A/N: Hello, dear readers! Thanks for stopping by! I'm going to be honest here. If you want to interpret this story as slash, go for it. Although it was written for bromance, I suppose if you squint, it could be slash-ish… Just know that if you did come here for bromance, that's what you shall get!
Disclaimer: I don't own Merlin.
"Come on, Arthur. All things considered, what you have to do really isn't all that bad."
Arthur's only response was to glare at Elyan. The four knights of the Round Table and their king were currently in the armory, putting away their gear from their last training session.
"Yeah, princess. We could have gone with my punishment. Now that would have been embarrassing."
"Gwaine, the king of Camelot can hardly be seen running naked through the castle shouting about his-"
"I don't want to know." Arthur cut Leon sharply off. The king didn't want anyone having the mental image of Gwaine's punishment in their heads.
"Anyway, Arthur, this punishment is relatively simple." said Leon.
"Just tell Merlin you love him."
"Woah, woah, woah," Arthur held up his hands and stared at Gwaine in alarm. "I do not love Merlin."
"Oh, come on, princess, you know that's knot what I mean." Gwaine said with a roll of his eyes. " I don't mean love as in how you love Gwen."
"He means like how Ilove Gwen." supplied Elyan.
"Or like how I love Percival!" Gwaine said, grinning widely up at the big man. Percival only smiled back and ruffled the smaller man's hair, something Percival and Percival alone was allowed to do.
"I still don't love Merlin, brotherly love or otherwise."
There were jumbled statements of disagreement and chuckles from all the knights.
"Come on, Arthur. We all know it's true; you don't need to hide it." said Elyan.
"We all love Merlin like a little brother, Arthur." said Leon in a more serious tone. "And we know you do, too. If nothing else, you still have to honor the fact that you lost the bet."
Arthur crossed his arms over his chest. "I do not love Merlin."
The knights all exchanged glances that made Arthur instantly wary.
"I suppose we'll just have to use plan B then. Percival?" Percival grinned evilly and stepped forward.
"Percival," the king said slowly, taking a step back and holding up his hands. "Now, I am your king, and you can't-"
That's as far as Arthur got before Percival lunged forward and plowed his shoulder into the king's stomach, eliciting a loud "oof!", and hoisted the man up as if he were no more than a sack of potatoes.
"Percival!" yelled Arthur angrily as he kicked his legs. "I am your king! You will put me down right this instant!"
"Sorry, sire," said Percival, not sounding sorry in the least. "but it's for your own good."
The knights and their reluctant king continued on their way to the physician's chambers, where they knew Merlin would be. They must have been quite the sight, four laughing knights and the king of Camelot, hoisted up over the shoulder of the biggest man, kicking and screaming obscenities down the halls. Needless to say, they turned a few heads.
When they reached Gaius's chambers, Arthur was put down and didn't even have time to properly regain his footing before he was shoved through the door, the knights barreling in right behind him.
The only person in the room was a rather alarmed Merlin. Gaius had left a few days ago and would be gone for another few days in order to provide aid to a small village suffering from a fever outbreak. This had left Merlin in charge of the castle's medical needs while the physician was away, since he was Gaius's apprentice. Arthur had graciously lightened Merlin's chore load for the time being, seeing as his servant couldn't be away from the physician's chambers for too long.
During one of the periods of Merlin's absence acting as Court Physician, Arthur, who had been incredibly bored with no one to insult, had foolishly agreed to a trip to the tavern with Elyan, Percival, Gwaine, and Leon. While there, after downing a few too many drinks, Arthur had once again foolishly agreed to an arm wrestling competition.
After much discussion, punishments were made. If Arthur won, Percival would have to attend the next training session with all the knights in a dress (the only reason the big man agreed to such an embarrassing punishment was because, let's face it, Percival wasn't going to lose).
If Percival won, Arthur had to tell Merlin, to his face, that he genuinely did like him.
Unsurprisingly, after a shamefully short match, Percival had won.
Now, Arthur had to pay up.
"What's going on?" asked Merlin in a slightly panicked voice. His eyes rested on the clearly frustrated Arthur. "Is Arthur alright?"
"Oh, the princess is fine." Gwaine said with a smirk. "His arm may be a bit sore, though." Merlin only furrowed his eyebrows in confusion as the knights snickered.
Arthur, who was glaring heatedly at his men, straightened out his clothes in an attempt to regain some of his dignity, and turned to face his manservant.
