I started posting this story a couple years ago and after coming back to it to write the ending I realized the chapters were so short. My writing style has improved since I started this so I've edited any spelling mistakes and merged two to three chapters together to match the longer written ones later on.
Uther burst into his son's chambers. Arthur was still dead asleep spread out on his four-poster bed like he usually was at this time in the morning. "Why aren't you up yet?" Uther asked, receiving only a groan from his son for his troubles. "Get up!" He demanded as he pulled the curtains open, letting the early morning sun into the room.
"Go away, Merlin. Five more minutes." Arthur grumbled out before turning over, away from the light and pulling the covers over his head to block it out. Not processing whom it actually was in his sleepy state.
"I am not that bumbling idiot. You should not speak to your father that way!" Uther corrected his son.
Arthur froze finally connecting the tone of voice with the person it rightfully belonged to. Who was definitely not his manservant. The prince immediately shot up and blinked in surprise. "Father! What are you doing here? " He asked sheepishly in confusion. Holding the blankets closer to his shirtless person.
The prince was so used to being woken up in the morning by Merlin it was just weird when someone else did. Or waking himself up to drag the idiot out of his own bed, usually the second option.
"Honestly, you should be up already. After being in your service for so long that boy should be able to perform the simplest task to wake his master on time. Don't know why we keep him around." Uther complained.
Arthur looked out the window for the sun to judge what time it was. He wanted to groan in despair at the thought of how much time of beautiful sleep he had been robbed of. The prince was used to being able to sleep in because his servant was always late, but just the right amount so as not to affect his daily schedule and allow him a little lay about time. He definitely hadn't slept in though.
"Father, Merlin's not suppose to wake me up for another half an hour." Arthur almost let out a whine in his tone. Since Merlin usually arrived forty-five minutes after he was 'suppose' to wake up the prince he had lost more than an hours sleep.
Arthur finally looked at his father with clearer eyes. "Wait. What are you all dressed up for? Well more than usual I mean." Noticing the king was wearing a jacket he only wore to banquets. It also looked like he'd polished his crown. Well, got a servant to do it anyways, but same thing.
"Did you forget that I had invited the King of Dyfred to the castle for a peace treaty?" Uther asked as he started to check his appearance in the floor length mirror by the dressing screen.
"That's this week is it." The prince stated as he climbed out of bed.
Arthur hadn't really forgotten per say. It was just that ever since his father had recovered from Morgana's take over he had organized so many of these meetings between foreign kings to prove to them Camelot was still a prosperous kingdom. Maybe even get a little protection out of it. They had all just started to run into each other in his mind until it didn't matter who was coming just when they would be leaving.
"Yes it is. I received a message that they would be arriving early this morning, having miscalculation how long it would take them to actually get here at a polite time of day." Arthur could detect an annoyed tone in his father's voice. "Anyway, you need to get dressed in your royal garb and be prepared to greet them in the courtyard within the hour." Uther's frown turned up as he combed his hair into place with his fingers.
Arthur raised an eyebrow at his father's sudden change in moods. He could've sworn just a second ago he was annoyed and now he was happy again.
"Son. He is also bringing a daughter…" Uther cut himself off when he thought he saw something in his teeth. Opening his mouth wider and peering closer as he leaned in.
Arthur saw Merlin appear in the doorway that his father had left open behind him. The prince signaled with his hands for him to get lost while his father was distracted, but he didn't even have to tell him.
One sight of the king in his master's chambers and his manservant disappeared again like he was never there in the first place.
Uther turned his full attention to his son once he was satisfied with his own appearance. "He is bringing his oldest daughter with him. I want to warn you not to get any funny ideas. Her father's very protective."
Arthur pretended to be attentive to what his father was saying while thinking 'not another one' and 'aren't they all'. He respectively responded though with " I'll keep my hands to myself."
"Good. Now where is that manservant of yours to help you get dressed? Surely he is supposed to be here by now?" Uther inquired.
"He probably decided to grab my breakfast first this morning. Should be here any moment now." Arthur made an excuse for the absence of his servant at this particular moment even though he was probably hiding behind the door.
"He better be." Uther said with a bit of a threat in his tone as he straightened his posture and looked around the room. There were still old dishes from yesterday he noticed with distaste. "Don't be late." Was the king's departing remark to his son before abruptly storming out.
