Title: False Representation
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Continuation of Seen and Hidden. The next morning brings more unanswered questions.
Word Count: 761
Prompt: #4 Surrender
Author's Notes: I have some idea where I want this to lead now and I’m happy to say the mood is
Merlin stayed outside Arthur’s door and waited until his King’s soft crying seemed to subside. He heard the sound of the bed covers being tossed aside and Arthur climbing under the covers. He decided to wait a while longer, but it wasn’t too long before faint snoring reached his ears and Merlin’s conscience allowed him to return to his own room.
The next morning, Merlin rose at first light and went down to the kitchen to collect Arthur’s breakfast. He grabbed something small for himself to eat on the way up to the King’s chambers.
When he reached the door, one of the guards opened it for him because his hands were full and he slipped quietly inside. He placed the plate and jug of wine on the table. Seeing Arthur’s blonde hair still spread messily across his pillow, Merlin walked to the window and pulled open the curtains. He heard a groan come from the direction of the bed and rustling of sheets.
Arthur was awake and he did not want to get out of bed. This wasn’t unusual for the King, but after the previous night’s behaviour Merlin wanted to be sure Arthur started today in a good mood. Not wanting to get out of bed wasn’t a positive start.
He left him, for the time being, going to his cupboard instead. He pulled out an outfit and placed the items of clothing on top of the screen Arthur dressed behind.
Merlin looked around the room for something else that needed to be done, but there was nothing. He had finished everything the previous day, bar polishing Arthur’s armour and that could wait.
He gave up and sat on the opposite side of the bed to where the King lay. “Arthur,” he began tentatively. He received a groan that sound awfully like his name in response. He tried again.
“Arthur, it’s morning. Your breakfast is on the table, your clothes are out and you have duties to attend to.”
“Why?” came Arthur’s more audible reply.
“Because you’re the King, remember?”
“How could I forget?”
Merlin knew the question was rhetorical, but he couldn’t help but answer it in his mind. I could make you. I have made you in the past. He chuckled inwardly at the image of Arthur hugging a tree. Outwardly, he ignored the remark.
“Don’t make me drag you out.” He got to his feet as he said it.
Arthur knew Merlin would make good of the threat because he had done so a few times in the past. As much as he would rather stay where he was, he would prefer to move via his own steam. So before Merlin could reach his side of the bed, he surrendered and pushed aside the bedcovers. He moved his legs to dangle at the side of the bed before sitting and placing his feet on the cold floor.
He looked up into Merlin’s stupidly grinning face and rolled his eyes. He pushed himself off the bed and made his way behind the dressing screen. He couldn’t stand to look at the happy emotion on his manservant’s face for long. Not when he felt the opposite.
He began the familiar task of exchanging his night clothes for his general outfit of shirt, trouser, vest and belt; his mind drifting to the previous night’s events.
Arthur was trying, he really was, but people’s perceptions were not as easily changed as what he’d originally thought. So much had happened since his father’s death and he did not take the same approach to ruling Camelot as Uther had. Yet, people could not forget the ruthless way Uther had dealt with magic. They believed Arthur had all the same views as his father in this area, but they were wrong.
He stepped out from behind the screen fully dressed and saw Merlin fussing about his bed. He wondered if Merlin thought he was like his father? He couldn’t, could he? Surely they spent enough time together for Merlin to know he wasn’t, right?
Arthur flopped into the chair at the table and pulled the plate of food towards himself. He ate for a couple of minutes, not thinking.
“Do you think I take the same attitude to magic as my father did?”
The words came rushing out before he could think of the consequences.
“Sire?” Merlin questioned, shocked at the abruptness of Arthur’s words.
“Forget it,” Arthur said quickly before Merlin had time to think of a proper response. He tucked into his breakfast again and tried to follow his own directive.