AN: Hi guys, I'm back. Sorry this has taken so long but I was away on a family holiday for a while and I am still kind of jet lagged a week later. Anyway here is chapter 8 I hope you enjoy it.
The sun rose slowly over Camelot its golden rays illuminating every corner of the ancient castle; it was a beautiful sight to behold, one that not many people got to see. Both Melinda and Arthur were among the lucky few.
A week had passed since the feast where Melinda had saved Arthurs life and earned herself the title of Royal companion. Every morning the two of had risen before the sun and watched as it bather Camelot in light but never had they welcomed the first rays of morning together.
Arthur had watched each sun rise from the window of his royal quarters while Melinda had seen it from the kitchens while she was collecting Arthur's breakfast.
The friends didn't like the idea of one of them waiting on the other but they had agreed that Melinda should at least appear to be carrying out her duty's to ensure that neither of them faced the wrath of King Uther who had made it very clear he did not approve of their friendship.
Each morning Melinda had appeared to fetch a large breakfast for Arthur before heading to the princes cambers to wake him and help him to prepare for the day. In truth what she had been doing was fetching breakfast for both of them before going to meet an already awake and dressed Arthur in his rooms. The two would eat together while discussing what would be expected of Arthur during the coming day.
They would also decide what chores Melinda should be seen to be doing that day and how Arthur could help her with them. It was not unusual for Melinda to be seen mucking out the princes stables late in the evening what no one ever saw was that the prince himself was in there with her doing a fair share of the work
"What is Uther demanding of you today?" Melinda asked as she began to clear away the plates from their morning meal
"The tournament starts tomorrow" Arthur reminded her putting on his boots
"So you will be knocking seven bells out of the knights of Camelot again today" she returned with a smile
Every day for the last week Arthur had taken part in a least one training session with Uther's knights and they had quickly learnt to fear him, Arthur was already being proclaimed the greatest warrior in Camelot and the one to beat in upcoming tournament
"Actually I was thinking that one on one practice would be better today" he told her with a smirk
"Really who is the unlucky participant in this practice?" Melinda asked airily turning to leave the room
Arthurs answer almost made Melinda drop the plates she was carrying
"You can't be serious" she gasped at him.
She had grown up training with him and Will but she had believed those days were over and she had been grateful that they were
"I can be and am serious" Arthur said firmly
"Now run along and change into something more appropriate" he told her casting a look over the brown dress she was wearing
"You can't fight in that" he pointed out the obvious
Melinda nodded finally accepting that he was not joking and left the room without a word
Arthur sighed as he watched her go, he would never admit it to her but he was doing this for Melinda's own good. he knew she did not enjoy fighting she never had she much preferred to magically push someone over and run for all she was worth but he also knew that using her magic was no longer a safe option at least not in Camelot. Something else he would never tell Melinda was that he had seen a number of men's eyes following her and he needed to know that she could fight off someone bigger and stronger that her without using magic if she ever needed to.
A clatter of hooves in the court yard drew him to the window just in time to see the man he considered Melinda's biggest threat dismounting his horse, Knight Valliant had returned to Camelot and Arthur strongly wished that he had not.
The last time Arthur had seen Valliant was before the feast and the man's words and actions had made it clear that Melinda was not safe with him at least he had made it clear to Arthur, Melinda seemed to believe Valliant was only using her to get at him. Arthur didn't care which of them was right because either way Valliant was still a very dangerous man.
When Melinda returned to Arthurs chambers wearing her oldest birches and tunic she found that Arthur was already dressed in his armour well as in it as he could get unaided, she quickly moved to help him, tying cords and fastening clasps with nimble fingers.
"You really should wait for me to help you with this" Melinda commented as she finished
"I can dress myself Melinda" Arthur told her crossly
"Normally yes" she agreed
"In armour no" she shook her head to emphasize her point
"Stop stalling Melinda and come on" Arthur said already half out of the door
Melinda huffed out a breath and followed Arthur to a large muddy field beyond the walls of the city; the only stop they made along the way was at the armoury to collect a helmet and breast plate for Melinda.
As Melinda and Arthur squired off against each other they both instinctively fell into familiar defensive positions, they knew each other so well that they could normally predict what moves the other would make. They also knew each other well enough to know that if Melinda didn't use magic she didn't stand a chance against Arthur
Sparing with Arthur was never a pleasant experience for Melinda she much preferred fighting Will, he was not as big or strong as Arthur and out of the two of them he was also less likely to throw her in the mud
"Are you ready?" Arthur asked in an almost teasing manner
"Am I ever ready?" Melinda shot back
Arthur didn't say anything else before he launched his first attack; he moved quickly and swung his sword with the same precision and force he would use against the Knights of Camelot. He knew that some people would think that his actions were crewel but he also knew the one day his actions could save Melinda's life
When Sir Ector had first started training Arthur, Will and Melinda he had told the boys that if Melinda were ever in a real fight her opponent would not be gentle with her just because she was a girl and if they wanted her to survive that fight when it came they must fight her the same way they would fight each other
Arthur had taken the lesson to heart he had never taken it easy on Melinda every time he faced her he treated her as he would any other advisory.
