AN: So I was originally just going to make it a one-shot but I got the idea to write it from Arthur's POV and then someone suggested it in a review as well and I decided what the heck.
Anyway hope you enjoy.
It really was a dumb way to spend the morning… trudging through the forest searching for his lost manservant. He was the king after all, he shouldn't be doing things like this. Although Arthur did realize if he had asked any of his knights to go search for the wayward servant they would have done it in a heartbeat.
Honestly he was concerned. Merlin should have been back hours ago. At first when he awoke, way later than he was supposed to, he had just been annoyed. Merlin often disappeared, usually to the tavern, or so Gaius said but Arthur never did find him there, but other than that Merlin was reliable even if he was the worst manservant in the five kingdoms. His annoyance had grown as he had been forced to get changed on his own and was several hours late to the council meeting which didn't even happen. Arthur thought over the events of the morning.
Part of him had been glad that the meeting was postponed, it had meant that he could get some training in with his knights. So it was with a chipper step that he walked to the training yard, he met Guinevere on the way, he hadn't seen her that morning, she normally woke before he did and had her own responsibilities to attend to.
"Arthur!" She said with a bright smile on her face. "I expected you to still be in the council meeting." She said after she had embraced and kissed him quickly in the hall.
"Well I ended up waking up late. My lazy manservant never showed up for work today." Arthur said angrily.
Gwen frowned. "That's not like Merlin." she said worriedly.
Arthur shrugged. "He does this from time to time." Arthur stated. "I've tried to discourage it, he usually ends up in the tavern for a few days."
Guinevere frowned. "I'll ask around and maybe stop in to see Gaius and see if he knows where he is." Arthur wanted to protest but he had to admit he was slightly worried himself so he just nodded his thanks and gave her one last loving kiss before moving on towards the training yard.
Leon, Elyan, and Percival were there and they smiled happily at their king. "Good morning, sire!" Leon called out cheerily approaching to greet his king. Percival and Elyan followed. Gwaine was not with them for some reason.
"Where is Sir Gwaine? Shirking out of his responsibilities again?" The king asked though his tone wasn't dangerous but light and joking, the other knights smiled.
"There was a slight training accident." Leon said, at Arthur's frown of concern he added, "He's fine, but he went to see Gaius, just an injury to the arm that might have him out of commission a day or two."
Arthur nodded at this, he didn't feel the need to pry or search out and scold whoever was responsible, first of all he knew that accidents happened while training and sometimes you couldn't avoid them and second of all Leon was his right hand man and he trusted him to keep things in line whenever he wasn't there. Leon looked behind Arthur, he noticed the other two knights doing the same. "Merlin's not joining you for training this morning?" Leon asked. Arthur almost rolled his eyes. How was it that he couldn't have on conversation without Merlin being brought up?
"No the idiot seems to be missing in action." Arthur grumbled, he didn't miss the looks of concern that flashed across all the knights faces, this was honestly getting ridiculous. "Guinevere is trying to track him down for me." The knights visibly relaxed at this news and Arthur decided to get on with training.
He was about to start drilling the knights when he saw Guinevere again from across the training grounds. She had a frown on her face and was moving towards Arthur quickly. He excused himself to meet with her halfway.
"What's wrong?" He asked.
She hesitated just a moment, inspecting him as if trying to figure out how he would react to what she had to tell him. "Merlin went to pick herbs for Gaius early this morning." She said. "He hasn't returned."
Arthur berated himself for the concern he was feeling. Knowing Merlin he probably just got sidetracked. "Did Gaius say when he was supposed to return?" Arthur asked.
Gwen shook her head. "I didn't speak with Gaius, I spoke with Gwaine. He's concerned and is planning on heading out to find him as we speak."
Arthur frowned. Gwaine was easily concerned, especially when it came to Merlin. The knight was far too protective of the no good lump. "I'm sure he's fine Gwen."
Guinevere didn't look convinced. "I think you should send someone to look for him Arthur. It's not like him, what if he was injured?" She asked.
Arthur sighed but simply held up a hand to halt her protests and nodded. "Alright. I'll go check on him myself, I don't have any other pressing matters and if he is fine then I don't want anyone to witness what I'm going to do to him anyway." Arthur joked.
Despite the words Guinevere picked up on his tone and smiled thankfully at him. "Thank you, Arthur." She said because as much as he was doing it for Merlin he was also doing it because Gwen had asked him too.
Arthur moved quickly to the courtyard where he saw Sir Gwaine trying to saddle up his horse with one arm. "Sir Gwaine what do you think you're doing?" He asked.
"I'm going to find Merlin." Gwaine said, his voice determined.
"I'm going to kill that idiot." Arthur murmured loud enough for Gwaine to hear. "I can't afford to have him distracting my knights, especially from important things like healing." Arthur pushed Gwaine lightly on the shoulder causing the knight to wince in order to prove his point.
"You're not going to stop me." Gwaine said dangerously. "Merlin might be in trouble."
