Hidden Knowledge and Painful Revelations

A Merlin Fanfiction

Summary: Merlin and Arthur get captured and Merlin proves exactly how loyal he is. As well as how far he is willing to go to protect the people and kingdom he loves. Will this change Arthur's view of his servant? Will he realize how lucky he is to have Merlin as his manservant and his friend?

Warnings: Violence, torture, creepy dudes, possible bad punctuation. Hopefully nothing too gross. Nonslash.

Spoilers: Story begins shortly after the Poisoned Chalice, so anything up to that point is fair game.

To say that Prince Arthur Pendragon of Camelot was torn would be a gross understatement. Ever since Merlin, his clumsy oaf of a manservant, had saved his life by drinking from what he knew to be a poisoned goblet, Arthur hadn't known what to think; about anything.

He had thought his ridiculous servant had hated him, at least at first. He had called him a prat for goodness sake! And, Arthur being Arthur, in true prattish fashion, had him thrown in the dungeon and put in the stocks. And yet, after all of that, the idiot had saved his life from the witch impersonating Lady Helen. Literally pulled him out of the way, though Arthur hadn't missed the look of despair that had covered Merlin's face when his father had gifted him with the honor of being Arthur's manservant. Honestly, he had had a similar reaction.

Maybe if he had only saved his life once, even back then Arthur hadn't really considered him a cruel person, just annoying and rude. And after getting to know Merlin a bit better he knew without a doubt that he was a kind soul. Maybe he had just saved him out of kindness, no matter how much of a "prat" Arthur was being; maybe Merlin had saved him just because that's who he was. But after the events of the last two months that could no longer be the only reason.

Next came the lovely incident with Valiant, yet another person who wanted to kill Arthur. Seriously, what was up with that? And Merlin had been the one to inform Arthur about the magic snaky shield. And even though he would like to say that he may have acted quickly enough in the arena without being forewarned by his servant, he wasn't sure if that was the case. Maybe he would have frozen and the snakes would have gotten him. Merlin may have saved his life for a second time.

And how had he thanked him? By sacking him, by saying "get out of my sight." Of course, afterwards he had essentially apologized and had rehired him.

Still, he kept thinking of the moment when the snakes had come out of the shield and Valiant had been as shocked as everyone else. If he hadn't commanded them to come out then who did? But, like all the rest of the unexplained events in Arthur's life, he put it behind him and forgot the strangeness of it.

Then came the time with the water when people started to get sick and die. Merlin had tried to convince the court that he was the sorcerer that had healed Gwen's father. Though, if anyone would use magic for good it would be Merlin—he doesn't have an evil bone in his body. But of course he didn't—doesn't—have magic, and he Arthur doubted it really was because he was in love for Gwen. However, Merlin was friends with Guinevere, and it was just the sort of thing he would do to prevent her execution.

Merlin had also informed him of the creature in the water.

Then after all of that came that awful treaty banquet. Merlin had said that king Bayard of Mercia had been seen lacing the goblet he had given to Arthur. The same cup he had been about to drink from. Merlin, the idiot, had tried to save his life again. Arthur had attempted to cover for the boy, to get him to leave before anything had a chance to be done to him. But it had been too late. At first, his father had wanted Bayard to drink from the chalice, but then he had decided that if it was poisoned and he would like to kill the king himself, never mind that an innocent servant would die because of Uther's vindictiveness.

Arthur had even offered to drink it himself when he saw what was going to happen. If the goblet was poisoned Merlin would likely die, and if it wasn't then he would be flogged at best, flogged then killed at absolute worst. But Merlin hadn't let him drink from the cup and Arthur couldn't have very well insisted in front of the courts of two kingdoms that he be the one to drink poison.

Arthur hadn't known what to wish for as Merlin had held the cup in front of him; facing both royal families in turn. No matter what would happen that stupid excuse for a servant would be in a lot of trouble. And as Merlin had said it was "fine" after drinking from the blasted thing, he had felt a strange sense of horror that he had only ever felt once before, but not in such a strong dose. When Merlin had claimed that he was a sorcerer, a stone had sunk to the bottom of Arthur's stomach, at least, that's what it felt like. But when his father had so callously said to Bayard that he could do with Merlin whatever he wanted; there had been a much bigger stone.

Then Merlin started choking and the stone had been removed, only to be replaced with a knife in his gut. He had rushed to Merlin's side but the damage was already done. And that's when he had known, beyond a shadow of a doubt that Merlin, clumsy, silly, lazy Merlin was an idiot. What other reason could there be for a servant to give his life for a, in his own words, royal prat of a prince? A prince that treated his dogs better than he treated his servant. A prince that constantly called him names and had sacked him at least once for trying to save his life.

Arthur finally realized exactly how far the boy was willing to go for his master. It was one thing to save his life, but it was another thing entirely to give his life for him. So the prince had done the only thing he could do when faced with such loyalty, when faced with the idea of his servant, and possible friend dying; he had gone on a quest for the antidote. A quest to save Merlin. Gaius had said that it would be a slow and painful death, and it was that thought that had kept him going. That was, until he had been left hanging by some rocks with giant spiders with the intent to bite crawling their way towards him. No visible way out, the antidote out of reach, and two quickly exhausting arms had helped to finalize Arthur's view of a hopeless situation.

Then a bluish, whitish orb of beautiful light had appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Arthur had, at first, assumed that it was yet another force of fate coming to see him to his death, and consequently, Merlin's. But the light had lit up the cave and shown him a way out. More than that, it had seemed to deter the spiders a little bit and well as urge Arthur on. It was almost if he could hear a voice telling him to move, to climb and to follow the light.

