“It’s cheek, that’s what it is,” Arthur grumbled. He was referring to the fact he was being told he had to pay for a horse, not just take one without so much as a by your leave.
Merlin, who was leaning against a wall, legs crossed, sighed. Arthur seemed to think that just because he was royalty, he could get whatever he wanted. And for the most part, he would be right. But apparently no one knew who he was, resulting in the fact his title was useless. Merlin guessed this was because they were still too far from Camelot for the prince to be recognized for who he was. They were in Brinkwell. Arthur had – well, from what he made out, anyway – either carried or dragged Merlin back to the docks – it had felt like dragging was the more likely statement. But still, they had both made it back to the inn, where they had stayed for nearly a week, simply in order for Merlin to become conscious again. It had taken about three days, but the young warlock had eventually woken to find himself tucked up in a bed, Arthur asleep and snoring loudly in a chair by the side of it. After that, they’d stayed a few more days so that Merlin could get some ‘R & R’ – as Arthur called it.
But finally the time came for them to return home, so they packed up what little belongings they had, and hired a ship back to Brinkwell. As he had gingerly stepped up the gangplank that led to the boat, Merlin had been quite apprehensive. Large ships brought back unwelcome memories, but now he was with Arthur, he began to see the other side of sea life…the fun that could be had in annoying the sailors to the point of suicide…the fishing when the ship was in anchor…the laughing with a friend…
They made a beeline straight for Brinkwell docks, and arrived there in no less than a week. All that now remained of the journey home was to obtain a horse and ride a few short miles back to Camelot.
As the thought of Camelot, his home, sprung into Merlin’s mind for the millionth time that day, the young warlock shivered happily. He briefly reflected on how he would not even be alive to go home if it were not for Arthur. Words were beyond describing just how he felt. He was so indebted to the prince for his easiness with his magic that whenever he tried to thank the prince for it, nothing but a few strangled squeaks escaped his lips before he gave up and merely grinned goofily. At times like these, Arthur would give him a strange look as if to say ‘you idiot’, but at the same time ‘don’t worry, I know what you mean’. It was one of those things that only Arthur could accomplish.
“Like I said,” Arthur muttered to him, leading the two horses he had managed to buy over to Merlin, “cheek.”
“Why?” Merlin asked, knowing he was probably supposed to respond, as he took his horse reigns and swung himself onto its back.
“Merlin,” Arthur exasperated, “we have just saved their skins from Nimueh and co. and they don’t even thank us for it!”
“Well, they don’t exactly know,” Merlin pointed out rationally.
“That’s no excuse…” Arthur grumbled, pulling himself onto his own horse.
Merlin rolled his eyes – albeit affectionately – and spurred his horse on.
The road back to Camelot seemed to take forever, yet no time at all. The wind whipping his hair erratically, refreshing his face, Merlin rode at a gallop over the grassy green plains. They passed towns and cities, rode through streams and rivers, wove in and out of the tall trees of the forest.
As they reached the top of the last hill, and the mass of turrets, flags and stonework of Camelot castle appeared, Merlin felt a sudden rush of glee. Smirking, he turned to Arthur who had arrived there before him, and was staring at the castle with a smile on his face.
“Want a rematch?”
“What rematch?” Arthur asked incredulously.
“You know, a rematch for when I beat you at that race down by the lake. C’mon, don’t tell me you don’t remember.”
“Well, I remember I won.”
“Not got a good memory, have you?”