Arthur threw his hands up. "And he might be perfectly fine. He's Merlin!" The king said.
Gwaine didn't respond to that. "I'm going to find him." He said stubbornly.
Arthur sighed. "Sir Gwaine, I'm ordering you to stay here and rest." He held up a hand as Gwaine opened his mouth to protest. "I will ride out and see if I can find Merlin, I could do with a ride after being stuck inside all week anyway."
Gwaine still looked like he wanted to protest, and he looked actually angry at Arthur for not letting him go but finally conceded and Arthur ended up riding out of the city alone.
He had eventually left the horse behind after picking up Merlin's trail. He had been given general directions on where Merlin was going and after heading in that direction it wasn't hard to pick up.
Which led to where he was now, tromping through the forest. As he walked he had plenty of time to think. He wondered why all of his closest friends were so loyal to Merlin. They were his knights and his wife. Why should they be so concerned about a servant? It wasn't that he thought lowly of Merlin or his position. He had learned long ago that no one person was beneath another. He had married a simple servant himself and had granted many common men to knighthood, in fact those men had become his most trusted allies.
It hadn't been easy though. Guinevere had hated him at first, she thought he was a bully. She was even impressed when Merlin first stood up to Arthur. They were good friends… actually they were friends before she and Arthur were ever close.
Gwaine didn't like him either, didn't like anyone of noble blood, he liked Merlin. He went on all sorts of crazy adventures to help Merlin before swearing his oath to Arthur. He had been Merlin's friend first too.
Arthur didn't often think of Lancelot, the memory was too painful, but the knight had been honorable once, it was Merlin that had introduced them, and Lancelot had brought Percival with him so in a way Percival was thanks to Merlin as well.
And if Arthur hadn't been so close to Gwen he wouldn't have met Elyan and he wouldn't have gotten close to Gwen without Merlin convincing her to give him a chance so in a way Elyan was thanks to Merlin as well.
Now that Arthur thought about it he wondered if they were really his friends at all, or Merlin's.
He scoffed… that was ridiculous. They were friends to both king and servant, in fact he supposed he would be in trouble if they didn't get along with both of them because they were always together, if you had to spend any time with Arthur then you had to expect to spend time with Merlin as well.
Arthur wondered if it bothered Merlin, that all his friends had become so close to Arthur. Merlin never said anything so Arthur had to assume he had never really thought about it. Merlin just wanted what was best for everyone, he didn't really think about himself. That's what friends were for, to think of you when you didn't think of yourself.
Merlin may have shared his friends with Arthur but Arthur knew there were plenty of people who became friends with Merlin because of Arthur as well. The truth was they were all friends, all family, and they all cared about each other and looked out for one another. Everyone had a place in Camelot and no one wanted to see anyone missing again.
It was these thoughts that spurred Arthur's legs to move faster. Merlin had been missing for a few hours now. Who knew what kind of trouble the idiot had gotten into?
He tried to calm his mind as he walked. He convinced himself that this was Merlin. Merlin who was always disappearing and who wasn't good at his job and who always came out of every situation unscathed.
He walked around the last bend and ended up entering a clearing. Even he could see why Merlin chose it based on all the plant life surrounding the border. He looked around for any sign of Merlin and caught sight of his boots peeking out from behind a tree. Arthur moved a little quicker, afraid of what he would find, trying to convince himself that Merlin had just fallen asleep, that no good lazy…
"Merlin!" Arthur shouted rushing over to his friend's side. Merlin's bag had been ransacked, the herbs he had been picking were strewn all about the clearing, along with several of Merlin's possessions. Merlin himself was tied with his hands behind his back and a gag over his mouth made from his own neckerchief so he couldn't even call for help, but it didn't seem to matter because the man appeared to be unconscious.
Bandits, it had to be bandits. Guessing from the way they had searched through his bag and possessions they had probably been looking for money. Of course Merlin wouldn't have any with him since he was only going to pick herbs. Arthur felt anger rise up in him as he looked at his servant tied up and left to die. He swore he would find who did this, they would increase the patrols in this area, it was rather rare for bandits to venture this close to the city, they usually preferred the more secluded roads, Arthur was going to make any bandit who was stupid enough to come that close severely regret what he had done.
Arthur took a breath to calm the swelling emotions that coursed through his system and then forced himself to focus on the task at hand. He wasted no time in pulling out a knife and cutting his servant's bonds, Merlin had tear tracks making clear lines through the dirt on his face and Arthur knew he must have been terrified, for once he had no thoughts about Merlin being a girl or a coward, he just wanted him to be alright. He gently pulled the gag away from the man's mouth, he was convinced now that Merlin was not unconscious, judging from the irregular breathing pattern but he didn't seem to be aware either. Arthur then proceeded to check the man for injuries. There was blood coming from somewhere and there was a lot of it though not enough to make Arthur think the wound was life threatening, still if he didn't get treatment it was likely to become life threatening, first Arthur had to find the wound.
