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The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship

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1 The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship on Sat 14 Jan 2012, 4:12 pm

Maeglin

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Still reeling from the goblin attacks and the siege of Tintagel, Gwaine confronts Merlin about his magical abilities. Meanwhile, Leon discusses the most recent attack on Camelot with Acting Steward Sir Lancelot.



Last edited by Maeglin on Sun 15 Jan 2012, 7:17 pm; edited 2 times in total

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2 Re: The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship on Sat 14 Jan 2012, 4:59 pm

Leon left as soon as the Friday Knights were finished performing. He would have an early night (early morning would be more correct, but that still counted, right?), plus a little ointment from Gaius for his eye, and this very strange business would all be forgotten…

"Sir Leon?"

Leon turned to see Lancelot jogging after him out into the night. "I hadn't gotten the report you asked for back to you, so…"

"It's alright," Leon said. "I'm not much in shape to see to it right now. It's been a full couple of days."

Lancelot forced a laugh, and then swallowed and continued, "Perhaps it would be better if I explained everything in the council chambers."

Damn. It was always something, wasn't it? Training started in four hours. "I'll get my eye cleaned up, and meet you there in half an hour. "

Within half an hour Leon appeared in the council chambers, his eye now feeling much better--he could almost see out of it. What he saw, however, was a very disconcerted Lancelot sitting in one of the council chairs. He had a large stack of notepaper in front of him.

"I didn't expect you to be that thorough," Leon said warily.

"It's been a full couple of days," Lancelot said. He quickly poured a glass of wine. "You better take this," he said, handing it over to Leon.

"Look, Lancelot," Leon laughed, "You didn't burn Camelot to the ground; what else could have gone wrong?"

Lancelot gave Leon a worried look, and downed the wine himself in a couple of gulps. Then he stood, paced around the room, and started to explain.


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3 Re: The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship on Sun 15 Jan 2012, 9:31 pm

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Gwaine made sure to weave and slur appropriately to give the impression of drunkenness as Merlin walked him back to the castle. The knights' quarters were on the way to Gaius' place, so it wasn't too out of the ordinary a suggestion that Merlin bring an inebriated knight home--Gwaine was especially weak-willed and easily distractable, so it was important to make sure he actually arrived at his bed.

Gwaine was admittedly quite good at this, at playing drunk: he had learned to do so convincingly in order to hustle at dice, win a fight, or otherwise make people underestimate him. He also put a little of it on when out drinking with friends, because, honestly, no one could keep up with him, and it was just no fun being the only sober one.

But that wasn't the point here. The point here was Merlin had some explaining to do. Gwaine would be the last one to judge--Merlin could be a cross-dressing sorcerer enemy agent who had some sort of fetish even Gwaine wouldn't try at least once--but he was more than a little offended that he wasn't let in on the joke.

He thought he and Merlin were better friends than that.

So, yes, he was going to make Merlin squirm. And it was going to be hilarious. And Gwaine was determined not to feel bad about it, or take pity on those insufferable doe-eyes.

Damn it.

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4 Re: The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship on Mon 16 Jan 2012, 1:15 am

Surely, after running from monster deer, hunting down gold at Morgana’s castle, and then rescuing Gwaine from said sorceress, a little thing like making sure Gwaine didn’t get lost on his way home would be nothing. This was the line of reasoning Merlin had finally settled on when he’d agreed to walk the inebriated knight to the knights’ quarters on his own way home. He’d have been headed this way anyway. And as drunk as he was, it wasn’t like Gwaine could cause any serious problems.

“Your half of the road is over there,” Merlin finally said when Gwaine nearly crashed into him for about the fifth time, reaching over and pushing the knight to the other side of the road. In a minute, the knight wove back over his direction, but managed not to collide with him this time, laughing at something or other.

“How are you awake? You and Sir Leon have been up for... hours,” Merlin asked him a moment later, nearly yawning but not quite.

“’M not awake. ‘M drunk,” Gwaine replied, and Merlin glanced over at him, grinning.

