Chapter 6: In Which Sir Gwaine and Maid Merlin Save The Life of the Royal Prat and Seal the Deal with a Kiss
By the time Merlin and Gwaine made it back to Camelot, they had both fallen silent. Gwaine had spent a majority of the time quizzing Merlin about her magic and he had finally run out of things to ask.
They were both tired and sweaty and covered in leaves and the hem of Merlin's pretty, purple dress, which was once clean and fresh, was caked six inches deep in mud from where she had accidentally stepped into a puddle. As Gwaine had expected, her cheek had bruised, although she didn't really seem to notice, determined as she was to save Arthur. She wasted no time in dragging Gwaine with her to Arthur's chambers, barely giving him enough time to shove the picnic basket into the hands of a passing (and subsequently confused) Lancelot.
When they burst into Arthur's chambers (without knocking) they were surprised to see that Arthur wasn't alone. Several large men were moving a new wooden wardrobe into the room. Merlin shifted impatiently, wanting to get Arthur, who seemed to be supervising.
Gwaine and Merlin waited for what seemed like hours for the men to finish. When they did, Arthur clapped them on the shoulders, thanked them for their services and sent them off, admiring the new wardrobe.
"Arthur," Merlin began, but Arthur interrupted.
"Isn't it nice?" he asked. "The wardrobe I had before was too small for Guinevere and I to share, so I had this one brought in."
Gwaine couldn't help but admit that it was a nice wardrobe: larger than the last one and dark, made of what looked to be oak.
"Yes," Merlin said, clearly not caring. "It's beautiful. I'll make sure to take good care of it when I clean. Arthur, listen-"
But Arthur wasn't done interrupting. Not yet tearing his eyes away from the wardrobe, he said, "I'm surprised you too are back so early. I gave you the day off, after all. I expected you take advantage of-"
He stopped short, catching sight of his two friends for the first time. Gwaine smirked at Arthur's flabbergasted expression as he took in their rumpled clothes, flushed faces, and the twigs in their hair. The king demanded, "What happened to you two? You were supposed to go for a picnic in the forest not a- a- tumble in the hay!"
Merlin blushed and stuttered, denying everything, but Gwaine just shrugged, completely unembarrassed, and shook his head.
Arthur also noticed Merlin's face for the first time. "And what happened to your face?"
Merlin was slightly flattered that he sounded so furious. They had come a long way, the two of them had, from their first fight in the castle courtyard. Now, here he was, her king, master, and friend, concerned for her.
When he looked at Gwaine suspiciously, and Merlin couldn't help but feel slightly insulted on his behalf.
"That's what we were trying to tell you," she said heatedly. "There were bandits in the woods! We ran into them."
Arthur stood up straighter, suddenly at attention. "Are you both alright?"
"Now he cares," Merlin muttered, before nodding. "Yes. We're fine."
"I'll send out patrols-" Arthur began, but Merlin interrupted him. "Don't bother. All four bandits are dead."
Arthur looked impressed and nodded in Gwaine's direction to show his gratitude. "Good work, Sir Gwaine."
Gwaine opened his mouth to protest, to tell Arthur that it was Merlin who had done most of the work, but was stopped by a swift kick to his shin. He looked at Merlin who subtly shook her head: she would get no credit. Gwaine couldn't help but wonder how many other times somebody else had taken credit for something she had done.
"That's not the important bit, Arthur," Merlin said, stepping forward. "They were plotting to kill you!"
Arthur shrugged, looking unconcerned. "There's almost always somebody trying to kill me. That's why I have guards."
Merlin glared and huffed and stomped her foot. Gwaine couldn't help but think that she was cute when she was frustrated. "He's going to use magic!"
"He's a sorcerer?" Arthur demanded. Merlin met his eyes, glare for glare, before finally deflating and shuffling uncomfortably.
"Well, no, not really. He's a street magician." Merlin hastened to add, "But who knows what sort of skills you pick up in that line of work!"
"Merlin," Arthur said kindly, as though talking to a small child, which Gwaine supposed Merlin had a tendency to be. "I understand your concern, but the guards will take good care of me, and, of course, the knights."
"I know they will, Arthur," Merlin said. Arthur added, before Merlin could protest, "Are you saying that you don't trust Sir Gwaine?"
