Title: Unwanted Attention
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gwen, OC
Summary: Sequel to Honor Bound. Merlin is somewhat recovered from his illness. Just in time for a banquet honoring an alliance with Mercia. Unfortunately, the alliance also brings some unwanted attention.
Word Count: 1932 words
Prompt: #84 Interest
Author's Notes: These stories about Healer Merlin are a bit self-indulgent. I just like writing about Healer Merlin! Thanks to everyone who has read, commented, and/or given kudos to these little stories. If it brings a smile to your face or an "awww" then my job is done.
The Lady Gwen lifted her skirt and ascended the stair, feeling a bit anxious. There had not been any news of the Court Healer since Merlin had saved the little girl, then whisked off to the quarters he shared with the king. That had been days ago and Gwen was quite worried about her friend.
Entering the physician's room she called, "Mordred?" She hoped he might have some answers.
The door leading to Merlin's laboratory creaked open and a tousled head poked through the gap. "Gwen? Is that you?"
Gwen stopped short and blurted, "Does Arthur know you're out of bed?" She immediately covered her mouth.
Merlin lifted a brow, looking amused. "Yes, I'm quite sure he noticed."
"Sorry," Gwen said, flustered. "It's just that we heard you were quite ill and well, Arthur usually doesn't let you wander about," she said then bit her lip as she realized that she'd been rather tactless.
"Yes, he can be an overbearing prat." Merlin chuckled fondly. "But I'm used to it."
"I suppose you are," Gwen murmured, smiling as well. Then she looked at Merlin, really looked at him.
Slight smudges shadowed his eyes, but his face was animated. There was a spring in his step as he moved toward her and grandly pulled out a chair from the table, gesturing for her to sit.
"Satisfied?" Merlin asked with a laugh.
Gwen arranged her skirts and settled into the chair. "You look a bit tired."
Merlin shrugged. "I am a little, but really I'm alright."
Gwen nodded and relaxed, the ball of anxiety in the pit of her stomach unraveling. It was so easy to worry about Merlin. He naturally found trouble. "So you'll be attending this evening's banquet?"
"I don't have much choice," Merlin said ruefully.
"If you were not feeling well, you would not have to attend," Gwen pointed out.
"Holding court can be quite tedious, but it is necessary. And tonight's banquet is extremely important. Allying with Mercia is another step in uniting all of the kingdoms of Albion. It may also deter King Cenred from starting a war with Camelot as he is threatening to do." Merlin said with a frown.
"It's that serious?" Gwen asked.
"Unfortunately, yes," Merlin said, still looking troubled. His gaze grew distant and Gwen wondered what he was thinking.
"Merlin?" She called hesitantly.
His blue eyes cleared and they focused on her. "Sorry," he apologized. "Just a bit worried. Cenred isn't someone to be trifled with."
"Neither is Arthur," Gwen reminded him.
"Quite right," Merlin said. "Camelot and her people will be protected."
The dangerous edge to his tone was there and gone again. Gwen was sure she had imagined it.
Merlin couldn't hurt a fly.
The king's table sat at the front of the great hall, the other tables perpendicular to it. Merlin was seated to the right of Arthur with Morgana on Arthur's left.
Merlin pushed his half empty plate away. His appetite was coming back slowly, but he still wasn't all that hungry. He saw Arthur glance at the plate, the corners of his mouth turning down.
"Making peace with Bayard has been a success," Merlin said hastily before Arthur could nag him about his half eaten meal.
"I am quite pleased," Arthur said. "What is wrong with your food?"
"Nothing," Merlin said with a sigh. Arthur worried too much. "I'm simply full."
"You've barely touched what is on your plate," Arthur argued.
Merlin tangled his fingers with Arthur's, giving them a reassuring squeeze. "I'm alright. My stomach is still a bit sensitive, that's all."
Arthur frowned. "Do you need to see Mordred?"
"No, I don't need to see Mordred," Merlin said a little impatiently. "Now stop. I've eaten plenty and I will probably have an apple before bed."
"Fine," Arthur said grudgingly. "I'll have some fruit brought up to our chambers."
"I've already requested it," Merlin said. "Now quit worrying and enjoy the evening." He leaned in close and kissed Arthur.
"I am glad you are here by my side." Arthur squeezed his hand.
"And I shall continue to do so for a long time to come."
They kissed again.
Caught up in the feel of Arthur's lips against his own, Merlin did not notice the heated gaze watching his every move.
At Arthur's behest, Gwen had put together a plate of cheese and bread. Holding it in one hand, she eased open the door of the physician's rooms and entered. At Merlin's door, she raised her hand to knock, but froze when she heard voices.
"You should leave," Merlin's voice rang with authority.
"Not without you," came a high-pitched whine.
Something shattered against the floor.
Alarmed, Gwen slowly pushed open the door and peered inside. Neither person took any notice of her. Merlin stood, warily facing his guest. King Bayard's son was breathing heavily, cheeks flushed. Broken crockery littered the floor at his feet.
"There was no need to break anything," Merlin observed mildly, body tense.
"You have to come with me!" Bayard's son gripped Merlin's forearm.
Merlin carefully pulled out of the grip and took a step back. "William, you know that isn't possible."
William crowded into Merlin's personal space. He wrapped his arms around Merlin's waist, settling a hand on Merlin's arse and giving it a squeeze. "But I could make you so happy."
"Let me go," Merlin said tightly and pushed at William's chest.
"Get away from him!" Gwen cried, rushing into the room. "Leave him alone!"
"It's alright, Gwen," Merlin said calmly, turning his head to look at her. "He won't hurt me. You may leave us."
