Author's Note: Both this story and it's prequel were inspired by WinterStorrm's "Keep your friends close" My sick little brain just had to add more to the story!
Warnings: There are references to M/M sexual relationships, if that bother's you, please move on. No spoilers really unless you've never seen the show.
Facing the Music
(Sequel to Uther's Morning After)
"Father, what have you done? Where's Merlin?"
Uther looked up from his mid-day meal and carefully kept his features blank and smooth. He was mildly surprised it had taken Arthur this long to seek him out. He'd already had a most uncomfortable conversation with Gaius about Merlin's changed "house-hold position". Officially he was taking Merlin on as a second manservant under the pretext that his current manservant was (thankfully) aging too much to fulfill all his duties and needed the assistance.
Gaius had raised an eyebrow and inquired if that was why Merlin hadn't returned from delivering the King's "draught" the night before. Uther had had the grace to look away, while nodding. He was unwilling, unable to let the boy go but that didn't mean he didn't feel guilty for taking him. Merlin was obviously more than willing to go along with his King's wishes but something inside him still felt as if he was taking advantage of the boy.
"Well, I won't say I won't miss having him here Sire but your needs must always come first. Just please," the old man paused here, waiting until Uther met his eyes. "Please be careful with him, he is as dear to me as a son." Gaius didn't voice it but his eyes didn't pretend to know anything other than the truth of why Uther was taking Merlin as his "servant".
Uther managed to keep eye contact with Gaius as he said, "I will, I swear it. He'll come to no harm under my protection." At this promise, Gaius nodded his head and got to his feet. Moving surprisingly fast for a man of his age, he rummaged through several cabinets and placed several jars, vials and bottles into a small basket. He turned back to his King and pushed it into his hands.
"He's young, you'll need these. There are labels on each one for their use."
As Uther turned to leave, Gaius called out in a voice meant to sound teasing but still rang sadly, "Sire? Please don't work him too hard."
Uther had actually felt a blush rising to his cheeks as he swiftly turned away and swept out the door.
Now he surveyed his son ranting in high dungeon. "Merlin is completely useless as a manservant, what the hell are you thinking? You gave him to me, don't you remember? If this is some kind of punishment, at least tell me what I've done and how long you intend this punishment to last."
Uther marveled at how petulant and childish Arthur sounded. This, Camelot's finest warrior, champion of every tournament since the age of 16,was leader of the Knight's of Camelot and he sounded like a 5 year old screaming for his favorite toy.
Since he was acting like a child, Uther decided to handle him as one.
"You seem to have forgotten a few lessons you were taught many years ago, son. I'll refresh your memory so you might start behaving like an adult again, instead of a spoiled child."
Arthur glared hard at the King but held his tongue for the moment.
"Number one, I am the King. Anything you receive in my lifetime comes from my hand. As I can give, I can also take away. Number two, treat your possessions well and you will receive more of them. Treat them carelessly and they will be taken away. Number three, you are my son and as such, even were I not the King, you will obey me. You may be of age but I am the King and my will is law. You will not question my decisions, you will simply carry them out. Is that clear? Frankly from the way you complain about the boy, I would have thought you'd be relieved to be rid of him. Something about him must irritate you for I happen to know you assign him three times the duties of any normal manservant. It seemed to me you had it in for the boy. We do have stable boys to care for the horses, Trainers for the dogs and Falconers to tend to the hawks."
Lips thinned to almost nothing, Arthur stood ramrod straight and spoke.
"I am your son, I have done everything you ever asked me to. I admit I am not perfect and I have failed you on several occasions. For those failures I have accepted reprimand and punishment without complaint. But this makes no sense to me, Father. Why Merlin? Surely there are other servants, more capable servants who could assist Willhem in his duties. You'll be clapping Merlin in the stocks every other day for spilling trays and dropping your favorite sword and for God's sake, his mouth alone will have you tossing him in the dungeon at least weekly!"
Uther's lips twitched a little at the mention of Merlin's mouth but once again Arthur was oblivious to the obvious and felt his father was laughing at him.
"Willhem is fond of the boy and made the request," Uther lied smoothly. "As he has served me loyally since my childhood I felt he deserved a reward. You on the other hand, have mistreated your gift. Honestly, I thought I was rewarding that boy by making him your manservant." He gave a snort at that.
Arthur suddenly looked distressed. "I haven't mistreated him, Father. I've been tolerant of his familiarity, something I don't think you'll find so amusing. And yes, I tease him and I complain but I haven't meant it."
"I've seen you use the boy for pells for the amusement of the Knights."
"I was just trying to toughen him up, he acts like such a girl sometimes!"
"Arthur, he isn't suited to martial training. He'll be much better off learning how to be a proper manservant from Willhem's capable tutoring. Speaking of which, I think you need some tutoring yourself on what duties are appropriate to a personal manservant. Therefore I shall be sending you one with experience. If you attempt to have him muck out your horse's stalls or follow you on hunting trips, he'll remind you that it's not his job."
Arthur's jaw dropped a bit at that news but he promptly snapped it shut when his father turned back to his meal and waved an imperious hand toward the door indicating that this audience was over. He stormed out of the room. If Uther wouldn't tell him why he was taking Merlin away, then by God, Merlin would!
After he'd gone, Uther's shoulders slumped a bit and he allowed himself the small luxury of cradling his forehead in his hands. He felt guilty for making Arthur feel like it was his fault for the King's actions but Uther just couldn't look his son in the eye and tell him the truth. That he'd taken Merlin away because he needed to have access to him and his body 24 hours a day. He could no longer deny his need for his lover but he still felt ashamed of that need and the hurt that his selfishness was causing his beloved son and his closest friend.
Uther rose from the table, leaving his food half-eaten and returned to his chambers, his need for Merlin rising like a tide. He needed him now! When Uther threw open the door to his room he found Merlin with Willhem, taking inventory of the King's wardrobe.
"Willhem, out, please." The older manservant bowed his head and left without a sound, pausing just outside the doors to drop a quiet word to the guards stationed there. "His Highness is not to be disturbed, by anyone, for anything."
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