A/N: My first foray into the Merlin fandom—well, writing in the Merlin fandom. God knows that I've read enough! I hope this measures up to some of the amazing fics I've read, although it probably won't quite make it to that level. Feedback=love. Pretty please?
At first all Arthur had felt was irritation. Who was this boy, this Merlin, to tell him he was wrong? Never before had anyone servant—or anyone at all, other than his father and Morgana—dared to undermine him like that. And then he kept cropping up in places. Around the castle, around the village, Arthur would catch a glimpse of dark hair, clumsy footfalls, and horrible ears that stuck out. And then when the Lady Helen had turned out to be none other than the mother of the man executed earlier week and Merlin of all people had saved his life, he was as confused as was possible. His father, of course, had been completely oblivious to the slight hostility between the two, and had decided that a fitting reward would be to make Merlin his manservant. Honestly, Arthur loved his father, he really did, but sometimes…
But then Merlin had grown on him. The set-backs—that he was the absolutely worst manservant he had ever had, and that he had no sense of respect for authority—didn't seem to matter when Arthur came back from a stressful meeting with his father, and had been yelling at and scaring servants all across the castle, and Merlin just yelled back—well. It shouldn't have been a good thing, but it was gratifying like nothing else. As the weeks turned to months, and Merlin proved himself devoted in his strange way—lying to the King for Arthur, lying to his mentor, Gaius, for Arthur, saying he would be happy to serve till the day he died, for Arthur—sometimes it was overwhelming, but mostly it was just extremely reassuring to have someone who treated him like Arthur, and not the prince. Well, someone who wasn't Morgana. Arthur found himself, rather reluctantly at first, then faster and faster, thawing when it came to Merlin.
When Merlin dealt with Arthur when he was "in love", enchanted or otherwise, and picked up the pieces when it turned out not to be real, Arthur was glad. Even when Merlin stood his ground when practically everyone else ran in the face of Arthur's misdirected rage, Arthur was glad. But when Arthur fell in love once more, with Merlin's best friend Gwen, and Merlin was nothing if not supportive, Arthur…wasn't glad. Maybe he wanted Merlin to yell that he was taking advantage of her, that it wasn't right, that it would never work, that she was his best friend, for the gods' sakes, but Merlin didn't. He delivered flowers to Gwen for him, sent notes for him, organized meetings for him…and Morgana shook her head whenever she saw Arthur and Gwen, and Arthur pretended not to notice, and not to know why. But he did. He knew all too well, that Gwen wasn't his to take, and that the reason he "loved" her was because she told him to stop being obnoxiously superior, and treated him like a normal person. Well, relatively. Relative to the way everyone else treated him, except Merlin.
And so he told Gwen, for the second, and hopefully last, time, that they would never work, because each of them would always be thinking of someone else. And Gwen understood, agreed even, and Arthur was glad of that, because she was one of the best friends he had ever had. But she wasn't…well, she wasn't Merlin. That was the crux of the matter, wasn't it? She would never be Merlin, or be valuable to Arthur in the way that Merlin was, merely in a different way, the way Morgana, and Gaius, and even his father were. But Merlin...he was different.
And so Arthur, who had been icy at first, but then had thawed, was now melted completely, completely vulnerable. And he hoped Merlin knew it, that that was the reason he said nothing about the way his eyes flashed gold every so often, or that Arthur came back home alive one time too many to be possible. Because it didn't matter to Arthur. It was Merlin.
A/N: That was…long. And it rambled. A lot. But I think that that's the way that I write! Review, please? (I would say to click on the button, but they changed it. So now, click on the boring blue link, please!)