A/N: Wrote in the lull between seasons and finally posted; I needed something a little more cheery after the newest episode.
The first time it happened Arthur was steadily becoming more confident in his role as Camelot's new ruler. So of course, the moment he began to gain some confidence in his position as absolute authority, a witch was accused and dragged before him for judgement. To say he was conflicted about this new event would be an understatement. He was going to find the cause of all this ego-undermining and stomp it underfoot until it lay twitching. And then maybe spear it with his sword, just for cautions sake.
He tried not to glare at the poor woman kneeling trembling at his feet. Her neighbour had seen her casting a spell to improve the harvest crop, which, if he was honest with himself, actually sounded pretty darn useful considering the poor quality of grain they'd gathered thus far. The well-meaning neighbour of course had promptly alerted the guards to this most deadly act of sorcery and they, being blind idiots who could never think for themselves, had seized the woman and brought her here. To him. How nice of them.
He sighed, resisting the urge to run a hand through his hair. Really, it hadn't been the guards fault; he never gave them any orders regarding this type of situation, mostly in an if-I-ignore-it-it'll-go-away type of reaction which was really very childish and ignorant of him. The neighbour on the other hand didn't look too scared about the evil sorcerer who used her magical powers of doom to harvest nice juicy crops. Probably just greedy for the land or a reward. Wait, was he supposed to give her a reward for ruining his day?
He cleared his throat, just because everyone seemed to be looking at him expectantly and it was something to do. Silence crept back, and he considered doing it again but that just seemed like overkill.
Glancing around he realized he was expected to say something after that and mentally slapped himself.
"You have been accused of…" he began hesitantly, unsure how to phrase his next words, "using…magic to improve your harvest." He paused after that, fighting to keep his face stern amidst the absurdity of it all. Thankfully the woman took his silence as a need to respond.
"Please my lord, I was only trying to spare enough food for my family, I never…"
The woman broke off, gasping into shuddering sobs at his feet. For the love of…he couldn't handle a crying woman! He was still trying to get his thoughts in order from all the incidences of magic he'd been subject to in his life. Call him crazy but he couldn't quite equate this poor mess of a peasant woman with the likes of Morgause or Nimueh.
He was very seriously contemplating just kicking them all out when he happened to glance across at Merlin, who had a look on his face that quite clearly conveyed 'to hell with it'. He could feel a headache coming on.
"Sire, can I say something?"
Merlin blatantly ignored the order, as he tended to do, and walked deliberately into the centre of the room to stand beside the kneeling woman. Letting his hand rest on her shoulder, he gave her what was obviously meant as a comforting smile when she looked up at him worriedly. The guards started forward hesitantly, but seemingly decided it wasn't worth it considering the insubordination Merlin generally showed without punishment. Arthur was fairly pleased at them for that, seemed they did have a head on their shoulders after all.
Well, he might as well hear what the moron had to say. They had already had several long and infuriating arguments, ahem discussions, over these matters, interspersed with insults and flying objects. Merlin was getting fairly good at dodging those actually; hopefully those knee-jerk reactions would help him avoid an arrow in the future. Anyway, his friends stance on the matter had been very clear, what on earth he thought he could add now was beyond Arthur.
"Sire, you remember I told you I'd trust you with my life."
It wasn't stated as a question, Merlin deliberately pointing out he still felt this way. And he kept referring to him as 'Sire', not 'Arthur'. Could be due to the throne room they were currently in, but Merlin never did really care for bootlicking. This didn't bode well.
Arthur watched him with narrowed eyes as Merlin responded with a faint smile. And then he cupped his hand in front of him and began murmuring under his breath. Arthur felt the completely rational urge to strangle him.
Even the woman went silent as the light began to twist in Merlins palm, condensing and swirling into a shimmering ball. The warlock let the magical sphere rise to float by his shoulder, just to ensure there was no doubt. Arthur watched the light, refusing to catch Merlins eye. Well, wasn't this a wonderful position to be in. Trust his idiot friend to force his hand. Merlin had practically tied himself to the woman now. Whatever Arthur did to her, he'd have to do to Merlin; or risk being called a hypocrite by him forevermore. He could have shaken his head in exasperation; the decision had been made for him.
"Merlin, I am going to kill you."
The woman looked up in alarm.
Merlin considered this, cocking his head to the side curiously, "literally, or figuratively?"
Arthur just groaned.