Let the Silence Not be Heard
A/N: Hey guys, here's the first chapter as promised. I like it better now. Hopefully you will too. Please review, it helps with motivation.
Arthur was irritated. There was no other way to describe it: just pure and unrelenting irritation at his wayward 'manservant'. Though he was hardly that anymore. Sure, he performed all the tasks that a manservant was required to, but since his rather shocking revelation a few months ago, Merlin was far more to Arthur than just that.
He still found it hard to believe that all these years, his seemingly clumsy and good-for-nothing servant had been his guardian all along. How do you miss something like that so entirely?
Arthur remembered that day so vividly, when Merlin walked into his room, solemn as they come, confessing his 'sins' to his regent. Arthur had laughed at the idea at first. Then his disbelief had turned to betrayal, betrayal to anger and anger to mistrust. When it seemed like all his negative emotions had been spent, Merlin had gently laid a hand on Arthur's shoulder and smiled.
"You have the right to be angry, to feel hurt. You also have the right to punish me as you see fit. I won't resist. I promise."
Arthur had just stared in disbelief.
"Why aren't you begging for forgiveness? Why aren't you asking me to spare you?"
"If you want me to be sorry for protecting you. Then I'm not. If I should beg you to forgive me for being born with magic, then I won't. I am what I am. I'm only sorry that I couldn't tell you sooner."
And just like that, all the anger, the betrayal had dissolved into nothing, leaving only questions in its wake.
It took three full nights of intense discussion, spilling of guts and occasional tears (some of which were Arthur's) for the regent to accept the truth about the guardian who'd risked everything to save his friend.
Finally, when it was all over. Arthur was overwhelmed. He'd spent days contemplating magic, friendship and loyalty. He'd found himself lacking in so many ways. He'd found that he didn't deserve a friend like Merlin. And yet, a kind, compassionate, loyal and courageous person like him chose a prat like Arthur to serve and protect. It baffled and humbled him in so many ways.
Since then, Arthur found it rather uncomfortable that his friend should be his manservant when lesser men had been Knighted before him. He was dying to appoint Merlin as his court sorcerer, but the idiot kept refusing. Of course, he had a point. After all, Arthur wasn't king yet and were his father to recover and return to the throne, Merlin would be instantly executed. Not to mention the fact that after Morgana's tyrannical reign, there was a deep mistrust of magic in the kingdom, even more so than before. There was no telling how the people would react to Arthur bringing magic back to the land so soon. They would have to rebuild the trust slowly.
However, that was all well and good. The problem Arthur was currently facing was far more pressing. He was trying to prepare for a hunting trip and nothing was actually getting done. He'd already spent an hour waiting for his idiot friend and was now becoming increasingly exasperated.
Merlin was supposed to meet the future king at the crack of dawn to help him dress and then prepare the horses. They were going hunting for the first time in ages. Gwaine and Lancelot were to accompany him for the first time and Arthur even managed to convince Gwen to tag along. This was especially exciting since Arthur hardly ever found quality time to spend with the future queen lately.
Merlin was well aware of how important this was to Arthur, and still the fool managed to disappear. There had better be a magical emergency, or a certain scrawny little warlock's head would roll.
With that thought in mind Arthur trudged angrily up the stairs that lead to Gaius' chambers. However before he could barge in and make a grand gesture of irritation, he realized the occupants of the chambers were already in the throws of an argument. Good sense would tell Arthur to leave them be. Of course, Arthur was not known for having good sense most days. So instead he decided to eavesdrop.
"Will you sit down for one minute!" Gaius' irritated voice bellowed.
"Gaius' I'm already late, can't we do this later?"
"Merlin, so help me if I have to endure one more second of you trying to dissuade me, I will personally strap you to your bed." This brought a smile to Arthur's lips. He could just imagine Gaius following through with that threat.
"Well it's the truth this time, Arthur will have my head. I have loads of things to do. We're going hunting and…"
"My point exactly Merlin, you shouldn't be doing any of those things right now!" Gaius' voice rose in frustration. Arthur stood there perplexed. It wasn't like Gaius to ask Merlin to slack off.
"I've already told you. It's not how I want things to be."
"It won't be up to you my boy." Arthur couldn't be sure but he thought he heard the physician's voice crack. What was going on? What had Gaius this upset?
"I know, Don't worry. Everything is fine for the moment." Merlin said softly. Arthur could barely hear anything. His confusion mounted at Gaius' next words.
"You should tell him you know. He has every right to know."
"No!" Merlin cried firmly. The note of desperation in his voice was clear. "This is my life and my decision. I don't want him to know and that's final. You will not tell him Gaius."
