Disclaimer:: Merlin (c) BBC
Notes:: Rewatched the entire series again, it's that addicting, trust me! I just couldn't stay away; this time; I've decided to try for something a little more humorous this time, thus, the characters might seem a little OOC, but all for a good cause. This is meant to be a short project, about four or five chapters at the most. Please enjoy and comment so I know how I can improve!!
Spoilers:: The Moment of Truth, The Labyrinth of Gredref (Episodes 10-11)
Arthur/Merlin:: Everyone is horribly misguided and thinks that Arthur and Merlin are a couple. Arthur and Merlin, armed with nothing but fierce denial, set out to prove everyone wrong..or die trying.
Chapter I: A Misunderstanding
It was their last day in Ealdor, Kanan had been soundly defeated, and there was no other reason to stay. Arthur was too polite to say anything, but Merlin knew he was eager to get back to the castle to feast on 'real' food instead of wheat mush, and take a 'proper' bath, instead of jumping into a cold stream like the rest of the villagers (although an Arthur looking as nature intended wasn't anything to be ashamed of, in Merlin's very private opinion.)
After he packed up Arthur's horse and belongings, however, Merlin peeked in on his mother, who looked a lot older now, than the last time he'd laid eyes on her, but even between lines and wrinkles, she was peaceful once more, and that was what mattered.
"Mother. I've been wondering. Perhaps I shouldn't ride back with Arthur." Merlin pursed his lips, "Kanan is not the last rogue bandit roaming around here, there's surely going to be more of them. Maybe my place is here, after all. Ealdor is far enough from Camelot, my magic will not have that many consequences. The villagers may shun me, but if it guards their lives, it is a sacrifice I'll gladly make."
Hunith looked at her son, and then smiled a motherly smile, "You're really getting to be too much like your father. He was good at making sacrifices." She stood up and held him in her arms. "Ride back with Arthur with my blessing, the Prince needs you, and you need him."
"Arthur doesn't need me." His destiny might say otherwise, but honestly? Merlin thought that Arthur was quite capable, if not a little rash.
His mother gave him a very stern look at that, "Merlin, I may not be the brightest woman in the world, and I might have not have seen you for some months, but I have to stand by the fact that I'm your mother, and I can't approve of your just leaving the prince after leading him on like that."
"Mother--" Then Merlin blinked, "...What did you just say?"
She smiled at him, coyly as a mother would, who knew things she should not have known, "Merlin, Merlin, you may think you're very subtle, and perhaps to other people and your prince, you are. But I'm your mother. I know you're leading on the prince." Actually, Hunith was quite proud of her son, subtle or not, it seemed like the prince was biting.
Leading on...Arthur? Merlin's head spun, he scarcely knew how to properly lead on a woman, let along the Prince of Camelot. "No, no, Mother! That's not it at all. You misunderstand." His face colored crimson at the very thought, "That's ridiculous, I'm not leading on Arthur. I do not know what signs you are reading, but if you really do know your son, then you'd know your suspicions are rubbish!"
If anything, his mother didn't look bothered at all, actually, she looked too amused for Merlin's liking. "If it is truly rubbish, why are you blushing like a maiden?"
"You bathe him." She pointed out,
Okay, sure, Merlin could see how that could get interpreted the wrong way, especially if the said person doing the interpreting was his own mother. "It's not like I want to bathe him, he is a Prince and I'm his servant and he expects it of me." Though he felt that explanation was digging him into an even bigger hole.
"So he has never asked you outright to bathe him." Hunith's eyebrows went higher and higher, "You just...volunteered."
"No!" Merlin shook his head fiercely, "That's not it! That's not it at all, Mother. You're not listening to me." His cheeks felt hotter than ever, but he was not going to give his mother the satisfaction of saying that he blushed like a maid. "It's just...when he's bathing, I'm not allowed to leave, so I...err, made myself useful. I don't think Arthur knows how to bathe himself properly anyway."
Now she really did look amused, "So you did him a favor. Does the prince know you think that lowly of him?"
Merlin shrugged. He'd grown used to pampering Arthur, he disliked it, but he'd grown used to it.
"You're really bad at making a good argument for yourself, Merlin." Hunith said, "I"m not judging you for wanting the prince, my son, anyone with a sensible head on his shoulders would want him."
"But I don't want Arthur and I'm not leading him on!" The victory had obviously gone to his mother's head. She actually believed that he--
"It's not just me." It was his mother's turn to shrug, "Ask anyone in the village, they'll say that the handsome prince obviously has eyes for you." She stepped forward and gave his arm a warm squeeze. "Give yourself some credit, he likes you too."
"Mother--" Actually, Merlin was suddenly overwhelmed by an urge to vomit, had not Arthur stuck his head in at that very moment.
