AN: I don't own Merlin or any of the characters. Constructive criticism is welcome as long as you're actually trying to be helpful. Reviews are also welcomed with open arms. Give them a nice home!
"Arthur. Thank you." Merlin said gratefully just as Arthur reached the door exiting the cluttered room. Arthur looked back for a few seconds, studying the man that sat before him, before he answered. "You too," He was immensely grateful and was somewhat surprised at the bond that he shared with Merlin. "Get some rest." Arthur gave Merlin a couple more studious seconds of contemplation before turning around and leaving the room with the door remaining open.
"Arthur may give you a hard time, but at heart he is a man of honor." Gauis spoke to Merlin while shuffling over to the table Merlin was seated at. "There aren't many who would have risked what he did for a life of a servant." He put the bowl of soup in front of Merlin and sat down next to him, giving a chance for his old muscles to rest for a while. The stress and anxiety of Merlin's illness had done nothing good for his poor nerves.
"It all would have been for nothing if you hadn't known how to make the antidote," Merlin reminded Gauis while smiling slightly at his mentor. He hadn't been living with Gauis for very long, but he almost immediately admired and respected the aged man. Partly for his perseverance and dedication with his demanding work as a physician, but mostly as the person that Merlin was starting the learn more about.
Gauis looked back at him in what seemed like appreciation, though Merlin couldn't be sure, and the leaned forward slightly. "Eat your dinner," Merlin started to do as Gauis had said, but then asked another question. Gauis wondered silently if there was going to be any end to them.
Arthur turned to his right and walked steadily down the stairs whilst pondering over the things that had happened the last few days. He stopped in his tracks when he realized that he had told Merlin previously that he was to return to work the next day. He sighed in mild frustration at his forgetfulness and turned around heading back to Gaius's chambers, intending to inform Merlin that he had already given his chores for tomorrow to another servant.
He reached the door and was just several small steps from walking in when he heard Gaius speak.
"Eat your dinner," He ordered.
"I still don't understand why she went though all the trouble framing Bayard. She could have just kept quiet and killed Arthur."
He stopped abruptly at the mention of his name and quietly walked closer to the open door hoping to hear more of the ongoing conversation.
"Destroying Arthur and Camelot wasn't all that she was after," Gauis answered knowingly. "She knew you would be forced to drink that wine. It was you she wanted to kill." Arthur paled and his stomach jolted, it seemingly trying to run away from him. He was surprised at his reaction of concern for Merlin, considering he had only been several minutes away from death just yesterday, but that was different. He hadn't thought that someone was actually trying to kill Merlin. The poison was meant for him. It was meant for Arthur. He snapped out of his thoughts and listened more closely, not wanting to miss any of what was to be said.
Gauis looked pointedly at Merlin before continuing again. "It seems someone else knows you're destined for great things, Merlin."
Merlin let out an exasperated sigh and started to eat his dinner. Arthur stood there in bewilderment and bafflement as he tried to sort out Gaius's words. He thought through many options on what that phrase could mean. Destined for great things, Merlin. He wondered for a small while if there were two different Merlins living in the castle, but he soon dismissed the rubbish idea and began searching for new ones. However, his thoughts were interrupted by Gaius talking again.
"Well, I must be off to bed now, Merlin," Gaius said while attempting (and failing) to stifle a yawn. "There is a family that is ill in the lower town that I must see to early in the morning." Gauis walked over to and then plopped down heavily on his hard mattress. "I'm afraid I'm going to need an assistant, and if you are to assume your duties as Arthur's servant tomorrow then we have to be up well before dawn to get you back in time to start your work, and we also must gather the necessary herbs on our way there."
Arthur wondered how the old man managed to fit so things into two sentences while yawning. There should be some kind of award for that. Merlin's head shot up at Gaius's words. He looked very distressed and ransacked his mind for ideas to get out of this one. He came across a suitable one fairly quickly and decided to have a go with it. "Gaius," He started. He cursed himself in his mind for not sounding sickly enough. He started again. "I've just been poisoned. I know Arthur might not be intelligent enough to see that I'm almost unable to work, but surely you can see the pain I'm still in!"
