A/N: Just a quickie; I'll be back to my other stuff right away :)

"This plan requires someone with speed and bravery. Are there any volunteers?"

As a few hands raised, a faint snort was heard in the background.

"Do you have something to add, Merlin?"

"Oh, nothing really, just- Percival? Really? Elyan's not bad, but I could outrun him carrying a full basin of bath water."

"I doubt you could carry a full basin of water at all."

"Oh? How do you think your bath gets filled?" Magic?

Arthur grit his teeth, "It hardly matters as we need a fighter, not someone who hides behind a tree when the wind blows too strongly."

"I'd like to see it."

"What?" The king turned to Elyan, incredulous.

"I'd like to see if Merlin can outrun me," he wore an amused grin that was mirrored on the faces of all others present.

"You- ?" He examined his men in amazement then turned and looked at his servant, now with one eyebrow raised in challenge. "Alright," smugness crept into his expression, "but you'll have to wear full armor- and a cape."

The younger man laughed lightly at his friend's attempt to discourage him. Clearly he's forgotten that I run around with his armor every day.

One race and ten exhausted knights later, Merlin stood victorious before a stupefied Arthur.

"He's barely even breathing hard!" Gwaine gasped, looking at the servant as if this were some kind of betrayal.

Merlin laughed again, thoroughly enjoying the looks of shock and admiration coming from the knights.

He crossed his arms and looked to the monarch. "Well?"

The sovereign's jaw snapped closed with an audible 'click' and he threw his arms up in exasperated surrender. "Fine! You'll do it then!" Must come from running away all the time- and being late.

"I'll need a weapon."

"Whatever for? To impale yourself with?"

Blue eyes rolled, "What kind of knight doesn't carry a weapon, Sire?"

"You are not a knight."

"But we want them to think I am."

"Then you'll just have to run far enough ahead that they can't tell you're unarmed."


"I'm not giving you a weapon, Merlin."

A put-upon sigh escaped his lips, "Fine." Not like I'll actually be unarmed anyway...

It wasn't until Arthur was staring down into the gorge at Merlin, completely boxed in by a host of hostile soldiers, that he recognized the flaw in his plan. The idiot was completely unprotected, and a few arrows may not be enough to keep him safe until the knights got down there. Once he realized this, however, he didn't hesitate to get to his friend's side as quickly as possible, managing to take out two of the enemy with his flying leap.

"Took you long enough," Merlin jibed, holding off an attacker with the ax that had come entirely too close to hitting him.

"Shut up, Merlin," the king pushed the protesting man behind a boulder, the vale's only cover, and took up a protective stance as his knights came at Caerleon's men from all sides.

This was too nerve-wracking; never again would he tease Merlin about hiding during confrontations. At least that way he could be reasonably certain the man wasn't being murdered while his eyes were elsewhere.

Grumbling behind him let the king know exactly how his servant felt about being crammed into the small space, unable to see anything other than "a prat's fat backside", and he amended that statement.

I'll never really mean it when I tease him.