Okay, I know this is true, but I never knew it was true to me off fandom. The internet really does seem to make it much easier to be an extremist. This is brought to you by recent vaccination wank. I mean, granted, I am pro-vaccination like whoa, but that is from the intrinsic idea that I do not want to die. However, during discussion, I was interested to realize I also have a historical perspective on the subject, because I started writing a story involving maybe an outbreak of some, you know, disease, and you know what really sensitizes you to that sort of thing? Reading about lots and lots of plague victims being burned in town square. I really wanted to go get a shot after that. I mean, of alcohol. And be vaccinated for everything in the universe.
You know, this may be one of the more useless entries I've ever made.
In my defense, I'm going through semi-colon withdrawal and a wild parenthesis phrase. Th rest--well, there is no excuse.
There's something personally humiliating about recognizing that the pristine state of one's room and the blinding shine of one's armor aren't actually a sign that Merlin's improved in either demeanor or skill. Feeling faintly wary, Arthur notices the disturbing cleanness of the stone floor, the line-straight edge of the rugs and braces himself before he looks at the precise folds of blankets on his bed.
No rat droppings. He doesn't wince at all.
It's like a *good* servant works here, which Merlin is not, and while Arthur tried his best to sleep his way through mathematics ("I am a prince. I have *servants* to build bridges if I want a bridge!" "Of course, Your Highness. Please examine your figures here; perhaps you did not mean for your bridge to collapse into the river?"), two plus two is not five and he doesn't need to remember how to calculate angle and force to know that Merlin's unhappy with him (an understatement, Arthur realizes, when he sees his socks are rolled into perfect spheres. He shudders).
Humiliating because knowing these sorts of things are beneath him (like bridges, but even more so), and he can ignore it all he likes (which he does), but he can still feel it, emanating from the neatly hung clothes sorted by color, shoes matched beneath like an accusation.
In a world like this one but with a proper manservant, this would be his due. This is not that world, more's the pity, and so the fact that his chainmail looks like it came fresh from the blacksmith does not herald a miraculous change in his servant's personality.
There's a sharp double-tap at the door like the death-knell from the church, and Arthur braces himself before he sprawls deliberately over the meticulously made bed and tries not to feel uncomfortable that the blankets are now wrinkled. "Come in."
Merlin comes in, dinner tray balanced on one wide-spread palm, and looks at Arthur with what he probably thinks is blank subservience but comes closer to extreme constipation. "Sire. I've brought your dinner."
Arthur marvels that Merlin can manage to make "sire" sound like "chamber pot". "Put it over there," Arthur says, deliberately pushing his heel into the bedcovers, not acknowledging the twist of guilt for the streak of mud he leaves behind.
The best defense, in Arthur's view, is an aggressive offense (why defend when one can attack? A mystery Arthur has yet to solve); getting up on both elbows, Arthur smiles. "You're late."
It takes time and observation of Merlin (which Arthur will fall on his own sword before he admits to) to see the quick bunch of muscles in his jaw.
"I was cleaning the chamber pots. Sire."
It's strange, Arthur thinks, fighting the urge to flinch (chamber pots are actually below Merlin's station, which Arthur thinks he should tell Merlin. Eventually); one day, one impossibly long state dinner, and one dagger, and you go from domestic peace (and attractively compliant chambermaids) to a war with intermittent battles that seems destined to stretch the rest of his life (and Merlin is neither attractively compliant nor a maid) or until he gets rid of Merlin (and he doesn't even pretend that's going to happen anytime soon). As Merlin starts to lay out the dishes, Arthur's eyes narrow on his hands. That handled chamber pots. "Did you bathe?"
Merlin puts down the goblet so carefully Arthur can almost see it fly through the air toward his head and manage to go nowhere near: aim is not Merlin's strong suit. Lifting his head, Merlin looks two inches to the left of his eyes. "Of course. Sire."