And The Cat Came Back
All recognizable characters belong to their respective owners (BBC, Harry S. Miller).
Warning: non-graphic description of...odd violence?
Uther opened his eyes to see a sorcerer leaning above him. He knew it was a sorcerer immediately, because one, he wasn't wearing a crest, two, his face was not familiar (not-servant-not-citizen-not-guest), and three, he was cowardly trying to kill Uther in his sleep, which anyone with honour wouldn't do. Therefore evil, therefore sorcerer.
He opened his mouth to yell a warning (sorcerer-in-Camelot!), moved to get his dagger, and rolled away from the man. At least, he tried to, but his mouth wouldn't open; his limbs wouldn't move. The assailant brought his dagger down, and the door burst open. Arthur's idiot manservant stood there (runrunrun), and raised a hand and spoke a word. The man stiffened as if bound, eyes rolling wildly, then disappeared and suddenly Uther could move again.
And thenthe guards showed up.
"Arrest him!" Uther demanded, and the guards did. They grabbed him roughly around the arms, and led him out. Uther followed (can't-believe-it), watching as he was thrown into the dungeon.
"How dare you, sorcerer," he hissed, "how dare you live in my castle, consort with my son, flaunt my laws and ensorcell my people?" He surged at the bars in fury, but they kept him out as well as they kept Merlin in (kill-the-damn-cur!). "You will be executed come morning."
Merlin sat quietly in the corner, avidly counting the stones on the far wall.
Uther called for Arthur. He needed to inform his son personally of this betrayal (all-is-for-the-best), and make sure they'd present a united front at the execution. He drummed his fingers impatiently on the throne's arm, trying to find the best way to break the news gently.
Arthur entered, cuffing Merlin around the head for something he'd said. Merlin ducked, grinning. Aruthur came before the throne, and said, "Yes, Father?"
Uther stared at Merlin (nononono-how?), standing over by the back wall like a good servant should, looking curious but not overly interested. "Actually...I need to speak to your manservant."
Arthur frowned, but waved Merlin over. They stood there, staring at him for a second, until Uther looked pointedly at Arther and said, "Alone."
Arthur, face creased in confusion, bowed his head and left. Uther waved his guard forwards and said. "Arrest him. Again. And do it properly this time."
They escorted him out of the room.
Uther went to check on him right before the feast. A guard walked him down the hall, then turned to take up position beside one of the cells. Uther blinked.
There were empty manacles attached to the wall, ankle and wrist. "Where is he?" Uther barked at the guard.
"He's, uh..." The unfortunate man looked into the cell. "Uh...not here?"
"Open the door." He felt a headache coming on (incompetents-all-of-them). The guard obeyed, and Uther knelt to inspect the chains. They were whole. He sighed, stood up and exited the cell, closing it behind him.
"Er, Sire?" said the guard behind the bars. "Sire? Where are you...Hey!"
Sure enough, Arthur's idiot manservant, who was also a treacherous, lying, sorcerous wretch who refused to say imprisoned, was at the feast, keeping Arthur's cup full. Uther glared at him (the-hell-is-he?-like-he's-not—no), and massaged the bridge of his nose. His head hurt.
He thought about announcing Merlin's traitor status to the whole court, but that wouldn't work, because Merlin might be a lying evil sorcerer, but he was a lying evil sorcerer with friends. Or people he'd enchanted, Uther reminded himself as he watched Merlin smile a goofy smile at Morgana's maidservant across the room. And it was a point of pride, because the stupid servant would not stay in the dungeon, dammit all.
He had trouble concentrating on the food, and by bedtime, had a full-on migraine (migraine-like-Igraine-who—no).
He put Merlin in the dungeons four times the next day. Then he put him in the stocks. Merlin actually stayed there, probably because it was too public to vanish (or-melt-or-poof-or-how-the-hell-does-he-do-it-anyways?-no-i-can't-am-not-WILL-not-be-curious-about—no).
The assassin had finally broken, telling them all about who hired him, and why, and for how much, and even where one could hope to hire magical hit men. He had Sir Luthen (pompous-windbag-knew-he-was-plotting) accused of treason and attempted murder, and cleaned out the nest of sedition.
He was left with twenty shivering men, who knew how Uther dealt with sorcerers or those who consorted with them (and-they-WERE-all-guilty-they-had-to-had-to-had-to-be), and he was left with a dilemma. Some must be innocent, but he'd no way of telling who (well-actually—no). He wished for the millionth time that there was some fail-proof test for finding magic workers.
He threw them all in the dungeon as he tried to work out what to do (I-could—no).
He had Merlin put back in, too, just for good measure.
Late the next morning, Arthur was looking for his manservant. Uther frowned, then made his way down to the dungeon (maybe-he's-out-of-magic?). Merlin was still in his cell, chatting up the other prisoners. "Oh, there you are!" He greeted Uther, waving (the-king-dammit-show-some-respect). He beckoned for him to come closer, and he unconsciously did. "The guy with the blue hat is plotting to kill you with magic," Merlin told him cheerfully. "The rest are completely innocent. That guy was running a conspiracy, and the rest all just happened to be at the bar on the wrong night."
Uther turned to regard the crowd (of-course-a-magic-user-could-tell-a-magic-user-that's-why-I-was-going-to-ask-maybe-he'd-be-a-useful—no).
He had the man in the blue hat executed, and he tried to escape in a whirlwind. He snarled and cursed Camelot, and then his magic utterly failed. He looked bewildered, and was summarily beheaded.
Uther let the rest of the men go.
He throws Merlin into the dungeons at least once a day, just on principal.
It never takes. Uther thinks that he finds this less annoying than he should.
Because maybe Merlin (not-maybe-is!-is!) is a warlock, or wizard, or sorcerer or magic user or a whatever, but since he's come, Arthur has been growing, in a way Uther had never known how to encourage. Because maybe (is!) Merlin is, but he's also the closest thing Arthur has to a friend, and Uther sees now how much Arthur needs that.
Maybe he does it because it's getting predictable (is-becoming-kind-of-a-game—no).
Arthur wins the next tourney. Close as Uther watches, he sees no evidence of Merlin cheating on his behalf (ha-arthur-would-kill-him-if-he-did-but—no).
A magical beast comes to Camelot. It's (a-something-name-is-horrible-can't-pronounce—doesn't-matter) evil, and it comes down to Arthur in the throne room, a pile of dead knights, and Uther. The creature picks up a knight and opens its stomach and puts (floppy-sir-someone) the knight in. They both turn slightly green.
Then it reaches for another, and Arthur charges. He fights bravely, amazingly (when-did-he-get-so-good-why-did-I-miss-when-did-he-grow-up), and the thing refuses to notice. It's like a fish trying to fell a tree.
There is a whispered sentence from behind him in a language that skirls across his mind (almost-almost-but-can't-quite-understand—what?). He turns to see Merlin, pointing with glowing eyes. The thing (the-hell-is-that-anyway) howls, and Arthur pierces its hide, doesn't waste a moment on surprise, and takes the thing down.
That night, Uther can't sleep. He's too busy imagining all the ways that the fight could have gone wrong. He's annoyed to find that most all of them start (if-Merlin-hadn't—) stupidly.
He still throws Merlin into the dungeons every day, or the stocks if he's really annoyed (or-if-Merlin's-particularly-careless—if-others-notice-the-king-can't-afford-not-to—no). Merlin knows all the guards by name, now, and he suffers it (if-not-gladly-at-least-willingly-what-does-it-mean-why-does-he—no). Besides, at this point, it's expected.
It's (really-kind-of-fun) a reminder.
Uther is such a storyjacker.