"Merlin! What are you babbling on about? I could have sworn I heard my name."
Properly chastised, Merlin stared at the dusty ground before looking up at Arthur, whose expression he couldn't quite manage to read. "Nothing, sire."
"Good, do hurry it up, if we leave now, we can ride back to Camelot by sundown." And with that, Arthur's gaze strayed to Merlin's mother and he paused, eyes softening, "Of course, I'm in no hurry to face my father's wrath should you wish to stay here one more night..."
Merlin felt a vein in his forehead pop, Arthur went out of his way not to be kind, usually. He just had to be kind while he and his mother were in the middle of such a delicate conversation. Maybe it was paranoia talking, but Merlin swore he could feel his mother smirking, although he couldn't see her face. Mothers should not be allowed to smirk like that.
"There's no need, sire. I'll be ready to ride in an hour."
"Ah, well then, we will wait for you." With a brief nod to Merlin's mother, Arthur made his exit.
Merlin whirled on his mother, "You are not allowed to say anything." He threatened darkly with a wave of his hand. "Nothing."
Hunith smiled, "You've perfected your come hither eyes while you were gone."
Merlin fled the tent.
Ask any of the villagers, his mother had declared so readily, Arthur 'had eyes' for him, whatever that meant. He found Penny, a girl that he'd used to fancy a while ago before he had left. Although he was much too shy to tell her, she still looked lovely, and decided to test the theory, and Penny was a good candidate as any, "Penny?"
"Merlin!" She looked surprised to see him, but happy. That was a good sign, besides, saving the village might have something to do with it, "I thought you'd already left."
"Yes, well, Arthur permitted me an hour." Merlin scratched the back of his head, and then stopped when he saw that Penny was wearing the same smile that his mother wore. "What?"
"Does he not mind you calling him Arthur?" Penny hid an amused laugh behind her hand, "Perhaps I should have liked you back when you liked me. I had no ideas you had such high aspirations for yourself." Her grin was an open one, "I must say, I'm thoroughly impressed."
Merlin all but gaped at her, "What's that supposed to mean??"
"It means, that you're doing a very good job ensnaring the prince of Camelot." Penny stated with a raise of her brow, "No matter, you shall always be doomed to be an idiot. Run along, Merlin, don't keep dear Arthur waiting."
Merlin could not wait to leave Ealdor. And when the company finally rode away, Merlin made it a point to ride carefully beside Gwen, and Morgana and Arthur rode ahead.
"You look perturbed, Merlin." Gwen commented, "Is everything all right?"
"Yes, mostly." Merlin replied, not wanting to say why because that just put strange, nonsensical ideas into everyone's heads.
"Why mostly?" And then Gwen remembered, "I"m really sorry about Will."
Will. Merlin had been so pre-occupied with his and Arthur's obviously nonexistent romantic involvement, he'd almost forgotten about Will. He opened his mouth, the moment Arthur turned back to call to him.
"Merlin, I want to speak with you. Ride with me."
Morgana drew back, and maybe it was paranoia but he could have sworn the girls exchanged a grin. He kicked his horse to catch up, "Yes, sire?"
"Merlin, you idiot." Were the first words out of Arthur's mouth in an urgent hiss, "I want to know what kind of tales you've been telling the villagers, and I want to know now."
"I haven't told them anything!" Merlin said, and after noticing he wasn't exactly being subtle, he lowered his voice, "They...uh, assumed that we were...um,"
"Spit it out, Merlin." Arthur rolled his eyes, "I really don't have the patience to deal with your foolish theatrics. Your theory can't be any worse than the lies your people scarred me with."
Merlin wasn't trying to be theatric at all, quite the contrary, he was trying to find away to phrase things so that Arthur wouldn't chop his head off on a whim. He cleared his throat, "I don't think it's a big deal." He said finally, staring hard at the path ahead, "I mean, some of the villagers...my mother included, kind of got the wrong idea after they...saw you bathing."
"Oh, so it's my fault that the village stream is in the middle of town for all to see?"
"No, sire." Merlin mumbled.
"Merlin, how many times do I have to tell you? I hate it when you mumble."
"I mean...if you ask me, I get why people grow suspicious." Merlin said, and then he slapped himself the moment he said it, "I mean," He tried again, "Nothing new happens in Ealdor, I guess your presence took everyone by storm."
"Or perhaps you aren't so popular with the ladies, and they can't help themselves." Arthur gave him a pointed look, "Anyway, not a word to anyone back in Camelot. I can't have everyone getting these stupid ideas about you and me that are completely baseless."
"You don't have to tell me twice." Merlin was almost relieved. So much so, that he let the comment about not being popular with the ladies slide.
Chapter I End:: 4/27/09