"Not that I don't appreciate having four knights and a prat burst into my chambers giggling like maidens," the men pouted at being compared to 'giggling maidens'. "but what are you all doing here?"
"Arthur here has something he would like to tell you." said Elyan cheerily, clapping Arthur on the back, much to the king's annoyance.
Merlin looked to Arthur in expectation and the blonde sighed heavily, rolling his eyes, and stepped forward to stand in front of his servant.
"I just wanted to say that… well, um…" Oh, why had he made this stupid bet? This was ridiculous. What part of Arthur's brain, even when drunk, thought he even had a remote chance of beating Percival in a competition of strength? "I wanted to let you know that…"
"…yes?" asked Merlin, unsure of where this was going.
"Get on with it, princess!" complained Gwaine with a heavy sigh.
Arthur huffed and ran a hand through his hair. "Fine. Merlin," the king looked his servant in the eye. "contrary to what you might think and what I might make it seem… I l-like you."
The knights sighed and rolled their eyes, not quite satisfied with the admittance, but they knew they weren't likely to get anything better. Merlin, for his part, could only stare at the king in surprise. Yes, Arthur did say it rather reluctantly, and saying he 'liked' him really wasn't much, but to Merlin, it meant a lot. Arthur had never outright said that he even tolerated Merlin, let alone liked him. Even though Merlin knew Arthur had a unique way of showing affection (mainly throwing things and insults), sometimes some of the teasing did get to him a bit. It was nice to be reassured that the insults weren't true every once in a while.
"Thanks, Arthur," said Merlin with a smile. He was actually kind of flattered that Arthur had come all the way up here just to tell him that he liked him.
"Yes, well," Arthur began gruffly, "just make sure my sword is sharpened by tomorrow."
Merlin was just shaking his head at Arthur's typical behavior when Gwaine suddenly spoke up and he froze.
"Don't look so glum, princess. You lost the bet and now you've survived the punishment. It really wasn't that bad."
"Wait," Merlin said, his serious tone causing everyone to freeze and turn to face him. "This was… this whole thing was just Arthur's punishment for losing a bet?"
While the knights nodded hesitantly, sensing the servant's rising anger, Arthur snorted loudly.
"Of course it was! You don't think I'd just waltz in here on my own to tell you I liked you out of the blue, do you?" Arthur missed the hurt flash across Merlin's face and continued. "Honestly, Merlin, just when I think you couldn't be any more of an idiot."
Just as Arthur shook his head and made to leave, Merlin was no longer able to hold in his anger.
"Oh, I see how it is!" Merlin yelled, his rage surprising everyone. "Did you all just ask yourselves 'hmm, what would be the most painful, degrading punishment for Arthur? Oh, I know, how about having to tell Merlin that he likes him! Wouldn't that be a riot!'" The knights all exchanged guilty glances as Arthur just stared at Merlin in shock. "And I bet you all got an extra kick out of me actually believing it, too!" Merlin's eyes were now glinting with anger and unshed tears. "Well, congratulations on getting through this excruciating punishment alive, Arthur. I know it was an incredibly unpleasant thing to do, admitting you liked a clumsy idiot like me, but you don't need to worry," Merlin's voice got quieter, but it didn't lose its irate edge. "we all know it's not true." The servant grabbed his coat off the table and pushed his way through the shocked knights, but he paused and looked back when he was at the door. This time, the only emotions shining in his tear filled eyes were hurt and disappointment as he stared straight at Arthur.
"I thought you had changed." With that, Merlin stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
Merlin's firm, determined walk away from the taunting knights and Arthur's harsh words quickly turned into a desperate jog as he felt his hold on his emotions slip. In his hurry, he ran into a maid, knocking her laundry to the ground, but it only made him run faster, raising a hand to his mouth in an attempt to physically hold in a sob. He rounded a corner, finding a small, abandoned nook between a tapestry and the wall and he quickly slipped into it, sliding down the wall and trying to reign in his wild emotions.
Back in Gaius's chambers, the knights and their king stood frozen in shock for a few minutes more. Never before had they seen Merlin so angry. In fact, they hardly ever saw him unhappy, let alone even slightly mad. It was startling how intimidating the slight man could be when he wanted to. After a few more moments of silence, Gwaine, unsurprisingly, was the first person to speak.
"Nicely done, princess."
