Title: Educating Arthur
Disclaimer: Don't own
Summary: When a family from Camelot move to Ealdor after King Uther is defeated by Sir Agravaine, everyone in Ealdor is suspicious and highly unwelcoming to the newcomers. In contrast, Merlin doesn't mind Gaius' family, but maybe he's just blinded by his enjoyment in teasing the youngest one, a prat named Arthur, who seems quite incompetent at things any normal person should be able to do, a fact which Merlin takes great joy in telling him, repeatedly.A/N1: AU, BAMF/cheeky-as-fuck Merlin.A/N2: I will be updating the Master And… Series. I just am figuring out some details before. So to tide over my readers, I have written this little threeshot. Hope you like!
There were a lot of reasons why Merlin had never left Ealdor, his magic was only one of them. The people of Ealdor knew about it, and Essetir favored magic, and he knew that he'd be fine while in its borders. Another reason why Merlin hadn't left had been his mother. He was her only child, and that while she tried not to show it, she needed him. She had tried sending him to Camelot once upon a time ago (aka last year), but he'd put his foot down. There was no way that he'd go and leave his mother alone when there were bandits like Kanen still out there terrorizing everyone. Then again, Kanen's army hadn't bothered Ealdor, not since the attack after Merlin's sixteenth birthday in which he'd hit Hunith. Merlin hadn't forgiven that, and the brigands had hardly made it out of the small village with their lives. They'd been seen around the villages close to Ealdor, had continued terrorizing the surrounding area, but they never even rode within sight of Ealdor again.
The people of Ealdor had been somewhat wary of Merlin's powers before that incident, but afterwards they'd welcomed the powerful boy with open arms, fully trusting finally that he wouldn't use his magic to hurt them and instead protect them. Since that attack Ealdor began to prosper now that it didn't have Kanen and his army taking their money and crops, and the people were happy, less afraid. Ealdor wasn't a bad place to live in, and Merlin soon forgot about his mother's desire to send him to Camelot. He honestly didn't understand that desire and didn't want to follow her wishes, even if only on this subject. Why would he leave all this and go to a place that executed people like him?
Merlin found himself the unofficial protector of Ealdor, and the town prospered without any help or attention from Cenred or the rest of Essetir. They almost seemed like their own little independent realm within the kingdom, the only proof that they actually belonged to Essetir were the taxes they paid annually. They had their own governing system, their own defense (which, to be honest, was just Merlin) and their own rules.
Wars happened around them and they didn't pay them any mind, it had nothing to do with them. Life in Ealdor was all about Ealdor and its people, as it should be. And that was why, when new people arrived in Ealdor, it was a big deal, and the people treated the newcomers with extreme suspicion.
Gwaine and Lancelot had caused quite the stir when they'd arrived (at separate times) and decided to stay. Most of the villagers hadn't mingled with them, had quite ostracized them, until the two men proved their worth (and quite a couple of the women fell in love with them). Now they were an accepted part of the community, and the cause of much entertainment considering the fights the women had over them. Scandalous, the villagers would whisper, and yet would live for each and every scandalous happening.
Now, though, neither Gwaine nor Lancelot were the ones the villagers had their eyes on.
"I tell you, there is something off about those newcomers." Will narrowed his eyes as he watched the house of the group who'd moved in a week or so ago. A family, they'd called themselves, but none of them truly looked related and their ages were very close. How exactly they were related no one knew for sure, and they were being secretive enough to have people asking, whispering, coming up with conclusions of their own. "I do not trust them."
"You do not trust anyone." Merlin nevertheless looked up from where he was reading a book and gazed at the two girls that formed part of the new "family". One girl was fair skinned with raven locks and clear eyes, the other dark skinned and haired, with honey-brown eyes. "Say what you want about them, but I would think that you would enjoy the view."
Will scoffed before he sent them a little covert look. "They are not… hard… on the eyes."
Rolling his eyes, Merlin nodded in the girls' direction when they caught his eye.
They nodded to him and continued on their way, whispering to each other.
"Stop fraternizing with the enemy," Will pouted.
"They are not the enemy." Sometimes his friend was horribly melodramatic for his own good. "They are pretty girls."
Will watched them go before he cleared his throat and returned his gaze to Merlin. "What about the guys? Huh?"
Okay, he would give Will that. The three men, Arthur, Elyan and Leon, were all suspicious in their own ways. Elyan because he hardly spoke a word to anyone, Leon because he was such a subservient person to Arthur, and Arthur had to be the most arrogant prat Merlin had ever met. If it wasn't for the fact that they'd moved to Ealdor with Gauis (Merlin was still trying to understand how they were related to each other and to him), and Gaius had been Hunith's tutor whom she trusted and vouched for, well, Merlin didn't think the village would've put up with these newcomers.
