Warning: spoilers for Season 5.
Tag: 5x09 - With All My Heart

An: So I'm back again with some flash fiction inspired by the latest episode. It confused and annoyed me a little, even though I did enjoy it. One minute, Arthur is practically jumping off a cliff to see if Merlin is okay and the next, he's supposedly forgotten him completely. Hello? Anyway, here it is. Sorry if there are any mistakes; no beta and no editing.

Please enjoy. If I get five reviews, I'll do another one. Just, you know, as an incentive.

Merlin was used to lying. He was also used to going to extreme lengths to protect Arthur. But this? This was insane.

It was Gaius's fault, of course. It usually was. After all, it was because of Gaius that Arthur thought he was always in the tavern. It was also because of Gaius that he was now carrying a dress hidden in a satchel, preparing himself to transform into a woman because all Gaius ever seemed to do was put Merlin's foot in it. Again.

Leon had done it once, something he tried to console himself with, but it didn't help much. Leon hadn't needed to explain himself except with the simple words of, 'I needed to get past Morgana's men.'

Merlin, however, knew that if Arthur ever saw him carrying such an item, he would be teased mercilessly and would probably also manage to make things worse than they already were which would be hard. Then again, he had been caught with a dress twice before, once when he was 'borrowing' a dress for Freya so that she could retain her modest and again more recently when he had tried to match one of Gwen's dresses to the scrap of silk he'd found in the forest.

Merlin glanced around. The rock that surrounded them was bleak and miserable but the lake itself was magnificent. Its water was almost as beautiful as that of Freya's lake.

"Where's the sorceress?" Arthur asked, interrupting his thoughts. The blond haired man had placed Gwen on the ground, close to the water. He was looking around as if Merlin's mythical sorceress would just suddenly appear.

"Gaius says she's a recluse," Merlin said quickly. "She shuns the company of men."

"Well she's going to have to make an exception. We haven't got much time. Guinevere could wake up at any moment."

"We've got more tincture…"

"No!" Arthur shook his head. "No more, I won't risk it. We have to find her."

Merlin grabbed the topmost satchel, thankful that he now had an excuse to be out of Arthur's sight for long enough to do what he had to do. "I'll go search her out."

He took a step away from the king and his wife, his thoughts racing. His pride was telling him not to do this, to just turn around to Arthur and say, 'Hey, Arthur, about that sorceress…" but his brain was telling him that doing that would lead to certain death.

Then, as if fate was trying to tell him something, the satchel strap broke and the dress fell to the floor. Merlin froze, then glanced over to Arthur. The young king's eyebrows had risen to new heights and Merlin cursed silently. He bent down and started to stuff the cloth back into the bag hurriedly.

"You didn't think this was going to be free, did you?" he said after a split second of hesitation where he tried to think of something to say.

"What are you talking about?"

Merlin thanked the gods that he'd learnt to think quickly in his years in Camelot. "The sorceress - she likes to be paid in clothes." He stood up and shouldered the satchel. "She can't get to a tailer."

"Why would a recluse be interested in clothes?" Arthur asked incredulously.

It was typical. The great prat couldn't even dress himself, barely noticed when Merlin came back after a short disappearance with some new, unexplained injury - which happened far more often than it should - and only ever found it in himself to be observant when it came to spotting Merlin's lies.

"I don't know, Arthur," he said in a tone that was only slightly patronising. "She's a sorceress, she's not going to be normal, is she?"

And then he went off to change because, damn pride to hell, he had a king to protect and a friend to save and nothing would ever come between that.