Dedicated to Brittanique, my muse to update this story.
The castle was alive when we got back. Servants rushed around getting ready for the feast in a few hours and some of the contestants were already drunk. The colorful banners flew around in the wind. People smiled up at me as we rode through the courtyard. Then we came to a stop and the ground looked a whole lot closer then it had been a half hour ago.
'Hermione?' Arthur said, turning his head to look at me.
'Yes?' I gulped.
Arthur gently touched my hands, 'You can release now.'
I looked down to my arms, which were locked around his waist. Blushing, I released my grip and let Merlin help me off, 'Sorry...' I mumbled.
Arthur just laughed and jumped down, 'It's alright, shall we go in?' He offered me his arm as I nodded.
Merlin walked a step behind us as we headed into the castle.
'What was it you wanted to tell me?' Arthur said, breaking the tense silence that had been brought on by the announcement of Morgana's pending arrival.
I froze, 'Um...ahh...I can tell you later.' I turned away, trying to shield my face with my hair.
'A-alright.' He said, gently touching my hand as we continued down the hall.
Arthur stopped and turned at his name. He smiled when he saw King Uther, 'Father.'
'Arthur.' King Uther stopped in front of us, dressed in his royal cloths and crown, 'We need you in the throne room.'
Arthur sighed, giving a slight roll of his head, 'Alright.' He turned to me with a sad smile before letting go of my arm, 'I'll escort you to the feast?'
I smiled and gave a slight nod as Merlin came to stand beside me.
King Uther turned to me, it felt like he was comparing me to someone. My feet shifted on their own accord as I gently bit into my lower lip.
'My lord.' I gave a slight curtsey which he returned with a nod. King Uther turned and started down the hall without another word. Arthur gave one last sad look before following after his father.
I sighed, blowing a curl out of my eyes, 'Is he always like that?'
'A prat?' Merlin whispered, leaning into me a bit as he smiled. He easily towered over me, making me smile.
'Yeah.' I said, staring at the place Arthur and the King had disappeared.
'Well, I'm surprised you didn't notice that about Arthur at first...usually that is the first thing—'
'Uther not Arthur!' I laughed, gently smacking Merlin's arm.
Rolling his eyes, Merlin started down the hall, 'Yeah, well...Uther is very particular with who Arthur keeps company with.'
I nodded, following after Merlin. I gently touched the cold stone of the wall as we walked, 'Oh, and by the way—when did you become the Hermione expert?'
Merlin looked to me with bewildered eyes, 'What?'
'Arthur listed off a bunch of details about me earlier.' I looked to him, my brow rose, 'Details I hadn't really shared with him.'
Merlin kept his eyes down the hall as he pursed his lips, 'I don't know what you are talking about.'
I chuckled, 'Sure, Merlin.' Merlin hurried down the hall and I followed after him, enjoying every moment of making him squirm.
'So Arthur said that he will meet you here.' Merlin whispered as the people arrived for the feast. Merlin stood with his back to the crowd in the dark hall as we talked. The hall was hidden from view and if anyone were to take notice of us we would probably look like star-crossed lovers stealing a moment together. I smirked at the thought – it wouldn't be that big of a scandal, a servant and his visiting friend, and it would probably put Morgana at ease for tonight.
I silently wished someone would walk in and then go tell Morgana. But, if that someone was Arthur he would want an answer to his question.
Maybe I just wished to be on the giant horse again. Away from the hell that is Morgana and King Uther and my magic and Arthur's question and...well, everything.
I nodded, trying to focus on what was being said as Merlin continued on with the etiquette of the feast. Finally, I just gave up trying.
'Merlin, Merlin—' I tried getting the warlocks attention but he just kept on listing things, 'Merlin!' I whispered loudly.
He stopped and turned to me.
I smiled, 'I got it. If I don't, then I'll poke you or something.'
Merlin let out a playful laugh, 'Alright, alright, I get it—I have to go help serve. Will you be alright till Arthur get's here?'
