Forget living constantly with the fear of a one way trip to the executioners block, or raving mad sorceresses hell bent on killing everyone, or even any number of magical beasts... this was seriously the most nervous and afraid he had ever felt. He really didn't see why an announcement needed to be made, okay Uther was the king but shouldn't that mean that he could be with whomever he pleased? Was it really necessary for the whole court, and by extension the whole, of Camelot to be informed of who the king was sleeping with?
Oh god, he was going to be sick, maybe if he was sick he could get out of having to be here. It might also give him the chance to talk to Gaius, he still couldn't believe he hadn't told his guardian sooner and now it was too late for the court was assembling he could see Gaius standing close to the front, shooting him concerned glances. He felt unbelievably guilty for having caused the old man such worry, though it should be obvious that he wasn't about to be dragged off for execution.
Rough fingers closed around his wrist causing him to jump, he looked up to be met with Uther's gentle gaze resting on him, his steel grey eyes soft and reassuring. Merlin swallowed and attempted a smile that was more of a pained grimace, and heard an over-dramatic gagging sound from somewhere close by.
He didn't need to turn his head to know who it was, it was easier just to say that breakfast with the king and prince had been the most uncomfortable meal he had ever sat through and he had been beyond relieved when it was over. Arthur hadn't exactly been thrilled with finding out that his father and his manservant were to become an official couple (or something like it would be known they were in a period of courtship) but he had in his own way given somewhat of his blessing, though Merlin was sure that he would face a great deal of teasing or some-such from the prince whenever Uther was not around.
His main worry though was not Arthur or Gaius but Morgana, who knew what she would do with this revelation she was already out for blood and there was no doubt that as soon as this court closed she would find a way to get out of Camelot to meet Morgause and start planning their next take-over/murder attempt. Well whatever it would be, he would find out and he would stop them, he wasn't about to let either sorceress hurt any of the people he cared about.
Morgana was the last to arrive, Gwen following silently behind like a good servant should, she seemed to falter a moment at seeing him stood on the dais with the royals and Merlin could see the brief flash of fear in her eyes before it was replaced by her customary smirk. He took a deep breath and wondered once again what she would be planning next, it was a safe bet that she would not be pleased with this announcement.
He kept his head down while Uther dealt with the formalities that the court pomp seemed to require, not daring to look up and see the looks of judgment and disgust though he couldn't help glancing at Gaius from under his lashes in the hopes of determining just how badly his guardian reacted to the news, after all Gaius was the only one who knew Merlin wholly and was also friends with the king. He was pretty sure by the height of the eyebrow that he was going to be in for the lecture of his life.
Before he knew it the court was breaking up, nobles leaving in whispering groups or pairs, he looked around, he could see Morgana and Gwen whispering together and occasionally shooting glances in his direction. Gaius was hovering nearby, wringing his hands together the only sign of his discomfort.
Merlin turned to Uther and leaned in close to whisper in his ear, "I think I'd best have a word with Gaius, I should have done it sooner but..." He trailed off with a small shrug and Uther turned his attention to one of the only men he called friend.
"Maybe I ought to come with you, we can invite him to dine with us. I feel like I should apologize to him though I'm not sure what for, or well where one would even begin."
Merlin bit his lip, thinking, he knew he needed to talk to Gaius alone so that the old man could rant about magic and destiny and responsibility and who knew what else, but he could hardly refuse Uther especially if the king was feeling guilty too.
"Um, that sounds good, great um but I still think I'd best erm... have a quiet word you know, make sure he's alright. Then we will both join you for the midday meal, yeah?"
"Hmm, yes okay, of you go then." Uther leaned in and brushed a chaste kiss to his lips, causing a genuine smile to spread across his face. He knew all the ways and reasons as to why this relationship was pretty much doomed to failure but he couldn't help the way his magic tingled like a pleased flush spread through his whole being and nor could he help his bodies physical reactions to Uther. The way his heart beat harder, faster, or his palms from sweating, the way a smile would invariably tug at his mouth whenever Uther looked at him with such softness in his eyes. No he couldn't control the way he felt he could only hope that his secret would remain just that.
He made his way over to Gaius, who after giving him a brief flash of the eyebrow led the way silently from the hall. The whole way back to their chambers was filled with an uncomfortable silence and Merlin could tell it was costing Gaius a lot not to just turn on him before they even made it back to their rooms.
