It was the next day and Merlin was at the training ground once again with Gwaine and Percival with his sword learning some new moves Gwaine was teaching him. "That had better be blunt." a voice warned.
Merlin turned and dropped his sword. A big smile on his face as he ran up to the Prince. "Arthur."
"Hey." Arthur laughed as he hugged Merlin back. "Have you been good?"
"I have. I have been learning to fight."
"I can see that. Are you hungry?"
"Want to eat with me, the King and Queen?"
"Thank you for looking after him."
"It was nothing Arthur, plus he hasn't been with us much." Percival answered.
"Who has he been with?"
"Your parents, well, Uther more than Ygraine."
Gwaine grinned. "Yep. Even threatened me at one point should anything have happened to Merlin in my care."
Arthur laughed and thanked Gwaine and Percival again before taking Merlin's hand, leading him away.
"Thank you for looking after Merlin for me."
"It was no problem son. Your father looked after him more than me."
"Yeah Gwaine said father threatened him in case anything happened to Merlin."
"You did father and you know it. Thank you. Merlin how have you ate that so fast?"
"Mmm. You do nothing but eat these days."
Merlin was now six and Arthur had lost him. He woke up late and went to wake Merlin to find his bed empty. Arthur ran from his chambers and stopped at every door he came to to look in, not seeing Merlin he carried on looking.
Arthur burst into the throne room making his parents who was eating breakfast, jump. "Have you seen Merlin?"
"You lost him?"
"No mother. I just can't find him."
"Arthur son that is the same thing." Uther said, abandoning his breakfast and standing up.
"Where are you going dear?"
"There is a six year old running about somewhere. He needs to be found."
"Father I have an idea where he might be so I am going to look there, if he isn't there then I will get some knights to help look for him."
When Arthur left Ygraine looked at Uther. "You seemed more concerned than me."
"Well if I didn't I would only get an earful from you so I saved us both from it." Uther said and sat back down to eat his breakfast.
"Of course dear, whatever you say." Ygraine smiled, carrying on with her breakfast.
Arthur went to head to the training grounds but stopped when he opened the doors to go down the steps to the courtyard. Merlin was sat at the top of the steps looking down at the courtyard.
Arthur sighed with relief of finding Merlin and sat down next to him. "There you are, you had me worried when I couldn't find you."
"What's wrong Merlin?"
"I want friends."
Arthur looked down into the courtyard and saw four kids running in circles playing. "Merlin I know you as well as you know me and I know that you will have no trouble making friends. Go over there and be the person I know and I know they will want you with them."
Merlin gave Arthur a beaming smile and ran down the steps and Arthur sat and watched as Merlin introduced himself.
All of the kids squealed and ran over to Arthur, surrounding him. "Is this really Merlin your manservant?"
"The one and only. He got hit with a spell making him this young and he is looking for some friends until he is himself again."
"We'll be his friends, we love Merlin." they squealed and ran back over to Merlin.
"This is where you say 'so do I' Arthur."
Arthur looked to the side of him and saw Andreia sit down. "What are you talking about?"
"I am talking about you loving Merlin. You have loved Merlin for months Arthur. Don't deny it." she quickly added when she saw Arthur about to interrupt. "Will you admit it."
"There is nothing to admit. I like Merlin as a friend. I will admit I see him as a friend more than a servant."
"Now admit that when Merlin is back to normal you want him as a lover more than a friend."
Arthur laughed and looked Andreia. "And give you more blackmail material?"
"Well if you think about it I can only blackmail you with something if it is only I who knows it. There are quite a few who know you like Merlin more and want more than friendship."
"I will let you find that out for yourself. Just don't think too hard, you'll give yourself headache." she laughed at the look on Arthur's face and left him alone once more.
Arthur decided that Merlin was fine playing with his new friends and stood up to go back into the castle to let his parents know that he found Merlin and that he was happily playing with some kids he found. At least this way, Arthur could start to get things done with him not having to watch Merlin twenty four hours a day.
"I found Merlin. He was watching some kids play and wanted to join in. As soon as the kids found out that Merlin was actually my Merlin. I mean, my manservant Merlin they dragged him off to play. Everyone seems to love Merlin."
"Of course they do son. You are very lucky to have him. I have never seen anyone so loving and caring as Merlin."
Uther cleared his throat. "Your mother is right son. With Merlin having to grow up again, watch him carefully. Since we found out about his magic Gaius has told us what he knows and Andreia has told us the rest. When you was bitten by the questing beast the kingdom began to mourn for you, your mother and I knew we would need a miracle. Do you know what Merlin did?"
"He went to see Nimueh on the isle of the blessed, traded his life for yours."
"What did Nimueh do then?"
"She took Merlin's mothers. He went to go back to trade his life for hers but Gaius beat him to it, she killed Gaius and Hunith was safe. Merlin got angry, he killed her there and then, bringing Gaius back to life."
"What about when there was that jousting tournament? That Myror came and killed the knight you was to face and Merlin used his magic to help save you." Ygraine added.
"Just what has Merlin done for me?" Arthur asked. He was about to sit down when the warning bells started to ring and a knight burst into the throne room. "My lords, my lady. Ghaleh, the man who helped the sorcerer has escaped, the cell doors look as though they have been blown off with magic."
"I didn't know he had magic." Ygraine said, standing along with her husband.
"Gather all the knights. I want him found."
"Merlin." Arthur gasped, suddenly remembering that Merlin was outside playing and hurried from the throne room.
"Percival come with me." Arthur said as he made his way to the courtyard where Merlin was, passing the knight on the way.
"My father is getting the knights to find him but Merlin is alone in the courtyard with some other kids playing."
Arthur and Percival ran down the courtyard steps and where Arthur picked Merlin up and held him close, Percival picked the other three children up and lifted all three up a little to get a better hold and took them to their homes whilst Arthur carried Merlin inside.
"Arthur I was playing."
"I know Merlin but a prisoner has escaped and I can't risk anything. You are not leaving my sight until he is caught."
Gwaine who was on his way back from the training ground ran up to his husband when he saw him with three children and took a little girl from him. "The warning bells have gone. The man who was working with the sorcerer has escaped. We need to get these children home."
Gwaine nodded and headed off taking the little girl with him.
"Is he alright?" Uther asked when his son entered the throne room with Merlin.
"He's fine. Percival took the other three children home."
"You'll play won't you?" Merlin asked looking at Uther.
"Uh. Here." he said, pulling a chair out and lifting Merlin up, sitting him down on it, placing some parchment in front of him. "How about you draw instead?"
Uther looked up from what Merlin was drawing to the knight who walked in. "We've got him. We caught up with him before he entered the woods. He's de-"
"Ah." Uther interrupted, placing his hands over Merlin's ears who was still drawing, his legs swinging back and forth, paying no attention to the adults in the room.
"He won't be a bother to anyone anymore sire." the knight finished changing his words.