Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin. (The t.v. show or the person.) For that matter, neither do I own Arthur...
Arthur owns me.
Lies and (Really) Unexpected Truths
Merlin, Arthur soon realizes, is a really bad liar.
"Merlin, do you remember me telling you to clean the stables today?"
Merlin's ears turn red. "No, sire. Not at all."
This is early on, when they are first settling into their companionship, so Arthur has no qualms about sending Merlin to the stocks. Again.
*** *** ***
Besides being a bad liar, Arthur soon finds out that Merlin thinks he is stupid.
"Merlin, did you finish all your tasks?"
"Yes, Arthur," Merlin says, and his lips thin.
"Really?" asks Arthur, before holding up one of his boots. "Then what is this?"
Merlin stares at the boot for a moment. "A... mistake. Must have missed one."
"Or six," says Arthur dryly, and throws the boot at Merlin.
*** *** ***
Other then being a bad liar and hopelessly oblivious to Arthur's intelligence, Merlin, Arthur soon finds out, carries some secrets around as though he is capable of keeping them.
"Merlin, why did you leave Ealdor?"
Arthur sees the back of Merlin's neck turn red. "I felt like a change of scenery...?"
Arthur snorts, not convinced by Merlin's uncertain sounding answer. "So when I heard some villagers gossiping about odd things about you..."
Merlin stiffens, his back still turned toward Arthur, and says "I didn't have a father, and my mother wasn't from the village, nor was she married. Of course I was considered odd."
By this time, Arthur is slightly more used to Merlin, so he just rolls his eyes and decides to ask again some other day.
*** *** ***
Soon Arthur realizes that the list of things he'd rather not examine too closely about Merlin is too long to think about whenever Merlin reveals another.
"Merlin, much as I feel I don't want to know the answer... for whom was that dress really for?"
"Dress?" asks Merlin, eyes wide with artificial innocence and bewilderment.
"Yes, the dress I caught you carrying last week."
"Oh," Merlin nods his head. "That dress. Unh... Gaius. Like I said."
"Merlin, I highly doubt that Gaius goes around wearing dresses."
Merlin screw up his face in apparent distaste, a sentiment Arthur wholeheartedly shares. "I, I don't think it was for him, Arthur. Just... just a gift... for um... someone."
"Mmmhmm," Arthur hums. "So it wasn't for you?"
"WHAT? NO! Of course not! Arthur! No! I can't believe! I'd never!"
"Sure, sure," says Arthur, and walks away.
*** *** ***
Arthur comes to realize that, along with many other things, Arthur should never, ever ask Merlin a question in jest.
"Pretty amazing how I got rid of that dragon, eh, Merlin?" Arthur asks, because yes, maybe he is feeling a bit cocky, but he got rid of a dragon, so he feels he's entitled to the sentiment.
Merlin pauses, his eyes go wide, his neck and ears blush, his lips thin, and he starts to babble. "Oh absolutely, Arthur. Really amazing. Spectacular, in fact. Absolutely-
"Merlin," Arthur interrupts, because he can't ignore the sinking feeling in his stomach, "I did get rid of the dragon, correct?"
Merlin's stance does not change, except now his right eye starts twitching. "Yup, yup. It's gone. Because of you." Merlin nods energetically.
"But, say I wasn't the one to get rid of the dragon," Arthur says, and he has to sit down "would it not require magic to do so?"
Merlin's eyes travel from side to side. "I wouldn't know, Arthur."
"Let's just say it did. Would not the magic-wielder have had to be near me?"
Merlin's breathing starts coming quicker "I have no idea, Arthur. None at all."
"Merlin...." says Arthur slowly. "I seem to remember being knocked out. And then I awoke, and the dragon was gone."
"Really?" Merlin frowns. "That's odd. Suffering from brain damage, perhaps? Then again, you always have. Did you drink too much? Want to push traumatic memories out of your mind?" Merlin gives a little, obviously forced, laugh, and starts twisting his hands together.
"Merlin... the only conscious person around me was you..."
"Really? Hmm... I didn't notice anyone else either.... So it must have been you!"
"Merlin... Do you possess magic?"
Merlin's eyes widen even further, if possible, and he starts shifting his weight from foot to foot. "Me? Magic? Of course not!" his voice comes out high-pitched and awkward.
Arthur just looks at him, and takes in the flush, the thin lips, the wide eyes, the wildly twitching right eye, the agitated stance, the panicked breathing, and the apparent inability to support his weight with both feet.
And then he says "Oh fuck" and "Why me?" and, just for good measure –and because honestly? He feels just a little overwhelmed and in need of darkness—he lowers his head into his arms and onto the table with a groan.
Soon, Arthur comes to realize, it's bloody amazing Merlin's still alive. In fact, it's a miracle. But now Merlin has Arthur to watch over him, so Arthur's fairly certain Merlin will make it through life (or at least a decade) without much trouble.
This is what comes when I had less than five hours sleep last night (I am notoriously bad at sleeping, as my brain does not seem to want to shut-up) and it's three a.m. Which is only about an hour and a half before I finally fell asleep last night, actually... And I've spent the past half an hour recording myself reading some of my fics (because I'm obsessive like that—also, I like to talk.)
So I apologise.