How to Accidentally Kill a Warlock
By Kitty O
Greetings. Alright, so maybe you want warnings. As I type this, the story has been finished for some time—I'm just proofreading an old story. So I can tell you exactly what lies in this story—There is angst. There is some torture and violence, but it's of the magic-spell-with-no-blood variety. NOT slash. Arthur beats himself up a lot. Morgana's a jerk. Oh, and Merlin's half-dead for like the entire thing.
Beta'd by DarkAngel2112.
Summary: When Merlin wakes Arthur up, the prince doesn't look to see what he's throwing at the back of his manservant, just tosses his goblet at him in irritation. And the next thing we know, Arthur's the literal meaning of the word 'backstabber.' Harsh.
Merlin staggered into the room, sleepy. He'd stayed up late last night; it certainly hadn't been worth it.
Exhausted, he made his way over to Arthur's bed. "Come on, Sire," he heard himself mumble, little more than a rasp in the back of his throat. "Time to get up…"
Merlin fought back a yawn. Arthur hadn't heard him, and he was much too exhausted to speak louder. His head gave a half-hearted throb and the colors of the world seemed to blend…
He'd steal time to take a nap later. Arthur would kill him, but that was too bad. Even staying on his feet was pure torture.
Merlin opened his mouth, trying to speak louder, but a yawn was all that came out of his mouth. Merlin rubbed his eyes and shrugged. He'd just shake the Prince awake.
He didn't really like the idea, as Arthur reacted quite strongly to being forced awake, but he hadn't the energy to talk louder and it was too dark to pull up the blinds and let the sun do the work.
Merlin put out his hands towards the Prince, but instead they rammed into the bedside table, and an expensive goblet fell to the floor, crashing. Somehow, Arthur didn't wake up. Merlin groaned and bent down to pick up the cup, noting as he put it back on the table that it was now little more than a sharp spike on a stem. He looked at the debris on the floor and sighed. He'd pick it all up in a minute, he decided, but for now he had to get up Arthur.
Swaying slightly, Merlin reached out with both hands and grabbed Prince Arthur's bare shoulders. He shook the sleeping man, mumbling, "Get up, Arthur."
Arthur moaned and rolled over, but Merlin was not to be denied. "Get up, idiot," he muttered angrily, renewing his shaking. "My throat's too dry to yell, prat."
Arthur came to consciousness suddenly. Someone was manhandling him. What was happening? He was being attacked!
Not quite awake, Arthur lashed out at his assailant, his hard fist connecting to Merlin's bony face.
Merlin cried out and stumbled back in a haze of pain. "Ouch!" he hollered. "Are you trying to kill me?"
Arthur sat up in bed, bewildered. "What are you doing here? It's the middle of the night!"
Merlin moved his hands away from his face so he could exclaim, "Dis is de time you dold me to get you up! You wanted do get up early so you could figure out wha' you would do for training today… remember? You hit me!" Dark liquid was rolling down the bottom part of his face as he spoke.
"It's not that bad, is it?" asked Arthur, trying not to be concerned. "I didn't hit you that hard."
"Yes, you did!" argued Merlin angrily. He ran his fingers down his nose. It didn't feel broken, but it was going to be a painful bruise.
"You'll be fine," insisted Arthur. He felt a little bad, but he didn't want to admit it, even when Merlin glared at him balefully.
Arthur felt a slight twinge of guilt. He had made a promise to himself at the tender age of eleven that he would never hit a servant. He knew some nobles did, but he personally found it disgusting. Arthur didn't know if his father, Uther, did such a thing, and he had never asked. He didn't want to know.
Arthur had been outside of the castle, watching as a noble prepared to leave from a visit. The noble was very angry with a servant of his who had made some mistake, and the noble was yelling. The servant did not defend himself, and Arthur wasn't surprised. That would be out of line. Suddenly the noble had raised his arm and struck the servant about the face, eyes flaring. The servant's head jerked to one side, and then he stood still. Very still.
Child Arthur had been confused. He'd seen men strike at each other before, in brawls and in practice, but this wasn't the same thing. It was different. But he couldn't put his little finger on how. Then the servant lifted his face again, wearing a bland smile, and the noble turned away, smug. The smile was gone in an instant and then Arthur could read the servant's face; it spoke of hatred.
More bewildered than ever, he retreated into his room to figure it out. Why had the servant looked so angry? Men did not look so hateful when they were hit, usually. He had never seen that before, anyway. He was again faced with the childhood certainty that this had been different, not like the blows he'd seen exchanged…
Exchanged. That was it. In most fights, two men hit each other. In what he'd just witnessed, one man had struck a servant and the servant hadn't hit back. It wasn't a fair trade. Of course, the servant couldn't hit back… He would get in huge trouble for that. No wonder he'd looked so resentful!
That was when Arthur decided he wouldn't hit a servant, because it was like hurting someone who was defenseless. A worker might be physically fit, but they were trapped by their station, unable to fight back. It was wrong.
Arthur had held onto this belief and never raised a hand against a servant – excluding the times he whacked Merlin over the head, because he hadn't hit hard – until today. Until right now, when Merlin stood before him and bled.
"I will not be fine," insisted Merlin stubbornly. He pinched the bridge of his nose and tilted his head back. "Oh, never mind. Just get up. I'll go clean myself up and be back to help in a minute, Prince Dollophead."
And he turned to the door to walk away.
Arthur was unexplainably annoyed at both Merlin and himself. Merlin for being irritating and himself for throwing that punch. He felt like he wanted a retort to give but had none, and it bothered him. Instead, he grabbed up the cup from his bedside table and threw it at Merlin's back, expecting it to bounce off and Merlin to rub at the back of his head, sullen.
That didn't happen. For one thing, the throw was a little off, and the cup didn't hit Merlin in the back of his head. For another, it didn't bounce off. The cup flew through the air, found Merlin, and embedded itself in his back.
Merlin lurched, his head going back in surprise, his mouth crying out, and then he fell forward. A small spray of blood erupted from where the cup landed. His body lay sprawled on the ground.
Eyes going wide, Arthur threw off his covers and rushed to his manservant.
Merlin was still, eyes closed, on his stomach, a sharp spike sticking out of the top center of his back like a dagger.
Arthur found himself screaming, yelling for help, for guards… somebody. Eyes wide, he stared down in horror at his servant's body. Oh, no, he thought, what have I done? I've killed him. I've killed Merlin.