Pairing/s: Arthur/Merlin (if you want)
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: It was cruel and completely unfair to make him do this.
Word Count: 1000
Author's Notes: I qute like writing sulky Merlin.
Of all the prats in the kingdom Merlin could have been assigned to, he figured it was just his luck that he had landed himself with the biggest one of them all. Why people thought it would be an honour to serve someone like Arthur, Merlin had no idea. So much for a reward. When Uther had first mentioned it, Merlin’s heart had fluttered. If it could be something physical, something that he could send to his mother to make a few months just a bit easier…
His reward was to be a moving target for the man’s son, who had decided his ego wasn’t nearly big enough and he had to show Merlin again just how impressive his sword skills were. Merlin didn’t think it really counted when all that was happening was Arthur was battering against a shield that Merlin was cowering behind. There was no other word for it, he was hiding.
But he stuck it out. He thought he had made it through the training session and although Gaius’ words weren’t sympathetic, the old man had certainly known how to stretch out his aching muscles. Merlin told himself he could survive this.
Until an hour later when Arthur called him back out onto the training grounds.
How on earth was that even fair?
“Stop looking like the back end of a dog, Merlin, and pick it up.” Already, Merlin was beginning to hate the way the man drawled his name, but all he could do was roll his eyes and pick up the mace lying at his feet. His grip was tentative and he looked at the weapon in disgust. How he longed to show Arthur what he had truly meant in his boasting back in the market. It certainly wasn’t this.
“What are you doing?” He asked, knowing his voice border-lined on nervousness. It was Arthur holding the shield this time and Merlin was convinced this was some sort of trap. There were guards watching or something along those lines so as soon as Merlin swung, Arthur would have him carted off to the dungeons again.
“What does it look like? Your technique was awful, frankly embarrassing.”
“I seem to remember winning.”
“I seem to remember landing you on the floor with a broom to your head. You had a moment of fortune, that’s all.”
“That’s not fair, I had you on the ground first,” Merlin protested, glaring at Arthur for all he was worth. He knew he had won the first time that his eyes flared gold and no one noticed. It was only Gaius arriving that had changed his fate. Arthur, however, clearly didn’t see it that way considering the way he was smirking back at him. His hold on the shield was lose and it was clear he thought that Merlin offered him no threat even though his servant was armed and he was not.
Filled with a sudden anger at the whole situation, Merlin twisted his hand so that he was holding the mace better and swung for Arthur with everything that he had. It came as no surprise that Arthur easily brought the shield up to meet him, deflecting his blow. What did come as a shock, however, was when he did something to the shield that caused the mace to twist and go flying out of Merlin’s hand. It only narrowly avoided landing on his own foot and Merlin stared at it, his heart hammering in his chest.
“Like I said, your grip is pathetic. Keep your thumb tucked around so you can actually hold it and relax your arm more. If I had moved any faster, that would have jolted your whole arm.”
Now that Merlin had his attention drawn to it, he noticed his arm did ache a touch. Still, he glared at the prince and bent down to pick up the mace.
“You do it if you want to do this so badly.”
“I’m not the one who needs training in what to do.”
“What?” Merlin stared at him. He had thought this was some sort of punishment, a humiliation because Arthur was a prat. Merlin knew he was never going to be any good at weapons, he didn’t have the build for it. More than that, he didn’t have the need for it, but he could hardly tell Arthur that part. Arthur stared steadily back at him.
“You’re hopeless, Merlin.”
“And have absolutely no way to defend yourself. I have no intention of coming back one day and finding you’ve been beaten to a pulp by some noble you decided to insult and that you didn’t get a swing in.”
“You’re doing this so I can protect myself?” Merlin didn’t care that his voice might have risen a notch as he spoke, he just couldn’t believe what he had just heard Arthur say. The man just shrugged.
This time, Merlin decided to do as he was told. He shifted his grip on the mace and at the very last second, wrapped his thumb around it. Arthur’s grinning face told him the prince had noticed and Merlin swung for him again.
Then he felt irrationally proud when he got a second blow in before Arthur disarmed him.
“Again. You need to actually move your feet, correct your balance in time with the swing in order to get more force behind it.”
“Yes, Sire,” Merlin gritted out sarcastically, nursing his elbow. But he found he had bent down to pick up the mace again. And then – as much to his surprise as Arthur’s – he found himself listening to the prince’s advice.
It was only when he was trying to work out whether he had the strength to make it back to Gaius’ later did Merlin think that perhaps it had been fair after all. No one had ever tried to teach him to defend himself before. It didn’t matter that he didn’t need it, Arthur had still tried.
Merlin felt oddly touched.