Speaking of the newcomers, Merlin cocked his head to the side as he watched Arthur emerge from the hut that the group were sharing. It was far too small for the number of people under its roof, and while usually the village would get together to help build a new section of a home for a growing family in their community, the village had yet to truly accept these newcomers as a part of their community, so they stayed idly by and did not help. Will wasn't the only one who felt this group had secrets, and in a place like Ealdor secrets were not seen in a favorable light.
"What if they are spies from Cenred?" Will turned to Merlin. "What if he has heard about how we are prospering and has sent these people here to spy on us and figure out our secret to success?" He looked genuinely worried. "They might take you away, Merlin."
"Will, they're from Camelot, not the capital."
Will pursed his lips. "Makes them even more suspicious if you ask me. Why are they here? Why jump ship?"
"Well, we are not at war like Camelot is." Merlin gave a shrug of his shoulders. "The royal family were overthrown, remember? Camelot is in an upheaval. It makes sense that its people would try and relocate somewhere where there is no conflict."
Will appeared quite put out that Merlin had great answers to his questions. He loved conflict and intrigue. "You take the joy out my life, Merlin."
"I am sure I do." Patting Will on his back, Merlin left his best friend where he was and walked towards Arthur, who was struggling in an attempt to chop wood. It was as if he'd never done this act before, then again, if he was family to Gaius he'd probably had some fancy position in the Camelot castle before it fell. "You are doing it wrong."
Arthur raised an eyebrow. "I am not."
Seriously. This was the mouthiest brat he'd ever met. "Of course. You are doing it correctly. That is why you are not getting anywhere with the chopping."
Arthur flushed, both in anger and embarrassment. "So, oh great woodchopper, what am I doing wrong?"
"You are chopping it with the wrong part of the blade and aiming on the wrong part of the wood." Merlin held out his hand and received the axe the blonde reluctantly passed him. He demonstrated the precise way to do it, with the log of wood splitting in half. "Now you try."
Arthur frowned, grabbed another piece of wood, and positioned it as Merlin had showed him. He swung, hit the wood, and it split in half. A grin suddenly spread throughout his face as he turned to face Merlin. "See! I told you I knew how to do this!"
Despite it all Merlin felt amused as he eyed the sparkling-eyed blonde. "Of course."
Leon emerged from the house, his eyes wide in horror. "Your—Arthur." He cleared his throat. "I can do this."
"So can I." Arthur sent him a glare over his shoulder. "I can chop wood just like everyone else."
"Yes, but—." Leon tried but stopped when he saw that glare darken. "I—I will be inside."
Merlin watched him go, his curiosity as to Leon's personality ever-growing. "He is a protective… brother?"
"Leon is my cousin, not my brother." Arthur's gaze ventured to the split wood. "Morgana is my sister, and Elyan and Guinevere are also our cousins."
Ah, they were mostly cousins. This made it more believable.
"I envy you for the large family, it is only my mother and I." Merlin eyed Arthur thoughtfully, curiously, before he realized that Gwaine was stumbling around drunkenly despite the fact that it was the middle of the day. Arthur opened his mouth, but Merlin didn't notice, his attention already fixed on Gwaine. "Well, I shall leave you to it." With that he went to scold his friend and help him back to his hut to sleep off his drunken stupor.
"I am in love with the fair Guinevere."
Merlin looked up at the ever-sincere face of Lancelot and wondered why the young man thought he needed to actually tell Merlin this. It was more than obvious from the way Lancelot had started to help the new family, had ingratiated himself with the males, and had started to bring Guinevere flowers every single day. But it was also obvious that Lancelot thought it necessary to actually verbalize his feelings which were, for some reason, torturing him.
"She is such a rare flower, a kinder individual there is none other." Lancelot took a sip of his meade. "Who am I to think myself worthy of her favor?"
"She is an exceptionally nice girl, I agree, but I do not understand your feelings of inferiority." Merlin tilted his head to the side. "She is nothing but a common wench. She is not a princess or a queen. She would be lucky to have you love her." He took a sip of his own meade, but only a little. He did not have much of a tolerance for alcohol and things tended to get explosive when he became drunk. "It would also serve her family good as your tie to them would strengthen their stand in the villagers' eyes."
"Your people are a suspicious bunch," Lancelot admitted thoughtfully. "If I can win her favor, if her family would honor me by giving me their blessing to court her, I would be the luckiest man to have ever walked this earth."
There really wasn't anything to say to that, was there? Merlin merely smiled and clapped his friend on his shoulder.
Lancelot read the encouragement there and smiled. "Thank you Merlin."
"I have not done anything." Merlin leaned back in his seat. "But if yonder fair maiden has truly won your heart, and if you truly see yourself with her, then you have my approval and my support. If I can help in this endeavor in any way, please, let me know."
