So I basically took the scene, from the final episode of season 1, where Merlin tries to tell Arthur goodbye without actually saying goodbye, and... took it to another level.
Yes, I know, how on earth do you pull that off? Somehow I managed. Basically my thinking was, ok, so how many more times is he going to have to do this? Chances are Merlin's going to go off 'to die' for Arthur many more times without Arthur actually being told what's going on, and I don't see him leaving without saying something, do you? Basically, this is Arthur dealing with these little 'chats.'
I'm a tad worried about them being OOC, but do keep in mind that these are strange, yet serious discussions, which always put them out of character during the show anyway. That being said, I do hope you like it all the same. Please, enjoy!
"Arthur? Do you... consider me evil?"
There it was again. Every time things got comfortable between Arthur and his man servant Merlin, the idiot would start becoming all serious and nonsensical. Like now.
"Evil? Merlin you're so pathetically good it's annoying," Arthur replied, chuckling and drinking from his goblet by his fireplace, "You'd get both of us killed and half of the Kingdom along with us, just because it was, and I quote, 'the right thing to do'." Arthur chuckled. "One of these days Merlin, it's going to become insufferable," he added, taking another drink as Merlin managed to come up with yet another random and lunatic response.
"Would you have me killed for that?" he asked in all seriousness.
"Killed?" Arthur asked with an eyebrow raised. "I might stick you in the stocks for a month or so, hell, I might even drop you in the dungeon, but killed?" Arthur paused, almost thoughtfully, as he looked into the fire, "No. I don't think I'd have the stomach for it." Turning to his servant, Arthur gave him a puzzled look. "Where is this coming from?"
Merlin studied his Liege with a serious expression, the one that always confused Arthur so, because it didn't make sense with the Merlin he saw on an every day basis.
"Someday," Merlin said quietly, "Some one's going to say something, or... you're going to see something that's going to tempt you to change that opinion of me. I only ask that you remember what you thought of me now."
"Merlin?" Seeing Arthur's bewildered expression, Merlin gave a half chuckle.
"Merlin, why are you-?"
"I'm afraid it might happen sooner rather then later," Merlin replied, "Otherwise I wouldn't bother. It's nothing to be concerned about just yet sire. If there'll be nothing else-?"
Of course there was something else! Arthur wanted to know what the hell the little goof ball was going on about! Only... he didn't know how to ask. And there was that tone, the way Merlin said it, that let Arthur know he was done with the conversation. Arthur didn't know what it was, most of the time the Crown Prince didn't even listen to his own father, but sometimes his lowly servant could get him to quietly obey him without question. So he let it go.
"No, that'll be all Merlin. Be sure to have my armor ready by noon tomorrow."
It was always in the evenings, when the two of them where alone in his chambers, before the Prince was to retire. Merlin would start going on about him needing a new servant, or keeping his job till the day he died, or making odd little comments about Merlin not being who Arthur saw him as. Then, he'd disappear. Sometimes for a morning, or an afternoon, sometimes for days. He'd just be gone, no explanation. Then he'd return, bone weary, bruised, injured as likely as not, and obnoxiously happy. Arthur considered many a time asking, but... he just couldn't. So he'd say something about laziness or incompetence, flash him a smile to let him know he was glad the boy was back, and give him a large list of chores "to be started in the morning." As the pattern continued, Arthur began to subconsciously dread those little talks as much as he secretly enjoyed them. It meant Merlin was to go off and do something dangerous and stupid... again.
"Is it always going to be like this?" he finally asked one evening when Merlin had once again informed him how proud he was to be his servant before turning to leave. "You coming in here and gibbering nonsense before disappearing for God knows how long and coming back half dead?" Merlin paused by the door, not looking at him.
"I don't know."
"I could demand you tell me what's going on you know."
"And I wouldn't answer, my lord."
"And that could get you beheaded. God Merlin! You're lucky I'm your master and far too lenient, or else-
"I'd be beheaded if I told you anyway," Merlin told him, effectively shutting Arthur up. "At least this way I have a chance of getting out of here before you make up your mind to do it." Merlin took another step before Arthur asked one final question.
"How many times?" Arthur asked.
"How many times what?" Merlin asked quietly.
"Come on Merlin, call me an arrogant Prat if you want, but I know what this is about. How many times have you saved my life without me knowing about it?" He demanded. Merlin sighed.
"More times then I can even remember," Merlin responded, then left. Left Arthur alone with his thoughts.
And so, Arthur begins to figure it out. Not a "Arthur discovers the Secret" fic, but it could come close. Another question I have, is what exactly would Arthur do after he figures out Merlin's been saving his royal hide, even if he doesn't know how? I personally believe he'd ignore/keep quiet about it until he could make sense of the whole thing, but that's just me.
Anyhoo, I hoped you liked it, and do let me know if it was too far gone. I tried, I really did, but its a hard situation to put those two in, don't you think?