Title: A Matter of Perspective
Summary: It ends with Lord Alcott screaming for Gwaine and Merlin's immediate banishment or execution. Arthur is given the, uh, pleasure of trying to figure out what the hell happened. Questing Trio centric!
WARNINGS: SPOILERS FOR SERIES THREE
Disclaimer: Merlin belongs to Shine and BBC, not me. There is no profit involved in this
AN - I've basically used up all the scraps of Merlin fic that I had squirreled away. As a result, I am now desperately seeking plot bunnies. What this means is that if you have a fic that you'd like to see written, feel free to shoot the idea my way. I can't promise that it'll get written, but hey – The Geek is in and taking requests!
I'm also starting a campaign for fics revolving around Merlin, Gwaine, and Arthur to be referred to as Questing Trio fics. 'Cause, you know, season 3 – if there's a quest, there's a Merlin and an Arthur and a Gwaine involved.
"I will never forgive you for this," Merlin growled.
"Psh," Gwaine said, rolling his eyes, "Like I haven't heard that one before."
"I mean it, Gwaine," Merlin said, "We are in serious trouble right now, you realize that, right? You should've just left it alone. God, we are in so much trouble. He thinks we tried to kill him."
"You're overreacting," Gwaine said, "He had it coming – you know he did. Arthur will take our side in this, you'll see."
Merlin just crossed his arms and slumped down in his seat a little with a peeved huff. Gwaine laughed slightly. "What?" Merlin barked.
"You have to admit, Merlin," Gwaine said, "That was fun, wasn't it?"
"What part of 'never forgiving you' don't you understand?" Merlin barked.
"The never bit, I think," Gwaine said, "And I think that in a few days you'll agree with me on the fun part."
Merlin didn't answer, just sank further in his seat and glared at the floor. Both of them were covered with dried mud that was flaking off and onto the floor. Only Gwaine's hair was free of the stuff. Merlin was also coated with chicken feathers and small scratches on his hands and face, one eye decorated with a rather fabulous bruise. Both of them reeked to high heaven.
The door to the room they were sitting in flew open, bouncing off of the wall. Arthur strode in, irritation radiating from his posture and the way his jaw was twitching slightly. He slammed the door shut behind him, and stared in a slightly crazed manner at Merlin and Gwaine. "I left the city for three hours," Arthur said, "Three. Hours."
Gwaine scoffed, and said, "It's not our fault Alcott has a stick up his –"
"After three hours," Arthur interrupted as Merlin continued to glower at the floor, "Lord Alcott is screaming – literally screaming – for you" – he pointed at Gwaine – "To be stripped of your title and for the both of you to be banished or executed. After only three hours!"
"Yes, Arthur, we get that it was within three hours," Gwaine said, "You can stop pointing it out."
"Anyway," Arthur said, ignoring Gwaine, "I've gotten Alcott's version of things. Now I need yours. And to keep Alcott from completely flying off of the handle, I have to talk to you both separately and figure out if you're really the idiots he claims you to be. So who wants to go first?"
Gwaine looked at Merlin. Merlin looked at Gwaine. Then Merlin stood and, without a word, stalked out into the hall, nose stuck in the air. Gwaine stuck his thumb in the direction of the door, "If he says he's never going to forgive someone," he asked Arthur, "Does he mean never-for-a-little-while-never or never-ever-forever-never?"
Arthur just stared at him.
Gwaine cleared his throat, and said, "Right, then," and scratched his chin. Some more mud flaked off and drifted down to the floor, "Where d'you want me to start?"
"The beginning would be nice," Arthur said, throwing himself into a chair, "As would alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. Do you have any idea how much of a headache you've given me?"
"Ah, but Prince Arthur," Gwaine said, "If we had lots and lots of alcohol, then we wouldn't get very far into this story, as I have already had lots and lots of –"
"Right. Beginning. So, Alcott got here this morning. Just came rolling in like owned the place and threw all his stuff at Merlin and walked away without a second glance, right?" Gwaine said, and Arthur nodded, so Gwaine continued, "That was the first thing that bothered me about him, you know – Servants are people too, and you should address them with please and thank you and…I'm off topic. Anyway. Later, just after you left with Leon to go on your patrol, Lancelot, Percival and I were all in the training yard sparring. Alcott just came wandering down, and says 'Are you Arthur's knights?'
"Now, me, I can tell right away that this isn't going to end well. Alcott had this gleam in his eye. I've seen enough men like him in the taverns to know when someone is up to something no good. But Lancelot just says, 'Yes, some of them' and smiles like there's naught wrong in the world. And Alcott just sniffs, nose right in the air, and says, 'I see. The, ah, not noble ones?' And Lancelot, he caught on now that this Alcott fellow might not have the best of intentions, 'cause he just stopped smiling right away. I leaned on my sword and said, 'We're not Lords, your Lordliness, if that's what you mean.'
