Alright, so here's an alternate ending for episode 8 of season 2.

Merlin can't bring himself to lie to Arthur, not after keeping his abilities a secret all this time.

So, he does the only thing he can; being there and support him through it all.

Scars that bind

It was as if everything had frozen over. Time, sound, movement…everything.

And yet, it was clear that only he was subjected to such a state. It was really frightening the way he was unable to even pull the jumbled mess that were his thoughts back together, while Arthur was ready to plunge himself into the never ending blackness of the abyss and never come back to them.

No, was all that Merlin could think of as he stood rooted to the spot, while King and Prince kept on advancing towards each other, the sickening clanks of metal as the swords met bouncing off the walls.

Uther was once Camelot's greatest warrior, feared by many and revered by more. But in comparison to Arthur's haywire, raging emotions, he was utterly powerless. Arthur was a force to be reckoned with when on a right state of mind and now that his brain had shut down completely, only obeying the emotions that were registered in it… he was truly ferocious.

This is wrong, Merlin's mind kept on screaming, trying to stir some kind of reaction out of his body. But he couldn't move.

Wide, horrified blue eyes were staring at the scene playing out before him, wanting with every fiber of his being to tear his gaze away, to shut his eyes and pretend this was only a bad dream. For some reason though, even now that he had mastered the art, pretending had become as difficult as looking away.

His fogged up mind did register the heat of another body emanating from somewhere to his right and another wave of horror surged through him as he realized that Sir Leon was probably in a similar state as he.

… No one could interfere.

His gut was twisting and turning into unimaginable knots, the clear display of emotions on Arthur's face serving as a blow to his chest, literally taking his breath away with every new round of fury, betrayal but most of all, pain in those crystal blue eyes.

And it pained Merlin, pained him more than he had thought possible, to see Arthur so vulnerable, so defeated.

A cry, so full of heart-wrenching rage, tore through the air like a whip, followed shortly by the tell tale sound of metal hitting the floor. Merlin's eyes were glued to Uther's form, following its movement as it slumped against the high-backed chair with a dull thud.

His breath hitched in his throat when his mind caught up with the proceedings. Arthur had obviously managed to knock the sword out of the King's grip, sending it sliding against the floor a good few feet away.

Uther was defenseless.

And the storm that had become of Arthur was just beginning to reach its peak.

He heard a sharp intake of breath coming from Leon, the only thing that clued him to the man's presence. He was too far gone to care anyway.

No, no, no, no, his mind screamed as he watched helplessly the way Arthur's eyes gleamed as he lifted his arms high above his head, ready to deliver the final blow. Those definitely weren't the eyes of his friend. There was no more warmth in them, or kindness. None at all. Those eyes were cruel, nearly black with madness and so, so totally unforgiving.

The blood-thirsty eyes of a murderer.

His stomach lurched forward suddenly, making him feel sick and nauseous. Shivers wracked his body at the abrupt turn his thoughts had taken, causing him to come face to face with the horrible truth.

This Arthur was frightening him.

It was then that he finally snapped out of his reverie, the blood in his veins becoming achingly cold at the mere thought that this, this savage monster, had taken over Arthur's body for good. He refused to even consider the possibility of Arthur never going back to the way he used to be.

His body was moving like it possessed a mind of its own, bending and then speeding off with a strength that Merlin wasn't even aware that he had. It wasn't long before he found himself bringing his arm up, the king's sword in his grasp, just as Arthur brought his own downwards. The clashing sound reverberated throughout the room so strongly, that for a moment it was all Merlin could hear.

He watched as those dark blue eyes narrowed then altogether blinked, their owner seemingly puzzled by the image they were showing him, as if he actually didn't believe he was seeing correct.

"Merlin," came the perplexed confirmation, voice rough with raw emotion that made Merlin grit his teeth and push as hard as he could against the sword connected to his.

