Pairing/s: None (unless you want there to be, I guess.)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Morgana, knights, Gwen
Summary: He was always standing at his window, watching and envying.
Word Count: 977
Author's Notes: Just me rambling I guess.
Arthur stood at his window, staring down into the courtyard below. This was a position he had mastered years ago, knowing that he was just far enough back and to one side that should anyone glance up, they wouldn’t see him standing there. But he could see them.
For years, it had been the knights coming and going at their duties, and the young prince’s heart had tugged with longing for wanting to be among them. He was jealous of the way people automatically moved for them when they saw the Pendragon red. He knew that he could have the same effect as a prince, but there wasn’t the same look of respect and awe in their eyes, especially considering his young age. He didn’t want people to bow at him and unless they meant it. Hidden in his room, Arthur knew those looks were genuine, for watching people was what he was growing up doing. It was how he was being taught, how he was expected to learn.
Yet all he could feel was envy that he might never get people to look at him in that way.
Later, as he had grown, it had been Morgana he watched. Not because of her beauty, he found the king’s ward to be nothing short of annoying. He knew people were subtly nudging each other when he was forced to escort her somewhere, but he also knew that she felt the same way as him. They were siblings, that was how they knew each other. Nothing was ever going to happen, even the king wouldn’t be able to force that match.
But it wasn’t her beauty. It was the causal relationship she had with her servant. The way the two girls would often just go for an afternoon stroll, enjoying each other’s company and laughing together as friends. They completely ignored the status difference between them, even when people were around. If they were out in the afternoon, it was not as the king’s ward and her servant. Once again Arthur could feel the tendrils of envy sneak into him. How did she have a friend like that? How did she managed to brush aside everyone’s expectations of her as if they didn’t mean anything and simply drift along in such a manner? Arthur would love to know how she did it, but knew that even if he did know the tricks, he wouldn’t necessarily feel confident to carry them off.
Then it had been his own servant he had been watching. The boy had only been in the castle for a few months when the prince caught a glimpse of him out of the window and found himself seeking his usual position so that he could watch. He had so far been claiming that the carefree and easy going nature of the servant was annoying, but watching him out of the window revealed he was the only one to think that. Everyone seemed to want to stop to talk to him, and the lad answered everyone with easy smiles and a look about him that he would have no where he would rather be, despite the fact that Arthur’s breakfast should have been delivered ten minutes ago and he had spent all of that time watching the man out of the window.
The old, familiar curl of envy had tugged at his gut once again. No one stopped to joke around with him like that. No one had an easy smile for him, or pressed a crust of bread into his hand as he passed. No one darted across the courtyard to share just a few words with him. What was it that this man had that he didn’t? Why was he always the one left on the inside staring longingly out? He should have had everything that he wanted by this point in his life, he was sole heir to the throne, after all. So why did it feel like his world was falling apart?
A few more years passed and Arthur found himself staring down at the courtyard again. It was Merlin he was watching, but as usual, the boy was not alone. He was surrounded by knights. Not the same knights that Arthur had spent years watching, but the ones he himself had granted knighthood, the ones who had stood by him despite no one expecting them to. They were all talking and laughing down in the courtyard, a few having just arrived back from a patrol and the others greeting them like old friends. They were old friends, Arthur had to admit. Not just with each other, but with his servant as well. Merlin didn’t look like a servant down there as he punched Gwaine in the arm, clearly a reaction to something the man had just said. He looked like he belonged, despite being the only one not wearing a cloak.
The tug in his gut happened again, and Arthur realised that it wasn’t just envy that he was feeling. It was longing, the need to be on the outside. To be down there with them, to have someone else watching and remarking that he fitted in amongst his men as if there was no difference between them.
And it was at that moment everything changed.
For Merlin turned and looked up at his window. For the first time in years, Arthur knew that he could be seen, that he had stepped forward with the longing and now he was visible to those below. Merlin gave him a charming smile, a wordless invitation before turning at something Lancelot was telling him. Arthur backed away from the window and grabbed his cloak, heading down to the courtyard.
No longer would he stand at the window and envy them. He would be part of the group that was the envy of everyone else instead.