Title: Ripple In Reality
Pairing: PRESLASH Merlin/Arthur
Fandoms: merlin/legend of the seeker
Disclaimer: Don't own
Summary:; When a spell gone wrong sends Zedd and Richard to Camelot, Merlin finds & helps them. As Merlin's supposed childhood friend, Richard gains the love of everyone but Prince Arthur Pendragon, who might be a little jealous of him with Merlin.Go To Previous Chapter
Arthur had been a fouler mood than usual.
As Merlin sat by the fire in the prince's room, mending one of his shirts, he sent the blonde a quick look, wondering what it was that was obviously bothering him. He wondered if the fact that Richard had beaten him the other day at fighting had truly damaged his oversized ego this badly, but Merlin couldn't help but think that there was something else.
He'd never seen Arthur like this before.
And it worried him.
Merlin could see that Arthur really didn't like Richard, and that made no sense. He would have thought that Arthur would take to Richard the same way he had to Lancelot once upon a time ago. All the good qualities that made up Lancelot were in Richard, the only difference was that unlike the aforementioned man, Richard was obviously a born leader instead of a devoted follower. And while Arthur mightn't be used to other strong, leadership types, it didn't make sense that he would be this against Richard just because of that.
It just didn't.
Richard was nice, courteous, and helpful to a fault.
Everyone in Camelot like Richard Cypher.
Uther was impressed by his fighting skills.
Morgana was impressed by the fact that he believed women could fight as good as men.
Gwen and the servants adored how he'd put down whatever he was doing and help them without being asked.
The knights all enjoyed sparring with him.
And Merlin, Merlin just liked being with Richard, being able to talk to someone his age. He'd listened to Richard's stories, of the world where he came from, where magic wasn't shunned but treasured. Magic was a way of life in Richard's world, and Merlin couldn't help but resent the fact that he himself had not been born there.
Life would have been so different if he'd been born in a place that accepted him-if his mother hadn't feared for their lives from the first moment his magic manifested itself.
He liked to sometimes imagine that Richard and Zedd had been born in this reality, while he and Arthur in the other. He could imagine Arthur as the prophesied Seeker of Truth, with Merlin by his side as his Wizard of the First Order. He even imagined Morgana along as the Confessor Richard had mentioned, if not only because there was no other female from his reality that Merlin could imagine fighting amongst the men and wielding the power to Confess someone with just a touch of her hand.
The thought of being able to be next to Arthur, not as his servant but as his friend and equal, fighting side by side in battle, steel and magic...it filled the young warlock with a melancholy that kept him from sleeping at night.
A sigh escaped Merlin's lips, as he forced himself out of his fantasies and instead concentrated on what was happening right now in his own reality.
Arthur had been taking his bad mood out on him, coming up with a million different chores Merlin needed to do (which could only be done in Arthur's chambers), and that left Merlin with less and less time to spend with Richard. The Seeker would soon be returning to his own world, and Merlin had to admit that he resented his master for keeping him from his friend during the little time they had left together.
"Will you stop sighing like some lovesick milkmaid?" Arthur finally snapped, turning from the window to glare at him. "If you find it so hard to be apart from Cypher then maybe you should ask him if he needs a manservant."
Merlin blinked, looking up from the garment he was mending, a little confused and hurt. "Excuse me?"
"You've been mooning over him ever since he got here. Don't deny it Mer-lin." Arthur growled. "Everyone is love sick over him! But you? You're worse than even the maids! You weren't even this bad when Lancelot came."
Merlin frowned, not exactly sure what the problem was. "Of course I like him, and I liked Lancelot too. And what's wrong with everyone liking Richard anyway? He's nice, and charming and friendly. You'd like him too if you weren't so annoyed by the fact that he actually bested you in front of the knights."
"He caught me off guard. That is all." Arthur glared, eyes darkening. "If we fought again I'd win."
"No one's doubting that you're the best swordsman in Camelot, Arthur." Merlin frowned in confusion, really not understanding what about losing one little friendly match could have upset his prince this much.
Arthur opened his mouth, and then closed it, turning his back to Merlin once more.
Merlin kept eyeing his back, wanting to help desperately, but he couldn't as long as Arthur continued doing that stubborn 'I'm the prince, I don't need help' thing that he always liked to do. If he would just talk to Merlin, if he'd express just what it was about Richard that he didn't like, Merlin was sure he'd be able to help, to resolve this.