Arthur must have realized through his rage consumed mind the point his servant meant to get across because he lifted his sword, but still didn't lower it. Merlin, now deprived of the pressure that had his body slightly angled backwards, righted his stance, mimicking Arthur's action and standing with his arm outstretched before Uther's body.

A movement that was instantly traced by that piercing gaze.

"What are you doing?" the Prince hissed through gritted teeth as he positioned the flat of his blade against Merlin's.

The raven haired youth gripped the hilt of the sword tighter, knowing from experience that Arthur preferred to go for the element of surprise, attacking his opponent when they were least expecting it. But the other blade didn't apply any more pressure, just remained there, touching his own as if in a friendly greeting. How far from the truth that was though.

"Curious that you ask. I was actually wondering what you weredoing."

The insane gleam that had subsided for a moment was back with full force and Merlin actually had to persuade himself not to cringe. "What I should have done ages ago," was the nearly purred reply, before those pink, full lips curled with disdain, "Something that for some reason you seem opposed to.

"Opposed?" Merlin whispered, his shock almost disabling him of sound, "You plan on killing your own father. Did you think I'd actually assent?"

He was taken aback though at the snarl that left Arthur's lips, his blade suddenly striking against his own. It was only the endless hours of practice with the Prince that made Merlin grip the hilt in time before it was knocked out of his hand.

"He is no father of mine!" Arthur spat, making the words seem like filthiest than dirt, "Just like he's no husband for the wife he murdered because of his vanity. And yet you protect him!" The last words were accompanied by a swinging of his blade, which Merlin avoided by jumping backwards.

Only now recalling that the King was still present, Merlin chanced a glance over his shoulder, finding Uther exactly where he had last seen him. His jaw was trembling slightly, but Merlin couldn't bring himself to pity him. He might didn't want him to die, but that was only due to Arthur, because Merlin knew for certain that once the Prince stopped seeing red the self-loathing would come. Other than that though, Uther deserved everything his son threw at him.

Arthur was seething by the time Merlin looked back, his pupils having dilated throughout his anger. He was now resembling more of an animal than a man. It unnerved Merlin the effect that sight seemed to have on him. It was painful, making him want to throw up just from the wrongness of it.

Sword turning inexplicably heavy all of a sudden, Merlin allowed it to dangle uselessly from his fingers, the tip bracing against the ground.

"You speak of murder and treason, and yet you have no qualms whatsoever committing them yourself."

Genuine confusion flashed for a moment on Arthur's face, but it was gone as quick as it had come. "What are you talking about?" said the blond, expression now passive save for the uncontrollable emotions in his eyes.

It made Merlin sick, the darkness that was beginning to swallow Arthur's heart. "You're calling him a murderer, but you're just as bad as him!"

The slight widening of his eyes was the only living proof of the toll his words had taken on Arthur, but soon they narrowed, glaring in a way that Merlin had never thought humanly possible. "I'm nothing like him!" Arthur shouted, tone dripping with much obvious disgust.

"So you keep saying. Can't you realize how your actions contradict you?" Merlin shot back, hearing the way his own voice turned desperate somewhere along the way but refusing to allow his face to show anything similar. He needed Arthur to see reason, before it was too late.

"Please, Arthur…" he tried again, worrying his lower lip between his teeth at the total lack of any kind of encouraging sign on the Prince's facial features, "Killing him won't bring her back."

Hot, boiling anger was screamed at him by the way Arthur's brows creased into the darkest of scowls, the tightening of his jaw the only warning Merlin got before the blond came charging at him. He managed to lift Uther's sword in time to meet Arthur's, but only just. His face was suddenly only centimeters away from Merlin's own, contorted with a blazing fury that had the poor warlock flinching from being on the receiving end of it.

"What do you know?" Arthur spat before drawing back and swiftly bringing his sword down again, meeting Merlin's in mid-air, "Nothing! And you know why?" he went on as he attacked again, "Because you're a worthless, lousy and foul servant!"

