Merlin woke up early. Which was unusual but welcome for him. It meant he could get over on Arthur all day. No "You're late Merlin", no "It's lunchtime Merlin and I still don't have my breakfast" and definitely no throwing of pillows. Merlin thought the best way to ensure he was the winner today as to get Arthur's breakfast early and to arrive in his chambers wearing the full Camelot servants uniform including the dreaded hat. That would surely put Merlin in Arthur's good books. He hadn't been in the good books lately and was at a loss as to why Arthur had been so rude to him.
Merlin dressed in the full ceremonial outfit and got a look from Gwen in the hallway. With a quick "no time to talk Gwen, big job today," Merlin left her puzzled and went down to the kitchens. The Chef, Mable had always been a fan of Merlin, indeed all of the kitchen staff liked and admired him. Mable loaded him up with Bacon, Eggs, Cheese, Ham, Bread and Tomatoes. Merlin thought to himself that this really was food fit for a King.
He arrived at the Prince's chambers to find Arthur still asleep. Merlin carefully laid the food out and using a small spell silenced himself so that no noise was made. Arthur looked very peaceful asleep and Merlin was in two minds whether to wake him at all. However, if he didn't get Arthur ready and dressed on time then the stocks would be waiting for him. Arthur covered up for Merlin a lot but even he couldn't fool King Uther forever. It was clear to the whole court that Merlin was not employed for his serving skills alone.
The warlock was unsure just how to wake Arthur but settled on waiting another few minutes, while peering out the window to see if the Sun had fully risen. Minutes later Merlin woke his Prince with a steady but not too loud "rise and shine". For once Arthur responded immediately, waking up like a shot and then his eyes widened as he saw the feast, for that was a more accurate decision, in front of him.
"Dear God, who are you and what have you done with Merlin?"
"Oh a thank you would have been too much wouldn't it? Typical."
"A thank you for doing your job properly."
"No a thank you for arranging all this food, without waking you up and I am in the full uniform including the hat you love so much."
"You have that right; I do like you in the hat. You look ridiculous."
"And you still look like a prat. Don't know why I bother."
And with that, Merlin walked out of the chambers, leaving a shocked Arthur thinking he may have gone too far.
What was it with Merlin he thought? How did his manservant who was incredibly annoying also his best friend? When he stopped to think he realized he was grateful Merlin had really tried this morning and felt slightly guilty about his reaction. Now he needed Merlin to get him dressed and ready for a hard days training.
To Arthurs slight surprise, Merlin came back into his chamber.
"You called sire?"
Great, it was going to be a Sire day. Marvelous.
"I did Merlin. I need to dress and be ready for my training session."
Arthur really took his frustration out on the knights. He had not reckoned for Gwaine being sober and unexpectantly lost against him. This added to his anger. Next he had an audience with the King. After the audience which had not gone well, Arthur was ready to explode with rage. Unfortunately for Merlin Arthur returned to his chambers just as Merlin thought it would be a good idea to clean Arthur's floors. Just to spite him. Arthur managed to slip and fall flat on his back.
"Of all the times to finally do your job properly you decide to do it today. You're like a curse Merlin. A plague on me."
"No, Sire, I am cursed to serve you. I don't know what has got into you today but I have had enough. I tried making an effort this morning as you've been telling me even more than usual how useless I am. I even have worn the hat. Then you throw that back in my face. You take your frustration out on your knights and despite me making more of an effort cleaning your floor, you don't look where you are going and now blame me yet again. I do not know what pole has got up your backside your highness but if you don't remove it soon, then you won't be seeing me."
That seemed to shake Arthur out of his mood. Pausing for a second, he then said "today is my birthday Merlin."
"I know Arthur. Why do you think I made such an effort today?"
"Well you what it means?"
"Yes, it is your birthday. It is also the day your mother died. It also happens to be a week after my birthday which you didn't remember and two days after my father died. So you aren't the only one with problems."
"I didn't know."
"No, you never do."
"This is why you have been quiet isn't it?"
"Well was it too much for you to ask me if I was ok? You are meant to be my friend."
"I am your friend; well I hope I still am Merlin."
"You are, providing you stop acting like a prat."
"That will be hard for me to do Merlin, it is a reaction to your incompetence."
"Odd, because you were a prat the day I met you and I wasn't in your service then."
"I'll give you that."
Silence, both were unsure what to do next.
"Right, well, Merlin. I am going to make it up to you. From now on we are going to remember our birthdays and our parent's deaths together. "
"On your life, Merlin."
With that Merlin broke into a smile, as did Arthur.
"Come on then Merlin, we've earned a drink in the Tavern. Only one for you considering your track record."