“Yeah, well, don’t trip on anything,” Merlin said, “Sir Leon said walk you home, not carry you,” he added, which earned him a shove- this one intentional- from Gwaine, so Merlin shoved him back, and for several feet down the road there was a shoving match, which ended with Merlin, and not Gwaine, tripping and almost falling on his face. He regained his footing and realized Gwaine had continued on up the road without him, still weaving.

“Hey!” Merlin shouted and loped up the road after him, before he could get “lost” down some side alley or other.



Last edited by beeayy on Mon 16 Jan 2012, 1:33 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : i just changed the time frame in the first sentence, since we aren't sure how long it took us to get to Tintagel.)


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5 Re: The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship on Mon 16 Jan 2012, 1:54 am

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It was with a strange case of deja-vu that Gwaine was dumped into his bed, for the second time in a week.

Merlin yawned, made a cursory attempt to tuck him in. "Okay, have a good night, Gwaine. I'll...see you in the morning. Very, very late in the morning..."

Merlin hadn't taken a full step for the door when Gwaine caught his wrist in a vice-like grip.

"Hey! Let me go, Gwaine, it's late!" Merlin objected, thinking he was still drunk.

With a sudden sobriety that was alarming, Gwaine kicked off the covers, stood up, and, with Merlin's wrist still tight in his grasp, crossed to the door and kicked it shut.

"Sit down," Gwaine snarled. Merlin, startled and confused more than scared, obeyed immediately, sitting on the bed as Gwaine let him go.

"And start talking. I think you have something to tell me."

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6 Re: The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship on Mon 16 Jan 2012, 2:39 am

Apparently, walking Gwaine home was proving a bit more problematic than Merlin had anticipated. He was about to escape to his own room for some long-needed sleep (in a real bed, no less, and not in a tent on the ground) but now Gwaine was acting... very strange.

Merlin looked at the knight with one of those deer-in-the-headlights looks of complete and utter confusion. First of all, Gwaine had snarled at him, a snarl which in Merlin's experience Gwaine reserved for when he was seriously annoyed at Leon. Also, he appeared to be much, much less drunk than Merlin had thought, or than he'd been acting the entire walk back. At which point Merlin realized that this had probably been Gwaine's intention the whole time. But he was not quite sure what Gwaine was on about, for all that this was clearly some elaborate plot of his to get Merlin to talk, unless... Merlin did some quick thinking. The looks he'd been getting like the one in the clearing when he dropped the branch on the deer, as well as several of Gwaine's not-very-subtle comments kind of started to make sense. Yeah, that might explain why Gwaine had that look he got on his face when he was pouting- though usually it was because Arthur had ordered him to stay away from the tavern, or some girl, or had assigned him guard duty during a feast.

Not that he was going to admit anything. Trying to appear perfectly innocent, Merlin smiled disarmingly and went for using distraction as a tactic.

"Okay, okay. Fine. I told Percy where you keep your secret stash of food. I'll find you a new one tomorrow. Can I go-" he said, and tried to stand up again before Gwaine glared at him, and he sat back down.


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7 Re: The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship on Mon 16 Jan 2012, 3:06 am

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"Merlin."

Gwaine didn't even fully understand himself why he was so angry about this. Sure, his temper tended to be a bit on the fiery side, but not with Merlin, never to Merlin. With Arthur, yes, with Leon, definitely, but Merlin wasn't capable of getting on his bad side.

And maybe that was the problem. Gwaine didn't exactly have a great deal of experience in these sorts of things, but this friendship thing was meant to be a two-way street, wasn't it? Merlin knew--well, except for Leon--thank you very much, it's-the-alcohol-talking--more about his past than anyone. And Gwaine, in his own way, had tried to make it crystal clear to Merlin that he'd jump down a dragon's throat just to keep him company. And yet Merlin didn't trust him.

Well, not that Gwaine blamed him, really.