Gwaine stiffened as Merlin looked at him, her eyes growing soft. She smiled at him and said, much more softly than the voice she had been using previously with Arthur, "Of course I trust him."
Gwaine felt his heart grow warm and he met Merlin's eyes. Neither of them said anything for a moment, but Arthur broke the silence with a loud cough.
"Yes, well, if you two would mind taking your little staring contest elsewhere," Arthur waved towards the door. "I have- kingly things to do."
Gwaine was about to argue that Arthur needed to take the threat more seriously, but once again Merlin stopped him. She shook her head and took his hand and began to pull him to the door. Merlin was about to close it behind them when Arthur called back, "Oh, and Merlin?"
Merlin stuck her head back into the room. "Arthur?"
Arthur looked decidedly uncomfortable.
"You look very nice today," he stuttered. Merlin frowned, not sure what he was getting at, until she realized that this was his way of apologizing for his comment earlier and acknowledging that he might have taken it too far.
But mushy apologies were never hers and Arthur's specialty, so she smirked at him.
"That makes one of us," she retorted. She ducked and shut the door quickly behind her, hearing the smash as a plate hit the door, signaling that Arthur had thrown something at her. She straightened and walked over to where Gwaine was waiting for her at the end of the corridor.
"What was that all about?" Gwaine asked, wondering why Arthur had called her back. Merlin snorted and shook her head and Gwaine dropped it, deciding that it wasn't worth it. He focused back on the matter at hand. "Why didn't you try to convince him that he was in danger?"
"Because he's a stubborn prat," Merlin huffed, annoyed. "And I've been down this road before and trust me: Arthur won't listen. We're better off on our own."
So that was how Gwaine found himself back at Gaius's, along with the physician himself, Merlin, and a now-caught-up Lancelot.
They were currently trying to figure out how Bedwyr was going to try and kill Arthur. They had been talking for hours, now. Merlin and Gwaine had spent some time exploring the castle, looking for any signs of Bedwyr, but found nothing. Lancelot had alerted the guards to be extra vigilant.
"There are only two ways into Arthur's chambers," Merlin repeated for what had to be the billionth time. "The windows or the door."
Gwaine, who had, several hours ago, turned a chair around and straddled it, tired of walking, raised his head from his hands. Merlin had been pacing since they had got back, fierce determination written all over her face. Gwaine wanted to save his king, too, but he was tired and hungry.
"Nobody could get in through the windows," Lancelot, who was sitting next to him, offered. "They're too high up."
"So the door, then," Merlin said firmly. Gwaine shook his head. "They're too heavily guarded."
"Well he can't appear out of thin air," Merlin said frustratedly. "Even I can't do that!"
"Maybe you two misheard," Gaius said gently, not wanting to offend either of them. "Perhaps Bedwyr will not be trying anything tonight."
"No," Gwaine denied. This much he was sure about. "The bandits explicitly said that Bedwyr would be attacking tonight because something would be moved in, and Bedwyr would be in place- Merlin? Where are you going?"
Something Gwaine had said must have triggered something in Merlin, since she shot out the door so fast that she was nothing more than a purple blur. Gwaine and Lancelot ran after her. She seemed to be headed to Arthur's chambers.
"It's the wardrobe!" she called to them.
She barreled past the guards and opened the door. Gwaine, who was right behind her, saw Bedwyr standing over Arthur's and Gwen's bed (he was hiding in the wardrobe, Gwaine realized) with a knife. Merlin's eyes again flashed gold and Bedwyr was thrown backwards into the wall, landing with a crash.
Gwen shot up in bed and screeched, seeing Bedwyr, and pulled the covers over herself. Arthur was up by now, too, hopping out of bed (thankfully clothed, Gwaine was relieved to find) and running to grab a sword.
Gwaine and Lancelot rushed into the room, followed by the Guards who were feeling incredibly out of the loop. Bedwyr groaned and opened his eyes, but Gwaine was already there, holding a sword to his throat. Arthur was there, too, staring incredulously.
"Sire," Gwaine said proudly. "Meet Bedwyr. He was trying to kill you."
"Clearly," Arthur said, putting his sword away, happy that Gwaine had Bedwyr under control. He waved the guards over to restrain Bedwyr, who was glaring quite unhappily, and then turned his wife, who was watching everything with wide eyes. "Are you alright?"
