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Of Consorts and Trolls

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It was Thursday. A relatively normal day in Camelot Merlin thought as he followed behind Gaius, laden with pots. His clothes were made of finer clothes than the people they passed, by the order of Prince Arthur for his consort. It was a fine purple tunic, with his rougher red neckerchief that he insisted on keeping. His boots had also remained the same, at least when he worked with Gaius.

Uther had frowned throughout the entire ceremony naming him consort, as if he was physically restraining himself from hauling Merlin off to the dungeons.  Uther said nothing about Merlin magic, rather to pretend to be blissfully ignorant to such a powerful warlock associated to his son.  Merlin was sure he imagined Arthur suddenly waking up and wanting to take a Princess as his bride, as he tried to ensure almost a year and a half ago. He probably also tried to ignore the calls for magic to be legal again; which had been steadily building since his arrest and Arthur’s time under an enchantment.

But Thursday’s now were always the same, laden with pots as he tried to catch up to Gaius.

 “Keep up, Merlin. We've got a busy day ahead” Gaius called

“It’s a busy day every day. First this then attending court, and Uther looks on down on me every time I even set foot in the throne room”

“For a minor royal you do keep on moaning. At least life’s interesting” Gaius commented

“Gaius, we're collecting pots. We do the same thing each and every Thursday at exactly the same time and nothing interesting ever happens”

“At least you will have to relieve Arthur from his council meeting soon”

Merlin grinned at the thought, until he felt someone grab his arm.

He looked up to see a strange man, next to him a woman with a hood over her face.

“Please. We seek Uther Pendragon. Where can he be found?” the man enquired.

Merlin stuttered for a moment until the man pressed a seal into his hands. His court etiquette lessons came in handy for a moment, noted it as the seal of Tregor, which Arthur had drilled into him in the months after he became Consort.

“We have urgent business with the King”

Gaius looked confused for a moment.

“I’m sorry, any business you have with the King will have to be pursued through the usual channels” Gaius replied, before Merlin passed the seal for him to look at.

“It’s the seal of Tregor” Merlin whispered to Gaius “I thought they were all wiped out”

“Where did you get this?” Gaius enquired to the man.

“It does not belong to me”, the man gestured to the woman beside him. She pulled off her hood, revealing a beautiful woman.

“My lady” Gaius said.

Merlin frowned before he noticed Gaius bowing, while he stood tall and observed the woman.

“Don’t you bow to your Lady?” the women asked sweetly. Merlin realised he must look rather rude to not to bow to her, but being Consort had it’s perks now and again.

“We will escort you to the citadel” Gaius interjected

***

Glancing at Arthur as people gathered to greet Lady Catrina of Tregor. He stood at Arthur’s side as Uther was seemingly instantly besotted with Catrina as she explained her situation.

When she swooned in Uther’s arms, Merlin resisted the urge to roll his eyes.

“How did she survive?” Merlin whispered to Arthur, as Catrina asked for a bed for the night in the citadel “no one was known to survive the attack”

“Consider yourself our esteemed guests. It’s the least we can do” Uther announced.

“Thank you” Catrina said gratefully, still gazing at Uther like he was her saviour.

Merlin resisted the urge to roll his eyes again.

***

“She was very lucky to have survived” Merlin said as he, Gaius and Arthur walked down the corridor.

“Truly lucky” Arthur replied

“Something bothers me about her appearance” Gaius commented

“You think she’s suspicious?” Arthur asked “my father was always overly fond of Catrina”

“Something I didn’t need to know” Merlin muttered

“Excuse me?” it was Catrina “we are trying to find our rooms. Could we possibly borrow your servant for a moment my lord?”

Arthur frowned.

“I’m sorry but this is my consort, Lord Merlin” Arthur reintroduced him to Catrina, not without a hint of smugness in his voice.

“Lord Merlin?” she frowned, like a sour taste had entered her mouth.

“I am also training to be a physician. Not one to remain idle” Merlin admitted.

“We can find someone to direct you to your rooms, my lady” Arthur smoothly directed Catrina to an appropriate servant.

“You are never going to tire of that, are you?” Merlin asked Arthur as they entered their chambers.

“Of what?” Arthur tried to look confused.

“Introducing me as your consort” Merlin explained “you sound so smug”

Arthur turned around and looked at Merlin scandalised.

“I do not!”

Merlin grinned.

“You do!” Merlin teased “you’re like some peacock strutting about”

Arthur then grabbed him from behind, pulling him towards his chest.

“And why can’t I be smug?” Arthur spoke into Merlin’s neck, leaving occasional kisses as he spoke “I have the most beautiful consort in all the five kingdoms”

“And I am engaged to the most prattish Prince in all of them”

This earned him a sharp poke in the ribs. He tried to jerk out of Arthur’s grip, but to avail.  

“Might I also remind my darling consort we are to dine with Lady Catrina and my father tonight?”

Merlin groaned. Nothing was worse that eating dinner with Uther. Other than maybe adverting the disaster of the week and even then, that was an easier job.

“Thank god Morgana is there to ease the awkwardness, your father seemed rather smitten with the Lady Catrina. Which was really uncomfortable to watch, now I think about it”

“I’m sure it will blow over soon enough” Arthur said “now, I would like to relax before this hellish dinner”

“What do you have in mind, your highness?” Merlin asked innocently

“I think you might have an idea”

***

“This whole place just stinks of cleanliness!” Catrina muttered as the servant left their chambers “but soon we will have complete control over this kingdom!”

“We will find somewhere more suitable soon mistress” Jonas replied, as they surveyed the rooms they were given.

“The boy, Merlin, he won’t be a problem to get rid of, will he?” Catrina surmised as she surveyed the fresh fruit in front of her

“No problem at all, mistress” Jonas agreed gleefully

Catrina breathed on the fruit, quickly turning it positively rotten.