It stung. Damn, those words stung worse than Merlin would ever admit. "This is wrong!" he shouted back, meeting Arthur's every strike with one of his own, "And deep down you know it, so stop being such a stuck up idiot and acknowledge it already!"

A deep, feral growl was torn from Arthur's throat and after that everything became a blur to Merlin. It was obvious that the Prince had gone ballistic by now, his blows having turned completely animalistic and nearly impossible for Merlin to keep up. His insides clenched with something akin to fear at the realization that Arthur wasn't trying to deflect him anymore. He was going for the kill.

At some point, he found himself unable to summon the required energy for meeting Arthur's blade, his stamina no match for that of a fully fledged warrior. He could only hold his sword in front of him, blocking Arthur's own sword from finding its target and yet fully aware that he wouldn't last long. His arms were already quivering under the forceful treatment, his legs shaking from the pressure that Arthur applied on every blow.

Thus, it didn't come as a surprise when he found himself sprawled out on the ground, sword having flown away from his hand mere seconds before.

The first time he tried to lift himself up on his arms, they failed him, collapsing underneath the strain. Again, he repeated the motion, now putting his knees to work as well. Both arms and legs trembled a little, but he did achieve to remain upright this time. However, all plans of attempting to haul himself up from all fours, flew right out of the window the moment he felt the unmistakably sharpness of a blade pressing against his throat.

He didn't tense, didn't even lift his head to gaze at the person hovering above him.

"Arthur, you can't be-" Uther's voice rang out, but never got to finish that sentence. From the way the pressure disappeared for the briefest of moments, Merlin guessed that the Prince must have pointed his sword at his father. Gods, he really didn't want to see the look in Arthur's eyes that had intimidated the almighty Uther into silence.

When the blade was back, it pressed even further against the crook of his neck, as if to make up for the short time it had gone missing. Merlin was already beginning to feel the trail of a hot liquid running down the length of his neck.

"Not so eager to express your opposition now?" The tone was mocking and so unlike the usual, harmless insults they had traded before, that Merlin actually wished to hear the previous fury.

It made moisture gather into his eyes, the full impact of defeat weighting him down and causing his arms to shake even more violently. All the stories the druids were telling about him and all the Great Dragon had told him, they all seemed like the most ridiculous rubbish now. What was the use of having such powerful magic flowing through his veins, when he was unable to help those he cherished?

What good did his magic do when Will died?

Or Freya?

Now it was Arthur that was falling apart before his very eyes, and he just stood there, powerless to help him in his time of need. Saving him from the wrath of foes had become a routine for Merlin, but he didn't know how to save him from the wrath of himself.

"I'm sorry." he heard himself whisper, needing to make Arthur realize how powerless he was in a situation like this, that he wasn't letting him suffer because he wanted to.

"Good. You should be." came the triumphant reply. The blade though dug even deeper into Merlin's skin in some sort of punishment, making the boy bite his lip to prevent the wince from leaving him.

"I'm sorry that you had to find out this way about your mother," Merlin said, not caring about the way the blade seemed to stiffen at his words as he continued, "I'm sorry that she never got to hug you when you were distressed or never kissed you goodnight. And I'm so sorry about the unfairness of it all, because you really don't deserve all this turmoil."

He jerked his head up, uncaring of the way the trail of blood seemed to increase as a result of his action, seeking through the wetness that had welled up in his eyes Arthur's gaze.

The passiveness in those blue eyes was more than enough to make all those tears he had been suppressing flow down his cheeks freely, uncontrollably even.

He just wanted his friend back.

"Don't you remember what she said? Your mother?" he paused, catching the nearly nonexistent, fleeting emotion of something other than coldness and rage. And Gods, did he hang to it for dear life. "She didn't want you to let this information change you, Arthur. And who are you to deny her only wish?"

The enraged creasing of his eyebrows that had appeared permanent to Merlin, was beginning to lessen ever so lightly, causing the raven-haired youth to pummel forward, wanting- no – needing, to see that unfamiliar blackness lifting from Arthur's eyes.