Gwen nodded, "Yes, I'm fine. Just a bit shaken up."
Arthur now looked angry. Apparently when somebody tried to kill him he was alright, but if they upset his wife, then he was angry. Gwaine didn't think he'd ever understand being in love.
On the other hand...
He looked at Merlin, who had been watching everything with an odd mixture of concern and smugness from the corner of the room, his eyes fixed on the ugly bruise on her cheek. He remembered the satisfaction he felt in running Combover through.
...Maybe he did understand.
"How did he get in?"
"He hid in the wardrobe," Merlin offered, answering Arthur's question. Lancelot had already walked over to it and opened it. He shifted around some of Gwen's dresses until he found a small, secret compartment hidden in the back, much like the one that was often found in boxes like the one Bedwyr had put Merlin in several days ago.
Bedwyr seethed and snarled at the king, "You should be dead! Your father killed my parents- and for what? For doing some silly illusions on the streets! They weren't really sorcerers!"
The guards tightened their grip on him and he shut up.
"I told you he'd use his magic!" Merlin said gleefully. Arthur glared sourly at her.
"Shut up, Merlin," he grumbled. Arthur turned to the guards. "Take him to the dungeons. I'll deal with him tomorrow morning, after I've had a good night's sleep. That goes for the rest of you: out!"
Gwaine didn't think that this was very gracious behavior considering that he and Lancelot and Merlin had just saved his life, but Gwaine dropped it. Maybe Arthur'd be more gracious in the morning, after he'd gotten some sleep.
Merlin, Arthur, and Lancelot regrouped in the corridor. Lancelot chuckled. "Well, thank-you, Merlin, for yet another interesting night."
"You're welcome," Merlin laughed.
Lancelot bit them both a goodnight and left hastily (much to Gwaine's delight, apparently he had a date planned with Tegan, and he wanted to get some rest). That left Merlin and Gwaine, standing alone. Merlin looked anywhere but him and Gwaine thought that she wasn't going to say anything, but finally she said, "I'm sorry this day didn't turn out quite like you planned."
"Things rarely do when you're involved, Merlin," Gwaine said, but he didn't say it to criticize Merlin. He had accepted long ago that he'd never be bored with Merlin, and he wouldn't change that for the world.
"I know you went through a lot of trouble for today," Merlin said apologetically.
"We never got to have the peach cobbler," Gwaine said despondently.
Merlin perked up, looking oddly flattered. "You made peach cobbler for us?"
Gwaine smiled at her, slightly embarrassed. "Made...stole... It's all the same, isn't it?"
Merlin's eyes widened. "You stole from the cook? That's amazing!" She laughed, sounding impressed when Gwaine nodded.
"She may be a very scary woman," Gwaine said, his voice lowered as though sharing an important secret, "But even she is not immune to my charms."
"I don't think there's any woman immune to your charms," Merlin offered. Gwaine smirked and moved in closer. Merlin's eyes widened and he saw her breath catch.
"Does that include you, Merlin?" Gwaine asked her carefully. He raised his hand forward to gently rest on her bruised cheek. She nodded and then laughed nervously.
"Yes, but it's your own fault! Your hair must have magical properties or something and you're too-"
Whatever Merlin had been about to say was drowned out by the kiss he gave her, which she returned enthusiastically. Gwaine smiled into it as Merlin reached her hands up to rest on his shoulders and his hands were finally-finally- able to tangle into her dark hair. It had definitely been worth the wait. They stood in the corridor, light streaming in through one of the windows, kissing, bathed by the silver beams of the moon.
It's needless to say that Camelot lived happily ever after.
At least, until Morgana tried to take over again.
But that's a story for another day.
AN: And that's it for this story! The last chapter was short and sweet and hopefully you enjoyed it! Thanks so much for all the responses to this story- I didn't expect all the love. I just sorta wrote this for fun.
I've received a request to do a sequel of sorts, with a Harry Potter crossover. I've started planning that, but I'm a bit swamped with exams at the moment, so it might take a little longer... I'll probably start posting in early summer. While you wait, check out my other stories if you're interested *wink wink. nudge nudge* :P
In the meantime, happy writing, reading, and living!