Merlin didn't bother commenting, how did Gaius know what an angry dragon looked like anyway? He trekked out of the chambers then, going down the hall, with that same lazy, slow stride. Before long, half way to Arthur's chambers actually, he met Gwen. She was coming from the opposite direction and Merlin had a hunch why.
"Did you bring him breakfast?" he asked, without a hello or explanation of who the 'him' was, Gwen knew.
"Yes," she smiled, very knowingly at him. He raised an eyebrow at her. "I know about you," she said then. "Arthur told me."
"Told you what?" Merlin asked, but he already knew and if he thought he was angry before… it was not even close to how he felt now.
"About you," she said again, grinning. "Why didn't you tell me before?" she asked, crossing her arms over her chest. "I've known many people like you…they were lovely all the same."
"I hadn't really wanted people to know," he told her, seething, he tried to remain calm though, or his magic would act up and the last thing he needed was to be a sorcerer and gay at the same time.
"Oh," she made a face then, letting her arms drop. "It's nothing to be ashamed of."
"I'm not ashamed," he said, pointedly. "I just don't think it is anyone's concern."
"Oh," she said again, frowning. She was starting to pick up on his anger and stepped back a step. "I promise not to tell a soul." He nodded, trying to keep his mouth shut. "I should have seen it before, I feel sort of foolish," she tried to laugh then, but Merlin didn't find it at all funny.
"Why would you say that? he asked, crossing his arms now.
"You have this sort of air about you."
What the hell did that mean? he wondered, he has an air about him? It didn't matter, he told himself, she shouldn't have been told this and when he finally got to Arthur's chambers he would be sure to tell him just that. He bid Gwen a goodbye then, stalking down the hall now, with much greater pace. Once he got to the King's chambers he stormed inside, to see him sitting at the desk, more anger flooding Merlin upon seeing the King.
"Merlin," Arthur looked up, causally. "You're late."
"Why did you tell Gwen?" he asked, getting straight to the point, there was no use in stalling. Arthur's eyes suddenly widened.
"I thought you were telling people…"
"I told you, I didn't tell you so you could spread it around Camelot," Merlin barked. He recognized that this was the King of Camelot and that the last thing he should be doing is speaking to him like this, but he also recognized that Arthur was a giant ass and needed to be told off properly. "I only wanted you to know!"
"I'm sorry," Arthur admitted. "I hadn't thought it would do any harm."
"No, you hadn't thought at all!" Merlin barked. "You see Gwen and stop thinking with the head that everyone can see!"
"Now hold on just a moment," Arthur said, tossing his quill. Merlin had wondered how long it would take him to get angry. "Are you forgetting who you are speaking to?"
"No, I know who I'm speaking to, thanks," Merlin said, matter-of-factly. "I'm speaking to the world's biggest ass!"
And then he turned on his heels and marched from the room, ignoring the King calling his name. He just walked down halls, wondering the corridors, he was too angry to do his chores; he didn't want to do anything for Arthur.
Around midday, Merlin stood, gleaming out of a window, at the towns people below, when he felt an arm wrap around his shoulder. He knew it wouldn't be Arthur. If Arthur wrapped anything around him, it would be the King's hands on his neck, strangling him. He shouldn't have talked to him like that, he was probably already fired. Merlin looked over.
It was Gwaine who had his arm slung over Merlin's shoulder.
"I've heard about you," he said, entertained. "Why didn't you tell me sooner?"
They all seemed to ask this question, why hadn't Merlin told them? Because Merlin hadn't known until last night!
"I didn't want people to know," Merlin said, it wasn't that hard of a concept to figure out. "How did you find out?" He swore then, to himself, that if Arthur had told his knights, if Merlin wasn't already fired…he would quit.
"Percival told me," Gwaine shrugged, smirking at Merlin.
"How did Percival know?"
"Leon told him."
"How did Leon know?"
"Elyan told him."
"How did...oh right, he's Gwen's brother" Merlin grumbled. Before the day was through, everyone in Camelot would know, he was sure of it. "And she told me she wouldn't tell a soul!"
"How did Gwen know?" Gwaine asked then, scratching his chin.
"Arthur told her."
"The Princess knows you're into blokes?"
"I told him…" Merlin trailed off, feeling terrible all of a sudden. If only there were any nice rocks to live under in Camelot.
"Well, that was your second mistake, your first mistake was not telling me," Gwaine winked, pulling his arm from Merlin's shoulder. "Good luck, mate,"
He tapped him on the back, before heading down the corridor. Merlin watched him, shaking his head. Merlin decided to leave too, he had to face Arthur at some point, better to do it in the day light, so by chance, if he had to flee Camelot, he could do it in a timely manner.
He walked into the King's chambers to see him the exact same way he had left him, at his desk. He cleared his throat, to announce himself. Arthur looked up, his expression, once hard, softened upon seeing Merlin.
"Merlin," he said, not sounding angry, or he was acting, Merlin wasn't sure at this point. He got up and walked over to Merlin then, who couldn't help but flinch back. "I'm sorry."
"You are?" Merlin raised an eyebrow. He could recall Arthur apologizing the first time around, but he had been too angry to care then.
"Yes, I took something you told me in confidence and turned it into castle gossip," Arthur said, shaking his head. "I am truly sorry, I should not have told Guinevere."
"Leon, Percival, Elyan and Gwaine know," Merlin told him then, sighing. "Who knows who else knows now."
"The servant that was just here did," Arthur told him. "She decided she needed to ask me about it as well."
"What did she say?" Merlin asked, but he wasn't sure why, it wasn't like he truly wanted to know.
"She asked, 'Excuse me, Sire, did you know your servant fancies di-"
"Don't finish that sentence!" Merlin hollered suddenly, jumping back, Arthur smiled, kindly at him in return. "I suppose being known as gay isn't that terrible," Merlin stated then, more to himself than anyone else. "There are worse things, I'm sure."
"Indeed, like being a sorcerer."
Merlin looked up at Arthur then, wide eyed. But Arthur just continued to smile at him, which was odd in its self, but Merlin figured it was just because he still felt bad. He patted Merlin on the back then.
"I promise, anything of importance you wish to tell me in the future, stays between us only."
Merlin was grateful for this.
Later in the evening, Arthur greeted his uncle, graciously, as Merlin opened the door for him to enter the King's chambers. Merlin would be the only one serving them tonight, which was a very good thing, if Gaius' plan was to work. As they sat down at the table, Merlin offered to pour them both goblets of wine. They agreed, and instead of getting the flask and filling up the cups at the table, Merlin took both from the tabletop and set them on the counter the food had been carried in on. He made sure to hide what he was doing as he poured the wine, grabbing the vile of potion from his pocket, pouring it into a goblet.
"Uncle," Arthur was saying, good thing too, as Merlin muttered the spell as quietly as he could. He watched as the wine and potion bubbled together. "I was told you traveled to the northern border?"
"Yes," Agravaine said, just as Merlin turned around with two goblets of wine. He made sure to set the correct ones in front of the men.
"And?" Arthur asked, as he flashed Merlin a thank you-ish look and sipped his wine. "Is all well?"
"indeed it was, Sire," Agravaine nodded, taking a big gulp of his wine. He paused for a moment, looking down at the cup and then to Merlin, before turning back to Arthur. "However, I think there are other matters we need to discuss."
Merlin took a breath, turning back around to grab the smoked boar; he placed the tray in the middle of the table and was suddenly halted by Agravaine's heavy eyes on him.
"Uncle…" Arthur said again, raising his eyebrows. "I believe we talked about this already?"
"How can you allow a sor-"
"MORE WINE!" Merlin yelled, grabbing the flask, swiftly and messily pouring more into Arthur's half drunk goblet. Arthur just smirked up at him.
"I told you before, I feel no differently about him," Arthur told his uncle then. "It makes him uncomfortable to speak of it so freely, let's respect his wishes."
Agravaine grumbled under his breath and snatched his wine up, sipping from it. Merlin watched him closely. If he just finished the cup…just finished the cup, Merlin's problems would be over. Well, most of his problems. There was still the gay bit.
Within no time Merlin's wish was granted, Agravaine had downed the glass and quite rudely asked for a refill.
"I have heard Caerleon has been sneaking onto Camelot grounds, is this true?" Arthur asked then, but Agravaine just sat there, staring at Arthur, not saying a word. "Is that true?"
