evening_bat: Bat in flight, silhouetted against the moon. (Default)
[personal profile] evening_bat
Title: On Feeling Foolish
Rating: PG
Fandom: Merlin
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin
Spoilers: some vague comments about events in 1.01
Wordcount: 780(ish)
Summary: Merlin finds it frustrating.
Notes: Originally written for [livejournal.com profile] merlin_flashfic


Merlin had gotten surprisingly good at keeping dangerous secrets since coming to Camelot, despite his open nature. It wasn't a skill he'd ever thought he'd need but he'd quickly come to appreciate it. In Uther's court, his life literally depended on how well he could keep a secret, after all. He knew that Gaius would snort at the notion of Merlin being discreet but he was still alive and Merlin thought that had to count for something. Recent days had given him even more cause to be grateful for his newfound ability to hide in plain sight, weighing him down with a new secret. It was huge and confusing and it was desperately important that it remain hidden. His magic would only get him killed. If this were ever revealed, Merlin stood to lose something he was beginning to think was more important than his life.

The worst part, Merlin had decided, was that it made no sense. He could understand fancying himself in love with one of the ladies at court, one of the servant girls at the castle, even Gwen, whose good heart and sunny smile could always be counted on to brighten his day. He could have understood that. He might even have enjoyed playing the fool over his lady love. His life was never so simple, though. Of all of the people to find himself sighing over, though, he simply couldn't understand how his traitorous heart could possibly have settled itself on Arthur. It wasn't as if this juvenile, inexplicable crush was going to lead to anything. All it did was tie him up in knots of frustration and he was thoroughly sick of it.

Arthur was his prince, his master, the man to whom royal command and destiny had bound him. Over time, Merlin had come to admire him, to be committed to the dragon's promises of the future that awaited them both. The prince had become a true friend, despite the disparity in their stations and the initial dislike that soured their interactions. Whatever happened, Merlin's life and his magic were at Arthur's disposal, as little as he'd want either. Still, that didn't mean that Merlin was in love with the man! Even if he wasn't the complete prat that Merlin had once named him, Arthur could be an absolute brat at times. There were days when Merlin didn't even like him. Oh, he supposed the prince was handsome enough - or so the servants who gossiped and giggled about him said - but beauty alone wasn't enough to explain this irrational feeling.

Beauty might explain why Merlin found himself wanting to touch the skin over which he layered clothing and armour. It could be the reason he sometimes found himself watching Arthur's mouth and wondering if he kissed as commandingly as he spoke. Desire was something Merlin understood, even if he'd prefer to ignore its sizzle along his skin. But however handsome Arthur was, it didn't explain why Merlin hurt for him when he fought with his father, why his stomach twisted when Arthur doubted himself. It wasn't the reason that Arthur's trust warmed Merlin through and through or why that warmth glowed inside whenever he was able to convince Arthur that he was as fine a prince as he strove to be. Honestly, Merlin wasn't sure if anything could explain how destiny's duty had become one of the greatest joys of his life.

He often found himself dwelling on the question and had to wrench his thoughts away from the path they'd been following. Such musings were of no help at all in dismissing this unwanted fondness for the man he was sworn to serve. There was nothing for it. He'd simply have to continue about his duties and be diligent about hiding this silly yearning. Surely he'd eventually come to his senses and shake off whatever foolishness was clouding his head these days. Once he put things into perspective, everything would go back to normal and he could go back to enjoying Arthur's friendship while he kept the prince alive to fulfill his destiny. If he was more distracted or clumsier about his usual tasks while he got himself sorted out, well, Arthur was well-versed in his manservant's oddities and likely wouldn't notice anything amiss.

*****

Later, he would be amazed at the things he had overlooked while focused so intently on hiding his feelings. He would shake his head at how he'd missed something so plain and laugh at the trouble he could have saved himself. At the time, however, Merlin was concentrating so hard on avoiding Arthur's eyes - or at least tearing his eyes away before he was caught staring again - that he never noticed that Arthur was looking back at him.


Comments are always welcome! Thanks for reading.

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