"'That's what I mean,' he says, and Lancelot and I just look at him, and he says, 'I remember a day when Camelot had standards' and wandered off. I wanted to go and show him just how much his title meant to me with my fists. Lancelot stopped me, though."
"And where was Percival in all of this?" Arthur asked.
"Oh, I don't really know," answered Gwaine, "He just sort of wandered off at some point. Quiet man, our Percival, especially for one so large. I don't understand it at all. I mean, he moves like a –"
"Focus, Gwaine," Arthur said, pinching the bridge of his nose, "Please just…focus."
"Right. So, anyway, that was Alcott's second offense. Then I run into Merlin, and he had that black eye. At first, he kept refusing to tell me what happened, saying it wasn't important and there wasn't a problem and other such things Merlin says when he's trying to hide something. I kept pestering him though, and finally he said that he'd dropped one of our dear Lord Alcott's boxes and that he'd gotten boxed in the eye as a result. So I was –"
"He hit Merlin?" Arthur said, looking up sharply.
"Aye," Gwaine said, nodding, "And, naturally, I couldn't just let that go. I can't just let people go around smacking Merlin, or we wouldn't be able to get them to stop. So I was all ready, once again, to go and redecorate his face for him, but Merlin wouldn't let me. 'Fine, Merlin,' I said, 'Fine. I won't beat him up. But I'm not letting this go, either.' And Merlin didn't believe me about not beating Lord Ass up, so he followed me when I walked away. I sent him to get a jar, and he did, and then we went out and caught a few frogs. And by a few, I mean about twelve. That's how we got all covered in mud – we needed frogs and we needed them fast. They were quick little critters, too, and Merlin fell over while trying to get one and then I fell over when I was trying to help him up."
"Why did you need frogs?"
"To get at Alcott," Gwaine said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, "So, we had our jar of frogs. Then we paid one of the serving boys - Phillip, I think his name was, but I can't rightly remember – to go and tell Alcott he was needed elsewhere than his chambers in his castle. Once he was gone, we went over to his bed and dumped the frogs in Alcott's bed. Merlin was starting to get all twitchy and nervous, so we pulled the covers back up pretty quickly, you know, and then –"
"Wait, wait, wait," Arthur said, "You did what?"
"You heard me, and he deserved all of those frogs," Gwaine said, "Now may I continue?"
Arthur, with a frustrated sigh, motioned for him to go ahead.
"We had just finished remaking Alcott's bed when we heard him coming back. Unfortunately, Phillip – or was it George? – the serving boy is rather terrible at distractions, so Alcott was headed back much earlier than we'd anticipated. And, his chambers are down on the lower level of the castle, just next to where the kitchens keep their chickens. Thus, when we heard him coming, Merlin and I both just jumped out of the windows. I landed just outside the chicken coop. Merlin, uh, Merlin landed in it. Apparently, chickens get very loud and very angry when Merlins land in them. So I can hear him yelping like a mad man from in there, and Alcott must have noticed his bed moving about and found the frogs, because he started howling from in there. Then Merlin came running out of the chicken coop, several chickens chasing him, just as Alcott looked out of his window.
"Now, me, I'm not one to just leave someone behind, so I grabbed Merlin and ran. We hid down in the lower town for a bit, and by the time we got back to the castle, and found out that the frogs we caught may have been a bit poisonous. We'd been covered in mud at the time we caught them, which apparently is enough protection. But Alcott was determined that we'd been trying to kill him," Gwaine said, "Which we weren't. But then you got back, and we got dragged in here, and Merlin seems to think that things would've worked out better if we'd just left Alcott alone. I disagree. But it's all just perspective, I suppose. And…and that's it."
"That's it?" Arthur repeated, "You put poisonous frogs in a man's bed."
"Yes, well, he hit Merlin and cast aspersions on me and the knights," Gwaine said, "I feel Merlin's and my actions were justified."
Arthur just sighed, and said, "Go clean yourself up. Send Merlin in so that I can get this whole thing cleared up and send Alcott on his way."
"A wise choice," Gwaine said, and as he stood he cracked his back. Then, he pushed open the door, and called Merlin's name. As the younger man walked past him, the knight said, "Is that whole never forgiving thing still going on?"
"You should've just left it alone," Merlin said, and sat down heavily, glaring at the floor. Gwaine sighed, and shrugged in a 'what can you do?' sort of way, and walked from the room.
"Alright, Merlin," Arthur said wearily, "Let's hear your side."
"Okay," Merlin said, "Gwaine did it. Can I go now?"