Summary: Uther waits for the boys to come and spend Christmas with him. He doesn’t know that he’s in for a surprise
Word Count: 2558 (hey, it’s Christmas…)
Author's Notes: Thanks for letting me play on short notice, dear mods, and thank you, issy, for the beta. Thanks, dear mods, for the wonderful prompts. I loved writing loving Uther and nervous boys. I hope you like what I did and wish you and yours and everyone in this wonderful community happy holidays and a great new year!
Disclaimer: Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
Uther looked at his reflection in the mirror and was pleased. He knew he looked good in a tailored suit, but he had to admit that he even looked ruggedly handsome in one of those ridiculous ugly Christmas jumpers. He had no idea when it had become a tradition at their house - he suspected it had something to do with Merlin - but it was a nice change from everyday office clothes. He tried out the little lights that lit up the knitted Christmas tree and chuckled, already anticipating the jumpers the boys would be wearing when they arrived.
He knew dinner would be ready as soon as Arthur and Merlin arrived and checked the clock again. Even though they came over regularly and sometimes even unannounced, Uther was looking forward to spending Christmas with his son and his partner. He had always known that Arthur was different. He had never gotten over the fact that he'd lost his beloved wife when his son was born but that didn't keep him from loving the boy with all his heart.
Of course they had their differences and times they fought, but that had never stopped him loving him. Not when Arthur seriously considered a career as footballer or even when he had told him that he would make it on his own, without the position at the Pendragon Holding offered to him. Uther had known long before Arthur realized it that his boy just didn't fancy girls, so Arthur's big coming out went more along the lines of "Dad, I'm gay." and "I know. Do you take ice in your scotch?" and that had been it. He had been happy when Arthur met Merlin, even though at first sight Merlin wasn't what he would have wished for for his son. Now he had to admit that Merlin had a good head on his shoulders and was exactly what Arthur needed. He kept him focused on things that were important and pulled him out of it when Arthur got too serious and his mind set on duty. So he hadn't blinked an eye when they had announced that they were getting married and stood, smiling proudly, at the ceremony. When they told him a year later that they would buy a house, he had offered them an interest-free loan, never intending on asking for the money back.
Yes, Arthur had found the right person to spend his life with. Each time Uther caught them unawares, the looks they were throwing each other and the gentle touches reminded him so much of Ygraine and himself it made him smile. The only thing that made Uther a bit sad was the fact that he wouldn't have grandchildren. He knew he would make a great grandfather, but it couldn't be helped.
The doorbell rang and pulled him out of his thoughts.
He opened the door before Gerald, the butler, could and beamed widely.
"Mr. Pendragon!" Merlin, in a horrendous Christmas jumper that pictured a cartoon polar bear that seemed to be drunk and making rude gestures, held out a paper bag to him.
"How long before you will finally call me Uther?" He smiled amusedly as he accepted the bag. "And I see you finally managed to get something like a decent haircut."
Self-consciously, Merlin ran a hand through his hair and smiled shyly.
"Come on in." Uther made way for Merlin to enter and only then saw that Arthur was still busy getting something out of the boot of the car. "Stalling to greet your old man properly, son?"
Arthur's head shot up and he knocked it on the boot lid. "Ouch."
Immediately, Merlin rushed over to check if he was alright. Rubbing the back of his head, Arthur grinned and made his way to the door after picking up bags that looked like they might contain presents. "Hello, Dad."
Uther closed the door behind them. "You know your way around, give Gerald your coats and come to the living room, so we can have a drink before dinner."
He watched as Merlin took the bags from Arthur and then helped him out of his coat, a simple and sweet gesture that made him smile.
"Just a water for me, please." Arthur announced and followed his father into the living room.
Merlin followed them, bringing the neatly wrapped presents in and arranged them under the gigantic tree. "I'll have whatever you're having."
Uther smiled. Had he thought in the beginning that Arthur's boyfriend just tried to make nice, he had learned long ago that Merlin appreciated his taste in fine spirits and liked to test the new additions to his house bar, so he filled two glasses. "Are you sure you don't want to join us, Arthur?" He handed one glass to Merlin.
