Description: Merlin has an unwanted admirer, Arthur comes to the rescue.
A/N: Not intended as slash, at least not any slashier than the show itself. ;D however the unwanted attention does come from a man seeing as how I couldn't imagine Arthur trying to defend Merlin from a beautiful woman. Just a short one shot bit that was looping about in my head until I wrote it down. This is only my second attempt at fan fiction and my first with Merlin so be gentle with me please. Oh and the italicized bits are thoughts.
Disclaimer: The usual - I don't own Merlin or any of it's characters (other than my OC) I'm just playing with them for my own amusement.
Prince Vizant had noticed the boy soon after he was introduced to the Pendragons at the banquet. Lined up with the other servants of the royal household, he was fidgeting with the collar of his uniform and blowing at the feathers dangling in front of him when everyone else was standing rigid, their attention locked on to their respective masters, waiting for their demands. His dark hair was sticking out in tufts from the brim of his hat, framing a somewhat delicate face with high cheekbones and large blue eyes. What he lacks in discipline he atones for in looks. Perhaps this trip won't be so boring after all.
Throughout dinner he found his gaze returning again and again to the servant. He was constantly in motion, shifting his weight, rocking on his heels, and his eyes… his eyes were always scanning the crowd as if looking for someone. Viznat caught that gaze and held it - the boy seemed a bit surprised that anyone was looking back, the Prince briefly raised his goblet in an almost imperceptible toast, nodded and gave him a small smile. He returned the nod and quickly set about assuming the proper stance he should have had all evening.
Viznat returned his attention to the other guests around him. Listening to some bland courtier's story about palace life he must have missed something, in that Prince Arthur was now snapping at the boy, "Mer-lin! You imbecile, pay attention!"
"Sorry, Sire. Won't happen again, Sire." Merlin was swiping at the table with a cloth, mopping up spilled wine.
"It had better not or you will spending the next week in the stocks!" Arthur reached up and cuffed the boy, knocking the ridiculous hat slightly askew.
So his name is Merlin, how odd. I must remember to ask him how he came to be named after a bird. The visiting prince leaned back in his chair and began planning his approach.
Merlin was taking the long way to the kitchens, meticulously avoiding his usual route. For the last few days it seemed like he couldn't take two steps without "bumping into" Prince Viznat. Superficially there was only an exchange of pleasantries but there was something about the way that Vizant looked at him that bothered Merlin. The way he leaned in as he spoke, the way he seemed to watch his movements, each encounter left him more disturbed and anxious - yet there was nothing specific the prince had done that Merlin could point to as causing his distress.
He had considered telling Arthur and then imagined how that conversation would go. 'Arthur, I have a bad feeling about this Vizant fellow.'… 'Really Merlin, why is that?'… 'He goes out of his way to say hello and tries to be pleasant to me.'… 'Well by all means let's take off his head then… idiot!'
To make things worse everyone else seemed to like the man, he was clever in conversation, charming and warm to the courtiers. Merlin had overheard several of the ladies chattering away over how handsome the tall and fair-haired prince was, but he could see the coldness and disdain behind Vizant's façade. Despite the numerous tirades from Arthur on the depths of his lack of intelligence, he wasn't as oblivious to the world around him as he let it appear. But the protection his act gave him from discovery also made convincing Arthur of the validity of his opinions that much more difficult. He hasn't actually done anything to complain about, I just have to avoid him until he leaves.
Striding quickly down the hall Merlin yelped as he was yanked sideways by his arm into a small adjoining corridor. He felt himself being swung about until his back forcefully collided with the wall, knocking the breath out of him. As he struggled for air Vizant brought his other hand up to Merlin's throat and pinned him to the cold stone. Merlin struggled, less against the prince's grip than against his own instinct to use his magic to blow his attacker into the next room. I could kill him so easily but his father is here for peace negotiations and nothing mucks up a good treaty like a dead prince.
"Before you even think of yelling for help I would remind you that I am a beloved prince and you are nobody, a servant. If anyone were to come along right now I would simply explain how I had gotten lost and was suddenly attacked by this coarse, common boy and had to defend myself. You do understand whose side of the story they would believe, don't you?" Viznat hissed the words close to Merlin's ear.
He understood all too well, Merlin jerked his head up and down once, not trusting his voice at the moment.