"I won't" Gaius relented gently. There was silence for a few seconds and Arthur contemplated entering the room at that moment, when he heard Gaius move.
"Only if you promise to take this." Arthur had no idea what 'this' was but couldn't imagine it being a good thing, especially upon hearing Merlin's groan.
"I have to work!"
"Either take it or I'm marching straight to Arthur's chambers." At this Arthur's interest peaked. Merlin was hiding something from him? What could it be?
Anger began to boil beneath Arthur's blood. Merlin was lying to him about something again. He'd promised. He'd sworn to never keep secrets from him. Didn't he trust him?
What could it be, what would force his friend to keep secrets once more? Why did Gaius seem so worried? Why did Merlin seem so desperate? With so many questions swimming in his mind, Arthur did not realize that Merlin had already accepted whatever it was that Gaius was offering and had performed what was required of him.
"There, now can I go? I have a hunting trip to organize." Arthur took that as his cue to enter the chambers.
"Merlin?" Upon seeing Arthur enter, Merlin's face broke into a grin. Even to Arthur, it seemed fake.
"Oh good, I was just making my way to you." With that he waved at Gaius and began to steer Arthur back the way he came. "Come on then, I'm sure you're just dying to let out a long rant about me being late. Don't hold back sire, let it out."
"Wait a minute…" Arthur tried to halt their progress, still in the process of recollecting all that he had heard. He wanted to get his answers, but it seemed that Merlin was almost too anxious to get out of Gaius' chamber.
As the two men made their way into the main hallway, Arthur tried once more to get Merlin's attention.
"Merlin, hold on a minute!" At this Merlin finally stopped.
"Sire?" Merlin theatrically bowed, making a show of respect. That only earned him an eye roll, to which Merlin's sheepish grin grew wider.
"Do you have something you want to tell me Merlin?" Arthur asked, folding his arms in that authoritative way that had most people spilling their guts. Most people that weren't Merlin anyway.
"Uh…I don't like your taste in clothes?" Merlin replied with his trademark grin firmly in place. Arthur's train of thought halted for a second, staring at his clothing, before realizing Merlin's cleverly devised distraction.
"I also think you spend too much time in front of the mirror these days…"
"Merlin! I'm serious!"
"So am I, you do."
"Look, this isn't funny. You promised me you wouldn't hide things from me. What was all that about, with Gaius? I heard."
Merlin's grin dissolved instantly.
"What did you hear?"
"Gaius was telling you to tell me something, and you flatly refused. You will tell me now." Arthur's intense glare was fit to crumble any resolve. Merlin wasn't just anyone though.
Instead, the warlock rolled his eyes at Arthur's prattiness.
"Oh come on. There's nothing to tell. Gaius has this new propaganda of trying to force feed me, and he keeps threatening to tell you if I don't. It's ridiculous. It's not like I actually ever listen to you!"
"Oh yes, why should he expect you to listen to me. it's not like I'm the bloody future king or anything."
"What's that got to do with anything?" Merlin asked – the picture of innocence. It only earned him a slug on the shoulder.
"So that's it. It's just you being an idiot and not eating properly? Nothing else?"
"Nothing else." Merlin agreed.
"But if there was anything else, you know you can tell me. As much as it pains me to admit it, you are my friend. Possibly the best friend I've ever had. And I don't want this to get to your head, but I trust you. And I want you to know that you can trust me too."
The sincerity in Arthur's words almost made Merlin's resolve crumble. He wanted to tell him everything: every last secret, every painful detail in his life. But he couldn't do that. Not when things were finally getting back to normal for his friend. Not when he was finally getting everything he ever wanted. It was too big a burden to place on another's shoulder.
"I know." Merlin replied, eyes shining with genuine gratitude. Arthur nodded in satisfaction. The matter wasn't closed, but even he recognized the futility in pushing Merlin too far. With that, both men began to make their way to Arthur's bedchambers.
"He is right though. You look like rag doll. The wind could win you in a dual."
"Arthur, I command hurricanes."
"You're supposed to say 'prat'."
"So you admit you're a prat?" Merlin grinned triumphantly.
"No…whatever. You know you've made us both late don't you?"
"And that I'm going to make you muck up the stalls for a week."
"Yup." Merlin replied once again, shrugging off the punishment. "You know that you're a complete prat don't you?"
Soft chuckles could be heard along the hallways as knights and peasants alike. became privy to the endless banter thrown back and forth by the future king and his best friend. However, underneath the jovial words, a promise to revisit a darker secret could be heard, but only by the men who spoke them.
Review? Pretty Please? Also, I'm looking for a beta. Anyone up for it? I am a horrible proofer of my own writing.
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