Merlin looked down at the candle wick, curious and full of thought. He blew onto the tiny spark left at the end of the candle. It erupted into a flame. He sat back, happy at his own magic. Giaus was setting the table at the other end of the room. He stopped and stared at Merlin now and then. Merlin caught his glance.
"What?" He asked.
"I just thought you would have been more advanced by now." Gaius said calmly. "Beautiful as that magic is, I rather think that you would be accomplishing more than simple fire spells."
Merlin sighed staring at the flame. "Well, yes. I would. But you know as well as I big tricks would catch attention."
"Don't you have work to do?"
"I'm doing it," Merlin replied.
"Yes, because lighting a flame is the most productive work you can do." Gaius replied.
"Yep." He looked up. "Look, don't worry. Arthur is off doing some counsel thing with Uther. He said I could have the morning."
Merlin grinned. "No it's not."
"I rather think it is,"
Merlin looked outside, watching the sun set in the west. He jumped up. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Well, I assumed that it was big work, your fire spell." Gaius replied with a smile.
Merlin grabbed his jacket and took a bite of his bread.
"Where are you going? Dinner is ready!"
"I have to go, tell Arthur... Something! To make it seem like I'm not the incompetent git that he thinks I am."
Gaius sighed. "Alright, but remember to return. Otherwise I'll feed your food to the dog."
Merlin frowned. "We don't have a dog."
"Then I shall purchase one name it Fido and then give it your dinner." Gaius replied impatiently. "Now are you going or not?"
"Right, yes." Merlin dodged out of the physicians rooms and out into the castle grounds. It was going to be a cold night. The crisp air was strangely still. Even the grounds to which many should have been on the street, it seemed strangely deserted. Merlin had no time to contemplate. He dashed across the flagstones and made his way across into the halls of the mighty. Not looking where he was going he crashed into someone.
"Oh, sorry." He stood and held out a hand ready to help them up.
He blinked and took a step back. "Morgana?"
She smiled up at him. She was spectacularly beautiful. Merlin pulled her up. Her red dress fell around her ankles. She fixed her sleeves and looked down at herself.
"I'm sorry-" Merlin began to babble, fearful of what she would do to him. "I must have had my eyes closed."
"It's alright as long as no one was injured, so." She smiled at him. "Where are you going?"
"Arthur... He... I..." Merlin looked away. "You haven't seen Gwen have you?"
"I'm afraid not." Morgana let her smile stretch across her pale face. "You seem distracted Merlin."
"Me? Distracted? Never!" Merlin gave a nervous laugh. "I have to... I have to go."
"Oh..." Morgana smiled. "Okay,"
Merlin gave a curt bow and ran off. Morgana stared after him for a moment then smiled to herself. She turned and continued on.
Merlin skidded outside the chambers of Arthur. He straightened himself up and then knocked the door.
Merlin creaked open the door poking his head in. A large pewter object clattered above his head. He sighed. "I had just cleaned that." He said.
"Where have you been?" Arthur bellowed. "You need to clean my boots."
"I'm sure you would have managed to clean them on your own-"Merlin began
Arthur crossed the room grabbing Merlin by the ear and pulling him to sit on the chair. "Now, until you tell me where you've been, I'm charging you with a month in the stocks."
"I was... Ill."
"You were ill?"
"Yes. All better now though!"
"Very," Merlin replied, elaborating his lie. "So very ill. Warts, puking, headaches... toothaches."
"it's a weird disease."
"Is it contagious?"
"Merlin, it is contagious?" Arthur said.
"I... er... you'd need... to... Ask Gaius." Merlin said. "I'm no medical man."
This was met with a slap around the head. "You weren't ill were you?"
Merlin sighed. "No, I was out, thieving the lower servants."
"Never joke about thieving, Merlin. Otherwise I will execute you." Arthur said bitterly.
"Well, it's good to know that you're above threatening people for your own personal gain." Merlin replied.
"Boots. Clean. Now." Arthur said.
"Yes. Of course."
"I hope you cleaned my armour." Arthur warned.
"Armour. Right." Merlin said, grabbing the dirty mud caked boots.
"You did clean my armour right? Tell me you did it."
"Yes, it's all ready for the ride out tomorrow." Merlin said.
"Good." Arthur moved off.
"Have a nice meal." Merlin muttered.
"I will." Arthur replied, closing the door behind him.