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Magical tournament

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Today I found out that I’m pregnant. I am terrified and excited at the same time. It must mean that Uther did what I feared he would do, when he found out that I am barren. I dread the day when he realizes how he will have, how I will have to pay for our child. But did it ever stop him? He never truly cared how I feel. And yet I cannot stop smiling, knowing that I am to be a mother. Even if I will not be able to see how he will be growing up. I just hope he will know that I would do anything for my beautiful boy. That Uther will tell Arthur, how much I love him. 

Arthur entered his chamber with a proud and a cheerful aura all around him. It took him three months since he found the diaries of his mother to prepare everything. To convince his counselors that he is right about magic.

“What are you so happy about?” Asked Merlin, while he picked dirty sock from the floor, with a disgusting look on his face. “If you want me to muck your stables, then you’re late! I just did it!” Arthur rolled his eyes at that. 


“No Mer lin! I know you did it, I could smell horse dung, down the corridor.” The king wrinkled his nose at that. “Seriously Merlin! We have the stable boys to do this type of work. I thought you knew that by now.” Arthur frowned when Merlin looked at him blankly. 


“You want to tell me that I didn't have to … but you always tell me to do it!” Merlin looked confused, but it was slowly changing into anger.


“Merlin I always tell you to muck my stables, when I’m furious at you. Or when I just want to make fun of you.. but I never thought you actually were doing this work by yourself.” Confusion colored Arthur’s features. 


“But.. I .. You Clotpole!” Merlin having only Arthur’s dirty sock in hand decided to throw it at the king’s face. His satisfaction lasted only for a little bit, when it actually landed on Arthurs forehead. “You deserved this!” He took a step back. 


Mer lin! Did you just do what I think you did?” Arthur’s servant put an innocent mask and blinked at him. God it’s so unfair that I want to kiss that face! How is he doing this to me?


“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He took another step back. Unfortunately he is the clumsiest person walking on this earth, and he hit the bed. It caused him to actually fall on it.


Arthur’s eyes widened when he saw Merlin laying on his bad. Long limbs landing in every direction. Tousled, raven black hair made him look otherworldly. His pale complection in contrast with his red bedlinen, created inappropriate thoughts in his head. And this wide blue, doe eyes were blinking so innocently at him. Almost begging him to join. In your dreams Arthur. 


“Merlin, if you know what is good for you you’ll get out of my bed. This instant!” He did not shout, but the seriousness in his voice compelled Merlin to obey without a second thought. 


“I’m sorry.” The blush that appeared on Melin’s face didn't help to control Arthur's thoughts.  


To take his mind from all this inadequate thoughts, Arthur went back to his door. “Tom, please inform the servants to arrange the bath in my chamber’s.” The guard blinked at him and bowed his head.


“My lord.” Tom went down the corridor in search of a servant to inform what their king needed. 


Arthur sighted tiredly, while he closed the door. He didn’t realise how weary he is from all the councils meetings. From constant fighting with elders.


“Arthur?” Merlin took a cautious step in Arthur's direction. “Why didn’t you ask me to prepare a bath for you?”


“Because Merlin you should be informed long ago that as a servant to a prince and now to a king you shouldn’t do everything by yourself. You can inform other servants to bring water to my chambers. And let them do all the hard work.” Arthur frowned. “All the servants know that.”


“You do remember that I was chosen to be your servant, because I saved your life? And you do know that before I came to Camelot I knew nothing of castle life?” Merlin looked at him, like he was an imbecile. “And you decided to tell me this now?! After doing all this chores for five years?!” Merlin, more than furius was upset with Arthur. “You’re right.. I’m an idiot.” He felt moistures gathering in his eyes.


“Merl-” Athur got cut off with the knock to the door. 


“My Lord, your bath.” Merlin turned around and looked through the window. While Arthur complained under his breath.


“Come in.” The line of servants gathered in his chambers to fill the bath, which was taken out from the joined chamber by three servants. I should have realised that Merlin was always alone when he was doing his chores. And what are those looks they give to Merlin? What am I missing? After half an hour they finally were left alone. 


“Merlin.” Arthur straightened up. “I-” He couldn’t finish the sentence, because Merlin interrupted him.


“I know. Arthur I know You take me for an idiot.” Merlin turned around and sadly looked at Arthur. This pained eyes were killing Arthur.


“God Merlin! No! I don’t seriously take you for an idiot.” He rushed before Merlin would say something hurtful. And he would feel even worse. “I know I tell you that often.. but Merlin you’re the person I trust the most.” Arthur looked at him earnestly. Begging him with his eyes to believe him. “You know that, right?” Merlin’s face showed that he didn’t fully believe him though. 


“Sometimes I feel like you’re my friend Arthur. But other times I feel like you see me just as your manservant. Not important” Arthur blinked and looked down on the floor. Ashamed. It hurt him. “I know that you were thought to never show your feelings, because they are your weakness but I.. I don’t know. I just feel underappreciated? I saved your life so many times and I never even heard a thank you from you. I always stood by your side and yet lately you are pushing me away. And it hurts..” Merlin bit his tongue so he wouldn’t spill anything else. He already felt like he said too much. 


