"I want him executed!"
"Now, son, I can’t-"
"Arthur, do not speak to me in such a manner."
"Fine then, put him in the stocks, at least!"
"That’s practically the same as execution for such an old man, as you well know."
"So you’re just going to let this slide? If any other man had done this, you would have their head before supper time!"
"Any other man would not be our court physician; he did NOT do this on purpose. And, before you try and say anything, if Gaius were to be removed from his position, there’s a very good likelihood a sorcerer would come to take his place, if our recent history is anything to go by."
"Then let them! Maybe a sorcerer can fix this!" Arthur pointed angrily at his hair.
Uther frowned as he once again took in his son’s light pink hair. It really was horrible. Almost as an afterthought he replied, "Don’t speak of sorcerers that way."
He felt a sense of dread coming on as he realized he was most likely going to have to order the crown prince to attend the ball that night. It was a crucial piece in his negotiations with Malik and it just wouldn’t do to have the prince gone. If the other man got wind that Pendragons hid in their rooms just because of a minor hair mishap, they could lose the upper hand in the peace talks.
He sighed. "Arthur, about the banquet-"
The door swung open and a cheerful looking Merlin stepped through. If it wasn’t such an annoyance to be interrupted by a servant, of all people, the king admitted that he might have been a little amused at the way the boy froze once he realized the two royals were in the room. As it was, he was just ticked off. Did his son’s servant not have a sense of propriety, especially when it came to his master? He was certain a nice stint in the stocks would teach the insolent whelp to knock before barging into a nobleman’s room.
Merlin stood perfectly still, with complete silence in the room, until both father and son gave him the exact same Look at the same time. Then he exploded.
"I’m so sorry, sires! I thought Ar-the prince would be out training now, because that’s what he does every day, you know. Well, except for the times it’s bad weather, or he’s sick, or that time-"
"Get on with it, Merlin." Uther could see the rather exasperated look Arthur gave his man-servant out of the corner of his eye.
"Right. Anyway, I’m sorry I barged in on you two, I thought no one would be in here and I just came to pick up the banquet attire I need to clean."
"Don’t bother, I’m not going." Arthur turned away from the other to glare at his father, as if daring him to say otherwise. Uther was more than willing to take his dare, his own dark look coming to his face.
"Oh, why not?" Both men turned to give the other an incredulous look, though part of Uther’s was due to him being shocked he was still in the room, let alone talking to them. He really should give the boy to one of his son’s knights for a month and then Arthur could have him back once he’d been trained in the ways of proper behavior for one’s station.
"You have to be kidding."
Merlin frowned slightly before pointing to his own hair, "Is it because of the hair?"
"No, Merlin, what could have possibly given you that idea? God! I wonder sometimes if all your time in the stocks hasn’t given you permanent brain damage!"
"I did tell you that they started throwing potatoes, didn’t I?" The brat quipped in return. Uther just managed to see the oh-so-slight upturning of his son’s lips before it vanished into a frown. He was mildly shocked to realize it was a real smile, however small. Not the falsely polite kind all noblemen were trained to give to those of equal or higher rank.
"Well, you’re the prince, can’t you just bend the rules just this once?" As if realizing the king was still in the room, he continued on, "I mean, in regards to the banquet, not other things. And, especially not any of your laws, sire." He gave him a "Please don’t throw me in the stocks. Again." kind of look. Uther didn’t bother to dignify that with a response.
"What in the world are you talking about?"
"Uh, your hair?"
Now both men looked confused and Uther was hard-pressed not to roll his eyes. Honestly, children!
"Yes, I am talking about my hair, which looks hideous and ridiculous and thus I am NOT going to the banquet tonight, so you needn’t wash my outfit. What you’ve managed to get into that small, damaged brain of yours is an entirely different matter."
"Oh! I thought that different-colored hair just wasn’t allowed and that’s why you weren’t going." Merlin shrugged as he finished.
"Why in the world would you think that?"
Really, Uther was curious too, especially since it seemed both young men had completely forgotten he was even there. He supposed he should be angry at being ignored, but he did want to know what the servant was getting at before he threw him in the stocks for his lack of proper protocol in regards to his superiors.
"Well, it doesn’t look that bad to me," Merlin shrugged again before a little smile appeared, "Oh! I know! You could make it part of your dress!" He hurried over to the other’s wardrobe before pulling out a bright red shirt and a set of burgundy breeches. He held them up over Arthur in front of the mirror to show him.
"See, it’s like a color scheme. And, Camelot’s main color is red."
"I wore these last week; you just picked them so that you wouldn’t have to do any washing."
Merlin glanced into the other’s eyes, and replied with a smile, "I don’t know what you’re talking about."
Arthur rolled his eyes but grinned in return and the two stood side-by-side in front of the mirror, Merlin still holding up the outfit, smiling at each other.
Letting his presence be known again, Uther commented softly, "It doesn’t look bad."
The two men sprang apart, finally coming to their senses.
"Don’t you have something you should be doing?" Arthur barked at the other.
"Right, see you later, sire. Sire." He bowed to each as he walked backwards out the door. Uther noted that he’d not taken the clothing he was suppose to be cleaning originally.
His son looked down towards the bed, absentmindedly fiddling with the red shirt lying on it.
"I suppose, father, that you are right. It just wouldn’t do to execute one of the kingdom’s dearest friends over something so small."
"I’m glad you agree."
Uther took his leave after that, the red outfit still in his mind’s eye as he marched down the hall. He really should put the boy in the stocks for his impudence.
Later that night, the king honestly wasn’t surprised to see his son walk through the doors wearing the outfit the servant had picked out, though he was amused to realize his son had dyed Merlin’s hair to match his own.
"I see you finally managed to get him out of his room, how ever did you manage that one? I was certain he’d be in there until he died," Morgana whispered in his ear, a laughing look on her face.
"Oh, it wasn’t that hard," he replied softly. He looked towards the two again. Arthur leaned over to whisper something in his servant’s ears, causing a semi-horrified look to appear on his face and a soft snicker to escape his son.
"It was just a matter of opinion."