Chapter One: A shock of Fate
The prince was going to KILL him! He sighed before skidding at a sharp corner almost slamming painfully into the wall. After clearing the wall he immediately crashed into a table catching a vase and cursed himself for having to stop to put it back. He quickly set off again running, panting and watching carefully in front of him, so not to crash into anything else. Well, He tried at least, until a colourful bird flew amazingly fast past the window, causing him to furrow his brow and peer around, trying to catch another glimpse.
"AH! Merlin slow-!"
Merlin let out a yelp as he landed heavily on a very unhappy Guinevere.
She let out a cry of pain, "Merlin!"
"Oh Gods Gwen, I am so sorry, I'm late for Arthur again but I got distracted by a bird out of the window so I wasn't watching where..."
"Merlin! That's fine! Now just get off me!" Merlin shot her a look of confusion before realising he was still on top of her. Blushing furiously, he scrambled to his feet brushing himself off before Gwen, still on her back, let out a sigh of relief. "Thank you. Now, could you please help me up?"
"Of course!" He offered her a hand which she took gratefully. "Now go to Arthur or he will kill you," giving him a stern look before smirking. Merlin rolled his eyes at her and then clutched his throat, rolling his eyes back into his head pretending to be dead. Smiling at her giggly response, he turned back and ran to the Prince's chamber.
Of course, Merlin wouldn't usually knock, but this was the third time in a row he was late for Arthur's chores and decided he would do anything in his power not to end up in the stocks again. Clearing his throat loudly Merlin placed three confident knocks on Arthurs amazingly grand, oak door.
"Who is it?" Came the sharp but almost high pitched reply. Merlin winced. His master was in a really bad mood.
"Good! Get in here!" Merlin pushed the door open and looked at his feet, careful not to look at the prince's glare until he had finished his excuse. "I'm so sorry Sire but Gaius told me to clean his leach tank after I knocked one of his medicines over and it stained the floor, and I told him I would be late but he said it was my own fault and-"
"Merlin!" The prince's voice seemed to come from the other side of the room. Merlin lifted his head to see an empty chair where he had expected to see an extremely aggravated prince.
"I'm over here." A small hand waved frantically from behind a curtain. That's odd, it was definitely where Arthur's voice was coming from but the hand looked like it belonged to a child. Merlin got suspicious. "Arthur?" He pulled back the screen to reveal a small, blonde boy with his knees pulled up to his chest and his head rested on his arms. He appeared to be wearing one of Arthur's shirts which looked ridiculously large over his small frame. "Who are you?"
The child lifted his head ferociously and glared at Merlin with sharp, blue eyes, blush crawling up his neck with anger. "Oh no..."
The boy responded by smashing the back of his head against the wall behind him and squeezing his eyes shut.
"How did this happen sire?" The look he got in response was one he was so used to by now, one which seemed to say 'you idiot! How am I supposed to know that?' Confirming that this was indeed the crowned prince sitting in front of him. Merlin decided hesitantly to sit down in front of the blonde child, cross legged. The young prince just glared at him.
"What am I going to do? Why would someone do this to me? What benefit would come to anyone from turning me into... Into..." The prince stopped mid-rant and paused. "What age would you say I am now?"
Merlin studied the prince carefully. He was definitely not yet a teenager. He was quite short and had big blue eyes, chubby cheeks and long floppy hair. He also had light freckles scattering his cheeks which the servant had never noticed on the older version. Merlin had to admit, that in this instance, Arthur did look ... well...cute.
"I would say about 9 Sire?" Merlin tilted his head and furrowed his brow. "Yes, definitely 9."
"Oh Gods!" The child stood up and swirled around to look in the mirror behind him, then groaned. "This is awful!" He tugged at his now filled out cheeks. "I'm fat again." He saw the child's arms drop and his hands clench into fists until his knuckles went white.
"Oh no Sire! You're not fat! All children have a bit of baby fat; I did when I was 9. It's what makes children look cute!" He bit his lip to stop himself continuing. He had just effectively called Arthur cute! To his face!
"Oh great. So I'm cute now. Well fantastic!" The boy strolled grandly from behind the curtain over to his chair before tripping over the over-sized shirt. Merlin quickly ran to his assistance but Arthur bashed his hands away blushing furiously, obviously not liking the fact he had just done something very clumsy and Merlin like. "Merlin! Get me some clothes that fit!" How a nine year old had sounded so intimidating, Merlin would never understand.
"How am I supposed to do that?" He protested. "There aren't any children in the castle!"
"I kept some of my old clothes in that chest over there. My father told me to keep them; they're the outfits I have worn every birthday since I was five so there should be something in there that fits." The boy was gazing out of the window.
Merlin walked over to the large dusty chest in the corner of the room and heaved the top open. His eyes widened at the array of colours and fabrics before him, he could smell the age on them and sneezed at the dust that got caught in his nose.
"Merlin! Hurry up and don't sneeze on my clothes!"
"Yes, Sorry Sire." Merlin rifled through the different outfits and finally came to one which looked like it could fit. It was deep blue with silver lining. "How about this?"
Arthur turned around to examine the outfit, before his frown relaxed into a smile. "This is what I wore on my ninth birthday." He walked over to finger the soft material. "Yes. This will do perfectly. But if you don't mind, I wish to dress myself. It just doesn't feel... You know... with me being..."
"Yes Sire." Merlin nodded and Arthur went back behind the curtain. As soon as the prince was out of sight Merlin's mouth dropped open and he hit his head against the wall. 'Not again!' Merlin clenched his fists. 'Do these sorcerers really think doing horrible things to the crowned prince is going to help their case that magic should not be banned? Because if they do, they really are stupid.' Merlin whipped around as he heard the prince clear his throat behind him. Before him he saw an small, innocent child. Blond hair brushed out of his face and big, blue, pools of eyes, enhanced by the deep navy of his outfit, which were glancing nervously up at him looking impossibly adorable.
"How do I look?"
"Urm... You... well." Arthur raised an eyebrow. "Good. You look good, you know, fine." Merlin cringed.
"I look cute don't I?" Merlin avoided eye contact. Arthur sighed. "Well I guess that might make the next part easier. Cute children get what they want don't they?"
"Why? What are you planning to do?"
"I'm going to talk to my father."