"Good, you are smarter than you look. At first I thought I wasn't being clear enough with my intentions but then I realized you were refusing me." Vizant let go of Merlin's arm long enough to slap him hard across the face - the sound echoing around them. "There are thousands who have thrown themselves at my feet, begging for my attentions, and you think to refuse me." The man who so many found so very attractive was hardly recognizable with his face twisted by fury, his features distorted and mottled red.
His face burning, Merlin's hands clenched into fists and his body quivered with both anger and power begging to be set loose. His mind raced through dozens of spells trying to figure out how to incapacitate his attacker without betraying his secret.
Prince Vizant's face suddenly relaxed as he recovered his mask of calm, he loosed his hold on Merlin's throat, sliding his hand down the front of his tunic until it rested in the middle of his chest. "It doesn't have to be like this Merlin" his voice coming out like a purr, "I can be a much better master to you than Arthur. I see how he treats you, yelling at you, calling you names. Quit and come work for me, it will be quite different, I promise." He smiled with what should have been a look of beckoning charm but seemed much more sinister to Merlin.
Merlin looked directly into Vizant's expectant eyes. "Thank you for your generous offer, but I am happy in my current position." In a instant the hand was back at his throat, this time squeezing hard.
The pleasant face of a moment ago was gone, replaced once again with a barely controlled rage "I would reconsider your decision carefully if I were you. All it would take would be a few words of suspicion of sorcery from me and Uther would have you burning at the stake by dawn tomorrow."
Does he know? How could he? It has to be a random threat, but can I take the chance? Merlin readied his magic, preparing the word that would hurl Vizant into the opposite wall…
Then he heard it, the unmistakable sound of a sword leaving its scabbard and out of the corner of his eye - the glint as the metal swung through to air to land at the prince's neck. Merlin sagged against the wall with relief. Some days Arthur really does have wonderful timing.
"I believe he has already given you his answer and if you dare to make any false accusations against Merlin I will personally cut out your tongue and feed it to you." Arthur declared.
Merlin inwardly winced. Arthur is going to be really angry about that one day.
"How dare you threaten me?" Vizant said indignantly while backing away slowly. Arthur's sword following his movement. "You would endanger our fathers' accord over a servant. A servant you yourself declare to be stupid and incompetent!"
"He may be stupid and incompetent…"
"Hey!" Merlin interjected.
Arthur ignored him, "…and lazy and clumsy…"
Merlin raised an in index finger. "Wait, he didn't say those."
Arthur continued, "…but you are mistaken when you call him a servant."
Vizant and Merlin both looked at Arthur in confusion. "He's not a servant?"
"I'm not a servant?" Merlin echoed.
Ignoring the bewildered Merlin, Arthur kept his eyes on the other prince "No, he is not A servant, he is MY servant." He tapped Vizant's chest with the tip of his sword a couple of times as he spoke, emphasizing his words.
Vizant glanced towards Merlin who was now wearing a ridiculous grin, and then back at Arthur, before deciding on a "strategic retreat" as his father would have called it. Arthur's prowess with the sword and affection for combat were widely known. Interesting, I would have never suspected. "Forgive me, Prince Arthur," he stated formally, quickly side-stepping the sword in order to bow, "I had not realized how possessive you were of your… servants. I apologize for the misunderstanding."
Arthur started to protest the obvious assumption he had made but Vizant had already beat a hasty retreat down the main hallway. Arthur sheathed his sword before storming off in the opposite direction, Merlin close on his heels.
"Arthur, what about the rest of…"
"Yes I know, Merlin, I'm going to have the guards keep a watch on him for the rest of his stay, he is not going to accost any of the other servants," Arthur stopped and pointed a finger in Merlin's face "And you are going to do as I tell you and stay in Gaius's chambers until all of his people leave."
"No, no, no…" Merlin shook his head " That's not fair." he whined.
Arthur raised one eyebrow, "You would rather I put you in the dungeon instead and make you scrub down the entire cell with your neckerchief?"
It is easier to sneak out past Gaius than the guards in the dungeon. "Right, quality time with Gaius it is!"
They continued down the hall but did not make it far before another thought occurred to Merlin, "Arthur, How did you know where I was?"
"You've been acting stranger than usual the last few days. Nervous. Twitchy. And quiet, there is always something wrong when you stop talking."
"Were you were following me?" I'm going to have to be more careful.
Arthur ignored the question and stared straight ahead as he walked.
Hold on, why was he…? "Were you worried about me?"
At that Arthur stopped in his tracks and whirled to face Merlin "No, I was most definitely not worried… suspicious, not worried." He turned his back and continued walking.
"You were worried." Imagine that.
"Shut up, Merlin."