Part 11: link Door’s still closed. Do I knock? I wouldn’t want to walk in on… anything.
Merlin is fretting outside the doors to the royal quarters. The sun is high in the sky, and he is getting nervous about Lord Roderick and his… mood.
He raises his fist to the door, ready to knock, but hesitates. Again. He drops his hand and curses softly, stepping back and right into a bench, which he trips over.
“Gah!” he shouts, hopping on one foot in the corridor.
A moment later he hears the metallic slide and click
of the lock and the door inches open.
Merlin looks up. “Sorry.”
Guinevere’s face emerges in the crack between the doors, and she is laughing at him. “Merlin, how long have آپ been out here agonizing over whether یا not to knock?”
“Long enough,” he says, limping in though the door.
“Ah, Merlin, nice of آپ to شامل میں us this morning,” Arthur says, strolling into from the sleeping quarters, fully dressed. He kisses Gwen on the cheek as she retreats to go dress.
A young maid, seeing the door open, knocks politely and Arthur bids her enter. She scurries past him with a curtsey to go assist Guinevere.
“Sorry, Sire, I wasn’t sure…”
“Quite all right, quite all right,” he waves a hand dismissively. “Did آپ get the letter sent off to Queen Annis?”
“I did, my lord,” Merlin feels off balance. Is this Arthur? He seems almost cheerful.
“So what did I miss yesterday? Any exciting news from the world of armor-polishing and floor-scrubbing? Perhaps some news from the tavern?” he says pointedly. Curse Gaius and his lack of imagination,
Merlin thinks. “Actually, Lord Roderick arrived yesterday.”
“What? He wasn’t due till اگلے week!” Arthur sits. “Why didn’t آپ alert me?”
“Well, آپ did tell me that آپ were to be undisturbed. So I did not disturb you. I did as آپ said: I dealt with it. I wasn’t about to interrupt آپ and Gwen just because that…” he gropes for a word, “…person
was here well before he should have been.”
“Come now, Merlin, surely آپ can do better than that,” Arthur says, leaning back in his chair.
“My lord?” Merlin doesn’t follow.
“Really, the man is a boorish idiot with all the manners of a toad.”
“Ah. Well, I have been mentally
referring to him as ‘Lord Dungball.’”
“Lord Dungball?” Gwen asks, appearing again, dressed in a simple pale blue gown. “Who is Lord Dungball?” To the maid, she says, “Thank you, Daisy,” as the girl hurries out the door again, stifling a giggle at the conversation happening around her.
Arthur stops laughing and says, “Lord Roderick of Clarence. He’s gotten his weeks confused.”
“Well, if Merlin’s calling him ‘Lord Dungball,’ he must be lovely,” she says, leaning against the میز, جدول and crossing her arms in front of her chest. Arthur notes that she’s wearing the dagger on her بیلٹ, پٹی and the hair comb is tucked into her hair, which is pulled back away from her face and long down her back.
“Gwen, آپ have no idea,” Merlin says, turning to her. “The man is the worst
kind of noble. He has absolutely no regard for anyone he sees as being below his station. Which is nearly everyone, as far as I can tell.”
Gwen’s smile slides from her face. Great.
“When I greeted him and remarked that we weren’t expecting him until اگلے week, he treated me like an idiot and کہا that I
was wrong. But then when Leon came up and کہا the same thing, he was all, ‘Oh, terribly sorry, I must have gotten my weeks confused.’ Pig.”
“Thank آپ for the warning, Merlin,” she says, looking a bit uneasy.
“Don’t be worried, my love,” Arthur stands and pulls her into his arms. “You are the queen now. If he has a problem with you, he’ll have to answer to me,” he says. His hand brushes against the dagger at her waist. “And the rest of the kingdom as well, from the looks of things,” he adds.
He kisses her forehead, then turns to Merlin.
“Merlin. Go and tell Lord Dungball that we will breakfast with him in the great hall. May as well get it over with; that way he can slink out of here and be on his way sooner.”
Merlin stares, unused to this Arthur. “You seem very… chipper… this morning.”
“Why shouldn’t I be happy, Merlin? I just got to spend almost the entire دن with my very beautiful and virtuous wife,” he looks back at her and she smiles lovingly at him. “A great weight has been lifted from our shoulders, and آپ not only did an excellent job on the letter to Queen Annis, but آپ exceeded my expectations in keeping us undisturbed, my friend.” He places his hand on Merlin’s shoulder and giving it a pat.
