Arthur's head was thrown back, and his senses were suddenly overloaded. Bewildered, he stumbled back, not able to keep his knees from buckling. It was really quite embarrassing that he fell to the floor on his backside, but for just a moment he couldn't care.

"Merlin!" he gasped, staring disbelievingly at the manservant that was standing over him. "Did you just… punch me?"

It was rather a stupid question, as Arthur's sore jaw could testify.

Merlin gave him a dark look and rubbed his knuckles, which were stinging as if in discontent.

"Yes," he said. "Has anyone ever told you you're an arrogant prat? I can't believe you just said that!"

"You hit me!" cried Arthur, still sitting, his mouth hanging open, his face filled with astonishment.

"At least," answered Merlin, "I didn't throw you out that window!" He pointed angrily at the window of Arthur's chambers, his normally cheerful face scowling.

"…You hit me!"

Merlin rolled his eyes, then turned on his heel and stalked out of the room. His voice followed him, but Arthur could still hear him muttering when the door slammed shut:

"'No man is worth your tears…' Of all the stupid things to say… No sympathy… Stupid clotpole!"

Apparently, Arthur found himself thinking, the shock not having worn off, it was something I said.