A/N: Oh, come on – you all know you thought jealous!Arthur was cute. ^_^ Sorry it's unbeta'd, but I had to post it! Just a reminder, minor language, and Season 2 Episode 3 spoilers.
It started with those blasted flowers.
Seeing Merlin walk up the stairs that led to Morgana's chambers with flowers had been unnerving, to say the least, but, well, everyone has been nice to Morgana, considering how much of a mess she looked like this morning and what happened to her and whatnot.
But something had been suspicious. It had to have been for Merlin to say, "I respect you far too much for that."
It wasn't long before Arthur heard about Morgana's foray to Gaius's chambers in the middle of the night.
Most people, of course, cited that Morgana has always gone to Gaius for her nightmares and sleeping troubles, and this was just a bad spell caused by the attack, and it was really just a pity she couldn't find him, only finding the physician's ward instead.
All he could see were the flowers, in his mind's eye.
He wondered if maybe she missed Gaius on purpose.
"I thought I told you to do that yesterday," Arthur said, as he started to peel off his jacket.
"I didn't have time, I was cleaning the stables," Merlin said, distracted. Oh, damn – flowers, midnight rendezvous, now being distracted while working?
"That's strange…because a little bird told me…you were somewhere else."
Namely, he'd seen Merlin flitting about Morgana's rooms and Gaius's, all of his attention focused on his sister.
"Mucking out the stables is strange and a talking bird isn't?"
Thank god, the sniping was back-
Wait. Right around the Questing Beast incident, after Merlin came back from wherever he disappeared off to, Morgana and Merlin both had been abnormally despondent, despite his recovery. Shit, what if this had a longer history than Arthur thought? Maybe they had a fight or something, and that would certainly explain Merlin's nerve-wracking servility and vague depression the last few weeks…
"Merlin, what have we said about you trying to be funny?"
And with Merlin's borderline sarcastic tone and stupid smile, Arthur can't hold back the urge to bring this up.
"So where are my flowers?" he asked, turning away as he did so, not wanting Merlin to see his face as he did so.
"Your…flowers?" Merlin asked.
"I heard Morgana got some…I assumed you'd be putting them in all the rooms." And no, that was not a touch of hurt in his voice. "Or is she the only one to receive a token of your affections?" And yes, that's blunt, but he doesn't care.
"Yes…" Arthur gives off his best amused face while his heart begins-no, his heart is most certainly not shattering, not over a servant. "Uh, no, no, ah, what? I's not a token of anything, affection or otherwise."
"I see," he said, turning his body away, again. That had just about answered it all up, Merlin's bumbling, how the first thought to his head was 'yes', everything. "So why were you trying to hide them from me, yesterday?" There.
"I wasn't, I mean, I was-" Oh, sure. "I just, uh, didn't want you to get the wrong impression."
Like Arthur was supposed to believe that.
"And what's the right impression?" he asked, morbidly wondering how Merlin would answer.
"That…I was trying to cheer her up after the fire."
Like any good lover should do.
"Pick them yourself?" And he only barely managed to keep the scathing tone from his voice.
Just bloody wonderful.
His mouth is tight as he gives Merlin a look which he hopes does not convey hurt, and Merlin must've noticed, as his mouth, too, was pulled tight as he said, "I was only trying to be nice."
He gives Merlin another look, not entirely sure what it said, before gesturing and saying, "Sword." Because anything more complicated than that, and, well – it certainly just was not happening.
"That'll be all," he said, dismissively, and tried not to notice how eager Merlin was to get out of there.
The next morning, Morgana has been kidnapped.
The last person to see her was Merlin, delivering a sleeping draught.
Gaius would normally have delivered it.
And Arthur didn't miss the moping way Merlin sequestered himself to the physician's chambers upon her kidnapping.
And then, Merlin is gone, too. And with the way Gaius hesitates, he doesn't believe a word about Merlin being ill.
Only a lovesick idiot like Merlin would go chasing after a bunch of Druids on his own to try and get Morgana back.
When they find her and return to Camelot, Merlin is nowhere to be found. As expected – the knights' first thoughts would've been friend of the Druids, not lovesick idiot.
Arthur's voice was flat when he said, "You were right – it was the Druids." Morgana hugs Uther and holds him close in a way Arthur could, would, never have.
He tells himself it's not jealousy, just an observation, as he dismounts his horse, hands it off to a groom, and makes his way into the castle.
He waited for Merlin, who took his merry time getting back. Really, his excursions of randomly disappearing whenever something bad happened to someone he loved – be it his sick mother or Morgana, right now – were getting annoying.
Merlin doesn't go for his chambers, first, nor Arthur's, nor does he go searching for Gaius.
The first place he goes towards, tired and dirty from his trip back, is Morgana's.
Arthur follows, and waits quite a while at the bottom of the stairs, resent for both his servant and his sister stewing in his gut, until he hears Mogana's voice from above, "Sleep well."
As Merlin plops down the stairs, Arthur's brain spouts, "This has to stop," before his tongue can disobey that order.
He took careful, measured steps to the confused-looking Merlin. "The king would have your head if he found out."
Actually, no – he'd likely just give Morgana a lecture on bastard children and imprison Merlin in the stocks more often than usual.
But Merlin doesn't know that, or need to.
"There's no point denying it." And there isn't, though Merlin is still acting, still making himself look more and more confused.
"Denying what?" And goddamnit, Merlin, stop playing!
Arthur mentally – and possibly physically – shook himself as he says, "Your affections for the Lady Morgana."
Merlin snorts, and says, "Right," like he doesn't believe it and does expect Arthur to believe that he doesn't believe it. And he starts walking off.
"Take a bit of advice from someone who knows a bit about women." There, perfect chance for sabotage – afterall, what love sick idiot doesn't look for advice at every turn?
"Well if such a person existed, I would." And oh, the banter and insult are just underneath that.
"Stick to girls who are more…how could I put it…on your level."
There – because Merlin, sweet, fucking Merlin, doesn't really have a level to work with.
"She can't be your friend. Let alone anything else."
"Yeah, I know," which means he and Morgana just don't care, like Arthur doesn't care Merlin's his manservant, either.
With a shoulder pat, he said, "You can't hide anything from me, Merlin."
And wished to god that Merlin could, so Arthur wouldn't have to watch this unfold before his very eyes.