Disclaimer: Don't own Merlin
Written for my Slash Requested Prompt Table. Prompt #8 by moonchaser03: Arthur/Merlin - "Tell me Merlin...Can you walk on your knees?"
A/N: Yet another addition to the tried and true "someone slips Arthur a potion" trope. Also an addition to the "Merlin is completely oblivious" one! :)
Important: I don't know if in CANON Gwaine knows about Merlin's magic (have only seen up to season 1) but in this story he does!
There was just something about women which made the Pendragon men fall prey to the most foolish of schemes. Merlin couldn't count the amount of times fairies or orgresses or witches or females in general had nearly destroyed the Pendragon line and it'd led him to the inevitable conclusion that Arthur and Uther were stupid for them. They always fell into the traps these vile temptresses laid down for them, and Merlin would have to scurry around in a hurry to try and get rid of the enchantment and save their lives. To be truthful, Merlin was getting tired or it. Very tired. So when he'd realized that Lady Hortentia planned on giving Arthur some sort of love potion the weary manservant truly considered just letting her. Not only did Lady Hortentia come from a long line of white witches who would no doubt use her power over Arthur to bring back magic, but she also seemed genuinely attracted to him so there really wasn't any evil that Merlin could see.
Sure, it would hurt to see Arthur in love with someone, Merlin's silly little crush was quite persistent despite how much of a clotpole his prince was, but Merlin had always known that Arthur would have to marry some woman and bare children...why not with one who would help bring magic back into the kingdom?
The again this newfound love of magic that Arthur would gain from the love potion would put him in enmity with his father and end up with him fighting against the king...Merlin sighed.
Arthur would never forgive himself if he killed his father.
And that was why Merlin had decided to once more save Arthur from a woman.
He raced down the hall, towards the room at the end of the corridor, when suddenly the door was flung open and a woman shrieked as she was basically kicked out of the royal bedchambers.
Merlin came to a stop, wary to see Lady Hortentia so disheveled and confused.
"Why didn't it work?" She whispered to herself, seeming terrified. "It should have worked! Why didn't it work?"
"Lady Hortentia?" Merlin cleared his throat.
She looked up at him, red hair wild and in her face. "I-I have to go!" And with that she fled.
Even more worried, Merlin rushed into the room and froze when he saw the disorder, the chaos and confusion within. Clothes were torn and furniture upturned, and there was such a terrible mess he winced because he knew that he'd be the one who cleaned all this up. There were two plates, obviously the woman had brought food for her and the prince and they'd had it in his chambers and Merlin could only guess Lady Hortentia had already slipped Arthur the potion...but if the mess of this place and her own horrified mumblings could be believed then something had gone wrong and Prince Arthur was not her love slave.
That left Merlin on edge, not sure what he would find once he happened upon the prince.
In his unease he didn't look where he was going and knocked over a vase, causing it to fall to the ground and shatter into a million pieces.
"I TOLD YOU TO GET OUT!" Arthur snarled viciously, entering the room from the manservant quarters Merlin had had to move into now that Gaius had a proper helper. The prince looked vicious and murderous and somewhat animalistic, eyes darker as he stalked into the room...before pausing when he realized that the one standing there wasn't Lady Hortentia but Merlin.
The manservant eyed his master warily, wondering if instead of a love potion the woman hadn't accidentally given Arthur some sort of rage potion. "Sire? Is...everything...alright?"
Arthur eyed him silently, intensely.
Merlin gulped, admittedly very disturbed right now and somewhat nervous, only barely fighting the urge to back out of the room and run to Gaius. "Sire?"
"Why weren't you in your room?" Arthur's voice was low, a growl, and accusing as his and swung in the direction of the manservant's quarters he'd just come from.
Merlin's eyes widened in confusion, head cocked slightly. "You told me to leave you alone for the evening, sire."
"You've never listened to me before! Why would you listen to me now?" Arthur snapped at him.
Most definitely it.
