"Bloody Hell Arthur."

"Bloody hell Arthur, could you not manage to get the clothes at least on the bed? Oh no, instead they are all over the floor, covered in last night's banquet..." grumbled Merlin. "You really are completely useless and yet you have the nerve to call me that..."

Even though the Prince was not in the room Merlin still enjoyed a good whinge. Afterall it made him feel better and that (he reasoned) made him a better servant!

Merlin had only been gone 5 days, on the trip with Gaius to help a small village on the outskirts of the Kingdom. 5 days, and the Prince had managed to turn his room into a disaster area. Merlin really didn't know how he achieved it in such a short space of time. He was beginning to suspect Arthur actually did it on purpose just to rile his manservant.

"Well, if that's your intention then it's working you prat" the young man complained.

For a moment Merlin was seriously tempted to use his magic to tidy the room but he had promised Gaius. No magic for unimportant things. And knowing his luck, this would be the one day that Arthur would find it in his heart to let the knights off training early, and then he'd burst into the room and discover Merlin's secret. No, despite the temptation, it was best just to do it the normal way.

It took him four hours but finally it was finished, just a last handful of clothes to take to the laundry and the room was once more fit for a Prince. Merlin sighed with relief. Perhaps tonight he might actually finish work early enough to eat dinner with Gaius and have some free time to study his magic books.

One last quick look around the room and he'd be finis...

"Bloody Hell Arthur, you really are the limit."

Merlin yelled as he spied at least 2 shirts and some very old and mouldy looking food kicked beneath the bed. Cursing under his breath (about spoilt brats of Prince's who didn't deserve good servants) Merlin dropped to his knees and crawled under the bed.

He immediately wished he hadn't. God, what a nightmare! He crawled further under and began to try and reclaim some of the hundreds of decaying and abandoned objects that had ended their days under the dark recess of Arthur's bed.

So engrossed did he become (mainly in trying to decide what precisely the mystery food was that he had just found under an upturned plate) that Merlin did not hear the chamber door open and someone enter. He only became aware of a presence in the room when a drawer was opened and he heard someone begin to search through it.

Merlin was just about to begin berating Arthur from under the bed; (perhaps that might even scare the Prince into keeping things tidier - if he thought the mess under there had actually given rise to a talking rubbish demon) when the person in the room dropped something and swore.

At once Merlin's loud admonishment died on his lips. It was not Arthur. It was not Gwen. It wasn't even brass loving George. In fact he could have sworn that he had never heard the voice before. Some stranger was in Arthur's chamber, going though his things and Merlin knew he'd have to do something about it before Arthur returned.

Crawling as quietly as possible through the detritus, Merlin carefully looked out from under the bed to see a powerfully built man putting something small and metallic looking into Arthur's clothes drawer. Even from under the bed Merlin could sense the evil emanating from the amulet. It was obviously something that was meant to harm Arthur and, quite simply, Merlin knew he had to remove it.

Merlin pointed his arm and began to incant a spell but he hadn't counted on there being two strangers in the room. The second person was standing beside the bed and, on seeing Merlin's arm, quickly stamped on it. Merlin yelled and jumped up – sadly forgetting he was under the bed. Smashing his head on the hard wooden base he was stunned and his vision blurred.

He felt himself being pulled out from his hopeless hiding place and then being thrown to the floor. He looked up and, as his sight began to return to normal, he saw the two men. One was stocky and muscular and the other was small and wiry. Sensing where the true danger lay Merlin immediately turned his attention to the latter man. He may not have looked that dangerous but he exuded raw power and malevolence.

"What have we here then? A little servant trying to play the hero? Trying to save his master? Do you think saving the son of a murderer is a fitting way to pass your time? Would you like a reward for your vigilance, hey, lad?" The smaller man nodded quickly at his companion and Merlin guessed what was coming next.

The heavyset man grinned at his compatriot's words and at the nod began to kick Merlin's prone body. Kick after kick smashed into the youth as he tried to protect his face and his stomach by curing up into a ball, his arms trapped and his face to the floor. The pain seemed to last forever and breathing was becoming harder and harder. A detached part of Merlin's brain wondered if his body or the man's booted foot would give out first.

The next kick connected with Merlin's shoulder and rolled him over onto his back; agony coursing through him, Merlin could barely move.

But move he did – raising his arm he sent a powerful wave of magic directly at his abuser. The man was blown off his feet and landed unconscious right in front of his leader, who was stunned into silence at the unexpected display of magic.

Merlin took advantage of the thin man's momentary surprise and managed to pull himself shakily to his feet. Holding out his arm he pointed directly at him.

"Who are you? What are you doing in Arthur's room?

"It little matters who I am. I am just one of the few survivors of the evil that has infected this land during Uther's time. As to what I am doing, I would have thought that to be obvious. To kill a Pendragon is to do the whole World a service and I will achieve it."

The man lunged towards the drawer and pulled out the small object and held it out in front of him. It radiated such foul and loathsome waves of corrupt magic that Merlin experienced intense feelings of nausea and disgust that nearly made him collapse.

"With this I will kill his son and infect the whole of his Kingdom. You and your paltry magic cannot stop me, boy."

"I offer you one chance" Merlin said quietly "One chance to leave and never return."

"I am a sorcerer boy, more powerful than you could know. Simply party tricks and childish spells do not scare me." The thin man sneered and slowly held out the amulet "I was intending the Crown Prince to be its first victim but you will do just as well to begin the spread of the plague it contains." And he began his incantation.

Merlin closed his eyes for the briefest of moments; he hated the lengths he had to go to in order to protect Arthur and Camelot. Then opening them he said sadly "So be it."

His eyes glowed an elemental gold and he stood tall and proud, as if another being had taken his place. Around him the air turned luminous and a lustrous blue light left his finger tips.

The thin man looked up incredulously and saw his death approaching. There was nothing he could do to prevent it and his scream seared through Merlin's soul.

An explosion of colour and light, magic and noise filled the room and all was chaos. A crushing wave of unshaking enchantment flowed from Merlin's hand and destroyed all in its path. The two men turned to dust and the harmful amulet imploded into itself, pulling all its evil pestilence down into nothing.

Merlin lowered his hand, looked at the anarchy and disarray that surrounded him and gave in to the darkness that was calling. Pain and exhaustion dragged him down into an oblivious sleep...

"Merlin, what the...?" Arthur stood by the door to his room and surveyed the bedlam that had claimed his chambers. Then he spied the manservant, apparently fast asleep on his bed! Striding over to the offending servant Arthur grabbed him and pulled him off the bed.

Merlin woke as the hands took hold of him and had just enough presence of mind to realise it was Arthur and not another potential threat; luckily avoiding a very difficult to explain magical spell.

"Would you care to explain this?" Arthur pointed all around and Merlin looked. The place was a mess, worse than when he'd arrived just over four hours ago.

"You've been away for a week and yet you have the impudence to come to my room, ignore the mess and fall asleep on MY bed. What do you have to say for yourself?"

Merlin stared at the mess, thought about what he'd been through and (just for a second) contemplated telling Arthur about his magic. But instead he just muttered "Bloody Hell Arthur" under his breath, closed his eyes against the searing headache that had settled in for the day and began to clean up while the Prince ranted on.

"One day" Merlin thought "One day..."

XXX

A/N

Just a little one-shot to while away a very boring lunch hour. I do not own Merlin.