“The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, I’m surrounded سے طرف کی a ridiculous amount of flowers, what’s not to be happy about?”
Merlin stares. He looks over Arthur’s shoulder at Gwen. “Who is this and what have آپ done with the real
Gwen just smiles, chuckling a little.
“Go,” Arthur gives Merlin a gentle shove. “We will meet آپ in the hall.”
He leaves them, shaking his head as he walks to Roderick’s rooms. Should I have کہا something about my suspicions?
He wonders as he walks. Best to wait. Watch him closely at breakfast, Merlin.
As he passes a window, he sees a lone figure riding off, away from Camelot. He peers. Is that…?
Looking around first to کریں تصدیق he is alone, he mutters a word and his eyes flash. He is able to focus in on the rider, as if he is just a few yards behind him. Bertrand. Where the hell is he going? Queen Annis, ruler of Caerleon.
My dear friend, I humbly write to ask a favor of you. As آپ know, King Odin and myself have been at odds for many years now. It is my wish to try and repair this rift and make peace between our two kingdoms. As ally to us both, I beg of your hospitality to stage a meeting between King Odin and myself within the borders of your kingdom. I would like to propose a تاریخ of one ماہ from now, if آپ are agreeable. I will wait upon your reply before dispatching a messenger to Odin.
Arthur Pendragon, King of Camelot.
“Fetch me a length of parchment and a quill,” Queen Annis looks up from the letter and commands her handmaiden.
“Yes, my lady.”
“Make that two lengths of parchment.”
“Yes, my lady.”
Merlin heaves an exasperated sigh. I do feel better knowing that Arthur doesn’t like him,
he thinks. But it doesn’t make this any less unpleasant.
He reaches the door and knocks.
“Who is it?” an irritated voice calls.
“Merlin, my lord. I bring news from the king.”
He opens the door and sees that the lord is not yet dressed. Probably because his servant is off doing God knows what.
His back is to Merlin and he is looking out the window.
“My lord,” he bows slightly, cringing as he does so, “King Arthur and Queen Guinevere bid آپ شامل میں them to break your fast in the great hall.”
“Ah. Very good,” he turns and regards him suspiciously. “Help me dress then, boy.”
Merlin bites back a smile and walks toward him, not relishing his task, but realizing that he’s found a way to make it bearable. “Where… is your servant, my lord? Bertrand?”
“I… ah… sent him on an errand,” Roderick says vaguely as he steps behind the dressing screen.
“What kind of errand?” he asks innocently. He looks to make certain he can’t be seen سے طرف کی the Lord and scans the room quickly, looking for the letter. There is no sign of it. Not on the desk, the table, the bed; nowhere. That means he’s either secured it in his bags, or…
he remembers the sight of Bertrand riding quickly away.
“It is no concern of yours,” the lord snaps, bringing Merlin out of his thoughts.
“Forgive me, my lord, I simply asked because surely whatever آپ sent him for was unnecessary. I’m certain we could accommodate whatever need آپ may have.” Oh, don’t even try to keep up with this game, Dungball, I am so much better at it than آپ are,
“It is still no concern of yours,” he says, walking out from behind the screen. Merlin notices he is sweating. It is not warm in the room.
“My lord, are آپ ill?” Merlin asks, holding the man’s جیکٹ up for him.
“Excuse me?” Lord Roderick asks, shoving his arms, fat and shapeless like sausages, into the sleeves.
“I only ask because آپ seem to be sweating. Generally that is an indicator of excessive heat,” he brushes the lint from the jacket, “exertion,” he straightens his collar, “anxiety,” he steps back and gives him a once over, “or illness.” He hands him his boots.
Roderick takes his boots and stares coldly at the boy, disliking him مزید each second.
“And, since it is not excessively hot in here nor have آپ been exercising…” he trails off for a moment, walking slowly to the door, “And I cannot imagine what آپ could possibly
be anxious about, I merely assumed آپ may be ill.”
“Just looking out for the well-being of our guests, my lord,” Merlin says, opening the door. Roderick sweeps past him and starts marching down the hall.
“Lord Roderick?” Merlin calls after him.
“What?” he snaps back.
“The great hall is this
Arthur and Guinevere walk the corridors of the palace together, heading for the great hall. They pass servants and knights, all of whom bow and curtsey with broad smiles on their faces.
“I cannot get over it, Arthur,” Gwen whispers. “They all seem as relieved about this as we are.”
