Disclaimer: I don't own Merlin or any of its genius. There's little else to say on the matter.
Author's Note: This is my first Merlin fic ever. The characters might be a little OOC, and there is mild slash. I hope you find yourself capable of reading and letting me know what you think. It isn't polished, I know, so maybe just let me know if you think the story worked or not. Thanks ahead of time and FOR CAMELOT!
Merlin stomped around his bedroom ruffling his hair with his fingers. On this particular day it was storming out and he was preparing himself to go outside into the cold. Gaius wasn't delivering anything that day, but instead asked it of Merlin since he was going out anyways. While sometimes Merlin wanted to slap Gaius around for treating him as Arthur did in spite of what he knew, today was not one of those days. Today, his irritation was Arthur and his insensitivity.
"That clotpole can't even let me take one day off. Sent a messenger down first thing this morning to remind me that my duties didn't stop because of the weather! Doesn't he care that I might get sick or that I might have things to do today for myself? What an insensitive nobleman!" Gaius was used to Merlin's ramblings so he merely brushed the nonsense aside. Everyone could tell that Merlin had a great respect and loyalty towards Arthur and only say his flaws because of the man Merlin knew he could become once King. When the lower city spoke of Prince Arthur Pendragon they also spoke of his manservant Merlin.
Merlin swiped the four deliveries that Gaius had placed into thick wool pouches and started jogging his way through the water that poured down over Camelot. The sky was an iridescent purple and thunder started rolling in louder than ever before. It would barely be a minute before lighting started shooting across the sky, tinted blue from the tempest-like colors forming in the clouds. Merlin tried to make his legs move faster so that he may find refuge, and perhaps a change of clothes, once in the castle. His first two deliveries were only a few cottages apart, which made Merlin somewhat relax. However, the path for the last two was some of the farthest homes away from the castle, which meant Merlin would be rain himself by the time he reached Arthur.
He'd given up running on his way back to the castle. There was little point because he would never outrun the rain. Merlin had considered using magic to protect himself from the wet but that would raise suspicion once he reached the castle. Arthur particularly would be disappointed in his appearance, most likely, and blow a whistle just to be an arrogant pig. Merlin considered whether Arthur was really the prince he was supposed to protect at some points in his life. Today was, as one could expect, one of those days where he questioned the advice of the Great Dragon below the castle.
Merlin was stopping in the stables on his way to Arthur so that he could at least do something before he reached Arthur. Perhaps being late would irritate Arthur enough that he'd just send Merlin back home? That was a stupid thought to even hope for since Arthur was sometimes unforgiving and ruthless in his demands. Coming from royalty he expected everything done one time and to the satisfaction of himself only. Merlin scoffed.
"Blasted that bloody Arthur Pendragon! He cares for nobody but himself! What a stinking, selfish, moronic, absent-minded clotpole!" Merlin shouted angrily as she picked up a shovel started to muck out the stables. He wasn't sure whether he was stepping in mud half of the time or not but he didn't care he just did what he knew would be asked of him. Shoveling and shouting. It had to have been somewhere around two hours later that he was somewhat confident that he'd done the job well enough. He would find out tomorrow when the rain stopped, if it stopped.
The rain cleaned his feet on his way back to his chambers. He wasn't sure if he smelled or not since all he could breathe in was the fresh scent of rain water and soaking grass. It was a sweet smell that almost calmed his sour mood. At some point he even started jogging back. Merlin would hopefully forget how upset with Arthur he was by the time he found the Prince waiting for his lunch in his room.
Once back in his home he found a note from Gaius saying he'd gone to Morgana per the request of Gwen. Apparently her sleeping problems were worsening. Merlin started shedding his clothes and tossing them in a bucket before even getting to his room. He was standing in wet trousers in front of the fire when the door blew open from behind him. It was Arthur.
The Prince stood in a dripping wet red lace up shirt, which happened to be unlaced since Merlin hadn't been there to help him dress, and clinging black slacks. His boots were haphazardly tied and he appeared to have tripped in a mud puddle judging by the brown moot caked onto his knees. His golden hair stuck to his brows and his hard eyes glared at the nearly naked Merlin by the fire. Merlin fumbled to cover himself feebly. It would be no use to him, of course.
"What the bloody hell are you doing naked in your chambers!" Arthur forced the door shut behind him and came to poke at Merlin's chest. This was the last straw for Merlin. He felt the anger welling up on the tip of his tongue. Instead of holding back he assumed it wouldn't hurt too badly this one time to argue with the once and only future king.
"Would you rather me be naked in your chambers, sire?" Merlin kept his demeanor calm. He moved his hands and stood proud in front of Arthur. Who cared what he saw of Merlin anyway? Nobody else would judge Merlin worse than they already did, and only the noblemen would judge. He had nothing to be taken from him that any of them knew about anyway.
Arthur's face twisted in a strange fashion that Merlin only recognized as a form of guilty curiosity. Merlin's gut wrenched beneath the surface as he second guessed what he had seen in the prince's expression; that wasn't the look he was making, it couldn't be that one. Arthur stepped backwards from Merlin and looked out the window.
