“Want to spend Christmas at the palace?”Merlin nearly dropped his phone. What was Arthur talking about? Or was it one of his usual bad jokes? In that case, it was particularly bad!
Merlin simply answered with a “Stop making fun of me” and went back to work.He forgot about it until the end of his shift when he looked at his phone again.
“I’m not joking… You’ll receive a formal invite tomorrow.”Warnings: None
Word Count: 1745
Author's Notes: Dear impala_chick, I hope you'll like this festive story. I really loved the idea of modern royalty and I had so many ideas but real life got in the way and I didn't manage to put everything in this story. Still, I hope I've managed to fulfill your request! Happy Holidays to you!
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.
Merlin was serving another Peppermint white hot chocolate when he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He waited for his next break to look at it. It was a message from Arthur. Merlin smiled as he read it.
“Want to spend Christmas at the palace?”
Merlin nearly dropped his phone. What was Arthur talking about? Or was it one of his usual bad jokes? In that case, it was particularly bad!
Merlin simply answered with a “Stop making fun of me” and went back to work.
He forgot about it until the end of his shift when he looked at his phone again.
“I’m not joking… You’ll receive a formal invite tomorrow.”
That’s how, fourteen days of panic later, Merlin found himself in a car, with Arthur’s chauffeur, going to the Palace to spend Christmas with the Royal family.
Arthur had ended by explaining to Merlin that he had had another discussion with his mother about finding a suitable wife… And he had ended telling her about Merlin.
“You get a choice, dear.” Her mother smiled at her over the breakfast table. “You can find someone to marry yourself, or you can entrust the task to me.”
“What if I want to marry the barista at that one coffee shop?”
Of course, Merlin had tried to refuse the invite but when the official letter came, with the sigil and a handwritten note from the Queen, he had realised he was stuck.
Of course, being the Prince’s secret boyfriend for more than six months, Merlin had already thought about meeting his family. But it had been a distant thought.
Now, it was becoming a reality very fast!
“We’re nearly there,” Leon said as he stopped at a red light.
“Great.” Merlin nearly strangled himself.
Merlin let himself fall on the bed and sighed. Those first hours at the palace had been quite tiring.
When he had arrived at the palace, Leon, Arthur's assistant, had welcomed him. They already met in the past, and it had felt good to see a familiar face. Leon had let him to his rooms, so he could rest a little bit before meeting Arthur and his parents for teatime.
Merlin looked at the decorated ceiling. He had met the King and Queen… He was still a little in awe about that. And he didn’t know if the meeting had gone well or not… Arthur’s mother, Queen Ygraine, had been very welcoming! She had even asked that Merlin called her Ygraine when they were in private. But King Uther had been another affair altogether. He had barely talked to Merlin, only asking about his job, his studies, and his family and scowl at all answers Merlin gave him.
A knock at the door interrupted Merlin’s thoughts.
It was Arthur.
Merlin sat on the bed where Arthur joined him. They exchanged a little kiss. Their first one since Merlin’s arrival at the palace. Of course, it led to a few more kisses.
“So, it went well, didn’t it?”
“I’m not so sure about that. Your mother was kind but I’m not sure your father likes me.”
“He’s a grumpy old man!”
“Arthur! He’s the King!” Merlin answered, outraged.
“He’s still my father! And I can assure you that, if he hadn't liked you, he would have been even more unpleasant.”
“If you say so…”
Merlin wasn’t convinced, but he didn’t want to argue.
“I came to tell you about tomorrow’s schedule.”
“Oh… Yes. Leon said you’d explain everything.”
“So, on the 24th morning, it’s just a normal day for us, so I’ll have to work. Mother has a hospital scheduled, and Father will work in his office. You have the whole palace for yourself!”
Merlin’s shocked face prompted Arthur to add: “I’m joking! Leon had offered to take you for a tour of the palace! He knows everything about its history. I’m sure you history freaks will get along!”
Arthur nodded. Merlin had studied Art History for two years at University before he had had to interrupt his studies to take care of his dying Uncle. He was now working in a coffee shop to gather enough money to continue his studies.
Arthur took Merlin in his arms and kissed his head.
“In the afternoon, we will take tea with some of the Palace’s employees.”
Merlin nodded. It was really strange to discover all these traditions that were probably older than he could imagine.
“Then we will get ready for supper. It’s very classical. Scottish salmon, roast turkey and trimmings, and Yule Log.”
“No Christmas pudding?”
“That’s for Christmas Day’s lunch.”
“You mean we will have two festive meals?”
“Three if you count the huge breakfast before going to Church…”
Merlin smiled. He didn’t know how these few days would go with Arthur’s parents but at least, he would be filled!