"You tell Percy whatever you like, I'm getting fat, anyway," Gwaine said, doggedly refusing to be distracted by anything other than Merlin's normally-hilarious-but-right-now-unamusing attempts at being evasive. He stared at Merlin, arms crossed, for a long moment, but Merlin refused to talk. "Look, Merlin, I know you're not dumb, and I'm sure as hell not as dumb as you think I am if you think that nonsense is going to work on me. You know exactly what I'm talking about. I just want to hear you say it."

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8 Re: The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship on Mon 16 Jan 2012, 3:12 am

***A few days earlier...***

Lancelot received the news that there was an army marching on Camelot not two hours after Gwaine and Leon left. Just his luck, he supposed. He sent messages to them and to Arthur, but it was clear the army would arrive before any of them heard the news.

The morning of the battle was bright and cloudless, barely a breeze in the air. It seemed too fine a day to lose Camelot. Most of the civilians were at least locked in the lower town--their blood would not be shed until the castle could be taken.

Lancelot paled visibly when he saw the size of the army.

"10,000 looks a lot smaller on paper," Percival said, forcing a laugh.

Lancelot turned to the knights. "Look, if any of you would like to leave now, you may do so without shame. We cannot expect a dramatic victory with so few numbers."

But all the knights sat still and tall in their saddles, and Lancelot smiled to see them. He rode ahead a few feet, and saw the leader of the attacking army do so as well.

"Lord Galehaut," Lancelot shouted, "there is no need for bloodshed to maintain your honor."

"You speak wisdom, my lord," Lord Galehaut shouted back. "But proving one's honor is never a wise action to begin with, is it?"

"If your quarrel is with the castle and the crown, you will not harm the civilians in the lower town and beyond," Lancelot said. "This is our battle--those who are not of the sword should not die by it."

"As you wish, my lord," Lord Galehaut said, and in a moment he had given the word to his men, and the armies charged.

A volley of arrows arced above them, mowing down many of the horses of the attackers before any of Camelot's soldiers reached them--Lord Galehaut's horse was among them. He sprung up without a second glance at the dying animal, readying his sword. Lancelot was the first to reach the army, and rode toward the recovering lord, drawing his sword and swinging down off his horse only a few feet from where the lord stood. Lord Galehaut appeared thoroughly amazed by this, and threw up his sword at the last minute to block Lancelot's blow. Three times he struck at Galehaut's sword, feeling the enemy's sword ringing each time under the clash. On the fourth strike their swords locked, and their faces came very close to one another's. Lancelot thought he saw something strange in the nobleman's gaze.

"By my life, my lord, I capitulate," the nobleman said, and, kneeling, dropped his sword.

Lancelot was left, utterly stunned, holding his sword tip against the nobleman's neck. He was dressed very finely for a warrior, but it looked as if his armor had seen some wear--there was no reason why he should act so cowardly.

"You're trying to trick me," Lancelot said. "It won't work."

"No, no, on my oath, my lord." Tears--actual *tears* sprung up in the man's eyes. "I am--undone by you, my lord. Please, I surrender."

Lancelot blinked, utterly stunned as he looked into the nobleman's eyes. "Call off your men, then."

Lord Galehaut nodded, and said, "If you will forgive me," and slowly produced a horn from his side. He blew it several times, and as the horn called over the battlefield the fighting drew to a stop. His soldiers appeared as surprised as Lancelot was.

"You threaten Camelot with an army of thousands and now pretend defeat," Lancelot said, his sword steady. "Would you be so good as to tell me why such a thing is so?"

"I--had every intention of taking Camelot, my lord," Galehaut stammered. In every action he appeared to be telling the truth. He rubbed his eyes as Percival ran up to Lancelot, trying to hide his tears. "It's a matter of pride, you know. Every nobleman is expected to take his shot at the kingship. But--you surprised me, sir. Nowhere have I met such a man as you."

"There's nothing extraordinary about me, I assure you," Lancelot said, and felt himself blushing as Percival looked on with confusion.

"You--speak like a nobleman but fight like a seasoned warrior of the ancient times," Galehaut said. "Such a thing is rarely glimpsed in a lifetime. What is your name, my good lord?"

