Title:Turniphead in Love
Summary: Arthur has a Valentine's surprise for Merlin.
Author's Notes:When the prompt was "Valentine's Day Card" it reminded me that I had I wanted a Valentine's Day tag to another story I wrote. Governess Hunith would of course want the boys to make their own valentines, too. But then the prompt switched to "blind date" and it kind of changed things a little. It's all a bit meh, but I'm turning it in because I signed up. So yay, fulfilling commitments!
(Edited to add that they are kids (14, 12) ... The other story was kidfic.)
January flew by. Merlin had always thought January the slowest month of the year, the doldrums of winter that stretched endlessly between the excitement of Christmas and the tantalizing lure of spring. At least February had Valentine's Day going for it, to add a little color to the ever-grey of winter.
The reason for January's swift passage this year was because, for the first time ever, Merlin was receiving magic lessons. He spent each Monday evening in Gaius’ office, looking through spell-books. And if he mostly had to listen to long speeches about magical theory and almost never practice spells, no matter. He was thrilled with it all.
Except for the impromptu training Gaius had set up for him.
Merlin had an alarming propensity to break things when startled or emotional. So Gaius had enlisted seemingly the whole palace staff to help him learn control. Hr had been given meditation exercises to do each day. They were designed to calm his magic and help him maintain focus. Merlin wasn't convinced, but grudgingly did them anyway.
He was working on a plan for reducing his exercises when a pillow came flying across the room and beaned him in the face. Merlin dropped the glass of milk he'd been holding, and it shattered on the floor of his mother's tiny kitchen.
“Arthur!” he yelled. Milk ran down Merlin's shirt and pants. There were drops of milk and shards of glass everywhere. He looked up angrily to find the prince beaming at him.
“Good job, Merlin! You didn't break anything that time!” Arthur paused to assess the situation. “Well, your magic didn't break anything. You, on the other hand….”
Merlin felt no compunction against using his magic to lift the milk-splattered pillow off the floor and send it careening back at Arthur's head. Arthur, the prat, managed to catch it easily.
“Look at this mess! Couldn't you help me practice control when, maybe, I don't know….. I'm not holding something breakable?!” Merlin couldn't quite help the way his voice screeched at the end.
“You know Gaius never specified, Mer. Just said to startle you at random moments, help you practice keeping your cool.”
Arthur had taken those instructions to heart. For two weeks now, just about anyone that Merlin saw might try to startle him. The palace guards shouted just as he walked past, Mum slammed doors, the king teased him gently about being arrested (just the king talking to him at all made him panic, despite the fact that the king had firmly proven to be on his side). But Arthur had been the worst, banging pots, launching objects at him, jumping out from behind doors. There were times that Merlin felt certain Arthur was trying to give him a heart attack. When Arthur pounced on a sleeping Merlin in the middle of the night, he knew that Arthur was going to send him to an early grave. Merlin's magic must have thought so too, because it threw Arthur across the room while Merlin was busy screaming his head off. But if Arthur crept back into Merlin's bed and huddled close for the rest of the night—claiming it was his duty to calm Merlin down since he was the one who'd wound him up—Merlin wasn't going to complain.
Merlin muttered obscenities while looking for towels to clean the disaster that was their kitchen. Arthur merely laughed at him. “You know you're not supposed to cry over spilt milk. Besides, why can't you just make it all go ‘poof?’”
Merlin looked up from his task to glare at Arthur. “It’s not that easy to make thousands of shards go ‘poof.’” He wiggled two fingers on each hand to clearly mark the air quotes. “I'd be liable to disappear you along with the rest of it. Though now that I think of it, that wouldn't be such a bad idea…”
Arthur snorted, clearly not buying it for a second. In a somewhat uncharacteristic move, he grabbed a towel and started wiping up the drops of milk on the cabinet doors.
After a moment, Merlin said, “We are making valentines this afternoon. Mum thought you might like to join us.”
Arthur had a dreamy expression in his eyes. “Can't. I'm meeting Sophia in the arboretum. I doubt she'd want a homemade card anyway. I imagine diamonds would be more to her taste.” He sighed, as if longing for diamonds were a most desirable trait.
Merlin stared blankly at him. “Who?”
Arthur looked back, bemused. “Sophia? The girl I'm going to marry?”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back up there. You're getting married?”
“I haven't asked her yet, since I just met her yesterday, but I'm sure she'll say yes.” Arthur had a dazed look on his face, nothing like his usual arrogant smirk at all. “After all, who wouldn't want to be a princess?”
Merlin's heart started thumping. “How did you meet this girl?”
Arthur smiled, but there was something not quite genuine about it. “You know that Father set Morgana up on a date with the prince of Tír-Mòr. He's hoping they'll get married one day.”
Merlin had known this. He'd come across Morgana stewing in Gaius’ offices, proclaiming that princesses should not be required to go on blind dates, not even for the sake of political unions. Gaius had nodded, then said it wouldn't kill her.
Arthur continued, “The prince brought his sister, Sophia, along. She's perfect. I'm going to ask her to marry me!”
Merlin wasn't sure he'd heard correctly. “You can't ask her to marry you. You're only fourteen. Your father will never allow it!”
“Then we'll just have to run away.” Arthur looked decided. He laid the towel back on the counter, and made for the door.
“Have a nice life, Mer,” he called, then was gone.
Merlin felt as if he had just been hit by a truck.
The milk-drenched pillow that Arthur had thrown at him burst in a spectacular explosion of feathers.