I gave a slight smile and nodded. Merlin gently touched my hand, giving me an encouraging smile, before sliding out of the shadows and into the crowd.
Sighing, I leaned against the pillar to wait.
I jumped, only calming down when I met Arthur's soft eyes.
He smiled playfully, 'Did I scare you, my little mouse?'
I narrowed my eyes a bit, 'What do you think?' Arthur chuckled as he walked over to me.
Taking my hand, he gently pressed his lips to it before looking up to me, 'I'm sorry, m'lady.'
My breathe caught, how could I stay mad at that? I smiling up at him, letting him know he was fully forgiven.
Arthur stood back up and took both my hands in his, 'So do you have an answer for me?' He gently caressed my hand as his eyes nervously strayed from mine. Arthur was scared me might get a no and that just melted my heart.
I sighed, I had been lost on his question for the past few hours. I had a life in my time, my family is there, Harry and Luna are there, everything is there. Except Arthur.
My thoughts strayed as Luna talked about wedding plans, they strayed when Merlin babbled about whatever it is Merlin babbles about. Even Harry couldn't keep my attention when he asked a serious question about the knights.
All I had been thinking about is what I was going to say to Arthur about his...well, his question.
'Hermione?' Arthur looked at me with worried eyes.
'I need to tell you something first.' I said, my eyes fluttering closed as my nerves started to push forward. I couldn't let my nerves get to me. I needed to borrow Arthur's courage. I needed to borrow his honesty. He hadn't said anything to me that wasn't true, now it was my turn.
'You can tell me anything, it won't change my feelings.' Arthur said, lifting my chin so I couldn't look away from him, 'I love you.'
'Arthur' I tried to look away but just couldn't, 'I'm a—'
For the second time today I cursed that pesky warlock.
'What?' Arthur snapped at Merlin. Merlin pulled back. He looked between Arthur and I, his mouth falling into an O when he realized something important was happening.
'Well...um...its...well...' Merlin ran his fingers through his bangs and pulled them, trying to decide if he should continue, 'Morgana arrived. She's getting ready now.'
There went my courage.
Arthur cursed, 'Well, great...just...great...' He looked back to me with sad eyes, 'Can we talk after the feast? Just the two of us?' He looked to Merlin with cross eyes. The warlock just shrugged, his usual goofy smile in place.
I gave a closed-mouth smile and a nod, 'Of course.' My eyes fluttered to Merlin as I smirked.
'Thank you.' Arthur whispered as he took my arm to lead us out to the crowd. I forced a smile. This just wasn't going to be easy.
People nodded and gracefully moved out of our way as we walked towards the head table.
Everyone stood by their seats as the King walked in, taking their seats once Uther took his place. Arthur helped me into my seat before taking his own.
And then the feast began. Merlin would poke me whenever I was about to mess up and it became a game of sorts. I had to hide my laughter from the King and Arthur as Merlin tripped, having tried to flick my shoulder.
Like a deer hearing the hunter my head snapped to the entry.
King Uther got up and walked over to his charge, his hands outstreched to her, 'What a brilliant surprise!'
Morgana smiled, her red dress like hell's fire around her as she looked at the head table. Her eyes locked on me and I was her mouse, not Arthur's, yet again.
My back instinctively started to slide down the chair.
Arthur smiled at me, puling my hand into his under the table. He leaned over so that only I could hear, 'Everything will be alright.'
I nodded and gave an encouraging smile even though everything inside of me disagreed with him.
'Come, come, join us Morgana!' King Uther walked back to the head table and helped her into her chair.
She smiled at the King and Arthur, reserving her glare for me.
I put some food into my mouth, I think it was a piece of potato, and chewed. My eyes pleaded with Merlin to do something, anything.
He just looked from Morgana to me to Arthur and back to me, his mouth was slightly open as he tried to solve the problem.
I sighed, covering my mouth with my hand. This was going to be a very long night.
Damn, I really wished I was back on that stupid horse.
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