Title: Servants' Ball
Character/s: Merlin, Gwen
Summary: In words and action, Gwen gently reminds Merlin how to behave towards his peers.
Word Count: 400
Prompt: 372 Bingo— first round ("Office/Workplace Party")
Author's Notes: I intended to write only 100-word drabbles, but this one absolutely refused to be that short!
Every half year, the servants of Camelot Castle get together for a dance, some gossip and a lot of ale. Merlin and Gwen enjoy attending, but occasionally they're made to feel a bit out of place.
"Why are you two here? Are you spying on us and tattling to the royals?" Bert the footman asks them after a mug too many.
"Of course not. We'd never do that, don't worry." Gwen's smile is kind and disarming.
"When have you ever done anything worth tattling about anyway?" Merlin inquires tartly.
"Don't you ever think of yourselves as better than us, the way you consort with the higher-ups?" Betty the laundry assistant blurts.
"Not at all. We're just servants, all of us," Gwen assures her. "We're friends!"
"Still, we're better than some," Merlin adds, pointedly. "Especially the annoyingly nosy ones."
Betty leaves in an offended huff.
"Merlin, don't be like that," Gwen says. "It's probably better if you don't talk with anyone else today. Let's dance."
After he's followed Gwen out onto the floor to flail his limbs about in a lively reel, Merlin considers her words. He's always been snarky. That's just him. The first person in Camelot to be the target of Merlin's sass was Arthur himself, and that time he actually stood up in defense of a servant.
Merlin vigorously jumps and kicks in line with the jaunty tune, circling Gwen, who enjoys the dance so much that she's grinning. Her dark curls bounce around her happy face.
He has to admit it to himself— she was right to admonish him. The many pressures of his life as manservant, secret protector and hidden warlock are making him increasingly snappish. The other servants don't deserve that. It's unfair to take his stress out on those who make the castle function.
He links arms with Gwen, twirling around. "I'll try to be nicer to everyone," he promises her breathlessly, earning a brilliant smile of approval.
"You'll feel better for it, Merlin."
"Next servants' ball, I'll even provide a fireworks show. Something spectacular."
"Do you know how to do that?" Gwen asks, uncertain.
"Sure! Gaius has lots of ingredients that can be mixed to create big explosions."
In truth, he hasn't got a clue. But it's high time the Great Dragon contributes to the entertainment in Camelot. The overgrown cryptic lizard had better come through with a major pyrotechnics spell.