Oh, my word. That episode was amazing last night. Between the episode and a oneshot I read I simply got inspired to write this. Hopefully this helps to fill the void that I know many of you are feeling after that cliffhanger.
Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin, if I did then I would know how Merlin survives what happened in the last episode.
Title: Merlin Never Lies
Summary: Was inspired by Emachinescat's Stone Cold tag to the most recent episode. I sorta pay homage to it a bit. Merlin had collapsed and Arthur only looks annoyed, but what if he's secretly worried? The bromance in the episode was just too good not to play off it some. This is a missing scene of Arthur caring. No slash.
Warnings: Spoilers for The Darkest Hour and The Poisoned Chalice.
Try as he might Arthur had trouble concentrating during the rest of the celebration. Being a prince, he'd often had to focus on things that were incredibly difficult to even think about because of their tediousness. But he had learned, and trained himself really, to pay attention no matter how dull or even, at times, disgusting the subject was.
He was also very good at ignoring things and his own thoughts if they were distracting.
But tonight he couldn't seem to concentrate on anything but his own ridiculous thoughts. Normally he believed he had very worth-while thoughts, but this one was just pathetic.
Ever since Merlin had paled and dropped the pitcher that was one of the few things he was supposed to pay attention to, and had then fallen to the ground, Arthur couldn't think about anything but his servant. When he had heard the clang of the metal on stone he—along with everyone else—had turned his head to stare at Merlin. But the boy hadn't even noticed how much he had just embarrassed himself, but, in fact, looked like he'd seen a ghost.
And then Arthur had watched as the manservant's eyes had rolled up into his head slightly and he had fallen—almost lifelessly—to the ground and had lain mostly unmoving.
For a moment a cold terror had gripped his heart, the kind of terror he was to feel almost constantly in the upcoming days. When Merlin had collapsed Arthur had been painfully reminded of when he had drunk that blasted poison for him and had passed out from the liquid death. He had been so afraid then that Merlin was going to die. And though he'd never tell a living soul, not even under torture, he had had horrible nightmares for days afterwards of that terrifying moment when he had thought Merlin was dead.
He had looked so lifeless, lying on the ground, that Arthur had wondered if the poison in the goblet killed instantly. But Gaius had quickly rushed over and felt the boy's pulse and had ascertained that he still lived.
And so, for only an instant, when Arthur had seen Merlin pass out he had been reminded of one of the most frightening moments of his life.
But then Arthur had realized his foolishness, (of course, Merlin wasn't going to die, the boy had some of the best luck in all of Camelot,) he had quickly covered the fearful expression on his face to one of annoyance at having his celebration interrupted.
Still, he had been reminded of that nasty event with the poison, and now, whenever he even attempted to get back in the festivities, he still couldn't get the memory out of his head.
He knew that Merlin was fine, (if he was in any real danger then Gaius would have sent someone to tell him,) but he still felt uneasy. Despite his firm belief that Merlin was an idiot, pretty much useless, and more girly than any guy had a right to be, an annoying voice in his head kept telling him that it wasn't like Merlin to pass out.
And he had gone so pale, like he had just seen something that he was deathly afraid of. There was no doubt in his mind that Merlin had guts and an unhealthy lack of fear in perilous situations. So Arthur was almost worried that Merlin had looked that completely unnerved and scared. Almost.
Back when his father had been in charge Arthur may have been able to slip away to see what was wrong with his useless servant. But now that he had to take Uther's place he most definitely could not be seen worrying and following around unconscious servants. But he wanted to at least know what had happened. Had he skipped breakfast and lunch again and was simply too low on food? Had he accidentally eaten something that he was allergic to? Had he stayed up too late doing god-knows what?
It had all happened before. Though, most of the time he didn't quite pass out from these things, just usually sink to the floor with exhaustion, or allergies.
But he had no way of knowing, and that bothered him greatly. Lancelot, who had known Merlin almost as long as Arthur had, though, they hadn't spent nearly as much time around one another, had gone with Gaius. And Arthur had been surprised to realize that he was slightly jealous.
It hadn't escaped the prince's attention that Lancelot and Merlin had become closer since the man had been made a knight. The same with Gwaine. And Arthur hadn't liked it. Whenever the two were around each other the prince had had a distinctive impression that both men shared a secret. A secret that Arthur knew nothing about.
At least he was pretty confident that Gwaine was in the dark about this as well. But whatever the secret was it seemed to bond the two together in a way that Arthur had never had with the boy.
Arthur had been so busy since reclaiming Camelot and just hadn't had as much time to pay Merlin notice. In fact, Arthur seemed to have given the boy more chores, and yet somehow still saw him less. And when they did talk their usual banter often seemed shorter than it used to be.