Merlin used his arms to push himself backwards to sit on his haunches, carefully so as not to startle Arthur, maneuvering his body so that he was now on his knees. Arthur's watchful eyes followed his movement almost obsessively, the sword not once shifting from its position. But honestly, Merlin couldn't have cared less.

"No matter what you may believe now…" he began, wording his thoughts slowly, "I know for a fact that your father loves you, Arthur. Trust me, I've seen it."

Deathly silence took over after his words, the sound of his heartbeat thumping so loud that he thought that the others could hear it too as he waited for Arthur to speak.

And when he did, it was to voice a question that Merlin had never seen coming. "Trust you?"

Those two words were spoken softly, curiously.

A strangled half sob-half chuckle left Merlin's throat, lips quirking upwards in what he hoped appeared to be a humorous grin. "Yes. You can trust me, remember?"

He certainly did at least. Not that he would ever be able to delete the event from his mind. That was the first time he and Arthur had been engaged into a real fight instead of some kind of banter. He had tried to warn him about Valliant's enchanted shield, and of course the Prince had outright ignored him, going as far as to sack Merlin claiming that he needed a servant that wouldn't humiliate him in front of the Royal Court, a servant he could trust.

Reliving the memory now, Merlin realized the true extent of it, how deep the hurt had cut at the poisonous words that Arthur had hurled his way. Even then, when no real feelings of loyalty and friendship had even begun their constructions, it had been a painful blow the way the blond would think so lowly of him.

Meeting Arthur's doubtful stare now, brought back that feeling tenfold, multiplied a million times by the awareness that even after all they had been through together, Arthur still questioned his allegiance.

He averted his gaze as if he had been struck, leveling his stare on the ground instead before closing his eyes briefly, pushing back inside the traitorous tears that threatened to escape and unwilling to relinquish his hold on them. The influence Arthur had on him was too strong, so glaringly obvious… and for that he truly despised the blond. He had the courage to appear unimaginably strong willed when it came to his foes, but Arthur had the power to render him useless, turn him into a weakling just like that.

It frightened him more than anything.

And also made him wonder to what extents he would be willing to go in order to remain on the Prince's good grace.

He sniffed, the action resulting with him being hit dead on with a powerful dose of a copper-like scent. Surprisingly, he really couldn't bring himself to care that much at the realization that it was the smell of blood that his nose had gotten filled with.

The wound didn't even sting that much anymore.

"It doesn't matter now." he found himself muttering. Whether he was answering to his musings or responding to their earlier topic of conversation, Merlin truly didn't know. Perhaps it was a bit of both.

He was well aware that Arthur never listened to him, even if it was for the most mundane things or the destruction of the world. He tried, nevertheless, to push the voice of reason into that thick skull of his master numerous times.

But…

He blinked, not really registering the reason why the pressure of the blade vanished. However, it returned in no time, manifesting again under his chin. A wince slipped past his pursed lips when the tip forced his chin upwards, eyes colliding with the dark ones of Arthur. The stare was unblinking, intense, and merciless. This time, he couldn't bring himself to close them, the hard gaze of Arthur pinning him in place.

… he always failed.

"You know nothing…" the blond whispered, so softly that Merlin actually had to strain to hear it, "Nothing." he repeated, making sure to stress the word this time.

And Merlin found himself nodding along, at least as far as the sword allowed him. "Perhaps," he said, actually convinced by the certainty in the Prince's tone, wide eyes taking in the closed off expression on the other's face. "But I know you."

He didn't know whether the uncharacteristic resolve in his voice was the cause behind Arthur's frown, or the simple fact that he didn't shut up, cower in fear like every servant was supposed to when faced with their master's unwavering wrath.

"Better than anyone actually." he added as an afterthought.

And too true it was. If there was one person in the entire kingdom that knew Arthur, all of his sides, that was him. And he would be lying if he said that he wasn't damn proud of it.

