Title: Escape Plans
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Leon, Gwaine, Gwen, Gaius
Summary: Continuing from Seen and Hidden and False Representation.
Arthur wants to escape the castle environment.
Word Count: 992
Prompt: #5 Crown
Author's Notes: Potentially read alone, but in the Seen and Hidden ‘verse. Comments and hugs make me happy. Enjoy!
Sitting through court and making decisions as the King of Camelot was all well and good, but Arthur needed to get out of the castle environment. A quiet patrol in the forests in the direction of Ealdor might just do the trick.
He walked up to Leon and pulled him away from the rest of the courtiers mingling around. “Get Gwaine and a couple of the younger knights together, then met me at the stables. I’ll find Merlin to get some supplies for a patrol and we’ll leave well before nightfall.”
Arthur turned to depart when his words registered in Leon’s brain. “Sire, are you sure you should be going--”
“Yes, just go get Gwaine and the knights,” Arthur ordered, cutting his top knight off before he could finish the question. Leon didn’t try to question his King again. He moved hastily towards the exit, thinking about where he might find the energetic knight.
“Gaius, where is Merlin? I can’t find him anywhere.”
“I’m not sure, Sire. I think he might be down in the lower town shopping with Guinevere.”
“What’s he…,” Arthur started to ask, but stopped after he thought of an answer he didn’t like. “Never mind. Thanks Gaius.”
“You’re welcome, Sire.”
Arthur’s royal cape billowed as he strode across the courtyard. People before him made sure to make a clear path as soon as they heard his angry footfalls and saw the metal crown glistening in the sun, albeit not as brightly as his naturally golden one.
His path took him past the stables. Sir Leon and Gwaine stood alongside two horses while two young knights, Gareth and Daniel, along with a couple of stable hands were preparing saddles for the other horses. Gwaine was the first to spot the King.
“Hey Arthur! Do you think it is a good idea to go strolling down to the lower town with that hunk of gold still wrapped around your head?!”
Arthur’s step faltered. He’d forgotten he had been wearing the crown during the morning’s discussions.
As Arthur was about to respond to Gwaine’s comment, he caught sight of Guinevere passing through the entrance to the courtyard. She seemed to be laughing at something Merlin, who had turned the corner beside her, had been saying which had left his wide, enchanting smile paraded across his face.
The King was now focused on his reason for storming through the courtyard in the first place. He fixed his glare at Merlin, waiting for his manservant to notice but it was Guinevere whose gaze caught Arthur’s first. She stopped laughing, her face going deadpan.
Merlin picked up on her change in demeanour and looked for the source. When his eyes met Arthur’s, he knew he was in trouble, but for what he wasn’t sure.
“Do you have any idea how long I’ve been looking for you? You were supposed to be polishing my armour, getting my clothes laundered and helping Gaius. Instead, I hear you went shopping with Gwen in the lower town! I needed you to gather some supplies for a patrol this afternoon but you weren’t where you were supposed to be. How am I meant to get a message to you in a hurry if you are not where you say you’re going to be?”
Merlin detected Arthur’s anger growing stronger with every word he spoke, his facial expressions complimenting his voice. He wasn’t sure whether Arthur really wanted an explanation or whether he just wanted to let off steam.
Behind them, Gwaine was commenting to Gareth. “Remind me to thank Merlin later for turning the King’s attention away from me.”
It was a shame Arthur has paused as Gwaine was half way through the comment.
“Don’t think you’ll get away with defaming the crown, Sir Gwaine.” Arthur used his title to remind him of the manner in which he expected his Knights to behave in public. The smile disappeared from Gwaine’s mouth and he stood straighter without Arthur even having to look at him. Arthur was still facing Merlin and Guinevere, calmer but still stern.
“I’m sorry, Arthur,” Gwen said, using the King’s name instead of a title in an attempt to remind him they were all human and all friends despite rank whether they choose to see it or not. “We didn’t mean to be away from the castle long. Gaius needed some things and I wasn’t needed much after lunch so I asked Merlin to come with me. He said he’d finished the chores you set him and we didn’t know you had plans for this afternoon.”
Arthur listened to Guinevere’s reasoning and even though he thought she made a good point, he didn’t have to like it.
“Just because I didn’t have any plans, doesn’t mean I wouldn’t make any.”
“You should get back to the castle Gwen,” Merlin said. She looked at him and then at Arthur and could see there was something she was missing but she knew now wasn’t the time to ask.
“Thanks for coming with me,” she whispered to Merlin, then gave a slight bow to Arthur before moving off to the King’s side and past him back to the castle.
When she was gone, Merlin spoke again. “What are the plans? Where are we going?” He wanted to ask why as well, yet somehow knew it would not be wise at this point.
“We are going to patrol the forest areas towards your home town,” Arthur stated simply. Merlin raised an eyebrow in some likeness to Gaius. He lowered it as soon as realised.
“For how long?”
“We’ll ride back in the morning.”
“I’ll go and gather some things then.”
“Thank you, Merlin,” Arthur said with a condescending smile. Merlin took a few steps towards the castle before Arthur remembered. “Wait.” He removed the crown from his head and handed it to Merlin. “Now hurry up. I want to be gone before he gets any closer to nightfall.”