"Yes, it is true," he answered, sounding rather drunk all of a sudden. "Sire, can you please pass the buuuh..."
"What?" Arthur asked, looking very confused. Agravaine didn't seem to notice this.
"Can you pass the buuh...buuh?"Agravaine said, looking around questioningly, as though he himself, didn't understand what he was asking for. "The buuh?"
"What is the buuh?" Arthur asked, leaning forward. Agravaine's head was drooping now, lolling back, and then going forward. "Uncle?"
"Excuse me, Sire, I must tend to an urgent matter..." and then his upper half fell forward, head smashing into his plate, uneaten boar leaving grease all over his face. Merlin had half a mind to check to make sure he had gotten the right vile, is it supposed to do that?
"Uncle?" Arthur asked, jumping up, He looked at Merlin for help. "What's happened to him?"
Merlin rushed forward, feeling the man's neck for a pulse, it was there and full force, fast and pumping. Well, he wasn't dead, that was a good sign. He lifted his head up then to see Agravaine's eyes half-lidded, eyeballs rolling underneath them. His mouth hung open and drool dripped down his chin as he let out a healthy snore.
"He's drunk!" Arthur announced, walking around the table, as Merlin let Agrvaine's head go and it went tumbling back to the table with a thud. "Merlin!"
"Sorry," he said, holding up his hands in defense. Arthur rolled his eyes at him as he tried shaking his uncle, but that would not wake him.
"We have to get him back to his chambers."
"I'll call his servants!"
"No," the King stopped him. "He wouldn't want anyone to see him like this, we'll take him ourselves."
"But his Chambers are three stories down!" Merlin complained. "How are we meant to do that by ourselves?"
"We'll think of something," Arthur said, biting his lip as he thought. "We'll clearly have to carry him."
"I'm not carrying him!" Merlin retorted, only to have Arthur raise his eyebrow at him.
"Would like to wager on that?" Arthur asked, Merlin growled under his breath. "You can carry him on your back!"
"What?" Merlin all but yelled. "Have you seen him?"
"Yes, I have, here…help me lift him."
"Why can't you carry him on your back?" Merlin asked, as he helped Arthur lift his uncle. He was already heavy and Merlin was only bearing half his weight.
"Because I'm the king, it's poor edict."
"You are full of…" Merlin trailed off, unable to finish as Arthur swung his half of uncle over Merlin's shoulder and suddenly, Merlin was burdened with a full size man on his back.
"There," Arthur said, arrogantly. "Let's get him back to his chambers."
Merlin grabbed hold of both Agravaine's arm's, taking one small step forward, he could hear Agravaine's boots skidding along the floor. He took another step and another, feeling as if the man was getting heavier at each step. It aso seemed Merlin was getting shorter, but actually, as he looked down, he just noticed, he was half bent over.
"Arthur…" he called; even his voice struggled under the weight. "Arthur, I can't…"
"Nonsense, you are doing fine."
But just as the King said this, Merlin took another step, off balanced and fell face forward onto the floor. Agravaine's limb body falling on top of him.
He could hear Arthur laughing. Some king he was!
"Come now, Merlin, get up."
"Get over here and get him off me, you utter clotpole!" Merlin told him, trying to wiggle out from under the dead weight. It was suddenly lifted from his body and he gratefully got up, turning to see Arthur, who was holding his uncle up by the middle.
"We should probably try another way," Arthur said.
"No… do you think?" Merlin retorted, sarcastically. Arthur glared at this. "We could drag him..?" he did make an honest suggestion then. "Or hide him in a broom cupboard…?"
Arthur just glared again. "We have to carry him," he instead. "Take hold of his feet," he said then. "I can't hold him much longer, he's heavy."
"You don't say?" Merlin was sarcastic again. "Try having him on your back!"
"Just shut up and be useful for once!" Arthur barked. Merlin nodded, though, he was useful quite often, if he did say so himself. Merlin took hold of Agravaine's ankles and lifted him up. "Let's take him this way."
Merlin didn't mention how stupid this idea was, because it was much better than him carrying the man all by himself, so he just nodded. Walking backward to the door. After a struggle to open the door, they walked down the corridor, rather slowly due to how heavy Agravaine was. Merlin felt bad for his horse. Once they got to the stairs however, their progress went to a standstill.
"How are we supposed to carrying him downstairs like this?" Merlin asked, Arthur looked puzzled for a moment, biting his lip.
"One of us will have to go backward, that is the only option we have."
"Yeah…one of us will have to…" Merlin mumbled, giving Arthur a sideways glance. "One of us who's strong…and tough…handy with a sword…maybe blonde, could be a king."
"Oh shut up, I will go backward!" Arthur barked, turning around. The first few steps were easy. Arthur only barked a few orders and they were once again heading in a steady pace. Only two and a half more levels to go. That was until Merlin misjudged a step and went tumbling forward.
"Merlin!" Arthur yelled at him, but he was already going down. Landing on Agrvaine as they both plummeted to the steps. They landed in a heap; the only one still standing was Arthur, who had the sense to grab onto the railing. "You are such a buffoon!" Arthur yelled at him, as Merlin looked up, his head had been lying on Agravaine's chest beforehand. "How can one person be so stupid?"
"I am very talented," Merlin said, staggering back as he stood up. Arthur just glared at him as they both lifted Agravaine, who still slept soundly. They started down the stairs again, slower than before. Merlin was a bit offened though, as they rounded the staircase and started on the other. "You didn't even ask if I was alright."
"I'm sorry," Arthur remarked. "Are you alright, you idiot?"
"Well, you don't have to be rude…" Merlin trailed off, as they reached another landing. They were making good time now. Almost half way there.
In no time, they cleared the stairs and rounded the corner, taking a breather for a moment, before finishing the walk to Agravaine's room. They sat him against the wall, his head lolled forward, drool still dripping down his chin. He looked a real state.
"I'm going to have a serious talk with my uncle about his drinking habits in the morning," Arthur said then, rubbing his forehead with the back of his hand. Merlin nodded, biting his lip. If he woke up in the morning, Merlin knew better than to think this was just a drunken stupor. This was magic induced and who knows what was truly wrong with him. Perhaps Gaius would, Merlin would have to bring him back down here later, to check on him. "Well, be had better press on."
Arthur grabbed his uncle around the middle again and Merlin, once more, grabbed his ankles and they processed down the hall. It was only a few minutes later that they reached his chambers. Merlin had a hard time opening this door too, with the awkward load he was carrying. It creaked open nonetheless, and they carried him in.
"Let's get him to the bed," Arthur said, sounding out of breath, Merlin could relate, he felt the same. They reached the bed and with one huff dropped the man on it. He bounced a few times on the mattress and then went still.
"Are you sure he's breathing?" Merlin asked, feeling rather worried again. Arthur put his hand under the man's nose, but just as he did, Agravaine let out a loud snore.
"It seems so," Arthur nodded, looking over the man. "I've never seen anyone this drunk before; he didn't even stir when you cracked his head off the stairs."
"Maybe he's not drunk…maybe he's gone into a coma or…" Merlin trailed off, his nerves getting the best of him.
"What's a buuh?" Arthur asked, looking confused and very concerned. "Maybe he's had a stroke."
"Gaius has talked about a stroke before, it's when your brain shuts down," Merlin explained.
"Look at him!" Arthur commented. "His brain doesn't look like it's working very well!"
"Maybe we should get Gaius…" Merlin trailed off.
"I think that's probably best."
Gaius had come to Agravaine's champers that night, to insist that yes, Agravaine seemed to have a drinking problem. (Later to tell Merlin that he might have forgotten to mention the 'slight' after effects of the memory potion.) However, luckily for Merlin , not only did Agravaine forget about him being a sorcerer, but it seemed Arthur was too busy being a new king and dealing with the current drunkard title his head advisor now had, courtesy of Gwaine, to remember about Merlin and his gayness. But that didn't mean Merlin did, the whole ordeal had been weeks ago and still, Merlin couldn't shake the worry he felt. He was more careful around his friends now. A few days before, Gwaine had cornered him in a hall and the passing maid had given them some very interested and knowing looks as she passed, needless to say, he almost punched Gwaine in the face that day. But that was nothing compared to the looks the maids and knights and everyone else (so it seemed) were giving Merlin, when he tended to Arthur.