"Gwen," he interrupted, staring hard at her. "Please go. Now."
Gwen stared at him, eyes wide. She knew exactly what he was trying to do, but she just couldn't leave him alone.
"Go on, Gwen," Merlin urged, eyes flashing gold. "I can handle this."
"You're mine, Merlin. You're mine!" William buried his face in Merlin's neck.
Gwen saw the look of revulsion that crossed Merlin's face and she knew what she had to do. She spun on her heel and exited Merlin's laboratory, flying across the floor of the physician's main room.
At that moment, Arthur came through the door and she propelled into him, sending the plate of bread and cheese to the floor.
"Gwen, are you alright?" Arthur asked, steadying her.
"Yes, yes, I'm fine," she gasped. "Merlin needs help."
Arthur's face darkened and he ran to Merlin's laboratory, bursting through the door.
Gwen followed closely behind.
"What is going on here?" Arthur thundered. "Unhand him at once!"
"You should probably do as he says," Merlin suggested, struggling. "He doesn't really share."
"Merlin!" Arthur barked.
"What? I don't share either!"
"This isn't funny," Arthur said through gritted teeth.
"No, it isn't," Merlin agreed, shoving at William who only held on tighter.
"Mine!" William shouted.
"I don't think so," Arthur said, fists clenching at his sides.
"That's enough," Merlin growled. "William, for your father's sake, let me go."
Arthur grabbed the hilt of his sword.
"No, Arthur, don't," Merlin said urgently.
"Merlin." Arthur took a step closer.
"He's just a little confused, Arthur," Merlin said. "He doesn't know what he is doing. We must not jeopardize the peace we have achieved."
"If he does not let go of you--"
In one smooth motion, William yanked a dagger from some hidden spot on his person and flung it with deadly accuracy at Arthur.
Arthur's eyes went wide, but he was already moving, yanking his sword from his belt.
Gwen saw that the blade was still too close and she covered her mouth in horror.
Merlin roared, his eyes shimmering with gold.
William flew across the room, slammed into a wall, and fell in a heap to the floor where he lay unmoving.
The knife came to an abrupt standstill in mid-air.
Arthur eyed it as it clattered to the floor.
Merlin reached for him. "Are you alright?" he demanded, hands roaming over Arthur's chest, ribs, and stomach.
"Perfectly fine," Arthur answered, grabbing Merlin and holding him close. He looked from the knife to William sprawled on the floor. "You don't do that very often."
"William shouldn't have tried to hurt you," Merlin said, then sighed reluctantly. "I should probably check on him."
Arthur grabbed his arm, holding him in place. "Why didn't you use your magic sooner."
"I'm a healer, Arthur," Merlin said.
"He was trying to hurt you," Arthur yelled in exasperation.
Merlin shook his head. "No, He's just a fool who thinks he is in love."
"It's a little more than that," Arthur said. "He's assaulted the King's Consort. It is within my rights to have him executed for such a crime."
Gwen sucked in a breath. She'd been all but forgotten.
Merlin laid a hand on Arthur's chest. "No, Arthur, that's not the answer." He stared earnestly at Arthur. "We have peace with Mercia. We mustn't ruin what we've achieved."
Arthur still looked angry, ready to leap past Merlin and tear William limb from limb.
Merlin kissed him, tangling his fingers in Arthur's hair and tugging gently.
Gwen couldn't look away, a tingling sensation fluttering in her stomach. They showed their affection for each other in a variety of ways and the entire kingdom knew they were in love, but as the kiss grew more heated she knew she was witnessing something usually a little more private.
Merlin broke the kiss and nuzzled Arthur's cheek. The tension seemed to bleed away from Arthur's shoulders.
"I may not like it, but I see the wisdom of your words. Very well, Merlin, I shall spare him," Arthur said breathlessly. "But he is no longer welcome in Camelot. I will explain to Bayard and it will be settled."
Merlin looked visibly relieved. "It's the right thing, Arthur."
Arthur nodded sharply. His gaze raked over Merlin. "Return to our chambers, Love. I will have the servants prepare a bath for us." He lowered his mouth to Merlin's ear and said something Gwen couldn't hear.
Merlin smiled, a blush staining his cheeks. "As you wish, sire."
Merlin turned toward him.
Gwen hastily stepped forward. "I'll send a servant to fetch Mordred, shall I?"
Arthur looked over at her. "Lady Gwen?" Then he seemed to remember she'd been there the entire time. "Yes, Lady Gwen, that will be most appreciated. I shall wait for Mordred. Perhaps you could see to it that Merlin reaches our quarters unmolested."
Merlin rolled his eyes. "Don't be too long, Arthur."
"I won't," Arthur promised.
Arthur waited for Merlin and Gwen to leave. Then he hunkered down next to William. Arthur slapped him awake.
William stared up at him, dazed.
"Merlin is married to me. He will never be yours," Arthur said in a hard tone. "From this day forward, you are banned from Camelot." He leaned in closer and added menacingly, "Your in interest in my husband is unhealthy. Some might even say deadly. Do I make my meaning clear?"
Eyes wide, William nodded.
Just then, the door opened. Mordred came in accompanied by Gwaine.
"I heard there was some trouble," Gwaine said.
"Stay with Mordred," Arthur said, secretly pleased to see one of his knights. "Once William has been declared fit, escort him to his room. Post a guard."
"Yes, sire," Gwaine said with a nod.
Knowing things were well in hand, Arthur swept out of the room. He would have a quick talk with Bayard.
Merlin was waiting for him.