"Lancelot," Lancelot said, after such a statement he tried to sound more rough.

"Then I surrender this army of 10,000 to you, Lord Lancelot, and to King Arthur and Camelot."

"What?" Percy's face was the picture of confusion. "He's calling the fighting off already?"

"It appears to be so, yes," Lancelot said. "How many casualties do we have?"

"None that I know of," Percival said. "We've barely started! Do we just pack up and go home?"

Lancelot turned his attention back to Galehaut. "Have you any knights under you?"

"I wish!" Galehaut said, with a snort. It took Lancelot a moment to realize what was so funny, and when he did he glared at the other knights to make sure they stopped laughing, too.

"Then you alone will accompany us back to Camelot," Lancelot said. "The rest of your men will return to the province they came from." He'd never actually been involved in a truce like this, but he had read about it extensively, and this seemed like just the sort of thing Arthur would do. He sheathed his sword. "Stand. We will disband immediately."

"I am much obliged to you, my lord," Lord Galehaut said, standing up and wiping his tears away.

"I'm a knight, not a lord," Lancelot snapped, then instantly regretted it. Lord Galehaut smiled.

"A knight, sir! I should have known by your rough figure." He giggled, a very boyish sound that Lancelot did not expect. "You have the heart of a romantic pastoral shepherd, sir. I hope you do not mind me saying, sir, but if there were more men like you who also possessed noble blood in their veins, the world would be a more beautiful place." Lancelot would have thought he was faking except for the blush that accompanied the statement, and Lancelot found himself unable to keep from smiling.

"You shall ride my horse back to Camelot," Lancelot said.

Galehaut looked aghast. "Oh, no, sir--a knight's life is his horse--"

"But I'm not noble," Lancelot said with a smile. "I earned my knighthood. My rough figure does not find it burdensome to be without one, and a delicate constitution such as yours would appreciate it more than I." He eyed the nobleman to see his reaction, expecting to see him get offended as he himself had been.

But Galehaut only smiled, his eyes squinting as he did so. "Who says chivalry is dead," he said, and leapt into the horse's saddle.

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9 Re: The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship on Mon 16 Jan 2012, 3:56 am

Merlin stared at Gwaine in complete astonishment. Had the knight he regularly caught pilfering from the kitchens just told him he could tell Percival (the other knight regularly caught pilfering from the kitchens) where his secret stash of food was? He was really irritated. And that was really worrying.

For a moment, beginning to feel the weight of being guilt tripped, Merlin waffled. He could tell Gwaine he could do magic- quite a lot of magic, because Gwaine had clearly already pegged him for several not insignificant uses of magic- but on the other hand… Lancelot already knew, and the more people who knew, the more likely Arthur would find out, or Morgana, which was even more likely with her penchant for capturing people and getting the truth out of them one way or another, and if that happened…

That couldn’t happen. Even if Gwaine was showing all the signs of going into full-on guilt trip mode, what with practically accusing Merlin of thinking he was stupid. Actually, it kind of irritated Merlin just a little bit that Gwaine would try guilt-tripping into something, especially since, if he was so sure he knew already, he knew how much Merlin’s life depended on not going around telling everyone he could do magic as easily as he could muck a horse stall.

“I… have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said, although not very confidently, and waited for the shoe to drop.


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10 Re: The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship on Mon 16 Jan 2012, 4:09 am

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Oh, that was just it!

Gwaine was waiting for something like that. Hoping against hope that he was wrong, but he had expected it.

He kicked over his bedside table, ignoring the sound of someone down the hall yelling at him to keep it down.

"What the bloody hell, Merlin? What. The. Hell? Is this how you treat your friends? I trusted you, Merlin. Thought you could do half as good by me. Whatever happened to friends not keeping secrets from each other?"

"Nothing you ever told me could get you burned at the stake!" Merlin shouted, startling Gwaine. It was actually kind of horrifying.

Gwaine threw his arms up and rolled his eyes skyward.

