Disclaimer: I only own the words, the characters mentioned below belong to the writers of Merlin at the BBC

Merlin has just finished over here in Australia and the final inspired me to write this. It's just a short fic of what I think will happen when Merlin returns to Camelot and Arthur. :) My first Merlin fic, reviews and constructive criticism are most welcome! Merlin/Arthur, if you squint. :P

I Was Saying Goodbye

"Merlin!" Arthur's voice shouted from behind the young warlock and he sighed. Before he had the chance to turn around and explain himself, the Prince spoke again. "Where have you been?" His tone was harsh.

Where had he been? There was no simple answer to that, not one Merlin could tell Arthur anyway. His journey to the Isle of the Blessed, the near death of his mother, Gaius, Arthur and even Merlin, himself, his battle with Nimueh were not to be thought of lightly.

"Sorry I'm late, Sire." Merlin replied sombrely, not looking up from where he sat, polishing Arthur's armour. He had only arrived back moments before and had got straight to work, despite Gaius' best efforts to keep him at home. Merlin knew however, that if he didn't show up, Arthur's scolding would be much worse. Besides there was no way he could tell the Prince where he had been.

"It's three in the afternoon!" In truth, it was lucky Merlin was there at all, let alone late. If only Arthur knew.

"I know, Sire." Merlin answered, glancing a look up at Arthur as he stood, immaculate, in the doorway. The Prince shook his head, in slight disgust and walked over to flop back into the chair.

"I don't want to hear your excuses, anyway." He said, as though Merlin was about to give some. "I for one know how hard it is getting up after a whole night drinking."

"What!?" That got Merlin attention. He thought Merlin's lateless was due to excessive drinking?

Arthur smirked at his manservant's reaction. "Go on, tell me. How much did you have to drink?" He sighed.

"I didn't have anything!" Merlin said, adamantly.

Arthur surveyed Merlin for a few more seconds, before conceding. "Alright." He didn't sound convinced, however, as he poured himself a goblet of water. "What was last night about then?"

"What about it?" Merlin's mind flooded with images of his sick mother, Gaius' letter and his farewell to Arthur.

"Merlin." Arthur growled, and Merlin shuddered slightly. "You know what I mean." Merlin ducked his head, hiding his blush. Of course he knew.

How stupid did it all sound now? He'd stood there saying his goodbye not that long ago, certain he was about to sacrifice himself for his Prince. And then he didn't die and was now back working as though nothing had ever happened.

"I.." Merlin didn't even know where to begin. "I... didn't think I'd be coming back." At least that part was true. Quickly, he began thinking of some way he could lie his way out of it.

"What?!" It was Arthur's turn to sound shocked.

"I was saying goodbye." Merlin told him, glancing up for a moment and smiling softly at Arthur as he tried not to think about what could have happened. How he never would have forgiven himself if Arthur had died. He liked to think that Arthur would never forgive himself if he, Merlin was killed, too.

Arthur sat up from his inclined position. "What happened?"

Merlin closed his eyes and looked down and away, thinking of something he could say which sounded plausible. There was a moment's pause where he heard Arthur leave the chair and Merlin looked up to find the prince much closer; kneeling down beside him. But how could Merlin explain it? If Arthur found out about his magic, it would be the end. The end of destiny, the end of friendship, the end of everything that mattered.

"I..." Merlin felt Arthur hand on his shoulder in support. "I..." An idea struck him. "I went out for a hunt."

"You what?" Arthur said, shocked.

"I went out hunting." Merlin repeated. "And I didn't think I was going to make it back because I'm so rubbish at it." The wizard breathed a sigh of relief. It sounded plausible; he just hoped the Prince would fall for it. After all, he'd told much less believable lies before.

Arthur continued to look shocked. "But..." He paused and Merlin flashed a grin, one of his stupid ones which made him look as though he was incredibly stupid. "But... you sounded so serious last night."

"And I was. I really didn't think I'd be making it back." Merlin told him. "I just wanted to say goodbye and tell you how much these past few months have meant."

"Uhuh." Arthur muttered, his forehead creasing in a frown. "So you actually meant it?" His tone was questioning, but completely serious.

Merlin's eyes widened. "Of course I meant it, Sire!"

Arthur gave a pleased nod. "Even -"

"Yes." Merlin replied, his tone genuine, guessed what Arthur was about to say. "I am happy to be your servant until the day I die. I promise." He smiled.

Arthur nodded again and returned the smile. "I am glad, Merlin my friend." The Prince paused for a fraction of a second before reaching up and slapping Merlin softly on the back of his head, telling him how much of a fool he was. "Now, hurry up and get that armour cleaned and never go out hunting again, you idiot!" Arthur pushed against Merlin's shoulder to lift himself up.

"Prat." Merlin muttered under his breath, inaudible to Arthur, thankfully, as he turned back to the Prince's armour.

"You have no idea how hard it is to find a decent manservant, so don't go running off pretending to be all heroic and brave and get yourself killed."

"Of course, my lord." Merlin replied, trying to keep a straight face. He secret was still safe. "I wouldn't dream of it."