"Me?" Arthur asked incredulously, rounding on Gwaine. "How is this my fault? Merlin is the one who overreacted!"
"Maybe if you had tried to sound a bit more… sincere about it," suggested Elyan slowly.
"Everything was perfectly fine until Gwaine spoke up!" accused Arthur, ignoring Elyan's comment.
"Either way, sire, it may be best if you went and apologized to Merlin."
"Or at least reassure him, sire." Leon attempted to rephrase. Arthur only shook his head.
"No, if Merlin wants to be a girl about this, then let him. The stubborn idiot can never talk to me again for all I care. The quite might even be nice." With that, the king almost perfectly mimicked his servant's actions as he stomped angrily out of the room, slamming the door sharply behind him.
"That could have gone better." sighed Percival.
That night, Gwaine, Percival, and Elyan were all in Leon's chambers, a popular meeting spot for the knights of the Round Table, much to Leon's annoyance.
"So, what are we going to do to fix this?" asked Elyan.
"I don't know." Leon sighed. From his place perched on the windowsill, Gwaine took a loud bite from one of his ever present apples and Leon glared over at him. "Gwaine, I swear to God, if you leave another apple core in my room, I will personally make sure you don't eat another one for a month."
"Don't worry, dad," the knight said with a roll of his eyes. "I won't."
The knights sat in silence for a few minutes after that, wracking their brains for any sort of solution to the problem they had created.
"We've really done a bad thing, haven't we?" questioned Percival sadly.
"We broke Arthur and Merlin." Gwaine said in a disbelieving tone. "That shouldn't even be possible. I mean, it's always been 'ArthurnMerlin'." Gwaine set down his apple core on a nearby table and held up his hands, clasping them together to represent the fact that the king and his manservant were a unit. "And now, there is Arthur," the knight separated his hands and held one out to the right. "and there is Merlin." He held his other hand out to the left and stared at his separated hands as if it was the most unnatural thing in the world.
"If we could only get them in the same room together," offered Elyan, ignoring Gwaine's spontaneous impassioned speech, having grown used to them by now. "I'm sure they would make up with each other."
The other three knights all nodded in agreement. The king and his manservant had been in many smaller fights before and they always managed to make up in the end. This particular fight, however, was pretty bad. It seemed like it would take more than a grin from Merlin and a punch in the shoulder from Arthur to fix this one.
It would take the help of four determined knights.
"So, we need to get them to stay in the same room together, right?" the other knights hesitantly nodded and Gwaine smirked and continued. "I think I might have a way to do that."
Arthur sat in his room, staring moodily into the dancing flames in his hearth. That stupid dollop head. Why did he have to be so over dramatic about things? They hadn't meant to make him upset. Arthur hadn't even wanted to do this in the first place! Not that Arthur felt any sort of guilt about the situation. If Merlin wanted to be a girl about the whole thing, that was fine with Arthur.
Although, the hurt and disappointed way he had looked at Arthur…
No! No, Arthur felt no guilt whatsoever. He really had no reason to! Why should he feel guilty about the fact that they had made Merlin uncharacteristically angry, or the hurt tone in his voice, or the tears in his servant's eyes, or those last words…
'I thought you had changed.'
Arthur shook his head and stood up, huffing in frustration. Arthur had changed. Really, he had! He was no longer the servant bullying prince that Merlin had first met, he was now…
'A servant bullying king?' suggested a voice in his head that sounded suspiciously like Merlin when he was letting the king know he was being a prat.
Arthur once again shook his head, trying to rid his mind of the thought, and ran his fingers through his hair. He should really stop worrying about this. Merlin would come to his senses. He always did, right?
Just then, a knock sounded from his door. As he walked over to open it, Arthur tried to convince himself that he was not feeling disappointed in the least that it couldn't be Merlin because the idiot never knocked. When the king reached his door, he pulled it open to reveal Percival.
"Ah, Percival." greeted Arthur. "Come to apologize for earlier?"
"Something like that, sire."
Before Arthur could question the unusual response, he found himself once again hoisted up over the big man's shoulder.
"Dammit, Percival!" shouted Arthur as the big man started briskly walking down the corridor away from the king's room. "We are not going through this again! You will put me down this instant, or you will be in the stocks for a month!"