"Dammit, Merlin, I know! Don't you get it? I already know, and if I thought the idea of watching you burn was anything other than repulsive, you'd be there already, son! I certainly wouldn't be sitting here playing truth-or-dare with you at three in the fecking morning! This isn't about that, it's about you not telling me!"

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11 Re: The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship on Mon 16 Jan 2012, 4:49 am

When Lancelot finished his story, and Leon had a drink of wine to fortify himself, Lancelot led him down to the dungeon where the lord was being kept. They had put him in one of the cleaner cells, with good light and a fire and a proper bed, even. And from the first glimpse Leon caught of Lord Galehaut, it appeared he expected nothing less.

He was a scrawny chap, and dressed as finely as Lancelot described, his clothing at the height of court fashion. He was ginger. Very ginger. Really, he was unsettlingly so. He was sitting on an upturned bucket which, on closer inspection, he had draped a handkerchief over. In the dim light from the barred window, he was doing his nails.

"Lord Galehaut, I presume?" Leon ventured.

The young man looked up, and the biggest, most impish grin Leon had ever seen spread over his face. He stood and walked over to the bars. "At your service, Sir," he said, bowing. "From what my captor has informed me of, you must be either Sir Gwaine or his counterpart, Sir Leon."

"Leon," Leon said. "I'm the--"

"--Steward of Camelot, yes," the young man said, and giggled. "Have you come to inform me of my fate?"

Leon blinked. He himself was known for speaking in a pretty old-fashioned manner, but certainly he wasn't this bad. He cleared his throat. "Sir Lancelot tells me you surrendered the battle to him before there could be any bloodshed."

"You are correct, sir, yes. I knew the whole thing was pointless after that young knight of yours drew his sword," Galehaut said. He grinned ever wider as he glanced at Lancelot. "I see now that it was a fool's errand to try to take a castle so well defended. I place myself at your mercy."

"Yes." Leon swallowed, then said finally, "Well, this is no place for a nobleman. You will be transferred to a guest bedroom, and when Arthur returns you may swear fealty to him."

"Then I am to be released?"

"You are to be made a soldier of Camelot," Leon said. "--if Arthur approves on his return. And if that is more agreeable than remaining in prison."

"Oh, it is, Sir Leon," Galehaut said. The guards unlocked the door and he stepped out, after carefully gathering up the handkerchief he had left on the bucket. What a very odd gentleman.

Leon was certain he was going to like him.


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12 Re: The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship on Mon 16 Jan 2012, 4:55 am

To be honest, Merlin was a little horrified that he’d shouted at Gwaine in the split second after he did it. First of all, why was he shouting at a knight? Second of all, why was he shouting at Gwaine, who was his friend? And why, oh why, were they shouting at each other at THREE IN THE MORNING? Gwaine was not helping his mental state, adding to the guilt and shouting at him and all. And kicking tables over.

Then, of course, because one shout deserved another, and Merlin was becoming so thoroughly irritated his eyes were beginning to sting (it was a sure sign that, like any of the knights worth their salt would have teased him endlessly for, not to mention Arthur, very shortly he was going to be in tears) he started shouting back.

“I haven’t told anyone, Gwaine! It’s not a matter of wanting to! Do you even realize what it’s like keeping it from the lot of you? Uther would have killed me!” he shouted and- yes, right on cue, there were the tears, curse it all, “And Arthur, when he finds out, because you know he will, is going to banish me, at the very least!”

He realized he’d been pacing, at that point, and stopped, and just glared (albeit a little helplessly, and therefore not very effectively) at Gwaine.


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13 Re: The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship on Mon 16 Jan 2012, 5:17 am

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Dear Christ in Heaven and in the names of all the Saints in all of Purgatory! Merlin was crying! If that didn't break your heart, you were made of stone. Or something harder than stone. Damn it! And then he had to go and give him that glare, or rather that attempt at a glare, which was really about as intimidating as an aggravated puppy.

Okay, this was so not how Gwaine had wanted this conversation to go.

Gwaine's mouth flapped as he tried to figure out how to attack this problem.

