Title: Dear Diary
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Arthur does really love to hear Merlin insulting him. It’s fun. Most of the time.
Word Count: 1287 (sorry)
Prompt: 324- Entangle, Courage, Attic
Author's Notes: none
Disclaimer: I do not own the BBC version of Merlin; It and Shine do. I am very respectfully borrowing them with no intent to profit. No money has changed hands. No copyright infringement is intended.
It was all Merlin’s fault.
As they walked back to Arthur’s chambers, Merlin had been complaining – as usual - about attics and basements and how everything was a jumble with the latest feast about to start and he couldn’t find Arthur’s new jacket and he’d looked everywhere.
For a sweet moment, Arthur could forget his troubles just listening to Merlin rabbiting on about it. Usually it was hilarious how Merlin would go all red in the face and grumble. His complaints were so inventive, most of the time, that Arthur would write them down when Merlin had gone and read them again for a laugh whenever Uther was being particularly scathing about something or other. It made him feel better, it made him smile. His secret diary full of wishes and dreams and Merlin’s ridiculous rants.
But there was a problem. The diary was gone.
And Arthur had torn the place apart looking for it.
Unfortunately, when they entered Arthur’s chambers, Merlin saw the mess. He’d let out such a screech that Arthur was surprised it hadn’t sent the dogs to howling and walls crumbling into dust, then he began berating Arthur as if his life depended upon it.
It should have been entertaining, but Arthur was not in the mood.
“Enough!” Arthur scowled Merlin’s way, then leaning down, he picked up one dirty sock and launched it at Merlin. Ducking - the man was faster than he looked at times, the sock ended up dangling from the nose of the moosehead decorating the wall. Merlin glared at it a second, then turned back to Arthur, looking ready to start bellowing again.
Ignoring the withering frown, Arthur said, “Clean the mess up and be quick about it. The feast starts in an hour and I cannot be late.”
If anything, Merlin’s scowl deepened, all sharp edges. “It’s your mess.”
“You are my servant,” Arthur said, adding a raised eyebrow for good measure. Because Merlin’s face was turning red again and it was a hilarious look on him.
His mouth working as if ready to launch into a tirade, Merlin whirled around, waving his arms about as he pointed to the pile of clothes on the floor and the sock still dangling high above. Then apparently unable to keep quiet – because when was Merlin ever quiet - his voice rising on every word, Merlin shouted, “It was clean twenty minutes ago.”
“And now it’s not.” Arthur shrugged. He was hard pressed not to laugh at Merlin’s affronted look.
Then his eyes narrowing to hard slits, mouth crabbed in seething displeasure, Merlin said, “You did this on purpose, didn’t you?”
“Yes, Merlin, of course I did. I have nothing better to do than make your life a living hell. It’s what I live for.”
For a moment, Merlin just glared at him. If looks could kill, Arthur would already have been in little pieces, meat and bones and blood spattered across the room. As it was, Arthur was intact, standing there, his arms folded, as Merlin apparently gave up the fight.
“Well, job well done, sire.” As he turned away, began to pick up the clothes, his arms entangled in a pile of fabric, he was muttering into the mess, loud enough that Arthur could hear him, but still low enough for plausible deniability. “Sod off, you condescending toad-faced cockdoodle. What a barmy, knob-headed wanker you are. A bloody gormless stewed-prune. Brambling bumbling prat-faced scobberlotcher. Gods above, you are an arse.”
As Merlin continued to grouse, Arthur itched to find his diary and write down the insults. He didn’t know what cockdoodle was or scobberlotcher, but they sounded perfectly insolent.
But Merlin wasn’t watching what he was doing and the pile in his arms proved too much. Tripping over his own feet, Merlin went sprawling, the clothes a sudden explosion of color and trim as they flew everywhere. Even as he whirled down, he tried to keep from falling, grabbing onto the nearest surface, and pulling a wooden chest away from the wall.
In the next moment, the chest fell over, crashing loudly to the ground. Merlin, under it, was moaning.
Arthur, alarmed, ran over, and pushed the chest back up, then dug under the mound of fabric, looked to see if Merlin was all right. It didn’t take courage but real concern to say, “Merlin, are you hurt? Say something!”
Throwing aside a nightshirt, socks, a pair of breeches, and other things too foul to mention, Arthur pulled Merlin into his arms. Brushing his fingers through Merlin’s dark hair, feeling along gangly arms to see if there were anything broken, Arthur said, gruff and worried, “Merlin, don’t be a girl’s blouse. Say something.”
Eyes opened, blue slits as he winced and then groaned, Merlin croaked out, “Not a girl.”
“Just an idiot, then.” Merlin batted Arthur’s hands away, then fought to sit up. But Arthur tugged him back down against him. “Seriously, are you injured? Do I need to send for Gaius?”
“Just bruised.” Merlin relaxed, lifting one finger to point at Arthur, then swept his hand around to indicate the room. “Next time you decide to make a mess, could you make less of one?”
Relieved, happy that Merlin was well enough to complain, Arthur said, “I am the Prince of Camelot. My messes are a measure of my station in life. Extravagant and royal and better than anyone else’s.”
“Ridiculously pompous then.” Merlin shifted, then reached under him, and pulled out Arthur’s diary. “Ow. It’s a book. It looks like….” He started to thumb through the contents, glancing down at the writing and then back up at Arthur.
Horrified to think that Merlin might find out what he’d been doing, he snatched the book away from Merlin and then tossed it aside. “Never mind that. It’s not important.”
When Merlin started to argue, Arthur said the first thing that came into his head. “Take the rest of the day off. I will have George clean this up.”
Merlin seemed to be taken aback. Arthur almost never gave him a day off and Merlin must have been suspicious. He also didn’t look like he was about to give up so easily. Frowning down at the book, he said, “But….”
Pressing the point, a little panicked, Arthur’s voice was sharp. “Do you not want the rest of the day off? Because there are stables to be mucked and I’ve heard the pigs need their stalls cleaned, too. And my dogs need a good run.”
For a moment, Arthur thought Merlin would be stupid enough to press the point and things could escalate badly with shouting and maybe slammed doors in their future. But Merlin must have thought better of the whole thing.
Wincing, Merlin rose slowly to his feet, then nodded. “Thank you, sire. I will be glad of the day off.”
Something didn’t sound right. Merlin was never so polite. But he didn’t argue, didn’t say anything else, just limped out into the corridor and shut the door behind him. Luckily, Merlin never looked in the direction of the abandoned diary.
Arthur let out the breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. It would seem that Merlin didn’t think anything of the book, Arthur’s book, and his secret was now safe.
In future, he’d have to find a better place to hide it. But for now, kicking the clothes out of the way as he walked over to his desk, he could relax. The diary was found and back in Arthur’s hands.
And as he sat down and started to write cockdoodle in his diary, he had to smile. Merlin was an idiot, but what an inventive mouth of his. Arthur wouldn’t have it any other way.