A/N: Hi guys! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you like! I would like to send out a HUGE thanks to my sister, Laree England for her help with this story. I couldn't have done it without you!
Warning: Excessive fluff. Proceed with caution.
Disclaimer: Me no own Merlin.
Chapter 1: In which Merlin defends Arthur
Merlin swore that never in his entire life had he seen so many nobles in one place. Lords, ladies, knights, and countless other people bearing regal titles had flooded into Camelot to celebrate the crowning of a new king and pay their respects to the recently deceased Uther. Currently, they were all stuffed into the main hall, enjoying a quite lavish banquet.
Merlin stood near the head table, just behind Arthur, and watched what could only be described as controlled chaos. Servants bustled about in a frenzy, constantly refilling a goblet, cleaning up a mess, replenishing a food platter, or sometimes doing all three at once. The nobles sat and chatted while they ate, a hundred different conversations going on at once.
After emptying the last of the wine into Arthur's waiting goblet, Merlin weaved his way through the copious chairs, nobles, and servants until he finally arrived at the back of the banquet hall and grabbed a full wine jug. Turning around and heaving a great sigh, the servant began making the laborious journey back to the other end of the room.
"Oh, don't even get me started on Arthur." The disdainful way the noble- Lord Carac, if Merlin recalled- caught the warlock's ear. He stopped, listening to the lord's rant, becoming more and more enraged by the second. "He's no more than a boy playing soldiers if you ask me. No where near fit to be king." the lord proclaimed pompously to the nobles sitting around him as he picked at the food from his overstuffed plate. "Honestly, he just doesn't have what it takes. One must rule a kingdom with a strong hand," he clenched his pudgy fingers into a fist and shook it for emphasis. "And Arthur? Well, he seems rather weak. With how naïve and hotheaded the boy is though, we may just get lucky and he'll go and get himself killed off before long!"
When Lord Carac laughed jovially at the thought, Merlin felt his anger rise to dangerous levels and he decided that he could not let this slide.
"You're wrong!" the servant shouted, throwing down the wine jug and silencing the room as the yell and loud clatter caught everyone's attention.
"What was that, boy?" Carac asked lowly as he turned his massive frame around to face Merlin.
"You're wrong!" Merlin repeated angrily. "King Arthur is more than fit to rule this kingdom. He is strong, brave, and truehearted, and he is more noble than you could ever claim to be!" A small voice in the back of Merlin's head was telling him that he really shouldn't be yelling at a noble in the middle of a banquet, but that voice was drowned out by the much louder voice that was screaming that absolutely no one insulted his king. "Arthur is the best man I've ever known! He would die for any citizen of Camelot in a heartbeat and has shown more loyalty towards this kingdom than anyone else I have ever met. King Arthur is my friend and your king and you will show him some respect."
As Merlin finished his rather loud rant, he remained where he was standing, staring Lord Carac dead in the eye and trembling with rage. The room was so quiet one could hear the rustling of the ladies' skirts as they shifted uncomfortably in their seats. Finally, after what felt like ages, Lord Carac broke the tense silence.
"See? The man can't even keep his servant's from speaking out of turn!"
Murmurs and whispers shot around the room before Arthur, finally getting over his shock, stood and raised a hand to catch everyone's attention.
"Merlin," the king began calmly. "go wait outside."
Merlin looked as if he was about to protest, but thought better of it and lowered his head in a single nod, turned around, and strode quietly out of the hall, closing the door with a soft thud behind him. Lord Carac was once again the first to speak.
"My fellow nobles," he began, looking around the room for support. "servants need to be kept in their place! They must be reminded that those places are in washrooms, serving food, and cleaning up afterwards. Not expressing their opinions like that!" the lord spat out his words as if the mere thought of servants having any sort of opinion was outrageous and repulsive as he gestured wildly around the room. "If a king cannot keep his insubordinates under control in his own castle, how could he expect the rest of his people to know that their place is lower than our own?"
Arthur took a deep, calming breath through his nose. He'd be damned if he smote a lord during his first feast as king. "I believe, Lord Carac, that a king's true worth can be determined by the way he treats those who serve him." Once again, whispers flew around the room. "Now," Arthur fixed Lord Carac with a heated glare. "if you will excuse me, I am going to go talk. To my servant. As an equal. As they should be treated. Does anyone have any problems with that?" Silence permeated the room. "Good." With that, Arthur nodded to the nobles with an authoritative glint in his eye, and strode out of the hall, leaving the nobles to stare after him in shock and something not too far from respect.
Arthur quietly opened the door and stepped out of the room, his gaze immediately falling on his manservant, who stood up from where he had been sitting, leaned up against the wall.
The two men just stared each other for a moment, neither knowing quite what to say. Then, in one sudden, swift motion, the king stepped forward and gathered the younger man in his arms, enveloping him in a tight embrace.
"A-Arthur?" Merlin stuttered, surprised by the sudden show of affection. The blonde only gripped the fabric of Merlin's jacket securely in his hands and shook his head.
"No man… in my whole life… has ever done anything close to what you just did for me." hearing the tremor in the older man's voice, Merlin finally managed to raise his arms and return the hug, letting his head fall forward to rest on Arthur's shoulder. "Why would you say those things, Merlin? People have been executed for doing less."
Merlin lifted his head and looked at the other man with a small, proud smile playing on his lips. "Because they're true, Arthur. And because you're worth it."
Arthur's only response was to put a hand to the back of Merlin's head and hold that incredibly idiotic, loyal, brave, extraordinary stick of a person tighter against his chest, thank his lucky stars and anyone who may be listening for Merlin, and whisper almost too softly to hear, "You're the best man I've ever known too, Merlin."
A/N: Well, that's the first chapter! I did warn you about the excessive fluff, yes? Sorry about any OOCness, but anything in the name of feels! Let me know what you think and stay tuned for chapter 2: In which Arthur defends Merlin! It should be up later today! Defense