AN: YAY! This is my first Merlin fanfiction! I'm so excited but nervous too. I haven't written in awhile and normally I like to have all or most of the story written before I post it but I decided I wanted some input from the fans.
This story is basically about Arthur always knowing about Merlin from the near beginning but Merlin not knowing that Arthur knows. So the show would be basically the same and then I would just change the ending probably.
Originally when I came up with this idea I was going to walk through each and every episode… and then I realized how long that would take so I decided just to do the ones that I thought were important. However if you want to read a particular episode from the opinion of Arthur in this alternate universe please let me know and I'll add it in.
When I came up with this idea I was under the impression that the poisoned chalice episode came before the Mark of Nimueh… so this first chapter might not turn out as well as I liked but I still think it's a good idea and I'm going to try to write it.
Description: Of course Arthur had always known almost from the beginning, he waited years to hear these words, he just wished they had come at a different time, under better circumstances. Kind of an alternate ending to the show with a bit of AU thrown in here and there and a couple added scenes to fit the fic.
Of course Arthur had known almost from the beginning. Despite what Merlin might think he wasn't a complete idiot. Yet time and time again they played the game where Merlin kept a secret and Arthur pretended not to already know. Now as he stared into the eyes of the man who had become his closest friend he only wished one of them had said something much sooner.
When Merlin had first come to town Arthur and him had not gotten off to a great start. Merlin for some reason, although probably never being royal in his whole life seemed to think himself the greatest person in the world. Arthur could not fathom it and at first it had greatly irritated him. Then the idiot had saved his life and his father made him Arthur's manservant against both of their wills.
Arthur never would have guessed it and his father probably would not either, but it was the wisest decision the King had ever made. Still, in the beginning he was an awful servant, he had no idea what he was doing, his first few days happened to coincide with the days of a tournament.
Arthur continued to try and dislike Merlin as much as possible but the boy's constant rambling and distracting bickering actually helped calm Arthur's nerves during the tournament and then he had saved Arthur's life… again.
If Arthur had not known about the snakes the fight might have gone much differently and so it was at the end of the day that Arthur rehired the servant, deciding in the end that he liked him after all.
It was more than mere liking however, Arthur trusted Merlin. Merlin put everything on the line even speaking up in the court in order to try and save Arthur. Like he had told Merlin before, he needed a servant he could trust, and he trusted Merlin without a doubt.
So it was a few days later when he found out, well, Merlin actually told him, told everyone in fact. The plague was running rampant through the kingdom, people were dying left and right, Guinevere had been accused of sorcery and Merlin barges into the room and confesses.
Arthur could only stare at Merlin with a stupid look on his face as he prattled on about not letting Gwen die for him and placing himself at their mercy blah blah blah. While he was saying all this, however, Arthur's mind was reeling through the possibilities. The way that Merlin had magically appeared next to Arthur and pulled him out of the way of the dagger, the way that the snakes had suddenly popped out of Valiant's shield and the way the father of the girl Merlin secretly had a crush on suddenly recovered from a deadly illness.
At first he felt angry, angrier than he could express but it lasted only a few seconds because magic was supposed to be evil, which is why he was upset that Merlin was using it, but when he thought about it he knew there couldn't be an evil bone in his servant's body. There was no way that Merlin was evil or that he could do something evil. Arthur had long suspected that magic wasn't evil either, just a tool that could be used, like a sword. While the main purpose of a sword was meant to harm that didn't make it evil. Arthur thought magic might be like that, and now that Merlin admitted to it he was all the more convinced.
He heard his father speaking, processing the words and suddenly he felt his heart jump, he couldn't let this happen, he had to help Merlin. He still owed him his life and so before he knew what he was saying Arthur was speaking.
"Father, please. I can't allow this, this is madness! There is no way Merlin is a sorcerer!" Okay that was a good start.
"Did you not hear him?" His father asked relaxing back in his mighty chair.
"Yes…" Arthur's brain scrambled for some kind of defense for Merlin.
