Of Idiots and Prats
Merlin settled back into one of the chairs in Arthur's room, allowing himself to relax while his magic did his chores for him. Arthur wasn't due back until evening, having gone on an impromptu hunting trip that Gaius had refused to allow the warlock to go on, since he had a rather lingering cough that the physician felt the cold would irritate further.
Smiling slightly, he flicked his hand in a casual gesture and watched with satisfaction as the armour started polishing itself while the scrub brush went to work on the floor, the bed smoothing out as if made by invisible hands.
The invisible servant, that's me, he thought wryly, his smile faltering as a cough ripped from his chest. He winced and rubbed his ribs comfortingly. As soon as this was finished he was going through his magic books to find a spell to fix the blasted illness. He liked not feeling like his lungs were full of shards of glass, thank you very much!
Arthur rummaged through his saddle bags, trying to find his knife. He was sure he'd grabbed it, but it wasn't in its typical sheath in his boot, nor did it appear to be in the bags. Normally, he would've blamed Merlin, but with his manservant ill, he'd gotten a different servant to pack for him, and there was no way the man had known to bring that particular knife. He sighed, irritated.
"Sire?" Leon asked, his horse trotting up next to Arthur's. "Are we to be on our way?"
"I've forgotten something. I'll go fetch it and then we can be on our way."
"Of course, sire. Shall I find you a servant?"
"No, I'll get it. They wouldn't be able to find it anyways." He remembered rather clearly where he'd left it now, buried beneath a stack of paper on his desk. He turned on his heel and strode back into the castle.
Minutes later, he found himself before the doors of his chambers. A hacking cough sounded from behind the wooden panels, and he winced sympathetically. Merlin sounded horrible. It was probably good he wasn't coming with them on the trip. He shoved the door open as the coughing continued, and then froze.
His armour was hovering in midair… cleaning itself. A scrub brush spread suds around on the floor, and his discarded clothes were neatly folding themselves into a pile.
And Merlin, foolish, idiotic, completely stupid Merlin, was sitting at his table, wincing as he rubbed his chest.
Arthur took a faltering step forward, eyes widening.
His manservant leapt up and spun to face him at the sound of his footsteps, and all the magic in the room promptly stopped, Arthur's armour clattering to the ground in a heap.
"Um," Merlin laughed weakly into the profound silence after the helmet had stopped rattling against the stone floor. He took a wary step back from his King. "I can explain?"
Arthur just shut the door behind him and arched an eyebrow. "Really?"
Merlin swallowed, his throat suddenly feeling extremely dry. Explain this? It'd be easier to jump out the window. And Arthur was just standing there, arms crossed across his chest, expression unreadable. Maybe he should jump out the window. It might be a less painful death than what his King had in mind.
"Um, actually…" He swallowed nervously again. "I don't know if I can explain all that well."
"That's what I thought." The King uncrossed his arms and strode past his manservant to his desk, pushing aside the papers until he found the dagger he'd been looking for.
Merlin took a shaky step away, eyes fixed on the weapon, but Arthur just sheathed it in his boot and strode back towards the door.
"Well then, I'm off. You just go back to whatever you were doing, Merlin."
He shut the door behind him, leaving Merlin standing, stunned, in the center of his chambers.
Wait… what?! He stared at the doors as the swung closed, heart beating fast. What just happened? Did Arthur just give me permission to keep doing magic?
He unfroze his feet from the floor and threw himself through the door, sprinting after his King.
"Arthur!" He clapped a hand on his King's shoulder and spun him around to face him, his expression one of disbelief, chest heaving from the short run. "Did you just… what do you… You… really?"
"As coherent as ever, I see," the royal stated imperiously. "I would've thought you'd have been pleased."
Merlin stared at him for a second. "Did you… did you know?"
Arthur shook his head. "No, but it makes sense."
The warlock continued staring, mouth open in disbelief, and then his eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Who are you and what have you done with Arthur?"
The King snorted. "Really Merlin, you've been my manservant for nearly a decade. I think I can trust you. And anyways, you're the one who's always telling me that magic isn't all evil."
He gaped at the royal, mouth opening and closing like a fish. "I didn't expect you to actually listen."
Arthur rolled his eyes. "Contrary to popular belief, Merlin, Kings do actually listen to their advisors."
"But… but…" The warlock shook his head violently from side to side, as if doing that would make the vision before his eyes go away.
The King clapped Merlin on the shoulder and smiled. "I've been thinking my father was wrong for a while now. And anyways, you are most definitely not evil." He narrowed his eyes. "Or are you?"
Merlin's eyes widened and he shook his head even more vigorously. "No! Definitely not! I wouldn't do anything to hurt you or Camelot."
