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Deceptive Dissimulation

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Uther's day had started off innocuously. He'd gotten dressed in his resplendent regalia, in which he rather thought he looked quite dashing. After spending a few minutes striking dramatic poses in the mirror, he took leave of his quarters, taking care to walk in a manner that made his robe billow out regally behind him. As he was striding through the halls, he was abruptly halted when a suit of armour crashed into him. Or rather, he realised, as the armour clattered to the floor, Arthur's manservant had crashed into him while carrying roughly eighty pounds of armour.

Uther watched, making sure to look imposing while—now what was that boy’s name again? It started with an “M”, right? Marlin, maybe?—scrambled around on the floor, trying to clean up his mess but really only succeeding in picking up pieces and dropping them again. After standing there for a minute without Melvin making any progress, Uther began to seriously question the safety of Camelot. At the beginning, he'd thought that perhaps the boy was feigning incompetence to draw attention away from the fact that he obviously had magic, but the more he saw, the more he thought that no one could achieve that level of idiocy without at least some of it being natural. Uther cleared his throat, breaking Martin from his stammering of apologies.

“While I appreciate your attempts to make reparations for your error, it appears that it would perhaps be better if you get out of the way and refrain from making this mess worse until after I have gone.”

Malcolm blanched and, after finally managing to pick up the entirety of his load, scampered off. Sometimes Uther could not, for the life of him, understand why Arthur kept that idiot around. Uther himself, of course, couldn’t fire him—he was the one who appointed the boy in the first place, after all. It would be bad form to change his mind.

He had just begun to start walking forward again when he heard a very loud crash accompanied by what sounded like a few elephants stampeding, and came to the conclusion that the scrawny idiot had fallen down the stairs. Honestly. How could anyone possibly be so clumsy, let alone someone with magic?

Uther, of course, did not acknowledge that last thought openly. It wouldn’t do for anyone to get any ideas.

The only reason he allowed the boy to stay in his position was the fact that Arthur had never seen fit to get rid of him—despite what one may think, Uther did trust his son’s judgement—coupled with the fact that there was nobody in existence less competent than Morgan so if the boy actually wished harm upon Camelot, the worst thing that could happen would be all of the curtains getting spontaneously turned into sheep accidentally.

Broken out of his thoughts when he reached the throne room, he entered, ready to begin the rest of his day. Hopefully it would prove to be uneventful.

.-.. .. -. . -... .-. . .- -.-

There was a special place in hell, Uther decided, for sorcerers who attack the throne room when important things were happening. If this reprobate had waited just one more hour, the meeting about allocating grain storage for the duration of the winter would be over. They’d been at it since noon and it had been almost as dull as last week's discussion on whether to make the kingdom’s national exotic bird a toucan. Toucans weren’t even native to Camelot! Despite that, Lady Eòin’s measure somehow passed after nine hours of deliberation and impassioned debate. Sometimes Uther thought he would never understand politics.

Regarding the current crisis, Uther just knew that Lord Dúr would start his speech all over again which would prompt the Duchess of Gan Brí to angrily launch into her rebuttal, which would, in turn, get Lord Leathcheann started with his rebuttal, and so on and so forth until they had repeated the entire meeting up to its current point.

Still, nothing could be done about it now, so he turned his attention back to the miscreant who had just destroyed his favourite stained-glass window. He was relieved to see that Milton had the situation in hand. He hadn’t really expected otherwise, but the boy displayed new levels of ineptitude every day, so it was entirely possible that he might’ve accidentally tripped and somehow blown up the castle.

Luckily for everyone, no such thing occurred, and the sorcerer (well, the one who was attacking, anyway) was vanquished.

Now that there was no immediate threat, Uther glanced at his son and, to his surprise, saw shock and disbelief warring on his face. Oh, Arthur was probably taken aback at the blatant display of magical prowess in the middle of the throne room. He must've not fully realized exactly how obvious his manservant could be. Well, it would probably take him a few moments to adjust, and this situation wasn’t getting any more resolved by them standing around gawping. Uther was about to begin damage control, but Mason started to speak before he could.

Well, when Uther said 'speak' he actually meant 'try and fail to stammer out an excuse', so he cut the boy off before his incompetence got too painful. The idiot had just finished saying that he could somehow explain what had happened, which was possibly the most ridiculous thing Uther’d heard all day, including his counselor’s advice to use carrier pigeons as the primary transport system of grain throughout Camelot's provinces.

“I’m sure you can, but I don’t want to hear it. The less I know about this, the better.” The boy looked stunned, and Uther once again lamented his idiocy. It was hard to believe that Miles actually thought that there was even a single person who didn’t know about his magic.

Since there was apparently a need to clarify the situation further, Uther continued.

“Wasn’t here; didn’t see it; couldn’t stop you.”

There. That had to be able to get through even the thickest of skulls. Pleased, he turned to leave. As he strode out of the room, he heard Arthur break his stunned silence.

“Merlin,”—ah so that was his name!—his son started, “what the fuck just happened?”

Wait.

Hold on a moment.

Back up.

Did—did Arthur not know? How could he not know? Everyone in Camelot knew, for god’s sake! Even that serf who had come to put in the new window (which had thankfully been repaired) on behalf of the masonry guild probably knew, and Arthur didn’t? Uther never knew that his son, the crown prince of Camelot, the man who would inherit his throne, could be so unobservant.

Maybe he’d been a bit hasty in disowning Morgana.

She had to know about the magic, right?

Right?