Set during season two, shortly after The Sins of the Father.
Arthur groaned inwardly as he shifted in his bed. He ached in several places. Yesterday's tournament had been brutal. He yawned. Merlin should be coming in soon to wake him up. There was training for the knights after breakfast. His father wanted him sitting in on a meeting with a diplomat from a neighboring kingdom after lunch. Tonight there was the grand feast. A long, busy day ahead, and all he wanted to do was sleep.
He considered getting up now, but closed his eyes and decided to wait for Merlin. He'd be there soon and it'd…
He fell back asleep.
Arthur jerked awake several hours later. He glanced out the window. Darn it! It must be near noon. Why hadn't Merlin come?
He jumped out of bed and pulled on his clothes as quickly as he could. He ran out, down the hallway and headed for the stairs. He was torn between making his way to the training field or heading towards Gaius's and having a good long yell at Merlin. His temper won out.
He burst into the physician's home and Merlin, who had a huge stack of books in one hand and was putting them away with the other, gave a large jump and dropped everything as the door banged back.
"What's the idea-"
But Arthur interrupted. "What do you think you're doing here?! You were supposed to wake me up hours ago!"
Merlin's eyebrows shot up.
Arthur continued: "I missed the training! The knights will have been out there waiting all morning and what were you doing? Sleeping in?"
"Uh well…" Merlin seemed to be eying all the exits.
"Sometimes Merlin, I think you must be trying to be this completely useless!"
"Look," interrupted Merlin, "I'm sorry if you slept late but I-"
"You're *sorry*? Why on earth didn't you come?"
"I'm sorry," Merlin repeated, "But I really have no idea who you are or what you're talking about!"
Arthur blinked and then felt himself grow angrier. "Merlin let me tell you, a practical joke isn't going to make me feel any more forgiving towards you right now!"
"Tthis isn't a joke," said Merlin, a note of complete confusion in his voice, "I really don't know why you think you know me!"
Really, Arthur had had no idea Merlin was this good of an actor. But, he added to himself, he was certainly debuting the skill at the wrong time.
"Look Merlin," said Arthur.
"How do you even know my name?" Merlin broke in.
"If you don't stop this right now," Arthur said, raising his voice. "I swear I'll throw you into the dungeons for the day. Now stop this ridiculous-"
He heard the front door open and he turned around to see Gaius enter. Gaius looked at him a moment and then addressing Merlin asked,
"Do I have a patient?"
"You have a nutter," muttered Merlin. Then, slowly edging away from Arthur, he told Gaius, "He keeps going on about how I was supposed to wake him up this morning."
"Were you?" Gaius frowned.
"How could I have? I've never seen him before in my life!"
"Now really," snapped Arthur, "This has gone too far Merlin!"
Gaius frowned and came farther into the room, approaching Arthur. "How do you know his name?"
"Gaius!" exclaimed Arthur appalled. Surely Merlin couldn't have gotten him on board for this inane prank too.
Gaius looked slightly surprised at his own name but continued. "Why don't you sit down? Maybe tell us your name and tell me how you're feeling and I'll look you over. Maybe you were drinking a little last night?"
"Or a lot this morning…" Merlin said under his breath, but it reached Arthur's ears.
Arthur looked from one to the other of them. Sure, he could believe Merlin doing this. Maybe the man overslept himself, maybe he just forgot about waking him up. Maybe he thought this was a funny way to get out of trouble. But he could not imagine Gaius going along with it. So if this wasn't just an absurd lapse of judgment on the physician's part…what was wrong with them? What was going on?