Arthur grinned again. "Good. Well then, we shall discuss this when I return." He turned to go.
Merlin let him, rooted to the spot with stunned disbelief. But… but… wait just one second… He must have spent the better part of his nights in Camelot just lying awake at night contemplating the ceiling feeling guilty for not telling Arthur. He had spent hours in the dark imagining how his King would react if he did summon the courage to tell him. He'd always imagined it would be violently, that he'd be threatened with something painful or at least yelled at. In the times he'd tried to imagine the scene, there had been a cool, collected Arthur who called for the guards and had him burned at the stake. Or there was an angry Arthur who tried to run him through with a sword. But never had he imagined that the King would just… just… walk away! Like it didn't matter! Like there'd never been a point to worrying in the first place!
His disbelief was quickly replaced with anger. "You know what? No!" He growled, stalking after his King and grabbing him by the shoulder to spin him around again, glaring. "You're supposed to be angry with me!"
Arthur stared at him blankly for a second. "Why would I be angry with you?"
"I've been keeping secrets from you for years! I broke the law! You… you hate magic. You told me so!"
The King raised an eyebrow in an expression strangely reminiscent of Gaius. "I'm not allowed to change my mind?"
Merlin glared at him, disbelief squashing any relief he'd felt. "No! You aren't, actually!"
Arthur looked flabbergasted. "What do you mean?" he spluttered. "Do you want me to be mad at you?"
The warlock crossed his arms over his chest. "Yes! I did not spend the last decade worrying about you finding out for you to just accept it, just like that!" He snapped his fingers for emphasis.
The King laughed, a grin spreading across his face. "But I'm not mad at you. I understand why you didn't tell me. I didn't exactly give you any encouragement that I wouldn't burn you at the stake, so why should you have felt obliged to tell me? And you're completely loyal to me, so it's not like I need to worry about you using magic against Camelot. Why should I be mad at you?"
"BECAUSE I'VE BEEN WORRYING ABOUT IT FOREVER!" Merlin's angry shout irritated his throat, and he had to stop as a hacking cough ripped from his lungs. He took a moment to regain his breath, and then returned to glaring at the annoyingly concerned-looking King, who held out a hand as if to steady him after the coughing fit. He stepped away, refusing the gesture. "I've let you reap the reward for things I've done. I've lain awake feeling horrible for lying to you. I've worried constantly about using my magic and you finding out! And it didn't even matter!"
The King's brow furrowed. "I don't understand. I would've thought you would be pleased. Do you want to be executed?"
"No! Yes… I don't know!" The warlock threw his arms in the air, and his conflicted emotions burst out through his magic, a halo of fire erupting around his brunette locks.
Arthur stared at it curiously. "That's never happened when you've been upset before."
"Probably because I've never been this upset!" His raised voice cracked before the last word, and he had to supress another cough.
"Look, Merlin," the King began gently. "You're sick and tired. Just go to bed. You're reacting all wrong."
"No! You are!" The flames flared white hot.
Arthur reached out towards him, concern in his features. "Merlin…"
"No!" He took a step away, emotions rising further, and Arthur's hand met a solid shimmering barrier in mid-air. "You're supposed to be angry with me." His angry expression faltered, replaced with something that resembled a hurt puppy. "Does me lying really not mean anything to you? I thought…"
The royal made an exasperated noise. "Merlin! Stop being such a girl. Is me not being a prat really that hard to accept?"
Merlin gave him a hard look. "Yes, actually," he practically whispered, his fiery halo fading as steely resolve filled his blue eyes, and then he sprinted away.
Arthur stared as the lithe frame of his manservant disappeared down the hall, and as such didn't notice when the shimmering barrier he'd been unconsciously leaning into vanished, nearly sending him toppling to the ground.
He regained his balance after a moment of completely graceless flailing, and then sprinted off after the stupid sorcerer. "Merlin!"
He caught up to the man just as he reached the busier part of the castle. The brunette was leaning over his knees, coughing in a way that made Arthur's chest hurt sympathetically.
"Merlin! Stop this at once!"
"No! Not until you take me seriously!" He stood tall, suddenly looking less like a weakling and more like the powerful magician he was.
Servants were frozen throughout the hall, interspersed with Knights who watched this exchange with amusement, probably expecting one of the typical Arthur-Merlin fights with their witty banter and underlying camaraderie.
Arthur had a sneaking suspicion as to what his manservant was going to do, in front of all these people, who had absolutely no idea that he was going to get rid of the ban on magic. "Don't," he began, but the idiot cut him off.
