Disclaimer: I do not own BBC Merlin or gain any profit from this.
The sun was sinking low in the sky as the knights were finishing their training drills. The prince ordered his servant to take his mace and long sword back to the blacksmith to be repaired. The servant complied with a low bow that would fool anyone who didn't know them into thinking the boy was being respectful. The prince had recognized that he was being mocked however and propelled the boy forward with a push. Merlin stumbled from Arthur's shove and turned a withering glare towards him. It was rather ruined by the smirk on his face though.
"Carry on Merlin," Arthur made a shooing motion with his hand.
"Yes Sire," he replied causing Arthur to roll his eyes extravagantly- Merlin always managed to make the very respectable title sound like an insult. The prince shook his head good naturedly and turned back to the training field already anticipating the dinner that would be waiting for him.
A dark head bobbed above the crowd, the lean body it was attached too was making his way through the swarm of people. Merlin decided to cut through the market on his way to the blacksmith. He'd have to pick his way through the throng but the prince was probably hungry and wanted to eat, so he would have to at least try and hurry.
The man came out of nowhere. One minute his vision was perfectly clear and then it was assaulted by a whole lot of ugly. Merlin managed to skid to a halt before he crashed into the man but dropped Arthur's weapons in surprise. They clattered to the ground with a loud crash, startling many people walking by. Just as he was about to apologize the man's loud voice interrupted, "Yer da princess' serf aint ya!"
Merlin had the presence of mind to back away as two other drunken men soon flanked the first. "...Yes, is there something you need help with?" In hindsight, not the best question to ask.
"Yeah! You cin run ta yer preshs p-rince an' tell 'im ta- ta...what 'gain?" The drunken man slurred and turned questioningly to one rather smelly friend.
"Teh go an' join his dear ol' mummy!" One of the men snarled.
People were looking at them now, many had stopped to stare at the disturbance the men were causing but many mothers had ushered their children and some husbands away. Merlin didn't notice them though.
He narrowed his eyes, "Excuse me?"
"R' you deaf boy!" The one he crashed into slurred at him, "I said-"
"Prince Arthur is a good man," Merlin called out clearly, finally noticing their little audience.
"Yer be goin blind too f'ye think tha' fool isa good- hic- man. Arthr Penragon s'a bloody coward, n'idiot, an' I 'ope ee ros-in-hell!"
The man stumbled back a step in spite of himself, unbeknownst to Merlin his eyes were like blue flames burning on his face. The man was just as tall as him but sported an overhanging gut, Merlin creatively dubbed him Fatty.
"You best watch what you say about the prince." His statement brought many affirmative shouts.
"Yeah? M'not scare o' im! Ya thi-hic- yeh cin tark tah me like a'tha boy?" he yelled bolstered by his two friends behind him. All three took a wobbly but threatening step towards him. One of the men had flabby cheeks which quivered as he moved-he'd be Jiggles. The other dim looking man wasn't as large as the first one but couldn't boast healthiness either; Merlin decided on Chubby.
The warlock eyed them and thought he probably should have considered arguing with three drunken men before he jumped in without a thought. They were rather large and he noticed no one in the crowd looked like they wanted come to his aid- great. He wouldn't back down though; he would not let anyone get away with insulting Arthur within his hearing. Besides they were insulting his destiny and himself by extension- so really it had nothing to do with the prince anyway.
"Well you should be. He could take you out blindfolded," Merlin lifted his chin, it was true too.
"Oh ho! Couldee now? You'll see boy, our lil prince's jus all talk. He's a useless-hic- daddy's boy an' he brings Camalaw down! I 'ope someun kills 'im, o'erwise en he's king he-" Fatty went crashing back as Merlin's fist connected with his jaw. Merlin was just as surprised as Fatty. The man roared and went to punch him back. They ended up grappling, each landing kicks and punches on the other. Merlin was sure he was shouting profanities at him but was too busy trying to get punches in to bother containing them. He suddenly went careening forward into the drunk idiot when he was shoved from behind- the other two had snuck up behind him. Next thing he knew was thrown to the floor and doing his best to block the kicks raining down on him. Merlin managed to grab a boot that was lodged in his ribs and bring the offending man crashing down beside him. He shot up quickly and backed away from the two others, brushing away a trickle of blood from his brow.