Melinda stumbled due to the amount of force Arthur was using but she stayed on her feet. She had learnt long ago that when fighting Arthur her best course of action was to avoid as many of his attacks as she could and hope for a soft landing when he finally did knock her down.
Arthur was pleased with how well Melinda handled herself they hadn't sparred in a while and he was worried she may have forgotten everything but she moved well and actually managed to draw the fight out for longer that he had expected.
The fight may have lasted longer than Arthur had thought it would but he had always known how it would end, with one quick motion he swept Melinda's feet out for under her.
"Your dead" He panted down at his friend as he stabbed his sword into the grown next to her
"Not if I do this" Melinda countered tapping his ankle with her foot
Arthur looked down at his own foot in confusion
"How does that keep you alive?" he asked
"Well when I say that what I really mean is this" Melinda corrected herself
A sudden rush of gold filled the eyes that Arthur could just see though the helmet slits and his ankle was pulled out from under him leaving him spiralled in the mud next to Melinda
Arthur wanted to reprimand Melinda for her actions but he found that all he could do was laugh
"Please tell me that practice is over" Melinda begged pulling her helmet off
"Not by a long shot" Arthur told her as he got to his feet and fetched something from the bag he had bought with him. He held it aloft for Melinda to see
"How do you feel about learning to fight with a mace" he asked cheerfully unfurling the weapon
Arthur had expected some snappy come back he had not expected to get a face full of mud. Melinda had grabbed a handful of the slimy stuff she was still sitting in and hurled it at Arthur.
"You do realize that as prince of Camelot I have no chose but to retaliate" Arthur warned her as he wiped the mud from his face and threw the mace aside
Melinda tried desperately to get up and run but the slippery mud beneath her feet was not cooperating with that plan, she was helpless as Arthur charged towards her.
Melinda really tried to put up a fight and she managed to cover both Arthur and herself in mud from head to toe but there was no escape and soon he had her pinned to the ground with his large body hovering over her smaller one
"I win" Arthur told her with a smirk despite the fact he was gasping for air
For one breathless moment Melinda just starred up in to the eyes of her best friend, she knew she could easily rob him of victory using her magic but she just didn't have the heart to do it
"Alright you win" she conceded
"Now let me up you prat"
Arthur carefully got to his feet before helping Melinda up, the friends took one look at each other before busting into peals of laughter
They were still laughing when they stumbled though Gaius's door
"Look at the state of you two" chuckled the physician
"What on earth happened?" he asked
The prince and his royal companion shared a look before answering as one
"Practice" they both said fighting to keep a striate face
"Well you best clean yourselves up quickly" Gaius told them briskly
"Fredric is looking for you something about tournament etiquette" he explained to Arthur
"More lessons" Arthur groaned flopping onto a bench with his head in his hands, he hated this part of being a prince
"Don't worry, they won't be so bad this time I'll be there" Melinda told him playing with his blond locks in a comforting motion
Arthur smiled up at her in thanks but Gaius chose that moment to burst their bubble
"Actually you won't be Melinda, you are to have your own lessons here" he told the young sorceress pushing a huge book of tournament rules towards her. Melinda would have argued with the old man but there was something about the look in his eyes that warned her it would be a very bad idea
Arthur sighed heavily resigning himself to yet another afternoon in Fredric's tedious company, he pushed himself to his feet before he could find an excuse to stay
"It was nice to see you again Gaius" he said smiling warmly at the old man
"Melinda, thank you for training with me and I will see you at dinner" Arthur reminded her before turning towards the door
"Arthur wait" Melinda called to her friend stopping him before he even reached the door and hurrying to his side
"I'll bring your dinner early to save you from Fredric" she promised before pressing her lips to his cheek
As soon as Melinda's lips touched his skin Arthur felt the warm hum of magic flood over him.
"And I already saved you from one of his lectures" she told him cockily
Arthur didn't need to glance down to see that he was no longer covered in mud but he did so anyway just to be sure, he knew he should thank Melinda he always would have in the past but the look of displeasure plastered across Gaius's face told him it would not be a good idea.
"I will see you tonight" he said quickly slipping out the door to avoid Gaius's wrath which was almost as scary as Uther's
"Melinda, what have I told you about your frivolous use of Magic" Gaius warned his ward in exasperation
"I thought I was meant to use magic to protect Arthur" said Melinda in a light teasing tone
"Not from his man servant" Gaius told her firmly
"What happens if you were caught? What do I do then" he asked her sternly
There was a moment of puzzled silence before Melinda curiously asked
"What would you do Gaius?"
