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Merlin opened the door to Arthur's rooms and peeked in. Arthur was nowhere to be seen. He pushed the door open just a bit more and slid through the opening, quickly shutting it behind him. He hurried around to the other side of the bed and kneeled down to look under the bed. He gave a relieved sigh when he saw the ring. He attempted to grab it but it was just out of his reach. He laid down and tried again. This time his fingers closed around the metal ring.

Just as he was about to push himself up he heard the door open. He dropped flat against the floor and quickly wiggled under the bed. He mouthed a curse as he watched Arthur's boots head towards the bed. The prince always had a habit of showing up just as Merlin was doing something that he couldn't explain away and made him look like a total idiot.

It didn't matter that Merlin was constantly saving the prat's life or making sure that he wasn't marrying an evil sorceress that had placed him under a spell. No, he was the idiot manservant who couldn't even polish the prince's armor correctly. Would it kill the man to say thank you just once for everything that Merlin did for him?

He gave a resigned sigh. Yes, it probably would. Arthur said thank you the only way he knew how to that stayed within his station. If Arthur truly believed Merlin to be the utter idiot that he proclaimed him to be, he would have sacked him ages ago. Instead he put up with the late breakfasts, the less than perfectly shined armor, the stumbling around after him, and the backtalk.

He wouldn't give Merlin those smiles when they were alone and he never would have followed Merlin when he left to help protect his mother's village. Arthur risked his life to find the antidote to the poison Merlin had drunk. A prince risking his life for a servant.

Merlin grinned up at the bottom of the mattress. Yes, Arthur could be a total prat but he was going to be the best king this kingdom had and will ever have. And Merlin was going to be part of making sure that happened.

Arthur flopped down on the bed and a puff of dust fell onto Merlin's face. He tried but was unable to stifle the sneeze. He winced as Arthur's boots hit the floor and the prince dropped to his knees, knife in hand.

"Merlin! What the- No. I'm not going to ask." He grasped Merlin's shoulder. "Get out from under there."

Merlin was more dragged out from under the bed than he crawled out. He quickly slipped the ring into his pocket and brushed off the dust from his clothes.

Arthur stepped back and wrinkled his nose. "Look at you! When was the last time you cleaned under my bed?" He leaned over and looked under the bed. "What were you doing under there anyway?"

"I thought I might have dropped something this morning?"

Arthur waited for a moment before sighing. "Did you?"

Merlin shrugged and gave him a grin. "Doesn't appear that I did."

Arthur shut his eyes and sighed. "Merlin, I don't believe I've ever met an idiot like you before." He looked over Merlin. "Get changed. I'm not letting you touch anything of mine until you are clean. Then, make sure you clean this room from top to bottom, my armor needs polishing, and the horses need mucking out."

Merlin gave a quick bob. "Yes, Sire." He hurried out of the room. Once the door was safely closed behind him he pulled the ring out of his pocket. "I'll just take you and nullify you. You won't be sucking the life out of my Prince tonight."

Merlin turned to look at the door behind him. The prince. The future king of Camelot. The royal prat.

End