“Don’t be. It’s why I’m here and why I’ll always be here.” He goes silent a moment, thinking of all the other roles he plays in Arthur’s life. “Travel companion. General dogsbody. Maid service, although I’ve never been too good at that.”
“Advisor,” Arthur chimes in, not at all flip. He lifts his free hand and reaches across the small span between them to touch Merlin’s cheek. His eyes are wide and guileless. “Conscience. A mirror when I need one, to see myself as you see me.” His voice drops so low that Merlin can hardly hear it. “The only person I can stand to be around sometimes. A daily reminder of why I should be a better person.”
“Anything you need me to be,” Merlin repeats breathlessly.
There’s a lingering silence that feels heavy with anticipation. “And,” Arthur starts, falters, and then he swallows audibly and starts again. “And what if I need you to be more?”