"Thanks, Dad, I'm fine, really. Just a little tired after the long drive."
Merlin jumped up immediately. "Why don't you go lie down for a bit? I'll come get you before dinner."
Why was there such a worried look on Merlin's face? Uther nodded, though. "There's enough time."
"No, I'm fine, really. I just don't want any alcohol right now." Arthur sank into the big couch, looked at the Christmas tree and smiled. "You outdid yourself again this year, Dad. Each year I think this won't be possible and yet again you manage to surprise us. Mom would have loved it."
Uther looked into his glass for a moment, swallowing around the lump in his throat. Arthur had never known his mother and still it felt as if he knew her very well. "What have you been up to lately? It's been weeks since you've last been here."
Arthur and Merlin exchanged nervous glances that didn't escape him.
"It's only been a few days since we've last talked on the phone, though." Merlin smiled and then sipped his drink, talking about things that happened at his job and what plans they had to redo their kitchen that they had never really liked.
It looked like Arthur thankfully squeezed his hand and Uther, who listened politely and asked all the right questions, wondered what was going on.
Soon, Gerald announced that dinner was ready to be served and they relocated to the dining room where they kept on talking while they had a wonderful meal. Uther noticed that Arthur, who usually ate until he announced he was about to explode, didn't even have half of his usual portion. Something was definitely up and Uther started to worry.
"Are you alright, Arthur?"
A little panicked look showed on Arthur's face before he exchanged another glance with Merlin. "Yes, Dad." The smile on Arthur's face was clearly forced. "It's just been a couple of hard weeks at work. You know how it is before Christmas. Every customers thinks they're the only one with special wishes on short notice."
Uther decided to let it go for now but he would keep a close eye on his son.
Moving back into the living room, he smirked. "How about...I mean we're not children anymore, are we? How about we'll open the presents now?"
"But it's not Christmas morning." Arthur protested.
"And we can't possibly have a new tradition? As a child you could hardly wait for Father Christmas to come and wanted to open everything on Christmas Eve." Uther winked. If he were honest, he had never liked to make his son wait for another night and he himself didn't care for that either. For him it wasn't even about the presents - he could buy anything he needed and wanted - but about the opening. That thrilling moment when you picked the neatly wrapped gift up and tried to figure out what was in it, the few moments it took you to remove the paper and find out what the other had found and thought you might like.
"I'm not a child anymore." Arthur smiled. "And besides...I have everything I need." He smiled at Merlin and squeezed his hand.
That wasn't like Arthur. No matter how old he was, he had always liked getting presents and tried to get his hands on them as soon as possible. "Alright." Uther got up and took a deep breath. "What's going on here? You are acting weird and please don't try to make me believe it's because work had been so tough for the last weeks." Uther was getting more worried by the minute. Was something wrong with them? They were too much in love to split up, that couldn't be it. Was Arthur sick? Did he need surgery or anything?
The two young men on the couch shared a long look and Merlin nodded encouragingly while Arthur seemed to be clinging onto his hand.
"Dad..." Arthur took a deep breath. "You know we've been married for two years now."
Uther nodded, he had been there and had their wedding picture on the mantle of the fireplace.
"Dad...Merlin is special."
Looking from one man to the other, Uther tried to make some sense out of what Arthur said. Of course Merlin was special to him or else he wouldn't have married him.
"Mr. Pendragon...Uther...I have magic." Merlin sat up a bit straighter and put a protective arm around Arthur.
"So?" Uther frowned. Of course he had noticed Merlin doing neat little things like lifting heavy luggage effortlessly with just a bit of golden glow in his eyes, he had overheard him whispering in a language he didn't understand and then things happened that could easily be overlooked but be put into context once you paid a bit more attention. And of course he had been paying attention, his son had planned on spending his life with this man.
"Told you he knew." Merlin nudged Arthur's side gently and smiled.
"Are you alright with that, Dad?" Arthur sounded really nervous.
Uther shrugged. "Why wouldn't I be? It's not so common these days, but..." What else should he say? He didn't mind at all. Merlin was a fine young man with a decent job and the right ideas about life and he made Arthur happy. So what harm could a little magic do? He frowned. "The magic is not hurting you, Arthur, is it?"
