Disclaimer: I don't own Merlin
"Arthur, sit down," his wife ordered. "This is Merlin we're talking about, he's probably fine."
"Probably blasting bad guys as we speak," Gwaine said cheerfully, poking at the fire with a stick.
Arthur stopped pacing and stared at the smoke as rose into through the morning air. His court sorcerer had been missing for two nights now. Maybe not missing... but Arthur hadn't seen him for that long so it amounted to the same thing.
"He did seem rather anxious when he dragged us down here," Elyan pointed out, empathizing with Arthur.
"Ye-es," Gwaine agreed. "But then he started jumping around like a grasshopper. I say he's fine."
"But what are we going to do if-" Elyan was silenced by a hand signal from Arthur.
"Hear that?" Arthur asked, eyes narrowed, his hand on Excalibur.
The all perked up listening for anything outside the normal forest sounds. The wood in the fire popped and somewhere above them a pair of chipmunks were twittering at each other.
That's when they heard the snap of a branch. Like someone had stepped on it...
Practically coordinated, they all whirled around to face the same direction, all intent on whatever was coming towards them. It made Arthur wish he could see through the bushes.
Could it be one of the magical beings Merlin had warned them about?
That's when they heard a familiar voice call out, "Ow!" then came the sound of someone crashing into the bushes – which simultaneously began sprouting pink blossoms.
"Merlin!" Arthur exclaimed, relieved. He dropped his grip on Excalibur and immediately strode over to the flowering bushes.
Guinevere and the two knights also rushed to the warlock's rescue, helping Arthur untangle the man's arms from various branches.
"Merlin, you're a mess," Arthur declared after laying his friend out on a bed roll.
"Am I?" came the slightly slurred reply.
"You're soaking wet!" Arthur told him.
This made Merlin laugh.
Everyone stared at the warlock incredulously.
"Is... is everything all right?" Guinevere asked carefully, testing Merlin's forehead. "No fever," she declared.
Merlin frowned up at her. "Why would I have a fever? I feel fantastic!" With this declaration, he sat up.
Everyone took a step back, unsure of Merlin's current state. Was he delirious? He was certainly acting strange. The magical pink flowers began spreading to the trees.
"Merlin, your shoes are missing," Arthur stated, wondering if his friend had even noticed.
Merlin nodded at him. "Of course they are," he snickered at Arthur's lack of intelligence. "You aren't supposed to wear shoes when you go swimming, are you? Weighs you down."
Arthur clenched his fists. They had been sitting here, worried about him, and he had gone swimming? He was going to kill Merlin as soon as he'd figured out what had happened.
"You aren't in the water now," Arthur said blandly, controlling his emotions. "Why didn't you get them after you finished swimming?"
Merlin shrugged. "Forgot, I guess."
Everyone gaped at him.
"Your new robe is missing too," Arthur added, teeth clenched. "So is your belt. And your neckerchief..." That was probably the most surprising of the missing items. No one had seen Merlin without his neckerchief since he'd had to use it to bandage Arthur over a year ago.
And Merlin giggled. He giggled.
"Sire," Gwaine said softly, nudging Arthur. "I think our little magician here is drunk."
Arthur looked down at Merlin, who was now practically choking from laughing so hard. Normally, he would have told Gwaine that he was insane. In all his days of knowing Merlin, Arthur had never seen his friend take more than a few sips of anything alcoholic. When he asked why, he'd received a mumbled reply about collapsing towers and green cows. But here Merlin was, looking as drunk as Gwaine ever had. And with the pink flowers his magic was spreading everywhere... it was the only logical conclusion.
"Merlin?" Arthur asked forcefully, causing Merlin to hiccup and look up at him.
"Arthur," he replied with an easy smile.
"You're drunk," he declared.
Merlin snorted. "Am not! You know I don't drink. Wouldn't want the cow episode happening again..."
"Then why are you acting this way?" Arthur asked, arms folded, before anyone could ask Merlin what he meant by the 'cow episode'. That could be told another day.
"What way?" Merlin asked, looking genuinely confused. Everyone stared at him. He glanced at all their faces. "Am I acting strange?" he asked.
"No kidding, mate," Elyan chuckled.
Everyone else was nodding violently.
"Oh, well, I didn't mean to," Merlin said with a dazed look. He leaned back onto his elbows. Then he grinned up at them all. "Probably should mention that I'm married now."
Everyone's jaws dropped and Arthur had a coughing fit that Guinevere had to stop by pounding his back.
"You're what?" Arthur spluttered, after managed to catch his breath.
"Yeah, sorry for not inviting you," the warlock said, considering the heavens, "but mortals really aren't allowed into Avalon."
"Oh! That's probably why I'm acting drunk!" Merlin said, snapping his fingers, startling everyone. "The magic rush really gets to you. Really, really powerful place, Avalon." Then he added after a moment's thought, "Plus, I did just get married..."
It took a couple seconds before the implications dawned on everyone, with varying degrees of embarrassment. Elyan snorted, covering his mouth before he could burst out laughing. Gwaine just looked incredulous. 'Married' and 'Merlin' just didn't seem to go together. Gwen was biting her lip, trying to fight a smile as she watched her own husband's reaction. King Arthur had gone a beet red.
"So who's the lucky girl?" Gwen asked, the first to recover.
Merlin smiled up at her. "Freya."
To everyone's surprise, including Merlin's, Gwaine questioned, "You mean the lake goddess?"
Arthur shot his knight a look. "Who?" he asked.
Gwaine said in a nonchalant tone, "I was patrolling the lake area with Hammond and Luke when we were attacked by bandits. That's when Merlin's little lady popped out of the water and unleashed a hurricane on them."
Arthur snorted. Of course Merlin would fall for someone who could cause hurricanes.
"And why didn't you mention this to me?" Arthur demanded.
Gwaine shrugged. "I thought you knew about her," he said, glancing at Merlin.
Arthur glanced at Merlin as well. "And why didn't you tell me about this?" he snapped, slightly upset that his friend had made such a life-changing decision without him.
Merlin had the sense to look sheepish. He admitted, in the most serious tone he'd had since tripping into camp, "It was complicated."
Arthur gestured for everyone to sit down. They did as he asked, realizing that he was in a dangerous mood. Arthur plopped himself down on the blanket across from Merlin. He was tired of acting royal.
"Please tell me you knew her before two days ago," he said, watching his impulsive friend for a reaction.
Merlin rolled his eyes and pushed himself into a sitting position. "Seriously Arthur, like I'd marry someone who I'd only known for one day," he said.
No one moved.
"Though I suppose I almost ran away with her after knowing her for two..." he added as an afterthought.
Everyone groaned, Arthur being the loudest.
"And when was this?" the king demanded.
"Five years ago?" Merlin stated vaguely, trying to remember. "The point is, I've known her for a while."
"And what happened?"
Merlin glared at Arthur. "Do we have to talk about this now?"
"Yes," came a chorused reply. Everyone looked at each other.
"It's a long story," Merlin said, trying to deter them.
Arthur gave him a tight smile. "Get comfortable Merlin, we have all day..."
A/N: I think I might do a longer story later, elaborating on Freya and Merlin's relationship. They really didn't spend enough time together in the "Lady of the Lake" episode. Plus, there has to be some transition between being a cursed druid girl to becoming Lady of the Lake. How did she even feel about that? The show writers haven't made it very clear yet if she's dead or not, so for now I'm going to decide that she's alive.