"Arthur is going to banish me--"

And then Gwaine realized that he hadn't thought this whole thing quite through to the end: surprise, surprise. He had been so busy worrying about arguing with a blockheaded friend that he hadn't stopped to consider he was arguing with a warlock. That brought up two things: first being the realization that Merlin, for all his mundane powers of an aggravated puppy, was actually a very powerful young man, and, probably, if he truly didn't want Gwaine to know he could turn him into a toad or maybe snap his fingers and he would just forget, so maybe it wasn't that smart to be getting pushy with him; and second that what he said was very true, it was a serious secret with serious consequences, and maybe Gwaine wasn't the best person to be knowing about it.

"Do you realize what it’s like keeping it from the lot of you?--"

He did care. Of course Merlin cared. He showed how much he cared by not letting anyone know, by not making them choose. And he was crying! Damn his eyes, Gwaine had been trying to negotiate a conversation about trust, or lack thereof or something, and then had to go and make Merlin cry!

Real smooth, there, G. Gwaine told himself. Way to go.

"I--damn it, Merlin," Gwaine finally managed, eloquently, but all the fight had gone out of him. He sighed, ran a hand through his hair. "I didn't mean--" Gwaine turned around, ostensibly giving Merlin a chance to get himself under control, but also to cover for his own deep shame and, if you wanted to call it that, cowardice. He couldn't bring himself to look at Merlin.

"Whatever," he said suddenly. "I'm sorry. Forget I said anything. This never happened, I know nothing, good night." Then, feeling guilty, he added, "I'll walk you home. Don't want--" Yeah, like the guy with super-magic-powers can't walk himself home at night. "Don't want to go to bed just yet," he amended.

Gwaine opened the door, held it open for Merlin, still not meeting his eye, and followed him out.



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14 Re: The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship on Mon 16 Jan 2012, 5:26 am

It turned out that Galehaut had not eaten supper yet, so Leon stayed up for another hour to entertain the new guest with Lancelot. He hadn't eaten with any lords that were near his age in a while, and it felt good to speak with a man who had the same sort of upbringing as he had. There was no danger of the man running away--that was not how noblemen behaved. It felt safe.

The conversation, for instance, was very safe. Instead of talking about how big Percival's little gentleman was or trying to guess how many olives Gwaine could fit in his mouth, Galehaut brought Leon up to speed on the latest art from across Albion, the newest ideas and the most compelling court intrigues.

"...I really do despair of court nowadays, in any kingdom," Galehaut said, eating his brie tart with perfect poise. "There's no celebration of art, no national music, no culture! If I were to become a knight of Camelot, I assure you that chivalry would not be so easily tossed aside."

"I'm sure Arthur will appreciate that," Leon said, and, not quite glancing at Lancelot, "We're a right bunch of uncultured bumpkins when it comes to art--dancing, even. You should see some of the knights try to cut a caper."

Galehaut appreciated his joke. "Oh, yes. I thought I noticed Sir Lancelot's uncivilized manner of not wiping his boots before stepping out of the dungeon," he said, eying Lancelot over a glass of wine. "Tell me, sir, are there other knights of common birth? Oh, please do not think I mean to offend," he added, seeing Lancelot's face. "Us privileged lads are supposed to enrich the lives of those below--otherwise, what's the point of having title?"

"Not a truer word spoken," Leon said. Lancelot said nothing, and appeared a little nonplussed.

After dinner Lancelot and Leon watched Galehaut walked down the hall toward his appointed chamber.

"I don't trust him," Lancelot said, once he was sure Galehaut was too far away to hear.

"You think he's hiding something?" Leon asked.

"He doesn't hide anything--that's the trouble." Lancelot eyed Leon. "Do--do all noblemen act like that? I mean, you don't…"

"Some of them do."

Galehaut had reached the stairs at the end of the hall, and waved once more at them before disappearing up the steps. Leon and Lancelot awkwardly waved back.

"I think he's alright," Leon said, but his grin faded when he saw Lancelot's expression. He coughed. "Anyway, we'll see what Arthur makes of him.”