A knock sounded at the door.
Arthur turned towards it. "Come in."
Richard peeked his head in. "I'm sorry for the interruption, Sire, but I was wondering if Merlin was finished with his chores."
With a quick flash of gold which the others didn't notice because they were looking at each other, Merlin finished mending the last garment, and smiled. It would do him some good to be away from Arthur so that he didn't have to be so distracted and worried. "Yes, I'm done. We should go now."
"Go where?" Arthur frowned, looking between them, tense and displeased and nearly crackling with something dark and primal that Merlin just couldn't recognize. "I thought you said that after you were done here you needed to do some things for Gaius."
"I do." Merlin nodded, going to Richard's side, wanting to get out of there before Arthur snapped and ordered him to do some other unnecessary chore that would force him to spend the rest of the day jailed in Arthur's bedroom with the testy prince. "Gaius needs some herbs from the Mahilin Forest."
"The Mahilin forest?" Arthur's eyes narrowed, that displeasure growing, and yet tinted now with genuine worry. "Mer-lin, you know some beast is said to be stalking that place! How many times have I told you that if you are going to go there to tell me? If you went there alone you'd be eaten before you stepped a foot inside!"
The warlock was a little torn between feeling insulted that Arthur obviously thought so little about his ability to defend himself...and stupidly happy that the Crown Prince of Camelot would personally go with Merlin to make sure that he was safe.
"I'm not going alone." Merlin didn't know why he felt a jolt of guilt at the way Arthur's eyes widened and then narrowed on Richard as he suddenly realized what Merlin was trying to say.
"You are busy Your Highness, and I do not mind going." Richard probably thought he was making things better, but he was really just making it worse.
Arthur's blank face was a testament to that.
"Oh." Arthur nodded tersely. "Thank you, Cypher. I am very busy. In fact, there's some place I need to be right now."
And he stormed off, pushing passed them and out the door.
Richard frowned, eyeing the prince as he left. "He really doesn't like me, huh?"
He was never going to understand Arthur.
He was never going to understand Merlin.
Arthur had wanted to just forget about his idiotic manservant and let him go off with that damned Richard Cypher as his guard so he could pick his stupid herbs, and if this had been any other forest he would have done just that. But this was the Mahilin Forest, and a beast was living here that was terrorizing the people who lived by the Forest.
And Arthur wasn't going to leave the life of his incompetent servant in the hands of this Richard Cypher.
No matter how...competent...he might be with a sword.
So that was why he was actually following Merlin and Richard at a distance, tracking them, keeping them in view and yet far enough that he had problems really hearing what they were saying.
Or, hearing what Richard was saying.
Merlin seemed to be more like gawking in awe and admiration than anything.
Arthur narrowed his eyes.
Obviously Richard was filling his stupid servant up with ideas of his adventures and Merlin, that plebeian, was being impressed.
What was wrong with Merlin?
Whenever Arthur boasted of his adventures and quests Merlin would only chuckle and roll his eyes, and yet here this stranger was probably telling him nothing but lies to make himself look better...and Merlin was looking up at him as if he were the most awe-inspiring work of creation!
And that only pissed Arthur off even more!
What was it about this stranger that had everyone thinking he was some perfect god?
Even Merlin was an idiot for him!
Merlin was the biggest idiot for him!
Always...always...Arthur could count on Merlin being by his side, having his back, lifting him up whenever his pride was hurt or he was attacked, but ever since this Cypher fellow had arrived in Camelot Merlin had seemed reluctant to part from him. He fought with Arthur over him. He spent every single spare moment he had with him.
No matter how many chores Arthur thought up or created to keep Merlin occupied and away from Richard, Merlin somehow found his long lost competence all of a sudden and would finish them all in record time so that he could rush off to Richard's side.
It was getting to Arthur.
It was getting to him badly.
"So, Zedd thinks he'll be strong enough tomorrow." Merlin sighed, seeming disappointed as he bent down to pick the herbs Gaius had sent him for. "I understand that it's important that you two get back to your quest-your world depends on it-but I have to admit that a part of me doesn't want you to go." He looked up at Richard with a sad smile. "I will miss having someone to talk to."
