Title: More Isn’t An Option
Summary: When Arthur told Merlin in 2X06 that he better not have been under his bed the entire time, there was a reason for that.
Warnings: some angst
Prompt 247: Embarrassed
Arthur listens halfheartedly as Gaius and Merlin share with him their idea to save his father. He understands that he should probably be paying more attention but his mind takes him back to the previous night and his breathing speeds up. He takes a deep breath as he thinks back to the moment he realised Merlin had been beneath his bed. The thought still makes Arthur’s palms perspire. How long had Merlin been there? He’d said he hadn’t been there the whole time, but had he heard Arthur’s confession?
“Gods,” Arthur whispers. If Merlin had heard his raw monologue of distress and loneliness to the walls of his room…
For the past year Arthur has fought his unwanted feelings for Merlin and thinks he has done a fairly satisfactory job of doing so—he doesn’t think Merlin had cottoned on—but the other night Arthur hadn’t been able to deal with his burgeoning feelings and had taken advantage of his empty room to release his pent up emotions. He had spilled his inner-most thoughts, wants, and needs, and he knows he sounded like a complete girl as he’d done so.
But at least he hadn’t done anything more foolish, such as relieving his pent-up tension with his hand—he finds himself doing that more and more these days and had very nearly done so that night after sharing his emotions with his four walls. The mere thought of such makes Arthur swallow and close his eyes briefly.
But all Merlin seems to be focused on at the moment is talking to Arthur about killing him temporarily in order to save his father from Catrina the troll, so Arthur guesses he should pay attention and deal with the possibility that he has royally embarrassed himself later…
…“I thought you were going for a hug,” Merlin says, his face a mixture of confusion and mirth.
Arthur quickly schools his face and hopes to the gods that it’s working. Why is he being such a complete girl’s petticoat here? Yes, he had been going for a hug. Stupid. Stupid. Idiot! Arthur can’t afford to give Merlin the wrong idea. For that matter, he can’t allow himself to give Merlin the right idea.
Arthur has gone through his fair share of servants over the years to satisfy his needs, and those men and women have done nicely, but Arthur hadn’t had an inkling of a thought for them other than releasing his sexual energy. They had been safe.
Merlin, on the other hand, is as far from safe as Arthur’s father is from making magic legal in Camelot once again. Arthur won’t use Merlin, but neither can he have him as he would want him, thus, Arthur can’t afford to flirt or do anything that might give Merlin the slightest idea that the Prince of Camelot wants to take Merlin in his arms and whisper sweet words of love into his ears and mouth.
“No,” he says emphatically, thinking Yes, yes, yes, you dolt, that is exactly what I was going for.
Merlin leaves a few minutes later after some mindless banter, but before he turns the corner he looks back at Arthur as if he knows Arthur is watching him go. His smile leaves his face. He frowns as he gives Arthur a nod and mouths something that Arthur can’t definitively decipher, but he thinks Merlin has said, “Me too.”
Arthur walks back into his room and closes the door behind him, again wondering if Merlin heard him the other night. The thought is still completely embarrassing and humiliating, but as there is nothing to be done for it, Arthur has to accept that his secret might be out, and why wouldn’t it? Despite Arthur’s constant words to the contrary, he knows Merlin isn’t at all an idiot—he had to have seen the slight movement Arthur made toward him—he had to know that Arthur had been going for a hug.
But he also had to know, just as Arthur does, about what can and can’t be. Merlin is a servant and Arthur is the Prince of Camelot. The two can only ever be master and servant and no amount of wanting and wishing will make it other than it is.
Arthur fervently hopes Merlin is clueless about the events of the past few days, but if he’s not, Arthur hopes he’ll leave it alone. Nothing can be gained by talking about wanting more.
More isn’t an option for them.