He sought out those blurry sapphire eyes, this time capturing them with his own stare. "It's because I know you that I'm so certain how devastating this will be."

The frown that had marred Arthur's face was slowly transforming into a scowl, voicing his disapproval to the world.

"Arthur, for once… just listen to me."

A low growl, close to an animalistic hiss, was his sole response. No words left the Prince's mouth as he moved his sword back to its previous resting place, against the crook of his servant's neck.

It saddened Merlin.

Saddened him that for once again his friend chose to ignore him, brushing his words away like they meant nothing. It saddened him the way Arthur seemed to fall further and further apart, and it saddened him that he was slipping so far away… to the point that he could no longer reach him. Really, it did.

"Arthur," he began, unashamed of the begging in his eyes, "You've lost one parent already. You don't want to lose another, especially not by your own hand."

Those dark eyes widened considerably, the blue in them becoming more pronounced for a moment. Then they narrowed back, to the point that Merlin feared the pupils had been transfigured into snake-like slits. He vaguely heard Arthur's deep intake of breath and watched from the corner of his eye the sword being lifted till it was raised far above the Prince's head, looming over them both with its overbearing, heavy presence.

And as Merlin stood there, unable to look anywhere but the blank expression on Arthur's face, he couldn't fail to feel disappointed for the way he was going to die.

Gazing up to his executioner, not the person he had come to think as friend.

And the most ironic of all? Arthur wasn't going to kill him due to his abilities, but simply due to the fact that he had said something the other hadn't desired to hear.

He blinked, once, at the sight of those strong, muscle filled arms trembling. The reaction was minor, almost unnoticeable, and yet it made Merlin's eyes soften, just like that. A small, sorrowful smile played at the corner of his lips, too fond when it was directed to someone who was planning to finish him off at a moment's notice.

The thought should have been disturbing, really, it should.

He lowered his head the moment he saw Arthur bracing himself to lower his arm, bowing to his Prince in a final act of loyalty, resigning to his fate and embracing it wholly. Just like he had embraced his destiny.

But apparently, his destiny didn't share the same sentiments seeing as it was currently preparing to strike him down.

Oddly though, that didn't disturb him either.

He laid his palms flat on his thighs, allowing his shoulders to sag, easing out the tension that had piled up in them. He did shut his eyes this time, forbidding the wetness from spilling out. He didn't want the last image that Arthur had of him to be one of weakness. For the first time, even after having faced all those enemies and achieving to come out with his life still intact, he felt like he was dying a hero, something that he wanted Arthur to acknowledge. Perhaps, more than anything.

He had, after all, done everything he could.

It wasn't his fault that his destiny was such an arrogant, thick-headed idiot.

A clanking sound, doubled by the quietness that had fallen over the room, caused his eyes to fly open with a start, head somehow still managing to remain in that bent position despite his surprise. He caught sight of a blade, bright and brilliant under the rays of sunlight, residing almost peacefully on the floor just a few inches away. It made him blink once, then twice.

Hesitantly, he finally gathered up enough courage to raise his head, filled to the brim with a fearful agitation for the sight that would meet him. Perhaps Arthur had thought it more suitable to kill him with his bare hands.

But the sight that did meet him, left him frozen in place.

Never, not even in his wildest dreams, had he thought it possible for Arthur to display this kind of emotion. No matter how long he stared, he still couldn't get the picture to imprint on his brain.

Arthur was still standing where he had left him, with the exception that no sword was clasped in his hand. In fact, both his hands were quite busy at the moment. One had balled into a fist by his side, so tight that Merlin's eyes watched with horrified fascination the blood dots that seemed to materialize on the stone ground. The other was tangled somewhere along those golden strands of hair as it clutched the Prince's head in an iron like grip.

What captured Merlin's attention the most though, were those wet trails flowing down Arthur's cheeks.

Tears.