Barely had the door shut behind them than Gaius rounded on him.
"What on earth are you thinking Merlin? You can not possibly be involved with the king! What if he finds out about your magic, what about Arthur and your destiny? Hmm I really don't understand you. The king Merlin, of all people you decide to become involved with you chose the bloody king!"
Merlin slumped down at the table and just let Gaius rant at him, it was much easier to let the old man rant it out rather than interrupting his flow. Though it seemed Gaius was done, for now anyway, as the old man settled across from him a pained look crossing his aged features.
"I'm sorry Gaius, but I cannot help how I feel." They sat in silence for a long while, each lost to their own thoughts. He knew Gaius was worried for him and he was touched, he loved Gaius deeply but he was no longer a foolish young boy, well okay maybe he was still a little foolish but still the fact remained that he was not a child and did not need to be treated like one. He already knew the dangers and yes he supposed closer proximity to Uther heightened the risk of being found out but he didn't really care, he was already prepared to die for one Pendragon, why not the other aswell. Even if he could change the way things were right now he wouldn't, he was happy with Uther, they made each other happy and hopefully one day others would come to see that.
"So... what are we going to do? Maybe if I had a word with the king he might change his mind about courting you."
"What! No! Gaius I don't expect you to understand but I chose this and I will do all in my power to make this work, can't you just trust that I'm aware of the risks and I'm willing to face them."
"Merlin, my boy, it isn't just about the magic, your going to face some serious animosity from the whole court, and not just the nobles, Merlin, but the servants aswell, you and Uther are so far apart in class and people will be unhappy at this perceived breach of status."
Gaius patted his arm with a sympathetic hand, while Merlin pondered what he had said. Was it true, did he not only have to worry about the nobles but the servants aswell? He hadn't really thought that it mattered too much what other people would think because he knew that no-one would argue with the kings wishes, but if the servants were likely to be equally unhappy about this then they probably could make life difficult. He groaned internally and then perked up once he remembered Uther's invitation.
"Uther's invited you to join us for the midday meal. I think he feels guilty, though I'm not sure why."
"Is that so, well, we'd best not keep the king waiting then." Gaius got to his feet and shuffled to the door and Merlin followed behind.
Lunch had gone surprisingly well even though he knew that Gaius had for the most part been putting on a front, Merlin knew that he still did not approve and probably never would but it seemed that for Merlin and the king he was willing to put his doubts and fears aside for which Merlin was grateful. Gaius had probably realised that no amount of yelling or lecturing would change Merlin's mind.
He was currently ambling down a corridor on the east wing lost in his thoughts, when a hand shot out of an alcove grasping his arm, nails biting into his skin, and yanked him to them. He already knew who it was, it seemed that pulling him into alcoves was Morgana's favourite past-time.
"What are you up to?" Morgana asked him and Merlin let a satisfied smirk cross his face, it seemed she was still nervous that he might tell Uther about her magic (or her treachery) "Oh, don't look so pleased with yourself Merlin, you forget I can always let slip how you poisoned me."
"You could but you couldn't do that without implicating yourself. I'm not planning on saying anything but if you continue in your quest to take Camelot I will stop you."
"Oh please Merlin, I've heard your pathetic threats before. You can't stop me." With that Morgana pushed off from the wall she had been leaning against and with a last smirk over her shoulder disappeared down the corridor. He watched after her until she was gone from sight and then wrestled with the indecision on whether or not he ought to follow her. He decided against it for now, knowing she would probably wait until the cover of darkness if she was to try anything.
He breathed out slumping against the wall slightly, why was his life so complicated again? After a few minutes he continued on his way to Arthur's chambers. He didn't have any chores to do or anything but he was rather bored, Uther was in a council meeting and Gaius was out on his rounds so he hoped Arthur wouldn't mind some friendly company.
For once he raised his fist to knock on Arthur's door, he wasn't sure why but he somehow felt as though he had lost the right to just barge in unannounced, but stopped when he heard Morgana's voice from inside. He glanced around, making sure there was no-one around he cast a simple spell that enhance his hearing, so that the voices from within sounded as close as if he were stood next to them.
"Come on, you must agree it's a bit of a shock, and so sudden. It just seems suspicious to me..." Morgana's voice, it didn't take an idiot to guess what she was talking about, though he didn't know what she was insinuating or what she hoped to gain.