Arthur frowned a little at his father's behavior. "Merlin." He called to summon his servant back, if he was still in hearing range.
"Yes." The prince jumped in surprise at hearing the voice sounding right beside him. Merlin appeared again from where ever he disappeared to like magic.
"Don't sneak up on people like that." Arthur berated, wondering when his servant got stealthy.
"You just didn't notice me because you were deep in thought about something. Which is a very rare occurrence." Merlin cheekily replied.
"Did you manage to hear what my father was talking about." Merlin shook his head. "Another foreign king is coming today and I'm expected to meet them in the next forty minutes or so. Help me get dressed." Arthur asked.
"But what about your breakfast?" Merlin asked in confusion.
"I don't have time for food this morning. Fetch my crown." The prince demanded as he walked over to his dressing screen.
Arthur stood half asleep behind his father on the steps dressed in his best clothes waiting for the other royals to arrive. He'd done this many times in the past couple months considering Welsh contained several other kingdoms and his father was determined to meet with them all. Going through the same motions each time.
Merlin smirked as he watched the king smack Arthur in the back of the head and then told him to "stand up straight! Prince's do not slouch".
Horns sounded which confused Merlin. He knew they weren't Camelot's because both the king and prince didn't condone theme. Uther didn't like the racket they made and Arthur thought they were too pompous to use; but apparently the other king didn't. The royal horns of Dyfred continued on announcing the arrival of the royal party.
Villager's marveled at the gold carriage as it rolled through the streets accompanied by thirty foot soldiers and ten cavaliers on horses all in intricate armor that didn't look like it could protect you from a butter knife.
Uther glared at the young man playing the horn as the party came into view, like he was going to have him executed if he didn't stop soon. Glancing at the pyre off to the side still set up from an execution from last week.
When the party finally arrived in the courtyard the proceeding soldiers marched pass their position on the stairs; the carriage came to a standstill in front of them. Everyone stopping all at once.
There was a moment of silence when nothing happened.
Arthur and Merlin shared a look of confusion.
The knight at the very front who had been leading the party turned around from the frontward position he had been sitting on his horse to glare back at the driver. The man sitting on the carriage jumped up in realization. Climbing down quickly to open the door.
They could hear the king grumbled about incompetent idiots as he climbed out of the carriage. 'Apparently the foreign king was one of those royals who can't get off their own backside to open a door', Merlin thought to himself.
The royal adjusted his crown that was encrusted in sapphires and diamonds; much more ornate than Uther's plain gold one. He still had brown hair even though judging from his face he must be around the same age as Uther. His robes the Dyfred blue with yellow accents. With fur around the collar that looked much too warm for the summer weather.
"Gwrthfyr, it great to see you again. It's been too long." Uther greeted the other King like they used to be the best of friends. Considering Gaius was the only person who could even slightly claim to ever being his friend, Merlin highly doubted it.
"It has been, hasn't it?" The other king shook the hand Uther offered him as he reached the steps. "Arthur, my have you grown since the last time I've been here." The prince heard for what felt like thousandth time since every king and lord said that when they first greeted him.
Their attention was stolen from the visiting king when there was a noise at the carriage. A blond girl appeared at the door in a dress that was almost too big to fit through it. After she struggled through the tight space she proceeded to try to walk gracefully towards them, dragging her dress' train behind her. She didn't posses natural grace and it just appeared that she was trying too hard.
"Ah, I'd like to introduce you to my oldest daughter, Matilda. I've just cleared her now able to accept suitors." Gwrthfyr hinted in the princes direction.
Matilda eyed the prince as she approached. "It is a pleasure to meet you." Matilda curtsied respectably to her host's but became distracted by the young man standing behind them. Looking past the one she was suppose to be giving her attention too. Merlin was surprised to have gained the princess' attention. He didn't like the look she was giving him.
"Would you like to rest before we begin the meeting? I could push it back to this afternoon if your too tired from your journey." Uther asked the younger king. Arthur suspected Uther just wanted to have the chance to have a nap himself.
"No you don't have to do that, I'm fine. All I did was sleep the whole journey." Gwrthfyr responded back cordially.
"My lords, what shall I do while you're in the meeting?" Matilda interrupted to ask.
"I'll have my manservant show you to your chamber's." Arthur informed both the princess and Merlin at the same time.