“That’s because they are, Love. I told آپ when we were married: the people will love آپ because آپ are one of them. آپ have shown in this short time that آپ have not let the fact that آپ are now their queen change who آپ are, and they appreciate that. They love آپ for it, as I do.”
“Well, not exactly
as آپ do…” she says, chuckling.
Arthur laughs, mind drifting back to yesterday. I’m surprised she can even walk today,
he thinks, remembering how much time he spent between her shapely legs the گزشتہ day.
“Are you… sore at all?” he asks, very quietly.
“A little. My one hip aches a touch. Was worth it, though,” she whispers, blushing slightly.
“I thought آپ seemed a bit, um, tender that last time,” he says, stopping to look down at her. “Sorry about that,” he says, caressing her cheek. They had made love two مزید times that night, the last in the dead of night, Arthur drawing her from her slumber with kisses and soft caresses.
“It’s all right, Arthur. If I didn’t want to I wouldn’t have let you, آپ know,” she smirks at him.
The puzzled look on his face tells her that the possibility of her turning him down had not even occurred to him, and she laughs at him.
They continue on their way, meeting up with Merlin and Lord Roderick just outside the doors.
“Ah, Lord Roderick,” Arthur says, striding forward, hand extended.
“King Arthur,” Roderick says, “Good morning, Sire.”
Guinevere hangs back, glancing at Merlin. Bad idea, Gwen.
Merlin is making faces behind Roderick’s back and she is forced to bite the insides of her cheeks to keep herself from laughing.
Arthur turns slightly, reaching back, hand out for Gwen. “Roderick, may I present my wife, Queen Guinevere of Camelot.” Gwen takes his hand and steps forward.
“My Lord,” she raises her hand.
“Your majesty, I am honored to meet you,” he says, his voice insincere as he lifts her hand to his lips. She is a surprisingly unique beauty, as the Lady said,
he thinks, thoughts springing forth unbidden, based on lust alone. He notes her gentle almond-shaped brown eyes, lush, full lips, and of course the creamy light brown cleavage rising above the چولی, آنگی of her gown. And her hand is surprisingly soft for one who was a servant most of her life.
He bends low over her hand so that Arthur will not see that his lips do not actually make contact with it. Guinevere notices, though, and so does Merlin, and the two friends’ eyes meet once again.
“Shall we?” Arthur asks, and Merlin opens the doors.
“Thank you, Merlin,” Arthur says, as he walks in with Gwen on his arm.
They walk to the table, and Merlin strides آگے to stand behind Gwen’s chair and pull it out from the table. Arthur escorts her to her seat, and Roderick chooses a نشست on the other side of the head chair, which clearly belongs to Arthur.
Roderick sits, and Merlin inhales sharply. Arthur turns his head and looks at the lord.
“Ah, Lord Roderick,” he says levelly, “I do not know what the custom in your kingdom is, but here in Camelot, no one sits until the queen is seated. Even me.” He waits, feigning patience, until Roderick sheepishly stands again.
Merlin can see that the lord is fuming inside. He can also practically hear the names Arthur is flinging at the man inside his head, and once again bites back a smile.
He holds Gwen’s hand as she sits in her chair, and once Merlin slides her forward, Arthur and Roderick sit.
Maids from the باورچی خانے, باورچی خانہ come آگے to place plates in front of them. Guinevere thanks them each سے طرف کی name, smiling, and they return her smile. Lord Roderick looks slightly ill.
Merlin pours water for them and hangs in the background to attend them. Really he is just hanging about to be nosy and keep an eye on Lord Dungball.
“So, Lord Roderick, to what do we owe the pleasure of your visit?” Arthur asks, stabbing a sausage. Do not look at Merlin. Do not look at Merlin,
Gwen thinks, lifting a سٹرابیری, اسٹرابیری daintily to her lips.
“Nothing of grave import, Sire, I am merely passing through on my way west, to Cornwall.” He shoves a large hunk کے, hunk of روٹی into his mouth, and Gwen decides that looking at Merlin was much safer than looking at the disgusting میز, جدول manners of the lord. Better to accidentally laugh than to accidentally vomit.
“I simply wished to stop as I had not yet sent condolences for the loss of your father,” he continues, his mouth full, “and neither had I come to pay my respects to the new king of Camelot and congratulate him on his—” he belches loudly, “—nuptuals.” He raised all that fuss for a bloody SOCIAL CALL?
Merlin fumes. Gwen looks up at him and gives him a sympathetic smile. She takes a drink from her goblet and sneaks a sideways glance at Arthur. He looks like he’s debating between laughing and tossing Lord Dungball out the window,
she thinks. I’d wager the window.
