Disclaimer: I don't own any of it.
A/N: This is my first little foray into Merlin fanfic. I know it's not the most original idea but I really want Merlin and Gwaine to be bestest buds again... and for Gwaine to wear linen shirts more. (Thankfully we got a bit of linen shirt action in the last episode) I do hope you enjoy my meagre offering and don't forget to feed the author.
In Vino Veritas
Gwaine knew that Merlin had been having a bad year. In fact, in Gwaine's estimation, bad year was an understatement. He had had bad years in the past including but not limited to the time his father had died and the time he had been banished from Camelot 'forever'. Merlin on the other hand had been beaten up, kidnapped, treated like rubbish, attacked by a giant snake lady and lost his two best friends all in a matter of months and not necessarily in that order.
And so, as Merlin's self proclaimed best of best mates (not including Arthur, who only counted sometimes) Gwaine had spent the last week wracking his brains, trying to figure out something he could do for his friend to make him feel better. Under any other circumstances Gwaine would have taken him to the tavern but Merlin never had been much of a drinker. He though maybe a nice day trip out into the forest could have been nice but quickly struck that off the list considering Merlin appeared to be a magnet for bandits, evil sorcerers and all manner of other life threatening beasts. Gwaine was stumped, which was not a state he enjoyed as rather fancied himself as a man who could think on his feet.
So it came to pass, that Gwaine found himself being dragged, rather unceremoniously, through the lower town by his best mate, and he had no idea why.
The younger man didn't answer but continued on his path, towing the bewildered knight behind him. The knight in question noticed they were getting some odd looks as the usually mild mannered servant barged past anyone in his way.
He tried again. "Merlin?"
Gwaine raised an eyebrow at the abrupt answer. "Not that I want to interrupt this, eh... pleasant stroll you've chosen to take us on, but where are we going?"
Gwaine was fairly sure this was the first time ever Merlin had voluntarily gone to the tavern when not in search of himself, but he wasn't going to argue. He wrenched his arm from Merlins grip and strode a head of him.
"Why didn't you say so before?"
Soon the pair of them were settled at a table at the back of the room, away from the noise and bustle of the rest of the patrons. Gwaine stretched as he settled into his seat and glanced at his friend.
"Alright then, what's up?"
Merlins gaze was fixed to the table top. "Nothing. Drink?"
"Well, if you're buying." He hailed a barmaid and ordered.
Several hours and several drinks later Gwaine had noticed that Merlin had gotten though considerably less alcohol than he had. He tried counting the tankards in front of him and comparing them to the amount in front of his friend, but had lost count, gotten confused or been distracted by a particularly friendly barmaid. He couldn't recall which. Merlin looked up at him and Gwaine got the feeling that he may be about to find out why he had been dragged here in the first place.
Not that he was complaining mind.
Merlin gazed steadily at Gwaine, who swayed slightly under the scrutiny.
"How drunk are you?"
"On a scale of one to drunk, how drunk are you?"
"Hmm, well, I don't think I'd fancy my chances swimming, but I'll probably remember most of this in the morning. Why?"
Merlin stood, grabbing Gwaine by the sleeve again and dragging him up and out of his seat.
"Where are we going now?"
"Um... Merlin. You know you're my best mate an' all. My first mate, which makes you especially special too, but, and don't get me wrong, I'm flattered. I know my hair possesses magical properties which entrance some, but, and let me stress, you're a good looking bloke and all, fabulous cheekbones, but I really don't feel that way about you. I'm more of a busty barmaid type myself and I'm flattered and all..."
"It's not like that."
It was only when Merlin interrupted his speech that Gwaine noticed that they had left the tavern and were several streets away. In fact, they were outside Gwen's old house. Merlin glanced around before opening the door and pushing the knight in a head of him. Gwaine dropped into a chair and watched Merlin as he lit a lamp and began to pace the room. After a few minuets of nothing but silence and footsteps Gwaine decided to move things along.
"You're making me nervous Merlin. You haven't brought me here to make an attempt on my virtue and there isn't a secret store of secret booze here... Well, I'm pretty sure there isn't. Is there? "
"I have something serious to tell you."
"Well, I'd figured that much out."
"... You had?"
"Well, yes. Because you see, you're Merlin, Merlin. You never drink. At least not voluntarily. So you're clearly drinking for courage, which is odd, because, you're quite brave you know. I don't think enough people tell you that and..."
"What? Sorry. Yes. You also look like Arthur just passed a law that banned red scarfs."
"And, you've clearly been trying to get me drunk, which means you want me to be truthful. Which I must say, wounds me. I'd always tell you the truth Merlin. Even when I think it might hurt you. Like that time you tried wearing purple for a while. It really didn't suit you and..."
"I have magic."
The silence that reigned in the small home at that moment was almost deafening. In his slightly alcohol addled mind Gwaine was going through all his memories of Merlin from when they first met. Apparently, it took a lot longer in real time than it was taking in his head.
"Gwaine, are you going to turn me in?"
Somewhere in the back of Gwaine's head, he registered that he didn't think he'd ever heard Merlin sound more terrified than he did at this moment. He shook himself and stared the younger man in the eye.
"Are you going to tell Arthur?"
"I don't think so."
"Are you going to kill me?"
"What? No. Of course not."
They were quiet for another few minutes before Gwaine sat back and regarded his friend curiously.
"You know, this explains a lot. Particularly those flying plates when we first met. And that short bloke on that quest we weren't on. And that fact that you're not dead a hundred times over."
"It does come in handy like that."
Merlin was beginning to look slightly less pale and frightened.
"So, you're a sorcerer."
"A warlock. There's a difference."
"Really? Well, I suppose you may as well start at the beginning."
The following morning Gwaine awoke with only a slight headache, which he considered a pretty good result all round. He went about his day, wandering down into the lower town hoping to get breakfast from one of the stalls in the market. However, he caused a rather big pile up of horses, people and a few goats when he stopped dead in the middle of street, gaping at the nothing in particular in front of him. People stared as the knight stood stock still, his jaw working silently for a moment before suddenly turning and running back up the street, disappearing into the morning crowds.
When Gwaine burst in to Giaus' chambers he found Merlin alone, grinding something in the largest pestle and mortar he had ever seen. Merlin's head shot up when door banged against the wall. Gwaine stood in the door way staring.
"And then you...?"
"If we're going to talk about this could you please close the door."
Gwaine shut the door and seated himself at the table Merlin was working at. After a few minutes silence Merlin looked over at his friend.
"You know, I don't usually make cutlery dance. I was a bit drunk."
"Sure you don't Merlin. Just as long as you use your mighty powers for good."
The pair then lapsed into a comfortable silence while Merlin worked, Gwaine leafing through a few books. After about an hour, Gwaine was the one to break the silence.
"Merlin, why did you tell me?"
Merlin looked up and paused before sitting down beside him. "I'd wanted to for a while to be honest but things kept getting in the way."
"Like giant snake ladies and friends coming back from the dead."
"Exactly. And when Lancelot died, for the second time, I realized that I needed someone to know. Besides Gaius."
"I still can't believe I didn't figure out he was a shade."
"Don't beat yourself up over it. He fooled everyone."
Gwaine clapped Merlin on the shoulder and smiled at him. "I'm honored you chose to tell me."
Merlin smiled and got up.
"That is the best thing you've said to me since 'we're going to the tavern'."
As they moved to leave, Gwaine raised an eyebrow at his friend.
"Merlin, tell me, how would you feel about turning your powers to the plight of liberating food from the kitchens."
"You just want to see a roast chicken fly, don't you?"