Arthur continued to explain to him what to expect in the next days until another knock interrupted them.
“Your Majesty… Your supper will be served in the Green Room in an hour,” the servant announced before leaving.
“I asked for something simple. Just you and me,” Arthur explained, “Roast Beef with tarragon.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever eaten tarragon...but you have great taste so I trust you.”
“I have great taste indeed!” Arthur said before kissing Merlin.
Merlin was, once again, lost. Since Leon has left him, he has already got lost twice. First while looking for the lavatory and another time while trying to regain his rooms. He was now trying to go back to the library where Leon had told him he could read anything he wanted. He was pretty sure the way to the library was passing in front of the guy with a big moustache portrait and then turn left, go until the large naval battle drawing, and then left and left again… But where there should have been a large door, Merlin was facing a wall… And he was pretty sure there wasn’t any Requirement room in the palace.
He sighed deeply and went back on his tracks, hoping to finally end somewhere he could recognise.
After what felt like the longest minutes of his life, Merlin ended in another wing of the palace. One Leon hadn’t shown him.
Merlin sat on an upholstered bench, just under another portrait from an old man. He was lost. He was going to miss teatime, and Arthur’s parents will hate him for that!
“Merlin?” Uther’s voice resonated in the empty hallway.
“Your Majesty.” Merlin bowed his head like Leon had told him to do.
“What are you doing here? I thought you were taken care of by Leon.”
“I… Hum… Leon had to leave, and I wanted to go to the library but… Hum… I got lost.”
Uther’s gaze was really intimidating and Merlin looked at his shoes. But then, the King started to laugh.
“This palace is a real maze! Come on, I’ll show you the way.”
Merlin was too shocked to thank the King but he still followed him.
Merlin looked at the huge turkey being wheeled in by a cook. It was perfectly roasted and smelled delicious.
“So Merlin, tell me, what do you traditionally eat for Christmas?” Queen Ygraine asked as the cook started to cut the turkey while two waiters served trimmings and wine.
“Oh... Hum… Nothing fancy. It’s often a baked ham and then my mother’s pudding.”
“Yes… You glaze it with honey and bake it slowly for hours. It’s excellent.”
“We should try that! Henry?” the Queen turned towards the cook. “Can you try making that glazed ham for us?”
“Naturally, your Majesty.”
The whole discussion felt surrealistic for Merlin but soon a plate filled with turkey and trimmings was placed in front of him and he forgot everything else.
As everyone left the dinner table to go in the living room for a brandy, Merlin retained Arthur.
“Arthur… I’ve brought something for your parents…A little gift. I don’t know if the protocol allows it so… It’s just homemade jams from my mother.”
“That’s really thoughtful of you, Merlin. And Mother loves jams. You can go to fetch it, and we will put it under the tree.”
Merlin nodded and went back to his room. He got the little basket with the jams and also the neatly wrapped gift for Arthur.
Then he managed to go back to the living room without getting lost.
He swiftly put the gifts under the tree and joined Arthur in one of the sofas.
Arthur followed Merlin to his rooms. Like the night before they had no intention of sleeping separately.
“So, it went well,” Arthur said as they entered the bedroom.
“Yes… It was a little strange but I had fun. And your parents’ gifts were so thoughtful!”
Merlin put his presents on the table. There were woolen gloves and a knitted scarf. They were deep red. Merlin’s favourite colour.
“Did you tell them it was my favourite colour?”
“Mother may have asked.”
Merlin smiled. Arthur was sitting on the bed and Merlin watched as he played with the leather and silver bracelet Merlin had given him.
Next he looked at his other presents from Arthur. The old edition of The Hobbit with original drawings from Tolkien was a wonderful gift but it was the little box next to it that made Merlin’s heart beat faster. Nestled in the velvet box was a key.
“I still can’t believe you gifted me a flat…” Merlin said as he joined Arthur who was lying on the bed.
“I didn’t give you a flat, Merlin. I gifted us a flat.”
“That’s even better.”
“I think so, too. A place just for us, away from the spying eyes…”
“And from your family!”
“I thought you liked them.”
“Of course… even if I’m still a little bit afraid of your father… But there are certain activities that I’d prefer to do as far away as possible from them.”
Arthur took Merlin in his arms.
“So I suppose you won’t want to show me what kind of activities you have in mind now?”
“Mmmm… We are a whole wing away from your parents, aren’t we? ”
“I could perhaps give you a little teaser, then.”
Merlin kissed Arthur and they stopped talking.
In the morning, Leon didn’t even bother going to Arthur’s room to look for the Prince who was late for the Christmas breakfast. He knew him too well for that.