"What exactly happened here?" Merlin wanted to know, knowing it really wasn't his place to question but since when had he ever played the proper manservant? "You do realize that I'm the one who's going to have to clean this all up, right?" He scoffed, trying to act as he normally would in this circumstance and not betray his wariness and caution and curiosity as to what exactly Lady Hortentia had accidentally given Arthur. "You're a right prat, you know that? Utterly selfish. Never think of all I have to do for you."
Arthur watched him, lips twitching as he leaned against his bedpost, arms folded. "You know what, Merlin? You're absolutely right."
"I am?" Merlin blinked in shock. He'd never heard those three words before...not when applied to him or his ability to reason at least.
"Yes." Arthur declared much too agreeably. "I do not know half of what you do for me. So you're going to bring us both food from the kitchens and then I'm going to watch you clean up this mess just so I have the right amount of appreciation for your hard work and only after you've cleaned this whole place up will we eat."
"You expect me to clean all of this and then eat?" Merlin glared at him, wondering why moments like these didn't murder the lingering romantic feelings he (for some reason) harbored for the blonde. "And from the looks of things you've already eaten." He pointed at the upturned plates before looking behind him, out of the open door. "Lady Hortentia looked..." he cleared his throat. "What exactly-?" But as he turned to look back at Arthur he found the prince much closer than he'd been before, and Merlin gulped, suddenly unnerved and alert. "Sire?"
"Go get our food, Merlin." Arthur smiled at him.
Eyeing the prat closely, Merlin figured that it wasn't a rage potion either, and that left him confused as he turned around to go get the prince and himself food.
A yelp escaped his lips as Arthur slapped him on his ass.
"Get a move on it." Arthur called from the room. "You're so slow."
Merlin cleared his throat, eyes wide, blush fighting to climb its way up his milky neck. He was never gladder for his neckerchief as he turned and left, rubbing his throbbing butt cheek as he made his way confusedly towards the kitchens. What exactly had that been? Arthur had never ever done anything like that to him before! Sure, sometimes he whacked his butt with the blunt part of the sword whenever he was 'teaching' Merlin, but that was taunting and...well...this was different. Then again, Arthur had seemed to act as if it was nothing at all so Merlin figured he was reading way too much into one silly little act...and told himself not to let his own unrequited emotions develop into wishful thinking. Only hurt could come from that.
He sighed as he finally entered the kitchens.
The cook wanted to know why Arthur wanted more food if Lady Hortentia had already gone to give him some but Merlin had just shrugged and said the lady had dropped the food. The cook, who was known to respect the culinary arts and near worship her creations, had hissed that she wouldn't ever let the lady take any of her food if she was going to waste it like that, and Merlin had just nodded and waited for the filled trays before rushing away, the cook promising him the fury of hell if he proved a klutz like the visiting lady.
"Here we go, Arthur." Merlin entered the royal bedchamber, tiptoeing over the chaos before making a face once he realized the table was still overturned. He sighed, putting the trays down on the bed and then went to right the table and placed the trays of food on their rightful surface before surveying the mess while Arthur closed the door behind him. "You going to tell me what exactly happened here and why Lady Hortentia ran out the way she did?"
Arthur didn't answer, picking up his chair and righting it before collapsing onto it, just staring at Merlin.
"Right." Clearing his throat, not sure why he was suddenly so very aware of Arthur, Merlin shook his head and rolled up his sleeves up to his pointy elbows. The smell of food was incentive enough, and Arthur seemed to be waiting on him and not touching his meal, which was surprising and encouraging. Merlin worked silently, trying to figure out what exactly was going on and what sort of potion Lady Hortentia must have accidentally given to his prince.
It obviously wasn't a love potion because Arthur wasn't professing his desire to marry the maiden...and it wasn't a rage potion as Merlin had once thought because despite the evidence of his previous anger the prince didn't seem at all irate right now. That left Merlin with so many different types of potions that could have been used, with so many different symptoms or antidotes. He lost himself in thought as he cleaned, thus not noticing the intensity in which Arthur watched him, or heard the soft hisses that escaped his lips whenever Merlin bent over to pick up something.
Finally he finished, and was starving, collapsing onto the seat Arthur had apparently righted for him sometime during the cleaning.
"You're a proper prat, you know this, right?" Merlin informed his prince before digging into the food, completely starved. "Ready to talk yet? About what happened with Lady Hortentia?"