He could hear them whispering as they walked past Merlin outside of the king's chambers, or found them giggling when he showed up for the king's breakfast, messy haired and late. These things were nothing knew, the lateness or the messy hair, the following around like a loyal dog, (in which case Merlin was the dog, by the way,) yet these maids and knights and hell, maybe even advisors too, were all seeming to act like it was. Advisors, Merlin was scared to think what they must be saying to Arthur now, they all knew. Everyone had always known of Merlin and Arthur's closeness, you don't go through some of the things they have and not end up close, whether or not King Prat wanted to admit it. But what if the maids or knights or gods forbid, the advisors suggest such things to Arthur? Merlin would be fired on the spot; Arthur would not allow himself to be called gay.
And Merlin, no matter how much it hurt, understood, he didn't like to be called gay either, being gay was looked upon as wrong and giggled at, mocked and disapproved. No one would respect a king if he were known as gay, so there was just one thing for Merlin to do; avoid Arthur like the plague.
So then it started, Merlin made sure he was never seen alone with Arthur, or standing too close if they were seen together at all. He sent servants to help, when he knew Arthur would want things like a bath or help with changing and armor. (Which he was not allowed to do, but did it anyway.) He had faked sickness a few times as well, to get out of tending to Arthur all together. He would only go to clean when he was sure Arthur was out, he didn't want anyone to think they were in the room alone together, he had even started sending Gwen to wake Arthur in the morning, he figured Arthur would rather see Gwen's face first thing in the morning than his anyway.
At some point, he knew Arthur would start getting suspicious, what he didn't know, is how fast he would. It seemed only a week into this new found avoidance did Arthur start getting annoyed, he would purposely try to track Merlin down in random parts of the day, to the point where Merlin had to hide in a broom cupboard under a staircase, just so Arthur wouldn't find him. More than twenty times a day did he hear Arthur yelling for him, in which case, he would drop whatever it is he was doing and run as if his life depended on it. However sometimes, no matter how Merlin tried, Arthur could not be avoided.
It was then, as Merlin walked down an empty corridor, that he was tackled to the ground. Merlin might have let out a girlish scream, might have...he was just lucky he was smart enough to control his magic.
Who was on top of him is no surprise, a blonde king, with darkened, deep, blue eyes with annoyance written inside them. He looked a tad rabid, at that.
"Merlin!" he seethed, pinning Merlin to the floor, not that Merlin was trying to leave by any means. "Where the hell have you been?"
"Oh, you know…" Merlin muttered then, shrugging, or trying to rather. "Here and there."
"I've been looking everywhere for you!"
"By everywhere you mean that cove over there? If so, you weren't really trying very hard," Merlin pointed out, looking over to the right, to see where Arthur had attacked from.
"Ten days Merlin, I have barely seen you; it is as if you have forgotten who you work for…" Arthur said, still sounding annoyed beyond reason, Merlin just let him talk. "Ten days it's been, Merlin, since I've told anyone to shut up! Do you know how frustrating that is?"
"You know you could always practice on someone else…" Merlin suggested then, a smirky grin on his lips. "Like Gwen or a knight, Gaius…perhaps."
"Shut up!" Arthur barked, giving him a little shake, Merlin smiled.
"See, you haven't forgotten!"
"That is not the point, the point is, you are my servant you are meant to be serving me at all times," Arthur was barking once more. Merlin rolled his eyes. "It's like you've been hiding from me, like you don't wish to be around me…"
"Aw, have you missed me?"
"That's funny, because…" but he stopped then, looking up at Arthur to realize that they were in the middle of a corridor, on top of each other, his eyes widened. This would be gold for any passing servant, maid, knight…all of Merlin's work in avoiding Arthur would be ruined. "Let me up!"
"No," Arthur said, gripping on Merlin tighter in protest. "Not until you explain to me where the hell you've been!"
"I don't want to!" Merlin almost yelled, trying to wiggle out of the hold he was trapped in. "Just let me up!"
"You will do as I say, Merlin!"
"No!" Merlin yelled, pushing Arthur off him with as much force as he could. He bolted then, getting off the ground and ran for the passage out of that corridor.
"Merlin!" Arthur yelled after him, but he didn't stop, he needed to make a lot of ground between the two before anyone saw them. Merlin took refuge in the kitchens, where he was scolded by the cook, who claimed he stole her food…, which he did not!
It was inevitable though, Merlin would have to start doing his chores again, or else Arthur would most likely hunt him down with a team of wild dogs. So, that night, Merlin showed up at the king's door, a tray of dinner in his arms as he entered the room. Arthur was shirtless, muttering something as he ripped through his clothes cupboard, Merlin noted all the shirts sprawled around the room and sighed, he would have to clean that up.
"Merlin!" Arthur snapped then, turning around to glare at the servant. "I'm shocked you remember where my chambers are."
"I could never forget, sire," Merlin said, sarcastically, as he set the food down. He could hear Arthur chuckling from behind and he sighed again, he really didn't want to know what was funny.
"Merlin…" Arthur said again, he turned back and raised an eyebrow at the king, who was still shirtless, mind you. "I think I've realized why you've been avoiding me."
"Yes, I have," Arthur grinned, taking a few steps forward, rather arrogantly, if Merlin did say so himself. "And I understand completely."
"You do?" Merlin asked, how would Arthur know? Unless someone was talking…Merlin heaved a breath.
"I want you to know that I understand, it must be hard for you to see me every day, being so close and yet…not close enough, for your own needs," Arthur placed his head over his bare chest and sighed. "I know what it feels like for a love to be forbidden, I felt the same when I first started having feelings for-"
"Wait," Merlin held up his hand, trying to hold back the laugh that was threatening to leak from his lips. "You think I'm…?"
"In love with me? Yes," Arthur said, matter-of-factly. It was then Merlin laughed and laughed really hard, he almost fell to his knees he laughed so hard. "I don't see what's so funny!" Arthur chirped a moment or two after. "Love is not a joke, Merlin…"
"You are…"Merlin tried to answer, but his ribs hurt from laughing. What an ass, he couldn't be serious. "You have got to be joking!" Merlin rubbed his eyes then and blinked, taking in Arthur's annoyed face. "I am not in love with you!"
"I hardly think that's true," Arthur said, once again, matter-of-factly. "It explains it all; why you have always been so utterly loyal to me, why you follow me everywhere and why now, you have been avoiding me."
"I am not in love with you!" Merlin repeated, shaking his head, he could not belive he was having such a talk with Arthur, this was stupid!
"Stop the lies, Merlin," Arthur told him, walking closer once more. "I am no fool, I can see it clear as day in your eyes, they say it all."
"They should shut up then, because-"
"You can't hide anything from me!" Arthur interrupted. Merlin wanted to say how he had hid his magic, but thought better of it and just watched as Arthur smirked smugly, and placed a hand on Merlin's shoulder. "I am flattered you feel the way you do, honestly, I am not sure what I have done to win your love…"
"Been an utter clotpole…just like right now," Merlin said, cocking his head to the side, watching Arthur. He was still in a bit of shock, over this whole thing, it seemed like his life was slowly spinning out of control.
"There must have been something I've done," Arthur grinned. "What was it?"
"I'm not going to boost your ego!" Merlin retorted, trying to push the man's hand from his shoulder, but the action only made Arthur's grin grow.
"So you admit it, you are in love with me!" he said, sounding far too happy about this for any straight man. "I knew it!"
"I'm not in love with you!" Merlin said, he had to leave, this was getting ridicules. He wasn't even really gay, let alone in love with the king. However, on his way to the door, Arthur cut in front of him, blocking his exit.
"I say you are!" he challenged, Merlin sighed.
"If I agree will you let me leave?"
"Then I'm not and I never will be, because you're an ass!"
There might have been a slight dragon egg problem. Actually slight is more of an understatement, and by problem, it might mean that Merlin had kind of, sort of… hatched a dragon baby from it's egg. But he couldn't help it, he had no choice. Now, at least the Great Dragon wasn't the last dragon anymore. Merlin only hoped Aithusa was just a little bit less annoying than Kilgharrah, even a little would be an improvement. Not to mention, Aithusa, the baby dragon, might have been the cutest thing Merlin had ever seen.
Of course, he couldn't tell Arthur any of this though, for obvious reasons. But it seemed Arthur had been watching him, the night before, as Merlin snuck out off Camelot grounds to meet the Great Dragon. Luckily though, Arthur thought he was off doing something else entirely, or maybe not so lucky.