"I was more than a little shocked when I first found out, yes, but I don't think it's as sudden as everyone seems to think. Actually I think they've been hiding it for a while."
"Well then it's even more surprising that Uther's now announced it, he knows no-one would care if he took a servant to bed- but to court one, you must admit it's completely out of character. Uther loves the whole class system and the belief that commoners are worth less so why would he announce that he's courting a peasant, and a bastard to boot? It just- it doesn't make any sense, and... I'm worried."
There was a moment of silence, it seemed Arthur was thinking over what she had said and Merlin had to hand it to her this little act was well done with the gentle hesitation as though she didn't want to believe whatever she was thinking herself mixed with the passion as she spoke of Uther's personality, but well she didn't know Uther like he did and she also didn't know Arthur all that well either, especially if she couldn't detect the hint of warning in his voice when next he spoke.
"What exactly are you trying to say, Morgana?"
"...What if he's enchanted?"
"Really Morgana and who would have cast this 'enchantment'?"
"Well, I don't know but- maybe- maybe it was... Merlin?"
He heard the bark of laughter and knew Arthur would have thrown his head back with the force of his humour, Merlin might be insulted a little if it didn't cause a small smile to tug at his lips, he shook his head in fond exasperation and, letting the magic go, quickly knocked before their conversation could resume.
He pushed open the door and entered, he could see Morgana's face instantly drop into a scowl on seeing who it was before schooling her features back into a blank mask. They were both seated close together at Arthur's table, a jug of wine and a couple of goblets set out before them.
"Ah, Merlin, join us." Arthur waited until Merlin sat down (as far from Morgana as he could without looking suspicious), "We were just talking about you."
"Hmm," Arthur seemed far too gleeful about this conversation and didn't even notice the glares the other two kept shooting each other, "Morgana here was worried that you may have enchanted my father." And then Arthur was laughing again.
"Really? Well Morgana what can I say, you found out my secret." The laughing coming from Arthur stopped and both were looking at him now with twin expressions of confusion, wow how had nobody noticed their family resemblance? "I did enchant Uther... with my natural charms of course."
Arthur started laughing again and Morgana threw him a disgusted look and slowly got to her feet, "Well if you two children will excuse me I have better things to do." With that she made her way out the room and Arthur still laughing barely managed to call out a sarcastic plea for her not to go, which caused Merlin to giggle.
It was actually a little scary how Arthur grew so suddenly serious and Merlin wished they could go back to the laughter, he had never particularly liked a serious Arthur because you could never be sure how he would act.
"I hope you and my father know what you've gotten yourselves into?"
Merlin rolled his eyes, "Yes Arthur, despite popular opinion I am not actually a child and nor is your father, we're well aware of the situation."
"Right, so... you do know that you can no longer serve as my manservant?"
"Merlin, were you listening to a word my father said in court this morning? He's courting you, the king is courting you. He's hardly going to allow you to continue living in servitude, it was all in the announcement this morning. Honestly Merlin, I can't believe you weren't paying attention."
"Um, okay I admit I wasn't paying attention, so could you please tell me what you're going on about?"
Arthur huffed out a breath and took a deep pull of his wine, licking his lips before he continued, "Ahem, well, your a freeman of Camelot and as the king not only wants to court you but well, he also wishes to reward you for your loyalty, he also droned on a little about you saving my life, going above and beyond your duty, um basically he is gifting you with land and a title so that no-one can cause a fuss about propriety and status and..."
Arthur trailed off avoiding Merlin's gaze. Merlin however was trying to wrap his head around what he had just been told, why hadn't Uther mentioned anything, oh god, had he already accepted this proposal without even realising? What was he meant to do with land? And titles, oh god it was like a bad dream, perhaps it was, maybe he would wake up warm and safe in Uther's bed were no-one knew but the two of them. Morgana had a point, this would look suspicious, the last time Uther had done anything so out of character he had wound up married to a troll, people would not take lightly to this and Merlin suddenly feared that this was going to be more difficult than he had first thought.
"I have to go." Merlin stated, pushing his chair back, he had to talk to Uther, try and make him see what this would look like to the people. There had to be a way of making this better, Merlin had little use (or want) for lands and titles, he didn't want to have to stop working for Arthur, how else will he stay close enough to protect the prince? He left Arthur's chambers ignoring Arthur's call of 'Merlin' and just let his legs carry him on their own with no input from his whirling mind.