A smug smile was forming on his lips upon surveying the three men and he nodded, feeling very proud of himself. Fatty had a broken nose and both his eyes were starting to swell, Jiggles had a goose egg sprouting off his temple and was clutching his stomach, and he somehow had managed to kick Chubby in the face judging by the boot shaped imprint across his forehead. He took check of his own injuries and was pleased to find only a bloody nose, sore ribs, a few bruises, and a possible black eye- pretty good he thought for three against one. Looks like training with Arthur had actually paid off-what do you know? Many men from the crowd and even some beefy women stepped forward from the ring of people, ready to use their fists. Merlin grinned at the man standing nearest him to his right.
But suddenly three guards ran past them to restrain the offensive men. A hand settled on his arm causing him to whip around and back up a step. He met the gaze of Sir Leon and had the grace to don a sheepish expression. Merlin was breathing heavily and still had adrenalin pumping through his veins, but he did his best to stay still.
"Sorry Sir Leon."
"What is the meaning of this Merlin?" The knight asked genuinely confused, he knew Merlin as someone who wouldn't hurt a fly.
"He a'tact me!" the drunk he labelled as Fatty yelled. Merlin spun on his heel with a heated expression on his face.
"You asked for it!" Merlin yelled and was held back by Leon's restraining hand. The servant was supported by many angry yells.
"Merlin!" Leon exclaimed incredulously.
"Well he did! He insulted Ar- er me." He turned a glare on the already protesting drunks but they were sober enough to stutter to a halt. Well save for Fatty.
"I stan' by wad I said! Tha' moron ova prince's a no good, sunnava bi- ah!" he was cut off as the guard that was restraining him started to crush his arms.
Merlin felt his face turn red with embarrassment as Leon strode past him, "You speak treason! Guards, take them to the dungeons," he ordered shortly. Both of them stood watching as the protesting men were roughly manhandled away. Leon turned his head and gave Merlin a wry smile causing the warlock to clear his throat awkwardly.
"You never cease to amaze me Merlin," the knight shook his head amusedly. "I see you have been holding out in training. Come I'll take you to Gaius, you look like you were the one to lose that fight." He started leading the warlock by the shoulder.
"So are you saying I won then?"Merlin chirped happily.
"Well... I don't suppose you lost. Against three men, I'd say you did a commendable job."
Merlin gave him a sunny grin, "Just don't tell Arthur." He laughed and began to tell Leon of his heroic fighting skills.
Arthur sat in his chair staring at the door, tapping his fingers against the table. The remains of his dinner were left in front of him. He had sent a servant to get it when Merlin had failed to show up. His hand twitched by his empty goblet thinking of the timely challenged servant. He was waiting for the moment Merlin walked in the door; he'd greet him by using him as target practice. The door crashed open and Arthur shot up with the goblet poised above his head. The lack of knock on the door indicating it was Merlin. His hand faltered to a halt upon seeing his battered looking servant. He was sporting a purple bruise at the corner of his eye, another one along his cheekbone, and there were small stitches on the opposite brow along with a cut just below his hairline.
Merlin raised a dark eyebrow at the goblet in his hand and his lips tried to fight an amused smile, drawing attention to a nick on his lip.
"What happened! You like you lost a fight," Arthur got to his feet.
"I think I look...rugged thank you very much. And I won actually, you should see the other guys," the servant informed him smugly.
"You're lying," Arthur narrowed his eyes which caused Merlin to shrug and start to stack the dishes. Arthur crossed his arms over his chest and studied his servant, he couldn't detect a trace of a lie and he knew Merlin couldn't tell a fib to save his life. The boy diligently ignored his gaze which would have made even his knights fidget, yet Merlin continued clearing up the table definitely hiding a smirk. He was telling the truth? "You were in a fight? And won?"
"Against three. They're in the dungeons for their troubles," Merlin stopped his cleaning and grinned at him, apparently waiting for something.
Arthur frowned, "There is no way you could beat three men. They must have been exceedingly drunk. Or very old," he insisted and smiled upon seeing the put out expression form on Merlin's face. He found his seat again.
"Well they were sober enough to gang up on me," came his petulant reply and he gingerly placed a hand on his stomach absently. "They were huge too, but I managed to get in a few hits," he continued in a cool tone with his nose slightly upturned.
Arthur's brow drew together in a scowl; he was inexplicably irritated now- what manner of men ganged up on a scrawny servant? His scrawny servant?
"Then I have to say I'm impressed," he conceded and earned a beam from Merlin, but he cut him off before the boy could gloat. "I have to wonder though, what could you have possibly done to get on the bad side of a few drunks in the space of an hour?" Merlin suddenly was very interested in his cleaning and mumbled something unintelligible.