"I sent a messenger this morning. I expected you three hours ago." He was softer when he spoke now. He was fiddling with trinkets that Gaius kept around the living space they were granted in the castle. He was keeping himself distracted from Merlin standing in his undergarments in the center of the room. Merlin decided approaching Arthur was going to be a fun game. It was probably discomfort that Merlin had seen in Arthur's face. Saying he would prefer a naked man in his chambers was obviously a huge accusation to make, one that no prince would want around his kingdom; yes, this was how Merlin would get Arthur back for his lack of appreciation.
"Yes, and I had errands to run for Gaius. And I mucked out the stables. I was coming back to change. Surely you didn't want horse dung on the floor to your royal chambers, my lord." Merlin got uncomfortably close to Arthur which made him deliberately sidestep into the window. He slammed his elbow against the concrete and nibbled his bottom lip to distract from the pain. A chuckle burst from behind Merlin's lips. This was all too funny. "Careful, sire."
"Well, I won't need you today, then. I actually didn't need you to do anything. I was just going to have you keep me company. Father was holding court today, ironically, and Morgana has been holed up because of her nightmares. I just wanted to company. You're free to stay here, then." Arthur was heading for the door. Merlin watched him step further away when he realized that he was being too rough on the prince. He shuffled over to the door and took his arm harshly. He looked into Arthur's big eyes which looked pained. Merlin was the horrible one in the room, not Arthur Pendragon.
"Am I hearing this right? You're not just pulling my leg?" Merlin wanted to be sure that he wasn't hearing things. He used his free hand to brush hair from his face. Arthur had streams of water trickling for his face from his own hair. Merlin dared to reach up and shake the excess from his dripping head. With both hands he shook the prince's hair then something happened. All of it happened so quickly, Merlin wasn't sure he could mentally process what was happening.
While Merlin's hands were running through Arthur's hair some sort of feeling overcame him, once that he very well may have been hiding away for a long time, but he lunged into Merlin. His servant was pressed against the door trapped beneath his. First Arthur kissed the boy's neck, which left Merlin inexplicably numb. Then he raced over his jawline and started tracing the outline of his lips. At first the manservant didn't respond to Arthur's forwardness. In fact, Merlin hadn't even thought of his feelings for Arthur beyond his duty to him as a servant and as a warlock. Obviously, now that Arthur's lips slammed against his own passionately he had to consider what Arthur meant to him outside of his job, his destiny.
Merlin's arms coolly wrapped around Arthur's neck which shifted the mood of their kisses; the servant became more demanding and the prince more violent in his attempt to maintain control. Sparks were flying between the odd pair. Their bodies were pressed together and every so often one would groan in desperate desire. It was unexpected that they would find themselves romantically involved with the other, especially consider that loving someone of the same sex was highly inappropriate and illegal. Somehow it just happened.
Things were heating up between them when the door knob twisted into Merlin's spine. They parted hesitantly. Merlin motioned for Arthur to go to his chambers. Being of nobility his nose scrunched angrily. Why should he be the one hiding, surely that was what he was thinking. Merlin didn't have time for his snobby attitude.
"Either you go or Gaius catches us standing here!" Merlin's voice was soft yet commanding. Arthur's lower lip trembled at the demand. It may have been because he hated the lack of cleanliness in the quarters or because Merlin hadn't been a very lippy servant. Arthur headed back and closed the door softly. Merlin brushed his underpants flat and started towards the pot of clothes.
Gaius walked in with start on his face. He didn't ask why the door didn't open right away. Instead he watched the barely dressed warlock sop his clothes in the bucket in an effort to clean them. Gaius looked over his shoulder and grumbled at him.
"Arthur is going to be upset if he finds out you've stopped in to clean your clothes. Gwen said he was in a fit of rage when she checked on him on her way back into the castle. Couldn't stop complaining that you hadn't shown up yet…" Gaius was looking around the room as if he sensed Arthur's presence in the next room. However, he continued on as he normally would. Merlin was going to have to find a way to get Arthur out of the chambers so that people didn't start questioning where he was, and if they found him why he was there.
"Well, Arthur gripes about a lot of things. He wouldn't be happy if I wasn't bending over backwards for him. He's not a clotpole as I said earlier but he could learn a bit from Morgana. She cares deeply for Gwen, not just as a person but as a friend. He could show me the same respect and honor of friendship. I've been there for him even in the worst of times." Merlin didn't care that Arthur's ear was likely pressed against the door listening to his very words. He wasn't going to sugar coat it just because he was in the next room. Gaius looked up at Merlin glaring into the fire. He still couldn't believe the prince of Camelot just pressed up against and kissed him. Merlin had to control his mind and focus on less arousing things.
"One day when you can stand as the warlock you are and show them your suffering will have been worth it. I feel like I have to repeat myself all the time." Merlin choked at the sound of Gaius' words. It was hardly his fault that he thought these chambers were safe to speak of Merlin's true nature. Merlin's eyes bubbled in his skull. He heard the door rattle at Arthur's hand. He rushed over to his room and kept the door shut. Gaius's jaw dropped and his brows furrowed in confusion. He could assume, naturally, it might be Arthur behind the door.