"You seem to be in a good mood this morning," Arthur commented, as he watched Merlin fluff his royal pillows. "Why is that?"
"What is there to be unhappy about?" Merlin asked, in a bit of a muse. He could almost feel Arthur's eyes burning into his back at this. He got to the point then.
"I saw you sneaking out of the castle last night, Merlin," he said, droll in his tone. "Who did you meet?"
"What?" Merlin asked, whipping around to look at the king so fast, he hurt his neck. "I…I didn't meet anyone."
"Please, Merlin, why do you lie to me so much?" Arthur sat back in his chair, behind his desk and studied Merlin closely. "You were acting strangely yesterday and then I see you sneaking out of the castle late at night, and now this morning…you are cheerful and dare a say, have quite a hitch in your step. It does not take a genius to figure out where you have gone."
"What do you mean…?" Merlin asked, though, he had an idea of what Arthur was getting at, and he was rather offended. "I was just…I only…"
"Was he nice to you?" Arthur asked then, raising an eyebrow. "Did he at least buy you a drink beforehand?"
"No, I want to know…" Arthur said, rather pointedly. " What was he like? Oh for the love of god, please don't tell me he was some kind of whore…it wasn't a whore, was it?"
"No…" Merlin dropped the pillow, flustered; he didn't know how to go about fixing this conversation in another direction. "I wasn't…I didn't…"
"Was it someone I know?" Arthur stood up then, crossing his arms over his chest. "Was it Gwaine?"
"He would have a roll with anyone."
"Alright, so it seems you don't wish for me to know," Arthur shrugged, heading for the door then. Probably off to do kingly stuff. "Just know, I can't wait to meet him…I'm sure we'll be good friends."
Merlin didn't like the sound of that at all and this person, Arthur thought he was going to see, wasn't even real. Merlin didn't want to think it, but it seemed Arthur was rather upset about Merlin seeing someone, but then he remembered…Arthur thought Merlin was in love with him, he was probably offended Merlin had found someone knew so quickly. Oh well, Merlin thought, at least he would get over the Merlin being in love with him thing.
Merlin finished up in the king's chambers then, wrangling up all the dirty clothes in one pile as he headed out. It was down the hall ten or fifteen steps, that he bumped into Gwen.
"Oh, hi..." he said, as he tried going around her, but she stopped him.
"Arthur told me you met someone," she grinned, flapping her dress a little, in a very girly way. "What's he like?"
Merlin couldn't answer, his mouth was too busy being hung open. How did Arthur have enough time to go and tell Gwen that Merlin had met someone? And Arthur had always said he hated castle gossip, so it seemed…he was the one starting it as of late.
"I haven't met anyone…"
"Come on!" Gwen reached out and shook his arm. He almost lost a pair of Arthur's pants. "You can tell me, we are friends after all."
"Uh…I…" he sighed, he figured then, that she wouldn't be happy until he at least told her something. "I met him in town a few weeks ago."
"And what's he like?" she asked. "Is he handsome?"
"Oh yeah, of course…" he trailed off. "He um…he's very nice."
"What does he look like?"
Merlin huffed, trying to think of what might be handsome to Gwen. He also wished, that he wasn't holding Arthur's dirty clothes right now.
"He's um…he's blonde, strong…has really nice blue eyes…" Merlin mumbled. "He's…he's got quite the backside."
"Merlin!" Gwen giggled and he couldn't help but laugh too. "So, what's he like? Is he romantic?"
"He's a prat," Merlin said quickly, a little too quickly. "He's not very romantic either…he has no idea what he's doing with girls."
"Sounds a bit like Arthur…"
"Oh…he's nothing like Arthur," Merlin corrected her, he might have based the bloke off of Arthur, maybe just a little bit, and might have just a little bit too much. "He's not as rude as Arthur, he doesn't go around calling me an idiot or useless, he treats me right and doesn't make me clean his dirty socks," Merlin made a face then and Gwen giggled again. "Speaking of which…"
"I'm sorry," Gwen smiled, moving out of his way. "I just had to ask, I want you to be as happy as I am, Merlin."
"Yes, thank you, Gwen," Merlin smiled at her, as she headed down the hall. Merlin continued on his way too and rolled his eyes as he went.
After Merlin had washed all of Arthur's clothes and put them back in the king's chambers, he went off looking for the king. He wasn't exactly sure where he had gone off to and normally by this time, the man wanted his lunch and acted like a child when it was late, so a waylay Arthur was rather strange and a tad alarming. It was Merlin's job to protect Arthur, and he couldn't do that if he was missing in his own kingdom. Merlin was just starting to worry Morgana was at it again, when he bumped into Leon and Percival.
"Ah, Merlin," Leon greeted, smiling upon seeing him.
"Have you seen Arthur?" he asked, this was no time for a chat.
"Yes, he's in town," Percival said, with a shrug. "We had seen him about an hour ago."
"Good," Merlin let out a sigh. At least he wasn't in any danger, but that still meant Merlin had to go find the prat and discuss matters of lunch. "Thanks."
"No problem," Percival smiled. "We were just looking for Gwaine."
"I haven't seen him either." Merlin shrugged. "If I do I'll tell him you're looking for him."
"Thank you, Merlin," Leon said this time, patting him on the shoulder as they walked away. Merlin rubbed his forehead then, heaving a sigh as he marched off toward the doors.
It was a lovely day, Merlin had only been outside once, in the morning, to get water and it was rather cold then, now, it was much warmer, but still had a cool chill in the air, it was a perfect spring day. He wondered if this was why Arthur had chosen to go into town today, he went so few times. But Merlin really wished, that at least Arthur would have taken him with him, not that Merlin didn't go to town quite often, but it was almost impossible to find anyone on a nice day like this and most likely, Arthur was trying to stay hidden. Everyone would be on his tail if they knew the king was visiting the town. Merlin looked every place one could look, soon he was concerned again, he was almost through the entire lower town, and still, there was no Arthur.
"I swear, if Morgana kidnapped you...I'll let her keep you!" Merlin barked, to himself as he reached the gates. But just then, out there, beyond the gates of Camelot was a flash of blue cloak. Merlin knew that cloak and, rather quickly, followed.
Merlin was doing something that resembled a loyal dog again, tracking his owner, but it was Merlin's job to protect Arthur and how safe was Arthur out in the woods somewhere all alone? Arthur never normally went off on walks like this without Merlin.
Merlin finally reached a spring, where he found the blue cloak covering it's owner as he sat on the ground. Well, Arthur was acting rather strange today.
"Um…Arthur…?" Merlin mumbled, trying not to be too loud or too threatening, Arthur might try chopping his head off again. Merlin had learned this lesson the hard way.
"I knew you were following me…" Arthur replied, not bothering to turn around.
"It might have been nice to stop and let me join you then..." Merlin told him, trying to hold back the scolding; he was the king after all.
"You seemed to be having fun…or maybe you were hoping I was your new lover," Arthur retorted, as Merlin sat down next to him. "Is that how you met him too? By tracking him down?"
Merlin sighed, "No, we met in town," he said, using the same lie he had told Gwen. "I didn't have any reason to track him; he's not my king who went running of like a little child."
"I will do as I please," Arthur told him, boredly.
"You could have at least told me you were going to town…"
"I'm king, I don't answer to you, and I hardly need to tell you where I'm going."
"Well, you're in a good mood…" Merlin said, sighing.
"You could have at least brought me some lunch…" Arthur remarked, yet again. "Since you decided to follow me."
"I thought you might be in danger."
"And what would you have done if I was?" Arthur asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Tried to save you," Merlin shrugged.
"Because you could?" Arthur asked. "Because you are skilled in what sort of weaponry?"
"Not everything has to be won with weapons…." Merlin told him then, uncomfortable with the way Arthur was looking at him.
"I see," the king nodded then. "But as you can see, I am perfectly safe."
"You know, I don't quite understand you, Merlin," Arthur said then. "One week you want nothing to do with me, the next you follow me like a puppy."
"You seemed so butt hurt over me being busy with other things, I figured I would make up for it now," Merlin answered, though that wasn't exactly true. It was more like he had just given up on trying to avoid Arthur, he didn't wish to be tackled in a hall again.
"I was not butt hurt," Arthur said, turning back to the shallow running water of the spring. "So, Is somewhere around here, where you met him?"