"What was that?" Arthur asked sharply.
"Just, ah, fe-ell. In front of them," Merlin replied looking at everything but him. Now this he knew was a lie. Arthur tilted his head and stared at Merlin. The boy's words from before fluttered into his head- it gave him an idea.
"You are dismissed for the night," he said standing up, "I won't need you until tomorrow morning."
"Really?" But his question went unanswered for Arthur was already out the door. Merlin shrugged and grabbed the dirty dishes; the kitchens would be his final stop for the night before he went back to Gaius.
Arthur stood just inside the cell door wearing a distinctly unimpressed expression. Two of the men inside were passed out and the other was quaking in the corner. The prince's arms were crossed over his wide chest and his fierce eyes were unwaveringly fixed upon the man.
"Not so tough now are you? You need your two friends to work up the courage to attack a single man." He bent slightly and leered angrily at the fool. "Now, if I ever hear you attack my servant again I'll feed you to the dogs," he said pleasantly with a dangerous glint in his eyes. It was no wonder that the fat man whimpered and cowered further into the corner.
"Sire?" he turned to Sir Leon who was looking at him uncertainly from outside the cell. The drunken man flinched at Leon's voice and the prince eyed the knight appraisingly. He walked out and closed the door, pleased to hear the relieved sigh come from the drunk.
"Why are they still here? As much as I'd like to keep them in the cell, brawling in public is not a serious offence. And they haven't been warned before."
The knight looked at him oddly, "Merlin did not tell you Sire?"
Arthur frowned at him, "Tell me what?"
"They are in here for speaking treason my lord." He paused to glare at the conscious man.
"Oh? What were they saying?"
"It was about you Sire, and it was enough for Merlin to throw the first punch. Or so I heard from all who were there."
Arthur felt his eyebrows disappear into his hair line, "Merlin was the one who attacked first?" he asked incredulously.
"I was shocked as well. The fat one was insulting you and Merlin took it upon himself to set them straight," he gave a small chuckle. "He looked about ready to start again too-ahem." He straightened and clasped his hands behind his back.
With his eyebrows still raised Arthur flicked his eyes between Leon and the drunken men.
"Huh," he made a noise of disbelief. So that was why Merlin had avoided the question. "Well, keep them here then. I'll deal with them tomorrow." With that he turned on his heel and stalked out of the dungeons with a smirk growing on his face.
The following morning Merlin worked with growing agitation as he cleaned up the mess on Arthur's floor. The prince in question had not averted his eyes from him since he had pulled the curtains open this morning. And he had an infuriating smirk on his face above his folded hands.
The clothes he was holding slapped against the floor as he flung them down. "What!" he snapped and turned to face the prince. Arthur's face didn't change and continued to stare, causing Merlin to cross his arms over his chest. He hoped that the bruise on his eye made him look impressive.
"Sit," Arthur commanded and nodded to the chair opposite him. Merlin uncrossed his arms and tilted his head slightly back.
"Why?" he asked slowly. When Arthur said nothing, Merlin made his way to the chair and sat heavily on it, his eyes not leaving Arthur's.
"So! I was talking to Sir Leon last night," he started and grinned when Merlin immediately stole the cheese off his plate and stuffed it into his mouth. "He told me a funny story. Can you guess what it was?"
Merlin's response was to chew slower and shake his head.
"No? Because it happened to center around you," Arthur prompted causing Merlin to grumble and look away in irritation. He said nothing though and Arthur merrily continued, adopting a pompous smirk. "I'm flattered Merlin."
"It was nothing."
"No, I'm pretty sure starting a fight against three men to defend me is not nothing."
Merlin gave an exasperated sigh, "You aren't going to let me live it down are you?" He didn't think it would be wise for him to mention that punching the man had been a complete accident; his fist had acted on its own. No definitely not. "I'm just going to take your laundry now," he shot up and fled the room-without the laundry.
"Don't worry Merlin! I'll rest easier knowing I have you to defend my honour!" He called after him. Arthur stood up and sauntered out of his room with a smile on his face. He now had a trump card that could shut Merlin himself up-how many people could do that? This was going to be a good day, and he'd start it by ordering severe punishment for three unpleasant men.
There you go! I hope you guys liked it.
Thanks for reading, and please leave a review :)
HELEN- Hi there, I hope you are reading this. I just want to say thanks for your reviews but I probably won't be writing anything that has Cenred and an OC as the main characters- sorry. And you make me laugh with your enthusiasm but one review a chapter is perfect, so more than one is not needed. Thanks :)