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Let the Silence Not Be Heard.

A/N: Hi everyone this is my first Merlin fic, and I'm sorry if you don't like it. Please leave a review if you do like it though. It'll keep my fuel going.

Disclaimer: I don't own Merlin or any of the characters, please don't hurt me or eat me alive.

Chapter 1

Arthur was irritated. There was no other way around it. Just pure and unrelenting irritation at his clumsy manservant. Merlin was late, very incredibly and irrevocably late. Meaning that Arthur was going to be late on his hunting trip and the idea did not sit well with the future king. This was the first time Arthur was taking his new knights on a hunting trip with him, and Gwen was also meant to accompany the party. This trip marked the beginning of a new era in Arthur's life. One that rose with the acceptance that Morgana was no longer on their side, that his own father was too heart broken to rule the kingdom, and that Camelot was only too happy to follow Arthur in which ever direction he may choose to lead his kingdom. This realization was brought to his notice by his friends, especially Merlin. Following his advice, Arthur was seriously considering taking over his father's responsibilities. However, before any of that could be possible, Arthur wanted to wait for Camelot to be restored to its former glory. Now that the last stone had been laid upon the rebuilt city, Arthur wanted to go hunting with his friends one last time, just as friends. For undoubtedly, things would change once he became king. He just wasn't sure if it was for the better or worse. He just wanted to feel the here and now, before it was ripped away beneath his fingers.

The thing that was infuriating him was that Merlin was well aware of these sentiments, and had still not bothered to show up this morning. This wasn't typical of his manservant anymore. Despite his sharp wit and disregard for Arthur's stature, Merlin was in fact a very good servant. He did what was asked of him and often went far beyond Arthur's expectations. This was especially true as of late. The man worked tirelessly around the castle, doing all the chores that Arthur asked of him. When he had a moment to spare, he was out collecting herbs for Gaius, and if he wasn't doing that, he was doing odd jobs for Lancelot and Gawane to help them fit into their new status as Knights. Arthur had heard the two knights complain about Merlin's inability to take time out for himself. It amused Arthur at first because he always considered Merlin to be a lazy person by nature, but it was really an outward appearance. Merlin liked to seem less competent than he actually was. He liked to seem idiotic when he was truly the wisest person Arthur had ever known. He liked to appear meek and scared when he usually marched into danger without a second thought. Mostly though, Merlin just was an utter contradiction. It seemed that to know Merlin, one could never know him at all. That didn't stop Arthur from poking fun at him though, especially about the lazy bit. It just seemed to fit his outward character, even though it was far from the truth.

That being said, today was a rather poor day to choose to claim truth to those jokes. With that thought in mind Arthur trudged angrily up the stairs that lead to Gaius' chambers. However before he could barge in and make a grand gesture of irritation, he realized the occupants of the chambers were already in the throws of an argument. Good sense would tell Arthur to leave them be. Of course, Arthur was not known for having good sense most days. So instead he decided to eavesdrop.

"Will you sit down for one minute!" Gaius' irritated voice bellowed.

"Gaius' I'm already late, can't we do this later?"

"Merlin, so help me if I have to endure one more time of you stalling, I will personally strap you to your bed." This brought a smile to Arthur's lips. He could just imagine Gaius following through with that threat.

"Well It's the truth this time, Arthur will have my head. I have loads of things to do."

"My point exactly Merlin, you shouldn't be doing any of those things right now!" Gaius' voice rose in frustration. Arthur for the life of him couldn't understand what that meant. Why was he telling Merlin not to do his job?

"I've already told you. It's not how I want things to be."

"It won't be up to you my boy." Arthur couldn't be sure but he thought he heard the physician's voice crack. What was going on? What had Gaius this upset?

"I know, Don't worry. Everything is fine for the moment." Merlin said softly. Arthur could barely hear anything. His confusion mounted at Gaius' next words.

"You should tell him you know. He has every right to know."

"No!" Merlin cried firmly. The note of desperation in his voice was clear to Arthur even without seeing his face. "This is my life and my decision. I don't want him to know and that's final. You will not tell him Gaius."

"I won't" Gaius relented gently. There was silence for a few seconds and Arthur contemplated entering the room at that moment, when he heard Gaius move.

"Only if you promise to take this right this minute." Arthur had no idea what 'this' was but couldn't imagine it being a good thing, especially upon hearing Merlin's groan.

"I have to work!"

"Either take it or I'm marching straight to Arthur's chambers." At this Arthur's interest peaked. Merlin was hiding something from him? What could it be? Nothing good from the way Gaius made it sound. But what? Why did Gaius seem so worried? Why did Merlin seem so desperate? With so many questions swimming in his mind, Arthur did not realize that Merlin had already accepted whatever it was that Gaius was offering and had performed what was required of him.

"There, now can I go? I have a hunting trip to organize." Arthur took that as his cue to enter the chambers.

"Merlin?" Upon seeing Arthur enter, Merlin's face broke into a grin. But even to Arthur, it seemed fake.

"Oh good, I was just making my way to you." With that he waved at Gaius and began to steer Arthur back the way he came. "Come on then, I'm sure you're just dying to let out a long rant about me being late. Don't hold back sire, let it out."

"Wait a minute…" Arthur tried to halt their progress, still in the process of recollecting all that he had heard. He wanted to get his answers, but it seemed that Merlin was almost too anxious to get out of Gaius' chamber.

As the two men made their way into the main hallway, Arthur tried once more to get Merlin's attention.

"Merlin, hold on a minute!" At this Merlin finally stopped.

"Sire?" Merlin theatrically bowed, making a show of respect. That only earned him an eye roll, to which Merlin's sheepish grin grew wider.

"Do you have something you want to tell me Merlin?" Arthur asked, folding his arms in that authoritative way that had most people spilling their guts. Most people that weren't Merlin anyway.

"Uh…I don't like your taste in clothes?" Merlin replied with his trademark grin firmly in place.

"Okay…anything else?"

"I also think you spend too much time in front of the mirror these days…"

"Merlin! I'm serious!"

"So am I, you do."

"Fine! Don't tell me. But you know you can tell me things. As much as it pains me to admit it, you are my friend. Possibly the best friend I've ever had. And I don't want this to get to your head, but I trust you. And I want you to know that you can trust me too."

The sincerity in Arthur's words almost made Merlin's resolve crumble. He wanted to tell his best friend everything: every last secret, every painful detail in his life. But he couldn't do that. Not when things were finally getting back to normal for his friend. Not when he was finally getting everything he ever wanted. It was too much of a burden to place on another's shoulder. Merlin was use to doing things alone now. He would continue to do so for as long as he could.

"I know." Merlin replied, gratitude and affection lacing his words. With that a genuine smile graced the young warlock's lips for the first time all day, as both men began to make their way to Arthur's bedchambers.

"You know you've made us both late don't you."

"Yup."

"And that I'm going to make you muck up the stalls for a week."

"Yup." Merlin replied once again, shrugging off the punishment. "You know that you're a complete prat don't you."

"Yup."

"Just checking."

Soft chuckles could be heard along the hallways as knights and peasants alike. became privy to the endless banter thrown back and forth by the future king and his best friend. However, underneath the jovial words, a promise to revisit a darker secret could be heard, but only by the men who spoke them.

TBC

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