Title: Best Laid Plans
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin,
Summary: Merlin intends to tell Arthur how he feels and organises everything to perfection. Unfortunately, fate intervenes.
Word Count: 1000
Prompt: Perfectly Imperfect
Author's Notes: Hope you enjoy!
Merlin left his horse tethered and approached the clearing on foot. He had agreed to meet Arthur here, although they had taken separate routes. Uther had been asking suspicious questions lately about why Arthur insisted that his manservant always accompanied him. Arthur had muttered something about having his needs tended to, leaving Merlin spluttering in the corner.
But things had moved beyond just fooling around. Merlin knew he had fallen in love. Not fallen, but jumped feet first without looking and hoping the landing didn’t kill him. He had seen the soft look in Arthur’s eyes though and knew that he wasn’t alone with changing emotions that he didn’t know how to handle.
Gwen, of course, had seen right through him and told him the only thing he could do was tell Arthur. It was unfair on both of them otherwise, and they knew that waiting for Arthur to admit to his emotions would mean Merlin was old and grey before Arthur even hinted towards how he felt.
Merlin had set everything up perfectly, wanting this to be the moment where Arthur fully accepted him. Even the weather had cooperated and the spring sunshine warmed the entire forest and brought the wildlife out. Merlin had a spring in his step and birdsong in his ears as he moved towards the designated clearing.
Arthur was waiting for him.
“Late, as usual, Merlin,” he said. But he couldn’t meet Merlin’s eye and the servant thought that Arthur suspected what this might be about. Merlin didn’t respond but just moved closer. His heart was thudding hard and he knew the next few moments could change his life. He just wish he knew in what direction as if he had misread Arthur’s feelings…
He stopped his erratic thoughts there. He knew what he was getting from Arthur. The setting was perfect, the weather was ideal and Merlin had had enough of hiding. He reached his prince and reached out, taking Arthur’s hand.
Unless he was mistaken, the prince trembled. They never did anything gentle. They tended to launch themselves at each other, damning the consequences, and seeing who took control first.
Merlin cursed. His voice was shaking. He told himself that he was ready for this, but all he was managing so far was to make Arthur look concerned.
“I can hear something,” Merlin said, his own words surprising even him. He dropped Arthur’s hand, glancing around as his magic rose in him.
A group of people were close by and Merlin knew they weren’t friends. His magic wouldn’t react if it was a group of knights or civilians.
By the time he glanced at Arthur, the prince had his sword out.
“Get behind me,” he hissed. Merlin moved obligingly, not out of a desire to obey the man but because then, he could protect Arthur without the prince seeing his magic. But as soon as he made it behind Arthur, he stopped.
“That’s going to be hard,” he muttered. “They’ve surrounded us.”
“Who are you?” Arthur called commandingly. “I am the Crown Prince of Camelot and I order you to show yourself.”
“Oh we know who you are,” a low voice said. A tall man emerged from the bushes in front of them. “And we’re grateful you rode out alone. Finally. Take him.”
Suddenly, men surrounded them in all directions. Merlin’s mouth as dry but his heart-rate had calmed. He couldn’t confess his feelings, but he could protect his destiny.
“If you want him,” he said, pushing past Arthur to face the man. “You’ll have to go through me.”
The man laughed, the mocking sound bouncing around their clearing. Anger welled inside Merlin. Everything had been perfect up until now and he refused to let bandits ruin the moment. His power swelled in him and his hand rose. At the same time, Arthur charged past him, his sword drawn.
Merlin reacted instinctively. He knew Arthur could handle himself in a fight and let the prince work off his anger against the leader. Merlin, in the meantime, casually prevented any of the bandits getting anywhere near his master’s exposed back.
When Arthur turned around, Merlin shrugged.
“They were unlucky,” he said, gesturing to the bandits sprawled across the clearing. Several tree branches were scattered around as well as exposed roots. Some of the men were unconscious, others groaning. Arthur’s eyebrows raised in disbelief but before he could say anything, a final man lunged from the bushes.
Merlin didn’t know how they had missed him. He didn’t care, either. All he could focus on was the knife glinting in the man’s hand and the fact that Arthur wouldn’t be able to turn in order to parry the blow.
Not caring about the consequences, the magic rolled off him, throwing the man back in one powerful blast. The man hit the ground, groaning, as Merlin stalked towards him.
“Never,” the warlock growled, “come near the man I love again.”
Arthur’s soft voice lifted the red haze of anger that had descended over Merlin. He blinked, and suddenly realised what he had done. Gasping, he stumbled back a step but Arthur was too quick for him. The prince lunged and Merlin flinched, but Arthur only grasped his hand and pulled him away from the clearing.
He stopped a short distance away and Merlin finally looked up.
“I didn’t want you to find out that way,” he mumbled.
Arthur rolled his eyes. “I thought the whole point of today was for you to tell me you loved me.”
“How-,” Merlin gaped at him, then sighed. “Morgana. But that’s not what I meant.”
“I know,” Arthur said. He smiled gently. “But right now I’m dealing with one revelation at a time and that isn’t the one I want to focus on right now.”
Merlin stared at him. Arthur looked genuine. There was a smile on his face and Merlin’s breath caught.
“You mean it?”
“Merlin,” Arthur groaned, before pulling him in and kissing him.