"A WARLOCK? YOU ARE A WARLOCK?" Arthur's voice was as high and squeaky as his masculine tone could manage. He was shocked and outraged. Merlin couldn't blame him for that, of course. He was doing his best to keep Arthur behind the barrier. Perhaps it would allow him to calm and not strangle the servant.
"YOU WERE NOT SUPPOSED TO HEAR THAT!" This was the only response that Merlin could manage? Gaius backed up to their front door and locked it, even going as far as pulling a table in front of it. He proceeded to put extra bricks into the windows to muffle the shouts. It was be a disaster if anyone were to hear them. Gaius motioned for Merlin to move. Arthur burst out once the boy moved and landed on the floor. He screamed in pain but jumped onto his feet and pinned Merlin to the nearest wall with his forearm.
"A warlock as my servant?" He was not happy at the discovery, or rather the announcement. Merlin struggled beneath the prince this time, this time to live instead of suppress growing feelings for him. Arthur's eyes were watering now as he looked at his servant, questioning how this might have happened. Not just that he was attracted to him but that he had missed Merlin's sorcery. His heart was likely sinking but his grip on Merlin didn't loosen at all.
"Arthur – please let go – I can explain." Gaius stood by and watched as these things transpire. He wasn't to judge or to interfere. He would but something in the air must have suggested to him Arthur would not kill Merlin. It was never spoken but many believed that he valued Merlin's life more than his own father's. Arthur did not let him go but he changed his position. He shoved Merlin back by his shoulders now, allowing the boy to at least breathe easily.
"How could you not tell me?" Arthur was trying to work it out in his head still. Sorcery is a difficult thing to miss, it would seem. How could he have just not noticed what Merlin was doing ever? Merlin felt bad that he had to keep it a secret but he wouldn't be executed and leave Arthur's future to crumble. His life and many others were be endangered at Merlin's death. He never had a choice, and he had to remind himself of that detail constantly.
"I wanted to tell you, but I couldn't risk execution. You have to understand that, Arthur. This is not a personal crusade on you. Uther would have me burnt at the stake if he knew." Merlin's voice was rushed and protective of the prince. He did not want Arthur's feelings to be hurt over a very important technicality in his life. Arthur's tears rolled over his cheeks now. Gaius could not see it, and Merlin sincerely hoped he couldn't sense what was most likely actually bothering him.
"I would have saved you…I've saved you before…" The sound his heartbeat was breaking the barriers of sound making a thumping noise in Merlin's ears. This was his opportunity to break free of Arthur's grasp and reached into hug him. What did it matter if Gaius saw them? Would Gaius even suspect anything if they embraced? He would just think Merlin was being kind. He would have nothing to suspect.
He took it upon himself to wrap into Arthur who returned the compassion. Merlin had to muster up the right words but Gaius was approaching with his own. At that point Merlin didn't even bother explaining himself since his guardian would do a much better job.
"If Uther found out Merlin was a warlock he'd have him burned and you disinherited. You do everything together and he's pointed out often that Merlin and you share a close companionship. He'd think you in cohorts with him and have you banished. Merlin's secrecy was of the utmost importance to the future you shall share." Gaius could feel the tenseness of Arthur's body. He thought it was that Gaius could see that the pair was growing to be closer than friends.
"What would he think of me now, if he saw me like this in your arms? It can't be any worse, could it? I'll never be what he wants." Arthur was sobbing now and clearly uncaring of the situation. It was no longer a worry that Merlin was a warlock but one that involved his attraction to said warlock…who also was a boy.
"Arthur, what you and Merlin share is special. A bond alike this cannot be broken. However, so long as Uther lives then you must be discrete. Merlin has been careful and knows the boundaries well enough. He's not been caught yet." Gaius could see it after all. Merlin was calm now. He hadn't thought Gaius would judge them since he'd been so great of a role model since Merlin arrived. He put his hand in the lower dips of each boy's spine and hushed them. Merlin kept Arthur close, and Arthur begging him to stay and trust him. Gaius smiled, Merlin caught it from the corner of his eye. He dismissed himself to his own bedroom while the pair worked out whatever troubles they would face in the future. Also, so Merlin could finish explaining the rest of his story.
When night befell the Kingdom and it was realized that nobody had gone looked for Arthur, he decided he should not push his luck. Merlin showed him to the door and opened it just slightly. Arthur pecked him below the ear cautiously, still unsure of himself. They held eye contact for some time before Arthur peered past the door.
"Do not worry, Prince Arthur. I've protected you before and I can protect you now. I'll protect you forevermore, sire. Have I not stayed by your side since I've arrived in Camelot?" Arthur nodded and gulped. He was still surprised to find himself attracted to a man. It was not something he could control, though, aware that he couldn't keep Merlin out of his mind. He professed that he held Merlin most dear to his heart, imagining life without him increasingly becoming his worst nightmare. Merlin assured him once more he would always be there for Arthur. He left reluctantly but proudly. Another secret was to be protected, only now Merlin did not have to do it alone.