A/N: I don't own Merlin. Or Gwaine. But the rabbit(sorcerer) traps are mine...all mine.
Merlin glared at the stone wall, determined to blame it for all his troubles. The wall deserved it. Stupid, smug, chosen wall. Of all the corridors in the castle they had to place one of the blasted Blocks in his shortcut back to the physician's chambers. He thought he had this corridor all to himself too, hardly ever saw anyone wandering up and down it. He supposed that was the point; that they assumed all the sneaky sorcerers they planned to catch would lurk in the quiet out-of-the-way corridors. He thought of Morgause striding regally through the main section of the castle, crimson cloak billowing, and snorted in amusement. As though any hidden sorcerers were stupid enough to get trapped by placing invisible walls in quiet corridors. He looked up, realized he'd just insulted himself and wondered if he could melt the stonework through his glare alone. He could just blast the section of the stupid wall holding the enchantment, but Arthur might not be too happy about that. And there was always the chance that there were some guards placed nearby the Blocked corridor. They may be blind and as thick as Gauis' porridge but by the devil, they could hear. He'd kicked a stone down one of the back staircases once and a guard two floors up had come racing in, spear at the ready and nearly skewering him. They seemed convinced that any rolling stone, tipped barrel and dropped coin was a sign of sorcery. Then again, they never seemed to notice the evil smirks and caped harbingers of doom. So maybe he'd get away with blasting part of a wall to smithereens.
Merlin groaned, thumping his head back against the wall he was leaning on. Why Arthur had agreed to the eccentric hunter's demands, he would never know. Sure, he said it was to help the kingdom remain free from sorcery. He definitely seemed to believe the 'evil curse' of magic would never dare touch him. Oh no; no, he simply had a knack for raising what amounted to invisible over-sized rabbit traps in perfectly working corridors. Arthur told Merlin that he thought the hunter was, in his own words, "one cat short of a litter". Merlin didn't have a clue what that meant, until Arthur explained it meant the man had a bag full of kittens for a brain and to stop being an idiot and fetch his dinner. In the interest of "not letting the kittens run wild when the bag breaks", Arthur had allowed the man to offer his 'protection' for the castle corridors given he listened to the knight's advice for where best to place the 'defences'. Merlin thought the metaphor was on its last legs when Arthur referred to sending the man to Gaius so he could "collar the kittens before someone decided to put them out of their misery of being locked in a sack". Arthur disagreed and successfully won the argument by slamming his helmet onto Merlin's head.
Stretching to work the stiffness out of his legs, Merlin wondered if there was any sort of time-limit for the demon walls. If not, he may have to resort to explosions after all. That would be fun to explain to Arthur. "The castle really needed an extension; it's not as though we have enough empty rooms for all the servants to clean, I was just encouraging you to start work on the building. How did it happen? I had Gwaine burp and held a candle in front of him. All that alcohol on the breath you know, just, BANG!"
Seemingly summoned by the very thought of his name, Gwaine appeared, strutting down the corridor in all his knightly glory. Merlin considered jumping to his feet as if to continue his journey. Then he realised he wouldn't be able to pass either way down the corridor now he'd entered the infernal Block (oversized rabbit trap) and that it would only be a lot of effort for nothing. So he just looked up at Gwaine as the knight came to stand beside him, offering a cheery "Hello!"
"What you still doing here, mate? I would have thought you'd finished ages ago." Gwaine grinned, tilting to let his shoulder rest against the stupid wall.
Merlin forced a grimace onto his face, not hard to achieve considering he'd been sitting in the same devil corridor so long his backside had gone numb. "Arthur wanted me to finish cleaning his replacement armour, but he had to find where I'd hidden it first. I'm camping out here so he can't get me to work the whole night when he realizes it's under his bed. Spent at least half-an-hour looking before I slipped out."
Gwaine guffawed, clapping his friend heartedly on the shoulder. A determined gleam grew in his eye, and Merlin groaned when he realised he'd given the knight an opening.
"There are much better ways to spend a night my friend, than camping in a cold hallway."
"Gwaine, I'm not going to-"
"To the tavern, my good man!"
Merlin yelped as a grip on his arm hauled him to his feet. Staggering slightly as the blood rushed back to his legs it took him a moment to realise Gwaine was leading him towards the corridor exit. "No, really," he tried, "you know what happened the last time; I couldn't look that poor girl in the eye for a month." He twisted his elbow out from under the knight's hand, only to feel a muscled arm drape over his shoulders and pull him forwards.
"The corridors really quiet, perfect to just hide and nap actually, and I've always loved the cold, really…refreshing, gets the heart relaxed."
"Merlin, you are coming to get absolutely sloshed, and you are going to enjoy it. I bet a gold coin that the next time you were in the tavern you'd be dancing on the table by the third drink; last time it took you four so I want you to really try and impress me tonight. I don't know what your heartfelt relationship with this corridor is, but I promise you I will find a - no, two – lovely drunk girls that will make you forget all about the poor lonely corridor and ensure you can't look them in the eye again ever. You chickened out last time, but dammit, this time we're going to do it right."
Merlin felt the thrumming warning as they drew closer to the invisible barrier and wondered if Gwaine's horror and/or opening for magical mischief were worth using his magic to prevent him ramming face-first into what he knew would feel as solid as a steel door. Oblivious to the warlock's internal conundrum, Gwaine continued his monologue on the wonders of tavern life.
"…and once Perce appears with that chicken then we can get started on the entertainment of the night. Fenra's supposed to have some real exotic strong stuff tonight," Gwaine felt his friend flinch under his hold and try to push backwards, "nah, that's just for the regulars, don't worry; you don't need it anyhow, a couple tankards of the regular draught can send you under for the rest of the night!" Gwaine proclaimed easily. He was rewarded with a tentative smile and Merlin glancing curiously back down the corridor they had just left.
"Alright," Merlin murmured, losing the sense of the Block as soon as they'd passed through it, the magical signature disappearing from his mind. "Gwaine, you…" he switched his gaze from the corridor back to the knight. Felt the heavy arm still draped across his shoulders. "Of course," he whispered under his breath, "like a rabbit trap, you need a release…" He glanced back up at the knight. "Gwaine, you…" he wondered how the knight would respond to his saying thank-you for rescuing him from an ordinary hallway, identical to almost every other in the castle, "…you want to…tavern. Alright. We can…tavern. Alright."
If the knight's answering grin was any indication, Merlin's final agreement was the best response he could have given.