If I hadn't been so princely I would have jumped a foot when Merlin came dashing into the dining hall, practically ripping my goblet from my hand. I was about to ask him what the bloody hell he thought he was doing, grabbing my goblet from me, but all I got out was a quick, "Merlin-" before I was cut off. Merlin telling everyone in the hall that it was poisoned. The effect of those words were instant. Lord Bayard came forward, quickly pulling his sword from its sheath as he went. Spouting about he will not allow such an insult to go unchallenged. I internally scoffed here, someone who is insulted by the rambling accusation of a manservant obviously has some lordly issues that needed to be sorted out.
Besides thinking that, at the inappropriate time that it was, all I could think of was a way to get Merlin out of trouble. I didn't believe that my goblet had been poisoned. Lord Bayard would have to be an even bigger idiot than Merlin to try to poison me right after signing a pact of peace. I even doubted that any of his men would be that stupid either.
I could see father getting angry. If I could read his thoughts I'm sure they would be along the lines of, How dare this servant speak out of turn, and with such nonsense as this! It's probably a good thing I can't hear father's thoughts. That line of thinking always went against the grain of my thinking, though I would never let Merlin know that. Better to let him think I thought he was only good for mucking out my stables.
"On what grounds do you base this accusation?" Father asked harshly.
I came up with a brilliant plan after father said those words, with a quick, "I'll handle this" I walked up to Merlin, pulling him along side me. I told those assembled that Merlin had been at the Gin again. Of course he had to be drunk to say such a stupid thing.
Father wouldn't have it, however. He insisted to know how he knew it was poisoned and who told him about it. Of course Merlin gave the least helpful answers possible. Someone had told him they had seen my goblet laced with probably some deadly poison, but he wouldn't give their name. Damn Merlin and his steadfast loyalty. Does he not understand that his life is at stake here. If his accusation is proven to be wrong he'll be given to the men of Lord Bayard. Probably to be a play thing for them before they finally have enough mercy to kill the poor bastard.
Lord Bayard's voice cut through my thoughts. "I won't listen to this anymore," he said. That seemed to move my father into action. He walked around the table where Merlin and I were standing. At his sharp command of, "pass me the goblet" I handed it over, watching his movements closely.
I got a sick sense of relief when I saw that Lord Bayard offered to test the poison for himself. Probably thinking as I had, knowing his men weren't stupid enough to attempt to kill me. Father on the other hand, had other ideas.
"No," he said. "if it turns out to be poisoned, I want the pleasure of killing you myself." He turned back towards Merlin and I. I knew that look in my father's eyes. Something unpleasant was about to come out of his mouth, and whatever it was I knew that it would be something life threatening to Merlin.
He gave the goblet to Merlin, "Here you drink it."
My stomach dropped to the floor at that comment. Have Merlin drink it? "But if it's poisoned he'll die."I said, trying to keep the unadulterated fear over my manservant's death out of my voice.
"Then we'll know he was telling the truth." came my father's cold reply.
I vaguely heard Lord Bayard ask what would happen if the goblet proved not to be poisoned, but I didn't hear my father's reply. My brain stopped working after I thought of Merlin's possible near death. I knew that Gauis tried to talk my father into changing his mind, but knowing my father, he was unwavering in his decision. I looked at Merlin, seeing a determined glint in his eyes. No way in bloody hell is my manservant going to die drinking a poison meant for me! I thought ruefully.
"Merlin, apologize! This is a mistake! I'll drink it." I said, reaching for the goblet, hoping beyond all hope that Merlin would give in for once and let me have my way on this one thing.
Of course, he didn't. "No, no, no, no, no. It's alright." That determined glint was back again as he stared down Lord Bayard. He raised the goblet, gave a nod of acknowledgement to Lord Bayard and then turned towards me, cup still raised. He slowly lifted the cups closer to his lips and I had to use every ounce of willpower in me not to run up to him and smack the goblet away. I might have treated him worse than my horses, but Merlin had quickly become my friend, though I would never tell him that. I trusted him more than anyone I knew, and it physically hurt to think of him sacrificing his life for mine.
