Title: The Talk
Characters/pairings: Merlin/Arthur, Gaius
Summary: After the events of 1X04 (The Poisoned Chalice), Gaius and Merlin have the talk about Gwen and Arthur.
Warnings: uncomfortable talk about relationships and a bit crack-ish because, well, you'll see
Prompt 251 – Perfectly Imperfect
A shivering Merlin, wrapped tightly in the blanket Gaius had given him, made his way down the stairs and sat at the table. He wasn’t hungry, but Gaius had been on him for the past hour about eating, so Merlin would humour him, if only to stop the nagging. His head was throbbing and the slightest noise made him wince.
“It’s good to see that you are getting some colour back. We thought you were a goner,” Gaius said matter-of-factly as he sat across from Merlin and handed him a bowl of soup.
Merlin grinned sheepishly as his hands closed around the warm bowl. “Yeah, I’d say Gwen did as well by her reaction to me being alive.”
“Poor girl must be blind,” Gaius mumbled as he brought a spoonful of soup to his mouth, but when he noticed Merlin looking at him oddly, he continued. “Oh, come now, Merlin. You know as well as I do that she has about as much of a chance with you as she does with Arthur,” Gaius replied as if he were making small talk. Merlin continued to stare, more of a glare now. “Don’t act the fool, Merlin, it does not become you.”
Merlin winced and shut his eyes against another pang that ran through his head. He thought about asking to be excused, but since when did a little pain excuse him from anything? “Go on, then,” was all he said. It wasn’t as if he could stop Gaius from saying what was on his mind, and Merlin was curious, even if he did have an idea what Gaius was going on about.
“Far be it for me to make assumptions where they are not wanted, my boy, but it isn’t every day an old man like me witnesses two acts such as I did today. First, you shared a moment with Arthur that was quite extraordinary. In all my years I have never heard of or witnessed anything quite like it. Excuse me for my forthrightness, but what the two of you went through was, well, it was erotic,” Gaius said, looking uncomfortable, as one would after making such a bold comment. “And then when you woke up, Gwen kissed you, but for all that it was sweet, you looked completely indifferent. I’ve said it before, Merlin, but I do not know how you keep that perfectly imperfect head on your shoulders.”
Merlin wasn’t quite sure how to take what he’d just heard. First of all, Gaius had used the word erotic in his presence, which was just on the edge of all kinds of wrong. Second, he seemed to be implying something that Merlin wasn’t at all comfortable with. Not because it wasn’t true, but because it was. “Gwen is a lovely girl,” he said to defer his embarrassment. “I would be a fortunate boy if she wished to see me on a more intimate level.”
“I agree, Merlin, but I think we both know that it is not her you wish to get to know on a more intimate level. Am I correct?” he asked, his eyebrow lifting to epic proportions.
Merlin was not having this conversation with Gaius. Absolutely not.
“I mean, of course you and Arthur could never be together, we both know that, yes, but it does not negate the fact that what transpired between the two of you today was not normal.” Gaius now sat back and looked thoughtful as he studied Merlin. “In fact, if I am not mistaken, the ability to guide someone as you did Arthur is rumoured to only happen when two halves of the same soul meet.” And at this Gaius stopped and leant across the table. “Uther must never find out.”
This was not the news Merlin had wanted to hear. Hadn’t the dragon already said Arthur and he were two halves of the same coin? He opened his mouth to respond when there was a knock at the door.
It was Arthur, checking to see how his servant was doing. Merlin appreciated the gesture and wanted to ask Arthur some questions about what had happened, but as he wasn't feeling well he decided to wait for another time.
Later that evening, as Merlin was preparing for bed, Arthur came back and asked Gaius to give him and Merlin some privacy, which he did.
“Gwen told me she thought you died. She told me your heart stopped beating earlier. Is this true?” Arthur asked, giving Merlin a once over, looking worried.
“Yes,” Merlin replied, swallowing, thinking that it sounded much more serious now that Arthur said it.
“I can’t believe my father made you drink the poison. I am so sorry, Merlin,” and the look on Arthur’s face was sorrowful, filled with regret.
Merlin let out a small mirthless laugh. “Did you think I was going to allow you to drink it? Are you truly that thick, Arthur?”
Arthur shook his head and looked out of his depth. “No, but I am about to do something extremely foolish,” and he closed the space between him and Merlin and kissed him. It was chaste and brief, but when he pulled back, he had the sweetest smile on his face as he opened his eyes. “I could have never let you die, Merlin. You may only be a servant, but you are my servant, and I’ll be damned if I let anyone take you away from me.”
Merlin couldn’t have spoken had he wanted to. He did try to get a word out, but couldn’t. Had Arthur kissed him?
His kiss with Gwen had been sweet, but it had been nothing at all like this kiss.
“My father can never find out, but if you have no objections, I would very much like to see more of you, Merlin.” Arthur swallowed and closed his eyes before taking a deep breath and reopening them. He looked uncertain, which was very un-Arthur-like.
Merlin didn’t know what to say. There was every reason not to do this—Arthur could hold this over him, and he could ask Merlin to do things he wasn’t comfortable with. Merlin didn’t think that would happen, but still… Nothing they started would end well. Merlin opened his mouth to say no, but he nodded instead.
He couldn’t and wouldn’t deny himself that which he had wanted since the first moment he’d set eyes on Arthur.