1.) Arthur does not like heights.
Merlin hadn't really considered this aspect. Gently settling Arthur back on the ground, Merlin tries to think of something to say that isn't "So, this particular reveal of my sorcerer powers did not go well" or "Heights? Really?"
Arthur stays sitting, white and deeply, deeply unhappy (to understate the case dramatically). It's not so much that Merlin thinks Arthur will execute him for flying him about (though it's up in the air if the throwing up soon after will have unforseen penalties, though Merlin thinks that being thrown up on is sufficient punishment), but that Arthur will never speak to him again.
He wonders, a little wistfully, when his priorities changed so dramatically.
"Sorry," he manages, staring at the ground. "That could have gone better, I think."
Arthur cranes his head to stare at him, color returning to his face. "You think?"
"I'm a sorcerer and lied to you for years?" Merlin says desperately.
"Good try. You're doing the laundry by hand while I watch," Arthur says, getting to his feet. "Flying," he mutters, wiping his mouth and heading toward the river. "Of all--are you going to stand there like an idiot or help me clean up?"
Merlin stares at him. "Uh--"
"No magic, either," Arthur says viciously. "Coming?"
Running to catch up, Merlin pretends he doesn't a.) smell unpleasant or b.) notice Arthur's hand on his shoulder, a warm pressure that means everything will be okay after all.
2.) Arthur hates feasts.
Merlin had always liked them himself, watching the court and brightly dressed women and men, the dancing that's nothing like what he used to see at home, and Arthur among them, their glittering golden prince with his bright smiles and easy laugh and the winecup that seems to rarely need filling. After a while, though, he notices how Arthur takes the earliest opportunity to leave, excusing himself from the rainbow of skirts and doublets of men and women and their endless flattery whenever he can. Which isn't, it seems, often enough, as Merlin watches the smile grow more fixed and more tense.
He's learned how to turn clumsiness into an excuse all it's own, and helping Arthur from a wine-ruined doublet, he smiles at Arthur's scolding and pretends he doesn't see the relief.
3.) Arthur can read. In several languages.
"When he was ten," Morgana says, voice thick with gloating at his misery, "he was convinced he didn't need to learn to read. So his father told him that a prince that couldn't read couldn't be king--"
"I was *ten*," Arthur snaps. "You were irritating, and I still believed I liked you. I was *very impressionable*."
"So His Highness *panicked* and well--"
"Learned to read?" Merlin says, sounding as if this were the most unlikely thing he'd ever heard.
"Just to see if it was true, yes. Unfortunately for him," Morgana continues maliciously, "not all the law is written in English."
There's a kind of dawning understanding in Merlin's eyes that Arthur would give a great deal never to see. "She's overstating it," Arthur says desperately.
"And Arthur can be a bit--" Morgana cocks her head, eyeing him thoughtfully. "Suspicious."
"Read everything we had in the library. Right back through the Twelve Tables and Hammurabi's code. Arthur," she says, voice softening, "really didn't trust inheritance laws."
Merlin stares at him. "You are, actually, and not just in my vivid and *highly improbable imagination*, smarter than you look."
Arthur closes his eyes. He will never live this down.
suaine: Five magical creatures Arthur didn't kill
(Merlin found him the next morning in the grove near the castle half-dressed and strategically bruised, the outline of teeth in his neck and his stomach, mouth stained with wine and surrounded with flowers, blue eyes glassy and content, the picture of debauched satiation. Merlin washed away the touch of other hands and other mouths, didn't look at the mark of fingernails on his inner thighs and back, the mark of a hoof on his hip, and pretended not to wonder if Arthur could ever be content with a human when he'd lain with a god.)
(Arthur brought her back on his horse, fair and fragile, already pale as death, and Merlin grew her a tree in the forest, tall and strong. "My father burned their grove," Arthur says, and Merlin nods as Arthur bloods himself on the earth in payment for his father's sins. It isn't the first time, but Merlin hopes someday, there will be a last time.)
(Arthur let him go. They watch him fly over their heads, huge and terrible, and Arthur thinks that he'll never pay the debt his father owes.)
(Arthur thinks this may be the most awesome thing ever. They wander around him, confused by this human prince with his endless fascination and endless questions. One young girl lets him ride her, and Merlin's so disturbed by the implications he can't really think about it too hard. They're gone a very long time. A very. Long. Time.
Arthur's smug for days after. Merlin does not want to know.)
(They'd claim him if they could, this child of man born of magic and the earth's own need, and maybe he would have let them, a life free of responsibility and regret, lose himself in an eternity outside the bindings of duty and obligation, the favored pet of a king, a world with no pain and no loss.
Merlin asks him later, why did you say no?
Arthur doesn't have an answer, but he thinks it may start with the shattered look in Merlin's eyes when they asked him to stay.)