AN: This is just a short one-shot coda I came up with after watching episode 4.07 "The Secret Sharer." The look that Merlin and Arthur shared in the last scene spoke volumes and really got me thinking about how much these boys can say to each other without words (due in part to Colin and Bradley's acting and in part to the intense friendship between Merlin and Arthur).
What I Really Mean
Anyone who didn't know any better would think that Arthur sucks at apologizing. But Merlin has been through so much with Arthur, and by now he does know better.
Merlin might sarcastically suggest that Arthur certainly knows how to apologize
Arthur might just smile and shrug like it doesn't matter.
But as Merlin stands to leave, he smiles, too, because this is what Arthur does. He tells him he can have the morning off to clean his chamber, polish his armor, and launder his clothes. But what Arthur means is, "I need you to look out for me, advise me even when I don't want your help, tell me that I'm doing a good job as king. I need you by my side. I appreciate everything you do for me. And I really am sorry, even if I won't admit it out loud."
As Merlin walks past his king, he shares a brief look with him. His face barely reflects emotion, except that he looks…thankful. It's a small look, but it speaks volumes. It's a look that says, "I know you order me around and tell me what to do. I know you call me idiot, make fun of me, run me down. But I know you do it because you care. And I'm grateful."
Above all, it's a look that says, "You don't have to say it. I know you're sorry, and I forgive you, because that's what friends do."
This is how things are between them, after all, how they always have been. Terse orders mean, "I trust you." Dragging Arthur out of bed means, "I believe in you, and I want to help you." Insulting Merlin means, "thank you for being such a loyal friend to me."
Arthur throws around the word "idiot" a lot, and maybe he meant it at first, many years ago. But "idiot" means something different now. It means "thank you," and "I need your help," and maybe even "I love you."
After all, Arthur and Merlin are men, and they aren't good at talking about their feelings. So they share glances instead. And for them, one look can mean a lot. A plea for help. An apology. A thank you.
So when Merlin walks by him, Arthur smiles back, gives him the briefest of nods and a barely whispered acknowledgment. He truly is sorry, and he's grateful that Merlin knows it. The look he gives Merlin says, "above all, no matter what life throws at us, we're going to be all right."
Later, when Gaius tells Arthur that there are people out there who believe in the world he is trying to create, that one day he will understand how much they have done for him, Arthur wonders if he's talking about Merlin. Then he realizes that it doesn't matter if he is or not, because Arthur already knows this to be true. He trusts Merlin with his life, and he needs his best friend now more than ever and more than he will ever know.
Two sides of the same coin.
Arthur may not be a good king yet, but with Merlin's help, he knows he can be.
AN: Thanks for reading! Reviews are love. :-)