Warnings: Violence (grabbing, punching, yelling) Timeline: Post S3, but pre S4
Timeline: Post S3, but pre S4
A/N: The KMM has taken over my life. Currently working on two wips and have posted there multiple times. I won't de-anon all of mine though. I wanted to do this one for two reasons. 1) It was my first fill 2) To plug my friend's superior story
Prompt: Arthur/Merlin (canon) (mine's friendship/preslash)
After a moment of furious distress, Arthur hits Merlin squarely on his face. Realizing what he's done he rushes to his side and apologize immediately, and Merlin accepts his apologies.
When a few days later Arthur approaches Merlin (about *anything*) the warlock visibly flinches at his touch, and Arthur believes he has finally crossed the line with his manservant... and friend.
Arthur storms back to his chambers, his body trembling with rage. He had just left a council meeting after getting into a huge row with his father about a new tax Uther wanted to install on the people of Camelot.
Everyone jumped out of the way of the crown prince as he walked. Arthur didn't notice, too focused on reaching the quiet haven of his rooms.
He slammed the door open and startled Merlin, who had been scrubbing the floor.
Merlin glanced up at Arthur and knew immediately that the meeting hadn't gone well. After being the Prince's manservant for the past couple of years, Merlin was used to this. Arthur and his father had been clashing more and more as Arthur started to make his will known. Having two stubborn Pendragons go at it made for this scene to become familiar to Merlin.
Normally Merlin would let Arthur rage and break things while he quietly cleaned up the mess, but Merlin felt that today should be different. He and Arthur had become much closer and Merlin hated to see him get so worked up, especially when the majority of the time Arthur was in the right.
Merlin set the sodden rag into the bucket and made his way over to a still shaking Arthur, who was overlooking Camelot out the window.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Merlin asked quietly.
Arthur stiffened up and let out a curt, "Shut up Merlin and get back to work".
However, Merlin wasn't one to take orders from his prince. Arthur was distressed and Merlin was determined to fix it. The prat needed to talk whether he knew it or not.
"No Arthur, we're talking about this."
Arthur quickly turned with a little surprise on his face at their change in routine. Anger was still prominent on his face and his fist was clenching and unclenching.
Merlin took a deep breath. He knew he and Arthur weren't real friends, but something close to it. However, he considered Arthur his friend even if the prince didn't feel the same about him. Regardless, as Merlin's friend, he had to help him.
"Arthur what happened at the meeting?" Merlin started.
Arthur glared, "None of your business. Leave me be." Arthur stated in a cold tone and started to pace. Merlin watched as Arthur eyed some of the more breakable items in his room, and noticed his hand twitching.
Merlin huffed. Of course Arthur would have to be difficult about it. "Was it your father?" Merlin asked fearlessly.
Arthur gave him such a glare that Merlin suddenly felt a great empathy for any of Arthur's enemies. "Merlin, for the last time leave it. In fact just leave." And Arthur turned away from Merlin expecting to hear his quiet footsteps and the soft click of the door shutting. So he was surprised to hear, "No."
Arthur was enraged. First his father wouldn't listen to him and now his manservant! He was tired of no one listening to him. He was going to make Merlin obey his orders if it was the last thing he did.
"Merlin get out now!" Arthur all but yelled.
But Merlin stared him down, defiant as usual. Arthur was in no mood for it and forcible grabbed Merlin and steered him to the door.
Merlin wriggled in his grip and turned towards Arthur. "You need to talk about this. It's not healthy getting this upset all the time. I know you and your father don't always agree on things…"
Merlin didn't finish as Arthur shook him. "Shut up! I don't want to talk about my father or about anything." He threw Merlin away from him. "I am the Crown Prince and you will do as I say! Get the hell out of my chambers!" And Arthur once again turned away from Merlin, body coiled with tension like a snake ready to strike.
Instead of leaving like he should have at Arthur's rage, he yelled back, now angry himself. "No I will NOT listen to you. Someone needs to knock some sense you're your thick hea…"
Once again Merlin didn't finish his sentence. Arthur had had enough of his bothersome manservant and his insubordinate ways, and he turned around and punched him square across his face.