Arthur sighed a huge breath of relief and smiled. "No, it definitely isn't hurting me. It is affecting me, though."
Wondering what that meant now, Uther noticed the slight blush on Arthur's cheeks and the wide and definitely proud beaming on Merlin's face.
"Come on, tell him."
"Dad..." Arthur reached for the back pocket of his trousers and pulled out a paper that looked a little rumpled.
Slightly confused, Uther reached for it when Arthur held it out to him. He looked at a fuzzy black and white graphic that looked slightly familiar, even though the last time he had seen one of these was when one of the guys at the office had proudly shown it around a couple of years ago.
Lifting his head, the smile on his face only stopped by his ears, Uther could only say "No!?"
The tension had fallen off Arthur and Merlin alike and they both nodded. "Yes."
"I'm going to be a grandfather?" Uther couldn't help the tears coming to his eyes.
"Yes, you are." Arthur's smile tried to outshine the red nose of the reindeer on his sweater.
"And...it's you who'll...?"
Arthur nodded and held a protective hand to his belly that didn't show any signs yet.
"And this is common for people with magic?" Uther threw Merlin a look that was a lot grimmer than he meant it.
Merlin squirmed for a moment. "Not common, no. It has happened before, but it's not very common.”
"If it's not that common, how will the medical side be prepared? We can hardly rush Arthur to St. Bart's when it's time, can we?"
"Don't worry about that, St. Bart's has a medical detachment that is prepared for magic people and things like these, Sir." Merlin nodded earnestly.
"I want Arthur to get the best specialists in the world. You'll find out where they are located and I'm going to take care of the financial side." Uther was in full planning mode. This wasn't an every-day occurrence, they needed to make sure that Arthur and the child would be alright and that they would get the best care possible on the planet.
Arthur frowned. "Don't talk about me as if I weren't in the room. When we found out, we did our homework. I've already seen the country's leading magical doctor for this and it'll be alright."
Merlin smiled and pressed a kiss on Arthur's cheeks. "Sorry, love."
Arthur glared a bit at the endearment he didn't really like and that made Uther smile.
"It looks like you've got it all covered."
Nodding, Arthur leaned into Merlin. "So, what do you say, Dad?"
"Will it be a boy or a girl?"
"We don't know yet and we might not want to know before." Merlin smiled and nuzzled into Arthur's hair.
"But I need to know which schools to sign the child up with! You can never start early enough!"
"And then there is the decision of ballet lessons or polo club, pink or blue baby clothes, violin lessons or a drum set..."
"Did you child-proof your house already? This is important!"
"Uther, we've got it covered. And we won't let gender be the reason for anything. If our little boy wants to take ballet lessons, so be it, if our little girl wants a drum set, she'll get it."
"Before we can decide on a school, we need to find out if he or she will inherit Merlin's magic. We want the child to be educated in that, too, if it is the case." Arthur looked determined.
Uther looked from one to the other. "It looks like you've put a lot of thought into this already and you don't need the old man in this." He nodded. "Fine. Just...if the babysitter cancels on you last minute sometime in the future, promise me to give me a call, alright?"
Before Arthur could say anything, Merlin nodded. "Of course we will."
They toasted the new human being - Arthur with sparkly water, Merlin and him with champagne - and the boys told him about the planned rearrangements in their house and the things that might be interesting to know if the child would be magic like Merlin.
Uther leaned back in his big armchair, listening, and couldn't get the smile off his face. Forgotten were lighting-up Christmas jumpers, big dinners and expensive drinks. The gift he'd already gotten was so vast and wonderful that his mind couldn't grasp it in its entirety. The one thing he thought could never happen was happening and it made him giddy.
Later, when the boys had retreated - and no matter how old they would become, they would always be 'the boys' to him - Uther stood by the fireplace and looked at the photo of his wife which stood right next to Arthur's and Merlin's wedding picture.
"We're going to be grandparents, Ygs. Isn't that wonderful?"
It might have been the alcohol he had consumed, but for a short moment, he thought he could see Ygraine's smile widening and her voice in his head whispered "This is the best Christmas ever."