Pairing/s: Merlin & Arthur
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, George
Summary: Arthur was tired after two weeks away from home. Why couldn't this wait until morning?
Warnings: Light bondage... I guess?
Word Count: 982
Prompt: #256 What'd I Miss
Author's Notes: Poetry quoted from the works of Guilhem of Aquitaine.
The look on Merlin’s face as he opened the door screamed trouble. Arthur watched him gape, debated mentally, and decided that he was too weary to care. He raised a condescending eyebrow.
It took Merlin several cycles of opening and closing his mouth to remember how to make his voice work. “You’re back!”
“Yes, Merlin, I am glad to be home. Thank you for welcoming me back like a civilized person. Very kind of you,” Arthur snarked, “now please move out of my way.”
“Erm,” Merlin said, not moving.
Arthur sighed. He wasn’t going to deal with this right now. He had been on the road for days after a full week of peace treaty negotiations. The whole way home he had dreamed of returning to a bath, a comfy bed, and the chance to shed the second skin his travel clothes had become. Instead, here he was, staring down his possibly mentally impaired manservant on the threshold of his own bedroom. “Merlin.”
“Oh. Right.” Merlin looked abashed, and dutifully shuffled to the side.
But when Arthur made to step into his chambers, mind already dancing with visions of warm sheets and fluffy pillows, he found his way blocked once again. Merlin stood stiffly in the doorway, gripping the handle of the door. Arthur shot him a questioning glance.
“Er, it’s just… maybe you should have some food?” Arthur stared at him. “I mean, you must be hungry. And I haven’t had time to fetch you dinner, but it would really be much faster if you went and ate in the great hall, you wouldn’t have to wait for me -”
“I ate on the road.” Arthur cut him off. “Besides, fetching things is your job. Are you trying to skive work already? You’ve had two whole weeks off while I was in Caerleon, surely you’re sick of the tavern by now.”
“No, of course not, that’s not what-”
Merlin hesitated, glancing over his shoulder into the room, and Arthur felt a growing sense of foreboding. Quietly, Merlin tried, “...maybe you should go see Gaius?”
Arthur growled, shoved his way past Merlin, and stormed into the room. He was much too tired from the long days of travel to give a proper lecture (not a tantrum, he told the suspiciously Merlin-like voice in his head), but he could feel the urge to throw something mounting. Really, was it too much to ask that Merlin’s… Merlin-ness wait until after Arthur’s taken off his boots, at least?
He threw his cloak and gloves down roughly on the table, but as he reached to unbuckle his sword, he froze.
“What…?” He stared, eyes roving over the entire garden that seemed to have taken root in his antechamber during his absence. “Merlin?”
“Oh, those,” Merlin tittered, his voice high. “I thought the room could use some… color!”
“I see. And the books?”
They were piled around the room on nearly every available surface, tucked between vases of wildflowers, stacked on top of laundry piles, and balanced precariously on top of a display helm with lavender sprigs climbing out the eye sockets. Arthur’s tired brain helpfully supplied him with an image of Geoffrey’s face, red and twisted like melted wax over the indignity to his precious charges.
Arthur picked one up and leafed through it. “Poetry? ‘Already rejoicing, I begin to love, for I am made better by one who-’”
Merlin snatched the book out of his hands, eyes darting, and said, “It’s nothing! Just some light reading, Sire. For if you got bored. I’ll just get it cleaned up, shall I?”
Merlin bustled past him, gathering up armfuls of tomes. “I drew a bath for you, you should get in while the water’s still warm.”
Arthur found he had no arguments to that. So while Merlin busied himself with tidying, Arthur stripped quickly and climbed into the steaming tub. He closed his eyes as he lowered himself into the blissfully warm water.
There was a muffled bang, followed by a louder crash. Arthur started. “What was that?”
“Nothing!” Merlin said quickly. “I dropped something, that’s all.”
Arthur snorted, unsurprised.
“By the way, how did it go in Caerleon?” Merlin asked, sounding distracted.
Arthur sighed and reached for the soap. “We made good progress there, but now the work at home begins. I’ll need to meet with the council tomorrow to go over the terms of the treaty. I have no doubt they’ll argue every point.”
Merlin grabbed the helmet full of lavender and marched it to the window. “So you’ll have to talk them round?” He asked, emptying it.
“Hmm.” Arthur affirmed as he levered himself out of the tub and towelled himself dry. He was feeling especially benign after a good bath, and as Merlin currently had his hands full carrying a stack of poetry to the door, Arthur headed for the wardrobe to fetch his own nightshirt.
He had his hand on the door when Merlin cried out, “Sire, wait-!”
It was too late.
Arthur stared into his open wardrobe. He blinked, and when the trussed body and accompanying doe eyes did not disappear, he very, very careful shut it.
“Merlin,” Arthur drawled, eyes locked on the closed door.
“George. Is in my wardrobe.”
“Er, yes. Sire. S-so it seems.” Merlin stuttered, “Very observant of you.”
“Merlin. Why, exactly, is George in my wardrobe?” He paused, blinked. “And where are his clothes?”
There was a sound suspiciously like a squeak, and Arthur turned his assessing eye to his manservant, who was careful studying of the (unswept) floor and doing his best imitation of an overripe strawberry.
Merlin’s voice sounded strangled. “There was a, uh, minor incident.” Arthur stared. “With a, um, a love spell...” His hands flailed. From the cupboard came the distinct sound of cheerful humming around a knotted neckerchief. “I can explain?”
“What’d I miss?” Arthur choked out.