"Don't speak while you chew Merlin, even children know better." Arthur chided, picking up his fork.
Merlin pouted, partly because Arthur was being a prat and partly because he had a feeling said prat wasn't going to answer him about the lady in question. And if he didn't tell Merlin anything, how was he supposed to figure out what had happened and how to go about undoing it? "Did you have a lover's quarrel?"
Arthur threw down his fork with irritation. "No we did not have a lovers quarrel because we are not lovers!" He narrowed his eyes at Merlin. "Why are you so interested in whatever happened between me and Lady Hortentia? Are you jealous?"
"Jealous?" Merlin scoffed, amused at that line of thought. "No, she's really not my type." Seeing the disbelieving look on his prince's face, Merlin swallowed and tried for sincerity. "I like dark hair, sire. Not ginger."
Of course, he liked blonde hair the best...but he figured that was not something he wished to reveal.
"Dark hair." Arthur's mood darkened. "Like Lancelot and Gwaine."
Well, he'd been thinking of Freya, but Merlin would have been lying if he didn't include them in it as well. "Exactly."
"As to be expected, you have atrocious taste." Arthur insulted, anger seeming to simmer beneath his very skin as he jabbed his fork and nice into his food viciously. "We're going hunting. Once you've finished eating go and pack our belongings, make sure there's enough for a couple of days out in the wilds."
His least favorite past time.
Not only was there the gratuitous killing of harmless, adorable wild-life, but there were the nights of sleeping head-to-foot with Arthur, so close, feeling his body's warmth...and yet so mockingly far at the same time.
"Sire, why don't you and the knights use this as bonding time?" He asked, trying to weasel his way out of this. "I'll stay behind and-."
"I said eat and then pack, Merlin." Arthur snarled at him, gaze resting to his and eyes glowing purple.
Merlin's eyes widened, seeing proof right there that Arthur had been enchanted. "Sire?"
"The knights won't be accompanying us on this excursion." Arthur replied, eyes still glowing purple and yet not as much, his grip on his fork and knife near murderous. "It will be just you and I."
Merlin gulped, watching those eyes, knowing that the last thing they needed was to be in the forest for days. What they needed was to be here so Merlin could have access to Gaius and his spell book and find out what in the world had happened and how he could reverse it!
Instead of saying this though he just concentrated on eating, shoving the food ceremoniously into his mouth and chewing madly, swallowing. He quickly finished the food he would normally take his time enjoying and jumped to his feet, grabbing the tray. "I'll go and start the preparations."
Instead of looking appeased by his quick service, Arthur's whole body reverberated annoyance. "Is my presence so displeasing to you that you ate like swine so as to get away from me faster?"
Merlin just couldn't win here, could he?
"Arthur don't be ridiculous." The manservant grumbled, annoyed right now. "I was just trying to hurry so I could go and begin preparations. I'm doing as you told me to."
"What is with this sudden compliance?" Arthur wanted to know, standing once more, eyes narrowed. "If you were with Gwaine or Lancelot and I had given you that order you would have taken your sweet time and more than needed before leaving their presence to do as I told and yet while in my company you couldn't have eaten quicker!"
Merlin tightened his hold on the tray. If it wasn't for that damned enduring crush he stupidly harbored for the blonde he'd have slammed said tray into Arthur's royal head already. "Arthur, you're just being difficult now."
"Out." Arthur snarled, eyes going a deeper purple.
The warlock gulped and nodded, hurrying to do as told, closing the door behind him. He hoped Arthur didn't go out anywhere soon because those eyes...Merlin winced at the thought of what Uther would do if he found out his son was enchanted...and Merlin was still worried as he couldn't understand exactly what it was that the potion Lady Hortentia had slipped Arthur truly was. He raced to Gaius', (glad the assistant was out on errands) informing the Court Physician of what was going on, and from him found out that Lady Hortentia and her father had rapidly left the castle with no explanation half an hour ago. They'd obviously realized that their plans had backfired and were getting out of Camelot before they were discovered. And while the fact that they weren't around to cause more trouble was a relief, with them gone Merlin wasn't exactly sure how they were supposed to find out what had happened to Arthur and how to undo it.
