Title: The Red Shirt
Summary: Merlin has everything he dreamed of, but something is not quite right.
Word Count: 956
Prompt: Camelot Drabble #261 "Idiot"
Author's Notes: I'd love to hear from you if you want to leave a comment!
It still thrilled Merlin to see the look of awe on Arthur’s face when he performed an act of magic that Arthur had not seen before. Their love had only grown greater as Arthur had recognized Merlin as an equal, had given him status in the court, and had agreed to stop hiding their relationship. So why, when Merlin finally had everything he had dreamed of, why was he not completely happy? Why was he feeling uncomfortable in his own skin, irritable and ready to lash out?
“Are you okay?” asked Arthur, “You look like you’re a million miles away.”
“I’m fine.” Merlin couldn’t quite keep the sharpness out of his tone.
“So, come eat then. Breakfast is getting cold.”
Merlin joined Arthur at the table and tucked in. As he reached for the fruit platter he knocked his goblet over and his cider splashed them both.
“MER…!” started Arthur—“Oh well, there’s more where that comes from! Do you need help?” he continued, reining in his temper.
“It’s FINE, Arthur. I’ve got it.” Merlin just itched to scream at Arthur. He threw his napkin on his chair and went to get dressed, pulling clothing out of his side of the wardrobe.
“Merlin, can you throw me my favorite red tunic?”
Merlin located Arthur’s tunic, grabbed it, and yanked it out of the closet. It made a satisfying sound as the right sleeve caught on the latch and ripped from shoulder to hem.
Arthur looked up at the sound, and colored deeply when he saw the ruined shirt in Merlin’s hands. He closed his eyes, and pressed his lips together, gathering composure.
“Ah, well, I guess I won’t be wearing that one today,” said Arthur, as he took another tunic out of the wardrobe.
Merlin wanted to scream. He found himself wanting to stomp on Arthur’s foot, or shove him into the wall—anything to get more of a reaction out of Arthur. He walked over to the table, popped a grape into his mouth, and, when Arthur was turned the other way, quietly nudged the fruit platter off the edge of the table. There was an enormous crash and fruit rolled in every direction.
“MERLIN! YOU IDIOT! What has gotten into you today? How can you be so completely incompetent?” Arthur ranted for several seconds, storming around the room. Finally, he stopped to stare at Merlin who was grinning from ear to ear.
“Finally,” gasped Merlin. “Fucking finally, thanks to all the gods above and below, you are finally back. I’ve missed you so much.”
Merlin watched Arthur’s expression change from angry to confused to sheepish.
“I’m sorry—I didn’t mean—I’ve been trying so hard…,” stammered Arthur.
“Shh, you giant prat,” Merlin huffed a little laugh, as he took Arthur’s hand in his and lifted it to his lips. “You don’t know how much I missed this.”
Arthur scoffed. “Really, you missed this—the name-calling and bad temper that you always grumbled about? You missed me treating you, the most powerful sorcerer in the world, like a common servant? You missed me calling you an idiot?”
“Yes, really,” answered Merlin, taking Arthur’s other hand too, and drawing both hands together for more kisses. “I used to dream of having your respect and admiration—that you would really know me for who I am and love me. I love how you look at me as if I’m the most special thing you’ve ever laid eyes on. But…well…”
Merlin stepped closer and laid his head on Arthur’s shoulder. Arthur stroked his hair and waited until Merlin
sighed, nuzzled into Arthur’s neck, and continued, “I’m still just me. I’m getting used to being Emrys, and being Court Sorcerer, and not having to hide, and—well—don’t get me wrong—I love the perks. Cook never gives me a hard time anymore when I raid the kitchen between meals. And if I never clean another boot or muck another stall you won’t hear me complaining. But, I’m still just me—I’m still the same me who grow up on a tiny farm in a tiny village.”
Arthur pulled Merlin towards their bed, and they sat side by side. He waited quietly for Merlin to continue.
Merlin’s voice cracked a bit as he said quietly, “I’m both. I am Emrys, but I’m just Merlin too, and I hate feeling like you’re tip-toeing around me. You can even call me an idiot once in a while. I won’t break. I won’t turn you into a toad. I just want you to be yourself with me—you know—annoying, irritating, difficult, demanding…”
“Hey! OK, I think I get the point!” said Arthur, throwing his hands up as if to deflect Merlin’s words.
Merlin quirked a small smile at Arthur, who pulled him into a long kiss, then wrestled Merlin onto his back, hovered over him, and kissed his forehead. “You idiot,” he said. He kissed Merlin’s left eye softly, “my precious idiot,” then his right eye, “gorgeous idiot,” then the place where his left cheek bone protruded, impossibly sharp, “lovely idiot.” Kissing Merlin’s lips, he whispered, “my ridiculous idiot.” He worked his way down Merlin’s jaw and neck, “foolish idiot, brave idiot.” He reached the little hollow at the base of Merlin’s neck and hummed, “my magical idiot.”
Merlin purred with pleasure, wild joy raced through his veins, and he giggled and used his magic to flip Arthur onto his back. "Turn about is fair play, my lord," Merlin teased.
Arthur laughed, “Well, I see someone seems to be feeling better. Good thing, because some idiot ruined my favorite shirt and I need you to magic it back together! Just not quite right now, hmm?”