Arthur used to hate mornings. Now they were the best part of his day. He told himself it was because he hadn't gotten run down with the affairs of the day at that point, but he knew that wasn't true. It was Merlin. Simply Merlin. The idiotic, bumbling, lovable serving boy who had somehow wormed his way into Arthur's heart (but don't you dare say it, and if you take it the wrong way, he'd be very angry. They were friends: nothing more, but certainly nothing less.). Arthur's mornings would start with the door opening (Merlin never did learn to knock) and Merlin tripping over something and cursing quietly (though he never had gotten the hang of saying anything actually truly horrible). Then the curtains would open, and the light would pour in, blinding Arthur. A shadow would come between him and the sun, and he'd smile into his pillow.
"Arthur," Merlin would drawl, punching him lightly on the shoulder. "Time to get up, sleepyhead. I've been at it for hours." Which they both knew wasn't true, because Merlin's hair was a mess and his eyes, his sparkling, clear crystal eyes, were blurry. Merlin's hand would stay there for a second longer than it needed too, then Merlin would be tripping around his room again.

"I have breakfast." Merlin would coax. Arthur would groan, sitting up just a tiny bit, then flop back down onto his stomach. Merlin would sigh and go over to him, his fingers tangling into Arthur's hair as he shook the prince's head.

"The king would be most unhappy if his favorite son was late for training...again."

Arthur would make a huffing noise, and Merlin's fingers would turn surprisingly gentle as they smoothed Arthur's hair.

"Come on," he'd whisper. "You need to get up."

Then Arthur would, and Merlin would scurry about getting things done, all the while keeping up an entertaining banter, usually about Arthur's weight or his secret love for Gwen. Arthur didn't know why he was okay with discussing Gwen with Merlin: the boy just seemed to invite his trust. Merlin would tease him, grinning cheekily over his shoulder as he made Arthur's bed. Arthur would get fed up with him and toss something off his plate at him, though he always made sure not to actually hit Merlin. Merlin would scoop up the object and proceed to devour it, which, in actuality, was Arthur's plan. He had seen how thin his servant was. He had increased Gaius' food supply, but Merlin still had a malnourished look about him. Arthur had carried him on more than one occasion (the boy did seem to enjoy getting hurt, didn't he?), and each time he was amazed anew at the thinness of his servant. So throwing food at him was just Arthur's little ploy for getting Merlin to eat. When breakfast was over, Arthur would get dressed and Merlin would gather up his laundry, complaining at how fast Arthur went through clothes. Then Merlin would help him into his partial armor for training, and they would go quiet. Arthur assumed it was because of the many times Merlin had outfitted him for battle without much hope of ever seeing him again, but he wasn't sure. At any rate, the boy's face would get unusually thoughtful and he'd go silent. Then Arthur would heap a few dozen chores on the boy, who'd tell him not to be a prat. Arthur would smile, and tell Merlin he'd see him later. And Merlin would smile back.

And that was why the morning was Arthur's favorite time of day.