"His eyes are purple?" Gaius asked once more. "I do not think I have heard of any sort of spell that turns your eyes purple."
"I think it only happens when he's annoyed." Merlin mumbled, nose deep in his magic book. "That's when his eyes went all purple."
"Hmmm." Gaius' eyebrow raised. "Maybe it is better that you and he leave the castle for a couple of days until we can figure out what it is exactly that's happened to him."
Merlin made a face. "What if it's a murder-your-inept-manservant potion or something similar? He barely keeps himself from wringing my neck on a good day."
"I'm sure you can protect yourself." Gaius looked unimpressed with this fear.
"Merlin!" The door flew open and Gwen raced inside, eyes wide in horror and cheeks flushed from her run. "You must come quickly!"
Gaius quickly covered the magic books while her attention was on Merlin.
Merlin groaned, standing up. "What's the prat done now?"
"He's challenged both Gwaine and Lancelot! And the same time!" Gwen's hands were fluttering around her with each word, her body vibrating with intense nervous energy. "I don't know what happened between them but he just stormed towards them and challenged them to a duel!"
"What?" Merlin's mouth fell open. This was insane even by enchanted!Arthur standards. And yes, there were such standards given the fact thats Arthur got enchanted ever so often. "Why the bloody hell would he challenge two of his own knights?"
"He said something about it being a thing of honor?" Gwen squeaked, seeming about to cry. "I don't know how Lancelot could have done something to offend Arthur's honor but-!"
Gaius looked between them, eyebrow raised, a suspicious gleam in his eyes. "What exactly were his words, Guinevere?"
She turned to him, taking in rapid breaths, obviously on the verge of hyperventilating. "I don't remember the words precisely! But it was something along the lines of him having had enough of just staying silent and his honor was on the line and he was reclaiming what they took from him?" She sniffled, wiping at her tear-filling eyes. "But Lancelot would never have taken anything from Arthur! He's honorable! Oh Merlin! You have to do something! You know Arthur only listens to you!"
"Only listens to me?" Merlin raised an eyebrow in confusion. "Are you sure we're talking about the same Prince Arthur of Camelot?"
"Merlin!" Gwen cried. "Now is not the time to joke! You need to go out there and make Arthur listen to reason!"
"I'm very serious." Merlin let her know. "Are we talking about the same Arthur?"
Gwen covered her face with her hands and sobbed.
"Merlin, stop making the poor girl cry." Gaius scolded, patting her back comfortingly. "Now now Guinevere, you just run along, Merlin will deal with this."
"I will?" Merlin squeaked.
"Thank you Gaius." Gwen sniffled before racing out of the room.
"How am I going to deal with this?" Merlin turned on his mentor.
"It's not a love potion, Merlin, nor is it a rage potion...and yet it is." Gaius uncovered the magic book and searched through its pages before smiling. "Aha! It is as I suspected. What the Lady Hortentia slipped Arthur was not a love potion...but an emotion enhancer." He turned the book so that Merlin could see the entry. "She must have believed that he had feelings for her...or that he at least desired her...and with this potion she could guarantee he'd sleep with her and once that was done he'd have compromised her virtue and would be forced to marry her. And the fact that the effects of this potion are temporary make it ideal to use in a situation like this...though the ingredients make it hard to acquire."
"Temporary." That was the only word Merlin heard as he slumped into his chair in relief. "Finally! Good news!"
Gaius nodded. "The potion will affect him for only a couple of hours at the most, and will enhance his feelings drastically. If he's annoyed he'll be furious for instance."
"But why would he be angry with Gwaine and Lancelot?" Merlin couldn't figure out. "Why would he think they'd taken something of his?"
Gaius gave him a look that said he was a fool and the Court Physician wouldn't lower himself to Merlin's level by explaining what should be monumentally obvious.
Merlin always hated it when his mentor gave him that look.
"Go and entertain Arthur for a while until the effects of the potion pass." Gaius declared, shooing him towards the door. "By tonight he should be right as rain."
"How am I supposed to entertain him when he's obviously in the mood for a duel with his two best knights?" Merlin wanted to know.