Arthur had made it back and, with the help of Gwen, managed to get the flower to Merlin. And even though he hadn't been there for Merlin's emergence from the clutches of the poison, he had heard first hand from Gwen how frighteningly close it had been. Between the accounts of Gaius and Morgana's maid, Arthur had learned how painful it must have been for the boy, how close he came to death. And he hoped that was something that would never happen again.

And now, almost a week later, Arthur's life still hadn't gone back to normal. After the healing of Gwen father and the blue orb in the cave he wasn't sure if magic, all magic, was necessarily evil, a belief he had been taught since he was a child. He wasn't sure why on earth Merlin had given his life for Arthur when the prince couldn't for the life of him, ironically enough, think of what he'd done to deserve it. He didn't know who had cast that magic, why it felt like a knife had been pushed into his stomach when Merlin had choked, or why every time he looked at the painfully thin boy these days that he got a sense of uneasiness in his gut.

He just looked so tired all the time, even though his mouth hadn't seemed to lose any of its energy. He was still the same old Merlin, only a Merlin with huge bruises under his eyes. If Arthur didn't know better then he would say that the servant had gotten into a fight, since those dark circles couldn't possibly come from lack of sleep. But they had.

The first day after they had been released by their respective jailers—Arthur by his father and Merlin by Gaius—the manservant had returned to work. But after only a few hours the boy had looked ready to drop, and Gaius, who everyone knows has a sixth sense when it comes to sick people, had appeared and had dragged Merlin back to his bed. And although Arthur had protested—to keep up appearances—he was glad the physician had intervened because it would have been very awkward if Arthur had. Ever since that day Merlin had been working how he normally does; with a lot of smiles, silliness, laziness, and insults. But those bags under his eyes hadn't gone away, they'd gotten slightly less dark, but they hadn't gone away. He wished Gaius would come and force the self-sacrificing idiot back to bed since Arthur couldn't do anything to help Merlin without it being seen as him caring. Arthur didn't care about Merlin, he couldn't. And yet, he couldn't help but feel that he wouldn't have gone on a quest to save just any servant. He'd want to, but he probably wouldn't risk his father's wrath for his previous servant, or any of his servants. And above all this was something he would never, ever tell Merlin.

But the truth remained that Arthur was torn. His servant obviously needed sleep and rest, something he couldn't just tell the ridiculous boy to get. Magic may actually have good uses, and while he wasn't going to mention anything about the fear or despair he wanted to tell Merlin about the blue orb in the cave. Somehow when he thought of the light he thought of Merlin, which was ridiculous. Still, out of anyone the boy would probably be the most open about the idea of magic saving a Pendragon than anyone else since he hadn't actually grown up in Camelot and wasn't normally a prejudiced person. But whenever he tried the words wouldn't come out. Telling him something as personal as his changing views on magic might mean that he was a friend, something he would never admit to himself inside Camelot's walls.

Aside from all of that Arthur was going stir crazy. Whenever he started to think something his father wouldn't approve of he had the overwhelming feeling that he need to get out, go on a hunt, patrol, something. Which meant that, considering everything that had been going on since his lazy manservant had come into his life, he felt like if he didn't get out soon he would go insane. And even though he had gone on a patrol within the last five days it hadn't really helped. The knights, while his friends and loyal companions, had a narrow way of thinking and probably wouldn't approve of what is going through Arthur's mind. What he needed was to be alone, or be with someone he could trust not to judge him until he had heard all the information that had made Arthur himself think differently. And Merlin was the only person he trusted to do that. Okay, maybe he'd pretend to judge him but Arthur would be able to see through it; the boy had an open mind, probably since there wasn't much inside it. However, dragging Merlin along on a hunting trip might just wear him out more, plus Arthur would be missing out on a perfect excuse to give the exhausted servant a day off. So yes, torn would be the right word to describe Prince Arthur Pendragon of Camelot.

And as said prince was waiting for the ridiculously late servant whom most of Arthur's problems were about, or at the very least associated with, to bring him his breakfast, Arthur realized something else just as troubling. If Merlin was this late every morning…why on earth did he look like he hadn't slept in days? If he wasn't sleeping in late then what in the name of everything that was weighing on Arthur's mind was the servant doing?

And just then a tired, disheveled, and all around sickly looking Merlin rushed into Arthur's room with a precariously placed plate of food in his hand and said,

"Good morning, Arthur!" with a stupid grin on his face.

And that's when Arthur knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt that he wasn't leaving that imbecile of a servant behind from the hunting trip. No, no way. Not when there were so many important questions to be answered, the most important of which being…why was he grinning like that?

Wow, first chapter done, please review and tell me what you think of it. Don't worry, there will be a lot more talking and less thinking in the next chapters, this was just a type of prologue. Since it is my first ever fic please be gentle, but also tell me my mistakes. I realize I have a problem with punctuation so anyone who would be willing to help out or possibly give some helpful tips would be my bestest beta bud, even if you weren't really my beta. Just a forewarning, I tend to talk quite funny in real life so in these a/n's I'll probably sound like a five-year-old at times. Case in point: bestest. Also this being the first fanfic I've ever written on anything that isn't in my head, not to mention first time on this site, I am a bit new to things, so once again any helpful hints or tips will be greatly appreciated. So...tell me what you liked and what you didn't like and remember that if you crush my fragile ego I'll probably never finish. (: bye for now.