“Yes, well, thank you, Lord Roderick, I wish آپ محفوظ travels on your journey and do send our warmest regards to King Mark.” ‘Please leave after breakfast,’
Merlin mentally translates with a smirk.
“I will certainly do so, my lord,” Roderick says, and his eyes surreptitiously watch Gwen as she carefully slices a bite-sized piece of her sausage before spearing it with her fork and bringing it to her lips. Humph. Her manners are impeccable. Someone must have spent time training her carefully.
“Have آپ any family, Lord Roderick?” Gwen asks. I really don’t care, but I should say something.
“No, my lady, I do not. I have not yet found a suitable lady of the court to make my wife and bring me heirs,” he says.
“You have time yet, I’d wager,” she says, managing a smile. I would not wish آپ on any woman.
She also cannot help but notice the pointed way he کہا ‘lady of the court.’
“You are kind, but as each سال passes it looks مزید and مزید as if my wealth and lands will pass to my younger brother, Eldrick.” Oo, his parents were creative, oh yes, very original,
Merlin thinks, biting back a chuckle as he steps آگے to refill Arthur’s goblet. I’ll bet he has a brother called Frederick as well.
“Thank you, Merlin,” Arthur says, noting the momentary look of surprise on the Lord’s face when he hears the king thank his servant for the سیکنڈ time that morning. Merlin nods and steps to fill Gwen’s goblet as well
“No thank you, Merlin, I’m fine,” she tells him.
“I could do with a top-up, boy,” Roderick says, waving his goblet at him. I bet I could دکھائیں Merlin a thing یا two about the proper use of a water jug as a weapon,
Gwen thinks, smiling behind her goblet as Merlin takes his sweet time walking around the میز, جدول to Lord Roderick.
“Well, at least it would stay within the family, then,” Arthur says, back on the topic of Roderick’s lack of heirs.
He shrugs. “Don’t know how much good that would be; the boy’s an imbecile.”
Merlin actually laughs at this, which he deftly turns into a cough.
“All right there, Merlin?” Arthur asks, trying to hide his own amusement. Lord Dungball referring to someone
else as an imbecile? His brother must barely be sentient.
“Yes, Sire,” cough,
“Thank you. I think… a,” cough, cough,
“fly flew in my mouth یا something.” Merlin pounds his chest dramatically. “Ahem. I’m okay now. Sorry.”
“Quite all right. Mm,” Arthur downs the rest of his goblet wipes his mouth with his napkin. “Terribly sorry, Lord Roderick, but I must attend to the training of my knights.”
Gwen shoots him a look. Don’t آپ dare leave me alone with him!
“Merlin will send to the stables for your horses so آپ may continue on your way before the heat of the دن sets in,” he finishes.
“Actually, Sire, might I accompany you? Seeing the knights of Camelot in training is a rare opportunity, indeed,” Lord Roderick asks. Don’t do it, Arthur,
Merlin thinks. He takes a deep breath, uneasy.
“No harm in that, I guess,” Arthur replies. Gwen can tell he’s not exactly thrilled سے طرف کی the proposition, but he can hardly refuse such a simple request.
“I must visit the kitchens to review the menus for the week anyway, my lord,” Gwen says, and Merlin walks around to pull her chair out, looking sideways at Lord Roderick to make sure he behaves this time.
Merlin pulls Gwen’s chair out, and Arthur stands, holding his hand out for her. Roderick decides it’s probably محفوظ for him to stand as well.
Gwen smiles warmly at Merlin, then turns her attention to Arthur. He takes her other hand in his.
“I won’t be long, it’s just training. We can have lunch together. Hopefully alone,” he says quietly to her. Merlin decides to be extra noisy clearing the plates so that Lord Roderick cannot eavesdrop.
“I would love that,” she says, smiling up at him.
He releases one of her hands to run a finger along her cheek softly before bending to kiss her.
“Love you. See آپ later,” he tells her. He squeezes her hand gently before turning back to the lord.
The two men head for the door, and Arthur calls back over his shoulder, “Merlin, are آپ coming?”
“Yeah,” he calls, but Gwen detains him.
“He’ll be along in a few minutes, Arthur,” she says, and Arthur waves his hand, acknowledging her words. This ‘king’ is being led around سے طرف کی his wife and his servant,
Lord Roderick thinks disdainfully. I expected better from the son of Uther Pendragon.
Part 13: link