"If anyone can distract him, Merlin, it is you." Gaius mumbled to himself.
Merlin pursed his lips, feeling that that wasn't exactly a compliment somehow.
"Now go before dear Guinevere suffers another bout of anxiety...or the Prince does something else he'll regret after the effects of the potion wear off." With that, Gaius promptly threw the young man out of the room.
Collecting himself outside as the door slammed shut behind him, Merlin took in a deep breath before resigning himself to his fate.
He first checked the royal bedchambers yet failed to find Arthur within, which wasn't very surprising considering that as an active person Arthur hardly spent any time in his room. Given that thought, and the realization that the potion would make him act like himself and yet to extremes, Merlin realized that he should be looking outside in the courtyard, maybe even on the training grounds. Arthur was probably whacking the knights around just for the hell of it.
Sure of this conclusion, Merlin turned and was heading out of the castle when he ran into Lancelot.
They'd both been taking the corner rapidly and failed to notice the other until it was too late.
Thankfully though, Lancelot was both graceful and of quick reflexes, so he kept himself and Merlin from falling.
"Merlin!" Relief was obvious in the knight's expression, hands on the manservant's shoulders from where he'd steadied him. "I was looking for you."
"Gwen told me." Merlin sighed, looking around them quickly before pulling Lancelot closer to him into one of the darker parts of the hall, lowering his voice as he leaned closer. "Arthur's enchanted."
Lancelot just looked at him for a second before frowning. "I should have realized it. Was it Lady Hortentia? I've noticed that the Pendragons have a...weakness...for falling under the schemes of women."
This was why Lancelot was his best friend in the castle.
Merlin smiled up at him as he nodded, amused to hear his own thoughts on his friend's lips. "Gaius says that it is an emotion enhancer, so if he was only slightly annoyed at something normally he'll be near murderous now."
"I see." Lancelot nodded. "It makes sense now, especially the fact that Gwaine and I were the ones targeted." He sighed, shaking his head as he gazed up at Merlin. "You have to admit that this is partially your fault."
"My fault?" Merlin blinked, not able to see how.
"Of course." Lancelot declared in that sage way of his. "You have to understand that he's a prince and was raised differently from us and he's used to not having to share anything, much less emotion. Even if it isn't the same sort of emotion." Lancelot continued to shake his head. "And I understand that when one is in an understanding like yours that one believes that the other understands everything without it having to be said, but sometimes the other person needs to hear how you feel frequently, and to understand that no one else is a priority to you."
Now that was ridiculous.
"Arthur knows he's my priority, he makes sure of it!" Merlin rolled his eyes at the thought of that prat wondering for a moment if there was some other master out there who ordered Merlin around when he wasn't looking.
"Obviously he has some doubts about his place in your life, and you need to reaffirm it for him." Lancelot gave Merlin's shoulder a squeeze while smiling at him. "Once you have done so all of this will go away."
Merlin had no idea how telling Arthur he was his manservant was going to change things, but the thought seemed to calm Lancelot down so Merlin just nodded.
"Are you trying to make him 'accidentally' injure you during training?" Leon groaned to Lancelot as he arrived, shaking his head at him. "It's situations like these that make him misunderstand and act that way you know."
"Everything is sorted out." Lancelot declared with a grin, tapping Merlin's shoulder. "I've spoken with Merlin and he will make things right with Prince Arthur."
"That is very good news." Leon smiled at Merlin in an odd way. "Should I tell the boys training for today is cancelled then?"
Merlin looked between the two grinning knights, wondering why he felt he was missing something. "Why would it be cancelled?"
"True." Leon chuckled. "Neither you nor Prince Arthur have missed out on your duties in the past. I don't mean to step over my bounds, but I must express my admiration. You are both quite resilient."
Lancelot chuckled in that odd way.
Merlin really didn't see how Arthur or him doing their duties meant they were resilient. Everyone did their duties in Camelot.
"Well, I am here because the King has requested your presence immediately." Leon declared, all business once more.
It took Merlin a moment to realize he was the one being requested. "Me?"