"Wh-Oh...yeah, somewhere around here," Merlin lied, rolling his eyes. Arthur needed to get off this man business. Even Merlin was starting to believe it was true and he was the one making up all the lies.
"Hmm…" Arthur hummed. " And did you take dip together? Or perhaps make love by the running water?"
"Arthur…" Merlin sighed.
"What?" Arthur barked. "Why can you not tell me? Am I not your friend?"
"You're my king…"
"Is that all I am to you? You're king?"
"No, I just…" Merlin shook his head and wished he could drowned himself in the spring. "I just don't want to talk about it, alright? It still makes me feel uncomfortable."
"I see..." Arthur trailed off.
"You wouldn't tell me about that stuff either…you know you wouldn't," Merlin told him. "Although, I'm always there on your outings with Gwen…thanks by the way, those are fun days."
Arthur chuckled then, "I know you enjoy them."
"Oh yes, watching you stick your tongue in her mouth is my favorite part of the day," Merlin retorted, to which Arthur chuckled even further.
"I cannot help that you're in love with me."
"But you are, Merlin."
Merlin had to do many chores as the king's manservant; one of them is turning down the king's bed, because the king was actually, really a child and needed to be put to bed like a little boy. Or, that's often how Merlin saw it anyway. Tonight, unlike other nights, the king wasn't in the room as Merlin turned down the bed, he actually found this more relaxing at that, not having to listen to Arthur complain or demand things, like the pillows to be fluffed an extra time. Once, on a bitterly cold night, the overgrown dollophead had actually made Merlin get in the bed to warm it first, when there were hot coals for that. But Merlin couldn't complain too much, that one time, he was freezing anyway and the soft covers of the kings royal bed, (well, it was actually the prince's royal bed, at the time,) were quite lovely.
By the time Merlin was finished setting up for the king's slumber, the man himself entered the room, a smirk playing on his lips. He had been off, walking Gwen home; he had probably stuck his tongue in her mouth a few times on the way, Merlin thought, but got rid of the thoughts as quickly as he could. The image was unsightly as it was.
"Will that be all, sire?" he asked, knowing it probably wouldn't be. Arthur was a prat like that. And he was right, Arthur looked up and his smirk grew ten times bigger, stalking over to Merlin, he put an arm around him. It wasn't that Merlin didn't like to be touched, it was just odd that Arthur was touching him, so he backed away. "What's the matter with you?"
"Guinevere and I were talking about you and your mystery lover on our way back to her home," Arthur explained, looking rather delighted. Merlin heaved an annoyed breath and glared at the king. "Blonde hair, blue eyes…strong…you do know how this makes you look?"
"You know, Arthur," Merlin said then, he couldn't help it, he was too annoyed. "You and Gwen are perfect for each other; you both have mouths like a running river!"
Arthur chuckled, "I understand you long for me, but using someone else because they look like me…" Arthur shook his head and Merlin swore he was going to tell. He was just going to tell Arthur everything. "That is rather pathetic, Merlin, even for you."
He was going to tell him, he was, he couldn't take it anymore. He was going to tell him how there was no man, that he wasn't even gay, about his magic…about everything, but he held his tongue, letting the anger wash over him, into a pit in his belly. He was going to explode soon, he just knew it.
"Will there be anything else, sire?" he asked, gritting his teeth, he just needed to get out of here.
"Is that why you didn't want to tell me about him?" Arthur chuckled, in too much glee to notice Merlin's anger, or if he did notice, he just didn't care. "That isn't very fair to the man, he might actually care about you… though, god knows why he would."
"Can I leave, please?" Merlin asked, straight out then. Arthur grinned once more and nodded.
"I suppose you can," he said and Merlin booked it for the door. He turned back only when he heard Arthur talking again. "Try not to dream about me too much tonight, Merlin!"
Merlin wanted to swear, but he didn't and just gave a glare, that if looks could kill, Arthur would be dead. He marched down the corridors and down staircases, trying to get back to Gaius' chambers before the anger in his belly really did explode. He had just slammed the door, turning to see Gaius still sitting at his work bench. He let out an annoyed growl and Gaius looked up, confused.
"For heavens sake, my boy, you almost have me a-"
"I hate Arthur!" Merlin cut Gaius off, as he ripped his jacket off and aggressively threw it onto the floor. "I hate him so much! I want to quit, I'm going to move back to Ealdor and become a farmer!" Merlin yelled further. "And you know what else? I'm going to take a wife and then I am going to come back to Camelot and I am going to rub her in Arthur's face!"
Merlin threw himself in a chair then and put his face in his hands, he could feel the anger rushing through him, his magic begging to blow something up. He tried to control it.
"So I take it you and Arthur are not getting along?" Gaius asked then and Merlin looked up, glaring daggers.
"You could say that."
"What has he done?"
"He thinks I'm in love with him and that I'm sneaking out of Camelot to see a man that looks just like him, because I'm pathetic," Merlin moaned. "This isn't worth it anymore, sometimes I think it would've been better if he had just found out about my magic instead!"
"I know it seems hard now, my boy, but you mustn't give up," Gaius explained, trying to inflict his advice on Merlin, but right now, he just didn't want it.
"Thanks, but Arthur is nothing but a supercilious idiot, who might preach that he wants everyone to treat me the same, but hasn't even himself!" Merlin stood up then, heading for the stairs. "I was wrong about him, he hasn't changed since I've met him, he's the same old jerk he's always been…"
"You cannot mean that," Gaius said, letting out a sigh. "Arthur has changed Merlin, for the better, he might be giving you a hard time, but I believe it is all in good fun."
"Fun for him!" Merlin yelled, as he reached his door, at the top of the stairs.
"It will get better, I can assure you!" Gaius called after him, one last time, as Merlin shut the door to his room and walked over to his bed. He still felt angry, angrier than he had in a very long time, but tried to rid himself of it as he sat down.
Arthur was a prat, but he had changed, in the heat of Merlin's rage, he had forgotten that, Arthur was loyal and a good king, just like Merlin had always thought he would be. Arthur had a kind heart under all that prat. And maybe, perhaps Arthur was just having a bit of a hard time with Merlin being out as gay. Maybe he was only giving Merlin a hard time because sometimes friends do that; give each other a hard time. They had certainly done so, in other ways, other the years. Merlin lied down then and fell asleep, he would try not to be mad at the king anymore, in the morning.
Merlin woke up at the crack of dawn and dressed, heading down the stairs to retrieve his jacket he had left, tossed on the floor. Gaius was up and moving around and Merlin only greeted him a good morning, before rushing off to get the king's breakfast. He was much less angry today; he had to remember what his role was here, to be at Arthur's side. And he couldn't do that, if he was back in Ealdor taking a wife and becoming a farmer. The morning was routine, Arthur didn't say anything too annoying, and then Merlin dressed him in his armor, so the king could go down and practice with his knights. All seemed fine now, Merlin was thankful for this.
"Will you be accompanying me to the training field today, Merlin?" Arthur asked, as Merlin handed him his sword. Merlin shrugged, not really interested in sitting there and watching grown men grunt and sweat, while they hit each other. "You should."
"Because I am the king and I am telling you to!"
"Is that how it's going to be from now on?" Merlin couldn't help but ask. "You will just pull the king card?"
"If I have to," Arthur smirked. "It's my right as king to do so." Merlin laughed, he couldn't help it. "So, will you come?"
"Of course, as the king's servant…I must do as he says."
"About time you've learned that."
Merlin ran around Gaius' chambers, packing up things he would need out in the woods, which annoyed him beyond reason. He hated going hunting, why did Arthur have to go hunting?
"Arthur wants to spend time outside of Camelot…" Merlin complained to Gaius, as the man sat at his bench, reading something in a book. "He was acting annoyingly rude today, he yelled at me for talking to Gwaine when I was supposed to be bringing him lunch, he doesn't even eat lunch til an hour from now!" Merlin continued on, not noticing Gaius' lack of interest in their talk. "And now I have to go hunting...I hate hunting..."
Merlin finished his packing and turned to Gaius, all ready to go.
"Thanks, Gaius, I feel a lot better, he explained, smiling at his mentor, before wrenching open the door. "I suppose I'm off to hunt now…can't wait."
"Oh, you are leaving?" Gaius looked up and asked. Merlin's mouth fell open.
"Haven't you been listening?" he asked, feeling rather peeved at this. "I was complaining about Arthur and how he's forcing me to go hunting!"