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15 Re: The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship on Mon 16 Jan 2012, 5:45 am

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Gwaine and Merlin walked in silence across the courtyard to the physician's quarters. It was a marked difference from their walk on the way in--what, twenty minutes ago? It felt like hours--which had been joyful, friendly, sloppy, full of shoving and laughing and shouting far too loudly for the time of night and then shushing each other.

Now the walk was quick, direct, quiet. How had Gwaine managed to screw everything up so massively in such a short time? He seemed to have a knack for it. Maybe the whole being a knight in Camelot thing was too good to be true...

It was a complete buzz-kill. He was shockingly sober, now, but his heart wasn't in the idea of sneaking into the wine cellar. No, he'd probably just go back and not sleep.

They were at the door to Gaius' chambers rather quickly, in spite of how the uncomfortable silence crept on.

Gwaine kicked at a rock as he struggled to decide what to say to not make it awkward, knowing that by virtue of the pause and the lingering he was making it incredibly awkward. "'Night," he decided on abruptly, and turned to head back to his room.

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16 Re: The Beginning of A Beautiful Friendship on Mon 16 Jan 2012, 6:23 am

Merlin wasn’t quite sure what to say when Gwaine just suddenly gave up arguing, and was honestly a bit too worked up to even try and think of something to say. So he didn’t say anything, and the whole walk back to Gaius’ quarters was absolutely silent. Merlin stuffed his hands in his pockets, thoroughly ashamed at having shouted at Gwaine, until they reached the door. He couldn’t think of anything to say that seemed quite an adequate apology for the amount of yelling he’d just contributed to, so he let Gwaine walk off with an awkward reply to the knights’ own awkward “’Night”.

Gwaine had gone all of three steps when Merlin finally got it into his head to apologize, because it was better than nothing.

“Wait, Gwaine. I’m sorry,” he said as Gwaine stopped and turned to look at him. It occurred to him that he might just provide the simple explanation that had come to his own mind a few minutes ago, because he owed him that much.

“Look, I’m… not used to having a friend who I can trust with knowing that I can do, you know,” it was actually surprisingly hard to admit in blatant terms that he could do magic, but he soldiered on anyway, “that I can do magic.” He shrugged awkwardly and stared at the ground, hands still in his pockets. When he did finally look up, Gwaine was at least not halfway across the courtyard. Actually, he’d walked back Merlin’s direction. And he was looking at him, which was an improvement, and he had the usual wicked Gwaine glint back in his eyes. Merlin was still shrinking a little bit though, and he sobered up.

“No, no, I'm sorry, Merlin, I shouldn't have forced you into that,“ he said.

“So… you know… thanks,” Merlin said, before the silence could stretch from natural into awkward again. Gwaine, apparently done with being serious, grabbed him in a bear hug and when Merlin could breathe again, he grinned wickedly. And, since Gwaine had so kindly given him a moment to compose himself earlier, he gave Gwaine the same courtesy, pretending not to notice that the knight’s eyes had gone all misty.

“Just don’t tell anybody, okay? Or, well…” he trailed off, and his eyes went gold for a moment as he looked right at Gwaine. From a potted plant nearby came an audible ‘plop’ and a small green frog hopped nonchalantly between Merlin and Gwaine, looked around, and croaked loudly. Gwaine stared at it, alarmed, for a moment, and Merlin wondered if that’d been the best idea, but then Gwaine laughed uproariously. Startled, Merlin also laughed, and dodged a good-natured shove that probably would have sent him through the door. He could hear Gwaine guffawing clear across the courtyard, even after he’d gone inside and shut the door. Merlin grinned again as the frog ribbited quietly in confusion and plip-plopped back to its plant to resume sleeping.


*THE END*


***

Follow the further adventures of Merlin and the Friday Knights in Episode 2: The Unquiet Castle


_________________


Merlin: Merlin
Doctor Who: Sarasine (Sara) Tekri
Supernatural: Alexander (Alex) Colt
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