Merlin, not even close to being prepared, went down like a sack of potatoes. Pain exploded across the left side of his face and then on the back of his head, as it knocked against the hard floor of Arthur's chambers.
Arthur looked down at Merlin and his rage left so quickly it made him dizzy. It was the only explanation for why he went to his knees. Also, if it landed him beside his wayward manservant, then it was obviously a coincidence.
Arthur didn't believe in hitting the servants. Sure he'd had some fun with them, but he has never actually injured one before. He looked down at Merlin and already saw a bruise blooming across his cheek. Arthur quickly schooled his expression into something less emotional as Merlin started to move.
Merlin moaned and slowly opened his eyes, while gently touching his face. Shocked sapphires met stunned cobalts. They stared for a minute before Arthur lifted a hand towards Merlin's face and Merlin flinched.
Arthur was horrified, but hid it and said, "Merlin I didn't mean to hit you. Forgive me for my lapse in judgement."
Still a bit stunned with an aching head, Merlin just nodded and then winced. "It's alright sire."
Arthur sighed in relief and gently helped Merlin up. "Go see Gaius" he said quietly, and carefully led him to the door.
Merlin held his throbbing head and then left.
Arthur stood rim rod still, listening to the quiet footsteps and soft click. He then started to tremble again, but a whole different emotion filled him.
The only good that came out of the next few days was Uther not imposing the tax he wanted. After the incident with Morgana, Camelot was still trying to rebuild herself. Uther had finally come out of his unresponsive state and was trying to reaffirm his Kingship, so he was none to pleased to have his son question him. In the end though, he capitulated and gathered his advisors to plan new ways to help restore Camelot.
During this time Arthur didn't see much of Merlin, but he knew word got around that he had struck his manservant. Merlin had more allies then Arthur realized.
Though his meals would be hot, they were full of food Arthur hated. None of the servants would look at him as he walked through the halls. The worst had been the knights.
During his afternoon training sessions Arthur would be on the receiving end on some voracious attacks, especially from Gwaine. He had actually gotten a piece of Arthur that required him to see Gaius.
Though miffed that he needed to leave practice, he was hoping to see Merlin. His manservant had been like a ghost as of late. All his meals would be there for him, his chambers cleaned, and his armor and sword polished, but no Merlin to be found. The only time Merlin was there was when he woke Arthur up and by the time Arthur got rid of the muzziness of sleep Merlin would be gone.
Now though Arthur was hoping to see Merlin in Gaius's chambers. He hurried up there and entered the Physician's rooms without knocking.
Gaius continued working after a glance at who entered. He was much too used to Merlin to get startled by a slammed door. When he saw it was the Prince he stiffened up and asked in a polite, but cold voice. "Do you need something sire?"
Frowning Arthur looked at Gaius. The man was obviously not happy with him. He had apologized though! Really this had gone on too far. He'd just glanced Merlin's face. He'd done worse during their training.
All of sudden there was a noise from above and then Merlin's door opened and he cheerfully descended the steps saying, "You finish that potion for Lady Jessica yet?" Then Merlin spotted Arthur and his beaming smile turned into something more forced. "Oh. Erm, was there something you needed sire?"
Arthur bristled. This was also another new development in his and Merlin's relationship. Merlin would now only call him "sire" or "my lord". Arthur didn't realize how much he'd miss the insolence until it was gone.
"I sustained a small injury that needs to be looked at and need a bottle of salve." Of course 'small injury' meant a fractured if not broken wrist and some seriously bruised ribs. Gwaine had not been pulling punches, and had parried an attack from Arthur with such strength that it had snapped his left wrist. The other knights had been a little more subtle with body shots that were meant to hurt, but not injury. Lancelot seemed especially well trained in them.
Gaius looked a bit distressed down at the potion he had capped. He needed to deliver this to the Lady himself and quickly, but the Prince always took precedence.
Merlin noticed Gaius's face and sighed to himself. He was being stupid. Arthur had apologized, but Merlin still felt wary. Plus the bruise had yet to fade. "Gaius go ahead. I'll take care of Arthur."
Gaius shot Merlin a penetrating look to which Merlin calmly nodded back. He then grabbed his supplies to make his rounds and shot the prince a small glare before exiting his chambers.