"Forgive me, Merlin, you complain about the king so often these days, I have begun not to listen," Gaius explained and Merlin glared. "But do have fun on your hunting trip."
"I hate hunting…" Merlin whined, as he walked out of the door, shutting it behind him. Gaius was no help at all anymore. Merlin headed out to the courtyard then, where Arthur was already waiting by his horse, Merlin's worn out, old horse behind his.
"What took you so long?" Arthur asked, grinning, as he looked around, the sun bore down on him and made his blonde hair look rather golden. "Come on, Merlin…I want to be back before night fall."
"I am coming!" Merlin barked, packing their belongings onto his horse, he felt badly for her, Arthur's horse only had to carry his large rear end, though, that was no small feat. Merlin chuckled at this as he finally got the horse all packed up, he turned to see Arthur glaring at him. "What?"
"Can we get on with it?" Arthur asked, rather annoyed, as he mounted his horse. Merlin rolled his eyes and did the same, as they kicked their horses into motion and started heading out of Camelot.
Before long they were deep in the woods and there was no turning back now, Arthur was sitting sideways on the horse, trying to shoot a crossbow at a rabbit and with a bit of magic, Merlin made sure he missed. Who wants to kill a little, helpless bunny anyway? Arthur let out a frustrated heave of breath then and turned to sit right on the horse.
"Too bad, sire, I thought you had that one…" Merlin called after him, cheekily; as they started their trot up again.
"None of your cheek, Merlin, everyone misses once in awhile," Arthur explained. "Besides, who could concentrate with you breathing down their necks?"
"I was completely silent!" Merlin retorted, urging his horse faster, so he could ride along side Arthur.
"You can never be truly silent," Arthur told him, giving him a snide smirk. "If you are not running of the mouth, you are just simply breathing…how does one simply breathe so loudly?"
"It's a gift," Merlin said, smiling proudly. "It might not be me either," he continued, feeling confident in their normal banter, at least Arthur wasn't shooting anything. "It might be your poor aim."
"I am a skilled hunter, my aim is better than anyone else!" Arthur told him, matter-of-factly. Merlin nodded, with pursed lips.
"Of course, Sire," he remarked. "Just ask that rabbit back there, he will tell you the same."
"Shut up!" Arthur told him then, reaching out and shoving Merlin in the shoulder. This made him off balance on the horse quite a bit and he went plummeting to the ground, into a well of mud. He yelled out words, mostly swears, as he felt the cold, nasty mud seep into his clothes. And beyond that, he could hear Arthur laughing from above him.
"It isn' funny!" Merlin moaned, trying to find a way out of the thick clenches of mud. Arthur wasn't even going to help him, still pleasantly sitting on his horse. Clotpole!
"It serves you right," Arthur explained. "Make fun of my aim again and see what happens to you!"
"What will you do?" Merlin barked, dragging himself up, he was all dirty now. "Push me off my horse again?"
"Oh no," Arthur said, looking back at Merlin, a bit dangerously. "It will be much worse than that."
But Merlin couldn't find anything much worse than being covered in mud and riding a horse. That stuff gets stuck places and gets rather hard a bit too quickly. Merlin was just cursing everyone he had ever met when he was reminded that, it actually could get much worse.
Thunder clasped in the air and his horse froze, clearly frightened. No more than two seconds later, a downpour of rain fell over Merlin's head. He growled.
"Oh this is great!" he complained. "Yes, Arthur, let's go hunting, it's a beautiful day!"
More thunder clasped around them, as big blots of lightening filled the sky, Merlin's horse began to shake underneath him. This was just perfect.
"We need to find shelter," Arthur said. "There is a town over there…let's go."
Arthur started off ahead, his horse was actually moving. While Merlin's stood still, even with the hard kicks Merlin was giving her in the sides. She just stood there. He watched as Arthur trotted away and started to panic slightly.
"Uh, Arthur!" he called. "My horse is frozen!"
"What?" Arthur asked, turning back. "What are you talking about?"
"Look," Merlin demonstrated, giving a kick to her side, only for the horse to make a snorting noise. Arthur chuckled then, shaking his head as he turned his own horse around and came back. He grabbed hold of the reins and gave her a tug. They rode side by side from then on. The encouragement of the other not-frightened horse and Arthur's tugs, worked wonders for Merlin's poor, old mule.
By the time they reached the small, barely there town, that consisted of two…count them, two buildings, Merlin was grateful for one thing, the rain washing away all the dried on mud. However, he was ungrateful for how cold he was, and how wet to the bone he was. He was surely going to get a cold after this. The inn, (one of the two buildings,) had a rather long overhang and they managed to get their horses out of the worse part of the rain, before they headed inside.
Inside it was dark, only a few candles were lit, probably to the hide the ugliness of the occupants, the four of them that there were. Merlin waved, slowly, at one of the largest, who was eyeing him something fierce. Merlin gave a weak smile and inched behind Arthur, for safety, who was stupid enough to hit the King of Camelot? Actually, quite a few people were, now that Merlin thought about it.
Arthur walked toward the counter and Merlin was on his tail, not wanting to be alone with the four other burly men. Arthur turned back once and rolled his eyes at Merlin, before smiling to the woman behind the counter.
"Two of your finest, please," he told her and she smiled, sweetly, walking away to get the drinks. Merlin wasn't big on drinking, but at least it would warm him up a bit. The woman returned and placed two goblets in front of them, still smiling her very sweet at him. Merlin decided then, that she was much too lovely to be working in a place like this.
"It's really coming down out there," she examined, glancing toward the door. "Doesn't look like it's going to be stopping much, either."
"From what I know of weather like this, it's not likely," Arthur agreed, taking a drink from his goblet, before letting out an annoyed sigh.
"Look at you two, all sodding wet," she tutted. "Would you lads like a few rooms for the night?"
"I think so," Arthur nodded. "It would be unwise to venture back out there tonight."
"I'll get the keys," she said, smiling again as she walked away. Merlin was rather annoyed about this, however, he would much rather be going back to Camelot, he let out a frustrated sigh then. The woman soon returned, and placed a key in front of Merlin, he never normally had rooms to himself, he normally just slept on the floor of Arthur's, so this was a bit surprising. "You're cute."
"I am?" he asked then, taking himself out of his annoyed musing, quite quickly.
"Mhm," she smirked. "It makes me wonder what you look like all dried up and put together."
"Not much better, I can assure you," Arthur cut in then, snatching the key up from in front of Merlin. "One room will be more than enough," he continued. "And is there a place to keep our horses?"
The woman looked a bit put off then, but nodded.
"Right behind here there is a small barn."
"Thank you," Arthur told her, before turning to Merlin. "Go, get to it."
Merlin growled, cursing Arthur in his head, as he headed toward the door, passing all the burly men and went outside.
By the time Merlin finished getting the horses settled and fed in the barn, and was back inside the inn, he was sure he would never dry, ever. Arthur was no longer sitting by the counter and the woman behind it waved at him, sending a wink his way as he walked through, toward the stairs. He grinned as he climbed them, finally, someone who didn't think he was gay.
He had managed to get a look at the key Arthur had taken out from under his nose, beforehand and knew where to go. Room seven. When he reached it, he just walked right in, as he normally did anywhere else and was not surprised at all to see Arthur out of his shirt. Merlin wished to get out of his own wet clothes, but getting naked in front of the king was sort of out of the question. Though, Merlin could not see why, since Arthur liked to get naked in front of him all the time.
Arthur dropped his pants soon after that, tucking himself into one of the small beds in the room, there were two beds, so at least Merlin wouldn't have to sleep on the floor again. It wasn't dark outside yet, even with the dark clouds that were causing all the rain. And, it wasn't quite late enough to go to sleep, but there was nothing else to do. Merlin just stood there, however. He needed to find something for dinner and start a fire in the small fireplace, so their clothes would dry overnight, but he felt as frozen as his horse did earlier. He felt his teeth chattering inside his mouth.
"Are you cold, Merlin?" Arthur asked then, and Merlin found that a rather stupid question to ask.
"Yes," he answered anyway.
"Your lips are blue."
"Thank you for letting me know, Sire…" he rolled his eyes and forced his unwilling bones to move toward the fireplace. He kneled down and cursed everyone he ever knew again, wishing for just a second, that he was the king and Arthur was the damned servant. That would be a nice change.
