200 words exactly. Day 22 of my New Year's Project. :)

That Was Before

If you'd told them what they were going to be, they would have laughed in your face. They were just boys, cocky and loud and thoughtless. You would have had to look very, very closely to find any trace of kingly compassion in Arthur, and almost as closely to detect the wisdom lying buried behind Merlin's thoughtless charm. They despised each other with a sort of mutual incomprehension.

If you'd told Prince Arthur that his manservant would one day become his most trusted councilor, he would have raised one royal eyebrow in scorn and sent you away.

"What, Merlin?"

If you'd told Merlin that, someday, Arthur would become a king for whom he'd gladly die, he would have rolled his eyes in disgust.

"Who, him?"

That was before.

That was before years of loyalty and trust. That was before they risked their lives for each other a dozen times. That was before pain, and comfort, and good advice, and shared secrets. That was before Merlin learned wisdom and Arthur found out what strength really was.

That was before they found that their differences were their strengths. That was before they built a kingdom. That was before they changed the world.