The majority of the blood seemed to be coming from his torso so Arthur carefully pulled Merlin's shirt out of the way. He gritted his teeth when he saw the stab wound in Merlin's side, as he had suspected it wasn't life threatening by itself but just the idea that some cowardly thug had stabbed a defenseless man picking herbs was repulsive and he had to take another breath before returning to his servant. He grabbed for some bandages thrown nearby, Merlin always had bandages with him. Being a physician's ward meant that he was prepared.
He began to dress Merlin's wound and started talking as he did so, more to calm himself than Merlin. "You know, Merlin, you really can't keep skipping out on your duties like this. I mean I know you don't like a lot of your chores but this is a little extreme." Arthur's voice trembled ever so slightly as he rambled. While he was fairly sure that Merlin would be okay his wound had been exposed for quite some time and he was at high risk for infection, the sooner he got him back to Gaius the better. "You really are too much trouble to keep around sometimes, I don't know why I bother." Arthur continued to ramble as he worked, it helped keep his mind distracted from the dangerous thoughts and focused on what he had to do.
After he was finished bandaging the injury Arthur grabbed Merlin's bag and stuffed some of Merlin's things into it. The majority of what had been in the bag was herbs and Arthur picked up as many of them as he could as quickly as he could. For all he knew one of these herbs was vital in helping Merlin, he didn't want to risk leaving any behind. Finally done he turned back to Merlin and jumped slightly when he saw his servant's eyes open. He stared straight at Arthur but Arthur got the creepy feeling that he wasn't really seeing Arthur.
"Merlin." He called gently, crouching next to him. "Merlin. Can you hear me? We need to get you back to Gaius." Arthur continued to try and wake Merlin from his trance, it would be very difficult to carry the man back to the horse and things would go a lot smoother for both of them if he was conscious enough to help. He was cut off when Merlin decided to speak.
"Ar'tur." His voice didn't come out clearly at all and Arthur could only pick out a few words. "M' glad yu… frends… protect…now t' I'm leaving." Arthur heard those last words clearly.
"Don't be such an idiot, Merlin, you're not going anywhere." Arthur snapped quietly trying to force down the swell of emotions that had overwhelmed him at hearing the defeat in Merlin's voice.
Merlin breathed in quickly and blinked, his eyes suddenly seeming to come into focus and they started glancing around anxiously.
Arthur was still nervous about the wound so without another word he pulled Merlin to his feet and draped one arm over his shoulder. Holding Merlin's wrist with one hand and wrapping his other arm tightly around Merlin's upper torso away from his wound. He had to practically drag Merlin who still seemed foggy after waking up.
"Wh't… how?" The words came out weak but stronger than they had been a moment ago. Arthur grumbled and explained to him the events that had led to Arthur finding Merlin. "So Gwaine told Gwen and Gwen pestered me to send someone to check on you. I told her I'd go find you myself so I could kill you when I did, seeing as I already missed my meeting, but when I found you it seems someone had already tried to do that job."
They took a few steps before Merlin responded. "Oh." His tone was surprised. "I didn't think anyone would notice I was gone."
Arthur mumbled under his breath about how could a king not notice when useless servants didn't do their job. "They're your friends Merlin, of course they would notice you're gone. How much of an idiot can you be?"
They stumbled a few more steps when Arthur noticed a change in Merlin's expression out of the corner of his eye. He turned his head and glared at his manservant who was grinning from ear to ear, wondering how much blood his servant had lost and whether it had caused brain damage. "They're our friends." Merlin said. Arthur just stared at him and Merlin laughed which caused him to double over slightly and cough.
Arthur stopped for a moment to let his servant recover before they continued. "You were worried about me too." Merlin stated and the way he said it sounded like an accusation.
"Was not." Arthur protested.
Merlin sniggered and stumbled again. Arthur honestly wished the idiot would just focus more on where he was going. "I do have friends." Arthur sighed and frowned once again at his servant. "It's nice…having friends…don't you think?" He asked turning his attention to Arthur with a dopey look on his face.
Arthur finally laughed a little. Merlin was obviously in pain and had lost quite a bit of blood making him act a little loopy. "Whatever you say, Merlin." Arthur replied. "Let's get you home."
Arthur thought again on the fact that everyone they were close to had a place in Camelot and a place in their hearts, whenever someone died or left there was a hole in that place for a long time. He glanced over at Merlin, even though he was just a servant, Merlin's place may have been the hardest to fill in Arthur's life. He had a feeling that if the man had died today that hole would never have been filled. He was glad that, at least for today, everyone was where they were supposed to be.
AN: I definitely like Merlin's chapter better but considering this one wasn't planned at all I think it turned out pretty good. Hope you liked it! Leave a review either way.
EDIT: Fixed a few grammar errors but I have decided not to write an epilogue because I think the story ends very well the way it is so I wanted to let everyone know that.