And now Lancelot, due to not being the future king, got to go with Gaius and find out why Merlin had fainted like the girl he is, and Arthur had to sit at the table and pretend to care about everything that was going on. And even that was hard.
Arthur knew that he was being ridiculous to waste his thoughts, time, energy, and, well, anything else on Merlin who was more than likely simply napping. He berated himself over and over again for his silliness by even thinking about Merlin, but he still couldn't drive the parallel images of his manservant lying unconscious on the floor when he really shouldn't be out of his mind.
Arthur was starting to get fed up with himself and was just about to leave on the excuse of going to the privy just so that he could see Merlin and put his mind to ease, when Lancelot reentered the room. The knight made his way over to Arthur.
"Gaius says that he's alright. Merlin hasn't woken up yet but he isn't worried." And with that he proceeded to sit down at his previous place. Arthur didn't fail to notice that the knight also leaned in to explain probably the same thing to Gwaine, who was sitting relatively near. And no doubt Percival overheard as well since he was between the two.
Not for the first time Arthur reflected on how many friends Merlin had. Both Lancelot and Gwaine had been Merlin's friends before Arthur's. Merlin was the one who had welcomed them the most to Camelot, and though he wasn't sure how, Arthur knew that he had helped them.
Percival was Lancelot's friend, but, most likely due to his size, the big man seemed to think as everyone as a younger brother. And since Merlin was good friends with Lancelot and happened to be quite slight in build, Percival was probably even more protective of him.
Merlin had also been friends with Gwen first. Even though Arthur had met her before Merlin he hadn't really known much of anything about her before the manservant had come along.
And everyone knew that Gaius thought of the boy as a son.
Merlin had even managed to find a place in the hearts of many of the other knights. While Arthur wouldn't say that all of them were his friends, he knew that most if not all would be worried and saddened should anything happen to him.
Merlin just couldn't seem to help but make friends with everyone he met, and Arthur had often envied that quality.
Yet despite his foolish feelings of jealousness towards Merlin's close friendships, Arthur was very glad that he had so many people who would look out for him. The prince was more than aware of the fact that if he ever did anything to hurt Merlin, or turned on him in any way, both Lancelot and Gwaine would choose their loyalty to Merlin over him in a heartbeat.
Gaius would obviously never even begin to support any idea or act that put his ward in danger. And Arthur thought that he might even lose Gwen's love if he betrayed Merlin.
Of course, Arthur would never do anything to hurt Merlin at all, but still he was glad that the boy had such loyal friends. And in all honesty Arthur believed that Merlin deserved it, for it was that same loyalty that he showed to everyone else.
Merlin may be an idiot, but he was one of the most loyal people in the world. And Arthur was secretly glad that the boy had chosen to give his loyalty to him, though, sometimes he didn't feel like he had deserved it.
But at least Merlin was okay and had people who could look out for him, unlike Arthur who had to play the part of a Prince Regent perfectly.
Arthur settled back in his chair and tried once more to immerse himself in everything that was going on around him. And though it wasn't easy, it was no longer impossible to control his thoughts.
It wasn't until a little while after the banquet had ended that Arthur finally checked up on Merlin.
When he opened Gaius' door he came face to face with Gwaine. Startled, the prince looked around and saw the faces of Lancelot and Percival as well.
Arthur was starting to feel that all of this was unfair. He was the prince for goodness sake, and yet his own knights got to see Merlin before he did because he has to keep up appearances.
"Don't worry, Princess," Gwaine said in that annoyingly pompous way of his, "we were just leaving. You can have some alone time with Merlin, though, he's still unconscious." And after giving Arthur an equally pompous smile, Gwaine and the rest of the knights left.
The prince wondered briefly why Gwaine got away with acting like a 'prat' sometimes, when Merlin always called Arthur on it. Shaking his head, Arthur climbed the few short steps to Merlin's room and went through the doorway.
Candles seemed to be lit everywhere and Merlin almost looked fat with the great amount of blankets covering him. The room was too warm for Arthur's taste, but he assumed that it was helping Merlin with…whatever was wrong with him.
"Sire," Gaius, who was sitting in a chair next to Merlin's bed and appeared to be tending him, said.
"What happened, Gaius? What's wrong with him?" Good, make it sound like you're annoyed rather than concerned, Arthur thought.
Merlin still looked pale, but some of the color had come back to him. And he looked less like he was unconscious and more like he was deeply asleep.
Gaius seemed to have it well-rehearsed, probably from having to tell the other knights. "Nothing to be worried about, sire. He has a simple cold. And I believe that he ingested something that disagreed with him, nothing more. He should be perfectly fine to go back to work tomorrow."