"Well if you are more careful we will never need to find out" Gaius said not really answering to question at all
"Why do I have to learn all this again?" Melinda asked Gaius as she sat down in front of the book of rules
"Because regardless of what title Uther gave you, you are still Arthur's servant" Gaius reminded her gently before leaving her to study the book of rules
"Some reward, for saving the princes life" Melinda mumbled for what felt like the millionth time
"I don't think Arthur is particularly pleased with his new position either" Gaius called from behind her
"Oh I know he's not but I think out of the two of us he got the better end of the bargain. He is a prince being fawned over by almost every lady of the court and I am his servant, you should see all the duties I have"
"We all have duties Melinda" Gaius told her
"Even Arthur, he will be King of Camelot one day I don't think either of you realize just how much is expected of him" He explained solemnly
For the first time since being appointed Arthurs royal companion Melinda began to see that no matter how hard she and Arthur tried to keep their friendship the same as it always had been his position and duties were going to make it impossible. While she sadly accepted this she was not prepared to give up her best friend without a fight
In his rooms Arthur was coming to much the same realisation. Melinda's magical clean up may have saved him from one of Fredric's lectures but he still had plenty more to dole out. At the moment he was busy berating the young prince for not keeping Melinda in her place properly
"You must understand Sire that regardless of the relationship you and the girl may have had in the past she is now your servant nothing more" the old man ranted on
"Fredric, Melinda has been my friend since the day she was born, I cannot simply disregard a life time of friendship" he shoot back agitated
"But if you care anything for her you must Sire" Fredric implored him
"What do you mean by that?" Arthur asked sharply
"If you cannot remind your servant of her place the King will do it for you and I can guarantee you Sire you do not want that" Fredric told him in the kindest tone Arthur had ever heard him use
"I tell you this Sire because believe it or not I like Melinda and I do not want to see her suffer as other insolent young ladies have before her" Fredric explained softly
At that moment Arthur wanted nothing more that to forcefully eject Fredric from his rooms, how dare the wizened old goat try to tell him what was best for him and Melinda, he had protected Melinda all his life and being prince of Camelot was not going to stop him from continuing to do so
"Thank you Fredric, I will think on what you have said" Arthur dismissed the man servant with a tight smile trying to hide the anger that was simmering within him
That night when Melinda bought Arthur his meal the two friends agreed that it was no longer safe for Arthur to help Melinda with her chores, they also agreed that Melinda was to use magic as little as possible and that they should try to act more like the other masters and servants in the castle did, at least while other people were around. Neither of them liked it but they knew it was what they had to do if their friendship was to survive in Camelot
Melinda knew that if she was going to be a satisfactory servant to the prince of Camelot she was going to need help so the next day she went to the only trust worthy person she could think of, Gwen
Arthur had given her the morning off while he was training with the knights to prepare for the tournament starting in the afternoon.
The two young ladies spent the morning discussing all the things that Melinda should and shouldn't do before Gwen gave Melinda a final run thought of all the different pieces of armour and how to put them on.
"Why do you even need to know all of this?" Gwen asked as Melinda put Arthur's huge helmet on her own head
"I thought Fredric was Arthur's man servant and you where his companion?"
"Not for long, after this tournament Arthur and I are on our own and if Fredric is to be believe if I continue the way I am I will end up being dragged before Uther for insolence" Melinda told her friend, both of them shuddered at the thought
"How come you are so much better at all of this than me?" Melinda asked Gwen puzzled by how the young woman knew so much about so much
"Well I have been Morgana's maid for the last eleven year so that covers all the court etiquette and as for the armour what do you expect from a blacksmiths daughter" Gwen said with a chuckle
"Well oh wise blacksmiths daughter can you get me out of this thing it weighs a ton" Melinda asked cheekily making Gwen laugh even more.
"Will you be sitting with me and Morgana?" Gwen asked her friend hopefully just before she left
"I wish I could Gwen but I have been told my place is on the sidelines with Arthur" Melinda apologised
"And you wouldn't have it any other way" Gwen smiled at her
"Probably not" Melinda agreed before leaving Gwen's home
It took Melinda about two minutes to decide she did not like tournaments. She watched anxiously clutching Arthur's sword while Fredric dressed him in his armour much more expertly alone that she and Arthur had managed between them so far.
"Are you nervous?" she asked timidly
"Have you ever known me to be nervous Melinda?" Arthur asked in an almost board tone
"Well no but I've never known you to have to face something like this before" She babbled obviously nervous on his behalf
"No I'm not nervous" he reassured her
After a moment Fredric stepped back to survey his work
"Is he ready? He looks ready to me. Do you feel ready" Melinda rambled at both Fredric and Arthur
"I would feel more ready if I had my sword" Arthur told her pointing to the weapon that was still in her arms
"Yes, right you will be needing that" Melinda agreed stepping closer to hand the sword over.
"Don't worry so much Melinda, everything will be alright" Arthur whispered softly to her so that Fredric would not notice.
He gave her shoulder a quick squeeze before making his way to the arena to compete in his first tournament.
So that was chapter 8. I am trying to make the chapters longer so there are less of them per episode because as some of you have pointed out (my younger brother included) that 7 chapters for one episode is a bit much. Please let me know what you think of the longer chapter because it has taken me a while and been a bit of a struggle
Thanks for reading