"All this rain will make a good summer harvest," Arthur mused from behind him and he nodded, sighing. He quietly muttered a spell to make the fire start and hoped Arthur didn't hear. " If only it didn't make everything so…wet."
He hadn't noticed, Merlin smiled as he stood back up and basked in the already crackling fire. He turned around to find Arthur's eyes on him and he flushed slightly, his clothes made strange slushy noises, as they rubbed against him.
"You had better get out of those clothes, Merlin, before they stick to you permanently," Arthur told him, falling back onto his elbows in the bed. Merlin felt rather uncomfortable about this suddenly. He had never really taken his clothes off in front of the king before and wasn't really very keen on doing it now.
Merlin felt like he was on show, like in some of those taverns Gwaine had told him about, as he took off his shirt, Arthur's eyes still on him. He didn't like it, but didn't quite know how to tell the king not to look at him while he undressed. Though, he thought it was common knowledge that you didn't stare at someone when they took their clothes off.
He placed their clothes and boots by the fire and ran for the bed as if his life depended on it, mostly because he was uncomfortable and only slightly because he was still freezing. The blankets, although thin, warmed him quickly, enough, he was sure, to turn his lips back to their normal color. But that didn't help the fact that it was still too early to sleep and he was getting rather hungry.
"All the food I packed is all cold and wet now," Merlin complained, scowling. He looked over at Arthur to see him looking much the same.
"It's your fault," Arthur explained, "If you had hurried up, we could have left earlier and perhaps gotten here before the rain."
"No, I don't think so," Merlin disagreed, shaking his head. "I think it was you, taking too long trying to shoot that rabbit."
"If I had shot that rabbit perhaps we would have had something to eat," Arthur retorted, sounding annoyed. "Or perhaps if you weren't such a big girl and fallen in the mud…"
"You pushed me!"
"And you deserved it!"
The night was prolonged and restless, filled with hungry complaining and blaming, (which was mostly done by Arthur,) by morning Merlin could hardly wait to get up, and go find something to eat. He was up before Arthur, who snored in the small bed. He dressed quickly; their clothes mostly dry, thanks to the magic fire he had made last night. He headed out and down the stairs then, prepared to do just about anything for something to eat. The same woman stood behind the counter, this time, all alone, all the burly men gone.
"Good morning," she smiled, as he walked over. "Sleep well?"
He shrugged as he sat at one of the stools. "Kind of hard to do, when your friend snores like a bore." She giggled at this and Merlin smiled. "I'm a bit hungry too; all of our food was ruined in the rain."
"I figured as much," she said then and reached under the counter, pulling out a plate of huge breads. "I made these for you two, to take with you."
"What was very kind of you," Merlin told her, he couldn't help himself, he took a piece of bread and took a bite, it was still warm.
"You are quite cute, I wouldn't want you to go hungry and loose some if that cute to starvation," she said then, shamelessly flirting and Merlin didn't mind at all. "Do you think I'll be seeing you pass though again anytime soon?"
"Not likely," someone else answered for Merlin, and that would be Arthur, who Merlin could hear stomping over. Instead of taking a piece of bread off the plate, he took the one Merlin had tried and shoved it into his mouth, greedily. "Let's go, I still want to get a bit of hunting in before we return."
Merlin huffed, standing up. The woman still smiled, but the it had changed from flirtatious, to confused. He suddenly wanted to hit Arthur; the big dollophad had to ruin everything.
"It was nice meeting you anyway…" the woman trailed off, searching for his name, he smiled at her kindly, trying to answer her, but...
"Merlin, his name is Merlin," Arthur was quick to answer again, taking more of the bread off the plate, before shoving Merlin along, toward the door. "And he's gay."
"Oh…" was all the woman said, as Merlin very much tried to turn around and whack Arthur over the head. It would be worth the week he would spend in the cells. But alas, Arthur was too strong and pushing him toward the door too hard for him to do much more fighting. Outside, however, once the woman was shut away in the inn. Merlin let Arthur have it.
"Why did you do that?!" he yelled, as they walked around the building, toward the barn, to get their horses. "Why did you tell her?!"
"Why were you allowing her to throw herself at you when she has no chance?" Arthur asked, raising his eyebrows. "I think you just like the attention."
"I don't!" Merlin retorted, pulling open the door, to find their horses huddled together. He walked to his and brushed her mane, still very annoyed with Arthur. He hadn't been overly interested in the woman, she was pretty of course, but it was more the point of it all. "You can't tell every girl who flirts with me that I'm gay!"
"Why not?" Arthur asked, as he mounted his horse, with a smirk. "Is it not the truth?"
Merlin didn't answer, he didn't have time to, as Arthur kicked his horse into motion and they trotted out of the barn. No, it's not the truth, Merlin wanted to say so very badly, as he soon did the same with his horse, following Arthur back into the woods.
After awhile Merlin let his annoyance with Arthur fade away, as they rode through trees and brush. It was after what felt like hours, but was probably only an hour or two; that they finally stopped, in a small clearing. Merlin watched as Arthur jumped off his horse and looked around, grabbing for his crossbow.
"There was a deer just over there, did you see it?" he asked, on high alert, eyes traveling through the thick trees to Merlin's left.
"No," Merlin answered, honestly, he never looked for animals. A sorceress, and people trying to kill Arthur, he looked for those, not a defenseless woodland creature. There was a ruffle in the bushes and Arthur made a 'AHA' noise and chased after it. Merlin rolled his eyes and stayed in the clearing, but got off his horse, finding that his legs were rather numb. He bent over and rubbed them, rolling his eyes yet again, he just really wished they would go back to Camelot. They were meant to be back yesterday evening, which meant people were probably already worrying where they were. Agravaine might have even sent out a search party.
There was another ruffle of brush and Merlin just kept on rubbing his legs, figuring it was Arthur; he didn't bother to look up. He only acknowledged the sound when he heard soft pitter-pattering on the ground before him.
"Not find your precious deer, ah prat?" he asked, but got no reply. Arthur always indulged in there banter game, and when he didn't this concerned Merlin, it always meant something was wrong, he stood up then. "Arthur?" But who stood before him was not Arthur, or even a human. "Oh shit..."
The white, baby dragon, small and very carious, almost like a puppy, recognized Merlin and jumped, wings fluttering quickly to support the weight. Small coos escaped her dragon lips as she danced around Merlin, in some sort of strange way. That, if Merlin were not faced with the horrible fear that Arthur would return any second, would actually be, quite adorable.
"No, sh!" he told her, shaking his hands but this seemed to encourage her more, she let out tiny balls of fire from her mouth to impress him. "No…no go, go home!" he told her, at a loss for what to do. "Where's Kilgharrah?"
At this she made a gasping noise and shot straight up in the air, and then dove back down, landing on the grass in some kind of proud way. That didn't answer Merlin's question at all, however. She seemed to be showing off, showing Merlin that she could fly now, somewhat, and as impressive as that was, he just really wanted her to go, before Arthur came back.
"You need to go, go find Kilgharrah!" he told her, not using his Dragonlord tongue, because he wasn't quite sure how she would take it, and he was quite sure her small wings were not yet strong enough to fly her to wherever she needed to go. And the last option he had was to call for Kilgharrah, which was just simply out of the question with Arthur around. In fact, most of these options were out of the question with Arthur around, Merlin was pretty sure Arthur would notice a small, baby dragon flying around, or the growl of a dragonlords demand. Merlin racked his brain for an idea and just really wished she would stop jumping right in front of him, but just then, he heard Arthur call.
"Go find Kilgharrah!" he told her one last time, as he walked through the bushes Arthur had just went through moments ago. He didn't look back, trying to show her he was in charge and that he meant it. He found Arthur just a few seconds later, leaning on a tree, crossbow hung over his shoulder. "Did you find the deer?"
"No," Arthur sighed, looking over to Merlin. "I heard you talking; I thought you might have gotten yourself into trouble again."
"No," Merlin shook his head, maybe a little too much, trying to play innocent. "I was just talking to the horses."
