Title: A Dilemma Called Merlin
Characters/pairings: Merlin/Arthur (pre)
Summary: Canon-era. Arthur has a dilemma—his name is Merlin. (Missing scene from 1X01: The Dragon's Call)
Prompt : 320 - Eavesdrop
Disclaimer: Merlin characters are the property of Shine and BBC. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Yes, perhaps stomping through the castle like a recalcitrant two-year-old wasn’t the best course of action when the hour was late and he should have long ago been asleep, but Arthur was furious. Why? Oh, the reasons were many…
First Reason: His father had allowed a demented sorceress into their midst. She had very nearly killed off the lot of them with her song-inducing permanent sleep.
Second Reason: That oaf called Merlin had saved the day and ensured that there would be a next generation to lord over the subjects of Camelot.
Third Reason: Arthur did not relish the idea of having to be nice to the boy because of his prowess with saving the day.
Fourth Reason: To thank Merlin for saving them all, the king had assigned him the dubious duty of being his son’s servant. What kind of a reward was that? Most rulers would have thrown money at the subject and sent them on their merry way. But not Uther Pendragon. Oh no. He had to be the one to change things up.
Fifth Reason: This Merlin person had magic. Not that Arthur knew that for a fact, but how else had the boy done what he had? If word ever reached the king about this sorcerer living within the walls of Camelot, the scrawny specimen from Ealdor would become ashes in the wind. Arthur did not at all like the idea of having to hide his new servant’s unfortunate secret. Yet he would, because…
Sixth Reason: Arthur was completely and irrevocably attracted to Merlin.
So yes, Arthur felt justified in being belligerent as he barreled his way through the corridor on his way to the kitchens to find something to eat (Morris was the worst servant ever; he should know without asking that after a rough day the prince required a pickled egg before retiring for the night).
He turned the final corner and was about to enter the kitchens when he heard voices. Strange. No one should be in the kitchens at this time of night. Arthur grinned malevolently. Oh, this should be interesting, he thought as he pressed his ear against the door, prepared to eavesdrop.
”I don’t mind. Really. Arthur’s not so bad. Gaius was trying to find me work, but just between me and you, I’m not much help with anything important. According to most everyone in Ealdor, I’m fairly useless. So making sure Arthur gets up in the morning, helping him with his daily duties, and sorting his things for him isn’t the worst thing in the world, Gwen.”
“If you say so, Merlin, but you know my feelings about Arthur; I don’t like the idea of him lording over you. You are far too good to be relegated to shining his boots.”
Whatever else was shared between the two was muffled; they were either leaving through the door opposite, or they were eating. Arthur guessed the latter and became irritated that they were keeping him from doing the same.
Several minutes later Arthur heard the door closing, so he entered, his mouth already watering at the thought of glorious pickled eggs. In recent years he had cut down on the delicacy because his father had hinted that they were doing bad things to his son’s slim figure, but the past few days had been stressful, so Arthur thought he deserved to indulge.
His father never need know.
“Sire,” said a soft male voice from somewhere near, but Arthur couldn’t see anyone.
“Show yourself,” was Arthur’s terse reply. It had to be Merlin.
Merlin stepped into the firelight, but said nothing.
“What are you doing in the kitchens? They are off-limits to you at this time of night.” Arthur hoped he had sounded important and forceful, but when his stomach made a rather loud sound, it possibly took away from the air Arthur wished to promote.
“Gwen and me were talking and decided to nip something to eat. I see you had intentions of doing the same,” said the boy, cheeky grin firmly in place.
“You need to be careful with whom you are caught with, Merlin. You now work for me and I do not want to hear that my man servant was seen doing inappropriate things in the middle of the night with my father’s ward’s maid.” Arthur raised a brow in challenge, because for some reason he knew the boy wouldn’t allow the accusation to go unanswered.
Arthur very much looked forward to what the boy would have to say for himself.
Merlin smirked and seemed to size Arthur up before turning towards the counter, retrieving a pickled egg, and offering it to his new master. “Not that I want my personal preferences to be known by the masses, sire, but I assure you that Gwen and any other females are safe with me. My interests lie elsewhere.” That wide grin grew.
Arthur was doomed.
A gorgeous male sorcerer who liked males was now his servant.
Despite his best attempts to not do so, Arthur smiled as he took in the lovely form of Merlin. But then he cleared his throat as he carefully took the offered pickled egg from Merlin and took a bite, savouring the familiar taste as it swirled around his mouth. After swallowing he watched Merlin as he took his own bite. It was far more sensual than eating had a right to be. Merlin’s eyes, glittering in the firelight, focused on Arthur.
“Merlin, you will find that those like you are not wanted here. You would be wise to keep a low profile, although, from what you have shown me since you arrived, I doubt you have it within you to do that. Do try.” And with that, Arthur snatched up the two other pickled eggs that were behind Merlin, brushing their bodies together as he did so, and left.
The boy was obviously in over his head, so Arthur had no choice but to make sure that head stayed above water. It was his duty as Merlin’s master. And Arthur took his duties seriously.
The future of Camelot depended on him.