Title: Silence isn’t all that golden.
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gaius
Summary: When Arthur is assigned a servant who doesn’t talk at all, it shouldn’t be a problem. But he drove Arthur crazy anyway.
Word Count: 917
Camelot_drabble Prompt: pt 457: pure
Author's Notes: unbetaed, A child or adult with selective mutism does not refuse or choose not to speak at certain times, they're literally unable to speak. But they are able to speak and communicate in settings where they are comfortable, secure, and relaxed.
Disclaimer: Merlin characters are the property of Shine and BBC. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Arthur wasn’t happy. The servant his father assigned him was a problem. Unable to speak, although clearly useful in a royal household where everything was a secret and most couldn’t keep from gossiping, this new kid, Merlin, was loud, as in moving around a lot loud.
It was pure torture. Pulling Arthur out of bed and throwing clothes at him, his hands flying around his head as he tried to tell Arthur about meetings and chores and how Arthur was really really late, this Merlin was a veritable whirlwind of energy. It was exhausting.
In a way, Arthur thought it might be better if Merlin could talk. At least, then Arthur could tell him to shut up, could scream a bit at him or shove him around when he wouldn’t stop babbling nonsense.
But yelling at the kid would be like kicking a puppy. Merlin couldn’t yell back and Arthur abusing him was just not honourable.
When Arthur asked Gaius about it, the physician went on and on about disorders and anxiety and not speaking unless Merlin was comfortable and happy around the person. Arthur got lost about halfway through, but when Gaius said it was a problem for Merlin but not for the kingdom, well, there wasn’t much Arthur could do about it.
Still, Arthur tried to be nice. He gave Merlin a list of chores, not too over the top unlike his last three manservants, and explained things in a loud and precise voice—although Merlin rolled his eyes at that and winced a bit.
In general, Arthur played a perfect prince. It drove him crazy.
It must have driven Merlin crazy, too. He started writing things down, then shoving them under Arthur’s nose, gesturing with those long fingers of his. It was like arguing with air, angry air, air who kept pointing to words on the page and scowling.
Finally, Arthur had had enough of being polite and understanding and perfect.
He’d been chewed out by his father, he’d missed a simple manoeuvre in training and ended up in the mud—and there was snickering behind him as he lay there, the report he was supposed to be writing ended up with ink spilled all over it and he’d have to rewrite it and it had taken hours already, and Merlin, silent Merlin, misplaced his favourite sword again.
The last straw was when he saw Merlin talking to Gwen in the courtyard. Like it was nothing. Like it was Arthur’s fault that Merlin was silent around him and him alone.
When Merlin finally showed up, Arthur said, “Your services are no longer required.”
Merlin’s mouth opened, then snapped shut. Frown thunderous, hands busy writing something down, as he shoved the paper at Arthur, his whole body was trembling with fury.
You can’t sack me. I quit, you pompous supercilious dollophead, Merlin wrote.
In the back of his mind, Arthur wanted to know how a peasant learned to spell supercilious. Or write, for that matter?
But mostly he was just grief-stricken. He thought that they had been getting along, he thought that someday they might even be friends, sharing secrets, telling jokes and trading insults, having each other’s backs in a firefight. Instead, it was clear he was just an employer and never anything more. “Gaius told me about why you can’t talk. That… well, you have to trust someone first. And while we’ve had our differences, I thought….” Arthur threw aside the note, then sat down, not looking at Merlin. “It doesn’t matter what I thought.”
For a long moment, Merlin just stood there, staring down at Arthur. Then he reached over and patted Arthur’s hand.
Straightening, he pointed to himself, then to Arthur and then clasped his two hands together, entwining them into a single curl of fingers. When Arthur just looked at him because he had no idea what Merlin was trying to say, Merlin huffed, then wrote, You throw things at me, but you miss, too. You hide your noble heart by yelling at me. You are an idiot.
“I’ll have you know that I don’t miss. Ever.” Arthur glared up at him, daring him to disagree.
Merlin grinned, rolling his eyes, then gesturing, his hand skimming past his ear, as if he was pretending it was a goblet missing him by inches.
Arthur reached over, grabbing more paper, balling it up and tossing it at Merlin. Who promptly tossed it back.
Before he knew what had happened, there were wads of paper everywhere—his father would have a fit at the waste, and they were both laughing.
Arthur finally said, “Can’t you trust me, even a little?”
Merlin gave a slight nod, a quick tentative smile. He opened his mouth, then closed it again, biting at his lip.
Seeing how difficult it was for Merlin, Arthur’s disappointment bled away. He knew just how hard it was to trust someone. He’d been let down often enough. “It’s okay, Merlin. It’s not something to be pushed or held to a time frame. But I hope… well, never mind, just forget it.” Looking down at the original note, Arthur said, “But this… dollophead? What the hell is a dollophead?”
Hesitating, then Merlin grinned, pointing to Arthur. “Prince Arthur.”
It was the two most wonderful words Arthur had ever heard. “You made that up, didn’t you?”
Merlin’s grin widened. “I have more.”
“I look forward to hearing every one,” Arthur said, and then lobbed another wad of paper at Merlin.
Merlin chucked it back.
Also, FYI, I finished my last drabble with a second chapter. Candle in the Wind