The first thought that raced through Merlin's mind was that Uther had finally realized he was a warlock...but then he dismissed it realizing that if Uther knew he'd have sent the whole group of knights after Merlin, and not just Leon. He couldn't think of any other reason why he'd have been requested for 'immediately' though, so as he followed after Leon to the Throne Room he was silent and worried. The fact that the doors were closed after them, and Merlin realized that Uther alone within further worried him. And when Uther dismissed a bowing Leon, now leaving Merlin and the king alone in the large room, the warlock's nerves grew.
What was he doing here?
Why had he been summoned?
"I'm sure you already know as to why you've been summoned." Uther mistakenly assumed, lips pursed, eyes slightly narrowed on him. "I heard of the confrontation my son had with his two favored knights...and I myself have had a run in with him and have...been spoken to in a manner I haven't been spoken to since this crown was placed upon my head."
Merlin gulped, knowing it was not a good thing to displease the king.
"My son might not be of the most cheerful disposition, and I know that despite his silenced tongue that he and I fail to see eye to eye in many things." Uther continued, eyebrow raised, eyes fixed solely on Merlin. "And yet not only has he spoken out of turn and lacked complete respect for me or my station, but Arthur also behaved in the most atrociously childish way. This utter and completely uncharacteristic behavior of his can only point to one thing."
Merlin winced, knowing that Uther would have figured witchcraft would be behind Arthur's behavior.
"Obviously you have done something to displease him."
For a moment Merlin didn't understand, and then he did. His eyes widened in shock. "Sire?"
"No need to play such a foolishly naive peasant, Merlin, I am King, not blind." Uther declared with a displeased expression. "I know very well that you and my son...haven't the most conventional of relationships."
Well, that was true.
"You'd be surprised to know that yours wouldn't be the only such situation in this court." The king replied with a soured expression. "It isn't...uncommon...for a nobleman and his manservant to...have a bond as such. To be truthful I have known for quite a while, early on in fact. Though it wasn't confirmed until the moment he disobeyed me to find that flower to cure you. That was when I knew for certain."
Not knowing what to say, Merlin stayed quite. He knew it wasn't especially common for noblemen and women to be friends with their servants and Uther hadn't been pleased with his quasi-friendship with Arthur.
Apparently though the king was pleased with his silence as he continued on. "Despite the impropriety it relieves me somewhat as I know you are a good influence on him, and you would die for my son should the situation call for it."
"Yes, I would." Merlin whispered, knowing it to be so. Hadn't he risked his life so many times for Arthur in the past?
"I also know that you are faithful to him and Camelot, and would help advise him on finding the wife he will one day have." There was steel in that voice, as if a threat.
"Of course Sire." Merlin was quick to agree, not understanding the threat or the reason for it. "Camelot will need an heir once Prince Arthur rises to the throne."
Uther's eyes narrowed on Merlin for a moment before finding something he'd been searching for and he nodded, surprising Merlin by the slight tilt of his lips.
The king was smiling.
It always unnerved the warlock when he did that.
"I am pleased we had this conversation." The king declared. "Now go and serve my son to your best ability." That odd grin that had tilted Lancelot and Leon's lips now tilted Uther's. "I expect him to be completely agreeable the next time I lay eyes on him and this foul mood gone. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes Sire." Merlin nodded, more confused than ever.
"Good. You may be dismissed now." Uther waved him away.
Bowing, Merlin left the throne room, wondering why in the world everyone was acting so odd.
He was contemplating this as he searched for Arthur, running into a couple of the servants who were rushed and nervous and all taking time to pull him aside to whimper about their encounters with Arthur and his apparently colossal bad mood. A couple had been snapped at, some yelled at, and one of the maids was crying, begging Merlin to go and make his peace with the Prince because she didn't think she could handle him glaring at her like that again. Each servant had a different tale of terror to tell, yet each and every one of them either scolded Merlin for whatever he'd done to put the prince in his mood, or begged him to go and make things right once more. The warlock was quickly realizing that people in the castle believed he had much more sway over Arthur and his temper tantrums then he really did.