Arthur frowned where he was crouched.
What was that ungrateful servant talking about?
Merlin talked to him all the time!
Granted, there were more insults in their conversations than in normal ones, but that was just their thing.
They insulted each other.
It'd be weird if they didn't.
"You're a good man, Merlin." Richard smiled. "And in these few days that we've known each other I have come to see you as a friend."
Arthur nearly growled when Richard placed a hand on Merlin's shoulder.
"I have too." Merlin smiled up at Richard.
Arthur's eyes narrowed further.
"I was thinking." Richard pulled his hand away, letting Merlin bend down to start collecting the herbs he needed. "Maybe when Zedd and I leave...would you like to come as well?"
Arthur's body went still, frozen.
Merlin looked up, eyes wide. "You're inviting me to come along?"
Hurt filled the Crown Prince at the obvious awe on his manservant's face.
Richard nodded, smiling brightly, the manservant-stealing cad. "I know that you feel out of place here in Camelot, and I know that our quest is dangerous, but you are becoming a very competent fighter with the sword since our training sessions began."
Merlin had asked Richard to train him in the sword?
Arthur felt numb.
But he was training Merlin.
"Zedd thinks it'll be too dangerous for you, but there's just something about you, Merlin." Richard chuckled, eyeing the gangly youth.
Arthur's heart hurt, remembering telling Merlin that himself.
There was just something about Merlin...
Suddenly, a creature crashed through the shrubbery.
It had the body of a panther and the head of a boar, with huge tusks that gleamed in the sunlight.
Arthur drew his sword, about to charge, when Richard did the same.
And Arthur froze.
When he'd been dueling with Richard the stranger had been fluid and like liquid, and only now, watching him, did Arthur realize that the man hadn't been putting his all into the fight. Now, as Richard battled the beast, he was vicious and precise, betraying that he had fought many a battle and many a beast before.
If it wasn't for the fact that he was trying to steal Merlin from Arthur, the prince would be impressed.
But then the monster hit the sword with his tusk, sending it flying into a tree, embedding itself blade deep into the bark.
Richard was open, vulnerable.
Arthur made to charge.
But then the creature...exploded.
Arthur once again froze, confused, until his gaze went to Merlin, who's eyes were swirling gold, and whose are was stretched out towards where the monster had been.
Arthur's world fell apart.
"Merlin?" Richard asked, shocked. "You have magic?"
Merlin's gaze finally returned to their normal blue as he turned to Richard. "Yes."
Arthur felt stabbed.
How-how could Merlin have-!
"What are you doing in Camelot then?" Richard pulled his sword out of the tree and went to Merlin. "You're serving its prince! If Arthur found out he'd-!"
"I know." Merlin sighed, lowering his head.
"Then why are you-?" Richard frowned. "Are you creating some sort of magical revolution from within?"
Arthur went sick at the question.
"No!" Merlin snapped, surprising both Richard and Arthur with his ferocity. "I would never do anything to harm Arthur! Never! I'd give my life for him!"
Richard eyed Merlin.
So did Arthur.
"I didn't train to be a warlock, I was born with it." Merlin sighed, running a hand over his hair. "When I was kid I was doing magic without even knowing it. It's a part of my nature. I didn't study anything. I-I know that you won't believe me because it supposedly impossible to have magic without studying it but-."
"No, actually, I do believe you." Richard sheathed his sword once more. "In my world, people are born into magic too."
Had Richard just said in his 'world'?
"Really?" Merlin whispered.
Richard nodded, giving Merlin a comforting smile. "And I apologize for my earlier comment. I should have known better than question your loyalty to Arthur. It's very obvious that you care for him."
Merlin blushed, lowering his gaze. "Not that the prat deserves it." He chuckled, shaking his head. "When I first arrived in Camelot the dragon told me that my destiny was to protect Arthur and make sure that he became the amazing king that he's destined to be. He's supposed to unite Albion under one rule, and I know he will. Until then I'm more than happy to protect him in secret, and witness his transformation into the great man he's slowly becoming."
Arthur's anger and hurt might still be there in his stomach, but another emotion was gaining dominance in his chest at the smile on Merlin's face, and the pride in his voice, as he spoke about him.
Arthur slipped away.
There was much he needed to think about.Go To Last Chapter