Author's Note: Story starts just four weeks after 4.03, La Mort de Guinevere from my version of the 4th series of Merlin. Please note that these stories are mainly centered on Arthur and Gwen. Although this is the 4th episodic story from my 4th series and labeled as such, it doesn't necessarily mean that it follows immediately after 4.03. Hope that made sense.
Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin. I do not own its characters.
The Future King – by AudiRox
"It has been a quiet few days in Camelot," thinks Arthur as he looks out his window just as the sun sets. Since Gwen regained her straight after being poisoned by her once beloved lady, Arthur has only had one incident that is of note-worthy. A small band of bandits had broken into a few homes in the outlying villages by using magic to scare the villagers. As always, Arthur, along with his trusted servant rode out and took care of things. Arthur was pleased that the matter only took them away from the castle for a couple of days. Ever since Gwen was poisoned, the prince did not want to leave her for too long. In fact, ever since her recovery, he had made a promise to himself that he would see her almost every day. So he would sneak out of the castle to visit her when no one was paying attention or would deliberately wander into the market when he was sure to see his future queen.
Still looking out the window, he watches the sunset change the colors of the sky. "Beautiful," he thinks. "When I'm king, will I have time for this? Will I have time to enjoy the small things?" His mind wanders, but the sound of the chamber doors opening abruptly makes him quickly look at the entrance to his room.
"Sire," Merlin says as he balances the tray in his hands.
Arthur frowns. "What on earth, Merlin?"
"Sorry, sire. I'm a little late with your dinner." Merlin places the tray on the table.
Arthur realizes he himself is late for something, "Oh, I'm not hungry."
"But…" the young man looks at his master and then at the food he struggled to carry into the chambers.
"In fact, I'm going to turn in early tonight," Arthur says looking a bit suspicious.
Merlin makes a face, "Turn in?"
"That's right," says the prince and looks out the window again.
"What are you? Eighty-years old?"
Arthur turns his head and raises a brow.
"I mean, even Gaius doesn't go to bed this early."
The prince rolls his eyes. "You know, if I were any other prince, I would have your tongue cut off for talking to me in that manner."
Merlin quickly purses his lips.
"I'm just tired, Merlin. That's all." Arthur lies poorly.
Merlin knows him well enough to know when the prince is lying, but he humors him. "Oh, alright." He looks around. "I will get your bed ready, then."
"No, no, I can…" Arthur starts to protest as he watches Merlin quickly tend to the bed. But the young man is already fixing it up, and so Arthur sighs and starts to pace a bit.
Merlin watches his master from the corner of his eye for a moment, knowing very well that Arthur is in a hurry to do something or be somewhere. A secret perhaps. He clears his throat. "You know, I really do miss Gwen."
Arthur pauses and quickly looks at his servant. "What?"
"I miss seeing her in the hallways," he continues as he fluffs yet another pillow.
"I used to see her in the castle every day and we would chat," Merlin says as he keeps a keen eye on the prince, "but now I never see her in the hallways. I miss her."
"Oh, right," says Arthur and starts to pace again.
Merlin looks at his master from the corner of his eye again, "Don't you miss seeing her in the castle?"
"Oh yes, yes… indeed."
The young warlock straightens his frame and looks at the floor quizzically, "You know, I believe this is the third meal you've skipped this week."
Arthur looks up at the young man.
With mock-concern, Merlin steps forward to feel Arthur's forehead, "Are you feeling sick?"
Arthur frowns and takes a step back, "What? No!"
"Maybe you're coming down with something?" Merlin gestures towards the door. "Maybe I should go get Gaius?"
Arthur holds up his hand, "No!"
"Are you sure?" The young warlock smirks a bit. "Because all signs lean towards you not feeling well."
"Merlin," says Arthur with a stern voice.
Suppressing a laugh, the young servant takes the tray of food and exits the prince's chambers.
"I believe Merlin knows of my visits with you," says a cloak-clad Arthur as he leans against the table in Gwen's kitchen.
While stirring something by the stove, Gwen looks back at her prince, "Of course he does." She goes back to stirring, "I told you, Arthur, you've been sneaking out of that castle a lot now, and someone's bound to notice."
Gwen stops stirring the contents in the pot, turns around and walks up to him, "And before we know it, your father will also find out."
"Let him. I do not care. If he chooses to stay silent about us, let him. He cannot do a thing to harm us. Not anymore."
"Except banish me from Camelot or execute me?" jokes Gwen.
Arthur smirks, but looks down at Gwen, "I will never let any harm come to you."
Gwen smiles and stays close. "I do wonder though."
"About?" asks the prince.
"If Uther knows about us, why does he stay silent?"
"I haven't a clue," Arthur shakes his head.
"Perhaps, after all that he has been through with Morgana, he has had a change of heart?"
"My father? Change of heart?" Arthur shakes his head, "Never."
"People are capable of change, Arthur," says Gwen earnestly.
Arthur smiles at the woman standing in front of him. "You have a good heart," he continues as he shakes his head, "but you have to know that my father is too stubborn for such a thing. You could bring peace and prosperity to all of Albion, but my father would never admit to how badly he has treated you in the past."
"But why is he silent about us?"
"I don't know," he shakes his head.
Gwen and Arthur sigh in unison.
"No matter, let's talk about something else. How was your day?" asks Arthur as he places a hand on Gwen's shoulder.
Gwen shakes her head, turns around and goes back to the stove. "Long and very boring, I'm afraid."
Arthur crosses his arms against his chest, "That's not good."
"I have to find work, Arthur. Or I'm going to bore myself to death."
"Would you like me to help?" asks the prince. "Let me help you."
"Actually," Gwen turns around and continues hopefully, "there is something you may be able to do for me."
"Tending to Uther gave me a great idea. Something that may benefit Camelot."
Arthur pushes himself off the table and takes a step forward, "Sounds great!"
"But I need the king's approval to go about accomplishing it."
"Arthur, can you please arrange so that I can meet with the king? And I promise you that this will be the last favor I ask of you."
"You know you can ask anything of me. And of course, I'll try my best to get you a meeting with father."
Gwen smiles sweetly, "Thank you."
Just as the two lovers move closer to each other, a knock on the door makes them jump a bit. Arthur quickly turns and tries to sprint over the bench to hide, but he trips on the edge of the bench and falls on the floor.
Gwen gasps and stays frozen as she hears, "Hello?" from a familiar voice. "Gwen?" says Merlin as he opens the door.
Gwen quickly rushes to the door but not fast enough to cover up the man sitting on the floor.
"Arthur?" chuckles Merlin as he sees his master on the floor looking flustered.
Arthur sighs, "As soon as I get the feeling back in my leg, I'm going to kill you, Merlin."
Merlin tries very hard not to laugh stupendously. "But before you do, sire, I think you'd like to know that your father is looking for you."
"What for?" frowns the prince. "At this hour?"
Merlin nods, "Yes, he asked that you be fetched straight away."
Arthur and Gwen look at each other quizzically.
ETA: Please move onto chapter two...
End Notes: Just another episode of ideas/plots I'd like to see in the fourth series of Merlin. This is just a teaser to hold you over until I get the rest of the episode written. As evidenced by the title of the episode, this will be Arthur-heavy. Thank you so much for all the reviews and messages. I'm a bit overwhelmed by the reviews/feedback I've received on the past three episodes. I really do appreciate the time you've taken to read and review.
As always, let me know what you think. Hope everyone's having a good 2011 so far.