Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Uther, Morgana
Summary: Arthur has been making these speeches for years. Only this time, he's got something different up his sleeve.
Word Count: 998
Author's Notes: This took ages to get the idea for, not sure why.
“Ladies and gentleman, if I could have your attention please?” Arthur stood as soon as the murmur of voices had died away. He stood stiffly and formally, hating the suit he was in, the room he was in and the people he was with. Well, he didn’t hate all of them, just 90%. And 90% of that hatred all fell to the man on his left. But for now, Arthur tried not to think about his father and instead focused his attention on the sea of waiting faces gazing up at him.
“I have worked for my father for my whole life,” he announced and he could see a few tight smiles. People were clearly expecting his usual public relations talk that he had to give every year about how he wanted to help the company grow and was proud and willing to take on his father’s legacy. It was the same speech that he had been giving for the last five years now, ever since Uther had decided it was about time their “people” saw who was going to take over the business.
“I’ve never done anything else, and for most of that time, I have never wanted to.” A few of the smiles slipped into frowns and he could hear his father take in a sharp breath. Arthur didn’t care. He didn’t care if the man had security drag him out, he was going to say what was on his mind.
“And recently I have been discussing with my father what lies in store for my future.”
“Arthur.” The hiss was barely audible and Arthur didn’t need to turn to see his father’s face. The man’s threats were still ringing in his ears, but Arthur had made up his mind. His life was now his to live, not his father’s to control.
“And he made one thing very clear to me. My future at Pendragon Industries relies on me following his teachers and taking the path that he has led the company down. There can be no denying that it has flourished under my father’s attention and I hope that it will continue to do so.”
There was a scattering of applause from around the room, but all that Arthur was aware of was the tight grip on his wrist from his father. He wanted to pull away, wanted this to be a full on rebellion…but he also wanted his father to know that he didn’t have the power to make Arthur squirm anymore.
“However…” His raised voice caused an unnatural hush across the large room. He could see his sister sitting next to his PA on the first table, both watching him intently. There were matching frowns of confusion on their faces, but Arthur knew they would support him. They always had, even if he could never get Merlin to admit it in so many words.
“The company will not be continuing through me.”
The grip on his wrist was bordering on painful, but Arthur refused to either flinch or look at his father. He would not give Uther the satisfaction of seeing the pain in his eyes. Arthur might be putting on a brave front and knew that he had no choice, but he couldn’t deny this was tearing him up inside. He had meant what he had said about never doing anything different, he wasn’t even sure he knew how. But as the shocked whispers died away, Arthur became aware of the fact that all eyes were on him. For the first time in his life, he was speaking for himself.
“Recently, I have come to realise that all of the matches my father has been trying to make for me over the years have failed for one reason and one reason alone. It is nothing against the women in question, apart from the fact that they are women. I have recently come to realise that I am, in fact, gay.” Uther’s hand disappeared and Arthur knew that he didn’t want people to think he had been touching his son. It gave Arthur the confidence he needed to know what he was doing was right. Morgana looked astonished, but Merlin was smiling with pride at him. It was thanks to him that Arthur knew, after all.
“My father, however, has made it perfectly clear that while that is the case, I have no future here.”
“Arthur, think about what you are doing.” Despite Uther keeping his voice low, Arthur spoke clearly.
“I have thought about what I am doing, Father. I have heard and considered your threat of disownment. I have thought about how it would cost me my job, that you wouldn’t want to see me again and that I should by no accounts try and contact you.” The whispers turned to shocked ones and Arthur knew he had been right declaring this publically. Those had just been the mild threats; he wasn’t going to declare the bodily harm Uther had promised him. But now, with everyone aware, Uther couldn’t touch him.
“So here today, ladies and gentlemen, I give you my decision. I quit. I am gay. I am not going to hide myself away from it and I’m certainly not going to stand by a father who rather I died than admit such things.” Arthur threw down his napkin, loosened his tie and tore it off over his head, throwing that down as well. He stepped down from the table, aware that people were watching him guardedly as he walked through the crowds until he came to stop at a certain table. He took Merlin’s hand and kissed his knuckles.
“Can I take you out on a date?” He still made sure his voice carried and Merlin flushed scarlet. His grin answered Arthur’s question however.
“Yes, you utter prat.” Then suddenly, Merlin was in his arms, his lips were pressed against Arthur’s own and Arthur was aware that this was the biggest applause any of his speeches had ever gotten.