Last chapter, just a round off for the two boys.

"Oh, make an effort Merlin!" Arthur snapped as Merlin lost control of his sword for the third time. Merlin huffed and went to retrieve his sword, shifting it in his grip and looking mulish as he positioned himself again.

"Can't you do this with one of the knights?"

"They do actually have a lot to do, Merlin," Arthur said swinging at him. Merlin backed up, bringing the sword up to clash with Arthur's. He wobbled a little as Arthur applied pressure.

"And I don't!" Merlin snapped, slipping over, losing his sword and getting jabbed in the neck by Arthur's for his trouble. Merlin lay still and glared up at Arthur. "Ow!"

"Oh, it's only a little nick."

"My back also still hurts a bit, one of the wounds is infected."

Arthur's reaction on instantaneous.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Arthur demanded plunging the tip of his sword into the ground and reaching down to pull Merlin up onto his feet. Merlin struggled, unsuccessfully, to get away from Arthur as he yanked up Merlin's jacket and then dragged the material of his shirt from his belt to assess the damage.

"For heavens sake, Arthur, I'm fine!"

There was only one small section of the wounds that had infected a little. Gaius was treating it, and had no serious concerns. It would heal eventually, and Merlin hadn't thought it was worth mentioning to Arthur. Now he regretted telling him. He didn't need to be manhandled like this. Merlin only stopped struggling as he felt Arthur's fingertips trace over some of the scars. Gaius had warned him, with some regret, that he would probably be marked for life.

"Arthur?" Merlin said, after the pause, and the touch, started to get disturbing. The prince seemed to come back to himself and his hand withdrew. He straightened Merlin up, pulling his clothes down. Merlin took over, unfastening his belt so he could pull his shirt down properly and get himself into some sort of order. It also gave him something to concentrate on instead of Arthur's intense gaze.

"I think that's enough for today. I'm sure I can get Leon to train with me tomorrow."

Merlin huffed inwardly and gathered up his own and Arthur's swords to dump them in the rack by the training field. Arthur sat down on the grass and Merlin, after grabbing the water skin, settled next to him, handing Arthur the water. He took it and swigged deeply before passing it to Merlin, who took a gulp.

"Thanks," Merlin said, handing it back again. "It's nice to get back to normal."

"I suppose," Arthur mused. "Why didn't you tell me your back was still sore?"

"It's only one little bit, and Gaius said it will be fine."

"You're going to be scarred though."

Merlin shrugged. "It's on my back, I have to make a bit of an effort to see it."

"I don't need to see it, I know it's there," Arthur said quietly.

"It wasn't your fault. How many times am I going to have to say that before it goes through your thick skull?"

"It feels like my fault. I was meant to be protecting you."

"On the face of it, I don't think any agreement you made with I'lian would have stopped it. Besides I can look after myself you know."

Arthur turned his head a fraction, giving Merlin a sidelong look. "Of course you can Merlin."

In response Merlin shoved Arthur on the shoulder. Arthur rocked with it then shoved Merlin back, sending him sprawling.

"See, I think that proves the point."

"It proves that you're a prat," Merlin informed him, sitting back up again, brushing his hands together to remove the dampness. Arthur snorted a brief laugh and they sat there in silence for a moment, looking around at the training area and the fields beyond. In the distance people were moving about, and a cluster of knights on horseback came into view, returning from a patrol. Arthur looked at them longingly, he hadn't been out for nearly a month, and he was starting to get twitchy. Merlin was amazed he had tolerated it for a long as he had, but it was because he wanted to make sure Merlin was fit and well.

Merlin stared at the knights as they rode towards the castle, he chewed on his lower lip for a moment before saying.

"Do you think Galen will go to Olaf?"

Arthur was silent for a moment longer, watching the returning patrol, before he answered.

"I hope so."

"What if it gets back to your father?"

"It shouldn't, at least not until enough time has passed, and I can take responsibility for it all. Olaf will take all the hints I left in the letter. Most of them were pretty obvious and he doesn't… he isn't…."



"It seemed an appropriate word. All things considered, you don't think that drowning a small child is right. You wouldn't be trying to make it better if you did."

"I'm not trying to make it better. That has no baring on any of my decisions."

"Doesn't it."

"I can't afford to have that emotion. I'm going to be king one day and will have to judge on these people."

"How can you not have emotion dealing with that? You can't assume someone needs to die because their mother knows magic."

"I know, Merlin."

"You can't not have emotion! That is the last thing you should do. You need that, to make yourself think, if could be your child, your friend,… you know, how would people see you?"

"All right, Merlin,

Merlin shut up. He took a deep breath and released it.

"I'm just saying. It's not bad to have emotions."

"I know," Arthur said.

"You know I need my dress shirt tonight, the blue one?"

"No, you didn't tell me that. I have to clean it, come on, the red one is fine."

"I told you, I wanted the blue."

"No, you did not!" Merlin yelled getting to his feet and glaring down at Arthur.

"Yes, I did," Arthur said innocently. "So get it sorted."

Merlin got to his feet, trying to gather up the equipment to take it indoors.

"You're such a annoying, inconsiderate, rude, inconsiderate, unbelievable…"

"You said inconsiderate twice."

"Shut up! That just means that I really mean that, or that you are double that."

"Just because I want my blue tunic washed?" Arthur asked innocently, while Merlin struggled to pick up the swords and kit.

"Yes, how… rude is that, you…."

"Inconsiderate… annoying….?" Arthur asked, backing up as he smiled.

"Oh… you…." Merlin got up and ran at Arthur who backed up, grinning from ear to ear.

"Rude…? Oh, yeah… discourteous… boorish… tactless…."

"Good vocabulary Merlin…"