Title: Seen and Hidden
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: What Arthur hides worries Merlin more than what he doesn’t.
Word Count: 523
Prompt: #3 Scars
Author's Notes: I was aiming for sexy fluff, but all that wanted to come out was angst *sigh*
Pushing the door open with forceful anger, Arthur stormed into his chambers. He quickly unclasped his royal cape and tossed it, with more anger, onto the table. He unbuckled his belt which also held his sword and felt like tossing it too, but the weight of it stopped him. Instead he walked closer to the table and dropped it from a small height. Then he heard the door creak.
He turned to find Merlin standing just inside of it. Arthur glared crossly at his manservant, though Merlin was not the source of his anger. He could tell Merlin wanted to say something but was reluctant to turn into the whipping boy for something he had no control over. Arthur didn’t blame him. He had turned his anger on Merlin enough for his manservant to not want to even be in the same room when he was angry.
But Merlin was almost as stubborn as he was. Without a word, he took a few purposeful steps towards his King. He held his gaze and when he was close enough, reach a hand to his shoulder, walked around to his back and started to remove the armour Arthur wore.
He placed piece by piece on the table, listening and watching Arthur gain more control of his emotions. When it came to his hauberk, Arthur pulled it off himself.
Merlin retrieved the King’s night shirt and began to prepare the bed, though he made sure to position himself so he was still able to watch Arthur change.
As he lifted his tunic, Merlin’s eyes traced across the bare and scarred skin of Arthur’s torso. Some of the scars were quite old and nothing but a sliver of silver. Others were aged, but not as long and the newest ones on his arms and upper chest were pink, with a couple still scabbed and bruised.
The latest scars were from intense sparring sessions with Gwaine and Percival. Or so, that is what Arthur told Merlin. His manservant didn’t believe him. He helped Gaius treat the wounds and he knew Arthur had been missing for hours at a times. What he did away from the castle on his own was anyone’s guess, but what troubled Merlin most was the answer to the question, why?
“Would you like me to get you some more ointment for those wounds, Sire?” Merlin asked, finally breaking the silence.
“No,” Arthur replied simply and then cringed as he moved his arm into a painful position in order to pull his night on.
“Are you sure, Sire?”
“Yes, Merlin,” he snapped. “You can go now.”
Merlin didn’t move.
“Merlin, I said go!” The King’s temper had returned.
He was reluctant to leave Arthur in this fuming state, yet he knew staying may make it worse.
Merlin walked out of the King’s chambers and closed the door, but did not move further. The guards outside the doors paid him no mind as he pressed his ears against wood.
He had to strain to hear, but the muffled sobs were unmistakable. His heart fell heavy as he wished to know what sorrow affected Arthur so deeply.
P.S. For more in this 'verse, see 2. False Representation, 3. Escape Plans, 4. No Escape From Destiny, 5. A Few Wise Words, 6. The Decision, 7. A Sensory Bout, 8. A Good Plan, 9. Timing, 10. Reflection, 11. Time For Change, 12. Surrounded By Truth, 13. Breaking Tradition, 14. Memories Are Golden, 15. The News Is Broken, 16. A Promise Between Friends, 17. Seeing Red, 18. Thoughts and Memories, 19. A Show of Loyalty, 20. For Merlin and For Magic.