Title: Pep Talk
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur (if you wnat)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin,
Summary: Merlin knew exactly what to say.
Word Count: 1000
Author's Notes: Based around 3x12/13
The prince looked up, then glanced away. “Leave me be, Merlin.”
He was too tired to deal with his servant now. Morgana had betrayed them. Everything he thought he knew had come crashing down around him. His father was a prisoner, as were half of the knights. Arthur knew he was lucky to escape with his life and that, even now, Morgause would be using her magic to try and track him down.
But for the first time in his life, he had no desire to fight back. No plan was forming about the revenge he was going to take on his enemies. How could he when he loved them? There had been a time, a time long ago when his father’s fists had spoken louder than his words, where Morgana had been the only one to defend him. And now…
Arthur didn’t want to fight back. Everything he thought he knew was gone and he realised how lost he felt.
Merlin backed away as the troubled thoughts swirled in the prince’s mind. But then he stopped and Arthur forced himself to look up again.
“I told you to go.” He knew he was being harsh, but he didn’t care. He knew Merlin would ignore him and do his own thing. It was what he had always done. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he noted that Merlin didn’t seem surprised. Saddened, yes, but not in the same way as Arthur. It was almost as if he regretted it had come to this rather than being unable to believe it. Arthur didn’t let himself dwell on it though. Merlin was the only thing that hadn’t been taken from him yet.
“Arthur, you can’t sit here and sulk.”
Arthur scoffed and turned his head away. “I’m still a prince, even if I don’t have a kingdom. I can do as I will.”
“You do have a kingdom. You just have to take her back.”
“What for?” Arthur sat up straighter, eyes glinting in anger in the dim cave light. “Why should I fight for those who turn away from me?”
“Not everyone is against you!”
Arthur shook his head. “They deserve better than me.”
“Arthur-,” Merlin didn’t seem to know what to say and Arthur would have made a comment about that being a first if his heart was in it. But as his servant came to sit down next to him, Arthur looked away to make sure that Merlin couldn’t see the tears pricking his eyes. He couldn’t stop himself; he had never felt so lost and there was no king to tell him what to do now.
Merlin’s hand rested on his arm and Arthur couldn’t bring himself to shrug it off.
“You don’t need orders from a king to do the right thing,” Merlin said softly and Arthur stiffened as if the man had read his mind. “Your people haven’t deserted you. Your men haven’t left you. They are just waiting for you to lead them.”
“I don’t know how, not anymore.” Arthur hadn’t planned on saying anything, least of all admit to the insecurities he was feeling. But he had always doubted himself and his father’s attitude had never helped. Now, out here with just a handful of men and his servant, he truly didn’t think he was worthy of taking back the kingdom. It was his fault anyway; if he hadn’t lost the cup, then none of this would have happened.
“Yes, you do.” Merlin’s grip on his arm tightened to such an extent that Arthur winced, finally facing his servant out of surprise if nothing else. “Search yourself, Arthur. Your heart knows what you need to do.”
“My heart is dead.”
Arthur blinked. He had never heard Merlin sound that angry and he watched as the servant stood up, staring down at him with his hands on his hips.
“I’ve watched you overcome every fear you have ever faced, every insecurity you have ever felt. Don’t deny it, Arthur, I know you too well. You’re not infallible and you have never let that stop you before. Why are you giving in to insecurities now? You know you can do this.”
“Can I?” Arthur meant it to be mocking as he gestured around the cave they were currently hiding in. Merlin dropped to his knees and grabbed his hand.
“Yes,” he said simply. “You can. You may not have a king here to give you an order, but you still have men ready to follow your orders. They believe in you, Arthur. I believe in you. All you need to do is believe in yourself and Camelot will be yours before you know it.”
Merlin held his gaze until Arthur was the first to look away. This time, his servant did leave him, but he left him pondering everything that had just been said. Arthur had always known that Merlin was loyal, but he had never considered how far that stretched. He hadn’t been lying, or telling Arthur what he thought he needed to hear. Merlin would never do that. He had believed what he said and his belief was genuine.
The more Arthur thought on it, the more he felt himself straightening, plans beginning to flicker at the back of his mind. What if Merlin was right and he could do this? What if his father constantly making him feel like he couldn’t do this his entire life was now the reason why Arthur was cowering in a cave?
He stood up.
He was Arthur Pendragon, Crown Prince of Camelot and sole heir to the throne. It didn’t matter what Morgana claimed, the throne was his, not hers. If he wanted to protect the people, he had to put aside his own fears, mask them with courage and march into battle. There was no other choice.
His insecurities made him human, Arthur could see that now. He knew he was weak, and that was why he would never become like Morgana.