Summary: Merlin thinks back upon an eventful night.
Rating/Warnings: G, Arthur/Merlin pre-slash
Word Count: 1156
Disclaimer: I do not own anything at all.
Notes: This is dedicated to my sister, an uber Merlin/Arthur fan. :) Merry Christmas. (You know who you are!)
Arthur was quiet while Merlin set down his breakfast and blathered on about some errand that Gaius had sent him on the night before. When he could hold his tongue no longer, he interrupted Merlin's flow of steady conversation. "Merlin, I went to the tavern last night looking for you. You weren't there."
"I just said I was looking for herbs for Gaius." Merlin shook his head, and spoke more quietly, as if to himself, but loud enough that he knew Arthur would hear him. "It's as if I'm talking to a block of wood."
Arthur was silent. Merlin sent him a look, awaiting his response and ready to duck. Arthur remained silent. Merlin narrowed his eyes. Nothing. Finally, he shrugged and carried on.
"Besides, you know, I'm not always at the tavern." He paused, and raised his eyebrows in consideration when Arthur looked his way. "Did you ever think that maybe it's Gaius who's always at the tavern and that he's covering for ... for ..."
"For? For what, Merlin? Whenever I need Gaius, he is there." Arthur sat back, folding his arms across his chest, but his gaze was serious, and searching.
Merlin laughed uneasily. "Right. Never mind then. Last night, as I already said, I was gathering herbs. Lots of digging through the woods. All night long." He yawned widely.
All night long, Merlin thought as the previous evening's events flashed through his mind. True, he had spent an inordinate amount of time herb-digging, but it was an earlier encounter that weighed heavily upon his mind and made sleep difficult. No one had thought much beyond a few jibes when Gwaine didn't show up for dinner. It was only later when Merlin ran into him skulking through the castle and uncharacteristically quiet when confronted that Merlin realized something was happening, something not good.
"Gwaine, what are you doing?" he had asked with an uneasy smile.
Gwaine threw his head back, his luscious locks flying behind him. "Nothing."
"No, really. You weren't at dinner, right? So what are you doing creeping through the castle?" Merlin laughed, good naturedly pushing at his shoulder.
Gawain looked down at Merlin's hand and then back up at him, his eyes like flint. "I said nothing." And he pushed back at Merlin, hard.
Stumbling, Merlin found himself pressed against the wall, his eyes wide in shock. "Gwaine! What are you doing?!"
He opened his mouth to reply, and then shook his head as if confused. "I -- nothing. Merlin, I said nothing."
"Yeah, so you said." He took a tentative step forward, his hands held up in view of Gwaine's wary gaze. There was something off about him. Merlin could sense that something wrong. And it was something that smelt like Morgana. His eyes flickering downward so that Gwaine would not see the telltale flare of gold, Merlin whispered, "Dywedwch wrthyf i gyd yn gwybod."
Gwaine straightened up. "Morgana bade me kill Arthur. I'm to use this powder. It is undetectable." He held out a dark pouch.
Merlin's eyes widened, thinking, thinking. Then, he looked at Gwaine sharply. "What if you to don't have the powder? Would you have to kill your king then?"
Gwaine glanced at Merlin and then down at the pouch, confusion clear on his face. "I don't know. I don't think so."
"Good." Merlin reached out and gingerly took the pouch from Gwaine's grasp. "Then I'll just take this." Gwaine gave up the pouch without much fight, confusion still clouding his brain from Morgana's spell. "Now." Merlin looked straight into Gwaine's eyes. "Anghofiwch yr holl gyngor o allan o'r llwch a'r brenin ei ladd. Rydym ni, ac yn awr gyda mi." Merlin slipped the powder behind his back and clapped Gwaine on the arm. "On your way."
With a quick shake of his hand, Gwaine turned the other direction and made a turn at the corner. A few moments later, the sound of cheerful whistling assured Merlin that Gwaine was back to himself. He drew the pouch to his front, and emptied the contents into his palm. "Nid oes unrhyw un eu hanafu a'u bod yn troi at garreg." In a golden flash, the light purple powder was transformed into a dark violet stone, a pretty rock now, and harmful to no one.
"Merlin!" came a cry from his left, Percival's strong footsteps following his voice. Looking about him, Merlin saw a winding ring of steps to his right and he quickly threw the stone down them. "Merlin," Percival repeated, "I'm looking for Arthur. I was told he was headed this way."
Shrugging, Merlin looked about him and then shook his head. "Nope, haven't seen him. But if I do, I'll tell him you were looking."
Jerking up, Merlin returned to the present, dropping the pitcher he held. "Sorry." He bent down and picked it up. "Sorry, woolgathering." He laughed lightly.
Arthur nodded and gave a half-hearted hah in response.
"Merlin," he ventured, "if you ever did something, could do something that I, as your king and," he paused, his eyes narrowing, "as your friend should know, you would tell me." His voice slightly hardened. "Wouldn't you?"
"Yes. Absolutely. As your loyal subject, and," Merlin grinned, "friend, I definitely would. Definitely." He pursed his lips. "Well, I mean, of course, unless ..."
"Well, I don't know, if there was something that I wasn't sure your kingly brain could handle, I would have to protect you." He nodded with a bright smile.
"Right." Arthur stood and walked to the window, looking into the bright sky. "And I suppose if I don't know about something, there's nothing I could do about that something."
Merlin opened his mouth to respond with another jibe, but there was something in Arthur's voice, something in his stance that made him reconsider. He cleared his throat.
"I suppose, Sire. I mean, no. I wouldn't know. I mean I haven't done anything." He gave a nervous laugh. "What are you on about then?"
Arthur shook his head head, a quick, brusque movement. "Never mind. Go away, Merlin."
Again, Merlin began to speak, but wisdom told him to listen to Arthur without another word. Quietly, he set the pitcher down. Pausing at the door, he looked back at Arthur's still form, and with a confused shrug of his shoulders, slipped from the room.
Arthur turned at the click of the door and stared at it in stony silence. He turned to his bedside and opened the drawer, pulled out the murky stone--a burnt violet shade--and turned it over in his hand. He glanced back at the door. Shutting his eyes, and releasing a deep breath, Arthur put the stone away. He straightened and allowed himself a smile without a mirth.
Closing the drawer, he spoke quietly. "So I can't know."
-- THE END --