Lady Catherine rode off with the guards in tow. Arthur and Merlin stayed on the steps after everyone else had gone on.
"Did you know him?" asked Arthur.
"Who?" Merlin asked.
"Lady Catherine's servant, Peter."
"Oh," said Merlin, "a little."
"What was he like?"
Merlin frowned; surprised, Arthur supposed, that he was showing an interest in a servant.
"He was a good kid," said Merlin, "He was willing to learn but…"
"But what?" Arthur asked.
"I don't think he would have lasted as a servant," said Merlin.
"What? Why?" Arthur asked surprised.
"He was born a noble," said Merlin.
"What makes you say that?" asked Arthur frowning.
"Oh, it was just my impression, he was so surprised to be treated like a servant, and it was clear he'd never done any kind of manual labor in his life."
"I seem to remember you were struggling a bit during your first few months here," said Arthur.
"Yeah, but I was never surprised you were such a prat," said Merlin, "I just learned to work around it."
Arthur smiled and rolled his eyes he wasn't sure what to think if Merlin's insight.
"You're one to talk, Merlin," said Arthur, "I bet you've just been lazing about and going to the tavern while I've been laid up."
Merlin just shook his head, got up and started towards the doors, "Are you coming?" he asked Arthur.
"I think I want to get some air," said Arthur, "You go ahead though, do what you've got to do." Merlin frowned at him for a second, but then shrugged and went back inside.
Arthur sat down on the steps carefully so not to pull his wound, it was almost healed now; Merlin really had a talent for this he thought.
Merlin had a lot of stuff going for him in fact, he was smart dedicated and a hard worker. Despite appearances Merlin was actually a very good servant.
There were also the other things Arthur had learned about Merlin, he was loyal to a fault, he had sympathy for the druids, he liked to talk to horses, Sir Gregory was abusing him, and possibly other servants too, and he disagreed with the laws against magic, most especially the sentence of burning at the stake.
Though on consideration Arthur had never really liked that one either, burning was slow and agonizing. As king, Arthur was sure he'd never be able to condemn someone to that fate. But it was Merlin's horror at the thought of the burning that bothered Arthur, it tickled something in the back of his mind, like a loose thread begging to be pulled free.
Arthur shook himself from his reverie, Merlin didn't understand the need for such harsh rules against magic because he had not seen all the chaos that unfettered magic had brought to the kingdom before the purge, and he just needed to learn to accept what must be done in that matter.
The next item on the agenda was Sir Gregory, Arthur had a good idea of what to do with that doddering old bully.
A few days after Lady Catherine had said her goodbyes, Arthur sat with Merlin on the steps of the courtyard, and watched Sir Gregory prepare for departure. Merlin had gotten up several times to go to help the old man, but Arthur had pulled him down beside him.
"He chooses not to take on servants, though he has the money to do so," said Arthur, "It's not your job to help him, it's your job to do as I say, and right now I say sit."
"I'm just not sure I understand," said Merlin, "Why are we here, and where is Sir Gregory going?"
"We are here to see Sir Gregory off on his journey to his new home," said Arthur blandly.
"I wasn't aware that Sir Gregory had planned on moving," said Merlin.
"Sir Gregory, is a well-respected knight at court, but he's getting along in years and he can no longer go into battle," said Arthur, "It was decided that Gregory should retire. There is a small manor on the edge of Camelot that needs a master; it has a small amount of land, but no villages, and no people to speak of. It would be an ideal place for a knight of Gregory's stature to retire to in peace, to live out his days."
"Sir Gregory is leaving the city to go live in a house on the edge of the kingdom by himself, and he has to work the lands himself?" asked Merlin shocked.
"Sir Gregory could employ people to work the lands, he's amassed a small fortune working with the knights, and from his family's inheritance. He could recruit people here or advertise in the villages on the way," said Arthur.
"He won't do that," said Merlin.
"That's his choice," said Arthur carelessly, he stretched out on the steps and they sat watching Sir Gregory struggle with his belongings, and curse at any of the stable hands that were steadying his increasingly agitated horses.
"I was thinking," said Arthur, as they watched Sir Gregory's carriage ride out of the gates.
"Don't hurt yourself," said Merlin grinning.
"As crown prince, having just one servant doesn't make sense, so I was thinking of getting someone else to do some of the chores in my chambers, and stuff. So things don't get out of hand every time we go on a hunting trip or have to kill a mystical creature."
"Don't you think I'm doing a good job?" asked Merlin looking concerned.
"You manage," said Arthur haughtily, "but I know you have more duties than a normal manservant, and you've been apprenticing to Gaius as well. I think having more time to concentrate on those things would be better."
"That's funny I didn't notice you had a head injury," said Merlin looking disbelieving.
"I'm serious," said Arthur, "what you do for Gaius is as important as anything you do for me."
"You want me to have more time to study medicine?" asked Merlin confused again.
"You took care of me," said Arthur, "and Gaius is getting on a bit, he can't always travel with us if we expect casualties, if you brush up a little, having you on hand to do the first aid will help a great deal. Unless you think it's a bad idea, getting in more help, in which case, I'll just forget it and leave you to it."
"No, no," said Merlin, "I think it's a great idea. I'm just wondering where it came from."
"I guess, I've just been seeing things a little differently lately," said Arthur, "That's all."
"Whatever you say, Arthur," said Merlin, he shook his head and turned to go back into the castle.
"Merlin," Arthur called, "I haven't found someone yet, so don't go slacking off. I need you to clean my chambers, muck out my horses, polish my armor…."
Author's Notes: That's it folks! I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has read, and alerted and most especially those who have reviewed I do appreciate you all talking this journey with me. I hope this ending satisfies, I know some of you wanted a reveal, but I just couldn't figure out how to make it plausible at this stage in the game. Arthur is either extremely dense or already knows and is ignoring it, or as in my best case scenario suspects, but refuses to acknowledge the indications of Merlin's magic because subconsciously he knows he can't handle the truth yet. (I know the lengths we go to to justify cannon).
I do have a partial reveal coming in my Merlin/Doctor Who crossover, and I'm working on my sequel to No Mortal so stay tuned for both those, otherwise have a great weekend and if you are in the US and are that way inclined have a great Mother's day. *Virtual posies for all the mothers*