Date With Destiny

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Looking back, Arthur would have to agree that yes, his treatment of his servants wasn't exactly...overly kind in the past. Especially before he met Merlin. It was a day like any other, when he met his soon to be idiotic manservant. Target practice with the knights, sun shining, bullying the daylights out of his old servant. Good times, those were.

Everything was going as it usually does, terrorizing commoners has always been good entertainment. Yes, everything was splendid. That is until he showed up.

"Hey," an unfamiliar voice called out. Arthur turned, confused at who was speaking so...casually with him. "Come on, that's enough." The newcomer said kindly.

Now, Arthur would joke and tease about how the first thing he noticed about Merlin were his ridiculously large ears, and no one would prove otherwise. Even if it wasn't true. Actually, and Arthur would deny it until he was blue in the face, the first thing he thought when he saw the stranger was, what a beautiful smile. From then on, he'd never want to see Merlin without one. Which was a ridiculous thought, so he dispelled it immediately.

"What?" He asked intelligently, not quite believing what he was hearing. "You've had your fun, my friend." The idiot said, still smiling. Another, more welcome thought entered the prince's mind. He must be new in town.

He takes his time approaching the man who was too tall to be that skinny, in Arthur's opinion, which is always right. Arthur likes to say that he did this to give Merlin time to run but in reality, he was taking in his features.

There was a lot to admire, really, and again, no one would ever get Arthur to say it out loud. Merlin was, for lack of a better word, beautiful. He couldn't be handsome, that was a word for people who looked like Arthur: broad shoulders, muscles galore, blinding masculinity. No, Merlin was...different.

His skin was so fair it would shame the finest of ivory, his cheekbones could probably leave a cut if Arthur were to brush his fingers over them, dimples to die for, hell, even the weird bowl cut was cute in a boyish way. And he'd love to tug on those adorable ears which really shouldn't look adorable, just to see them turn red. But the most startling thing were the eyes. Those eyes. Arthur could stare into them for days, unblinkingly. They were blue, like his own, but that didn't do them justice. They were deeper than any ocean, and glistened just as prettily in the sunlight. It was enough to make a grown man cry. If Arthur didn't know any better, he'd say he was in love.

Thankfully, he did know better. "Do I know you?" To his surprise, the fellow clad in a red neckerchief just stuck his hand out. "I'm Merlin," he said, not a strand of hostility in his tone. It made Arthur feel a little bad for not taking his hand, because seeing the smile slip off his face would be anything but satisfying, and those long, thin fingers looked oh so inviting...

"So, I don't know you," Arthur interrupts, and regrets doing so. The peasant's hand dropped back to his side, limp, defeated, and sadly without Arthur's touch. Not wanting to seem soft in front of the knights, Arthur plowed through. "Yet you called me friend." He points out to this dark haired newbie, who seems to finally realize that Arthur has no intentions of settling this diplomatically.

He clicks his teeth. "That was my mistake." He says, grin going from genuine to sarcastic. "Yes, I think so," Arthur agreed wholeheartedly. What he didn't expect was the man to say, rather unhesitantly, "I'd never had a friend who could be such an ass." And just like that, he began to walk off. Arthur may have been shocked, but too protective of his honor to let some beanpole get away with addressing him like that.

The flirting was completely unintentional. When he'd asked Merlin if he knew how to walk on his knees, he never in a thousand years would've expected him to take it sexually. Of course not. But then Merlin flirted back, and well, Arthur didn't even remember they were having a fight, not foreplay in a bedroom, not until Merlin threw a rather weak punch. He had to hand it to him though, he didn't back down from a fight when push came to shove.

\*/

Arthur thought that was the last time he'd ever see Merlin, but then he spotted him again, as luck would have it. Just as beautiful as last time, Arthur thought bitterly, before deciding to instigate another altercation. He has no idea why he brought up the knee walking thing again, but he did, only now Merlin didn't want to play. So Arthur pushed him a little more and it honestly didn't take much for Merlin to turn around.

The banter was amusing if not irritating, even Arthur can say that much without embarrassment. Laughing in sheer disbelief at the nerve of this, this boy, Arthur manages, "I could take you apart with one blow!"

He almost choked when Merlin didn't miss a beat in saying, "I could take you apart with less than that." He hadn't raised his voice once, but Arthur felt the ground shake with those words. Instead of showing how deeply affected he was by that single sentence, Arthur tossed a mace at the big eared buffoon, before grabbing one himself. He chose to be nice and warn Merlin of his skill, giving him a chance to run away, again, but Merlin simply uses it to tease him.

"Wow," he replies, unimpressed. "And how long have you been training to be a prat?" Arthur isn't even trying to hide his astonishment at this point. "You can't address me like that!" Merlin simply gave out a snicker. "Sorry. How long have you been training to be a prat...my lord?" He gave a small bow, looking up at Arthur through those lashes, challenging him. It took thinking of his father naked to redirect blood flow away from his groin, because he couldn't be aroused by some lowlife. He wouldn't.

The fight goes as anticipated. Merlin is quick on his feet and has decent reflexes, but Arthur can tell he's never fought a day in his life. It's minutes before Arthur had Merlin cornered, on the ground. But then the unthinkable happens. Arthur's mace gets stuck on some hooks? When did they get there? Merlin takes the chance to scamper away looking around on the ground, possibly for something to fight with. Arthur ignores it, until he steps into a crate that definitely would leave a bruise.

Just when he thinks Merlin has nowhere else to run, Arthur trips on a rope which absolutely wasn't there before. All of a sudden, their roles are reversed, and Arthur practically weeps at the thought of accepting defeat to the likes of...Merlin. That is, until his opponent gets distracted by someone in the crowd. Arthur silently cheers for the opportunity and quickly knocks Merlin back to the ground.

But, he doesn't let the guards take him. Merlin is rather stupid, but brave as well, he has to admit to that. "There's something about you, Merlin. I can't quite put my finger on it..." It was hardly an insult, but he meant it. And If Lady Luck wanted to be on Merlin's side, let her. Not like they'd be meeting again anyway.

\*/

As it would happen, Arthur was wrong. Apparently, without Merlin, he wouldn't be alive today, which was unnerving. Clumsy, rude Merlin had saved his life. And he'd have to live with it until the end. To make matters worse, his father decided for him that Merlin would make a wonderful manservant as a reward. Merlin tried to deny as well, but one cannot simply say no to the King, so he assigned Merlin the job and left.

"Father!" Arthur called out to him desperately, but his plea fell on deaf ears. Speaking of ears, Arthur turned to the plight of his life and stared into those eyes, and made a point to look away quickly. This, Arthur thought then, is the worst day of my life

Of course Arthur will later realize that Merlin is the best thing to happen to him, and that there's no way in heaven or hell he could give up the man he loves. And Merlin agrees, which is funny because they never agree on anything.

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