"Thank you." Lancelot looked over at the other table, where Elyan and Arthur drank by themselves, ostracized by the rest of the villagers, who merely watched them over their drinks. "If you could entertain Arthur while I speak to Elyan, I would be grateful."
Merlin turned his gaze over at the other table and was surprised to catch Arthur's gaze, before the blonde quickly looked away. "If I must."
Lancelot laughed and clapped his shoulder. "Come. Let us go."
Drink still in hand, Merlin was waylaid by a couple of the villagers and exchanged pleasantries with them before he and Lancelot finally reached the table. Lancelot asked Elyan if he could speak to him outside, and Elyan sent Arthur a little look before he nodded and left with Lancelot. Merlin plopped down on the seat Elyan had vacated and took another small sip of his meade before he sent Arthur another look to find the blonde studiously ignoring him.
Intrigued, Merlin rested his goblet on the table. "You till the soil incorrectly."
Arthur's mouth parted and he turned to look at Merthur in utter indignation. "I do not!"
"You do." Merlin took another sip and looked away.
Arthur's mouth opened and closed several times before he glared at Merlin. "How exactly am I tilling the soil incorrectly?"
"I am glad you asked." Merlin turned his cheeky smile on the blonde. "The way you hold the plow strains your back more than it has to. Also, most people actually use their oxen for that sort of work."
"We do not have oxen." Arthur delivered that line as if he were calling Merlin a simpleton.
"Which is why you can borrow ours." Merlin enjoyed Arthur's shock. "I will even show you how to harness them and plow correctly."
Arthur opened his mouth, closed it, and opened it once more. "I do not do it incorrectly."
"Of course not."
He cleared his throat. "But we would appreciate the use of your oxen."
"Of course you would."
Arthur glared at him.
Merlin merely smiled in amusement and looked up when Elyan and a beaming Lancelot arrived. He stood from Elyan's chair, nodded in Arthur's direction, and clapped Lancelot's back as they walked away, Lancelot excitedly telling him the good news.
"Is he planning on marrying her?"
Merlin looked up at Morgana and then followed her gaze to where Lancelot and Guinevere were smiling happily at each other.
"Because if he is only toying with her heart I will cut off his testicles with a very dull blade and feed them to the pigs." The look on her face promised that those were not mere words but that she would follow through with her threat. She intrigued him immensely.
"I was about to ask you the same about your cousin," Merlin admitted. "If she is only using him to keep from being bored, or to feed her ego, I would prefer to know now so as to save him unnecessary heartbreak."
Morgana looked shocked at the question. "Gwen would never string a gentleman along! She truly has feelings for him!"
Merlin stared up into Morgana's face and saw the truth there. "As he has for her."
Morgana narrowed her eyes on him before she too seemed to see the truth and smirked. "Well, at least I am relieved that it is Lancelot who is courting her, and not that outrageous scoundrel, Gwaine."
Merlin laughed. "I am too!"
Morgana smiled at him. "You are one of the only people who has been welcoming to us since we came here."
Merlin watched her and didn't try to deny that. "We take care of our own. It just takes a while for the villagers to decide whether you are one of our own or not."
She nodded in understanding. "I do not blame them." With that she turned and walked away, her head held high and her grace that of a queen. She truly was wasted on a small village like Ealdor. Merlin was sure that she had fit in well in Camelot.
"Do not even contemplate it," a voice announced behind him. "Unlike Elyan, I am not going to give anyone permission to court my sister."
Merlin smirked as he turned to see Arthur glaring at him. "I have a feeling that even if you did not wish it, your sister would do whatever she pleased."
Arthur glared harder at him. "I forbid you from even contemplating my sister in a romantic way."
He laughed at the thought of Arthur forbidding him. He gave a mock bow. "As you command, Your Highness."
Arthur paled and quickly looked away. "Do not mock me."
"But you make it so easy," Merlin teased.
The boy pouted darkly as his eyes returned to Merlin to glare at him. He turned and began to walk away.
Merlin couldn't help himself, he really couldn't. "You are hunting in the wrong place."
Arthur froze, tensed, and then turned and stormed back towards Merlin. "If there is one thing I know it is hunting! You cannot—!"
"There is quail in the forest to our right. The one to our left is cursed." Merlin could see the questions in Arthur's eyes, questions he'd never ask out of pure pride. "The villagers know this." But, of course, they wouldn't share this information with the new family. "If you instead start to hunt in the forest to our right, you will have better luck."
Arthur narrowed his eyes at him. "You enjoy this."
"I am merely informing you of things which will be of use to you and your family." Merlin could not keep the grin off of his face. "I am a helpful person."
"Oh, I am sure you are." Arthur's voice was so annoyed it was sinfully amusing. "Is there anything else I am supposedly doing wrong that you feel I should know?"
"There are too many things to list them right now," Merlin's grin was so large it hurt.
Arthur glared at him, made a little growl, and stormed away.
Merlin watched him go, that grin growing.