That was something that he had never witnessed the blond shed before. Admittedly, he had glimpsed them gathering in those eyes earlier that day, an accomplishment that was achieved by his mother. Yes, they had shimmered like a real pair of sapphires, the sight of the Queen undeniably swayable on her son. But Arthur had blinked them away before they strayed too far. Showing so openly these kinds of emotions, vulnerable emotions, was considered one of the greatest weaknesses in Arthur's head.

An anguished cry was torn from Arthur's throat, so similar with the one he had heard earlier but so utterly different. There was no malice or thirst for vengeance in this one, only agony and pain.

Merlin flinched inwardly, eyes growing double in size when Arthur's form sagged before his very eyes, crumbling to the floor in an unceremonious heap. He watched horror struck as the blond lifted both his arms and swiftly brought them down to the ground, slamming his fists with such force that Merlin was snapped out of his stupor. Startled, he fell backwards, landing on his elbows at the last minute.

The King had risen to his feet, staring at the unfolding scene with jaw slightly agape. Merlin didn't notice though, his eyes trained on Arthur alone, unblinking.

Arthur's shoulders were visibly trembling by now, his whole body convulsing under the hold of his sobs, sobs that never reached Merlin's ears. He hadn't moved from that position yet, bent as he was and head lowered from view.

Never before had Merlin felt more lost, not really comprehending this outcome.

He did comprehend one thing though; Arthur was hurting worse than before.

He was crawling before he knew it, moving across the floor and halting only once he had reached him. But then he paused. His chest ached at the state of Arthur and he wanted to help him more than anything. He just didn't know how. Slowly, he lifted one hand, going as far as to let it hover above Arthur's chain mail clad shoulder before rearing back as if he was struck by lightning.

He exhaled deeply, fisting his hand furiously in his lap. He was well aware that Arthur wasn't the type of person that openly sought physical contact, even recoiling when it was offered.

Refusing to allow his gaze to drift away from Arthur, Merlin chose to curse Uther in his head instead, for not having felt obliged to hug his child at a younger age. Arthur would have definitely not ended up so closed off if not for Uther's neglect, not to mention that he wouldn't be doubting the King's love for him.

Merlin sighed, not even considering it twice as he let his arms wrap around Arthur's shoulders, drawing the shaking youth close. He didn't rub his back or murmured soothing words to his ear, he just held him. He let Arthur mourn while he provided his support with the only way he could. He didn't need to make the blond feel more embarrassed.

Arthur didn't react though, he didn't even seem to acknowledge Merlin's presence.

"Arthur…" Uther muttered under his breath, the sight of his own son suffering like that causing his gut to clench painfully with shame.

He wanted Arthur to know how sorry he was for hiding such vital information from him, to make him understand that he could hardly live with himself let alone share his shame.

But Arthur didn't so much as stir to the sound of his voice. The servant's reaction on the other hand, was intriguing at least. His hold appeared to stiffen, tightening as if wanting to draw Arthur closer to his person, to shield him from sight.

"Don't." the servant called out, voice thick with emotion. "Please, Sire, just… give him time."

Uther took a step back, eyes going wide at the request. If a servant had dared to ask such a thing, or anything for that matter, they would have been sacked instantly. However, Uther had a feeling that sacking this particular servant wouldn't be the wisest thing he had done. The influence he had over his son was obvious seeing as no other person would have been able to restore Arthur's mind like that. Yes, he had really thought that his son had gone mad, the way he was acting. But this servant had fixed him.

He had glimpsed the boy's loyalty before and he remembered being surprised by its intensity. Never before though, had he felt so threatened by it.

If the servant, Merlin… if anything were to happen to him, Uther truly feared that Arthur's wrath would be uncontrollable, condemning all of Camelot to damnation.

Rubbing his aching forehead with his fingers, Uther took one last glance at the pair on the floor and swept out of the room with no further words.

