"Come on, Merlin! You don't even look like your trying!" Arthur called over to his Manservant who was running across the kings courtyard with a large wooden target strapped to his back. He was running as fast as he possibly could, and he didn't even have breath for a response. His heart felt like it was beating out of his chest, and his face was red from running. Then…THUD. Arthur's spear came flying into the bullseye of the target. Merlin fell to the ground and didn't bother to get up. This was just too much. He needed a break! Couldn't Arthur see he was pushed to his limits? Arthur came walking over, looking at the limp figure on the ground. He put his hands on his hips and stood beside him, looking down at him. Merlin didn't care. He had enough for today, and he just couldn't get up yet. But Arthur took him by the shoulder and pulled him up like he was a ragdoll. Merlin gave a groan. "Don't be such a wet rag, Merlin! We haven't even started yet." He said, giving a grin at the latter statement.
Merlin opened the door to the home of Gaius.
A very dirty, tired, and disheveled Merlin collapsed on a chair. Gaius looked over and frowned.
"Why the long face, Merlin?" He asked with concern.
Merlin sunk his face into his arms which he placed on the table. "Arthur." He responded.
"Well what did he do?" Gaius asked, coming over to Merlin and sitting beside him on the bench.
Merlin looked up at Gaius, his eyes sorrowful. "He doesn't care about me anymore, Gaius!"
"Oh, that's nonsense Merlin. Arthur cares a great deal for you, and I believe he's proven that."
"Well any care he ever had for me is gone! Lately he's been treating me like the rag that I use to clean his floor every day. Im a moving target, a boot scraper, a floor washer, a polisher, and all the meanwhile im saving his royal backside!"
Gaius put his arm around Merlin, and cast a frown. "Now, Merlin. The prince has a lot on his mind. And even though it may seem like he doesn't care, I know he does. Just give him some time Merlin. I know you'll see he truly does care about you." He then laid a bowl of soup infront of Merlin, who cast a grateful glance at Gaius before slowly beginning to eat the soup. "We'll see." He responded.
A and a very flustered Merlin was running like the wind to Arthur's chambers. He was already a little late from sleeping in. The overbearing work the day before had caused Merlin to knock dead on his bed right when his head touched the pillow, and he fell into a deep, blissful sleep. But when he had awoken late, he had regretted it. He was now running to reach Arthur's chambers for, which felt like, a race for his life. Once Merlin reached Arthur's chambers, he shuffled in holding Arthur's breakfast. He set it down on Arthur's dresser. Much to Merlin's dismay, Arthur was staring right at him. "Your late." He said sternly. Merlin, knowing that explaining this was because of the outrageous work Arthur had put on him the day before would not help at all, just responded with a simple, "Sorry sire." Arthur sat up in bed, beginning to eat his breakfast. "Well, you idiot. Since you cant arrive on time, ill just have to give you extra work." He said, ending this statement with a wide smile. Merlin looked at Arthur with a distraught. "But, Arthur!" He began, but was quickly interrupted. "That's an order, Merlin." Arthur stated, casting a serious look to Merlin.. "Yes Sire." Merlin replied, beginning with his regular duties.
Arthur and Merlin hardly shared any conversation that morning. Merlin scurried the room, preparing Arthur's bath, making his bed, cleaning his room, and then Arthur began with the list of extra duties. Polish his armor, muck out the stables, cut the grass. Merlin was already exhausted from yesterday, and now he had all this to tend to. He made a desperate attempt to tell Arthur that he was feeling exhausted today, and didn't think he could do it. But Arthur shrugged it off as an excuse to get out of work.
It was the early evening. Merlin had finally finished his extra duties. He had a small nap in the stables, which was probably the only reason he survived the whole day. He was now heading back home to get some much needed rest, when…"Merlin!" came Arthur's voice. Merlin looked over and then frowned in dismay. Arthur was carrying the dreaded wooden target and a spear. No! No no no! I cant! I cant do this! Merlin thought desperately to himself. "Arthur, I told you that im extraordinarily exhausted. I don't think I can.." Arthur rolled his eyes and began strapping the heavy target to Merlins back. "Oh, don't be such a girl. You could use the exercise, Merlin.
Merlin began running. He started out slowly, but he knew he would soon hear the hoard of rebukes from Arthur if he didn't go faster. This will be over soon. Merlin reassured himself. He kept running, and running. He needed to go faster…just a bit faster. He began to feel dizzy, and his legs felt like mush. Everything around him began to slowly spin as he ran. Just..a bit…faster! But that was the last thought Merlin conjured up before he collapsed in the middle of a leap. He flying downwards, and his whole body collided with the ground , the large wooden target falling down heavily on his back.
Arthur's eyes widened as he saw his manservant collide with the ground. He wasted no time in dropping his spear and running to his side. "Merlin!" Arthur said as he hurriedly took off the target, rolling Merlin onto his back. "Come on, Merlin! Up with you." Arthur said as he lightly but firmly patted his manservants cheek. He put his ear to Merlin's heart, and heard a jagged pulse. His heart skipped a beat as he realized Merlin truly was over exhausted. He wondered if he should get Gaius, but he decided he should try to deal with it himself. "Ill just get you inside." Arthur said, half to himself. He lifted Merlin with great ease and began to take him to the castle, ignoring the questioning faces. Arthur knew the people must have found it quite strange to see the prince carrying his unconscious manservant, but Arthur didn't care. When he reached his chambers, he hurried in and laid Merlin down on his bed. He then checked his forehead and saw that It was extremely hot, so he got a cool, wet rag and placed it over his forehead. He then got a cup of water, and gently forced it into Merlin's mouth, lifting his head slightly so the water could go down. He sat down on the edge of the bed, turning towards Merlin to see if he would wake up. After a few minutes of nothing, Arthur got worried. "You idiot!" He said to the unconscious Merlin. Im the idiot. Arthur thought to himself. Why didn't I listen to Merlin? I treated him like filth, his guilty thoughts continued.
Merlin felt himself lying something soft and comfortable, and he felt a cool cloth on his forehead. He didn't feel sore anymore, yet he was still breathing heavily, and he felt sun stricken. His fingers twitched a bit, and then his feet. He slowly cracked open his eyes. There was a figure that quickly turned to him, and seemed to be saying his name. Merlin didn't respond. He just furrowed his eyebrows, trying to make out the face. The figure took his shoulders and gently shook them. Merlin could finally make out the blurry face. It was..Arthur! He looked around a moment before the surprising notion came to him. Was he in Arthurs bed? The princes bed himself! "Merlin!" The figure called his name again. This time Merlin responded. "What happened?" He asked, remembering only running.
Arthur gave a sigh of relief as Merlin spoke. "You went unconscious. Your in my chambers now." He replied.
Merlin sat up a bit, looking around.
"How do you feel?" Arthur asked.
"Like I was trampled by horses." Merlin responded. "But ill be fine."