Gwaine appeared out of nowhere, slinging an arm around his shoulders. "Make up with the Princess, Merlin. I know he can be an annoying git but he's being ever so worse today and if you don't yank out the tiara from his arse I'll be obliged to kick it in deeper during this ridiculous duel tonight."
"You can't seriously be thinking about going through with the duel." Merlin gave him a horrified look.
"Depends. What has you two on the outs? I know the only reason he'd act this vile is if you two were fighting so what exactly happened?" Gwaine wanted to know. "Has he behaved poorly? Has he stepped out of line?"
"He's been his usual." Merlin shrugged, not wanting to get into it further with his friend. "He's just in a mood."
"If that's so then this is all your fault." Gwaine declared, seeming to believe, like everyone else, that somehow Merlin was in control of Arthur's emotions. "If you two are not arguing, and if he's just being insecure...not that I don't blame him as I am intimidating...then you just need to show him he's still the one on top." He then grinned. "Unless he isn't...and if he isn't...you must tell me."
Merlin just looked up into Gwaine's evilly grinning face, as usual not getting half of what he was saying and sure that that was a good thing. "I was looking for Arthur when you...appeared."
"Good!" Gwaine chuckled in that same odd tone. "Don't let me interrupt!" He then gave Merlin a little shove forwards. "Remember the tiara, Merlin! The tiara!"
Hanging his head low in embarrassment for some reason, Merlin shook his head as he continued on, asking everyone he could find for Arthur and getting quickly pointed in whatever direction he'd been in last...and told to hurry over there and 'calm him'.
Finally he found Arthur in the armory, eyeing his sword speculatively.
Having heard from everyone about his abysmal mood Merlin hesitated before gathering his courage and walking within, closing the door behind him so as to minimize the sound should Arthur start yelling at him. "What is this about a duel between you, Lancelot, and Gwaine?"
Arthur looked up from his sword. "It is none of your concern."
Not according to the whole bloody castle!
"I can understand Gwaine maybe doing something to offend you, it is Gwaine, but Lancelot?" Merlin made a face as he came closer, only stopping once he was in front of his prince. "Why would you go an challenge them to a duel? It makes no sense Arthur. You fought to make them knights despite your father's prejudices against them. So why would you do something like this? Even King Uther doesn't understand."
"Has my father spoken to you?" Arthur asked with an odd tone.
"He, like the whole bloody castle, is blaming me for your bad mood." Merlin admitted with no little resentment. "Everyone in the castle has basically pleaded with me to fix whatever it is that has you in this fit, so for the sake of Camelot itself, what is wrong?"
"You." Arthur pointed the sword at him.
"What?" Merlin blinked, shocked. "What have I done this time?"
"You are the most oblivious cretin that I have the displeasure to have ever known!" Arthur replied, stabbing at a practice dummy with the sword he'd been pointing at Merlin moment's before. "You're naive and too trusting and have those ridiculous ears!"
Merlin pouted, touching his ears, not understanding what they had to do with anything.
"You're a horrible manservant. Horrible." Arthur speared the dummy's heart, leaving the sword within before turning to Merlin, eyes purple once more. "And a terrible friend."
Now...that one hurt.
"I am the best friend you've ever had." Merlin narrowed his eyes on the prince. "You have no idea how wonderful a friend I am to you!"
"Really Merlin? Because I thought friends trusted each other and told the other the truth." Arthur snapped. "And you don't."
Merlin froze, all anger leaving him to be replaced by horror. "What do you mean?"
"What do you think I mean, Mer-lin?" Arthur stalked towards him, backing his manservant against the wall, his hands on said wall on either side of Merlin's head. "When were you going to tell me I was enchanted? Am enchanted?"
Merlin blinked, confused for a moment. "What?"
"Don't play dumb!" Arthur snarled. "I went to Gaius for help and he explained it all to me! I'm enchanted so that my emotions are enhanced to a dizzying degree! I was confused and couldn't understand why I was this way and you didn't tell me! You let me go out, make a total arse of myself in front of the whole castle! You wouldn't tell me! Just like you won't tell me about your stupid little secret! Which you don't even keep secret Merlin! If it wasn't for Lancelot, Gwaine and Gaius working overtime to cover things up or me pretending to be completely blind at times you'd have been executed years ago! Why do you think I insisted you move into the room adjacent to mine? At least I could make sure you didn't do anything foolish at night and if you snuck out to practice I could follow and keep an eye and make sure no one saw you! Do you know how many people I've kept from finding out your secret you stupid idiot?"