He locked his eyes onto mine, and I found myself caught in his stare. I couldn't look away if I wanted to, not that I did. If I was the last thing Merlin wanted to look at before he could possibly die than I would gladly grant that wish. I let some of my mask fall, hoping he could read my emotions in my eyes. Pure fear, anxiety, and dread were clearly visible in my eyes if he wanted to see them. Knowing that he would see those emotions for what they were, and he would hopefully understand what I meant by them. I saw his eyes brighten in understanding just as he lifted the goblet to his lips and took loud gulps from it.
I watched him, studied him, trying to see if any poison was taking affect as he lowered the goblet, still holding eye contact with me. Nothing was happening. I didn't know how long it would for the poison to affect Merlin in some way, but hope started to build in my chest as I saw that he was fine. That hope practically turned into a roaring fire when he said that my drink was fine.
The fire was quickly dowsed by my father, however, when he told Lord Bayard that Merlin was theirs. A new kind of fear took residence in my chest when I saw Lord Bayard eye Merlin with a twisted look, probably already planning how to make Merlin suffer. I turned to try to change father's mind as Bayard moved towards Merlin to 'take his prize'. Bayard didn't even have time to take one step towards Merlin, because not even five seconds after my father spoke those words, Merlin was clutching his throat, gasping and chocking for breath. I spun around quickly, staring at him in horror. His eyes locked once again with mine, and I saw a grim acceptance, and a perverse sort of joy that he was able to save my life, even at the cost of his own. It was that look that made my heart stop, and made time seem to slow down. As if in slow motion, I watched as Merlin collapsed onto the floor with a soft thump.
I don't even remember moving, but the second he fell to the floor I was by his side. I had no idea what to do to help, but just being near him was enough for me. Gaius and Gwen were soon by my side as well. Gaius checking Merlin over while Gwen hovered around with concern. I didn't waste any time. I quickly hoisted Merlin up, draping him over my shoulders. I rushed with Gaius and Gwen to Gaius's chambers. Laying him down on the bed after being prompted to.
"Is he going to be alright?" I asked, the question nearly burning me with its desire to be asked. In my mind I was already chanting a please be alright, please be alright. Gaius seemed to avoid my question, just telling us that Merlin was burning up. Even I could tell you that. His overheated head had just be against my shoulder. It felt like it was scorching my skin with the intensity of the heat rolling off Merlin.
Gauis told Gwen and I that he couldn't even thinking of curing Merlin until he discovered what poison was being used. After looking at the goblet he saw that something was stuck in it. Now why hadn't any of us thought to look in a potentially poisoned cup for some kind of indicator like that. If we had I wouldn't have to be here, worried about Merlin. To try to get him off my mind, I studied the goblet that Gauis had just abandoned, while he looked though a thick book, slamming it down on the table in his haste.
I walked over to him when he made a noise voicing his discovery. It was the Mortaeus flower petal that poisoned Merlin, and a leaf from the same plant would cure him. But I would have to go to a cave deep in the Balor Forest to get to it. The only thing that made me hesitate for a moment was a picture of a large lizard. "Doesn't seem friendly" I tried to say with more confidence than I felt.
"A Cockatrice. It guards the forest. It's venom is potent. A single drop would mean certain death." Gaius explained. Of course, I thought bitterly, anything to do with Merlin has to be life threatening at some point. After taking one look at Merlin though, I felt terrible for even thinking that. I knew I would do anything to save him, he was, after all my one and only true friend.
A/N: This is what I come up with when I am taking a break from my other story. Hope you liked it. After watching the whole series (thank you, youtube) I just had to write a story about Arthur and Merlin, they are like my favorite pairing right now. I'll get the next chapter up as soon as I can. Hope you all enjoyed. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear from you. Oh, and because I didn't want to put it at the top, I don't own Merlin. I just love the characters too much. :P