DISCLAIMER: We don't own Merlin. Or Arthur for that matter. Even if we'd like to.
NOTE: This isn't a "royal we." This is a joint account.
The gauntlet smacked the back of Merlin's head.
Arthur drew a deep breath to calm himself as Merlin gave a reproachful look and left. He had gone too far this time. Arthur had. If Arthur was honest with himself he would have realized that. However, Arthur was convinced that it was actually Merlin who had gone too far. Merlin had no right to mock the melee. A gauntlet to the head? Yeah, he deserved it.
Besides, Merlin could have ducked. Arthur was sure Merlin only had himself to blame for his aching head. Not bothering to duck made Merlin deserve his punishment all the more. He needed to learn to be aware. It could save his life one day.
Arthur hung tightly to the belief that his actions were justified. After all, it was truly all for Merlin's own good. Arthur wouldn't let himself be responsible for his servant's death.
Arthur knew it was reasonable to throw things at his servants in order to protect them not long after he had become a knight. He would never forget the day he learned this.
When Arthur had first become a knight his father put him under the tutelage of some of Camelot's finest knights. One day, they were going to guard a shipment of grain to a garrison. As a new knight and Camelot's future king, Arthur traveled with them. This task had been considered an opportunity to teach him about escorting valuable goods. It was supposed to be simple. There shouldn't have been any danger. It was just routine.
One of the knights brought a servant to make the journey more comfortable. Arthur didn't remember the servant's name. But Arthur would always remember that servant's face.
This "simple" and "safe" assignment turned out to be anything but that. Bandits attacked. As the battle raged Arthur noticed that the servant was frozen with fear. Despite being locked in combat, Arthur could see the servant register that a javelin was about to be thrown at him. Yet, the man was still a statue. He was dead a moment later.
After the battle, Arthur stared at the dead servant. He couldn't help but feel this could have been prevented. All that man had to do was move. He would still be alive if he had only moved.
That day, Arthur made a silent vow. This would never happen to his servant. Arthur didn't care if he had to be a terror. Then, if his servant died it would not be Arthur's fault. It would be the servant's own fault.
Arthur quickly began to enjoy telling his servants that they were the target. He would practice fighting on them. He would throw things at them. Why wouldn't he? He had heard others call it "bullying" or "just a bit of fun." But this was neither. In reality, Arthur was trying to keep his servants alive. He never told anyone his true reason for "bullying" his servants. He didn't even tell his servants. He didn't need to. It was none of their business.
Over the years, many of Arthur's servants quit because they couldn't stand Arthur's method of protection. To them, it was simply torture. Arthur didn't care. He could always find another servant. And every new servant was expected to learn how to duck, block, and run. Then, they would be able to defend themselves even without the training of a knight.
That is why Arthur threw the gauntlet at Merlin. It was justified. It was mercy.
It was unreasonable.
But Arthur couldn't see that.
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