Arthur was again startled by the mention of his name and then felt a wave of emotions wash over him. First he was surprised and a little bit worried that they might have discovered him standing outside their door, due to the sudden mention of his name again. Then he comprehended the context it was used in and felt frustration and just a mild twang of anger and being called unintelligent. He had just saved the man's life after all! He then felt a bit worried. He had meant to give Merlin the day off, taking in the fact that he had just been poisoned, but he hadn't thought Merlin still in pain.
The worry didn't last long though, for Arthur knew that Merlin was in no real danger. Upon realizing this he had to try and stop himself from laughing out loud at his stupidity. Maybe Merlin was right and he actually was unintelligent. But only for the reason that he actually fell for Merlin's silly lie about still being sick. Arthur was no physician, but the way Merlin sounded made it so obviously an attempt to get out of Gauis' chores.
After all of those emotions had come and gone Arthur was left this growing knot of tense anxiety in his stomach due to remembering Merlin's so called "great destiny" that Gauis had mentioned earlier. He tried to push these thoughts out of his mind for then and listened eagerly, waiting for Gaius's response to Merlin's sorry excuse for an excuse.
"Merlin, the Morteaus flower may have induced pain and illness for the time that you were still infected with it, but within hours of the antidote being given to you, all of the affects that were once there due to the poison, are now entirely purged from your body."
Arthur held a smug grin on his face that slightly eased his tense muscles and nerves. His victory was short lived however, because what Gaius said next wiped the grin off of his face in an instant, causing even more turmoil and anxiety to churn in his stomach.
"Besides, it's not like you haven't been in near death experiences before, so I won't give you time off for shock that you're no longer even experiencing."
Arthur was horrified. It was surprising enough that the woman he had met earlier in the caves (he assumed that she was actually behind all of it) had meant to kill Merlin and had no intent (not immediate intent at least) to kill Arthur and his father and take over the throne. But he had decided that whom ever that woman was, had a personal grudge to settle with Merlin, though he couldn't imagine what Merlin would have done to deserve that horrible of a death that the Morteaus flower would have bestowed upon him. He couldn't think of a more logical explaination as to why she would want his harmless servant dead.
What Arthur really found hard to believe was that Merlin (according to Gaius) seemed to have had multiple of these types of occurrences! In his head, Arthur tried to replay what Gaius had just said. Alright, he thought, Gaius hadn't said -murderous- attempts, so Merlin could just be an unfortunate person who seems to stumble into trouble all of the time. Arthur tried to calm himself with these thoughts, but given how much and effort it must have taken for the strange woman to plan all of this out, Merlin must have done something pretty bad, or he was currently a threat.
Arthur thought that the threat option seemed more likely, because that would give more reason for other people to try and kill Merlin also. Arthur tried to shake these thoughts from his head. Merlin had only been the prince's servant for a few months, but even since the first day he met him, he saw something in Merlin that he couldn't seem to find in anyone else. He had no idea what he was looking for that made Merlin so different and set apart from every one else, but he liked it.
Anyway, the thought of one, let alone a group of people, trying to kill Merlin disturbed Arthur greatly, so he silently ran his hands and fingers through his hair and tried to clear his mind again so he could listen to more of Merlin and Gaius's conversation.
Merlin sighed yet again. It was a sigh of defeat. His plan hadn't worked - not that he'd really expected it to anyways. He looked down at his bowl and ate the rest of it quickly before going up the short flight of stairs to his bedroom after closing the main door. Arthur held his breath as Merlin came towards him from the other side of the wall. He could hear his footsteps nearing and wondered why he seemed so desperate not to be found. I'm the crown prince of Camelot! He thought to himself. I shouldn't have to be skulking around in the shadows like a common thief! Arthur realized the flaw in his logic though, considering he was acting exactly like a common eaves-dropper.
The door to the left of him closed, thanks to Merlin, and he heard his footsteps go up the stairs to Merlin's bedroom. Arthur sighed as waves of relief were practically pouring over him. After standing there for about two minutes making sure there wasn't going to be anymore conversation, he slowly and absentmindedly made his back through the corridors of the large castle, eventually finding his way to his chambers. When he arrived he realized that he had probably spent about half of a hour roaming about the castle contemplating his newly received information.
AN: I apologize for OOC Gaius. Trying to write that person baffles me very much. Thanks for reading this far!