Summary: Arthur has known about his beloved Merlin's magic for some time now, but there still are a few secrets left to unravel. For instance, who was this Dragoon fellow?
Warnings: No warnings. Content includes: Canon AU, fluff, banter, humor, kisses, domestic bliss, established relationship, muffins!
Word Count: 1.5K
Author's Notes: Dearest Amithia, I absolutely loved your prompt, and I hope you enjoy reading this little fic. Wishing you every joy of the season!
A big thank you to the mods for continuing to organize this charming fest, and also to my lovely beta, Gwyllion.
Disclaimer: Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
Just Deserts and Sweet Desserts
"Mmmmm," Arthur said. "This chicken is perfectly roasted. So tasty!"
"Just wait till you see what I've scarfed for your pudding, then," Merlin grinned, delighted. "Leave a little space for that, or you'll be sorry."
"Merlin, I am the king. And you are my...."
"Yessss? What am I?"
"I guess I really do need to give you a more elevated formal title, don't I?"
"In addition to manservant? Let's see. Bedwarmer?" Merlin moved closer, licking his lips. "Cocksucker First Class?"
Arthur's cheeks gained a slight pinkish tinge. "Don't distract me! I was thinking more in the direction of Consort. Or possibly Court Sorcerer? My point is, you act on my behalf and everyone knows it. You needn't sneak about stealing food for me on the sly."
Merlin laughed. "But where would the fun be in that? At any rate, Audrey the cook and I have a longstanding feud going, and I won't invoke your name to win it."
Biting off a juicy piece of meat, Arthur munched contentedly. "What would you do to win, then? Use your magic? That's unfair."
Merlin chuckled. "I suppose it is. But sometimes, it's just so tempting. Especially when I'm already in the guise of... uhm. Er, anyway, the feud is fun."
Arthur raised an eyebrow and eyed him speculatively. "In the guise of uhmmm,
you were saying? And it has something to do with magic. Are you still keeping secrets from me?"
Merlin smiled his brightest most charming grin, wide-eyed innocence perfected through years of keeping Arthur in the dark. "Are you ready for the dessert muffins now? They're delicious."
"Merlin! In the guise of what? You'd better tell me, or I swear, I'll—"
"Send me into exile? You already tried that, and it lasted all of two weeks. I'd barely reached Ealdor before you called me back."
"I know, I know. Don't rub it in. I was entitled to being angry, though, you being a secret sorcerer and all. It was a shock."
"I know," Merlin said, his voice contrite. "I'm so sorry. It's a good thing we're past that now. Muffins?"
"I see what you almost did there," Arthur scowled at him. "I very nearly was distracted. You're good. But you'd better tell me the truth, or there will be no royal bedsports for you tonight."
"The truth about what?"
"The truth about your guises. Do you mean to say that you can completely change your appearance, be someone entirely else, like Morgana did as that old crone keeping Princess Mithian captive?"
"Wait!" Arthur's voice rose, his eyes going wide. "Don't tell me... you're Dragoon?"
"You're Dragoon! Don't deny it. I always thought there was something suspiciously recognizable about that old geezer's eyes. It was you!" Arthur sat back, overwhelmed, the colour slowly draining from his face.
"Merlin! You raged at me and told me I mistreat my servants. You rode me like a horse, you scoundrel. What have you got to say for yourself?"
"There was no other way, Arthur. I couldn't do magic in front of you while looking like myself, could I? Not back then. And you deserved all that I did and said. You were a horrid prat sometimes, admit it."
"But Dragoon killed my father!"
"No, Arthur, no." Merlin placed a hand soothingly on Arthur's shoulder. "That was Morgana. I tried my best to save him, but it was too late."
"One day she will have her just deserts for all the evil she's done."
Arthur sighed, his eyes looking into the far distance for a moment. Merlin waited in silence. Eventually, Arthur snapped out of his dark reverie and made an effort to lighten the mood.
"Did you say anything about just dessert? Where are those muffins?"
Merlin hurried to produce the little cakes. He presented them with a flourish and a happy grin. "I decorated them myself. Aren't they cute?"