"He admitted it." His father said surprisingly calm.
"He saved my life remember." It was a long shot but he was hoping that this fact would somehow reach some part of his father's morality.
"Why should he fabricate such a story?" Uther asked.
"As. . . Gaius says, he's got a grave… mental disease." Oh great where did that come from?
"Really?" His father asked leaning forward in interest, obviously expecting Arthur to elaborate. Arthur nodded and tapped his hand trying to figure out what to say next. He glanced over at Merlin and got an idea.
"He's in love."
"What?" Merlin's surprised voice cut in.
"With Gwen!" It was only partially untrue right? Merlin was a sorcerer but he certainly seemed to have feelings for Gwen.
"I am not!" Apparently Merlin was going to make this difficult.
"Yes you are." He directed the words at Merlin but the tone was clearly speaking something else mainly "Idiot, shut up."
"No way!" Arthur remembered something.
"I saw you yesterday with that flower she had given you."
"But" Merlin hissed out a laugh until he looked around and saw that the room actually seemed to be agreeing with Arthur and started to panic, "I'm not in love with her!"
"It's alllll right. You can admit it." Arthur said feeling the mood of the room and changing his tone to a more teasing one.
"I don't even think of her like that!" Why couldn't the idiot just shut up?
"Perhaps she cast a spell on you." His father suddenly cut in. Merlin and Arthur both went quiet, staring at Uther in anticipation of what he would say next. He started chuckling and a few in the room joined in. Arthur smiled knowing now that he was successful.
"Merlin is a wonder, but the wonder is that he's such an idiot! There's no way he's a sorcerer." The last bit was directed more at Merlin than anyone else. He looked his servant straight in the eye letting him know the full inflection of that warning.
"Don't waste my time again, let him go." Merlin trudged out of the room despondently and Arthur turned his attention back to the meeting.
A few hours later he found him in Arthur's chambers, tidying the place up. He had no idea what to say… what he should say. He wanted to yell at the boy, ask him how he could be so stupid, and then he wanted to ask all sorts of questions to satisfy his curiosity and then part of him just wanted to pretend it never happened.
He stood at the door, staring at Merlin until his servant looked up. "Sire." he said bowing his head slightly, it was cold, short, cut off. He was angry at Arthur for keeping him from saving Guinevere.
"So Merlin. . ." Arthur started awkwardly. "What happened in the council chamber. . ." He started, hesitating, waiting for Merlin to explain himself. He was sure the boy knew he knew. Arthur's acting hadn't been top notch in there, he was surprised his father had even bought it.
"I'm sorry. . ." Merlin said. "About that. You're right, I just got carried away in my feelings for Gwen." Merlin fiddled with a shirt he was holding and Arthur just stared at him. The idiot didn't know he knew, Merlin actually thought that Arthur believed he was in love with Gwen and that was why he did it. Arthur might even believe that if he hadn't observed all the magical things that seemed to happen around both Merlin and Arthur since the boy arrived in Camelot.
"I'm not in love with her though." He said quickly. "She's just a friend." He looked down again, fiddling with a button. "I didn't want to see her die though."
Arthur was quiet for a long time, just staring at Merlin, trying to decide what to do. What to say. Merlin obviously didn't trust him, that wasn't why he had barged into the council chamber, he did it to save Gwen's life.
Arthur was surprised to realize that he trusted Merlin nearly more than any other person other than perhaps his father or Morgana but he even had to be careful around them. Around Merlin he could say whatever he wanted and he could trust Merlin not to judge him. Make fun of him? Yes. Insult him? Yes. But not judge him. He wanted Merlin to trust him the same way, maybe someday when he did he would confess his magic to Arthur and when that day came, Arthur knew he would deserve it, but he wouldn't force the issue. He would wait until Merlin was ready.
"Well you are an idiot." Arthur mumbled and turned away to sit down at his desk and write something down. Merlin continued to bustle about, doing what he was supposed to do, Arthur watched him out of the corner of his eye and wondered how long he would have to wait.