"You are a very strange man…" Arthur told him, giving him the 'you're not normal' look, which Merlin had gotten from him enough times to know very well. "Well, let's get on with it, I want to get back to-"
"No…" Merlin stepped in front of him, worried Aithusa was still there, she didn't seem to like listening very much. "Let's stay here…"
"Why would we stay here?" Arthur asked, giving him that look again. "You are acting very strange…"
He pushed Merlin out of his way then and walked ahead, Merlin pancked, not sure what else to do. He ran after Arthur, found Arthur right as he was going through the last of the bushes and…
"No, Arthur…wait…" he tackled him, to the ground. Arthur let out a yell of surprise, that might of sounded a bit like Merlin's name and Merlin pinned him, fear for the dragon and for himself thick in his body. He was being a really big idiot right now.
"What the hell are you doing?" Arthur barked, trying to shoulder Merlin in the face but missing, and finally went limb, falling flat onto his back. This was very awkward, very. "Can you possibly explain to me why the hell you just tackled me?"
"I could, but I, uh…"
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you right now?" Arthur asked, and it was a valid question. But Merlin was too busy looking up, checking around; there were the horses, still tethered to that tree, there was grass, dirt, a rock…but no Aithusa, Merlin sighed in relief, but then remembered who he was currently straddling. "MERLIN!"
"I was...I just…I thought I heard bandits."
"So you tackled me?"
"I was trying to protect you," Merlin lied. Arthur nodded, still lying underneath Merlin, and as Merlin once again remembered this fact, it became very awkward again. But just then, more ruffling in the trees was heard and Merlin panicked.
"What was that?" Arthur asked, looking over, to the trees across the way. Merlin knew what it was.
"Maybe it's the bandits," he suggested though, to try and give the dragon a moment to leave, if she was smart enough to.
"It doesn't sound like bandits," Arthur said, thoughtfully.
"Maybe the deer…"
"That doesn't sound like a deer either," Arthur said, getting too suspicious for his own good and pushed Merlin off him, standing up. He pulled out his sword, that had been pressing against Merlin's knee just seconds ago, and proceeded to the trees. Merlin scrambled to his feet and watched in fear, inching closer and closer, biting his lip and wondering how he could per sway Arthur not to kill the baby dragon without looking like he had anything to do with its birth.
"Arthur…" he said, almost in a whisper, as the king pulled back the low hanging branches of the tree's, with the hilt of his sword, to find a white, baby dragon, breathing fire on a rather large bug.
"It's a dragon!" Arthur exclaimed, surprised. Merlin feared the worst, as Aithusa looked up and cooed, jumping forward, Arthur held his sword threateningly, watching her. Aithusa, mistaking Arthur for someone who cares, started doing all the same tricks, (if you want to call them that,) that she had done for Merlin before. For just a second, Merlin wondered how many other people Aithusa had preformed for. But then, it was right back to the fear he felt for her life. It would be much easier to kill a baby dragon, unlike it was for Arthur to kill the Great Dragon, which he had failed at.
"Arthur…" Merlin said then, ready to tell him the truth if he had to, as long as he didn't hurt the dragon. "Please don't kill her, she's just a baby."
Arthur, who had been watching her dance her strange dance, looked up, glaring at Merlin.
"Did you think I was going to?" he asked, raising his eyebrows. "It is not causing anyone any harm, it is just a baby after all."
"You're not going to...?" Merlin asked, grinning suddenly. "I'm sorry…I just thought."
"I know what you thought," Arthur said, walking around him and the dancing Aithusa, to the horses. The dragon then, her audience gone, turned back to Merlin, flying up to his eye level, swirling around him. "It seems to like you…"
"She's just a baby, she doesn't know any better," Merlin explained, smiling at Aithusa, feeling almost giddy with the thought that Arthur wasn't going to hurt her.
"So, tell me Merlin," Arthur said then, walking back over to them, sword put away. Which was a good sign, it meant he didn't feel threatened. "How do you know it's a girl?"
"I, um…I don't," Merlin lied, eyes widening slightly. "It just sort of…looks like a girl."
"I suppose you have a point," Arthur nodded, cracking, what could be a smile over at Aithusa. "What I cannot seem to understand, is how this baby dragon got here."
"I'm not sure either…" Merlin trailed off, and this time, he wasn't lying, he really had no idea. He thought Kilgharrah was looking after her.
"The egg must have survived the tower caving in on it," Arthur said then, placing his hands on his hips. "And someone must have found it and hatched it," he said, glancing at Merlin. "Gaius once told me only a dragonlord could hatch a dragon from its egg."
"Yeah, I've heard that too," Merlin nodded, biting his lip.
"But the last dragonlord is dead, the one we met," Arthur continued on. "Remember, Merlin?"
"Yes, of course I do," Merlin nodded again, remembering his father rather well. It was still a painful memory, he had known his father for such a short time. "But you don't know if he was really the last one, right?"
"It was recorded that he was."
"But dragonlord's could have children…couldn't they?"
"Of course they could," Arthur nodded this time. "Perhaps Balinor had a child."
"He could have…"
"Mhm," Arthur said, glancing around at the sky and the small clearing. "You know, he had lived in Ealdor for a time, with a woman named Hunith, he told me so while you were looking for firewood. I assumed it was your mother."
"My…my mother?" Merlin asked, his heart beating faster, suddenly.
"Unless you know of another Hunith that lived there," Arthur said, with a grin. But Merlin couldn't help the worry he felt, this meant Arthur had known his mother was harboring his father, and that was rather against the law, since his father was an outlaw and all. "What are you looking so worried about, Merlin?"
"I was just…I…" he heaved a breath, unable to go on. Arthur frowned at this.
"Do you honestly think I would harm your mother in anyway? Or arrest her for something that happened over twenty years ago?" Arthur asked, almost offended. "You must think very little of me."
"No, I don't…"
"That would be like me arresting Gaius for harboring a sorcerer," Arthur said then, and Merlin's mouth fell open, heart literally stopping in his chest, at the king's words. Arthur laughed. "You know he has done so before, many times, but I wouldn't do that to you. She is your mother and you love Gaius as a father."
"I…" Merlin tried, but it seemed he was still at a loss for words. "Thank you."
"I am not foolish enough to think that everyone who has magic is evil," Arthur continued then, his eyes steadily on Merlin. "I am sure of it, that there are people out there with magic that are good. The dragonlord, he was a good man, he agreed to help Camelot even after all my father had done to him, he had died…protecting you," Arthur sighed then, in thought. "I cannot look pass that, no matter what he might have done in the past. Perhaps, if he did have a son, then he is a good man too."
"Maybe…" Merlin smiled then, unable to hide the slow, bubbling affection that was welling up inside him. After all this time, thinking Arthur hated sorcerers, to find out this. He grinned something terrible at Arthur, who only laughed and patted Merlin on the shoulder.
"I think we had better get on though," he said then, letting his hand linger on Merlin's shoulder for a bit. "They are probably worrying about us," Merlin nodded, trying to pull himself together. "Will she be alright out here all alone?"
"I think so," Merlin said, looking down at Aithusa, having forgotten for a moment or two that she was there.
"Good," Arthur said, and then did something strange, he leaned into Merlin. "Say goodbye to her," he whispered in his ear, before letting his hand slip off Merlin's shoulder and slapped him on the backside. Merlin yelped, surprised, eyes growing wide at him. Arthur chuckled at this. "What...?"
He walked away then and Merlin stood frozen, a bit confused, Arthur had hit him many times before, but never quite like that. It was strange, but Merlin decided to let it go, maybe he thought he was being funny or something. Merlin leaned down then and Aithusa jumped up, letting his hand bump over her scaly head.
"Go find Kilgharrah," he whispered to her, one last time, before he stood up and turned back toward Arthur, to see him watching, as he petted his horse.
"Come now, Merlin," he said, rather patronizingly. "Before it's dark."
Merlin rolled his eyes then, walking over to the horses, where he untethered them and watched as Arthur mounted his horse. Merlin did the same, giving one last glance to Aithusa, before they galloped out of the clearing and out of sight.
It wasn't long before they returned to Camelot, to a mass of people standing outside the castle walls. All demanding to know where Arthur had been. Merlin noticed Gwen there, and Leon, and the rest of the knights, Gaius giving Merlin a look that meant he was going to have to explain later, but the one person he didn't see there was Agravaine and that sparked a rather big concern in Merlin's mind. Why wasn't his own uncle concerned about Arthur?
(Okay, this will sadly be the last chapter of this story, but as you can see I've added it into a series now and the second part called Substandard Courting will be up in a few days. Thanks for reading and supporting this story so much, I couldn't believe how many people liked this story, honestly.)