Arthur felt some measure of relief, but somehow still thought that something was off. "Are you sure, Gaius? It's not like him to faint like that."
The old man sighed, something, Arthur realized, he did a lot when it came to Merlin. "He's been running around like crazy trying to make everything perfect for tonight, sire. I believe that he's merely exhausted and simply couldn't fight off the cold any longer. He just needs a good night's sleep."
Oh, great. Guilt trip. "Very well, then. If you believe that to be the case then make sure to tell him to report to work in the morning. Don't want him getting a day off on some flimsy excuse."
And with that Arthur turned and left, still feeling that something was strange. But if Gaius said that everything was fine then Arthur believed him, Gaius wouldn't lie.
The next morning when Merlin threw open the curtains and woke him up with the harsh light of day, Arthur thought to himself, Yeah, he's fine.
"Morning sire, what object would you like to throw at me today?" Merlin asked and therefore made it impossible to throw anything at him at all. Arthur hated it when Merlin made anything he said or did seem redundant; it always meant that he couldn't use that for at least another few days.
"Merlin!" he simply replied, not having the energy to think of a better insult. Yes, "Merlin!" was an insult.
"You'd better get up, sire, I'm sure you have plenty of important things to do today."
Arthur sat up in his bed and noticed that the idiot hadn't brought him his breakfast yet. "Merlin! How can I be expected to run a kingdom or perform any of my duties if you're constantly trying to starve me to death?" The boy always seemed to be forgetting his food.
"I'll go and get it for you now, sire. Wouldn't want a crabby, unfed prince ruling Camelot, it wouldn't be able to handle the strain for sure. Where all the evils had tried and failed, Arthur would be able to bring down the kingdom if he went hungry." Merlin turned to leave.
"Wait," Arthur stopped him. He got out of bed and went to stand in front of Merlin. The boy had dark circles under his eyes, and he still had a slightly haunted look, as if he'd had a horrible nightmare that he couldn't shake. "What happened last night?" Arthur asked.
"Hasn't Gaius already told you? I worked my butt off in order that everything might be to your satisfaction, and the only thanks that I get is to be allowed to pass out in peace." Though his words might seem bitter, his tone wasn't. He was still playing around.
"If I recall correctly you weren't even given that. Lancelot rushed over to you, and we all know how he can't resist helping a lady in distress." He smirked.
"Are you calling me a girl again?"
"No, I know you're one."
"Well, at least I'm not a prat who doesn't say thank you."
Both boys couldn't help the grin that came over their faces at the familiar banter between them. They stood there in comfortable silence for a moment and then Arthur said,
"Seriously, though. You're alright? I wouldn't want you dropping my breakfast as you faint like the little girl you are." The prince tried the hide the concern in his voice and in his expression, but had no idea if he managed to accomplish that.
"Yeah," Merlin said, smiling genuinely. "I'm fine. I was just a bit tired."
And then Arthur relaxed, because Merlin would never lie to him. At least, not about anything that mattered.
And as Merlin went to retrieve his prince's food, Arthur reflected on how, despite how busy both boys had become, they almost seemed closer than ever. It was almost like, since his father had retreated into himself, that there was less of a barrier between the two. As if things were finally the way they were supposed to be.
Almost. Because there was still the haunted look in Merlin's eyes. And even though the boy would never lie to him about anything important, perhaps the manservant simply didn't realize that having his longtime servant and, well, closest thing to a best friend, collapse mattered to Arthur. Perhaps the boy didn't know how much Arthur needed him to be okay, to always be there.
He had helped so much when Arthur had first taken charge of Camelot. Maybe he simply didn't know that anything that mattered to him also mattered to Arthur. Maybe the boy truly had no idea exactly how many people cared about him, how many people worried about him.
Arthur was glad that Merlin seemed to be mostly fine. He wasn't sure if he could handle something like that again. Merlin needed to be okay. Because Arthur wasn't sure what he would do if he wasn't.
So, yeah, I really sort of hinted at what happens at the end of the episode. And I unintentionally may have stolen a bit from Emachinescat's fic. Just think of this as a sort of companion piece. I believe that for the most part this fic was in-character. I do believe that from what we've seen that Arthur and Merlin, and Lancelot and Merlin have a closer relationship. And I do think that Arthur would have noticed the loyalty that his newest knights have towards our favorite warlock. And I do think that Arthur would've been a bit concerned when Merlin fell.
Anyway, I hope you all like it. I'm telling you all, that episode was AWESOME! How could I not write something about it? I bloody-well can't wait until next Saturday. I know that this is only a oneshot but please review. Maybe I'll make this a twoshot if I can find something in the second episode to write about. But for now this is completed.