Pairing/s: Arthur/Merlin (If you want)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur's hiding something.
Word Count: 1048
Prompt: Why did you scream like that?
Author's Notes: Oops on the word count, I just couldn't cut it, I was having too much fun!
Merlin yawned, scrubbing a hand through his hair and willing his feet to keep moving. They knew where they were going; no brain function was required on his behalf.
The castle was dim, torches flickering from various nuances and spreading shadows across the floor. He could hear the guards patrolling corridors either side, but the stretch he was traipsing was blissfully empty and he could yawn in peace.
It had been a long day. Long week, long month in fact. Arthur had no idea how many assassination attempts he had been saved from: he had yelled at Merlin about his clumsiness for the entire castle to hear when he had blamed his servant for trying to kill him with a broom but had been unaware of the poison in his goblet or the cloaked man in the night.
All Merlin wanted was a few days where he could sleep the night through without anyone making his job harder.
He was just considering actually thinking where he was going and returning to Gaius’ – Arthur would never know – when a loud scream made him jump. Heart pounding, he didn’t need to look where it had come from. Instead, he broke into a run.
Why couldn’t damn assassins give him a night off?
Bursting through the prince’s door, Merlin stopped. Arthur looked at him.
“I heard…” He looked around the room. It definitely looked like Arthur glaring at him, half-changed for bed. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong. But he had heard…
“Hearing things again, Merlin?”
Merlin frowned. There was a flush to Arthur’s cheeks and, if he wasn’t mistaken, the prince was avoiding his gaze. He knew he hadn’t been imagining things.
“Why did you scream like that?”
“Don’t be absurd, Merlin, I didn’t scream.”
“I know what I heard.”
“You heard wrong.”
“Shut up, Merlin.”
Merlin turned to leave. Even if that had been Arthur (he knew it was; he wasn’t crazy, regardless of what Arthur said), the prince appeared fine now. But he changed his mind, deciding that he would stoke up the fire before retiring for the night, figuring that way, Arthur wouldn’t call him back in a few moments time.
If he had left, he might have never known. Instead, Merlin turned just in time to see Arthur flinch violently, scrambling back a few paces before he could climb onto the bed. He tried to make it look natural, but Merlin had spent too much time around his master. He knew Arthur – and knew the man was hiding something.
Rounding the bed himself, he tried to figure out what made Arthur react.
“Don’t just stand there, you idiot,” Arthur snapped from the safety of the bed, “do something!”
Merlin had to look at Arthur and follow his pointing finger before he realised what the man was looking at.
“It’s a spider.”
“How observant you are,” Arthur muttered, “now get rid of it.”
Merlin realised that Arthur’s sword was still within reach and he sighed. Bending down, he coaxed the spider onto his hand, crossed to the window and threw it out.
“You’ve shut the window, haven’t you?”
“Yes,” Merlin said. He turned back to face Arthur, arms crossed and a smirk on his face. “So…spiders?”
“Nope. I’ve just saved you from it.” For once, he fully intended to get some credit for his actions. Not that Arthur would admit it to anyone – it was clear he had never intended for Merlin to find out.
“You’re scared of spiders?”
“Don’t be absurd, Merlin. I don’t get scared.”
Merlin lifted an eyebrow. Arthur looked away.
“You’ve clearly never had to scale a cliff to escape murderous giant ones,” Arthur muttered.
“Like you have!”
“Have actually.” Arthur look far happier now the spider was gone, settling back on his bed and stretching. Merlin looked it longingly; he wanted his own bed right now. He couldn’t leave yet though – this was too good to miss.
“When?” he challenged.
It was Arthur’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “Saving your life after you were poisoned.”
“Oh.” Merlin didn’t know what to say. He scuffed his feet against one another. “Thanks?”
He was grateful for everything Arthur had done. But he couldn’t stop a flash of guilt if it meant that Arthur was now afraid of something.
“Yeah well,” Arthur shifted, “it’s not entirely your fault for once.”
Intrigued, Merlin moved across the room. He pulled Arthur’s chair around and straddled it, his arms folded across the top. Arthur looked as if he was going to say something, then thought better of it and rested back against the pillows.
“Arthur, come on,” Merlin wheedled, “I’ve just saved you, after all.”
“Fine!” Arthur looked away, his earlier flush returning and working up his neck. “You also didn’t have to grow up with Morgana.”
“What did she do?”
“Far too many things for me to remember,” Arthur said. Merlin winced: Morgana hadn’t wanted to stay at the castle when she had first become the King’s Ward, he knew that much. No doubt a young prince had been on the receiving end of her temper more than once. He both wanted desperately to know what she had done to make Arthur be afraid of spiders, and was afraid to ask.
“She still feels guilty about it though,” Arthur said, looking sheepish at having blamed Morgana in front of his servant.
Merlin rolled his eyes. For an insufferable prat, Arthur was too honourable for his own good sometimes.
“I didn’t like horses when I was young,” Merlin said, shrugging. Arthur stared at him.
“No, I was just trying to make you feel better.”
Arthur’s pillow hit him square in the face and Merlin laughed, climbing off the chair and moving towards the door.
“Give the pillow back.”
Merlin rolled his eyes and chucked it across the room. He slipped out while Arthur was cursing the fact it had only made it halfway and now he had to get out of bed to get it. But Merlin didn’t go far; he just needed to know, for his own sanity, that the prince would make it back to bed without any further assassins or spiders disrupting Merlin’s evening.