He walked past the guards without even seeing them, and neither tried to stop him, and pushed open the door walking into the room beyond. It was only when he heard Uther calling his name that he looked up and realised he was stood in the council chambers and everyone's eyes were on him. Oh this was not a good idea.
"Oh, um sorry I - I," What? think, Merlin, what?
"It's fine, why don't you join us, the meeting's almost over now." Uther offered gesturing to an empty seat, which Merlin gratefully, though uncomfortably, plopped onto, still wondering why his stupid legs had brought him here and not to Uther's chambers to wait, now he would have to put up with the surreptitious disapproving looks cast his way by the council.
He already knew, from serving at council meetings in the past, that they were as dull as ditch-water, and despite not sitting there for more than a half hour it felt like it was an eternity. He stayed sat where he was until the council had filed out and then went and leaned against the table, arms crossed and his leg pressed up to Uther's. The king reached out and pulled him onto his lap.
"And what has put such a disgruntled look on your face?" The king whispered into his ear, hot breath tickling Merlin's lobe and causing him to shiver. He let his head drop onto Uther's shoulder and brought his arms up to wrap around the kings neck.
"You'vegivenmeland, and titles!" Merlin mumbled into Uther's shoulder, he felt a finger caress his jaw and then tilt his chin up so that they were looking into each others faces. He could see the amused smile and repressed laughter in those grey eyes.
"Perhaps you could repeat that so I might actually understand what it is you said, hmm."
Huffing a breath Merlin repeated his previous words and was surprised when Uther's laugh boomed out, feeling the king's body shaking with mirth beneath him, and tried to keep his unimpressed expression but he could already feel his face cracking into a smile and wasn't long before he himself was chuckling too.
"What else would I do, no, what else could I do? If it is to be known that I am courting you then I had to elevate your position, it wouldn't be right to have still had you serving at feasts and such."
"Ugh, it's not just about that though, people will think that you're under some kind of ..." He cut himself off, he really didn't want to mention spells or enchantments to the king and he certainly did not wish to bring up the whole troll incident- everyone knew that to mention it would result in pain and death, it was a not to be talked about event in the history of Camelot.
He saw Uther's face darken slightly, as if the king too was remembering the humiliation of marrying a troll, and held his breath.
"It does not matter what the people will think, as long as we know the truth. Anyone who has spent any time with you will know as I do that you are not evil, nor are you looking to take the kingdom for yourself. As I said at the meeting this morning, your loyalty goes beyond that of duty and you have done more than enough for the prince and myself to have long since been awarded a title. You have never been as a servant should, and that certainly goes in your favour." Uther nuzzled into the side of his neck, giving little nips along the soft sensitive skin there.
Merlin looked toward the heavy doors and seeing they were shut melted into Uther's ministrations, his heartbeat picking up as heat pooled in his groin and he let out a soft moan, turning his head to capture his lips with his own. The kiss was heated from the start, tongues tangling while fingers scrabbled at clothes. Merlin had finally succeeded in getting Uther's breeches undone and slipped his hand inside giving a few teasing pulls to the half hard cock, coaxing it to rise fully. He then slid off his seat on Uther's lap and dropped to the floor, pulling the breeches down further to fully expose the hard cock.
Leaning forward, he gripped the base in one hand and gave a tentative lick to the head, swirling his tongue around before sucking it down, he pulled back and swirled his tongue around the tip once before licking from root to tip and swallowing it back down. This was something he had never done before and now he was wondering why he had been so nervous, and when his mouth was assaulted with a small amount of fluid Merlin moaned at the taste, he shoved his free hand into his own breeches and started stripping his cock harshly, no rhythm to it, and when he felt Uther's fingers curl into his hair, his hips pushing his cock deeper down Merlin's throat he moaned again. It was messy and uncoordinated but it felt fantastic.
He could feel it when Uther's balls drew up and the cock he was all but choking on seemed to harden impossibly before his mouth was flooded with a tangy fluid and he felt the spams running the whole length of Uther's cock, and as he swallowed the king's spend his own release washed over him causing him to gasp and shudder.
They stayed like that for a short while, each trying to regain their breath, and out of the corner of his eye Merlin noticed a flash of blue silk disappearing back through the servants entrance.