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Never Anything so Strange as the Relationship Between Prince Arthur and his Manservent

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Clarence was old.

He had lived in the castle all his life and had put almost all of his 84 years into his job.

He had worked for the scars on his hands, and the hunch in his back, and, most importantly, the fat on his stomach. 

He wasn't of much use anymore with his aching joints and his weak feet, but people kept him around. 

Whether it was for his experience or from pity, he didn't know, but he would take what he could get.

Nowadays, he usually just stood in the corner of the room ready to give servants orders And tasks so events could go smoothly. 

He stood in the corner of the throne room, and the war room, and the banquet hall, and he waited for his orders, and he watched.

He watched the others scramble to serve Nobles, watched as the newbies grew into their jobs and as the oldies died off.

He watched as the king ruled and entertained, and he watched as the prince stepped up and became more of a man with each passing day.

He watched the unfair deaths of sorcerers and the murders of innocent magicless people. 

He watched the slip-ups and the beatings, ready to pick up the pieces of his coworkers and bring them to Gaius. 

He watched the prince's new manservant stumble about, insulting the prince, spilling drinks, dropping food, and sleeping late. He watched as the man made mistake after mistake after mistake, and he waited

He waited for the punishment and the beatings, and he waited for the day the poor boy got fired. 

But it never happened. 

He got sent to the dungeons, sure, and he was locked in the stocks more than any man Clarence had ever met, but he was never beat, never forced to take a day off to heal, and never fired.

He stayed, stumbling around the halls, tripping over thin air, dropping laundry and breaking swords, a smile on his face and a joke on his lips. Never improving but somehow never failing so miserably that he would be let go.

Clarence had been working in the castle for almost 74 years.

He had seen a lot while working for the king.

He had seen death and murder and enslavement. 

He had seen lords in dresses and ladies in armor.

He had seen things he wasn't even allowed to talk about.

But he had never, ever seen anything so strange as the relationship between Prince Arthur and his manservant. 

In the beginning, when Merlin was assigned the role, Clarence had expected him to be fired immediately. 

Prince Arthur never kept a manservant for longer than a month, and this boy had already insulted and humiliated him. 

But weeks went by, and Merlin was still there dropping plates, and denting armor, and calling the prince almost every insult imaginable. 

And he was still there. 

Clarence watched their bond strengthen as the years went by. He watched in awe as Merlin walked beside Arthur instead of behind as if they were equals. He watched as they shoved at and insulted each other, watched as Merlin was sent to the stocks less and less. 

He watched them during war meetings and long banquets as each cough and twitch of the eyebrow conveyed messages only the other could understand.

He watched as the slaughters and the beatings stopped, as Arthur stepped forward and took charge, standing up for the servants he used to taunt and defending the innocent from his father. 

He watched as the other servants tried to be jealous but failed as Merlin smiled and joked with them, helping them out on chores and covering for them if they needed him to. 

He watched the nobles express their confusion as to why Merlin was there and why he was allowed to talk to and be with the Prince in ways they could never even dream of. 

And he watched as they grew together, moving past Uther's death and legalizing magic not even a year later.

He watched as Merlin grew out of his title of manservant and into that of royal advisor and court sorcerer , which he had been all along just without the glory of the name.

Clarence watched as the world became a better place, a smile on his face even as his heart failed and his lungs gave out.

He watched and watched and waited for the day that there would be no more watching left for him to do.