Percival only ignored the king's threats, glaring at any of the guards they passed when Arthur ordered them to arrest Percival. The guards themselves only continued on their way, ignoring the whole situation. They all knew it was best not to get involved when the knights of the Round Table were part of the problem. It was an unspoken rule that the knights of the Round Table, the king, of course, and oddly enough, the king's manservant, were all but untouchable to the guards of Camelot.
So, with no help coming from passers by, Percival continued merrily on with his part of the knights' master plan, and walked untroubled down the halls with a raging king slung over his shoulder.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the castle, Gwaine walked down the halls, searching for a certain clumsy manservant. The long haired knight had originally thought his part of the plan was rather simple. All he had to do was get Merlin. Elyan and Leon were the ones who were stuck in Gaius's chambers, cleaning out a closet, and Percival, the poor sod, had to fetch the princess.
Now, however, after aimlessly wandering the halls for over ten minutes, Gwaine was starting to think this could be a bit harder than he thought. Where could Merlin possible be?
Just when Gwaine was beginning to worry that Merlin might had left the castle to take a walk in the forest to clear his head, he turned a corner to see the back of a very familiar person walking down the hall.
Gwaine grinned and stealthily snuck up behind Merlin, bracing himself, before in one swift motion, the knight bent down, grabbed Merlin's ankle, knocked his shoulder into the back of the servant's knees, and stood up once more, now with one manservant hanging upside down off his back.
"Gwaine!" yelped Merlin as he tried to keep his head from banging against the ground with each step the knight took. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Just sit back and enjoy the ride, mate." replied Gwaine while he readjusted his hold on Merlin's ankle.
"Oh, yes, because this is very comfortable." grumbled Merlin as he finally gave up and let his arms drag along the ground, but still fought to keep his head up.
"Where are we going?"
"You'll find out when we get there!" rang out Gwaine in a sing-songy voice. Merlin groaned in frustration before smirking as he got a sudden idea.
"Ow!" cried Gwaine as Merlin's free foot collided with the side of his head.
"Put me down!" demanded Merlin, landing another blow on the back of the knight's head. Gwaine only chuckled and grabbed Merlin's free foot, now gripping that ankle tightly, too, successfully preventing any more kicks to the head.
"Calm down, Merlin, we're almost there."
"You think they'll be angry?" asked Elyan, somewhat anxiously.
"Well, if the king's earlier reaction to being carried here is anything to go by…" sighed Leon.
The two knights had finished their job of emptying out Gaius's closet a few minutes earlier and were now sitting at the table, nervously waiting for the others to arrive.
A few minutes later, they could hear angry shouts echoing down the hall.
"Here comes one of them." said Leon as he and Elyan stood up. The yells got louder and louder until finally the door was pushed open and Percival strode in with one pissed off king tossed over one shoulder.
"Ah, good, you've got the king. We're half way there then." said Elyan in greeting over the yells of said king.
"Is it really necessary for you to still be carrying me?" demanded Arthur, whose ribs were starting to get sore from his uncomfortable position.
"Sorry, sire, but we know you too well to do that." said Leon, who at least had the decency to sound apologetic. "You would run off the second you were put down."
Arthur could only groan in frustration and continue to struggle in the big man's hold. Damn his knights for knowing his so well.
"You'll all be put in the stocks for this, I hope you know that."
"A fair price to pay for a noble cause such as our own!" Gwaine declared dramatically as he strode through the door. All the knights and even Arthur had to wince at the painful looking position Merlin was in.
"Gwaine," Leon sighed disapprovingly with a shake of his head.
"What? It got him here, didn't it?" the brown haired knight defended.
"Yes, and why exactly do I need to be here?" questioned Merlin.
"Well, you see-"
"Maybe," cut in Elyan. "we should put them down," he said the word as if it had a double meaning. "before we explain. Merlin looks like he'll pass out if he's held upside down for much longer and Percival must be tired of struggling with the king." Percival shot Elyan a grateful smile as he continued to fight to keep the squirming Arthur on his shoulder.
All the knights exchanged meaningful glances before Percival and Gwaine strode forward and Leon went to the closet door.
Similar demands of "what's happening?" and "what's going on?" were loudly called out from Merlin and Arthur before suddenly, the two men found themselves deposited on the floor. They only had a second to register where they were before their vision was enveloped by darkness.
The king of Camelot and his manservant had been shut into a closet.
A/N: Fear not! The next chapter shall be posted either later today or tomorrow, so you won't have to wait long! Thanks for reading and let me know what you think of it so far!