"I'm a sorcerer!" Merlin yelled, and then he promptly proved the statement by shouting a phrase in the ancient language that the King didn't catch. Fire exploded over the man's frame, apparently not hurting him. "I was born with it," he yelled even louder as the flame began to flee from his frame, resembling water as it poured off his limbs, "And my father was Balinor! I am the last dragonlord!" The flames completely abandoned the manservant's frame and took shape, so that a fiery dragon looped itself around the warlock's neck, flapping flaming wings. His voice changed completely as he spoke again, turning into a low roar that seemed to shake the very castle's foundation. "And I have broken the law."
Arthur stared at him and the impressive piece of magic that seemed to take up the corridor, exasperation and fear clogging his throat as he saw the expressions on some of his Knights' faces.
One of them ripped his sword out of its sheath and threw himself towards Merlin, battle cry on his lips. The King cried out and took a frantic step forward, but he needn't have worried. The warlock flicked his hand dismissively and the man flew backwards, skidding on his backside down the hall, as his sword turned into a long-stemmed rose.
"Now then," Merlin said, grinning in a completely self-satisfied manner. "If you'll excuse me, I'm going to the dungeons."
And he stalked off, leaving servants and nobles alike cowering against the walls, while Arthur stared after him and his fiery conjured dragon, which flicked its flaming tail in a gleeful way as it took off and soared above the sorcerer's head.
"Merlin! Let me into this cell at once!" Arthur growled, his tone exasperated as his key refused to turn in the workings of the dungeon cell's lock.
"No," the warlock replied, crossing his arms from where he stood on the other side of the bars, eyes glowing as he used magic to resist the turning of the key.
The King gave up, letting go of the key. He'd come down here with the intention of opening the cell and dragging the idiot out, but apparently that wasn't going to happen.
He crossed his arms and glared at his friend in turn. If this was going to be a battle of wills, he was by far the more stubborn.
A voice interrupted their glaring contest. "I was going to ask you why you've locked Merlin in a cell, but it seems to be the opposite," Gwaine stated, flicking his hair out of his eyes.
"Merlin is being an idiot," Arthur stated exasperatedly, turning to his knight.
"That's not unusual," Gwaine pointed out, stepping up next to the cell door to look in at the furious warlock. "But why is he in the dungeon?"
Merlin made an unhappy noise. "Arthur is being a prat."
"I am not! For once I'm actually being reasonable!"
"Making me worry about something for absolutely no reason is reasonable?" Merlin asked, glaring at him.
Arthur threw his arms up in the air. "I give up. You try to get him to come out of the cell, Gwaine." He stalked out of the dungeon.
Gwaine watched him go with a confused air. "Could someone please explain what's going on?"
Merlin sighed. "I have magic," he said casually.
"Really," Gwaine stated drily. "I didn't notice."
The warlock glowered at him. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Really, our 'luck' when we're on quests is a bit telling, wouldn't you think?"
"So you knew?" Merlin asked, looking slightly relieved underneath the layer of deep irritation.
"Yes. But that still doesn't explain why you're in the dungeon," Gwaine pointed out.
"Arthur just accepted it," Merlin growled, and fire bloomed above his brunette locks again.
The Knight's eyebrows furrowed together. "I don't understand. Isn't that a good thing?"
Merlin flung his arms in the air, flaming halo flaring white hot. "NO! Because I've spent the last who-knows-how-long feeling guilty about not telling him, and worrying about it, and wondering how he would kill me when he did find out, and as it turns out, he doesn't even care. Apparently my friendship means so little to him that the biggest lie I've ever told doesn't remotely matter!"
"Ah," Gwaine murmured. "I'm sure that's not how Arthur means it, mate. He just wants to accept you as you are, even if that includes your magic. He cares about you. I think you're overreact-"
"If one more person tells me I'm overreacting," Merlin hissed, cutting him off, "I will curse them for the rest of their life." He brandished a hand menacingly, and blue sparks spilled off his fingers.
The Knight swallowed. "Merlin, I really don't think locking yourself in a cell is the best way to go about this."
"Well, what you think doesn't really matter. I am staying here until Arthur chooses to react properly." He turned to face the window in an obvious dismissal.
Gwaine looked at him for a second, then turned to go. As he reached the top of the stairs, he heard the warlock release a hacking cough, and sighed. Great, Merlin had magic, was upset with Arthur, and had locked himself in a dungeon, while having a cold. Gaius was going to kill him.
Disclaimer: the lovely wonderful Merlin does not belong to me, though I would gladly claim him as my own if I had a choice in the matter. *sigh*
Anyways, this is just a random reveal fic idea I had while I was doing some baking. I get the weirdest ideas in the oddest places sometimes. Reviews are love!