Title: First Blush
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gwaine
Summary: Gwaine was hanging around Merlin way too much and Arthur wasn’t having it.
Word Count: 1060
Camelot_drabble Prompt: pt 437: Blush
Author's Notes: Unbetaed.
Disclaimer: Merlin characters are the property of Shine and BBC. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Gwaine was known as a rogue. Laughing, drinking, flirting with anything that moved, the castle was full of rumours of his escapades— the story of the three barmaids and a stable boy at the Rising Sun was growing into something legendary. And yet Gwaine seemed to brush it all off with aplomb, smiling. If his flirtations led to assignations and rumpled beds, well, there were no complaints.
But Merlin was another story.
Merlin was a country boy. Arthur was sure that he’d gotten up to antics, innocent enough ones if the stories Hunith told were true, but Merlin never talked about anything more… sexual.
Gwaine was no innocent and yet Merlin seemed drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Watching Gwaine with wide eyes and flushed cheeks, arguing, flirting some might say, Merlin often stood too close to Gwaine for comfort. Nudging each other, Gwaine hugging him or ruffling his hair, the two of them sharing wine or exchanging glances that might be innocent on Merlin’s part but were far too heated on Gwaine’s.
It was almost as if Gwaine had set his sights on Merlin as his next conquest.
Arthur wasn’t having it. And when he went looking for Merlin and Gaius mentioned the tavern and Gwaine in the same breath, Arthur didn’t waste a second.
Shoving through the rowdy crowd at the Rising Sun, he could see Merlin in the far corner, Gwaine’s arm around his shoulder. Merlin’s cheeks were red, and he was biting his lip. Gwaine grinned as he spied Arthur, then bent down and whispered something in Merlin’s ear. It must have been something improper because Merlin flushed.
“Gwaine, unhand my servant. He has far too much work to do to be hanging around with the likes of you,” Arthur said, scowling down at him.
“Oh, Princess, I think Merlin likes hanging around me.” Gwaine grinned, then hugged Merlin tighter. “Don’t you, my friend?”
“Gwaine….” Merlin muttered, trying to look everywhere but at Arthur.
“Besides, later, if he’s a mind to, we might go upstairs. There’s beds aplenty,” Gwaine smirked, then said, “I wouldn’t mind rumpling a few.” While Merlin stared at Gwaine, his face as red as Arthur had ever seen it, Gwaine pulled back a little, then ruffled Merlin’s hair before letting his hand curl against Merlin’s neck. “You are welcome to join us, Your High Mightiness.”
Arthur was horrified. “Gwaine!”
Merlin jabbed Gwaine in the chest. “Gwaine, cut it out.”
“What? You think the Princess isn’t up to it?” Gwaine said, rubbing at his chest. “I bet he’d enjoy a round or two. I know I would.”
“Gwaine, I swear if I had magic, I’d turn you into a toad right now,” Merlin said, glaring at Gwaine.
“Might be fun. I hear princesses like to kiss toads.” Gwaine snickered, then sent Arthur a mock kiss.
“Princesses like to kiss frogs. Toads just get turned into paste for Gaius’s potions,” Merlin said, rolling his eyes as he tried to shrug off Gwaine’s arm.
“Well, this princess isn’t kissing anyone, I mean I’m not… come on, Merlin, I’ve chores for you.” Arthur said, reaching over, pulling Merlin up and keeping one hand firmly on Merlin’s arm as they walked away from Gwaine.
Gwaine shouted after him, “Is that what we are calling it these days? Chores?”
“You’re not funny, Gwaine,” Merlin yelled back, then once they were outside, Merlin blushed again. “Gwaine’s just being an idiot. He thinks you and I have some weird dynamic going on and he wanted to… it doesn’t matter. I’ll talk to him in the morning.”
“What weird dynamic?” When Merlin just shook his head, Arthur said, “He isn’t pushing you to do something untoward, is he?”
Merlin shrugged. “He thinks I’m lonely, that just because I lo… find someone interesting, I should go all mushy and send them flowers and declare my undying… umm, he’s being ridiculous. He should look to his own love life and stay out of mine.”
Arthur’s heart stopped beating. While he could never tell Merlin how he felt because it just wasn’t done, not between a prince and a servant, certainly not a declaration of love, it wasn’t right that Merlin should be alone. Just because Arthur was a coward and wanted him for himself didn’t mean that he should keep Merlin away from the person he loved.
“Maybe you should. Maybe that person doesn’t know or maybe they feel the same way and don’t know how to tell you.” It about killed Arthur to say it, but as long as it wasn’t Gwaine, he could almost… almost hope that Merlin was happy at least.
Merlin thought about it, then said, “He does seem a bit constipated when talking about feelings.”
“He?” When Merlin nodded, Arthur said, “Maybe he just doesn’t know how to say what he feels. Sometimes a look can say more than a thousand words.” Arthur shrugged, then gazed at Merlin, watching as the flush reached Merlin’s cheeks again. “But if you don’t take a chance, then you’ll never know.
Arthur just hoped that whoever it was, Arthur would not smash his face in or exile him on the spot when Arthur found out. Merlin deserved better and Arthur would just have to learn to live with the loss.
“Is that a command, my lord?” Merlin said, looking at Arthur strangely, thoughtful, warm, questioning.
When Arthur nodded, Merlin smiled, then taking a deep breath, he said, “As you wish.”
Luckily, it was dark outside because Merlin shoved Arthur backwards, into the shadows and kissed him as if his life depended on it. Arthur’s head was spinning, and he didn’t know where to put his hands, but as Merlin kept pressing his body against Arthur’s, all eagerness and trepidation, Arthur surrendered and began kissing him back.
It was fantastic, it was amazing, it was impossible. But Arthur knew then that he’d never be able to let Merlin go again.
In the distance, he could hear Gwaine saying, “About damn time. Way to go, Princess.”
Merlin giggled under Arthur’s mouth, then as he surged back into Arthur’s arms, Arthur forgot all about Gwaine.
But in the morning, after rumpled sheets and the joy of Merlin’s sleepy smile, Arthur didn’t care if Gwaine was a rogue. He’d helped them breach the wall between them and that was good enough for Arthur.