Merlin froze once more, his nightmare coming to life. Arthur knew. And he hadn't told him. "I wanted to tell you."
"Sure you did." Arthur sneered, shaking his head. "And now thanks to this damned potion my feelings towards the situation are a hundred times worse. I'm furious and want to hurt everyone, especially Lancelot and Gwaine because they know your secret, you trusted in them and not me."
"No-." Merlin tried.
"And I'm hurt, and fuck it I feel like I want to cry and I don't cry Merlin!" The purple in his eyes deepened. "But I want to cry because obviously you don't trust me like I trust you! You think that the moment I know I'll turn you over! You think I don't really consider you my friend!"
"Arthur-." Merlin felt desperate, seeing the emotions so raw on Arthur's face and it was breaking his heart.
"No!" Arthur grabbed the hands Merlin had reached out towards him and slammed them back into the wall, pinning Merlin there. "If it was just anger and hurt I'd somehow-I'd be able to-I could-." He snarled, shaking his head. "If you'd warned me I could have prepared! I could have-I-I could have fought it better." He suddenly stilled. "This is your fault Merlin. All your fault." His gaze lowered to the warlock's lips. "Your...fault..."
Merlin's heart began to race, and then it exploded into rapid throbs as Arthur swooped down and kissed him viciously, desperately, punishingly.
It took him a moment to understand what was going on, to realize what was happening and why...and then suddenly everything he'd gone through today, all the comments, the secretive grins, everything...made sense.
Arthur was right.
He was oblivious!
All the while he'd been crushing on Arthur, sure it was unreciprocated...when it obviously wasn't.
Arthur pulled away and rested his forehead against Merlin's shoulder in shame. "I-I'm sorry-I shouldn't have forced-."
"What? No!" Merlin shook his head ferociously. "You didn't force me. I wasn't forced. At all."
Arthur froze for a moment, and then he rose his head so that he was staring at Merlin's face warily. "What do you mean?"
Merlin cleared his throat, suddenly wishing he had some of that emotion enhancer because it seemed to help Arthur open up so much. "Arthur...you know what I am...you know...you know that if I hadn't wanted you to...if I hadn't liked...I could have stopped you."
Arthur just stared at him, face blank, before finally speaking. "Think carefully about what you are saying, Merlin. Even without this sort of potion I will be jealous and possessive. Think very carefully because I won't let you go."
Merlin blushed through his smile. "I'll have to tell you about the part where you're my destiny sometime then, huh?"
Arthur's eyes widened. "Des-?"
"We're prophesied." Merlin nodded, lowering his gaze, suddenly embarrassed. "I just never believed it could be in that way as well...that you could feel something for me other than friendship..."
"Destiny. Prophecy." Arthur breathed out the words, obviously trying to process them. "Merlin. How long have you known this?"
Arthur's eyes narrowed. "How long, Mer-lin?"
"Around the same time I started as your manservant?" Merlin could feel the ire rising from his prince.
"You've known...for that long?" Arthur pressed Merlin's wrists harder into the wall before plaster himself against him, trapping him effectively. "I'm going to have to punish you Merlin. Severely."
The warlock's heart raced at the promise, eager.
"Tell me Merlin..." Arthur's voice lowered in a way that went right to Merlin's body. "Can you walk on your knees?"
Through his blush, Merlin smiled up at him. "Wouldn't you like to know?"
And then Arthur leaned forwards and kissed Merlin deeply, showing him just how much he wanted to know.
Needless to say that no one dared to go close to the armory for the rest of the day, and when Arthur emerged from the room grinning and laughing and joking and hugging up Gwaine and Lancelot, calling the challenge to a duel a joke...well...the whole castle just breathed a sigh of relief and smiled thankfully at the darkly blushing Merlin. They just hoped they could survive another lovers quarrel from the castle's cutest, most gossiped about couple.