Arthur really tried not to get offended, but he was close to losing his temper with everyone. However, one look at Merlin's face quickly quenched the flame of anger as it was a vivid reminder of what happened last time he let his temper overtake him.
Merlin slowly approached Arthur. "So what's bothering you sire?" Arthur gritted his teeth, not from pain, but frustration and presented his wrist. "Took a hit during training."
Merlin shot him a quick look before gently cradling Arthur's wrist. He let go and started to bustle around for supplies.
Hoping to get rid of the awkward silence that surrounded them Merlin began, "Well how did that happen? Take a trip and land on your wrist?"
Arthur let out a breath of relief at Merlin's cheekiness. "No, of course not! Gwaine came down a bit too hard on one of his parries."
As Merlin turned to the prince, Arthur made a swiping motion with his good hand to show what Gwaine did. He didn't expect for Merlin to flinch back violently and drop the bandages and tape.
For a second neither of them moved. Arthur stared at Merlin while Merlin stared at the fallen items.
Arthur reached for Merlin and Merlin subconsciously took a step back. Arthur wasn't having it and quickly grabbed Merlin by his shoulders.
"Why have you been avoiding me?" Not exactly what Arthur had meant to say, but it slipped out.
Merlin squirmed in Arthur's grip not meeting his eyes, but Arthur held on tight and shook him again.
"Merlin" sounding way more desperate then Arthur ever intended. Though it got Merlin's attention. He stopped struggling and relaxed. He lifted his head and looked into Arthur's eyes as best as he could.
"I didn't want to get hit again." Merlin quietly admitted and looked down again.
Arthur's gripped tightened to match the feeling of his clenching heart. If only he could go back in time and change that moment. If only he hadn't hit Merlin. Merlin! His idiot manservant who was also brave, and loyal to a fault. He must learn to curb his temper.
Arthur moved closer to Merlin and made sure Merlin was looking at his eyes so he'd believe what he said. "Merlin I made a horrible mistake. I never meant to hurt you. I'm sorry and I swear to you that I will never lay another hurtful finger on you again." Arthur paused to gather himself for this next part. He knew it needed to be said, but really emotions were a foreign concept to him.
"You are my friend Merlin." And here Merlin's eyes widen in shock. "I need you to be the old Merlin. The one who wasn't afraid to question me or put me in line. The one who called me Arthur. The one who noisily wakes me up with cheerful proclamations. The one who horribly clumsy and breaks as many dishes as he carries. I need you to be my Merlin, my friend."
Merlin's heart stopped. All along that's all he wanted from Arthur. Just some sort of recognition. Anything. And Arthur finally gave it to him. It seemed surreal, but Arthur was right there with his hands grounding him on his shoulders.
Merlin stared at Arthur as he started to blush from his words and grinned. Not a strained grin, or even his regular grin, but a grin just for Arthur.
Arthur smiled back in relief and pulled Merlin to him for a hug. Arthur's arms were around Merlin's neck and after a moment of hesitation Merlin's were around Arthur's waist. They just held each other for a minute and were just Merlin and Arthur.
No surprise that Arthur was the first to break away, but kept a hand on Merlin shoulder. "There now that that is settled, I need you to look at my wrist."
Merlin started and quickly pulled away from Arthur to re-gather his supplies. He tended to Arthur's injuries quickly and they headed back to Arthur's chambers.
On the way there Merlin asked, "So does this mean I don't have to train anymore?"
Arthur turned to Merlin surprised, "What in the world gave you that impression?"
Merlin smiled innocently, "Well you said you wouldn't lay a single finger to hurt me and let me tell you something, those training sessions leaving me in a world of pain after." His eyes twinkling as he finished.
Grinning despite himself Arthur answered, "You wish. In fact we'll have a session tomorrow since you missed so many days."
Merlin squawked in protest, "Arthur!" and the castle inhabitants could hear them arguing all the way back to prince's chambers.
A/N 2: Ok do me a favor. Instead of leaving me a review, go check out my friend's story: Reunited Forevermore by LITERARYjunkie25 and leave her a review instead. Her story is better anyways.