Merlin was surprised by the request; sliding up behind his master to whisper in his ear. " I don't know which rooms she was assigned to?"
"The one beside Morgana's old chambers." The prince whispered back under his breath.
"Left or right?" Merlin asked knowing he was testing his master's patience. Arthur sent him a withering glare. "Follow me princess." The warlock said loud enough for everyone to hear as he made his way back up the steps.
Merlin led Matilda through the quite halls.
No one else was up this early in the morning unless it was a servant that had to perform duties before their master woke up; but ever since Morgana's flee of Camelot after her take over, this wing of the castle had basically been abandoned. Meaning there were no master's to serve in the present area.
Uther had decided to turn it into the guest wing so he would never have to visit anyone regularly there if at all. The memories of his ex-ward were still too strong.
The clicking of the princess' heels and dragging of her dress train was the only sound.
Merlin glanced back out of the corner of his eye, snapping his head forward again. He felt a little creep ed out by the way he was being stared at. She had a look in her eye that he'd seen women throw at Arthur often but they usually attempted to seduce or kill him, sometimes both.
He didn't like it, not at all. It never boded well.
"What was your name again, I didn't seem to catch it?" Matilda asked curiously.
"It's Merlin, my lady." He answered nervously.
"What an interesting name. Mer-lin." The princess rolled his name in a way that would seem seductive to most but just set the warlock's nerve's on alert that there was a threat close by to his person. "You're named after a bird."
Merlin just gave her a forced smile to seem polite and continued to walk not using the topic she chose as a conversational starter. He was usually chatty with everyone including the guests but the princess just rubbed him the wrong way.
When they came upon where Morgana's old chambers were located, Merlin had to do a little eny meanie minnie mo to determine which of the two rooms to house the princess in hoping he was right.
Merlin went to the door on the left, creaking the door open to peer inside. Throwing the door wide open when he confirmed that this room had recently been cleaned. "Here we are princess. Someone will fetch you when it's time for lunch."
Merlin bowed and turned to leave.
"Wait. It was such a long journey, it would be great if I could get a bath." The princess commanded and did not ask.
"A bath, right away." Merlin squeaked. It was weird for a lady to ask a male servant to start a bath for them. He couldn't deny a visiting royals request though. "I'll be back with the water, my lady."
Arthur had demanded he behave like a good servant out in public while they had guests, or he'd be sent to the stocks. He couldn't end up back there, the warlock thought he was developing an allergy to tomatoes; he came in contact with them so often because the villagers loved to throw them at him so much because of the noise they made when it made contact.
"Merlin, what are you doing?" Gwen questioned her friend as he continued to drag her up the hall without any explanation. She had just been minding her own business when she was grabbed mid yawn. 'It's too early for this.' She thought to herself.
"I need your help to fill a bath." Merlin vaguely explained. On his way back from fetching water from the well he'd got the smart idea to bring someone with him so he didn't have to be alone with the princess in her chambers. Gwen was just there at the right time.
"I'm not a maid anymore Merlin, besides, you do it all the time for Arthur, why would you need help this time?" Gwen questioned as their feet moved quickly.
"Because it's not for Arthur." Merlin shot back as he turned down another hall and started to ascend a set of steps.
Gwen blinked as she realized they weren't going towards the prince's chambers like she had originally thought. She knew this hall very well considering it was the route she used to take to work every morning. "Merlin, are we going towards Morgana's old chambers?"
"Yep." Was Merlin's short reply as he quickly continued to drag her behind himself. Trying not to spill the bucket of water as they went.
"Who's staying in that wing?" Gwen inquired curiously. They suddenly came to a stop and she was finally released. Allowing her to catch her breath.
"Just another visiting royal. Would you please just help me, no more questions asked?" Merlin said as he stopped in front of the door to the right of what would forever be known as Morgana's room in her mind.
He turned and looked at her pleadingly, batting his eyelashes at her. She gave in under his look of desperation. "Fine."
The boy smiled at her before turning around again. He stopped to knock for once to wait for permission to enter. Gwen knew this was a rare occurrence because of how much Arthur complained about it.
"Come in." Could be heard in a feminine voice on the other side of the door.
Merlin entered and gave a small bow to the lady occupant before starting to walk over to the tub that had been placed in the room. "I brought a handmaiden to help you undress, princess Matilda." He said as he poured the water in the tub while also informing Gwen whom it was she would be serving.