“Oh Merlin. I didn’t want you to feel this way. I had so many things on my head lately and I wanted to arrange them first in my head, before I talked with you about it.” He looked apolgetly at Merlin. “Take off your clothes and I’ll tell you some of it while you take a bath. You stink.” Arthur wrinkled his nose at the remainder of this smell. He saw the blush creep Merlin's cheek and this time it reached his overgrown ears. 


“What? But .. Water? It’s your bath? And what?” He’s so cute when he’s embarrassed and confused. Arthur smirked. It was a familiar territory.


“Don’t be a girl Merlin. Take your clothes off, because the water will get cold soon.” He rolled his eyes and went to his desk to gather some documents. The truth was that he wanted to give Merlin some privacy. He felt Merlin’s piercing look and heard his huff. God how I want to turn around and see if under all this baggy clothes he is only skin and bones or maybe he built some muscles over all this years? Is his skin as pale and smooth as in my dreams? When Arthur heard the splash he turned around. What he saw stopped his breath. Arthur's eyes widened and he couldn't stop the pained gasp that escaped him. At the sound Merlin turned his head to look at Arthur.


“Arthur? What happened?” Merlin’s skin was pale but it wasn’t smooth like he thought. His back was marred with scars. Different shapes and sizes. Arthur couldn’t take his gaze from them. Who did this to him? How? Why? He’s harmless! It’s just Merlin! Who would want to harm him? When did this happen? How could I never realise? Was I so absorbed with myself that I didn't realise that my bestfriend, the one I love, got hurt?  “Arthur?” The confused and scared voice brought Arthur back from his thoughts. 


“Merlin?” Pained whisper was ripped from Arthurs insides. “What happened?” Arthur didn’t realise that he was already kneeling behind Merlin and his outstretched hand was shaking. He touched the round scar on Merlin's neck. 


“Arthur.” Merlin gasped at an unexpected feeling from the press on his neck. At the sound Arthur drew his hand from the scar.


“Does it hurt?” Worry laced his voice. 


“It doesn’t hurt. I just didn’t expect it. I forgot it’s even there.” He laughed at that. though it was a little strained. Merlin took a soap that laid on a stool next to the bath and started cleaning himself in a hurry. He didn’t know how to explain all of his scars and he was tired of lying. He didn’t expect for Arthur to take the soap from his hands and he gasped again when he felt Arthur washing his head. 


“Merlin, will you ever tell me how it happened? How all this scars found themselves on your body?” He couldn’t hide the worry and sadness from his voice.


“Arthu-” He cut him off. Arthur took Merlin’s chin between his fingers and turned his head around so they would face each other. He was looking straight in the younger boys eyes, fearing to look down. He dreaded what else can be on his friend's body. 


“I don’t want lies. You may not be ready now but when you will be, will you tell me?” He’s gaze didn’t waver. Though it pained him even more when he saw resolve gather in Merlin's eyes. 


“Arthur, I want to tell you. I really do but not yet. I don’t even know where to start.” He looked down. “So please just let it go.” Arthur let him go and went back to cleaning his head.


“I let it go for now, Merlin. How can I protect you when I don’t know what’s going on?” Merlin sighed.


“It’s nothing to worry about. Just a few scars.”  He tried to turn to look at the blond but the hands at his head made it impossible to do.


“Don’t move.” Arthur rasped. He cleared his throat. “And it’s not nothing Merlin! You are under my protection! Therefore you should never get hurt.” It ended with a whisper. Arthur cleared his throat again and before Merlin could say anything more he pushed his head under water. “Take off the soup from your hair and finish washing. I’ll go for a towel and some clothes for you.” He heard sputtered water and he smiled briefly. 


“Arthur!” Cough. “That was mean!” When he finished, the towel and Arthur’s old clothes were waiting for him. While Artur was looking out the window. 


“So you were supposed to tell me why you were acting so strange this last few months.” Merlin tried to lighten the mood with his easy smile. 


“Right.” The blond sighted. “How about you pour us some wine and I’ll try to explain?” Merlin took the flagon and two cups from the table and sat down next to Artur in front of the fireplace. They took a few sips of the fine wine, before Arthur got the courage to speak.


“I decided to lift the ban on magic.” Merlin almost choked on his wine when he heard what Arthur said. “Are you alright?” He patted younger boys back with concern. Merlin couldn’t find his voice so he nodded. Arthur looked at him with worry. “I know you fear magic and I didn’t now how to tell you that I’m planning on lifting the ban. I promise you that I will protect you no matter what, so you have nothing to fear from magic users.” When he was saying it Arthur was looking straight in Merlin's eyes. He wanted him to know that he’s safe in Camelot even when the ban will be lifted. 

Merlin was wide eyed and couldn’t stop looking at Arthur with wonder. He’s lifting the ban! I’m going to be free! Wait? Arthur thinks I fear magic?!