There's Something About Him
Summary: Gaius goes to the court to talk to Arthur after Merlin's arrest (in the first episode). Arthur wants to know more about Merlin because, well, there's something about him.
Disclaimer: Don't own anything, but if Bradley or Colin is ever for sale…er, never mind.
Writer's note: My first (but not last, probably) Merlin fic. Think of this as a deleted scene from the pilot. Personally, I think of Arthur and Merlin more as a bullying older brother/dorky kid brother kind of relationship but if you'd rather read this as a slashfic, feel free. That's why I leave it open to interpretation.
Gaius stood at his laboratory table frowning thoughtfully. He'd sent out Merlin with the medicine at least an hour ago. He should've been back by now. Was it possible the boy had gotten lost?
A sudden knock at the door interrupted Gaius's thoughts. Who could it be at that time of day? It couldn't be Merlin – Gaius had left the door unlocked so Merlin could let himself back in and not disturb Gaius's work.
"Who is it?" asked Gaius warily. Even during the day, one could never be too careful.
"Message from the royal court!" barked an impatient voice.
Gaius blinked. What in the world? Uther was away from Camelot. Hurriedly, Gaius swung the door open and sure enough, a guard wearing the royal court's uniform stood there.
"Your presence is requested at the royal court immediately," intoned the guard.
"Is something the matter?" Gaius's frown deepened. "I thought King Uther was away on his annual hunt?"
"It is Prince Arthur, not the King, who requires you to appear," the guard said impatiently. "At once!"
Upon hearing this bit of news, Gaius suppressed an enormous desire to roll his eyes at the guard, contempt of court charge be damned. "May I ask the reason I am being summoned?" he asked coolly, giving the guard (a young man at least 40 years his junior) the frostiest look he could muster. Prince high and mighty Arthur may have intimidated his knights, but Gaius would be damned if he let the spoiled and arrogant Pendragon push him around while the King was away.
"It has to do with your new charge, the boy, what's his name," the guard fished a piece of wrinkled parchment from his tunic, "Merlin. I believe he's under your care?" Before a thoroughly bewildered Gaius could ask any more questions, the guard added, "He's been arrested for public disturbance and deliberate insolence toward the Prince."
So that's why he was so late!
Gaius gritted his teeth and clutched his temples. Obviously Merlin had breathed the wrong way in front of Arthur, and Arthur, being the pompous prat he'd always been, had jailed him to show off to his knights. Shaking his head, Gaius shot the guard another glacial look. "And may I ask why the Prince tends to this matter instead of the King? After all, the Prince is pressing charges. He is hardly objective in this matter."
The guard looked down at his boots, seeming almost ashamed. It was clear even the guards oftentimes no more approved of Arthur's behaviors than Gaius did. "The Prince is eager to talk to you about this Merlin. He says if you reply expediently, he may show the boy some leniency."
Suppressing a sigh, Gaius had no choice but to grab his cloak and follow the guard to the royal court. Arthur, of course, sat in Uther's chair with his chin thrust out, desperately trying to appear as though he could fill the King's shoes.
"Ah, Gaius." Arthur shot the physician an insincere smile.
"You requested my presence, sire?," said Gaius evenly.
Arthur ignored the question. "I understand you've taken this boy, Merlin, under your care." It wasn't so much a question as a sneer.
"I have, sire."
"Are you aware that the boy interfered with my archery today and when I asked him to stop – politely -" (Gaius suppressed another eyeroll) "he proceeded to call me an arse and took a swing at me?"
"I apologize most deeply for his behavior, my lord." Gaius bowed slightly and attempted the most contrite expression he could under the ridiculous circumstances. "I assure you, he will be most severely punished once he is re-released to me."
"Well, I should certainly hope so, he ruined a perfectly good game of knife-throwing!" huffed Arthur.
In other words, he probably saved a poor guard's life, thought Gaius.
"In fact, I have half a mind to keep him in the dungeons for another week," added Arthur pompously. (Gaius made a mental note to stick his eyeballs to their sockets as soon as he returned to his quarters so as to keep him from rolling his eyes).
"But being that the boy is new in town," added Arthur in a mock generous tone, "I will release him and let you deal with him."
"Your lordship is most kind." Gaius wondered if he had stocked up his eyesocket glue.
"Very well, then, Gaius, you shall go tell the boy he shall be released…in a while." Gaius blinked again to see Arthur's mouth quirk.
Was it his imagination, or did Arthur look amused?
"Tell me about the boy, Gaius." There was no mistaking it now – Arthur definitely looked amused.
"I beg your pardon, sire?"
"Tell me about this Merlin," Arthur repeated, the quirk in his mouth and amusement in his eyes definitely not a figment of Gaius's imagination. "Where's he from?"
Gaius began to wonder if Arthur's entire show of anger toward Merlin had been an act for the sake of the court.
"A neighboring village, Eldor, sire, not far from Camelot." Gaius began to relax. "He only arrived a few days ago."
Arthur leaned forward, hanging on to Gaius's every word. "Is he your kin?"
"Not my blood kin, my lord. He is the son of my sister-in-law."
"And what is he doing in Camelot?" Arthur's expression was genuinely curious now.
Gaius paused. Of course he had to choose his words carefully. "His mother felt he would be better looked after under my care."
Arthur sat back and placed the haughty look back on his face where it belonged. "Well, I certainly hope that will be the case henceforth," he shook his head in an exaggeratedly disapproving fashion.
But, realized Gaius, there was no doubt that the twinkle remained in Arthur's eyes.
Arthur continued, "Tell Merlin he is free to go as soon as he spends the day in the stocks. Someone will go fetch him from the dungeons shortly." Gaius could easily see Arthur now fighting the urge to smile. "Dismissed, Gaius."
Gaius gave the Prince another slight bow. As he turned to leave, he couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Arthur and a guard:
"Shall I escort the prisoner to the stocks once the physician is done, sire?"
"No need for that." Arthur stood up. "I'll escort him myself. I have a few more choice words for him." Arthur had a wickedly mischievous smile on his face, undoubtedly in anticipation of seeing Merlin again.
And this time, noticed Gaius as he turned to pull the courtroom doors shut behind him, Arthur hadn't even tried to hide it.