A long sigh passed through Merlin's lips at the sound of the doors closing behind the King. A quick evaluation of the council chambers told him that they were alone now. He let his head dangle downwards, resting against Arthur's.

"You can be such a handful sometimes." he mumbled into the golden strands, a soft chuckle accompanying his remark. "But for what it's worth, I'm still proud of you."

And he meant it, truly. For once, Arthur stopped being a prat and actually listened. Well, it might have taken him quite some time, but still, he did it in the end. He managed to overcome his hatred and didn't end up like some empty shell of his former self.

The thought brought a huge, silly grin on Merlin's face. He had his friend back.

He lifted his head at the sudden tug he felt, gaze flickering down to see that a piece of his shirt was clasped in Arthur's fist. The blond still had his head lowered, buried in Merlin's chest, but his body had ceased trembling. Merlin didn't know whether the tears had stopped but he still tightened his grip around Arthur, silently conveying that he understood.

*)&(*

A week had gone by before the people of Camelot saw their Prince again. And they could instantly tell that there was something different about him.

Everyone had heard about his confrontation with the King but the cause behind it still remained unclear. From what a servant had heard Sir Leon saying the other day, they all knew that it was pretty intense. They also knew that if it wasn't for the Prince's manservant the kingdom would be mourning now.

It didn't come as a surprise when the first time they caught sight of the Crown Prince, Merlin was striding by his side. Not that this was news though. Merlin always accompanied Arthur, no matter the destination, and always beside him, never behind like all servants were supposed to.

There were still things however, little things, that told them that something had changed.

Maybe it was the King's wary behavior when in the servant's vicinity, or the servant's refusal to leave the Prince's side whenever in the presence of the King.

The other day, the two of them were walking around the courtyard when Merlin tripped suddenly, sprawling himself all over the ground. The Prince had mouthed something about his servant's idiocy like usual before reaching down and hauling the other boy up. His hand had lingered though, while his gaze had been pinned to a specific spot on Merlin's neck. And when he reached up, tracing almost tenderly with his fingertips a white scar that was visible just above Merlin's usual neckerchief, Merlin offered him a smile in return.

The people had looked away then, caught off guard by the unvoiced feelings behind the scene.

Often Merlin had caught them staring at his neck, blinking confusedly when he couldn't realize what was so interesting. And how could they explain it to him?

Another time, one of the guards that was on duty had yelled at Merlin for dropping the Prince's armor while on his way to the royal chambers. Merlin's lower lip was split by the guard's punch before the poor boy was sent away. No one had blamed him, he was new after all, and he didn't know that everyone had learnt to turn a blind eye to Merlin's clumsiness.

The guard was gone the next day, probably sent to some other part of the town rather than the castle itself.

When the people saw Merlin accompanying their Prince again, his hand had lifted to check that abused lip before it drifted almost absently to that white scar again and had received the same response from Merlin. A smile, this time along with a mock roll of the eyes.

Merlin no longer questioned the reason behind their constant staring of his neck, brushing it off with a shrug.

They all kept wondering what connection there was between the King's fall out with his son and that white scar on Merlin's neck. Then came the next question; how could the servant have acquired such an injury?

The answer was given to them when one day Merlin was passing through the courtyard with the Lady Morgana's maid, laughing at something the servant girl had said. "Yeah, Arthur can be pretty unpredictable sometimes." His hand had moved to his neck then, rubbing that white scar in a soothing manner while laughing at Guinevere's perplexed expression.

From that point on, no one wondered anymore, or stared at that scar whenever he was passing by. And when the servant would injure himself in some way, after a quick evaluation of the wound, the Prince's stare would flicker to that other wound before his fingers would trace it gently. And Merlin would always smile at him then.

The people would smile too, finally understanding the emotions behind that scene for what they truly were.

THE END

So, that's it. I hope you liked it despite all the angst.

Oh, and that emotion was remorse. You know, Arthur regretted giving Merlin that injury and whenever his servant got wounded he would remember his own permanent wound upon him.