It's Me Or Him
Takes place in the fifth season when Gwen is still being possessed by Morgana. Gwen gives Arthur an ultimatum. He has to choose between the love of his life and his best friend. What will he choose?
This is not a slash. It is a story of friendship. One-shot.
Arthur flagged down a guard stationed outside his door. "Can you fetch Merlin? He's probably in the armory," Arthur told him. The guard nodded and promptly left.
Arthur closed the door and turned to face his disgruntled wife. "I've had enough of this Arthur," she said in an angry voice.
"Had enough of what?" Arthur asked, legitimately confused. He wracked his brain, trying to figure out what he had done wrong. Gwen had been moody and angry for several days now. Ever since Elyan died. Arthur could understand her sorrow, but he didn't understand why she would take it out on him. He had been more than understanding when she had almost gotten Merlin killed by accusing him of trying to kill him.
"Every time you need something, you turn to Merlin. You seek his council over mine. Is that not what your wife should do? Should you not put me first?" Gwen asked him.
"Of course I put you first," Arthur said, more boggled than he was before.
"Then put me first now. I don't want him to be your manservant anymore," Gwen said seriously.
Arthur's eyes nearly popped out of his head. "I can't do that Gwen," Arthur told her. He really couldn't. He would never admit it out loud, but Merlin had become much more than his manservant. He was Arthur's friend and confident. He wasn't afraid to tell Arthur how stupid and pigheaded he was being. Arthur loved Gwen and valued her opinions, but she wasn't Merlin.
Gwen sighed angrily. "You have to make a choice Arthur. It's me or him," she told him.
Just then Merlin walked in. "Good evening sire," he said in a cheery voice. Then he seemed to notice the tension in the room. "The guard told me you wanted to see me… I could come back."
"That will not be necessary," Gwen said, shooting Merlin an angry look. "I was heading out." She turned and left their chambers without giving Arthur a second glance.
Arthur slumped in a seat at the tabled, staring at the spot, where only moments ago, Gwen had given him the ultimate ultimatum.
"My lord? Is everything alright?" Merlin asked hesitantly.
Arthur nodded his head unconvincingly. "Yes, everything is fine. I just need you to tidy my chambers," Arthur lied. Merlin had scrubbed his chambers earlier than morning.
"Arthur," Merlin said in his 'stop lying and just tell me the truth' voice. "What's wrong?"
"I think there's something wrong with Gwen," Arthur said quietly. Merlin stiffened, something Arthur did not miss. "You know what it is, don't you?"
Merlin looked at the ground. "I know nothing my lord," Merlin lied.
"Merlin, you really can't keep a secret if you're life depended on it," Arthur told him, rolling his eyes. Merlin raised his eyebrows at Arthur. If only he knew. "What do you know?"
Merlin struggled to come up with a convincing lie. "The Gwen I know would never accuse me of trying to kill you," he said in a weak voice.
Arthur looked at Merlin concerned. "What aren't you telling me?" He asked.
"What aren't you telling me?" Merlin retorted.
Arthur sighed. "Right before you got here… Gwen, well Gwen did something that wasn't very Gwenish," Arthur explained.
"Gwenish?" Merlin asked, raising his eyebrows.
"Shut up Merlin," Arthur said tiredly.
"What did she do?" Merlin pressed.
"She told me I had to choose," Arthur said, looking at the floor.
"Choose?" Merlin asked obliviously.
"Between you and her," Arthur told him quietly.
There was a long, long silence. Merlin took a deep breath. "Well, it's been an honor serving you these past ten years sire," Merlin said.
Arthur looked up confused. "What are you going on about?" He asked.
"I don't expect you to choose me over your wife. She's your soul mate. I'm just your manservant," Merlin told him. Merlin was trying to hide the pain in his voice. Arthur was his friend and his destiny. While he would never truly be able to leave Arthur, he knew Arthur would choose Gwen. Merlin wanted him to choose Gwen.
"You're not just my manservant," Arthur told him. "You are my friend Merlin. I'm sorry I've said otherwise all these years, but you truly are. You are my friend. You are someone I can trust."
"But it's not enough," Merlin whispered.
"She's not the Gwen I know," Arthur said quietly.
"But you still love her," Merlin pointed out.
"Merlin, I will always choose you over her," Arthur said seriously. "You are my best friend. You really are my only true friend. Don't doubt that."
Merlin felt himself smiling despite the seriousness of their conversation. Then a sober expression came across his face. "I'll help you figure out what's wrong with Gwen," Merlin promised. "We'll get the real Gwen back."
Arthur squeezed Merlin's shoulder appreciatively. For a manservant, Merlin really was the bravest man Arthur knew. He was lucky to have him.