Bowing when she heard the title of someone higher than herself. She found it weird when the princess scowled at hearing the news; like she didn't want her present because she wanted to be alone with her male friend.
The warlock dropped to the ground. Using spark rocks for once instead of magic to light the fire under the tub because he had observers this time. Lighting the fire underneath before turning to leave again with a departing mark of. "I'll be back with more water."
Gwen gave Merlin a suspicious look as he disappeared again carrying the bucket. "Would you like my help to undress, my lady?" Gwen asked the princess indicating to the dressing screen.
"Yes, that would be most helpful." Matilda it seemed accepted begrudgingly.
"You're bath is ready?" Merlin informed the princess with a bow even though she couldn't see him because she was still behind the dressing screen. He'd had to carry the bucket about ten times up and down the stairs.
Gwen emerged from behind it. " We'll leave you to enjoy your bath, my lady." Dismissing themselves both politely. Grabbing Merlin's arm to drag him out after her. Not talking until the door shut behind them. "What was that all about?"
" Sorry, I just felt really uncomfortable. I didn't want to be in a bed room alone with her." Merlin apologized. He knew that she wasn't supposed to be doing chores anymore because Arthur made her a lady but he really needed someone to come with him.
"I can understand why. She has her eye on you apparently. I suggest you should try and stay away from her while she's here." Gwen accepted his apology.
"Could you tell Arthur that? He's the one who ordered me to take the princess to her room in the first place." Merlin asked.
"I don't think I can do that right now." Gwen said with a tone of sadness.
"Why can't you? Arthur always listens to you." Merlin questioned curiously.
"I think he's been avoiding me, and even when we are in the same room lately it's really awkward." Gwen spoke with a faraway look in her eyes.
"I'm sure you're just imagining it. Arthur isn't always open with his emotions. Look whom he has as a father, I'm positive it's made him emotionally stunted. " Merlin suggested to try show that the situation really wasn't that bad.
"I was walking down the hallway yesterday and Arthur hid in a broom closet when he saw me coming." Gwen said as proof.
"Are you sure it wasn't a bedroom, you could've been mistaken?" Merlin tried to find an excuse for his master.
"I used to be a maid, I'm sure it was a broom closet. Arthur has no other reason to go in there except to hide because he has you." Gwen crossed her arms, expanding when her friend made a noise like he was going to say something in the prince's defense. " What, was he actually going to clean up his own mess?"
"Is this a resent development? I haven't noticed him acting any differently." Merlin asked thoughtfully trying to think back on anything out of the ordinary his master might have been doing without him noticing.
"It's gradually grown worse since the king has gotten better. We were both surprised when Uther didn't accuse me of witchcraft again or forbid us to be together once he realized what was going on. Do you think Arthur was just chose me because it was forbidden?" Gwen asked paranoid.
When Uther was cleared by Gaius to be sane enough to take control of the throne again Arthur was unable to hide his relationship any longer but the king just took it in stride, acting like it didn't exist. Basically he ignored it.
Merlin didn't know what to say because he didn't know Arthur's reason for his strange behavior or avoidance. The manservant would usually try his best to reassure his friend using his own experiences in life but the thing was he had no experience in love, not yet at least, so he had no advice to offer. Hs brief stint with the druid girl didn't really count because it was just that, brief.
Merlin was looking for an escape from the emotional women when he spotted Lancelot. Thinking to himself, 'He would definitely be better at this than me.' He didn't even have to say anything, all Merlin had to do was steer Gwen into Lancelot's view and immediately he went into protective mode when he saw her distressed face.
"Gwen, what is the matter?" Lancelot asked genuinely concerned. Gwen's eyes started to tear up when questioned on the matter from another spectator.
"As you can see she's upset, do you think you can comfort her? I have to get back to Arthur." Merlin asked the knight in a whispered tone thinking his friend wouldn't hear him in her distressed state.
"Arthur." Gwen let a couple tears fall.
Merlin smacked his forehead at his stupid-ness to mention his master's name in the girl's presence. Gwen latched onto his arm making him wince since he didn't have that much muscle on him. He gave the other man a look saying you can guess whom this is all about.
"Come on, let's find a quite place to talk." Lancelot said with caring as he took Gwen from where she'd latched onto the prince's manservant.