There could be little doubt that magic had been applied in finishing the embellishments. The muffins might be cook's creations, but the decorations were all Merlin. Each one was a wonder of sugar-frosted delight. One had a tiny pink candy dragon rearing up, covered in flecks of pale frosting and spouting caramel flames. Another had a wreath of miniature Morteus flowers, made entirely from melted sugar, and sprinkled with gold dust.
"They look too lovely to eat," Arthur said, looking from one to the next in wonder.
"That's what you said about me too, once, but look what happened there." Merlin batted his eyelids and smiled lasciviously.
Arthur rolled his eyes at him and determinedly bit the head off the pink dragon. "You're hopeless, Merlin. But this is delicious."
Snagging one of the soft cakes for himself, Merlin looked at its two entwined jam-filled hearts before popping the entire muffin into his mouth. "Mmmppohhmm."
"You're speaking less gibberish by the minute, I hear. Good," Arthur grinned, his hand hovering indecisively above the remaining muffins. "It's difficult to choose. These are all so amazing."
"Was that a spell?"
Merlin managed to swallow his mouthful of cake and sugar, and shook his head. "I bit off more than I could chew. First time in my life, I swear."
Arthur threw his head back and roared with laughter. "All right, the decision about your new title is hereby made. Court jester, that's obviously where your qualifications take you."
"You might not like my jokes. Not when spoken in front of the whole court."
"Ooops." Arthur recoiled in mock horror. "Maybe you could rather entertain everyone by changing your looks. One moment, you're Dragoon the Great, the next you're... a pretty young lady, perhaps? Or an old acerbic crone? Would it be possible for you to turn into a woman?"
Merlin pouted. "Don't you like me the way I am?"
Pulling him closer, Arthur kissed him, delighting in the taste of sweet frosting and candied fruits that lingered on their lips and tongues. "I love you the way you are, Merlin. I'm merely curious about how far your powers will let you go."
"I could take on the guise of a woman, yes."
"Have you ever done it?" Arthur frowned. "Have you ever done it in my presence?"
"Oh, My Goddess. The Dolma. Don't deny it. The Dolma, that was you!"
"It was. But I blame Gaius. It was his idea."
Arthur sat back, amusement battling with affrontment in his expression. "Hah! No wonder she - you - was so offended when I pretended to forget to ask for my Merlin back."
"Are you angry?"
"Not really. You managed to break the dark enchantment Gwen was under. It was worth it to have her back as my lovely and caring queen instead of a cold-hearted assassin."
"I only wished it could have been done much sooner, so she wouldn't have felt so much guilt about the evil deeds she did while under Morgana's spell."
"I know. But I trust her pilgrimage will clear her conscience, and that one day she will return to Camelot, happy and contented."
"I hope so."
They sat in silence for a moment, both of them lost in thoughts.
Arthur was the first to shake it off. "We've really been through a lot, haven't we?"
"We have. And our story isn't over yet. You've got the Golden Age of Albion to arrange. Not a simple task. I shall have to find a way to deal with Morgana—"
"Not to mention that you've still got that feud with our cook to settle."
"I must find a way to get on better terms with poor Aithusa too."
"And I with the Druids. They're still sceptical, and who can blame them?"
"So much for us to do."
Arthur reached out, taking Merlin's hand and looking into his eyes. "We'll manage all of it as long as we're together."
Merlin smiled, giving Arthur's fingers a squeeze. "We will. It's your destiny to be the greatest king this land has ever known. And it's my destiny to help you become that king."
"We'll get there as long as we don't keep any more secrets." Arthur cleared his throat meaningfully. "You've not got any more Dragoons and Dolmas to confess to, I hope?
Merlin grimaced. "No, I haven't. I apologize for not telling you sooner."
"I'm sure you can find a way to make it up to me, Merlin."
"Whatever can you mean?"
"You tell me. You are the sorcerer here, I'm sure you'll figure it out."
Leaning in, stealing a quick kiss, Merlin started clearing the table. "Work, work, work. Another chore for me, then - arranging something special for tonight."
"I won't insist, if you'd rather not."
"You bet I want to," Merlin laughed. "Brace yourself. Be prepared for very little sleep."
"Some sweet and sizzling sorcery?"
"Magic and mischief and me." Merlin's blue eyes twinkled.
Arthur leaned back, stretching gleefully. "Who could ever ask for more?"