Chapter 1

That morning started as just another morning. Merlin woke up to the sound of Gaius moving around the main room, searching for the medicines he might need for the day's morning rounds. Merlin realised he was up quite unusually early.

He had more than enough time to get Arthur's breakfast and he had no errands this morning. So he decided to take a wander the caste corridors with aim to eventually stop at the kitchens.. It has been a while since he got to relax. Since Arthur became King the work load had increased dramatically. Both for the once Prince as well as the manservant. His time being the Regent's manservant was less stressing, Merlin was sure.

Nowadays Merlin wasn't surprised that Uther had so many frown lines on his face. Arthur was bound to get them too as the King seemed to be doing nothing else but frown these days. As Camelot's King, Arthur had to shoulder the enormous responsibility that came with ruling a kingdom. It had made him very snappish...more than usual that is. So Merlin happily decided to take this morning as a blessed chance to relax.

But fate, it seemed, to have another to-do list for him.

Merlin had barley exited his small bedroom when there was an impatient knock at the door. Gaius opened the door to let in frown-faced Arthur with rage in his eyes.

"There you are you clumsy oaf!" Arthur snarled looking at the bedraggled Merlin, completely ignoring the indignant squawk Gaius let out at being unceremoniously shoved aside. Merlin just blinked half dazed, not knowing what had ruined Arthur's already stormy mood so early in the morning.

"Just this once Merlin! I asked you to be on time. On time!" Arthur roared throwing his hands up as if giving up. "For once in your pathetic life Merlin why couldn't you just do as you were told!" Arthur continued to yell disregarding the hurt flashing over Merlin's tired face.

"What is the matter sire! Why are you yelling at him?" Gaius asked the angered King, not liking the fact that Arthur was obviously upsetting his ward.

"What happened? What happened Gaius is that this idiot here apparently forgot about the trade agreement we have to sign this morning and that as the host I have to be there in the next four hours! I have to go over the agreement on last time this morning but instead I'm forced to search for this idiot because he didn't prepare the documents last night as I told him to! And now they'll be thinking that I'm being tardy and negligent on my own volition." Arthur said at a deadly voice gesturing towards Merlin whose face was slowly closing off, not showing any emotion. This seemed to further anger Arthur, who it seemed had made it his goal to get a rise out of his manservant. Gaius quickly cut in seeing that the shouting would continue if he didn't intervene.

"With all due respect sire. I think I'm right to believe that the agreement you are signing is with the Gedref envoy. They are our allies since before your coronation sire. And they had arrived two days earlier than expected. Even I was under the impression that the meeting will be the day after tomorrow as planned! Surely they will not be inconvenienced by a few minutes delay, if you are late? The meeting is not for four hours sire!" Gaius said in a pleading voice that quickly served to calm down the enraged monarch.

"That isn't the point Gaius..." Arthur started only to be cut off by a calm voice. "If you would please follow me sire. I will remedy my tardiness." Merlin bowed his head to Arthur and walked out the door at a steady pace. Arthur quickly went after him offering Gaius a token nod as a greeting and banged the door shut behind him.

"Oh my boy..." Gaius sighed, listening as Arthur continued to loudly berate Merlin for his irresponsibility. Gaius knew that Merlin was taking the brunt of Arthur's discontent and anger since Arthur was crowned King, and worried for his ward who seemed to distance himself from everyone and seemed to have lost his infectious grin.

Sighing, Gaius picked up his medicine bag and slowly went out the Physician's rooms, feeling that his age was starting to take it's toll on him. He wondered whether his ward would have a minute to himself today.